Thursday, July 29, 2010


I know this is mostly Montessori-oriented stuff, but I wanted to share a blog that I've been obsessed with the last few days and find so inspiring.

It's called let the children play, and it's a blog about a play-based preschool in Australia.

But this is a DREAM play-based preschool. They trucked in dirt and made a dirt/mud hole for the kids to play in. They take walks into the bush and jump off logs. They set up an environment with tons of scrap items and let the kids have at it.

This has really inspired me to think more about giving Nugget more very-free free play. Right now she has lots of time to play in her playroom or art area, but the materials there have a fairly conventional use (Lego, animal figures, puzzles, etc). I would love to provide her a mud puddle and a bunch of logs and step back.

In that vein, my husband and I have decided to turn the one shady area of our yard into a more child-friendly-yet-still-wild place this fall (when the Florida summer has let up). I'm not sure how much Nugget will take to it -- she doesn't really like to be dirty -- but Sprout is definitely showing signs of being into messier pursuits.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Scavenger hunt: Antarctic snacks

Here's my bonus post. :) Snacks in Antarctica!

At the Australian base, "expeditioners live mostly on frozen and canned food, supplemented to a small degree with hydroponically grown salad vegetables. At the beginning of the season, or following the arrival of a ship, some fresh food becomes available. ... With such a wide variety of frozen and canned food available today, expeditioners enjoy a mixed and interesting diet, very similar to what they would eat back home. The stations are stocked with about 700 different varieties of foods each year." But when going out into the field, even on short trips, researchers have to bring emergency ration packs. These include "freeze dried meat and vegetables, rice, pasta, biscuits, dried fruit, soups, muesli bars, desserts, chocolate, tea and coffee."

Thanks to the Australian Antarctic Division whose website ( is totally amazing!

Scavenger hunt: New Asian snack

While we were buying ingredients for our big cooking bash this weekend, Nugget and I found and had to have these Thai fortune cookies.

I love coconut. I love fortunes. I love cookies!

Individually wrapped.

Nugget was pretty confused about the piece of paper wrapped in the middle of her cookie.

The fortunes were all pretty deep.

These were Delicious! Very crispy, toasted-coconut-y.... Vaguely reminiscent of a traditional fortune cookie but with much more flavor. I highly recommend them. And we found them at Target!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Scavenger hunt: Asian snack rainbow

Red: Japanese Hello, Panda biscuits with creamy chocolate inside. These are our FAVORITE snacks! You can find them at Borders sometimes!

Orange: Indian mango lassi. A favorite of my husband and Nugget. We have some fresh mangos to make lassis tomorrow for dinner!

Yellow: Indian samosa. Filled with potato and peas and spices.... delicious! This was my first taste of Indian food (at a cheap cheap vegetarian joint just off Shattuck in Berkeley) and had me hooked.

Green: Edamame (soy beans). Japanese restaurants often serve these in a bowl before meals, often drizzled with soy sauce. Squeeze the beans out using your teeth and set aside the shell.

Blue: Japanese Coconut Pocky. Biscuit sticks dipped in coconut and chocolate. One of MANY varieties of Pocky.

Purple: Plum. Seen across Asian, also eaten as a prune.

Pink: Japanese Strawberry Pocky. Find some at Target!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Scavenger hunt: Asian snack recipes

This is linked up to the "Continents.... Sweet!" scavenger hunt at Sunrise Learning Lab.

Since I chose to represent Asia and we don't live in Asia or have access to a lot of snacks from there, I kind of took liberties with the scavenger list and went my own direction. :) I'm pretty sure I'll cover all the items, just with some of them mixed into others.

This post will be about three snacks from various countries in Asia that Nugget and I made and tried today.

1. India -- Masala chips
2. Thailand -- Spicy corn cakes
3. Iran -- Apple Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal cookies

Masala chips (fries) from India

This seems to be a fairly common snack in parts of Asia, with a lot of variations. I followed a recipe that seemed similar to most, with a twist of my own. Here's the original recipe I started with; what follows is what I ended up making.

2 lb frozen french fries
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garam masala
touch of turmeric
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Bake fries as directed on the package.

Meanwhile, mix oil, tomato paste, and spices. Heat oil mixture in a skillet to bloom the spices. Let mix cool slightly, mix in lemon juice.

Toss cooked fries with spices in a large bowl until coated.

Although she wasn't sure at first bite....

These were a HUGE hit with Nugget.

And, I have to say, they were pretty darn tasty. The original recipe called for more heat (with some chiles), but I thought that the heat might turn Nugget off. It also didn't call for garam masala, but adding that brought the taste a little closer to what I was expecting, gave it a touch of sweetness and more complexity. But you could totally leave that out.

Spicy corn cakes from Thailand

As soon as I saw these, I HAD to make them! Go look, and tell me that's not delicious!

1 cup sweet corn kernels
1 Tbsp red curry paste
1/4 cup flour
1 egg
1/2 tsp white sugar
Zest of 1 lime
About 1/2" of vegetable oil in the pan, for frying

Mix the corn, flour, egg, curry paste, sugar and lime zest in a bowl.

We took a break for Nugget to try a lime.

She ended up liking it and sucking on it for quite a while!

Drop by rounded spoonful (and smush a bit once in the pan to flatten) into hot oil.

Cook on medium-high heat until golden brown, flipping once. It should take about one minute per side.

I thought these were the YUM. Nugget wasn't a huge fan. She had barely a bite.

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Cookies from Iran

You don't get much healthier for a "cookie" than these.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats (oatmeal), ground in a blender or food processor
1.5 cups raisins
2 apples
1 Tbsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix flour, ground oats, cinnamon, and 1 cup raisins in a bowl. Make sure the raisins aren't clumping and each is coated with flour.

Peel, core, and chop the apples; add to a food processor with 1/2 cup raisins.

Process until applesauce-like.

Mix applesauce and dry ingredients together, add water or apple juice if needed to thin the batter.

Drop onto cookie sheet.

Bake 15-25 minutes until firm.

Nugget is currently devouring hers.

But I'm not a fan at all. The "cookie" is gummy and has little flavor. I stopped baking these after the first pan came out.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hiatus and continents

I've taken a hiatus from blogging because we've taken a hiatus from Montessori. Nugget has done a few activities, but I haven't suggested or encouraged any time in there.

I've been working through the New Child Montessori guides, setting up a plan for our fall. I'll be putting the materials away over the next week, giving us a clean slate for starting up again in September.

We just need a do-over after these months with Sprout have ruined our routine and her habits. The other day, she spread all the smelling bottles out on the bed and started throwing them around; later, she stood on the cylinder blocks.

In the meantime, I'm working pretty hard on gathering things up to start continent studies in the winter. Part of that is participating in a scavenger hunt put on by Sunrise Learning Lab, so there'll be some posts up relating to that over the next few days!
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