Saturday, July 30, 2011

Food for the Gods

That is Greek food for the ancient Greek gods. During this year, we have really enjoyed ending our history units in certain areas with a dinner that included food from that time or area. As we finished up our Ancient Greece unit today we had a feast to expose everyone to some new Greek flavors and foods. Today’s menu was actually many things we would have eaten regularly at home, but the goal was to get them to connect the time period with the foods and flavors, the culture and the geographic area. So as the ancient Greeks might have been more likely to eat camel than chicken, chicken is what I had and what the kids will eat, so chicken is what we served. I see this as a very practical application of our history study.
There were some great sources online for ancient Greek food and lots of yummy looking recipes to try in the future! Metric measurements can get tricky, but there are online measurement conversion tools to use.

Plus I have to mention this fabulous Greek food blog from SAM SOTIROPOULOS.
Loukoumades - Official doughnut of the ancient Greek Olympics
He has so many great recipes, tips and insights that I really enjoyed. Plus he has a whole set of ancient Greek recipes. Most of them I did not have the time or correct ingredients to make, but I will try them later. My favorites were the history of the Greek pancake: Tiganites and I really want to try the official ancient Olympic doughnut: Loukoumades. The great thing about his blog is that he serves up a healthy dose of history with his recipes!

So for our feast, we had the following:
Meze (appetizer) Honey Marinated Feta
From My Greek Recipes
This recipe for honey marinated feta cheese is 4000 years old and found engraved on old stone slabs at Crete. It comes from Aud Thorstad, who runs cooking classes in her home, a restored mill in the village of Hamalevri at Crete - check out Kretamat.
You need:
• 200 gram/7oz feta cheese
• 50 ml/2oz honey (Aud uses liquid Cretan honey, while I tried with honey from Thassos - and it worked well)
• Two table spoons olive oil
• One tea spoon thyme
• 100 ml/4oz walnuts
• Black olives
Mix the ingredients for the marinade. Add cubed feta cheese. Mix carefully and leave for at least half an hour.
Serve as meze.

Entrée: Marinated Grilled Chicken With White Wine, Garlic and Lemon (from and the June 2006 issue of Coup de Pouce)
with Orzo Pasta
• 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
• 2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
• 1/4 cup dry white wine
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 lemon, juice and zest of
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon black olives, finely chopped
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
• 1 1/4 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (4 )

Yogurt and Garlic Sauce
• 1 cup plain yogurt
• 1/4 cup sour cream
• 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
• 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
• salt and pepper

• 1 In a glass dish not too deep, mix all ingredients, except the chicken breasts and yogurt and garlic sauce. Add chicken breasts and flip to coat well. Cover the dish with a plastic wrap and let marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.
• 2 Set the barbecue to medium-high heat. Put chicken breasts on a greased grill (keep the marinade), close the cover of barbecue and cook for about 7 minutes (baste the chicken breasts with the marinade a few times). Flip the chicken breasts and keep cooking for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is golden and not pink inside. Serve with yogurt and garlic sauce.
• 3 Yogurt and Garlic Sauce : In a bowl, mix yogurt with sour cream, parsley, garlic. Add salt and pepper. Cover and put in fridge for at least 4 hours.

Cook up some orzo pasta as a side!

Veggie: Briami (Roasted Greek Vegetables)
from Ultimate Guide to Greek Food
You could use any vegetable/herb combos, but this is what we did!
6 large tomatoes
3 medium potatoes, peeled
3 medium red onions, peeled
3 medium zucchini
2 sticks celery
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
120 - 150ml olive oil
salt, pepper

Oil a large baking tray.
Thinly slice all the tomatoes and place half of them in a single layer on the bottom of the tray.
Cut the potatoes and onion into wedges.
Slice the celery into 2 or 3cm lengths.
Slice the zucchini lengthwise in half and then slice into 2 or 3cm lengths.
Add these vegetables on top of the tomatoes.
Place the other half of the sliced tomatoes on top.
Over the tomatoes, sprinkle the crushed garlic and chopped herbs.
Season with salt and pepper.
Drizzle the olive oil all over the top.
Place the baking tray, uncovered, in a hot oven and bake for about 40 minutes.
Remove the tray from the oven, stir the vegetables so they are all mixed well with the tomatoes and herbs.
Return to the oven and cook until the roasted vegetable are cooked.
This will depend on your oven, but allow approx 40 minutes to 1 hour.

Ancient Honey and Sesame Fritters
It is amazing how little this recipe has changed 1800 after. The Roman Physician Galinos (129 – 99 ac) describes in his book this sweet with many details.
Source:The Classical Cookbook, Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger.
Excelent source regarding Ancient Greek cuisine
Greek : Αρχαίες τηγανήτες με μέλι και σουσάμι
Serves / Yields : 4 persons
Season:All season
• 120 gr flour
• 225 ml water
• 2 spoons honey
• Oil for frying
• 1 spoon (15 gr) baked sesame seeds
Mix the flour, the water and one spoon of honey and make a dough. Heat 2 spoons oil in a frying pan and pour ¼ of the mixture. When it thickens turn it upside down 2 -3 times to fry it in both sides. Prepare 3 more fritters following the given instructions. Serve them hot, pour over the rest of the honey and dredge sesame seeds over them.

Dessert: Portokalia me Meli: Orange Honey Dessert
From Nancy Gaifyllia
In Greek: πορτοκάλια με μέλι, say: por-toh-KAHL-yah meh MEH-lee
Fresh fruit is a favorite Greek dessert, sweet snack, and a great addition to the breakfast table. It's delicious served alone, but you can dress it up with a drizzle of fabulous Greek honey. Whether you slice the oranges or separate them into pieces, this 1-2-3 recipe (one step, two ingredients, three minutes) adds a lovely touch.
• oranges (or clementines)
• Greek thyme honey (or other honey of your choice)
• ground cinnamon
Peel the oranges, break into pieces (or slice), arrange on a serving dish, and drizzle with honey.
Optionally, add a light sprinkle of ground cinnamon.

Kali Orexi! Bon Appetite!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Weekly Recap: Last Week of Summer!

EEEK is it really the end of July??? Where did the summer go? It has been so hot during July, I feel like we have not spent enough time enjoying the outdoors. But we are scheduled to start our 2011-2012 school year on Monday, so as they say "The show must go on!"

This week we have attempted to finish our Ancient Greece unit. We spent a few days this summer catching up on the history we did not finish during the "school year". I must say I thought it would be smoother and we did get a lot accomplished, but I think I am realizing that at some point we must say, "It is finished, it is a job well-done even if it is not perfect and we did not cover EVERYTHING." And that is OK. Right? I mean we are going to cover this again 2 more times. So I am letting it go.... sort of... no really I am. ;)

We finished up our standardized testing this week and I learned it was not as daunting as I feared. Rose finished with hardly any complaints and quickly! Daisy did too for the most part, but she needs more breaks, so hers took a little longer. All seems to have gone well but I will not put them off this long next year. Especially since I now know what to expect. Math surely would have gone more smoothly if we did not take 7 weeks off before doing it. OH well, live and learn! Especially since I keep having to remind myself that it really doesn't count for anything.

Uncle Noah was in town to play baseball against the Dragons, so we visited with him and spent the afternoon at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery where the girls tested their puzzle skills at Mindbender Mansion. This traveling exhibit was both hands and bodies-on and very cool. In each "room" of the exhibit, there were puzzles to solve and when you solved them you earned a password to enter into the Mindbender Mansion vault. If the exhibit comes to your town, I highly recommend a visit. The favorite puzzle was a huge light up floor with trivia questions. you had to spell the answer by jumping on the right letters (like scrabble). I wish we had a disco floor at home to do spelling on! We also visited the planetarium for a presentation on the sky that night and the NOAA sphere for a lesson on global weather. It was our first visit to the Boonshoft and it was so much fun and we will be back!

We made it onto the Mindbender Mansion Wall of Fame!

The rest of the week we spent trying to maneuver the world of student-athletes and injuries with Daisy. She injured her back over a month ago and we are trying to get a more definite diagnosis. It is tricky when everyone giving advice seems to have their own agenda, but eventually it will all work out.

Homeschool Help: Saint Report Form

I have been creating forms and pages to use for our homeschooling this year. I will be sharing these on my blog for anyone who wants to use them. The first is a saint report form. I will be adding more as I get them made!

My children will be adding saint reports to their curriculum this year, so I made this form to make it a little easier for them to hit the highlights! It is fashioned on the book report forms CHC uses in their 2nd grade curriculum.

If you add these to your blog, please credit my blog as your source. :)

Saint Report Form

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Back to School Part 1: Planning The Calendar Year

So this is our last official week of Summer vacation and we will be starting our homeschool 2011-2012 year on Monday! To sum up last year, we got off to a slow start and spent much of the year planning and schooling on the fly. Well this summer I have spent just about every extra minute planning for this year so we will be off to a better start!

Today I will share how I went about planning the upcoming year. I started with just planning the school year calendar. This year we were "finished" in early May, which was nice, but I started thinking, what is the use of planning our school year to coincide with everyone else's? One of the great benefits of homeschooling is having the flexibility to take off the times other people aren't and to get the deals on travel and the better weather. So we sat down and discussed when we would like to have our breaks and started the calendar from there. We decided on February, May and November. Ideally I would prefer September to be off, but we can work on it for next year and this year we will be hosting a large Thanksgiving, so I figured it would be nice to have some time off before that! So with 52 weeks in the year and 36 weeks of school, I came up with a trimester schedule starting August 1, 2011 and ending June 30, 2012.

Once that was complete, I started plugging dates and units and chapters into an excel spreadsheet to account for all of the lessons we wanted to cover this year. It looks a little daunting, but I am a long range planner so I like to see how it will all come out in the big picture. (This spring, I worked on a 15 year long range plan to see how all the subjects will eventually fit together in one cohesive picture.) I still need to fit Magnolia's plans into the picture, but her work is a much smaller task!


Monday, July 18, 2011


Whew it has been a long, hot summer!
I have been working nearly constantly on really organizing my upcoming school year. After deciding to not re-enroll with St. Thomas Aquinas, I am attempting to piece together my own hybrid curriculum taking into account my girls' strengths and interests and trying to implement more Catholic resources.
More to come on how my choices came about, later.
Eventually I will be posting my plans for the year.  We start our calendar in 3 weeks, so time is a ticking!