Monday, July 16, 2012

The Kitchen...My Favorite Room in the Home

When I think about my favorite room in the home, immediately what comes to mind is the kitchen. It's not so much what it physically has in it, it is the more the memories associated with making food and activities we do in the kitchen.

Ever since Sophia and Olivia were about 18 months old, they have been helping in the kitchen. When they were younger, the point wasn't to create a perfectly-presented item.

Sophia was probably a few years old at this point.
She is making vegetarian sushi.
After she was adopted at 11 months old and 
we were still in China, vegetarian sushi 
was one of the first solid foods that she enjoyed eating.
(Picture taken in approximately 2003.)

It was more the process of learning how to cook, and how to use different utensils and equipment properly (e.g., knives, blender, juicer, Vita-Mix Mixer).

Sophia learned how to use a juicer.
She's making fresh orange juice.
She's probably about 5 years old (around 2005).

As the girls got older, we began homeschooling. Many of our lessons had a cooking or baking component. The first multi-year unit study we did was an A to Z world geography study. For each letter of the alphabet, we studied a different country and made at least two recipes from that country...sometimes more.

Chopping Herbs for Turkish Lunch
Olivia chopping herbs for a Turkish lunch.
(January 20, 2011)

We also did a multi-year unit study using the American Girl books as the focus. We started the series by reading about Kaya (from the Nez Perce tribe in 1764) and made our way to Molly in 1944 (who was living during the economically-challenged war years). (The Julie series, set in 1970, came out after we were done with the unit study.)

One of our favorite units was Josephina. We studied about Mexico, New Mexico, life in the early 1800s, food, clothing, crafts, art, culture, music, geography, desert animals, and more. It was a very interesting unit that we all enjoyed.

Girls with Mexican Salsa and Guacamole
Sophia is holding salsa and Olivia has guacamole
that they made. These were two of the recipes we tried 
when we were reading the Josephina book series.
(Taken March 12, 2008, when Sophia was 7 and Olivia was 5)

We also enjoyed using the Kirsten books; and doing a unit study about Sweden, Swedish immigration and pioneers (with a focus on Swedish pioneers in Minnesota), and culture. This was a fun unit because many historical sites with Swedish connections are located within a half hour of us.

Olivia with Swedish Bread

Olivia is holding Swedish bread that was at Eichtens 
(a buffalo farm in Center City, Minnesota). 
The texture was like a cracker; and it tasted like rye bread.
(Taken on May 5, 2008, when Olivia was 5 years old.)

Sometimes books we read give us ideas and/or recipes to make. For example, when we read the Addy series (set during the Civil War), one of the things that Addy's mom did in one of the books was to make cookies and form them into letters. 

Addy Unit Study - Sugar Cookies Round 2
Sophia made cookies that spelled "Family" and "Love" 
since those were featured in the book. 
(Made on October 26, 2008, when Sophia was 7 years old.)

Currently, we are doing a multi-year geography study focused on the United States. We are using the recipe book Eating Your Way through the U.S.A. which has recipes that correspond to each state.

Trimming the Crust
The girls were learning how to 
\make a blueberry pie from Maine.
(September 17, 2011 - when the girls were 10 and 8 years old)

As the girls get older, the recipes get more complicated and they are able to do more work on their own. Often times, dinner is made by Sophia and Olivia as part of homeschooling during the day. For example, they learned how to make lasagna which turned out delicious as part of the U.S.A. geography unit study.

Sophia Layering the Lasagna
Sophia making lasagna.
(April 27, 2012; when she was 11 years old)

The kitchen also is a place that some holiday memories are made.

Olivia's on St. Nicholas Day
Olivia looking at one of the gifts she received
in her boot from St. Nicholas.
(Taken on December 6, 2010 - when she was 7 years old.)

Even preparation for Tooth Fairy visits happen in the kitchen.

Sophia Missing Teeth and Food for Flossie
Sophia showing her missing teeth, and 
the tray she prepared for her Tooth Fairy, Flossie.
(June 5, 2008 - when she was 7 years old.)

Carving pumpkins and making toasted pumpkin seeds also happens in the kitchen. The floors are covered with newspapers to catch all the pumpkin innards. The dogs always area part of the process as they look on and hope that a seed or innards land in front of their mouth.

Olivia with her finished pumpkin.
She drew the face and I carved it for her.
She wasn't quite ready yet to handle the big knife.
(Taken around 2007 or 2008 - when she was 3 or 4 years old.)

Lots of science experiments and hands-on science lessons also have happened in the kitchen. One of the girls favorite science lessons was making "Edible Earth." Each one made her own Earth. 

Each Earth has these components: a cherry to represent the inner core; a large marshmallow for the outer core; a Rice Krispies bar-mixture to represent the mantle; and peanut butter covered with crushed Oreo cookies as the crust.

The girls noticed that the cookies had "boulders" and "large rocks" in it - since the blades grinding the cookies didn't chop everything in a perfectly-uniform manner.

Mixing the Rice Krispies

Sophia is mixing Rice Krispies with dairy-free butter and 
marshmallows to create the mantle part of the Edible Earth.
(Taken on August 12, 2010, when Sophia was 9 years old.)

An interesting science experiment the girls did in the kitchen was to determine lung capacity.

Lung Capacity Experiment
Olivia emptied about a third of the pop container of water 
so only carbon dioxide was left in the top part.
February 18, 2011

The kitchen represents more than a place to make meals to me. It is a place that represents memories of learning, having fun, holiday traditions, and family legacies.


Gina @ Gigi Marie Photography said...

What great projects that they will remember forever!

Fishcake_random said...

This such a lovely post, It made me smile to see all your cooking adventures and memorys.
I love the way you can make almost anything educational when you homeschool. It's all a matter of imagination.
x x x

Domestically Seasoned said...

All these neat things your kids get to do, I really want to be your kid!

Shayla Burks said...

What wonderful memories in one room!

Anna @ Cozy Corner Crochets said...

Your girls got such an amazing educqtion! Living in New Mexico, it was only natural that I got Molly Josephina. (You would have thought I got her Molly, right?)She still sits up in the closet with the other things Molly has outgrown. My children also started in the kitchen when they were young. We had a standing joke that Colin, the older child, could not be trusted with a knife, but Molly could. Today, she still loves to cook, and from the notes I see on FB, Colin has branched out beyond microwaved potatoes. LOL