Friday, September 27, 2013

Carl Larsson - Art/Artist Study

During the past few weeks, Sophia and Olivia have been looking at the artwork by Carl Larsson as part of their homeschooling. We focused on the six paintings that Mr. Larsson did. The girls each looked at one picture at a time for a while and then shared what they remembered about each one. 


Carl Larsson (May 28, 1853 – January 22, 1919) was a Swedish painter and interior designer, representative of the Arts and Crafts movement. His many paintings include watercolors, oils, and frescoes. He considered Midvinterblot (Midwinter Sacrifice) - a large wall mural now displayed inside the Swedish National Museum of Fine Arts - to be his finest work.

Larsson was born in Stockholm. His parents were extremely poor, and his childhood was not happy. Carl's strong artistic talent began early in life. When he was 13 years old, his teacher at the school for the poor persuaded him to apply for enrollment at Principskolan, the preparatory department of the Royal Art Academy.

Larsson's endlessly working mother provided for his and his siblings' everyday needs through her job as a laundress. His artistic talent was most likely inherited from his grandfather on his mother's side, who was a painter by trade.

After several years working as an illustrator of books, magazines, and newspapers, Larsson moved to Paris in 1877, where he spent several frustrating years as a hardworking artist without any success.

After spending two summers in Barbizon, the refuge of the plein-air painters, he settled down with his Swedish painter colleagues in 1882 in Grez-sur-Loing, at a Scandinavian artists' colony outside Paris. It was there that he met the artist Karin Bergöö, who soon became his wife.

This was to be a turning point in Larsson's life. In Grez, Larsson painted some of his most important works, now in watercolor and very different from the oil painting technique he previously used.

Carl and Karin Larsson had eight children and his family became Larsson's favorite models. Many of his watercolors are now popular all over the world. Their eight children included Suzanne (1884), Ulf (1887, who died at 18), Pontus (1888), Lisbeth (1891), Brita (1893), Mats (1894, who died at 2 months), Kersti (1896) and Esbjörn (1900).

Note About Descriptions

Sophia could have kept going on with her descriptions and what she could recall. Last year, she was able to recall quite a few details about the pictures. This year, her ability to recall even more details - and want to continue sharing them - has greatly improved!

Olivia continues to recall many details about each of the pictures and it seems to be getting easier for her as well.


Karin's Name Day, 1894

Sophia Remembered:

=> There are five people in the room, three of them are standing in a semi-circle around the bed.
=> The first person is dressed in a white dress. She has long hair and a crown of flowers that are a mix like lilies and yellow roses,and some leaves. She's holding lily pads and the flowers are sort of wrapped around her.
=> The second girl is a little behind and to her left. She's dressed the same, except she has darker hair.
=> To the left of her is a man in a white robe and he has white hair and a long white beard.In his right hand, he's carrying one of the flowers and a lily pad; and with his left hand he's holding a white scroll across his chest.
=> They area all looking at another girl who is laying on her side and looking at them. She's in a blue bedstead with white blankets.
=> On her legs is a breakfast tray with some more of the flowers. She also has brown hair that is a little wavy, and she's looking up at the many in white.
=> Behind her is a younger girl in a green bedstead with lighter brown hair and an interested expression.
=> Behind the two girls is a big window and underneath it is a dresser.

Olivia Remembered: 

=> There are three women or four women, but I don't know about the one with the beard.
=> There's one child.
=> There's a blue and green bed.
=> The three women are angry looking - they are frowning. They have lilies and lily pads.
=> The woman in the bed has lilies,a try with a tea cup, tea post,and food.
=> There's a red and white curtain in the back.
=> All the people are wearing white dresses or nightgowns.
=> There's a window above the little girl's bed and you can see the blue sky and some trees win it.
-> There's a window above the little girl's bed and you can see the blue sky and some trees in it.
=> There's another window behind the three people who are standing up.
=> The floor is wood.
=>On the white walls, there are yellow pattern on it near the ceiling.
=> The man is holding a scroll with both hands.


Old Anna, 1895.

Sophia Remembered:

=> There are two rooms. The first floor has a big wooden stove on the right hand side.
=> In the chimney area, there's a vase of flowers.
=> To the left of that there are three chairs that are a reddish color. Next to that there's a red door that's open.
=> To the left of the door, is another red chair and above the one red chair, there is a shelf and on the shelf are four serving plates, a teapot of some sort, and above that is a decorative plate that has ferns on it.
=> Above the three chairs there's another little ledge with three silver plates, 2 casserole dishes, and above that a decorative plate with a rooster on it.
=> In the second room, you can't see all of it, but the back has a couple of plates and to the left and down, a vial with a round bottom.
=> In front of the dishes, there is a lady who's scrubbing a dish. She has a rather stern expression and has brown hair that's braided into a loop.
=> She's wearing a blue and white blouse, a  grayish-white skirt and white apron. There are the feet of a child and the child has black shoes, and red and gray stockings.

Olivia Remembered: 

=> There are 14 plates.
=> There are two trays.
=>The walls are kind of green in the main room.
=> The kitchen is a pale-ish color
=> The doorway has one pairs of feet there's a child.
=> There's a wooden stove and on top there's a vase of flowers.
=> There are three chairs and behind them is a round thing that I think is a table.
=>On the wall behind the table and chairs, there is a plate with a rooster on it.
=> There's one person that I can see - a woman.
=>The woman has an apron over a blue and white dress. Her hair is pulled up a bun.
=> here's


Kersti with Cat in the Flower Bed, about 1900

Sophia Remembered:

=> There is a wide dirt path and on the left side there is some grass.
=> Standing next to the grass on the dirt road is a little girl wearing brown shoes, black and gray stockings, and a dark grayish dress with long sleeves that are gray and sort of a dark black color.
=> She has dark blond hair that is long and a black beret on her head.
=>She has a smile on her face as she's eating the piece of bread.
=> At her feet on the grass is a black and white cat who is bent over sniffing the grass. You can't see its face.
=> To the right of the girl is a tall, green picket fence. Connected to the fence is a red house with two windows that have white curtains.
=> In the first window, there are pots filled with green leaves and red flowers.
=> In the second window, there are more pots with green leaves.
=> Behind the girl, under the window, is a flower garden surrounded by gray rocks.
=> In the garden, there are green stems, red flowers, yellow sunflowers, and little blue flowers.

Olivia Remembered: 

=> There is a black and white cat.
=> There is a little girls who is holding a piece of bread. She's wearing black and white stockings, a black dress, a black cap, and brown shoes.
=> There's a shed behind her that is the color of rust.
=> There's a green gate.
=> There's a flower bed behind the girl and in front of the shed.
=> There are pansies - or some kind of flowers. They're darkish color - black in the picture. There were sunflowers and red flowers.
=> The shed has two windows. In one window there is shrubbery. In the other window there are red flowers.
=> It is sunny out. The sky is blue. I don't see a lot of the sky.
=> There's dirt, grass, and rocks on the ground.
=> The shed is made out of metal.
=> The cat is out in the open.
=> The girl has auburn color hair.


Interior with Cactus, 1914.

Sophia Remembered:

=> There is a window with white shutters to the far left.
=> Underneath the window is a small white table and on the table is a wooden bowl or pitcher. Next to that is a woven basket. In the basket, it looks like there are brightly-colored clothes.
=> On thew all to the left of the window is a cabinet but it's off the ground. In the center of it  are two pictures that are made out of wood.
=> Next to that is a picture with a white design in the  center and under it is a nail with a rifle. Under that is a blue chair and next to that is a white chair and there's another white chair with a girl sitting on it.
=> The girl has yellow hair and it is braided down her back with a blue ribbon.
=> She's wearing a dress that's the same color as the ribbon.
=> She is wearing a white apron and white lacy collar.
=> Next to the girl is a big round table with a white table runner down the center.
=> On the table runner is a plate.
=> On the plate is a brown flower planter that has tall pink flowers and a stick on the side to hold up the flowers.

Olivia Remembered: 

=> There are four terra cotta planters. There is a big planter on the table that has a pretty flowers and a tablecloth under it.
=> Behind the table is a blue cabinet.
=> There are three chairs and there's a girl sitting on one of them. She looks like she is washing clothes.
=> There is a smaller round table with a basket that has some vegetables in it and a vase beside it.
=> The walls are painted yellow.
=> On top of the blue cabinet there are some white bowls and china stuff...or porcelain.
=> In the center of everything there are two pictures.
=> There is a pretty brown bowl with a cactus in it.
=> There's a green cabinet attached to the wall.
=> There's a picture between the green and blue cabinets.
=> Under the picture, there is a gun.
=> The girl is wearing a blue dress and it has a white apron on it.


Flowers on the Windowsill, 1895.

Sophia Remembered:

=> There was a long wide window that takes up most of the room. The window is made up of five windows that can open and close.
=> On the wide window sill are 16 different plants in different size planters.
=> One of the plants that's closest to the wall has started to climb up it.
=> Watering her plants is a girl with yellow hair done up in a braid wearing a dark gray dress and dark tights.
=> To the left and right of the window is one candelabra with two candles on either side.
=> Underneath the candles there are two pictures of people.
=> On the left side of the window there is a couch with blue and white stripe cloth draped over it, and a pillow that's the same color as the fabric.
=> There's also a round decorative pillow with red flowers and green leaves.
=> On the other side of the window, there's a big tall bureau with gold locks on it.
=> On the bureau there is a tall plant on it.
=> In the middle of the room there's a table that you can fold in half and a ball of black yarn with a pair of knitting needles.

Olivia Remembered: 

=> There is a girl who is wearing a dark blue dress and at the bottom are three black lines.
=> The girl is watering her plants that are on her window seat.
=> To the left of her, there's a couch and there's fabric draped over it and a pillow.
=> In the middle of the room is a round table and there are two chairs - plain white and the other painted white with a cushion on the back. It has some crowns on the fabric.
=> On both sides of the windows there are two candle holders. Below each candle holder there is a picture of someone.
=> To the right, there is a dresser. On the dresser there's lace and on top of that a plant.
=> She has darkish golden hair and she braided her hair.
=> The floor is wood and there's fabric that the inside of it was cut out.
=> The plants are green and some of them have flowers which are red.
=> She is watering her plants with a tealish watering can.
=> Two of the plants have climbed up the wall.


Lisbeth with Peonies, 1909.

Sophia Remembered:

=> In the center of the picture, there's a tall lady who is wearing a white blouse with sleeves that go down to her elbow. Her skirt is a white and blue checkered. She has a sash draped over her shoulder that's the same fabric as her skirt.
=> She has reddish brown hair that's braided and pulled up in the back with a black ribbon.
=> She's holding a small bouquet of flowers and is walking down the path.
=> Around her are lots of flowers and green grass.
=> It's painted so it looks like she's standing in the middle of the flowers.
=> Behind her is a house that's stone on the bottom for the base and wood for the rest of the way up.
=> The house has two long windows, but you can't see all of the second one.
=> Behind her you can see the branches of a green tree with small leaves.
=> She has her head down and appears to be looking at the flowers in her hand.
=> The house is brightly colored and in between the two windows is a strange looking blue bird with a hooked beak. It looks like it is wearing an oddly-colored shirt. His wings look like he has oven mitts on.

Olivia Remembered: 

=> There is a woman who is wearing a white cardigan and over it she's wearing an apron that's checkered white and blue.
=> Behind her is a big barnyard house.
=> To the right - kind of hidden - is a door.
=> There's a separation of wood that divides two windows. On it is a painted bird.
=> The woman is holding some freshly-picked flowers.
=> The barn is red and green.
=> The woman's hair is a golden color that's pulled up in a bun with a black ribbon.
=> There are pansies that are light pink on the outside and a dark pink on the inside.
=> The bunch of  flowers she's holding are red and yellow, and she also is holding two pansies. She's standing there and frowning.
=> There is grass and weeds around her.
=> The sky is kind of cloudy.
=> By the door is a willow tree.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Making Homemade Feeders for the Birds

My daughters and I made a variety of homemade feeders and seed mix for the birds this summer. We have enjoyed watching a variety of birds eat at the feeders: nuthatches, blue jays, black-capped chickadees, downy woodpeckers, gray catbirds, house sparrows, and purple finches.

These recipes are easy and fun to make; and watching the birds provides entertainment, enjoyment, and educational value for people of all ages...especially children.

Peanut Butter Bird Seed Balls

Peanut Butter Bird Seed Balls 
before they were placed in the freezer.


2 cups bread crumbs
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour (use whole wheat if possible)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 cup unsalted nuts
4-5 chopped apples
1 cup raisins
1 8 oz. jar chunky peanut butter
1 cup bird seed
1 c. suet


Mix ingredients well. If necessary you can add additional suet or even bacon drippings if it is too crumbly. Shape into balls. Freeze.

These can be placed in a mesh bag and hung outside on a tree limb for the birds to enjoy. Otherwise, do as we did: place them on top of birdseed in an open feeder.

Popcorn Bird Treat

Popcorn Bird Treat before was placed in mesh bags.


Peanut Butter
7 cups popcorn (no salt or butter)
Blanched peanuts, Craisens, raisins, and/or dried blueberries
Egg shells
Cracked corn
Black oil sunflower seed


Mix all together and put in a mesh bag. Hang in the tree for the birds to enjoy.

Hanging the feeder filled with popcorn, fruit, and 
other goodies for the birds.

Suet and Meal Worm Log Feeder

Log - about 2 feet long that is dry
Eye screw
Drill with various size drill bits
Dried meal worms
Twine or heavy yarn

Place eye screw in one end of the log. Using a drill and various size drill bits, place many holes in the log that are about 1/2 deep.

Drilling holes in the log.

Fill with suet and dried meal worms.

Placing suet in one of the holes.

Put twine or heavy yarn through the eye screw and hang onto a tree branch. Make sure the branch is thick enough to support the feeder.

Two birds at the feeders.

As a side note, within one minute of coming indoors from hanging the log feeder in the tree, a black-capped chickadee found it. From that point on, there were many bird visitors of different types (mostly chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers).

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Crescent Pepperoni Roll Ups

Recently I saw a pin for Crescent Pepperoni Roll Ups on Plain Chicken. This was so easy to make and everyone liked it. It definitely will be one of the recipes I can use when I'm time-pressed and need to make a simple dinner.

Crescent Pepperoni Roll Ups we made.

1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
40 slices turkey pepperoni (we used regular pepperoni)
4 pieces of mozzarella string cheese, cut in half
garlic powder
pizza sauce


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Unroll crescent rolls and separate into 8 triangles. Place 5 slices of pepperoni on each crescent roll. Top pepperoni with string cheese half and roll up. Sprinkle crescent rolls with garlic powder. Place rolls on baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with a side of warm pizza sauce.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Bringing Literature Alive: Catherine Called Birdy

During the summer, we read Catherine, Called Birdy for the book club that I was coordinating for a group of girls. At the meeting, we focused on activities that related to Catherine, Called Birdy which was set in 1290. We did activities that were related to that time period as well as ones that were mentioned in the book (e.g., journal making/keeping).

Book/Journal Making

We made a couple different small books/journals. One was made from a brown bag that could be carried. It is tied shut at the top which the girls liked. They used a variety of ribbons to make their ties. I saw a pin for the idea on Pinterest. The pin led to instructions on The Examiner.

Making a journal from a brown paper bag and copy paper.
The girls decorated the outside with markers and stickers.

We discussed the difference between a journal and diary. (A journal is much more personal than a diary. A journal contains feelings, emotions, problems, assurances and is used to examine one’s life. Diary writing is a daily activity whereas journal writing can be done whenever the writer feels the need to write.)

This was a small book that was made with 
two rectangular sheets of paper.
The girls both enjoyed making this type of book.

Another book the girls made used two rectangular sheets of paper. Some girls choose the same colors while others chose different colors. The idea came from a pin on Pinterest that led to Artists Helping Children.

Birdy Bingo

We played Birdy Bingo where each of the spots on the board had a medieval theme picture. The girls all enjoyed this game...especially since there were prizes!

Playing Birdy Bingo.

Bird Ornament

We cut out and created bird ornaments. There is a pin that led to Make: Craft that has a PDF file with the bird images.

Sophia and another book club participant making bird ornaments.


We created and used catapults that we made from popsicle sticks and clothespins. We tested them out using different size pompoms and paper to see how far they would travel.

I got the idea from a pin on Pinterest. There were no instructions for the catapult, but it was easy enough to figure out how to make it.

Watercolor Painting

I saw a pin on Pinterest with an image of cute birds that were done with watercolor paints and Sharpies.

The girls doing a watercolor painting of birds.

Elivie's Studio showed how the artist created images of birds using the paints and markers.

Olivia adding details to her bird painting.

This was one of the favorite activities of the morning.


A few times in the book bees, beeswax, and honey were mentioned. We looked at pictures from beehives and of beekeeping; smelled and touched beeswax; and looked at some beekeeping equipment (hat, coverall/suit, and smoker).

Wool and Sheep

One of the tasks that Catherine did was spin wool.

Looking at cotton and comparing it to sheep wool.

We looked at wool from a sheep and tried carding wool. The wool was compared to raw cotton that was shown and could be touched. The cotton was from a field in Alabama.

Olivia carding wool with another book club participant.

Food Sampling

We ate some food that was mentioned in the book; and is the most readily-obtainable and familiar to the children these days. We enjoyed a variety of nuts, cheeses, honey, apples (plain and dried), ginger wafers, and apple tart. We even had pickled herring on crackers!

All of the girls tried the herring at the same time.
Their reactions were quite interesting to the taste.

Sophia's reaction after seeing 
some of the other girls' reaction to trying herring.

There were many foods less common today that were mentioned as well – such as pigs’ stomachs to eels – but these probably wouldn’t have been well received by the children. The recipes for the ginger wafers and apple tart are below.

Apple Tart (Serves 6-8)

This recipe is from a pin I saw on Pinterest. It led to Maman's Apple Tart. It was okay...but we probably would not make it again.

Apple tart.


1 1⁄4 cups flour
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2" cubes and chilled
3 tbsp. vegetable shortening
2 tbsp. milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 large Golden Delicious, Empire, or Cortland apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8–12 wedges
2 tbsp. apricot preserves or jam


1. Heat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1 tbsp. sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add 3 tbsp. butter and the shortening and, using your fingers, rub into flour mixture to form coarse pea-size pieces. Add milk and egg and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Bring dough together with your hands. Transfer dough to a 9" glass pie plate and, using lightly floured fingers, press dough into bottom and sides; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Arrange apple wedges side by side on bottom of pie plate like the spokes of a wheel, pushing gently into the dough as you go. Halve remaining apples and put in middle of tart. Sprinkle apples with remaining sugar and dot with the remaining chilled butter. Bake until the crust is golden, about 45 minutes. Using a pastry brush, brush apricot preserves over the tart and bake for 10 minutes more. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Ginger Wafers

I found the recipe for the ginger wafers on Pinterest. This is the pin with the image of the cookies. They didn't exactly turn out like the pin because I didn't frost them. Like the apple tart, it was okay. We have a ginger cookie that we all prefer that has three different types of ginger (dried, candied, and fresh).


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, and then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 Tbsp. of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.

3. Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on a baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Optional Glaze:

1/4 tsp. vanilla
1-1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (add a little more if needed)
3-5 tsp. milk, as needed

Combine ingredients only using 3 tsp. of milk; add more a little at a time as needed to get a drizzling consistency.

Book Tie-In

After we were home, we read Marguerite Makes a Book. I saw the pin for the book on Pinterest. The girls enjoyed listening to it, and hearing the connections to what they did and ate. For example, parsley was used to create a green-color for paint.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Learning about Rosh Hashanah + Honey Cake Recipe

Part of this year's homeschooling goals is to learn about different holidays and celebrations - religious and cultural ones throughout the world. Today marks Rosh Hashanah - one of the High Holy Days of the Jewish faith.

We read two books about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (which occurs later this month):

=> On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur - by Kathy Goldberg Fishman

=> Celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with Honey, Prayers, and the Shofar - by Deborah Heiligman and Rabbi Shira Stern

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. According to On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, "Rosh Hashanah is not the new year in terms of is the new year for how we think and act."

What we enjoyed reading and learning about is the special traditions associated with this holiday. One of the things that families do is light holiday candles before they eat the New Year's meal. People pray for a new year of joy, good health, and peace.

There are many items that are round that are part of Rosh Hashanah, most notably apples and raisin-filled challah (a type of bread). They are round like the cycle of the year is round.

Embroidered Apple
Hand-embroidered apple on a quilt I made.

Honey also is a part of the meal. Apples and/or challah can be dipped in honey. This symbolizes the hope that the new year will be sweet - as sweet as honey and challah, apples, and honey taste.

Olivia and Sophia trying to find the queen bee
in a glass-enclosed frame at the 
2012 Minnesota State Fair.

People go to synagogue to pray and listen to the shofar (a curved horn of a ram). In the afternoon, they visit a river, lake, or other body of water. They take either lint from their pockets or bits of crumbs and toss it into the water. This represents the bad deeds and thoughts of the past year. As they float away, people promise to try to do better in the new year.

The girls watching fish swimming in the St. Croix River
on their first day of homeschool for the 2013-14 year.

Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), people think about the good things that they should do during the upcoming year. Money is put in a tzedakah box which is given to rabbis so they an help people who are in need.

Q is for Quarters ATC
Quarters - real and rubbings.

Besides reading about Rosh Hashanah today, the girls made a recipe that was in Celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with Honey, Prayers, and the Shofar: Rabbi Shira's Honey Cake. This is a delicious cake that is rich with spices and honey. It has a similar texture to a sponge cake.

A piece of Rabbi Shira's Honey Cake that the girls made
for Rosh Hashanah.


5 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups self-rising flour
Confectioner's sugar
Slivered almonds, lightly toasted (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate egg whites and egg yolks. Beat egg whites with a mixer until they look stiff. Slowly add sugar to egg whites with mixer at lowest speed. Add egg yolks and oil to egg-white mixture with a whisk. Be gentle. Keep stirring.

Add honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and flour using a wooden spoon. Remember to be gentle. Stir until all the flour is absorbed.

Pour batter into a 10-inch pan sprayed with vegetable oil and then lightly dusted with flour. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out gooey, the cake's not done yet. Try not to open the door of the oven until you think the time is up. 

Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Loosen the edges and bottom of the cake with a long knife. Turn the cake onto a rack.

Once the cake is completely cool, place it on a plate. To make it look pretty, shake confectioner's sugar on top. Sprinkled with the almonds, if you like.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Recipes for a Labor Day Meal

We tried a variety of new recipes for Labor Day this year. This is a result of doing an online homeschooling planning session during August. Part of the task was to look at the rhythm of the year - which includes holidays and special celebrations.

I went through my recipes as well as looked on Pinterest for ideas for some ideas for a Labor Day meal. Below are the recipes and pictures of what we made.

For our main meal, we ate later in the day...about 2:00 p.m. We had brats, hot dogs, baked beans, honey sweet corn, and an orange-lemonade drink. For dessert, we had peach melba mountain. The last three items were all new recipes.

Peach Melba Mountain I made for Labor Day.

For dinner, we weren't very hungry so we just had some crackers and cheese. We also had caramel apple grapes and homemade peach ice cream for dessert. The recipes for these items are below.

Honey Sweet Corn

Honey Sweet Corn.

This recipe is from Taste of Home magazine. (I found a pin for it on Pinterest as well.) It's very easy to make and everyone enjoyed it. The honey does not add a lot of flavor. In fact, we weren't able to taste it. Perhaps it did add a hint of sweetness, though, to the corn.

6 medium ears sweet corn
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon honey
Ground pepper and salt

Place corn in a Dutch oven or stockpot; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cover and cook for 5-10 minutes or until tender. Drain. In a small bowl, combine butter and honey; brush over corn. Sprinkled with salt and pepper, if desired.



Holidays Central has a variety of recipes for Labor Day. (This is the pin on Pinterest.) One that I wanted to try was the beverage. My grandma used to make orange-lemonade from fresh oranges and lemons. I still prefer my grandma's version, but this recipe was so easy to make.

The only modification that I made to the recipe was that I didn't include the grated lemon peel or orange peel. If the girls saw the peels floating in their beverage, they wouldn't have drank it.

1 1/4 cup water + 3 cups water, divided
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon grated orange peel

Bring 1 1/4 cup water and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and then pour into a pitcher.

Stir in lemon juice, orange juice, grated lemon peel, and grated orange peel. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Stir in 3 cups of water and serve over ice.

Peach Melba Mountain

Peach Melba Mountain.
Made from angel food cake, whipped topping, 
peaches, and strawberries.

I've wanted to try this recipe for seven years's from the May/June 2006 issue of Country Woman. (I also have a pin of it on Pinterest.) The three-layer angel food cake has lots of fresh fruit and whipped topping between each layer, so the final cake ends up being very tall.

Instead of raspberries, I used strawberries, and I didn't include any almonds in the recipe - either in the topping or as decoration.

The recipe calls for letting it chill for 30 minutes before serving. Since we were going to be eating only a small part of the cake, I chose to remove a section, do the layering with the whipped topping and fruit, and immediately serve it. By chilling it for 30 minutes, it could give the cake a bit more stability and ease for cutting. Otherwise, it is a wobbly cake (because of the height) and difficult to cut into thin slices.

1 package (16 ounces) angel food cake mix
1 package (3 ounces) peach or orange gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 carton (12 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted, divided
3 cups sliced peeled fresh peaches
3 cups fresh raspberries

Prepare and bake cake according to package directions, using an ungreased 10-in. tube pan (also known as an angel food cake pan). Immediately invert pan; cool completely, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water; cool. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and extract until fluffy. Gradually beat in gelatin. Fold in whipped topping and 3/4 cup almonds. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Run a knife around side and center tube of pan. Remove cake.

Cut cake into three horizontal layers. Place bottom layer on a serving plate; spread with a third of the cream mixture. Top with 1 cup of peaches and 1 cup of raspberries. Repeat layers.

Adding the fruit layer.

Sprinkle with remaining almonds. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 12-14 servings.

Nutritional Facts: 1 serving (1 slice) equals 336 calories, 13 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 18 mg cholesterol, 301 mg sodium, 47 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 7 g protein.

Caramel Apple Grapes

Caramel Apple Grapes.

I saw a pin for caramel apple grapes on Pinterest. The pin led to a recipe on On The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife. I was intrigued by this one because it said that the grapes end up tasting just like caramel apples. None of us thought they tasted like caramel apples, but they were delicious nonetheless.

They are easy to make. One thing we learned was that it was best to allow some of the caramel to drip off of the grape before putting it in the peanuts. We also didn't have enough toothpicks on hand, so we just used a few toothpicks to dip the grapes and them removed them when we were done.

1 cup caramel bits
2 tablespoons heavy cream
handful of seedless green grapes
1 cup salted peanuts, crushed

Poke toothpicks into the tops of each grape; set aside. In a small pot over medium-low heat, combine the caramel bits and cream. Stir until melted. Reduce heat to lowest setting just to keep warm.

Place the peanuts in a shallow dish and dip the grapes into the caramel sauce and then roll in the crushed nuts. Place on a plate to set. Repeat until all the grapes are used.

Peach Cheesecake Ice Cream

Peach Cheesecake Ice Cream.

I've been holding onto this recipe for years (since 2007), and I'm so glad that we finally tried it! (I also pinned it on Pinterest.) This is an incredibly rich and flavorful ice cream. You do not need to eat a lot to enjoy it.

We followed the recipe closely with the exception of the last part that talks about dividing the peaches and adding them to each batch. The ice cream maker we have was large enough to hold the entire recipe, so we could add the peaches all at once.

We also were unable to find peach nectar. So, we substituted mango nectar and guava nectar - 1/4 cup each to equal the 1/2 cup that was noted in the recipe.

1 cup milk
1-1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, cubed
1/2 cup peach nectar
4 teaspoons lemon juice
4 medium peaches, peeled and chopped or 1-1/2 cups frozen sliced peaches, chopped

In a small saucepan, heat milk to 175°; stir in 1-1/4 cups sugar until dissolved. Whisk a small amount into the egg yolks. Return all to the pan, whisking constantly. Cook and stir over low heat until mixture reaches at least 160° and coats the back of a metal spoon.

Remove from the heat. Cool quickly by placing pan in a bowl of ice water; stir for 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

In a blender, combine the cream, vanilla and cream cheese; cover and process until smooth. Add to cooled milk mixture. Stir in peach nectar and lemon juice. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. (Note: we refrigerated the mixture for three hours.)

Fill cylinder of ice cream freezer two-thirds full; freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Place peaches in a bowl; sprinkle with remaining sugar. Set aside, stirring several times. Drain and discard juice from peaches. Add some of the peaches to each batch of ice cream during the last 5 minutes of freezing.

Refrigerate remaining mixture and peaches until ready to freeze. Transfer ice cream to a freezer container; freeze for 2-4 hours before serving. May be frozen for up to 2 months.

Yield: 2 quarts.

The ice cream is loaded with fresh peaches.

I enjoyed making a variety of new recipes. Sophia helped me with the ice cream and caramel apple grapes which made being in the kitchen on a holiday even that much better!