Friday, December 11, 2009

building a model ziggurat

and in the distance...a child yawns.

for some people, history is a big ole snore fest subject. i feel likewise about math. no. scratch that. i have a hatred beyond earthly realms towards math. but HISTORY....i like meself some history.

we are studying the ancients right now. we just covered the fertile crecent, the sumerians, and ancient mesopatmia. our curriculum, History Odyssey, gives some craft projects to look up. among those was one for a model ziggurat. zigga-what? oh yes....ziggurat. a temple for worshiping gods. the reference model given in my curriculum used plaster, clay, waiting...and waiting...and painting. ummm......not me. not now. not EVER. i have FOUR kids, one being an infant. so we improvised. i knew my stock of empty boxes that cluttered a cobwebbed corner of our schoolroom would come in handy someday.

try these websites/books for references of study:

The Story of the World: Volume 1, Susan Bauer

Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbors: an Activity Guide , Marion Broida

simply stack and glue or tape down large to small boxes, cut openings in each level, tear some strips of a box top to make stairs, have the kids make little men and food offerings on leftover scraps of boxes.

this went together in 12 minutes flat and the kids played with it for the next four days. but, of course, it is made with don't expect it to withstand kid fingers and drooley two year olds.

p.s. bonus mommy points if you stand over the ziggurat while the kids are in mid play, and using your best mock "god" voice say, "INFIDELS! YOU HAVE ANGERED THE GODS! ROOOOOOARRRrrrrrrr," and tickle them silly.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

food club: december

i started a local food club among my friends in september. a host picks a food and we all gather to chat, prepare food, and share recipes. like a well yeasted loaf, our small group has grown and multiplied and we have made a hodge podge of delightful goodies.

our first meeting we made small, freezable pizzas. month two brought meatballs and meatloaves, again a freezer staple. for november we got a head start on the christmas baking season and made bounds of cookies. oh, how i wish my newborn foggy brain would have let me remember to take pictures at those meetings!

but i was of right mind at this month's food club.

we made christmas candy. everyone brought their own supplies, recipes, and merry moods. there were 9 of us and about a million kids and the chatter and noise and good cheer was just what i needed to help boost me through this unfortunately stressful holiday season.

there were peanut butter balls, pretzels, and crackers that were given oozing heapfuls of chocolate. one brave soul made peppermint patties and i've no doubt her hands still smell like mint today. i even discovered a mother's secret recipe ingredient for her fudge....velvetta! i brought my mother's candy molds and made almond joys and mounds, along with almond studded white chocolate and some peppermint bark.

these treats won't last long if kept around for busy hands to snatch and toothy smiles to gobble.

i give you some "recipes". i am not a measure cook. i hate and despise to pull out my cup and measure anything, unless in the necessary case of baking. so these are guesstimations at the recipes i used. i encourage you to step out of your measuring spoon and make the knightly leap into willy-nilly chefing. you may have some pitfalls along the way, but i assure you that you will come out richer...

store all these candies in a covered container in cool, dark spot. do not refrigerate.

almond joys and mounds bars

candy molds
milk chocolate or dark chocolate for melting (you can use chocolate flavored almond bark or milk
chocolate hershey bars)
sweetned flaked coconut
confectioners sugar
corn syrup
whole almonds

melt chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave until smooth (if using the microwave, cook for short increments and stir between each cycle--it will burn very quickly if let cook too long). using a small spoon to help, take a bit of chocolate and drizzle it in the bottom and up the sides of your molds. if you are making almond joys put an almond in the bottom and push it gently into the bottom chocolate. tap your mold against the counter to release any bubbles. freeze for a few minutes to harden. while your first molds freeze, mix your coconut (i used about 2 cups) with confectioners sugar (about 1/4 cup) and corn syrup (about 1/4 cup). it will be sticky and thick. pull the molds from the freezer and fill the cavity with your coconut mixture, leaving a bit of room on the sides for the top chocolate to fill in. cover with melted chocolate and tap again to let chocolate settle around the mixture. freeze again to set, just a minute or two.
makes about 20-25 candies.

for both the white chocolate with almonds and the peppermint bark i used the same chocolate mixture, and seperated it out into two equal portions.

white chocolate or almond bark
peppermint candies, crushed
whole almonds

melt your white chocolate or almond bark as directed above. chop mints and mix in with the peppermint bark batch. pour each batch onto seperate cookie sheets lined with wax paper and smooth out to about 1/4 inch thickness. gently press the whole almonds onto one batch, and gently press crushed peppermints onto the top of the peppermint bark batch. place cookie sheets in the freezer for a few minutes to set. break off into chunks.

my friend, kim, also made these cute little pretzel sticks. they were a huge hit with the kids.

pretzel sticks
colored melting chocolate
peppermint candies, crushed

melt chocolate. dip one end of the pretzel sticks into the chocolate and lay on a sheet of wax paper. sprinkle peppermints onto the chocolate before it cools. let cool in the freezer or on the counter.

i wish you all a happy holiday season and a merry christmas!


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