Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chicken and Red Lentil Dhal

Dhal is a simple Middle-Eastern comfort food.  It's a bean/pea stew.  It reminded me of our more typical gumbos and potato soups in the way that every family has their own recipe and it's wholesome, gratifying, and warm. While this recipe calls for a large amount of spices, it is not spicy or hot; it is rather mild, complex, and homey.  And it made my house smell delicious.  It was so good and so inexpensive (although if I had had to go out and purchase multiple herbs and spices that might have changed things).  I would brag that the man ate it, but he eats everything whether he likes it or not - he's the worst test subject ever.  But he did ask for this to be cooked again.  Our 2-year-old (the non-eater) ate all that was on his plate and then began stealing bites from our plates.  It is being added to the routine recipe repeat file in this house.

Chicken and Red Lentil Dhal/Dahl/Dal
Serves 6
Time: 35 minutes
2 chicken thigh quarters
1 cup red lentils
1 small yellow onion, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp cumin powder or seeds
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp salt
1 tbsp coconut oil, olive oil, or vegetable oil
1 can of tomato paste

You will need 1 small bowl and fork or a pestle and mortar, 1 medium pot for simmering and 1large saute pan. Rinse lentils until water runs CLEAR (it will make a better broth).  Place thawed chicken quarters in pot, cover with water and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium and pour in lentils.  Let them cook with the chicken for 30 minutes.  Over medium heat, add oil to the saute pan.  When hot, throw in the diced onion to caramelize.  In your bowl/mortar add minced garlic and ginger, and all of the spices and mix/grind to a grainy/pasty consistency.  Once the onions are caramelized add the curry paste and cook over high heat for a couple of minutes.  Reduce heat to low (but simmering) and stir in the tomato paste and 1 cup of the broth from the other pot (I just dip it out of the pot with the measuring cup).  Cover and let simmer.  Drain the both off chicken and lentils and set aside.  Add the lentils to the tomato curry sauce.  Pick the chicken off the bones (I do this in a colander under cold water since it's HOT).  Add the chicken to the lentils and turn off the heat.  Dinner is ready.  Serve it with some flatbread or pitas.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December Learning for the Toddler Kid

December is packed FULL of learning opportunities.  Since my little turkey is expressing interest in the alphabet right now, I made our first week all about the letters.  We are using books, videos, flashcards, magnets, letter sound games, matching games, a writing board, crafts, online games, foods, and songs to explore the alphabet thoroughly.  I find variety helps keep a 2-year-old from getting bored when covering only one concept for a whole week.  Weeks 2 & 3 will be spent exploring some of the holidays of December: Hanukkah, Solstice, and Christmas (both the secular and religious traditions).  We'll be spending the end of the month learning about Winter, cold weather, dressing appropriately, naked trees, and snow (I'm really hoping it will at some point this winter).  As usual, I'll post photos as we go through the lessons and let you know about all the fun learning that is going on and the ridiculous mishaps that occur too. I would love to hear back from any of you use my plans and let me know how some of the activities work in your house or what things you changed to work better for family (respectfully, please).
Month 6 - December

The Alphabet Learning Center

Alphabet Board

Books about Letters


Letter Learning Games

Abel likes the most annoying one in the stack...
Felt Christmas Tree w/ Ornaments.  Hopefully this will help us keep his hands off the 'real' Christmas trees.

Felt Snowmen with primary color accessories for mix & match games.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

November Lessons from Your Mama

As it is still November, we're in the midst of these so the photos will be posted as we move through the lessons.  Our Dia de los Muertos projects were super fun.  We had a wonderful time baking bread and cutting papel picados and watching Viva Calacas!. I'll be the first to admit that teaching a 2-year-old about the election process (voting) is probably a stretch.  But I'm doing it anyway because it teaches the kid that we can vote as individuals but we are also a unit in which majority counts.  It's a family building exercise.  Thanksgiving had to be covered in this lesson and there are at least 8,000,000 possibilities for pre-k Thanksgiving crafts (I put a few in this lesson).  And last but not least, l decided one is never to young for character building.  I feel it is just as important to be charitable as it is to be grateful and I hope that my son will one day find his role in this world includes working for a better tomorrow for all.  So here it is folks, let me know what you think. Pre-K November

Abe the Babe loves Senior Calvera
Coloring a Sugar Skull Mask

Mama's Sugar Skull Mask
Skeleton Birthday Sugar Cookies - the kiddo helped with the baking!
Just some cakes and cookies we whipped up for the birthday boy
Mmmmmm... death by chocolate
Nothing like a skull cake with flaming eyeballs to say "happy 2nd birthday kid"!
Oh my, this is a hot mess... Good thing these toddlers help pick up their messes!
I told you I was teaching him about elections... (A) says map-map, bwue (blue), wed (red), and bote (vote).  I think it's a good start
 Polishing pennies during election week

 Comparing polished vs. non-polished pennies
 Before, During, and After Shot
Election Day!
 Turkey Shadow Matching
 Thanksgiving Flip and Find
 Matching these turkeys
 Look mom, I did it!
 Turkey Puzzle
 OK I admit I had to help a lot with this one the first few times.
The Thanksgiving Board
 T is for Turkey
  Ambidexterity in toddlers is common.  Right?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Edweirdsville - Camp October for Awesome Kids

Yes, we're still going with this learning-teaching bit around here.  I continue to change up the style of my planning to make my life easier while keeping the system effective.  Since we were constantly rearranging things to fit in with the other things that come up around here, I decided to give the plan more flexibility.  The new plan(s) will be for the entire month and be broken down by week.  My goal is to complete each of the projects listed of course, but I'm focusing on the most important/pertinent ones and having some 'extra' ideas floating out there just in case we need something to fill in some time.  This lesson is for the month of October.  We are covering Fall themes such as:  leaves, migration, hibernation, food collection/storage, harvest, Halloween... We had a great time playing with all of our autumn ideas and we hope you do too!

Pre-K October
The October Board
Tree made from paper bag with construction paper 'leaves' for indoor fall leaf fun
(A) testing which leaves he can blow the farthest (hint: it helps if are curved toward the ground so that they can catch air).
We organized and reorganized leaves by colors, shapes, sizes... 
The little man exploring some cypress needles.
"Look mom, this one is red!"
Separating pine needles
This was a BIG hit with the toddler!  Make a leaf outline with glue on paper and have the kid crumble dry leaves over it.  He showed this picture off to EVERYONE, showing them how he crushed leaves to make it.
Show off.
Leaf print with finger paint (easy)
Not part of the lesson plan, but blowing dandelions is so fun.
Eating them is less fun.
On the lake, checking out the bird migrations
I failed at getting pictures of the pumpkin picking, but here is a small portion  of our fall vegetable garden.
My pirate trick-or-treating.
Cousin trick-or-treaters!
Eeewww!  Pumpkin guts!
Pumpkins are way more awesome once their guts have been extracted.