Cooking and Food

Grandma’s Zucchini Bread and more…

My apron sure got a workout today, not to mention my feet! Picture this for a whirling dervish…me, overseeing three children’s school lessons while canning 50 large *picked today* tomatoes from the garden into A. tomato-okra soup/sauce base and B. Italian tomato sauce with oregano, basil, onion, celery, fresh parsley…oh and add to that mess a big box of zucchini to peel, seed and shred for the freezer! Got 30+ cups shredded with the help of my fantastic lil’ daughters!

So this post is allll about zucchini! My big sis is the one with more zucchini than she knows what to do with, and she is such a darling that she shared a bunch with me…she also shared her Kitchen Aid mixer “slicer-shredder” attachment, to make a big job much easier! Whew…I’m forever in her debt. My husband is forever in her debt. He never knew zucchini bread could be so wonderful. He’s a banana bread fiend, but after tasting zucchini bread, he is forbidding me to ever use zucchini for a side dish again. (Did I mention that he is so not a fan of zucchini? Up till now that is!)

So my big sister also passed on a family heirloom…Grandma B’s recipe for zucchini bread. This is so delicious, people. I made a double batch and we could have eaten both loaves easily, five ways!

Grandma’s Zucchini Bread

Mix together:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 beaten egg

Then add:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2-3/4 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Bake at 350F for 35 minutes.

Next up, Zucchini Pie. Can’t wait to make this and fool the family!

Zucchini Pie (a.k.a. Mock Apple Pie– Shh!)

*tastes like Dutch Apple Pie

  • 4 cups zucchini*
  • 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • dash of salt
  • 2 TB flour
  • 1 TB lemon juice
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp butter (approximately)
  • 1 (9-inch) pie shell


  • 1 stick margarine or butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour

*Peel zucchini. Cut lengthwise; scoop out seeds. Slice to resemble apple slices. (heh heh)

Cook zucchini 10 minutes in small amount of water. Drain. Mix cream of tarter, salt, flour, lemon juice, nutmeg, sugar and cinnamon with zucchini. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Dot with butter.

Make topping by mixing butter, sugar and flour and crumbling over ingredients in pie shell. Bake at 375F for 45 minutes.

I’ll let you all know how our “pie” turned out! :O)

Christianity Family Home Schooling

I Love Homeschooling!

The old-fashioned way of doing things grabs me. Not that I don’t appreciate modern conveniences, but yeah, you just might catch me utilizing a washboard for kicks. And I’d absolutely adore an outdoor kitchen fitted with an enormous antique white stove like great-grandma’s.

I was thinking that about myself this morning–my tendency of appreciating the old and reliable things of my life–as I scrubbed my stove-top with comet. We’re one of the few families left still cooking on a stove with four detachable burners. I still have a phone with a cord on the wall. We don’t do TV, video games, etc. Obviously, we have internet, but even at that, it’s dial-up!

Is there something wrong with that? *Wink*

Maybe that’s why homeschooling brings me such joy. It’s the way things used to be, back when our country was a youngun’, before women went out for careers, before the government mandated preschool. (Okay so maybe it’s not mandated, but the age of compulsory school attendance is getting lower and lower.)

We’re getting our first full week under our belt and I’m increasingly thankful for the freedom I have in this country to choose how to educate my child. What a gift! It’s right up there with the best of God’s blessings. No material comforts we’ve sacrificed compares to what I’m getting back in terms of relationships with my girls.

Here’s a few things I’ve loved this first week back…

First Day’s Treasure Hunt

treasurehunt2We ALWAYS do a treasure hunt to kick-off school. Here the girls are at 7 a.m. raring to go. This year’s hunt was complete with a total of 27 clues, split 3 ways for 3 girls. Each girl found treats along the “trail” of clues with their names attached…things ranging from mini-candy bars to alarm clocks and each girl’s hunt ended at the horse barn, in the tack room…at a big box of this year’s new school books. True treasure, we remind them every year, is what you keep stored in your heart and mind. And, yes, they do get extreasurehunt4cited to see what new books mom’s ordered for their learning enjoyment!

Here is my oldest trying to find the yellow clue taped in the top right-most roosting box.

We had clues in the garden beneath a cherry tomato plant, beneath the stone walkway to the garden, under a shovel in the sandbox, in the “dog barn” on a pet’s gate, on a post by the horse pen, in the play house, down the hill in the barrel of chick feed, in one of the sheds on the seat of the four-wheeler, and so on.

Memorable note about this year’s hunt–we did it in pouring rain! Yup, soggy clues, wind-misplaced clues. What an adventure under blackening skies! And hot chocolate all around once we arrived back in the house for breakfast!

Making Bubble Snakes

bubblesnakes1FUN! While waiting at an orthodontic appointment last week, my oldest and I both read the same Family Fun magazine at different times, and don’t you know, we both zeroed in on the same fun activity to try at home later.  I’d determined to gather the things necessary w/o telling any of the girls, and my oldest daughter pulled it off before I could. We cracked up once we realized we’d both intended on doing the same activity without any consultation whatsoever. And that’s another fun thing about homeschooling. My older girls are all about putting fun things together for their sibs to enjoy.

Bubblesnakes4Here’s what you need for some Bubble Snake fun of your own!

  • recycled plastic water bottle with the bottom half cut off
  • a square of toweling
  • a rubber band
  • blowing bubble solution, dishsoap or best of all, bubble bath

bubblesnakes2To assemble, rubber band the piece of towel to the bottom of the plastic bottle. Get the towel damp-to-wet. Put a thin layer of dishsoap or bubble bath in the bottom of a small bowl and dip the toweled end of the plastic bottle in it. Blow through the drinking hole and you get these lovely snakes! Magical fun for an hour at the very least! And then again when Dad gets home to see!

More of a recess activity, but we counted it as Kindergarten science because we experimented with all of the above soaps to see which worked best! Mr. Bubble!

Such fun catching the floating bubble snakes…you should have seen our lawn afterward…bubble snakes galore!

Other Highlights

For the first time ever, thanks to a generous homeschool-mom friend loaning me her FIAR books Vol. 1-3, I’m using Five In A Row with my Kindergartner, a wonderful many-faceted approach to all school subjects via the premise of reading the same classic literature for “five days in a row”.  This week, we’re reading The Story About Ping. Each day, after reading, we tackle a unit study about some theme in the book, whether it be ducks (Ping is a duckling that gets lost in the Yangtze River in China), China, the beautiful crayon and colored pencil drawings of Kurt Wiese, etc.

Yesterday we were discussing the copyright page, and what makes a book a classic. The Story About Ping was written and published in 1933. A classic is a book read by many generations, so I tried to home in on that fact by asking my 5 year old if she knew who was born in 1934, the year after Ping was written. (her grandpa)

She leaned forward, eyes huge and completely serious. “God?”

Obviously I’ve failed to impart the eternal aspect of God to this girl.

But giggles aside, we have been having so much fun with Ping. Found all sorts of neat helps at for a lapbook on the study, and youngest and I were having such a great time that her older sisters had to come to the table and get involved as well.

Last but not least, my oldest and I are enjoying such a cool friendship. Yesterday after school was done, after we’d helped out at the CSA farm for a couple hours, when we were back home and I had a messy house to deal with for company coming the next day…my younger two vamoosed outside to escape me putting them to work, but my oldest volunteered herself for duty. Her only request? Christian music. Loud.

So while we were cleaning the DJ comes on and tells about how Maria Chapman’s “House of Hope” opened in China recently, and how 700 orphans are living there now…and of course, anyone who knows about the tragic death of little Maria (Steven Curtis Chapman’s little adopted girl from China) would be moved to tears to hear the story behind why this orphanage is called “Maria’s House of Hope”. My daughter and I paused with our dustcloths and bawled happy tears together.

Moral of this happy ramble…

If you love having fun and spending time with your kids, if you want to be there when they learn to read-when they lovingly and patiently help their younger siblings learn to read, if you want to impart what’s most important to you (God, morals, character, family), there’s no easier way to do it than homeschooling.

I pray we have many more years of freedom to parent our children the way we choose in America.

And long live homeschooling!

Cooking and Food

Bread and Butter Pickles

There’s something spiritual about the canning process. The age-old way of a woman providing for her family. Moving the rugs aside. Donning an apron. Washing glass jars in hot sudsy water. Heating up the canner–and the kitchen with all that steam rising. Rejoicing in an abundance of jars and rings that never need replaced if she’s careful. Knowing she can pronounce every ingredient going into these containers, and that the contents are organic, garden fresh and top treats for the tastebuds!

Don’t you just love pictures of pantries lined with quart and pint jars full of produce?

This weekend I had 8 lbs of fresh cucumbers and 4 lbs of yellow onions begging to be preserved. I obliged them with my favorite pickle recipe. Bread and Butters! Mmm. Sure to please my picky family–half of us prefer dill, half prefer sweet. This recipe is a good “in-between”.

Bread and Butter Pickles
(taken from Ball Blue Book of Preserving)

4 pounds 4 to 6 inch cucumbers, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 pound onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup canning salt
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons celery seed
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon peppercorns
3 cups apple cider vinegar

1. Combine cucumber and onion slices in a large bowl, layering with salt.
2. Cover with ice cubes and let stand 1 1/2 hours.
3. Drain, rinse, drain again.
4. Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil.
5. Add drained cucumbers and onions and return to a boil.
6. Pack hot pickles and liquid into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
7. Remove air bubbles. Put on 2-piece lids.
8. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.
9. Allow 4 to 6 weeks for flavors to develop.
* Makes about 7 pints

Now that school has started, time for canning will be at a premium. What have you all been enjoying about this time of year?

Cooking and Food

Crazy Crust Pizza

Farmer John’s wife is always sharing great recipes with me, and this one has become a family favorite! I’m sharing it here because it’s about the quickest way to a tasty home-made pizza that I’ve found yet.


Crazy Crust Pizza

In medium skillet, brown 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef, seasoning to taste. Drain well and set aside.

Lightly grease and dust with flour a 9 x 13  inch baking dish.

Prepare batter in a small bowl by combining & mixing until smooth:

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. oregano
  • 1/8 t. pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 1 t. Italian seasoning

Pour batter in pan, tilting pan till batter covers bottom.

Arrange topping over batter:
  • 1 1/2 lbs. browned ground beef
  • 1/4 c. chopped onion
  • 1 can (4 oz) drained mushrooms
  • Optional: add black olives, favorite veggies, chopped bacon

Bake on lower rack in oven at 425 degrees for 25-30 min, or 20-25 minutes for a softer crust.

Remove from oven, drizzle with pizza sauce:

  • 1 can (8oz) tomato sauce
  • 1- 2 tsp leaf oregano
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Add 1 c. (4 oz) shredded mozzarella cheeseReturn to oven for 10 – 15 min.

My family devours this! It’s excellent!