Friday, June 4, 2010

BBQ Buffalo Pasta

About a year ago, I heard about combining spaghetti and bbq’d meat. My initial reaction was, well, picture me wrinkling my nose and shrugging one shoulder as if to say "eh". Even so, I’ve never stopped thinking about it. Yesterday, as I stood at my kitchen counter praying for divine menu guidance as to what to do with the ground buffalo before me, the thought of making a quick bbq came to mind. The only problem was that a) I didn’t have any buns, and b) I only had a mere 1.25 lbs of meat. That’s when I thought of at long last giving the bbq pasta plan a green light.
Oh, why did I wait so long? This was ridiculously easy to prepare, was on the table in just over 30 minutes, and was really very good. Even my picky eaters ate it, including my son who won’t eat sauce on his pasta ... ever. I served mine over gluten free rotini (spiral) pasta, but use whatever floats your boat. This meaty, thick, smokey sauce will hold it’s own quite nicely with a hearty pasta like rigatoni as well as a delicate one like angel hair. (Mmm ... angel hair!)

I used ground buffalo, but use whatever ground meat you’ve got (preferably grass fed). There is minimal shrinkage with buffalo (and I mean zip, zilcho shrinkage), so plan accordingly if you use ground beef. This fed five people.

1.25 lbs ground buffalo
Salt, Pepper, Seasoned salt
1 teaspoon dried minced onion (can substitute fresh minced onions)
1 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
Scant ¼ cup smoked paprika (the smokey flavor is essential here)
Generous ½ cup ketchup
Heaping tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
3 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce (homemade if you’ve got it)
1 lb spiral pasta (I used gluten free. Use whatever you like best!)
Shredded cheddar cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, season the ground buffalo with salt, pepper, seasoned salt, and dried onion. Brown in a nonstick dutch oven, breaking it up into small bits with a spoon as it cooks. There was no fat in the bottom to drain at all. If you use beef, drain the meat after browning and return to the pan. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and stir around to start carmelizing the meat, maybe 1-2 minutes at the most. Stir in the ketchup, mustard, and worchestershire sauce. Stir in the smoked paprika. Now add the spaghetti sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer until it thickens up a bit ... about 10 minutes. Note that this is a really thick sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Add the drained pasta to the meat mixture and stir to combine. Serve. Garnish each serving with a small handful of shredded cheddar cheese. Enjoy!

This was really very, very good. Quick and easy, too. The balance of meat to pasta was pleasing, and the smokey tanginess of the sauce held it’s own over the pasta without being overpowering. The cheese added a creamy component that I enjoyed. Ya know, this is a case where simple is best. While I wouldn’t balk at adding, let’s say, green pepper, it’s really not missed. You could, however, ramp up the spicy heat index according to your own tastes.

I imagine this would be incredible, too, if made with grilled BBQ pork that simmered all day. So ... do you think you’d give bbq pasta a try? You’ll be glad you did.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Birthday Pancakes! - aka Bob's Red Mill Pancake Mix (gluten free)

Today is an extra special day at It's All Gouda. My youngest, my baby, my littlest gal, my wee sous chef turns 11 years old. What makes this birthday uber special is this:  Birthday girl turns 11 at 11:11 am. Get it?  11 - 11:11!!!  I'm such a number geek, but hey, you've gotta admit that's a pretty cool anomaly!

In honor of her special triple-double-double digit day, we made gluten free pancakes this morning. Now, you gluten eaters stay with me, since this is basically a review of a pancake mix.
Oregon's beloved Bob's Red Mill cranks out many gluten free flours and products, including this one:  Gluten Free Pancake Mix. You can find it at most grocery stores in Oregon or mail order.
Here's the ingredients if you want to check it out. Nothing weird. Those flours and starches are pretty much par for the gluten-free course.

Gluten free products have taken off lately, almost in fad like fashion, and that's fine with me since we follow a gluten free diet because of my daughter's wheat intolerance. Yep, I said intolerance. For most people following a gluten free diet, the condition they deal with is an intolerance NOT an allergy. Stomach aches, indigestion, bloating, headaches, skin issues, feeling blah ... it's not fun. We can chat about that another time. Today's recipe IS  fun, and really quite delicious, too! 

While I prefer to make stuff from scratch, this mix is uber convenient especially since I've not dived into making my own gluten free mixes (will be doing that soon). Since this is a pre-made mix, only a few additional ingredients are required:  an egg, milk (we used part milk/part buttermilk), and oil.  Wisk it all together, and you're good to go.
As you can see here, the batter is kind of freckly. (Is that the correct spelling: freckle + ly?) These cook in a similar fashion to "regular" pancakes except the bubbles you look for to know when to flip are bigger. See that one looming in the upper left corner?  Time to flip!
I'm not a leavening expert, so I don't know if it's due to the buttermilk addition or if this is how it always is, but these puppies really puff up! They aren't dense either ... nice and fully light, and they reheat beautifully. We've made these several times, and have gotten a bit creative along the way.
You can add chocolate chips! Just sprinkle a few (dozen) on right before flipping.
See how light and puffy these are? Um, how about a little pancake to go with the whipped cream and strawberries there, babe?
My birthday girl is a cherry fanatic ... please excuse the excess of whipped cream.
No matter how you serve them, they are finger lickin good! Don't you love my b-day girls new Buddy Holly style glasses? Just picked those up yesterday. She looks so much older now. I, of course, haven't aged a bit (eh, cough cough).

This mix gets two birthday thumbs up in our household. I can totally see me bringing this camping or travelling, as it's so easy to make. And, for those of you who have gluten-free eating loved ones, this would make a great gift pack especially for someone new to the whole gluten-free thing. It made a wonderful birthday breakfast here. Along with a pint of whipped cream. And an orchard of berries. Just kidding. Well, not really, but you know what I mean.

What do you like to eat for breakfast on your birthday?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Pork

One of the perks of living in my little corner of the Pacific Northwest is the abundant diversity of world cultures. Fortunately, much of this diversity makes its way into the food chain and from there into my own kitchen. One of my most favorite cuisines is Vietnamese food. Truth be told, I love all Asian inspired dishes, and one of the first that I ever had was an uber-delicious (don't you say "uber" too? Yeah, I thought so.) rice noodle salad with flame broiled pork. It's called Bun Thit Nuong (according to the Saigon Grill's take out menu), and it is the most amazing combination of textures and flavors. It's loaded with crunchy raw veggies, al dente warm rice noodle vermicelli, hot off the grill pork, and drizzled with an Asian sweet/sour/salty/spicy dressing. I could eat it every day for the rest of my life.
Today's recipe is my attempt to recreate this delicacy at home.  Let me be up front about the prep time: it involves a LOT of chopping. Lots and lots and lots of chopping. And then more chopping. Did I mention you will spend time chopping? This is the recipe to go to when you have something you want to work out of your system, or as in my case, when you want to ponder over a situation. Since it took me a good 15 minutes to gather, peel, and chop everything (and I'm pretty good with a knife), I had a lot of time to run through various scenarios of said situation in my head. Plus, it's a good thing to get me to slow down a bit and enjoy the process, not just the end result. Ahem. But I digress. Back to the recipe. Once you have finished prepping everything, it comes together toot-sweet.
I like this recipe because it fits in with my plan to eat more veggies and less meat. Notice I said "less" meat, not "no" meat.  We are carnivores in this family.  I didn't grill the pork because it was monsooning outside. This turned out great just pan frying the meat. This is equally good with chicken as well as shrimp.

Here we go:

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Pork

1 pkg Asian Rice Noodles - thin, vermicelli style

3 boneless pork chops, 1 inch thick, sliced ultra thin against the grain
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
garlic powder
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil

5 cups chopped romaine lettuce
4 carrots, sliced matchstick thin (I used one of those serrated veggie peelers)
2 cucumbers, peeled, sliced in thin 1/2 rounds
1 cup bean sprouts
2 green onions - chopped thin
1/4 cup white onion, sliced in thin 1/2 rounds (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro - chopped
1/2 cup salted cocktail style peanuts, chopped

6 tablespoons fresh lime juice or lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons rice vinegar, or use cider vinegar is you don't have the rice one
6 tablespoons fish sauce (called Nouc Cham) (It's stinky, but tastes better than it smells)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 chili chopped, or 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
6 tablespoons water

On a cutting board, toss the pork strips with the soy sauce, ginger, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and oil. Let sit and marinate while you chop the bazillion veggies.
Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. If necessary, add a tablespoon of oil (like canola) and stir fry the pork strips until they are golden brown.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch. I've always wanted to say that. Plus, just wanted to see if you were still with me.  hehe  Anyway, meanwhile, prepare the rice noodles according to package directions. NOTE: The noodles cook really quickly; take care not to over cook them. Drain and keep warm.
Prepare the dressing by combining all the incredients.  Now it's time to assemble! You will need large individual serving bowls.  I used pasta bowls and they worked perfectly.  In each bowl, place a generous serving of the warm noodles. Artfully, surround the noodles with individual mounds of lettuce, carrots, bean sprouts, your choice of onions, cilantro, and meat. Drizzle with the dressing. Garnish with peanuts. (I took the pictures before adding the peanuts. Oops!)
Surprisingly, this is a hit in my family.  My daughters love this, served without the dressing.  My son ate his, but I did serve his on a large plate and didn't have the food touching salad style.  My husband ate two huge salads and rolled away from the table. An added bonus is that it's gluten free, too. Yeah!

This is an interesting salad in that it is sweet, sour, salty, and spicy.  It's also crunchy, soft, and chewy.  Let's not forget that it has warm (noodles), hot (meat), and cold (veggies) taking place, too. Somehow, and I'm not quite sure why that is, it all works together beautifully.  Plus, it's lovely to look at.  It's great all year long, but I particularly like it in the spring and summer. It's a non-traditional salad (for us that is), and I love it.

What's your favorite non-traditional salad? Do share!
Homeschool update:  Youngest daughter is REALLY into Science these days. Here's a shot of her latest science/art combo project.  Volcano!  In honor of the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helen's (which you can easily see from the Portland area), she created her own eruption. She gave a terrific presentation on the various types of volcanos, and then performed an eruption. It was so COOL!!! Tomorrow we are off to the Mt. Hood Community College Planetarium for a field trip! I love homeschooling!

Monday, May 17, 2010

TBS: Tuna and Bean Salad!

Now that warmer weather is at long last blasting it's way through the Pacific Northwest cloud cover, it's time to initiate the summer salad routine. Here's one that I've loved for years. It's kind of peasant fare, but tends to get rave reviews as if it were made of more regal stuff.  I bet 9 out of 10 of you have the ingredients in your pantry and fridge. 

Bean and Tuna Salad 

1 6oz can tuna packed in olive oil
1 15 oz can small white beans, drained and rinsed
2 T green pepper, chopped
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 T red onion, small diced
2 T chopped parsley

Dressing:Whisk together:
1 small garlic clove, minced
Olive oil - 2 parts
Vinegar - 1 part
1/2 teaspoon - dijon style mustard
favorite herbs - such as basil, oregano

In a large mixing bowl, combine tuna, beans, pepper,tomatoes, and onion. Toss with a small amount of dressing, adding more to suit your taste. Serve immediately. Keeps very well, too; the beans tend to really absorb the longer it sits.

This salad is easily a meal in and of itself. The beans have a delicate flavor that pairs wonderfully with the tuna. I've also had this with grilled tuna, and that's over-the-moon good. The peppers add a nice crunch, and the tomatoes provide sweetness. Take care with the onion ... you just want it for a nice flavor addition. The dressing, which is basically a viniagrette, is tangy and garlicy. You could punch this up with some diced jalepeno peppers if you like heat, or some olives or capers if you like those flavors. I like it all! :-)

There you have it. In about 5 minutes, you can create a yummilicous salad that's perfect for the warmer days on the horizon. This holds up very well for potlucks and picnics, and it is gluten free, too. What's your favorite tuna salad?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

New Look!

Playing around with templates today. What do you think of this look? It's kind of fun messing around with different templates!

Monday, May 10, 2010

MOM Chicken: Mandarin Orange Marmalade Chicken (gluten free, too)

Happy Mother's Day to all you Mom's out there. This dish is named for you. MOM Chicken! Mandarin Orange Marmalade Chicken, that is!

Sometimes, the best recipes are the simplest ones.  Especially when you discover them without too much forethought. Take today's recipe. With just a couple pantry staple ingredients, regular ol' chicken becomes something really special. Even better the entire meal was on the table in less than 30 minutes.  Works for moi!

Basically, and I mean that word literally, all this dish entails is sauteing chicken strips, adding a little marmalade and butter, and voilla .. you have chicken ala mandarin. Toss on a few crispy onion frizzles and you find yourself emitting little moans of culinary pleasure.

This was really good. I used this delightfully sweet mandarin orange marmalade. Please don't harp on me that it's imported.  I so very rarely treat myself to something, and this is what I choose to spend my dollars on. I enjoyed every sinful bite. Yes, I try to purchase local food to lessen my global footprint. No, I don't purchase everything local. I most definitely recycled the glass jar it came in, if that makes you feel better.  Anyway, this would work with any type of marmalade and be equally delicious.I've not shown amounts because I eyeballed everything. I threw this together so quickly, that I didn't pay attention to measurements. Sorry 'bout that. No worries, though, it's really easy to do.


White Onion, halved, sliced thin (you dont' want to use a sweet onion here)
1 tablespoon Olive oil

Chicken breasts cut into thin strips
Seasoned salt
Olive oil
Worcestershire sauce
Butter pat
Butter pat (again)

Heat oil in a fry pan.  Add the onions, and fry them until crispy. You are going for texture as well as flavor here. Keep warm. In a large saute pan, heat oil over med high heat.
Season the chicken strips with seasoned salt or your favorite seasoning.  Add to the pan, and saute until golden.  Add a butter pat to the pan and spinkle with couple shakes Worcestershire sauce.

Meanwhile, heat the marmalade in microwave until melted.  You don't need very much, I used about 1/4 cup for 5 servings.  Once heated, stir in a butter pat, and pour over chicken in pan. It will bubble up deliciously. Be sure to stir up all the browned bits that are in the pan. The end result is a glaze/sauce that is out of this world good.  Simple, yes. Good, absolutely! Sprinkle with the crispy onions, and serve immediately.
Wasn't that easy? So simple, and sooooo good. We paired this with rice, spinach, and a fruit salad. It was superb. S.U.P.E.R.B.  You could fancy this up with green onions, ginger, and a splash of soy sauce, but I kept it simple.
I like simple. I like easy.  Most of all, I like good food! Bonus: It's gluten free, too!

Speaking of good things, Happy Mother's Day to all you magnificent mom's out there. Also, happy  Teachers Appreciation Month to all you terrific teachers out there, both the traditional and homeschool varieties.  Mom's and Teachers ... two of the most positive, loving, influential forces on the planet. For all you do, big and small, seen and unseen, I thank you for your dedication. You are  loved and appreciated!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Days Gone By Loosemeat Sandwich

I've been on an "old time recipe" kick lately.  I've been reading about meals from the turn of the century (uh, that would be from 1899-1900, not 1999-2000).  Does anyone else find it fascinating to learn how folks used to eat? How about all the meal terminology? Depending of where you live, what I call lunch would have been called dinner, and what I call dinner would have been called supper.  Let's not forget the whole what time did they eat? thing as well as what was the most important meal of the day. In years past, the mid-day meal was considered the most important meal of the day. Nowadays, we're taught that breakfast is king. One cookbook from the 1800's frowned upon eating any type of meat for breakfast. It went on to say that if you absolutely had no other choice than to eat meat at the start of the day, be sure that it was served cold, and it was preferable that it had been prepared the day before. Alrighty then!  One thing that made me a little nostalgic was all the write-ups on what used to be termed "Sunday Dinner".  While I'm fortunate that we always eat as a family, if I were honest (and I am ... can't you see my halo?), I'd have to say that we don't make a big deal out of our Sunday meal.  I think I may change that and see how it goes.

I was reading about meals from the Midwest and heartland of the US, and I came across a delightful recipe for something called a loosemeat sandwich.  This recipe is off of the internet, recipezaar to be exact, and is titled The Blue Mill Tavern Loosemeat Sandwich.  According to the write-up that accompanied the recipe,  loosemeat was created in 1924 in Sioux City, Iowas at Ye Old Tavern. I just love the "Ye" in the name! I remember seeing something on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives that talked about loosemeat, and so I just had to give it a shot.

A loosemeat sandwich is like a "dry" sloppy joe.  There is no sauce or tomato in this, but it's messy just like a sloppy joe is.  It is incredibly TENDER and juicy and has the best flavor. Although it is not saucy, it is far from dry. Give this a try.  Here's the link for the recipe. The Blue Mill Tavern Loosemeat Sandwich.


1) I used 1/2 an onion because my onions are behemoth sized.
2) I used ground turkey because that's what I had. When I say I used ground turkey, I don't mean the bland breast only stuff.
3) I did prepare it in a cast iron skillet, and I absolutely, positively DID use lard. Because I used ground turkey, there were no drippings to drain at all.  In fact, my pan was dry! :-)
4) The recipe is gluten free ... the buns shown in the pictures are not.

TIP:  These are great on steamed buns. An easy peasy way to steam buns is to do it in your microwave.  Loosely wrap you buns in papertowels and microwave 10-30 seconds depending on how many you need as well as how powerful your micro is.

My husband really enjoyed this (without mustard and pickles).  I, of course, had the m & p on my serving.  My youngest daughter, the gluten free child, devoured hers without the bun.  When I say devoured, I mean that she ate more than my husband and I put together.  I had planned to serve hers over rice, but she just wanted it plain.  Works for me!

Speaking of youngest daughter, this past Saturday she ran her first 3K at the CYO track meet. She prefers to run distance, and wanted to see if she could do it.  For those of us who still need a guide to translate the metric system, 3K is equal to 1.86411358 miles or 7.5 times around a full sized track. She ran a steady pace throughout the race, and then sprinted the last 200 meters.  Not only did she do it, she came in first for the girls in her age group! :-)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Creamy Clam and Smoked Sausage Chowder (Gluten Free)

Springtime weather in the Pacific Northwest is kind of schizophrenic. One day, you’re reaching for sunglasses to shield your eyes from the brilliant sunshine, and the next day you’re donning your parka to brave the driving wind and rain. Yesterday, we had sun, rain, wind, hail, then more sun, rain, wind, and hail. Mother Nature is a mystery out here, that’s for sure.

On a gastronomic level, that mystery means that one day you could be craving salad and lemonade, and the next day steaming bowls of soup and hot cider. I’m a year round soup girl anyway, so with the bizarre weather of late, I’ve been enjoying lots of soup.

Chowders are such a great genre of soup. Hearty enough to stand alone as a meal, they are super choice to eat when you want something filling, but not heavy ... if you know what I mean.

Since we are gluten free here, I prepare chowder without flour. I actually find that chowders taste significantly better when not weighted down with flour. A little bit of cornstarch along with real cream provides clean flavors along with a gorgeous consistency.

Today’s recipe is the result of using up some pantry and fridge items I had, including some leftover grilled smoked sausage. The end result was so good. My littlest clam lover ate two huge bowls in a single sitting.

See how creamy it is? Take a look and let me know what you think:

Creamy Clam and Smoked Sausage Chowder (Gluten Free)

3 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup onion, chopped
3 large, all purpose potatoes, peeled and diced small (about 2 heaping cups)
Seasoned Salt
½ cup cooked smoked sausage, cubed (ham would be good, too)
3 slices cooked bacon, broken in big pieces
1 8oz bottle clam juice
2 cans chopped clams (not minced)
1 cup cream
½ cup whole or 2% milk
1 scant tbsp corn starch

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over med high heat. Add onions and sausage. Cook gently until onions just start to soften. Next, add the potatoes. Season with seasoned salt.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are just starting to turn golden, not quite 5 minutes. Add the bacon, and cook for another minute. Add the clam juice, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 – 20 minutes. Stir in the clams (undrained) and cream. In a measuring cup, whisk the milk and corn starch together, then add to the pot. Continue simmering the chowder for another 5 minutes or until it has thickened up.

Enjoy. Make yummy noises. By the way, this tastes even better the next day.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Creamy, Crunchy, Chewy, Curried Chicken Salad (Gluten Free, too!)

Join me in the following chant: Creamy, crunchy, chewy, yeah! Creamy, crunchy, chewy, yeah! Those three alliteration-worthy descriptor words quite successfully boast the goodness of this wonderful curried chicken salad.  I adored this beautiful golden-hued salad and so did my youngest daughter.

We made it together, actually, and she did most of the work. (Doesn't everyone wish they had a red panda shirt like my little gal?) Now that she's homeschooled, we are spending more time together in the kitchen. (Not just cooking either ... today we made invisible ink to write coded messages like the Patriot's did in the American Revolution! Um, then we, um, proceeded to make secret coded messages for the entire family. hehe) Okay, back to the recipe.

For those of you who are wrinkling your brow wondering if you're ready to venture into the curry-flavors of the world, let me assure you that this is the recipe for you. It is not spicy at all, but does explode with terrific texture ... creamy, crunchy, and chewy, yeah! Plus, it calls for curry powder as opposed to assembling multiple spices that are par for the course when actually making a curry. Make sense?

Anywhoooo ... this couldn't be simpler, is delicious the moment it's made, and tastes outstanding the next day. It would feel right at home as part of a luncheon menu to serve to guests as well as everday lunch fare. Little curry girl and I ate ours right off the plate. I even licked the serving spoon and was tempted to lick my plate, as well.

Here's what you need:
1/4 cup sliced almonds (or chopped peanuts or cashews)
3 cups cooked chicken, cubed
Scant 1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup plain yogurt (Greek style is AWESOME!)
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 cup red grapes, sliced in half
1/4 cup raisins (or diced dried apricots)
1 Tbsp snipped cilantro

In a saucepan over medium heat, carefully toast almonds. Remove from heat and let cool. In a large mixing bowl, whip yogurt, mayo, curry powder, and cilantro until creamy. Fold in chicken, almonds, and raisins. Carefully fold in grapes. Serve. Tastes even better the next day. Can be served as is, over lettuce greens, or as a sandwich filling. YUM! And obviously, this is gluten free all the way, baby!

In case anyone is wondering where I've been lately, here's a hint. First, Blogger has changed how to post things and I get so many error messages when I try to post that I'm seriously considering moving the blog. Second, now that I'm homeschooling two out of three kids, spare time goes to shuttling all three to track practices and meets. Here's proof: Check out my 14 year old son running at the meet this past weekend. It's stunning how much a kid can change in just a couple of months. Click on the photo to enlarge it. We call him the "man-child"!  :-) 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Homeschooling – 5th grade U.S. American History

Although this blog is mostly about food (ah, food – glorious food!), I frequently get emails regarding homeschooling. You’ll note that my side bar hints at our homeschooling journey, and so I thought I’d share a little bit of what we do ‘round here during the day.

This is our fourth consecutive year homeschooling, and I am presently teaching 8th and 5th grades. Over the years, I’ve used accredited complete curriculums such as Calvert (grades 5-7 in the past) and Connections Academy (currently using for Gr 8), and can’t say enough good things about them. For my current 5th grader, I’ve actually assembled my own curriculum and it’s going amazingly well.

Today’s post focuses on 5th grade, specifically highlighting what we are currently studying in US History: The American Revolution. My youngest daughter’s learning style leans towards projects, and so, with a little help from the Evan-Moor publication shown below, we are completing our first “History Pocket”.

History Pockets are focused theme lessons that enable students to engage the material via hands on projects. The end result is a compilation of mini-lessons/projects in a series of homemade binder “pockets” that allows students to experience information outside of traditional textbooks. By the way, I’m not a textbook basher. I was the type of kid who liked to read encyclopedias (HEY! I heard that! Don’t judge me! :-)), but my youngest really thrives in a more multi-presentation approach, hence our attraction to History Pockets. An added bonus, too, is that this can be placed in her homeschool portfolio should I ever be asked to provide samples of her work. Oregon is actually a homeschool friendly state, but I like to have all my bases covered, if you know what I mean. These books may be available at your local library; however, they are pretty popular and might require you to request them on a hold list.
In addition to the History Pocket, we are also incorporating information found in the book titled The Complete Book of United States History by American Education Publishing.
This little gem of a book is a great information companion that provides attractive information such as details about Women Heroines of the Revolution plus attention-grabbing tidbits like how to properly fold the flag.
Do you know how to fold a flag? I’m sure I learned in Brownies at some point, but have long since forgotten.

We are also reading the novel titled My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier. Now, don’t be put off by the slightly, uh, morbid title. This is an award winning novel that really gives a well rounded perspective of how families are affected by their differing political views, how they deal with change, how government actions affect day to day living, and the utter devastation that comes with war. Hmm ... does anyone besides me see the parallels to today’s political climate? Another good choice for reading is the great classic, Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, which my 8th grade son read this year for his American History studies. Both books can be easily found at your local library. (Homeschool hint:  Check out two copies of the book from your library, and you can your child can easily take turns reading out loud without having to pass the book back and forth!)

Anyway, we will be wrapping up the American Revolution this week. This has been a great hands on project, and best of all, has really “clicked” with my student. Her retention is skyrocketing, and I've enjoyed the hands-on project approach, too. And, yeah, I do refer to her as my student from time to time (In my heart, she’s my youngest baby. Shhh ... don’t tell her I said that!) .

I do have one more thing I’d like to add to our lessons, and that would be to have her learn to cook something from this time period. If anyone has any recommendations, I’m all ears, or as in this cyber environment, all eyes. Remember, bread items are not an option as we can’t do anything requiring wheat. Other than that, it’s fair game. Send me your ideas, please!

For anyone considering homeschooling, I can only say that it’s been an amazing journey that I wouldn’t trade for anything. There are good days and not so great ones, but the majority are so positively rich and rewarding. I love it. I. LOVE. IT.

(By the way, the publishers mentioned in this post have no idea that I exist let alone use their products. I get no royalties from mentioning them here. However, if a publisher would like to send me their stuff for free, I’m willing to give it a go!)