Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Weird Science: Color Changing Lemonade


Thatbaby has turned into quite the little science kid during this pandemic.  I think because I started including "science class" into Mom-school back in the beginning, but there's nothing he loves more than making "potions" and doing experiments.  So much so, that he asked for science experiment kits for his birthday and received several.

He always wants to pull them out and try out different experiments - or create his own (basically baking soda, vinegar, and then other ingredients) - so it wasn't too surprising that he would want a full science day.

His idea was to just do all the experiments he had in his kits, but I supplemented with some fun ones I thought they would like.

We started out doing some ectothermic and endothermic reactions with one of his kits.

And using the kit's uric acid to learn about evaporation and growing our own crystals.

Every young scientist should make take a run with bubbles.  We made our own "unpoppable" variety.

We used red cabbage to create our own "litmus noodles" for lunch - which changed color when we added an acid (lemon juice)

After lunch we made some elephant toothpaste

And aquatic sand was a big hit.

We also did an osmosis experiment with gummy bears 

And create our own bacteria growing petri dishes.  Although this one took a few days to see the results.

For all my friends who don't wash their feet in the shower?  That really gnarly black one?  That's just a qtip that was swabbed between each child's toes.  Your feet are gross.  Wash them.  This experiment also showed us that antibiotics really stop bacterial growth, soap cuts down on bacterial growth, yogurt contains bacteria, and toothpaste doesn't do much to the inside of your mouth.

Our final experiment came with dinner where we did some color changing lemonade I found on Left Brain Craft Brain.

Butterfly pea flowers work as a pH indicator, just like cabbage does.  So adding this magic blue liquid to an acidic drink like lemonade...

Gives the lemonade a vibrant purple color!

This is a really fun "experiment" for just about any time because it makes for such a pretty drink.   The butterfly pea flowers on their own make for a fairly vibrant tea, or beautiful tea latte. I've even heard that it's what's used to create the blue colored drinks at Disney.

Color Changing Lemonade (adapted from Left Brain Craft Brain)
Juice of 6 1/2 lemons
1 1/3 cup sugar
5 cups water, divided
1 tsp dried butterfly pea flowers
  1. Boil 1 cup water.  
  2. Place dried flowers in a tea strainer and place in boiling water for 3-4 minutes.  Remove strainer. Chill while making lemonade.
  3. Combine lemons, sugar, and remaining 4 cups water.  Stir until sugar dissolves.  
  4. Divide lemonade between 4 glasses filled with ice.
  5. Add 1/4 cup of the flower water to each glass of lemonade and watch it change color right before your eyes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Medieval Time of our Lives: Orange Pineapple Ham

When I first came up with these "pandemic adventures" I made a nice long list and one of my friends laughed when I told her about it - "You won't need all of those!"  I agreed with her.  Obviously we'd have this Covid stuff well underhand by June, but it wouldn't hurt to have a long list.

The original plan for the shut-down was for us to get testing and tracing procedures set up and implemented.  Who would have ever guessed that something so simple, and something this country has done before to prevent other pandemics, would turn into a political nightmare with politicians fighting healthcare workers, scientists, and healthcare systems to prevent us from getting that system set up.  And so the months passed, June came and went, and that list that wasn't supposed to be necessary?  Well it sure came in handy.  

But I hadn't planned for it to last past the summer.  SURELY we'd have things under control by the fall, when kids would be returning to school and I wouldn't need to entertain my children to make up for the fact I couldn't interact with them at all during the week.  But those same problems we faced in April and May dragged on, got worse, and instead of focusing on that testing and tracing or even keeping the community spread down, we opened bars, restaurants, golf courses, and hair salons.  We were not going back to school.

I honestly haven't had the time to sit down and make another huge list with work ramping up (But I guess I know what my plans are for Labor Day!), so I asked each child to pick a theme for a weekend day and help come up with some ideas.  

Thatkid came up with a Medieval Day.  Basically he wanted to play knight, with sword fights and dragons.  

So we started the day by turning ourselves into knights.  I know enough about my kids to know that sword fights would be a terrible idea.  But jousting?  That sounded like a safer bet.

So we made lances out of pool noodles, and shields out of cardboard.

I ordered the biggest, craziest, ball-hoppers I could find and the kids mounted their steeds.   They started on opposite sides of the yard, and had to "ride" toward each other.  They had a single pass to strike the other with their lance in the chest.  

As an aside, these balls have gotten a lot of use since that day.  They are very popular as pool toys for some reason.  And the kids also use them to run into each other and fall backwards.  Somehow this is called "playing KC Undercover" although I have never seen anything like that on the show.

When we talked about food, Thatkid had come up with the idea of meat and bread.  I expounded on that a bit and made us a giant charcuterie plate with fruit, meats, cheese, and a loaf of bread divided between all of us.   This, my friends, was Thatkid's favorite part of the day and he has declared it his favorite meal ever and asked if we can have it more often.  

We ate on the floor, drank cider from copper mugs, and used our hands - since there were no forks in Medieval Times.

One of the things Thatkid REALLY wanted to do was "dragon yoga."   So after lunch, our knights met up with a dragon.

And then made their own version.

The last knightly skill they needed was music, and so we made lutes and had a concert.

After all that hard work, jousting, fighting dragons, making lutes, it was time for a promotion.  We made crowns and had a coronation, complete with coronation feast.

The kings were back on the floor, with more meat, more bread, and some of Thatkid's favorite vegetable - brussels sprouts.

While a roast beef or chicken might have been more historically accurate, I wanted something that wouldn't be too messy when eaten with your hands.  And ham seemed like a very plausible meal that would have been eaten, since pigs and boar were both animals eaten back in those days.

It also makes for great leftovers, on it's own, as sandwiches, or thrown on top of pizza.  

Orange Pineapple Ham
1 orange, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1 pineapple - halved at the equator
1/2 cooked boneless ham
12 oz ginger beer
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Take half the pineapple and cut into slices.
  2. Place slices of pineapple, orange, and red onion at the bottom of a roasting pan.
  3. Place a rack ontop the sliced fruits/onion and place ham, cut side down, on top of the rack.
  4. Score ham with a diamond pattern and pour 4 oz of ginger beer over the ham.  Cover with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Place the remaining half of pineapple and 8 oz of ginger beer in a blender and blend until smooth.
  6. Transfer the pineapple-beer to a saucepan and stir in the brown sugar and soy sauce.  Simmer until reduced to one cup (about 40 minutes).
  7. After the ham has cooked for 1 1/2 hours, remove the foil and brush 1/3 of the glaze over the ham.  Cook for an additional 15 minutes uncovered.
  8. Rotate the ham, brush 1/2 of the remaining glaze over top and cook for another 15 minutes.
  9. Brush remaining glaze over ham and bake for 15 more minutes.  Slice and serve.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Charlie and the At-Home Chocolate Factory: Chocolate Tomato Soup


When I  broke out the cotton candy machine for our Backyard Fair, I thought about other fun toys we've accumulated over the years of birthday parties.  Which is how I decided to plan a day centered around our chocolate fondue fountain.  Because I don't think we've used that thing since Thatbaby's second birthday.  

But what could I plan that centered around a chocolate fountain?  Why a Willy Wonka Day of course.  It may not be a chocolate waterfall, but it's pretty close.  It definitely helped that I had bookmarked Economy Candy's "Candy Care Package" as a fun idea way back in April and this would be the perfect excuse to order one.   As an aside, Thatboy has declared this the absolute best mail to ever receive and it has become our go-to "happy mail" to send.  

We made gummy legos during "Lego Mom Camp"    (maybe one of these days I'll get around to writing up all those camp lessons.  You know, in case anyone wants them for the next pandemic) which also inspired the idea of making our own candy.  Especially since Thatbaby has been so into science kits and growing his own rock candy.  So I picked up a Candy-Science kit and we made sour blue raspberry gummies (which were completely sour - not sweet - to the point where they were probably just vitamin c gummies), watermelon sucking candies, and grape marshmallows.

Did I mention that Thatkid wanted to dress up like Willy Wonka for the day?

Another one of our pandemic purchases with a bubble machine which filled our entire yard with bubbles.  The kids love it so much.  And I thought it would be even cooler if we could fill it with edible bubbles, like in the Fizzy Lifting Drink room.  So when I found "Lick-A-Bubbles" which are literally edible bubbles you can flavor with any non-dairy drink, I knew we were set for the day.  I poured them into our bubble machine and the kids went crazy running around trying to catch the bubbles in their mouth.

And while I was on the site purchasing the bubbles one of those "you may also be interested in" things popped up and I was interested!

Edible stickers!  So we could make our own lickable wallpaper.

One thing we already owned, that needed no modification was the Candy Land board game.  

Now, it was definitely a dangerous idea to throw in this game.  It never goes well.  We have retired it from weekly game nights because inevitably one of the kids ends up near the finish and having to go back to the start and there are tears and anger and flipping of tables.

So we moved quickly from game to lunch.  In trying to find ideas for a "chocolate factory lunch" I came across white chocolate macaroni and cheese.  Which doesn't sound super-appetizing, but had rave reviews from other skeptical persons.  So I thought, maybe the white chocolate just adds some thickness and creaminess.  Especially since the rest of the white cheeses mixed in sounded so delicious.
Y'all, this was not delicious.  Too sweet.  It was like eating a dessert.  Even my chocolate loving, macaroni and cheese loving kids did not enjoy it.

After nap I set up some chocolate we did enjoy - our very own chocolate waterfall (fountain).  

And then we relaxed for the rest of the evening by watching the original film.  With a special drink I found in the grocery store.

Thatkid had requested a dinner inspired by Willy Wonka's amazing gum - the one containing a three course meal that had poor Violet Beauregard blow up like a giant blueberry.

We began with a tomato soup.

Followed by roast beef and a buttery baked potato.

And of course, the famous blueberry pie with cream.

I wanted to dress up the tomato soup a bit, but I was a little wary after the macaroni and cheese incident.  But I've put chocolate in chili, and what is tomato soup except chili without the rice and beans?  Plus this recipe uses bittersweet chocolate, which REALLY doesn't add sweetness, just a depth of flavor.  The result?  Well Thatbaby hates tomato soup, but he loved this one so much he asked for it for lunch the next day too.  

Chocolate Tomato Soup
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 cup sundried tomatoes
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 cup white wine
28-oz can of diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
4oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp honey
  1. Melt butter and oil in a pot over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute 5 minutes, until translucent.
  2. Add garlic, carrots, celery, tomatoes, paprika, cumin, coriander, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for an additional 3 minutes.  
  3. Add wine and continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Add the chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat.  Simmer for 45 minutes.
  5. Let cool slightly and then puree in a blender.  Return to pot and heat until warmed through.
  6. Add chocolate and honey.  Stir until chocolate is melted and serve.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Yo Ho Yo Ho A Pirate's Life At Home: Grilled Jerk Chicken

We're at the point of the pandemic where I honestly don't know what inspired the idea of a pirate adventure.  I planned these all out so long ago!

But for whatever reason, earlier this month we traded in our regular legs for sealegs, took a quiz to get our "pirate names"  and made some pirate masks so we could look the part.

Of course, every pirate needs a parrot.

And a boat.  We started off with cork boats,

But then some ice boats joined our armada.

Once we had the look, the parrot, and the ship, it was time to go on our treasure hunt.

The treasure chest was filled with jewels, coins, and a fun new pirate game.

After uncovering the booty, we had a Caribbean pirate lunch- grilled jerk chicken and coconut water.

After nap, we got a chance to try out our new pirate game.  It's basically battleship, but with pirate ships instead of military ones.  

And enjoyed a really authentic pirate snack.

Now, I'm not sure if you know anything about pirates, but the problem with finding pirate treasure is that some other pirate inevitable wants it.  Which leads to water battles.   So we had our very own water battle.  Instead of cannons on the sea, we had water cannons and water balloons.

Water balloon fights have become a very fun addition to our weekend adventures as the temps pick up.  The boys are already trying to figure out how to work them in every weekend.  

For dinner, Thatkid requested a meal "from the sea" and so we had shells with lobster.  Which I'm sure is what most pirates ate when out at sea. 

I was very concerned about the kids and jerk chicken, because the grownups have a much higher spice tolerance than the young ones in this house.  I make my own jerk seasoning - which comes from an old coworker of mine who was Jamaican and he'd kill me if he knew I tweaked it to make it less spicy for the kids, so I'm posting it in its entirety here.  But if you leave the cayenne out, it becomes a very family friendly chicken seasoning. 

Grilled Jerk Chicken
1.5 Tbsp onion powder
1.5 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp thyme
1 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground allspice
1 Tbsp paprika
1/2 Tbsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp bouillon
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
4 chicken breasts
  1. Make the jerk seasoning.  Combine onion powder, garlic powder, ginger, thyme, white pepper, cinnamon, allspice, paprika, nutmeg, brown sugar, bouillon, and cayenne in a small bowl.
  2. Take 1 Tbsp of the seasoning and combine with olive oil and salt to form a paste (reserve remaining seasoning for other uses).
  3. Place chicken breasts between plastic wrap and pound to flatten.
  4. Rub chicken with paste on both sides.  Grill for 3 minutes per side.