Friday, August 3, 2012

Now that it's August, I'm starting to think about planning for the upcoming school year.

Yes, I'm a total procrastinator. But not that bad. In many ways, there isn't all that much I need to do. While I *can* go sort out a week-by-week schedule with all our readings and then go through the library catalog and reserve everything in advance, I can also do that week by week.

This is the year I've been trying to figure out for years. LemurBoy is in 4th (Modern History, by the WTM cycle), while LemurGirl is in 1st (Ancients). Do I just have them do two separate tracks? Do I have LB skip Modern and start over at Ancients? Or do I wait to formally start LG until next year, when she's in second grade?

I'd pretty much decided to start LG next year. She's no huge history fan at the moment, while LB is. And Modern History has most of my favorite historical fiction, so I have a hard time passing that up.

However, LB has developed a fascination with myths, and is open to starting over with Ancients. He's also recently reached critical mass in reading, going from barely at grade level with minimal voluntary reading to reading 6th grade level novels in a few hours. This makes life so much easier, as I can assign him reading and not have to read it to him myself. What a concept!

So I'll assign him all that historical fiction I loved (we have very similar taste in books, and I have little doubt he'll love it, too), and maybe SOTW4 as independent reading, and we'll concentrate  on Ancients as a family.

So, it's a good thing I procrastinated and didn't already make up weekly schedule complete with reserved books, right?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sweet Baba Ganoush!

Sweet Baba Ganoush! It sounds like an exclamation, doesn't it?

The first time I tried baba ganoush, I thought the texture would be wonderful for a dessert. Silky, fluffy, and takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it with. That was 8 years ago, and I never bothered to get an eggplant to try it with.

A few weeks ago, our Bountiful Basket contained an eggplant, and I decided it was time to give it a try. Looking around online, there is a bit of a dearth of eggplant dessert recipes. Some kind of chocolate lasagna-like concoction. A mention that sometimes baba ganoush has a touch of sugar in it. That's about it.

I'm out to change that, because my intuition was right - eggplant makes a really nice, rich, fluffy, mousse-like dessert that has the kids gobbling their veggies without complaint.

Sweet Baba Ganoush

1 eggplant
A little bit of oil
1/2 cup nut/seed/whatever butter (tahini is traditional, I used almond butter)
Flavoring ingredients
Sweetener to taste

First, roast the eggplant. Preheat the oven to 400F. Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise, rub it with oil (coconut is a good option, both for flavor and high smoke point). Put the halves cut side down on a baking tray liked with foil or parchment (if you desire). Poke all over with a fork. Stick in the oven for 15-25 minutes or so - the exact timing is going to depend on the size of the eggplant. You want it so that the flesh (not the skin) can be poked through without significant resistance. I'm told it's better to err on the side of overcooking.

Once it's roasted and cooled as much as you think is necessary, scrape the flesh out into a food processor. Process with the other ingredients until you have the taste and consistency you want. If it's too runny, add a little more of whatever butter you're using, or some other drier ingredient.

(The skins are more bitter, but also contain a lot of the nutritional value. I plan to try this with the skins included. Probably processed first, before adding the rest of the ingredients, to get them as finely processed as possible.)

What you include is up to you. I tasted the base eggplant/almond butter mixture, and it didn't have a particularly strong flavor. A bit of vanilla and sweetener would probably be fine. Quantities are flexible, and since eggplants aren't all one size, you may need to adjust the proportions to work for you.

This makes about 4 servings, depending on how big a serving you like and how big your eggplant was.

The first time I made this, I used dried figs, vanilla, and cinnamon. This made Fig Newton Ganoush, with the little crunchy seeds (no, they're not wasp eggs!) and all. The figs were actually an accident. I had an unlabeled bag of dried fruit that looked like dates. Turned out it was fig chunks.

The second time, I tried chocolate, with 1/4 cup of cocoa powder, a teaspoon of vanilla, and two teaspoons of sugar (we don't go for super sweet. In fact, LemurBoy complains if I put too much sugar in).

I think lemon would be lovely, and I think that's what I'll try next, as we're growing eggplant in our garden this year, so I'll have plenty of experiment-fodder!

Here's a creative commons picture of a eggplant for sharing purposes, because my photography sucks.