Mom at home scientist

Ecology of my motherhood; analyzed, frugal, and (mostly) natural.


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Katya’s Book of Mushrooms- a book review

This fall I taught our local homeschool co-op STEAM class and focused on fungi. I borrowed every book that I could get my hands on from our local library and requested an extra dozen. I was pleasantly surprised by this book showing up on my shelf, Katya’s Book of Mushrooms, by Katya Arnold.

Katya’s Book of Mushrooms is a story of Katya’s passion and love for mushrooms and discovering them in the wild. Her book is not a field guide, so shouldn’t be consulted for foraging tips nor should it be used to identify mushrooms as edible or poisonous. Using delightful illustrations, drawn by the author, she tells mythological stories of her forest friends, and illuminates their ecological role there.

As a forager myself, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of information on morphology that is used to key out a mushroom identification, although it does not help with making any species suggestions. I think this is a good feature for the intended audience of children from 5-14, as they shouldn’t be making edibility judgements without an expert’s opinion.

This delightful book illustrates many commonly found mushrooms of North Akatyas book of mushroomsmerica, and yet has information from Russia, as that is where Katya Arnold was born and spent her early years.

I highly recommend Katya’s Book of Mushrooms for science units to introduce a child to fungi and instill increased awareness of the presence of mushrooms around us in nature.

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Gluten-free, Grain-free Tapioca Cheese Bread; My Favorite Bread

Grain-free deliciousness

Grain-free deliciousness

I love the windows and doors to other recipes available to me in Spanish. Last year I stumbled upon this gem here while on laylita.com, a blog on Ecuadorian recipes. Although I had studied abroad in Ecuador, I never had the pleasure of eating this bread until I made it. It is originally called Pan de Yuca, which means Yucca Bread. We, here in the US, call yucca by the name of tapioca.

Pan de Yucca before baking

Pan de Yucca before baking

I particularly LOVE this bread for Oh so many reasons!
1)It is FAST
2) It is cheesy!
3) It is versatile!
4) It is grain-free
5) It is high in protein(for a bread) and healthy fats

IMG_6509

So I thought I would translate the recipe for you with healthier (the original is healthy, but some ingredients can be improved) ingredient suggestions!
This is great for gluten-free people too, as long as you shred your own cheese.

Tapioca (Cheese) Bread
20-25 rolls

2 1/2 Cups Tapioca Flour/Starch
4 Cups(1 Lb.) Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder (aluminum-free)
Pinch of Celtic Sea Salt (not bleached)
4 oz (1/2 cup) room temperature butter(from grass-fed cows)
2 eggs (pastured and fertilized)
If necessary, 1-2 Tablespoons of filtered water, if the dough is too dry to work into balls.

To Prepare:
Preheat oven to 500 F (that is not a typo!). In a food processor, combine flour, cheese, baking powder and salt & mix well. Add the butter, and eggs then mix until the dough forms small balls… or until it looks like it has mixed really well. This is where you would add the extra water if the dough seemed too dry.
Remove the dough from the processor and make golf-ball sized dough balls. Place on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. I usually only cook half of the recipe and save the rest in the fridge until another day. You can do this mixing all by hand in a bowl… just use your hands and all of the ingredients at once.
Bake for about 5-7 minutes at 500 F, then turn to broil setting and brown your rolls for about 3-5 minutes.

Grain-free deliciousness

Grain-free deliciousness

Then serve while warm, that is, if you don’t eat them all first! These go great with any soup, just as a side, and your kids will love them… to the point you feel like hiding them from the tots.

You can also adapte this recipe by substuting half of the mozzarella with sharp cheddar, as a reader posted in the comments, or jalapeno jack, if you want to add some kick!

Grain-free Tapioca cheese bread.

Grain-free Tapioca cheese bread.


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Eviction Notice Served- To The Ants

It really must be spring, as the ants had returned this week. This time the ante was upped; from small sugar ants to large carpenter ants. Ugh!!! They were everywhere… my kitchen, living room, dining room, climbing on me while I was nursing my daughter. Last year, I tried putting down a chalk border line as my mother in-law had heard that they wouldn’t cross it. Numbers may have dropped but it didn’t STOP them. I can’t get chalk everywhere anyways. So I was checking Facebook early Sunday morning before church and came across a blog entry by the Thrifty Couple regarding ants.. so I combined several of these ideas in a spray bottle and misted the entrances to my house before walking out the door. I am pleased to say that I have not seen any additional intruders since then.

Ant Eviction Spray

2 C. White distilled vinegar
3 small bay leaves
5 drops cinnamon essential oil
5 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops clove essential oil

Throw these all in a spray bottle, remember to label your bottle, and have fun with the eviction. Bonus, the house smells a lot better too!


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Herping for Fun

It’s about that time of year… to go herping(in the Northern states or high altitudes)!!! Herping is searching for herps (amphibians and reptiles). Anybody interested? A low-lying wetlands park would be perfect. Equipment needed: boots & willingness to get muddy… small nets would really help out too & pan to observe them in. An identification guide would also come in handy. I can’t wait! I could hear the Bufo americanus singing this afternoon. This would be great for homeschoolers needing hands on biology experience… coming soon, morel season!
Side note, I have now procurred a contract for raw cow’s milk through a herd share! I made delicious butter today in a mixer from the cream off of the top… sigh 🙂


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Dear Friend Without Children

In conversation, a friend of mine who has no children, and who has moved far away, said, “What I find is that a lot of girls I’d want to be friends with have kids and so they think that I wouldn’t want to hang out. For me, it’s a great time. I love kids and I’d rather hang out with a girl I like who has kids than someone who doesn’t have kids just because it’s easier.”

I loved hearing that from her. I also might write someone off initially due to us not being in the same life stage. Here is my answer…

I think it can be pretty hard for moms to know what topics they can connect to single people on… when 90+% of their daily conversation is with blabbering babies and 99% of their experiences include children. I’d love to talk about my work, and experiences from my BC(Before Children) days but instead feel like I’m trying to relive the glory days and have nothing current to discuss (that doesn’t somehow tie back to children)… and even if I did have some non-child related topic to discuss… it is hard to focus on any conversation when the tide of mommy-thoughts come back in, swirling about in foamy splashes… and the words that come out look & feel like fridge poetry. Even if the other person enjoys it, (and the mom too if she could quell the uneasy feeling that social anxiety is) it is hard for the mom to see and recognize that the interaction is legitimately sincere and appreciated.

You know how you, dear married without children friend, would just hang out with me while I ran errands back in the day? That would be WONDERFUL to have available now that I have children… I bet that the moms you would like to be friends with would see your offers of friendship as something sincere if you offered to help them cook dinner, or stay in the car with the kids while they run into a store or office… something that relieves the burden of stress weighing on their minds. And then, perhaps the fog that is your brain on motherhood would clear enough to see you as the person in front of them… but definitely follow through. I would much rather people pretend I have everything together and leave me alone than pretend to care, offer to help or visit and then never pursue the offering beyond lip value.

 

My friend responded;

“I hear what you’re saying. I think it is weird because your priorities can be so different when single, married with kids, and married without kids. My friend ‘Suzy’ is single and she always wants to go to concerts and sees my husband as a reminder of her singleness and also that I’m “less fun” if he’s around. As much as I want to be closer to her, it’s hard because she doesn’t understand that when you are married, you don’t just hang out with your spouse whenever.

I actually have offered to help do stuff with my mommy friends like you mentioned, but it’s usually not believed. There is one girl, though, who seems open to it. It’s funny because she’s younger than I am and has 3 kids. I think she sees my life as so charmed and hers as so nuts…and here I am wishing I could conceive. Go figure. I am definitely going to take her up on hanging out soon, though.”

 

Again, I totally understand… I had a difficult time processing the changes in priorities as my sisters would get married and have children. I, on the other hand, was globe-trotting and salsa dancing every weekend.

I loved hanging out with my friends but had an awkward transition from single, to dating, to married. Who then do we hang out with? I love my husband and I love my friends. I’d love for them to love each other. Then we added children into the mix. Finding one friend you really connect to is difficult enough. Finding a friend with a significant other who also makes a good friend for your spouse is harder. And then one with kids that also get along with your own? In a similar age bracket? No wonder people slowly pull away from relationships outside of their family! At a certain point, it is hard to believe that anyone else is truly interested in befriending not only you… but all 3,4,5… of you in your family. It is hard not to think that you would overwhelm and scare them away.

I encourage you, keep offering your friendship! Hang out with her children and let her clean something that is driving her insane, for weeks on end, making sure to insist that she doesn’t need to serve you as a visitor and give you her undivided attention. Sit in the car with the kiddos so she can run in and buy that make-up she needs/wants. Go to the doctor or dentist with her and help her manage the kids not being seen. Your friendship will instead be forged in peace and much thankfulness instead of being viewed as a cultural ritual offering of friendship. Maybe then, as Anne of Avonlea would say, you will find a kindred spirit, and a bosom buddy.


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Wait For It….

Although I may not be posting a daily blog, I am writing two research papers which I will post here soon’ish. One is on feminism and food choice. The other is on the process of finding “safe” drug dosage recommendations and its relationship to aluminum adjuvants in vaccines. Then in my excess free time, I have been reading, The Raw Truth About Milk. I’ll fill you in on the raw milk info from that book that I found most interesting. Meanwhile, both of my children are teething.


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Testing the Waters of Reader Interest

So I created a fabulously long poll on many different ideas that I want to write about, but I couldn’t get WordPress to work with me on this one… yet. I thought at first that I would present to you a simple four subject choices to go further in depth with. But, I am now on letter “U” of options… and each one of those choices really represent many different subtopics. The easiest ways to summarize those topics would be, A. Homesteading, health and sustainability topics, B. Environmental toxicity, and food contaminants and empowering you to make knowledgeable choices emphasizing your values, C. Analysis of scientific studies and ways of interpreting data and study conclusions as well as clarifying intent, D. Recipes for avoiding certain allergens(food) or chemicals(hygiene products) E. My undergraduate thesis.

Please respond to these broader choices instead under the comments. Thank-you!!