2022-23 School Year–Week Four

This week has been more…complicated than I expected. It started out pretty well, with a day off on Monday so we could see Moose march in the town Labor Day parade. And then on Tuesday, we had a field trip day to the Missouri History Museum (for the first time in almost three years!), to see the new Coloring STL exhibit. We had a really great time…how often are you encouraged to color on the walls of a museum?!?

Even I made a small contribution, because I found something mid-century marvelous!

On Wednesday, we got back to our regular work. Ladybug reviewed radicals in algebra 2. She began Act III of Romeo and Juliet. She learned about mixtures and compounds in chemistry. In history, she read about Flavius Theodosius and the Roman Catholic Church. Her creative writing course had her rewriting sentences to make them more interesting and less repetitive. We continued reading The Fellowship of the Ring, and baked Barliman Butternut’s Blackberry Pie, which was delicious!

Chickadee reviewed calculating area and perimeter in math. In science, she continued learning about order Carnivora by starting a chapter on bears. In history, she read a brief history of the Jewish people, focusing on Abraham and Joseph. She learned how to add adjectives to a sentence diagram in grammar. We continued reading Heidi, and to my relief, we have almost reached the part where she gets to go home to the mountains.

On Thursday, our school day was interrupted by the developing news in the United Kingdom, and we spent most of our day watching the BBC. Today, I decided we should continue to focus on the life of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, so we watched The King’s Speech and some of our royal documentaries. Hopefully, next week we’ll have a little more success staying on task!

The Markel Family Tour di Pizza

Today we wrapped up the first-ever Markel Family Tour di Pizza!

Last year, we came up with an idea to try lots of different styles of pizza from places we don’t normally frequent. We decided the perfect day to start this event was on MAR10 Day (March 10), and we decided to kick it off with Jet’s Detroit-style pizza, which was delicious!

On Friday I made Chicago-style pizza, since there’s just no place around here that makes it as well as I do. This was definitely the most familiar item on our list, but you can’t have a Tour di Pizza without stopping in the Windy City!

On Saturday we had the craziest day of our experiment with California-style take and bake pizzas from California Pizza Kitchen. Their pizzas are pretty small, so we tried three varieties…the ever-controversial Hawaiian, shrimp scampi, and California Club. Even though they were unusual as far as pizzas go, they were all delicious (although the shrimp scampi variety did fall apart a bit in the oven!).

Since I had some time on Saturday, I made the perfect dessert to accompany pizza…cannoli! I don’t think I could have made them any better…the shells were perfectly flaky and crispy, and my work to thoroughly drain the ricotta paid off, making the filing just right!!!

Yesterday we tried New York-style pizza from Papa John’s. I don’t know if it’s because I have a bias against New York-style pizza as someone who grew up in Chicagoland, or it’s just that Papa John’s isn’t my thing, but this was my least favorite pizza of the event.

We wrapped up our Tour di Pizza today, 314 Day, with St. Louis-style pizza from the hometown favorite, Imo’s. I’m not going to lie…this generally isn’t my favorite type of pizza (it’s a crust thing…I like something with more substance than a Saltine), but I do really like that they use provel cheese, and it’s not so bad for a special occasion!

Since today was also Pi Day (convenient that we could have pizza pies for dinner, don’t you think?), I made pies for dessert to cap off our dinner event…s’mores and chocolate hazelnut, with decorations courtesy of Bunny:

This was a really fun, silly thing to do for a few days, and it also gave me a break from making dinner for a few nights, which was really nice!

Tasty Tuesday–A Look Back at Festive Feasts and Holiday Baking

Can you stand one more look back at the holiday season? I hope so, because it’s time to wrap-up all of the festive feasts and baked goods I prepared from Thanksgiving through Epiphany!

Our Thanksgiving dinner was fairly standard, although I did make a second kind of stuffing, and instead of just roasted carrots, I made a blend of roasted winter vegetables (which did include carrots):

Our pick-out dinner is always my favorite meal of the year, and I thought it was extra special with the full charcuterie board I prepared:

Our fancy Christmas dinner (which we had on the Sunday after Christmas) featured beef Wellington:

Our New Year’s Eve hot chocolate bar looked a little different this year, but it was still delicious!

Pork tenderloin is becoming something of a tradition on New Year’s Day:

And finally, our most recent “festive feast,” Ryan’s birthday dinner last week:

I made ten pies over the holidays (with a lot of help from the girls):

We baked more cookies than I can count, including several new varieties, my favorite of which was the Linzer Augen:

“Only” six cakes this time around (do Yule logs count as cakes?):

And some other assorted treats, including my first attempt at cannoli and gingerbread Oreo truffles:

It’s not like I’m going to stop cooking anytime soon, because we still need to eat, but I’m looking forward to planning some simpler meals for a bit!

Thanksgiving 2021

Time for a look at our annual three-day-long Thanksgiving celebration, beginning with a beautiful sunrise on Wednesday morning, which gave me encouragement to bake nine pies, prep two different kinds of stuffing, and make the cranberry sauce.

On Thanksgiving Day, we had fun watching the Macy’s Parade and playing Thanksgiving Day Parade Bingo, picking our favorite dogs at the National Dog Show, and playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Of course, there was dinner to attend to, as well. I thought the table looked extra pretty this year…maybe that’s because we had guests to set it for!

The menu was a mix of old and new. I made our traditional stuffing to go with the turkey, but also a new recipe for everything bagel stuffing. I also tried a new roasted winter vegetable dish to go alongside our usual green beans with almonds. Of course we also had mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, and cranberry sauce:

It made a very pretty plate!

For dessert, all of the pies. Sadly, the pie I was most looking forward to trying, cranberry custard, didn’t set right, so even though it looked pretty, it didn’t come out right at all. I guess that’s the risk you run when you try a new recipe on a holiday!

This morning started with one of our favorite traditions of pie for breakfast.

I was very happy to get to go see Moose march in our town’s Santa Parade for the first time since 2019, and for the first time with the high school marching band! We honestly weren’t planning on staying for the whole thing since his group was near the beginning, but it was fun as well as short, so we ended up seeing it all!

I enjoyed having a place to wear one of my new Erstwilder Christmas brooches:

Turkey sandwiches for lunch are another great thing about the day after Thanksgiving!

And more pie:

We built the annual addition to our Lego winter village:

And had turkey soup for dinner:

After dinner, some of us went back downtown for the tree lighting and community sing:

And more pie for dessert when we got back home:

There you have it. It was a mostly normal holiday, and it was good to do things that felt familiar again!

Pie Day 2021

That one day of the year when the kitchen turns into a bakery is here! This year I made nine pies, and I even tried a new recipe! I also worked a bit at making my crusts look prettier, with some mixed results…pie crust is just not something I’m good at.

Here’s the rundown:

  • Cranberry custard
  • Nutella
  • Blueberry
  • Butterscotch
  • Pumpkin
  • Pecan
  • Caramel apple
  • S’mores
  • Apple crumb

It’s going to be hard to wait until tomorrow to dig in!

Pi Day

It’s always hard to decide if we’re going to celebrate St. Louis on 314 Day, or the more mathematical holiday of Pi Day, but in the end, I really wanted to make pie, so Pi Day it is!

This year, I went with French silk and lemon meringue:

There was even a way to celebrate Pi Day in Animal Crossing!

Nothing will ever top the Pi Day we celebrated in 2015, but it was still a delicious day!

Tasty Tuesday–A Look Back at Festive Feasts and Holiday Baking

I often take a look back at the holiday baking I did from Thanksgiving through Epiphany; this year, I thought it would be fun to look back at all of the holiday meals and treats we’ve enjoyed, starting with Thanksgiving dinner:

We had our pick out dinner on Christmas Day this time:

And our fancy Christmas dinner on the Sunday after Christmas:

Of course we had our traditional New Year’s Eve hot chocolate bar:

And a special New Year’s Day dinner to start the new year right:

And finally, our Ryan’s Birthday/Epiphany feast:

On to the baking. There were pies for Thanksgiving:

And several cakes throughout the season, for St. Nicholas Day, Santa Lucia Day, Jesus’ Birthday, the fancy Christmas dinner, and New Year’s Day:

We baked so many Christmas cookies!

And an obligatory “other” section, for things like lussekattes, coffee cake, and even some special holiday beverages:

I put in a little extra effort this year, to make up for the fact that we couldn’t go anywhere or do most of our normal Christmas activities. In the end, I think we’ll have a lot of delicious memories from this holiday season!

Thanksgiving in the Time of COVID-19

If there’s anything that didn’t change too much for us this year due to COVID-19, it was Thanksgiving. That’s not to say things weren’t different at all, but we never travel for Thanksgiving, so at least we didn’t miss that, and we don’t always have family over, so while we missed seeing them, it wasn’t necessarily expected either. So, a lot of our three-day Thanksgiving holiday looked pretty much the same, starting with Pie Day on Wednesday, when we baked eight pies (seven for our family, and this year, one to give away).

In the middle of the baking, the children also made their yearly hand-and-footprint turkeys…Turkey and Bunny were kind enough to play along again this year at my request, since it is their last year in my homeschool.

We watched a very different version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thanksgiving morning (in the words of Al Roker, it wasn’t the parade we wanted, but it was the parade we needed), which we enjoyed very much because it was something somewhat familiar. The same went for the National Dog Show, which was extra exciting for me this year because the dog I wanted to win actually did! And then we got ready for dinner. One of the best parts of any holiday is setting the table:

And the food. There was a lot of food, even with the turkey mishap we had in the morning (I ended up having to throw out the turkey I had purchased to roast, and we decided to order a second Beast Craft BBQ smoked turkey to ensure we had enough leftovers).

It’s always a pretty-looking dinner!

After clean-up and Holiday Inn, I got out the pies:

I limited myself to trying two kinds. This was my first attempt at lemon meringue pie, and I was very pleased with the results!

I made sure to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and helped Franklin prepare his holiday feast:

The day after Thanksgiving has been pretty different. We didn’t get to see Moose march in our town’s Santa Parade this year, which was disappointing…I’d really come to enjoy that event. And there was no town tree lighting or gingerbread house walk or trolley ride to look forward to after dinner. This morning, though, the family traditions did continue with pie-for-breakfast:

And turkey sandwiches for lunch, which I almost like better than Thanksgiving dinner itself!

Lego building is also part of our day-after-Thanksgiving celebration…I built the free-with-purchase A Christmas Carol set we received:

I always make turkey soup for dinner the day after Thanksgiving:

And after dinner, the Fab Five built a Lego Harry Potter set to add to our Hogwarts setup in the school room.

It wasn’t exactly the Thanksgiving we had planned, but all things considered, we had a very nice family celebration!

Pie Day 2020

Happy Pie Day!

We baked eight pies today. Not a record, but still a lot of pies, and our house smells like a bakery!

Caramel-apple (Bunny made this one, and it’s definitely the prettiest of the bunch!):

Lemon meringue:

Cranberry-apple:

Peanut butter:

Pecan (Someday I’ll make a pecan pie that actually looks pretty, but until then, at least it tastes good!):

S’mores:

Butterscotch:

Pumpkin:

Now we just have to wait until tomorrow to dig in!

Tasty Tuesday–Holiday Baking 2019

We never did get around to making and decorating cut-out cookies this year (I think we’ll make that a Valentine’s Day activity!), but I thought it would be fun to take a look back at all of the holiday baking we did do, from Thanksgiving Eve through Epiphany.

16 Dozen Cookies (four different kinds):

11 Pies (a total of eight varieties):

Layer Cake:

Coffee Cake:

Bûche de Noël:

Apple-Cranberry Bread Pudding:

Gingerbread-Eggnog Trifle:

Lussekattes for Santa Lucia Day:

Crème Brûlée:

Epiphany Baklava:

Even without the cut-out cookies, this may have been the busiest year of baking yet…it was delicious fun!