Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pumpkin Potato Soup

I needed to use up the leftover pumpkin puree from the oatmeal pumpkin cookies I made the other day. Since it's been raining all day, I thought it would be nice to have some soup. And since I somehow ended up with two enormous bags of potatoes (I'm pretty sure the bagger put someone else's potatoes in my cart), I figured it'd be nice to combine the potatoes and pumpkin into the soup.

I thought the result was delicious enough to share. And surprisingly filling. I served it with whole wheat parmesean biscuits and it was a simple and delicious meal!

I shamelessly stole this image from
I didn't get around to taking a picture of my own soup.

Pumpkin Potato Soup
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 onion chopped
2 large cloves of garlic
2 cups or so chicken broth (I used homemade, if you're using a can, just use one can)
2 cups pumpkin puree (again, if you're using a can, just use one can)
2 medium sized potatoes
1/2 cup of milk
10-12 fresh sage leaves (or use dry, but I don't know how much)
1 tsp salt (or to taste. I like salt.)
Pepper to taste - my kids flat out reject anything peppered, so I just added it at the table.

Heat the olive oil in your pot. Add butter, onion and garlic and sautee until onions are soft and butter starts to brown. Meanwhile, nuke your potatoes for about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and pumpkin and stir. Scoop the flesh out of the potatoes and toss in the pot. Add the sage leaves and salt and let everything simmer for a bit. 15-20 minutes is good.

Scoop out the sage leaves and put the soup in the blender. Blend until smooth. Return soup to pot and stir in the milk. Serve.

Generally I don't think of blended soup and biscuits as a meal, but I think there was enough fat and protein in the biscuits and enough fat and fiber in the soup to fill me up. Or maybe it's just because I ate a gallon of the soup!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Five in a Row: Very Last First Time

Last week we "rowed" Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews and Ian Wallace. This is a really beautiful book about an Inuit girl, Eva, who walks under the ice at low tide to collect mussels. This is a rite of passage for Eva who will be making this journey alone for the first time - her very last first time. It's a very suspenseful story. Eva gets lost under the ice and her candle goes out as she can hear the tide coming in. There is just enough suspense to take a child to the edge of what they can handle without going too far.

The illustrations in this book are incredible - full of interesting details that provide a ton of information about Inuit culture. We learned a lot through this book and had a really great week.

Language Arts
Henry decided, on his own, to right a sea themed version of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? It was entitled Blue Crab, Blue Crab, What Do You See? Henry isn't one for drawing, but I was proud that he did color the pictures he chose from the internet. He was pretty proud of himself too.

Helen was also pretty proud of her crab picture.

Social Studies/Geography/Art
We attempted to build an igloo out of ice cubes on a sheet of ice, but we couldn't get the ice to stick together. The interwebs assured me that I could sprinkle salt on the ice to temporarily melt them enough to stick together, but the interwebs lied.

So the project morphed into chipping an ice hole and coloring the ice with Crayola markers in blues and purples. Our art topic from the book was warm versus cool colors, and so we used blues and purples to emphasize the coldness of the ice and to make it look like the illustrations in the book. The kids also added some of their plastic sea creatures to the scene. And note Henry's "annuraaq."

Math and Science
I sent Henry out to collect "mussels" from the yard to use in a demonstration of the tides. We got side tracked with counting and grouping the rocks.

Then we moved onto a demonstration of how when the tides go out, tide pools and dry land are left. He used a Star Wars figure to collect mussels on the bottom of the sea.


We made a trip to the grocery store and purchased some mussels which Ryan ate for dinner. But first we dissected them. Henry used a butter knife (aka lever - we've been studying simple machines) to pry one open. And we looked up a few diagrams and videos online to figure out what we were looking at.


I went looking online for some traditional Inuit music to play with dinner last night. I didn't come across any Inuit folk streaming radio, but I did discover that "throat singing" is a traditional form of Inuit music. There's a passage in the book where Eva hums  "far back in her throat to make the echoes rumble." If we hadn't been studying this book so deeply I never would have known that this was a reference to traditional Inuit music! Helen really enjoyed watching throat singers on YouTube. Here's a brief demonstration:

Perfect Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

I'm always looking for snacks that my kids will eat that I feel good about them eating. These fit the bill. (I should mention that I don't worry about fat intake, so if you do, these may not be what you're looking for!) They're 100% whole grain, low in sugar, high in vitamin A, and really, really tasty. These are soft cookies, not crunchy. I recommend doubling the batch.

I have no idea where I found the original recipe and I've doctored the heck out of it. So here's my latest, yummiest version.

Oatmeal Pumpkin Cookies

We used a pumpkin we grew in our garden!
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 cup of chocolate chips or raisins or nuts

Preheat oven to 350.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and salt.

Using a mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and mix. Add vanilla and mix. Add pumpkin and mix. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and combine. Stir in chips/raisins/nuts if using.

Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.

I ran a nutrition analysis based on a batch of 48 cookies with 2 cookies per serving and here's what I came up with. Oh, and I made these without any of the optional mix-ins because my picky picky kid can't handle the texture. I would love to add walnuts to up the protein. Instead, I serve them with nuts and milk.

Caliories 134; Calories from Fat 59 (I told you, I'm not afaid of fat!); Total Fat 7g; Saturated Fat 4g; Trans Fat 0g; Total Carbs 16g; Dietary Fiber 2g/7%; Sugars 6g; Protein 3g; Vitamin A 14%; Vitamin C 1%; Calcium 2%; Iron 5%