Thursday, December 20, 2018

A Very Joyous Winter Season to Each of YOU

Whatever celebrations fill your home this holiday season, we hope that they are overflowing with joy and opportunities to LIVE the moments as they come.  Here's a teeny glimpse of our last day in the studio before winter break.
See you in the New Year!

Studio creating

 The children are making more three-dimensional work than I've seen in the studio for years!
In addition to three dimensional works, some children have been making large paintings and buildings to showcase their creations and writing stories about their characters.
I will miss their creativity over the long winter break but am looking forward to a new year full of curiosity and playful expression!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Playing in the mud with Amy

A lizard..
 A shark...
 Tiger in mud...
Clay with the parents on Pick-a-Parent night at school.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Persian Solstice Celebration

On Thursday Afsaneh joined us for the fourth year in a row to share a little bit about SHAB e YALDA.    Shab e Yalda is an ancient Persian celebration where families and friends gather to eat and make merry on the Winter Solstice. Traditionally the evening of festivities begins when the sun sets on the last day of fall and continues until dawn on the first day of winter, but our celebration came a few weeks early. Thanks to Afsaneh for her generous contributions we enjoyed another fun filled studio day, eating delicious Persian rice AND dissecting pomegranates just for the YUM of it.  Here are a few pictures from our day.

Children’s Garden Montessori Nowruz Menu Recipes

Sabzeh Polo”- Rice with Fresh Herbs
(makes 6 servings)

3 cups long-grain basmati rice
¼ cup chopped fresh chives or spring onions
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh dill
2 ½ cups coarsely chopped fresh parsley
2 cups of chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 4 tablespoons hot water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cloves of chopped garlic

1. To cook the rice: clean and was the rice. Bring 8 coups of water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil in a large non-stick pot. Pour the rice into the pot. Boil briskly for 6-10 minutes. Bite a few grains, if they feel soft and all the rice has rise to the top, it is ready to be drained. Drain the rice in a large, fine mesh colander and rinse with 3 cups of water.

2. In a bowl, toss the chopped herbs and set aside

3. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to bottom of pot

4. Place 2 spatulas full of rice in the pot, then add one spatula full of herbs. Repeat, alternating layers of rice and herbs. Sprinkling the cinnamon between the layers. Cover and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat.

5. Pour 3 tablespoons of oil, ½ cup of hot water and a drop of saffron water over the rice. Place the garlic on the top. Wrap the lid with a clean dish towel and over the pot firmly to prevent steam from escaping. Cook for 60 minutes longer over low heat.

6.) Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

**The bottom of the pot will have developed a crust called “tadig.”

7.) Enjoy!

Ash-e-Reshteh”- Noodle soup

¼ cup oil
3 large onions, chopped
10 cloves garlic chopped
1 tablespoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of turmeric
¼ cup dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
¼ cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
12-14 cups water
2 cups lentils
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ pound of Persian noodles (reshteh) or linguine noodles
1 cup coarsely chopped spring onions
1 cup chopped fresh dill weed
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh parsley
2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and coarsely chopped
1 cups kashk (liquid whey)

1. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat until hot. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until golden brown.  Add salt, pepper, turmeric, kidney beans, and chickpeas, and sauté for 2 minutes. Pour in 12 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes over medium heat.

2. Add lentils, cumin, coriander, and ginger, cover and cook for 55 minutes longer. Check to be sure the beans are tender. Use handheld mixer to partially puree the soup.

3. Add noodles and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally

4. Add all the herbs. Cover and cook, stirring from time to time for 10 minutes. Check to be sure the noodles are cooked.

5. Stir in the kashk. Add more warm water if the soup is too thick. Adjust seasoning to taste. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Nan-e-Berenji”- Rice cookies

1 ½  cups sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup rose water
½ teaspoon lime juice

4 egg yolks, at room temperature
syrup (made in step1)
1 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons cardamom powder
¼ teaspoon sea salt
3 cups rice flour

1. Prepare the syrup by combining sugar and water in saucepan. Stir well until the sugar dissolved completely. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes (be careful not to overboil), remove from heat, add rose water and lime juice and set aside to cool. It should be at room temperature and not too thick.

2. In a warm mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until creamy. Add the cooled syrup from step 1 and whisk for 1 minute. Set aside.

3. In another mixing bowl, wish together the oil, Cardamom, salt and rice flour until you have a creamy batter.

4. Add egg yolk mixture to the rice flour mixture. Use a spatula to fold in until you have a soft, snow-white dough. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

5. Place the oven rack in the center and preheat over to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with baking mats.

6. Use an ice cream scoop to scoop up a walnut size amount of dough. Place it on the baking mat. Flatten slightly using and offset spatula. Repeat, leaving 2 ½ inches between each cookie. With a fork or the open end of a thimble, draw geometric patters on the cookies.

7. Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes. Keep in mind that the cookies should be white when they are done.

8. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool. These cookies crumble very easily; Remove them carefully from the baking mat using an offset spatula. If you are not using them immediately store in a airtight glass container.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Stone Soup, Pumpkin Bread and Sharing

We just celebrated Grandparents day and it was a huge success.  Let me tell you a little about the food the children made for the occasion. 
First, I joined the class at circle time to tell a story about a hidden forest where animals don't talk to each other, nor play together, nor really know one another at all.  An insightful dragonfly who happened upon this lonely wood had the brilliant idea of making stone soup.  He brought out a large pot with a flourish and he placed a stone and some water inside before placing it over a flame to cook.  Soon one indignant animal after another stepped out from their hiding places in the woods to say that stones and water weren't sufficient ingredients to make a soup and so they each added a new ingredient to the pot.  When they were done they had a delicious soup filled with shared ingredients.  
A great little reminder about the power of sharing.  Inspired by the story we decided to make stone soup for our grandparents.  I brought the stones and the pot and asked each child to choose a vegetable on their way into studio.  The children did their part washing and cutting every vegetable that became the soup.
Stone Soup
Cut up some garlic, onions, carrots, celery, snow peas and tomatoes.  Add to a pot with one stone (optional).  Add a bag of split peas.  Cover with water and cook in a crockpot on low overnight.  The next morning stir in salt and pepper to taste and some cumin.
Serve and Enjoy.
BJ joined the children and made The Best Pumpkin Loaf Ever (Gluten Free and Better than Starbucks).  Here's the recipe:
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup apple sauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
11/2 cup gluten free flour (we used Pamelas)
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking power
1/2 t. cinnamom
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. each of nutmeg, all spic and pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350... Line 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Beat together eggs, sugars and vanilla.
Add pumpkin, oil and beat some more.
Add dry ingredients.  Stir.
Spoon batter into lined pan.  Bake 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
 And the children were so proud to share thier Yummy creations with grandparents and friends.
It was a lovely and festive occasion.

What is a line?

 Coco gave a wonderful circle-time lesson on LINE.  Of course a line is an recognizable path created by a point moving in space which can define or imply the edges of a form.  Lines come in a variety of styles, including: horizontal, wavy, vertical, diagonal, straight, curved, thick or thin.  But all of that can seem a little abstract.  Coco made the idea concrete in a fun filled activity with the children.

 First the children identified some lines in their environment.
Next, She handed out some strips of ribbon for the children to practice making different kinds of lines on their own and with their friends... vertical, horizontal and diagonal.
 Then Coco had them practice making lines with their bodies, standing up and laying down.
All of this was done in support of some work to be placed on the shelf that will extend our shared vocabulary of line and it's use in art, writing, constructing and more.
Isn't learning fun?!