Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mennonite Strawberry Soup

The other week when I went to pick strawberries, the ladies I picked with shared that they were going home to make strawberry soup.  I think one was going to have hot dogs with her soup for supper and the other was going to have chicken nuggets made from the chickens we had just butchered.  I was intrigued and had to ask what strawberry soup was.  Not knowing I would become fascinated with the whole idea, I didn't realize I needed to ask for detailed instructions and measurements.  The instructions I was given were to "Slice up your strawberries and stir them with your sugar and milk.  Slice up some bread, but not too much bread, and stir it in.  I like it better without the bread, but the men folk seem to prefer it."  There you go!  That is how you make strawberry soup!  ;)  Yep.  I thought that was all I needed to know too.

Okay, okay.  Let me back up for a moment.  It seems strawberry soup is quite common during strawberry season among my friends who grew up Mennonite or married into the Mennonite community here.  It is simple, quick, and (without a lot of sugar) healthy.  I had never heard of such a thing- and to have it for supper!?  Wow!  I was blown away!

Well, I thought about that soup and thought about that soup all the way home.  I decided it would be a shame not to try it.  I was super excited about it when I walked through the door, so I put all the ingredients out and just stood there looking at them.  I was having that "uhhhh..." moment.  How many strawberries, how much milk, how much sugar, how much/what kind of bread.  I make myself laugh so much.  Who needs a comedian?  Well, I quickly put everything back up and headed to feed the pigs and text a precious friend.  Mmmm, in all honesty, I was kind of desperate to try this soup, so I think I contacted several friends praying at least one would see my dilemma in time and could help me out.  The sweet angel that saw and answered told me to use as many strawberries and milk as I wanted/needed and as much bread and sugar as I needed, but I knew from earlier directions to not use too much bread.  :)  One dear sister that answered said her favorite way to eat this soup in the summer wasn't with hot dogs when she was growing up.  It was with sandwiches with fresh lettuces from the garden.  Sighhhh.....Honestly, where have I been all my life?!  Why did I never know such things existed when I was growing up?  I was eating soda crackers with mustard while my friends were eating like this!  Just kidding.  That wasn't for a meal.  That was just a snack.  :)

Anyway, I went to get more strawberries today.  My children and I LOVE the fresh strawberries from this farm.  They are so, so sweet.  Though I am learning my way around the kitchen without constantly checking a recipe, I do like to have one in case I go for a while without making something and forget a few of the details, so this evening I measured everything I did to share this recipe with you and to have on hand for myself.

First, I cut the tops off two cups of strawberries and pulsed them in my food processor a few times.

To that I added 1/3 cup of sugar and two cups of milk.  Then I pulsed it a few more times.

Next, I transferred this mixture to a bowl and broke up two slices of white loaf bread into the soup.

I gave the bread a few quick swirls in the soup to cover the bread.

Psst...my little girl actually did most of the bread and
stirring.  ;)
The soup was placed in the freezer for about thirty minutes to get it good and cold.  Then viola!

There is beautiful, delicious strawberry soup!  I can now officially say I like it better without the bread, too!  It is also best when eaten really cold.

Strawberry Soup
2 c strawberries with tops removed
2 c milk
1/3 c sugar
2 slices loaf bread

Pulse strawberries 3-4 times in the processor.  Add milk and sugar and pulse 3-4 times to mix everything together.  Transfer soup to a bowl.  Cut or tear bread into cubes and stir into soup.  Put soup in the refrigerator or freezer for about thirty minutes until really cold.  Serve and enjoy!

If you are one of my friends from around here, please feel free to comment with any tips or corrections!  If you are not from here and have never had strawberry soup, try it and let me know what you think!  I want to try it with honey next time to see if it will taste as good.  Oh the possibilities running through my head!  I hope you get to enjoy a spoonful of my new simple, content life!

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Making Butter

The other day, my husband unexpectedly came home to have his truck worked on.  The next day he wanted grits for breakfast.  We were supposed to pick up butter from the store on the way home from taking his truck to the shop, but we had both forgotten.  When I woke up the next morning and was just about to dread trying to figure out what to make for breakfast since I didn't have butter, the light bulb above my head began to shine brightly!  I remembered I had heavy cream in the refrigerator, and I remembered a lesson I did with my children where we made butter from heavy cream.  My problem was solved!  I would make my own butter!

First, I poured heavy cream into a clean jar.

The lid was placed on the jar, and the jar was shaken.

When my arm was beginning to tire, my husband's interest had been piqued, and he wanted a turn.  ;)

After shaking for a while, the cream gets really thick and feels as if nothing is happening.

This is why it feels as if nothing is happening, but I knew to keep shaking.  Soon, the most amazing thing happens.  It sounds as if the cream has turned back to a liquid, but it is the buttermilk that has separated from the butter!  It fascinates me every single time!

I ended up with about three tablespoons of butter.  It was just enough to make our grits!

Isn't it neat that we don't always have to depend on the grocery store to provide what we need?

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

School on the Go

Hi friends!  I finally have the home school-made-easy idea ready to share!  I was getting worried it was never going to be ready, but it's done!

What do you do for school on days you are sick or life happens and you just have to be away from home?  Does school get put on hold, or do you try to lug tons of books everywhere?  This is one I always struggled with.  I have used both options, but I haven't been happy with either.  In comes the School on the Go binder.

A special thanks to my sister who helped me
with the school label!  She took my idea,
re-drew it, and made it cute!
This little binder is what I plan to use for days when life comes calling.  Isn't that part of the beauty of homeschooling?  I simply love not having to be tied down to my house just to do school work.  I don't know what your views of school are, but for me there is more to school than just books and worksheets.  We love to live learning, and there is a lot to be learned and experienced out there in that big world!  Who wants to be stuck at home all the time?

The binder is divided into sections by these pocket dividers.  There is a pocket for each subject.

I have stacks of worksheets covering different subject areas leftover from my teaching days.  It is very easy to pick a sheet for any subject and place it into the correct pocket.  If you don't have worksheets readily available, there are many places online to find any that suite your needs.  Pinterest is always a great place to start.

I am not always in love with the idea of worksheets even if they are the easiest thing to pull out when mom is out of commission or out on the road.  For that reason, I have also added index cards to each section with a choice of activities from which the student may pick.  I love the cards because they can easily be changed or added to.

This picture is just to show how the cards are easily added to the binder by punching two holes in the cards.

In addition to the activity cards, I also recommend keeping a notebook, index cards, a pencil pouch and a book in the front of the binder.  It is a great idea to keep a pencil (or two), crayons, scissors, and a small bottle of glue in the pouch.

It's not fancy, but it works.  That what my ideas here are for.  They're intentionally easy enough for anyone at home to create without any special equipment.  What do you think?  What ideas do you use to make your school days easier?  The teacher in me always loves hearing other's ideas!

Until we meet again, may you be blessed!