Dandelion Season

May 8, 2014

Preparing the flowers for frying.

Preparing the flowers for frying.

The last two weeks have been peak dandelion season here in eastern Missouri, so I’ve been experimenting with the culinary uses of the flowers.

Dipped in batter and fried, the flower heads did not taste like much. Probably too much seasoning and too much batter. It was good advice to cut off as much of the green outer covering (the sepals) because they are bitter. However, if you cut too close to the base of the petals they fall out all over the place, which is good if you want to collect just the petals.

Dandelion flower fritter.

Dandelion flower fritter.

Collecting the petals only is great if you’re trying to make dandelion wine (I’m adapting the second recipe from here), except that I’m only using petals (2 quarts). I keep the same amount of sugar (3 lbs), oranges (4), water (1 gallon), and yeast (winemaker’s). This is the appropriate timing for this project since we just covered the differences between aerobic respiration and fermentation.

Two quarts (about 4 liters) of dandelion flowers for making a gallon of wine.

Two quarts (about 4 liters) of dandelion flowers for making a gallon of wine.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2014. Dandelion Season, Retrieved February 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Community Supported Agriculture

September 2, 2013

Popcorn on the stalk at the CSA.

Popcorn on the stalk at the CSA.

This year we signed up for a CSA – Lee Farms in Truxton, Missouri – and we had the chance to visit this Sunday.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and the way it works is that you sign up (and pay) ahead of time and the farmer gives you a box of produce from the farm every week for the growing season (May to October in Missouri). It helps the farmer by providing some more stable income, since the CSA members pay the same amount whether it’s a good season or not. The members get an interesting variety of fresh produce every week.

It was neat to see the farm, especially since they’re trying to minimize the amount of fertilizer and pesticides they’re using by working with etymologists and agriculturalists from the universities in the area. It would be a good place to visit with a class.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Community Supported Agriculture, Retrieved February 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Foraging for Food

April 15, 2012

The Splendid Table has an enticing interview with Hank Shaw who just wrote a book on foraging for food in the woods and how to cook what you find. The book’s called, “Hunt, Gather, Cook“.

Shaw’s website is full of details about his adventures in foraging, as well as a lot of recipes — including some excellent photographs of the work in progress.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2012. Foraging for Food, Retrieved February 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Milking Goats

October 20, 2011

Learning how to milk goats.

Part of the afternoon chores at the Heifer Ranch was milking the goats. It was not something required of the students, but since our barn was located right next to the goats’ milking barn, a lot of them volunteered to try it out.

Carefully milking a goat.

Most used the somewhat dainty, one handed technique, and I’ll confess I was among that group, but a few students (see first image) really got into it.

A good producing goat (doe) can produce about 3 quarts per day (McNulty et al., 1997).

After milking, the goats’ teats are dipped in iodine solution (25 ppm recommended by McNulty et al., 1997) to kill any germs and prevent infection.

Sanitizing with iodine solution.

As for the green splotches on the backs of the goats. On our first morning at the Heifer Ranch we had walked past a paddock with about half a dozen goats. A student noticed the green and asked why. Fortunately, we had a guide to explain a little about the basics of animal husbandry – apparently, the marks indicate which goats are likely to be pregnant.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2011. Milking Goats, Retrieved February 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Food and Nutrition

January 16, 2011

Darya Pino from Summer Tomato has a cute little flow chart to help you identify “Real Food” in the supermarket. It takes the conservative approach to eating shared by Michael Pollan, who recommends only eating thing your grandmother would have recognized as food, and Food Politics‘ Marion Nestle’s interdiction against foods with more than five ingredients.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2011. Food and Nutrition, Retrieved February 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Jam algebra

August 6, 2010

I’d like to minimize the sugar content of the jam in order to see the most of the currant’s tartness. According to the FAO, you need to have about 60% sugar concentration in the final jam for good preservation. I’ve squeezed the currants and produced quite a bit of juice. I need to find out how much sugar to add.

To figure out how much sugar we need to add, based on the mass, we need to define our terms. Let’s say the amount of sugar is s, the amount of jam is j and the total mass, the sugar plus the jam, is t.

So the total mass is going to be:

(1) t = s + j

Since the amount of sugar needs to be 60% then:

(2) s = 0.6 t

If we substitute the first equation (1) into the second (2) we’ll have just one equation we can solve to find the amount of sugar:

(3) s = 0.6 (s + j)

Now we solve for the amount of sugar, s. Start by expanding the right hand side of the equation (distributive property):

(4) s = 0.6 s + 0.6 j

Next, isolate s on the left hand side of the equation by subtracting:

(5) s – 0.6 s= 0.6 s + 0.6 j – 0.6 s

Which gives:

(6) 0.4 s= 0.6 j

Now, get rid of the coefficient on the left hand side by dividing through:

(7) 0.4 s / 0.4 = 0.6 j / 0.4

To get:

(8) s = 1.5 j

So to have the right amount of sugar, I need to add one and one half times as much sugar as I have juice. So, if I have 2.0 kg of juice, then:

s = 1.5 (2.0 kg)
s = 3.0 kg

3.0 kg of sugar is a lot of sugar! However, if we boil the jam, some of the water in the juice will evaporate. Therefore, if we know how much sugar we want to add in we should be able to calculate how we need to evaporate to get the right ratio. More evaporation should also lead to a more concentrated flavors in the jam. Hmmm …

Well, I have a scale.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2010. Jam algebra, Retrieved February 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Jam tectonics

August 6, 2010

Boiling jam will often create a froth that floats on top, much like the granitic continental crust floats on the Earth’s mantle. Also like the boiling jam, the mantle convects (even though the mantle is not liquid).

Convection in jam.

The darker red areas in the image are where the convection cells in the boiling jam reach the surface and push the froth away. It’s a bit like the bulge in the Earth’s crust that occurs beneath hot-spots and the mid-ocean ridges.

Model of convection in the Earth's mantle (image from Wikipedia)

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2010. Jam tectonics, Retrieved February 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Omnivore’s dilemma for kids

June 25, 2010

The Omnivore’s dilemma has a version for young readers. The full version is a good read, but is a bit long. One of my student read the first chapter and did not get too excited, so maybe this one will be a more captivating read.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2010. Omnivore's dilemma for kids, Retrieved February 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

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