Star Valley Scuffins

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Scones or muffins? Sometimes on Sunday morning with a hungry family ready for brunch, it’s a hard choice. This past Sunday, the best choice was BOTH.

Ingredients
4 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (let sour for 5 minutes)
2/3 cup coconut oil
2 flax eggs (a total of 2 tablespoons flax seed meal mixed into 6 tablespoons water)
2 apples peeled and diced

Directions
Mix the flour, baking soda and spices.
In a separate bowl mix the milk, sugar, oil, and flax eggs.
Mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
Add in the apples.
Scoop the batter onto parchment paper or a greased pan (an ice cream scoop works well).
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Makes 12-14 medium-sized scuffins

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To Market, To Market Day

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If you could design and sell a product, what would it be? This is the very question the Younger Fives pondered this week to get ready for Market Day, a wonderful get-together organized by the Star Valley Home Educators. In order to participate, each Five needed to make a product that could be sold for $1 or $2 (fake money), create a sign explaining the product and price, and prepare a few words to introduce the product to the other participating kids.

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High Five had his heart set on making chocolate cupcakes, so he and Five Spice worked out a recipe that avoided ingredients he is allergic to, dairy and eggs. His Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes turned out great; the hardest part was waiting until Market Day to try them out.

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Five Ball wanted to make his own silly putty, so we found an easy-to-use recipe that called for only glue, borax, and optional food coloring. All the kids were amazed to see the glue thicken into “Party Putty” (Five Ball’s name for his product), and this gave us a chance later on to look at the underlying science through a Ted-Ed video on polymers.

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Five of Hearts took a craftier approach and found inspiration from an Easter Pencil Toppers craft to make her Spring Pencil Toppers. In no time at all packages of colored pipe cleaners transformed into ducks, carrots, rabbits, and butterflies. The final touch was a colored eraser top, and her pencils were ready for sale.

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All in all, Market Day was a huge success. It was quite impressive to see dozens of other homeschooling families come together from all across Star Valley, and all the participants did a great job promoting and selling their products. Of course, selling was only half the fun, and the kids all took turns getting to buy the products the other kids made. From kettle corn and lollipops to face painting and homemade lip balm, the variety of products and services was almost overwhelming. We couldn’t have been happier to return home with some new toys and, best of all, having made some new friends.

When It’s Too Hot for Oatmeal…There’s Mérida Muesli

We are an oatmeal family. Just about every morning, we grind up oats and make an oatmeal on the stove top. However, during the summertime, especially here in the heat and humidity of Mérida, oatmeal doesn’t always seem so appealing. Five Spice tinkered with a few different creations to come up with a refreshing solution: Mérida Muesli.

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The Recipe

4 cups oats, slightly processed in a food processor
1/2 cup toasted amaranth
3/4 cups almonds and pecans, processed
1/4 cup ground coconut
1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, processed
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, processed
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup sweeter (we use a mix of agave and piloncillo syrups)
3 tablespoons coconut oil

Mix all the dry ingrendients together, then stir in the wet ingredients.
Thinly spread the muesli onto a greased baking sheet.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 325 degrees, stirring half way through.
Note: We process many of the ingredients in the food processor to make it more kid-friendly. Skipping the processing can make a heartier muesli more appealing to adults.

 ¡Buen provecho!

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

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Five Ball stunned after an amazing triple play!

We have had some pretty memorable baseball experiences during our time in Mexico. We all fondly remember our impromptu games, usually taking place in unusual locations including a never-completed resort name Shang(r)i-La and a makeshift field of dreams sporting a large number of cacti in the outfield. However, there is nothing quite like sitting back and enjoying a game of professional baseball, and we recently did just that as we watched the Leones de Yucatán (Yucatán Lions) play in a doubleheader against the rival team from Tabasco.

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The game was a pretty cool cultural experience, and the scoreboard alone increased our Spanish baseball vocabulary exponentially. We also lucked out that we visited on a night where women and children were free, so we ended up with great field-side seats right of the third base line for less than $10 total.

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When our interested started to taper off in the third inning, stadium food and team mascots came to the rescue. While we did not opt for ordering a pizza or TGI Fridays takeout from our seat (both popular options), we did buy some bags of popcorn and enjoy some vegan sourdough pretzels Five Spice had whipped up before the game.

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In the end, the three different mascots were what made the game for the Younger Fives. The ball player, lion, and pelican worked the field and the stands from the third inning onward, and their humorous antics made the time fly. We must confess that we didn’t make it through the entire doubleheader (we left before the end of the first game), but nonetheless it was a night to remember. Plus, as a bonus, we’d like to think we made at least one new friend in Mérida, albeit he doesn’t too say much. 

Two Minute Treats

Our family is really spoiled when it comes to baked goods. I love to bake and being vegan and having a child with food allergies, I find it easier to make all of our own breads, muffins, cookies, etc. However, for some reason we booked a rental house for a month that doesn’t have an oven (everyone is blaming Dad for this slip-up). I think that maybe at the time we figured that we have camped for long periods without an oven and survived. The only problem being that here in Mexico it isn’t so easy to find vegan and allergy friendly food. There are many bakeries (panaderias) but most every item contains milk or butter, and if not then it is usually always topped with an egg glaze. The more traditional supermarkets offer sandwich bread and a huge assortment of cookies (galletas) but again these either contain animal products or high fructose corn syrup, and often food dyes.

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For the past few weeks the kids have been craving a treat. Their little mouths drooling as we pass delicious looking baked goods at the market that they can’t have. So finally, I looked around the kitchen and decided that the microwave might work as a substitute for our baking needs. Our rental doesn’t offer much in the way of microwave friendly dishes but it does have tea cups that I figured could do in a pinch with the right recipe. Surprisingly it turns out that there is actually a large number of vegan friendly microwave recipes on the Internet.

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The kids picked out two to try and both were pretty successful. The first was for a 3-Minute Microwave Brownie that we found on the blog Vegan Heartland. We haven’t been able to find coconut oil in San Cristóbal de las Casas so we substituted part olive oil and the other part applesauce. We also added a dash of baking powder to help it rise, but it probably didn’t need this considering a couple overflowed. The second recipe we tried was for a microwave oatmeal cookie that we found on the blog Living Well Kitchen. Both recipes were huge hits with the Younger Fives, happily devouring every bite. I definitely wouldn’t say that these treats rival what can come out of an oven, but in a pinch they work fine and will keep the kids happy until we get to Mérida where we all can’t wait to fire up the oven and get to baking.

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