Vinegary eggy thingy – Part 1

Have you and your kids ever done this?  I started it with my nephew and niece during the summer break, but I had to leave before I saw the final result, so I’m doing it again.

Gently put an egg, shell and all, into a small jar. Pour vinegar over the egg until the egg is covered. Let that sit overnight.

The next day, throw out the vinegar and add fresh vinegar. Cover that and let the whole thing sit for up to a week in a dark corner.

What happens?

Let’s share a week from today. See you then.

1 2 3 … 1 2 3 … 1 2 3 4 5 6 7-layer dip

You and the kids can very easily make this ahead of time, chill it overnight, and allow it to come to room temperature again before serving. Guaranteed party crowd-pleaser, so make plenty in a big pan.

Or, if you’re like me and capable of eating it all before the guests arrive, make mini versions in small shallow pretty glass bowls. Really, you know you’ll eat less with your own small personal portion, and you can doubledip the chip. Oooh, better yet, set the supplies out and have the guests make their own.

From bottom to top:

Layer 1: Lettuce

Layer 2: Chili beans, drained (optional to warm them first)

Layer 3: Shredded cheese (your choice)

Layer 4: Salsa

Layer 5: Guacamole (as spicy or as mild as you want it)

Layer 6: Sour cream

Layer 7: Chopped olives and/or minced green onions and/or more shredded cheese

Use sturdy corn chips to scoop and eat.

Happy partying.

Crazy Cake

Sit back and watch your little ones put this chocolate cake together. You could even direct the event from across the room and they still won’t be able to mess it up.

You – big person, not little ones – will have to preheat the oven, check it for doneness, and take it out of the oven, but the rest is most assuredly up to them. Let them have at it.

Dry ingredients:

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Wet ingredients:

¾ cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoon vinegar

2 cups cold water

What you – big person, not little ones – do:

Wash your hands and preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).

What your little ones do:

1) Wash all hands.

2) Put all the dry ingredients in a rectangular pan and stir with hands until mixed.

3) Make 3 holes in this dry mixture. Oil goes in one hole, vanilla and vinegar go in the second hole, and the water goes in the third hole.

4) Use a whisk to stir it all together. Okay if it’s a bit lumpy.

5) Bake 35-40 minutes or until the center bounces back when you – big person, not little ones – touch it lightly with your finger.

6) Allow to cool, then add frosting or dust with confectioner’s sugar.

Yup, that’s really all there is to it.


Bit of history: Some may know this as Wacky Cake. It goes back to the 1930s and 1940s in the United States, popularized at that time, because it didn’t use eggs, milk or butter, ingredients which were clearly scarce then. Minus all that, and it’s still a great cake.

Hey, no eggshells to worry about! Another reason your little ones are going to want to add this to their list of I-Can-Make-This recipes.

Tangent moment, probably not interesting for the little ones, but fascinating for the “huh?” wonderers among us: in a very basic nutshell, early cake mixes contained no fresh eggs, and this turned out to be a psychological problem for the consumers back then. The eggs in the cake mixes were powdered, and the original claim was that water was all one needed to bake a lovely cake. Consumers didn’t like that simplicity. Long story short, when the cake mixes were adjusted so that fresh eggs needed to be added, the previous sluggish cake mix sales finally started to rise. There’s more on the history of cakes here, which is excerpted from various sources, and it’s a good quick read.

Giggling grumpy pumpkins (still updating)

Super Simple Songs 3The word of the week is grumpy.

I’ve been teaching my kids 5 Little Pumpkins (go click on that big light blue button to listen!), which involves counting, gerunds and emotions. Some of the words are very new for the kids, such as pouting and yawning. The music, however, very helpfully guides the kids along, which explains why, with just a bit more help using clear gestures and facial expressions, the kids have so far without fail figured everything out.

The kids have also so far without fail giggled immensely at learning the word grumpy. While there’s a huge chance that I’m missing something that all the kids are getting (maybe grumpy sounds like another word they know?), I’m thinking for now that grumpy apparently is more fun to say than angry, plus, we never at all folded our arms quite like that and went humph! quite like that when we were learning angry.

Mind you, I don’t think my kids have learned yet what 3 Little Pumpkins and 4 Little Pumpkins are doing: so far without fail they’ve also laughed right through those 2 verses.

Word nerd that I am, I can’t find the origins of the word grumpy. Inevitably, though, someone has called out a “Quick, name Snow White’s 7 dwarfs!” challenge, which, for the first time ever, has me wondering what the names of the dwarfs are in Japanese. Or in any other language. Can anyone help me?

Oh ah whee here’s a giggle of my own. When I looked up humph in the dictionary, I saw this for the pronunciation explanation:

a snort articulated as a syllabic m or n with a voiceless onset and ending in a nasal h or a glottal stop; often read as ‘h&m(p)f []

Snort? There’s a word I want to learn in Japanese.

UPDATE: Lest you mistakenly think as I did that the song lyrics are the only excitement on the page, I just saw that you really ought to scroll down down all the way down for gallons more fun. There are worksheets galore for you to print (magic word: FREE), activity ideas, and something else I’m forgetting. If it’s 10 minutes before class and your teaching buddies still have no idea what to do for that lesson, this is where they need to be. Here and next to the printer. Oh, and there’s another big light blue button to click on at the bottom of the page so you can listen to the song all over again. Much fun this is.

Katzen and the kids


Honest PretzelsYou really need to have Mollie Katzen’s cookbooks on your shelves. If you have little ones, you really need to have Pretend Soup, Salad People and Honest Pretzels on your shelves. Mollie Katzen is terrific with big people’s appetites, but her cookbooks for the little ones truly make you want to head straight for the kitchen to explore – even if you don’t have little ones.

Pretend SoupPretend Soup and Salad People are for preschoolers and up, while Honest Pretzels is for those aged 8 and up. Katzen’s cookbooks are written so that everyone can participate: 2 pages of clear detailed instructions for helping adults and 2 pages of very clear very basic illustrations that even pre-readers can figure out. I sometimes say she could have skipped all the adult explanations, because the illustrations spell everything out, but for the big people wow oh boy can she write. She gets it.

Salad PeopleI’ll not do it justice – really, go get the book to see it – but here is the gist of her Counting Soup recipe from Salad People. I’ve made this both as Katzen’s version and using a slightly different combination of vegetables – I suspect most anything will do. But instead of plunking a whole soup in your bowl, you make the soup as you go, so to speak; the counting and making it entirely your own make this much more entertaining and intriguing.


What you need:

2 cups peas, lightly steamed

2 cups corn, uncooked

2 cups sliced tofu

2 cups grated carrot

1/3 pound green beans, cut small and steamed until tender

2 cups cooked alphabet noodles (2/3 cup uncooked)

4 cups vegetable broth, heated

What you do:

a) Each ingredient, except the broth should be in its own bowl, with a spoon for serving. Arrange the bowls on the table in this order: tofu, carrots, peas, corn, green beans, noodles.

b) Count the following number of scoops into your bowl:

1 spoon tofu

2 spoons carrots

3 spoons peas

4 spoons corn

5 green beans

6 spoons noodles

Adult adds broth – blow 7 times

Stir 8 times



How incredibly likeable is that? Again, I’m sure other veggie combinations would work quite well, if you know your child’s preferences or if you want to introduce new choices. The point is that your little one is putting the soup together himself, which usually raises the interest factor and the “Look what I made!” factor, happily nudging your little one into wanting to eat his concoction. (I could go on and on with other great implications, such as the budding chef potential, but I’ll save that for another post.)

Guhd fuhd

Just before meals at my grandparents’ home in Goshen, Indiana, we’d sometimes sing this:

Heavenly Father

Kind and good

Thanks we offer

For this food….

It goes on just a bit more, but this is usually where I’d lose concentration and all of my eyebrows would go up. My grandpa, and only my grandpa, somehow managed to rhyme ‘food’ with ‘good’ – neither the other way around nor as two distinct-sounding words.

But only for this song, because I don’t remember him talking like this.

Decades later, I notice I still sing it this way.  Funny that.

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