Hello everyone! Today we caterpillars reached our full height and weight, so we spun ourselves into a chrysalis. Though it may look like I’m just resting on the outside, I’m busy at work inside while my tissues, limbs, and organs change from a caterpillar to a butterfly. You would think that kind of change would work up an appetite, but we don’t eat during the chrysalis stage!
Today we started with Inquiry Fish, which is a program through 4-H which lets them explore engineering type activities by building a device to feed fish. They only had limited materials, so it took a lot of communication and cooperation.
Afterwards, we moved out to the garden to pick strawberries or peas. Did you know that strawberries are the only fruit that wears their seeds on the outside? Technically, that means they aren’t part of the berry family like blueberries or grapes. They are actually a member of the rose family.
The kids did chicken chores and got to collect the eggs today. Eggs have a special coating on the outside called the bloom which usually flakes off naturally, but when they are sent to market, it comes off when they are washed and sanitized. The bloom is a natural protective coating that fills the pores of the eggs.
Today – since it was bee day – we made potato pancakes. Potatoes don’t need to be pollinated by bees. This is because they are root vegetables. Tomatoes can self pollinate and sometimes don’t need bees either.
The “eggs” learned the process of beekeeping. They each got to put on a bee suit and then use each of the special tools to “take care” of their hive. Bees are the only insects that produce food products for human consumption.
Since we learned all about construction yesterday, today was the time to build the bat houses. Each group used their skills from yesterday to help with a part of their bat house. Bat houses are usually painted a dark color to protect from predators in the night.
Mason bees live in wooden blocks, unlike other bees that live in hives. We built mason bee houses with bamboo sticks as a group. Then we hung them in the trees for the bees to come.
We went on a hike out to the woods to look for certain plants that each group had a card for. The cards explained about the plants and had a picture of each. After the woods we made seed balls using seeds that bees pollinate and that grow in Michigan.
Each group got to try different types of sweetener. They tried honey, agave, maple syrup, and sugar. They also had their bread that they began to make yesterday. It was a no knead bread, which meant that instead of kneading the bread it just sat longer to have a similar effect to kneading. We also explored the maillard reaction, which is the toasting process.
Don’t forget tomorrow we are going to the beach! It’s supposed to be great weather so don’t forget your swim stuff.
Garden Kitchen Recipes
- 1 -1/2 pounds russet potatoes peeled
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a food processor grate the potatoes. Line a sieve with cheesecloth and transfer potatoes to the sieve. Set sieve over a bowl, twist cheesecloth into a pouch, squeezing out some moisture. Let mixture drain for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pour off liquid from the bowl but leave the white potato starch that settles in the bottom of the bowl.
To that starch add shallots, eggs, flour, 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt and freshly ground pepper. Return drained potatoes to this mixture and toss to combine.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking pan with paper towels. When you are ready to eat, in a large skillet heat 1/4 inch of oil over medium high heat until hot. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of potato mixture and cook for 3 to 4 minutes a side; latkes should be golden and crisp on both sides. Eat right away or keep warm in oven. Serve with applesauce or sour cream or cottage cheese mixed with sour cream.