30 Minute Meals: Saag – A modern take on a classic Indian Favorite!

This past Christmas I made my family gift baskets with recipe cards I wrote out, printed, laminated and placed onto a binder ring (so that it can be added to), and the ingredients to one of the recipes. Turns out, they were a hit and every time one of them tries a new recipe of mine, they text me to tell me how much they loved it! Which makes my heart so so happy because I am an “intuitive” cook and I don’t really measure my ingredients. As you can imagine, this makes writing down / sharing my “recipes” difficult. (How much salt? I dunno. Throw in a pinch at a time til it tastes good!)

The recipe my family members have been going ga-ga over recently is my version of saag. I LOVE Indian cuisine and over the years I’ve (systematically) gotten my mom, dad, brother, and husband all addicted as well. (Mwahaha!) But the closest GOOD Indian restaurant is across the river in the city and I just honestly don’t want to always go over there to get it.

So I started experimenting with Indian spices and recipes at home and came up with this gem. It’s quick and super easy! It’d be a one pot meal, but because you have to make the rice separate, it takes two. (Honestly I throw the rice in my instant pot before I even start the rest of the meal).

This recipe calls for some specific Indian spices, which you can order online or if you happen to have a Jungle Jim’s nearby (Hello Cincinnati!) then I know you can find them there (because that’s where I got them).

Also, if you’re expecting traditional “puree” style saag, that’s NOT what this recipe makes. This is a “take” on saag – you might call it faux saag or keema saag or chunky fresh saag… I just call it saag and everyone in my family knows what that means. It has spinach in it so I’m not totally wrong 😉

Make it meat-free by simply omitting the ground beef! I’ve made it this way too and it’s just as tasty and filling!

Enjoy!
-M

Science Explorations: Butterflies & Ants

Our last day of co-op was in late April and I’m just NOW starting to feel like we are settling in to our new routine. Probably because as soon as I finished my last day of teaching, I came down with a rotten head cold, followed by K and my husband both falling ill with a flu-like virus.

On top of all that, we are desperately trying to finish up a million house projects so we can list our home on the market! Exciting stuff, but I feel like there is just this never ending list of things to be done… Also, our son (my stepson for technicality purposes) comes home for the summer next week, so we’ve been re-organizing his room.

Due to all the sickness and house-work we haven’t taken a lot of time to do any “on purpose” educating. I mean, as unschoolers, we don’t really do this on a day to day basis anyway, but we are usually more intentional about at least presenting learning opportunities.

We have done a couple cool things recently though, like raise butterflies from caterpillars and keep an ant farm!

K got both of these kits as gifts (one for Christmas and one for her birthday) this past year and we’ve been waiting for the weather to be warm enough to order the live bugs. Did you KNOW you can buy ants on Amazon?!?! There is something so weird about getting tubes of ants in the mail… and FYI, the ant farm K got is sold separately from the actual ants, which is nice if you’re gifting the set or the weather isn’t quite cool/warm enough yet to ship live ants and set up your farm right away.

The butterfly kit and caterpillars came from Insect Lore and I HIGHLY recommend this product/website for anyone who has kiddos interested in bugs/butterflies. The kit came with a info booklet, a “garden” (mesh enclosure), and a voucher for the live caterpillars. When we redeemed our voucher, we also purchased a couple plastic models of the butterfly life cycle to go with the whole experience. The models helped reinforce butterfly life cycle vocabulary and helped K visualize what would happen to the caterpillars next.

We successfully raised 4 beautiful butterflies – although one had crumpled wings when it emerged (sad face) – and it was really cool to watch the whole process of metamorphosis! I’m NOT an insect lover, but I would definitely recommend doing this with your kiddo – and we’ll likely do it again because K loved it so much (she’s a butterfly girl!). I’m thinking that next year we’ll couple the project with the planting of some butterfly friendly plants too (hopefully at our new house).

All in all, these were both cool science explorations that were easy to do at home and required very minimal effort/active time.

If you wanted to take these projects a step further, here are some ideas!

-check out books about ants/butterflies at your local library

-browse YouTube and create an educational playlist of videos about ants/butterflies (or check out our curated playlist!)

-do some butterfly crafts

-do some ant activities

-make butterfly food for your newly emerged butterflies (9 parts water to 1 part sugar. Boil until dissolved then let cool completely and add to a sponge. Place sponge in the mesh butterfly garden enclosure)

-Make an OUTDOOR butterfly feeder

-have a picnic. Use a magnifying glass to look for worker ants (just be careful not to scorch them!)

I hope you all have as much fun with this as we did!

TTFN,
-Marissa