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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January Recipe Round-Up: Favorite Slow Cooker Recipes!

Sometimes I get so caught up in the curriculum part of being a teacher that I don't stop to think about how equally important food is to the equation.  Yes, food.  So when Laurah at the ESOL Odyssey hosted a Recipe Roundup Linky that involved slow cookers, I was inspired to share how this wonderful piece of equipment saves me as a teacher!

Slow cooker, how I love thee.  Let me count the ways:
1. With a little prep work in the morning or previous evening, a full dinner is waiting for me on those long, dark days when I have zero energy to plan and create a meal.
2.  It allows me to buy healthier/unprocessed foods that take a long time to cook usually.
3. If I use both of my slow cookers (yes, I have TWO), I can make dinner and a side or dessert.  For example, I might have meatloaf in one and mashed potatoes in another.

And speaking of mashed potatoes, I'd like to share the slow cooker recipe that changed my life:

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

Wash the potatoes.  My slow cooker is about 5 quarts, so I used most of a 5 pound bag of Russets.

If you want "lumpy" and "authentic", peel them and leave the potatoes whole and/or halve them and leave the skins on.  If you want them creamier, peel them and halve them.

Sprinkle generously with salt. 

Fill crockpot to within 1/2” of the top of the potatoes.  I've read that the water needs to be hot before putting it in the slow cooker, but I have always just used cold tap water.

Cover it with the lid.

Use the high setting for 4-6 hours OR low for 8-10 hours.  Since slow cooker temps vary, check the potatoes at the lower end of the time frame and adjust cooking times according to your cooker's temps.

Drain the potatoes.

Add butter, salt, and milk or cream to taste. I also like some pepper, but I've started adding that to my own serving instead of the entire slow cooker because my Little Man isn't quite ready for pepper yet.

Use a hand mixer to whip the potatoes right in the slow cooker.

Cover with lid and set to “warm”.  Don’t keep them on this setting for too long or the potatoes will become pasty.

Voila!  The perfect compliment to just about any meal.

If you want to join the linky, click here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Math is Real Life: Preparing a House for a Toddler

Jamie at Miss Math Dork  hosts a monthly "Math is Real Life" linky in which teachers share their real life experiences with math.  I am proud to be participating in the January link up.

The biggest news around our house lately is that our little man (Noah), who turns 11 months old on January 12th, is speed crawling and acting like he could learn to walk at any time.  What an exciting and crazy time!  What that means for us is that we need to baby proof our house ASAP because you can't have a toddler running around with free access to the stairs.

Here comes the math!  The first thing we had to do was use a measuring tape to measure the entryways that needed to be blocked off.  That part wasn't too hard.  We just made sure to measure EXACTLY from one side of the stairway to the other (no rounding to the nearest inch or 1/2 inch).

My hubby measuring the entryway.  It was 35 1/2 inches wide.

Next, we had to find a baby gate that fit the entryway without being to large or small.  Believe it or not, it's not that easy to find a baby gate that is exactly 35 1/2 inches wide.  So, we decided that we wanted to buy a gate that would expand to fit the entryway, called pressure mounted.

Target, here we come!  We shopped around a bit online and found that the one below.

We made sure to look at the details mentioned in the description just to make sure the width/length was wide enough.

The gate will extend to 38 inches, but we only need 35 1/2 inches, so we are good to go!

I have to admit, it took me awhile to fully understand how to properly use a ruler growing up once I was required to measure things to the 1/4 inch.  So, I came up with a visual to help my students understand how to measure to the nearest 1/2 or 1/4 inch.

It takes students step-by-step through the process of measuring an item by instructing them to:
~Find the nearest whole unit (inch)
~Find the nearest 1/2 inch
~Find the nearest 1/4 inch
~Determine if the object is closest to the nearest 1/4 or 1/2 inch
~There is a blank ruler and paperclip on the last slide so students can practice on their own

I still use this process in my head when I'm measuring!

You can pick up a copy of this visual by clicking here.