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August 5, 2009

Dehydrating, experiments and homeschool memories

This week I dehydrated mushrooms and green peppers. I sliced the mushrooms thinly and chopped the peppers. I knew from experience that the chopped peppers would fall through the holes in the trays, so I placed them on the plastic liner that is used for fruit leather.

It didn't seem to take as long to dry the items this time as it did the last time. Perhaps it was more humid last time? I dried peppers both times and yet this time they finished more quickly.

Then I experimented with the dried mushrooms: I used my electric coffee grinder (previously used to grind spices and such, since I don't drink coffee) to make mushroom powder. It wasn't a really fine powder but was fine enough; it will work in soups or stews.

I rehydrated one mushroom in the hottest water out of the tap. It took 10 minutes to rehydrate; the result was acceptable. I think it will work well on a pizza or in a cooked dish. I left the slice of mushroom in the water overnight; by morning it looked like a slightly-waterlogged slice of mushroom just like a fresh slice would look after soaking overnight. The water had turned into mushroom broth, though, which is good to know.

I've dehydrated green peppers before. The first time was a few years ago, when I used my oven on its lowest setting to dry them. They are great to throw in the pot when I make sloppy joes, for instance. I haven't ever tried rehydrating them in water to use them like fresh, such as on a pizza. That is something I will try another day.

A month ago I dehydrated lemon slices. I've kept the jars of dehydrated items on my counter so I could keep an eye on them for awhile, since I am new to this. Yesterday I noticed that the lemons had developed mold, so I had to throw them out. I wasn't 100% sure that they were "done" when I dried them; I thought maybe they felt a bit sticky but wasn't sure.

Have you heard the saying that "the most expensive food you buy is the food you have to throw out"? Although I bought them on sale, those two lemons were expensive since I had to throw them away. But not all experiments are successful; that's why it's an experiment. You learn from your failures and from your successes. Keeping notes ensures that you'll duplicate the successes and not the failures.

I do love experiments. I think that was one of my favorite parts of homeschooling my children: science. Even before we moved to Oak Hill we studied science in depth and conducted lots of experiments, both formally and casually. We made a barometer from two bottles; we kept records of the birds at our bird feeder; we grew sweet potato vines on the kitchen windowsill. We had season passes to the zoo. We kept a toad as a pet for awhile and caught flies to feed it, and watched tadpoles grow into frogs.

History is our other love. In the early years of homeschooling we visited living history places such as Sauder Village and Old Sturbridge Village. Sometimes they were the destination of a rare family vacation, such as our two trips to Colonial Williamsburg. We enjoyed Civil War sites such as Gettysburg, small re-enactments, and museums. While living in Wyoming we visited Names Hill and explored parts of the Oregon Trail.

This is K's last year of homeschool, and I admit that I miss all the activities and discoveries of the younger years.

Years ago I compiled all my homeschooling bookmarks into a webpage Traveling Mom's Homeschool Links. Geocities is going to discontinue their websites later this year and this page will disappear. I don't have time to go through the huge list looking for dead links and updating the whole thing. Last year I attempted to move the site to Oak Hill Homeschool, but I didn't get very far into the project. Visit if you like - bookmark the links if they will be helpful to you. The Oak Hill Homeschool site will remain up after the Traveling Mom page disappears into cyberspace, but it doesn't contain all of the links on the Traveling Mom page.

If anyone is interested in the project of moving and updating Traveling Mom's long, long list of links to your site, please email me. I'd love to see it live on and help others.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Kathi, I didn't realize you had spent time in New England and on the Eastern seaboard; that's where I grew up. My mom was a single parent and we would go to Old Sturbridge village for a Thanksgiving festival each year and did a lot of visiting of Civil War sites too. Such memories! I wish I could share that with my kids now, they would enjoy it as part of their homeschool journey, but we're not in the place where we can. So we go to Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove and the Indian sites in eastern OK. We are blessed with those! But thank you for that memory jog today!!
    We've also been doing the dehydrating journey. I have a case of limes; I wonder what I could do with them.. hmmmmm
    Be blessed today my friend!


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