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Paula J. Miller - Christian Homeschooling, Home Education

Baking and Cooking: A Delicious Unit Study, Part I

  • Paula J. Miller Contributing Writer
  • 2008 6 Jun
  • COMMENTS
Baking and Cooking: A Delicious Unit Study, Part I
Tara wrestled with the strings of the light blue apron wrapped several times around her five-year-old waist. She strained her neck back to see which rabbit ear she was missing. “Mama, I can’t get this. Can you . . .” But Mama was already there, tying the strings together and helping her onto the stool.

Tara’s hands rested on the edge of the counter as Mama tied her own red and white checkered apron around her waist. Tara loved that apron. Mama always baked something special when she wore it. “What are we going to make today?” she asked.

“Cookies,” Mama answered.

“What kind?”

Mama handed her a recipe card. It had a smudge of chocolate on one corner and a stain splattered on another. Tara didn’t even have to sound out the words. “Daddy’s favorite cookies! He’ll be so surprised when he comes home!”

“Why don’t you sound out these two words while I get the ingredients from the pantry?” Mama said, pointing to the top line.

Tara bit her lip. “One ‘c’ brrrr... ooouuuu,” she hesitated. “Brown?”

Mama nodded. “The ‘c’ stands for cup. It says one cup of brown sugar.”

“Brown sugar!” Tara’s eight-year-old brother, Micah, strode into the kitchen, a coonskin cap perched on his head. The tail swung forward as he laid down his rifle, two pistols, a plastic hunting knife, and a rope. “Can I taste it?”

Mama let them each nibble the sugar. It tasted so good! Tara helped dump the sugar into the mixing bowl as Micah galloped off after outlaws. Mama cracked the eggs while Tara kept sounding out the ingredients.

Once they mixed the dough and scooped out twelve cookies, Mama slid the cookie sheet into the oven and set the timer. Tara sat near the stove while the kitchen filled with a warm, tasty aroma.

When the timer beeped, Tara jumped to her feet. “They’re done!” Mama took the pan out and placed it on the counter. The cookies were plump, golden brown and baked to perfection. “They look beautiful, Mama.”

They had just arranged the warm cookies on a plate and poured a cold glass of milk when Daddy came through the front door. “Hmmm. I smell something delicious.”

“We baked you cookies today, Daddy,” Tara announced.

“I tasted them first, just to make sure they were safe to eat,” Micah informed their father. A silver sword hung at his waist. Daddy removed the silver helmet from Micah’s head to tousle his hair.

“It looks to me as if you all did a fine job.” Daddy took a bite of a warm, gooey cookie and nodded his head. “A fine job indeed.”

Since we all have to eat to stay alive, baking and cooking are part of our everyday lives. Sometimes we make a recipe from memory, and other times we try something new. There are times we make dinner from scratch with ingredients right there in our own kitchens and other times it comes from a convenient box. But each time we mix, saute, baste, broil, fold, steam, and marinate, we learn a little bit more about cooking and baking and all the fun that goes into it. Don’t believe me when I say it’s fun? Come along with me on a tasty trip to the kitchen and we’ll see what we learn in the process. 

Bible Study

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it’s always a good idea to find out what God’s Word tells us about any topic—even when in the kitchen. 

       Memorize 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

       Read the account of Martha in Luke 10 and then copy verses 38-42 in your neatest handwriting.

       Read Psalm 128:2: “For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.” What does this verse mean?

       Read Proverbs 31:15: “She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.” Copy and/or memorize verses 10-31.

Math

       Find your favorite cookie recipe. How many cookies does it make? Let’s pretend that you only want to make half that amount. Cut the measurements to half and rewrite the recipe. Now you decide you want to double the recipe. Change the measurements again and rewrite the recipe. If you feel really adventurous, cut the recipe into one third.

       We use math when cooking all of the time. So many times we find recipes that leave us with questions like: How many tablespoons are in one cup? How many ounces in three liters of water? How many cups in a two pound bag of powdered sugar? Can you find the answers to any of these questions? It might take some work!

       Take your favorite recipe, whether it’s a hot dish, a cookie or cake recipe, or a beverage, and decide if you’d have to cut the recipe in half, double it, or leave it as it is to make enough for your family. Now for the fun part! Go ahead and make it!

Science/Activities

Isn’t it neat how different ingredients like flour, eggs, yeast, and honey can be combined, given a little heat, and suddenly you have a pan of dinner rolls sitting right in front of you?

Combining ingredients is how we come up with so many flavors and recipes. I often think back to the days when they didn’t have recipes and they cooked by trial and error. They kept trying and adjusting until they got it the way they wanted.

Science comes into play when we add ingredients together. Let’s find out how some of them work together.

1.) What is yeast? Why is sugar important to yeast? How does it work? What kind of environment does yeast need to survive? What are the differences between active dry yeast, instant dry yeast and fresh yeast?

Here is a neat activity to see how yeast reacts with various ingredients. You will need four quart size zip-lock type bags. Label them:

       Bag #1: yeast

       Bag #2: yeast and water

       Bag #3: yeast, water, and sugar

       Bag #4: yeast, water, and flour

Add the following materials to the labeled bags:

       Bag #1: 2 t. yeast

       Bag #2: 2 t. yeast and 1/4 cup warm water

       Bag #3: 2 t. yeast, 1/4 cup warm water, and 1 T. sugar

       Bag #4: 2 t. yeast, 1/4 cup warm water, and 1 T. flour

Squeeze out as much air as you can and zip each bag. Put the bags in a warm place for 15 to 30 minutes. What changes do you notice have occurred?

2.) Every food is either acid-forming or alkalinizing. Our bodies need some of both kinds, although alkalinizing foods are better. Find out what foods are acid-based and which are alkaline-based. Which group do you eat more of? Why is too much acid harmful to the body? Do some foods change from one category to another when they are consumed?

2a. Let’s try an experiment to see how acids can break foods down. You will need a few eggs, white vinegar, a container big enough to hold all your eggs, a cover, and a large spoon. Place your eggs in the container without letting them touch. Cover the eggs with vinegar and then place the cover on the container. Place the container in the refrigerator and let the eggs sit for 24 hours.

Use the large spoon to scoop the eggs out of the vinegar. But be careful—the eggshell has been dissolving, so the egg membrane may be the only thing holding the egg together. Carefully dump out the vinegar then put the eggs back into the container and cover them with fresh vinegar. Leave the eggs in the refrigerator for another 24 hours.

Scoop the eggs out again and rinse them carefully. When you’re done, you’ll have an egg without a shell. It looks like an egg, but you’ll be able to see inside it. The membrane will flex when you squeeze it.

2b. In this experiment we will make a bag explode, so you may want to have an adult help you. You will need water, a measuring cup, zip-lock sandwich bags, paper towels, and a tablespoon of baking soda and vinegar.

Step 1: These bags can make a mess when they explode, so you might want to find a good spot to do the experiment—maybe outside or in the bathtub or sink.

Step 2: Make sure your bag does not have holes in it or it may not work. Test it by pouring water in the bag and tipping it upside down. If it does not leak, you can use the bag.

Step 3: Tear a paper towel into a 5”x5” square. Put 1 1/2 tablespoons of baking soda in the center of the square. Fold the square into three parts, like you would fold a letter, so that the baking soda is inside. Then fold that rectangle into thirds again so that the ends completely overlap in the center. This is your “time-release packet.”

Step 4: Pour 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1/4 cup of warm water into your sandwich bag.

Step 5: This part is a bit tricky. You need to drop the time-release packet into the vinegar and zip the bag closed before the fizzing gets out of control. You can zip the bag halfway closed, then stuff the packet in and zip the bag closed the rest of the way in a hurry.

Step 6: Shake the bag a little, put it in the sink or on the ground, and stand back! The bag will puff up and pop with a bang. Whooeee!

3.) Another neat fact about baking and cooking is that you can often substitute one ingredient for others, like honey in the place of sugar. This is very helpful if you are in the middle of a recipe and find yourself without an ingredient you need. Be careful, though. When you substitute, you may have to change the temperature you are cooking at. Make a list of foods you commonly use and their substitutes.

Next week: Learn history, geography, reading, and writing in the kitchen...


 

Paula Miller is a children’s author, freelance writer, and homeschooling mom. She and her husband Travis live in south central Minnesota with their 4 sons. You can read more about Paula’s Faces in History Series for children 7 and up by visiting www.paulajmiller.com

This article was originally published in the Mar/Apr ’08 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com