Stuffed Grape Leaves and Dewberry Pie

May 8, 2014 at 7:35 pm (Education) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Homeschooling adventures have turned into some serious life skills lessons, which in turn have become foraging.

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As previously mentioned, we use foragingtexas.com as a main source of information, but we do a lot of external research on our own as well.

Mustang Grapes – from foragingtexas.com

Scientific name: Vitis mustangensis
Abundance: plentiful
What: fruits, leaves, young tendrils
How: fruit raw (very tart), cooked, dried, preserves, wine; leaves and tendrils cooked,
Where: Edges of woods. Mustang grape leaves are fuzzy and have a white underside.
When: summer
Nutritional Value: calories, antioxidants
Other uses: water can be obtained from the vines (see technique in grapes- muscadine post), wild yeast from the fruit
Dangers: Mustang grapes are very acidic and handling/eating large amounts of the raw fruit can cause burns to hands and mouth.

When homeschooling, this is a good time to teach your kiddo about plant classifications.  While picking the leaves (we had a mixture of Mustang grape leaves and Muscadine grape leaves, but I don’t recommend stuffing the Muscadines, they end up a little stringy).

Kingdom – Plantae

Order – Vitales

Family – Vitaceae

Genus – Vitis

Species – V. mustangensis

Our lessons then continue into the kitchen where we follow recipes and learn about fractions and conversions.  You’d be amazed at how much a three year old will pick up on if you just show them.  We halved this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/my-own-famous-stuffed-grape-leaves/ as well as added lemon balm from our home garden to the rice mixture.

P1020054Our dewberry & grape leaf haul.

Dewberries – from foragingtexas.com

Scientific name: Rubus species
Abundance: plentiful
What: flowers, berries
How: open mouth, insert flower/fruit, then chew. seep flowers/young leaves in hot water for tea
Where: Sunny wastelands, borders between woods and fields. Dewberry plants grow as a low, horizontal ground cover.
When: Spring
Other uses: wine, jelly, tea, wine
Nutritional Value: carbohydrates, vitamin C; small amount of minerals and vitamins A & B
Dangers: sharp thorns

Again, our goal is to memorize the classifications and understand how they work:

Kingdom – Plantae

Order – Rosales

Family – Rosaceae

Genus – Rubus

Species – R. arborginum

Well, that and to make pies.

We used this pie recipe, except exchanged the blackberries for dewberries, and used a bit more sugar.

It was a hearty dinner and dessert.

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Arbor Day

April 26, 2014 at 8:46 pm (Education, Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

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Arbor DayP1010768 was yesterday.  It’s always a nice ending to all the Earth Day celebrations… recycling, going green, celebrating the earth, and then – oh yes, plant a tree.

Of course we had to celebrate in the woods.  So we took to the trails as usual and found our way to a lake.  It was pretty fun teaching the kiddo to read a map – she’s already had a lot of exposure via The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library book about maps.  Putting it into action was a little bit more work than listening to me read clever poetry though.

P1010786We found the lake, a dock, and a pavilion.  The kiddo painted and ate snacks, played with her homeschool buddy, and helped me pick dewberries. (Of course, little girls get distracted by pretty purple flowers.  There were a lot of pretty purple flowers.)

For those who aren’t from the area: dewberries are basically blackberries.  They look the same, taste the same, everything is about the same, they just grow on a vine-like plant (‘small trailing bramble’) that usually stays closer to the ground rather than the larger bush where you’d find blackberries.  They’re of the same genus of plant – Rubus – and taste great raw, cooked, or baked into pies or muffins.

Which is exactly what we did.

P1010801dewberry muffin mixdewberry muffins

Dewberry Muffins

2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup vanilla extract

1 tsp. lemon extract

1 tsp. ground clove

1 quart freshly picked dewberries

Mix all ingredients well. Pour into muffin pans, bake for 30 minutes with the oven on 350.

If you can’t plant a tree, then plant any seeds you get your hands on.  Seeds are important.

So, after all the fun and excitement of yesterday, today we stayed indoors.  At Half Price Books…

We attended/ hosted another Half Price Books Humble event today.  It was seed driven and sponsored by the Mercer Arboretum volunteers.  Information about the Arboretum was shared with all the HPB customers, kids were given an opportunity to plant their own seed in little cups and take it home, and packets of free seeds were handed out.

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