325 Fun And Frugal Homeschool Resources

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8437484533_18a43e7e1e_zsource: Charlotte90T

When I first started homeschooling my son I decided we would follow an exact school curriculum. That meant rigorous math, spelling, reading, social studies and science with plenty of homework thrown in.

It was a total disaster.

My son was exhausted and miserable. I was a nervous wreck. It took me all of 24 hours to realize my method was never going to work.

Instead, I totally changed gears.

I got hold of a curriculum guide and made sure we followed it. But instead of using mostly textbooks, wherever possible, I looked for other resources. In other words, instead of teaching civil war from a text, we read a fact-filled historical novel. Instead of doing jumping jacks and pushups for phys ed, we went ice skating and horseback riding. Instead of making him memorize math facts by rote, we used fun math games and software.

As a result of my constant search for fun materials, I became an expert on finding resources.

Here are a couple of our favorites. Of course, the list has been updated, as many of the things we used are longer available and newer and better resources have come out in recent years.

By the way, this list is far from complete, so please feel free to send me comments with the resources you enjoy using.

Math

4765562928_1362387cbf_zsource: Geek Calendar

Math Books

How Math Works by Reader’s Digest
Geometry For Every Kid by Janice VanCleave
Math For Every Kid by Janice VanCleave
Multicultural Math by Claudia Zaskavsky
Numbers by Steve Parker
The Moscow Puzzles by Boris Kordemsky
Mathematical Circus by Martin Gardner
The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger
Math Curse by Jon Scieszka
Math For Smarty Pants by Marilyn Burns
The Book Of Think by Marilyn Burns
I Hate Mathematics Book by Marilyn Burns
Math Wise! by James L. Overholt
Mathematical Circus by Martin Gardner
Mathemagic by Raymond Blum
Math Trek by Ivars Peterson
Cool Math by Christy Maganzini
Mathematics A Human Endeavor by Harold R. Jacobs

Internet Math Activities

Cool Math Games for Kids – Lemonaide Stand, Brain Busters and more
Funbrain.com – 25 Games for grades 1-8
Fish Count – A colorful counting game for kids
Time Clock – An easy game for learning how to tell time
Arithmetiles – An enjoyable equation making game

Science

Sciences Resources For Homeschoolerssource: Mosman Library

Science Books

Blood And Guts by Linda Allison
Volcanoes by Philip Steele
Medicine by Steve Parker
Chemical Chaos by Nick Arnold
Nasty Nature by Nick Arnold
Fatal Forces by Nick Arnold
Blood, Bones & Body Bits by Nick Arnold
Solids and Liquids by David Glover
Flying and Floating by David Glover
Batteries, Bulbs, and Wires by David Glover
Sound and Light by David Glover
Body by Andrew Haslam
Building by Andrew Haslam
DK Nature Encyclopedia
DK Guide To Space by Peter Bond
DK Science Encyclopedia
Planet Earth by Martin Redfern
Inventions Explained by Richard Platt
Television by W. Carter Merbreier
The Magic School Bus Series
Earth by Wendy Baker
175 Science Experiments by Brenda Walpole
How Science Works by Reader’s Digest
Fun With Nature: Take Along Guide by Mel Boring
The Kids’ Wildlife Book by Warner Shedd
Bridges by Carol A. Johmann
Skyscrapers! by Carol A. Johmann
Bridges and Tunnels by Donna Latham
Geology Rocks! by Cindy Blobaum
Gear Up! by Keith Good

Science Related Community Resources

4H Projects
Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts
The Zoo
Children’s Museums
Science Centers
Factory Tours
Farms
Nature Centers
Star Gazing
Local Veterinarian
Animal Shelter

At Home Science Projects

Create a pinhole camera
Keep a nature journal of your own backyard
Do low cost science projects
Make a food pyramid from old magazines
Plant a vegetable garden
Observe your pet and record your findings
Grow an indoor terrarium
Compose new, science-based lyrics for popular tunes
Participate on online projects
Make and observe a bird feeder
Deconstruct (and reconstruct) computers
Make a science fair for other homeschoolers
Make your own rock candy
Create a homemade solar cooker
Invent something
Design and participate in a nature scavenger hunt

Science Television, Radio, Podcasts, Videos

Veritasium
National Geographic Kids
BrussPup
Make Me Genius
Minute Earth
Minute Physics
Vsauce
The Spangler Effect
Turtlediary

Science Websites

CIESE – Enables your child to participate in ongoing collaborative projects with schools all over the United States. One of the titles, “The Global Water Sampling Project” gives a good ideas of the flavor of these projects. http://www.k12science.org/realtimeproj.html

Writing

3293117576_05f43d8305_zsource: Jeffrey James Pacres

Writing Books

Read a Rhyme, Write a Rhyme by Jack Prelutsky
Look At My Book by Loreen Leedy
Keeping a Journal by Trudy Trueit
Research and Writing Skills by Rachael Stark
You Can Write a Report by Jennifer Rozines Roy
Kids Write Right! by Jan Venolia
Get Wise! by Nathan Barber
Word Crafting by Cindy Marten
Scholastic Writer’s Desk Reference by Scholastic
Spelling Book by Edward Bernard Fry
Painless Spelling by Mary Podhaizer

At Home Writing Projects

Enter all kinds of contests
Keep a nature journal of your own backyard
Write to an email penpal
Keep a diary
Design a web page
Observe your pet and record your findings
Write a script for a puppet show
Solve crossword puzzles
Play scrabble and other word board games
Compose new lyrics for popular tunes
Try your hand at writing poetry

Literature

32646191332_ebfb5eaf3d_zsource: ThoroughlyReviewed

Books

Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Redwall by Brian Jacques
The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander
Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander
The High King by Lloyd Alexander
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Around The World In Eighty Days by Jules Verne
The Call Of The Wild by Jack London
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
The Hunchback Of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo

Literature Related Community Resources

Attend free puppet shows
Attend free Reading Hours at the library
Volunteer for community theater
Volunteer at the library

Literature Related Television

Sesame Street
Reading Rainbow
Between The Lions

Online Books With Lesson Plans

Book: Paul Bunyan
Resource: Paul Bunyan Lesson Plan

Book: The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Resource: TheTale of Peter Rabbit Lesson Plan

Book: The Little Red Hen
Resource: The Little Red Hen Lesson Plan

Book: The Lion and the Mouse
Resource: The Lion and the Mouse Lesson Plan

Book: The Turtle and the Hare
Resource: The Turtle and the Hare Lesson Plan

Book: Puss In Boots
Resource: Puss in Boots Lesson Plan

Book: Bremen Town Musicians
Resource: Bremen Town Musicians Lesson Plan

Book:The Secret Garden
Resource: The Secret Garden Novel Guide

Book: Call of the Wild
Resource: Call of the Wild Reader’s Guide

Book: Alice in Wonderland
Resource: Alice In Wonderland Comprehension Questons

Book: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Resource: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Lesson Plans

Book: Wizard of Oz
Resource: Wizard of Oz Comprehension Questions

Book: Anne of Green Gables
Resource: Anne of Green Gables Study Guide

Book: Treasure Island
Resource: Treasure Island Study Guide

Book: Beowulf
Resource: Beowulf Lesson Plan

Book: Huckleberry Finn
Resource: Huckleberry Finn Study Guide

Book: Julius Caesar
Resource: Julius Caesar Lesson Plan

Book: Macbeth
Resource: Macbeth Reader’s Guide

Book: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Resource: A Midsummer Night’s Dream Reader’s Guide

Book: Hamlet
Resource: Hamlet Lesson Plan

Book: Pride and Prejudice
Resource: Pride and Prejudice Lesson Plan

Book: Wuthering Heights
Resource: Wuthering Heights Lesson Plan

Book: The Red Badge of Courage
Resource: A Study Guide For The Red Badge of Courage

Book: Little Women
Resource: Little Women Lesson Plan

Book: Peter Pan
Resource: Peter Pan Lesson Plan

Book: The Velveteen Rabbit
Resource: The Velveteen Rabbit Lesson Guide

Book: The Jungle Book
Resource: The Jungle Book Lesson Plans

Book: Just So Stories
Resource: Just So Stories Lesson Plan

Book: Heidi
Resource: Heidi Lesson Ideas

Book: Robinson Crusoe
Resource: Robinson Crusoe Lesson Ideas

Literature Related Internet Resources

The Online Books Page – This fabulous site contains over 25,000 books to read online.
Dictionary.com – Use a dictionary or thesaurus.
Reading Quest – Handouts and lesson plans to improve reading comprehension.
Book Printables – A nice selection of book related activity pages for younger kids.

Phys Ed

7146979359_32ee4e4de5_zsource: Carl Wycoff

Community Resources For Phys Ed

Boy and Girl Scouts Hikes and/or Camping Trips
School and Park Playgrounds
4H Archery Unit
Boy Scouts Sponsored Target Shooting
Biking Trails
Hiking Trails
Neighborhood Baseball Games
Swimming at Beaches
Little League
Summer Park Programs

Home Phys Ed Ideas

* Rig up your own Tetherball game by placing a tennis ball in a sock and attaching it to a tree with a string or light rope.
* Use empty 2 liter soda bottles to create a makeshift bowling alley.
* Gather all your spare balls from around the house and set up a bocce ball game.
* Tie together the ends of a long piece of elastic to create a Chinese jump rope.
* Make your own golf course by digging holes in your backyard and filling them with tin cans.
* Hula hoops are generally available for the dollar store.
* A table tennis set can be purchased for less than $10.00 at discount stores. Set it up on your dining room table and you’re ready to play.
* Learning to walk on stilts can be a great cardiovascular exercise.

Phys Ed Related Videos

Shiny Clean Dance
Body Bop
Boom Chicka Boom
Happy Dance
Dr. Knickerbocker
Goodbye Song
I Am The Music Man
From Your Seat
Tarzan
Move and Freeze

Phys Ed Lesson Plans

The Physical Education Lesson Plan Page – Adaptable for one child or small groups of children.
PE Central – I especially like their dance lessons.
Kid’s Games – Let your child get his daily exercise while playing games.

Art & Music

source: Gina Lee Kim

Art & Music Books

Frank Lloyd Wright for Kids: His Life and Ideas
The Kids’ Multicultural Art Book: Art and Craft Experiences from Around the World
Art Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures
Ecoart!: Earth-Friendly Art and Craft Experiences for 3-To 9-Year-Olds
Kids Make Music!: Clapping & Tapping from Bach to Rock
Adventures in Art: Art and Craft Experiences for 7-To 14-Year-Olds
Kids Create: Art and Craft Experiences for 3 to 9-Year-Olds

Art & Music Activities

Study cartooning
Make nature crafts – painted rock, dried flowers
Build from cardboard
Create a birthday card
Make a quilt from recycled materials
Build with scrap materials
Learn origami
Make your own holiday presents
Make handmade paper
Create paper mache bowls from old newspapers
Learn to paint with watercolors
Learn to sew
Design a variation on the game checkers
Practice cake decorating
Buy and learn to play the recorder of harmonica
Draw original mazes

Art & Music Related Community Resources

Free Art Exhibits
Free Concerts
Attend local museums on free days

Social Studies

source: Thomas

Social Studies Books

Pyramids!: 50 Hands-On Activities to Experience Ancient Egypt
Japan: Over 40 Activities to Experience Japan
Going West!: Journey on a Wagon Train to Settle a Frontier Town
Mexico: 40 Activities to Experience
Hands Around the World: 365 Creative Ways to Encourage Cultural Awareness
A Kid’s Guide to Asian American History: More than 70 Activities
The Lewis & Clark Expedition: Join the Corps
Knights & Castles: 50 Hands-On Activities to Explore the Middle Ages
Make Map Art: Creatively Illustrate Your World
100 Things to Do Before You Grow Up: National Geographic Kids

Social Studies Hands On Activities

Design a quiz type game show on history
Cook an authentic Chinese dinner
Create a historically accurate diorama from scrap materials
Arrange a neighborhood yard sale
Get a job walking dogs, cleaning or doing errands for a neighbor

Social Studies Community Resources

Children’s Museums
A Subway Trip
Museums (on free days)
Fire Station
Nursing Home Volunteer
Hospital Volunteer
Community Festivals
Church/Synagogue Activities
Historic District
Borrow educational videos from the library
Auctions
Flea Markets
Farmer’s Markets

Preschool

source: Christina Kessler

Online Preschool Books

The Adventures of Sidney – A choose your own adventure story.
Anthropolis – Has related songs and pop-up dictionary.
The Adventurous Bunny and Easter Island – Illustrations for this book are made out of felt.
Bembo’s Zoo – You MUST check out this wonderful alphabet book.
Alice In Wonderland – Lovely color illustrations on every page. Excellent!
Bunny and the Robot – Bunny and Mugsy build the FRED 2000
Bunny and the Haunted House – Bunny learns practical jokes are not fun.
Bunny and the Pirates – Bunny and Blue Penguin go exploring
Bunny and the Scary Movie – Bunny learns that scary movies can lead to scary dreams.
Bunny and the Wild Crazy Sheep – Bad behavior can lead to unpleasant consequences.
Bunny and the Brave Bear – Bunny takes a balloon trip and learns an important lesson.
Blue Penguin and Bob the Guinea Pig – Older children may be able to read this on their own.
The Bee’s Knees – Silly little story with attractive illustrations.
The Monkey’s Blue – Learn about monkeys in a fun way.
Perhaps – Super cute book about a boy who hears scary noises in the dark.
Miggi In Space – The story of Miggi’s adventures in space.
Miggi Gets Some Pants – Has a regular version and a surprise version.
A to Z – Animated ABC’s.
Dottie’s Garden – A good story for very young audience.
Even and Odd – Two beetles teach your child counting.
I Spy – A familiar children’s games helps to review colors.
One Little Ball – An animated counting book.
Sammy’s Shapes – A nice review of shapes.
What Is Kwanzaa – Teach your child about this holiday.
Old MacDot’s Farm – A well done re-creation of a familiar song.
The Story of Jeremy Dragonfly and Schlomo The Dog – Jeremy needs a dog.
Jeremy Dragonfly Catches The Art Bug – The simple story is followed by three online art activities.
Merpy and the Monsters Go Swimming – Another wonderful tale from M.R. Petit.
Merpy’s Bad Mood – Sweet and funny at the same time!
The Ghoulashes Birthday – The Ghoulashes find out their friends really do care about them.
Merpy’s Graduation – Merpy graduates from Monster School.
The Story of Jeremy Dragonfly – Beautiful music, text and illustrations tell the saga of Jeremy.
Introducing Rufus The Firefly – Rufus is always getting into trouble.
Moogie The Messie Beastie – Very well done story about why it’s good to be neat.
No Goozles – Sometimes a change of plans can be for the best.
My Two Blue Shoes – A short, Dr. Seuss-like story of the adventures of two shoes.
Barnyard Babies – A singing storybook.
Emily Elizabeth Goes to School – Part of the Clifford The Big Red Dog series.
“Here, Clifford” – Help Emily Elizabeth find Clifford.
Clifford’s Big Dig – Clifford is looking for a hidden surprise.
Where is Emily? – Help Clifford search for Emily Elizabeth.
A Paper Chain for Edgar and Andrew – The bunny children go to their grandparents house.
But That Wasn’t The Best Part – Find out what was the best part of the parade.
Pigmoose on the Loose – Pigmoose makes a big mess.
Pigmoose on the Loose, Again! – Uh Oh.  Pigmoose got out again.
Art is for Everyone – Everyone sees the world and makes art a different way.
The Kitsville Caper – The adventure of Jasper the detective cat.
Shyanne, The Blue Cow and Friends – Shyanne makes friends with the animals.
When I Grow Up – A boy considers all the things he can be when he grows up.
Tippity Witchet’s Fish Ditty – A very pleasant poem about fish.  Nice illustrations.

Preschool Community Resources

Animal Shelter
Beaches
Exotic Pet Store
Pick-Your-Own Farms
Grocery Store
Free Puppet Shows
The Airport

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Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

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Trevor Noah Born A Crime“Where most children are proof of their parents love, I was the proof of their criminality.” So says Trevor Noah in his wonderful book, Born A Crime. Trevor, who was born in South Africa during apartheid, details brilliant and terrible stories from his childhood.

Trevor’s childhood was rough, to say the least. His white father had to walk on the other side of the street to take him to the park. His black mother had to make believe she was the maid when she went out of the house with him. His grandmother wouldn’t discipline him because she wouldn’t hit a white person and his grandfather called him Master.

15258175376_7d6303ea11_zsource: Niko Knigge

But none of this made Trevor Noah a bitter person. Instead, it made him surprisingly insightful and introspective.

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes:

“We live in a world where we don’t see the ramifications of what we do to others because we don’t live with them. It would be a whole lot harder for an investment banker to rip off people with subprime mortgages if he actually had to live with the people he was ripping off.
If we could see one another’s pain and empathize with one another, it would never be worth it to us to commit the crimes in the first place.”

“You want to live in a world where someone is good or bad. Where you either hate them or love them. But that’s not how people are.”

“People always lecture the poor: “Take responsibility for yourself! Make something of yourself!” But with what raw materials are the poor to make something of themselves?”

“People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing.”

“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.”

“We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to.”

“Comfort can be dangerous. Comfort provides a floor but also a ceiling.”

 

21121817164_5f8f6df292_zsource: Dan Mitler

Almost all of what Trevor speaks of is universal in one way or another. Trevor speaks of the betrayal by authority figures, the horrors of domestic abuse, the loneliness of a life without friends. Though most of us don’t live in South Africa, we have had similar experiences in our own lives or seen those experiences in the lives of people around us.

5322400475_cd3a698f00_zsource: Steve Evans

I’ve read a lot of memoirs, but this is by far the most important. Not only is it an informative exploration of apartheid, but it is also a mirror of the human condition.

3311469717_f26310acbc_zsource: United Nations

Even if your not a fan of Trevor Noah’s comedy, this is an absolutely must-read book. Please don’t delay in buying, borrowing or begging for Born A Crime.

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Beautiful Spaces February 2017

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8439070389_570f07caf5_zsource: swiftjetsum626

30953267595_2e51f5b960_zsource: Matheus Swanson

9395131723_f8643990f8_zsource: Chris Weber

16265627689_1e4bf16894_zsource: Russ Allison Loar

14034272472_fba18b80d3_zsource: novofotoo

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Why We Love DIY

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6682450721_cc676aea66_zsource: Natalia Wilson

A friend of mine gave me a window cling set the last week. It came with four outline-printed window clings and a set of puffy paints.

At first, the set reminded me of coloring I did as a child, and I thought it juvenile. But later that evening, before going to bed, I tried it out.

Two minutes in, and I was completed addicted.

For the next three days I spent all my free time working on the project. The result, when completed, went proudly onto the front of my fridge.

As much as I enjoyed the project, it got me thinking: Why would an adult enjoy such a mundane activity? In fact, why do adults enjoy DIY at all?

This is what I realized –

  • DIY offers us an opportunity to be creative. Even the window clings, with their pre-chosen paints, was an opportunity for creativity. I chose the color combination to use on each cling. I decided where the colors would be placed.
  • DIY offers us an opportunity for problem solving. I had only the palette my friend had chosen. I didn’t love the colors but I wasn’t about to purchase more. I had to deal with the problem of making something beautiful from very limited resources (Solution: I blended the puffy paints).
  • DIY offers us a way to relax. Once the colors were chosen, there was something very mindless about applying them to the clings. I felt myself drifting into a kind of alternate state.
  • DIY offers us a feeling of accomplishment. I felt good that I was able to keep the paint within the intricate line drawing. I enjoyed feeling that I had very steady hands. It’s a small ability, but it still makes me feel special.
  • DIY allows us the opportunity for social approval. I placed the clings in a public spot. I have already received compliments on them several times and I expect to get quite a few more. Even as an adult, compliments feel nice.

Why We Love DIYsource: Kat Stan

Why is any of this important?

It’s useful for DIYers to realize that there are ways of increasing the enjoyment they get from their hobbies. Hobbies, by their nature are fun, but there are things we can choose to do that can make them even more fun.

Here a couple of basic principles:

1 – Make sure the project has at least one creative element. Even if you are following written instructions, or a pattern, there is always something you can do to put your own distinctive “signature” on the project.

I once made a lime green tunic shirt from a purchased pattern (back when that color was still popular).  I didn’t know enough about sewing to alter the pattern, but I did choose to go against the pattern suggestions, and use a contrasting trim. I chose black fabric for the pockets and collar and black buttons for the closures.

2 – Add a problem solving element to the project, if it doesn’t come naturally. To do this, make artificial restrictions on either materials, time frame, size, etc.

My favorite class in college was 3D Design. Instead of just giving us projects to complete, the teacher would assign parameters that required real thought to work around. For instance, a sculpture couldn’t be touched with human hands; only with plastic bags. Or, an art kite had to actually be able to fly.

Other crafts, especially on the internet, focus on using found objects or recycled materials only.

3 – Pick a project that varies levels of difficulty throughout. This way you alternate periods of hard work, moderate, and easy work, during the same session.

That’s what I like about ceramics. You start by pounding the clay. Then you build a rough basic form. Only at the end, does the clay require real detail and thought as you put on the finishing touches.

4 – Use your skills. You’ll feel better about your work if it uses some level of skill.  Notice I said skill, not talent. Usable skills can consist of the ability to follow intricate directions, to measure and cut wood accurately,  or in my case with the window clings, simply to stay within the lines.

5 – Allow others to view your finished project. I once made a needlepoint for my son and his new wife. The kit itself was probably only a 20-30 dollars, but I spent over a $100 to frame it.

The reason? I didn’t want the needlepoint shoved into the closet and forgotten. Instead, I wanted it on a wall, where it could be admired.

Why We Love DIYsource: J. Feist

What tips did I miss? Please share your tip by adding a comment below!

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Reducing The Fat In Quiche

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8006177545_ed525f2158_zsource: US Dept of Agriculture

I love quiche but the fat count makes me feel guilty every time I bite into it. The eggs and cheese are bad enough, but even the crust is full of calories.

Thankfully, David Joachim’s Brilliant, came to the rescue again.

According to Brilliant, hollowed out vegetables can be substituted for the crust in quiche. Mr. Joachim recommends potatoes, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, but I’m sure plenty of other veggies would also work. What about large mushrooms for instance?

To try this tip out, I made a spinach quiche in a whole onion.

First, I combined a small amount of cooked spinach, a beaten egg, shredded cheese, a heaping tbsp. of 5% g’vina lavana, and salt in a bowl. Then, I grabbed a large onion, remove the skin and roughly scooped out the inner layers with a knife. When I only had 2-3 outside layers left, I spooned the quiche mix into the onion very carefully. I baked the onion at 350 degrees till done.

The result?

The dish tasted different from the quiche I’m used to, but extremely delicious. I ate the onion as I devoured the quiche and I loved it. This tip was a real winner.

By the way, Brilliant is quickly becoming my go-to book for kitchen tips. You should definitely check it out.

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Michal’s Deli Wraps

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2731224987_a109dea7b5_osource: Annette Young

There are probably as many ways to make deli wraps as there are people who eat them. However, I got the basic idea for this versatile deli wrap sandwich from my friend Michal. I like it because it looks fancy, but can be made in minutes.

Ingredients

flour tortillas

2 slices deli per wrap

mustard

ketchup

Directions

Mix together a ratio of 2 parts mustard to 1 part ketchup.

Place wrap on a plate. Spread mustard/ketchup mixture over wrap, using slightly less than you would use on a typical sandwich.

Layer on the 2 slices of deli (I use turkey roll), overlapping where needed.

Roll sandwich up. Cut into thirds or fourths. If needed use toothpicks to keep rolls from coming apart.

Variations: Instead of the mustard/ketchup sauce,  try garlic dressing, honey mustard dressing, or even a mix of mayonnaise and mustard. Or, add lettuce, vegan cheese, thinly sliced pickles (as pictured in the photo above).

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Best Food Writing by Holly Hughes

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Best Food Writing by Holly HughesI love to read good quality food essays and my book collection proves it. I own books from the vintage Time Life series Foods Of The World, volumes by Jane and Michael Stern and chef memoirs.

My favorite is the series Best Food Writing edited by Holly Hughes.

This series has been published yearly since 2000 and includes articles from many of the most famous food authorities of our generation. To name a few: Amanda Hesser, Alice Waters, Madhur Jaffrey, Nigela Lawson, Ruth Reichl, Calvin Trillin.

There are generally about 50 essays in each book and they usually run 5-6 pages. As to the subject matter, it runs the gamut from restaurant articles, to recipes, to famous cooks, and everything in between.

51SFYZ1FJKL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_My favorite volume is 2000. There are essays in there that I have read, literally, over a dozen times. Here are some of my favorites from that volume.

Vegetarian Turkey by Fran Gage. When the kids all became vegetarians the parents work courageously to find a vegetarian turkey that wouldn’t detract from Thanksgiving. After much thought, they rent the movie Big Night, and duplicate the timpano by rewatching the kitchen scenes.

Dinner For 7 by William Grimes. William and his wife decide to create an authentic Alsatian meal for a group of select guests. However, since Mr. Grimes is a food critic, the bar must be set very high.

The Cook, Her Son, and a Secret by Maya Angelou. The story of how a non-cook surprised her friends (with the help of Craig Claiborne) with a unexpectedly gourmet meal. The writing is almost poetic, just as you’d expect from Maya Angelou.

… And $300 Fed a Crowd by Eric Asimov. Mr. Asimov sets off Ginza Sushiko to discover if any restaurant meal is really worth 300 dollars. Sushi lovers will drool over the descriptions of the food.

A Day In The Life by Anthony Bourdain. An insiders view of what really happens in the kitchens of our favorite restaurants. Anthony Bourdain tells all, and it’s both scary and funny.

The Waiting Game by Ruth Reichl. Ms. Reichl can never resist an unknown food stall with a long line in front. The surprising dish at the end of the line is a perfect example of how simple but perfect ingredients create delicious results.

The Magic Bagel by Calvin Trillin. Dad wants his daughter to move back to New York. She agrees, but only if he can find the perfect New York bagel from her childhood. Beautiful story of nostalgia and love.

Best Food WritingIf you own this series, or plan to purchase it, please send a comment letting me know which essays are your favorites. I would love to hear from you.

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