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Cooking up a storm

30 July, 2010

We’ve been studying Mexico, at Mark’s suggestion, in the lead up to a Mexican-themed birthday lunch in a few weeks time.

One of the obviously fun things to study about a different country is the food.  Only we eat a *lot* of Mexican food already, so it wasn’t so much of an adventure.

Earlier in the year I had purchased a book called Multicultural Snacks.  It had a few Mexican recipes in it, and we decided that the two that interested us the most were Mexican Hot Chocolate and Corn Tortillas.  Only we had a problem.  We needed a special flour made from maize (a type of corn) called masa harina.  Masa Harina is not the same as polenta and cornflour, which is a shame because it was quite easy to find those.

We weren’t able to find masa harina so we stuck with our trusty wheat tortilla recipe.

Zoe read us the recipe, doubling the ingredients on the fly.  I was so proud of her, she even managed to double 3/4 cup to 6/4 and then converted it back down to 1 1/2 without any help!  She needed a little help with a few of the trickier words like “dough” and “knead” but she managed to read the entire recipe.

Reuben and Rhiannon measured ingredients and counted spoonfuls of ingredients.  We all kneaded the dough then left it to rest while we did exciting things like clean the lounge-room and tidy up my Firefox bookmarks.

Then we got back to work.  I separated the dough into four roughly-equal balls and we set to work making six balls each to turn into a batch of 24 tortillas.    We rolled the dough and cooked it quickly in a hot, lightly oiled frying pan.

Then we devoured the delicious, hot tortillas for lunch before I even thought about taking a photo.

In the process of having a great time cooking we also learnt.  Zoe read the instructions out to us – reading (English).  It was a recipe – text type (English).  We followed the instructions – speaking and listening (English).  We learnt new words – spelling and vocabulary(English) .  Zoe doubled the recipe – multiplication (Maths).  We counted (Maths). We reduced fractions (Maths).  We added improper numbers (Maths).  We felt the change in the dough before and after it rested (Science).  We watched the effects of physical force on objects as we rolled the tortillas (Science). We saw the dough change when heat was applied (Science). We experienced part of the manufacturing process and created a product (Science).  We watched as the toppings (butter, honey) changed consistency as heat was applied (Science). We experienced another culture through preparing and eating a traditional food (HSIE/Social Studies).  I don’t think we can really include Art in here but it certainly relates to our Spanish studies (LOTE).

Of course, not all of these “achievements” in each subject area apply to each student.  Counting the number of tablespoons of oil wasn’t any learning for Zoe, but it was for Rhiannon.  Rhiannon was completely oblivious to Zoe adding and reducing the improper fraction to a mixed number.  Reuben was able to double the simple numbers but he didn’t do any reading.  And Josiah slept through the dough preparation, but he got to taste the rewards of our effort.  Even though not all of our children learnt all of the things on our list, it also shows that many activities can be learning experiences for “students” of all ages and abilities.

I hope the hot chocolate making goes as well!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 31 July, 2010 1:36 pm

    Sounds like you had a productive day. I’d love to see photos of the chocolate making.

  2. 1 August, 2010 7:31 pm

    It was hot chocolate (as in the beverage) rather than chocolate making. Zoe and I made it yesterday. It was yummy but, sorry, no photos. 😦

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