Hale’s Hazardous Tales

As a kid I was a big reader. I could be found at night with the covers pulled up and the flashlight on illuminating my bed cover fort from within. I would spend the seemingly endless bus ride home from school, neck crook’d downward, eyes consuming words, head bumping off the glass window as we traversed the back country roads. I read a number of things, but they were all novels: words on paper – no pictures. As I progressed through middle school and high school, I kept to the same things. At some point, I’m not sure when, graphic novels started making their way into our culture. The first I recall were The Watchmen and Maus. While I had read a few comic books (X-Men 2099), I never really got into it, and to be honest, I kind of looked down on the genre. Using pictures to tell a complex story seemed like something of a cop-out. (I’m an English major, tell a story with words, not pictures!)

It wasn’t until I was actually teaching in Brooklyn that I read my first graphic novel: Persepolis. From there, I read a few more, but nothing struck me hard enough to be remembered a decade down the road; though they did make a spot for themselves in my cannon. They weren’t incredibly awful, and to some degree they do make literature more accessible to hesitant readers.

Since my time in Brooklyn, I’ve had a son who has grown to be also be a tremendously consumptive reader. He will read through a Magic Tree House book in a couple of hours. For Christmas he received the Indian in the Cupboard, read it in two days, and is on his second read. (To be honest, there is a bit of disbelief on my end, but when his comprehension questioned, he seems to know what is going on.)

His love of books fuels his love of the library. We spend quite a bit of time at the there, and he can get lost in the children’s section when his mother or I get to picking out books for school. As with any library, the children’s section is divided into sections: easy readers, young adults, and non-fiction. (They also have sections for holiday themed texts, and longer series’: Hardy Boys, Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, etc.) Our library also has a small section – it’s really a cart – devoted particularly to graphic novels. We first discovered the section when we took out The Monitor vs. The Merrimack, one in a series of “graphic battles of the Civil War.” For us, this was a major score, after all, what six year old doesn’t want to read comic books about war? When it came time to return it to the library, it wasn’t in the pile. It had migrated into my son’s room; who knows how many times he read it. In the car to the library, it was clear how much he really enjoyed the book as he kept recounting the battle for me and asking further questions; of course when we actually got to the library, I had to show him the graphic novel section. He was enthralled.

img_20180116_1216120971740714728.jpg
The booming graphic novel section.

There were a number of good texts and series on the shelf – and I may write about some of the others later – but there was one that really stuck out for us: Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales. Where as “Graphic Battles of the Civil War” details battles of the Civil War, Hale’s Hazardous Tales run the gamut of US History. In total there are seven texts from the Revolutionary War to World War II.

The author is actually Nathan Hale – or at least that is their pseudonym, the first in the series is also about Nathan Hale… – and he recounts historical stories that focus on some sort of harrowing or otherwise deadly tale. They read like typical comic books, but instead of kryptonite and heavily moustached detectives, there are actual believeable characters that may or may not have existed and conversations that probably didn’t actually happen. I wouldn’t say they are the end-all-be-all history texts, but they certainly set the framework and get kids excited and encouraged to learn more and go deeper. At around 120 pages, they are longer texts, but their comic book nature allows readers to plow through these books.

As like most of the books my son reads, he is constantly going back for these. Even though he has read all but the most recent, he continues to check them out and read and reread them. They may not be for everyone, and I suppose, are geared more towards young boys than young girls, but they are certainly approachable by all. While we haven’t built any units around these texts, they have all been a part of the unit when we covered that particular historical period. They are an excellent supplement or everyday read for those younger elementary aged students. While they may not all be found at your local library – ours only has three – they are all on Amazon, and you can also check out Hale’s website for some interesting facts and early proofs. (It doesn’t get very many updates, though.)

The seven texts are as follows:
One Dead Spy – A Revolutionary War story about the actual spy Nathan Hale
Donner Dinner Party – Westward Expansion, and of course the Donner Party
Big Bad and Ironclad</> – The history of the Ironclad warships of the Civil War
The Alamo Allstars – Texas, The battle of the Alamo
The Underground Abductor – Story of Harriet Tubman and her work as an abolitionist
Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood – World War I, trench warfare, etc.
A Raid of No Return – World War II bomber pilots over Japan

Each text focuses on a particular event in history, but also wraps in the political and social climates of the time. If you haven’t checked these texts out, I’d highly suggest it.

And The Whirlwind Expires

It’s been crazy around here the last couple of weeks without much respite. The Christmas season, while enjoyable, was a bit taxing this year with two new foster kids added to the roster. We always try to go small: a handful of small gifts that are more useful than pleasurable, but everyone trying to help out giving us presents for the foster kids, Christmas got bigger than it ever has been at our house. So while Christmas was enjoyable, as it wound down and into New Years, it was a bit of a relief.

That was until the 1.5 year old foster kid came down with RSV. Our daughter had RSV when she was a new born and it was scary business. We spent a few extra days in the hospital with her in the NICU and it was unpleasant to say the least. I was hoping that the foster kid was old enough to handle it on his own with a few breathing treatments at home: I was wrong. Wednesday night they sent us to the local hospital and held us hostage until Saturday night. What fun! Nothing like hanging out in a 12×12 room for three days. (It really made me think about how poorly I’d do in prison.)

We were discharged Saturday with instructions to administer breathing treatments every four hours. Yes, every four hours until our follow up visit a week later. Every four hours for a week. It also meant the wee one couldn’t go to day care or pre-school all week which meant homeschooling with a ‘Roid Rage baby running amok. It also meant sheer exhaustion. And to top it off, the Department of Family and Child Services was coming on Friday for their annual home-study. It doesn’t mean much, we have a safe home, but the anxiety of having someone come into your home and evaluate it something, not to mention all the cleaning that has to be done.

The home-study is done, the follow up visit took breathing treatments down to twice a day, and the super cold week didn’t kill all our cauliflower! It’s time to get back to normal – or at least some semblance of normal. The plan for today: get started on more firewood, and shoot a squirrel for home school – the eldest is studying skeletons. Not sure why, but I am giddy with excitement to wander off into the woods and start felling some trees.

 

Fermented Fridays: Oatmeal!

I can’t tell you when I started dabbling in ferments. My earliest recollection is trying to make some country wine in my basement when I was probably thirteen or fourteen. It was a total crap shoot. I put some sugar in a mason jar, threw in some fruit and a bit of yeast, then flipped the jar over into a wider basin of water to create a seal of sorts. Needless to say it turned out poorly and was unsuccessful. (I’ve since made some palatable stuff…) Into college I dabbled with brewing beer and trying to make some ‘shine, but it wasn’t until I lived in South Korea for a year that I really started a love affair with fermented foods, all thanks to kim chi. It is a goal of mine to one day make some kim chi that actually tastes like an ajumma made it, and not some stateside grocer, but that’s a story for another day.

There are a million different fermented dishes you can make, some are time consuming, require special tools, and mountains of time, others, like oatmeal, are extremely simple. I first came across this idea reading one of Sandor Katz’s books. (I couldn’t tell you which one; they’re all excellent.) Almost everyone these days have heard of overnight oats. Some folks will soak them overnight, some cook them overnight in a slow cooker, some soak them and eat them raw the next morning. It may sound loopy, but here’s the basic reason why:

Oats and other grains contain phytic acid. Phytic acid is known to bind to certain nutrients therefore hindering the bodies ability to absorb these nutrients. Soaking (particularly in an acidic environment) helps to break this phytic acid down. You can achieve an acidic environment by using whey – kefir, yogurt, etc. – apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or anything else you can think of that might lower the pH. You can also skip the additives and really let those oats ferment naturally lowering the pH of the solution. Typical instructions will call for the oats to be soaked in cold water, or even left in the refrigerator, over night; the problem is, this cooler environment doesn’t allow for much fermentation. Ideally, you want to soak your oats on the counter from 12-24 hours to really break down the phytic acid, but there’s more.

Fermented foods have particularly rich flavors, sweet and sour, tart, tangy, and dense. If all you want to do is break down some phytic acid, soak your oats for 12-24 hours in a warm environment. If you want all the funky flavors of a delicious fermented dish here’s our technique.

raisins
Raisins, covered in spices.

Before I even throw the oats in the mason jar, I toss in a handful or raisins. The raisins add some sweetness and some naturally occurring yeast (which is a good thing.) If you don’t have raisins, other fruits with naturally occurring yeast can work – berries, apples. Once the raisins are in, I add my spices: usually some fresh minced ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and turmeric. When I can find it, I’ll use garam masala, or if I’m having a later afternoon snack, I’ll throw in a bit of curry powder. If I

oatmeal
Ready to wait. By the end, that banana will not be recognizable.

want it a little sweeter, I’ll add in some ripe banana. Really the possibilities are endless, and it is up to you and your taste buds

img_20180110_114818541453447209.jpg
Ready to go! The oats are floating, the bubbles are bubbling.

The amount of oats, and size of container I use depends on who’s going to be eating them with me. My son is not a big fan, but my daughter will eat a whole cup if I allow her. Once the oats are in, I cover them with water, screw on a lid, and let them go. On average, I’ll wait a good two days, though less when it’s summer, and a little longer in the winter. The trick is to really let the fermentation kick in. Typically, mid-way through day two, I’ll start to see tiny bubbles welling up from below and it begins to look like one big gloppy mess. When I see these things, I’m know I’m good to go.

These really are one of the simplest fermented dishes you can make. Once you’re happy with how the little guys are doing with your oats, it’s time to cook them. Dump them in a pain, and cook. I use a low heat, and stir. Because they’re so dense and gloppy, they tend to burn a little bit if you let them go without stirring for too long. If they’re too thick coming out of the jar, you can always add a little water.

When the oats are warmed thoroughly, we serve them! (Imagine that…). Typically we don’t add sugar, but on occasion my daughter can convince me that they need a little Maple Syrup. Either way, they’re delicious.

img_20180110_131635772772152632.jpg
A little butter and milk never hurt anyone. (It’s yellow from the turmeric.)

Addendum: We have experimented with adding chia to the ferment, this requires more water. We have also tried this with grits, and steel cut oats. The soak times for steel cut oats is a little longer, but both turned out equally as well. Other ways to reduce phytic acid is to sprout the item in question (think beans.)

I’m always searching for fun easy ferments (or even more difficult ones) so if you have any favorites, let me know in the comments.

Time to Sharpen!

Last week I mentioned two power tools I find essential for homesteading in a non-urban, rural environment. For sure, you could make do without these two tools, but the speed of which jobs can be accomplished with their use, lends so much more free time to devote to other projects they’re almost a must. The first tool necessary on the Good View Quarter is our Yanmar 2000D. Since I have near zero interest in learning, training, buying and keeping horses, tasks such as mowing the lawn, plowing the garden and skidding logs requires one.

The second tool vital to our little Quarter is a chainsaw. In fact, if I think hard enough I might say the chainsaw is a more vital tool than the tractor. Imagine clearing a pasture, or cutting cords of wood for winter with a bow saw? I love Gramps and his hard working way of life, but I think I’ll pass. Bucking, splitting, and stacking give my hands enough callouses.

While a tractor and a chainsaw are quite different – one runs on diesel, the other two-stroke, one is bigger than a car, the other can fit in a car – they do have a few similarities. The most obvious is upkeep: all power tools need maintenance. Consider it the feeding of the horses. The tractor needs new filters and fluids; the chainsaw needs cleaning and sharpening.

In the same way that I defered discussing tractor purchasing specifics, I will defer on the chainsaw as well. (To be clear, I am no chainsaw expert but my tech-ed teacher-brother also runs a tree removal business, and I hope to have him write a blog post detailing the specifics.) That said, there is one commonality across chainsaws, and that is the need for a sharp chain. The chain is essentially a blade and if you’ve ever used a dull knife to peel an apple, you know how much work goes into cutting. You also may have learned how dangerous it can be to force a dull blade. The same is true of a chain saw: a dull chain or blade will work, but it takes more effort and taxes the motor more: shortening it’s life span. It also requires the operator to use more force which can lead to more accidents. This is no good. You need a sharp chain to keep your motor from overworking and to keep the operator safe.

So how do we keep a chain sharp? There are essentially two answers. The short easy answer is the blade sharpening handy man down the road. You can price your own out, but every guy I’ve asked has wanted $7 a chain. Granted, $7 isn’t a whole lot, maybe a lunch at McDonald’s, but consider that you ought to sharpen your chain every 3-4 tanks of gas. If you’re cutting wood for winter’s heat, four tanks will be gone before you know it and you’ll start racking up that $7 bill, not to mention the time it takes to get the chain to the guy and wait for it to get sharpened (they almost always want the chain on the bar which means on the saw which means your sawless.) So what do you do? Sharpen it yourself! It’s cheaper in the long run, and will save all that driving and waiting time.

Keep in mind, not all chains are created the same and different chains will take different size files to sharpen them. Generally speaking, there are three common round file sizes and a kit containing all three of these sizes, plus a flat file, a filing guide, and a depth gauge can be had for about $20. You can also buy a round file individually should you (or your kids or your neighbors) break or misplace the size you need.

Back of the chain box.
For typical sharpening, we’re really worried about the pink columns.

Once you have your files in hand, it’s important to figure out what size file you’ll need, so locate the box the chain came in. Somewhere on that box, it tells you what size chain you have. Now locate that size chain in the chart on the back of the box. I have two chains, both are 3/8” lo profile chains of the 30LP variety. Regarding the chart, when it comes to routine sharpening we’re really interested in two categories: top plate filing angle and file diameter. The file diameter tells us which round file to use, and the filing angle tells us what angle to hold the file relative to the bar once we get to sharpening – but wait, we’re not there yet… Once you’ve got your file set up, find your chainsaw and make yourself comfortable. It’s important that each tooth is sharpened the same as the others, so if you’re constantly trying to get comfortable, this uniform sharpening will be more difficult. If you’re able, you can lock your saw in a vice, by clamping down on the bar, leaving the chain free to turn. You can also purchase a stump vise for under $20 to do a bit of field sharpening should you require it. These stabilization methods are ideal, but by no means necessary.

two teeth
Notice the direction in which the teeth point.

Once you’re situated and comfortable, start looking at your chain; grab the teeth and pull them along the bar. Keep an eye out for any teeth you may have seriously damaged on rocks or some wire fence a tree may have grown around. You’ll notice that as you go down the chain, each tooth is facing the opposite side of the bar than the last. On my chain, I have two teeth in sequential order facing the same direction, this will be my

img_20171223_0922273651565990213.jpg
Sometimes the wire will rust off leaving a special treat inside the tree. Careful.

start and stop point. If you don’t have this set up, you can also mark your chain with a fabric paint pen, grease pencil, Sharpie, white crayon, or white out. Basically, you want to make sure you’re sharpening all teeth equally, so it’s important to have a distinct start/stop point somehow delineated.

img_20171224_154840053963575150.jpg
Top view of the filing guide.

With your saw situated and your chain marked, you’re almost ready to go. This is where you’ll need to remember that filing angle number (mine is 35°). Look down at the top of the filing guide and you’ll see a bunch of numbers and lines. Find the correct angle for your chain. You want to align the appropriate angle line parallel to the bar of your saw. Place your file between the gullets of the teeth, make sure the flat side of the file guide is flush against the chain tooth (this should make a 90° angle with you bar). Now recheck your file guide angle and push the file away from you; never pull the file toward you, always away, always. The number of

img_20171224_1548325701837062945.jpg
Line up the appropriate angle with the bar.

strokes you give each tooth, will depend on a variety of factors. Different folks will throw out different numbers, but I think the number of strokes really depends more on how dull the chain is in the first place than anything else. That said, I usually do three strokes per tooth. Ideally, you want to remove the same amount of material from each tooth to get them all sharp.

Give your first tooth however many strokes you find appropriate remembering to remove the file from the gullet of the tooth on the back stroke so as to not round over your newly sharpened edge, and then move to the next tooth facing towards you. Notice you skipped a tooth, when we’re all done with this side, we’ll flip the saw around and do the teeth that were once facing away from you.

sharp unsharp teeth
A tooth that hasn’t been sharpened and a tooth that has been sharpened, but could use a bit more.

Sharpening your chain is something every chainsaw owner should learn If you’re not sure how you did, check out your sawdust next time you cut a log. A sharp chain will leave nice big, long chunks of saw dust, a dull blade will leave small sawdust chunks. A dull chain may also tend to drift while you cut. This happens because some teeth are sharper than others, and you’re once vertical cuts will start to have more of angle to them. The worst that can happen when sharpening a chain is that you do it wrong, and if you do that, you take your chain to the sharpener guy and give him $7. (There are also some seasonal sharpening/chain-checking things that need to happen. But we’ll get to that another time.)

Good luck and remember:

  • Mind your file angle
  • Never pull the file towards you
  • Keep your angles and strokes uniform
  • Stay out of the dirt!

Homestead Hack #1: Label Your Eggs!

If I had to guess, I’d imagine that the most common farm-type animal among homesteaders would have to be a chicken. More and more they can be found in urban settings and it seems that everyone knows at least one person with chickens, and with chickens come….eggs! Before long, you’ll realize you have too many chickens, but don’t have the heart to put them in the freezer and you’ll quickly find yourself inundated with eggs. I know we’ve had 4.5 dozen eggs in our fridge a few times in the summer months when laying is heavy. Unfortunately, (I found this out as a kid) when you start getting lots of eggs, there’s a chance one of those eggs might sit in the fridge for too long and you’ll only figure out it’s old when you go to crack it open – which is certainly less than enjoyable. You could label your cartons – as I know many people do – but then you end up with a multiple cartons that aren’t full. I don’t know about you, but there isn’t room in my fridge for half-empty egg cartons.

The solution: Label Your Eggs! At Good View Quarter before each egg gets it’s bath in the sink, but before it goes in the carton, it has it’s laid-on-date scrawled on top. All of our eggs have a date on them. It helps conserve space, and it helps let us know which eggs are freshest, and which ones might be best hard boiled. We like to use pencil. I’m sure ink from a pen would work fine, but pencil seems the safest choice than then say, Sharpie.

img_20180102_200317546160293669.jpg
Label your eggs! It saves space and time, and gives you peace of mind!

Raddish Kids Review

(If you want to cut right to the pros/cons/discount code, click here. For the full version, keep reading.)

Boxes, crates, kits, call them want you want, mystery packages ordered by subscription seem to be infiltrating our lives from all directions. From boxes full of new outfits to fishing lures and reels, from make-up to athletic gear or even healthy dinners: they run the gamut. If there's a hobby or something that interests you, there's a box made especially for you. They even have boxes for education. I never thought I would succumb to the gimmicky overpriced boxes on the internet, but when my wife thought they might make a neat Christmas present, my apprehension was overruled. Most subscriptions are set up so that you can go with a one month renewal – that of course comes at a premium – or some longer duration (3/6/12 months). Being that we have three children in the house that might enjoy said boxes, we decided to order three different boxes as one month subscriptions, and cancel them after Christmas.

There were a plethora of boxes to choose from, and at times it got a little overwhelming, but we finally decided to go with Raddish (Rad Dish), Green Kid Crafts, and Groovy Lab in a Box. They were meant as group gifts for the three older kids, so no single box was purchased with a specific child in mind. At the time of publishing this post, only two of them have arrived. When purchasing these boxes, it is important to mind the ship dates. Some subscriptions will ship your order as that months box right away some will wait until the following full month and send that month’s subscription.

Raddish
That’s a fancy looking box.

This particular review focuses on Raddish. (If you want the really short version and the discount code, skip to the bottom.) I have to say when we stumbled across Raddish my wife was pretty stoked. Both of our kids really enjoy cooking and our foster-daughter seems to be getting interested (she’s 3.5). And of course, cooking is a great way to learn math and do some work with basic fractions. After looking over the website, we decided to give it a go. It seemed to fit in the price range of all the other boxes, coming in at $24/month with free shipping for US based customers. (They offer a $2 a month discount for six month subscriptions and a $4 a month discount for 12 month subscriptions.) For three month and longer subscriptions you get a bonus Raddish Apron. We opted for the one month subscription.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when the box came. I knew it had a “kitchen tool” and would contain a shopping list, and some recipes. And while it was a Christmas present for the kids, I was kind of excited to open the box and take a peak at what was inside. It’s a nice looking box, decorated in lime and pink with a relatively simple Raddish logo. Of course, when I opened the box, I was quickly disappointed. I thumbed through the recipe cards, looked at the “table talk” guide questions, looked for the “game” and played with the “kitchen tool” which happened to be a timer. It’s a half-way decent timer as far as kitchen timers go (something like this), but after I went online to verify the price was indeed $24, I promptly canceled our subscription. Again, I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but what we received seemed far from a $24 value.

img_20180101_1332518611794160025.jpg
The fancy timer and a “collectible” iron on patch.

When we were checking out, there was an option to order an extra kitchen tool if we were going to be sharing the box – one for each kid kind of thing. We thought about it for a moment, and then passed. There was no telling what the “tool” was and going by some of the older boxes we weren’t sure we’d really need three of anything: oven mits, spatulas, etc. In the end, we’re glad we didn’t order three. The tool this month was a timer, and we really would have had no need for three timers. As it stands, we don’t even really need one timer. You see, we have a timer on the oven, and another on the microwave. I also have a cell phone, and on it is yet another timer. Now the timer we recieved is a very nice timer of the egg-timing variety, and my son has since used it to start timing his sister’s completion of menial tasks, yet it certainly isn’t a necessesity and can probably be purchased for under $10.

Next out of the box was a cooking badge. The ultimate in gimmicky, it’s an iron on patch with a picture of a mixing bowl and spoon. Cheese, cheese, cheese. I can kind of see the appeal for some kids, but again, ultimately unnecessary.

cookie gift
Instructions on how to make a Cookie Jar Gift.

With both the timer and patch out of the way, all that was left was a stack of cards. The first two went together. Both cards are printed front and back on heavyweight card stock and are part of the craft. On the primary card are the directions for the craft: a Cookie Jar Gift. Essentially it’s mixing the dry ingredients for a batch of cookies in a mason jar. You’re supposed to pour the ingredients in gently and I’m sure it produces a layered look akin to those poured sand crafts. The second card can be cut down the middle to produce two hang tags for your mason jar. On one side is a nice To/From section and the other is the instructions for adding wet ingredients and actually making the cookies. It’s cute. It’s neat, and it’s nothing that can’t be found on Pinterest.

Pawing through the box some more are two more card stock cards. The first is just an

list
The list of what the box contains and ingredients needed.

overview of the the box, what culinary skills your child will be mastering, the recipes included, (what Raddish has deemed) collectibles, and the games and activities. On the back of the card is a shopping list of ingredients of what you’ll need for each recipe. The second of these two cards has the game on it. (I didn’t think it was much of a game, but I’m pretty sure the Cookie Mason Jar was the activity which leaves this card as the game.) The game was a review of what

culinary card
The more educational cards.

the child learned, by essentially ticking off a box about what they learned – presumably after they’ve recited to a parent what it is they’re checking off. The back of the second card is where some of the educational stuff kicks in as it includes some discussion questions about the lesson and how to use the timer.

Recipe card f-b
What we really came for: the recipes.

With the stock cards out of the way it’s time to get down to the recipe cards: nice tri-fold cards heavily laminated that could stand alone. Each recipe card is laid out nicely with prep and cook time and yield on the front. Inside the tri-fold are illustrated lists of ingredients and cooking tools, as well as step-by-step instructions of how to craft your food. The pictures are telling and if your chef couldn’t read they might be able to get by, but would probably need some help deciphering the actual cooking instructions. On the backside of each card are different “Featured Culinary Skills,” for this month it was oven safety, baking cookies, and mastering measuring spoons. Also included on the back are two additional topics that vary from card to card. For this month there was instructions on how to run a cookie swap as well as how to do some calculations for circles (radius, diameter, circumference), a gingerbread game that included smelling ingredients and a little breakdown of the specifics of whole wheat.

Conversation Cards
Questions for the kids.

Lastly out of the box are the “collectible” table talk cards. There are four cards made of a thicker plastic material that can be punched out of the sheet they’re in, and strung onto a key ring of sorts should you choose to do so. On the back of each table talk card is a question meant to inspire discussion and thoughtfulness. I suppose at times, they might be nice, but if you can’t talk about what you just did with your child and you need a plastic card to direct the conversation, there’s probably other things that need to be worked on. With that said, the cards did spark a little interest among the children, specifically the explanation of a cookie they want to invent.

As you go through the box, you’ll notice that they refer you to their website fairly often, and this is with good reason. There are some other activities on the website, but there are also some lesson plans to go with each recipe. Lessons are laid out to last 45-90 minutes. Honestly, these were the most useful things out of the whole box, and they can be found online for free. (You can also find dietary substitutions on the website.)

img_20180101_1110578481006759660.jpg
Getting going.

Overall, my seven year old son really enjoyed it. He does a lot of cooking, and has just gotten into doing it on his own. He enjoyed making the Festive Pizza Wreath (pizza style Monkey Bread) and sharing it with us for lunch. Of course, he also enjoys printing recipes off of the Highlights website or anywhere else we let him explore and cooking those.

img_20180101_1236231571578516849.jpg
The finished product. It ended up sticking to the bundt pan, so it got a little mangled. Still tasted the same.

In short:

Pros:

  • My child really enjoyed it
  • He thought the recipe cards were cool
  • He really enjoys playing with the timer and using it home school his younger sister
  • If you like gimmicky stuff and your house has room for it, there’s lots of eye catching things in these boxes
  • Lesson plans online can be helpful if you really want to make a lesson out of this.

Cons:

  • It’s expensive. For $24 a month, my child can find recipes online and we can do everything the box set out to do. It requires thought, but it’s possible
  • Lots of gimmicky stuff that just adds to clutter.

Overview: We canceled it right away. There was nothing we couldn’t do ourselves, and felt the $24 could go further if we bought our own stuff to create cooking lessons. The lesson plans online can be useful and may make the $24 price tag reasonable.

If you plan on purchasing a subscription for Raddish, on our box was a $10 discount code. I’m not sure if it’s $10 for one box, or if it has to be a subscription of x-months, but here it is: TNVDY3 If you choose to use the code, let me know how the discount worked.

Addendum: That sweet timer that came in this box just broke less than a month later. Bummer.