Progressive Homeschool
Welcome! We practice science-intensive evidence-based education.

yellow leaves

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Originally uploaded by nikaboyce.
Fall is definitely here. Various color around our house.

4:27 PM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink

The Joy of Art!


Art work just to enjoy the pigments, the paper, the water, the mess, the mental break!

3:59 PM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink

UPDATE: Bush Wage Cuts for Relief Workers may be Legal Error

Friday, September 16, 2005
(This is an update we found re: an earlier post we did on Bush canceling the minimum wage for the brave people who will be working in horrendous conditions to re-build the gulf coast)

Quote without permission in its entirety from the FAS Secrecy Project.

Federation of American Scientists

On September 8, President Bush issued a proclamation suspending the minimum wage requirements for relief workers engaged in Katrina recovery operations.

But in order to do so, he relied upon a statutory authority that has been dormant for thirty years and that appears to be legally inoperative.

"I find that the conditions caused by Hurricane Katrina constitute a 'national emergency' within the meaning of section 3147 of title 40, United States Code," President Bush declared on September 8 as
he removed the Davis Bacon Act wage supports for workers in Louisiana, and portions of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

But this emergency statute was one of numerous authorities that were rendered dormant by the National Emergencies Act of 1976, and that can only be activated by certain procedural formalities that were absent in this case.

In particular, the President must formally declare a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act, and he must specify which standby legal authorities he proposes to activate so as to permit congressional restraint of emergency powers.

Strangely, however, President Bush proceeded as if the National Emergencies Act did not exist.

The September 8 presidential declaration was "an anomaly," according to a new Congressional Research Service assessment, and it did not follow "the historical pattern of declaring a national
emergency to activate the suspension authority."

"The propriety of the President's action in this case may be ultimately determined in the courts," the CRS report stated delicately.

The newly updated CRS report, written by Harold C. Relyea, traces the evolution of emergency powers and includes a tabulation of declared national emergencies from 1976-2005.

See "National Emergency Powers," Congressional Research Service, updated September 15, 2005 (esp. pp. 18-19):"

Secondary source of this quote

6:01 PM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink

Anatomy: The Brain

Anatomy: The Brain
Originally uploaded by nikaboyce.
We began a study of human anatomy and the brain was chosen as the first organ to focus on. This work was done in pastel.

Follow these links for some awesome resources on the brain:
Wiki - The Human Brain
Brain Facts and Figures

The figure below is a photo of a human brain, notice the convolutions on the surface of the brain and the different colors of the tissues.

The photo below has color overlays illustrating the various lobes of the brain.

1:05 PM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink

Great Cooking Chemistry Resource

Wednesday, September 14, 2005
I found this site that might be of interest for those who wish to go deeper into the chemistry of cooking:

U of British Colombia 410 Home - Chemistry of Food Systems

9:21 AM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink

Maillard Reaction (supper too)

Today we are learning about the Maillard reaction. This is a chemical reaction that develops the flavor in roast meat and also in other foods:

- 'caramel' made from milk and sugar
- the browning of bread and toast
- the colour of beer, chocolate, coffee, and maple syrup
- the color of dried or condensed milk

yikes it also is what happens to your skin when you use self-tanning lotions (good thing we have never used that stuff!)

We got the following from The Free Dictionary online.
The Freedictionary.com - Maillard reaction
The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually requiring the addition of heat. Like caramelization, it is a form of non-enzymatic browning. The reactive carbonyl group of the sugar interacts with the nucleophilic amino group of the amino acid, and interesting but poorly characterized odor and flavor molecules result. This reaction is the basis of the flavoring industry, since the type of amino acid determines the resulting flavor.

In the process, hundreds of different flavor compounds are created. These compounds in turn break down to form yet more new flavor compounds, and so on. Each type of food has a very distinctive set of flavor compounds that are formed during the Maillard reaction. It is these same compounds that flavor scientists have used over the years to create artificial flavors.

Although used since ancient times, the reaction is named after the chemist Louis-Camille Maillard who investigated it in the 20th century.

The process

1. The carbonyl group of the sugar reacts with the amino group of the amino acid, producing N-substituted glycosylamine and water
2. The unstable glycosylamine undergoes Amadori rearrangement, forming ketosamines
3. There are several ways for the ketosamines to react further:
4. * Produce 2 water and reductones
5. * Diacetyl, acetol, pyruvaldehyde and other short-chain hydrolytic fission products can be formed
6. * Produce brown nitrogenous polymers and melanoidins

Do another kind of experiment with info from this site:
Maillard Reaction info

Directions for performing the Maillard Reaction on a London Broil Steak:

1) Bring up to room temperature.
2) Heavily salt the bottom of an un-oiled WELL seasoned cast iron pan and heat to medium high (turn on the vents in your kitchen hood and also open windows if you can).
3) Once the pan is up to heat, put the steak in and sear for about 7 minutes.
4) Keep an eye out for excessive burning.
5) Pick up the steak, add more salt and then flip the steak over, back into the pan to cook the other side.
6) Sear for about 5 minutes, watching for char, until this side is well singed.
7) Remove from heat and allow to rest about 10 minutes (as long as you can stand it!)
8) Slice against the grain, serve, and enjoy!

Raw London Broil, make sure to pat it dry.


Sear the steak, watching for char.


Remove and let rest to reabsorb juices. Slice against the grain, enjoy!



Looking at the darker parts on the right - This is a reactant product but since it has gone on to a deeper color it likely has produced more complex breakdown products, some of which have been implicated in carcinogenesis.

Looking at the rest of the meat, at the cooked edges - The region that is cooked and beginning to develop color is experiencing the Maillard Reaction. A london broil should be pink inside so this reaction affects only the outer layer.

9:07 AM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink

"A Wrinkle in Time" 9-12

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Originally uploaded by nikaboyce.
Meg finally got Charles Williams out of It's grasp. It almost got all of them. "I am sure he was scared," Meg said. Mrs. Whatsit helped Meg heal. The beasts helped too. They were able to heal her too. They went and rescued Charles Williams. Then they healed him too. Then they tessered back home.

10:26 AM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink


Originally uploaded by nikaboyce.
Art for 9/12 journal entry.

10:23 AM :: 0 comments

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Cornish hens for supper, along with the cornbread.

We made cornish hens for supper.
The hens were thawed. We used Bell's poultry seasoning and tumeric.

Cornish Hens 1

The hens were dried and salted on the inside. The giblets were simmered for gravy stock.
Oil with the spice mixes was brushed on the raw hens.
Cornish Hens 2

Hens were roasted 10 minutes at 445 F and then 350 until done (about 165-180 F).

They were removed from the oven and allowed to rest, as seen here.

Cornish Hens 3

10:18 AM :: 0 comments

nika :: permalink

Corn Bread for Supper

Originally uploaded by nikaboyce.
We made cornbread the old fashioned way tonight (ok, maybe its the hill-billy way).

You use a well seasoned cast iron pan and you put your corn bread batter in there.

This batter had: jiffy corn bread mix, eggs, creamed corn, a bit of whole milk, and some shredded cheddar cheese.

Originally uploaded by nikaboyce.
Here is the batter cooking in the pan, edges are cooking faster than interior, as expected.

Originally uploaded by nikaboyce.
We have two spatulas that we used to flip the bread. Its tricky but we did it without splitting the bread!! Woo hoo.. thats usually how it fails.

Originally uploaded by nikaboyce.
Here is the bread, done and cut to show the crumb.

Originally uploaded by nikaboyce.
An even closer look at the crumb and corn kernals.


8:27 AM :: 2 comments

nika :: permalink