Saturday, June 24, 2023

Can You Homeschool College? (Updated for 2023)

Can You Homeschool College?
Does homeschooling have to stop when children start college?

There is a common assumption - even
amongst homeschoolers - that High School is the "end of the line" for homeschooling.

But, that's simply not true.

And there's another assumption that college needs to cost a lot of money - that's not always true, either.

(A little note for international readers: the words "college" and "university" are virtually interchangeable in everyday American speech - I am using the word "college" here to mean both college AND university)

In my opinion, college is different from high school, in that there is a legitimate need to have an institution document learning. So, in that way, homeschooling college differs from homeschooling at the Primary and Secondary levels.

There are many reasons a parent might choose to "send a child off" to college: networking, learning under a certain professor, taking a specific program that only one university offers, learning a hands-on profession that must be mentored and practiced (like, say, brain surgery or musical performance).

But, there are many reasons NOT to send a child off to college! The spiritually, psychologically and academically damaging "party" atmosphere at many universities, the promotion of an anti-Christian worldview at many universities, and the high costs are just a few.

If a child is  academically ready to learn college level material at perhaps 15, but too young to live independently or deal with the pressures of a full course load, homeschooling college might be a great alternative.

I can already hear the nay-sayers arguing that "you can't shield them from the 'real world' forever!" Which is very true! But, my experience and observation of modern undergrad dorm life is that it is about as far from the real adult world as one can get. Thousands of young people without adult responsibility, such as being required to support themselves and pay for their own bills, without accountability to parents any longer, but WITH lots of money and freedom - is a recipe for disaster. 

Of course young people will be out on their own - as responsible adults - when that is appropriate. But going off to grad school alone, taking a job in a distant city, or building a home with a family is much truer "real life" than undergrad dorm or fraternity life ever was.

Over the years, I have become familiar with various methods of gaining college credit  - or even a full degree - from home.

There are FOUR basic steps you need to complete: 

1) Learn about the process 

There are a few YouTube Channels that go into great detail on how to get this done. Once you subscribe to a couple, of course, YouTube will suggest more. These are my favorites:

College Hacked


Nine Month College Grad

This one also has some great info on choosing majors, and various professional certifications:

Shane Hummus

Consider falling down the proverbial rabbit hole on my Pinterest board on this topic: 

Homeschool College & Dual Enrollment


2) Choose a "Regionally Accredited" University that offers the degree you want, and accepts a high number of transfer credits (most universities listed here accept 90 transfer credits toward a bachelor's degree).  Each of the Third party providers in #3, below, have "Partner Universities." Explore those pages to find a university that suits your needs.

Here are some to investigate: 

Thomas A. Edison State University
This is my own Alma Mater, I completed my degree there while living abroad in a location where traditional university wasn't an option. I found myself well prepared for graduate work after graduating from Thomas Edison. They offer remote classes, credit by exam, and credit assessment for learning accomplished outside of class, among other options. They're fully accredited. Prices were VERY reasonable!

Purdue Global 

Liberty University Online 

Excelsior College -accepts an unusually high number of transfer credits 

Western Governors University - offers a special "Competency Based" learning program, with an unusual tuition structure which encourages acceleration.

University of Maine at Presque Isle

Colorado Christian University


3) Earn as many transfer credits as you can from "ACE Recommended" third party or inexpensive providers 

College Level Examination Program and  For a reasonable fee, MUCH less than tuition for a similar class, you can take one of these exams and gain credits which are accepted by many colleges and universities. Some colleges accept many - some few - so talk to your desired institution and see which ones they will accept - or chose an institution that accepts more of them. I used these exams for a substantial portion of my Bachelor's degree. I graduated debt free : )

DSST - like CLEP, but offers more niche courses & upper level courses. Originally designed by the government for military members, these tests are now available to civilians. I've taken many of these.

Sophia.Org a "Third Party Provider" that offers various courses worth A.C.E. Recommended College Credit, and has a very reasonable monthly subscription rate. These courses can be done quickly, which is a great advantage. There are lots of YouTube videos about how to plan carefully to do several of these courses in a month, - like this woman who did TEN classes in a month! That's 30 credits - normally a full year of schooling! (she does not live in the US, so her university choice is not "regionally accredited" and probably wouldn't be as good a choice for you if you're a US citizen)

Study.Com another "Third Party Provider" that offers various courses worth A.C.E. Recommended College Credit, and has a slightly higher monthly subscription rate. These courses take a little longer than Sophia Courses. They offer more "upper level" and specialty courses than does. 

Modern States
Another great option that I am personally familiar with is Modern States - also known as "First Year of College Free". At Modern States - for free - you can watch a full course of lectures, read a free textbook, and answer practice questions. When you are done, put in a request for a voucher and they offer to PAY for your CLEP exam to gain college credits for what you have studied! This wonderful service is provided by Philanthropist Steven Klinsky, who wants to make college more accessible for everyone. The courses we have used on Modern States are not as well taught or organized as Sophia or, but the price is perfect, and the free practice tests are very helpful.

InstantCert - for great help preparing for CLEP and DSST exams, at a very reasonable monthly subscription price. We have used and liked this one.

Saylor Academy 
Note - some of their courses offer exam credit that is transferable - some do not. VERY inexpensive.

Coursera -
Some of their courses offer college credit, and they offer some degree programs, too! And some of those are from top name universities!

Your Local Community College

Community Colleges offer many of the same courses as 4 year colleges - often for about 1/4 the price. Staying home and commuting for the first two years can be a great option for many. It's not homeschooling, but it can be a nice transition. Many programs offer the added benefit of qualifying graduates in a trade. This way, they can work in their target field in while schooling continues. For instance, if your student wants to be a Dentist one day, he or she might benefit from learning to be a Dental Hygenist or Assistant at community college. Then, while working for the additional degrees, that part-time job can be a resume and experience builder - and also pay much more than many jobs other undergrads can get. Likewise, the aspiring lawyer can become a paralegal first, and the aspiring nurse-anesthetist can become an LPN or RN first through community college training. Beware, sometimes community college courses contain objectionable material, or involve interacting with adult classmates in a way that some teens may not be prepared for.


4) Enroll in your chosen school after earning your transfer credits, and complete the remaining requirements.


If you have a student who REALLY wants that "going off to college" experience, but wants to avoid student debt, investigate these two schools:

College of the Ozarks

Berea College


Other programs that might be worth investigating:


Oak Brook College of Law

 College Plus, Unbound
Read more about College Unbound HERE


On the other hand, if you just want to learn, and don't care about a degree, there ARE wonderful courses online for free from many universities -Just search for "MOOC" (Massive Open Online Course) to find lists like this:


One last note - beware of Diploma Mills and College Debt. The College you choose should be "Regionally Accredited" if you are in the US. If the college you're looking at has tuition rates that are very high or preposterously low, admits students without sufficient proof that they are ready for advanced studies, or offers "easy" or "quick" degrees - beware! Make sure they're regionally accredited. Check their reviews online. I still remember meeting a colleague years ago, who had gone to a disreputable college, and who was devastated that she had paid three times as much as I had to get a degree, but was completely unprepared for the professional world.   Make sure you do your research! 

But, with a little research, and some well chosen resources, homeschooling part or all of college can be done! : ) 

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Easiest Sourdough EVER! (No discards, no weighing, no kneading)

Easiest Sourdough Ever - Fresh from the Oven
How I do Sourdough

When you read about the process of making Sourdough, it sound very intimidating and wasteful. It sounds like you need to use fancy scales, expensive equipment, and constantly throw away food (or constantly bake enough with your "discards" to feed a small army).

My method avoids all those unattractive and complicated bits. I figured that everyone's grandmother back in the Old Country made Sourdough, when they lived lives close to the land. Packaged dry yeast is a fairly modern invention. And most of them were poor and didn't have scales that weighed in grams. They weren't constantly throwing food away because that is just not done if you're poor. And, as people who worked the land, they didn't have a lot of extra time on their hands. 

So, I decided there must be an easier, less wasteful, less expensive way. And . . . . there was!
I don't use any expensive equipment, I don't weigh, I don't discard. And I get great bread!

I owe much to the fine folks at Artisan Bread in Five - for helping me figure out how to make the starter, and also for their no knead technique. If you don't have their books - get yourself a copy - and buy them for gifts, too! They're truly great! (not a paid endorsement - I just love them!). 
But, the fine tuning in this process is my own - after working on it a couple of years.

Here's what I do:

To make Starter:

When making or feeding starter, leave covered with something very breathable – like mesh or cheesecloth – just to keep bugs out but let air in. I use one of those mesh tents that you put over food at picnics - like you can get from the dollar store or walmart. 

Make in large container, to allow bubbling/rising. I usually use an old plastic one-quart tub from yogurt.

When you stir it, stir well with a fork – incorporating air is a good thing. And you want to stir it enough to get out the lumps each time you stir.

Again - I owe a debt of gratitude to Artisan Bread in Five for this concept.

This starter is liquid - like a melted milkshake, more or less, in texture. 

I use regular All-Purpose Flour. You can probably use Bread Flour, instead. 

If you use Whole Wheat, Rye, or Gluten-Free, I would expect very different results, and it may not work at all. I've never tried it with any of those.

Prepare Starter:
Day 0, in a good sized container - Mix & Stir: ½ Cup water & ½ Cup Flour, stir
Day 1 - Stir
Day 2 – Stir
Day 3 – Feed with ½ Cup water & ½ Cup Flour, stir
Day 4 – Feed with ½ Cup water & ½ Cup Flour, stir
Day 5 – Feed with ½ Cup water & ½ Cup Flour, stir
Day 6 – Feed with ½ Cup water & ½ Cup Flour, stir
Day 7 – Feed with ½ Cup water & ½ Cup Flour, stir

Now you’re ready to make dough to bake.

Do NOT make your first batch before day 7 - it may seem ready, but it's not truly ready till at least the 7th day. 

Sourdough Starter - Ready to Use

Sourdough is an art – expect to need to troubleshoot and improve subsequent batches. This is my method, and it turns out reliably well for me for years now. But if you measure slightly differently, or live at a different altitude or whatever -you might have to fine tune a little.

Never use ALL the starter - always be sure you start with enough to leave about 1/2 cup behind to continue feeding for subsequent batches. A good starter can last for years this way.

After the first batch, you'll probably find that have enough starter to feed for a day or two more and make a second batch very soon - which you'll probably enjoy doing, as it gives you more chance to experiment with your process. If you cannot eat it all and don't want to take up the freezer space with a few extra initial loaves, gift it to friends and neighbors.

To make Sourdough Bread Dough:

Ideally, dough should be made about one hour after the starter is fed.

In a Clean Plastic shoe box or other very large, sturdy container with a lid (at least 6 quarts) , combine:
3 Cups Starter, what you prepared above
1 Cup Warm Water
1 Tablespoon Salt
5 Cups Flour

Stir well 'til no white patches of flour can be seen. It shouldn’t look like a kneaded dough –it’s not –it should look a bit wet for bread dough, and choppy in texture – more like a good, very thick brownie batter, or biscuit dough - bordering on play dough for thick texture. It should be hard to stir.

Sourdough that has been stirred, but has not started rising


Cover with lid – allow to stand in a warm place for 5 or so hours, til risen significantly you (perhaps double – perhaps just close to that). Dough will get significantly softer and fluffier during this time. Temperatures and altitude, etc – affect rising time. Don’t freak out if my times are different from yours.

Dough after rising about 5 hours - if you touch it, it feels soft, and the volume is about double.

At this point, if it’s still early in the day, you can shape it on a pan for baking.

If not, put it in the fridge overnight, to continue the next day, if that’s easier for you. Sometimes that works with my schedule better. 

If you do refrigerate it,  before let it warm up to about room temperature before shaping loaves - about 1/2 hour to 1 hour.

To Shape Loaves and Bake:

Flour top of dough, to reduce stickyness, and shape Four loaves – I make a Boule shape – and place them on a flat, parchment lined pan. To shape loaves, cut a Cross shape in the top of your dough with your hand, to divide it into four equal portions. 


Cut Dough in 1/4 in the Shape of a Cross with the Side of your Hand



Lift Out 1/4 of Dough to Shape Loaf

Gently get your hand under each portion and lift it out, trying to preserve all the bubbles inside, and not crush them (you will unintentionally crush some- just don't crush any on purpose). Then, smooth the top of the loaf, turning as you go - for what is known as "Gluten Cloaking" See Short Video Demonstration here (this is for whole wheat, but the shaping process is the same)..

Shaping Loaves

I try to make my loaves a little on the tall and narrow side, since sourdough boules spread sideways a little while rising.

I bake four loaves at a time on a large, parchment covered, perforated pizza pan - or two loaves on each of two parchment covered cookie pans (dark pans help crisp the bottom, if you prefer that). 

Preheat oven before baking.

Allow to rise about ½ hour more (if they start going flat and wide – they are passing the point of readiness – BAKE THEM NOW!) But, normally, let them rise ½ hour to an hour – then slash them diagonally with a serrated knife. 

Dough Shaped and Rising on Parchment Covered Pizza Pan

Splash them with a little water for a crispy crust (you can spray, brush, or splash the water on - your choice). 

Loaves Slashed with a Serrated Knife, and Splashed with Water


Bake for 30 to 35 Minutes, at 450 degrees Fahrenheit, 'til golden or deep brown.

Remove from oven, cool as long as you can bear, slice, eat.


The Obligatory "Crumb Picture" - Sourdough Bread Sliced & Ready to Eat

To Store:

We don't usually eat four loaves at a sitting, so once it is completely cool, I slice the extra, and put it in Zippered Freezer bags. I put a paper towel in each bag to prevent condensation inside and sogginess or freezer burn. 

It freezes VERY well, and I can thaw just a few slices in the microwave when desired.

To Maintain and Continue Using Starter:

You have two choices:

Constant Use - Counter method:
Leave it out on the counter, covered with mesh, and continue feeding twice every day, and bake again in a few days when you have enough. Each time you use 3 cups, and leave 1/2 cup, start feeding that 1/2 cup until you have enough to bake again. After the original 7 day process to create a starter, I feed mine twice a day, morning and evening to keep it strong and healthy. 

To Feed - add 1/2 cup Flour, 1/2 cup Water, Stir well, re-cover.


Occasional Use - Refrigerator Method:
Put a lid on the container, and put it in the fridge 'til a few days before your next desired baking – then start feeding it again til you have enough plus a little. When you pull it out of the fridge, remove the lid and cover with a mesh of some sort (keep out bugs, let in air) and continue feeding twice every day, and bake again in a few days when you have enough. Each time you use 3 cups, and leave 1/2 cup, start feeding that 1/2 cup until you have enough to bake again. After the original 7 day process to create a starter, I feed mine twice a day, morning and evening to keep it strong and healthy.  

To Feed - add 1/2 cup Flour, 1/2 cup Water, Stir well, re-cover.

Note: For a long time, I was a slave to feeding the starter every day. Then a friend told me she just covers & refrigerates her when she’s not using it for a while, then takes it out & feeds it for a few days when she wants to make a batch. Works great. I just left my starter in the fridge all summer (our summers here are quite long and hot, and I try to avoid baking in the oven in the summer. Then I took it out and fed it in the fall, and it worked GREAT! 

There is a TINY possibility of pressure building up and bursting a container of starter - so I don't use glass. This is highly unlikely with a liquid starter like this one - but I err on the side of caution.

 *If refrigerating, Do NOT continue feeding it until you get enough plus a little and put it in the fridge then – only put it in the fridge in its pre-fed condition/quantity. It needs a few days to wake up : )


Moving to a fresh container for your starter now and then can be helpful. I do this each time I put starter in the fridge, at least.

Using boiled water at room temp or bottled water can be helpful (chlorine in some tap waters can harm starter)

If a dark liquid rises to the top of starter – stir it in – it’s okay as long as it smells yeasty. Actually, that’s even good.

If it turns a funky color (pink/orange/green) discard and re-start – it’s been contaminated.

Be aware that salt affects more than just the flavor of bread - it also interacts with the other ingredients chemically. This means that changing the salt measurement may have results you don't intend, and should be done with care. 

Starter improves and develops with age – at least allegedly. You might find out that the longer you make it, the more delightfully complex the flavor becomes. Mine is a few years old now : )

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Monday, October 24, 2022

No Knead, Easy Cinnamon Twists

Cinnamon Twists, Easy, No Knead & Vegan
These Cinnamon Twists are both delicious and pretty - and they're quick and easy to make. They're
great for a special breakfast, snack, or holiday meal.

They're also vegan and very low in fat for those on special diets, or observing the Orthodox fasting seasons.

But, people who are NOT on special diets won't think they're eating diet food!

They start with an easy, no knead dough. If you can make brownies from a box, you can make this bread! This is a dough that can be made a day or two ahead, so that when you want to bake it it, all you have to do is shape and bake.

Then, when you're ready to enjoy your Cinnamon Twists, simply roll out the dough, top, fold, cut, twist, and bake. 

Here's how you make the dough:

Easy, No Knead, Vegan Soft & Fluffy Dough **** (Scroll Down for Smaller Batch)
This recipe makes about 4 pounds of dough
Measure into a 6 quart container*, in this order
3 Cups Warm Water (baby bath water temperature. If in doubt, make it too cool rather than too warm)
5 1/4 Cups Unbleached, All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Tapioca Starch (you can substitute more flour, if you cannot find tapioca starch)
1 Cup Potato Flakes (yes, that's right, the stuff people use to make Instant Mashed Potatoes)
1/2 Cup Sugar (or your favorite sweetener that measures like sugar)
1 Tablespoon Yeast
1 Tablespoon Salt
Stir well with a spoon till no patches of dry Flour remain.

The dough should look like this right after you stir it.

Cover loosely with lid (don't fasten so securely that it cannot "breathe")
Leave it on the counter for 2 to 5 hours.
Now, put it in the fridge till you're ready to use it - or use it right away

The dough should look like this after it has sat out on the counter for 2 to 5 hours.

Note - do not "Punch Down" this kind of dough. 

When you're ready to bake the bread, remove it from the refrigerator and dust it VERY WELL with Flour. This is a moist, sticky dough, so don't be afraid to use lots of Flour!

Line your pan(s) with parchment paper, or oil them.

Take one pound of dough (1/4 of the large batch or 1/2 of the small batch) 

(NOTE: if you want larger twists, this exact method can be used with a 2# ball of dough - half a large batch. I've made them both ways, and both sizes turn out very well)

First, Flour the work surface


I simply "cut" the dough in fourths with the side of my hand,

and gently lift out one portion

I gently shape the dough into a smooth ball (watch here for more details Gluten Cloaking)

 And roll out in a rectangle that is approximately 11"x15". I prefer to use a perfectly cylindrical empty olive jar for a rolling pin. If you prefer a rolling pin, that's fine, too!

If the dough is too springy to roll out, let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes

Flip it over and flour it now and then, so it doesn't stick to surfaces

The target size matches my glass cutting board

I simply roll the dough to the same size as my glass cutting board that I roll it out on. While I'm rolling it out, I flip it over and dust it with flour any time I suspect its getting sticky.

Spread the Dough with Apple Sauce and sprinkle VERY generously with a mixture of Cinnamon & Sugar ***** (I use 1 Part Cinnamon to 4 Parts Sugar - you can use artificial sweetener for part of the sugar if you like). I have also tried both Buttery Spread instead of Apple Sauce - that works too, if you prefer, but I like to avoid the excess oil.

 Fold the dough in half, cut in strips, and twist to shape, like so:

I use about 1/4 c applesauce - half a little lunch container

Drop the applesauce on the dough

Spread it out like Pizza Sauce - but all the way to the edges

Sprinkle VERY generously with Cinnamon-Sugar -till it looks dry on top. If your family likes nuts, raisins, or chocolate chips - now is the time to add those things, too!

After topping, fold dough in half - just like it was a piece of paper!

Cut dough in strips approx 1" wide - a pizza cutter makes this job easy

Pick up each strip, and twist it. Stretch it out a little as you twist, to make it the length you want.

Place the twists on a parchment paper lined pan to rise and bake

Don't worry if each twist doesn't look perfect! I find that beginning bakers are often intimidated by a desire to shape items perfectly. When diners are presented with an entire tray of baked goods, they seldom critique the shapes, they just enjoy them : )

Leave to rise for 10 to 60 minutes. If you're in a hurry, you can bake them as soon as the oven preheats and get a quite tasty Twist! But if you wait a little longer, you'll be rewarded with a little more fluffy goodness : )

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake in the middle of the oven, without steam for 35-40 minutes. I've also baked these at 400, and removed them when golden brown - about 22 to 30 minutes. It's nice to be able to choose your temperature, according to what else is baking that day.

Upon removing from the oven, you may brush with a buttery spread and sprinkle with additional cinnamon sugar, if you desire.

Easy Cinnamon Twist


Enjoy! They probably won't last long . . . .

Easy, No Knead, Vegan Cinnamon Twists

But they freeze well in a zippered freezer bag, if you'd like to keep them on hand for breakfasts. I add a paper towel to the freezer bag when freezing, to prevent condensation/sogginess.

Here's the same recipe for a 1/2 batch of dough, if you to make a smaller quantity:

Small Batch Easy, No Knead Vegan Crescent Rolls
 (Makes about 18 rolls)
Follow above directions, but use these amounts
I prepare a batch this size in an 8 Cup Container - the one in the above pictures.
Be sure to add in this order:

1 1/2 Cups Warm Water
2 1/2 Cups + 2 Tablespoons Unbleached, All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Tapioca Starch (you can substitute Cornstarch, if you like)
1/2 Cup Potato Flakes
1/4 Cup Sugar *****
1/2 Tablespoon Yeast
1/2 Tablespoon Salt

Stir well, then follow above directions - the same as for a large batch.

* For my 6 Quart Container, I use a new plastic shoe box from the Dollar Store.
** This dough CAN be used the day it is made - but it is a tad easier to shape after it is refrigerated. It is lightest and fluffiest when used within a day or two of when you make it, but I have used it several days later  - a week or more - and still had very good results.
*** If you bake two large pans of rolls at the same time, put one loaf on the middle rack, and one on the bottom rack. Then, set a timer to switch their positions half-way through baking, so that they brown evenly both on the top and on the bottom.
***** I have tested this recipe with a Sucralose Measures-like-Sugar (Splenda or Apriva) and it works well. So if you watch your sugars, feel free to substitute. It works best if you mix it 1/2 & 1/2 with real sugar (provides a better texture) but if you need to use 100% artificial sweetener for health reasons, it can be done with pretty good results.


This is being shared on:

You're the Star

Encouraging Hearts & Homes 

 Tuesdays with a Twist

Making a Home 

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