Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Thanks!

June 28, 2010

After two years of blogging for Hot Mama, I’m stepping down as Creative Mama to pursue some other projects.  As all mamas know, there are only so many hours in a day, and I’m spread too thin at the moment.

I’ve really enjoyed blogging for shopmama.com.    Not only did my kids love all the projects we did for the site, I discovered that I love to write, proving that you can find new creative outlets for yourself any time in your life!

I’m going to continue writing about science project for kids, science news relevant to parents and food science at my kitchenpantryscientist blog, where you can find me from now on.

Thanks to you and Hot Mama for your support over the last few years!  Keep on helping your kids be creative!

Liz

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“Fresh” Ideas about Food

April 19, 2010

This weekend, we planted a garden.  Few things make me happier than watching my kids digging in the dirt, planting things.  Maybe it’s because I come from a long line of farmers, or maybe it’s the sun-warmed, homegrown tomato I can almost taste just by thinking about it.

One of the most interesting books I’ve read recently is Michael Pollan’s “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” which follows four meals from field to table (from McDonald’s to foraging for mushrooms and hunting a wild boar.)  It reminds the reader how disconnected we have become from the sources of our food.  One of my favorite parts of the book talks about Joel Saletin, who is a seminal figure in the sustainable agriculture movement and probably the most famous farmer in America.  His bio on the FRESH movie website says: 

“Joel calls himself a grass-farmer, for it is the grass that transforms the sun into energy that his animals can then feed on. By closely observing nature, Joel created a rotational grazing system that not only allows the land to heal but also allows the animals to behave the way the were meant to – as in expressing their “chicken-ness” or “pig-ness”, as Joel would say.”

Joel Saletin

Ana Joanes

 

This week, Joel is in town with Ana Joanes, who has made a documentary called “FRESH” that celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system.  This afternoon, I was lucky enough to meet both Ana and Joel while volunteering at one of Joel’s lectures and was impressed with their optimism and sense of humor.  Ana recently told planetgreen.discovery.com “I just had a little girl. Her name is Maayan. And, as clichéd as it may sound, I just want to do right by her. I don’t know what reality she’ll face when she reaches adulthood, but I’m trying my best so she doesn’t have to pick up the pieces of our recklessness and inaction.”

 I’m looking forward to seeing FRESH this week in Minneapolis, where it will be shown Tues., Wed. and Thursday nights, with Ana in attendance for a Q and A following the screening.  I hear the movie is just 70 minutes long, but you will want to talk about it for two hours afterwards!  So,  if you’re in the Twin Cities, grab your girlfriends or your book club and go see it!  You can order tickets here

Supporting local, sustainable agriculture is a grass-roots movement toward healthier food and a better environment for our kids.  Who better to get it going than moms like us,who want to see a better future for our kids?  After all, we do most of the grocery shopping, so we have the power!  Get inspired to buy local and organic when you can and, by all means, plant a garden with your kids!

Kid-friendly Whole Wheat

April 7, 2010

A friend recently served me amazing muffins made with whole wheat pastry flour and pureed zucchini.  It was Mark Bittman’s recipe from the New York Times Dining section, one of my favorite foodie reads.  His recipe lets you sneak in all kinds of fruits and vegetables, use less sugar and still have a delicious result.  The secret is in the flour.  Whole wheat pastry flour lets you make healthier baked goods that are lighter in texture than they would be if you used traditional whole wheat flour.  I found whole wheat pastry flour at Whole Foods.

This week, my four-year old and I had a blast making our own waffles and freezing the leftovers to heat in the toaster.  I snuck in some whole wheat pastry flour and golden ground flaxseed with delicious results.  Here’s the recipe we made up, which is a modification of Better Homes and Gardens “OH BOY” waffles:

Sift (or stir) together 1 and 3/4 cups unbleached white flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 1 Tbs. ground golden flaxseed, 4 tsp. baking powder, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1 and 1/2 Tbs. sugar.  Mix 2 beaten eggs, 2 and 1/4 cups milk, and 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil: add all at once to dry ingredients, beating only till moistened.  Bake in preheated waffle maker.  Make 10-12.

Kids love to cook and you can teach them how to make healthy food they’ll love!

Leaving the Bubble

March 17, 2010

We all tend to live in bubbles, and as moms, we get stuck circling our bubbles over and over again, between school and the grocery store and sports practice and church.  The more you stay in your bubble, the harder it gets to leave it.  But, if you get out and go to the city, or the farm, or a museum or nature center, you will realize how great it is for you and your kids to have a change of scenery.

If you live in the Twin Cities and you have kids, the Midtown Global Market (MCM) should be on your destination list.  Not only can you taste food from all over the world, there are shops with interesting wares from everywhere.  It reminds me of the Cost Plus that was in San Francisco in the 70s, and how I’d spend hours wandering through the aisles, smelling cinnamon and incense, trying to decide whether to spend my dollar on a wooden elephant or a mood ring.

Every Wednesday, during the winter, the MCM  hosts “Wee Wednesday”, with activities for kids and special guests from 10-1.  Kids also eat free at most of the restaurants with the purchase of an adult meal and the food is AMAZING!  Next Wednesday is the last Wee Wed. of the year until next fall, and the Minnesota Zoo will be there with some animals.  Put it on your calendar!  I’ve done hands-on-science there a few times, we’ve heard great music and we met the Minnesota Twins mascot.  My four-year old loves going there and I alway leave with a bag of some of the best produce in town from The Produce Exchange and some bread and pastries from The Salty Tart.  Parking is easy in their new ramp across the street and is validated with any purchase.

Last night, Molly, of Tastebud Tart, hosted our Blog Pantry Event  at  MGM’s “A La Salsa” , where I met and reconnected with many local women bloggers over chips and margaritas.   One of the fabulous women I met is Kris Ann of LoveFeastTable.com, who will soon be blogging for shopmama.com!  I absolutely loved her and can’t wait to have her blogging here with me! 

Kris Anne and me (both wearing Hot Mama.)  To see more photos of the event, you can click here.

I’m going to try to leave “the bubble” more often this month.  The Russian Museum is next on my list, but today it’s beautiful outside, so I’m taking my four-year old out to rake the garden and see what’s popping up!

Imagination Fair

March 10, 2010

Our school’s Imagination Fair is one of my kids’ favorite events of the year.  I love it too.  One of the best things about this gathering is that it is not a competition.  I also love that there are no rules and guidelines.  My kids spend their days following rules and competing against others, whether it is in school or in sports.  For the Imagination Fair, kids simply create, demonstrate, or show off something that interests them and then have a great time walking around and checking out everyone else’s projects. 

Sugar cube castles towered over posters about magnets, jars full of home-grown crystals and Lego creations.  There were plastic sharks wired to foam board, a cardboard reproduction of the Olympics half-pipe and a poster about money of the world.  You could pet a bunny or “test your knowledge” to win a sucker.  My four-year old especially loved the circut table, where one boy had inventions that spun and beeped when you made electrical connections.

I’m thinking of putting an “Imagination Fair” together this summer, in my back yard, for the neighborhood kids.   What better way to let kids be kids?

Creating Health: Simple, Good and Local

February 27, 2010

 

                                Jon Radle shares his culinary secrets with Trish of OffCamerawithTrish.com

Earlier this week, I was lucky enough to attend Simple, Good, and Tasty‘s February local food event at Grand Cafe in Minneapolis with my friend Jennifer of Unplannedcooking.com. As we feasted on cassoulet prepared with locally raised duck from Au Bon Canard and house made sausage by Grand Cafe’s chef Jon Radle, I talked with one of my tablemates about the rooftop and community gardens she’s working hard to create.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  

As a mother, it is important to me to be aware of not only what my children are eating, but where our food comes from.  I try to buy food raised by people who take good care of the land and treat animals humanely.  If possible, I buy food that hasn’t had to travel from too far away, since transporting foods burns lots of fossil fuel, which pollutes the air we all breathe.  I also love supporting local farmers.  My friend Megan from Sprout.mn has started a green/organic/local online directory for the Twin Cities that is an amazing resource- go to http://sprout.mn to check it out! 

Last week, I also attended an event for bloggers at the Cub Foods store in Apple Valley, MN last week.  Most of the questions I asked had to do with where their food came from, how much of it was organic and how they handled their ground beef selection (see my Kitchen Pantry Scientist post to read more about ground beef fillers.)  I was happy to hear that they have a large organic food section and buy produce locally when they can.  They also gave me a delicious dark chocolate almond bar made by Cub Food’s own organic label, Wild Harvest.  

As women and mothers, we are the biggest consumers in the grocery store industry, among others, and this gives us the power to demand that healthy, local food is readily available.  The more local, healthy, organic food we buy, the cheaper it will become and the more farmers will grow it, which will be good for the environment, which will be good for our children…

We have the power.  Let’s use it to make the world a healthier place for everyone!

Shakermadoodle Fun

February 23, 2010

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I asked my daughter what she would call this project, and she instantly replied “a shakermadoodle.”  My three and six year old daughters had a terrific time making their shakermadoodles, which were inspired by an article I saw in a magazine.  (I think it was Parent and Child magazine.)  They are still adding trinkets to it as I type (singleton Polly Pocket shoes, broken Star Wars toys, and other tiny useless junk that they refuse to throw away.)

You will need a plastic bottle,  enough rice or popcorn to fill it, and any tiny non-precious objects your child can find to put in the bottle.  I saw this as an opportunity to clean out the junk drawer, but we also raided our craft bin for old buttons, ribbon and beads.  Small plastic animals, cars or dinosaurs would be great too, if they fit through the mouth of the bottle and your child doesn’t mind.  Small birthday party favors and beads from broken bracelets can finally find a new home!  

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We used a Gatorade bottle from our recycling bin since it had a nice, wide mouth, but you can use any plastic bottle.  Just make sure it’s dry, so the grain doesn’t mold!  Fill the bottle most of the way to the top with rice or popcorn.  Then have your child add the objects they have collected, close the bottle and shake it up.  When they are finished adding things, you can fill the bottle with more rice or popcorn, but don’t fill it to the top or the grain won’t be able to move around freely.  Seal it with duct tape. 

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Kids will remember the things they put in the bottle and have fun trying to locate them.  It’s a great toy to throw in the car for a fussy child emergency!  You could even add a few things that remind them of you, if you want to make it a toy to help with separation anxiety.

Creating Networks

February 19, 2010

Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to meet up with a group of women bloggers from the Twin Cities at The Blog Pantry’s networking event at Edina’s Ciao Bella.  Food bloggers Kate in the Kitchen, The Tastebud Tart, Cafe Cyan and Unplanned Cooking were there, alongside weight-loss blogger and inspiration Prior Fat Girl and diet and lifestyle consultant Mary Langfield.  From the style and fashion blogging world, we had BeautyBets and green-living guru Megan from Sprout.mn also joined us.  MomCulture told us about her lastest  interviews with hip artists and mom bloggers Luther Liz and The Recovering Procrastinator were there toting their cute little ones. Sairey of Irely (foxy no-line panties) was there, as was Little Bean Photo and Fox’s Trish Van Pilsum of Off Camera with Trish.   General Mills sent some great samples our way and we were set for a night of fun and networking. 

Just click on the names to check out the blogs and websites these amazing women have created.  Hopefully, you’ll be as inspired by these women and their strong, unique voices as I am!  (Maybe you’ll even decide to start a blog of your own.)

Creating Aid

January 20, 2010

In this day and age, it’s easy to lose hope and to feel helpless.  Last night I was reminded that a group of people who care, working together, can make a difference and maybe even save lives. 

A group of 39 MN bloggers and I met to pack meals for Feed My Starving Children.  We mixed together soybeans, chicken-flavored vitamins, vegetables and rice in small plastic bags to be sent to another country, possibly Haiti, to feed people desperate for the nutrients we take for granted.  Together, less than an hour, our group, along with three or four others, packed 13,824 meals:  enough food to feed 38 people for a year.  It is astonishing that so little effort can change, and possibly even save, so many lives.  To learn more about Feed My Starving Children and how you can help, visit their website.

Snow Painting

January 18, 2010

 

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 All you need is snow and watercolor paint.  We have plenty of  snow here in Minnesota, but if snow’s not available, you can use ice cubes.  Put a bunch of snow in a sink or a in a cake pan on the table.  Give your child a set of watercolor paints, a cup of water and let them paint the snow.  It’s a perfect January project and you will be amazed at how much fun they’ll have!