Posts Tagged ‘kids’

Ever heard of Aebleskivers?

June 19, 2010

Last week, the Blog Pantry, our Twin Cities women’s blogging group, met at Local D’Lish to make aebleskivers and collect donations for the Minneapolis Crisis Nursery.

Local D’Lish is a neighborhood grocery store featuring many, many local, organic, and sustainable foods, located at 208 N 1st Street in downtown Minneapolis.  Their local spring produce provided a feast for the eyes as well as the palette.  If you live in the Twin Cities, I’d definitely check it out!  They’ve even got an urban farming set up where they use fish in a tank to fertilize small indoor crops of greens.  Your kids will think it’s cool!

Aebleskivers are Danish spherical pancakes and they are a blast to make.  My mom made them when I was a kid, but I hadn’t had one in years.  You use a special pan to cook them and can put a sweet or savory treat in the middle as they brown.  We filled ours with bacon, apples, chocolate, herbs, strawberries-you name it, and dipped some in jam, honey or homemade caramel sauce when we ate them.  (They’re also great with butter and syrup.)  Yum!

Chad from Aunt Else’s Aebleskivers was there to demonstrate how to turn them with a stainless steel chopstick as they cooked and we had a contest to see who could make the best one!

Kids would have a great time making these (with proper supervision, of course.)  I think I’ll buy an aebleskiver pan for my parents’ cabin, where we have time for fun, leisurely breakfasts.

If you’re looking for a pan, or anything else you need to make these Dutch treats, go to Aunt Else’s Aebleskiver‘s website.  They’re a local company that makes organic aebleskiver mix, gluten-free aebleskiver mix & aebleskiver pans.  (Their pans are made at a small, local foundry.) They also make fresh aebleskiverseach Saturday at the Mill City Farmer’s Market, which is a great family destination!

My favorite food find at Local D’Lish was the garlic pepper jelly from Lucille’s Kitchen Garden.   They make delicious savory pepper jams that are friendly to the Minnesota palate and a new line of Little Lucy’s fruit spreads with amazing combinations like Strawberry-Vanilla & Raspberry-Lime.  You can find their preserves at  stores and their booth at the Mill City Farmer’s Market.

Do you have any favorite, fun foods you like to make with your kids?

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Nature Bracelets

June 11, 2010

IMG_2660Today is the last day of school and I’m looking forward to sleeping in and not having to make cold lunches every morning.  My kids are looking forward to running free.  They’re also looking forward to being allowed to have screen time on weekdays, which I don’t normally allow during the school year.  Being the TV referee gets old quickly.

Nature bracelets are a fun craft project for a beautiful summer day when you want to get your kids out of the house and into the fresh air.   They require no work at all, other than taking a walk and assembling your discoveries on your wrists to create wearable art.   It’s simple to do and perfect for all ages.  I even had fun making my own bracelet! 

All you need is duct tape and your walking shoes.  Cut the tape so it fits comfortably around your child’s wrist and tape it around like a bracelet, sticky side out.  Take a walk in a park or down your own street and have your child find small leaves, flowers and other natural artifacts to adorn their wristlet. 

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Almost everything we tried stuck to the tape pretty well.  We wore our bracelets all afternoon and several people mistook them for real jewelry.  My older daughter thought they looked even prettier as the leaves and flowers wilted and flattened out on the tape.  If your child wants to keep their bracelet, cut it off and leave it to dry.  (Eventually, they’ll forget about it and you can throw it away.)

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Get those kids outside!

Nature on the Periphery

June 2, 2010

My son insisted on bring his GPS to soccer last night to look for geocaches in the park.  I grudgingly agreed, thinking it would be easier for me to sit by the playground.

We followed him to the woods on the edge of the manicured fields where we discovered a world of damselflies and caterpillars hiding in the weeds.  He searched for the cache deeper in the trees while my four-year old pointed out beetles and found one “pink” damselfly among the hundreds of blue ones.

I love it when my kids lead me to places I never would have even thought to look.

My posts will be spotty over the next few weeks as we finish the school year and ease into summer.

Oily Experiment

May 3, 2010

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is devastating news to the already fragile and damaged ecosystems in the area.  To demonstrate how hard it is to remove oil from water, and what materials work best, I found this experiment online at tryscience.org and decided to have my kids try it.  It was messy and disgusting and oil got all over everything.  In other words, it was a great demonstration of how hard it will be to clean up the mess made by BP’s Deepwater Horizen oil rig, which exploded on April 20th.

Polyester scraps soak up oil.

 

You’ll need a clear bowl, water, yellow oil (vegetable, corn or canola will work,) cotton balls, cheese cloth, polyester cloth (the website said polypropylene, but I couldn’t find any,) feathers, and a spoon.

Help your child put some water in the bowl and pour in some oil.  I probably added a cup so it would cover the water.  Then, using spoons and the other materials, have them try to remove the oil from the water.  What works best? 

Oil is hard to clean off feathers.

 

We put our feathers in oil and then tried to clean them off using dish soap and water, which is how they clean off marine birds covered with oil following oil spills.

Polypropylene is a synthetic material made from Carbon and Hydrogen, the same elements in oil.  Oil is attracted to polypropylene, and both float on water, so polypropylene is often used in cleaning up oil spills.  You can also find it in gloves and sock liners. 

If one cup of oil is this hard to clean up, can you imagine the mess pouring into the Gulf of Mexico right now, at the rate of about 210,000 gallons a day (according to the New York Times?)  I’m attempting to find out if there’s any way to help, aside from travelling to the area to help clean off wildlife by hand.  As soon as I learn anything, I’ll post it here!  Here is a link to a map that is tracking the spill.

Crayon Stained “Glass”

April 24, 2010

 What do you get when you add old crayons to waxed paper? 

You get beautiful stained  “glass”, of course!

I remember making these windows  in Sunday school when I was little, and decided to see if the kids and I could recreate the project.  I have to admit that it took two attempts to get the results  I was hoping for.  Hopefully, you won’t have any trouble. Waxed paper (like Waxtex) works much better than parchment paper!

Your kids will love it!  The caveat is that it is a little messy, so be mentally prepared, or just do it outside. 

Supplies:

  • crayons
  • scissors
  • glue
  • waxed paper (not parchment paper)
  • aluminum foil
  • construction paper
  • iron
  • old dishtowel or thin rag (to protect your iron)

Cut the waxed paper into sheets about the same size as the construction paper (letter-sized).  You’ll need two pieces of waxed paper for each “window”.

Peel the paper off your old crayons and use the edge of your scissors to shave peelings off of the crayons into several small containers or piles.  I found that some crayons work better than others.  If a crayon is giving you trouble, kick it to the curb and try another one!  The big crayons work really well.  Older children will be able to do this themselves, but I just did it for my kids.

Have your child put a line of glue around the edge of one of the pieces of waxed paper.  Then, let them sprinkle crayon shavings onto the paper, inside the glue line.  When they’re finished, help them place the other piece of waxed paper on top so the crayon shavings are sealed inside.  From this point on, it becomes less messy.

Set your iron on low.  Put the waxed paper between two sheets of foil. (The crayon will leak through the paper.)  I ironed right on my kitchen counter with the foil, the “window”, more foil, and finally, a dishtowel on top.  The warm iron will melt the wax between the sheets of paper into pretty patterns.  Keep checking as you do it.  It may take a few trys!  If the crayon isn’t melting, just turn your iron up a little!

We made frames by putting two pieces of construction paper together, folding them in half, cutting a rectangle from the middle, and gluing our artwork into the resulting frame! 

Have fun cleaning up crayon shavings!

“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!

Fruit and Veggie Dyed Eggs

April 2, 2010

I’ve always wanted to try making natural egg dye, and when I saw the how-to article by Lee Svitak Dean in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, I decided to give it a go.  The dying part involves boiling, so is best done by a parent, but your child will have fun wrapping the dyed eggs in onion skins and rubbing them with colorful spices!  I cleaned out my freezer and found frostbitten blueberries and chopped spinach to use for two of my dyes.  A head of red cabbage and bottle of curry worked for the other two.  Boil colorful fruit, vegetables and spices with 4-8 cups water and a few Tbs. of white vinegar.  When the water is boiling, add raw eggs and boil for 10 minutes. 

The pigment in the fruits and veggies will be absorbed by the egg’s porous surface as they cook.  Let sit until cool.  You can chill them in the dye over night for more intense color.  Then, wrap the wet eggs in onion skins or rub with paprika for yellow.  We also smeared blueberries and sprinkled sea salt on our eggs.   Experiment with different dyes!

 We had the best luck with blueberries, curry and red cabbage.  Spinach didn’t work so well.  What worked best for you?  Don’t forget to eat your creations.  Hard-boiled eggs make a great snack!

A Very Hungry Caterpillar Project

March 29, 2010

Using construction paper, egg cartons, coffee filters, and your recycled “junk” bin or craft bin, your child can take a butterfly all the way from egg to wings.

We cut out leaves and glued puffy balls on as caterpillar eggs, but my daughter’s friend used a green feather as a leaf and your child could use anything they want as an egg (crumpled up aluminum foil?)  Next, the kids created caterpillars from egg cartons I helped them cut up.  They used tissue paper, pipe cleaners and googly eyes, but it would work just as well to use markers if you don’t have art supplies!  They taped paper into a cone to make a chrysalis and made butterflies from coffee filters and paper and corks.  I’m not giving specific directions because this project is all about imagination.

When they were finished, the kids tucked their butterflies into the cocoons, put the caterpillars in next to them, and pretended the butterflies were hatching out.  They thought it was pretty cool, but making them was the best part.  If you have the book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle, these would make great props so your child could act out the story as you read it! 

 

It’s also a great way to teach them about metamorphosis.   Have fun!

Magazine/Wrapping Paper Beads

March 21, 2010

 

Before the days of plastic, foamy, pre-cut, pre-designed craft projects, there were the 70s, when I was a kid.  We made paper-maché piñatas, twine macramé plant-holders and did lots of art projects using objects from nature or things that we had around the house. They weren’t always beautiful, but it was lots of fun making them.

I love the idea of recycling things into art, for both environmental and financial reasons. Who hasn’t walked into a craft store and spent a ridiculous amount of money on a bunch of things that will never break down in a landfill?

If you haven’t already, you should create a “junk box” for your child to fill with things that have potential to become great art projects. Find a container that you already have around the house and you and your child can fill it with colorful magazines, old buttons and crayons, corks, bottle caps, ribbons, Popsicle sticks, wrapping paper and cloth scraps, cardboard jewelry boxes or pretty bottles-anything that you or your child see potential in. Try to see the possibilities in the things you normally throw away.

One childhood project that I remember, and re-created with my kids (4, 7 and 9years old), is making magazine beads. My older children loved it and my four year old had a great time just squeezing glue onto the newspaper we were working on.  All you’ll need are scissors, cardboard (optional), magazines, glue and pencils, straws or wooden skewers.

First, cut out a cardboard template in the shape of a long triangle about one inch wide at the bottom and about 8 to 11 inches long. Use the template to trace triangles on colorful magazine pages or old wrapping paper. Have your child cut the triangles out, or help them do it.  (You can also just guess and free-hand the triangles, which is what I did.) Use a glue stick to put glue on the back of the triangle, but try to leave the bottom inch or so of the wide base of the triangle glue-free. Then, have your child wrap the paper tightly, starting with the base, around some sort of stick (we used pens, straws, pencils and wooden skewers with the sharp ends broken off.) You may have to glue the tip of the triangle down when you’re done. Finally, just slide the “bead” off of the stick and you are done!

 

Older children will do fine with skewers, but younger ones may be more successful with pens or pencils. Your child can use the beads to make garlands, necklaces, bracelets, or ever glue them tightly side-by-side to an old picture frame to make it new!

Just remember, it’s the process that’s important, not perfection. Remind your child that imperfect things much more interesting than perfect ones!

New spring projects on the way soon!  Keep posted!