May 2011 - Posts
cooking celebrity Cynthia Lair shared this whole grain, vegan recipe with us;
so we took it to our test kitchen.
Ten year old Kid 1 and thirteen year old Kid 2 weighed in on the
Mom: Was it easy to make?
Kid 1: Yeah.
Mom: Did you do everything yourself?
Kid 1: Uh huh. Except
for getting it out of the pot and into the pan. That's a two-person job.
Mom: Anything else people should know when making this recipe?
Kid 1: They don't have to worry about buttering the pan. You were afraid it would stick, but the
recipe doesn't say to butter the pan and you don't need to ‘cuz it doesn't
Mom: The kind we made when I was little-the pan needed
butter. Actually margarine.
Kid 2: You used MARGARINE??? Gross.
Mom: Everybody used margarine. People thought butter was bad for
Kid 2: But butter is sooooo good!
Mom: Everything in moderation. How does it taste?
& 2: GOOD!!!!
Kid 2: It's just like the regular kind only better.
Kid 1: But it's chocolate-y.
Don't eat it if you don't like chocolate.
Mom: You could probably make it without the chocolate-we can try
that next time. These are really
Kid 2: Not too sweet.
Mom: Too sweet for me.
I need more milk....
Kid 2: That's because you're a grown-up. If you're a kid they're just right. Can I have another? My piece was really small...
There you have it.
The other adult in the house also thought these were on the sweet side
but that didn't stop all of us from enjoying them. And we have no idea if they keep for a week because ours
were gone after four days.
Chocolate Brown Rice Crispy Treats
brown rice syrup
2 Tbs. creamy almond butter
dry natural brown rice cereal*
semi-sweet chocolate, chopped fine or 2/3 cup chocolate chips
a measuring cup to measure the brown rice syrup.
syrup and nut butter in a 4-quart pot and bring up to medium heat. Stir until bubbles form. Turn off heat and stir in vanilla
extract. Add cereal and chocolate
and mix well with a spatula allowing the chocolate to melt and spread
a 9-by-13 inch pan with slightly wet hands. Don't be tentative; really compress the mixture until it is
flat and smooth on top.
set to room temperature. Slice and
serve. Lasts a week in an airtight
time: 5-8 minutes
Makes 24 squares
*Be sure to
get brown rice crispy cereal, not puffed rice or even partially puffed
rice. Puffed rice gets soggy; it
won't produce the crispy texture.
Spring is here and there's a lot
of yard work to be done. But the
children are only able to help for a short while. They need something else to do while you are
finishing up your list of tasks.
Children, especially boys, love
to dig. Give them a small plot of ground
in the yard or garden, some trowels and a shovel (child-sized one works
best). They will be busy for hours. If the digging spot is in the sun, you can
construct a simple awning over it or make sure the children wear their sun
Like treasure hunters, they will
delight in unearthing rocks, roots, wriggly worms and maybe even an iridescent
black beetle. On warm days, the offer of
a full watering can will, no doubt, inspire the sculpting of streambeds and
dams. Unlike sand, dirt will hold its
shape and allow for more permanent geographical features.
A metal cake pan will make a good
pond on which to float leaf or bark boats.
The landscape will grow, shrink
and evolve with the fancy of the earth sculptors. Parents might even have to stop their work
now and again to admire the latest work of art.
For a child, the act of putting a
tiny seed in the soil, watering it and waiting, and finally watching the green
shoot poke itself up into the light is a wondrous experience. Without a word of explanation, the child
apprehends an essential aspect of the mystery of life on earth.
More lessons emerge as the plants
grow and mature. Caring for plants gives
children a sense of time, weather, and seasons that are tangible and not at all
abstract. At the stage of the harvest,
ripe fruits and vegetable are picked and eaten (often even before they get into
the kitchen) bringing the whole experience full circle to
a tasty culmination.
Even if you do not have a large
yard you can still grow a few things in pots on your deck or at the front of a
flowerbed. Lettuce, strawberries, basil, and cherry tomatoes do well in pots.
Many herbs are hardy perennials and look nice interspersed with flowers. Mint and lemon balm make wonderful iced teas
on warm summer days.
No matter what you grow, do not
underestimate the importance of this experience in your child's education. Growing food forms the basis for a not yet
conscious appreciation of humanity's relation to nature and the archetypal work
of farmers past and present.
This charming custom combines the
excitement of "Ding-Dong Ditch" with the warm glow of anonymous
philanthropy. On the first of May, a
small basket of flowers
is hung on a neighbor's doorknob. The doorbell is rung and then the giver
scurries off to hide. When the door is
opened, the neighbor is greeted only by a basket of flowers and hopefully some
May baskets are a simple project
for children, requiring only scissors, paper, staples or glue, and a few
flowers. Even dandelions (which grow
abundantly in our
yard) will give a very satisfying effect.
Start by making the basket. A simple basket can be made from a single
sheet of paper. Old calendars are ideal
for this project because their glossy, colorful
pages make sturdy, beautiful
Cut a long, narrow strip from one
side of the paper. This will be the
handle of your basket. Roll the
remaining paper into a cone. Secure with
staples (or glue or tape), attach your handle and you are done!
Perfect cone shapes can be achieved by
starting with a perfect quarter circle of paper but we try not to bother since
we are constantly fighting perfectionism in our household.
Add flowers to your basket (wrap
the stems in damp newspaper and plastic if you think your neighbors might not
get their gift right away), then run out to make your deliveries.
Even if the flowers have wilted
by the time your neighbors find them, a May basket will always delight. It's a reminder that summer is coming and that thoughtful neighbors are thinking of them.
For the past few years around
Mother's Day, our school has offered a mother-daughter tea party as a school
fundraiser. One family provides their
spectacular B&B as a venue; a few families scrounge up enough tea pots and
china to serve 45, while others make tea sandwiches, tiny cupcakes, cookies,
The first year, I attended the
party with my daughters and it was delightful. What could be better than fancy
finger food in a fancy setting?
Surprisingly, there was something better-working the event. The next year, we baked scones, cut crusts
off bread, garnished sandwiches, set tables, served tea, moved chairs, and
It was a lot of work, but also a
lot of fun. And with three other
mother-daughter teams working alongside, I got to see my eight and eleven year
olds rise to the occasion. I could not
have been more proud. What better
Mother's Day present is there than seeing your children at their best?
Because more than flowers and
cards - even more than breakfast in bed and spa certificates - what this mother
really wants is affirmation that I'm doing a good job. I want a sign that my children will grow up
to be the kind of people I hope they will be.
That vision of the future will
vary from family to family and changes as your children grow. But take some time to imagine it, and make
sure your children know what's important to you. Then give them the opportunity to shine.
Working the tea party has become
a tradition for our family. Whenever my
children seemed spoiled and entitled and lazy and selfish, I can think back on
the last tea party when they were courteous, competent, thoughtful and
So although I treasure the cards
and appreciate the flowers - and yes those spa certificates are lovely - what I
really want for Mother's Day is the chance to work the tea party with my girls
Grey pussey willows
For fairy pillows
So soft for a fairy's
Cherry petals sweet
For a cool clean
Green moss for a
There are fairies living in the
hidden recesses of the garden. All children
seem to know that. Just because we have
gotten too big and noisy to see them doesn't mean they are gone. May is the perfect month to get acquainted
with fairies. What better way than to build them a little house from the
treasures of the season! The children
will find just the right tree, with deliciously secret recesses at the roots,
to start building. A pretty tray for gathering
moss and magnolia petals, snail shells and bits of bark, adds a dainty touch. Let dandelions and daisy chains, buttercups
and broom festoon the rooms, with perhaps a glittering polished-glass jewel
hidden deep inside as a gift for the king and queen. Magic is afoot in spring and many happy hours
will be spent in the glory of nature with the good company of the little
It is the month of
When merry children
So every lad and lass
Come dance upon the
So sang the the children as blossoms were wound round the tall pole that
would soon be set up in the middle of the village green for the day of dancing
and festivities on the first of May. In
agrarian communities the end of winter was celebrated with joy and relief. New lambs, kids and calves showed promise of
bounty in the future. As the fickle wind
and weather of March and April gave way to the gentle breezes and blossoms of
May and the first new foods began to vary the winter table, people crawled out
of hibernation, put on their finery and met to make merry and raise their
voices in song.
The celebration of first day of
May, called Mayfair or Beltane, is a tradition with deep roots in the soil of
pre-Christian Europe. Unlike the more
solemn holidays of early spring, May Day was a time for rejoicing and looking
forward to the happy summer days to come.
The festival has its origin in pagan times as a rite to insure an
abundant harvest in autumn at Samhain, half a year away. This mood of magic regeneration is still
present in more recent traditions. Girls
would wake before dawn to wash their faces in the first dew of the happy day
insuring that they would be forever beautiful and young. Boys and girls alike would don their best and
brightest and come to town hoping to catch the eye of the one they fancied, and
many a match was made on the first of May.
A young May King and Queen were often chosen to preside over the
As the day proceeded, ivy was
knotted into crowns and dancers would bow and bend to their partners like
swaying branches. The May Tree or May
Pole, a dead winter branch sprung to new life with swathes of greenery and
flowers, would be hoisted into the air amid shouts of triumph. Weaving the ribbons together the dancers
reweave the bonds of community and renew their ties, one to the other. If King Winter was lurking anywhere near the
celebrants would be ready, Morris dance sticks in hand, to give him a good
drubbing and chase him out of town!
Do you have a plan to celebrate this joyous
time of renewal? You could join a
Maypole dance or just have a picnic with your family to welcome back the singing
birds, the sweet breezes and the Merry Month of May!