Let Them Cook

I really enjoy cooking – most of the time…  I enjoy cooking when it isn’t necessary, or rushed.  So I guess that is very limiting, and why I always dread dinnertime preparation.

But, I especially love the fact that my kids love to help cook.  All of my kids love to cook.  I suppose there is something awesome about starting with parts and creating something whole.  And then of course the fact that they get to eat their (typically sweet) creation is always a plus too.

This morning I found this brilliant idea today over at HomeBasedMom.  This idea is mom genius.  Homebasedmom’s bread recipe for kids is started in a Ziploc bag.  Sure there will be some spillage, but for the most part all of the ingredients, stirring and kneading take place inside the bag.  And to give her girls even more ownership, this mom wrote the ingredients on the paper lining the table so that they were easy to read – brilliant.

So today we are going to make bread!

It’s A Family Tradition

Just in case you have not noticed…  Thanksgiving is next week!  Are you ready?

Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays.  Christmas is awesome as well for some of the very same reasons, but Thanksgiving is special.  Thanksgiving is an opportunity to spend time with your family, celebrate your friends and loved ones, and most importantly be thankful for everything you have – without presents.

We are a very consumer driven, materialistic society.  I often find myself overwhelmed by this need for stuff at this time of year.  I am especially overwhelmed by the tendency to over schedule in an attempt to “celebrate”.  This is very ironic to me considering most people, if asked, will say their most important priority is spending time with family, friends and loved ones, which shouldn’t require much scheduling (unless you live far away) and definitely does not require gifts.

But then I think back to my own childhood.  In the midst of the holiday rush I have some very distinct memories of Thanksgiving holidays.  I have very fond memories of activities my family did together year after year.   On Thanksgiving morning we always watched the Macy’s Day Parade.  It is kind of funny though, because as a child the parade was not necessarily my favorite event, it was just the best thing on television prior to football.  But now as an adult the parade brings to me joyful memories of sitting in my grandfather’s huge Lazy-Boy recliner watching the parade as the adults prepared food in the kitchen.

And then I have some memorable moments, that fortunately only happened once, like the year my grandfather had excuse himself from Thanksgiving Dinner in order to bail my cousin out of jail for driving too fast through the little, one stoplight, South Georgia town where he lived.  And while this sounds awful, it wasn’t nearly as bad in my mind as the time I accidentally bit into a big fat slimy oyster hidden inside of the cornbread dressing.

And now that I have my own family we have created some traditions of our own.  We like to use our time together the weekend after Thanksgiving to drive up the mountain to search for and cut down our Christmas tree.  We also make little cookies the kids call Pilgrim Hats, which are something we HAVE to make.  I put them off one year and didn’t get it done before Thanksgiving.  Guess what we were making the first weekend in December…

So in all, I suppose every little detail really is important.  You really never know exactly what your next family tradition will be and what it is that your children will value as they grow older.  But it sure would help if we could figure it out so that we could skip some of the other stuff that needlessly fills up our calendars.

 

 

Back To Nature

We doubled the fun this weekend – camping and a birthday party!  MC turned four.  And for the second year in a row she chose to have a campout birthday party.  This is definitely up there with one of my favorite birthday parties we have hosted. Our family loves to camp and explore the outdoors, so to add a birthday party just makes it all the more exciting. Even if you are not campers, or have not really tried it yet, if you have children, especially between the ages 3-12, I highly suggest you camp at least once.  Give it a try!  Perhaps begin with a cabin if you lack supplies or are a little apprehensive.  But definitely get out there and camp.  There is something amazing about the freedom to get dirty and explore the outdoors.  It is such a great thing to see a child’s excitement and appreciation of nature. This little guy was discovered before the Commander and I even finished unloading.

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Here are some ideas in case you need a little motivation, or might just like a good list.  Check out our Camping Checklist.  These are the standard items we always bring with us when we camp.  Like I said, we really like to camp,  but we also have 3 Scouts in the family who camp ALOT.  So this list has been tested, many times.

Another thing we have found to be very helpful when camping is to keep a “Camping Gear” box.  We use a large Rubbermaid type container.  Instead of gathering all of the campfire cooking supplies like s’more sticks, spatulas, iron skillet, foil, etc. every time we camp, we keep it all in these Camping Gear containers.  This really eliminates some of the hassle when packing to camp.  Instead of searching for each individual item we can open the box, take a quick inventory and pack it in the car.  (An inventory list taped to the inside of the lid is always a good idea too.)

Other items like sleeping pads, flashlights, first aid supplies and such could always be kept in another large container.  This will make packing for your next camping trip so much easier.

We usually keep it pretty simple and stick to hot dogs or sausages for dinner when camping.  Although we have been known to get really crazy and bring things like steak.  Vegetables like asparagus or corn on the cob wrapped in foil are easy to transport and always cook well over a campfire.

Very important: Don”t forget the S’mores!

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And try a little of my favorites for breakfast – Campfire Omelette.  These are a big hit with everyone because you each get to make your own adding your favorite omelette toppings.

Campfire Omelette

  • Eggs
  • Quart size Ziploc bags
  • Large pot to boil water
  • Chopped toppings of your choice – cheese, onions, peppers, mushrooms, salsa, whatever you like

Boil a large pot of water.  Crack 2-3 eggs in the Ziploc bag.  Add the toppings of your choice.  As you seal the bag squeeze out all of the air.  Use your hands to squish the bag to scramble the eggs.  Recheck to make sure bag is sealed tight.  Drop in boiling water.  Cook about 12 minutes until egg is done.  Be sure not to let the plastic bag touch the hot sides of the pot.  This will melt the bag allowing water to get in your egg.

And if you would like more inspiration check out these great posts with campfire ideas:

25 Delicious Camping Recipes

More Camp Fire Dinners

Enjoy!

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A little something for the birds

This is a very simple project the kids and I worked on one rainy afternoon.  It is a perfect project for all ages.  My older ones were very proud to be in charge of measuring the ingredients while the younger ones really enjoyed helping mix and stir.  I am not sure what it is about the rolling pin, but everybody really enjoyed that part.

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Birdseed Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 3 T. corn syrup
  • 4 c. birdseed

From the kitchen:

  • sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper
  • rolling pin (helpful but optional)
  • another piece of parchment or waxed paper for the top of the mixture
  • an assortment of cookie cutters (rounds, hearts and less intricate designs work best)
  • jute or twine to hang the cookies for the birds

Directions:

  • Combine flour, water and corn syrup in a bowl and whisk it all together until it is well combined.
  • Add the birdseed.
  • Stir until all the seed is coated and sticky. The mixture will be loose and gooey.
  • Dump the mixture onto the lined sheet pan.  Cover with the extra sheet of parchment.
  • Using a rolling pan or your hands, firmly compress the mixture to about 1/2″ thickness.
  • Once you are satisfied with the depth and density, press the cookie cutters into the “dough” and leave them in.
  • Leave the dough to dry for several hours.  We left ours overnight.
  • When the cookies are hard and dry, gently break away the seeds from the outside of the cookie cutters and gently remove the cookies from the cookie cutters.
  • Use string, jute, twine or yarn to wrap the cookie.  Be sure to leave a long enough strand to tie from a branch.
  • Watch the birds enjoy their cookies!