A Lesson From the Pros

It was free and it was local; this had to mean it was a good thing, right? Well, as it turns out, it was a good thing and we enjoyed every minute!

Our local Williams-Sonoma is currently offering free cooking classes for kids. It seems they started this at the end of 2013, but I am a little behind on the times. So, a few weeks ago, I took a few minutes out of our day to sign us up for the month of May. One month of trial-and-error couldn’t hurt, could it?

Each cooking class is held on a Saturday morning and there are two session times available. We chose to take the later session, as the idea of getting up early on the weekends just doesn’t appeal to any of us.

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We showed up to our first class bright and early, by about a half an hour, just to get our bearings and to ensure a good spot. This gave us a few minutes to peruse the store and spend a few moments talking with the instructor.

Our first class was on fudge! It lasted about a half an hour and all of the kids present were able to participate on some level. The batch the kids made were supposed to be for their mothers, but our instructor also made sure to have a sample ready for all of the kiddos to test out.

So far, the kids are really enjoying this class. My girls tend to be the oldest in the bunch, but that’s okay; we were here for the lessons more than the socialization. Next week, we are going to learn how to make waffles from scratch (well, my kids are going to review this) and to make various toppings which complement our creations. This will also be the best time to sign up for all of June’s classes as well. If we don’t sign up early, we won’t get a spot!

If you happen to have a Williams-Sonoma near you, I highly recommend signing up for a class or two. Besides the fun opportunities to explore in the kitchen, we parents get 10% off anything we decide to buy while our kids are learning. (I’m sure this is part of their Cooking Class #1marketing strategy, but, hey, it works for me!)

While I don’t plan to make this a weekly practice, I did find a steal this week… Star Wars pancake molds (three of them) for only $7. (Remember my impulse buy strategy? This was under $20!) I am currently debating whether or not I want to save up for a few of their gorgeous bundt pans; the Stained Glass one is particularly spectacular. I just wonder how often I would actually use them. Would they be worth the price?

Time to chime in… Have you ever taken a cooking class through a local store; what was your experience like? Also, do you have any specialized bundt pans; how often do you use them?

Easter Fun: Resurrection Rolls

CG_Easter_logoJoin us this week, as we explore memorable and edifying ways to celebrate Easter. We encourage you to take some of the ideas you find and make them your own. Feel free to share your thoughts on each of these projects and join in the fun!

……

As much as possible, I like to get my kids in the kitchen and put them to work. They enjoy this fun time as much as mommy likes getting the help; plus, this counts as part of their important learning, too!

Each year, during Easter week, we try to take an afternoon to make Resurrection Rolls! They are sweet, easier than pie, and help remind us of the resurrection story.

Resurrection Rolls

Large Marshmallows
Melted Butter
Cinnamon & Sugar Mixture
Crescent Rolls
Cookie Sheets

We rolled our marshmallows in melted butter, then in our cinnamon mixture, wrapped them in a crescent roll, and popped them into our oven set to 350 degrees for about eight minutes. When they came out, no marshmallow was to be seen.

the-resurrection copy

The purpose of the Resurrection Rolls is to recreate the burial experience most likely to have occurred with Jesus’ body. He would have been anointed with oils and spices, wrapped in linen, and then placed in a tomb. Three days later (or eight minutes by our oven timer) Jesus’ body was no longer to be found; He had risen from the dead!

The kids have more fun making these rolls than eating them it seems. That doesn’t stop me however; the insight gained is more important than the snacking.

What is your favorite resurrection week recipe?

Keepers #9 (2013-2014)

Our last Keepers meeting knocked me for a loop. We discovered one of our girls was being put on a stricter diet, thus eliminating a few key ingredients for this month’s activities.  Eeeek! I needed to make a few quick adjustments in order to help accommodate our girls and help everyone feel comfortable.

While the task was a little more challenging than I anticipated (who knew eating gluten-free/lactose free could be so involved?), I am proud to say we were able to find exactly what we needed. Hooray!

(Mommies who choose or need to be on a more strict diet, you have my utmost respect.)

For the month of February we wanted to focus on sweets. It is the month for Valentines, is it not? What better than a few goodies to help us celebrate. Sugar is always fun, but we also wanted to expose the girls to a few healthy alternatives which are just as tasty!

Keepers #9 (1-8)

Going over some of the finer details of the recipe, before getting to the fun.

Keepers #9 (2-8)

Gathering our ingredients and learning to measure properly.

Keepers #9 (3-8)

Starting our no-bake, energy bites. Yummy!

Keepers #9 (4-8)

Digging right in and making a fun mess!

Keepers #9 (5-8)

Look, mom; messy hands!

Keepers #9 (6-8)

Look at those hands! Hers are the cleanest in the bunch, having licked them fully! (Too cute!)

Keepers #9 (7-8)

All of our ingredients were gluten/lactose/peanut free. No easy feat!

Keepers #9 (8-8)

We ended a little early, so we ran outside to play. When asked why the girls thought we ended so quickly, they loudly replied, “IT WAS FOOD!”

THIS recipe proved to be a huge success! Not only did the girls have fun, but it was incredibly delicious. We had a great time getting our hands dirty and learning a new recipe.

For those who are concerned about allergies, feel free to substitute any of the ingredients with healthier options. I used hazelnut butter, in place of peanut butter; gluten-free oatmeal; and gluten-free flax-seed in our recipe. Goodness all around!

The girls had so much fun, we ended quite a bit early. They decided they wanted to head outside for a little fresh air and exercise, so we did!

Another successful Keepers meeting under our belts! Only seven more to go before the year is over. If you would, please keep this group in prayer. I think the Lord is going to bring about some major changes in this department during the coming year. As always, we wish to align ourselves with His will and bring Him glory. Thanks!

Do you have a favorite energy bite recipe? (There so many out there!)

Keepers #8 (2013-2014)

Well, we are back in action. I confess, I was very nervous the night before. Did I have everything; was I ready; were the girls going to show? As usual, I needn’t have worried about a thing; God had it all under control.

To start off the second half of the year, we wanted to review healthy eating. After the holidays, it can be very hard to put a halt to our sugar intake and refuel our bodies with things more healthy to digest. This was the perfect time to go over the food pyramid, proper portioning, and learn a few new recipes.

Keepers #8 (1-5)

Eating fruit salad, sweetened with honey and freshly squeezed blood oranges.

Keepers #8 (2-5)

Making our own ranch dressing with buttermilk.

Keepers #8 (3-5)

The girls were anxious to mix their own dressing….

Keepers #8 (4-5)

…and give it a try! Eating our salad was yummy.

Keepers #8 (5-5)

Adding buttermilk to our dressing.

Our recipe for salad dressing came from THIS awesome website. I made the ‘bulk’ spice mixture at home and prepped our salad, but in group the girls made their own dressing. We used condiment bottles easily found at any Wal-Mart or Target to shake up and serve our dressing; this made things nice and easy on the girls. They were free to take their bottles home so they could use them in the future on other cooking projects or to recreate the dressing on their own time.

After exploring the world of homemade dressing, we spent a little time talking about fruit salad and enjoying a sample. We talked about the importance of not using sugars in the fruit, but instead supplementing with local honey and freshly squeezed oranges. We also spent a little time talking about the benefits of vitamin C, not only bodily, but in the presentation of the fruit itself (it keeps apples from browning).

Interestingly, after all that food, we still had snack! This brought up an interesting dilemma. It appears one of our girls switched over to a gluten-free/lactose free diet unbeknownst to us! I didn’t know what to do. Luckily one of the little girls who provided snack brought oranges.

However, now I am going to have to come up with a game plan for future meetings. Perhaps I should bring a plate of gluten-free chocolate chip to each meeting, just in case? I don’t want all of our families to worry about this, so I think it should be on me. I suppose I could ask the little girl’s mom to bring a personal snack, but that doesn’t feel right. Hmmm… this might take some thought.

What is your favorite, healthy snack?

Last Minute Holiday Recipes

Holiday Blog HopSo, for those of us who tend to do things a little last minute or just want to change things up a bit this year… here are some last minute ideas to inspire you in the kitchen!

Waldorf Moms
Moogie Light
Waldorf Inspired Learning

These helpful ladies have come to our rescue with a few great recipes to tempt our tummies. If you do give one of their recipes a try, make sure to drop them a note and thank them for their inspiration!

Merry Christmas and happy cooking!

You Can’t Catch Me, I’m the Gingerbread Man

Holiday Blog HopBack again with another, fun installment of Holiday Blog Hop!

One of my fondest childhood memories of the holidays was visiting “Santa’s Village” up in the mountains of Crestline, California. It was a very small ‘theme park’, open for the holidays. We used to ride the attractions and stop in for a holiday treat… gingerbread! Unfortunately, the park is no longer open. (Awwwww!) However, for a holiday treat, why not make our own? (Gingerbread, that is. I am NOT building a theme park. Too much time and not enough money.)

Today, Lil Footprints shares with us a tasty recipe for gingerbread! It seems I have all the ingredients. Anyone care to join us in giving this a taste test?

Week Five: Fall Co-op (2013-2014)

Another co-op morning, another day of craziness! (laughing) Why is it that on days when there are outside responsibilities and ministry events, the kids choose that morning to test my patience. Sheesh!

After a stern talking to, we were ready to be underway and plug through our lessons. An hour later, out the door we went and off to co-op it was. Thankfully, co-op went fairly well and we had lots of fun.

Fall Co-op (1/6)

Our kids were encouraged to find items to fill Thanksgiving baskets for their school spirit item this week. These items will be placed into baskets which will go out to needy families in our church who would otherwise not be having such a lovely holiday. I hope those families are blessed.

Fall Co-op (2/6)

Fall Co-op (3/6)

Making music with water and glass bottles!

Fall Co-op (4/6) Fall Co-op (5/6)

In my class, I taught the kids to make Dole Whip, my favorite treat when visiting Disneyland during the summer months. This is a very simple recipe; easy as pie:

Dole Whip

Ingredients:
2 (20oz) cans Dole pineapple, crushed
2 tbsp. Lime & Lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

Steps:

Drain pineapple; reserving 2 tbsp. juice. Set aside. Place pineapple, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar and reserved pineapple juice in blender or food processor; cover and blend until smooth.
Whip cream until thick and stiff; stir pineapple slush gently into whipped cream until slightly blended, in large bowl.
Pour mixture into an ice cream maker; press start. Serve once ready; enjoy!
(For those who may not own an ice cream maker, place mixture in a freezer safe bowl; place in freezer for about one hour.)

Fall Co-op (6/6)

One of our classes had the kids decorating these lovely salt dough ornaments. The one above was done by Mouse. She did a great job!

Well, another day done. We have one more week of co-op to go and we are finished. Hooray for an open schedule come the holidays!

Now… for some rest! Who knew having this much fun could be so tiring?

Another Recipe

“My mother listened sympathetically to my dreams of a career and then taught me another recipe.” – Gene Tierney, Laura

I don’t have a favorite anything. (Okay; I have a favorite guy, but that’s about it) However, if I had to pick a favorite movie it just might be Laura. It is a classic Noir film with some of the greatest actors of their day. One of my favorite lines from Laura really has nothing to do with the plot points, but I find it thought-provoking just the same.

Dana Andrews is standing in Gene Tierney’s kitchen, there under the guise of investigating a murder. He asks her to brew some coffee and he’ll make the breakfast (seeing as she is a career girl and he assumes she won’t know how to cook.) Gene Tierney (Laura) calmly replies that he can make the coffee and she’ll make breakfast.

It seems that while Laura always dreamed of being a powerful career woman, Laura’s mother had her own ideas of accomplishment.

Another RecipeThis one statement in the movie always seems to give me pause. There is a lot to be learned from this little scene.

What caught my ear right off the bat, was that her mother listened. Her mother didn’t ignore her, she didn’t prevent Laura from sharing her dreams, nor did she talk over her. When her mother listened, she didn’t attempt to talk Laura out of her goals and explain why they might be silly; she was sympathetic and caring.

Secondly, while her mother was sympathetic, she was also realistic. Hey, a girl’s got to eat!   It didn’t seem to matter where Laura envisioned herself years from childhood, mom always knew food was going to be important. (Smart woman.)

Why bother writing a post on this, you ask? Because I think there are life lessons for me to learn.

When my children come to me with their dreams of the future, how do I listen? Am I being sympathetic; am I even listening? When they talk, am I waiting for an opportunity to explain “reality” to them or am I truly giving them my attention?

While some of their goals might seem out of reach (and extremely far-fetched), they will learn those lessons on their own. Dreams are exactly that… dreams. When my children come to me with their hopes and desires, I would like to think I too would be sympathetic and open to listening. Knowing they can openly communicate further develops our relationship.

I also want to make sure that, while my children have these grand objectives, they are being taught the fundamentals of life. They might wish to be a major movie star or the next famous astronaut, but they still need to know how to pay their own bills and cook their own food.

One thing that ought to be noted about this scene in the movie, is that Dana Andrews’ character also knew the fundamentals! A man who can cook! Who knew? (laughing) While I firmly believe in gender roles, I think there are some skills both males and females benefit in knowing.

My daughters might be the primary chefs in their future homes, but it doesn’t hurt for my son to know a thing or two (or more). After all, who knows what a blessing that will be to his future wife? When I got married I knew nothing… my guy did all the work for the first year and then I learned from his mom when having our first-born.

I want my children to know the fundamentals no matter their gender. My girls will know how to pay their bills and manage a budget. The boy will know how to clean his room and cook some meals.

Every time I see this movie (and I see it a lot), it reminds of my own little family. I am encouraged to listen with a caring heart to my children’s dreams and to remain faithful in teaching fundamental skills. Who knows where the future will lead them and how those two little ideas will shape their lives?

Now… off to the kitchen to teach another recipe!

Destination: Denmark

Our virtual field trip this week was to the charming world of Denmark. Here we were reminded of all the fascinating aspects of history which surround this remarkable little country.

After viewing a little of Denmark’s natural landscape, the kids and I decided to refresh our knowledge of literature, with a side trip into the world of Hans Christian Anderson.

Little Mermaid CraftWe created a fun craft based on The Little Mermaid and talked about our favorite stories. (I wanted to make sure we especially covered the moral tones in each of his pieces and not the “Disneyfied” versions.)

Finally, it was off to the kitchen for some fun! Today’s cooking lesson was shortbread! Yummy! This is one of my husband’s personal favorites.

Shortbread

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. almond extract

Directions:

  • Cut sugar, butter, salt, and extract with a pastry blender (or two knives); pat into two nine-inch round cake pans. Prick the surface with a fork before baking to a golden brown at 325 degrees. Cut into serving slices while warm and dust with confectioners sugar. Shortbread

While the cookies were baking, we trekked out back to paint some trellis for our rose garden. We spent some time talking about the villages of Denmark and their architectural designs. We reminisced about our time in Solvang and the use of trellis and roses we saw.

After a hard day’s work, there is nothing quite like a warm slice of shortbread and some cold milk.

To finish off our “trip”, we made sure to take a snap-shot of our adventures and add a stamp to our passports. With our souvenirs safely stowed away, we packed our suitcases and headed out for some local fun.

Now, let’s see where next week will take us….

Off all Hans Christian Anderson’s works; which is your favorite?