Heated Political Battle Led to Frosty Dessert: by Marilyn Ostermiller

Looking for a romantic treat for special someone? You might want to consider whipping up a Baked Alaska, the classic dessert that’s fiery hot on the outside with a melting heart and richly delicious all over.

In it’s traditional form, Baked Alaska is concocted with hard ice cream on a base of sponge cake and covered in a shell of toasted meringue. Plan ahead because the cake must be baked and cooled before topping it with layers of firmly frozen ice cream. Just before it’s time to serve dessert, whip several egg whites into a stiff meringue, spread it completely over the ice cream and cake and place it in a very hot oven for a couple of minutes, until the meringue begins to brown. The trick to making sure the ice cream doesn’t melt is to seal the cake and ice cream with the meringue. Here’s a recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/baked-alaska-recipe.html

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If the classic form is daunting, consider a small version made with brownies that children with some experience in the kitchen can help assemble. This version with easy-to-follow directions comes from Baking Bites, a food blog written by Nicole Weston, a pastry chef, food writer and recipe developer based in Los Angeles, CA http://bakingbites.com/2015/07/brownie-baked-alaska/

Baked Alaska Day is commemorated nationally in February.

According to the National Day Calendar organization, Baked Alaska was created by a celebrity Victorian chef, Charles Ranhofer. The Frenchman was the chef at the swanky Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City in the mid 1860s, where he became notorious for naming new and renaming old dishes after famous people and events.

In 1867, a political debate was raging over the potential purchase of Alaska from Russia. Secretary of State William Seward agreed to a purchase price of $7 million and Alaska became a United States territory. Those who were of the opinion the purchase was a giant mistake referred to the purchase as “Seward’s Folly”.

Capitalizing on the heated controversy surrounding the purchase in the frozen north, Ranhofer’s Baked Alaska fit the bill. It was cold, nearly frozen and quickly toasted in a hot oven prior to serving.

Who knew!?       Marilyn Ostermiller

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.

Anyone out there “daring” enough to try making your own BAKED ALASKA? If you do, send me the photo and I’ll post it here on the blog!

 

Festive Nuts Recipe + New Years Eve Traditions From Around the World.

If you need a last minute snack or treat to bring to a party, try this EASY recipe for FESTIVE NUTS. The kids can help, since it is mostly measuring and stirring.  The spices give the nuts a nice tang, and they are not too sweet.  You can adjust the sugar to suit your own tastes as well.  Try using all kinds of nuts – I used ALMONDS and WALNUTS.

Ingredients: 2015-12-21-01-32-13FOR 8 OZ. of NUTS:

1/3 C sugar, 1/2 t. each of the following: nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves.  Set aside.

IN a second bowl, combine an egg white and the nuts and stir until nuts are coated:   2015-12-21-01-36-34

 

Now toss the nuts with the sugar-spice mixture until coated.

Spread nuts on a baking sheet, separating them as much as possible.

2015-12-21-01-39-23 BAKE for 15 minutes.  Scrape up the nuts and break apart.  Return to the oven for 5 more minutes to dry them completely.

Let them cool to room temperature.  Serve with dried cherries, cranberries, or other dried fruit.

2015-12-21-01-59-04

 

While the nuts are baking – or while you’re EATING them, take a look at some of the ways people around the world celebrate NEW YEAR’S EVE..

http://www.redtedart.com/new-years-eve-traditions-around-world/

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL, and to quote a well-known Vulcan: MAY YOU LIVE LONG AND PROSPER!

Keeping Kids Busy During the Holidays.

With all the excitement and preparation that takes place BEFORE the holidays, our kids often seems to bounce around, get bored, or underfoot.  If you’ve exhausted the usual “let’s decorate or bake together” options, try some of the great activities found on the BuzzFeed website:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/karstenschmehl/parenthacks?bffbtasty&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Parents%20115&utm_content=Parents%20115+CID_c09d605cdb68bccd3579e75dd3333d69&utm_source=BuzzFeed%20Newsletters&utm_term=.pjeLxyXY7#.ftrXAdLmp

Here is also a quick and EDIBLE Gingerbread Play Dough option that kids will love.  This recipe comes from Hannah Holt at Lightbulb Books:

Gingerbread Playdough

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1 packet unsweetened orange […]

You may view the latest post at:  (It also includes a recipe for peppermint snow
http://www.lightbulbbooks.com/blog/2016/12/two-holiday-playdough-recipes-peppermint-snow-and-gingerbread/

Hannah Holt
hannah@lightbulbbooks.com
 

THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR.

As we approach another Thanksgiving, I am reminded that for all the uncertainty and turmoil throughout the world, I have blessings worth celebrating this Thanksgiving Season.  Love of family and friends. Food for my family, and the resources to provide food for those in need.  Good health, employment.  And those “free” things we always take for granted: sunshine, water, kindness, helping hands, laughter, love.

Here’s to counting our blessings this Thanksgiving…for me, they far outweigh the trouble.  Here’s a simple recipe for a breakfast or brunch treat that can be made ahead and frozen until ready to eat.  Let the kids help and be part of the celebration.

APPLESAUCE CARROT MUFFINS             applesauce-arrot-walnut-muffins

3/4 C sugar    1/4 C oil (I used coconut, but you can use whatever you choose).

2 C unsweetened applesauce            1 C shredded carrots         3 eggs.

Mix these ingredients together until blended.   Set aside.

Dry Ingredients: 

2 C flour ( I use a mix of oat flour, whole wheat and white).  2 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp each of nutmeg, cloves, ginger.   Ad this to the wet mixture and stir until blended.  Optional:  Add one C chopped walnuts and/or diced apple.

Pour into paper lined muffin pans.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Makes about 16 muffins.

While they’re baking, here is a link to some great books that teach kids how to be thankful.

http://www.readbrightly.com/books-that-show-kids-what-it-means-to-be-thankful/?ref=PRH0563577803&aid=randohouseinc13256-20&linkid=PRH0563577803&cdi=2AEB03AD52D94BE9E0534FD66B0A7FAD

May your blessings be many this holiday season! 

 

Halloween Treats and Fun Activities.

Looking for something to keep your little ones busy before or after Trick-or-Treating?  Check out these ideas from BRIGHTLY.  Plenty of activities and coloring pages for all ages.

http://www.readbrightly.com/halloween-printables-activities/?ref=PRH0563577803&aid=randohouseinc13256-20&linkid=PRH0563577803&cdi=2AEB03AD52D94BE9E0534FD66B0A7FAD

You can also make some yummy BITE SIZE HONEY POPCORN BALLS to keep or give away as treats.  Here’s the simple recipe.

  •  Bite Size Honey Popcorn Balls
  • 20 cups air-popped popcorn (from 2/3 to 1 cup kernels; see Notes) $
  • 1 1/4 cups butter, cut into chunks, plus more for your hands $
  • 1 1/4 cups honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract        temperature-popcorn-pop-120x120

Preparation

  1.  Preheat oven to 325°. Put popcorn in a large roasting pan. Line a large baking sheet with waxed paper.
  2.  In a medium saucepan over medium heat, use a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to stir together 1 1/4 cups butter, the honey, and salt until butter is melted. Increase heat and boil honey mixture gently 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in vanilla.
  3. Carefully pour honey mixture over popcorn in roasting pan and stir gently to coat. Bake popcorn, stirring every 5 minutes, until deep golden all over, about 25 minutes.
  4.  Let popcorn stand 5 minutes, or just until cool enough to handle. Working quickly with lightly buttered hands, press small handfuls of the mixture into 1 1/2-in. balls, occasionally loosening popcorn from bottom of pan with a spatula. If mixture cools too much to be malleable, return it to oven for about 45 seconds to soften.
  5.  Put popcorn balls on prepared baking sheet and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Note:  If you don’t have an air popper, you can pop the popcorn in the microwave: Working in 2 batches, put kernels in a brown paper bag (any size). Do not add oil. Fold the bag’s opening several times to seal, then microwave at full power in 1-minute increments, checking popcorn and removing popped kernels as you go (they burn easily). Be careful when opening bag; it will release steam.

 

World Smile Day + Baking For Cause.

Friday, October 7 is WORLD SMILE DAY.  You can celebrate the iconic symbol of happiness –  created by artist Harvey Ball – by encouraging acts of kindness.  Even the smallest act makes a difference.    smiley-163510_960_720

AND…You have until 10-31 to celebrate King Arthur Flour’s BAKE FOR GOOD month.  If you register on the sight and share your baked goodies with a friend or neighbor, one meal will be donated to FEEDING AMERICA.

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/bakeforgood

Shiela Fuller Gets Corn-Y.

CORN FOR ALL SEASONS:  by Shiela Fuller

Originally cultivated in Mexico, corn was transported back to European countries by early explorers.  It was a plant that had the ability to thrive in a variety of climates, turning corn into a versatile crop.

In the northeast, corn is planted in spring after the last frost for a mid-summer harvest, but corn, in its many forms is enjoyed year round.

img_9853SUMMER 

Purchase whole corn on the cob from local farm markets or roadside stands. Bring it home, boil the water while you husk the corn. Drop the whole cob in the rolling water for about 4 minutes.  Carefully remove, and smear with grass-fed butter.  The quicker the corn goes from field to pot, the sweeter it will taste as corn loses it sweetness over time.

There are so many fun corn recipes to try. Here are a few suggestions to google:

*Make homemade salsa.  So easy, especially with added peppers, onion, and tomatillo, all fresh from the farm market. Don’t forget the corn chips!

*Grate corn off the cob, saute, and add to pasta.

*Make creamed corn. I’m sure it’s better than canned.

*Grill corn in husks on a BBQ or open fire.

AUTUMN

By September, the farmers sometimes offer the entire corn stalk for sale.  Tie a bunch up with some twine and tie it securely to a post.  Add a pumpkin or some raked up leaves, and have an instant fall decoration.  You may also find a variety of multi colored, dried corn cobs, also called Indian corn, for hanging on a front door.   If there are young children at home, perhaps a craft making Indian corn with bubble wrap would appeal to them.   http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2008/11/lend-me-your-ear.html

Autumn days are sometimes spectacular and a good way to enjoy weather is at a local corn maze. 

http://www.cornmaze.com/Pages/Corn%20Maze%20Cornfield%20Maze.aspx   The older kids will love running around and “getting lost”.

WINTER

With everyone at school or work, winter is the time to think about comfort foods and what is more comforting than old-fashioned corn bread cooked in a cast iron skillet.   In Crescent Dragonwagon’s book, The Cornbread Gospels, there is a fabulous recipe, Sylvia’s Ozark Cornbread, so easy, Dragonwagon states, “…you could eat it daily.”    

Popped corn is fun no matter the season but have you ever popped it on a stove? As an after school snack, it’s easy and clean-up is quick.  Tastier than microwave versions and healthier, too, popping corn is different than the variety eaten off the cob but easily purchased at any grocery store.  http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/perfect_popcorn/

After the popping is complete add your favorite topping such as butter, salt, tamari or grated cheese. 

SPRING

Spring is a time for renewal. The farmers are thinking about preparing their land to support the summer corn plot.  The seeds planted may have been saved from the previous year crop or purchased from a supplier. Each kernel on a cob of corn has the potential to be a new corn plant.  

Home gardeners can plant corn, too.  Browse the seed catalogs and choose heritage or heirloom varieties that will resist pests and require less need for chemicals of any sort.  In the catalogs you will also find useful information on the specifications of growing corn. You also can save seeds and learn more about it at www.seedsavers.org

https://kidsongs.com/lyrics/the-muffin-man.html/      Perhaps renew a time from your own past and share this traditional English nursery rhyme with the young children in your life.  And if you’re interested to know more about the muffin man and how he came about, read the Wikipedia article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Muffin_Man

Dragonwagon, Crescent, and Andrea Wisnewski. The Cornbread Gospels. New York: Workman, 2007. Print.

Fun websites if kids are interested in learning more about corn:

http://kids.britannica.com/comptons/art-53137/At-the-top-of-a-mature-corn-plant-is-the

http://botany.about.com/od/PlantAnatomyAndMorphology/a/The-Anatomy-Of-Corn.htm

Johanna Staton, Me, Shiela Fuller at one of the NJSCBWI events.

Johanna Staton, Me, Shiela Fuller at one of the NJSCBWI events.