Perfect Pairing:Ice Cream and Summer by Marilyn Ostermiller

Want a good reason to indulge in ice cream? Here it is: Today, August 19 is Soft Ice Cream Day.  1 Vanilla

Soft and hard ice cream are made with the same ingredients, but soft ice cream has less milk fat and more air, making it more delicate and smoother.

Ice cream magnate Tom Carvel discovered soft ice cream by accident. Carvel was driving his ice cream truck on Memorial Day weekend in 1934, when a flat tire stranded him by the side of a road. He knew his product — and profits —were melting, so as vacationers drove by, he sold them the softened ice cream. They loved it.

Within two years, in the midst of the Great Depression, he had patented a super low-temperature ice cream machine, created a secret formula ice cream and opened an ice cream store on the site where his truck broke down.

Ice cream was especially popular during the Depression. Money was tight, but ice cream cones cost only a nickel.  Then, as now, vanilla, strawberry and chocolate were popular ice cream flavors.

About that time, a candy maker, Joseph Edy, and ice cream maker, William Dreyer, collaborated to add marshmallow bits and walnuts to chocolate ice cream, and named it Rocky Road, a reference to the difficult times.

Also in the 1930s in Sicily, rum-soaked raisins were added to gelato to create another enduring flavor, Rum Raisin. Gelato is similar to soft ice cream, in that it has less milk fat than traditional ice cream.     gelato

Making ice cream is a time-honored family tradition.These books offer instruction and and ideas:

The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book: Old-Fashioned All-American Treats for Your Ice Cream Maker, by food writer Robin Donovan. Published by RockRidge Press.

The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book: Old-Fashioned All-American Treats for Your Ice Cream Maker

The Perfect Scoop, Revised and Updated: 200 Recipes for Ice Creams, Sorbets, Gelatos, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments by David Leibovitz. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House.  

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts by Jeni Britton Bauer. Published by Artisan, a division of Workman Publishing     

America’s Favorite Ice Cream Flavors

    • Vanilla
    • Chocolate
    • Cookies N’ Cream
    • Mint Chocolate Chip
    • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
    • Buttered Pecan
    • Cookie Dough
    • Strawberry
    • Moose Tracks
    • Neapolitan

What is your favorite flavor?

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Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who delights in cooking, baking and trying unusual flavors of ice cream.

Slimy Summer Fun!

What Kid doesn’t enjoy a fresh pile of slime to play in?  On days when it feels too hot to play out in sand or make mud pies, you can still give your kids a tactile experience by making your own SLIME.  There are plenty of recipes out there.  Here are two that will help you create colorful slime for indoor fun.  One glows in the dark and has glitter.

Happy Sliming!

The first one is borax, glue and chemical free:

http://www.redtedart.com/easy-slime-recipes/   No Borax Easy Slime Recipes - LOVE Slime? Have NO glue? NO Borax? NO Chemicals...??!! Check out these AMAZING play safe (and often "taste" safe) Slime Recipes for Kids. Explore, discover and have LOTS of sensory fun!!! The best sensory slime play activities for preschoolers and beyond. #Safeslime #noborax #slime #noglue #slimerecipeshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcTzNAzHyY0  Glitter-glow-in-the-dark slime recipe

Summer Solstice + National Smoothie Day.

June 21, 2021 (June 20 in the US) is the first official day of the summer solstice. The longest day of light is a welcome event worldwide and there are many festivals to celebrate the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and the beginning of winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

Night view of arches of huge rough-hewn vertical rocks with rocks lying across them. Crowd in foreground.

One of the most famous festivals occurs at Stonehenge, England. Ancient cultures worshiped the sun and this monument is a testament to their recognition of the cycles of the earth.

To learn more about Summer Solstice and the celebrations surrounding it visit:

https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/everything-you-need-to-know-june-solstice/

sunJune 21, 2021 is also National Smoothie Day!

While you are enjoying the summer sun why not treat your family to a homemade smoothie? There are so many delicious ways to blend fruits and veggies into a refreshing concoction.  You can use your favorite milk, yogurt, fruit juice, berries, bananas, nut butters, greens…the ingredients and combinations are endless.

Here is one of my favorites:

In a blender mix: a splash of orange juice, two scoops of plain yogurt. frozen berries, one half of a banana. Blend until smooth. 

Drink and enjoy!Let the kids come up with their own recipes. It’s hard to make a mistake if you use ingredients you already like.

What’s your favorite recipe?

HAPPY SUMMER!

smoothie

Memorial Day Activities

Since Memorial Day Weekend is the official start of summer, that usually means more time outdoors and lots of outdoor eating. If you’re going to a picnic this weekend, here are a few simple games, activities and food ideas to help win the day.                      patriotic-dove

MAKE PATRIOTIC NECKLACES using red, white, and blue straws cut into one inch sections. String them onto a piece of yarn and everyone looks ready for a parade or backyard barbeque.

Try frozen STRAWBERRY POPS to cool off after a fun day in the sun. Wash and remove the stems from a quart of strawberries. Toss them in a blender and add a splash of orange or grape juice.  Puree until smooth. Pour into small paper cups. Place a popsicle stick in each one and freeze until firm. Peel away the paper and they’re ready to eat.

At the next family reunion, have the kids dress up in red, white, and blue and have a backyard parade. You can decorate wagons and bikes, and play some peppy marching band music to add to the festivities. Adults can join in and everyone can “perform” by doing whatever they’re good at: acrobatics, card tricks, puppet show, singing, dancing, telling corny jokes.  Getting everyone – young and old – involved adds to the fun.

While you are celebrating, remember those brave and selfless men and women in uniform who gave their lives  to keep our country free.

Happy Memorial Day.

Easter Treats Recall Ancient Myths by Marilyn Ostermiller.

From chocolate bunnies to colored eggs, traditional Easter treats can be traced back to the 13th century.

The Easter Bunny tradition is thought to stem from the German myth of Osterhas, a rabbit said to have laid colored eggs in early spring. In anticipation of his arrival, children made nests for him, according to history.com

easter-1289267-1280

Decorated eggs date back to pagan festivities in the 13th century that also celebrated spring’s arrival. Easter is a Christian holy day marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s traditionally celebrated the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring.

Recipes for festive Easter sweets abound. Easter egg bread, which involves baking dyed Easter eggs into braided loaves of sweet bread, are attention-getters.  A word of caution, guests can eat the dyed eggs if the loaves are kept refrigerated from the time they are taken out of the oven, until they are served. Otherwise, display your Easter egg bread proudly, but   treat the eggs like you would any nonedible decoration.

thumbnail_IMG_1129Chick and Egg Cupcakes are showstopper on the Easter dinner dessert cart. The recipe is available online on the Food Network app in the App Store. 

Contemporary Easter egg hunts combine the traditions of searching for the eggs left by the Easter bunny with the practice of decorating eggs.

How to produce an Easter egg hunt:

Ask your invited guests to RSVP.

Find a backup location in case of inclement weather, especially if the hunt is for real eggs. Sniffing out an elusive rotten egg weeks later is no fun.

          If you ask invitees to bring their own basket, offer a reward for the most original basket. Designate someone to anonymously judge the baskets before the egg hunt. Reward the winner. Maybe with a five second head start for the egg hunt.

           If you do provide baskets, pails, gift bags or another festive container  remember to keep the size relative to the number of eggs your hunters are likely to find. Basket is a relative term. Gift bags and pails work as well.

          Include about a dozen eggs for each participant.  Artificial grass to line the baskets is a nice touch.

          Hide the eggs strategically based on the ages of the hunters. If the age range is wide, offer two hunts.        egg in tree

DSC_2006-20160406-Easter Egg

          Some hunts rely on hard boiled eggs. Plastic eggs filled with candy, small plastic toys, or money are popular too.

          Prizes are optional.

thumbnail_img_1886Marilyn Ostermiller is a longtime journalist who enjoys tracing the history of traditional holiday foods.

Culinary Traditions Flavor Three Upcoming Festivities: by Marilyn Ostermiller

The week before New Year’s Day features three celebrations, punctuated by feasting, that embrace religious and cultural heritages.

Hanukkah, one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays, begins Dec.10 and ends December 18.

—  Christians celebrate Christmas Dec. 24 and 25.

Kwanza, a cultural unity celebration for African-Americans, follows on Dec. 26 through January 1 2021.

Hanukkah, an eight-day celebration, commemorates the victory of a small group of Jewish rebels, known as the Maccabees, over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. Modern celebrations of Hanukkah focus on family and friends, and include the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah, one candle for each night, according to reformjudaism.org

According to the legend of the Miracle of the Light, when the Maccabees entered the Temple, they found a single jar of oil, which was sufficient for only one day. The messenger who was sent to secure additional oil took eight days to complete his mission, and miraculously, the single jar of oil continued to burn until his return. The rabbis of the Talmud attributed the eight days of Hanukkah to the miracle of this single jar of oil.

Foods prepared in oil, such as potato pancakes. are traditionally served during Hanukkah.  Latkes, crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, are often served with applesauce and sour cream. Recipes and a helpful video is available from popular cooking and lifestyle blogger ToriAvey.com at https://toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/potato-latkes/

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Christians celebrate Christmas to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian-American Christmas Eve tradition that grew out of the practice of not eating meat on Christmas Eve. A typical menu includes clams casino, fried calamari, seafood salad, oysters shooters and pasta with clam sauce. according to www.thespruceeats.com/la-vigilia-napoletana-feast-of-seven-fishes-2019493

A newly published book,  Feast of the Seven Fishes: A Brooklyn-Italian’s Recipes Celebrating Food and Family, by Daniel Paterna, features recipes and memories handed down through three generations.        

African-Americans celebrate Kwanzaa from December 26 to January 1. Dr. Maulana Karenga, a black nationalist who became a college professor, introduced the festival in 1966 to the United States as a ritual to welcome the first harvests to the home and counter the deadly Watts riots in Los Angeles the previous year. The seven principles of the custom include unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. On New Year’s Eve, participants celebrate with a banquet. Main dishes include African creole, Cajun catfish, jerk chicken, or Groundnut stew from West Africa, which features warm spices, sweet potatoes and peanuts. For a recipe, visit https://www.strongertogether.coop/recipes/african-groundnut-stew

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who delights in cooking, baking and sharing recipes.     Marilyn Ostermiller

STEM/STEAM Students Can Rock Their World With Some At-Home Experiments:by Marilyn Ostermiller

Everyone feels like blowing off steam sometimes.

          No time like the present. November 8 is National STEM/STEAM day, the day designated to celebrate all things related to science, technology, engineering, art and math. The idea is to interest kids in exploring these disciplines because of growing demand for those skills. Government studies indicate the number of STEM jobs in America from 2001 to 2010 tripled the rate of growth in non-STEM jobs. https://nationaltoday.com/stem-steam-day/

Back to blowing off steam: One sure way is to make a paper mache volcano that erupts. The ingredients for this one, suitable for kindergarten through second grade, are common to most households:

  • cardboard
  • newspaper
  • paper cup
  • acrylic paint
  • liquid dishwashing detergent
  • red food coloring
  • baking soda
  • white distilled vinegar

Plan on two days to complete; one to make the volcano and a second to make it erupt.

 

Detailed instructions are available at https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/paper-mache-volcano-1253091

volcano school project

Education has its own rewards, but this scientific experiment that demonstrates how sugar crystals are formed, also results in sweet sticks of rock candy. Start with granulated sugar and water. Food coloring and flavoring are optional. Supplies include glass jars, wood skewers and clothes pins. Patience is required. Plan to put the crystals somewhere they won’t be disturbed for up to a week.

This Spruce Eats video provides step-by-step instructions.

https://www.thespruceeats.com/rock-candy-521016

Sugar crystal rock candy on skewers in bright red and purple

By the way, blowing off steam has two meanings. The original dates back to the 1800s when it referred to easing the pressure in a steam engine. These days it refers to relieving pent up feelings by loud talk or vigorous activity.

Here are some recent PB’s that celebrate STEM and STEAM topics and people:

makers 2

sophie cover - 3x4 - 100dpiMarilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalism who spends much of her time writing for children and experimenting in the kitchen, often with mixed results.

Marilyn Ostermiller

Photo credit: Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels

Author Robin Newman Brings on Fall with a Case of Bad Apples.

Fall is one of my favorite seasons—it’s back to school; crisp air and brisk walks in Central Park; and if you’re a fan of apples, as I am, it’s apple picking and baking season!

So, it’s no surprise that my character Porcini Pig is also a big fan of apples.

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In my latest book in the Wilcox & Griswold Mystery Series, THE CASE OF THE BAD APPLES, Porcini finds what appears to be a gift basket of apples. Naturally, he pigs out. He is a pig after all. But strangely, he becomes sick as a dog. Fortunately for him an anonymous squealer calls in a SWINE-1-1, and the MFI (Missing Food Investigators) are investigating what looks like a Code 22 (attempted hamslaughter). Who poisoned Porcini and why? Could one bad apple have poisoned the bunch? One bad765 apple indeed.

One especially sweet treat about my latest book is Mollie Katzen’s APPLE-TAS-TIC recipe for apple pockets.

recipe

 

steps

DE-LI-CIOUS!

My family and I devoured these apple pockets for breakfast and afternoon snack with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

apple pockets

And while you’re snacking on your yummy apple pockets, please be sure to check out the adorable book trailer for THE CASE OF THE BAD APPLES!

 

Enjoy and bon appétit!

robin bio

Making Sense of Change In Complicated Times by Marilyn Ostermiller

In a flash, everything changed. Our cars became doctors’ examining rooms and graduation processions. Virtual became the norm for every interaction from business conferences to birthday parties, after the Covid-19 virus invaded the planet.

            Hidden away from family, colleagues and friends, we’ve been forced to rethink how we interact with our world. Count on the five senses to handle the heavy lifting. Each sense signals the brain to help us perceive and understand the world around us.

            For those who see this as an opportunity to rethink the basics, here are some simple pleasures that involve each of the senses.

Taste: Savor the sweet life. Select at least three varieties of fresh fruit at the farmer’s market. Clean and prep. Dish up at least a cup of plain Greek yogurt, stir in honey to taste. Layer the fruit with the sweetened yogurt in a glass dish and feast on fruit compote. 

compote

Hearing: Listen up. If it’s music that soothes, turn up the volume on your favorite play list. If nature calls, take a walk in the woods, alongside a rustling brook. (Here’s an audio of a stream)

 https://dl-mail.aolmail.com/ws/download/mailboxes/@.id==VjN-D0_4JSzZJ_XtQFmq4CbJWC1BsEPqBZT1GZMO9ahPwvWwDatd8Lptv3N76nHhJPeM5WpbS6gDksqeBa5UqpKFdQ/messages/@.id==AIaCl2lrVxVVXxmNdQEFuIKFyI4/content/parts/@.id==1/raw?appid=aolwebmail&ymreqid=f68b1e5d-5bce-bdbe-3024-2e000c015800&token=zitEzqOML3j84e6ealFTT5U7-km5qEQF52lp7AcCuBbpUwx47ixU77PfMwZQ85UIQCYij3H7B6NO3kqNq-ZtvrANq13wum2_c3vqceEk94zlaltLqAOSyp4FrlSqkoV1

Sight: Get comfy in a cozy nook and reread a favorite book or dig into your “to read” pile. After you’ve read the last page, loan it to a friend, write an online review, spread the word.

Touch: Reach out and touch someone whom you don’t need to be socially distant from. If you’re a solitary person, find a pet to play with. Stroke the velvety blooms of roses, peonies or lilies.

touching bird

Smell: Consider aroma therapy, the use of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils in massage or baths. Splash a couple of drops of lavender oil in your bath. Apply a drop of vanilla extract on a finger and touch it to a cool light bulb. When the light is lit, the fragrance emerges.

Resources:

Among the many available resources for ideas and explanations of how to tap into the five senses, these are a few that are available online:

The Heart of Aromatherapy: An Easy-to-Use Guide for Essential Oils, by Andrea Butje. From cardamom to yuzu, this book explores each oil’s aroma, uses and safety tips.

A Natural History of the Senses, by Diane Ackerman, explores the five senses and how we have historically and culturally used them.

A Natural History of the Senses

The Five Senses, by Tinaz Denizmen, is an interactive poem to teach children about each of their five senses, suitable for two to six year olds.

Marilyn Ostermiller

Marilyn Ostermiller is a professional journalist, who enjoys writing about food and children’s literature.

Once You Get a hold of Yeast…Make Fool-Proof Soft Pretzels.

I’ve made these soft pretzels with developmentally delayed Pre-K classes for years and have never had an instance when they didn’t turn out well.  The only prep needed are clean hands, a sheet of waxed paper for each student, and an oven. ( I used a toaster oven in the classroom and they turned out great.)

SOFT PRETZELS: 1 pk. yeast,  4 C. flour ( I use 1 C. whole wheat, 3 C. regular),  1 1/2 C. warm water,  1 T. sugar,   1 T. salt,   1 egg beaten for glaze,  poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt, Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.

1. Mix yeast, water, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

2. Stir in flour. Knead until smooth. Here comes the fun part. Give each child a glob of dough to roll and shape into the first letter of his/her name.  This will ensure that each child gets his own pretzel when it comes out of the oven.  Once they are shaped and placed on a cookie sheet, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with the seasoning of your choice.

3. Bake at 425 degrees for 15- 18 minutes, or until lightly browned. They may look crazy, but they will taste great. Guaranteed! The texture is like a bagel and it’s hard to eat just one.

Enjoy, and let me know how it goes. I’d love to see the results.