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!

 

Happy Chinese New Year: Easy Dragon Craft

The Chinese New Year will be celebrated on Saturday 1-28-2017.  It is the YEAR OF THE ROOSTER.  Why not have your kids join in the festivities by making their own CHINESE DRAGON PUPPETS.

Here is all you need (with scissors, tacky glue and some bag clips to hold pieces in place):

2016-01-16-19-52-20I used thin foam pieces for the head and tail, and card stock for the head fin and middle section.  You can also use craft paper for the whole thing, or felt and ribbons or yarn for the mid-section.  Pipe cleaners are another option for the mid section or stems. Let your imagination go for creative designs.

Using the pattern pieces below, cut the number of pieces indicated and set aside.

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If you’re using paper for the midsection, fold it accordion style as shown here:

2016-01-16-21-09-48Make it as long as you like…it actually looks best when the middle is long and twisting.

Assemble the head by inserting the fin between the two pieces.  Glue in place.   Insert the sticks (I used wooden skewers) between the head pieces and tail pieces.  Insert the ends of the midsection into these pieces as shown.  Glue in place and clip to hold together until it dries.

2016-01-16-21-26-15        2016-01-16-21-26-27Add a googlie eye or draw facial features with a Sharpie marker.  Don’t forget to put features on both sides!

 

Hold the sticks at both ends to make the Dragon move.

Here’s another version of a dragon puppet:  http://www.redtedart.com/chinese-new-year-craft-dragon-puppet-free-printable/

For more activities and easy crafts to celebrate the Year of the Rooster visit:

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/chinesenewyear/

Happy New Year!

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Keeping Winter Bugs at Bay.

Now that the holiday season is over, many of us tend to hibernate or stay close to home during the coldest months of winter.  So do the germs that cause colds and flu.  With a few simple steps, you can protect yourself against these infections.

Contrary to popular belief, YOU CANNOT CATCH A COLD OR FLU FROM BEING OUTDOORS IN THE COLD WEATHER.  While you may get chilled or overheated, it is GERMS that cause these conditions.  Because we spend more time indoors in winter, so do the bugs that plague us.  Here are ways to AVOID a bad cold:

  1. Wash your hands frequently with SOAP AND WATER.  Soap and water is just as effective as anti-bacteria cleaners.  And, you don’t run the risk of creating super-bugs from overuse of antibiotics.   How long should you wash?  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends at least 20 seconds of hand washing – the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
  2. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  3. Wipe down remotes, phones, laptops, mouses, doorknobs, and anything else sick people at home may touch.
  4. Avoid sharing cups and glasses with those who are sick and be sure to properly wash these items after use.
  5. Cough and sneeze into your elbow, rather than your hand.  Avoid shaking hands with those who are sick as well.
  6. Stay home if you are not feeling well.  Work will always be there, but if you get run down, you could compromise your immunity and ability to fight off infection.
  7. EXERCISE helps prevent colds and flu when practiced in moderation.  Walking, biking, ice skating and moderate aerobic activity help boost immunity. Turn on some music and dance…great fun AND exercise for all ages.
  8. Studies have shown that ELDERBERRY SYRUP EXTRACT can be taken daily to prevent colds and flu, and to reduce symptoms of you are already infected.  ZINC and VITAMIN C serve a similar purpose.  (Note: Check with your doctor before taking any supplements).
  9. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables often.  These vitamin-rich foods have natural anti-inflammatory properties that keep our immune systems functioning properly.

Enjoy a happy, healthy New Year! 

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
 

50+ Easy Ornaments and Crafts For Kids.

Every year, when I take out my many Christmas ornaments, I relive the moments I shared making many of them with my kids.  The collection has grown over the years and my son and daughter now have boxes of their own to take with them when they are ready.

If you haven’t already, why not start a tradition of crafting some simple ornaments this year.  There are  plenty of sights with numerous ideas to get you started. Here are some of them.

From Play Ideas:  http://www.playideas.com/25-christmas-ornaments-kids-can-make/?utm_content=buffer4636d&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

From Red Ted Art:   http://www.redtedart.com/category/christmas-2/

The walnut owls are easy and delightful.

From Family Fun:  https://family.disney.com/crafts/

There are crafts for every skill and interest, using on hand materials such as paper, felt, pipe cleaners, walnuts, yarn and more.

Why not create some holiday memories with a few hand-made ornaments.  Here is a sample of my own from past years.     2015-12-10-00-24-21

If you’re interested in a specific one, leave a comment and I’ll send directions.

 

Get Heart Healthy

Even though Valentine’s Day is over, it’s never a bad time to think of our hearts and keeping them healthy through exercise and activity.  Since February is AMERICAN HEART MONTH, what better way to celebrate your wonderful heart than with a HEALTHY CHALLENGE SCAVENGER HUNT.  There is no need to leave the house.  Follow the link below for a list of 40 things to scout out around the house.  You can break up into teams and see who is fastest at hunting down the items.

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyKids/ActivitiesforKids/Get-Active-with-our-Healthy-Challenge-Scavenger-Hunt_UCM_312472_Article.jsp#.VsMp0kDws4B

Enjoy the challenge.  Your heart will love you for it!

Winter Crafts For Kids.

While many of us may be itching for spring, there is still snow and winter weather to contend with.  There will also probably be a few more days stuck indoors.  If your kids are getting a bit stir crazy, why not try some fun-filled crafts to pass the time away from the usual video games.

At FUN CRAFTS KIDS, you can make EGG CUP PENGUINS, LEGO BIRD FEEDERS, Marshmallow Polar Bears, and much more using recycled items or things you are likely to have around the house.   There are 17 fun filled winter crafts on this site.

http://www.funcraftskids.com/winter-crafts-ideas/

So, make a cup of hot chocolate, or break out the FROZEN BANANA PENGUIN TREATS (Also on the Fun Crafts Site) from Monday’s post and have a craft day.  Spring will be here before you know it!