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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Parent Resource: October and November

October


Family Garden Activity: Apple People


Make a spooky shrunken head from a peeled, carved, dried apple! You’ll need an apple, knife,

marker, cup of lemon juice, a tablespoon of salt and a stick. Using your marker, draw some

eyes, a nose and a mouth onto your apple. Make the features large because they will shrink.

Using this outline as your guide, carve the apple to look like a face. Combine the lemon juice

and salt in a bowl and soak the apple for 30 seconds. Pat dry. Set the apple in a warm dry
spot to dry and, as it does, the features will distort. Put the apple on a stick, prop it inside a
vase or potted plant, stand back and admire your spooky shrunken head! You can find photos
at www.marthastewart.com.

Seasonal Recipes: Spooky Snacks
(Healthy Alternatives to Halloween Candy)

Interested in encouraging healthier snacks this Halloween?
Try these kid-tested spooky snacks:

Witches’ Brooms: Lay a fruit leather flat and cut fringes about half way across along one
of the long sides. Roll the fruit leather around the bottom of a straight pretzel stick to
make a sweet and salty Witches’ Broom.
Witches’ Warts and Teeth: Roast pumpkin seeds in an oven for 20 minutes. Remove, cool
and add raisins. Label the bowl “Witches’ Warts and Teeth.”
Ghost on a Stick: Peel a banana and break in half. Stick each half onto a popsicle stick.
Press in three raisins to make eyes and a mouth for your “Ghost on a Stick.”

Nutrition Tip:
Model enjoyment of fruits and vegetables at every opportunity. Your children will learn more
from watching you eat these healthful foods than from any other way.

Storybooks:
These are wonderful stories to read as you and your family delve into gardening and
cooking together:

The Pumpkin Circle, by George Levinson
Pumpkin, Pumpkin, by Jeann Titherington
Pumpkin Soup, by Helen Cooper
Wild Child, by Lynn Plourde and Greg Couch


Fall Gardening Tips:


Saving Seeds: A great way for kids to learn about the life cycle of a plant is harvesting

seeds from a fully-grown plant in the fall, then sowing those seeds and watching new plants

emerge and grow in the spring. To get started, look around the garden together for plants

that have produced full-sized seeds, such as beans, peas, corn, sunflowers and lettuce. Let
the seeds dry on the plant for as long as possible and then, before any big rain falls, gather
seeds from each plant. For beans and peas, pick off the pods. For corn, gather whole ears
and for sunflowers take off entire flower heads. For lettuce, place a paper bag under the
flowering stalk and shake to let the seeds fall in. Then, remove the beans and peas from the
pods, place all of the seeds in a single layer on newspaper and allow them to dry in a warm
room with plenty of airflow. Stir regularly to keep them from molding. Once they’re dry,
remove the corn from the cobs and the sunflower seeds from the flower. Store seeds in well
marked, tightly sealed envelopes. Kids often enjoy decorating seed envelopes with pictures
and information about the plants.

Drying Herbs: Fall is a good time to collect fresh herbs and dry them for use in the winter
months. Use sheers to cut sprigs of your favorite herbs: dill, marjoram, oregano, rosemary,
thyme, and the like. Cut at least 6 inch stems and trim leaves from the bottom. Once you
have enough of one herb to fill your hand, bind together with a rubber band. You may want
to attach a label to the herb because they often look similar once dry. Hang herb bundles
upside down in a warm, dry, dark place, such as a closet or garage. You may want to put an
old sheet underneath the bundles to catch debris. If you don’t have a dark area, you can
also poke holes in paper bags and cover each bundle with a bag. Allow to dry for two
weeks, and then store in airtight containers.

Cleaning Up the Garden: As the days become shorter and chillier, your summer plants will
start to fade. It’s time to pull them out and prepare your garden for winter. Remove all of the
supports or trellises and all of the spent plants from your garden, and rake up any debris.
Cover the ground in a layer of compost or composted manure. You can plant a cover crop
such as rye, clover, buckwheat or bell beans, or let your garden rest until the spring. If you
live in an area with mild winters, you can plant a fall garden with cool weather crops such as
leafy greens, broccoli and peas.

Planting Bulbs: In areas with cold winters, you can plant bulbs as long as the soil is soft
enough to dig. Dig a hole about three times the diameter of the bulb. Mix some bone meal
into the soil at the bottom of the hole and plant the bulb with the pointed side up. If you
struggle with rodents, plant the bulbs in a cage made of hardware cloth, or stick with
daffodils, which most animals avoid. Fill the hole with soil and water immediately. 

November


Family Garden Activity: Harvest Centerpiece


Some of the most beautiful fall decorations come from the natural world. Set aside a space in
your house to create a decorative harvest centerpiece. You might gather winter squash of
various colors, dried leaves, pinecones, pumpkins, acorns or branches with red berries.
Arrange with some candles to bring some of fall’s beauty indoors.

Seasonal Recipes: Curry Winter Squash Soup
Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
1 leek, white part only, chopped
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
1/8 cup olive oil
1 small pie pumpkin or medium-sized butternut, red kuri, or other winter squash
(or 1 20-oz can of pumpkin puree)
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 bunch cilantro or chives

Steps:
1. If roasting your own pumpkin or winter squash: Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut the squash in
half, scoop out the seeds and strings, and poke the skin a few times with a fork. Rub olive
oil onto the cut edges and place cut edges down in a baking pan. Bake for about 45
minutes, until it’s easy to push a fork into the flesh. Now you’re ready to scoop the flesh
out of the skin and use it in your soup.
2. Heat olive oil in a soup pot. Sauté the chopped onion and leek until clear, about
10 minutes.
3. Process the sautéed onion and leek with the baked squash in a food processor until
smooth. (If you’re using a blender instead of a food processor, add some of the broth as
well so the mixture is able to blend.) Pour back into the soup pot.
4. Add the broth, salt and spices. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often, then


reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered. Stir often.
5. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the coconut milk.
6. Stir over medium heat until the soup reaches a good serving temperature.
7. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro or chives.

Nutrition Tip:
Be sure to offer at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal or snack. Don’t be discouraged if
your children don’t eat the fruit or vegetable you offer; it may take many times of seeing an
item on their plates before they decide to taste it, and many times tasting it before they grow
to like it. The best thing you can do is to consistently offer these items, without pressure to
eat them.

Storybooks:
These are wonderful stories to read as you and your family delve into gardening and
cooking together:

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message, by Chief Jake Swamp
Stone Soup, by Heather Forest
Homeplace, by Anne Shelby
Pearl Plants a Tree, by Jane Breskin Zalben

Fall Gardening Tips:

Saving Seeds: A great way for kids to learn about the life cycle of a plant is harvesting
seeds from a fully-grown plant in the fall, then sowing those seeds and watching new plants
emerge and grow in the spring. To get started, look around the garden together for plants
that have produced full-sized seeds, such as beans, peas, corn, sunflowers and lettuce. Let
the seeds dry on the plant for as long as possible and then, before any big rain falls, gather
seeds from each plant. For beans and peas, pick off the pods. For corn, gather whole ears
and for sunflowers take off entire flower heads. For lettuce, place a paper bag under the
flowering stalk and shake to let the seeds fall in. Then, remove the beans and peas from the
pods, place all of the seeds in a single layer on newspaper and allow them to dry in a warm
room with plenty of airflow. Stir regularly to keep them from molding. Once they’re dry,
remove the corn from the cobs and the sunflower seeds from the flower. Store seeds in well
marked, tightly sealed envelopes. Kids often enjoy decorating seed envelopes with pictures
and information about the plants.

Drying Herbs: Fall is a good time to collect fresh herbs and dry them for use in the winter
months. Use sheers to cut sprigs of your favorite herbs: dill, marjoram, oregano, rosemary,

thyme, and the like. Cut at least 6 inch stems and trim leaves from the bottom. Once you
have enough of one herb to fill your hand, bind together with a rubber band. You may want
to attach a label to the herb because they often look similar once dry. Hang herb bundles
upside down in a warm, dry, dark place, such as a closet or garage. You may want to put an
old sheet underneath the bundles to catch debris. If you don’t have a dark area, you can
also poke holes in paper bags and cover each bundle with a bag. Allow to dry for two
weeks, and then store in airtight containers.

Cleaning Up the Garden: As the days become shorter and chillier, your summer plants will
start to fade. It’s time to pull them out and prepare your garden for winter. Remove all of the
supports or trellises and all of the spent plants from your garden, and rake up any debris.
Cover the ground in a layer of compost or composted manure. You can plant a cover crop
such as rye, clover, buckwheat or bell beans, or let your garden rest until the spring. If you
live in an area with mild winters, you can plant a fall garden with cool weather crops such as
leafy greens, broccoli and peas.

Planting Bulbs: In areas with cold winters, you can plant bulbs as long as the soil is soft
enough to dig. Dig a hole about three times the diameter of the bulb. Mix some bone meal
into the soil at the bottom of the hole and plant the bulb with the pointed side up. If you
struggle with rodents, plant the bulbs in a cage made of hardware cloth, or stick with
daffodils, which most animals avoid. Fill the hole with soil and water immediately. From then
on, you should only need to worry about water if you’re having an unusually dry winter.
Come spring, your efforts should be colorfully rewarded!


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