Tag Archives: Cooking with Kids

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Top 10 Ways to Learn in Your Own Backyard

Many parents worry about summer slide, the learning loss that can occur while school is out for the summer. Great news: There is a hotbed of learning right in your own backyard. Science, math, art, history, and early literacy can come alive through the kinds of rich, hands-on, project-based experiences that make learning meaningful, all while you’re having fun exploring outdoors.

BackyardLearn3

Grow a Habitat Garden and Experience Citizen Science

Small creatures like birds and butterflies are always fun to watch. There are lots of ways to encourage them to visit your garden and linger a while, many of which provide fun and fascinating projects while benefiting your local habitat, your garden and the greater ecosystem of the Earth. You don’t need a large yard to have a habitat garden. Apartment balconies, window ledges, school gardens, and decks can all host local habitat.

Backyard creatures essentially need four things: Food, water, shelter and places to lay eggs and care for their young. Learn more and find resources about habitat gardening. Welcoming wildlife needn’t be complicated. One very easy way to start is by making a bird feeder.

Want to take it a step farther? The Great Sunflower Project is just one of many opportunities for kids to experience citizen science close to home. Citizen scientists are ordinary people of all ages who help scientists and organizations track the count and behaviors of birds, butterflies, bees and others. After all, researchers can’t be everywhere, and many of us have habitats in our backyards and neighborhoods that can help them gain important information about nature. If you have 15 minutes, you can count bees, which are vital for the Earth’s ecosystem, for The Great Sunflower Project. Other projects available year-round allow you to track birds, bats, butterflies, fireflies, wildflowers, meteors and snow, learning about each in the process. See a list of citizen science projects.

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Have Some Gardening Fun

Pizza Garden

You can grow just about everything needed for a pizza right in your own yard and then harvest and eat all the items baked in a pizza. All you’ll need to add is the dough and cheese! Pizza gardens teach design, planning, growing, harvesting, cooking and nutrition. Determine the shape of your pizza garden and decide what you’d like to grown and how you want to divide the space. Round pizza gardens, for instance, can be divided into four, six, or eight spokes, to resemble pizza slices. Mark off areas with string or rocks. Make sure to give plants like tomatoes plenty of room. In addition to tomatoes, try zucchini, eggplant, peppers, spinach, basil, oregano, onions, or garlic. Or grow flowers – red flowers to represent tomato sauce, yellow flowers to represent cheese, pink flowers for pepperoni, and some green leafy plants for spinach or peppers.

Seed Race

Why not make gardening into a game, and create a science experiment at the same time, with a seed race? Choose two or more types of seeds.
Plant them at the same time, in the same conditions, near each other in the ground or in similar containers, indoors or out. (Or plant the same seeds and vary one or more conditions as an experiment.) Water and watch which one emerges first and grows fastest. Stake them with a store-bought or homemade yardstick to measure their progress.

Growing Initials

Give your kids something they can claim as their own, and engage them in early literacy  at the same time by planting seeds in the shape of a child’s initials. Lay string in the shapes of the letters you like and dig a shallow furrow beside it. Plant your seeds – leafy greens work well for this project because they come up quickly and fill out nicely. These include lettuce, chives, radishes, cress, and various grasses. Most greens have fine seeds, which can be planted in a close, continuous line and thinned as needed.

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Make a Wind Chime or Music Tree

Kids love to make music and noise. What better place for that than outdoors? Hang old or recycled pots, pans, tin cans, lids, muffin tins, silverware, measuring cups and other items from tree branches. Group lighter items close together to create wind chimes, or place them farther apart to let kids make music with wooden spoons to experiment with different sounds or learn about the effects of wind.

Have Fun with Water

Outdoor time calls for water play, which allows even the youngest children to learn about the properties of water, as it allows things to float, sink, fill, empty, change textures and temperatures, and move at various speeds. Young children will enjoy a mud play area and lots of old cups and kitchen items for filling, scooping and dumping. Others may enjoy filling cups with water and making “magic potions” with food coloring, glitter and small found objects. Or fill a tub of water and make a fine sea-worthy vessel to play with.

Cork Rafts and Sailboats

You’ll need:
Corks
School or craft glue
Flat toothpicks
Construction or other paper
Ruler
Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
Scissors

Raft: Arrange corks in a square or rectangle, with long sides touching each other. Glue the sides of the corks together. Draw a small rectangle (approximately 1 x 4”) on the paper with the ruler and cut it out. Fold the paper in half, so that you have two rectangles approximately 1 x 2”. Draw your country’s flag, or flags from your imagination, on each outer side of the paper. Glue the toothpick into the inner fold on the back side between the two flags, and let the glue dry. Glue the two halves of the paper together to secure the flag. Affix the toothpick flags into one cork or several corks and set the raft in water.

Sailboat: Glue corks together, following the instructions for the raft, or simply use a single cork. Draw a triangular sail shape on the paper (approximately 1” long on the side that will be glued to the toothpick. Decorate your sail, if desired. Glue the sail to the toothpick on its 1” side and let the glue dry. Affix the toothpick sail into the cork or cork base and set sail!

Elementary and older children will enjoy making a paper boat and sailing it in a nearby body of water, alone or in a race with others.

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Create Garden Art

Artists and craftspeople have long been inspired by the garden. Just getting outside with art and craft materials can open a world of wonder and observation. Gardens, in all their color, variety and changing light, offer great subjects, as well as a place to clear the artist’s head. In addition, they often provide a place where one can get messier than inside a house. Bring tempera or finger paints and paper outside, for plein air painting, paint a flower pot that you can plant in, or make a pretty beaded spider web.

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Blow Bubbles

Bubble blowing may be one of life’s perfect activities. While providing endless possibilities and inexpensive fun, bubbles also illustrate properties of science. Each one is a thin skin of liquid surrounding a gas. The water molecules on their surfaces bond tightly together, because each is made up of two sticky hydrogen atoms and one oxygen one – H2O. More bubble science is explained here. Bubbles can be made using ingredients you have around the house. When the weather’s nice, I often make a bucket of bubble solution and leave it outside with wands and other fun equipment so my daughter and friends can make bubbles whenever they like. It’s always fun and magical to create bubbles and watch them trail in the breeze. Here’s a recipe for giant homemade bubbles and some fun bubble activities.

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Play Web of Life

This is a powerful group game that teaches older children about the interconnectedness of living things. We encountered it on a school field trip to a vibrant marsh and have never forgotten it.

You’ll need:
A ball of string, yarn, or twine

Players form a circle. The leader asks them to name a plant or animal that lives in the area. When someone names a plant or animal, he or she is handed the end of the ball of string. When someone names another plant or animal, the string is unraveled and handed to that person. The game continues this way until everyone is holding the same piece of string. It can be very dramatic for everyone to realize that they are webbed together. Choose one of the players to illustrate what happens when there is change, such as when a tree burns down or an animal is eaten. Have that person pull his or her piece of string to see its effect on all the others.

Slow Tip: If people get stuck on what to say next, go backward or forward in the food and shelter chain. The bird eats a frog, the frog eats an ant, the ant crawls under a tree, the tree provides oxygen for the deer, and so on.

Cook with the Sun

Box ovens employ one of the oldest energy sources of all, solar power. But while people have dried food in the sun for centuries, it was French-Swiss scientist Horace de Saussure who harnessed it for cooking. He used glass to trap heat and create convection while his 1700s peers were still burning mirrors. Anything that can be cooked in a regular oven can be cooked in a box oven, though it’s best to stick with recipes that don’t require raw meat or eggs, until you’re proficient.

You’ll need:
Large sturdy cardboard box, with four sides and a bottom (no top or lids), such as a 10-ream paper box
Heavy-duty aluminum foil
Duct tape
Cookie sheet or large cake pan
4 tin cans, filled with water to weight them
Charcoal briquettes and fire starter
Disposable foil tray or pie tins
Small stone
Recipe and cooking items
Bucket of water for fire safety

Choose a hot day with full sun. Completely line the box inside and out with foil, shiny side out. Tape only on the outside of the box (to avoid fumes getting in the food.) Choose a flat surface away from flammable objects. Line it with foil. Use the tin cans as “feet” to hold the cookie sheet or cake pan, which serves as the oven tray. Fill the foil tray or pie tins with briquettes, approx. one for every 40 degrees of desired oven temperature, and start. Place the item to be cooked on the oven tray (ideas follow). Slide the briquettes under the oven tray when ready (white). Place the box oven down over the items, using a small rock on the least windy side to lift part of the box off the ground for ventilation.

Follow the directions for your recipe. Cupcakes, biscuits, English muffin pizzas, and other items that don’t require long cooking times all work well in box ovens. Try one of our favorites:

Box Oven Pineapple Upside Down Cake

You’ll need:
2 boxes yellow cake mix, prepared
1 ounce butter or margarine
1 8-ounce can of pineapples
½ cup brown sugar
Dutch oven or large cake pan
Second pan or cookie sheet

Place butter or margarine in the Dutch oven or pan and melt it in the box oven. Stir brown sugar and pineapples into the melted butter. Pour prepared cake mix over the pineapple mixture. Bake for 25 minutes or more, until the cake is golden brown. Remove from the box oven and invert onto a second pan or cookie sheet.

Slow Tip: Want to try some super easy sun cooking? Make sun tea by filling a container with water, adding tea bags, and letting the container steep in the sun.

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Enjoy the Night Sky

Backyard fun needn’t only happen during the daytime. Nighttime offers lots of opportunities to explore constellations of stars; meteor showers, like August’s Perseids; or phases of the moon. You can’t help but be infused with a sense of wonder, awe, history and mystery while contemplating the cosmos, as countless people, back to the ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks and others have done before us.

Get to Know the Constellations

With 88 constellations and numerous other stars, the night sky can seem a bit overwhelming. Begin to get to know it by locating a few key constellations and orienting to those. After all, the constellations were themselves created to help the ancients better understand the night sky.

The Big Dipper, which is part of a larger constellation, is a great starting point, as it has an identifiable shape and is usually visible over much of the Northern Hemisphere. It appears like a ladle (bowl) and handle. Seeking the North Star, or Polaris? Extend an imaginary line up from the top corner of the ladle that is furthest from the handle. Polaris is in turn on the handle of the Little Dipper, which appears upside down and facing the opposite direction from the Big Dipper. Continue on from the North Star, away from the Big Dipper, for about the same distance and you will reach Casseopeia (the mythical Queen of Ethiopia), another famous constellation. In the Northern Hemisphere, Cassiopeia is shaped like an “M” in the Summer and a “W” in the Winter.

Consult a star map and continue to find relationships to these constellations.

Slow Snippet: What makes stars twinkle? What we see as twinkling is really the light from the star bending as it moves through layers of the Earth’s atmosphere. That trip takes billions of years, so that what we see is a snapshot of a time in the cosmos that is long past.

Keep a Moon Diary

Taking note of the moon’s phases and rhythms, as it moves through its cycle, is a great way to feel the rhythms of our lives and of nature. Observing the moon and keeping a moon diary can help younger children understand how long a month is.

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Have a Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are a great way to get everyone exploring and observing in nature.

You’ll need:
Pencils and paper

Create a list in advance or have players contribute to one list of 10-20 things they might find in the backyard or park. A list might include an oak tree, a pond, a red bird, a dandelion, a wildflower, a nest, a feather, an acorn or a hollow log. You or the hunters could also list more subjective items, such as something rough, something orange, something unexpected, or a heart-shaped rock. Teams or players go off to seek the items on the list and cross each off when they see it. One point is awarded for each item found. The person or team with the most points wins.

Make a Nature Bracelet

This is a fun and easy way to get kids to look around them and observe small items in their own backyards.

You’ll need:
1″ or wider Masking Tape, enough to go around each child’s wrist

Tear off a piece of masking tape, slightly larger than the child’s wrist. Place it around the wrist with the sticky side out. Go for a walk or hunt and look for small items in nature that can be stuck to the masking tape, such as leaves, twigs, seeds, acorns and pods. (Generally things that have already fallen on the ground are safe to pick. If in doubt, leave something.) Fill the bracelet by sticking the items onto it and wear it proudly.

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These activities are adapted from Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, which contains 300+ more fun family activities.

Want to take it further? Create your own backyard DIY summer camp with eight weeks of ideas from A Natural Nester and many others.

This post is part of the School’s Out Top 10 Summer Learning series. Be sure to read all the other great Top 10 lists!

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Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman, Kids Growing Strong (pizza garden), Public Domain (night sky), Pass the Cereal (nature bracelet)

Holiday and Everyday Cranberry Pear Jam

Cranberries and pears are both such delicious and evocative fall and winter fruits that I was thrilled to find a jam recipe that combined them as wonderfully as this one. It’s sweet, with a little bite, and with its wonderful color, makes a fabulous spread or gift at holiday time or anytime. Making jam is one of my favorite family kitchen projects. It combines science, tradition, and the supreme satisfaction of the entire canning process, which lets you transform fruit into jam, before pleasingly pouring it into glass jars. My simple and delicious recipe for cranberry pear jam requires only four ingredients. It comes from Food in Jars, which is a great source for all things canning. Make it before the cranberries disappear for the season.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Other posts by Suz you might like:

Stir up Some Triple Berry Jam

Stir up (or cook down) some Colonial Apple Butter

The Bond of Blueberry Jam, Motherlode blog

My Favorite Orange Cookie with Sweet Orange Glaze

orange cookies

frosted orange cookie

These are my new hands-down favorite cookies to bake (and eat) – Orange cookies with sweet orange glaze from Brown Eyed Baker. I brought these cookies to barbecues over the summer and I believe they will be just as popular during holiday gatherings in winter. They’re delicious and sweet, with a texture that offers both softness and crunch and a vibrant citrus taste, even without the frosting. The frosting, which I first successfully added, complete with sprinkles, at the suggestion of my daughter Anna, gives them even more of a yummy, sweet orange taste.

best orange cookie

orange cookie recipe

glazed orange cookie

Enjoy with milk, coffee or your drink of choice!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Enjoy Fall, Nature, Cooking and Reading with Kids

Hello Friends! You may have noticed that my blog has been sparse the last couple of months. I appreciate your visits and checking in. I haven’t been completely quiet. I have been writing some interesting things for other blogs and thought I’d share here.

Celebrating Seasons Helps Promote Family Bonding, Parents Place

Autumn and the Outdoors: Experiencing Nature’s Benefits with your Children, Center for Childhood Creativity

9 Ways to Tame Fall Frenzy, Frugal Mama

When Toys “R” Us Pits Toys Against Nature, the Children and Nature Movement Wins, Children & Nature Network

Raising Readers in the Digital Age, Dot Complicated

Cooking with Kids: 31 Days of Unforgettable Recipes, Stuff Parents Need

Also, look for these Fall favorites on my blog:

Join Project Feeder Watch, and other Citizen Science Activities

Make a Beaded Corn Ear for Thanksgiving

31 Awesome Pumpkin Recipes

Make a Fall Leaf Placemat

How to Make an All American Apple Pie

Honor Your Family with Fun Gratitude Crafts

I look forward to sharing more seasonal and parenting fun in the weeks ahead. Thanks again for stopping by.

Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman

Rhythm of the Home: The Blessings of a Slow Family

I am thrilled and honored to have a piece, The Blessings of a Slow Family, in the Autumn edition of Rhythm of the Home. I have been a fan of this beautiful magazine since its inception. (I have a piece in the Autumn 2010 Rhythm of the Home on Making a Fall Leaf Placemat.) It never fails to fill me with inspiration and beauty — photos are stunning, projects and tips are inspiring, and the contributors are uniformly engaging, wise and warm.

This is a hint of my story, which outlines many of the ways my family has found to honor the changing seasons, the rhythms of each day, and the community around us, through ritual, craft, nature and more.

When my family made a conscious choice to slow down, and reduce modern life’s typical pace, what we really did was get better in touch with rhythms and practices that have more in common with the turning wheel of the day and the year than with the artificial markers of the typical school and social year, not to mention the standard expectations about children’s development that don’t always fit our own children.

Because our modern culture can be poor at creating space for and then honoring life events and the movement of time, we have to create those rituals and activities for ourselves. Fortunately, my family found many ways to do that.

You can continue reading The Blessings of a Slow Family.

There are far too many delightful pieces in the Autumn Rhythm of the Home to list. I hope you will explore the issue for yourself. As for me:

I can’t wait to make these Reusable Sandwich Bags. I also love the Autumn Watercolor Crafts. And this is a very easy and original idea for a Shadow Puppet Show.

I am also eager to Have a Butterfly Celebration when the Monarchs return to their winter home.

This Autumn Pizza with Roasted Fig and Apples looks fantastic, and I’ve long wanted to try making Homemade Ricotta Cheese. I also really appreciate and believe in Using the Kitchen as a Place to Bond.

I am deeply inspired by The Story of an Apple, Nature Lovers, Four Fall Simplicity Seeds, 10 Steps Toward Getting the Break you Need, and A Season of Rebirth.

I am always moved by Erin Goodman and her thoughtful work and am thrilled that the issue features an Interview with Erin Barrette Goodman.

Even with all that, I have only hinted at the goodness in this issue of Rhythm of the Home. Do yourself a favor: Brew your favorite cup of tea, settle into a cozy spot and see for yourself.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Stir up Some Triple Berry Jam

Canning has made a big comeback in recent years. For good reason— it’s a fun, easy, and economical family or group activity that even offers some kitchen science, as you watch the mixture transform from liquid to gel. Canning is productive too, and you can’t help but feel good when you see the bumper crop of jars filled with jewel- colored jam or other goodies that you’ll be able to give as gifts or eat all year long.

Anna started making jam with me the summer she was three years old. We had a favorite blueberry farm, about an hour from our house, and we began to travel there each summer during the extremely short (about two- week) blueberry season, to collect ripe berries and sit at a small counter to enjoy the freshest blueberry ice cream imaginable. If you are fortunate to have berries available, now is the time to make jam. Versions of this recipe can be made with many fruits. Consult pectin packaging or canning books or sites for recipe proportions.


You can make excellent jam from most fruits and berries. Because Michael is from Pennsylvania blueberry country, I absorbed his love of blueberry jam, which can be phenomenal and offers a strong taste of sunny summer in the depths of midwinter when you spread just a little on toast. Raspberry jam is wonderful to use in holiday cookies and tarts. Peaches and apricots are also
fun to work with and make excellent jams and chutneys. The jam we turn to most often, though, is the rich, complicated, and flavorful triple- berry jam.

You’ll need:

• Canning jars, half-pint size preferable (available in supermarkets
and hardware and drugstores—you shouldn’t use
old household jars, as they might be scratched)
• New canning lids and new or used bands
• Wide- mouth funnel and jar lifter (available at many
hardware and drugstores)
• Ladle and tongs
• Pot holders, dish towels or cloths, and sponge
• Mixing bowls
• Wooden spoons
• Heavy- bottomed pot for cooking
• Very large pot or canner that includes an inch of water
above the jars and plenty of room for the water to boil, and
a jar rack or cake- cooling rack
• 5 cups strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries (3
pints strawberries, 1 1/2 pints raspberries, and 1 pint
blackberries) at peak ripeness, chopped (with knife or food
processor, see below)
• 7 cups sugar
• 1 box dry pectin

Wash the jars, bands, and lids in soapy water.

Place the bands and lids in a saucepan and simmer for five minutes, without boiling. Turn off heat and leave them in the hot water until ready to use.

Place rack into the pot and place jars on the rack (to prevent them from breaking in the pot). Fill the pot with water to an inch above the jars. Bring the water to a boil and keep the jars in a rolling-boil bath for ten minutes. After that, they sit until ready to be used.

Chop the berries by hand or in a food processor. If using a processor, pulse the berries in small batches so you end up with fruit bits rather than a puree.

Measure sugar into mixing bowl.

Add berries and pectin to the heavy-bottomed pot and mix.

Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.

Quickly add sugar and continue to stir. Return to a full rolling boil. Then boil, stirring, for one minute.

Remove from the heat and skim off any foam with a ladle.

Remove the jars from their bath with tongs and a pot holder, and place them upright on a dish towel. Ladle the jam mixture into the jars, leaving 1/4of air, or headspace. Wipe the rims and threads with a wet cloth. Top with lids and screw on the bands.

Place the jam-filled jars back into the canning pot, and boil again for ten minutes to process, or additionally sterilize, them.

With certain vegetables and meats, the sterilization process is especially crucial to prevent food poisoning. Although the trend has moved away from the necessity of processing most fruit

jams, and just leaving them standing when filled, I still like to boil them a second time, the old-fashioned way.

Let filled and processed jars stand for approximately 24 hours at room temperature. Do not retighten the bands.

You know you have a good seal when you push on the lid and it doesn’t pop back. If the seal is not good, the jam can be stored in the refrigerator for three weeks. Otherwise, it can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to two years.

Label with the date and type of jam, particularly if you plan to make more.

Yield: Approximately 5 half pints.

Note: It’s important to understand and follow food canning safety guidelines.

Another Note: Thank you Joyce for writing about Fed Up with Frenzy on Baby Center! And thank you for your reminder about low-sugar jam. I do feature low-sugar alternatives in my book. Here is an excerpt:

There are lots of ways to make jam with reduced or alternative sugar. One way is to cut out the pectin, reduce sugar by about 1/3,  and boil the jam for 10-15 minutes until it reaches the jell point on its own. Another is to use a low-methoxyl pectin, such as Pomona’s, available at natural food stores. Jam made this way tastes terrific. This recipe makes berry jam.

You’ll need:

• 4 cups mashed berries
• ¼ cups lemon juice
• ½ – 1 cups. honey OR
• ¼ – 2 cup sugar

Low methoxyl pectin and calcium water, per package instructions.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Adapted from Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, by Susan Sachs Lipman.

Other posts by Suz you might like:

The Bond of Blueberry Jam, Motherlode blog

Bake an Old Fashioned Blueberry Buckle

Blueberry Tuesday: Summer  Triple Berry Crisp

 

 

Bake Your Own Soft Pretzels

My family has had the joy of folding and baking soft pretzels in the 150-year-old Sturgis Pretzel Factory in Lititz, Pennsylvania, the oldest commercial pretzel bakery in the U.S. There’s nothing quite like rolling and then shaping the pretzel dough into its classic shape, and then seeing it placed into giant brick ovens on large wooden boards, all in the stone basement of a building that dates back more than 200 years. Pretzels themselves date to 6th century Italy, say the folks at Sturgis, where monks molded them into the shapes of children’s praying arms.

Baking pretzels at home offers the same delights – the pleasure of working with dough, the wonderful way it smells when it’s cooking, and of course, that classic soft-pretzel taste.

You’ll need:

1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1 ½ cups warm water (110° to 115°)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
8 cups water
½  cup baking soda
Coarse salt or mixture of equal parts cinnamon and sugar
Pat of butter, to grease bowl and dough
2 bowls, 1 greased
Towel
Saucepan
Paper towels and plate
Baking sheets
Cooling racks

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.

Add the sugar, salt and 2 cups flour and beat until smooth.

Stir in remaining flour to form a stiff dough.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead about 5 minutes until smooth.

Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.

Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place about an hour, until doubled.

Punch dough down and divide into 12 portions. Roll each into thin rope (approx. 12”) and loop both halves up and back around to the middle to twist into a pretzel shape. Apply a little pressure to make the ends stick.

Preheat oven to 425.

In a large saucepan, bring water and baking soda to a boil. Place pretzels into boiling water, one at a time, flipping once, for 15 seconds on each side.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Place on greased baking sheets.

Brush with water and sprinkle with salt or cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on racks.

Yield: 12 pretzels

Gone: in about 2 hours

Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman

Red, White & Blue — Cookies!

Suzcookie1

We made these really fun cookies for Memorial Day. They’re called Beautiful Colorful Cookies and they’re in the Williams-Sonoma Kids Cookies book that we use all the time. My daughter Anna even entered a four-color batch in last year’s County Fair. They’re a tasty shortbread-like cookie, with a great crunchy texture. But, of course, the real star is the fun, unexpected colors. We use professional paste frosting colors (you can get a box of 8 small color jars from ChefMaster, available at specialty baking stores, for around $7), and, though they color well, it takes a lot of patience to get a super deep color in a cookie. You can see my husband, Lippy, had more patience than me when he was coloring this batch.

He also wants everyone to know that he skimped on the butter just a little because he was in a hurry, but that little bit gave the cookies a strange texture and taste. Lippy says, Slow down and take the time to measure correctly. They still look good!

LippyCookie

What I brought to the mix was a technique of rolling logs of various colors, much like fimo clay, which we’ve used to bake our own elaborate beads. The logs are then attached, long side to long side, to make one big log, and that log is gently twisted to swirl the colors. These were done in small batches because, as with fimo, I wanted to roll and twist the colors just enough to make interesting designs, yet keep them each distinct, and not get a gooey-looking mess — which can happen if you overwork the dough (or clay.)

Suzcookie2

When we were done, we had a batch for the annual Mill Valley Walk into History, which my excellent husband led. (More on the walk to come.) And we had a batch to take to a Memorial Day BBQ, where they proved quite popular.

Beautiful Colorful Cookies

You’ll need:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
Food coloring
Mixing cups
Mixing bowl and beater
Forks, knife
Cookie sheets

Preheat oven to 350.

In large mixing bowl, mix together butter, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla until creamy.

Add flour and beat to form smooth dough.

Divide dough into 3-4 parts, one for each color you want, and add food coloring to each, mixing until the colors are well-blended.

Roll each colored section into a log shape. Place the logs on top of and around each other to form one large log.

Begin to roll or twist the log gently, so the colors mix and swirl, but also stay distinct. Cut a sample slice from the log to see if you’re happy with the pattern.

Cut slices about 1/4″ thick. If the dough is too soft, refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Place slices on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for approx. 10 minutes.

Yield: Approx. 44 cookies.

See more ideas for Colorful Cookies

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

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