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Tuesday

Knead a Pretzel?



I love mall pretzels!  Sadly, most chain stores don't promise that their product is egg free.  As a result, me the woman who is not sure she has been to a mall unless she has a pretzel in hand, has a son who has never eaten one.  So, I decided to try my hand at making our own.  We basically followed this recipe: Auntie Annie's Soft Pretzels with a few organic, timing, temprature and flavor substituations:  I was amazed how much the littles could tackle.  Excluding the sodium bacarbonate wash ... they were pretty much all little hands on deck!

Here is what you need:
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons organic brown sugar
  • 1 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup organic bread flour
  • 3 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • McCormicks Organic Cinnamon and Cane Sugar to Taste
  • 4 tablespoons Organic Valley Sweet butter (melted)
I had one of my littles measure out the 1 1/2 cups of warm water.  Then, I poured the yeast on lukewarm water in mixing bowl; stirred it to dissolve it. Then we set the timer and waited 2 minutes.  (It's a great patience builder!)  Then we took turns pouring ... adding sugar, salt into the water mixture.  We gave it a stir then added the flour and knead dough until smooth and elastic. (You can do this either by hand or my stand mixer).  We did both. 

Then we covered the ball with plastic wrap we sprayed with cooking oil and let rise 30 minutes.
(While dough was rising and the littles where watching, I made a bacarbonate of soda water bath with 4 cups of REALLY HOT water and 2 Tbsp baking soda.)

Time to dig in!  Once the dough has risen, section off dough and roll into a 4 or 8 inch long rope (about 1/2 inch or less thick) and shape into a U then twist and pin the final shape. This of coarse was our littles favorite part!

I handled dipping th pretzel in soda solution because I was concerned about the water temp and little hands.  Then, onto the greased baking sheet. Allow pretzels to rise again. Bake in 450 degrees F oven for 5 minutes then turn the pan 180 degrees and cook another 5 minutes or until golden.






We went with classic sweet treat topping of cinnamon sugar! Simply melt a stick of butter in a shallow bowl (big enough to fit the entire pretzel) and in another shallow bowl make a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Dip the pretzel into the butter, coating both sides generously. Then dip again into the cinnamon mixture. YUMO! Ours were not quite as soft or buttery but MAN they were good!!

Click here to check out how this project fit into our WN Sprout
School Goals: WN Sprout School: All Twisted Up!

Saturday

Practically Perfect in Every Way!



Lately, Mary Poppins has been floating, umbrella in hand, into my head.   I can still remember as a child reading the book and watching the Disney movie over and over again.  It was funny, thrilling, heart-warming, and inspiring.  One of my favorite parts of the film "Mary Poppins" is when Mary stretches out the tape measure to find herself "Practically Perfect in Every way".  Indeed she was, always perfect with a beautiful voice, perfectly done hair, a mysterious white apron that never got dirty, calm tone, the right answer and the well timed lesson for children and adults alike.  For goodness sake, she even made popping in and out of a chimney look effortless.  While it was one of my favorite movie moments it was also one of the most terrifying to me.  Even at a very tender age, I can remember feeling a tinge of fear thinking about where I might measure up.  A few nights ago I had one of those realizations that left me certain the tape measure would find me far short of perfect!


Thursday

A Tisket, A Tasket, No Eggs in our basket!

One of  the most challenging issues our family has faced has been the diagnosis of my oldest son's food allergies.  There is alot that goes through your mind when your little one is diagnosed.  Mom guilt definately rears its ugly head.  I can't tell you how many times, I have run through the list of what I ate while I was pregnant, examined and re-examined the way I introduced foods, just trying to find a reason.  Irrational as it is ... sometimes it feels like if you find the reason you can find a better solution.

It's just a hard pill to swallow when the best solutions limits your child in some ways.  We bring our own cake to birthday parties, never plate share unless we are 100% convinced that no allergens are at the party, and no dying Easter eggs.  In the grand scheme of things the adaptions are minor and easy.  Don't get me wrong ... we are super lucky among the allergy set. Life with his allergy has been managable.  Thanks to antihistamines and his Epi-Pen pack we carry EVERYWHERE we are one of the most active families I know.

But sometimes the "aww shucks" moments creep in.  I always loved dying Easter eggs  This year to get over the hump of not being able to share that memory with my little one we made tin foil eggs and painted them with watered down allergy free tempra paints.  (yes, some paints of egg protein in them).  It was a blast!  If nothing else, this journey has given us an opportunity to flex our creative muscle!

Happy Easter!!

Update:

I just read this fantastic article and wanted to share it with you all.  Chew Chew Mama has a son with a Peanut Allergy.  Her blog is pretty new and pretty terrific.  Check it out!!

http://chewchewmama.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/keep-it-simple/#comment-45

Tuesday

Arts & Crafts

I love doing both Arts and Crafts with my little ones.  From this mom's perspective both have wonderful, but distinctly different value.  I am frequently disappointed when test driving learning programs, materials and such that present them only as one thing, "Arts & Crafts".  I find it equally disturbing when programs only focus on one or the other.  I think it's important to find time for both.  For us, Craft Time is a great time to reinforce learning objectives and practice following directions.  Art Time is time to follow our bliss, create, and learn how to respect and appreciate our art materials.  I absolutely love the book Young & Art by Susan Striker. It is full of great ideas for opening your littles up to creating and appreciating art.  At our house we have an art center that is set up for independent art activities.  The littles have open access to create art whenever the mood strikes.  When it's craft time we typically work at our activity table. 

How do you approach Arts & Crafts with your littles?

The Wasting Nothing Philosophy

Playing, cooking, reading, exploring, loving, laughing, and making a mess with your little one is NEVER a waste of time! It is priority one! It's not just about getting to know your little one. It's about letting your little one get to know you!