Monday, July 5, 2010

Strawberry Fields Forever

This week's holiday activity was to go strawberry picking, with the kids and some of our friends. We are lucky enough to have a pick-it-yourself-farm in our area, and have fun picking them together! This is a great way to connect with children of all ages and allows for lots of further learning once you are back at home. In fact when I get thinking about strawberries there is just so much fun to be had!

Strawberry Play Dough
Homemade play dough is ridiculously easy to make and if you have cream of tartar on hand it will keep for up to six weeks!
1 cup flour,
1 tablespoon vegetable oil,
1 package un-sweetened strawberry Kool-Aid,
1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar,
1 cup water
Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar and Kool-Aid in a medium saucepan. Add water and oil. Stir over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes. When mixture forms a ball in pan, remove. Knead until smooth. Store in a covered plastic container.

Frozen Yogurt Pops
1 cup of strawberries
1 cup plain yogurt
5 tbs honey
ice block holder/ice tray/paper cups (whatever you have to use)
wooden ice cream sticks
Put strawberries in blender, blend until smooth. Pour into bowl and stir in honey and yogurt. Fill cups 2/3 full with mixture. Put stick in center. Freeze 1-2 hours. Remove from cup and serve.

There are not too many books that are specifically written about strawberries, although one of my favourite is The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big hungry Bear. After reading this delightful book we got busy painting our strawberries. I just cut some strawberry shapes out of cardboard boxes for the boys. They used red and green paint to paint the strawberry and then when it dried we drizzled glue over it and covered the glue in sesame seeds. We then added a few raisins for the final touch - I think they look super cute!

Your cooking opportunities are endless when it comes to using your strawberries. Decorated cupcakes, strawberries in pancakes, muffins, smoothies, milkshakes just to name a few.
Strawberry Muffins
. 1 teaspoon baking powder
· 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
· 1 cup buttermilk
· 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, sliced
· granulated sugar for topping

Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
In a large mixing bowl with an electric hand-held mixer on high setting, cream butter and sugar; beat in eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Blend in vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
With a wooden spoon, stir flour mixture into creamed mixture. Gradually stir in lemon peel and buttermilk until dry ingredients are just moistened; do not over-mix. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan, filling each muffin cup about 2/3 full. Evenly spoon sliced strawberries onto the center of each muffin and sprinkle each with a little granulated sugar.
Bake strawberry muffins at 350° for 18 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes. Gently turn strawberry muffins onto the rack. Serve strawberry muffins warm

Grow Your Own Strawberries in Window Boxes
While you are at the farm pick up some seeds and take them home to plant with the kids, they will love watching their very own strawberries grow! Even better when they get to eat them.

You will need:

a window box, potting compost (if possible with fertilizer already added), some gravel, pebbles or hydroponic material, and either strawberry seeds or strawberry plants.

Remember to water VERY regularly and add liquid fertilizer after about 6 weeks.
If you have planted seeds, keep the box or basket in a warm place until the seeds have germinated and the young plants have established themselves, then slowly acclimatise them to living outdoors - unless you intend to continue to grow strawberries on the inside windowsill!

Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag

Milk can become homemade ice cream in five minutes by using a bag!

What you'll need:
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup milk or half & half
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons rock salt
1 large-size plastic food storage bag (e.g., Ziploc)
1 medium-size plastic food storage bag
Ice cubes

How to make it:
Fill the large bag half full of ice, and add the rock salt. Seal the bag.
Put milk, vanilla, and sugar into the small bag, and seal it.
Place the small bag inside the large one, and seal it again carefully.
Shake until the mixture is ice cream, which takes about 5 minutes.
Wipe off the top of the small bag, then open it carefully. Enjoy!
A 1/2 cup milk will make about 1 scoop of ice cream, so double the recipe if you want more. But don't increase the proportions more - a large amount might be too big for kids to pick-up because the ice itself is heavy.
Flavour combinations are almost limitless. Chocolate syrup is a basic option. Don’t be afraid to add your favorite fruits or nuts! Try combining mint extract with chocolate, or adding small chocolate chips.
If you use strawberries, crush them first. Whole strawberries will become little rocks rather than mixing nicely with the ice cream.

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