Take a Taste Tuesday with Tidy Little Kitchens

Hello everyone! Thank you so much for inviting me to share a bit of our busy life. I am Natasha from Tidy Little Kitchens – I am the proud mom of two wonderful boys (3 and 2!) and I run Tidy Little Kitchens out of my own home kitchen.

I have had my boys involved in the kitchen with me from the time they were born, when they were old enough to eat they got a taste of what we were cooking, and I talked to them constantly about what I was doing in the kitchen.

Now they crack eggs, stir batter, scoop and pour right alongside me. They love being involved in the whole process – from getting the right ingredients out of the fridge or pantry to seeing cakes and muffins rise in the oven and eggs cook on the stovetop.

I discovered that the learning possibilities in the kitchen are endless – we use everyday foods and tools for hands on learning: colours, descriptions, patterns and more

Hands down my favourite recipe to make with kids of all ages is Shish Kebobs. I use it for food identification, colors, patterns and hand eye co-ordination for my toddlers. For my older niece and nephew (and friends kids!) I use it for math (it’s great for fractions!), colour wheel, plant identification (nightshades, tomato as a fruit), even geography! (which country is the biggest exporter of mushrooms for example).

There are almost unlimited options for learning in the kitchen, and most of the time kids aren’t even aware that they are learning they are just enjoying being a part of the process. There’s a reason most parties wind up in the kitchen!

Here is my recipe for our Shish Kebobs

2 pounds meat of choice (I highly recommend marinating overnight)
3 peppers (Vary the colours)
1 red onion
2 zucchini (we were lucky to be able to grow both yellow and green)
1 pkg white button mushrooms

*if using wooden skewers remember to soak them at least 10 minutes prior to adding ingredients and grilling

Make sure to start and end with meat or a mushroom – it keeps all of the food from sliding off!

Thank you for letting me share in Take a Taste Tuesday – I look forward to interacting with you all again soon!

Take a Taste Tuesday with Little Adventures Await

Hi! I am Stacie, from Little Adventures Await. I am a teacher, family photographer, and mama of two. My blog does not focus on cooking or recipes, but I thank Signe for appreciating my view on cooking with kids. Bear with me, there will be sarcasm, and there will be mistakes. And in full disclosure, we are seeking nutrition therapy through Childrens Hospital for my son’s extreme food aversions. So, I am not expert, but I think I have a few tricks up my sleeve. As we made a tortellini salad and chocolate chip zucchini bread, I took a few notes that I thought I would share…

1. First, I never EVER go into the kitchen with the idea that my kids are going to help me make something magnificent and that there will be no mistakes. Everyone will end up frustrated if you go in with high expectations. When we added the oil to our pasta salad, it was totally supposed to go in a separate bowl. But I was busy taking a photo, so in it went. I had to make sure to take the blame on that one.

2. I have my kids help me make things that they don’t necessarily like. If she only knows how to bake cookies, she won’t get experience knowing how to flip something in a pan, how to chop, or how to taste-test new fresh ingredients. Thus, the pasta salad. Individually, my 6 year old likes a lot of these ingredients, but if I just handed her a bowl of pasta salad, she would gag. Throughout the process, she tried peppers, cucumber, and tortellini.

3. Be reasonable with tasks and let them take breaks. I stopped demanding that they stay with me until the recipe is done, and they are much happier when I call them back for the perfect task. For instance, we called him back to dump in the chocolate chips to the “keeni” bread so that he didn’t have to watch her grate the whole thing. Plus, he was much more likely to eat it, knowing there was chocolate in it.

4. Let them try hard things. It is hard to crack an egg, but I’ve been letting her practice it since she was his age. And now she’s an expert! Likewise, she complained about how hard it was to peel the garlic and onions, but she did it and lived to tell about it.

5. Work in high-level thinking by asking good questions. This is my teacher brain talking. So often, we tend to tell, instead of question. Some of the things we wondered together: “Why is it easier to cut a dry cucumber?” “Why is it easier to cut with the flat side down?” We also work in a lot of math talk, since fractions are pretty important in measurement. And for Rhys, I give him simple counting tasks, even if that’s not really written in the recipe. Sure, 19 tomatoes sounds great!

6. Talk about the mistakes and use it as the perfect teachable moment. For instance, I misread our measuring cup and added a whole extra cup of flour to our zucchini bread. We had to problem-solve together, and it didn’t turn out terrible like I thought. And sometimes their impatience causes mistakes, and then that is self-teaching.

Both of these recipes were fun to make with the kids. I’d encourage you to invite them to make not only seasonal items with you, but every day items like scrambled eggs and toast! Have fun!

Each Tuesday for the next several weeks a fellow mom/friend/community member will be sharing a fun recipe, tips to include kids in the cooking process, or a great family restaurant for “Take a Taste Tuesday.” If you are interested in sharing your eating and/or cooking fun be sure to connect with me via email!

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Summer Challenge #10: Explore a Children’s Museum

To beat the heat of the dog days of summer, the challenge this week is to explore a Children’s Museum.

Children’s Museums provide rich environments that stimulate a child’s natural curiosity and creativity. Museums are generally multi-sensory, hands-on, active, and child-centered environments which offers children unique opportunities to play and learn.

Central Ohio is surrounded by a number of Children’s Museums. A few of our favorites include:

AHA! Children’s Museum located in Lancaster, Ohio. You can read all about our experience here.

Little Buckeye Children’s Museum located in Mansfield, Ohio. Our first hand experience is here. Also, be sure to ride the carousel down the street from the museum when you are there.

Duke Energy Children’s Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s worth the drive! Our experience is posted here.

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.

Summer Challenge #9: Visit a U-Pick Farm

This week the challenge is to locate and visit a u-pick farm in your area.

A u-pick farm is a wonderful opportunity to develop language in a natural setting. You can talk about the type of food being picked by describing how the food looks/feels/smells/tastes. Your child will also have the opportunity to follow simple directions during the activity, ex: pick one/put in/give me.

There are a variety of fruits and vegetables to pick at end of July/beginning of August. For an idea of what’s available for harvest in Ohio check out this Ohio Harvest Crop Calendar.

Some of our favorite u-pick farms to visit in the Central Ohio area include:

The Columbus Berry Farm for blueberries. Located 30 minutes south of Columbus, the berries are generally available for picking July 5th – August 10th, depending on the season.

Brastool Orchards for peaches. Located 45 minutes northeast of Columbus, peaches are generally ready for picking July 20 – September first depending on the season.

Blossoms at the Bend for u-pick flowers. Located in Williamsport, Ohio, Blossoms at the Bend is a U-Pick flower farm showcasing “old-fashioned’ favorites including red, white and coral peonies, delphiniums, snapdragons, and black-eyed susans. Customers can spend as much time in the gardens as they wish, select their favorite flowers, and cut their own bouquets for only $3 per bouquet.

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.

 

 

Make Your Own Story Trail

This week the Summer Challenge is to take a walk on a Story Trail (or Story Walk… depending on what your community calls it).

A Story Trail is a way for families to read together outside, promoting literacy and movement. The pages of a book are laminated and mounted and presented one at a time down a trail or around a park. The pages can be spaced as close or as far apart as needed. Families can stroll from one page to the next, or you can encourage movement by having your child skip or run to the next page.

I thought it would be fun to create a Story Trail in our own backyard. Some prep work was required and the steps are as follows:

  • Gather your supplies: book/copies, laminate paper/sheet covers, stakes (I used paint sticks).

  • Protect the pages with laminate paper or sheet covers.

  • Attach the pages to the stake. I used a staple gun.

  • Choose a spot to set up your story.

  • And Voila! You now have your very own Story Trail set up in your yard.

For our Story Trail, I chose to use one of my daughter’s favorite books, Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance! I love the the movement words and animal sounds that are found throughout the book. When we read each page I encouraged my daughter to move like the animals in the book. She bowed, twirled and stomped to from page to page!

The StoryWalk® was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. For more information on the official The StoryWalk® Project please visit here. 

Take a Taste Tuesday with Jess from This Twin Life

Hi! I’m Jess from This Twin Life. I’m a stay-at-home mom to twins who turn 2 today! In my pre-kid life, I was an elementary school library teacher so I bring a lot of my teacher tricks, a love of children’s books, and plenty of school crafts to my mom life. I blog about life with my twins, toddler activities, and I also like to share some of our favorite family meals.

There are a lot of foodies in our family. My mom loves to cook and try new recipes, my mother-in-law is a wonderful baker, my brother is a chef, and I have two brother-in-laws who are amazing cooks. While I don’t cook with the same level enthusiasm as our family chefs, I do enjoy a good meal, sitting down as a family to eat, and exposing my kids to different foods. I like to try and get the kids involved in the kitchen so they can feel like they have some ownership over our meals and the cooking process. At 2 years old, we are deep in the “I do it” stage and the kitchen can be a great place for kids to help out! Today I’m sharing a few of the ways I include my kids in our kitchen.

Meal Planning and Groceries – I often make my grocery list with the kids. It usually goes like this:
Me: So, what do I need to get at the grocery store this week?
Baby B: Pancakes
Baby A: Hmmm. Blueberries?
And that’s usually as far as we get with their contributions because they would happily live on blueberries and pancakes or blueberry pancakes. After we add their requests, I talk about each meal and what ingredients we need to buy to make it. Sometimes the kids “write” their own lists on a sticky note while I make my list. When we shop for food, they help hold things at the store and we talk about the different foods we are buying. The kids are very into colors, counting, and pointing out the handful of letters they recognize and the grocery store is a great place to spot colors, count fruits and veggies, and see big signs with different letters.

Cooking Meals – I try to include the kids when I’m cooking meals. With two two year olds, this can be hard (too many cooks in the kitchen, you might say). Breakfast is usually the easiest meal for them to help with. They pour and stir when we make pancakes, beat eggs and add seasonings to scrambled eggs, put bread in the toaster, and they just started working on spreading their own nut butter or avocado on toast or bagels. Cutting soft foods like tofu is also a new skill they have been working on (a pro tip I learned from another mama: use a lettuce knife!) Make your own English muffin pizzas is a favorite dinner meal they can make entirely on their own. I think the more they are involved in creating a meal, the more excited they are about eating it.

Cooking for Play – We love sensory play in our house and I always involve the kids when we are making food-based sensory materials. Some of our favorite things to make in the kitchen are playdough, rainbow rice, and oobleck. We also play with fun shaped pasta, oatmeal, different grains, beans, and kitchen tools.

I’m hoping my kids will continue to be enthusiastic about helping in the kitchen as they get older!

Thank you to Signe for inviting me to join her for Take a Taste Tuesday!

Each Tuesday for the next several weeks a fellow mom/friend/community member will be sharing a fun recipe, tips to include kids in the cooking process, or a great family restaurant for “Take a Taste Tuesday.” If you are interested in sharing your eating and/or cooking fun be sure to connect with me via email!

Using Basic Language Concepts with Goldfish Swim School

My  daughter had very few words when we first began swimming with Goldfish Swim School. Her vocabulary consisted of the few words that all babies start out with (mama, dada, no, mine, etc.), but she was using very few, if any, basic concept words (location, time, number, description, feelings, etc.). These are words that a child needs to understand and use in order to perform everyday tasks like following directions, participating in daily routines, and engaging in conversation. Basic concepts often occur in pairs and tend to be opposites (hot/cold, happy/sad, etc.).

Our weekly swim lessons at Goldfish consist of practicing the same skills. The directions and tasks my daughter participates in involve a variety of basic concepts. I look back on our time together in the pool and remember using the same words when giving her directions each week — “climb out,” “put in,” etc. Now that she is almost two years-old, my daughter is beginning to use a variety of the language concepts that were modeled for her during her swim lesson.  After observing and analyzing my daughter’s language in our past swim lesson, the following are the basic language concepts she uses appropriately:

Wet/Dry: The whole idea of swimming is to get wet. Before each lesson I tell my daughter, “It’s time to get wet,” and when the lesson is complete I tell her, “It’s time to dry off.” Now, she is the one informing me. — “Get wet, Mommy!” “Dry off, Mommy!”

In/Out: During each lesson, we get in the water, put balls in the basket, and climb out of the water. I will give my daughter the direction using these words, and she will then parrot back to me what she is doing. — “Ball in, Mommy!” “Get out, Mommy!”

On/Off: Directions involving on and off are given frequently throughout the swim lesson. Now, after I give the message to my daughter, she parrots back the direction — “Sit on bench, Mommy!” “Jump off bench, Mommy!” 

Up/Down: My daughter’s favorite part of the lesson is the slide. When she sees the slide she is ready and tells me, “Go up, Mommy!” Once at the top, I model the phrase, “Go down,” and she is quick to repeat it.

Happy/Sad: At the end of each lesson, I tell my daughter how she was a good listener and how well she did (assuming that she did have a good day!). I then ask her how swimming makes her feel. The vast majority of the time she responds with, “Happy, Mommy!”

It truly has been amazing watching my daughter’s swimming and language abilities explode over the past year at Goldfish Swim School. I am fascinated each week as she demonstrates the ability to do more independently and need me just a little bit less.

The Details: We are currently in the Goldfish Mini 2 class at Goldfish Swim School. We attend lessons at the Goldfish Swim School in Dublin, Ohio. Check out the link for location, address/telephone details and how to sign up for lessons.

Disclaimer: We were provided free swimming lessons by Goldfish Swim School in exchange for collaborating blog posts. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Summer Challenge #8: Take a Walk on a Story Trail

This week the challenge is to locate and take a walk on a Story Trail in your community (or make your own).

A Story Trail is when pages from a children’s story book are placed page by page along a walking route in your community. You may have seen one placed on posts around a library or along a path in a park. A Story Trail is a fun way to combine early literacy learning, physical activity, and family interaction. It helps build a child’s interest in reading while encouraging healthy outdoor activity.

StoryTrails local to Columbus:

  • Dawes Arboretum – This year the Story Trail book is Sunflower House written by Eve Bunting.
  • Friendship Park – This year’s story, The Friendship Bridge, celebrates the beauty of diversity as two young girls from different cultures meet on a bridge and form a lasting friendship. The story was
    written by students Emerson Fry, Najma Gureye, Frankie Nuss, Mikayla Barbe-Cox, Amun Jama and Natalie Fry and beautifully illustrated by Alyssa Lee, a junior at Gahanna Lincoln High School.

The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.

Take a Taste Tuesday with Annie from Seed Babies

Hello there! I’m Annie from Seed Babies, a blog all about organic edible gardening. I started my gardening journey almost a decade ago while living in NYC. While living in the East Village I joined a community garden on my block and fell in love. I have since moved back to Ohio and have continued on with my gardening adventures. Growing food has brought me so much joy. It has been the basis for so many things in my life including my love of cooking (and eating for that matter), my desire to take better care of our planet, and even my drive to live more simply and minimally.

In addition to being an avid gardener, I am also a mom to an almost 2 year old and another tiny human that is due this October. One of the things I have really looked forward to as a mom is sharing my love of gardening with my kids. I love spending time in the garden with my daughter, even if she is mostly just moving dirt and rocks around. I can usually get her to help me with small tasks, like watering some of the plants, or her ball if she decides he’s thirsty, but her favorite thing is harvesting root veggies. She loves digging in the dirt but, honestly, who doesn’t!?

The other night we had a great time harvesting carrots and potatoes. I love showing her and talking to her about where our food comes from. When we got in the house, I immediately washed one of the carrots off and offered her a bite. She happily took it and ran around before bedtime taking bites and making yummy noises.

The next day we got to work prepping the carrots for dinner. It’s not easy to have a toddler “help” you in the kitchen, but even the times when I am most tired and just want to get things done quickly, I am always glad when I include her. Seeing how happy and excited she gets to work with mommy makes it totally worth it. And as a bonus it definitely makes a difference in how willing she is to actually eat the final result.

So, we kind of threw this meal together. I was in desperate need of a grocery store trip, but that’s one of the great things about having a garden. There are always veggies on hand. In this case we had our newly harvested carrots and kale from the garden, along with a few other left over veggies in the fridge so we made a quick veggie couscous with goat cheese.

Since at the ripe old age of two, my daughter has no knife skills to speak off, I generally will chop most of the veggies before having her join in on dinner prep. Then I’ll have her help by transferring the chopped veggies into a bowl. She usually does quite a bit of taste testing while doing this, which kind of makes me feel like I’m winning at motherhood. Throughout the entire prep and cook process we talked all about how much fun it was to pick the carrots from the garden and clean them and how now we get to eat them! I like to think these reminders help get her more excited to eat her veggies. Sometimes it works. Sometimes.

The final result was delicious and toddler approved. She was excited to get in her seat to eat the meal she helped create. Side note: even though she tried the goat cheese, she was not a fan, so her plate did not include it.

Feeding a toddler is not easy, especially when it comes to vegetables. Some days I feel like I just can’t win and I’m pretty sure she just eats crackers and fruit all day. Other days, like today, I feel like I’m killing it at this whole motherhood thing. I will say when I include her in the entire process, from pulling carrots to cooking them I tend to have a lot more success than when I just plop a plate of prepared food down in front of her. At the very least if she only taste tests some of the veggies while we are prepping dinner I’m happy. I hope that as she grows she will learn to appreciate the food we grow and will get more excited to plant and care for it. There is nothing quite like going into your backyard, picking produce that you have grown from seed, and eating it.

 

Here is the recipe for our quick veggie couscous:

1-2 garlic cloves chopped

Small pinch of red pepper flakes

4ish mushrooms chopped- you can use any variety, we just happened to have button mushrooms on hand

1/2 yellow pepper diced

6 garden carrots- 4 of them sliced thinly, the other 2 are for snacking while cooking

2 large kale stalks- stems removed and greens cut into ribbons

A handful of frozen or fresh peas

1 box of couscous

Prepare the couscous while you chop the veggies. Fluff with fork and set aside when done. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for one minute. Add the rest of your veggies, throw in a large pinch of salt and saute until veggies soften, stirring occasionally. I like to sear or brown my veggies a little. To do this you can leave them undisturbed for a few minutes until they are slightly browned on one side. Once the veggies are done you can remove from heat and stir in the couscous. Done! I added a few grape tomatoes to mine along with some goat cheese. Lastly, I drizzled a tiny bit of aged balsamic over it. Yum yum! I plan on eating the leftovers for breakfast with a fried egg on top.

Summer Challenge #7: Engage the Senses at the Farmers Market

This week the challenge is to check out a local farmers market and engage your senses while you are there.

Children experience their world through their senses: smell, sight, hear, taste, and touch.  A trip to the local farmers market is a multi-sensorial experience, which can further result in increasing your child’s language development. For more on how to engage the senses and promote language development click this link .

If you are in the Central Ohio area be sure to check out Eat Play Columbus for a list of when/where the local farmers markets are happening this summer.

My hope is that each and every adventure will be different and exciting. Please connect and share your experiences using #saynplaythesummeraway.