Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Traditions: From Blue Potatoes to Dime-Studded Stuffing

Posted By on Tue, Nov 26, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Alice Levitt with the turkeys her family kept as pets.
  • Alice Levitt with the turkeys her family kept as pets.
Beneath all the turkey and pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving is really about family traditions. Some rituals are simple — watching football or taking a long walk before dessert — but others, if you stop to think about them, are truly bizarre.

In my family, for example, we put dimes in the stuffing.

According to my mom, the tradition began with her great uncle George, a prominent banker in Salem, Mass., who used to hide silver dollars in his Thanksgiving stuffing. The ritual is similar to the English custom of tucking money into the Christmas pudding. 

Each Turkey Day when my grandfather, Jake, was growing up, he'd spend the meal scouring the stuffing for that lucky silver dollar. Unfortunately, though, Uncle George's loot-hiding practice came to an end when he lost all his money in the Great Depression.

When my mom was growing up, her grandmother, Roma, revived the tradition, sterilizing the coins in boiling water first. "Somewhere along the line," my mom recalls, "the silver dollars were downsized to dimes." But Roma made sure to sprinkle a whole bunch of them in the stuffing, "so everyone got a prize," mom says. 

The dimes continued all through my growing up. When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of warning our guests not to choke on their stuffing. And I remember the muffled clink of the coin, partially covered in cornbread, as my brother and I raced to make the biggest pile on the side of our plates.

Kids VT copublisher Colby Roberts and his family start off the Thanksgiving meal with a funny little ceremony. "We have a traditional simultaneous celebratory bite of turnip every year," he says. "We call it 'The Turnip Bite.'" Actually, the veggie they all chomp down on in unison is mashed rutabaga, but when Roberts was growing up his parents got the name wrong — and it stuck. Now Roberts says his three daughters can't wait to do the Turnip Bite each year.

Read on for some more weird and wonderful Thanksgiving traditions from the Kids VT and Seven Days staff. 

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Taking a Stand Against Tobacco

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Tian Berry and Shania Bunbury - BEN MERVIS
  • Ben Mervis
  • Tian Berry and Shania Bunbury
Elese Snay, a senior at Milton High School, has always wanted her dad to quit smoking, but until she joined Our Voices Xposed, the state’s anti-tobacco youth program last summer, she wasn’t sure she had the tools to convince him.

On November 19, Snay joined more than 70 kids from around northern Vermont at the annual youth summit for OVX and its middle school equivalent, Vermont Kids Against Tobacco, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Burlington.

Many of these kids, who spent the day learning to deliver their message to the media, have personal connections to the cause — their parents smoke, or their grandparents died of lung cancer. “Every kid has a right to breathe clean air,” said Gabbi, a student at St. Albans City School, referring to the program's Free My Ride campaign to keep secondhand smoke out of cars.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Healthy Flax and Bran Banana Bread

Home Cookin'

Posted By on Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Banana bread is a fall staple in our house. There's something soothing about the warmth of fresh bread on a chilly day. This recipe puts a healthy twist on your everyday banana bread recipe. Not only is it quite tasty, but you can feel good about the ingredients. Enjoy!


Healthy Flax and Bran Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
3/4 cup plain yogurt
2 eggs
2 tablesoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, wheat bran, flax seed, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into pan. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in pan for a few minutes before cooling completely on a rack.

Tasha Lehman is a regular contributor to Kids VT. She lives in Vermont with her husband, Matt, and their three sons.

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The Blue Backpack Chronicles: Movement and Marble in Middlebury

Posted By on Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 10:59 AM

  • Alison Novak
Typically my 3-year-old son, Theo, has boundless reserves of energy. But when I buckle him into his car seat, he gets really mellow. That makes long country drives a pretty relaxing option on our days together.

Last week, we headed down Route 7 to Middlebury. Theo chilled in his seat, and I pointed out silos, cows, vegetable stands and even a camel along the way. 

Before hitting the downtown area, we peeled off onto Exchange Street so we could check out Maple Landmark Woodcraft, a toy manufacturer. The colorful, six-car wooden train out front was calling Theo’s name and, despite the chilly temps, we spent a good 15 minutes climbing through it, pretending we were engineer and passenger.

Inside the shop, Theo and I perused the offerings and watched through big windows as workers crafted wooden toys. Along with its famous magnetic name trains, Maple Landmark carries traditional games, all sorts of toy vehicles and stocking stuffers such as mustaches on sticks and spinning tops.

Soon it was time for a morning snack; we satisfied our cravings at Otter Creek Bakery. Theo and I split a delicious sour-cream coffee cake muffin while we ogled the seasonal treats behind the counter, including sourdough bread loaves baked in the shape of bats. 

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

All Aboard the Big-Boy Train

Posted By on Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 4:58 PM

My baby days are over. I have relished my children's births and infancy, inhaled their sweet baby breath, swayed them to sleep in my arms and whispered loving lullabies. For the last five years I've been either nursing orchanging their diapers.

But those sweet baby boys are now a rowdy toddler and wild preschooler. My diaper freedom is on the horizon —and it looks glorious. Doors are opening into "big-kid land," and it's awesome. We're finally at that place where they are old enough to do cool stuff and enjoy it and its either free or super cheap for them to participate.

My big boys and I recently jumped (literally — they jump a lot) at the opportunity for a railroad adventure to Bellows Falls to stay with our friends for the night. They have both been train enthusiasts from the first "choo-choo." We've watched the "Thomas and Friends" movies hundreds of times.

The diaper bag and gear are lighter now, and the trip by rail is
only slightly longer than the drive would have been (three hours). At $54 each way, riding the train cost more than we would have spent on gas, but traveling this way allowed the boys to move about the cabin safely, while I checked out the amazing October foliage. And, better yet, when you're on a train there's no need to pull over to let off steam, grab a snack, change a diaper, take a potty break, deal with an itchy carseat or stretch your legs.

My husband dropped us off at the Essex Junction train station on a Sunday morning. Our bags packed, we hugged and kissed goodbye from the platform, like in the movies, with tears in our eyes. 

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Champlain Game Academy

Champlain Game Academy

Burlington, VT

This summer program allows high school students to explore their passion for games in Champlain’s state-of-the-art Game Studio. They will be living in the residence halls, taking classes with Champlain industry-expert professors, and exploring all that Burlington has to offer. Their mission? To develop a playable game in two weeks.…(more)

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