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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Feeling Foolish: A Weekend Preview

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Big Nazo Band, one of the acts at Festival of Fools
  • Big Nazo Band, one of the acts at Festival of Fools

Church Street Marketplace bustles with street theater this weekend, when the seventh annual Festival of Fools rolls into town on Friday. Families can watch an assortment of the best street performers around the globe — from larger-than-life mutant puppet creatures and yoyo experts, to knife jugglers and slapstick tap dancers. On Saturday, the south lawn of City Hall Park turns into a Kids Zone, with live music, face painting, art projects and a whole lot more wacky performances.

Looking for something a bit more mellow? During the Summer Naturalist Program at Mill Trail Cabin in Stowe on Saturday, kids and parents learn about the history and ecology of the land. Or take a woodsy Wildlife Walk at the Woodside Natural Area in Essex, where little ones learn about what makes a good animal habitat.

At Antique Tractor Day at the Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock on Sunday, young visitors peruse retro farm machines, make ice cream and play in the sandbox.

For more agricultural fun, head to Highgate for Franklin County Field Days Thursday through Sunday, where an alternative beauty pageant, demolition derby and minivan mash-up add some flavor to the customary rides, music and livestock offerings.

We'd would love to hear from you. What are your plans this weekend?

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

It's Time For Pie

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 9:00 AM

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Most of what I know about cooking and baking I learned from my first post-college job. I was living in my hometown, Binghamton, N.Y., with my boyfriend (and future husband) in a downtown apartment building populated largely by other underemployed, creative, twentysomething punks. It seemed like we all worked in restaurants. 

Though it had nothing to do with the social work degree I had just spent and borrowed tons of money to attain, I landed a job I'd secretly wanted for years. I was a limited partner at a kooky, hippie, cooperatively run natural-foods restaurant, the  Binghamton institution Whole In The Wall. I'd fallen in love with the place as a teenager. I loved the shabby/cool decor, the all-wood interior, the artsy owners, the vegetarian menu and the cooperative ethos. If you worked there, you worked on everything. As a server, I was called upon to master many skills. We repaired broken appliances, covered for the often-absent dishwasher, drew up menus, prepped for the cooks and made the signature soups, salad dressings, sauces and quiches.

But my favorite job was baking. We served raspberry chocolate chip brownies, cheesecakes, cookies, tarts and pies — and they were all amazing. So it was that I learned to make a mean pie crust from scratch, and from some mighty talented cooks. 

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Best of NYC Children's Film Festival Comes to Main Street Landing

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 9:00 AM

'Notebook Babies'
  • 'Notebook Babies'
In the mood to take your kids to the movies, but hoping to avoid the summer blockbusters and Disney sequels? You're in luck.

On Thursday night, the Burlington Film Society, the Vermont International Film Foundation and Main Street Landing sponsor a showing of the best animated shorts from the New York City International Children's Film Festival at 7 p.m in Burlington.

The 12 short films range in length from two to nine minutes and hail from Europe, New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

It's an eclectic lineup. In Munggee, Not Again, a stop-motion movie from Switzerland, two marm
'Apache'
  • 'Apache'
ots and a hedgehog attempt to rescue their sleepwalking friend from the mountains. In Apache, from New Zealand, neon paper cutouts create a continuously spiraling stage for a Native American guitarist and his Yeti bandmate as they perform a twangy throwback to '60s surf rock and spaghetti western soundtracks. And American fifth-grade teacher Tony Dusko offers a series of short, humorous meditations on behavior, encouragement and friendship in his film, Notebook Babies.

The films are appropriate for all ages, so bring the whole family! Tickets cost $8 for adults and $5 for children and are available here or at the door.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Home Cookin': Cherry-Chocolate Summer Sipper

Posted By on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 1:43 PM

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Summer is a fruit lover's paradise.

Locally, I'm enamored by the strawberries from Last Resort Farm and the blueberries from Adam's Berry Farm (now in their new Charlotte location!). But my true love comes from farther afield — the dark, sweet cherry of the Pacific Northwest. 

I've loved cherries since I was little. My mom recalls buying several pounds of the fruit when I was a teen and coming into the kitchen to find me sitting beside an empty bag and a heaping bowl of pits.

Yesterday I walked into the grocery store and was confronted with a glistening display of beautiful cherries — for $1.99 a pound! I couldn't resist buying a whole mess of them. 

My favorite way to eat cherries is to aimlessly pop them in my mouth as is, but I also like incorporating them into salads and desserts. Since it was too hot to turn on the oven yesterday, I opted for a frothy, blended drink that combines chocolate, cherries and almond. It's perfect as a cold dessert that's a little lighter than ice cream or as a refreshing afternoon pick-me-up.

My 7-year-old daughter, Mira, thought the concoction tasted like a cold hot chocolate. To me, it was simply delicious.


Cherry-Chocolate Summer Sipper

(Makes one big glass or two smaller portions)

1 cup vanilla almond milk (I'm particular to Califia Farms, which you can get at Healthy Living)
12 dark cherries, pitted
1 tablespoon good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon almond butter
a splash of maple syrup (optional)
4-6 ice cubes

Combine ingredients in a blender. Blend until frothy. Sip away!

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Day-cations Contest: It's Your Turn!

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 4:02 PM

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Every June, July and August, Kids VT recommends family-oriented day trips to help readers take advantage of the lovely but fleeting summer months. For these adventures — which we call Day-cations — we've sent our writers to places including Thunder Road, Burton Island State Park, the Montréal Biodome, Little River State Park... and the list goes on. 

Now we want to hear about the excursions that you — our awesome readers — like to take in the summer. 

Tell us a little bit about a a place you've visited this summer that's been fun for the whole family. Comment below or on our Facebook page and you'll be entered into the running to win tickets to Walking With Dinosaurs, a live show featuring 15 moving, roaring models of prehistoric creatures, at the Bell Centre in Montréal on August 17th. 

Sounds like a pretty cool Day-cation to us!

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Performing Arts Extravaganza: A Weekend Preview

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Circuspalooza at Shelburne Museum
  • Circuspalooza at Shelburne Museum
In the mood for some theater, dance and circus this weekend? You're in luck. Local stages are bursting with kid-focused — and, in some cases,  kid-filled — performances sure to make you tap your toes, sing in your seat and dream big!

A rainy day is transformed into an amazing adventure in Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat, which comes to St. Michael's Playhouse on Friday through Sunday, with 10 a.m. and noon performances, perfect for the smallest of theatergoers. 

The young performers of Very Merry Theatre present Rogers and Hammerstein's classic musical The King & I at Staige Hill Farm in Charlotte on Friday night. 

On Saturday afternoon and evening, some of the country's best tap dancers, ranging from 9 to 22 years old, bring the noise to the stage of the Black Box Theater in Burlington for a rousing celebration of dance.

The Jets and the Sharks clash on the streets of New York when the Vermont Children's Theater presents West Side Story on Thursday through Saturday in Lyndonville.

And on Sunday, aerial artists come to the Shelburne Museum for Circuspalooza, where kids can also participate in carnival games and clowning workshops and nosh on cotton candy and popcorn.

Enjoy the weekend!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Set Sail on a Kids Cruise

Posted By on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 12:46 PM

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Have you ever considered taking your kids on a boat ride around Lake Champlain but worried they'd get bored? This upcoming Kids Cruise — hosted by GymKids Academy, Inc. and the Spirit of Ethan Allen III — might be just what you're looking for.

At 10 a.m. on August 2, the Spirit of Ethan Allen III disembarks from Burlington's waterfront for an hour and a half spin around the lake. For $10 each ($1.75 for kids under 3), passengers of all ages can participate in creative activities like t-shirt and cookie decorating, scarf juggling and yoga. Performances from Joey the Clown, Footworks Studio of Dance and the Contois School of Music band and a circus workshop with GymKids Academy add to the floating fun.  

There's also a raffle benefiting KidSafe Collaborative featuring items from local businesses including Davis Studio, ECHO and Pizza Putt. Ticket holders receive a $10 gift card to Kids City just for attending. Food can be purchased for an additional cost.  

For more information on the Kids Cruise, visit their Facebook page. And to reserve your spot, click here. Anchors away!

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Home Cookin': Pickle It!

Posted By on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 9:01 AM

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Maybe you already love canning and pickling veggies. Maybe, as a kid, you learned the technique from a relative. Many Vermonters I’ve met in the 15 years I’ve lived here seem to have a preserving guru in the family. Mine did not.

Growing up in upstate New York, I spent plenty of time at the farmers market with my grandma. But she wasn’t a pickler, so neither was my mom. The first time I tasted a dilly bean here in Vermont, I felt sure I’d never tasted anything like it.

I loved it, but felt totally intimidated by the idea of pickling anything myself, especially in my tiny apartment kitchen. Pickled veggies were a treat I would enjoy — after they were prepared by someone else.

Fast forward a decade to a snack workshop at the Burlington Children’s Space presented by City Market’s Food and Nutrition Education Coordinator Caroline Homan last year. I looked over the list of recipes we’d be learning and was intrigued by the Sunshine Pickles. Technically, these aren't pickled; they're lacto-fermented, meaning they’re preserved in a simple brine of water, salt and spices. The process was beyond easy. We made them that day, and they were so tasty, I became obsessed with this form of pickling for the rest of the summer. At home, the kids and I made jars of carrots, green beans and cucumbers and snacked on them for weeks. 

Soon we felt emboldened to try out a slightly more ambitious pickling method. I turned once again to my personal cooking guru, Deb Perelman of The Smitten Kitchen. Her recipe was a bit more work than the Sunshine Pickles, but still simple enough to encourage a novice pickler.

Using a half-gallon jar, I created a job for my 10-year-old: piling the sliced veggies in colorful layers. The result was amazing

In her original recipe, Perelman writes to prepare yourself for a total cooking paradigm shift before making pickled veggie slaw. Once you've had it, she writes, you'll want to put it on top of everything, all the time. She’s right.

So, I share with you two delicious pickling ideas, adapted from two of my favorite recipe makers. Both can be made with just about any crunchy veggie you have on hand and, best of all, neither involve canning, vacuum sealing or sterilized jars.

Enjoy!

Pickled Veggie Slaw
adapted from The Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

1 cup distilled white vinegar

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds

1 cup cold water
4 to 5 cups mixed thinly sliced or julienned, crunchy, raw vegetables (pictured above are carrots, yellow peppers and snow peas in one jar, and red cabbage in the other. I also recommend green beans, radishes, cukes and rainbow peppers. The peppers don't stay crunchy as long as other veggies once pickled, but they are beautiful and very delicious — and making brightly colored veggie layers is super fun).

Directions:

Heat the vinegar, sugar, salt and mustard seeds in a small, non-reactive pot over medium heat until the mixture starts to simmer. Stir, but only until the sugar and salt dissolve. Then stir in the water and let the mixture cool to lukewarm.

Divide vegetables between jars. Two quart mason jars will do the trick; I doubled the recipe and used two half-gallon jars.

Pour the vinegar mixture over vegetables and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat them. The veggies will be delicious and gently pickled within an hour, and really pickled after refrigeration overnight. You can expect them to taste a little more intense over the next few weeks, but never too strong. As long as you keep them submerged in liquid, the veggies will keep in the fridge for up to a month — though they've never lasted more than a week in our house. 

Eat these with absolutely anything. Really. I love to add them to sandwiches, tacos, rice and beans, green salad and roasted potatoes, or alongside grilled meat of any kind.

Sunshine Pickles

Courtesy of City Market

Ingredients: 

1 pound small pickling cucumbers, carrots or green beans (You could mix them but, unlike the slaw recipe, I like to keep these in separate jars.)
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pickling spice mixture
1 teaspoon dill seed
1 quart mason jar with lid (You can multiply the recipe for as many jars as you’d like to fill.)

Directions:

Cut vegetables into rounds or spears (or leave green beans whole).

Fill your jar with as many veggies as you can! Really pack them in.

Add salt and any herbs or spices you want to use. I used dill only, and they were delicious, but several of my co-workers used the ready-made pickling spice mixture available in the spice aisle of the grocery store.

Fill your jar with water until it covers the vegetables, leaving about ½” space at the top. Screw on the lid and shake the jar well to dissolve all the salt. (This is a great kid job!)

That’s it. You’re done. Put the jar on the kitchen counter for two to five days, pressing vegetables below the brine with your fingers or a spoon each day. Taste them after two days and see what you think. If you like the level of pickle-ness, start munching! Or let them keep fermenting on the counter for up to five days. Once they’re perfect for you, store them in the fridge. They’ll keep there for several weeks, but I bet they won’t last that long. These are a delicious, different, refreshing summer snack.

Happy pickling!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Up, Up and Away & French Heritage Day: A Weekend Preview

Posted By on Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Stoweflake Balloon Festival
  • Stoweflake Balloon Festival
This weekend promises warm temps and tons of fun events. 

On Saturday, in Vergennes, Francophile families revisit their roots during French Heritage Day, an annual celebration of Vermont's cultural connections to Canada. Rope making, ice cream churning, old-time games and horse-drawn carriage rides ensure a bon temps for all ages. 

In Stowe, colorful floating orbs transport people through the sky at the Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival. Take a tethered ride or — if you want to keep your feet on the ground — watch the balloons take off while enjoying children's activities, live music and a food tent.

Creative folks might want to hit up Waterbury for their annual Arts Fest. There's a block party on Friday night with pizza and aerial acrobatics from Nimble Arts. On Saturday, kids can take part in an ArtSpy scavenger hunt while adults peruse the wares of local artisans.

On Sunday, aspiring junior birders visit the Birds of Vermont Museum, in Huntington, to learn about feathered friends through observation, research and goofing around. And at the Babar Brunch at the Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes at noon, a fancy spread of mini quiches and granola parfaits is accompanied by a narrated instrumental performance of Poulenc's The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant.

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Home Cookin': Roasted Peaches

Posted By on Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 3:27 PM

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There's nothing worse than coming home from a week-long vacation to an empty fridge.

I take that back. Coming home to brown bananas and moldy grapes you forgot to toss before you left is much worse. 

Luckily, my family has found a way to avoid these predicaments.

Once or twice a summer, we make the almost-five-hour drive down to Westchester County, N.Y. to visit both sets of grandparents. Our drive back home is not complete without a stop at Pattie's Patch. The Patch, as we like to call it, is a super-size fruit stand in Whitehall, N.Y., an eighth of a mile from the Vermont border. It's a little over an hour away from our house, so when we spot it we know we're at the tail end of our journey.

On Monday, our stop at Pattie's yielded a $40 haul of fruits and veg — pears, plums, sugar snap peas, eggplant and peaches.

Oh, the peaches. Without fail, Pattie's has the most delicious Georgia peaches (local produce at Pattie's is labeled but there's not a ton). They're juicy and perfectly ripe. So ripe, in fact, that you need to make sure they don't get jostled around in the trunk of the car; they bruise easily.  
                      
Thanks to Pattie's, we were able to delay the dreaded post-vacation trip to the grocery store until later in the week, and I was able to put a meal on the table that night that involved more than just a box of pasta. 

Using the eggplant, I made this surprisingly light and tasty dish with chickpeas and a delicious cinnamony tomato sauce — which I can't fully endorse because, although my 4-year old, Theo, scarfed it up, he said it made his belly itchy. (If you have the itchy eggplant thing that many people seem to have, you can sub zucchini or yellow squash.)

With the peaches — which did get a little bumped around in the car — I made the easy and healthy dessert below. 

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Camp Birch Hill

Camp Birch Hill

New Durham, NH

Nestled in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, Camp Birch Hill offers a fun, elective based program where boys and girls aged 6-16 can participate in over 50 diverse activities of their choice. Each summer they welcome 180 to 200 campers to their grounds in New Durham, NH. This traditional,…(more)

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