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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Harvest Festival Round-Up

Posted By on Thu, Sep 25, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Pumpkins at Sam Mazza's
  • Pumpkins at Sam Mazza's

It’s sad to say goodbye to summer, but autumn’s bounty of harvest festivals is a nice consolation prize. Flannel-clad families celebrate the changing season with good old-fashioned fun — parades, field games and pumpkin picking. And let’s not forget the yummy pies, cider, donuts and corn that accompany the fests. We’ve compiled a list of local harvest festivals happening in the next few weeks. Bring it on, fall!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Home Cookin': Apple Tart

Posted By on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 10:56 AM

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A fall trip to the orchard is a tradition in our house. We fill at least two giant tote bags every time we pick apples. We love them straight off the tree, as well as sliced, dusted with cinnamon and simmered into applesauce with whipped cream on top. Our neighborhood hosts cider-making parties and canning get-togethers. And, of course, there’s pie.

When those first cool, breezy fall days come around, nothing is more important than filling the house with the soothing aroma of something sweet in the oven. But let’s face it: while anytime is a good time to eat pie, there often isn’t time to actually make one. Especially during a busy work week.

After our latest trip to the orchard, I needed a recipe that would satisfy my urge to bake something impressive and delicious with my beloved apples and get me out of the kitchen in half an hour.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

On the Fly: Kyoto, Japan

Posted By on Sat, Sep 20, 2014 at 1:30 PM

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I'm writing this from the traditional Japanese house we have rented in an ancient part of Kyoto. Sitting cross-legged on tatami mats at a low table, my kids and I are in the middle of a morning writing lesson. My belly has grown bigger — I'm five months along now — so this set-up is a bit difficult for me. On the bright side, it's forcing me to have good posture!

It feels as if we're living in a dollhouse. Everything is diminutive: the doorways, the utensils, even the alleyway that our front door slides open onto. I can touch both walls of the alley with my arms outstretched. The fridge is the size of a hotel minibar, and there are just a few small plates, cups and bowls and an electric hot plate to cook one small pot. The walls are literally paper: Shoji screens separate our few rooms. And the houses are so close together, you can hear every word (even if we don’t understand it) from our neighbors. I am afraid we must be the loudest house in the neighborhood. 

This is a big change from what we are used to, a Burlington house with high ceilings, more than 3,500 square feet and three bathrooms. Here, we sleep side by side on thin mattresses laid out on tatami mats. We share one toilet and one bathtub. The girls love it and are starting to understand the concept of simple living.

On my first day as their teacher, I felt like a fraud. They looked up at me expectantly while we watched Japanese children on their way to school. I wanted to shout, "Go with them; I don’t know what I’m doing!"

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Home Cookin': Pizza Muffins

Posted By on Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 2:47 PM

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When I was a kid, my mom once made me a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich on a leftover Pillsbury breadstick for school lunch. When I turned back the tin foil in the cafeteria to reveal this homely creation, I was horrified. For many years, I wouldn't let her live it down.

I truly didn't understand what would prompt her to make such a makeshift PB&J — until I had to start packing school lunch for my own kids.

The task isn't always bad. When my kitchen is stocked from a trip to the grocery, and I have the forethought to pack lunch boxes the night before school, the chopping fruit and veggies, making sandwiches and filling cute Tupperware containers with pretzel goldfish and cheesy bunnies can actually be kind of fun.

But when it's 7a.m., I haven't been to the grocery in a week, my kids need help squeezing the toothpaste from the tube and getting their socks on and I still haven't showered, it's another story. 

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Be A-MAIZE-D! A Corn-Maze Roundup

Posted By on Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 9:00 PM

PERCY FARM CORN MAZE
  • Percy Farm Corn Maze
If you like getting lost, read on to learn about a quintessential Vermont fall activity: the corn maze. 

The Great Vermont Corn Maze, Danville
This maze, on a third-generation dairy farm, has a new design every year. Situated on 10 acres, it's a serious challenge; visitors should be able to walk for about an hour, without a rest, to find their way out. If you'd prefer something less intense, try the smaller maze on the property.

$10 for children ages 5-15 and seniors ages 60 and over; $15 for ages 16-59; and free for children under 5. Farm animals, 100 feet of underground tunnels, barnyard golf and a kids village are all free with admission to the mazes. Popcorn, ice cream and beverages are available to purchase. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; visitors cannot enter the big maze after 3 p.m.

Through October 17. Info, 748-1399.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Home Cookin': A Healthy Twist on Burgers and Fries

Posted By on Wed, Sep 3, 2014 at 11:32 AM

ERINN SIMON
  • Erinn Simon
I love a good burger.

My family loves to remind me of how I marched off to college a staunch vegetarian, only to return for the Thanksgiving holiday starving and begging for a cheeseburger.

I struggled with my food identity through my late teens and early twenties. There were so many solid reasons to stay veggie, and so many tasty reasons to go carnivore.

These days my relationship with meat is simple. I like it, and so does my family. We don’t eat it every day, and when we do we try to buy as responsibly as we can. During the summer we get as much of our meat as possible from the farmers market. We particularly love the ground beef from Stony Pond Farm in Fairfield.

At the Burlington Children’s Space I try to keep a 50/50 balance of meat and veggie dishes, but there’s no denying that the kids are always thrilled to see meat on the menu. And just like at my house, burgers are a definite favorite. At school and at home I’m always looking for ways to make old faves healthier, so I did some experimenting with my standard burger. Some onions and garlic, along with a little chopped kale and quinoa really ups the fiber and nutrients and tastes amazing.

Now, I love French fries as well, but I usually opt for roasted or mashed potatoes when I’m cooking. My new favorite burger companion is a delicious roasted potato dish I adapted from the fantastic blog food52. It’s billed as a potato "salad", but that moniker doesn’t do it justice.  My kids have been known to groan when I serve roasted potatoes, but we scraped the bottom of the bowl the first time I made these.

Make this combo for dinner, and you’ll never think of burgers and fries the same way again!

Kale Quinoa Burgers
Serves 6

2 lbs ground beef, turkey or chicken
2 cups kale (tough stems removed, leaves chopped finely)
½ of a medium onion, finely chopped
½ cup uncooked (yes, uncooked!) quinoa
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until everything is well incorporated.

Form into 4-inch patties and lay on a shallow baking tray.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Check internal temperature with a meat thermometer (beef should be at least 165 degrees, turkey and chicken at least 160 degrees), and flip over for another 5 minutes or so if necessary.

Serve on whole wheat buns. We like to add greens and slices of cheddar cheese at our house. 

Roasted Potato Salad (Adapted from food52)
Serves 6 as a side dish

1.5
 pounds small potatoes (white or red)
3 
tablespoons olive oil
1½ 
teaspoons salt
½
 teaspoon ground black pepper
4
 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 
tablespoons mayonnaise
1 
tablespoon lemon juice
1 
teaspoon dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Quarter the potatoes and add them to a good sized mixing bowl.

Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and the pepper. Toss to coat the potatoes and spread them on a baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake the potatoes for about 30 minutes, making sure you turn them over once or twice during roasting — you want them to turn a nice golden brown.

When they’re ready, take them out and let them cool just a bit. The original recipe calls for them to cool completely, but I like it better when they’re still a bit warm.

In another bowl combine the last ½ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the chopped garlic, mayonnaise, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Mix well and pour over the cooled potatoes, tossing gently to make sure they’re all coated.





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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

On the Fly: Adventures in Homeschooling Around the World

Posted By on Tue, Sep 2, 2014 at 9:00 AM

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Kids VT contributor Jessica Lara Ticktin was finalizing plans to travel the world with her family — and to homeschool three daughters along the way — when she found out she was pregnant. The trip is still a go. She’ll document her family’s adventures on this blog until they return to Vermont in December. 

In early September two years ago, my husband, Adam, and our three daughters, Dahlia, Lola and Kaya — then 8, 6 and 3 years old, respectively — went hiking in the Northeast Kingdom. It still felt like summer, and the leaves had yet to turn, creating a brilliant canopy of green above us.

We let out a collective gasp when we reached the top of Mount Pisgah. Sheer cliffs dropped hundreds of feet directly into Lake Willoughby. The view was breathtaking. But with no guardrails or fences up there, it was also scary.

Adam and I have always sought out that perfect combination of beauty and risk — in work, travel and love. Now, we were ready to take a leap of faith as a family.

On our descent that afternoon, we hatched a crazy idea: In two years, we’d relocate with our kids to another country — simply for the sake of living abroad.

Adam and I have always had wanderlust; we met while traveling in South Africa 16 years ago. When our first daughter was born in 2004, friends told us that would be the end of our traveling days. “You can’t go traipsing around the world with an infant or toddler,” they told us.

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