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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Home Cookin': Snow-Day Bread

Posted By on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 10:47 AM

A fancy braided loaf - ERINN SIMON
  • Erinn Simon
  • A fancy braided loaf
I love snow-day season because I'm one of the rare adults who's lucky enough to still get them! My workplace (the Burlington Children's Space) closes whenever the Burlington School District closes for bad weather, so my kids and I get to celebrate those magic winter moments together.

One of my favorite things to do on a snowy, surprise day off — after sledding, snow fort building and hot cocoa drinking of course — is baking. Snow days offer the perfect opportunity to bake bread, a project that can be hard to fit into routine-dependent weekdays and busy weekends. And it appeals to all ages. It's a big enough process to keep older kids interested, while younger kids are natural mixers and kneaders.
 
I learned to bake bread from Mollie Katzen's The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, a sequel to The Moosewood Cookbook.  Katzen's simple recipe is easy to follow and her illustrations take the guesswork out of every stage. I've adapted this recipe many different ways — using all white or all wheat flour, adding cinnamon and raisins, even incorporating jalapeño and cheddar — but I always come back to the simple, original version. My family loves this bread, and a loaf rarely lasts more than a day in our house. 

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Date That Almost Wasn't

Posted By on Tue, Jan 27, 2015 at 3:37 PM

The happy couple at Skateland. Read more about their date in our February issue! - ANGELA ARSENAULT
  • Angela Arsenault
  • The happy couple at Skateland. Read more about their date in our February issue!

There comes a point over the course of any commitment when you just don’t want to do that thing you promised to do no matter what. I reached that point last month, only three months into our One Awesome Date Every Month promise.

It was a Saturday. I had been sitting in the car most of the day, driving past prospective houses with my parents. Not exactly taxing stuff, I can admit, but when we arrived back at my house I was grumpy, hungry and in need of a shower. Or, as my husband sarcastically put it, “prime date material.”

The pissy voice in my head took this opportunity to start making excuses.

“The date’s not going to be much fun if I’m feeling like this." 
“We probably shouldn’t bother.”
“If I force this thing, I’ll end up resenting the whole process.”
“We’ve got five more nights before Ryan leaves to go on tour. That’s plenty of time to reschedule.”

That last thought was the one that tipped me off. It was such an obvious lie that I had to instantly discredit all other notions offered up by this unreliable voice. Since when is rescheduling a date an easy thing? What kind of person gives up free childcare and assumes that booking a sitter in the next few days is a foregone conclusion?

So I changed my clothes (an action that approximates showering in a pinch), slightly altered the “visibly annoyed” look on my face and got in the car.

What happened next should surprise no one: I had fun.

It started with a series of jokes between Ryan and me about the dearth of tasty dining options on the way from Williston to Essex. Call it a case of misery enjoying company, but if I’m going to be playing the role of Little Miss Grumpy, who better to pair me with than Mr. Food Snob? We laughed our way through a mediocre dinner, far less concerned with the sad, little sprinkling of cheese on our nachos than with the fact that neither of us had ever been to this particular restaurant before and who were these people eating here?!? Quite simply, we were enjoying ourselves — and each other. And I was no longer grumpy, tired or wishing I could have just gone to bed.

My adventurous husband always says that when you’re on the fence, 100 times out of 100, the answer is “Yes!” Go. Do. Date night is no exception. Push past that resistance-bred ring of fire!

It would be ludicrous to assume that you’re going to be pumped every time date night rolls around. So make a promise to yourself to veto excuses and bad attitudes outright. Your date, your relationship — and maybe even your life! — will be better for it.

Read more about Angela and Ryan's date in a special Valentine’s Day-inspired dating feature in the February issue of Kids VT!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Home Cookin': Baked Oatmeal

Posted By on Wed, Jan 14, 2015 at 11:06 AM

Oatmeal in the skillet - ERINN SIMON
  • Erinn Simon
  • Oatmeal in the skillet

On a freezing school-day morning, cereal for breakfast just doesn’t seem like enough. I want to give my kids something warm and delicious that will fill their bellies and guard against the chill.

Oatmeal seems like an obvious answer, but regular old oatmeal always leaves me kind of cold, even with liberal sprinklings of brown sugar. That’s why I was so eager to try this recipe for baked oatmeal I found on the website food52.

Made with oats, milk, cream, eggs, honey, dried fruit and nuts, it sounded almost like dessert. I decided to get rid of the dried apricots (not my favorite) and make a few substitutions to lighten it up just a little.

It was quick and easy to assemble. The first batch went into the oven around bedtime. As it baked, everyone turned up in the kitchen wondering what was making the house smell so good. A quick taste test when it finished cooking left everyone excited for breakfast. Even my husband, not an oatmeal fan, gave it a thumbs up.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

On the Fly: Home

Posted By on Tue, Jan 6, 2015 at 10:30 AM

Thinking about going home - JESSICA LARA TICKTIN
  • Jessica Lara Ticktin
  • Thinking about going home
Since September, Kids VT contributor Jessica Lara Ticktin has been traveling the world with her family, homeschooling three daughters along the way — while pregnant. This is her final post.

"I must cross the Atlantic."

This became my mantra. Like a European explorer hundreds of years ago, I had only to get to the New World. Then the baby could come. Nothing else would matter, as long as we were on the right side of the Atlantic Ocean.

At Gatwick Airport in London, I wore layers of baggy clothing and a long scarf draped over my belly. I propped the girls in front of me as we waited in the check-in line. I had a letter from a doctor in Israel (written, so conveniently, in Hebrew) saying I had a normal pregnancy and was OK to fly. But how would this go over when I looked like I was nine months pregnant?

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