Thursday, June 25, 2015

Getting Jazzy With Kids

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 at 9:05 AM

The Christian McBride Trio - JD FOX
  • JD Fox
  • The Christian McBride Trio
“I believe that all three of us up here on this stage were just about your age when we got exposed to jazz for the first time,” four-time Grammy-winning jazz bassist Christian McBride told the audience of mostly kids during his group’s “Jazz Junior” performance in June — part of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. “Don’t know if we liked it right away, but at least we were exposed to it, and that’s what matters the most.”

The internationally touring Christian McBride Trio — made up of McBride, pianist Christian Sands and drummer Jerome Jennings — began their five-song set at the FlynnSpace with “Ham Hocks and Cabbage,” an original instrumental piece from their album Out Here. The tune started out simply, then sauntered into a jazz groove that became layered and more complex.

Afterward, McBride described it as “a certain kind of song. It is a jazz song, a swing song, but it is another kind of song that starts with a letter B.” He asked the audience to guess what that B stood for.

McBride called on a young boy with a raised hand. “What were you going to say, my man?” he asked. The boy guessed that the word was “upbeat.” McBride good-naturedly responded that even though there was a B in it, that wasn’t the word. The answer he was looking for was “blues.” But McBride handed the boy a Milky Way for trying.

The following query was about the group's next song, a tune made popular in the 1930s by a man with the last name of Ellington. “Raise your hand if you know his first name,” McBride challenged the group. Lots of hands shot up, and the chosen kid answered correctly and received a treat.

That song was Duke Ellington’s “Caravan,” and the trio played it fast while adding their own distinctive flavor to its procession of shifting melodies and beats.

“Anything can be jazz,” explained McBride. “As long as you know what the jazz language is, you can take any song and dress it up in jazz clothing.”

The trio went on to prove that statement with jazzed-up renditions of “Send One Your Love” By Stevie Wonder (who, McBride noted, was twelve-years-old when he started recording), followed by “I Have Dreamed” from The King and I.

The hour long concert concluded with a little surprise that fully hammered home the point: “A song that we’re not sure you’ve ever heard done as a jazz song before,” McBride said, adding that it would be familiar to everyone.

It only took a few bars before the whole audience was singing, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”  

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Home Cookin': Strawberry Shortcake

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 1:38 PM

Strawberry shortcakes ready to eat - SAM SIMON
  • Sam Simon
  • Strawberry shortcakes ready to eat
I try to make the most of the short strawberry season by incorporating the ruby-red jewels into my daily menu as much as possible. In June and early July, I toss berries into my morning bowl of cereal and serve shortcake for dinner at least once or twice. 

In celebration of the fabulous strawberry, I offer my recipe for the best shortcake. This is a great one to make with kids after a long afternoon of picking your own berries. Flaky biscuits, strawberries with a twist and homemade whipped cream — what more could you ask for?

Strawberry Shortcake
Biscuits (adapted from Betty Crocker)

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons  plus 1 teaspoon sugar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ cup buttermilk
9 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into ¼-inch slices

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or use a cast iron skillet.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Using a pastry cutter or two butter knives, blend the butter into the mixture until it resembles fine crumbs.

Add the buttermilk and mix with a spoon until it just comes together.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently a few times, then pat it into a round about 1-inch thick.

Using a jar or glass top about 2 ½ inches in diameter, cut out 8 or 9 rounds and arrange them on the baking sheet or in the cast iron pan.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the biscuits have puffed up somewhat and the tops are golden brown.

Honeyed Strawberries

2 cups washed, stemmed and sliced strawberries
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Gently mix all ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer Fun: Public Pool Round-Up

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 6:10 PM

Cool off in a public pool
  • Cool off in a public pool
In Vermont, there are a limited number of days when it's hot enough to swim in an outdoor pool. For many families, joining a swim club is too expensive. The lake is an option, but you might not always feel like communing with nature.

That's why we've put together a list of public pools — including information about cost and hours. We hope it'll be useful during those dog days of summer! Have a favorite pool we should add to this list? Let us know in the comment section below.

Button Bay State Park 5 Button Bay State Park Rd., Ferrisburgh, 475-2377,
Cost: Free with $2-3 park admission; free admission for children under 4
Pool hours: Open swim seven days a week from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 3-7 p.m

Elm Street Recreation Center
Elm Street, Montpelier, 223-6829,
Cost: For Montpelier residents: $3.50 for children through high school; $5.50 for adults; $11.50 per family. For nonresidents: $7 for children through high school; $10 for adults; $19 per family
Pool hours: Open swim Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1-8 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday from 1-7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1-5:30 p.m.

Maple Street Park and Pool 75 Maple Street, Essex Junction, 872-3370,
Cost: $4 for children; $6 for adults; $2 off with proof of Essex Junction residency
Pool hours: Open swim Monday-Friday from 12:30-8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 11:15 a.m.-8 p.m.; pool open exclusively for families from 5-6 p.m. seven days a week.

Middlebury Town Pool 298 Buttolph Drive, Middlebury, 388-4020,
Cost: $2 for children 15 and under; $3 for adults
Pool hours: Open swim seven days a week from 1-4:45 p.m. and 5:45-6:30 p.m.

Myers Memorial Pool 40 Pine Street, Winooski, 652-8143,
Cost: For Winooski residents: $1 per child; $2 for adults; $5 per family. For nonresidents: $2 per child; $4 per adult; $8 per family; free for YMCA members
Pool hours: Open swim Monday-Thursday from noon-5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from noon-7 p.m.

Sand Hill Pool 208 Sand Hill Road, Essex 878-2973,
Cost: For Essex residents: $2 for children under 18; $3 for adults. For nonresidents: $3 for children under 18; $4 for adults
Pool hours: Open swim Monday-Friday from 1-8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from noon-8 p.m.

St. Albans City Pool 99 Aldis Street, St. Albans, 524-6796,
Cost: For St. Albans residents: $5 for children and adults. For nonresidents: $7 for children and adults. For residents and nonresidents: half-price admission from 7-8:30 p.m.
Pool hours: Open swim Monday-Friday from 1-5 p.m. and 7-8:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. and 6-8:30 p.m.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Get Out!: Biking with Baby

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 at 12:39 PM

Sarah with baby Elise in tow - TRISTAN VON DUNTZ
  • Tristan Von Duntz
  • Sarah with baby Elise in tow
At 7 months old, our daughter Elise has excellent head control and is sitting on her own without much support from us. While these are exciting milestones for any parent, they are especially exciting to us as cyclists. They mean she’s ready to be pulled along in a bike trailer!

For a baby as young as Elise, it is best to stick to smooth and gently rolling terrain. This minimizes bumps that could injure a baby’s neck and developing brain. For this reason, our first jaunt with Elise in the trailer was on the Stowe Recreation Path. The paved-surface trail meanders along a river valley with plenty of picturesque spots for breaks.

My partner, Tristan, and I headed out to the rec path with Elise on a beautiful Sunday. We brought warm layers and cooler clothing options for Elise, sunscreen, bug spray, snacks, and a sippy cup, plus extra diapers and trash bags. We parked in the public parking lot behind Stowe Community Church on Main Street, where there’s a grassy area with picnic tables.

With all of our gear packed into a large compartment on the bike trailer, we attached it to my bike and loaded Elise in. I took her for a practice loop around the parking lot to get a feel for pulling weight and turning, listening carefully for any sounds of discontent. Thankfully there were none, so we started out on our rec-path jaunt.

Riding a smooth, paved trail is quite different from our preferred cycling terrain, like the excellent single-track mountain biking trails at Cady Hill Forest (on Route 108 in Stowe) or the miles of hilly dirt roads right outside our door in Marshfield. The rec path is far easier cycling — and a little less exciting — but it was still nice to get outside with the whole family. Towing a trailer did add some resistance to my spinning wheels, though, which created a bit of a burn for my legs!

Elise was happy-go-lucky for the first few miles, but then began to fuss. We found a nice spot to pull off the trail next to the West Branch River with benches, picnic tables and a bonus view of Mount Mansfield.

After some snacks and playtime, we were ready to continue on the 5-mile trip to the end of the path. Elise continued to fuss off and on, but we cooed and sang to her to keep her happy. We pedaled through cool, shaded forests and sunny open fields, past horses and ducks. We even caught a glimpse of a kingfisher!

At the other end of the path, we stopped and took Elise out of the trailer to play some more. We sat on picnic tables in the shade and made silly faces, sang songs, and practiced new words and sounds. Elise's smiles and babbles often get a lot of attention, and she enjoyed meeting other riders and runners on the path.

Our stomachs started growling, so we loaded Elise back into the trailer for the return trip. She fussed a bit at first, but soon fell asleep. Lucky for us, the rec path provides access to many restaurants along the way. We couldn't resist stopping at Piecasso, a pizza place on Route 108. Tristan went in to grab some slices and a drink, and we ate on the picnic table out front while Elise slept in the trailer.

When we finally returned to our car, we loaded in a still-sleeping Elise and high-fived our success. Hopefully this is just the beginning of many years of cycling together.


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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Home Cookin': Shortcut Samosas

Posted By on Wed, Jun 10, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Plated samosa - ERINN SIMON
  • Erinn Simon
  • Plated samosa
My family loves farmer’s market season. For us, it’s about the delicious treats we eat for lunch there as much as the fresh veggies. Our favorites are cheeseburgers, pretzels, lemonade and samosas. We’ve been known to make the trek to the market on foot with all three kids for the samosas alone.

I’ve always wanted to try making them at home, but was intimidated by the long process. Then, a few weeks ago, a Burlington Children’s Space mom brought in a platter of the most amazing homemade samosas for the staff. Of course, I asked her for the recipe. She gave me a vague outline of the ingredients and amounts, but the best piece of info was her samosa “trick” — she used flour tortillas in place of the dough! They require much less frying time than the version made with dough and soak up less oil. You can use white or whole-wheat tortillas, or some of both. This time-saving tip makes samosas a weeknight-dinner possibility.

Fill them with anything you like. We made one batch with curry-spiced ground beef, potatoes, carrots, onions and peas and another with just veggies. They were all delicious. Once you get your filling prepared, fill as many as you can before you start frying. They really only need half a minute per side in the oil, so you want to be ready to transfer your next batch quickly.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Get Out!: Baby's First 4,000-Foot Mountain

Get Out! Hiking with Baby

Posted By on Tue, Jun 2, 2015 at 2:44 PM

Another happy family in the alpine zone - TRISTAN VON DUNTZ
  • Tristan von Duntz
  • Another happy family in the alpine zone
Memorial Day weekend has always marked the start to our summer hiking season. It’s when the Green Mountain Club opens the high-elevation sections of the Long Trail to the public after the spring thaw and mud season. By the time the trails are ready for us, my partner, Tristan, and I are beyond ready for them.

Every year we take the three-day weekend to backpack a section of the Long Trail. Tristan and I did the whole trail together in 2001 as an end-to-end hike. These shorter outings allow us to relive some of our favorite parts. On Memorial Day weekends past, we've hiked from Brandon Gap to Middlebury Gap, from Lincoln Gap to Appalachian Gap, and from Bolton Notch to Smugglers' Notch.

We took last Memorial Day weekend off because I was pregnant. This year seemed like the perfect opportunity to introduce our 6-month-old daughter, Elise, to backpacking. We planned to hike the Monroe Trail to the Hump Brook Tenting Area, a favorite campsite on the side of Camel's Hump. We would set up camp there, then hike to the summit of Camel's Hump. We’d return to our campsite, cook dinner on our backpacking stove and fall asleep next to the babbling Hump Brook.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature had different plans.

With a forecast of thunderstorms and heavy rain overnight, we learned our first lesson as backpacking parents: Be adaptable. Since we didn't want to introduce Elise to sleeping in a tent on a scary and stormy night, we reassessed and decided to turn our overnight trip into a day hike. The weather looked clear for Tuesday — and our work schedules afford us some flexibility — so we chose to hike Camel's Hump that day.

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Coloring Contest

Posted on Tue, Jun 2, 2015 at 11:00 AM

We got some killer entries last month from more than 90 young artists. Some transformed two swimming orcas into everything from rainbow-tailed partygoers to iPod-toting cool kids. Many artists added additional sea creatures to the underwater scene — sharks, jellyfish, crabs, even a clownfish playing the saxophone. Congratulations to all the winners! Keep that creativity flowing.

The winners of our three gift certificates to Champlain Lanes are…

Kaya Rubin, 5, Burlington

“At the Pool”

Val Keepin, 8, Burlington


Emelia McCalla, 11, Rutland

“Orca Races”

Honorable Mentions

  • Linden Stelma-Leonard, 10, Westfield
  • Maria “Fern” Murphy, 9, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
  • Charlotte Moriarty, 12, Jericho
  • Manuela Jaramillo, 9, South Burlington
  • Hallie Miller, 5, Colchester
  • Emma Tremblay, 3, St. Albans
  • Abby Booth, 5, Burlington
  • Carter Hart, 5, Salisbury
  • Avery Mulligan, 7, Hyde Park
  • Audrey Acosta, 8, Montpelier
  • Theo Fallis, 7, Hubbardton
  • Lily Williams, 8, Shelburne

Top Titles

  • “I’m Happiest When I’m Floating in the Sea,” Nora Engisch, 11, Williston
  • “Orca — What’s Up Dog?,” Sidney Harris, 5, Montpelier
  • “Killy,” Mania Rae Tibbits, 5, Fairfield
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Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Vergennes, VT

Are your kids ready for adventure? They can explore historic sites, learn about lake ecology, build a kayak then go on a 10 day expedition, make a candlestick holder out of copper, learn how to catch and clean a fish, snorkel and explore a shipwreck, see the world from a…(more)

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