THANKSGIVING COOKING: KID COOKS RULE

Our Thanksgiving cook-off was a major success. So much so that we unanimously voted it the 1st annual Family Thanksgiving Cook-off (we need a better name). The food was great, the kids really helped with every dish, and nobody got hurt except me who managed about five minor burns while trafficking pies in and out of the oven. It’s probably a good thing that I never rounded up that brulee torch.

Elise was proud of herself for: chopping, whipping, stirring, sautéing, rolling, and peeling herself through 2 pies, sourdough-sausage stuffing, and green beans with bacon.

Jack came in strong with brining and roasting the turkey, peeling and sautéing glazed carrots, putting together a caesar salad and making whipped cream for the pies.

Of course there were needed breaks along the way… a game of kitchen wall-ball, a trip to the park, some make-believe dress up princess thing, a wrestling match… But they always came back to it. They didn’t want to miss having a hand in each dish. It was pretty cool.

As for a winner, well, in the end it was a tie until Jack made a good point that his sister pretty much voted against every one of her own dishes (pie and bacon aside). Let’s just say she had way more fun making the food than eating it.

The Feast!

The Feast!

Chopping, a pairing knife works well for little hands.

Chopping, a pairing knife works well for little hands.

Sauteing veggies for stuffing

Sauteing veggies for stuffing

Cooking.  Everyone's into it!

Cooking. Everyone’s into it!

Can never be too dressed up.

Can never be too dressed up.

Kitchen Wall Ball Break.

Kitchen Wall Ball Break.

Apple and Pumpkin Pies

Apple and Pumpkin Pies

Whipping Cream

Whipping Cream

The Final Voting

The Final Voting

Thanksgiving: Paper Mache Turkey

Paper Mache Turkey

Paper Mache Turkey


We wanted to make a turkey centerpiece for our Holiday Cook Off. Now, see, I have issues. A project like this originates simply enough. Like “oh, let’s just cut out some hand-turkeys, color them and call it a day.” But then this weird part of me takes over. It starts with a “Hmm, how can I make it round? Paper mache and a balloon?” then it moves to “Oh, those tie dye leaves my neighbor made are pretty, that could work for the feathers” and then, well… then it’s on. Soon the kitchen is covered in glue and food coloring and there’s just no turning back.

This is what Fumbleweeds is about, winging it all the way through. So I’m going to level with you. The following instructions will likely make no sense. I am not entirely sure what I did to get this thing together.

All in all, it was an ok project that needs some fine-tuning. The kids had fun with the feathers, painting, and about 2 mins of the paper mache. It’s a multi-day endeavor with all the drying of things. And it’s messy. Paper Mache is very messy.

I like this twist though… we decided to write all of the things we’re thankful for on the turkey body over the next few days. Kinda like a Thanksgiving turkey cast.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Supplies

Supplies


Paper Mache Turkey
Supplies:
– Fall colored cardstock
– Unbleached cone coffee filters
– Food Coloring
– Glue
– Shredded newspaper
– a balloon
– Sharpie
– Scissors
– masking tape
– brown paint

Paper Mache Turkey Body

Paper Mache Turkey Body


Turkey Body:
-Mix 3/4th Glue to 1/4 water in a pan
-Blow up a balloon
-dip strips of newspaper into glue mixture, pull each piece through fingers to get rid of extra glue, place onto the balloon
-Repeat this until the balloon is fully covered with at least 3 layers of paper/glue
-Tie string or dental floss around the tied part of the balloon and hang somewhere overnight. Put a towel or bowl under it for the dripping glue.
– Wipe up all the messy glue all over your kitchen before it dries and becomes a big pain in the butt (lesson learned)
– Once dry, paint the turkey body brown

Painting the body

Painting the body

Food Coloring Tie Dye Feathers

Food Coloring Tie Dye Feathers


Feathers:
– Draw a feather on the coffee filter (see pic of supplies)
– Cut out feathers
– Put a little water in a shallow pan
– hold each feather over the pan and drip food coloring on it
– Then dip the feather into the water to “spread” the food coloring around
– Lay out flat to dry overnight

Food Coloring Fun

Food Coloring Fun

Turkey Head

Turkey Head


Turkey Head & Base
– Draw and cut out a turkey head from dark brown card stock
– Cut out a yellow beak and tape or glue dot onto the face
– draw eyes with a sharpie

– Cut out a red waddle and glue it to the neck

Back of the turkey

Back of the turkey


Assembly:
– Don’t cut off the knot of the balloon in the paper mache turkey body until the end. It gives structure so it doesn’t cave in
– Take a piece of card stock (I used yellow, brown would have been better) and cut into a semi-circle and mold around the largest part of the turkey body and tape. I used packing tape but I think masking tape would have been better and easer to cover over with paint at the end. Speaking of, paint over this taped up rear end with brown paint.
– Glue the “feathers” in a fan design onto the front covering all of the cardstock
– Cut off the tip of the balloon and either glue the turkey head over the hole OR, using strips of brown paper, attach it around the body of the turkey (see pic).
– Make a base by taking a long strip of card stock, make it into a circle and tape it together to make a stand

Our Turkey Guy

Our Turkey Guy

Turkey Love

Turkey Love

Thanksgiving Cooking: Kids + Knives + Fire. This will end well.

Who out there watched Masterchef Junior? Seriously, if you didn’t you should. And if you did, you are probably thinking what underachievers your own kids are at this point. I kid, I kid… but these were some pretty amazing 9-13 year old kids wielding some serious cooking skills and restaurant quality dishes.

This is the first “show” we watched as a family. Meaning, not an on-demand age appropriate cartoon that the kids zone out on as we quickly move around the house getting tasks done. No, I mean a show we actually sat down together to watch, stayed glued to throughout, and discussed together. It was the most interactive TV that exists.

I say this because it’s left a lasting, ACTIONABLE impression on my kids. My son, a traditionally “focused” eater, has started asking to try new things. Things like roe at sushi and stuff with herbs on it. Trust me, this is BIG. And both kids have been popping into the kitchen more, asking to help. I think it really empowered them to see kids near their own age doing stuff we typically associate with adults (and kicking butt at it.)

So this Thanksgiving, inspired by the show, the kids decided they want to make our own cooking contest.

Thanksgiving Cooking Contest 2013
We’ve split into two teams, secret recipes are in the works. We will make a full traditional turkey dinner with an abnormal pie-to-people ratio. Kids will chop, sauté, brine, and roast. There might even be a blow torch in the mix.

Team 1: Mike & Jack
Team 2: Kristin & Ellie

Stay tuned…

Let the games begin!

Let the games begin!

Adventuring: Fruitvale Dia De Los Muertos Festival

Sugar Skulls

Sugar Skulls


Today’s adventure was a local one as we headed over the bridge to the Dia De Los Muertos Festival in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland.

At the risk of making myself look shallow, I will admit that I am one of those fans of Dia De Los Muertos that loves it mostly for aesthetic reasons. I love the colors, the elaborate skeleton face paint, the look of the alters, the sugar skulls, the witty paper mache dolls, and the bright paper banners. It’s pure beauty.

But maybe because I am getting older, or maybe it’s the mother in me, I find myself increasingly enamored with the sentiment of it all. The idea that for a few nights a year, our deceased loved ones visit us and that we welcome them with alters in their honor, dripping in celebration rather than sadness, to enjoy a visit together. It’s a lovely idea.

It gets better… on Nov 2, the celebration is taken to the cemetery where families hang out with their returning loved ones cleaning their tombs, eating, drinking, playing cards and watching TV all night before sending them off with a song and returning home themselves saturated with love, community, memories and, well… some booze.

Dia De Los Muertos Festival at Fruitvale

Fruitvale Love

Fruitvale Love

Our adventure today was spent wandering the Dia De Los Muertos Festival soaking in great weather and a super fun family-friendly festival right in our backyard. We all gave it thumbs up… Jack and Elise loved the giant slide and their mango shaved ice, Mike enjoyed a taco or three, and I pretty much loved all of it. My favorite favorites being the alters, the Aztec dancers, the live music, my mangonada, and (of course) the beauty of it all…

The kids running this booth were amazing. They were so proud of their art work, and for good reason. I love the idea of using pans as the canvas for these calaveras paintings.

The kids running this booth were amazing. They were so proud of their art work, and for good reason. I love the idea of using pans as the canvas for these calaveras paintings.

The St Jarlath School kids made these amazing sugar skulls and pasta pictures as well.

The St Jarlath School kids made these amazing sugar skulls and pasta pictures as well.

Hamming it up.

Never misses a photo op.

Giant Slide.

Giant Slide. nuff said.

Love and Mango... and a rad tiger shirt.

Love and Mango… and a rad tiger shirt.

Mangonada! SO good.

Mangonada! Mango, Ice, Chamoy… spicy and yum.

Sad truth is that Oakland isn't always this festive.

Sad truth about Oakland.

On the way home we talked about the holiday in more detail. And it got Jack thinking about Kitty, our cat who passed away a little less than a year ago. Jack still misses Kitty a lot. So we decided to celebrate Kitty on this Dia De Los Muertos with an alter built on the backyard grass where kitty loved to stretch out on a sunny day. We pulled together some of his favorite things: some tomatoes & strawberries, comfy blanket, the memorial stone we made when he died, some candles, and our new sugar skulls. Jack carefully placed each of these items on the grass and then we sat and talked about kitty for a few. There were some tears, but we also laughed at how kitty loved to steal and eat our fruit, and what a fun and sweet cat he was and how when he ran his saggy tummy swayed back and forth. Short but sweet, our Dia De Los Muertos memorial ended in laughs and good thoughts.

Kitty Alter - yes, he really did love fruit.

Kitty Alter – yes, he really did love fruit.