As squirrels gather nuts for winter, and ants march together to carry food to their hill, we yearn to be in step with nature to prepare for the long, cold winter ahead. How comforting it is seeing nature’s abundance in our very own gardens or farm stands we pass along the road, or even in the produce section of our grocery store boasting “locally grown.”
Children can get in the act of gathering, preparing, and cooking while learning some concepts so important to cognitive learning. Children can count the number of tomatoes or other produce you buy.
Many foods can be tasted before and after cooking to determine the difference in flavor. Depending on the child’s age, ask questions, such as:
- What color is the fruit or vegetable?
- What shape?
- How do they smell?
Do they have seeds? Here are some questions to ask about the summer’s bounty:
- What is locally grown?
- How can I involve children in preparing this food?
- What would we enjoy the most?
- What is the best price?
- Do I have time to finish the process?
- If the recipe makes a large batch, do I have room in my freezer for the remaining portion?
We can gather fresh fruits and vegetables to enjoy today or to “put up” or freeze to take out at a later date. Then we can once again remember the warm days and refreshing taste of the summer harvest.
Here is an example of one of the recipes for fall:
1 package refrigerated crescent rolls
1 (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 envelope ranch dressing mix
2 tablespoons milk
4 green onions, cut up
2 carrots, grated
1 tomato, cut in small pieces
1/2 cup cauliflower, sliced thin
1/2 cup broccoli, cut in small pieces
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Unroll dough and place in ungreased 15 x 10 x 1-inch pan. Children can press dough to form base of pizza. Seal perforations.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely.
Children can mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, and ranch dressing mix in a small bowl. Slowly add milk, adding more as needed for a spreading consistency. Blend until smooth. Spread over cooled crust.
Over this sprinkle the cut up vegetables. Refrigerate. To serve, cut into small squares.
Yield: 20 small squares