Tip of the Week
Some people think harvest season is when the work stops for growing fresh fruits and vegetables in the backyard. If you want to be able to enjoy your hard work all year long and incorporate your vegetables into meals throughout the winter, though, there’s still some work to be done.
Here are some ways to preserve and share the bounty you’ve grown in your backyard:
* Host a canning party - Canning is making a comeback, even for urban families who grow their vegetables in container gardens. If you have tomatoes, peppers, berries, beans, carrots and even peas, canning and freezing are two ways to preserve these items for use throughout the winter months. Both options preserve the nutrients of the fruits and vegetables, and most canning and freezing processes don’t require any additional ingredients to be added to the product. If you’re looking for a way to add more variety to your pantry, chop tomatoes, peppers and onions into a salsa mixture to be canned.
If you have friends in the same situation with an abundance of food, host a canning party. Ask everyone to bring extra pots, hot pads, stirring utensils, knives and cutting boards so you have enough equipment to keep all hands busy.
* Pickle your veggies - All pickling recipes are different, and it’s fun to experiment with different seasonings and techniques. To get started, try this basic pickling spice recipe from Frontier Co-op. It features a balance of flavor that blends several different responsibly sourced seasonings:
Balanced Basic Pickle Seasoning
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon turmeric root powder
* Gift your garden goodies - Ask your co-workers, neighbors and friends if anyone would be interested in some of your fresh produce. Or, better yet, can some of the produce in smaller batches to hand out as gifts. Everyone loves a batch of raspberry jam or a jar of homemade salsa in their holiday stocking or as a thank-you gift. To make the gift look nice, decorate the jar with ribbons or wrap it in a pretty gift bag.
* Make fun drinks - If you grow herbs in your yard, you can either freeze or dry the leaves to preserve their flavors for future use. Or try making herbal soda, which is usually a mixture of lemons, herbs, soda water and simple syrup stirred together for a refreshing summery drink on ice. Invite guests over for a relaxing afternoon on the patio and impress them with your simple, tasty drinks. Your family will also love them for a way to cool down after having fun in the sun.
* Share your harvest - Families that are food insecure appreciate the fresh produce found at harvest season. Contact your local food pantry to ask how you can share your harvest with others. They may require specific kinds of produce, or need vegetables to be harvested in a specific way.
Family Movie Night
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
Length: 130 minutes
Synopsis: In the wake of a disaster that changed the world, the growing and genetically evolving apes find themselves at a critical point with the human race. This is the second movie in the rebooted “Apes” franchise.
Violence/scary rating: 4
Sexual-content rating: 1.5
Profanity rating: 3
Drugs/alcohol rating: 2
Family Time rating: 3. As long as your kids can handle action scenes, this is a decent movie.
(Ratings are judged on a five-point scale, with 5 being “bad for kids” and 1 being “fine for kids.”)
“A Boy and a Jaguar,” by Alan Rabinowitz (author), Catia Chien (illustrator)
Synopsis: Alan loves animals, but the great cat house at the Bronx Zoo makes him sad. Why are they all alone in empty cages? Are they being punished? More than anything, he wants to be their champion — their voice — but he stutters uncontrollably. Except when he talks to animals - then he is fluent. Follow the life of the man Time Magazine calls, “the Indiana Jones of wildlife conservation”as he searches for his voice and fulfills a promise to speak for animals, and people, who cannot speak for themselves. This real-life story with tender illustrations by Catia Chien explores truths not defined by the spoken word. - HMH Books for Young Readers
Did You Know
According to a study conducted in Australia, children who have same-sex parents are generally happier than other children, the Washington Post reported. Children of same-sex parents were about 6 percent higher in surveys about happiness, health and family unity.
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Family Time: Make the most of your garden goodies
Tip of the Week