Apple and Squash Recipes and Activities

vermont foliage

I love the flavors of fall: apple sauce with cinnamon, pumpkin pie, butternut squash bisque, toasted pumpkin and squash seeds… my list could go on for a long time!  October is also a time when temperatures get cold and days get shorter – afternoon cooking or baking projects are the perfect cozy warm activities for kids after school.  When making apple sauce or getting the seeds out of a pumpkin, many hands certainly do make light work! Click on the links below for some of my favorite fall recipes and kitchen projects:


Making Applesauce with Kids

Butternut squash

Spicing up Squash

Boiling Pie Pumpkins

Favorite Easy Pumpkin Recipes

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Fall in the Forest

This past weekend I took some time to browse through past blog entries.  I noticed certain seasonal rituals and appreciations repeat themselves year after year.  Every fall, right about now, I renew my love of the forest and trees.


As an adult on an elementary school calendar, September is always a month full of new beginnings, logistics to sort out, and rhythms to establish.  This is often hard work!  By October, my students have settled in and are ready for exploration further from home base, bigger projects, and the chance to enjoy the last sunny warm afternoons before winter sets in.  The forest is a perfect place for all of this.  For me, spending time in the forest is calming and rejuvenating – it reminds me of things to be grateful for, puts recent stressors in context, and stimulates my senses.

Here are some past forest-themed blog posts for you to browse.  Enjoy!

Making a discoveryChildren and Nature: The Forest ~ Why spending time outside, especially in forests, is crucial for children… “Upon entering the woods, the temperature drops noticeably.  The sounds change – whispering leaves and the occasional bird chirp blocks any outside noises from coming in.  Our foot steps are quiet on the soft needle-carpeted forest floor.  The smell of moist leaves, moss, and bark filters into our noses…”  (read more)

Mossy RoofForts and Fairy Houses ~ Discoveries and lessons learned from forest play… “We’ve discovered things that would never be possible (or allowed) in a classroom.  Different thicknesses of sticks make different sounds when banged against the trunk of a mature tree.  Pine needles make for a soft landing after tripping over a raised root.  TONS of different mushrooms and fungi grow on the forest floor after a few days of rain, and most of them are really slimy.  Pine sap is the perfect glue, but it’s better to keep it off our clothes…” (read more)

Foliage Games and Activities ~ Fun ideas for educators looking for active hands-on ways to teach students about leaves, trees, foliage, and the changing of seasons.  (read more)

Fairy-House6Zooming In: Fairy and Snail Houses ~ Fun photos and observations after several fairy and snail house building sessions with children… “Outdoor educators take note!  Fairy, gnome, and snail house building ties right into lessons on observation, habitat, ecosystems,  community, and respect for nature.  Building miniature things will lead students to observe the intricate details of pinecones, the barbs of burdocks, the veining of leaves, and much much more…” (read more) 

Welcome to the Woodlands Clubhouse ~ How the creation of a fort in the woods engaged a challenging mixed-age group of students for months after school.  (read more)

Stumps make steps and chairs for our fort

A Woodlands Playground ~ Great photos and ideas for adding natural forest elements to play spaces for children of all ages. (read more)

Ticks and Poison Ivy Season ~ Adults are increasingly fearful of the dangers of being in nature… “There are many possible dangers associated with all the activities we do every day, including playing and working outside.  I strongly believe, however, that the benefits of time spent outside far outweigh the risks…” (read more)

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Exciting House Progress

For any of you out there who enjoy my blog for the stories about gardening, cooking, and working with children in nature, forgive me for yet another post full of house photos!  Yes, last week we canned and fermented hot sauce, made butter, did our first frost harvest, and made another yummy raspberry covered flourless chocolate cake.  The focus of our weekend’s work, however, has resulted in some great progress on the landscaping and retaining wall of our new house.  I’ll have to depend on past year’s posts to cover my kitchen and garden projects (click on the links above for recipes, photos and stories).  Now, onto the house…

Many hands make light work!

Many hands make light work!

And the retaining wall is complete!

And the retaining wall is complete!

View from the west

View from the west

View from the north

View from the north

View from the south east

View from the south east

View from the south west

View from the south west

After returning from a day of work at the site, a special surprise was waiting in my inbox: photos of the house from above.  Thanks James!

View from above

View from above

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Canning Tomatoes

If you’re interested in learning to preserve your own food, can tomatoes.  If you love the flavor of real sun ripened home grown tomatoes and miss it in the winter, can tomatoes.  Worried about BPA in liners of canned tomatoes?  Can your own tomatoes! If harvested tomatoes are building up on the counter, can tomatoes.


Canning tomatoes is one of the simplest recipes, is a great way to gain comfort in canning, preserves that amazing taste of in season tomatoes, and is easy to use for soups, chili, and sauce throughout the winter.  Here’s how:

1) Check your supplies: you’ll need tomatoes, a pot big enough to fit all of your tomatoes, a ladle, a funnel, clean Ball jars (we use mostly quarts), lids, caps, a large canning pot, and a rack.  Canning supplies and equipment can usually be found at your local hardware store in August and September.


chunked-tomatoes2) Clean your tomatoes.  Core them and cut out any bad spots.  A bit of rotten tomato could ruin the flavor of your entire batch.  Cut them into large chunks and put into your pot.

3) Bring to a boil and then simmer until air is released (it will be foamy at first.  Then juice/liquid will start to look clear).  Add salt if desired.

4) Ladle hot tomatoes into ball jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Put on lids,  gently screwing on caps (they should not be cranked tight, but shouldn’t be so loose that tomatoes could leak out).

5) “Process” in a boiling-water bath for 30 minutes.  This means: bring water to a boil in your canning pot, put your jars in your canning rack, and then submerge your jars/rack in the boiling water for 30 minutes.

6) Let cool.  After 24 hours, rims may be removed to store.


Want to learn more about canning?  The Ball Blue Book is a great resource that covers all of the basics, and more!  Also try asking your elders – canning was a common household task for most of our grandparents.   Wondering how to use your canned tomatoes?  Heat and add pesto for a yummy tomato basil soup.  Try as a base for chili.  Or add a can of tomato paste to turn your tomatoes into sauce without needing to boil for hours.  Enjoy!

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New wall, new garden, new house!

Check out the progress that has happened at our new house!  Landscaping and framing are letting us really get a sense of how the finished house will be situated on the southern sloping land.  Meanwhile, dad is busy building our retaining wall and our new garden site has been tilled.

View from the west

View from the west

View from the north east

View from the north-east

View from the south-east

View from the south-east

View from the south-west

View from the south-west

Looking south from the second floor

Looking south from the second floor

Tilling and removing rocks.  Sometimes machines come in handy.

Tilling and removing rocks. Sometimes machines come in handy.

New house.  New Garden!

New house. New Garden!


Meanwhile, back at Lewis Creek Road…

Stone staging area

Stone wall staging area


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August Harvest Recipes

Every day there’s more to harvest from the garden.  Tomatoes, herbs, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatillos, potatoes, onions, beans, squash … the list goes on.  Here are some favorite August recipes that we use to enjoy the in-season bounty.  Click on the blue text below to see the selected recipe:


Tomatoes ~ Our basic salsa recipe and ideas for fun additions


Eggplants ~ Pan-fried eggplant, my favorite!


Blueberries ~ Several ideas for combining lemon and blueberries in sweet treats


Chard ~ Quiche or stir-fried


Kale ~ two ways


Herbs ~ tips for harvesting and preserving


Peppers ~ preserving hot sauce


And in the peak of harvest season, never forget about pickling!

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House Photo Update

You may not have guessed, among stories of vegetables, gardening, and children in nature, that we’re building a house!  Actually, we go to work and pay other people (who are much smarter about construction) to build it for us.  We’re definitely impressed by the work of our contractor, Fiddlehead Construction.  Everything has been going very smoothly and we’re excited to announce that we have the very beginnings of first floor walls!

Sorry for the delay to all those who have been pleading for photos.  Here’s the long-awaited update:

Western View:




Northern View:Northern-View



South-Eastern View:View-from-South-East


South-Western View:View-from-South-West



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