Friday, January 21, 2011

Weekend Reads: Winter Fun for Young and Old

It's cold here. Really, really cold. Like -30F windchill cold. A perfect time to stay inside, admire the snow from under a blanket, make pancakes and read. So basically, it's maple syrup season.

Let's get started with the pancakes, shall we? My mom isn't a fan of pancakes...and while I like them, I find them a bit too much sometimes. Funny enough I made a homemade pancake mix last year - and we both fell in love. Alton Brown's Instant Pancake mix is a perfect blend of not too heavy, not too light and not overly complicated. Bonus, since you make it yourself you can easily modify or remove the sugar content and no packaging (yay for the earth!)


Of course you'll want maple syrup on your pancakes, and since you did something nice for the earth you might as well try to get something as local as possible. Local Harvest makes that search easy.

We got super lucky with our syrup - it's from a neighbor's (who happen to also be a foodie, writer, and fabulous food writer) mother in law's own property - she brought a case with her when she came to visit and you can bet we were quick to pounce on that exciting find!

What if you don't like the sticky sauce, or what if you want to use maple sugar instead of refined sugar in your pancakes? What about this amazing maple sugar cube? You just grate what you want and leave the rest in all it's beautiful self-packaging! This particular cube is from Ninutik - I found it via Martha Stewart Living's December issue, but is mentioned online as well.

Can you imagine how fun and sensory delightful a small grating of maple sugar might be on the top of a pie or a savory squash soup? Yum!
For some fun educational material, and a good snuggle with the kids, Maple Syrup Season is a beautifully illustrated, well told story about a family going out and procuring, then enjoying their own maple syrup. For those of you who can't stand the wordy kid's books this one is just about right - a little longer than the simple counting books but not yet a beginning reader.


Plus the image of "sugar on snow" with a whole family rushing to eat maple syrup taffy right off fresh snow is almost too cute to stand. Maple Syrup Season is written by Ann Purmell and illustrated by Jill Weber.

Another great book on a snowy day: Snowflake Bentley chronicles the real life of Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley, a man so obsessed with snow that he made it his mission to photograph it - as individual the 1800's. Wilson Bentley, a Wisconsin man, is responsible for what we now now to be the highly unique and individual nature of each snowflake that falls. He also photographed more than 5,000 snowflakes in his lifetime, contributing to major scientific publications such as Popular Mechanics (take a peek at just the first short paragraph - talk about passion!) and National Geographic.

I'll admit, the book Snowflake Bentley, is a bit on the wordy side - but it's really interesting and you can edit as needed for your child's age and understanding level.

"Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated., When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind."
 – Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley, 1925

If you are a photographer you'll probably find some of the resources, images, and other information on the Snowflake Bentley site quite interesting. 

If you are in a cold climate this weekend then keep warm my friends! If you are in Australia, or somewhere warm just know, right now, someone is jealous of you...enjoy those beautiful warm rays from the sun.

Happy weekend!


Deanna said...

This reminds me of when I was a kid at my Grandma's house in Prescott, AZ. We would put (clean) snow in bowls and drizzle some candy concoction into the snow and the cold would harden the candy. I wish I knew what it was made of.

I hadn't thought of that in years. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Mmm. I love me some pancakes. And waffles. And French toast.
We used to get fresh birch syrup which, while not anywhere near as yummy as maple syrup, was local. I miss local syrup; hard to get syrup from a cedar tree! :-)
P.S. A month into my unpaper towels. No regrets! Made more last night! Yea Earth!
:-) Lisa

Unknown said...

I love your blog, Tricia, and pancakes, and Snowflake Bentley. We read it in Kindergarten every year!