St. Paul Pioneer Press lifestyle columnist Donna Erickson has fun activities you can do at home any time of the day with your kids. The materials needed are from the recycling bin, your garden, pantry and frig. The ideas, recipes and strategies are for busy parents and also for grandparents. When kids come by, some of these things can be done 6 feet apart with a little pre-prep. Make visits to grandparents or aunt or uncles’ house memorable. Donna shows us how.
MORNING: Get kids involved in breakfast making and teach them along the way. Like a simple fancy looking restaurant style omelet.
MAKE AN OMELET
BASIC TWO-EGG CHEESE OMELET
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons grated cheese such as cheddar
Whisk the eggs and milk together lightly in a mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper.
An adult should heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add butter and swirl it around until it melts and coats the bottom. Reduce heat to medium and pour in the egg mixture. Shake the pan gently a time or two so that eggs cook evenly.
When bubbles begin to rise to the top, sprinkle cheese on top. When eggs have set, use a spatula to gently fold one side of the omelet over the other side. Cook until lightly brown and then slide omelet onto a plate. Serve immediately.
Cook’s tip: In addition to cheese, use your imagination to create other fillings for your omelets such as spinach, ham and sauteed vegetables.
SPROUT SEEDS INDOORS IN EGGSHELLS
Kids and dirt seem to have a natural attraction for one another. Why not promote a love for a favorite activity this season by giving children a chance for some responsibility and fun by messing with dirt, sprouting seeds and tending their own little plants indoors? They’ll give your family vegetable garden a head start and learn the earliest beginnings of the food they’ll enjoy this summer. Instead of buying small flowerpots, use eggshell halves for planters. When it’s time to transplant the young plants outdoors, place them in the soil eggshell and all. Crush the eggshells a bit and they will provide nourishment to the soil and your growing plants.
Here’s what you’ll need:
-12 empty eggshell halves from large eggs
-Easy to grow flower, vegetable, and herb seeds
– Egg carton
-Clear plastic bag larger than an egg carton
-Water spritzer or plastic squeeze bottle such as a honey bear bottle for watering
-Felt tip marker
Here’s the fun:
- While preparing a weekend breakfast of omelets or scrambled eggs, save the shell halves for the project. If I’m cracking a medium size egg, I tap the top 1/3 with a knife and discard the smaller top portion. Pour the raw eggs one by one into your mixing bowl for your meal.
- Rinse out the eggshells well in hot water. Using a darning needle, poke a couple of holes in the bottom of the shells to allow for some drainage. Place washed eggshell halves upright in the egg carton to dry.
- Fill each shell at least 2/3 full with potting soil and plant seeds according to the directions on the package. Label the shells with felt-tip markers if you wish. Or, if you have a row of the same type of seed, make your own style marker with craft supplies and tape it to the carton at the end of the row.
- Gently water each planted shell, then place the egg carton covered in a dark place. Check the carton daily making sure the soil remains moist until the seeds have sprouted.
- Once the seeds sprout, set the carton in a sunny window uncovered. Continue to water the seedlings. When danger of frost is over, transplant them into your garden, shells and all.
NOON; Transform an egg carton into a tackle box and go on a fishing expedition or picnic outdoors. Save the plastic plates from your lunch. Wash them when you return home and make garden markers/décor of bugs that don’t bite!
Alternate “high tech” garden markers for pest control: Recycle an old CD and glue to waterproof foam sheet.
Skip meat and make Erickson family favorite dish with lentils, tomatoes, etc. Easy to get ingredients right now…a super healthy vegetarian meal. I have made it for my family since kids were born. Clean eating, for sure.
LENTILS AND CHEESE BAKE
Makes 6-8 servings
1 3/4 cups lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 cups water
2 cups diced canned tomatoes
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
½ cup celery, thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 green or red pepper, cored and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 whole bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
¼ teaspoon sage, thyme
3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
To prepare oven and baking dish:
Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
Combine all ingredients except shredded cheese and parsley in the baking dish.
Cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes.
Bake uncovered 40 minutes or until lentils and vegetables are tender.
Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top. Bake 5 minutes or until cheese melts.
Remove and let stand a few minutes. Sprinkle parsley on top.
Serve freely out of baking dish or cut into portions.
Leftovers are good mixed with a salad the next day. It’s one of my MOST popular supper recipes.