Every spring, I indulge in the same fantastical reverie of traipsing through the local farmers market with my two children in tow, baskets brimming with fresh thyme and wild arugula and tiny strawberries that never made the acquaintance of a genetic engineer.
Then we actually go to the farmers market. I fill my basket with thyme and arugula and strawberries, and my kids fill theirs with chocolate chip muffins and fudge and ask to get their faces painted.
This year will be different. This year I am armed with “At the Farmers’ Market With Kids” (Chronicle, $22.95), Leslie Jonath and Ethel Brennan’s new book of recipes and projects inspired by the market’s bounty. Boy, was I underestimating the market’s bounty. Did you know you could tie-dye with blackberries? Dye eggs with beets? Dry your own raisins?
Here we offer three of the book’s many projects that struck our fancy.
• Edible bracelets. “Inspired by the pastel candy chokers found in sweet shops,” say the authors. Send your kids on a hunt for six nectarines and six peaches. At home, cut the fruit into 1/8-inch slices and shape the slices with cookie cutters. Bake them on a nonstick cookie sheet at 225 degrees for 2-3 hours. Once cool, thread the pieces onto kitchen twine with an embroidery needle, alternating fruit shapes with raisins. When the bracelet is long enough for a wrist, remove needle and tie the twine.
• Tie-dyed T-shirts. Enlist the kids to gather 8 cups blackberries. Boil 2 quarts water, add berries, reduce heat and simmer, 40 minutes. Strain through a colander lined with cheesecloth. Return dye to the pot and stir in ½ cup white vinegar. Submerge tie-dye-ready T-shirts (twist sections of the fabric, bind them with rubber bands) and leave for 1-4 hours (depending how bold you want the color). Remove and rinse under cold water. Wash with like colors, dry and wear.
• Chocolate-Beet Cupcakes. Have your kids choose the prettiest, reddest beets for this red velvet cake-inspired dessert.
Prep: 20 minutes; Cook: 60 minutes; Makes: 18 cupcakes
3-4 small red beets, trimmed
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
Place the beets in a saucepan, add water to cover; heat to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook until tender, about 35 minutes. Drain; cool. Grate on the large holes of a box grater. Heat the oven to 350. Line 18 standard muffin cups with paper liners. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in a separate bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the beets; beat until smooth and an evenly bright magenta. Beat in the melted chocolate. Gradually add the flour mixture; mix until fully combined. Spoon into muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes; cool. Dust the tops with confectioners’ sugar.
Nutrition information per serving: 144 calories, 7 grams fat, 4 g saturated fat, 37 milligrams cholesterol, 19 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 154 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.
© 2012 the Chicago Tribune
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