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Recipes for the Cabin Fever Soul

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January 20, 2012 by Terry Ropp

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Snow days are a joy to kids and some- times an annoyance to parents, especially if the containment lasts more than a day. One solution to bored, restless kids is cooking together.

In today’s world, where both parents or the single parent works long hours with home responsibilities being squeezed in wherever possible, the joy of cooking and sharing home-cooked foods often becomes lost in the bustle to survive. Snow days can provide a refuge from the bustle and a chance to reconnect as a family.

Cooking projects need not be detailed and compli- cated. Many children know only heat-and- eat dishes from the microwave, so some- thing as simple as making a hot chocolate mix can be fun and rewarding, especially if some homemade cookies accompany the steamy beverage.

The trick to a successful cooking ven- ture with children is to plan ahead so you know what to pick up at the store before the much-awaited winter storm occurs. Obviously, kid-favorite foods make sense. The kids, and perhaps, you will be amazed at how simple and fast some homemade foods can be. Here are three starters.

Hot chocolate mix: Simply blend togeth- er 4 cups Nestle Quick, 5 1/3 cups pow- dered milk, 2 1⁄2 cups Coffee-mate powder, and 1⁄4 cups powdered sugar. Combine 1/3 cup of mix with 6-8 oz of boiling water and top with a marshmallow.

Easy Meatloaf: Combine 2 lbs ground beef, 1 large onion chopped, 2 eggs, 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal and 1⁄2 cup milk. Shape into a loaf, place on a rimmed cookie sheet and top with ketchup. Bake at 350° for one hour. Kids learn how to chop safely from you and they love to get their hands all goopy. You can bake potatoes at the same time, add a salad and have a full meal.

Apple Crisp: Peel and cube Granny Smith apples until you have 5 cups. Place in a greased 1 1⁄2 qt casserole. Mix 1 cup flour with 1 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon and cover the apples with the mix. Slice one stick of butter very thinly and cover the entire top. Bake at 350° for 30-45 min or until lightly brown and bubbly.

Of course, my hope is that once you cook with the kids, it will become more than a way to survive snow days. It will also be a planned and joyful addition to your lives. My granddaughter and I have been cooking together since she was three. She covered the kitchen and herself with more flour than went into the cookies. Even the cleanup was fun. By age 10, she could make a scratch quiche, beat egg whites, and fold foods together so they remained light and fluffy.

Cooking together is one of the highlights of our wonderful and continuing relationship even though she is a teenager now.

My wish for you for the New Year is that you can build the joy she and I have together with your own children or grand-

children. P.S. Don’t cheat and use box mixes. You will be missing half the fun as well as prac- ticing measurement!

Terry Ropp

Terry Ropp is a freelance writer for several publications, including the Washington County Observer, and a semi-retired educator of almost forty years. She moved to Arkansas in 2005, feels at home for the first time in her life, and enjoys writing about her new state. You may e-mail her at terrymerrill@hotmail.com.

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