It's that time again! Time for the kids to go back to school. Down here in Florida we only have about a dozen days left of summer vacation, so I thought this would be the perfect time to get out, dust off and share the recipes for home-made, wholesome snacks that can not only travel in a lunch box but also are great when those hungry kids get off the school bus!! My two girls get home a little after 2 p.m. so, since they don't always take a lunch to school, they are REALLY hungry when they get home. From now until the first day of school (August 23rd for us) I'm going to share recipes for lunchboxes, treats and after school snacks. These are fun to make WITH your kids, and most are easy enough that older kids can make them by themselves.
My first recipe is...I must admit....my favorite. It's called "hokey pokey", which I've found out is the Cornish term for "honeycomb"; exactly what this honey colored confection looks like. To me, it's as much fun to make as it is to eat...and it's pretty fun to eat. It makes a nice hostess gift packaged up in a pretty tin box, or....the crumbles that are sometimes left over taste FABULOUS on vanilla ice cream. Unfortunately, this recipe makes a very small amount....but since it's basically "candy" i's just as well. Because of the steps involved I wouldn't recommend doubling it, but it just means you and the kids can have fun FREQUENTLY! It's fast, inexpensive to make, easy (only 3 ingredients!) and even, to some extent, fascinating to watch. To kids it's a chemistry experiment that tastes AWESOME!!
1/2 c. sugar
4 T dark corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
Put the sugar and corn syrup into a saucepan and stir together to mix. This is an important step because you can't stir once the pan's on the heat...so matter how much you're tempted..DON'T STIR IT ONCE IT'S ON THE HEAT!! :). You can swirl the pan, but move all spoons and other implements completely out of your reach.
Place the pan on the heat and let the mixture first melt, then turn to "goo", and then a bubbling mass the color of maple syrup. This entire process takes about 3 minutes. If you want to make sure that you've reached the right stage, take a very small amount of the liquid and drop it into a glass of very cold water...it should solidify immediately into a very hard "string". If it doesn't...wait a bit longer and then try again.
Once you've reached that stage, take it off the heat and whisk in the baking soda. (This is the GOOD part! watch the syrup turn into this WHOOSHING cloud of airy pale gold). Turn this immediately out onto a sheet that has been covered with either baking parchment (preferred) or aluminum foil.
Leave until set...then (again this is fun, gets out pent up aggression) bash at it so that it splinters into many pieces.
This stuff is addicting. You will find yourself "snitching" pieces of it, even though you've told yourself you are making it "for the kids".
Today's food quote: "Watermelon...it's a good fruit..you eat, you drink, you wash your face" anonymous 5 year old.
Recommended cooking tool: Baking Parchment paper. I know I've mentioned parchment paper in a few of my other recipes. I think it's pretty great stuff. It can be found in the same grocery store aisle as (and is made by the same companies as) aluminum foil, saran wrap and waxed paper. Food comes off the baking sheets MUCH easier and clean up is also MUCH easier. An inexpensive time saver...and if you hate scrubbing sticky messy pans, it's an inexpensive SANITY saver as well. As Paula Deen would say, "git yourself some, ya'll"
Also in the next few days we're going to discuss school cafeteria nutrition and why I think it STINKS!! It's hard to get kids (older ones) to want to carry a lunch when the cafeterias are serving stuff like pizza and cheeseburgers and fries, but...if you get them INVOLVED in choosing nutritious foods and preparing them, I guarantee they will change their tunes. I watched a show recently where a group of kindergarten children could NOT identify 80% of the vegetables being shown to them. They did NOT know that a french fry came from a potato, or that ketchup came from tomatoes. Let's change that, shall we? In over 50% of the school cafeteria lunches, when preparing a lunch that they consider BALANCED...ketchup is considered a vegetable. I see absolutely NOTHING wrong with giving kids treats...as long as the rest of the foods they're eating are good, wholesome and nutritious.