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Perfect recipe: Cheap family fun, plus education and bonding

Rolling out dough

Cooking and baking with kids is fun, cheap, and easy. Photo by eyeliam/Flickr.

Today’s post comes from Stella, our parent-in-residence.

I worked on a set of publications for OSU Extension called “Ten Tips for Tough Times.” I got some ideas from the one called “Ten Tips for Low-cost Indoor Family Fun” for some things to do together with my daughter. One idea was to “bake or cook together.”

This has been really fun. I started by showing my daughter how to do simple things, like rinsing lettuce, shucking corn, and shelling peas. Now, after a couple of years, she makes the whole salad by herself while I cook the main dish, and she mixes up the batter for Saturday morning pancakes and cooks them while I make us tea and set the table.

We like being in the kitchen together, she doing one food prep task while I do another. We both enjoy the easy feeling of companionship, working side by side, chatting about this or that. There’s something about working together toward a common goal (our meal) that’s very satisfying.

We’ve baked a cake together several times, too. Over time, she’s learned to use measuring cups and spoons (this has been great for helping her learn fractions, by the way). She loves to measure ingredients and mix the cake batter while I grease the cake pan and start the oven preheating. And of course, licking the frosting bowl is a great reward for a job well done!

She’s a young teenager now. These days, she’ll often get up on a weekend morning and say, “I feel like baking today.” I know she means “together.” And that means a lot to me.


Note: By the way, there are seven different publications with different tips, and they are available in Spanish also.

12/12/2011 at 5:17 pm Leave a comment

Emergency Preparedness Part 1: Seriously? Yes.

Flooded Oregon highway

Floods are a hazard of Oregon living. Photo: OregonDOT/Flickr

Say hello to Jennifer, a newcomer to Oregon, who will be sharing her experiences in getting ready for emergencies. Here’s Part 1:

Until 15 months ago, my husband and I lived in the Midwest. We were used to dealing with inclement weather, and we made minimal preparations for dealing with severe storms. We had a weather radio; we put boots, blankets, and food in the car for winter travel; and we knew where to take shelter from tornadoes. If I suggested additional measures (“Maybe we should stock up on canned goods?”), my husband gave me that look. “Seriously?” he said. “We’ll be fine.”

We never had to deal with anything serious, so we didn’t seriously prepare for anything.

Then we moved to Oregon—land of forest fires, floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Unlike Midwest storms, these natural disasters can occur without warning and cause long-term disruption. So can other disasters, such as flu pandemics and acts of terrorism. And thanks to prominent media coverage of a likely major subduction zone earthquake in the Pacific Northwest, my husband now agrees that our current “emergency supplies” aren’t sufficient.


12/05/2011 at 12:00 pm 2 comments

Show off your plate

Image of USDA's MyPlate

MyPlate shows you how a nutritious meal should look. Image from

The traditional Food Pyramid was recently replaced by MyPlate. It seems like a sensible move, as it’s much easier to put food on a plate than stack it into a pyramid. OSU’s Be Well blog is looking for examples of real plates. The Post My Plate contest is easy to enter: Take a picture of your (hopefully healthy and well-balanced) plate of food and post it to the Be Well Facebook page by midnight on Dec. 3. You could win a prize, or bask in the glory of inspiring others with your healthy eating!

If you need guidance, check out the resources on Extension’s Food & Nutrition community page.


11/30/2011 at 6:14 pm Leave a comment

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gobble, gobble. Photo Dave King.

11/24/2011 at 7:31 am Leave a comment

The scoop on “OSU beetles”

Last fall, while gazing out the floor-to-ceiling windows of my building, I noticed something strange. There were bugs — lots of them — congregating on the glass of the windows and the sunny side of the building’s exterior wall. They were brown, beetle-like, with orange markings and long antennae. And did I mention there were a lot of them? I’d never seen anything like it in Oregon. The sunny autumn days of 2010 stretched on, and the insects hung around too. A time or two, I heard people laugh about the “OSU beetles.”

A room with a view... a view of bugs. Photo Rachel Beck

This summer, the bugs relocated from campus to my house. A mass of them took up residence on the south-facing side of a garden shed. (more…)

11/22/2011 at 4:24 pm Leave a comment

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