A toddler’s gift of cooking

Young children are sponges. Everyone says it. Infants and toddlers seem absolutely interested in observing those around them and imitating them. In our household, we’ve tried to involve our toddler in our everyday activities. This, of course, would involve cooking. We built a Montessori learning tower and stood him up on it at kitchen counter height before his first birthday, so that he could see what we were doing as we prepared, cooked and plated food. We let him feel, smell and play with vegetables that we grow or pick up from our CSA share. If we harvest some kale or chard from the garden, he’ll help us wash the leaves. He mixes, pours and stirs things.

I’m not much of a fan of focussing on material possessions for birthday gifts, particularly for kids. My personal preference is to gift the gift of an experience. That could be a gift certificate to a paint-your-own-ceramic studio, some books and a pair of PJs, a crafted toy for imagination galore.

So to bring these two things together, I sewed some toddler-sized aprons for the 1 year olds in my life. My hope is that they can be used for arts and crafts, water play or cooking (read: versatile) and they’ll entice kids into the kitchen (and encourage parents to have their kids join them – since I know some folks don’t want to deal with mess…enter the apron!).

They weren’t absolutely perfect but my technique improved with each apron (shows I can still learn!). There is a nice big pocket on the front with a loop where you can slip a wooden spoon through. The apron folds up nicely so that the pocket is on top and the apron ties can be used to present the apron as a neat square gift. I slotted a wooden spoon through and added two felt carrots that I made to finish off the presentation.

Apron The gift of food

A source for burlap bags!

I was delighted to find that Bridgehead, a chain of local coffee shops priding itself in fair trade, is selling the burlap bags in which their green coffee beans come in. They opened a roastery at the corner of Preston and Anderson in Little Italy a few months ago and have a nice stack of burlap bags to choose from. They suggest a donation of $2 per bag (although there was a bit of confusion as to whether it was $2 a bag or $2 per pick up when I went to get a few bags); I forgot to ask if they had selected an organization to give proceeds to. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the six bags I got yet, but there are a bunch of DIY ideas posted all over the net: seat cushions, throw pillows, wreaths, book covers, stockings (for Christmas – not to wear!), napkin holders, baskets…I was even thinking it’d work well as a door mat (maybe stuffed with a little something to give it some cushioning).

So if you’re in Ottawa, stop by the Bridgehead Roastery for some burlap bags!

Rebecca’s Wild Farm and Seeds of Freedom: 2 films

I just got wind of the two films that will be screened at the fall Reel Food Film Festival at the Ottawa Main Public Library on Thursday October 18. You can check out the trailers for Rebecca’s Wild Farm and Seeds of Freedom, both from the UK, on the film fest’s website. They both speak to becoming more conscious about food production but from different angles. Looking forward to seeing these. The spring film fest was great!


Complacent or Happy? “I’m Fine, Thanks”

While I was at the World Domination Summit, I was lucky enough to have a ticket to the world premiere screening of Adam Baker and Grant Peelle’s documentary, “I’m Fine, Thanks”.

This film brought many to tears and made many laugh and rejoice, all from a place of shared understanding, a sense of community, and strong sense of distinguishing happiness from complacency. It’s a film that allows you to follow others’ journeys, hear about their experiences, and all the while reflect on your life (past, present, and envisioned future), and it’s very powerful. The impetus for Grant to go on this film-making venture was his reflection on his life and his belief to live by example. He always wanted to make films but ended up in a job not making films (“Go get a real job”…that kind of societal thinking); why was he not following his dreams while he was telling his own kids to follow their dreams? The rhetoric sounds familiar, eh? It sure did to me.

Check out the trailer and keep your eyes and ears peeled for screenings in your area. If you’re in Ottawa, there is a screening on Saturday August 18 at 5PM as part of the Ottawa International Film Festival; go check it out.