Garden Harvest Party (& Recipes)
Fall has been, and always will be, the time of the harvest. Toiling away all spring to get your garden planted, then spending all Summer nourishing your plants, watching them grow, and knowing that soon, very soon, it’ll be time to harvest!
Well my friends that time is finally here! So throw a party and share your “fruits of labor” with all your friends. And as long as you promise to share with me, here are some delicious and easy recipe ideas you can create from the fruits and veggies you harvest this Fall:
Salsa is one of the easiest and healthiest recipes you can make from your garden’s bounty. Everyone’s recipe is a little different, but the main ingredients usually include tomatoes (of course!), onion, jalapeño pepper, cilantro, and garlic. Some add corn, mango, lime, black beans, or other twists to their recipe. My thinking is, you can’t really go wrong!
Most gardeners have a little corner set aside for cucumbers. Cucumbers are so delicious when they’re fresh from the garden! And the great thing about them is that they grow very abundantly—sometimes faster than we can eat them! So a great solution to this is to pickle them! Grow your own dill herb (it’s not hard at all!), and when you find you have too many cucumbers, pickle them along with the dill and some garlic in a big mason jar. You’ll be crunching down on pickles way into the Winter.
Cinnamon Zucchini Pie
Yep, that’s what I said, cinnamon zucchini pie. If you have your own cinnamon apple pie recipe, mix it up a bit and use zucchini instead of apples. Believe it or not, you can’t tell the difference at all! Bake this pie and serve it for desert to your friends — I guarantee you, they won’t have a clue! It’s up to you whether or not you want to let them in on the secret! 😉
Does anyone really know what Oktoberfest is? I mean, yes, it is a festival involving a lot of beer, but did you know there’s actually a lot more to it than beer?
Oktoberfest is a yearly festival celebrated in Munich, Bavaria, Germany for the first two weeks (or so) of October. It first started in 1810 — over 200 years ago! It all began in honor of Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen when a parade was held in honor of their marriage.
By the year 1819, this festival had pretty much become a yearly thing, so the people of Bavarian took it upon themselves to assume the responsibility of the annual celebration. It was deemed that only beer made in Bavaria could be served at this festival.
As the years went by, the festival became more and more popular, bringing in people from surrounding countries and eventually from all over the world. As German immigrants moved to other countries, they brought their traditions with them, and in modern times we see many small Oktoberfest celebrations happening all over the world during the few two weeks on October.
It’s important to remember that this festival is not just an excuse to drink and eat carnival foods for two weeks each year; it is a celebration of a peoples’ culture. This festival has survived two world wars and has grown in popularity beyond anything the Bavarian people could have ever imagined.
So this October, when you host or get invited to an Oktoberfest celebration, yes, drink the beer—drink plenty of it!—but remember that this celebration wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for the traditions pride of the people of Bavaria, Germany.
Autumn Craft with Leaves
If I had to pick one memory from childhood that makes me think of Autumn, it would be pressing autumn leaves between books. Then, in a few days time, I would use the ultra-flat leaves to create chalk tracings, decorate a painting, make a wreath, and dangle from the ceiling with string.
So, in the spirit of the changing seasons, here are a few crafty ideas (using leaves of course!) that you and your kids can play around with this Fall:
- Who doesn’t love glitter? Glitter is a must when it comes to any kind of homemade craft decorations. So I say, why not make glitter leaves to stick on your fridge or in your windows? It’s extremely easy. Be sure to dry your leaves out by sticking them between the pages of a thick book for a few days. Then, roll on the glue to each leaf using a glue stick. Last, sprinkle loose glitter onto the leaves and allow to dry. Before you know it, you have sparkly, glittery leaves everywhere to further use as a craft.
- Design a big ‘ol turkey out of leaves. Find a good picture of a turkey to be your model and purchase a large piece of poster board. Gather all different colors of leaves from outside, dry them as mentioned above, and get to work re-creating the image of the turkey on your poster board. Last step? Display it for the entire neighborhood to see!
- Here’s another idea: make a “curtain-o-leaves”. Again, gather many different color and types of leaves from outside, dry them, and then thread them to make a window or doorway curtain (like a beaded curtain). Because there are needles involved, this craft activity should be closely supervised and may be better suited for older children.
- In the spirit of Halloween, make some “spooky” chalk outlines – see this craft article to create ghostly images on paper.
However you decide to decorate this Fall, take advantage of the beautiful colors all around—and the endless supply of leaves!
“Starving Artists” Kids Party Show
Now that all the back-to-school supplies are on sale, time to pick up craft items on sale! Little kids are pretty creative – often more so than adults – so let them express their creativity by throwing an arts and crafts “starving artists” party. Invite all of your child’s classmates over for an afternoon of creativity.
Purchase plenty of supplies, prepare for a mess, and serve quick, fun snacks for the kids to “grab a bite of” while their imaginations run wild. Some supplies you’ll want to have will be:
- Paint, paint brushes, and canvases
- Colored pencils, crayons, markers, and pastels
- Glitter, glue, and scissors
- Plenty of construction paper
- Stickers, puff paint, and rhinestones
- And of course, plenty of paper towels and water
Some other fun ideas for older kids might be to tie-dye t-shirts, bedazzle their own shoes or hats, or build a birdhouse.
Every child will have their own artistic style, so be sure to offer many different mediums for them to play around with. Whatever it is the kids create, they will have a blast doing it and being able to show off their talents. You might be surprised to find your artistic side coming out too!
Recipe: Pumpkin Pie – NOT from a can!
If you’re seeing pumpkin pie in the stores, then autumn is officially here (hey, it will be this Friday!) Store bought is okay, and making it yourself from a can is fantastic (especially once you add your own spices to make it your own), but this year I’d love to try making it from scratch! This is the recipe I’m going to use – you can view the full recipe at Pickyourown.com.
- a pie pumpkin (smaller than a regular jack o’lantern type pumpkin) to make 3 cups of cooked pumpkin innards
- 1 cup sugar
- 1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 4 eggs
- 1.5 cans (12oz each) of non-fat evaporated milk
To cook the pumpkin: Wash, cut it in half with a large serrated knife or even a saw. Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits with a spoon or ice cream scoop. Place cut-side down on a baking tray, cover with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the size of the pumpkin. When you can poke your fork through, it’s done.
Puree the pumpkin innards: Scrape the pumpkin innards with a spoon into a bowl. Puree with a hand mixer, food processor, blender or whatever. At this point you can freeze it to use later. Mix all the above ingredients – if you want a denser pie use 3 eggs and 1 can of evaporated milk. Pour the mixture about a quarter inch to the top of a pie crust (click here to view a pie crust recipe.) Left over puree can be used to make a second pie, pumpkin muffins or pumpkin bread! The puree will be runny – that’s okay.
Cooking the pie: Cook in a 425 degree F oven for 15 minutes, then turn down to 350 for another 45 minutes to an hour. If you stick a knife in it and it comes out clean, it’s done. Yum! Enjoy your home-made creation!
Theme Party of the Month: A John Deere Farm Party
This fall, a visit to the local farm is a great inspiration for a party. Perhaps you know a farmer who could use some help with the harvest, or maybe there’s a local farming business that offers autumn tours and hay rides? The Farms offer fresh eats, fun and fascinating animals and awesome machinery, including the famous John Deere line of farm tractors and trucks. Here are our thoughts on what makes a great John Deere farm party for both boys and girls:
If you’re hosting your party at home, set up an awesome tractor stand-in and take pictures of guests individually, posing as the “farmer.” Print out pictures and include them in goody bags at the end of the party; parents will love this. A couple other decor ideas:
- Set up straw bales around the party area; you can buy miniature craft bales to use for parties. Or if you live near an animal feed store, ask about large hay bales. These can often be had for a steal. Place them around the perimeter of the party room for a real farm feel. (Careful of the fire hazard … and yes, there will be a mess. But hay is great for compost or bedding for your flower and vegetable garden! Get somebody to shred it after the party.
- Put sunflower and marigold arrangements on the party table and other surfaces around the party room. These can be real or not; check your local crafts store or dollar store for fabric blooms that look like the real thing. Cute touch: Stand sunflowers in Mason jars.
For food and activities, think farm fresh, Americana and lots of veggies. Set out food on a John Deere tablecloth or a red and white checked picnic-style disposable table cover. Corn on the cob, apple pie, lemonaide and watermelon are great treats. If it’s late enough in the season, you can decorate miniature pumpkins or serve pumpkin pie.
If you are able to visit a the farm, let everybody know in your invites, and whether the festivities begin at the farm locale. Ask parents to volunteer to transport the party guests to the farm and then back to the party area.
Call your local farm and ask whether they offer tours or hay rides, or what autumn specials they can provide. Some local farms even offer a full party package, and have guests spend the morning or afternoon seeing the sights and learning all about farm animals, veggies and a farmer’s busy day. We have two local farms where hosting parties and tours is their primary means of income, and it’s great to support them!
Read more ideas for this party …
Sales and Coupon Codes for Online Party Merchants
Birthdayexpress.com – coupon code TAKETWENTY – Save 20% on any single party item. Discount is applied before taxes, shipping or duties, and can not be combined with any other offer. Use coupon code at checkout. Good until September 20, 2011 (TODAY!)
Shindigz.com – Coupon code VS474G– Save $10 on $75, $25 on $150, or $75 on your $300. Order is for ground shipping in the continental US, and can not be combined with any other offer. Expires at the end of September 24, 2011
Next issue in early October. See you then, and thanks for reading!