Peace, love, and lunch

Working together to end hunger in our community...

My son is a third grader at the Integrated Arts Academy, and this past Thursday he was part of a wonderful fundraiser for our friends at Hunger Free Vermont called  Fill the Bowl.  It's an annual event put on each holiday season by the two third grade classrooms, their wonderful teachers, and parent and staff volunteers.
The idea is amazing.
 Throughout the season the kids talk about hunger in their community, and how they can help. The classes meet with an artist at the BCA clay studio downtown and learn to make bowls on the pottery wheel as well as pinch pots. Then they solicit donations from area restaurants for soup and bread. Local artists donate pottery bowls for a silent auction.
At the event the bows made by kids are for sale for $5 each, and the artist-made bowls are auctioned. Everyone who buys a bowl gets a ticket for soup and bread, and everyone eats together. It's lovely, and the very best part is the pride the kids feel in the night. It's a true community event, and  couldn't be prouder of my son, or his school.

Over at BCS, we're getting ready for winter break and we know it will be hard for some families to get by without all the snacks and lunches that we prepare on the days we are closed.
We  know that the end of the month can be especially hard if 3 Squares benefits are running out.
 This year Sarah had the fantastic idea of preparing to-go bags full of ingredients for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks (along with recipes and suggestions) for families to take home. She sent out a letter to families explaining the idea with space to sign up to take a bag,  help pack up bags, or donate to fill a bag for another family.  We are filling the bags this week, and will be sending them home with as many families as possible on Friday.
In addition, you can now donate directly to support the food program through our website!
Here's the info on our food bag idea from the Get Involved page...

The Growing Food program 

BCS now serves over 30,000 snacks and meals each year.  Bi-monthly dinners, supported by City Market,  regularly attract 60 parents,  staff members,  children,  and relatives who cook and eat together,  learning more about the meals we serve during the day and enjoying family style eating.  Over 120 family members and community partners joined us for our annual Family Feast on November 16.   Through our nutrition program we are able to see the many positive outcomes for children who are well fed in the hours they are at school.  These include positive behavior,  improved social interactions,  energy for active play and daily outings,  and growing interest in trying new foods.  For children from homes where food is scarce,  these effects are even more pronounced:  fewer illnesses,  better school attendance,  lower anxiety about getting enough to eat,  and the ability to regulate their eating based on cues from their bodies. When children know they are going to have enough to teat,  they can begin to enjoy food.
A gift of $15 allows us to send home enough for breakfast and lunch for 5 days.  And additional $5.00 allows us to add fresh produce to the bag.  A larger donation will help us make much needed upgrades to our kitchen so that Erinn can process and store more fresh produce to use throughout the winter and take better advantage of free produce from our neighbors at the Intervale.

What better way to support our community, and get into the holiday spirit?  
I'm so proud of our neighborhood, our schools, and our kids. Thanks for thinking of folks who are hungry this season. And thanks for reading.
 Peace, love, and lunch.
Happy Holidays.


We served Thanksgiving Family Dinner  on Friday November 16th. We had a big crowd, fantastic food, and a lot of fun. We have so much to be thankful for! Like...
Amazing preschoolers! Our big kids peeled 40 pounds of potatoes, and tore bunches of kale leaves for salad to help prepare for the big dinner.
Our families! BCS parents donated veggies, bread, and apples for the feast!
City Market, as always! Thanks to their generous donation family dinners are always free for everyone.
Farm to Preschool, for including a beautiful write up on BCS family dinners in their Fall newsletter!
And so much more.
I have more to share, about our latest session with nutrition coordinator Caroline on snacks made with root veggies, our Mayor Miro Weinberger participating in the Hunger Free VT challenge, and some new recipes we've been working on. Next time!

Fall is Happening!

Wow, we have a lot to talk about. First of all, lunch of course! We are working with a local produce distributor as the growing season winds down and we approach the end of the Intervale Gleaning program. So far we have been really happy with everything we've ordered. Last week we made a great butternut squash soup, sauteed green peppers, ate kale chips that the preschoolers helped prepare, and amazing red grapes and bartlett pears that we ripened to yellow perfection in paper bags. This week we've got baby spinach, gorgeous bunches of organic carrots, and as a special treat... pineapple!

The really big news though, is the brand new BCS website. We were lucky to have the help of a former BCS teacher, Erin Barnaby, and a few other kind folks (including my husband, photographer extraordinaire Sam Simon) and the result is a really great picture of who we are and what we do. Please take a look, and pass it on!

Burlington Children's Space

We also heard from our friend Caroline at City Market about some cool upcoming classes right at the Mc Clure Multigenerational Center - the building that houses BCS. Check it out!

Kids’ cooking class with City Market!

Thursday, October 18, 2012
5:00pm - 6:30pm
At the Multi-Generational Center
We all love flatbread pizza, but did you know many different kinds of flatbreads are eaten all around the world? In this class we will roll up our sleeves, dust our work stations with flour, and have fun learning to make three different flatbreads – Mexican tortillas, Middle Eastern pita breads, and Indian chapathis. These simple breads can accompany just about any meal. For kids and teens accompanied by an adult.

$5 for City Market Members, $10 for non-members. Sign up through City Market: OR 861-9701.

Cooking class with City Market
Saturday, October 20, 2012 11 a.m.- 1 p.m.
At the Multi-Generational Center
Soaking grains, nuts and beans before cooking removes the phytic acid from the outer layer of the bran, improving their flavor and allowing their nutrients to be more available to our bodies. In this class, you will learn the age-old (and recently popular again!) method for properly soaking these foods. Caroline Homan, who teaches food and nutrition education at City Market, will bring samples of a variety of soaked grains, nuts, and seeds from the Bulk Department. We will also prepare a delicious local chili, a perfect pot of brown rice, and a yummy dessert using these soaking methods.
$5 for City Market Members, $10 for non-members. Sign up through City Market: OR 861-9701.

Last but not least... City Market is teaming up with Sustainability Academy in Burlington to celebrate their Eat Local Week October 6th-14th with the First Annual Harvest Fun Run/Walk for Sustainability!
The Simon Family will be there in support, and it should be a great time.

From the event website:

The Sustainability Academy and City Market are partnering up to present the First Annual Harvest Fun Run/Walk for Sustainability as part of City Market's Eat Local Week 2012 (October 6 - 14). We'll have a Kids' 1K and a 5K. After the race, visit with the local food vendors and take part in family activities!
Prizes for Adult Races to include craziest localvore costume! Pumpkin prizes for all registered kids! Some scholarships available for SA families.
The Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes, a collaborative partnership of educators, families and the community, integrates the big ideas of sustainability into PreK-5 curriculum and campus practices.
The goal of the Academy is to prepare students to be responsible citizens and agents for change, in their community and beyond. The Academy is an international model for using sustainability as a lens for place-based education and service learning.  We maintain the highest expectations for academic and personal growth for all of our students and embrace the rich economic and cultural diversity of our community.
Online registration is closed, but you can still register the morning of the run! If you're a Burlington local head on down! 

Farms in Addison County

Because I love PDFs so much, here is another one.  This time a guide to local food and farms of Addison County.  Lots of good stuff here if you are ever looking to get out of the "big city".

October is Here!

I can't believe it's October already. This weekend everything changed and it became FALL in Vermont. Cool air, bright leaves, that different smell in the air. Soup weather! That's good news in the kitchen though. It means it's time for not only soup but some comfort food pizza! Friday at the farm we picked up the last of the watermelons, lots of mixed greens, some parsley, chives, onion grass and beautiful, beautiful red chili peppers I couldn't resist. For lunch that day five preschoolers and I made some amazing pizzas with whole wheat dough. They had a great time with the sauce and cheese and colorful veggies, and the end result was really delicious.

The real news today is, October is National Farm to School Month! We plan to send a special thank you to our farmers, and the organizers or the Intervale gleaning and food rescue program.
heading for the compost bin

relaxing at the table 

To get you in the mood for soup weather, here's a recipe I'll be making for the kids this month from Real Simple magazine... White bean and kale! (I omitted 2 tbsp fresh rosemary)


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the garlic, celery, onion, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 6 minutes.
  3. Add the beans, pasta, kale, 8 cups water, and Parmesan rind (if using). Cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer until the pasta and kale are tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the Parmesan rind. Stir in the lemon juice and sprinkle with the shaved Parmesan before serving. Serve with the bread.
Recipe by By Sara Quessenberry , January, 2010

Veggie Guide

This is pretty cool.  A ninety four page guide to veggies in Vermont...for free!  It's a collaboration between a few groups including the Vermont Foodbank, Salvation Farms and High Mowing Seeds.  Everything you need to know about growing veggies in Vermont and then some.  Check it out. Vermont Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Handbook.

Fall Family Dinner

For September family dinner we wanted to show off some new snack recipes from our summer workshop with City Market, and we thought soup would be a good way to tie it all together. The kids have been loving black bean soup lately...
This is where the magic happens!
So I cooked up a few pots, and spent the afternoon making cheddar crackers. The preschoolers made delicious butter to spread on the crackers and bread. As always a huge thank you to City Market for sponsoring our  dinners. Thanks to them we had local cream, yogurt, cheese, and flour, and jars for our homemade butter. Recipes? You bet. Just keep reading.
We had a sunny September evening and a nice turnout, including some new families and other first-timers. We just love it when grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends show up for family dinner! Our snack guru Caroline even stopped by to say hi and taste a cracker. My family was there as well - they never miss a chance to hang out at BCS. The BCS kids hear a lot about my family. They even have favorite stories, usually involving Sadie, my youngest, that they ask me to tell again and again. So it's always a good time when the Simon family and the BCS family get together in person. We opened up all the kitchen windows, set the food up outside and let the good times roll.  Take a look...
Sadie Lou in the kitchen, visiting with some preschool friends outside

Kitchen windows overlooking the playground = lots of opportunities  for observing friends, chatting...

telling stories...

and hugs.

Black bean soup, VT cheddar crackers, strained yogurt dip, apples, bread, AND incredible samosas made by a BCS parent. That tray was empty in MINUTES!

Our fearless Program Director Jed and friend hang out in the kitchen
One of my kiddos enjoys a veggie samosa
look at those colors
Black bean soup!
families connect in the preschool classroom

Sadie digs the tree house
Teachers and kiddos 
Sandbox trucks
it's me! in the treehouse!

In other news, we continue to be so grateful for the gleaned produce we're receiving through the Intervale Gleaning and Food Rescue. This week we brought back over 50 pounds of produce, including many, many gorgeous watermelons, Digger's Mirth organic greens, yellow peppers, corn, carrots, dill and recipe cards from Hunger Free VT. We ate the salad greens, yellow peppers, and some of the watermelons with lunch yesterday, and I'll cook the carrots and corn up this week. Now that I think about it, it really is time for roasted carrots with honey.  I love fall.  
Anyway here are a few recipes we are loving lately. 

Black Bean Soup (serves a family of 5)

3 15 oz cans of black beans, undrained
1 qt chicken stock
1 small yellow onion
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp cumin
salt, black pepper to taste

Peel and dice 1 small yellow onion. Melt the butter in a large soup pot, then add the onion and stir until soft, about 4 minutes. When the onion bits are soft and clear, add the beans, stock, and spices and stir a little.  I usually use a potato masher or slotted spoon to mash some of the beans down, then stir some more. This helps the soup thicken up a little. If you have a food processor you can also puree a cup  of the soup at this point and then add it back into the pot, but it's not absolutely necessary. When it heats through add a little salt and pepper and taste. Keep going until you're happy. 

Saute small bits of just about any veggie you have on hand and add it to the soup when hot. Carrots, peppers, broccoli, zucchini or yellow squash are great. 
Grate some cheddar cheese on top.
Serve with quinoa, brown rice, bread, cornbread, or......homemade crackers!

Overnight Soaked VT Cheddar crackers (makes several dozen)

 2 ½ cups whole wheat, spelt, or rye flour, or a mixture

1 cup plain yogurt
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbs. sesame seeds
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
all-purpose white flour, for rolling out crackers
Mix flour with yogurt – you may need to wet your fingers to form the dough into a ball. Cover and leave on the counter overnight, or for 12-24 hours.
In a small mixing bowl, stir together the olive oil, salt, baking powder, and sesame seeds. Knead this into the dough, using your fingers to “squish” the olive oil into the dough. Add the grated cheddar cheese and knead that in.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously flour a surface area to roll out the dough. The dough will be sticky, so you will be able to use a good bit of flour and re-roll dough scraps as necessary. Roll ¼” thick, and use either cookie cutters or a serrated knife to cut out shapes/rectangles. Place on parchment-paper covered baking sheet and bake about 12 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Repeat with remaining dough. Makes several dozen crackers. 
 Recipe courtesy of the City Market as adapted from Nourishing Traditions.

all photos courtesy of Sam Simon