It's the Giving Season

The holidays are here....

 Sarah posted this letter to the BCS blog last week about our holiday take-home bag project and I'm just going to repost it here, because she says it all so well:

This time of year we often find ourselves reflecting on our good fortune and the support of the community that has kept BCS alive and well for 29 years!  We are also reminded that this is a very hard time of year for families struggling to make ends meet.  For those 29 years we have operated on the belief that high quality ,  affordable child care can make a huge difference for a family.  Over the past few years we have also learned how much good nutrition can compliment the work we do at school and the impact BCS can have on the quality of life for our families.  We’re very proud of the ways food has become the glue that unites families,  strengthens children,  and enriches almost every aspect of our school culture.  We worry about the times when children are not with us.  

Winter break means many days without Erinn’s warm meals at a time when food budgets are competing with many other expenses.
Last year we decided  to make sure BCS families go home for the Holidays well fed.  Volunteers helped pack bags with beans,  cheese,  tortillas,  pasta and sauce,  eggs,  rice,  peanut butter,  fruit,  and vegetables along with a few recipes and menu suggestions.  Donations literally poured in from BCS families,  relatives,  and followers of Erinn’s blog.  At $25.00 each we were able to fill 15 bags. Miraculously we had requests for….. 15 BAGS!
Of course,  we’re doing it all again this year.  $25.00 is all it takes to fill a bag with wholesome ingredients like the ones we serve at BCS. Please consider making a donation to keep a family well fed and enjoying healthy food together.  Donations can be made in person,  by mailing a check to us at 241 North Winooski Avenue,  Burlington,  VT 05401 or using the “donate now” button on the BCS Blog page. 
Thank you!

If you'd like to make a donation, please visit the BCS Blog, mail us a check, or stop by BCS! Thank you so much for supporting our work keeping kids and families healthy. May we all be happy and well fed this season. Love to you, from all of us. 

Thanksgiving Family Dinner

Yesterday we celebrated my favorite BCS tradition...Thanksgiving Family Dinner. This was our fifth year in a row, and the day has become a real part of the culture of our school. Sarah is the true mastermind and leader, (she will deny this but it's true).

Our fearless leader

She always arrives early and gets everything beautifully organized and half-prepped so that by the time I get there things are humming along smoothly.

We roast three enormous turkeys...

Parents and friends stop by throughout the day to chat or help a little, kids and teachers pop in and out of the kitchen..

Looking good

In the afternoon the real work starts, and the kitchen at the Senior Center fills up with volunteers...

Parents and friends whipping up mashed potatoes and homemade stuffing

BCS teachers hard at work prepping dinner

And before you know it we have fed 150 people!
We love our school, our community, and Thanksgiving. We are thankful for each other. And for you.

Happy Holidays from the Lunch Lady!

Kid bakers

Toddler teacher Kat and her classroom of kiddos made this incredible challah yesterday morning during an open house for families, then baked it in the kitchen after lunch today. So beautiful.

Things we ate last week...

It was a pretty good week of lunches, if I do say so myself. We had beautiful roasted brussels sprouts and butternut squash.

Kale salad with the curly green, white and purple kale we got from Black River Produce...

and we tried wild rice made with veggie stock. With a little butter and special seasoning, it was  a hit!

pulled chicken, wild rice, and kale salad

actual preschooler's lunch plate

The Zen of Mashed Potatoes

I was walking to work yesterday thinking "I can't wait to get started on those potatoes." There's nothing like a big prep job to slow everything down, and bring things back together after a crazy morning. Thanks, mashed potatoes, for requiring so much work to get to your delicious, comforting result.

Lunch was turkey quinoa meatloaf, mashed potatoes, ginger red cabbage slaw, and rolls.

Frost on the pumpkins, stew for lunch...

Today we had Morrocan Stew, based on a City Market recipe taught to us by Caroline Homan. Sweet potatoes, zucchini, onion, garlic, chick peas and black beans stewed with crushed tomatoes, olive oil, cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon. Rice, roasted zucchini, and oranges to round it out and we've got ourselves lunch for a chilly day!

It's Farm to Preschool Day!!

October is Farm to School Month! The national organization is hoping to highlight all kinds of things happening across the country to connect kids, schools and locally grown food throughout the month. Today also just happens to be Farm to Preschool Day (!!!) so I wanted to share these great photos (by BCS Toddler Teacher Sheila P.) of BCS kids harvesting beautiful carrots from their plots at the Archibald Community Garden, just down the street from our center.

We are so lucky to be connected with Grow Team One, and the Friends of Burlington Gardens!

We celebrate our connection to our local farms just about every day, thanks to the Intervale Food Hub, and their amazing work to get gleaned organic produce into the hands of local kids through programs like ours.
A preschooler digs in to local, organic spinach and apples at lunch

Thank you Intervale farmers, and everyone involved with this awesome initiative!

Thank you Intervale!

We are so grateful to live so close to the Intervale, where we can access organic local produce and connect with the folks who grow our food. We are especially grateful for the gleaning program that BCS is a part of. Every Friday during the growing/harvest season the Intervale Food Hub (along with volunteers from Gardener's Supply Co. and others) packs up gleaned organic produce for programs like ours that feed hungry folks.

eat local!!
amazing fall weather

The red barn

the inside of the new storage barn

And we put it to good use!

Tonight is our fall family dinner, and we'll be having kale chips, roasted carrots and potatoes, and cilantro garnish for our curried squash soup all thanks to the Intervale!

soon to be roasted and delicious

kale, tomatoes, and basil

Guess what!!

We went shopping at Kittredge to spend some of our grant money on a new, food-service style energy efficient refrigerator!!!

It was super fun to poke around a giant restaurant supply store.

Sarah compares fridge models

Bus tubs!!! Storage containers...with lids!!
We picked up bus tubs for dirty dishes and some cool new storage containers that will work well in our new fridge with the guidance of the great Abbey Duke (BCS parent, supporter, and owner of Sugarsnap)
Abbey Duke and I, excited about kitchen supplies!

And... here is the beauty we picked out for the kitchen!

We can't wait !!!!

A new school year begins...

We started a new school year  this week, and  I wanted to take a minute to look back over all of the great things that happened throughout  2012/2013 at our beloved Burlington Children's Space.

Let's see. We had 6 incredible family dinners including a huge Thanksgiving feast!

We discovered some new favorites at lunch...curry chick peas (recipe at the end of this post!) and kale gratin (and kale salad, and kale chips!) were big this year.

The kids made amazing investigations of textiles with quilting, sewing and needlework projects. They also investigated maps, clay, kindness, and beautiful things.
They baked bread, granola bars, and muffins, and worked on many other "experimental" cooking and baking projects with their brilliant and dedicated teachers.

We ran!! The 2nd annual BCS Fun Run raised $300 with staff, parents, kids and friends participating. We love our Intervale, and this great community-building event.
The first ever BCS Key Bank VT City Marathon teams raised over $3000 to put toward our long term playground renovation! The staff is working on a collaborative model to design the last phases of the playground transformation this Fall.

We received 2 grants to help expand our food program and make our school - including the kitchen - more energy efficient. A new stove, refrigerator, freezer, storage spaces and more are coming our way for the new school year!

And finally, earlier this month Sarah helped me run a workshop for the Child Nutrition Summer Institute put on by CACFP and Hunger Free Vermont. We shared recipes, tips, challenges and successes with cooks from around the state. It was so much fun to cook with so many fantastic folks, and inspired me to do more of the same. Cooking class for parents, perhaps??

So here we go! Fall is almost upon us. Apples, pumpkins, changing colors, and new explorations!

Here are a few pics from the staff in-service week. Icebox pickles from a recipe by Deb Perelman of the Smitten Kitchen

Cheddar scallion biscuits

Kale salad with walnuts, percorino, and lemon juice (among other things). Another piece of genius from Smitten Kitchen.

And some small, but important and deeply appreciated bits of work on the kitchen. Sarah and Jed cut and refit some ceiling tiles that had been missing for some time, and longtime teacher Sheila brought me some new pot holders and towels for the new year.  Thanks friends!
New ceiling tiles!
Pot holders and dish towels!

And finally, our first lunch of the new school year. Ham and cheese rolls, roasted red potatoes, and honeydew.

If you had a "first day back" at anything today I hope it was terrific. Let's hear it for Fall.

p.s. super easy and fast recipe below!

Curry chick peas
6 cups chick peas (drain them if you're using canned)
 4 cups crushed tomatoes
3 Tbsp mild curry paste
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp turmeric
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cumin

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the curry paste and stir well. Add the rest of  the ingredients except the chick peas and stir over medium heat until the sauce begins to bubble. Add chick peas and lower heat a bit. Simmer over low heat for as long as you can, I usually manage about 30 minutes when I’m making lunch. Taste before serving and adjust seasonings, you may feel it needs a bit more salt, pepper, (or even a tsp of brown sugar if you like things on the sweeter side). Serve over rice, cous cous, quinoa, with roasted or stir fried veggies, etc. It's filling and really tasty, and little kids love it. Really.