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For as long as human history has been recorded, the common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) has been used as food and medicine across the globe. While not native to this continent, this nutritious golden flowering plant arrived with the European colonization of the 1600’s and is now commonplace in lawns and meadows across North America. In the spring, the dandelion is one of several common wild edibles foragers look for to supplement their dinner plates. Here’s a helpful list, which includes, of course, DANDELIONS!

Looking through the lens of dandelions, interests in culinary arts, pastry arts, baking, and even home brewing can be supported. Within these interests, lessons in chemistry and math are implicit, while the art of taste and texture is an explicit driving force…

This month, Hilltown Families Contributing Writer, Cheryl Allan Carlyle, encourages readers to ‘get inspired’ by the art and tradition of food, connecting them with local chefs who are passionate about sharing their secrets!

Tis becoming to season to pay special attention to spreading kindness to those around us! Families can spread kindness by sharing homemade foods with neighbors, and can expand this activity to include studies of world cultures by baking foods enjoyed internationally!

What family recipes do you still make that have been passed down generation after generation? Can you recall and share the history of their origin with family and friends?

Nutritional Anthropology and Culinary Education Every culture has its own set of values, rituals, and traditions surrounding food. The staple ingredients, indulgences, and forbidden fruits of a given culture are influenced by agricultural systems, habitat, ethical concepts, and religious beliefs. Holidays and celebrations around the world are associated with traditional and ritual foods. Have you ever wondered why birthday cakes are round? Or why latkes are fried during Hanukkah and Buche de… Read More

Food is a delectable lens through which to explore local history and culture: not only is it delicious, but it’s something that is a part of everyone’s life, no matter age or socioeconomic status. Eating is a universal human experience, and the what and why of this experience speaks volumes to the context in which we live our lives.

Covering the contents of local plates over the last 250 years, Historic Northampton’s “Table Talk” spotlights the changes that the city’s food-centric downtown has seen. Speaking to food and many other topics, the exhibit offers a unique opportunity for community-based learning.

In this installment of “Our Growing Roots: Real Food, Real Connection,” Cheryl explores how to create simple, food-based connections during the cold winter months as she shares some of her favorite family-friendly slow cooker recipes.

Cooking shows are robbed of their central sensory features – the ability to smell and taste the food being prepared. To compensate, they have to create a full-spectrum visual and audio show that captures and keeps the audience’s interest. How do they do it? By treating the viewers like toddlers.

Dane writes, “My standard challenge is this: if you can read every ingredient on the box (for the younger kids), and identify what it is (older kids), it counts as food. Anything else is Not Food (even if it is tasty and okay to eat sometimes!). In this story, students Ethan and Robbie learn how to turn a “not-food” treat into a “real-food” drink.” Read more in this month’s column, “Soup’s On: Stirring Up Connections in the Kitchen”

During this season of abundance, we are afforded the unique opportunity to strengthen our connections through food and togetherness. In this month’s column, “Our Growing Roots: Real Food, Real Connection,” Cheryl reflects upon how something as simple as a recipe card can unite us across generations.

When kids are trusted – really trusted – with true responsibility, they rise to the occasion. They will always know if you’re holding back, or if you’re counting on them to mess up. But the moments I’ve connected most deeply with kids in the kitchen are the moments in which I was just a tiny bit nervous – and trusted them anyway.

Families, schools & youth groups can get creative in the kitchen with the Springfield Museums Magic of Gingerbread Competition! Applying design theory and architectural skills, youth can build edible structures. Discovering fairy tale archetypes and participating in creative free play in the kitchen, families can have time well spent together. Working in groups with others in the community, schools and youth groups can apply design and creativity together… endless reasons to check out the competition, or at the very least, make plans to attend the exhibit!

Have you heard about the Pioneer Valley Bread House? Bread House gatherings are centered around, but not limited to bread-making. While the bread rises and bakes, bread-makers enjoy conversations, story-telling, and other creative activities. One of the goals of the PVBH is to stimulate community engagement with issues vital to our towns – issues of food, health, local resources, sustainability, and intercultural dialogue…

Kids ages 13yo and older interested in culinary arts and local food are invited to bake their favorite fruit pie using local ingredients to submit to the Tuesday Market annual Pie Contest happening on Tuesday, September 10th…

There are many different entry points for thematically investigating history: fashion, architecture, industry, literature, and even food! This autumn, the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke will host a lecture series that examines local history through the role of food in the Pioneer Valley…

Tasting the Evergreens Life in Western MA has its many pleasures. So many times I feel really lucky to live where I do and to be surrounded by so much beauty. The mountains, the rivers, the farmland, the flora and the fauna are just some of the things I appreciate. I live in the Pioneer Valley and I am always trying to find ways to connect with my surroundings. I have a… Read More

What Happens When Creative Free Play in the Kitchen Meets Literature? EDIBLE BOOKS! If you devour books, does that make you a bookworm?  Does your family sometimes seem to subsist on the sustenance of words alone, rather than actual food?  Creative book lovers rejoice, for the ultimate opportunity to show your love for books has arrived! The Forbes and Lilly Libraries in Northampton & Florence are again holding The Edible Book, an… Read More

Youth Invited to Participate in Hancock Shaker Village’s Annual Pie Contest Deliver to Village on Sept 28th. Hancock Shaker Village’s annual Country Fair takes place on September 29th and 30th! The festival celebrates the fall harvest and all of the many food-related activities and traditions that the season brings. Especially exciting is the festival’s annual pie contest, which features an amateur division for young baker-extraordinaires! Entries in the contest must be baked… Read More

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