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Archive for December, 2010

FAB Five for the Weekend

Little Engine that Could (Photo by Joshua Posamentier)
Little Engine: The Bay Area Children’s Theatre adds acrobatics and music to their production of “The Little Engine That Could” (pictured), the tale of the famously optimistic little train who steps in when the big engine breaks down. The show runs Dec. 18-23 at San Ramon’s Front Row Theatre. Tickets: $15-$19; www.bactheatre.org.

Welsh holiday: Catch a screening of the classic “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” written and narrated by Dylan Thomas, at San Francisco’s Exploratorium at 2 p.m. Dec. 18. Free with admission; www.exploratorium.edu.
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Posted on Wednesday, December 15th, 2010
Under: Family Entertainment | No Comments »

Holiday Countdown #9: Toffee Bars

Holiday Cookies (Photo by Mark DuFrene/Bay Area News Group) From gingerbread elves to crunchy biscotti and toffee bars, there’s no doubt that cookies make holidays merrier. It’s not just the sweet, chocolaty goodness of it all. What makes cookies such an integral part of the holidays, says Berkeley’s doyenne of sweets, Alice Medrich, is the whole process — the sifting, the rolling, the aromas and the sense of warm, familial togetherness.
“It’s something that women and children have always done together in the kitchen,” she says in this week’s food section. “It’s a wonderful tradition.”

Read more about Alice and holiday cookies here. Then dip into her wonderful recipes, including these Toffee Bars from her book “Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies,” (Workman Publishing, 384 pp., $25.95). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, December 14th, 2010
Under: Christmas, Cuisine, holidays | No Comments »

Book Giveaway: Elves’ First Christmas

The Elves' First Christmas Christmas is nearly here and we don’t know about you, but at our house, it’s a season that calls for books, books and more books. And this one – “The Elves’ First Christmas” by Atsuko Morozumi – is particularly charming. The Japanese author and illustrator is a graduate of the Royal College of Art in London, and we’re kinda wishing those illustrations were available as posters! Want a copy of the book? Click “comments” and tell us, what do you leave for Santa on Christmas Eve? A plate of cookies? A carrot for the reindeer? A glass of Scotch? (Hey, it’s cold outside!) We’ll draw a winner’s name on Monday, and get that book headed your way before the big day.

Meanwhile, congrats are due to Judy W, who won Lidia Bastianich’s “Nonna Tell Me a Story”!

Posted on Monday, December 13th, 2010
Under: Books, Contest | 8 Comments »

Charlie Brown vs Rudolph Showdown

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Our colleague Chuck Barney, the Times and Trib’s TV columnist, has been running a very fun Holiday Tourney, a showdown between practically every holiday favorite, from the Grinch to Snoopy, Rudolph and that kid who wanted a BB gun. If you haven’t already discovered the fun, it’s not too late. Vote for your fave here.

Posted on Monday, December 13th, 2010
Under: TV | No Comments »

Parent Talks: Kids, Toys & Technology

Tech-savvy tot (MCT Direct) Kids & Toys
December 19 from 7 to 8 a.m. on 98.1 KISS-FM and streamed live on Childhoodmatters.org
Join nurse Rona Renner, Stevanne Auerbach – better known
as “Dr. Toy” – and Jason Brand, MSW, founder of Positive Technology Relationships, as they discuss kids, toys and technology. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, December 13th, 2010
Under: Parenting Issues | No Comments »

Holiday Countdown #8: Stocking Stuffers

Looking for awesome stocking stuffer and small gift ideas? Here’s a round-up of things that caught our attention…

Pirate Bath Set For tots:

For kids:
Temporary Hand Tattoos

  • You know those cute face painting techniques people sometimes use to turn their hands into puppets? Yeah, messy. Plus, you need a certain level of artistry. Ah, but then there are these temporary hand tattoos.
  • Two words: Desktop Dodgeball.
  • More kids’ stocking stuffer ideas from Stephanie, the queen of kids cuisine, including chocolate-covered Cheerios (wait, they make those??).

For teens:

Posted on Friday, December 10th, 2010
Under: holidays | No Comments »

Holiday Countdown #7: Time Capsule Ornament

Time Capsule Ornament (Courtesy Family Fun Magazine) Too. Cute. A time capsule ornament that captures all the excitement and joy of baby’s first Christmas, and every holiday afterward too. The idea, say our friends over at Family Fun Magazine, is to use those snap-together plastic ball ornaments as a holder for mementos. Here, they’ve put in a photo of baby, plus family recollections and loving notes scrawled onto color-coordinated, fortune cookie-sized slips of paper. Snap it shut and hang it. The balls can be opened every Christmas and their contents enjoyed all over again. Get the instructions here, along with loads of other fun holiday ideas.

Posted on Thursday, December 9th, 2010
Under: Crafts, holidays | No Comments »

FAB Five for the Weekend

SFS YouthOrchestra (Photo courtesy San Francisco Symphony) Peter, a Wolf  & a Bassoon: Peter tries to elude that pesky wolf once more in the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra’s (pictured) annual production of Prokofiev’s classic “Peter and the World” – this time narrated by “Wicked” star Eden Espinosa. The curtain rises at 1 and 4 p.m. Dec. 11 at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall and 3 p.m. Dec. 12 at Cupertino’s Flint Center. There’s a holiday singalong too. Tickets $15-$57, half-price for kids; www.sfsymphony.org.

Frosting the Conservatory: San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers already looks like a confection. Now you can make your own, mini, edible version. Drop in between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Dec. 11 for delicious building supplies and a decorating workshop at the Conservatory in Golden Gate Park. Admission: $1.50-$7, plus $10 for materials. All ages welcome, but kids under 14 need to bring a parent; www.conservatoryofflowers.org. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, December 8th, 2010
Under: Family Entertainment | No Comments »

Holiday Countdown #6: More Challah

Challah (Chicago Tribune/MCT Direct.com) There’s no such thing as too much challah, right? So here are a couple of recipes from Joan Nathan, as we promised the other day.

The first is for an anise-flavored bread -if your kids are licorice lovers, they’ll love this; if that’s not their fave flave, you might want to substitute something else, like sesame seeds. But the great thing about this recipe is that it’s unbelievably speedy. Joan says one hour, start to finish – and as she mentioned before, challah-making is a great activity to do with kids.

The second recipe is a Jewish take on Tarte Flambee, which is kind of a French take on pizza. Tell your kids that, anyway! It’s an Alsatian dish made with thinly rolled bread dough and topped with creme fraiche, onions and lardons. Joan’s reinvention uses challah dough for the base, gruyere cheese and, of course, no bacon. It’s an infinitely forgiving recipe though, so feel free to customize it to your family’s tastes.

MOROCCAN CHALLAH
Makes 4 challahs

INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks, divided
½ cup peanut or vegetable oil
7-8 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 heaping teaspoons anise seeds
1 tablespoon water
1½ tablespoons roasted sesame seeds
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Posted on Tuesday, December 7th, 2010
Under: Cuisine, holidays | No Comments »

Holiday Countdown #5: Apricot Butter Cookies

nonna_tell_me_a_story Last week, we tempted you with a book giveaway of Lidia Bastianich’s wonderful “Nonna Tell Me a Story” – and were just dastardly enough to tell you about those awesome little apricot butter cookies, but not provide the recipe. I know, I know, so mean. So here you go… Lidia’s cookies. (And if you still want to get your hands on that book, the giveaway has a few more days on it.)

ALMOND APRICOT BUTTER COOKIES
Makes 4 dozen

INGREDIENTS:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup apricot preserves
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
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Posted on Monday, December 6th, 2010
Under: Cuisine, holidays | No Comments »