Eat a Story for Lunch

Nourishing meals can be more appealing to finicky youngsters and more fun for everyone when you serve them with a bit of imaginative artistry. You can make scenes and figures out of food!

Lunches provide especially suitable working materials. With a knife or cookie-cutter, you can trim slices of cheese or bread to any shape. Cottage cheese, made bright and lively with food coloring, can be molded with a spoon or fingers into anything from clouds and ocean waves to Big Bird or Cookie Monster. Raisins, nuts, and pieces of raw vegetables and fruits become the details of faces, structures, or living things: for example, leafy celery sprints make fine trees—or tail feathers.

Assemble the various food items on the plate as elements of a picture. Then preface the meal with a simple story which your story-lunch illustrates. Children will enjoy gobbling up the scenery and characters: what more fitting way to protect the fair princess than to devour the dragon?

Do your children resist drinking as much milk every day as they should? Then let them change the color of each glassful with drops of food coloring. Encourage them to experiment with different combinations of the primary colors: What will be the result? Does the order in which they add the drops make any difference in determining the color obtained? Do blue and yellow always make green? Also, invent names for your creations: pink could be a fair imitation of yak milk, and dinosaur milk must surely be purple!

With story-lunches as a teaching tool, you and your young ones will enjoy each other as well as the meal. And why shouldn’t food be fun! Sharon Dequer, Monrovia, California

A Sticky Situation

My wife, Virginia, had just returned from the hairdresser, and I was busy distributing the hamburgers and french fries that were to constitute the children’s dinner that evening. We had an early dinner engagement and were rushing to get everything settled before picking up the baby-sitter and dashing off to an evening of relaxation with our friends.

The children began to eat their sandwiches as Virginia poured them glasses of pink lemonade. As she placed the pitcher back in the refrigerator, she noticed a sandwich wrapper on the floor. She stooped to retrieve it and just as she did so, a glass of lemonade tipped over, quickly spread across the table, and flowed over the edge right into Virginia’s fresh hairdo. Virginia straightened up, with liquid dripping from her hair, down the side of her face, and onto her housecoat. The children froze! It was obvious they expected a strong reaction.

It started slowly—a silly giggle born of the ridiculousness of the accident—and gradually grew into full-throated laughter pealing forth from Virginia’s throat. Neither the children nor I could believe what we were hearing! The tension dissolved in chuckles from the children and me, and soon every member of the family was laughing uproariously at the spectacle of our wife and mother dripping with wet, sticky pink lemonade. The mess was quickly sponged from the table and floor, and a fresh glass poured to take its place. Virginia finished dressing while I fetched the baby-sitter and we went on our way to a pleasant evening, with no one the wiser that part of the gloss in Virginia’s hair was not from hair spray!

Our children enjoy retelling to family and friends what has come to be known in our family as “the sticky situation.” It is a classic example of how a mother, with calmness and a sense of humor, turned what could have been a very unpleasant situation into a teaching experience that will not soon be forgotten. C. Russell Nickel, Seattle, Washington

Sprout It Out

Question: What is the best method of sprouting seeds? Must I use a commercial sprouter?

Answer: Seed sprouting may easily and inexpensively be carried out in a glass canning jar with a nylon screen net over the mouth. Seeds soaked in the jar in water overnight and then drained and washed with water twice a day will quickly sprout. A warm environment will cause the seeds to sprout more quickly. The more frequently the seeds are washed with water, the less problem there is with mold and the more rapidly the sprouts grow. However, washing the seeds twice a day is a good compromise between rapid sprouting and convenience.

We should warn you that corn sprouts do not taste good, and soy bean sprouts should not be eaten raw. John M. Hill, Chairman, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Brigham Young University

Make Washables More Wearable

A little extra care with polyester/cotton durable press fabrics can stretch clothing dollars considerably. Washing and drying these items causes about half of the wearing at edges of creases, pockets, cuffs, collars, etc. Therefore, remember to: (1) turn clothes inside out prior to washing: (2) use a slow agitation speed or a shorter wash cycle: and (3) avoid excessive tumbling in the dryer and remove clothing while still damp dry, never allowing clothing to become bone dry in the dryer. Rehee Thackeray, Department of Clothing and Textiles, Brigham Young University

Looseleaf Quiet Book

Young mothers may “recycle” old household magazines by making from them a very inexpensive “Quiet Book.”

Let your child pick out his favorite pictures and glue them on either 3″ x 5″ or 5″ x 7″ index cards. Punch holes in the corners, then slip a ring through to hold them together. Of course, appropriate comments can be made beside each picture, or even a continuous story—whatever delights your child.

Pages can be added or subtracted as desired. My daughter and I have fun working together on this book, and she hardly ever tires of her very own, handmade (and renewable!) “Quiet Book.” Gayla Myers, Wolf Point, Montana

[illustrations] Illustrated by Phyllis Luch