Combine books and food for fun: Strawberries

Read The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear, then get some strawberries and head to the kitchen to make a memory.

The school year is coming to an end and you may be trying to think of fun activities for your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews or even that sweet neighbor kid. June is strawberry season in Michigan – not only is the selection better at the supermarket, but they’re available for picking. Take advantage of this strawberry season and create a lasting memory for yourself and a special child in your life.

Combine a book and strawberries to plan a day. Literature is important to a child’s development and so is healthy food. Take the opportunity to expand a book’s tale into real life adventure. Here are some steps to create a special memory:

  1. Select a theme around a certain food item
  2. Choose a book
  3. Find a recipe
  4. Get the food
  5. Have fun making a memory

In this case, our theme is strawberries. Why strawberries? Strawberries are in season and they provide vitamin C, potassium, folate, fiber and antioxidants. They are also very tasty and are usually a favorite with kids, so it’s a good place to start.

Our book is The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood and Audrey Wood. Keep in mind that you don’t have to purchase the book, you can check it out from your local library.

The recipe is from Michigan State University Extension Michigan Fresh fact sheets. The strawberry fact sheet gives a recipe for uncooked strawberry jam from fresh fruit, which can be enjoyed now and later.

Uncooked strawberry jam from fresh fruit

(Makes about four half pint jars)

1 3/4 cups crushed strawberries (about 1 quart)

4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 pouch liquid pectin

Measure 1 3/4 cups crushed strawberries. Place in an extra-large bowl. Add sugar, mix well and let stand for 10 minutes. Into a small bowl, measure then lemon juice. Add liquid pectin and stir well. Continue stirring for three minutes. Pour jam into freezer containers or canning jars, leaving a half-inch headspace. Cover container. Let stand at room temperature up to 24 hours until set. Label, date and refrigerate for up to three weeks or freeze for up to one year.

To get the strawberries there are a couple of options. You could purchase strawberries from your local supermarket or farmer’s market. An option that would deepen the connection would be to find a you-pick location and pick the tasty strawberries yourself.

Making a memory begins with reading the book you’ve selected. This is an opportunity to discuss what may be a new food and to discuss the different ways it can be enjoyed. Once you’ve snuggled and enjoyed a good book, it’s time to enjoy some good food. After gathering your key ingredients, take to the kitchen. What may seem like simple activities is a great way to connect reading, food and fun to create lasting memories.

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