Tomorrow – Day 1 of Kindergarten. Is pre-schooler Dave ready? Does he know his alphabet? Did doting mother and helpful big sister carry through on their months-long endeavor to teach Dave the shapes and sounds of the 26 letters? Did the weekly collection of toys into the cardboard alphabet box help, – an airplane for ‘a‘-week, bears for ‘b‘-week, puzzles for ‘p‘-week, and a rocket for ‘r‘-week? We hope so. But none-the-less, our family ate lots of yummy treats in the process – baked cinnamon Apples, Cranberry Cookies, King Lingonberry coffee cake, spiced N–O-se cake, and the grand Volcano cake for V. But now, 24 hours before the big day, have we done it – have ALL the letters received their honorary celebration?
We proudly answer, YES! In fact, the grand alphabet game was completed with days to spare. That’s right, last Thursday we finished off letters W,X,Y and Z with a one-day flurry of cooking and eating. No, I did not bake cakes in the shape of a yak playing the xylophone and a zebra eating watermelon as 8-year-old sister Lauren had suggested. Instead, I made Jello wigglers.
The recipe for the wigglers is on the back of the Jello boxes. (Just note that the same recipe, meaning identical proportions, are printed on boxes of different sizes. If you make Jello wigglers with a small, 3 ounce box of Jello, it’s best to halve the proportions in the wiggler recipe.) After the Jello set, Dave and Lauren set to cutting out letters W,X,Y, and Z with letter-shaped cookie cutters. We also used an O-shaped cutter and then put our letters together to spell ZOO, YO-YO, OX, and OW.
That night we further honored the letters at dinner by enjoying baked Yams, roasted Yello Zucchini, and sliced Watermelon. These accompanied sauerkraut and X-tra special grilled bratwursts. Click on the link for the X-tra special bratwurst recipe. Click on “continue reading… for the baked Yam and Yello Zucchini recipes.
The Yams are super easy to make! And they’re the equivalent of a white shirt, – they go well with any kind of meal whether it be a backyard picnic or an elegant dinner. Here’s the recipe to feed four people:
- 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 large yams or 3 small yams (sweet potatoes will do); unpeeled and sliced very thinly
- 1 – 2 Tablespoons dried minced onion – or fresh if you wish
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Spread about 1 Tablespoon of the melted butter in a shallow casserole dish. Arrange the yam slices in the dish so that they partially overlap each other, – similar to a deck of cards spread on a table. Drizzle the rest of the melted butter over the slices. Shake the dried minced onion, salt and pepper over the slices. Bake at 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Don’t worry if some slices look slightly scorched, – the crispy ones are the favorites.
The roasted yellow zucchini recipe comes from the cookbook From Asparagus To Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-fresh Seasonal Produce and is listed as
Oven-Fried Zucchini Spears
- 2 medium-sized zucchini, – green or yellow
- 3 Tablespoons dried bread crumbs
- 1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried summer savory
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons corn oil
- prepared marinara sauce (Italian tomato and herb sauce) (optional)
Heat oven to 475 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Wash zucchini and pat dry. Do not peel. Cut into eighths lengthwise, then halves crosswise. On a sheet of wax paper, toss bread crumbs, cheese, herbs, garlic powder, and pepper. Whisk oil and 2 Tablespoons water in small bowl. Moisten zucchini spears in this mixture, then roll them in crumb mixture, covering all sides. Arrange on baking sheet. Bake 7 minutes, or until spears are lightly browned. Turn spears over, bake 3 minutes more. Serve immediately with hot marinara sauce, if desired. Makes 4 servings.
Finish off the W,X,Y, Z -meal with slices of Watermelon and you’ll see smiles all around! Kindergarten here we come!
And for a taste of Wisconsin home-cooking: