Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fair trade, natural, fun, delicious Easter craft

I love spring. I love the bulbs bursting out of ground that looked dead all these months. I love the sweetness and hope that comes from the new life all around; baby lambs nursing, baby birds chirping, bunnies getting all twitterpated and frolicking around. I love the warmth in the breeze and the promise of summer it carries with it.

And it's all symbolic of Easter itself and all that we celebrate on that day. Life bursting forth from death, new life (in him), hope and promise for the future. It's the day Jesus kicked death in the rear end and showed who's boss. It's because of that day I have hope that I'll see my daughter again one day, it's because of that day that I don't fear the end of my days on earth, it's because of that day I celebrate my God who is so strong nothin' can keep him down, not even death itself. It's an incredible day.

I enjoy anticipating Easter with little kids. We always do a treasure hunt on Easter morning, just as my parents used to do for my brother and I every year. My monkeys love it. They've been counting down days until Easter since the end of March.

This Easter though, I'm reluctant to buy the same junk they usually find in their baskets in the morning. We've found that Zoe reacts severely to colorings in food. The kids all react in some way, but Zoe's is the most extreme. I would rather enjoy our Easter with happy little kids playing, than pull my hair out all day while Zoe runs up and down the walls, foams at the mouth and rotates her head 360 degrees. So I have asked the Easter bunny to help track down some natural candy. Which was easy enough, (though pricey).

The difficult part however, is finding fair trade Easter chocolate. Of course fair trade isn't any healthier. But I've learned recently that if I buy any chocolate off the shelf that isn't fair trade, there's a majority chance that I'm supporting Ivory Coast chocolate, where there are tens of thousands of children being sold and kidnapped into slavery, hardly fed, beaten and even killed, to feed our fancy for a bit of choccy. I just cannot justify it.

I don't have my speakers to verify this is the video I was thinking of, but I hope it is..

Anyway, now that you know, you can't claim ignorance anymore. If you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem. So buy fair trade!

< / preach session>

It's not easy to find fair trade Easter themed chocolate. So the first thing I did was e-mail various Easter/candy webstores and asked if they have any fair trade Easter chocolates. I encourage you to do the same, ultimately the consumer makes the vote and can change the industry. The more we ask for fair trade, the more they'll buy fair trade. Let's start turning their heads with a simple contact us form, just ask a simple sentence question about fair trade. You don't have to get elaborate.

Due to lack of success in locating fair trade Easter chocolate, I opted to make our own. It's a fun craft, the kids love it, it's delicious, it counts as homeschooling time and it helps everyone get more riled up for Easter.


So here's what you'll need (I didn't measure anything, just play by ear until you get it right):
For the nest -
-Some fibrous edible substance for the nest, such as wheetabix, noodles or shredded wheat. We used kashi vanilla island mini wheats, because it's what we had in stock.
-Some fair trade chocolate chips. I found mine at hyvee, but you can also buy them online, like these ones at amazon.com
-honey ( I used raw, but ended up heating it to make it runny)
For the eggs and birds -
I sort of made it up as I went along. Some dry ingredients and some wet ones from your pantry. Throw some in and see what you come up with. Here's what I used
powdered milk
tapioca starch
sugar (which I threw in the blender to powder it, not sure if it was necessary, but it was fun)
peanut butter
splash of milk
palm shortening
coconut oil
natural food coloring (you can make your own by boiling down beet juice, blending blueberries and avacados etc or buy some. I bought mine)

Here's the steps:

Pour the wheat, wheatabix etc in a large bowl, give the kids a big spoon or potato masher and let them go to town, smashing it to smithereens. They'll love this part.

Pour the fair trade chocolate chips in another bowl and nuke them on low/medium for about a minute. Take it out, stir it, then in for another 30 seconds or so. Stir again. Then do 20 seconds at a time until it's good and melted. Or you can do this in a double broiler, keep stirring, don't let any water splash in and be careful not to burn.

Melt some honey (or if it's already runny you're good to go) and add it to your melted chocolate. Stir in the wheat and mix it all in until it's nice and gooey and wet all through.

Then the best bit - getting messy. Pull out a lump of the nesting material with your hands and shape it into a nest. You can place on greaseproof paper or cupcake papers. We used coffee filters, which worked just fine.

When you're happy with the shape, stick it in the fridge to harden.

Then get a clean bowl and make up the dough. Throw in the wet and dry ingredients, stir and add more of whatever until it's a good consistency. The main component of your dough should be a nut butter of some type.

Then separate the dough into tubs and add natural colorings to each one. My kids had fun working the colors in with their hands and getting all greasy.

Now it's ready to play with and make your eggs. My girls wanted to make birds too, which were adorable. Have fun, be creative. Take your nest out of the fridge and place your eggs in it. It's ready to eat right away and can be kept in the fridge for a while (couple days?) if you want to save it for later. I was a bit nervous to try the dough, but it ended up being my favorite part. I'm not a huge peanut butter fan, but it was really yum.

1 comment:

Kathie said...

Too cute Niecey! I thought Trader Joes had some fair trade Easter chocolate, but I am unsure. I will look again when I go there tonight or tomorrow night.

A great idea I had for Easter baskets is to use my easy cheesy cracker recipe to make little Easter Crackers. I have a Noah's Ark mini-cookie cutter set...I wish I could find some even smaller cutters, but they work.

Hope your Easter is awesome!