For adult observers, the Christian season of Lent is often a time of quiet contemplation. For kids, however, Lent seems little more than preamble to Easter’s bonnets and bunnies and baskets.
To help children observe Lent, consider adopting the old Finnish custom of planting grass seed in small dishes on Ash Wednesday which in 2007 falls on February 21.
For children, it is fun to plant and carefully tend the seeds. Soon delicate blades burst forth from the earth, stretching toward the light. With good care, the grass will grow thick and strong and lush, symbolizing the resurrection and the certainty of spring.
LENTEN GRASS Start with a pretty bowl or tray about two to three inches deep. For drainage, first lay down an even layer of small rocks – aquarium rocks are perfect. Then stir together potting soil and grass seed and arrange it loosely on top of the stones. Place the container in a sunny spot. Moisten every day; with kids, a spray mister may prevent over-watering. After a few weeks, ‘mow’ the grass with scissors. For photo illustrations of how to plant Lenten grass, see Observing Lent with Children.
ON-THE-RUN BREAKFAST BARS
Oven time: 40 minutes
Makes 24 approx 2x2 inch bars
- ½ cup butter, room temperature
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup flour, preferably whole wheat
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 3 cups oatmeal (regular or quick, but not instant)
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (can be doubled for extra cheesiness)
- 3 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
- ¼ cup wheat germ, optional
- ½ cup dried fruit, optional (snipped dried apricots are especially good)
Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Blend in the flour, salt and soda. With a wooden spoon, blend in the remaining ingredients.
Lightly mist a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Pat the dough into the pan and bake for 45 minutes. Cut into bars while still warm. Be sure to refrigerate the bars since they contain both meat and cheese.
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