Merlino & Gonzalez February 2018

What Your Child Can Learn From Baking EDUCATION IN THE KITCHEN

children measure out ingredients helps them learn about fractions and ratios. You can also test your kids by doubling or halving a recipe for multiplication and division practice. With older kids, practice unit conversions by asking, for example, how many pints are in half a gallon. FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS Not unlike computer science, baking requires a strict order of operations. The wet and dry ingredients often need to be mixed separately and then folded together. It only takes one deviation from the instructions for a pastry to go from delicious to disgusting. Spending time in the kitchen, then, is a great way for kids to learn the importance of reading directions carefully and comprehending what they’ve just read. CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING Cuisine is a fundamental part of every culture. Introducing your child to dishes from around the world will expand their horizons. Want your child to be a less picky eater? Involving them in the cooking process is the NUTRITION Now, you might not think that baking cookies will encourage greater nutritional awareness, but hear us out. Sugar is often buried within packaged foods. When you bake something at home, a child gets to see, firsthand, just how much sugar goes into certain sweets. Meanwhile, cooking savory dishes also allows them to learn what constitutes a balanced, healthy diet.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, you’re probably wracking your brain for the perfect recipe to bake for your loved one. There’s nothing wrong with store-bought chocolate, but there’s no topping the personal touch of some homemade baked goods. If you have kids, baking alongside them can be just as rewarding as enjoying the fruits of your labor. As an added bonus, baking is a hands-on opportunity where your child can learn all sorts of important concepts. Here is a short list of some of the educational lessons hiding in your kitchen. MATH Baking is a numbers game. Just take a look at any recipe, and you’ll recognize the importance of math in building a beautiful cake. Having


It’s Valentine’s Day, and love is in the air. The birds are singing in a manic frenzy, doting romantics are plucking red roses by the fistful, and Cupid is practically blotting out the sun with a flurry of arrows. Or, at the very least, there’s a lot of candy flying off the shelves. Approximately $448 million worth of it, according to Chocolate may lead the pack in sheer poundage — 58 million pounds over the course of V-Day week, to be exact — but there’s no more iconic candy than Necco’s signature Sweethearts candies. The chalky, cheeky little buggers have been helping shy romantics articulate their aspirations for 151 years, and they’re a bona fide force of nature. These days, a staggering 8 billion Sweethearts are produced annually, at a rate of about 100,000 pounds a day. But how did these flavorless, yet eternally charming, treats come to be? In the mid-19th century, people were going crazy for apothecary lozenges called troches, small tablets made by hand with a smidgen of a medicinal substance and a dried, sugary paste. To capitalize on this trend, Boston pharmacist Oliver Chase spent hours devising a primitive machine that could cut down on the manual labor involved in manufacturing troches, expertly rolling the “dough” into tubes and chopping it into perfect wafers.

Within a year or two, he’d abandoned his pharmaceutical leanings for a much more profitable enterprise: candymaking. Over the next 60 years, the popularity of these little candies exploded, forming the basis for the New England Confectionary Company, otherwise known as Necco. As Chase’s company grew alongside his riches, his brother began to wonder how he could get in on the action. Not to be outdone, he invented his own machine in 1866, designed to print red vegetable dye onto the Necco dough and cut the candies into shapes. They were an immediate hit. People loved their witty mottos like, “MARRIED IN WHITE, YOU HAVE CHOSEN RIGHT.” In 1902, Necco began to manufacture the candies in their signature heart shape, and over time, the sayings were condensed to match their small size.

Now, the hearts contain dozens of phrases, and they’re updated with new ones every year. Gone are the wafers reading “FAX ME.” They’ve been replaced by “TXT ME,” “#LOVE,” and “TWEET ME.” Whether you love or hate the sandy, goofy Sweethearts, it’s clear they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.


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