Not Just for Kids ~ By Martha Blume

 Vol. 10, No. 6

February 7 - 13, 2002

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February has some sweet holidays. Some of us celebrate Mardi Gras to sweeten us up before the Lenten season. Most of us celebrate Valentine’s Day, when we remember those who sweeten our hearts. Here are some sweet ideas to keep you busy with both this coming week:

King Cake
Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) began with the French settlers in New Orleans about 1700. It is celebrated on the Tuesday, and the days leading up to the Tuesday, before Ash Wednesday, the day Christians mark the beginning of Lent and fasting. The English call this day Shrove Tuesday (Confession Tuesday). Germans call it Fastnacht (Eve of Fast) Day.

For all Christians, it is a day to party and, traditionally, to use up supplies of butter, eggs and sugar, which were forbidden during Lent. During the 40 days of Lent, the custom is to eat sparingly and give up favorite foods to follow the hard road Jesus traveled to Easter.

English make pancakes. Germans make doughnuts. The French in New Orleans make King Cakes. A King Cake is like cinnamon roll twisted into an oval, topped with white icing then sprinkled with sugar dyed purple for justice, green for faith and yellow for power.

Hidden inside the cake is a plastic baby, about the size of an almond. Tradition has it that the person who finds the baby is king or queen for the day and must host the next king cake party.

Here’s how to make your own King Cake. You’ll need:

  • one can of unprepared cinnamon rolls with icing
  • 3&Mac218;4 cup of sugar, separated into 3 equal parts
  • Food coloring
  • a small, plastic baby, about an inch long

Separate the cinnamon rolls and roll each one to look like a hot dog. Shape the rolls into an oval, pinching the ends together, and place the cake on a cookie sheet. Bake as directed.

While the cake is baking, use food coloring to dye the sugar. Make one part purple, using blue and red, one part green, and one part yellow. When the cake is done, sneak the baby inside. Ice the top. Sprinkle the three colors of sugar, alternating as you go, around the oval.

‘Hearts & Soles’ for Valentines
Gather some paper doilies and red, pink and white paper, and make a wagonload of homemade Valentines. Give them to your mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, sister, brother, teacher or sweetheart. Then stuff the rest in your old shoes.

Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer is calling on kids to offer shoes, with Valentines or messages of good will inside, for the children of Afghanistan who desperately need them. Drop off shoes at an Annapolis elementary school during the week of Valentine’s Day. They’ll be shipped by a non-profit organization with other humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. So pick good old shoes.

Not Just for Grown-Ups
You, too, can sign up to count the birds in your neighborhood. Find out how in “The Great Backyard Bird Count” this week in Dock of the Bay.

Fun Stuff to Do:

Saturday, Feb. 9
Going Squirrelly
Discover the answers to the mysterious lives of squirrels. Should you feed them? Are they intelligent? Find out during an easy winter hike. 10am @ Kinder Farm Park, Millersville. Free; rsvp: 410/222-6115.

Day of the Dinosaur
Learn the lore of dinosaurs and ancient creatures found in Maryland. Check out actual fossils, live reptiles, shark videos, crafts and other cool stuff. 1-4pm @ Watkins Nature Center, Upper Marlboro. $3 w/county discounts; rsvp: 301/218-6702

Star Light Star Bright
Construct constellation projectors and learn how to tell time by the stars. Bring a tall Pringles can. Ages 8 & up w/adult. 6-8pm @ Jug Bay Wetlands, Lothian. $2.50 w/discounts; rsvp: 410/741-9330.

Monday, Feb. 11
Hearts Are In
Register by today for a special Valentine’s Day party on Feb. 14. Make crafts, play games and have a special treat. Ages 3-5. 10:30am @ Northeast Community Center, Chesapeake Beach. $3; rsvp: 410/257-2554.

Tuesday, Feb. 12
African Beginnings
Try your hand at baking snacks, creating crafts or playing games from Africa to celebrate African-American heritage. 3:30-5pm @ South Bowie Community Ctr., Bowie. Ages 5-12. Free: 301/218-6768.

Wednesday, Feb. 13
Winter Games
Join Ranger Susan for the story Winter Games by Roger Pare, plus crafts, silly songs and a short hike. Ages 3-5 w/adult. 10am @ Kinder Farm Park, Millersville. $2; rsvp: 410/222-6115.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly