Family Dinner Book Club is a collaboration between Growing Book by Book, Enchanted Homeschooling Mom, and myself. This month’s selection is The Day The Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. Scroll to the bottom of this post for talking points to discuss the book at your own family book club, and crafts to make to bring the story to life! Don’t forget to share your photos with us on our Facebook page!
The Day the Crayons Quitby Drew Daywalt is a fun book about color that everyone should read, especially if you have kids. It celebrates all the colors in the crayon box and teaches us that things don’t have to be the color we’re used to them being, and also that colors are not gender specific. In the book, the pink crayon wants to break free from being just a “girl” color and requests to be used to color a “dinosaur or monster or cowboy”. I can fully resonate with this. As a child I was always coloring things the “wrong” colors, or I would make one item be multicolored. My creativity even helped me win a coloring contest when I was about eight. The coloring page was of two children, a boy and a girl, giving a dog a bath. The dog filled up most of the page and was bigger than the two children. I colored each leg of the dog a different color from each other, as well as the body, and finally the head. The dog was six different colors. My older brother told me that it didn’t look good, but I didn’t care. I thought it was fun to color things differently. I won the coloring contest, and my prize was pretty cool. I got a four pack of tickets to the movies, and tons of stuff with a local baseball team’s logo on it. Like a baseball glove, a baseball, a mini baseball bat, one of those seat cushions, and some buttons. The contest was held by the local grocery store. I have no idea what was in it for them, or how they managed to come up with such a large prize for a kids’ coloring contest. It was fun, and obviously my win stuck with me. I have always believed that I won because my picture was so different (and way more fun) than anyone else’s.
When I first read this book I was so excited about the lessons it teaches. I am a huge advocate of fostering creativity in children, and letting them explore the world in their own ways. When kids ask my favorite color, I reply that I like them all. When they ask what color their flower or house or dog should be, I tell them to use their favorite color, or to use three colors at the same time. Instead of saying things like, “your drawing is so good!” I’ll say, “I love all the colors you used” or “the purple sky is so cool!” If you have kids, or if you work with kids, you should definitely get this book.
When thinking of a dinner to go along with this story, of course I thought that something colorful was the way to go, and things colored in ways we’re not used to would be even better. You can certainly use food coloring to add a bit of color to your mashed potatoes, cauliflower, pasta, breadsticks, cupcakes… whatever! But, that is the easy way out, and for myself, the jury is still out on the effect artificial colors have on our bodies. So I prefer to stay away from them for the most part. I got to thinking about what natural ingredients color foods well and what foods would be good for coloring. Pair that with something your kids could do with you, and I came around to my favorite food both to eat and make: pasta! If you love pasta, you will love freshly made pasta even more. I know it might sound like a daunting task, but it really only takes a few ingredients, and is fun to do. I have a hand crank pasta machine that I love to use, but if you don’t have one you can certainly make pasta fully by hand. You will need a rolling pin and a sharp knife to complete this job.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup semolina flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup vegetable puree
- cold water
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flours and salt.
- Make a well in the center and add the vegetable puree.
- Using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix together until a dough forms. If the dough feels very dry and doesn't hold together, add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together. If the dough feels too wet, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Place the dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth and no longer sticky, about 5-10 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 6 portions, keeping it covered with plastic wrap or a damp paper towel when not using.
- If using a pasta machine, follow the manufacturer's instructions to roll out fettuccine.
- If making the pasta by hand, place one piece of the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll the dough to as thin as you can make it (about ⅛ inch thick), trying to keep it in a long, rectangle shape.
- Sprinkle the long strip of pasta with flour, then accordion fold it to about 4 inches long.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the folded pasta sheet into ¼-inch thick strips.
- Separate the pasta strips and lay them on a flat surface, or drape over a pasta drying rack.
- I like to use a baking sheet to place my fresh noodles on until I'm read to cook them. If you fill up your baking sheet, place damp paper towels or parchment paper on top of the pasta and start a new layer.
- When ready to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fresh pasta noodles and cook until al dente, about 3-5 minutes.
- Serve with your favorite pasta toppings. I like to serve with Alfredo Sauce.
Orange: Use the smallest side of a box grater to finely grate ½ pound of washed and peeled carrots. Place the grated carrots in a sheet of cheesecloth. Hold it over a bowl and squeeze until you produce about ⅓ cup of juice.
Green: Place 1 cup packed fresh spinach in a food processor or blender with ¼ cup water. Blend or process until the spinach is very finely chopped. You do not need to strain this. You can add the whole thing to your pasta. It'll add pretty little flecks of a darker green color!
Red/Purple: Preheat the oven to 400F. Wrap a small red beet in foil and place on a baking sheet in the oven. Bake until a fork can very easily poke into the beet, about 30-60 minutes. Place a plastic sandwich baggie over your hand and peel the skin off the beet. Place the skinned beet into a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. You may need to add about 2 tablespoons of water to help it blend. This puree will be very thick, but can be used just as easily as the other two. The beet color will stain everything, so be careful to keep it contained.
To add more natural color to your meal, and a splash of science, serve this Magical Color-Changing Punch! Impress your kids with your magic abilities at the dinner table. Then serve a rainbow fruit salad with pink whipped cream for dessert! If you have the extra time, you can cut some melon slices with small cookie cutters and serve the fruit in shapes you’re not used to seeing them in.
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, if desired to add sweetness
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice (you can find this in the refrigerated section near the produce. The most common is the Pom brand)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place all the ingredients in a large bowl.
- With an electric mixer, mix on high until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.