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Fun Filled Weekend Involving Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum

The Brooklyn Children's Museum. It looks like a square yellow submarine

I was in the midst of a deadline last week and didn’t have a chance to post a recap of our Brooklyn Children’s Museum visit.

If you are ever in the area, you* must* visit the museum which is located in Crown Heights.  It was renovated in 2008 and is a truly spectacular.  It is more spacious and inviting than its Manhattan counterpart (you can literally spend all day there!), and it’s the first “Green Museum” in the city.

To celebrate the opening of Muriel Feldshuh’s Brooklyn Literacy quilt, I read Soup Day in the museum library for Story Time.  All six of Muriel’s quilts are on display there.  It is fun to find favorite authors and illustrators in each one.

J insisted on "helping". My "green bean" square is in the 2009 orange quilt behind us.

Then we got creative and made collages out of a bunch of different materials.

The children were so enthusiastic with their projects. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was busy meeting people (some came especially for the event–thanks, guys!) and helping out with gluing and cutting.  It was great fun.

After the workshop we ate lunch in the cafeteria and then visited our favorite part of the museum:  World Brooklyn.

Jamie has always loved this area from the time we first visited when he was just four.  World Brooklyn celebrates our borough and its amazing diversity. The “hands on” exhibit is comprised of child-sized versions of real stores in Brooklyn which kids can explore and do activities in.

Being a cashier in the International Grocery Store

The fake food is so realistic!

I love this sign which has sample shopping lists for a range of ethnically diverse meals.

Baking pizza at L and B Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst

Serving pizza

Baking Mona Bread at Don Paco Lopez Panaderia in Sunset Park

On to real food…

We had another movie afternoon the next day.  This time the feature was The Fellowship of the Ring (Denis and Jamie had just finished reading The Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring).  It gave me an excuse to make popcorn!

I was completely lusting after The Choco-aholic’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn recipe for days and had to make a batch.  I’m sure hers is much more “gourmet” than my lightened version, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do 2 sticks of butter and 2 cups of brown sugar, plus 1/2 lb. of chocolate and 1/3 of a jar of peanut butter for just one batch of popcorn!  If you want to make the original recipe, I say “go for it” though! 🙂

Ours was mighty tasty and the level of richness was just right for us.  The caramel flavor melds with the chocolate and peanut butter so perfectly.  Even the lightened version had the perfect trinity of sugar, salt, and fat, creating the “bliss point” of irresistibility that David Kessler writes about in The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite  … Ah well, everything in moderation!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn

Adapted from The Choco-aholic  (Lightened up and without the kettle salt, as I didn’t have any)

Non-stick spray

10 cups of popped popcorn (I used an air popper)

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/4  cup of light corn syrup

4 ounces of milk chocolate chips

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

pinch of salt

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.

2. Pop popcorn and place in a large mixing bowl.

3.  In a large pot combine  butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup.  Bring to a boil for about 2 minutes.  Add chocolate chips and stir to melt.  Remove from heat and stir until smooth.

4.  Pour the boiled chocolate mix onto the popcorn. Toss until all the popcorn kernels are evenly coated with the chocolate.

5.  Spread out onto prepared baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 15  minutes. Remove, sprinkle with salt, stir and let cool for about 30 minutes.

6.  Melt peanut butter in microwave oven for about 30 seconds.  Pour chocolate popcorn back into mixing bowl and pour melted peanut butter over popcorn and coat evenly.  Refrigerate until hardened for about an hour.

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Brooklyn Children’s Museum Literacy Quilt Exhibit

Muriel's 2012 WOW Brooklyn quilt. My square is the girl in the center.

Last year I was invited to participate in a quilt project developed by Muriel Feldshuh.  Muriel is a wonderful literacy advocate. After “retiring” after 30+ years working as a librarian, she continues to be actively involved in the Books for Kids Foundation which promotes literacy among youths.  One of the organization’s projects is to launch children’s libraries in under served areas.

Photo credit: Sara Heidinger

Since 1997, Muriel has been inviting authors and illustrators to illustrate a square of the quilt, which she then pieces together by hand.  Her beautiful quilts are displayed all over the country.  I had participated in the past when she made her 2009 quilt and was happy to do it again last year when Soup Day came out.  I painted a version of my character reading instead of eating soup. 🙂

Check out the back of the postcard which has a list of all the participating artists:

I especially love the Ezra Jack Keats one from “A Letter to Amy” –such a wonderful book!
This Saturday (March 3, 2012) is the grand opening for the literacy quilt to be on display at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum (145 Brooklyn Avenue (at St. Marks Avenue), Brooklyn, NY 11213).  I will be there along with other artists to read and talk to the children.  My scheduled slot is 12-1 pm.  I’ll be reading Soup Day and talking about how I created the artwork for the book.  I used all different types of materials, from painted paper, origami paper, cotton balls, photographs, to dried pasta and sequins to make my collages.  I then scanned them into the computer and cleaned them up and added details, such as falling snow, some shadows, a bit of frost on the window panes…

This is the original collage. The snow is made of paper towel and the girl's jacket is trimmed with cotton.

This is after I added snow, frost, and a tree in Adobe Photoshop.

At the museum, I’ll do a collage demo and help kids make their own collage creations there.

If you are in the area, please come by and join us and celebrate reading and books!  Also, please pass the information on to folks you think might be interested.  Thanks!

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