We just finished reading The Moffats by Eleanor Estes for this month’s book club. If you haven’t encountered it, it’s a charming story from the post WWI era of a mother who is a seamstress and her four children. The book, of course, centers around the antics of the four children. I think I have a soft heart for it because I also have four children who make life definitely interesting!
As a matter of fact, I was just scoping out the other books in the series on Amazon, so I’m sure that our Moffat adventures will continue.
One of our favorite chapters from the story was called “The Coal Barge.” In the chapter the older Moffat boy, Joe, sets off with his sister to get coal. When they get there, they realize that they’ve lost the money and they look everywhere for the money. Not only is it the only money that they have for coal, their mother has told them that it’s the last five dollars that she has until she finishes the sewing job that she is working on.
Finally, they have to go home and confess that they lost the money. At home, they realize that Joey had accidentally left the money at home the whole time. So, Joe pulls Jane back to the coal place on the sled again just as the coal yard is getting ready to close.
Each month at book club, each family is responsible for bringing a snack that is related to the book, so when we went looking for a snack, Firecracker suggested we make cookies that look like coal. He’s the kind of brilliant boy that can always find a way to make dessert with any book we read 🙂
This is the recipe that we used for the cookies. They’re a cross between a meringue and a brownie. If you wanted to make them look especially like lumps of coal, you could always add in black food coloring.
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
3 egg whites
1/2 cup unsweeted cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Measure 1 cup of the chocolate chips into a microwaveable bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, stir, then continue to microwave in 30 second intervals until the chocolate is melted. Set aside.
Beat the egg whites to soft peaks with electric mixer. Leaving the mixer running about medium, add in the sugar in three or four additions, making sure the sugar is mixed in between each addition. By the time you’re finished mixing in the sugar, it should look thick and creamy.
Lower the mixer speed and add in the cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Stir in the slightly cooled melted chocolate chips. Then, mix in the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips. The dough should be getting fairly stiff at this point. If it’s not, set the mixture aside for 10 minutes. It will stiffen as it sits.
Scoop them onto the cookie sheets (you should have 2 full cookie sheets worth of dough) by the teaspoonful. Bake about 10 minutes. They’ll be puffy and their tops will have started to crack.
Once you pull them from the oven, let them cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. At this point, they’re still pretty malleable, and if you wanted, you could smoosh them into a more ball-like coal shape. We chose not to shape them any further but to leave them as cookies.
The other thing that we did was to make Popsicle stick sleds. This was completely my craft partner’s idea, and it was a great easy craft for the children to do. You can read the complete instructions on Spoonful. It includes a diagram, so looking at those instructions will be pretty helpful.
You start by cutting popsicle sticks. You can cut them with you scissors. You’ll need two whole popsicle sticks and two where the tops of the stick are cut at an angle for the sled. For the bottom of the sled, you’ll need a popsicle stick where the ends are both cut off at angles to be the steerer, and you’ll need half popsicle stick for stability. It’ll be best for you to hot glue those on.
You’ll also turn two popsicle sticks up on their edges to be your runners and hot glue them on. Then, you’re ready to paint.
Once the paint dries for a while, you’ll have a nice pretty sled, and you’ll be ready to use it with little Frozen figurines or Angry Birds. Well, at least that’s how they’re being played with at our house.
Have you guys read The Moffats? What are some of the cool activities that you’ve done with the book?