Friday, December 21, 2012

"MINI MODERNISTS"

Photo courtesy of Jessica Antola
'Tis a few nights before Christmas and I am eager to soak in the spirit with the kiddos this weekend. For eons I have wanted to tackle a gingerbread house and am determined this is the year.

I surfed for instructions and was completely enthralled and inspired by Anna Harrington's "Modern Twist" on the tradition. Her take (recently covered by Martha Stewart) is super cool: the focus is on the imagination of the creator versus cookie-cutter style. And it's not the first time Anna's work has stopped me in my tracks.

Anna is a mom-of-two and the founder/creative director of Brooklyn-based Yummy Time, where she leads cooking workshops for children at Pomme. And as a small world gets smaller, I was able to connect with Anna and find out some "yummy" scoop firsthand.  See my questions below...Thank you Anna!

Q: How did the modern twist come to be?
ANNA: It just seemed the only way to do them.  I never entertained the idea of doing traditional houses with kids. They are so specific in how something should look. In all my classes I like to provide the kids with wonderful and beautiful materials (that provide an aesthetic starting point) but the rest is really up to them.

Q: The beautiful colors make the unique designs really pop. What are your favorite candies to use?
ANNA: I go to Economy Candy on Rivington and buy everything in bulk. Almost nothing is a brand name. I am very careful to buy things that are only plain geometric shapes, without logos. This year I am in love with the colors of the small round chocolates.

Q:While your whole process is uber-inspiring, any tips for the novice or time-short on how to simplify or cut corners if need be?
ANNA: You can always just make frosting which is fast and painless and use graham crackers as building blocks. BUT the house smells amazing from this gingerbread and everyone loves to eat it, so I think it's worth the effort once a year. (Full recipe and instructions here).

Q:What is your favorite thing about cooking with children at Yummy Time?
ANNA: How much more they will taste and eat when they've been involved with making a meal. I can't tell you how many parents are shocked by what their kids eat in my classes. Also, cooking is just like a big art project. It is messy and they can use their hands in a really gratifying way.

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