Bold Tastes

image (12)This summer marks a second year of trying our own version of summer camp at home, rather than spend hundreds of dollars each week for our kids to attend theme camps.  Each day is filled with fun, low-cost or free adventures, hands-on projects, and learning about science, history, and art.  We intersperse each day with plenty of free play and add an hour of “relaxation time” after lunch so I get a break too!  A lot of Stroller Hikers have asked for more information on what we’re doing, so we posted about them and link them to the curriculum page of Stroller Hikes.

Summer Camp with Mom 4: Bold Tastes

We started this day talking about what makes flavors stronger.  Little Holly got hung up on the strongest flavor she knows (and her dad loves): hot sauce.  Between her reminding us that hot sauce is strong, Pranav, Jack, James, and Max helped create a short list of ways to intensify flavor, including drying or boiling to remove water.

Our first hands-on activity did exactly the opposite: we used dry tea leaves and added intense flavor to water.  Each child picked their own mason jar, labeled it, and added a tea of choice, before filling it with water and putting it in the sun to brew.  Sun Tea would be ours to enjoy at lunch.

photo (55)We collected up snacks like dried fruit and nuts, and headed out to Hollyhill Hummingbird Farm in Cupertino.  Hollyhill Hummingbird Farm is a small nonprofit farm run by volunteers, and includes chickens, plenty of organic fruits and vegetables, an orchard, hops,  and brewing of soda and beer.  We toured around, amazed at the diversity of crops considering the small space and youth of the farm, as well as enjoying seeing tons of pollinators and lizards.  Yes, we did see several hummingbirds doing their part to pollinate, as well!  We finished the tour by planting a few dozen bean seeds.  I was touched by the dedication and strength of the family that continues to work the land that was initially planted here in the ‘70s, but only recently became a larger operation.

Once home, we enjoyed tacos and tried our sun tea.  The sun tea received huge thumbs-down from all of the little tasters.  I watched a few of them sip, smirk, then announce, “Oh, this is what bitter tastes like,” then repeat, but no one finished a single glass of tea, choosing to pass the bitter stuff along to the plants in the garden.  On the other hand, I quite enjoyed mine, and ended up drinking the remains for the next two days.

image (13)After relaxation time, we donned our aprons once again, making guacamole and lemonade.  We had spoken in the morning about how salt was very salty and lemons were very sour – two fantastic, strong tastes.  I was very impressed with Jack and James’ abilities to squeeze lemons, and everyone excelled at picking lemons from our tree.  Unlike the experience with the Sun Tea, everyone wanted to taste, then retaste the lemonade, and it was deemed an excellent product to sell at our lemonade stand the next day, though we ran out of this first batch during that discussion.  Avocados were squashed, along with more squirt of lemon and a shake of chile powder, and we had an exemplary guacamole to have alongside salsa for our afternoon snack.

Here is our recipe for Lemonade:

1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 5 lemons) – can also use fresh lime or orange juice

4 cups water

2/3 cup sugar

Stir together the liquids and sugar, or shake in a large jar with a lid.  Add ice cubes and serve


Here is our recipe for Guacamole:

2 ripe Haas Avocados, halved, with the pit carefully removed, and the fruit scooped out with a spoon

1 small diced tomato and 2 Tablespoons minced onion OR ¼ cup salsa

Juice from half of a squeezed lemon (plus more, to taste)

Dash of chili powder (plus more, to taste)

Dash of salt (plus more, to taste)

Mash the avocado with a potato or avocado masher, then stir in the remaining ingredients.  Taste and add more lemon juice, chili powder, or salt, to taste.


photo (4)I have long heard that colder things taste sweeter, and paired with a desire to have my kids work with the scientific method, decided we should test this out, at Summer Camp with Mom.  We got out several sweet things – grapes, blueberries, honey, and lemonade – and put identical things in the freezer, so we could taste them side by side in our experiment.  We wrote in our journals our prediction we were testing: “Frozen honey will taste sweeter than warm honey.”  After 10 minutes of freezing, eager mouths tested our samples, and the results were unanimous.  Indeed, sweet becomes sweeter when cold!  (Had this been a much older group, we would have discussed bias and double-blinds in studies like this.)

We finished the day, riding bikes and scooters, then writing thank you notes to Hollyhill Hummingbird Farms for our tour.  We watched the first half of the award-winning Babe, a farm film about the life of a farm pig, to finish out our day.

– Debbie (Founder), Max (8), Holly (4), and Andrew

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