Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bringing Literature Alive: The Moorchild

During the summer, we are hosting a book club that meets once per month. Although there are some questions that we will be discussing at each meeting, the main focus is on bringing the book alive by doing a variety of different activities that tie into the book.

This month, the featured book was The Moorchild. Basically, the book is about a girl (Moql/Saaski) who is half human and half folk/fairy – who doesn’t fit in any place she lives – in the folk world or human world. The story shows how people in each world were mean to her, did not accept her, and rejected her.

When she was a young child, she was swapped with another baby and placed in the human world to live. To make a long story short, she goes back to the world from which she came, finds the baby she was swapped with, and brings it back to the adoptive human parents who were raising her and accepted her – despite her differences.

It's a good book for any child - really, any person (youth or adult) - who has ever felt different or felt like they didn't belong. In essence, it speaks to all people who at one time in their life may feel like they were "out of place" with those around them.

So, at the book club meeting, one of the things we focused on were herbs.  Herbal treatments and knowledge of the kind that Old Bess possessed and Saaski learned are coming back into popularity. We looked at some herbs; and then learned about and made two herbal remedies. Both the recipes are from The Essential Herbal for Natural Health by Holly Bellebuono.


Foot Soak

Foot soak.

This quick and easy preparation warms sore feet, stimulates blood flow, and soothes these extremities that bear so much weight.

1 tablespoon dried yarrow
1 tablespoon powdered ginger
2-3 whole cloves
2 tablespoons Dead Sea salts

Combine the herbs with the salts in a large soup pot. 

Adding cloves to the pot of water.

Pour 4 cups boiling water over them and steep for 10-15 minutes. 

Stirring the ingredients for the foot soak.

Carefully strain and reserve the liquid, and pour it into a glass or ceramic bowl or back into the cleaned soup pot. Sit down and soak your feet in this very warm tea for 10-20 minutes.

The group of girls who worked on the foot soak.


Calming Bath Infusion

Calming Bath Infusion.

Soothing and fragrant, this combination of herbs is a welcome addition to your child’s bath routine. Pour this infusion directly into the bathwater before your child gets in.

¼ cup dried lavender flowers
¼ cup dried rose petals
2 tablespoons dried catnip

Measuring catnip.

Combine the herbs in a two-quart glass jar and pour enough boiling water over them to fill the jar.

Stirring the ingredients into the boiling water.

Cover it tightly and steep for 8-10 minutes. Strain the infusion, allow it to cool slightly, and add the entire infusion to the bath.


Spicy Tea

1 ½ teaspoons sugar for each glass
1 thick slice of lemon studded with 3 whole cloves per glass
1 stick of cinnamon per glass
Tea bags (1 per glass)

Brew your tea according to the instructions for regular tea.

Each girl had a different task to create the tea.

In each put, place the sugar, lemon, cloves, and cinnamon stick to use as a stirrer.

Adding boiling water to each cup.

Stir and strain the tea and pour it over the other ingredients in each class.


Hot Spiced Party Punch

5 cups water
10 teaspoons loose tea or 10 tea bags
½ cup boiling water
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
½ cup orange juice
6 whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon

Bring the 5 cups of water to a boil and pour them over the tea. Allow the tea to brew for 5 minutes.

Taking a closer look at the tea bags in the water.

While the tea is brewing, pour ½ cup of boiling water over the sugar in a large pitcher or punch bowl.

Making the hot spiced party punch.
This punch was the favorite one 
of the majority of the children.

Stir to dissolve the sugar and add the lemon juice, both at room temperature. Add the cloves and cinnamon.

When the tea has brewed for 5 minutes, strain it or remove the tea bags and pour the brewed tea over the spices and juice. The punch should be served at once.


Once the teas were brewed, the children brought all the cups to each place at the table. They also brought one bowl of homemade vegetable soup and spoon per person; the homemade wheat bread; and salt and pepper.

The group sitting down to a meal of
vegetable soup, wheat bread, and three types of tea.


Vegetable Soup
Homemade vegetable soup.

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped leeks, white part only (from approximately 3 medium leeks)
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
Kosher salt
2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds (approximately 2 medium)
2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
2 cups fresh green beans, broken or cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes (can use canned tomatoes – plain or seasoned; or a combination of fresh and canned)
2 ears corn, kernels removed (can substitute frozen corn kernels)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup packed, chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 to 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Additional seasonings if needed (choose one):

2 tablespoons basil
2 tablespoons marjoram
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons rosemary
2 tablespoons thyme

(If you don’t have all the above seasoning, you may use Italian seasoning.)

Heat the olive oil in large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the leeks, garlic, and a pinch of salt and sweat until they begin to soften, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, and green beans and continue to cook for 4 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add the tomatoes, corn kernels, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add the parsley and lemon juice. Season, to taste, with kosher salt. Serve immediately.


Because the main character, Saaski, played the bagpipes, the children listened to and danced to songs from three CDs.

The three CDs we played songs from 
as the children listened and danced.

These CDs, which featured traditional Celtic music featuring flutes and bagpipes, were:
- Amazing Grace – All Time Bagpipe Favorites.
- Spirit of the Glen – The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.
- A Celtic Solstice.

The community center, where we met, had lights and a disco ball. The children wanted to know if they could listen to the music while the disco ball was on. So, with help from the community center's staff, the room lights were turned off, the disco ball turned on, and the spotlights on the disco ball turned on.

Some the children were dancing while 
others chose to take a break and listen to the bagpipe music.

The children danced, did gymnastics, ran and tried to "catch" the lights on the floor, and basically wore off a lot of energy.

The disco ball.

When we played two closing games, I asked what the favorite activity was for the morning. Not surprisingly, the disco ball and Celtic music won. Making the herbal bath products and teas came in second. At least the first Book Club meeting was fun, educational...and quite memorable!


1 comment:

Rita said...

Wow! Looks like fun and they were very busy. Lots of samples to try. The soup looks delicious. :)