On August 21st, a total solar eclipse will sweep across the continental United States, creating a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of us to view this awesome display of nature in person.
I remember as a kid in the 1970’s, viewing a partial solar eclipse from our front yard. This time around, my family and I plan to drive to see the totality of the eclipse, which will be a first for all of us. (For safety’s sake, go to https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety so you can view the eclipse without damaging your eyes.)
All of North America will see a partial eclipse at least, but Tennessee is blessed that the path of the total eclipse comes over Nashville, then in between Chattanooga and Knoxville, and on over the Smokies and into the Carolinas. Many schools are closed or letting out early that day and viewing parties are occurring in many locations. To make this special event even more memorable, here are some fun and creative food ideas that will brighten this historic day and provide some teachable moments for the young astronomers in your family.
Anyone can create these sunny treats, using yellow frosting, candy corn, licorice strings, mini chocolate chips, Oreo cookies, and decorating gel. On one I removed some of the Oreo cream to show the phases of the eclipse. I showed the sun’s corona, or atmosphere, which we can only see from Earth during the totality of the eclipse, by using red and orange gel. I put a circle of drops on the frosting, then used a toothpick to drag them out. Kids would have a blast decorating these cupcakes and learning about the eclipse in the process.
With all of that standing outside that people will be doing, they’re sure to get the munchies. Create a Space Junk bag filled with a Moon Pie, Sun Chips, Eclipse gum, Starbursts, Milky Way bars, and Capri Suns. Have fun finding your own combination of sun/space inspired treats.
Galaxy Glaze and Star Dust
If you look up Galaxy-inspired foods, you’ll find treats dressed up in a combination of shades of blue, purple, pink, and sometimes black. I used these colors to make a fun swirl in a vanilla glaze, as well as creating my own mix of sprinkles and colored sugar. The vanilla glaze recipe is very simple. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, a dash of salt, 1 cup of powdered sugar, and 2 tablespoons of milk or cream. You can add more milk/cream or more powdered sugar to change the thickness as desired. Add a single drop each of purple, blue and pink concentrated food coloring. (You can use any food coloring, but the concentrated ones work best. You can even use decorating gel if that is all you have.) Swirl the colors around until they make an interesting pattern, but don’t stir too much or the colors just blend together completely. You can dip anything into this glaze: donuts, sugar cookies, crispy rice treats, etc. This glaze will set up fairly quickly, but still do these treats in advance so they won’t be messy when eaten. You can also melt white vanilla chips (add some vegetable oil if needed to make it easier to use), dip pretzel rods into them, and sprinkle with the Star Dust. Kids love the bright colors!
This cool layered drink is super simple to make, if you follow a few rules. The trick is to have 3 drinks with a wide difference in sugar content. Fill your glass with ice and fill up the bottom third with the drink that has the highest sugar content. Put the middle one next, and the smallest one at the top. Pouring slowly over the ice will help keep the liquids from mixing. I chose a grape juice for the bottom, a regular sports drink for the middle, and a low calorie sports drink for the top. But any non-carbonated drinks will do, if the sugar contents are different enough.
These work great for PB&J. Using a circle cutter with white bread and wheat bread, these are super easy to make and the perfect finger food for younger ones. Of course, adults might enjoy chicken salad served on a crescent roll.
This tasty snack mix has muddy buddy ‘asteroids’, mini-Oreo ‘total eclipses’, marshmallow ‘moon rocks’, and peanut butter puff ‘Baily’s Beads’. What are Baily’s Beads? They are the little beads of light that appear around the edges of a total eclipse and are caused by the Moon’s craters. And the pretzels? Well, you can make up what they represent, but the saltiness is a nice complement to the sweet!