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North Country Homeschoolers gather for Taste a Country Day

KEESEVILLE At 11 a.m. on a recent Wednesday afternoon, homeschoolers from around the area gathered at the Keesville Independent Baptist Church for an educational lunch. It was the North Country Homeschoolers second annual Taste A Country Day. There were about 30 in attendance including parents, siblings and friends. The format was relaxed and fun as students ranging from kindergarten to high school gave presentations about a country and its food. Some presentations were brief, while others were lengthy, covering not only geography and food, but culture, music, religion, history, government, and plant and animal life. Eight year old Abigail LaBounty from Saranac was the first to volunteer. She shared about Puerto Rico and had prepared fried plantains and black beans and rice. Abigail's younger brother went next with his friend Ben Hatch, also from Saranac. The two took turns telling about different aspects of Mexico. They brought pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread) to share. A group of four intermediate grade girls, Isabelle and Elizabeth Wray and Johnna McDougal from Peru, and Abigail D'Antonio from Dannemora, were dressed in prairie dresses they had made. They pointed out the geographical areas covered in the Little House On the Prairie books they have been reading this year. They told about the foods they brought that were representative of what American pioneers ate during the late 1800s. The fried potatoes and salt pork were the every day staple of many pioneers. The watermelon rind pickles were in keeping with the "waste not want not" philosophy of the time. Homemade molasses taffy and oyster soup were special occasion foods. Brothers Ben, age 14, and James, age 12, from Altona kept their presentation short and sweet as they were in a hurry to get to the best part - eating. They brought marzipan, a candy made from almonds from Hungary, and Jamaican pork, from Jamaica. Jennifer Wass, age 13, from Peru, gave the most in-depth presentation of the day as she told about the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. She brought beans and bangers and pavlova, an elaborate meringue type dessert covered with cream and mandarin oranges. The youngest presenter, kindergartner Bradley Neureuther from Cliff Haven, told about China. His preschool brother Christopher assisted him by helping hold the impressive China poster. Bradley was as comfortable as a professor in front of his class as he shared in great detail about China. At one point he held up a book he made about Chinese animal life and showed samples of the pages. The Panda bear is my favorite, he said while pointing at its picture, because its babies are so cute. It was not surprising to later discover that both his father and grandfather are college professors and that every Friday evening their family celebrates the end of the school week with special food and a presentation from Bradley. On this afternoon he brought some special food, Chinese egg rolls. Corrin Paul, age 13, from Champlain told about Korea. Some of her information was gleaned from a Korean friend. She brought kimbob, a dish for only the most adventurous diners. It was a pinwheel made from fishcake, eggs, and vegetables wrapped in seaweed. After an unforgettable lunch, the homeschoolers enjoyed games in the gym before heading home.

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