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Monday, September 22, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 52.0° F  Fair

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Saucy squash (recipe)

Checking out the funky shapes and colors of squash, gourds and pumpkins are part of what makes fall farmers' markets fun. Kids are naturally attracted to the quirky forms, and you can use this to introduce different winter squash varieties to the table. There is the turban squash, an often-striped orb with double-decker roundness. Hubbard squash's knobby, bluish-green skin looks a bit like a moonscape and contrasts brilliantly against its orange flesh. The green and orange speckled skin of carnival squash resembles a party favor more than a tasty fall treat. Find out which one your kids think is the weirdest, and then bring it home for dinner. >More
 Comfort them with apples

Nothing quite says fall like biting into a fresh, aromatic apple. While the grocery store offers only a handful of varieties, there are dozens of different types of apples grown in Wisconsin. You and your kids will find exotic names like Northern Sky and Fireside at farmers' market stands. Organize a taste test with several varieties to show them how one type of fruit can be different colors, taste sweet or tart, and feel firm or tender. Better yet, spend the afternoon at an apple orchard to pick your own. A day frolicking among the apple trees will make everyone feel like a kid. >More
 Transformations

Which farmer's market vegetable can be made into chocolate cake, muffins or pickles and tastes good with eggs, on pizza or in tacos? The zucchini! Its versatility makes it an easy vegetable to add to your family's summer meals. The flavor of zucchini is mild enough to incorporate into cuisines as varied as Thai, Mexican and French. >More
 Little Locavores Recipe: Chard Cheese Pie

Rainbow chard's multicolored tones are a distinct advantage over mono-colored vegetables for eye-catching kid appeal. The yellow, orange and red stems and dark green leaves are as bright and colorful as any candy and might just pique the interest of those who travel at eye-level with the farmers' market tables. >More
 Asparagus: Speedy spears

Make the asparagus eating conditions great at your house by sharing facts about this spear-shaped vegetable with your kids. Plus, try the recipe for Roasted Asparagus with Peanut Butter Dipping Sauce! >More
 A short trip to loving spinach

Although it's early in the growing season, there are products at the farmers' markets to make a trip with the kids worthwhile. While you know kids will eat frosted cow-shaped cookies, spring vegetables may be another matter. >More
 Pets pitch in

Carbon footprint is a phrase tossed around fairly frequently to get people thinking about the extent of their environmental impact. People aren't the only beings with carbon prints, though. Pets consume plenty, too, leaving carbon pawprints all over the earth. Like people, they eat, have toys, need space, and, occasionally, demand luxuries. Fortunately, the greening of pet ownership is possible. Following are some tips to reduce your dog or cat's carbon footprint to be less clown-sized, even if they won't stop acting like clowns. >More
 When your boss picks up the tab

There are plenty of ways to pay for higher education: Take out student loans, plead with relatives, work your fingers to the bone, eat only ramen noodles, and never find time to smile - take your pick. Members of the class of 2006 finished their undergraduate years with an average student loan debt of $21,100, according to a 2007 study by the Project on Student Debt. >More
 Crash course

The holiday season is all about getting together. Hosting a gathering for family, friends, neighbors or workmates is a wonderful way to show you care. It's also a route to display your culinary, decorating, and merry-making skills. Nobody knows that better than these seasoned Madison party planners, who share some of their favorite tips and tricks. >More
 WANTED: One Madison condo under $120,000

A condo under $120,000. Is this even possible here? There's been so much buzz about the numerous "luxury condos" popping up around town that some potential homebuyers might think they could never afford a condo.

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 Book learning

Board books -- those supposedly indestructible, stout structures -- are popular with babies and toddlers. They like to throw them, chew on them, and offer them to dogs. Pictures books are also attractive for page-ripping or pulling off of shelves en masse, activities that are equally appealing with a stack of novels. Overall, children are not exactly born with an innate appreciation of books as objects. >More
 Real class

Madison is known for its overeducated underemployed population. Philosophy Ph.D.s driving cabs and MFA candidates mixing cocktails are not unusual for us. So why in the world would the city need yet another educational institution? Do people here actually need more credentials? Scott Kirkpatrick, president of downtown Madison's new Extra Bold Portfolio School, would argue yes. >More
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