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Family valued - 6.7.06

Of ducks and clucks

Sorry, kids, the lilacs are dead. This weekend, it's all about animals.

Intrigued by Spain's running of the bulls? Head to Fairport's racing of the ducks. The Third Annual Fairport Rubber Duck Race happens Saturday, June 10, sponsored by BirdCOR, the nonprofit Bird Coalition of Rochester. At 11 a.m., see live birds of prey and enjoy family-friendly games and activities in the pavilion on the north side of the Erie Canal at the Box Factory, 6 North Main Street.

Shortly after noon, hundreds of rubber duckies, each bearing a number, throw off the mantle of bathtub oppression as they're dropped off the lift bridge into the canal. The winning ticket holder snags a $550 Starbucks gift basket. More than 100 prizes valued at $5,500 will be awarded to race participants.

Admission is free. Race tickets are $5 each, six for $25, with proceeds supporting BirdCOR's programs (www.birdcor.org or 223-8369).

Enjoy an annual Animal Faire for the post-"Old MacDonald" generation at Cracker Box Palace Farm Animal Haven on June 10 and 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sure, kids can see farm animals. But they can search for fossils along a stream bed, visit a Shaker farm museum, and see demonstrations by an animal communicator, too. Adults and older kids will enjoy seminars on subjects such as equine dental care and pet first aid.

The event also features more than 40 vendors, kids' crafts, hayrides, and farm tours. Visit booths sponsored by shelters, rescues, and businesses benefiting animals. Food will be available. Admission is a donation or item from the nonprofit farm's online wish list.

Cracker Box Palace Farm Animal Haven is located at Alasa Farms, a 19th century Shaker community, in Alton, WayneCounty, about 20 minutes east of Webster. Take 104 East to Route 14 North, then follow the signs (www.crackerboxpalace.org or 315-483-2493/315-904-4005).

--- Linda Kostin

When they cook, you don't have to

Teaching your child to do anything is harder than just doing it yourself, especially in the kitchen. For a decade I've watched eggs slide down the cabinet doors, sugar cascade onto the floor, and sautéed vegetables go flying against the wall.

It's finally paying off. My kids can make simple meals without totally destroying the kitchen. Watching them cook reminds me of when my brother and I started making dinner weekly. At 10 years old I reveled in the challenge, making smoked salmon quiche and saladeniçoise from the Silver Palate Cookbook. But the responsibility, and the frequency of it, came a bit too early for my brother, who was only 8.

My father turned him on to a dish he'd eaten on his frequent business trips to San Francisco: Joe's Special. A one-pan dish, it was easy to make and contained all the food groups. It became my brother's signature dish. Until turning vegetarian a couple of years later, we ate Joe's Special week in and week out. I never tired of it. It's now in my younger son's repertoire.

Joe's Special

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound lean ground beef (or ground turkey)

1 onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

3/4 pound fresh or frozen spinach, chopped

5 eggs

Wash and drain (or thaw) spinach. In a heavy skillet, over medium-high heat, brown ground beef in olive oil, draining excess fat. Add onion, nutmeg, oregano, salt, and pepper. When onion is soft, stir in spinach and cook until its liquid evaporates. Beat eggs and add to meat mixture, stirring gently until eggs are set. Adjust seasonings. Serve with salad and sourdough bread. Serves 4.

--- Jennifer Loviglio