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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Cooking, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 140
26. Jai recipe for Chinese New Year

On Thanksgiving, everyone looks forward to the turkey. Valentine’s Day is the time for chocolate. During Chinese New Year, one of the most popular dish is one called jai, or Buddha’s Delight.


Jai is a vegetarian dish and is eaten on the first day of Chinese New Year to bring good luck. According to Buddhist tradition, no animal or fish should be killed on the first day of the lunar new year, thus, a dish with lots of vegetables is considered purifying.

While most of the ingredients are probably not available at your local grocery store, they can be found at Asian grocery stores in many parts of the country.

Want to try your hand at cooking jai? Here’s a good starter recipe from Vegetarian Recipes and Cooking website, reposted with their permission:

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cooking Time: 10 minutes


1/2 cup bamboo shoots, thinly sliced

2 dried bean curd sticks, soaked for 45 minutes in hot water to soften, cut into 1″ chunks

1/2 cup cellophane noodles, soaked in hot water until soft

6 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water until soft (reserve soaking liquid for sauce)

1 carrot, julienned

1/4 cup dried lily buds, soaked in hot water until soft

1 oz. dried fat choy (black “hair” moss), soaked in hot water until soft

1/4 cup canned ginkgo nuts, drained

1/4 cup canned lotus seeds, drained

1/2 cup napa cabbage, thinly sliced

1/4 cup peanuts, roasted

1/2 cup snow peas, julienned

1/2 cup fried tofu, cubed

1/2 cup wheat gluten, thinly slicedAuntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic spot art

1/4 cup fresh wood ear mushroom, cut into strips (or soak dried wood ears)

1/2 cup bean sprouts

1/2 cup straw mushrooms

1/2 cup lotus root, thinly sliced

1/2 cup arrowroot (a starchy tuber), cooked and diced

1 TB peanut or vegetable oil

For sauce

1/4 cup mushroom soaking liquid or vegetable stock

1.5 TB Shaoxing wine

1 tsp ginger, minced

1 TB vegetarian oyster sauce

1 TB light soy sauce

1 tsp dark soy sauce

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp cornstarch


 Heat 1 TB oil in wok or large pan over medium-high heat. Add bean curd sticks, cabbage, snow peas, mushrooms, and carrots and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Mix sauce ingredients in a bowl, stirring to dissolve cornstarch, and set aside. Add remaining ingredients, except cellophane noodles and peanuts, to wok, along with sauce, and stir to combine. Simmer until bubbly and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes, stir in cellophane noodles and peanuts, and serve.

Happy cooking! And Happy Chinese New Year!

Further reading:

What is Chinese New Year?

Filed under: Activities, Celebrations, Holidays Tagged: Asian/Asian American, chinese food, Chinese New Year, cooking, jai, recipes, vegetarian cooking, Yum!

0 Comments on Jai recipe for Chinese New Year as of 2/9/2013 12:44:00 PM
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27. Spicy Roasted Chickpea and Spinach Enchiladas

Spinach Chickpea Enchiladas

These are just a riff on the chickpea tacos I made here (recipe from Amy’s Cooking Adventures).

I just made enchilada sauce from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (subbing ancho chiles for the kind he calls for) and used the roasted chickpeas and baby spinach as filling and baked according to Bittman’s enchilada instructions.

After struggling with several different methods of preparing enchilada shells, I stumbled upon the easiest trick. Just stack a few in a clean dishtowel and wrap like a present. Zap for about 30 seconds, and they’ll be perfectly warm and pliable. So much easier than frying or dipping them!

Though the sauce was a lot of work (maybe something to make in advance) these were delicious, and my husband even preferred them to the meat version I had also made. I think it’s because the chickpeas are so spicy and lime-y.

If you’re interested in more of my less-meat recipe trials, just click on the “Food” category on my blog.

Have a great weekend. Friends in Northeastern North America, I hope you stay warm and get to play in the snow!

2 Comments on Spicy Roasted Chickpea and Spinach Enchiladas, last added: 2/11/2013
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28. Spinach Chop

Spinach Chop

Sautéed spinach, hard-boiled eggs, garlic, lemon, toasted almonds, harissa. These are things I never ever would’ve put together, but they totally work.

This recipe is a perfect example of why I love Heidi Swanson’s work (she of 101cookbooks fame). She can put together ingredients that previously seemed un-mixable, then photograph and write about them in such a way that I HAVE to try them.

I finally finally bought her second cookbook, Super Natural Every Day. Loving it. What took me so long? If you’re interested in cooking with veggies, it’s a wonderful place for inspiration. One of the many best parts is the “Every Day” because the recipes are pared down, simple stuff for week nights. Sometimes it seems like cookbooks are filled only with special occasion dishes.

I’ve had a time looking for harissa, the Tunisian chili sauce, but this recipe works well with Cholula, one of my current hot sauce crushes (the other one is Sriracha sauce—don’t get me started).

Anyway, I love this as a simple winter meal. I seem to be craving spinach lately. And, as usual, anything with spice and citrus. For more of my less-meat recipe trials, click on the Food category.

Thanks to everyone who came out to the book signing on Saturday. What a great crowd! I felt really celebrated.

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29. Flourless Oatmeal and Buckwheat Pancakes

Flourless Gluten-Free Pancakes

These are another new favorite at our house.

They’re “Ben’s Friday Pancakes” from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. Recipe here. Great book, by the way.

I’ve been doing the (mostly) wheat-free thing for a couple of months now (long story, mostly related to my energy levels).

Three things that are great about these pancakes:

1) They’re full of flavor, with a great nuttiness from the whole grains and an almost lemony zing from the fresh nutmeg.

2) After eating them, I actually stay full, and I don’t get the awful sugar rush/ crash like with regular pancakes. Even though I still eat them with syrup.

3) The kids truly love them.

You do have to plan a bit ahead for these, because the grains require overnight soaking. For the milk, I use a combo of plain yogurt and water. You can also make them dairy-free by using a non-dairy milk. I think they’re gluten-free if you use gluten-free oats. Buckwheat is not actually wheat or even a true grain.

You’d think the whole grains would make the pancakes heavy as hockey pucks, but although they’re substantial, they’re surprisingly fluffy.

Be sure to mix up the liquid and grains before setting them in the fridge overnight. Sometimes our blender struggles a bit with the mixture. It helps if you let the mixture come to room temp (at least somewhat), and stir the mixture again before blending.

The batter cooks a little more slowly than traditional pancake batter, so we turn the temp down a little so they don’t burn.

Also, I always double the recipe. The leftover pancakes heat up nicely the next day in the toaster oven, for breakfast or for a nice snack with jam and butter. Yum!

2 Comments on Flourless Oatmeal and Buckwheat Pancakes, last added: 1/17/2013
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30. Abby Gross’s top books of 2012

By Abby Gross

I read science and social science manuscripts for work, so in my off time I like to read other genres, from fiction and fantasy to cookbooks. Here were some of my favorite reads of the year.

I hadn’t read a young adult novel in years, and the jacket description of this book was enough to send me running in the opposite direction. But ignore the copy about the teenager struggling with cancer and her friend whom she meets in a support group. John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars is a magnificent and hilarious book about two young people who game the make-a-wish foundation to pursue a meeting with their favorite author, only to find out he is a crazy drunk.

After finishing the works of MFK Fisher, the godmother of writing about cooking, I was despondent — until I found Tamar Adler, whose new book, An Everlasting Meal, channels Fisher’s practical, no-nonsense style and wisdom. If you are like me, and you prefer to cook freestyle, without intricate recipes, this book will surprise you with ideas for using up the last bits of whatever you have on hand. More importantly, it teaches the reader — Adler is a natural instructor — about how to weave cooking into life without assuming that you have tons of cash or free time.

I wish I could go back in time to my 18-year-old self, bored in Biology 101, and hand over a copy of Homo Mysterious: Evolutionary Puzzles of Human Nature, by David Barash. (Disclosure: I helped OUP publish this book.) Barash addresses brow-furrowing questions like “why do humans create religion?” and “why do women menstruate?” He swiftly reasons through the possible arguments (with jokes, which helps non-scientists through the science) eventually leaving the questions unanswered, but the reader equipped to think more intelligently about why we are what we are and why we do what we do.

Abby Gross is a Medical editor at Oxford University Press.

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The post Abby Gross’s top books of 2012 appeared first on OUPblog.

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31. The creation of Lula's Brew - the brew, not the book

So my publisher wants to include a recipe in the press release for LULA'S BREW. Not just any recipe - THE recipe - y'know, Lula's Brew - the actual BREW.
     Well, I've thought about it for years, quietly in the back of my mind. So I thought it would be a breeze. It didn't turn out that way.
     At first I thought, Halloween... it needs to have something to do with pumpkin. So I performed the grand experiment. I divided and cleaned out an enormous squash which I roasted with its seeds (I'm lucky I didn't chop off any of my fingers doing this):

Then I diced and sauteed lovely ingredients:

I sauteed them in a pot to create a sort of white bean chicken chile with a can of pumpkin. It's real - I read about other people doing this with success.
     I also read some recipes that turned it sweet, with coconut milk and curry. So I divided the batch half-way through and made both. Then I served them in the squash halves with the roasted seeds and fresh parsley.

     Brave hubbie gave them a try and... well, the results were not so stellar. Neither recipe was IT. Neither one was Lula's Brew.
     So Monday I tried again. I needed something that was accessible to most American's, with ingredients that anyone can buy at their local store or may already have in their cabinet and fridge, but which end up delicious when combined... and witchy-stew-like.
     Then, I remembered this recipe I used to make for my poker gang nearly every week in my single days. It took some digging, but I found the recipe and... adapted it. I updated it to my more grown-up taste buds (just a bit) and renamed all the ingredients. The corn became "mummy teeth" and the black beans became the "moles from a bat's behind." Y'know, like Lula's Aunties would have directed.
     The result? YUM! No really! THIS is it! THIS is Lula's Brew! CLICK HERE for the recipe. YUM!

     Did you notice the actual copy of LULA'S BREW in the background, did ya? Did ya, huh? Yeah, it's cool.

3 Comments on The creation of Lula's Brew - the brew, not the book, last added: 9/22/2012
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32. Kohl’s Cares For Kids – Cookbooks for Adults

Kohl’s Cares For Kids: Children who eat good meals are happier, healthier, and do better in school, so Kohl’s has also included these books for adults in their program. Each book is only $5.00, and all proceeds go towards kids’ health and education.

Eat This Not That For Kids
Author: David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding
Publisher: Rodale
Genre: Food
ISbn: 978-1605299433
Pages: 320
Price: $5.00 at Kohl’s

Sometimes deciding to eat healthier is as simple as choosing one food over another. In this book, food selections are analyzed for total calorie and fat content, and alternative, healthier options are offered. Items covered include restaurant fare, beverages, snacks and meals made at home.

Campbell’s Best-Loved Recipes
Publisher: Publications International
Genre: Cooking
ISBN: 978-1605534671
Pages: 256
Price: $5.00 at Kohl’s

Cooking with Campbell’s soups is a long-standing tradition. This cookbook compiles some of the best recipes using these soups and other related products. But this isn’t just a soup and casserole cookbook. Recipes include breakfast, sandwiches, meats, seafood, pasta, and even desserts.

Crock-pot Busy Family Recipes
Publisher: Publications International
Genre: Cooking
ISBN: 1605531847
Pages: 192
Price: $5.00 at Kohl’s

A cook’s greatest time saver in the kitchen is the crock-pot. Just set it up in the morning and come home to a nice home-cooked meal. These recipes are a cook’s treasure chest of tasty and easy meals.

0 Comments on Kohl’s Cares For Kids – Cookbooks for Adults as of 9/5/2012 2:45:00 PM
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33. TurboCharged Recipes

Authors: Dian Griesel, Ph. D & Tom Griesel
Publisher: Business School of Happiness
Genre: Cooking / Health
ISBN: 978-1936705078
Pages: 268
Price: $24.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

In TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust, a new way of eating was introduced. This diet program encourages the reader to eat proteins, fats, vegetables and fruits in new proportions. Foods with hidden sugars and processed carbohydrates should be avoided. The easiest way to follow a new plan of eating is with lots of recipes designed to fit the plan, and TurboCharged Recipes delivers just that.

This cookbook provides a basic introduction to the program, but assumes the reader has already read TurboCharged. Section headings include Beverages, Dips & Dressings, Appetizers, Soups & Stews, Salads, Vegetarian, Eggs, Fish, Meats, Poultry, and Desserts. These yummy recipes can be used by a TurboCharged dieter or anyone who follows a low carbohydrate diet.

Some of these recipes combine more than a dozen ingredients, so a well-stocked kitchen is advised. Time may also be a factor in creating some of these dishes. But if you’re serious about following the TurboCharged plan, this cookbook would be a great investment.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

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34. Review: Lead Me Home by Vicki Lewis Thompson


Title: Lead Me Home

Author:  Vicki Lewis Thompson

Publisher: Harlequin Blaze

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Thanks to his skills with difficult horses, trainer Matthew Tredway has traveled all over the world. And his new gig? The Last Chance Ranch. But after a chance glance at the ranch’s hot little blond cook, Matthew’s libido is immediately set to sizzle!

Chef Aurelia Smith has been trying to tempt the ranch hands with mouth-watering concoctions, with less-than-stellar results. But when Matthew is sent in to intervene, his attraction to Aurelia boils over.

Before long, they’re cooking up a storm, in and out of the bedroom. But Aurelia knows that while she might have led her horseman to bed, she can’t make him stay….


Whenever I get into a reading slump, I find myself reaching for a Harlequin category romance.  I don’t know why, but these things always seem to get me back on a reading track.  Maybe because of the formula, and because I know that despite all adversity, the protagonists will find a way to get together.  I’m not suggesting that they are all 5 star reads, but I find a great deal of comfort in the formula.  I have only read a few titles under the Blaze imprint, and so far, they have been quick, satisfying reads, so I  gravitated to one of these.

I picked Lead Me Home to load on my Kindle because of one thing:  the hero is a horse trainer.  I am always a sucker for a book with horses.  I am also extremely critical of stories featuring horses, because there are certain ways we do things at the barn, and then there’s the way everyone else does things.  Usually, it is in sync with how I expect horse care and horse training to be described.  Sometimes it is not.  With the exception of young Lester’s “natural” riding abilities, and the abbreviated time spent training Houdini, the unruly stallion, I didn’t have much to complain about with the horse scenes.  I would like Lester to come and show me how to canter on a runaway horse, because I am having a heck of time cantering on one of my mares.  Of course, Lester was helped out by a jerk throwing a rock, so maybe under different circumstances, he would have a problem, too.

Anyhoo, getting back to the book, Matthew is a huge guy, 6’5” and solidly built.  He is a muscle machine.  I am assuming that he’s training quarter horses, and my only other nitpick is that he is a big guy.  Quarter horses aren’t huge horses(well, except for their rear ends).  I am thinking that he looked pretty silly on Houdini, unless the stud was built like a brick sh!thouse, too.  I know how ridiculous my trainer looks on one of my mares, and she isn’t a small horse.  Oh! I am wandering off track again! Sorry!  Let’s try again!

Matthew is a famous horse trainer, probably along the lines of Clinton Anderson.  He is a published author, and everyone recognizes that he is a horse training expert.  He jets all about the world, working his equine mojo.  He also feels detached from people, and has no real committed relationships.  Both of his parents have passed away; his mother when he was a young child, and his father just a few years ago.  His father was so devastated by his mother’s death that he was an emotionally distant care-giver.  Matthew found completion training horses, and hi

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35. Interview with Amanda Usen, Author of Luscious and Giveaway!


Amanda Usen is the author of Luscious, a sexy romp through Italy, featuring yummy food and star-crossed lovers.  Amanda dropped by the virtual offices for a chat about her book.  After the interview, enter for your chance to win a copy of Luscious!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Amanda Usen] Pastry chef, word geek, romance writer, mom of three, caffeine addict, hot chef lover – all at the same time, not necessarily in that order!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Luscious?

[Amanda Usen] Chef heroine Olivia Marconi is balanced on the knife-edge of a major meltdown. Her marriage is over. She hates her job. Her two best friends have fallen in love with each other. She wants to start over, but first she has to go to Italy and tell her parents she doesn’t want to run the family restaurant anymore. Sean Kindred rejected Olivia’s indecent proposal while she was still married, but now that she’s free, he’s determined to take her up on her offer. Wherever. Whenever. Italy would be perfect. Luscious is the story of star-crossed lovers searching for a new beginning while eating amazing food, drinking fantastic wine and making incredible love.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Amanda Usen] I was sitting in a doctor’s office editing the first draft of Scrumptious. When the doctor came in and learned I was a chef, he started telling me about his fabulous vacations at a cooking school in Italy. Villa Farfalla was born! A cooking school/spa/vineyard in Verona, Italy seemed like the perfect place for the next book. I knew Olivia, the restaurant owner from Scrumptious, would be the main character. Since she made a pass at her divorce lawyer and got shot down in the first book, it made sense that he would become her love interest in the second book. The storyline fell into place in my subconscious and was born, page by page, on the computer screen. There was a LOT of coffee involved in the writing of Luscious and more wine than I will ever admit.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Olivia?

[Amanda Usen] Hungry for love!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three ingredients Olivia would never, ever use?

[Amanda Usen] Strawberries, inferior quality olive oil, box wine

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things that Sean would never have in his bedroom?

[Amanda Usen] Best question ever! It’s going to take me ages to answer because I keep mentally trying on items and giggling. Okay…deep breath… a television. No hero I write will ever spend his time in the bedroom watching TV. Mementos from other women; it’s always been Olivia for Sean. Pajamas. No explanation needed. ;-)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Amanda Usen] I belong to the Western New York Romance Writers and the Romance Writers of America. I’m constantly inspired by the hard work of my colleagues, and I’m grateful to the authors who write books that make me reach deeper and work harder to write my own stories. Food plays a big part in my books. I met my husband in culinary school, and he’s my own, personal, hot chef hero. He cooks, cleans and loves to play with our kids – now that is inspiring! I love to read t

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36. How SSS fulfils current educational policies and initiatives

1. National Framework for Sustainable Schools

The government would like all schools to be sustainable by 2020, and has produced guidance within an eight-doorway framework. SSS adheres to two of these doorways in particular; food and drink, and purchasing and waste. Schools can be sustainable through being model suppliers of healthy, sustainable food and drink; showing strong commitments to the environment; and maximising their use of local suppliers. SSS achieves this through increasing children’s awareness of where food comes from, food chains, and the processes used in growing, harvesting and food preparation.

SSS connects to the purchasing and waste doorway by carefully sourcing goods and services of high environmental and ethical standards that have been obtained from local sources where practicable. All of SSS’s materials for each book and accompanying pack compliment these principles.

2. Healthy Schools

In ten years the National Healthy Schools programme has become one of the country’s most widely embraced initiatives in schools. Schools need to satisfy criteria in the four core themes within the programme: Healthy eating, physical activity, PSHE, and emotional health and well-being.

SSS promotes inclusion through bringing together cross-curricular learning through an interactive approach. Children initially engage in a written and visual text, and have close links to ICT through the website extras. Connecting the imaginative seed-based characters with further learning opportunities brings an extra ‘real and meaningful’ experience to learning, and allows for children’s individual learning styles.
Activities such as growing seeds, or making recipes supports all areas of Healthy Schools and promotes positive emotional health and wellbeing so children can understand and express their feelings, build their confidence and emotional resilience, and therefore their capacity to learn.

3. Every Child Matters Agenda

Every Child Matters: Change for Children is a comprehensive approach to the well-being of children and young people from birth to age 19. The five outcomes for children and young people are: Be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve through learning, make a positive contribution to society, and achieve economic well-being.

SSS encourages children to work together in more integrated and effective ways through growing, harvesting and cookery based activities that link with the central imaginative narratives of the stories. Children are learning and reflecting on their environment through a variety of creative and exciting cross-curricular links, and our fulfilling of outcomes of the Every Child Matters agenda.

4. Growing Schools Initiative

Growing schools promotes learning outside the classroom and has been founded in response to the government’s needs for children to have the chance to learn in new, more relevant and exciting ways. By having direct experiences of growing within the natural environment, this has been shown to be particularly effective in benefiting those who find classroom learning difficult.

SSS connects directly with this principle through developing children’s understanding of where food comes from and the role of farmers and growers, the interdependence of the urban and rural environments, and how and why we should care for the natural world.

5. Learning outside the classroom


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37. For when life is just not fair

I couldn’t have written a better script… J was off ill a few days ago and M stomped to school with fury all over her face.

“IT’S NOT FAIR! Why can’t I stay at home?”

The pavement (and my ears) got a fair bashing from M that morning, and before 9am I was already exhausted! But my book-fairy-godmother must have heard my exasperated cries for help; as if by magic the postman delivered…

It’s Not Fairy by Ros Asquith.

Siblings Bill and Mary complain that when they get different things, life’s just not fair. Fortunately, the kids’ parents know about the It’s Not Fairy, who’s on a mission around the world to help sort out what’s wrong and right, but who also likes to eat those who complain a little too much.

Bill and Mary scoff at the idea of the It’s Not Fairy, but when they hear their parents complaining about life being unfair (for example, when Mum does all the housework and Dad just slouches in his chair), they are quick to remind their elders about her penchant for gobbling up grumblers.

When the parents produce their supposed trump card, “It’s up to us to say what’s FAIR!” the It’s Not Fairy can’t hold back any longer and makes an appearance to berate the family. She ask them to think about what really constitutes fairness and justice, and to see their gripes in a wider context. If they can’t do that, she threatens to bake them all in one big fairy cake.

In lesser hands this could be a pompous moral tale told with a big wagging finger hanging over the reader and listener, but Ros Asquith has brilliantly written a tremendously funny, (and, yes, useful!) story I can’t recommend enough. Everyone has fun poked at them, not only the parents, but even the It’s Not Fairy herself, reminding us that even though we’re not all perfect, and we do all complain from time to time, it’s ok to have a moan, and it’s even more ok to take a deep breath and remember the bigger picture.

The rhyming text is fun to read aloud and also draws in listeners who will quickly be joining in. The illustrations, familiar to those who read Asquith’s regular cartoon strips in the Guardian newspaper, are full of textual detail that pack even more giggles into this book.

A punchy way to start a more meaningful discussion about what is and isn’t fair, every primary school should have this book for use in classrooms. Every parent should have a copy too because it’s a gift – now when I get moans from the kids about things not being fair, I just remind them about the It’s Not Fairy, and a grumpy situation is turned round into one where we can laugh and actually talk about what we’re feeling.

It’s Not Fairy comes with a great recipe for baking your own It’s Not Fairy Cakes so of course we tried them out. For “Fairy Dust”, to sprinkle on the icing, we made

3 Comments on For when life is just not fair, last added: 7/5/2012
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38. Julia Child for Kids - Serious AND Funny

"True stuff doesn't have to be all solemn and serious and sedate," wrote Roz in her postlast week about humor in nonfiction picture books. If ever there was a biographical subject who was NOT solemn and sedate, it was Julia Child, who would have turned 100 this year. Serious is another matter, however.

Fun in the kitchen
On TV, Julia had a natural, relaxed attitude that belied her seriousness about French cooking. Of crucial importance were fresh, high-quality ingredients, prepared with classic techniques that had been developed over centuries. Fortunately, Julia's serious approach was always tempered by an earthy sense of humor. At heart an educator, she knew that learning goes down easiest when you're having fun. Above all, she would say, are the pleasures of sharing a delicious meal with family and friends. For Julia, relationships came first.

In my new picture book, Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat (Abrams), all these facets of America's most beloved chef and cookbook author are on the table. The challenge for me as an author was to find the right balance of seriousness and playfulness, and to do it in a way that kids would enjoy.

Flowers for Julia Child's
80th birthday party,
complete with kitchen whisk.
A Julia fan since childhood, I'd wanted to write a book about her ever since we met when I designed the flowers for her 80th birthday party, at the Rainbow Room in New York. But I struggled to find a way to make the subject child-friendly. Would six-year-olds really be interested in fancy French food?

Then I learned that Julia got her first cat, Minette, when she and her husband Paul lived in Paris in the late 1940's. This fortunate French feline ate meals lovingly prepared by the future Queen of Cuisine. In return, Minette brought Julia little tokens of affection—in the form of fres

3 Comments on Julia Child for Kids - Serious AND Funny, last added: 5/11/2012
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39. Seed Cake - sketch for today

Half an hour goes quick. About half way I say that's enough on the outline 
and work on getting the main subject into at least a rudimentary environment. 
I had no idea the little girl was making seed cake until I drew the bird cage and then it was obvious.



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40. Pumpkin butter and crystallized ginger

I was feeling domestic today so I retrieved the pumpkin from the freezer - I have a new crop coming in - and made pumpkin butter in my crockpot.  The recipe I used called for apple juice.  I used apple cider and my "pumpkin" butter tastes more like "apple" butter because of it.  I used about ten cups of pumpkin puree to 1 cup of cider.  You'd think that would balance out.  Next time I will use water.  The resulting apple/pumpkin butter is pretty tasty nonetheless.

I also decided to try making candied - or crystallized- ginger.  Now that recipe called for a pound of ginger and a pound of sugar.  I had half a pound of ginger so I halved the sugar.  I did NOT halve the water.  So I had to overcook the ginger to boil off the extra water.

  The ginger has a very strong taste and is crispy but yummy.  So I am happy.  Life is a learning process.

1 Comments on Pumpkin butter and crystallized ginger, last added: 9/30/2011
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On this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for my brother Richard. He died earlier this month. He loved his wife Val, his daughter Emily, and his birth family. He also loved acting, cooking, and laughing. Rich is the one in blue. His obituary follows. It does a good job of speaking about his life. Rich will be missed by many.

RichardJohn Sottile 

SOTTILE - Richard John, Thespian, 58, died Thursday at WaterviewNursing Center after a beautiful life & long struggle with Lewy BodyDementia. Dick was born in Jamaica NY & grew up in Lindenhurst in the househis father built. His interest in theater was piqued at Lindenhurst High &cultivated at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. His adventures included:experimental theater; cross country travel & fatherhood. He laughed easily;loved acting & reading; was a skilled baker & could cook up a mean potof chili. Rich was devoted to his parents Molly & Tony. He leaves behind:devoted daughter, Emily Valentine; beloved twin sister, care taker & life-longcompanion, Margie; brothers Tony, Joe & Bob; dear friends, cousins& in-laws; as well as his best friend (& former wife) Valerie Gene.Services will be held at Lindenhurst Funeral Home 424 S. Wellwood Ave.Lindenhurst, NY Saturday 11/12/11 2–6pm. In lieu of flowers please makedonations to LewyBody Dementia Association, 912 Killian Hill Rd. SW Lilburn, GA30047 www.lbda.org orthe SAGE Project www.sagesf.org 

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by Leda Schubert

THE PRINCESS OF BORSCHT is about Ruthie, who is afraid that her beloved grandmother will die of starvation in the hospital, where she is temporarily bedridden with pneumonia. Grandma, who is a bit of a character, says borscht—beet soup—might prevent this starvation, and when Ruthie and her father (who thinks borscht  is yucky) return to Grandma’s apartment, Ruthie searches for the recipe. All the busybody neighbors come by to help and order each other around.  Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. Why is Ruthie a princess? You’ll have to read the book! It’s filled with royalty.

My grandmother, Sonia Broffman (nee Lerman), was a great cook. I remember her faux chopped liver, made from green beans and something (walnuts? Chime in.), and her chicken-in-a-pot. My mother was also a great cook, but she owned her own business and rarely had time to inhabit the kitchen. Not to worry; I always managed to eat and maintain my plumpness.  

Though I myself am an only child, I have a whole lot of second cousins who are very proud of being descended from the seven Lerman brothers and sisters.  Perhaps I wrote THE PRINCESS OF BORSCHT as an homage to the women in my family, though I’m not sure I knew what it was about until I read a few of the reviews. This is not uncommon with writers, by the way. We need readers!

I first drafted the story in a writing group many years ago. Bonnie Christensen, esteemed illustrator, joined the group and drew me a picture of Ruthie, which I loved to bits and which I treasure. We dreamed of doing the book together, and thanks to Neal Porter, we did!  Bonnie included subtle tributes to her family, mine, and to Neal himself. Look carefully. She also messed up her kitchen by throwing borscht around to get the drips just right. Ah, research.

I don’t particularly like to cook, but I do love beets. I plant them every summer and watch them come up. Shortly thereafter they disappear. Is it the dog? A slug? Beetles? Mysterious forces from the universe? Then I go to the farmers’ market and buy some. Roasted, boiled, served in salad or in soup, they can’t be beat. The recipe on the back cover is only one of many possibilities.

Readers, I hope you like the book.

[Above, Bonnie throws borscht around (you can see her reflection). Photo by Bonnie Christensen]



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43. Devilishly good recipe: Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies

This weekend I decided to make a recipe that my sister had posted on her blog awhile back: Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies from Picky Palate. 

They were just as delicious as you're hoping. 

Just a few photos to give you the flavor of making these big, decadent babies:

You start with double-stuf Oreos and a cookie dough that has an especially high amount of flour (I'm guessing it keeps the dough from spreading too much).

Then you put a full scoop of dough on both the top and the bottom. Here's the progression: innocent Oreo, having no idea what's coming for it. Nervous Oreo, wearing a dough hat and pants, wondering where this could all be doing. And finally, enormous Matzoh-ball sized Oreo, fully enrobed in dough and regretting the day it ever ventured out from the supermarket. 

I found it easiest to just take the scoops of dough between my palms, with the Oreo in the middle, and sort of just squish the dough all around the cookie. 

Above, the deed has been done, much like Han Solo dunked in Carbonite.

And then finally, the cross-section of goodness:

You could make a meal out of one of these things. Or... maybe two of them. Or three, laden with both happiness and regret. 

They really weren't hard to make and if you can get your kids interested in helping, they'd be a great family cooking project. Little Dude was only interested in CONSUMING them!




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44. Grannies Are Good

3:00 am on a Saturday morningGranny in her nightclothes,  repeats a welcoming ritual for our family. We’ve just arrived from Indiana to spend the weekend or a holiday.  She and Grandpa knew we were coming.

Granny had prepared for our arrival with her usual comfort feast. She knew we’d be famished by the time we stepped through her door. To stave off those awkward growling sounds that would surely keep everyone awake for the rest of the night, she loaded the groaning board with a southern breakfast. It doesn’t seem to matter to her or Grandpa that by the time we finish eating, and unwind enough to go to sleep, they will be preparing for their farm day.

My brother and I sit at that big farm kitchen table, eyeing the platters, bowls, plates, and jars that she arranges down the center of the space. Medium platter supports three different types of fried eggs: hard, soft, and scrambled.

Her infamous small square biscuit pan sits on a handmade potholder near the homemade jams, jellies, and syrup for the golden brown pancakes hoarding their own personal bowl. Sausage patties, country ham, and leftovers from last night’s fried chicken hold court on a large platter on Dad’s end of the table.

Fresh coffee perfumes the room, aided by fresh milk, and  rounds out the “impromptu” meal, along with real farm cream to use on cold cereal.

Yep, we’re down home. An hour later, family talk has dwindled enough to expose sleepy eyes and yawns. Bedtime has come at last.

If we’d come during the winter, those upstairs beds would act as ice cube trays waiting to be filled. The upstairs of that house had no heat of its own. Heck, the down stairs only had Warm-Morning stoves that could take wood or coal. Finances determined which fuel was used.

Mom and I would take one bed and Dad, with brother, would get the other one. There were so many of Granny’s homemade quilts on the beds that Mom would have to hold up the covers so that I could position myself. Once I was comfortable, she’d lower the bedclothes.

I had to be very certain of comfort in that position because once those quilts lowered; I wasn’t strong enough to shift my position under them. They were heavy and cold upon first entry to the bed. As a rule, I would try to put my back to my mom’s. Her body heat would keep me from becoming an ice cube until my own body heat took care of warming my space. Sleep was the only refuge until real heat came along.

In the summer, only those floor to ceiling windows gave relief from the sweltering upstairs heat. No quilts were required for that season. The fear then was melting into the feather beds.

Dawn and downstairs activity led to anxious dreams and disrupted, food-induced sleep. Grandpa had milking to do. Granny had to get lunch on the stove so that she could take a bit of socializing time once all the kin arrived for that meal. These things didn’t take care of themselves.

Throughout our visit, for however long it lasted, that lady of the South, cared for the feeding and comfort of her quests. She prided herself in always having enough for anyone who happened to drop by on any given day. No one left he home without taking a meal with them.

A weekend lunch would supply victuals for a minimum of sixteen to twenty people, depending on family sched

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45. Between an ebook and a hard place

Last week the ever-interesting Barbara Fister observed over on Inside Higher Ed,

People are beginning to notice that big publishers are not really all that interested in authors or readers; they are interested in consolidating control of distribution channels so that the only participants in culture are creators who work for little or nothing and consumers who can only play if they can pay.

Barbara elegantly collapses into one sentence the last several years of the ebook wars and, even more importantly, identifies all stakeholders in the reading ecology: not just publishers and libraries, but authors and readers.

The Growing Crisis

Over the last year or so, there has been spluttering (sometimes from me) at individual publishers such as HarperCollins (they of “26 checkout” fame), distributor-packagers such as Overdrive, and of course, the idiot library administrators who sign contracts they obviously haven’t read, or they would never have entered into those agreements, right? (That spluttering definitely didn’t come from me, being one of those administrators.)

But Barbara is pointing out that while the problem has many moving parts, the entire reading ecology is at risk; we are, in her terms, in an “apocalypse.” It is really nothing less than an outright assault on fair use; the publishing-industrial complex won’t be happy until readers are paying, not just by the title, but by the page-turn.

Barbara and I have an interesting convergence: we are both librarians-authors-readers (except she can write entire books, while my attention span ends at the essay). By author, I mean (full disclosure: HUSTLE AHEAD!) non-industry writing, such as the forthcoming The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage (Roost Books, Fall, 2012; edited by Lisa Catherine Harper and Caroline Grant), in which you will find my revised and republished essay, “Still Life on the Half-Shell” (first published in Gastronomica) about oysters, the locavore movement, and how I came to terms with life in Tallahassee. My essay includes exquisitely clear instructions on eating oysters Southern-style (complete with a photograph), making Cassoulet an obvious “must buy” for all library collections.

But my point isn’t about whether I am expecting to make a living from essays such as “Half-Shell.” My day job is my income; I can’t even remember if I am getting a small one-time payment, though I had such good editorial input from Lisa and Caroline that the revision process was its own mini-post-grad workshop, and I have a food essay floating out there that is significantly better for the lessons learned for “Half-Shell.”

My point is that it’s important, both ethically and strategically, for advocates of the right to read to understand that creators should have the option and the right to make a living from their creations, and that our advocacy, right now, at this moment in history, is crucial to ensure that right.

It’s also the reader’s right to support creators, which they can do either directly (buy my book!) or indirectly (fund libraries, and they will buy my book). Some of us in society will “buy” books, by way of funding libraries, that we never read ourselves or that we choose to purchase on our own, but we understand that the town pump benefits everyone — a take on the world that is less popular in certain circles, but only underscores our value to society.

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46. My semi-successful cookie dough cupcakes

This year, for the first time, Little Dude asked me to MAKE the cake for his birthday party. 

For a moment I sat, stunned. "You don't want me to get it from the bakery?"

"No, I want you to make me chocolate chip-cookie dough cupcakes. Because I love your baking the best." He flashed me a smile and dashed off to play Ninjago or Pokemon or some other game that involves teenish boy-men smacking each other with magical creatures or swords. 

Because he loves my baking the best.

I was sunk.

Happily, I found that chocolate-chip-cookie-dough cupcakes are quite The Thing on the internet. I made my own with this mix of methods, with my very own mixed but tasty results: 

1. I made the this "cookie dough stuffing" recipe for the middle and froze it overnight, which all the recipes seem to agree is critical. I went with an eggless recipe because I really didn't want all of Little Dude's friends to get food poisoning along with their rock-and-roll goody bags at the party.

2. I mixed up a boxed yellow cake mix and filled the cupcake tins. Then I plopped a dough ball in each. No need to cover it or otherwise mess with it. The cake will take care of it.

Now here's the first thing I wish I had done differently. I didn't have any boy-birthday-appropriate cupcake wrappers/papers: I only had Christmas ones. So I merrily sprayed the heck out of the pans and trusted that would work. 

Wrong. I spent a lot of time and anxious energy trying to coax those cupcakes out of the pans. Thankfully, first graders don't really evaluate whether a cupcake is PERFECT before shoving it in their mouths. Husbands are a different story. They point out the raggedy sides. And then they shove the cupcake in their mouths. 

And then I boot them out of the kitchen.

3. After the cupcakes cooled, I frosted them with icing that tastes like cookie dough--for real. This stuff tastes AMAZING. 

But here was my second mistake: the recipe says to dump all of the confectioners sugar in at once, then blend. DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE. The sugar went everywhere. Happily for me, my sweet and helpful mother was visiting. As she wiped away probably a half pound of sugar, she simply smiled and said, "you have never done anything halfway, my dear". Look, at left. She really did smile.

Blend the sugar in gradually. Little bits at a time. Or you'll wish you had listened to me.

So how were the cupcakes? Raggedy. Rich. Delicious. I would definitely make these again, so long as I had suitable cupcake wrappers. In fact I have some extra dough balls stashed in the freezer, just waiting for another opportunity to whip these up. 

Little Dude's review: "They were really good, Mom. But I didn't like the frosting."

Me: "Oh. OK. Well, I won't freeze the leftovers to put in your school lunches, then."

Little Dude, panicked: "Wait, no, you can freeze them. I'd eat them for LUNCH." (As opposed to breakfast, I guess... not that we EVER have cake for breakfast in this house...)

So, you might want to consider vanilla frosting if you're making these for kids. But for grown-ups? Go whole-hog and do the dough frosting!

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47. Kids’ Cookbooks: 8 Mouthwatering Recipe Collections for Kids

By Nicki Richesin, The Children’s Book Review
Published: March 8, 2012

A Delicious Way to Bring your Favorite Stories to Life

When I was a child, I fell in love with a cookbook called Wild Foods. Just the idea of foraging the woods for berries and creating a delicious soup filled me with wonder. Years later, when my daughter was small, we discovered a lovely cookbook for dolls called Mudpies and Other Recipes. We lovingly prepared Wood Chip Dip, Dandelion Soufflé, and Rainspout Tea for her dolls. Cooking with children is such a wonderful way to spend time together. Within these superb cookbooks, you’ll recall your favorite stories and feast on mouth-watering dishes.

Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes and Roald Dahl’s Even More Revolting Recipes

By Roald and Felicity Dahl and Josie Fison; illustrated by Quentin Blake with photographs by Jan Baldwin

Your children will scream with delight when they read and recognize the many treats from Roald Dahl’s memorable books. Bunce’s Doughnuts! Bruce Bogtrotter’s Cake! Frobscottle! Both of these cookbooks are a great tribute to his nutty genius and were largely compiled by his widow Felicity after Dahl’s death. For adults, I recommend Memories with Food at Gipsy House and also Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights by Roald’s granddaughter Sophie. She has a new cookbook Very Fond of Food available from Random House in April. (Ages 8-11. Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) and Puffin)

The Secret Garden Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden

By Amy Cotler; illustrations by Prudence See

This exquisite cookbook reminds us of the beauty of Burnett’s classic The Secret Garden and the magic of making things come to life. Mary’s rambling walks along the moors in the countryside with Dickon and their hard work in the garden stirs a great appetite for porridge, little sausage cakes, and jam roly

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48. The Nom Nom Nominees For The James Beard Awards

ButterBeer and beef, wine and chocolate, butter and olive oil - all the good stuff is properly represented among the nominees for the annual James Beard Foundation awards, which are given to cookbook authors, food writers, and chefs in numerous categories. The nominees announced today include three of Amazon's Best Books of the Month picks from 2011, including Blood, Bones & Butter, chosen as one of our Best Books of the Year.

American Cooking

Cooking from a Professional Point of View

Baking and Dessert


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49. Mingo Mung’s : Hows and whys of sprouting seeds


Hey! I’m Mingo Mung Bean the speediest sprout in Seed City! Mung Beans are ready to eat in just 3 days, let me share with you some of the hows and whys of sprouting beans and seeds.

You can make your own sprouting jar with a jam jar conversion kit – a piece of net and a rubber band.  The book The Mighty Messenger starring me, Mingo Mung comes with Mung Beans, the jam jar conversion kit, instructions and a recipe.





This is what mung beans look like when they are ready to eat, shiny white skin like my face, curly bits like my hair and green shells.

Sprouting with Mingo Mung

So you sprouted your little pack of mung beans, how did you like them? Did you pop them in to your mouth as soon as they were ready? Or did you choose some delicious ingredients to mix them with in a stir fry? However you ate your mung beans, they aren’t the only things you can sprout, have a look in your store cupboard and see what else might sprout.

What else can you sprout?

I asked Shena to take a look in her kitchen cupboard, this is what she found…


Lentils sprout really easily and have a great flavour. You can also try peas and other beans like aduki, you may discover more mung beans, chick peas too. Have a go! Some beans can’t be eaten raw, kidney and black eye beans. If you are unsure as to whether a seed or bean can be eaten raw have a look here. Let us know what you sprout.

If you can not find anything in your store cupboard visit Secret Seed Society Shop there are variety packs of beans and seeds and gadgets so you can sprout for all the family.


sunflower seed sprouting

Why should you sprout beans and seeds?

Inside every bean and seed is the secret to life. A seed contains so much goodness that it can grow into a whole plant, so seeds are very nutritious. The magic of seeds is that all that nutrition is locked away and preserved. Once you you sprout a seed you unlock it and your body can access that goodness easily and without the farting that beans that aren’t sprouted are famous for! Yes, no farting!


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50. Going bananas

When S was born I breastfed her diligently, mashed my own organic purees and prided myself on my brilliant parenting when she grew up to love her broccoli and kale, sardines and lentils - happy to try everything and always wanting seconds. E was fussier but also quite greedy so could usually be cajoled into eating her cucumber in exchange for a yoghurt. I used to think that she was a fussy eater because she didn't like tuna!

And then came D who hated my purees, rejected finger foods and would quite happily eat nothing but cornflakes (but only with added sugar). I can count the foods he will eat on one hand and he has never knowingly eaten a piece of fruit or a vegetable. And I don't mean, "He doesn't like fruit but will eat blueberries and bananas because every child likes those fruit" - he has never eaten a piece of fruit, never mind a pea or a carrot.

Yes, I've tried 'hiding' vegetables plus he picks his own on the allotment, he eats with other children, we do lots of cooking together, blah, blah, it never makes the slightest difference, he will retch if there is onion hidden in his pasta sauce. When I'm feeling particularly guilt-ridden I blend spinach into his pesto (one of his five foods - he is a true SW child <blush>) but most of the time I just give in and allow his plate of casserole to be replaced with peanut butter and toast, of which 90 per cent of his meals consist.

Therefore D's willingness to eat a new food is a cause for celebration in our house, especially if it's not a sweet. Ok, it's practically a cake - banana bread with chocolate chips - but it also contains lots of banana (fruit!), hopefully enough to stave off scurvy. And it's delicious - we made three last week and each one got eaten in a day.

Image: Adrienne Yong
I used the recipe from the Great British Book of Baking - I was a bit snobby about the book because of that annoying TV show (baking as a competitive sport is one of my irrational dislikes - Jane Brocket wrote a great post about this on her blog here) - but I've used it lots and every time the recipe has turned out great (unlike the error-ridden Hummingbird book). And if even D will eat it, it can't be too bad...

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