Category Archives: Eat

5 Things Kids Should Know About Passover

Passover is an eight-day Jewish holiday that celebrates the story of how the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. Here are five things that kids should know about Passover.

  1. Passover is the oldest continuously celebrated Jewish festival.
  2. Seder, the traditional meal eaten to celebrate Passover, means “order.” Families eat very specific foods to remind them of the story of Passover. The bitter herbs are to remind them of the bitterness of slavery. The wine is a reminder of the rejoicing they felt when they were freed. The unleavened bread is a reminder that they had to leave Egypt so quickly that their bread didn’t have a chance to rise.
  3. Every seder table is set with a fifth cup of wine which is reserved for the Prophet Elijah. It is believed that Elijah will answer Jewish legal questions that the rabbis could not resolve. On the night of the Passover seder, the hope is that Elijah will return and answer the question of whether or not four or five cups of wine or grape juice should be drunk during the dinner.
  4. The last thing eaten at the seder is the afikomen, or dessert. The afikomen is hidden and the children at the meal must find and negotiate for its return. Until the afikomen is found the meal cannot be completed.
  5. During the first two days and the last two days of Passover participants do not go to school or work; instead, they say special prayers and eat meals together.

Happy Passover, and to all of you who celebrate it, “Next year in Jerusalem!”

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Holiday Cookie Countdown: Belgian Christmas Cookies

These Belgian Christmas cookies remind me of Scottish burrebrede in some ways. Both are delicious bar cookies but these Belgian treats have a little something extra that makes them worth trying.

Belgium is one of those lucky countries that has both a French-speaking Pere Noel and a Walloon-speaking St. Niklaas. Walloon is a dialect of French that is spoken in parts of Belgium.

Pere Noel visits children twice, first to identify who is naughty and nice and second to actually deliver the presents to the deserving children. He is accompanied by his friend, Pere Fouettard. While Pere Noel provides presents to good children, Pere Fouettard is known as the “Whipping Father” who punishes the naughty children with spankings.

St. Niklaas hands out presents in early December in honor of his feast day on December 6. This is a much more religious feast than other December holidays, so people spend most of the day in church and religious observation.

Some children receive presents on Christmas Day, as well. With all this gift-giving, it’s important to take a break from time to time and enjoy a restorative cookie. So try this recipe from Cooking Clarified and see if you don’t agree that the Belgians are some of the luckiest people during the month of December.

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Holiday Cookie Countdown: Pastel de Navidad

Pastel de Navidad are a delicious Spanish dessert that you and your family are sure to love.

If you want to celebrate Christmas in Spain, you’re going to have to take a nap first. Christmas dinner is traditionally eaten at midnight on Christmas Eve after the family has attended mass together.

The festivities, which include singing, do not end until very early in the morning. According to a Spanish song, “This is the good night, it is not meant for sleep.”

The next day, Christmas Day, the family again returns to church. Presents are not exchanged until the Feast of the Three Kings, when the three wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus.

But you don’t have to wait until January to enjoy these delicious treats. Try this recipe from Cooking Clarified and see if these don’t become one of your new favorites. Feliz Navidad!

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Holiday Cookie Countdown: Burrebrede

One of my new favorite Christmas cookies is Scottish Burrebrede. It’s got a delicious flavor and flaky texture that is unlike many of the cookies you’re likely to encounter this holiday season – all the more reason to bake up a batch!

The Scottish today celebrate Christmas in much the same way as others do around the world. They decorate their homes with Christmas trees and many people like to use Scottish tartan ribbons as a garland on their tree.

On Christmas Day at 3 o’clock, many Scots gather to watch Queen Elizabeth II make her annual Christmas address.

Since the days are so short in Scotland at this time of year – the sun does not rise until nearly 8:30 a.m. and sets at 4:30 p.m. – Christmas  is a great way to break the gloom of winter.

You can break the gloom of winter wherever you are by baking up a batch of burrebrede from Cooking Clarified. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

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Holiday Cookie Countdown: Russian Tea Cakes

Russian tea cakes are a delicious cookie that are commonly eaten at wedding and Christmas celebrations.

Many Russians celebrate Christmas on New Year’s Eve when Grandfather Frost arrives with his daughter, the Snow Maiden, to listen to children sing songs and recite poems before giving them presents and bags of candy.

Russian families decorate their homes with Christmas trees and pine leaves.

Orthodox Russians celebrate Christmas in early January. On Christmas Eve, they do not eat or drink until the first stars appear in the sky. Once the star is sighted – a reminder of the star that led the Magi to the Baby Jesus – the family eats a meatless dinner together, called the “Holy Supper”. The meal typically includes 12 dishes, which represent the 12 Apostles.

After dinner, the family does not wash the dishes right away (good idea!). Instead, they open presents and prepare to go to mass, which lasts several hours. Families usually do not return home until 2 or 3 in the morning.

It’s interesting to note that Russians had to adapt their religious traditions to New Year’s Eve after the Russian revolution in 1917 when religion was outlawed. So they moved their Christmas traditions to New Year’s Eve and re-characterized many of their customs in order to maintain their faith.

But since 1992, Russians have been free to celebrate as they wish. So, like them, you can enjoy some Russian tea cakes whenever you would like. Try this fantastic recipe from Cooking Clarified.

 

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Holiday Cookie Countdown: Besitos de Coco

Besitos de coco, also known as “coconut kisses,” are a traditional Puerto Rican dessert and are commonly served at Christmas (Navidad).

Christmas in Puerto Rico is a family-centric holiday. Some celebrations begin in early December and do not end until the Dia de los Reyes, the Feast of the Three Kings, or three wise men.

Singing also plays an important role in traditional Puerto Rican Christmas celebrations. A group of friends will gather, along with their musical instruments, and surprise another friend at home. They will sing songs and celebrate for several hours.

In addition, many families celebrate by roasting a whole pig on a spit. The pig is placed on the spit as early as four o’clock in the morning and two people have to watch it cook for hours to ensure that it does not burn. In the meantime, others prepare side dishes while children play games. Guests may bring desserts such as besitos de coco or flan.

Make some besitos de coco with your family using this recipe from Cooking Clarified and enjoy!

 

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Holiday Cookie Countdown: Anzac Biscuits

Anzac Biscuits It is so rare that the military inspires excellent food – but that’s exactly what happened with Australia and New Zealand’s Anzac biscuits. These rolled oat cookies were developed during World War I when mothers, wives, sisters, and friends wanted to send a delicious treat to their men in the military.

Even its name – Anzac – comes from the Australia New Zealand Army Corps.

Because of this close association, the Australian government closely monitors the use of name and the cookies are often manufactured and sold as a fundraiser for veterans.

Fortunately, the cookies are delicious and travel well so bake up a batch for your far-flung friends and relatives!

Get the recipe from Cooking Clarified here. We’ll be posting more holiday cookies from around the world as we count down to Hannukah and Christmas.

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Canadian vs. American Thanksgiving Celebrations

Although very similar culturally, Canada and the United States have distinct differences. One fun way to think about these differences is in the ways each celebrates the holiday of Thanksgiving.

Although Thanksgiving celebrations are held in some way in many parts of the world, the celebrations in Canada and the United States date from roughly the same time period and have been influenced by many of the same cultural groups.

Date Differences

One of the biggest differences between the celebrations is the date. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October and the celebrations usually last into the weekend. Generally, Canadian Thanksgiving falls on the Columbus Day holiday, which many Americans – particularly Italian-Americans – celebrate with parades.

However, prior to the 19th century, many Canadian provinces set their own date for Thanksgiving celebrations. In the early 1900s, many Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving in November but this date was changed following World War I since it fell too close to Remembrance Day (or Veterans Day) ceremonies. In 1957, Canada officially declared the second Monday in October for Thanksgiving celebrations.

Americans have celebrated Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill into law that changed the date that President Abraham Lincoln had assigned to Thanksgiving. Lincoln had chosen the final Thursday in November, which does not always fall on the fourth Thursday, in an effort to unite the northern and southern states following the Civil War. Roosevelt changed the date in an effort to give the country an economic lift during the Great Depression.

Holiday Origins

Canadian Thanksgiving traces its origins to Martin Frobisher, an English explorer who was trying to find a Northwest Passage. Upon arrival in Canada, he and his companions held a celebration to give thanks for a safe arrival after a difficult and dangerous journey.

As with most things in Canada, the French had an equal influence on the holiday. French explorer Samuel de Champlain led a group of French settlers to Canada in the 17th century who then held a great feast at the end of the successful harvest. There are even reports that they shared their food with the indigenous people of the area.

American Thanksgiving is generally believed to date from the Pilgrim harvest celebration in 1621. However, many researchers believe the first Thanksgiving was actually held by Spanish explorers in Florida in 1565. In 1619, settlers in the Virginia colony also held a feast to celebrate the anniversary of the settlement.

Celebrations Today

Canadians celebrate in much the same way that Americans do: feasts, parades, football, harvest decorations, travel, and time with family. Unlike most Americans, though, Canadians have no fixed day for the traditional Thanksgiving feast. Since the holiday falls on a Monday, Canadians serve up their feast Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, although most people hold their feast on Sunday.

The Feast

Many Canadians roast a turkey and serve cranberry sauce, stuffing, potatoes, and pies for their Thanksgiving feast, although a baked ham might also be the featured dish.

FineCooking.com has some great recipes to give you a taste of what a traditional Thanksgiving feast is like in Canada. Here’s just a few to whet your appetite.

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

 

Potato Gratin with Gruyere, Bacon & Leeks

 

Maple-Bacon Glazed Turkey with Wild Rice & Cornbread Stuffing & Bourbon Gravy

 

Cranberry Sauce with Vanilla, Maple Syrup & Cassis

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10 Things Kids Should Know About Greece

With the European debt crisis in the news, children are hearing about Greece only in terms of its economy.

But Greece is more than its headlines. The truth is Greek culture has had an impact on daily life in America and around the world for more than 2,000 years.

While adults struggle to understand the ramifications of the debt crisis, kids should sit back and learn more about Greece, starting with its official name: the Hellenic Republic.

1. Greece, while an ancient civilization, became a modern, independent nation when it won its sovereignty from the Ottoman Empire in 1829. For 2,000 years, Greece had been ruled by non-Greeks, including 400 years when it was governed by Turkey.

2. In 1981, Greece joined what is now the European Union. It gave up its system of currency, the drachma, in 2002.

3. Greece is slightly smaller than the state of Alabama.

4. Made up of mostly mountains and islands, Greece borders three seas: the Aegean, the Ionian, and the Mediterranean.

5. Mount Olympus, the highest point in Greece, is the mythical home of the Greek gods and goddesses. It was also the country’s first national park.

6. Greece has a population of more than 10.7 million people, making it the 76th most populated nation in the world.

7. 61 percent of people live in cities. The two largest cities are Athens, the capital, and Thessaloniki.

8. In 508 BC, the people of Greece created a new system of government. Democracy, the system they created, allows people – not kings or generals – to make decisions about how they wanted to live. Today, Greece’s form of government is a parliamentary republic. That means its citizens elect a prime minister and a parliament to make laws and decisions for the people.

9. The Olympic Games started in Greece in 700 BC. Only men competed in events such as javelin, long jump, and wrestling. The games were outlawed after almost 400 years but were reinstated in 1896.

10. Families are very close in Greece and children often live with their parents even after they get married. Meals are an important part of this family life and their favorite foods, olives, chickpeas, squid, and lamb, are credited with keeping Greeks healthy and able to live long lives.

Although 10 facts cannot give the whole picture of Greece as a country or a culture, it’s helpful to remember it has had an historical and cultural impact on the world that extends beyond its economic impact to the world. Knowing more about any country also helps to understand why they make the choices that they do.

To get more of a taste of what Greek life is like, try making some traditional Greek foods from fish stew to meatballs. Here are some recipes from Good Housekeeping.

If that’s a bit above your skill level, just buy a tub of hummus and some pitas for a fun, Greek snack.

 

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New E-Book Blends Food & Culture

The Best International Flavors You're NOT Grilling With!I am so happy to announce that our e-book, The BEST International Flavors You’re NOT Grilling With! is now available from Amazon.com.

This is the first e-book my co-author, Chef Danielle Turner of www.CookingClarified.com, and I have put together. We share a love of other cultures (and food) and as mothers we want to encourage our children to be curious about people and places around the world.

In this grilling e-book, we’re expanding our outreach to parents, particularly fathers who are the stereotypical “grill masters” in their families. By encouraging dads to experiment with new foods and learn about new cultures, we hope that both mom and dad (and grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) will model the behavior we hope children will adopt.

For more information about the e-book, check out KidCulture’s Grilling page or visit Chef Danielle’s website, CookingClarified.

If you’re convinced that grilling with global influences is something your family would enjoy, we hope you’ll buy our book and support our efforts.

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