Tag Archives: eat

Japanese Food for Kids

kidThere are so few children whose parents can honestly describe as willing to eat anything that I imagine these omnivore kids are something like the parenting version of the Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot.

We’ve heard tell of them; some have even been caught on camera, but no one we know accurately fits that description.

Certainly the children in my family are – let’s just say “choosy” about what they will and won’t eat. Here’s a brief run down:

  • They will not eat anything that can be described by any stretch of the imagination as “spicy.” This is further confused by their over-reliance of “spicy” as an adjective. For example, ice cream has been described by one three-year old nephew as “spicy.” Go figure.
  • They will eat pizza pretty reliably, so long as there is nothing more interesting than pepperoni (see, a “spicy” loophole) and cheese on it. But they will complain bitterly and even refuse to eat if the pizza’s shape, size, sauce, spices, or cheese deviates in any way from that which they prefer.
  • If Mom worked all day on a special meal, you can guarantee that a wail will arise just as the family sits down with a demand for: macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, or peanut butter sandwiches because they just can’t possibly eat that. Ew.

Interestingly, I’ve had some of my greatest successes with getting kids to eat Japanese food. I promise to really sit and ponder this at some point in the future and give you my professional opinion for why this is so but in the meantime, take my experience for what it’s worth.

  • I know have a seven-year old son who routinely asks for, eats, and raves about simple sushi rolls that involve shrimp, avocado, crab, and vegetables.
  • A four-year old niece who will sing a song that she wrote and arranged herself about how much she loves edamame. Seriously. Give her a bowl of cooled edamame and a spoon and that child is occupied. Please note: I’ve gotten the shelled edamame as well as the kind in shells and she does equally well with it. But I prefer giving her the shelled version.
  • A four-year old nephew whose appetite for Japanese dumplings, also known as gyoza, is legendary. He can wolf down those little wonton packets of yumminess as efficiently as one of those competition eaters!

I also do well with noodles and rice. As long as the veggies and sauces aren’t too intimidating, I have a shot at success.

I’ve also found that the more enthusiastic I am about a food – and therefore am less inclined to share it – the more likely it is that I will be asked to share it. I don’t know if it’s Murphy’s Law or some arcane economic theory at play, but it almost never fails.

So keep eating the stuff you like and see if the kids in your life aren’t clamoring to pick up a spoon or a set of chopsticks of their own.

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Filed under Asia, Eat

Russian Kasha

Russian FeastKasha is one of the oldest Eastern European foods. For more than a thousand years, Russians, as well as other Eastern Europeans, have enjoyed kasha, or buckwheat groats, in a variety of ways.

Originally conceived as a food for ceremonial events such as weddings and celebratory feasts, kasha came to be a staple of the Russian diet.

Long before Americans began to incorporate whole grains into their diets, the Russians habitually enjoyed a plate of kasha as part of their meal.

Although there are many ways to enjoy kasha, I cannot promise you that your children will fall in love with it unless it is slowly introduced and – probably – heavily camouflaged by things they do like.

You can try this recipe from AboutKasha.com that sounds intriguing, or modify the recipe I created below.

Kasha with Tomatoes, Mushrooms, and SpinachKasha with Tomatoes, Mushrooms, and Spinach

4 cloves garlic, minced

8 cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 c. spinach

1 c. white button mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare the kasha according to the directions on the box. In a sauce pot, add olive oil and turn heat to medium high. Add garlic, onion, and mushrooms. Saute until softened, about 4 minutes at medium high heat. Add tomatoes and cook for about 3 more minutes. Finally, add spinach, stir and cover. Remove from heat. After 3 more minutes, stir and add more salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over the kasha. Adjust seasonings, if necessary.

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Filed under Eat, Europe

A Cookie By Any Other Name

palmiers

Photo: Real Simple

Known as palmiers in France, palmeritas in Spanish, ventaglio in Italian, and elephant ears in English, these little cookies have a devoted, global following.

It is believed that they are French in origin, where their name translates to “palm leaves.”

They are widely available in bakeries and from companies such as Goya, but they are also easy to make – so long as you don’t try to make your own puff pastry!

Here’s a recipe from Ina Garten that was posted on www.foodnetwork.com. Try it and let me know what you think.

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Filed under Eat, Europe

Food, Family, and Chinese New Year

There are few better – or cheaper – ways to introduce your child to other cultures than through food.

With so many great ethnic restaurants, it’s easy for parents to get children accustomed to foods from different countries from an early age.

However, parents may be unsure of what to order that’s kid-friendly.

In honor of Chinese New Year, which runs February 3-15, over the next few days KidCulture will provide some suggestions to help parents choose food in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese restaurants.

In each of these countries, people celebrate Chinese New Year by sharing good food with their families and friends – and that’s a custom worth adopting.

So stay tuned for some fresh, fun, food ideas to help you introduce your child to other cultures.

 

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Filed under Eat, Holiday

Books About Chinese New Year

Here are some suggestions for children’s books about Chinese New Year. Enjoy!

Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn, Cornelius Van Wright, and Ying-Hwa Hu

My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz

Happy Chinese New Year, Kai-lan! By Lauryn Silverhardt, Jason Fruchter, and Aka Chikasawa

Dragon Dance: A Chinese New Year Lift-the-Flap Book by Joan Holub and Benrei Huang

The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale by Ying Chang Compestine and Sebastia Serra

 

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Global Family Fun: Celebrate Chinese New Year

A little more than a month after most New Year celebrations end comes Chinese New Year, a fantastic opportunity to teach your children about Chinese culture and recommit to all the great intentions with which you started 2011.

Chinese New Year is celebrated around the world in countries with large Chinese populations and those with a significant shared cultural heritage. Indonesia, Malaysia, Chinatowns in North America, Australia, and Europe, as well as Korea, Vietnam, and Japan all celebrate the festival that begins on February 3 this year.

With its focus on family, good fortune, health, and happiness, Chinese New Year has many elements parents can adapt for their children.

For example, families in China prepare for the new year by thoroughly cleaning their homes in order to remove bad luck and make way for good fortune. However, they believe that it is very important that no one sweeps during the first few days of the new year because cleaning will remove the good luck once the new year begins.

Homes are decorated in red, the luckiest color, and adorned with intricate Chinese paper cuts. By putting up Chinese New Year decorations, you’re getting a head start on Valentine’s Day, which also incorporates red decorations.

Family visits are an important part of New Year celebrations and people usually buy new clothes. Your family can adapt this custom by planning a visit to an elderly neighbor or relative. They’ll be happy to see you whether you’re wearing new clothes or not!

Like most holidays around the world, food is a big part of the celebration. Throughout the holiday, families will share meals that include dumplings, fish, duck, chicken, noodles, and sweets.

Preparing the dumplings, in particular, is a family activity. Parents, grandparents, and children work together to prepare enough dumplings for the feast. Extended family and friends are invited so families have to be ready to feed a large crowd.

On the morning of the new year, children wish their parents health and happiness. In return, they are presented with leisee, money in red envelopes decorated with gold to signify wealth.  Children also are given oranges. The Chinese name for “orange” sounds the same as the word for luck or fortune.

Families cap off activities by setting off fireworks and some towns organize parades complete with lifelike dragons and lions. One of the most famous parades outside of China takes place in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

One final element of the holiday is forgiveness. People are urged to reconcile with each other and welcome the new year in with peace. That is especially fitting in 2011 as the ferocious and volatile Year of the Tiger gives way to the easy prosperity and peaceful negotiation of the Year of the Hare.

Although Chinese New Year celebrations last for more than two weeks, you can be a lot less ambitious with your activities. Sharing a special dinner, cleaning the house together, or making some special decorations are all you really need to do to give your family a flavor of the holiday and teach them about Chinese culture. Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy New Year!

 

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Filed under Holiday, Learn

French Onion Soup

Although well-known in the United States (it even appears on the TGI Friday’s menu), French Onion Soup is actually an ancient soup that originated in France and is typically affiliated with the poor because it was cheap and simple soup to make.

This French Onion Soup recipe comes from Chef Danielle at CookingClarified.com.

Of all the soup’s we’ve covered so far, this is likely the only one my mother will make! French Onion Soup is one of her favorites. Bon appetite, maman!

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Sweet Corn and Sweet Potato Soup

Today’s Sweet Corn and Sweet Potato soup is an original recipe from Chef Danielle Turner, author of CookingClarified.com.

Although Chef Danielle created the recipe, it relies on typical ingredients – corn and sweet potatoes – used by Southeastern Native American Indians.

As Chef Danielle says, “This soup is summer in a bowl.” We hope you enjoy it!

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Peruvian Beef Stew

Peruvian Beef Stew

Photo courtesy of latina.com

Peruvian cuisine is known as one of the best in South America. Its influences range from the indigenous people to immigrants from Spain, Italy, China, Japan, and West Africa.

Peru’s traditional staples are corn, beef, and potatoes. You could easily add potatoes to this recipe, from Cooking the South American Way, to incorporate all of those foods.

Peruvian Beef Stew

3 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 medium onions, chopped

1 ½ lb. round steak, cubed

2 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. garlic powder

¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. salt

¼ c. white wine vinegar

2 c. beef bouillon

2 c. squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces

1 c. frozen peas

1 c. frozen corn

3 sprigs parsley

Heat oil in a pan and sauté onions.

Add meat and brown well, about 20 minutes. Add all spices, the vinegar, and the beef bouillon. Bring to a boil, stirring to mix well. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 45 minutes. Add squash, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add peas and corn and heat thoroughly. Garnish with parsley.

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Israeli Bean Soup

Cooking the Israeli WayI found this recipe in Cooking the Israeli Way, part of a great cookbook series geared toward children.

This recipe stood out for me because I love soup (clearly) and I like that this is a fast, vegetarian dish that still packs a lot of protein and fiber.

Israeli Bean Soup

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 onion, peeled and diced

1 can beans (navy or kidney)

1 small can tomato puree

2 cans beef broth

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

3 c. water

Heat over over medium-high heat in a pot. Add onion and sauté until brown. Add beans, tomato puree, broth, garlic, salt, pepper, and parsley. Boil soup, stir occasionally, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

 

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