Oct
1
2014

It’s World Vegetarian Day!

Sure, you know what broccoli looks like. And just last night, you tried to sneak your green beans to your cat. But can you picture a kohlrabi? Did you know that in Mexico, it’s common to serve cactus for dinner?

In honor of World Vegetarian Day on October 1, we went digging for the globe’s most interesting vegetables – and how to eat them. Here, we offer up some of our favorite discoveries. We guarantee you won’t be trying to hide any of them beneath your mashed potatoes.

Tiger nuts


Though they look may look and taste like nuts, tiger nuts are actually tiny tubers – the part of a plant that stores nutrients. Tiger nuts belong to a family of grass-like sedge plants. An important food for the ancient Egyptians (tubers were found in tombs dating back some 6,000 years), today they are cherished in Spain and Nigeria, where they are used to make a sweet, milk-like drink, often flavored with cinnamon or vanilla. Both countries have a unique name and recipe for the delicious drink. Try it both ways!

Kunnu Aya (Nigeria): http://bit.ly/ZibYZX
Horchata de Chufa (Spain): http://bit.ly/1nBhemo

Kohlrabi


Just about every part of the kohlrabi plant can be eaten (raw or cooked), from its leaves to its stems to its bizarrely-shaped root. In the same family as kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, kohlrabi is particularly popular in Kashmir, the northwestern region of India. It also appears in nutritionist Jonny Bowden’s book, “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth,” in which he describes this curious-looking vegetable as a “cross between an octopus and a space capsule.” You can prepare kohlrabi in tons of scrumptious ways. Our favorite? Home fries.

Kohlrabi Home Fries: http://nyti.ms/1CByWtc

Nopales

It might seem strange to put a prickly pear cactus on your plate, but if you’re digging into nopales, you’re doing just that (don’t worry, the prickles are removed). A native of Mexico, nopales frequently star in stews, salads, chilies and eggs—and as soon as they’re grilled, their name changes! Cooked nopales are called “nopalitos.” We like them best that way, especially when wrapped in a tortilla and served taco-style.

Nopales Tempura Tacos: http://bit.ly/1rz0cVE

Romanesco

This edible flower would ace math class. Its electric-green, intricate florets comprise a naturally-occurring Fibonacci fractal (think repetitive, spiral patterns). Cultivated by Italian farmers as far back as the 1600s, Romanesco (like kohlrabi, above) is in the same family as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Season it with red pepper flakes, lemon, and garlic, then sauté it in olive oil for an irresistible dish.

Sautéed Romanesco: http://bit.ly/1qP49QZ

 

Do YOU have a fun vegetable recipe? Tell us in the comments!

 

Oct
1
2014

Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage month is celebrated each year from Sept 15th- October 15th. It is a time to honor American citizens whose ancestors came from Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean and Spain. Their contributions, ranging from arts and entertainment to sports to politics, have helped shape our great nation.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage month, we would like to share an activity from our World Edition Kits: Argentina.

Continue your geography education by heading south to Argentina. Sam and Sofia were amazed to learn that Argentina can have just about every climate possible. This is because it is on of the most diverse geographical areas in the world! Learn about Argentina and what you would need to pack on an adventure through flat lands and mountains, cities and open spaces.

To learn more about Argentina and other incredible countries in our World Edition subscription, http://bit.ly/1E0nHMt.

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Sep
24
2014

Welcoming Fall with a Little Leaf Peeping

Autumn leaves keep falling on my head but that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning red. Why? I’ll be too busy practicing my fractions.

As the Fall season approaches, we watch countless leaves fall from the trees and fill up our yards. Here’s an activity from the New Hampshire State Journal from our USA Edition using falling leaves to help us learn about fractions. Download our free printable activity sheet here:

Learn much more about New Hampshire with with Sam & Sofia! Subscribe to our USA Edition today.

Sep
18
2014

How to Make Your Own Chinese Mooncakes!

Last week, China celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival! One traditional way to take part in the celebration is to enjoy delicious pastries called mooncakes. Our friend Jennifer Che from Tiny Urban Kitchen has shared her recipe with us – give it a try!

The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the two largest annual festivals celebrated in China. It’s a time for people to celebrate the bountiful harvests of summer, appreciate their loved ones, and gaze at the moon at its biggest and brightest.

It always happens on the 15th day of the 8th month on the lunar calendar, which jumps around on the solar calendar (the one most of us use). This year the holiday landed last week, on September 8th. Typically, people celebrate by feasting, visiting family, and giving each other mooncakes. What’s a mooncake? It’s a disc-sized pastry (shaped a bit like a hockey puck) that is filled with lotus seed paste and one salted egg yolk which is meant to represent the moon. In more recent times, people have gotten pretty creative with mooncakes, and all different flavors and shapes have popped up, such as green tea (matcha), snow-skin “mochi”, and even chocolate ice cream!

Today, we will make Snow Skin Mooncakes, which derive their name from the fact that they can be snow white on the outside. These mooncakes are eaten cold and can be made without baking.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients
1 cup roasted glutinous rice flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of shortening

50 mL cold water (optionally colored with food coloring)
filling of your choice (store bought lotus seed paste, red bean paste)

Tools
Mooncake molds

Mooncake molds are a bit tricky to find in a typical U.S. store. A traditional mooncake mold is carved out of wood. Plastic ones are also available, and are a bit easier to use, especially for a beginner, because it’s easier to remove the mooncakes from the mold since you can push it out like a push pop!

The filling choice is up to you. At Asian supermarkets it’s not too hard to find pre-packaged mooncake fillings, such as lotus seed paste or red bean paste. If you’re really up for a challenge, you can try something like ice cream! Ice cream is tricky because it melts fast. To counter this, scoop individual balls of ice cream and freeze separately on a tray until they are frozen solid. This may take several hours, or even overnight. Use the densest, most premium ice cream you can find, since those tend to be harder.

First we need to make the roasted glutinous rice flour. Although this type of flour is easy to find in Asia, I could not find it in my local Asian grocery store in Boston. Never fear! It is really easy to make. In a saucepan over medium low heat, without any oil, heat the glutinous rice flour for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until it turns a bit tan, starts to smoke, and is fragrant.

The difference is pretty subtle: can you tell?

Next, sift together the powdered sugar and the roasted glutinous rice flour. You want to make sure that all the lumps are out! Once everything is mixed, use your hands to rub in the shortening or butter until you get a bread-crumb like consistency.

At this point, you may add food coloring to your cold water. Then, one tablespoon at a time, slowly mix in water until the dough is smooth and kneadable.


Like this! Cover any portion you are not using with plastic wrap, because it can dry out quickly. If you’re working with a normal, non-melting center, you can roll out the outer dough, wrap it around the inner ball of filling (e.g., lotus seed paste, red bean paste, etc), stuff the ball into the mooncake mold, and push it out!


If your ice cream is super rock solid, the above method may work for you. Otherwise, you can try stuffing the skin into the mold first, adding the ice cream, closing up the bottom, and then punching it out.

Voila! Freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.

Enjoy!

 - Jenny Che, tinyurbankitchen.com

Sep
16
2014

Celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day!

Today is Mexico’s Independence Day, also known as Grito de Dolores.  Whip up a delicious mole sauce following our recipe below and get in the spirit.  ¡Viva México!”

Chocolate Mole Sauce

What You Will Need

  • 10 red chilies
  • 2 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp. flaked almonds
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 14 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • sugar, to taste
  • 5fl oz. chicken stock
  • 3 1/2 oz. dark 70% cocoa-solids chocolate, grated

Instructions

  1. Crush the chilies, coriander seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, peppercorns and cloves in a mortar and pestle. Pour into a frying pan and dry-fry for a minute or so, until lightly browned and fragrant.
  2. In a separate pan, fry the onion, garlic and cocoa powder in a little vegetable oil for two minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil, then add all the dry-fried spices, the cinnamon, sugar and stock and cook for 25 minutes. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Turn out and fold in the chocolate.