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Growing Up Gourmet: March 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

Cooking: Not Just for Mom & Dad

Still looking for more reasons to get cooking with your kids???

Our friends at posted a great Top Ten today. (Perhaps the introduction to their forthcoming book?)

My favorite is right in-line with Michelle Obama's remark last week.

1. Feed Them Perfect Produce
Buy the best, ripe, in-season, local produce you can find, whether at a grocery store or farmer's market. Asparagus in spring to teach your kids the essential less of eating seasonally and locally. Strawberries in summer. Apples in fall. Citrus in winter.
Perfection. Perfection. Perfection...

Read the rest of Gastrokid's Top Ten here.

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In These "Difficult Economic Times", Save-Up for the Dentist

It sounds totally crazy to me that candy stores are reporting sales that are up by as much as 80%. And that candy makers, like Nestle, Cadbury, and Hershey are seeing double-digit increases in sales and production.

People complain about the rising cost of food and paying too much for a dozen cage-free eggs, but they are perfectly willing to walk into NYC's Dylan's CandyBar and pay $3.85 for a small bag of gummy worms. I love those things, don't get me wrong. But that's $12 for a pound of high fructose corn syrup in it's chewiest adaptation yet.
They say that the Three Muskateers, Mars Bars, and Wrigley gum kept people smiling throughout the Great Depression. Maybe so. But I want to know, who had a bigger house come 1942? The guy who spent his last few dimes on a Tootsie Pop, hoping the sugar high would melt away his worries? Or the guy who bought his family some bread, hid his extra coins in a piggy bank, and waited for the government to bail out AIG and GM?

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Friday, March 20, 2009

A Victory for the Victory Garden!!

I'm pretty excited!

When was the last time the First Lady and President of the United States actually acted on something you were totally and completely passionate about? I mean, an issue you've read about, petitioned for, fervently supported, and written about? Yeah, it feels pretty darn good!Oh, and the icing on the already sweet cake? (Or rather, sugar beets to top the arugula?) Local elementary school children will be hoeing, sowing, and watering these seeds of change. Fitting, as Mrs. Obama recently noted,

“When you grow something yourself and it’s close and it’s local, oftentimes it tastes really good... And when you’re dealing with kids, for example, you want to get them to try that carrot. Well, if it tastes like a real carrot and it’s really sweet, they’re going to think that it’s a piece of candy. So my kids are more inclined to try different vegetables if they’re fresh and local and delicious.”

Sustainable foodie Bloggers are all abuzz with the latest news about the Obama's vegetable garden on the White House lawn. Get the full scoop here in the New York Times or here in the Washington Post. Inspiration is growing already. Families can now get planting with the list of "10 Easy-Grow Veggies for Your Kids' Obama White House Garden".

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Day for a Dog

I have a confession to make. Today I ate a hot dog. I haven’t done that in like, oh, maybe forever. That’s because I don’t like hot dogs. Of course, I love the idea of eating Fenway Franks and Dodger Dogs as much as I love baseball itself, so it’s not without great shame that I forgo the American icon and order a pretzel at the ballpark. My aversion to the hot dog was a particular disadvantage as a child (back then, I didn’t like peanut butter either). So when lunchtime came at a friend’s house, I prayed for grilled cheese! But today, I ordered a slender, gently steamed hot dog wrapped in a delightfully airy bun. The Wonder Bread kind that is stark white and packed with more bad carbs than you can count. And I drenched it with yellow mustard and watery green relish squeezed from tiny plastic pouches. I liked it. In fact, I may have liked it a lot.

But wait. That’s not all. I have another confession to make.

I also ate a bag of Cheetos. This may not seem like such a big deal either, but if you know me, and you know my philosophy towards food, you know I’ve been railing against Cheetos now for a long, long time. Even before I began my cooking school, Kitchen Kid, I made Chester the Cheetah the scapegoat for all things bad in our nation’s children’s diet. But the hot dog “deal” (it was $6.99) came with a bag of chips, and when that dashing cheetah winked at me from behind his seductive black shades, I figured what the heck. I’d already crossed over to the dark side with the hot dog, there’d be no going back. In minutes my fingers were stained neon orange – the telltale mark of a Cheeto fanatic -- and I was in some kind of junk food euphoria. They were so good I had a hard timing sharing just one. It wasn’t until my family threatened to take a photo of me gorging on those crunchy bits – blackmail for the next time I blogged about the sins of the Frito-Lay company – that I realized just what I was doing. I had suspended my idealism about what food should look like, how it should taste, where it should come from, and what it should be made of. I was eating like the average American kid.

Let me back up.

My in-laws are visiting from New Hampshire, and we decided to spend the day at Universal Studios after my mother-in-law got wind that Terri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman would be filming on Wisteria Lane. And like everyone else who goes on death-defying 4-D rides and moves through lines at a sloth’s pace, we got hungry. As anyone who has ever been to a theme park, or a ball park, or a mall, or an airport, or a road-side rest-stop knows all too well, our options were far from healthy. Pepperoni pizza. Romaine lettuce swimming in dressing. Cinnabon. Chicken fingers. Hot dogs. Cheeseburgers. Churros. Cotton candy. But I anticipated this! I had been toting around a granola bar, some peanuts, and a bottle of water in my purse, waiting for this very moment to strike. But what was I going to do, nibble my organic snacks while my family ripped into a heart attack of saturated fat? It was while I surveyed my predicament -- my devotion to kids’ healthy cooking, the growing movement to bring an organic garden to the White House lawn, and a genuine concern for the future of our national food supply – that my craving for a hot dog overcame me. That’s when I ordered up 6 inches of “all-natural” beef and some MSG laced “cheese” puffs. They didn’t tell me the $6.99 combo deal came with a side of guilt.

But, um, I wasn’t that guilty. Really. It’s probably been, I don’t know, 5? 10? years since I last ate a Cheeto. Maybe a lifetime since I finished a hot dog. And while I wouldn’t choose to eat this way every day, (like many school children in cafeterias across America -- schools may ban soda, but bags of chips have been for sale at lunch in every school at which I’ve worked) today I learned it didn’t kill me.

Even as Wal-Mart markets its new line of organic produce, sustainable eating is still considered an expensive luxury fit only for the Prius-driving culinary elite. It shouldn’t be. (And considering the prices of theme park food, I honestly believe healthy food is accessible to all.) But those of us who live and preach the world of healthy, sustainable, deliberate eating sometimes forget that it’s okay to have a little transgression here and there. We spend a lot of time at Farmers’ Markets, turn our noses up at ingredient lists cluttered with preservatives, and have been known to walk down grocery store aisles like a great-grandmother listening to rap music -- totally aghast at the products for sale. Just last week my mom, recently diagnosed with osteoporosis and determined not to let the disease get me, handed me a chocolate calcium “chew” and ordered I eat one each day. “But mom,” I cried reading the label, “These are loaded with high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and dyes. Why would I EVER get my calcium that way?!”
Today I ate a little outside my comfort zone, and not only did I learn something from it, I found I liked it a tiny bit, too. The culinary elite could take a page from this. Rather than pine for local bok choy, dreaming of watching kids run around school gardens instead of the Simpsons ride, and judging the families wearing “All You Can Eat!” passes around their necks, once in a while it’s okay to embrace the experience and culture of being an American kid and lick orange Cheeto crumbs from your fingers.

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Cute as a Caterpillar

Kitchen Kid was delighted to be a part of the Storyopolis community on Saturday! The delightfully inviting bookstore is a perfect place to curl up with good children's book or enjoy their wonderful weekly activities including story hour, yoga, and chess! Check out the staff's favorite reads each month and meet the Storyopolans themselves.

A special thanks to Theresa for organizing our terrific Very Hungry Caterpillar event! We were thrilled to see over 30 children designing chef hats, munching on just-made caterpillar snacks, and decorating butterfly treats that were ever so sweet!

Click here to download a copy of our Hungry Caterpillar and Beautiful Butterfly Recipes!!!

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Monday, March 2, 2009

A VERY Hungry Caterpillar

Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar is turning 40...
and he is VERY hungry indeed!

Come celebrate this special anniversary with us at Storyopolis!
Enjoy story time, decorate chef hats, and cook up fun!
We'll be making tasty butterfly treats and crunchy caterpillar snacks.

Join Us!

Saturday, March 14
11:30 am
14945 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks

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