• 26

    Fruit Sparkling Water Recipe in 4 Easy Steps

    by Brittany B.

    As summer heats up, stay cool with this fruit soda recipe from Get HYPE! Philly!

    Under the guidance of Chef Shawn Murray, teens at our Kensington Library used a blender to learn how to puree ingredients. Using only fruit and sparkling water, the drink is a simple and sweet summertime treat. Plus, they learned a key lesson about seasonality: if you use fresh, in-season fruit, then you can jam-pack a dish with flavor without needing any artificial sweeteners.

    Delicious and nutritious? Yes, please!

    Watermelon and Kiwi Fruit Sparkling Water (serves 4)


    • 4 cups watermelon, cleaned and diced
    • 2 kiwi fruit
    • 1 quart sparkling water
    • 1 can lemon water (optional)


    • Peel the watermelon; remove seeds, and cut into small pieces.
    • Peel the kiwi fruit and combine with the watermelon in blender.
    • Pour in sparkling water and blend.
    • Pour fruit water mixture over ice; if desired, top with lemon water.

    Teens, Join Us!
    Get HYPE Philly!'s free culinary literacy programs happen at varying times on Tuesdays and Thursdays at several Free Library locations. We encourage anyone ages 12 to 18-years-old to come check it out! Find out more by liking Get HYPE Philly! on Facebook or following us on Twitter and Instagram.

    Get HYPE Philly! is made possible with generous support from GSK.

    Events at the Library Teens culinary literacy Get HYPE Philly

  • 10

    Summer Thyme Cooks - Apply Now!

    by Jamie B.

    The Culinary Literacy Center is excited to present Summer Thyme Cooks, a fresh approach to learning about cooking, collaboration, and cost.

    Summer Thyme Cooks is a FREE, four-part summer cooking program for kids and teens entering grades 5-12. In four weekly hands-on classes, students will learn basic cooking skills, including how to read a recipe, how to prepare seasonal fruits and vegetables, and how to stay safe in the kitchen. Food is meant to be shared, so every Summer Thyme Cooks class ends with a family-style meal. Students go home each week with a new recipe and a grocery bag filled with healthy, fresh, budget-conscious ingredients so they can cook with their families!

    Apply online or pick up a paper application in the Parkway Central Children’s Department or Teen Central in Philbrick Hall at the Parkway Central Library. Questions? Call Jamie at 215-686-5323

    Kids entering grades 5-7 can APPLY HERE »

    Teens entering grades 8-12 can APPLY HERE »

    #SummerThymeCooks  #CulinaryLiteracy  #FoodShouldBeShared  #CookTogether

    children's programs How To Teens culinary literacy summer DIY Health

  • 2

    Good Food for All: What Does Hunger Look Like To You?

    by Suzanna U.

    As we gear up for the 3rd Annual Good Food for All Conference with the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger on May 11 at the Parkway Central Library, the Culinary Literacy Center wants to know – what does hunger look like to you?

    Enduring images of anonymous people in line at the soup kitchen are certainly indelibly linked to poverty in America. How do we put a face on poverty? With 1 in 5 Philadelphians considered at risk for hunger, chances are you or someone you know lives on the spectrum of food insecurity. How do we get beyond the stigma and shame of hunger? David Zucchino’s Myth of the Welfare Queen is just one of many texts we have here at the Free Library that examines the social fabric of Philadelphia and what it can mean to come up against barriers to food access and other human rights. But you don’t have to take our word for it—college students, restaurant workers, and community leaders are just some of the many Philadelphians who have found themselves in need of safety nets that food pantries, community gardens, and soup kitchens can provide. Listen to the experiences of your friends, family, and community. Tell your own story.

    Register for the conference on May 11 and join Philadelphians who are committed to improving food access in their own lives and the lives of those around them. You will be in good company: conference sessions throughout the fourth floor of Parkway Central Library will feature presentations and workshops with representatives from the various organizations and city agencies, including:

    The keynote address will be delivered by Saru Jayaraman, the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, Jayaraman co-founded ROC, which now has more than 18,000 worker members, 200 employer partners, and several thousand consumer members in a dozen states nationwide. Saru is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was listed in CNN’s "Top 10 Visionary Women" and recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House in 2014, as well as a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2015. Saru authored Behind the Kitchen Door, a national bestseller, and most recently Forked: A New Standard for American Dining.

    culinary literacy social justice Health

  • 26

    Focus On: Unique Lending

    by Samantha M.

    A baker browses through dozens of cake pans to plan confectionary creations of her wildest imagination. Meanwhile, a man chooses the perfect tie from more than 60 to wear to his graduation. Elsewhere, a musician slated to play a wedding gig picks out an acoustic guitar from a batch of 25 other instruments. Although it might seem like these people are in a department store, they're actually at the Free Library!

    It’s well-known that a Free Library card comes with access to books, DVDs, and audiobooks—but cardholders can also check out neckties from Paschalville Library’s Tiebrary, cake pans from McPherson Square Library, and musical instruments from the Musical Instrument Collection at Parkway Central Library! These items can be borrowed for a lending period of three weeks, just like any other material.

    "At the Free Library, our core belief is access," says Perry Genovesi of the Music Department. "We have this place where you don’t have to have money to be able to use a resource or learn something."

    These collections certainly attract interest from people who might not be able to afford the items otherwise, as well as from those who want to try something new without an investment—
    and, most importantly, with related guidance and resources at their fingertips. Checking out a football-shaped baking pan or a banjo is definitely a novelty, but these items do not exist as
    one-offs. Instead, they are natural extensions of the resources and services the Free Library already offers. Bakers can borrow cookbooks with their cake pans. Musicians—from beginners
    learning the basics to the experienced who want to expand their skills—may haul an armload of sheet music home with a mandolin or ukulele. And when a job seeker looks at a tie, he
    won’t simply be sent on his way:

    "It’s more than just ‘here’s a tie,’" says Niema Nelson, Digital Resource Specialist. "We’re dedicated to helping job seekers succeed."

    The Tiebrary is an integrated part of Paschalville’s Job Readiness Center, where customers can learn how to write a résumé, fill out a job application, prepare for an interview, or apply for a green card. As all three of these unique collections grow in selection and in capacity, librarians are planning programs around the collections and in conjunction with other departments. Nelson has already facilitated demonstrations on how to tie neckties, and Genovesi envisions a Musical Instrument Collection collaboration with the Culinary Literacy Center, combining food and sounds from world cultures. In the meantime, other borrowing ideas are brewing—like bird-watching backpacks and blood-pressure cuffs. Stay tuned!

    This story was originally featured in our Spring 2017 issue of Off the Shelf, a biannual publication with news and features from across the Free Library of Philadelphia system.

    Free Library staff music culinary literacy job fairs library card neighborhood libraries

  • 17

    Dip into Springtime with Fresh Get HYPE Philly! Recipes

    by Brittany B.

    Our Get HYPE Philly! teens are ready for spring! In preparation for the warmer weather, they learned how easy it is to prepare light but flavorful snack dips.

    The lesson, by Food Educator Lauren Nixon, showed teens how to use common kitchen staples like herbs, spices and seed butters to improvise their favorite flavors. Love a green pesto on toast but don’t have any basil? No problem! Just grab another green—like broccoli—and you’re good to go. Craving caramel with your apples? Mix together a little honey with your favorite nut butter and you’re almost there!

    Oh, and broccoli-haters beware: with a little help from some minced garlic and a touch of olive oil, many of our teens reported they couldn’t even taste the infamous veggie... so you may just find yourself enjoying this delicious and nutritious snack, too!
    Spicy Broccoli Pesto (from The New York Times)

    ½ pound broccoli florets
    3 large garlic cloves, peeled
    ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
    4-6 tbsp lemon juice
    Salt to taste
    Ground pepper to taste
    Small pinch chili flakes
    ⅓ cup unsalted sunflower seeds


    • Steam the broccoli for five minutes.
    • Let broccoli cool five to 10 minutes.
    • Chop broccoli into bite sized pieces and add to a large bowl along with the remainder of the ingredients.
    • Pulse with an immersion blender until pesto has reached desired consistency. A blender or food processor can be used in lieu of an immersion blender.
    • Enjoy on toast, alongside an omelet or scrambled eggs, or on vegetables!


    Cinnamon Tahini Dip (from

    2 Tbsp tahini
    1 Tbsp honey
    ½ tsp ground cinnamon
    ½ tsp ground turmeric (optional)
    Pinch of sea salt


    • Combine all ingredients and blend with an immersion blender.
    • Enjoy with sliced fruit, on toast, or in morning oatmeal or porridge.

    Teens, Join Us
    Get HYPE Philly!'s free culinary literacy programs happen from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at several neighborhood library locations. We encourage anyone ages 12 to 18-years-old to come check it out! Download our Get HYPE Philly! Programs Calendar or browse for our events online.

    You can also like Get HYPE Philly! on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram!
    Get HYPE Philly! is made possible with generous support from GSK.

    Events at the Library Teens culinary literacy

  • 14

    Pi(e) Day

    by Samantha M.

    I admit it: I’ve developed a slight obsession with baking pies.

    It all started last spring, when I took a hands-on pie class at the Free Library’s Culinary Literacy Center with Holly Riccardi, a baker who runs Magpie, South Street’s "artisan pie boutique." Holly taught a fail-safe dough recipe for both sweet and savory pies, and she got into the nitty-gritty of pie baking that comes only with ample time spent as a professional (for example: Did you know that finished pies should sit overnight before you slice into them?).

    Since then, I’ve been working my way through Magpie's exclusively-pie cookbook, baking everything from lemon curd and sour cherry pies to the shop’s signature butterscotch bourbon pie—plus other delicacies like pie crust "fries" and cookie dough hand pies.

    As for now, why pie? Well, today, March 14, is Pi Day (3.14, get it?), and you should celebrate with a hefty slice of pie!

    Whether you're cozily snowed in or itching from cabin fever, you can get baking in your own kitchen! Trek to your local neighborhood library to check out one of the many pie-focused cookbooks from the Free Library’s catalog! Don’t forget—we’ve got cookbooks as ebooks, too, and you can download them without ever getting out from under your blanket.

    Need some more Pie ideas?

    Check out Joy the Baker’s Homemade Decadence! Joy stopped by the Culinary Literacy Center in 2014 to promote her book and demonstrate how to make pecan pie.


    Want to get schooled? Check out Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour, and Butter for endless tricks and tips, including how to make a gluten-free crust.




    Or if you’re more interested in higher education, take your baking to the next level with Pies and Tarts: The Definitive Guide to Classic and Contemporary Favorites from the World’s Premier Culinary College. That "premier culinary college" would be the Culinary Institute of America—where the pie pros are trained!


    See America by pie with Teeny’s Tour of Pie cookbook.





    Think pie-making should be simple and fun? Try the practical guide, Art of the Pie.




    Ready to commit to a calendar? Be inspired by A Year of Pies.





    These are only a few of books containing the hundreds, if not thousands, of pie recipes available to you for free from our collection. And as you celebrate Pi Day, know that you'll also be celebrating One Book, One Philadelphia since ratios, conversion, addition, and multiplication figure into the process of baking—numbers and patterns are just some themes in this year's featured selection, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

    Do your eyes glaze over when arithmetic arises? You might best understand these concepts when you get to taste the sweet product (or sum, depending on if you’re adding) of your labor! So roll up your sleeves and dust off your rolling pin—having a snowy, delicious Pi Day is as easy as pie!

    ebooks Holidays How To One Book One Philadelphia culinary literacy Recipes

  • 14

    Powered-Up Pizza!

    by Khyra L.

    Ordering Pizza?
    Our Get HYPE Philly! teens recently built environment-friendly pizza ovens to reheat leftover pizza. All you have to do to make your own is hang on to your delivery box! They also learned how to cook a pizza-inspired recipe that will make you rethink pulling out your wallet and ordering delivery.

    At these programs, teens discussed the differences between fossil fuel energy and more sustainable, alternative energy sources such as solar energy. Teens talked about practical ways to reduce energy use, especially from unsustainable sources, as they created a solar-powered pizza oven from a pizza box! Take a look at their innovative, environment-friendly pizza ovens.


    After building the ovens, teens prepared Pizza Quesadillas made with plenty of healthy produce, to test out their solar-powered pizza ovens and satisfy their taste buds. 


    Here's our pizza recipe. Try it out for yourself!

    GET HYPE Philly!’s Pizza Quesadillas

    Garlic Sauce:

    • 5-6 tablespoons olive oil,
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 4 Basil leaves

    *Place ingredients in food processor, until garlic and basil is finely chopped.


    • Tortillas
    • Mozzarella cheese
    • Pizza sauce

    *You can fold over 1 large tortilla or sandwich your ingredients between 2 small tortillas. Save extra pizza sauce for a dip!


    • Broccoli
    • Spinach
    • Basil
    • Mushrooms
    • Onions
    • Sun Dried Tomatoes
    • Bell Peppers

    *Feel free to add any fresh produce that is tasty to you!



    • Heat grill pan to medium heat.
    • Lightly brush both sides of a large tortilla with garlic sauce.
    • Spread on pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings.
    • Add tortilla to pan.
    • Fold tortilla over and press lightly.
    • Cook tortilla is golden/lightly browned (be sure to flip the tortilla to cook on both sides).
    • Place on a plate.
    • Cut into 2-3 pieces and Enjoy!

    Get HYPE Philly!'s free culinary literacy programs happen from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at several free library locations. We encourage anyone ages 12-18 to come check it out! Download our Get HYPE Philly! Programs Calendar or browse for our events online.

    And don't forget to Follow and Like us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

    Get HYPE Philly! is an initiative made up of ten organizations including the Free Library of Philadelphia, with a mission to empower Philadelphia youth as leaders, focusing on Food Education, Urban Agriculture, Physical Activity and Work Readiness. While each organization holds unique events to promote the focus areas, GHP! initiative partners often collaborate to achieve multifaceted experiences for youth participants. Youth ages 12 - 18 come to several Free Library locations in North Philadelphia, as well as Parkway Central Library, to participate in a free, drop-in culinary literacy program where teens can expect to eat food and have fun!

    Teens culinary literacy

  • 7

    A Neat Sweet for a Holiday Treat—Getting Ready for Purim!

    by Jamie B.

    by Jamie Bowers, Culinary Literacy Center and Julie Berger, Free Library Foundation

    Purim Is Coming!
    The Jewish holiday of Purim, celebrating the triumph of the Jewish people over an evil ruler, begins Saturday night. It is considered a minor holiday, but it is MAJOR fun; kids and adults alike dress up in costumes to hear the story of Purim chanted and everyone delights in Hamantaschen, a sweet triangular treat.

    On Purim, Jewish communities read the Book of Esther, which tells the story of Queen Esther, whose husband, King Achashverosh (say that three times fast!), did not know she was Jewish. When his evil advisor Haman planned to kill all the Jews in the Persian empire, Esther’s uncle Mordecai convinced her to speak to the king, thereby saving the Jewish people and removing Haman from power. In commemoration of this story of good overcoming evil, Purim is one of the most joyous—and wacky!—holidays in the Jewish calendar.

    And hamantaschen (named for the evil Haman, in a dig at his ears, apparently) are one of the most joyous parts of the holiday! The Culinary Literacy Center (CLC) is happy to share a favorite hamantaschan recipe—with an added twist. Traditional hamantaschen are filled with a poppy seed filling or fruit preserves. But as Purim calls for reversals and zaniness, so too can it be extra fun to add in some sweet creativity!

    Use the dough recipe below and fillings of your choice! Try peanut butter and chocolate chip, mint chocolate (using Andes mints), black-and-white (with regular and white-chocolate chips), peanut butter and jelly, or M&M-filled! Or choose a favorite traditional filling: poppy seed, fig, date, apricot, strawberry, or prune.

    Make Your Own Hamantashen!
    Jewish Holidays All Year Round includes kid-friendly recipes, crafts, and activities for celebrating each holiday. Here’s a recipe for hamantashen that families can make together, which has been adapted from the recipe on page 53.


    • ½ pound butter (two sticks), melted
    • 8 teaspoons of sugar
    • 3¼ cups of flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 3 teaspoons orange juice
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla


    1. Cream the butter and sugar.
    2. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the butter–sugar mixture. Mix well.
    3. Add eggs, orange juice, and vanilla. Knead until dough forms a ball; if time, chill the dough.
    4. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin.
    5. Using a drinking glass as a cookie cutter, cut out circles.
    6. Place a teaspoon of filling into each circle. Form a triangle by pulling the edges up and in and pinching the edges together.
    7. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool cookies on racks.

    Purim Stories to Share with Your Family
    The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale by Eric A. Kimmel
    Holiday House, 2011

    Eric Kimmel puts the Persian queen at the center of the holiday tale as he tells the story of how Esther outsmarted the wicked advisor Haman and saved her people. Full of vibrant golds and expressive reds, Jill Weber’s illustrations really make The Story of Esther shine. Esther’s wit, Mordecai’s courage, and Haman’s rage come to life through her playful, color-filled paintings.



    Cakes and Miracles: A Purim Tale by Barbara Diamond Goldin
    Marshall Cavendish Children, 2010

    Cakes and Miracles is a touching story of a blind boy who dreams of helping his widowed mother bake hamantashen to sell. The story was originally published in 1991, but this 2010 edition features new illustrations by Jaime Zollars and a shortened, updated text. Follow the soft, warm illustrations and find out if Hershel’s dream comes true!

    Holidays Children's books culinary literacy

  • 22

    #OneBookWednesday: One Book…Wow, Burger

    by Kalela W.

    You don’t understand how much I love burgers. I love them. Give me a big fat burger on a bun with a couple slices of tomato, pickles, and cheese, and you’ll see the happiest Kalela ever. So of course, when the Culinary Literacy Center offered to host last week’s One Book, One Burger event (see what we did there?!) – a discussion about livestock expert Temple Grandin’s work (from our One Book, One Philadelphia companion book) in the cattle industry, paired with a burger making workshop taught by a master butcher – I knew it would change my life.

    Bryan Mayer of Fleishers Craft Butchery opened the event by discussing Temple Grandin’s brilliant work in the cattle industry. Grandin has Autism Spectrum Disorder, and her unique ways of seeing and perceiving have contributed immeasurably to her work in the cattle industry. With her own sensitivity to sensations that might be imperceptible to most, Temple Grandin has developed a cow’s eye view of sorts. As examples, she has designed mechanisms in which corralled cows travel in a circular pattern, the way they do naturally on a pasture, rather than through straight-line pens where they are goaded by electric prods. She created a special chute that holds them snugly and keeps these easily-spooked animals calm.

    Besides explaining Grandin’s work, Bryan talked about the beef industry as a whole. There’s been a lot of discussion about the cattle industry destroying the ecosystem, but Bryan believes that when implemented properly, raising cattle can be good for the planet. Cows, he explained, are "fermentation tanks on four legs." They take cellulose and create energy. Their grazing can help create soil that produces more grass. He also suggested a book for further reading, Cows Can Save the Planet by Judith D. Schwartz.

    However, Bryan does believe that the beef industry should raise livestock in a more sustainable way. He’s an advocate of pasturing cows, rather than feeding them grain. He would like to see a system of mid-sized, regional livestock operations that are strategically placed throughout the United States, rather than ginormous feedlots concentrated in a small patch of the country. He believes that the livestock industry will only change when people change their buying habits. If we, as buyers, insisted on grass-fed meat for instance, the industry would have no choice but to follow.

    Listening to Bryan, my brain was thanking him for all of mind-blowing food for thought. But my stomach was like, "What gives?" It didn’t have to wait long, because the burger-making began with a sizzle. Bryan shared his method of cooking burgers with his six-year-old daughter, Yvette, there to help out. Here are some takeaways:

    1. Use grass-fed meat. While Bryan doesn’t think the cut of meat isn’t important, he prefers a 70/30 blend. "Fat is flavor," he says. It’s not like you’ll be eating burgers every day or anything.
    2. Use a flattop cooking surface, not a grill. A grill "incinerates flavor," according to Bryan, because all the fat melts out. On a flattop—basically a large cookie sheet—the burger patty stews in its own fatty goodness.
    3. While Bryan will pre-salt steaks and chops and let them sit for an hour before cooking, he doesn’t do so for burgers. Instead, he sprinkles the patties with a little kosher salt right before they’re cooked.
    4. Speaking of patties: Bryan’s method is to create little round balls, then use two lids from take-out soup containers to shape thin patties.
    5. Bryan is a purist. While he mixed some of his burgers with bacon bits, he doesn’t believe in mixing garlic and other seasonings with ground meat. He thinks a potato bun and simple toppings are best. 

    Once you’ve shaped your patties, salted them, and laid them on the cookie sheet, onto the gas stovetop it goes. Cook the burgers for 2-3 minutes on each side. Expect billows of smoke and open your windows accordingly. An errant flame or two might leap up from beneath the pan, but have no fear—that’s just deliciousness happening, my friends.

    The result of Bryan’s method were the most Oh-My-God-These-Are-So-Amazing-I-Can-Die-Now burgers I ever tasted! I was eating the best burgers of my life. A crust of charred yumminess encased meaty tenderness and milder, tasty flavor. And with a bevy of topping choices including cheeses, pickles, tomatoes, and roasted peppers, I was so happy I could barely keep my seat. And also, because I kept getting up to grab another...

    One Book One Philadelphia culinary literacy

  • 16

    Just Food Training with the Culinary Literacy Center

    by Liz A.

    Do you love food and want to engage in participatory learning through cooking? Do you wish your community had more opportunities to share knowledge of food and cooking? Do you want your neighborhood to have cooking classes that build literacy skills?

    The Culinary Literacy Center rings in spring with a unique opportunity for Philadelphians who are interested in teaching community-based cooking classes. Through a partnership with Just Food, attendees will participate in a four-day training that covers topics from strategies and techniques grounded in popular education, to how to facilitate engaging and culturally appropriate cooking demonstrations. We'll also share how the Free Library is advancing literacy through cooking, how we define Culinary Literacy, and how to pitch an idea for a program to the Culinary Literacy Center. This class will be dynamic and exciting, bringing together participants from across the city who are committed to community food education. After completing the class, attendees will be prepared to lead cooking classes in their communities. 

    The training events run from 8:45 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. at the Culinary Literacy Center at Parkway Central Library on the following four days:

    Training of Trainers
    Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25
    Learn teaching strategies and training techniques grounded in popular education that strengthens facilitation, workshop planning, and community engagement skills.

    Community Chef Training
    Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1
    Learn how to facilitate engaging and culturally appropriate workshops and cooking demonstrations about basic nutrition, seasonal eating, fruit and vegetable identification, recipe selection and creation, and knife skills, as well as food storage and preparation.

    This training is free and limited to 20 participants. Applicants must commit to attending all four days of training. 

    Fill out the training application today and email to or drop them off at the Business Resource and Innovation Center (BRIC) at Parkway Central Library.

    Applications will be accepted through Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Questions? Call Suzanna at 215-686-5323. 

    Community Events How To Parkway Central culinary literacy