• 21

    LEAP into HYPE!

    by Khyra L.

    Two Free Library of Philadelphia programs have teamed up to create new ways to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity! Get HYPE Philly! and the Literacy Enrichment After-School Program (LEAP), offer fun, positive, and tasty ideas to all neighborhood and regional libraries through our HYPE LEAP lessons.

    As a fundamental part of Mayor Kenney’s Five Year Financial and Strategic Plan, LEAP is a free, drop-in program for youth in grades K-12 and currently employs a workforce of approximately 125 Teen Leadership Assistants (TLAs). TLAs work with After-School Leaders and other library staff to focus on homework help, literacy, mentoring, technology, and maintaining a safe and supportive space.

    Get HYPE Philly! is generally focused in North Philadelphia, where many of the TLAs at these libraries not only attend events, but support Get HYPE Philly! program faciliators as well as participating youth patrons. The HYPE LEAP lessons offer TLAs at all Free Library locations a unique leadership experience to spread the HYPE message—"Healthy You, Positive Energy!".

    Essentially, the HYPE LEAP lessons are youth-centered; young people create the lesson content, as well as lead activities for youth patrons. Teens who work with Get HYPE Philly! created the HYPE LEAP lesson plans to be an interactive, youth-led literacy program in line with the GHP! goal of "creating a lasting impact, helping to ensure Philadelphia’s young people play a key role in building healthier communities, and becoming a healthier generation."  Participating library staff, including TLAs, are eligible to receive two ServSafe food handling certifications in addition to a fun way to encourage other youth to be HYPE!

    At a recent training, LEAP staff learned more about the HYPE LEAP curriculum. Focusing on the "Think Big, Think HYPE!" theme, we encouraged participants to consider ways  to bring positive, relevant change to their respective libraries.

    Hieu Nguyen, a TLA at South Philadelphia Library and president of the HYPE Program at Central High School, was excited to find ideas that he can bring to both places. He hopes to increase his peers’ participation in the HYPE program with more ideas, and was grateful to learn about the HYPE LEAP lessons. "[HYPE LEAP] brings forth another way to connect with the community," adds Hieu. Passionate about helping others, Hieu says he plans to be a neurosurgeon. "I know there’s a lot of money in that, but that’s not why I want it," says Hieu. "I just love learning about the brain and how it works! I want to help others by understanding how the brain works, and ways to treat things like Alzheimer’s and dementia."

    Hieu and the rest of the LEAP staff enjoyed a day full of HYPE activities, including The Hoola Hoop Challenge and making a healthy snack: Caprese Salad Skewers.

    Try this recipe at home and let us know what you think by tagging us on social media: @FLPGetHYPE on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or responding in the comments section below!

    Caprese Salad Skewers
    Recipe originally from


    • Cherry tomatoes·   
    • Mozzarella balls·   
    • Fresh Basil  
    • Olive Oil   
    • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
    • salt and pepper


    1. Assemble, tomatoes, basil (roll from one end to the other), and mozzarella balls on medium-sized toothpicks. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    2. To make balsamicreduction, add one cup of balsamic vinegar to a sauce pan over medium heat. Once it comes to a boil, set on simmer for about 10-15 minutes until it reduces to a syrup consistency. You can check by dipping a spoon in the balsamic and if it covers the back of it, it's done. As it cools, it will thicken a bit more then drizzle on top of caprese salad skewers.
    Free Library staff Teens culinary literacy LEAP Recipes Get HYPE Philly

  • 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

  • 23

    Holiday Cookies

    by Liz A.

    Genevieve Tierney, pastry cook at Osteria, shares some of her favorite holiday cookie recipes from around the world. Genevieve is a graduate of The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College.

    Holiday Cookies

    Baking Notes

    • Many cookie doughs are easier to shape and will bake taller when chilled.
    • Doughs can be made, chilled, and shaped for later baking (or made, chilled, shaped, and then re-chilled for baking) 1-2 days in the fridge, 1-2 weeks in a freezer (wrap well).
    • If baking in a convection (fan) oven, reduce the recipe temp. by 25-50°, depending on your oven—maybe also reduce the bake time.

    Konjakskransar (Swedish)


    • 2 ½ cups flour
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 1 cup butter (room temperature)
    • 3 tbsp liqueur (Brandy, Amaretto, etc.)


    1. Combine all ingredients and mix until dough is just smooth. Roll out sections of dough into logs, approximately 4-inches long.
    2. Twist together two ropes and press edges together, forming a wreath shape. (If dough is too crumbly, add more liqueur or warm slightly.)
    3. Bake at 350°, 13-15 minutes, until lightly brown.

    Gingersnaps (German)


    • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
    • 2 ¾ cups sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 cup molasses
    • 2 tbsp white vinegar
    • 3 ½ cups flour
    • 2 tbsp baking soda
    • 1 tbsp ginger
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ground cloves


    1. Paddle butter and sugar on medium-high until fluffy.
    2. Add eggs, molasses, and vinegar.
    3. Sift together dry ingredients
    4. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix on low until just combined.
    5. Chill dough until firm.
    6. Scoop dough, roll into balls, and press balls in sugar to coat.
    7. Bake at 375°, approximately 10 minutes, until light brown on top but still soft in center.

    Cranberry Oat (American)


    • 1 cup butter
    • 1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 ½ cup flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1-2 tsp nutmeg
    • ¾ tsp salt
    • 3 cups oats
    • 1 ½ cup dried cranberries (or raisins, cherries, chopped apricots, etc.)
    • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


    1. Paddle butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.
    2. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
    3. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, mix to combine.
    4. Add oats, dried fruit, and nuts if using, stir to combine.
    5. Chill dough.
    6. Scoop dough, roll into balls or drop onto tray without shaping.
    7. Bake at 350°, approximately 10-12 minutes.

    Rugelach (Eastern European)



    • 2 cups flour
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 1 cup butter
    • 1 cup cream cheese


    • ⅔ cup sugar
    • 1 ½ tbsp. cinnamon
    • ⅓ cup nuts, toasted and chopped small
    • ½-¾ cup jam (can also add chocolate, dried fruit, etc.)
    • 1 egg beaten



    Mixer directions (for room temperature dairy):

    1. Beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.
    2. Beat in salt.
    3. Add flour, beat until it disappears.
    4. Form dough into a disc, wrap, and chill.
    5. Chill dough 30 minutes in the freezer (up to 2 weeks) or 2+ hours in the fridge (up to 2 days).

    Food processor (for cold dairy):

    1. Pulse to combine flour and salt.
    2. Add cream cheese in large chunks, pulse to disperse into flour.
    3. Add butter in large chunks, run machine until dough starts to clump.
    4. Form dough into disc, wrap, and chill
    5. Chill dough 30 minutes in the freezer (up to 2 weeks) or 2+ hours in the fridge (up to 2 days).


    1. Mix together cinnamon and sugar (filing).
    2. Divide dough into quarters and roll first quarter out on a floured counter into a rectangle about 12 inches wide and 7-8 inches long, with the wider side to you.
    3. Thinly spread dough with jam, leaving a bare strip of ¼ inch along the wide side furthest from you.
    4. Sprinkle 2 tbsp cinnamon-sugar, then 4 tbsp nuts.
    5. Roll dough into a log, as tight as possible, and seal edge with beaten egg.
    6. Chill in freezer 10-15 minutes.
    7. Cut into desired shape.
    8. Brush with egg, sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
    9. Bake at 350°, approximately 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on top.

    Happy Holiday Baking (and eating) from Free Library of Philadelphia’s Culinary Literacy Center (CLC)!

    culinary literacy Recipes

  • 5

    Recipe: Ramp Pesto

    by Michele T.

    Here's another seasonal treat from the blog of Leanne Brown, author of Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day. Wild ramps appear very briefly in early spring, making their way out of winter hibernation beneath the forest floor and stretching their delicate bright-green leaves out into the warm spring light. Enjoy this recipe now on toast, atop fresh pasta, on meat, on fish, or with your favorite vegetables! Be on the look out for these pungent beauties in your local farmers' market, or consult an expert forager or botanist to try your hand at harvesting ramps from the wild.

    Ramp Pesto
    yields approximately 1 cup


    • 1 bunch of ramps
    • 1/4 cup almonds 
    • 1 oz romano cheese
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • salt and pepper


    • Thoroughly clean the ramps. (They are grown deep in the dirt and usually have some serious grit.) Chop off the root ends and any particularly wilted or gnarly bits of leaf. 
    • Chop the ramps roughly and transfer them to a food processor.* 
    • Add the almonds and romano. Process for about a minute to break everything up.
    • Add the olive oil a bit at a time while processing. Once the pesto is as smooth and runny as you prefer, stop adding olive oil and taste it.
    • Add salt and pepper and taste again. Adjust anything else according to your taste, adding more romano or salt as needed. If it tastes a little flat, you can add a squeeze of lemon to brighten it up.

    *If you don't have a food processor, you can use a hand blender, do it by hand, or with a mortar and pestle.

    culinary literacy Recipes

  • 29

    Recipe: DIY Veggie Burgers

    by Michele T.

    The weather is truly taking a turn for warmer, sunnier days, making it the perfect time to enjoy a big juicy burger outside with friends. Veggie burgers come in all shapes and sizes and can be fun and easy to make. These recipes come from local nutrition expert and registered dietitian Lindsey Kane, MS, RDN, LDN. Lindsey visited the Culinary Literacy Center in February and shared with us a few healthy and delicious ways to create homemade veggie burgers with globally inspired flavors. Most of the ingredients may already be in your pantry or leftover from a previous meal. She suggests you use these recipes as a guide, but in the end trust your judgment and have the confidence to make substitutions. She believes cooking should be intuitive, simple and fun. 

    Pro Tip:  Wrap the pre-made burgers in freezer paper and freeze for later! For more information about Lindsey's philosophy and work, visit

    Bahn Mi Burger

    • 1 grated ginger
    • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 scallion, chopped
    • 1 cup shitake mushrooms
    • 1 cup roasted Sweet potatoes
    • ½  cup legumes mashed + ½ cup legumes reserved for texture
    • 1-2 tbsp Chinese 5-spice powder
    • 1 tbsp miso paste
    • 1-2 tbsp tahini
    • Sesame oil
    • ½ cup cooked whole grains
    • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
    • Plain Greek yogurt or primal kitchen mayo (or avocado)
    • Sriracha
    • 1 tsp thinly sliced jalapeño
    • 1 lime, sliced
    • Crunchy vegetables: radish, carrots, cucumber, or kimchi

    Stir-fry the garlic, ginger, scallions, and shitake mushrooms with 1 tbsp of Chinese 5-spice powder. Set aside and allow to cool. Next, mash together the sweet potatoes and ½ cup legumes. Stir in tahini, miso paste, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil, and 1-2 tbs chopped cilantro and mix to combine. Gently stir in reserved legumes, mushroom mixture, and cooked whole grains. Add oats, flour, or any dry ingredient in small doses, until the batter comes together and forms a dough-like texture. Taste and season with salt and pepper and additional 5-spice powder as needed. Mold into patties and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.

    Oven: Bake at 375 F for 20-30 minutes, flipping half way through. 
    Stove Top: Heat a skillet over medium high heat with high quality oil and cook for 7-10 minutes, flipping half way through. 

    Mix the plain yogurt, mayo, or avocado with a few squirts of Sriracha. Smear onto burger and top with crunchy vegetables, a few sprigs of cilantro, jalepenos, and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime. Dig in!


    Mediterranean Burger

    • 1 head of garlic, roasted 
    • ¼ cup thinly sliced asparagus, blanched
    • 1 cup whole grains
    • About ½ cup dry binder: oats, whole grain flour
    • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained
    • 2 tbsp chopped sundried tomatoes
    • ¼ cup chopped artichokes hearts
    • 2 tbsp chopped pitted olives
    • 2 tbsp chopped scallions
    • 2 tbsp tahini, hummus, plain Greek yogurt, or 1 egg or flax egg
    • 1 tbsp fresh lemon zest and juice
    • ½ cup mixture of chopped herbs: basil, mint, parsley, cilantro, or dill
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper
    • Tzatziki, hummus, or pesto

    Mash or puree the roasted garlic, half of the cooked whole grains, chickpeas, and tahini; transfer the mixture to a bowl. Stir in the asparagus, artichokes, olives, sundried tomatoes, scallions, lemon juice, herbs, and remaining whole grains. Add oats or dry ingredients as needed to bind the dough. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed. Mold into patties and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. 

    Oven: Bake at 375 F for 20-30 minutes, flipping half way through. 
    Stovetop: Heat a large cast-iron skillet with high quality fat and cook for 7-10 minutes, flipping half way through. 

    Top with hummus, pesto or tzatziki, crunchy vegetables, and a squeeze of lemon.  Enjoy.


    Fajita Burger

    • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 cup diced bell pepper
    • 1 bunch of scallions, chopped, reserve the greens
    • 1 tbsp chili powder
    • 1 tbsp cumin
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • ½ cup whole corn kernels, organic
    • 1 cup roasted sweet potatoes
    • ½ cup black beans or pinto beans mashed + ½ cup reserved for texture
    • 1 tbsp miso paste
    • ½ tbsp adobo sauce + chiles if you’re brave
    • 1-2 tbsp tahini
    • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
    • 1 avocado, mashed
    • Pico de gallo
    • 1 lime
    • Crunchy vegetables: radish, peppers, cucumber

    Stir fry the garlic, bell pepper, and scallions with chili powder, paprika, and cumin until caramelized but still crisp. Turn off heat and add the frozen corn; toss to combine and set aside to cool. Next, mash together the sweet potatoes and ½ cup beans. Stir in tahini, miso paste, adobo sauce, lime zest, lime juice, and 1-2 tbsp chopped cilantro; mix to combine. Gently stir in reserved beans and sautéed red bell pepper and corn mixture. Add oats, flour, or other dry ingredient in small doses, until the batter comes together and forms a dough-like texture. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and spices, as needed. Mold into patties and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. 

    Oven: Bake at 375 F for 20-30 minutes, flipping half way through. 
    Stove Top: Heat a skillet over medium high heat with high quality oil and cook for 7-10 minutes, flipping half way through. 

    Mix the yogurt, mayo, and avocado with a few tsp of adobo sauce. Smear onto burger and top with crunchy vegetables, avocado slices, a few sprigs of cilantro, and pico de gallo, and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime... and contemplate the beauty of time and condiments as Autumn McClintock describes in her poem Unsurpassed.

    culinary literacy Recipes Cook This Now

  • 5

    Recipe: Korean-Style Spinach on Toast

    by Michele T.

    The following recipe is from Leanne Brown’s book Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day (also available as a free downloadable PDF from her website). The book began as a project for her master’s degree in food studies at New York University to explore what eating well on a SNAP (food stamp) budget could look like—and from there, it went viral. The book is a great resource for anyone who wants to cook delicious food that won’t break your budget.

    We use her book in many of our classes at the Culinary Literacy Center and hosted Leanne for a demonstration and book signing in October 2015. Check out Leanne making Things on Toast with students from the Vetri Community Partnership on Free Library of Philadelphia's Culinary Literacy Center Facebook page!

    Korean-Style Spinach on Toast


    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1 bunch spinach, washed, thicker stems removed
    • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
    • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
    • salt, to taste
    • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds


    • Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
    • Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
    • Add the spinach and soy sauce and cook for 2 minutes, until the spinach has wilted and shrunk.
    • Turn off the heat and add the sesame oil and salt. Mix and taste.
    • Remove the spinach from the pan and squeeze out any excess moisture.
    • Serve over hot slices of toast. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. (In addition to melted butter, Leanne suggests topping your toast with a fried egg!)
    culinary literacy Recipes

  • 17

    Recipe: Make Your Own Fresh Pita Bread

    by Michele T.

    Recently at the Culinary Literacy Center, Bruce Schimmel, founder of the Philadelphia City Paper and community chef, taught a class on Israeli salads and their perfect pairing—pita bread! With just a few ingredients you can make this traditional Mediterranean flat bread at home and pair it with a warming dish of chickpea and cauliflower curry. Be sure to check out future classes with Chef Schimmel in 2016 at the Free Library’s Culinary Literacy Center.

    Pita Bread

    Serves 8


    • 1 cup warm water (not hot or boiling)
    • 2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
    • 2½ - 3 cups of all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil


    • mixing bowl
    • rolling pin
    • cast-iron skillet (for stovetop baking) or
    • baking sheet or a baking stone (oven baking)


    • Mix the water and yeast together and let sit for about 5 minutes, until the yeast is dissolved.
    • Add 2½ cups of the flour (saving the last half cup for kneading), salt, and olive oil (if using).
    • Stir until a shaggy dough is formed.
    • Sprinkle a little of the extra flour onto your clean work surface and turn out the dough.
    • Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
    • Add more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or to the work surface, but try to be sparing.
    • Clean the mixing bowl and film it with a little olive oil.
    • Set the dough in the bowl, turning to coat it with the oil.
    • Cover the bowl with a clean dishcloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it’s doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.
    • Gently deflate the dough and turn it onto a lightly floured work surface.
    • Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and gently flatten into each piece into a thick disc.
    • Sprinkle the pieces with a little more flour and cover with a towel or plastic wrap until you’re ready to bake them.
    • Using a floured rolling pin, roll one of the pieces into an 8-9 inch circle about ¼-inch thick, turning and flipping the dough frequently so the dough doesn’t stick to your work surface (sprinkle the surface with more flour as needed to help with sticking).
    • Repeat with the other pieces of dough. (Once you get into a rhythm, you can be cooking one pita while rolling out the next.)

    To bake the pitas in the oven:

    • While shaping the pitas, heat the oven to 450° and place a baking stone or baking sheet in the oven to heat. 
    • Place the rolled out pitas directly on the baking stone or sheet and bake for about 3 minutes.
    • The pita should start to puff up after a minute or two and is done when fully ballooned.
    • Cover the baked pitas with a clean dishtowel while cooking any remaining pitas

    To bake pitas on the stovetop:

    • Warm a cast-iron skillet over the medium-high heat until a few beads of water sizzle immediately on contact.
    • Drizzle a little oil in the pan to coat and wipe off any excess.
    • Lay a rolled-out pita on the skillet and cook for 30 seconds, until you see bubbles starting to form.
    • Flip and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, until large toasted spots appear on the underside.
    • Flip again and cook another 1-2 minutes to toast the other side.
    • The pita should start to puff up during this time; if it doesn’t or if only small pockets form, try pressing the surface of the pita gently with a clean towel.
    • Keep cooked pitas covered with a clean dishtowel while cooking any remaining pitas.

    Additional Notes:
    Storing the dough: Once it has risen, the pita dough can be kept refrigerated until it is needed. You can also bake one or two pitas at a time, saving the rest of the dough in the fridge. The dough will keep refrigerated for about a week.

    culinary literacy Recipes

  • 8

    Cook This Now: Oldways Jollof Rice

    by Michele T.

    This recipe is from the A Taste of African Heritage series, a free six-lesson nutrition and cooking program presented by Oldways that we host at the Culinary Literacy Center. The series brings the savory tradition of eating a delicious, plant-based diet that was high in flavor and naturally low in cholesterol, sugars, and excess sodium back to life to improve health and well-being. Many of today’s healthiest foods have their roots in African heritage—the following recipe is a traditional West African tomato-based rice dish. Starting in 2015, Philadelphia became a hub for the A Taste of African Heritage series, and is now offered three times a year at 10 sites. For more information, go to

    Oldways Jollof Rice

    Serves 8


    • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained (save liquid)
    • 4 cups liquid (see steps below)
    • 2 cups uncooked brown rice
    • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
    • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 large carrot, chopped (about 1 cup)
    • ¼ head of green cabbage, chopped (about 2 cups)
    • 2 tbsp tomato paste
    • 1 tsp turmeric
    • 1 tsp thyme
    • ½ tsp red pepper flakes


    1. Drain liquid from the diced tomatoes into a measuring cup and add enough water to equal 4 cups of liquid total.

    2. Put liquid in a medium-size pot with the brown rice.

    3. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until rice is tender to your taste, about 30-35 minutes.

    4. While rice cooks, heat the oil in a large pan.

    5. Cook the onion and garlic until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

    6. Add chopped carrots and cabbage, tomato paste, tomatoes, and spices.

    7. Simmer with the lid on for a few minutes on low heat, until the vegetables are done to your taste.

    8. Adjust spices to taste.

    9. When rice is done, mix it with the vegetables, or simply serve the rice with the other ingredients on top.

    10. Garnish with a little parsley, if you’d like.

    African American culinary literacy Recipes

  • 22

    Black Lentil Chili with Butternut Squash and Leeks

    by Liz A.

    This recipe is from Tracy McGuigan, the chef who leads our Chow Down on Wellness series. Chow Down on Wellness is a monthly program, open to the public, that was created in partnership with a wellness group from the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. Each month, Chef Tracy leads the group in creating a delicious vegetarian meal for which all hands are on deck in the cooking—and eating—process.

    Black Lentil Chili with Butternut Squash and Leeks

    Serves 6


    • 1 lb. black lentils
    • 2 carrots, diced
    • 2 celery stalks, diced
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 2 green bell pepper diced
    • 2 red green bell pepper diced
    • 1 whole butternut squash, peeled and cubed into bite size pieces
    • 2 leeks, half-moon thin slices
    • 1 small can tomato paste
    • 1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes with their liquid, or 26 ounces of fresh tomatoes chopped
    • 1 tbsp chili powder
    • 1 tbsp cumin powder
    • 1 tsp coriander
    • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
    • Vegetable stock (optional)


    1. In a large pot, over medium high heat, sauté all the vegetables for a few minutes until tender.

    2. Add tomato products, seasoning, and lentils.

    3. If there is not enough liquid from the tomatoes, add enough water or stock to cover.

    4. Bring to a boil and let simmer for an hour. (The lentils will only take 20 minutes to cook, but let the mixture simmer for an hour to marry the spices.)

    5. If the chili seems too thick, add some additional water or stock—if too thin, re-season with salt and pepper.

    culinary literacy Recipes

  • 4

    Resolve to be healthy in 2016—the Free Library can help!

    by Samantha M.

    It's that time again: We reflect on the past year and think about what we want to do for the next year. For most of us, our resolutions have to do with health: getting fit and eating better. But do we keep our resolutions throughout the year? Ultimately, that's up to the strength of our willpower, but resources at the Free Library can help the health-conscious stay on track while saving money and having fun along the way!

    Here's a month-by-month plan to help you integrate healthy habits in your life in 2016:

    Did you receive any digital gifts this holiday season that will help your health? Make the most out of your FitBit and learn to sync fitness apps with your smartphone at an e-gadget helpdesk, held at your local neighborhood library! Check the calendar for what's coming up.

    It might be cold outside, but warm up by taking a cooking class at the Culinary Literacy Center! Cook up a healthy, hearty meal while learning tips and tricks you can take home to your own kitchen. Perhaps you’d like to brush up on your knife skills and make French Onion soup, or you’d prefer to get in the spirit of One Book, One Philadelphia and try your hand at making chicken and dumplings. Find a class that suits your interest, budget, and taste buds here!

    Okay, winter is coming to a close, so it's time to get moving! Why not work out in the comfort of your own home? Stream a workout from Hoopla to get started! Want a six-pack? Let Jillian Michaels show you how! Got kids running around? Yoga for Kids will help them chill out.

    Make a workout mix! Here’s a compilation of the hottest hits to get you moving! There’s no better way to get moving than to get pumped with music. Stream more music for free on Hoopla or on one of our other digital databases, like our Popular Music Library.

    Venture out of the house and head to a workout place this month—no, not to the gym... a library! Take a Tai Chi or yoga class. You can even learn to make your own home and bath products. There are so many offerings around the system!

    Bored? Spice up your workout life and try something new to spark your muscles, like kickboxing or Tai Chi. Classes like these can run you hundreds of dollars, but it’s free when you stream a workout video in the comfort of your own home.

    Flipping through magazines never feels productive, but it can be! Get some inspiration for recipes and plan some Instagram-worthy meals by perusing digital versions of bon appetite or EatingWell—free from Zinio. It’s the perfect beach or vacation activity!

    Still at the shore? Run on the beach! Swim in the ocean! And read some health and fitness magazines, like Women’s Health, WellBeing, and Shape.

    Find yourself watching all the new TV shows out now? Do some crunches during commercials! And if you can’t get enough of Food Network, get your fix by reading Food Network Magazine for healthy tips and tricks. You won’t get Chopped!

    This is arguably the most wonderful time of the year in Philadelphia, weather-wise. Take advantage of the fall by taking a walk or bike ride to a Free Library location in a different neighborhood than the one in which you live. You’ll stay active while getting to know a new part of Philly!

    The Philadelphia marathon is coming up! Whether or not you’re a marathon runner, here’s a crazy tip to get you running more: Listen to audiobooks! It might sound a little weird to not listen to music (especially since you made that great workout mix in April), but seriously, it can work: Just download a thriller like Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train from Overdrive and resolve to only listen if you’re jogging. And while you’re not on your feet, fuel your obsession and browse the magazine Runner’s World on your digital device—free from Zinio! Need more inspiration? Check out the book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami for rest-day reading.

    Channel your inner chef! Check out a cookbook and flip through to find a delicious dish to make for yourself or your friends. Learn a cuisine style from a different culture, like Vietnamese; learn how to best fuel your body for athletic activities; learn some quick recipes that use only five ingredients; and learn how to cook with wine. Cooking with others? Make this a family project! There are cookbooks available that both teens and toddlers will enjoy. Create a holiday meal to be remembered.

    If you've gotten this far, congratulations for making it through a healthy 2016! Relax, keep up with the habits you’ve cultivated this year, and figure out how next year will be even better! 

    Events at the Library ebooks music recommendations culinary literacy Recipes