• 7
    Jul.
    2020

    Edible Alphabet Recipe of the Week: Vegetarian Cobb Salad

    by Lindsay S.

    Edible Alphabet is a free English Language Learning (ELL) program offered by the Free Library's Culinary Literacy Center. The mission is to teach English language and literacy skills through hands-on cooking projects. While Free Library locations remain closed to the public in the interest of public health and safety, we will be sharing weekly recipes from our class curriculum and past participants.  


    This week, I’m sharing a class favorite from Edible Alphabet’s US American Recipes workbook: Vegetarian Cobb Salad. This recipe serves 4-6 as a main course, so feel free to scale up or down depending on how many people you are cooking for. You are also welcome to add grilled chicken and / or crispy bacon to your salad for a more traditional take on the classic, but I find this vegetarian version to be a healthy, hearty, ideal meal for a summer lunch or dinner.

    For more inspiration on vegetarian cooking, you can find e-cookbooks through our catalog, as well as Digital Media databases like Overdrive, Hoopla, and Freading. I’m particularly excited to try out the recipes from Bryant Terry’s Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes after hearing him speak at the Free Library last February. 

    Happy cooking!

     

    Vegetarian Cobb Salad


    Ingredients

    • 6 eggs  
    • 2 beets  
    • 1 pt. grape or cherry tomatoes (or 2 large tomatoes)
    • 1 cucumber  
    • 2 heads of Bibb (or other) lettuce  
    • 2 avocados  
    • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard  
    • 2 ½ Tbsp. Sherry vinegar (substitute white wine vinegar if needed)
    • ½ cup olive oil  
    • 2 tsp. honey  
    • 6 Tbsp. blue cheese  
    • Salt  
    • Pepper

    Instructions

    Eggs

    1. Add eggs to a pot and cover with water by about 1 inch. 
    2. Heat eggs and water over medium-high heat until boiling; then cook for 10 minutes. 
    3. Remove eggs from the pot with a slotted spoon and peel eggs under cold water. 
    4. Chop hard-boiled eggs and season with salt. 


    Beets

    1. Boil a fresh pot of water. 
    2. Peel and dice beets.
    3. Add beets to boiling water for 8-10 minutes (until tender). 
    4. Drain beets and season with salt. 


    Other Vegetables

    1. Cut grape tomatoes in half (or dice large tomatoes into bite-sized pieces)
    2. Peel and cube cucumber. 
    3. Place tomatoes and cucumbers in two small bowls and season with salt. 
    4. Chop lettuce. 
    5. Dice avocado. Season with salt. 


    Salad Dressing

    1. Add the mustard, vinegar, honey, and olive oil to a container with a lid. 
    2. Shake to combine. 
    3. Season with salt and pepper. 


    Cobb Salad

    1. Place lettuce on a plate. Drizzle with salad dressing. 
    2. Arrange the eggs, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, beets, and blue cheese in rows on top of the lettuce. 

    For more information about Edible Alphabet and the Culinary Literacy Center, visit freelibrary.org/cook or email kitchen @ freelibrary.org. Enjoy this recipe? Leave a comment and stay tuned for another Edible Alphabet recipe next week!

    ebooks culinary literacy Recipes Edible Alphabet

  • 30
    Jun.
    2020

    Edible Alphabet Recipe of the Week: Chinese Scallion Pancakes

    by Lindsay S.

    Edible Alphabet is a free English Language Learning (ELL) program offered by the Free Library's Culinary Literacy Center. The mission is to teach English language and literacy skills through hands-on cooking projects. While Free Library locations remain closed to the public in the interest of public health and safety, we will be sharing weekly recipes from our class curriculum and past participants.  


    This week in the Edible Alphabet kitchen, I am trying out a recipe from former Edible Alphabet participant Yushan: Chinese Scallion Pancakes. The recipe recommends resting the dough overnight in the refrigerator, so it involves a little advance planning, but the flakey, crispy, chewy, oniony result is well worth the effort. I’m serving my scallion pancakes as part of a larger meal (featuring a few recipes from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Every Grain of Rice), but they make a great snack on their own, dipped into soy sauce, black vinegar, and / or chili oil.

    Philadelphia has a long and delicious history of Chinese and Chinese-American cuisine, dating back to the birth of our city’s Chinatown in 1870. To explore more about the culinary history of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, check out our Explore Topic Philadelphia Cooks! This Free Library webpage features links to popular Philadelphia food blogs and websites, cookbooks with recipes from Philadelphia chefs and restaurants, and books on the history of and present-day Philadelphia food scene. For information on how to support Philadelphia restaurants and local hospital clinicians affected by the COVID-19 public health crisis, visit Fuel the Fight Philadelphia (a partner of Frontline Foods and World Central Kitchen). 

     

    Chinese Scallion Pancakes


    Ingredients

    Dough

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2/3 cup boiling water
    • 1/3 cup cold water
    • 1 tsp salt

    Filling

    • 6 scallions
    • 5 Tbsp. vegetable oil (+ additional oil for cooking)
    • ½ tsp. white pepper


    Instructions

    Preparing the Dough:

    1. Pour the boiling water, cold water, and salt in a cup. Measure and stir well until the salt is dissolved.
    2. Put flour into the big mixing bowl and pour in the water mixture. Use a fork to mix until the batter becomes flaky and then use your hands to knead the batter until it holds together. The dough might be a little sticky, but that’s fine. 
    3. Leave the dough in the mixing bowl and cover with the damp cloth for about 20-30 minutes.
    4. Spread a little oil on the dough and gently knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until smooth, cover with the damp cloth, and rest for another 30 minutes.


    Preparing the Filling:

    1. While waiting for the dough to be ready, wash and dry the scallions. Divide the scallions white parts and green parts, cut the white parts into half, and then chop the white and green parts together, trying to chop them as thin as possible.
    2. Put the scallions, oil, and white pepper into a small mixing bowl. Use a spoon to mix well and set aside.


    Preparing the Pancake:

    1. Spread oil on the working surface and the small rolling pin. Take out the dough and use a knife or a bench scraper to divide into 4 pieces. 
    2. Take one piece, press it flat, and roll out into a rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Spread about 1 1/2 Tbsp of the scallion stuffing mixture evenly on the dough, leaving 1/2” edge empty. Roll the dough into a long strand with the scallion mixture inside. Twist the strand and then arrange in a coil.
    3. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Put a bit of oil on the finished coil and wrap each coil with plastic wrap, store in the container, and set aside for 2-3 hours to relax the dough. (It’s much better to leave them in the refrigerator overnight to have a better texture.)


    Cooking the Pancake:

    1. Heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a pan on medium heat.
    2. Oil the working surface and rolling pin. Take one piece of dough and use your hand to flatten the dough. Then use the rolling pin to roll out the pancake to about 7-8” round.  
    3. Place the flattened dough on the heated pan, cooking for 10 seconds, and use spatula to flip. Cover the lid and cook for 1 minute. Remove the lid and flip the pancake several times until it’s golden brown.
    4. Serve as it is or with some soy sauce or chili sauce.


    For more information about Edible Alphabet and the Culinary Literacy Center, visit freelibrary.org/cook or email kitchen @ freelibrary.org. Enjoy this recipe? Leave a comment and stay tuned for another Edible Alphabet recipe next week!

    culinary literacy Recipes Cook This Now History of Philadelphia Edible Alphabet immigrant heritage

  • 24
    Jun.
    2020

    6 Tips for Keeping Your Produce Fresher and Longer

    by Naquawna L.

    Really want to get the most out of your veggies? Then don’t let them go to waste! Check out these six tips from the Culinary Literacy Center for keeping your produce fresher longer.
     

    6. Frozen is just as good as fresh!
    Did you know that the nutrient content in frozen or canned produce can be equal to and sometimes even greater than the nutrients found in fresh produce? Amazingly, frozen produce can increase the shelf life of fruit and veggies, which can typically last between 1-3 weeks when purchased fresh to 3-6 months when purchased frozen. In addition, frozen produce can either be thawed in advance or cooked frozen with little to no prep time. So, if you are looking for an inexpensive way to keep your fruits and veggies lasting longer, don’t count frozen out! For more information on frozen produce, read this great article that goes more in-depth on the "Fresh vs. Frozen Vegetable" debate.

     

    5. Meal Plan!
    In some instances, some fruits and veggies are better fresh, right? We all have our preferences... at the Culinary Literacy Center, we often create grocery lists based on recipes crafted for our programming needs. To help keep your produce fresher longer, we suggest creating a meal plan prior to grocery shopping. By creating a meal plan in advance, this will allow you to buy exactly what you need for when you need it. To help you get started meal planning, check out this guide to meal planning and prepping.

     

     

    4. Everything does not go in the fridge!
    Maybe you can relate... When I moved on my own and began shopping for myself, I would store all produce either in the fridge or in the freezer. According to the Farmers Almanac, some vegetables such as potatoes, onions, and some fruit such as pears or apples, are best kept unrefrigerated. Others, such as fresh herbs, can be kept on the counter in water or dried and stored. Read this great resource for more information on how to properly store produce.

     

    3. One rotten apple can ruin the bunch!
    Have you ever heard the saying "one rotten apple will ruin the bunch"? Well, it turns out, it’s not just a saying after all! Typically when mold or bacteria grow on food, it spreads. One of the best ways to keep food fresher longer is to thoroughly pick through your fresh produce as soon as possible. By removing the bad fruit or veggie from the bunch, it will ensure bacteria or mold do not spread to the others.

     

    2. Do you know FAT TOM?
    FAT TOM is a mnemonic device used in the food service industry to describe the six favorable conditions required for the growth of foodborne pathogens. It is an acronym for food, acidity, time, temperature, oxygen, and moisture. Bacteria can grow in our fridges given the right conditions. Bacteria can grow and spread at a rapid rate and can even cause our food to spoil. To ensure your produce stays fresher longer, follow these simple steps:

    • Check your refrigerator temperature settings to make sure items are not too warm, to the point of spoiling or to cold, to the point of freezer burn.
    • Make sure there isn’t water or liquid accumulated behind the drawers or at the bottom of the refrigerator. Keeping moisture low will deter bacteria growth.
    • Store items in airtight storage containers to keep produce from wilting or drying out.
    • Clean your refrigerator frequently. Throwing away old and moldy food is the best way to keep other foods fresh.

    Want to keep bacteria from ruining your produce? Read about more information on FAT TOM.

     

    1. Pickling and canning.
    Though pickling and canning can sound like an arduous task, it can keep your fruit and veggies fresher longer. As a positive, home-canned or pickled items can be prepared in advance, stored for six months to a year, and can be used at will without further preparation. At the Culinary Literacy Center, we use pickling to teach science through food and would like you to try one of our favorite pickling recipes from our Nourishing Literacy Team. View this great guide to learn more about canning and pickling at home.

     

     


    We would love to hear how these tips or others have worked for you! Don't forget to share your results in the comments!

    How-To culinary literacy

  • 16
    Jun.
    2020

    Edible Alphabet Recipe of the Week: Korean Noodle Salad (Japchae)

    by Lindsay S.

    Edible Alphabet is a free English Language Learning (ELL) program offered by the Free Library's Culinary Literacy Center. The mission is to teach English language and literacy skills through hands-on cooking projects. While Free Library locations remain closed to the public in the interest of public health and safety, we will be sharing weekly recipes from our class curriculum and past participants.  


    As the weather heats up, I’m turning to a traditional Korean noodle salad, Japchae, which can be served hot, cool, or room temperature, and is delicious and refreshing on a warm, almost-summer day. This recipe comes from Edible Alphabet participant Grace, and was a big hit at our class celebration this past December. Japchae is a traditional celebratory dish in South Korea and is commonly served as a banchan (side dish), although it can also work as a main dish for a light lunch or dinner. I was able to find dangmyeon (sweet potato glass noodles) in the international aisle of my neighborhood grocery store, but if you are having difficulty, they are also available online. You can also substitute regular glass / cellophane noodles or vermicelli, if needed.

    Every June, Philadelphia celebrates Immigrant Heritage Month. To explore Korean culture further, there are many Free Library resources you can access from home with your library card. If you’re looking for a soundtrack while you cook, try streaming popular Korean music through Hoopla. Looking to develop your language skills? Create an account with Mango Languages for free and explore the unit on Korean food and drink culture. Kanopy allows Free Library cardholders to stream up to 4 films for free each month and has an impressive Korean language collection, including the highly acclaimed Miracle in Cell 7, which I just added to my list.  

     

    Korean Noodle Salad (Japchae)


    Ingredients

    • 6 ounces Korean sweet potato glass noodles (dangmyeon)* 
    • 1 small carrot
    • 1 small sweet onion
    • 2 scallions
    • 4 - 5 mushrooms 
    • 6 ounces fresh spinach
    • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
    • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
    • 2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds
    • Vegetable oil
    • Salt
    • Black pepper

    *If you can’t find sweet potato glass noodles, you can substitute regular glass or cellophane noodles or vermicelli 

     

    Instructions

    1. Cut the carrot into matchsticks. Thinly slice the onion. Cut the scallions into similar lengths.
    2. Blanch the spinach in boiling water, only until wilted. Drain quickly and shock in cold water. Squeeze out excess water, cut into about 2-inch lengths, and lightly season with salt and pepper. 
    3. Make the sauce by combining soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and sesame seeds in a small bowl. Mix well until the sugar is dissolved.
    4. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to the package directions (usually 6 - 7 minutes). Rinse in cold water and drain. Cut the noodles with kitchen shears or a knife into 6 -7 inch lengths. 
    5. Mix the noodles with 2 tablespoons of the prepared sauce in a large bowl.
    6. In a large non-stick skillet, stir fry the noodles over medium heat, stirring frequently, until translucent and a bit sticky (about 4 minutes). Transfer back to the bowl.
    7. Add 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the pan, and stir fry the onion and mushrooms together over medium-high heat until the onions are translucent. Lightly season with salt and pepper. When the onion is almost done, stir in the scallion and cook briefly. Transfer to the bowl with the noodles. 
    8. Stir fry the carrot for 1 to 2 minutes until softened. (Do not overcook. The vegetables should be crisp.) Transfer to the bowl.
    9. Add the spinach and the remaining sauce to the bowl with all other prepared ingredients. 
    10. Toss well by hand. Adjust the seasoning to taste by adding a little more (start with 1/2 teaspoon) soy sauce and/or sugar as necessary.

    For more information about Edible Alphabet and the Culinary Literacy Center, visit freelibrary.org/cook or email kitchen @ freelibrary.org. Enjoy this recipe? Leave a comment and stay tuned for another Edible Alphabet recipe next week!

    digital collections languages digital media culinary literacy Recipes digital learning English Language Learners Languages and Learning Center

  • 9
    Jun.
    2020

    Edible Alphabet Recipe of the Week: Pasta Primavera

    by Lindsay S.

    Edible Alphabet is a free English Language Learning (ELL) program offered by the Free Library's Culinary Literacy Center. The mission is to teach English language and literacy skills through hands-on cooking projects. While Free Library locations remain closed to the public in the interest of public health and safety, we will be sharing weekly recipes from our class curriculum and past participants.  


    This week, as we enter the last days of spring, I’m making a classic Edible Alphabet recipe we’ve used in the program for the past 5 years: Pasta Primavera. This tasty pasta dish is full of spring vegetables and can be put together in under 30 minutes. As always, substitutions abound—I forgot to pick up arugula so I’m using spinach instead. Class participants often suggest adding grilled or broiled chicken for added protein. Once we enter into tomato season, I’ll sub out the grape tomatoes for 2 or 3 heirloom tomatoes from my backyard container garden, as long as the squirrels don’t get there first.   

    Speaking of gardening, the Free Library of Philadelphia has fantastic online resources for horticulturalists of every age and skill level. Check out our ebooks, digital magazines, and online courses on gardening—all available for free with your library card. If there’s still a wait to borrow Plants You Can’t Kill by Stacy Tornio, comment on this post and I’ll be sure to return it.  Looking for more support in getting your garden started this spring? Visit the Cecil B Moore Library's Instagram account to view their video, Gardening Tutorial 1: How to Start Your Own Garden!

     

    Pasta Primavera


    Ingredients 

    • 1 lb. farfalle pasta  
    • 1 zucchini  
    • 1 yellow squash  
    • 1 pt. cherry or grape tomatoes  
    • 2 cloves garlic  
    • ½ cup ricotta cheese  
    • 1 lemon 
    • ¼ cup basil leaves, torn  
    • 1 cup frozen peas  
    • 2 Tbsp. olive oil  
    • 1 cup arugula  
    • ¼ cup parmesan cheese  
    • Kosher salt  
    • Black pepper


    Instructions

    1. Add water to a large pot and bring to a boil. 
    2. Cut zucchini and squash into bite-sized pieces. 
    3. Cut tomatoes in half. 
    4. Cut garlic cloves into small pieces. 
    5. Place ricotta cheese in a large bowl. Grate the lemon peel on top of the ricotta cheese. Cut basil leaves into thin strips and add to the bowl. 
    6. When the water boils, add 1 Tbsp. salt and the pasta. Boil for 8 minutes, add peas, and then bring to a boil again. Drain after 2 minutes (when pasta is finished). 
    7. While the pasta cooks, heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large skillet. Add zucchini and squash and cook until tender.
    8. Add garlic, tomatoes, arugula, salt, and pepper and sauté for 2 minutes. 
    9. Add the vegetables to the large bowl. Add the pasta and the peas to the bowl and stir with the other ingredients. 
    10. Serve with grated parmesan cheese

    For more information about Edible Alphabet and the Culinary Literacy Center, visit freelibrary.org/cook or email kitchen @ freelibrary.org. Enjoy this recipe? Leave a comment and stay tuned for another Edible Alphabet recipe next week!

    ebooks gardening digital media culinary literacy Recipes digital learning English Language Learners Languages and Learning Center

  • 5
    Jun.
    2020

    Salad Science: Make a Simple Vinaigrette!

    by Caity R.

    There may be no better way to dress your salad than with a healthy, homemade vinaigrette! While choosing a salad may seem like an inherently nutritious option (and it often is!), adding the wrong dressing can drown out the health benefits. Many times store-bought, prepackaged salad dressings are high in saturated fat and may contain cheeses and preservatives which quickly add calories and sodium to your otherwise beautiful, green creation.

    One of the best ways to maintain control of your salad is to make your own dressing, as well! The good thing is, nothing can be simpler than putting together a delicious, DIY Vinaigrette. 

    When you hear the word vinaigrette, what do you picture? For me, it’s shaking a jar or bottle. That’s where the salad science comes in. A vinaigrette’s main components are oil and vinegar, and they make up a classic example of an emulsion—a mixture of two or more liquids that do not naturally combine. Hence, the shaking! By doing so, you create a temporary emulsion in which the liquids stay together for a short time before separating. Try as you might, without a stabilizing component, these ingredients will drift apart. Adding in an "emulsifier" like honey or mustard (or honey mustard) will delay the separation, but without the addition of lecithin (like an egg yolk) or less natural ingredients (i.e. chemicals), you will need to periodically blend the ingredients together to suspend them once more! If you love science and want to learn more about the chemistry of vinaigrettes, check out this fun Science Friday Experiment: Emulsion Lab

    Now for the how-to, and the math, of creating your own vinaigrettes...

    There is a well known "magic ratio" of 3:1 when it comes to creating the base of your dressing. This refers to most vinaigrettes containing a base of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar (or other acidic elements, such as lemon juice). This can be adjusted to fit personal preferences, but is a great starting point for ensuring that vinaigrettes are smooth and not too sour. The oils can be light, like safflower or extra virgin olive oil, or heavier, like a walnut or avocado oil. For the vinegar, use a cider option for a fruity taste or a balsamic for a darker, richer flavor. A great tip is to ensure that the vinaigrette is matched to the type of green you’ll be using—a spring mix goes best with a light vinaigrette, while a bold option (with, say, red wine vinegar) goes best with sharper, darker greens like arugula or kale. While simply whisking together the oil and vinegar and adding a dash of salt and pepper is a great start, don’t let the fun end there! Experiment by adding in alliums, herbs, mustards, and sweeteners for an almost endless combination to taste test.


    Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette... with a kick!

    • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (adjust according to how much you like spice!)
    • Salt and pepper (to taste)

    Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and enjoy!


    Looking for more inspiration? Check out these ebooks filled with salads (and vinaigrettes) that you can read online!

    ebooks culinary literacy Health

  • 2
    Jun.
    2020

    Edible Alphabet Recipe of the Week: Haitian Pikliz

    by Lindsay S.

    Edible Alphabet is a free English Language Learning (ELL) program offered by the Free Library's Culinary Literacy Center. The mission is to teach English language and literacy skills through hands-on cooking projects. While Free Library locations remain closed to the public in the interest of public health and safety, we will be sharing weekly recipes from our class curriculum and past participants.  


    This week in the Edible Alphabet kitchen, we’re whipping up a batch of the delicious Haitain condiment known as pikliz (pronounced peak-lees). This zesty and spicy vegetable relish makes a great addition to grilled and fried meat, fish, and vegetables. Pikliz will last up to two weeks when stored covered in the refrigerator, so make some tonight to go with grilled chicken and use it all week to lend some Caribbean flair (and heat) to eggs, rice and beans, plantains, burgers—you name it.

    This recipe comes from Edible Alphabet participant Nahomie, who brought a batch of her delicious homemade pikliz to our class celebration this past fall. I was inspired to share this recipe after seeing chef Gregory Gourdet win a challenge on Top Chef All-Stars last month when he made, marketed, and sold his version of pikliz with his mother. Interested in cooking like a top chef yourself? Check out our collection of e-cookbooks or try the recipe below!
     

    Haitian Pikliz


    Ingredients

    • 1 small head of green cabbage (about 2 cups)
    • 1 medium onion
    • ½ medium bell pepper (yellow, red, or green)
    • 2 scallions
    • 1 garlic clove 
    • 1 large carrot 
    • 1-2 scotch bonnet peppers (substitute habanero or other chili pepper if needed)
    • ½ cup cane vinegar (substitute cider vinegar or white vinegar if needed)
    • ½ lime (juice only)
    • Salt to taste 
    • Black pepper to taste
    • Cloves to taste


    Instructions

    1. Use a cutting board and knife to thinly slice green cabbage, onion, bell pepper, scallions, and scotch bonnet pepper. 
    2. Finely chop garlic clove.
    3. Peel and coarsely grate carrot.
    4. Combine cabbage, onion, bell pepper, scallions, scotch bonnet, garlic, carrot, salt, peppercorns, and cloves in a large bowl. Toss well.
    5. Pack vegetables into a large (1 quart) jar with a tight-fitting lid. Pour vinegar and lime juice over vegetables until they are completely submerged in liquid. 
    6. Cover with lid and refrigerate for at least three days before opening for the best taste. Pikliz may also be served immediately. 

    For more information about Edible Alphabet and the Culinary Literacy Center, visit freelibrary.org/cook or email kitchen @ freelibrary.org. Enjoy this recipe? Leave a comment and stay tuned for another Edible Alphabet recipe next week!

    ebooks culinary literacy Recipes English Language Learners Languages and Learning Center

  • 26
    May.
    2020

    Edible Alphabet Recipe of the Week: Spicy Panzanella Salad

    by Lindsay S.

    Edible Alphabet is a free English Language Learning (ELL) program offered by the Free Library's Culinary Literacy Center. The mission is to teach English language and literacy skills through hands-on cooking projects. While Free Library locations remain closed to the public in the interest of public health and safety, we will be sharing weekly recipes from our class curriculum and past participants.  


    Are you baking more bread than you know what to do with? Do you have fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator you need to use up? This week we are making a great clean-out-your-fridge recipe from the Edible Alphabet original curriculum: Spicy Panzanella Salad. This recipe calls for tomatoes and cucumbers but you can sub any juicy vegetable or fruit (zucchini, lettuces, peaches, grapes). My favorite thing about this recipe is that it is best with leftover, hard bread that you might otherwise throw away. Now that my office is only 3 feet away from my kitchen, I make variations on this salad all the time for a quick and delicious lunch. My current favorite features halloumi cheese, lemon, mint, tomatoes, cucumbers, and leftover sourdough.

    Last week, I had the opportunity to lead our first virtual Edible Alphabet cooking class, which featured Spicy Panzanella Salad. Recently arrived refugees, immigrants, and asylees working with HIAS PA and Nationalities Service Center joined Chef Instructor Jameson and myself through video conference to learn and practice English communication as we explored this recipe. It was a wonderful way to connect during these times of separation and I am so looking forward to the time when we are able to cook together in the libraries again. Learners were excited to try out the recipe and had a few of their own ideas for variations—some wanted to omit the jalapeno, while others were interested in adding chicken or eggs for protein. 

    Spicy Panzanella is a recipe featured in Leanne Brown’s 2015 cookbook, Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day. You can access this fantastic resource in English and Spanish through the Free Library's collection of ebooks. PDFs are also available for free download on Leanne Brown’s website. Good and Cheap was written with the $4/day SNAP budget in mind and features creative recipes for people who are living on a limited budget and interested in preparing delicious and healthy food. Some of my all-time favorite recipes from this book are Vegetable Jambalaya (page 97), Mexican Street Corn (page 60), and Chana Masala (page 93). If you are looking for cooking inspiration that is affordable and accessible, I highly recommend checking out this cookbook!

     

    Spicy Panzanella Salad

    Ingredients

    • 1 English (seedless) cucumber  
    • 2 cloves garlic  
    • 2 tomatoes (if not in season, 1 pt. cherry or grape tomatoes)  
    • 1-2 limes (juice only)  
    • ½ cup basil leaves, torn  
    • ½ loaf of baguette  (or other leftover bread)
    • Kosher salt  
    • 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided  
    • Black pepper  
    • 1 jalapeño pepper 


    Instructions

    1. Cut tomatoes and cucumber into bite-sized cubes and add to a large bowl; save 2 Tbsp. of the tomatoes for the dressing 
    2. Add salt and pepper to vegetables and stir. 
    3. Cut the bread into bite-sized cubes. 
    4. Add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large skillet and heat, then add the bread cubes and cook them for approximately 4–5 minutes. 
    5. Add bread to the bowl on top of the cucumbers and tomatoes. 
    6. Dice the garlic and jalapeño pepper. 
    7. In the same skillet, add 2 Tbsp. olive oil, garlic, and jalapeños and stir; when they sizzle, add the remaining tomatoes and the lime juice and stir again.
    8. Add the contents of the pan to the other ingredients.
    9. Add basil leaves and stir.

    For more information about Edible Alphabet and the Culinary Literacy Center, visit freelibrary.org/cook or email kitchen @ freelibrary . org. Enjoy this recipe? Leave a comment and stay tuned for another Edible Alphabet recipe next week!

    culinary literacy Recipes Cook This Now English Language Learners Languages and Learning Center

  • 19
    May.
    2020

    Edible Alphabet Recipe of the Week: Thai Citrus Salad

    by Lindsay S.

    Edible Alphabet is a free English Language Learning (ELL) program offered by the Free Library's Culinary Literacy Center. The mission is to teach English language and literacy skills through hands-on cooking projects. While Free Library locations remain closed to the public in the interest of public health and safety, we will be sharing weekly recipes from our class curriculum and past participants.  


    I bought a bag of oranges two weeks ago and they are still sitting in my refrigerator, so this week I’m making a recipe from Edible Alphabet participant Pawarin ("Bee"): Thai Citrus Salad.  Pawarin made this delicious and easy-to-prepare dish with pomelo (a large sweet and sour citrus fruit native to Southeast Asia), but a mix of grapefruit and oranges also works great. As always, you can adjust this recipe to fit your tastes, as well as the contents of your refrigerator. Omit the crushed red pepper and / or chili paste to dial down the spice, skip the fish sauce to make your salad vegan, sub cashews for the peanuts—it’s all up to you! 

    All this Vitamin C has me thinking about the various health and wellness resources and programs the Free Library provides for city residents. Check out our Virtual Programs page to find an online health-based program that’s right for you! Library staff are hosting virtual yoga classes, mindfulness sessions for children and adults, and online exercise classes for seniors. I’ve really appreciated our blog series on self-care resources in the time of social distancing, and all the other great health-related blogs my colleagues have been writing to share resources and information with library users during these challenging times. You can also access thousands of health-related ebooks, podcasts, and databases with your Free Library card. Be well and enjoy the recipe below!

     

    Thai Citrus Salad

    Ingredients

    • 1 lb. citrus (pomelos, grapefruit, oranges)
    • 1 Tbsp. sugar
    • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
    • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
    • 1 Tbsp. lime juice 
    • 1 Tbsp. water
    • 1-2 tsp. crushed red pepper 
    • 2 Tbsp. roasted peanuts
    • 2 Tbsp. roasted or shredded coconut
    • 2 Tbsp. coconut milk
    • 1 Tbsp. diced shallot/onion
    • 1 Tbsp. chili paste
    • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce (to taste)
    • 1 tsp. salt (to taste)
    • 1 tsp. ground black (to taste)


    Instructions

    1. Add the sugar, fish sauce, lemon juice, lime juice, and water in the mixing bowl and mix until the mixture dissolves together. Next, add the jalapeno, roasted peanuts, coconut, coconut milk, onion, chili paste, and mix together.
    2. Add the dressing to the citrus and lightly toss.
    3. Add salt, black pepper, and soy sauce to taste. Lightly mix and then serve.
    4. If desired, you can top with herbs, cooked chicken, or cooked shrimp.

    For more information about Edible Alphabet and the Culinary Literacy Center, visit freelibrary.org/cook or email kitchen @ freelibrary . org. Enjoy this recipe? Leave a comment and stay tuned for another Edible Alphabet recipe next week!

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  • 18
    May.
    2020

    Making Sense of Food Scraps

    by Shayna M.

    by Nourishing Literacy staff members Shayna M. and Carolyn


    After reading a New Yorker article a few weeks ago, our curiosity and interest grew in how to use kitchen scraps in resourceful ways. Tamar Adler, the highlighted chef and cookbook author in the article, is passionate about creating wholesome, satisfying dishes with foods that are sometimes overlooked.

    Inspired by the recent Rare Books Department exhibit, Our Five Senses, we explore gardening, creating, and cooking from scraps through this lens. In the fall and winter of this school year, many Nourishing Literacy students were able to view this exhibit and make the natural connection to food and cooking!

     

    Touch

    Spring is the season for gardening. The ground softens and the earth yields under our fingers. We dig in the dirt and plant seeds, tug weeds free, jump in puddles, and enjoy the blessings of a rain-filled April. Philadelphia is an oasis of urban gardens but you don’t need much outdoor space to take part in these rituals of hope and renewal while reusing scraps in the process.

    Check out this recent Philadelphia Inquirer article for indoor gardening projects such as sprouting pantry items like lentils and black-eyed peas and planting spice seeds, as well as tips on growing veggies from scraps. 

    You can start seeds on a windowsill with an eggshell or a used tea bag, in three easy steps:

    1. Open your tea bag or put a little soil in ½ eggshell
    2. Plant a seed inside
    3. Transfer to the ground or to a larger pot when the seedling begins to grow.

    Both tea leaves and eggshells will enrich the soil with nutrients. Coffee grounds are another great food scrap fertilizer. Save them from the trash and sprinkle over edible plants that will benefit from nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. For more ideas, check out Deep-Rooted Wisdom: Skills and Stories from Generations of Gardeners and Don't Throw It, Grow It!: 68 Windowsill Plants from Kitchen Scraps, available as ebooks with your library card.

    You can also harvest seeds from plants. As flowers die, their seeds mature and the seed pods holding them (see image) are ready for harvesting. Cut these carefully, dry fully, place in a labeled envelope or sealed jar, and store in a cool, dry spot. Plant these next spring, and save yourself the time and expense of buying packets. Check out the Free Library’s ebook resource, The Weekend Homesteader: A Twelve-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency, for more. 

    Philly is home to many edible weeds. Take a walk with an eye to the ground cover, grab a handful, and try any of the following: white clover, dandelion, purslane, violet, Lamb’s quarters, wild onions, chicory, or plantain. The Philadelphia Orchard Project has a helpful Weed Identification Guide, including information about which weeds "to tolerate" (or to keep) because of their benefits. 

     

    Smell

    Rub a fresh herb like basil or cilantro between your fingers and take a deep breath in, letting the scent tickle your nose. Along with the peels from citrus fruits—think lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit—herbs engage our sense of smell. They make foods and beverages more fragrant, and the combination of smell and taste heightens the pleasure of eating and drinking. We can also get more mileage out of herbs and peels if we rethink their scraps.

    Did you know that you can grow new herbs from 'cuttings,' or small pieces of store-bought ones? Mint, rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley, and more are a cinch to grow from a small cutting. All you need is a pair of scissors, a glass or other small container to hold the cuttings in water, and a sunny spot. 

    Next time you’re about to toss a citrus peel into the garbage or compost bin, think again! Citrus zest makes baking even more fun. Grapefruit donuts, chocolate orange cake, key lime pie, and lemon tart are just a few of the specialty items that incorporate citrus zest, but you can also add zest or peel to everyday treats like pancakes and cookies. A slice of peel rubbed along the side of a glass or added to a beverage will make any drink more fun. Like sweet potato fries? Try dipping them in yogurt with lime zest and juice, and a little salt, garlic, and ginger. Remember to grate or zest before juicing, as it’s hard to do the other way around. 

    Check out the ebooks Don't Throw It, Grow It!, for more on growing herbs from scraps, and The CSA Cookbook, for a great recipe that combines basil blossoms (the flowers that are often removed from the plant and considered trash or compost) with orange peel to make a vinegar salad dressing. 

     

    Hearing

    Want to hear more inspiring stories of rethinking food waste? Join Nourishing Literacy for a watch party! We’ll watch Make Food, Not Waste together soon. We’ll listen together and learn about food banks, composting, and a unique system called Bokashi, then we’ll share and hear reactions from one another. 

    As you watch and listen, consider these questions: 

    1. Were you surprised to learn that nearly half our food ends up in the trash? How does that make you feel?
    2. What do you do with your food waste (the odds and ends that you don’t eat, like apple cores or banana peels)?
    3. What can you do to help transform your food waste into a resource?
    4. What further questions or ideas do you have about transforming food waste into a resource?

    Make Food, Not Waste is a 25-minute PBS documentary, available through Kanopy, one of the Free Library’s video streaming platforms. Kanopy allows Free Library cardholders to stream four free films per month from a vast collection of different genres for all ages. 

    A plan for Nourishing Literacy’s first watch party is in the works. Stay tuned to our Facebook and Instagram pages for more info!


    Sight

    Keep an extra eye on what you can reuse instead of toss when creating arts and crafts. What at first might seem like trash, can become even more beautiful and interesting when your second glance gives it a second chance. For an example of transforming food scraps into art, check out this recent post by our friend Caity, Supervisor of the Culinary Literacy Center, on the CLC Instagram page, about using scraps to dye Easter eggs! 

    Additionally, our Free Library digital catalog has a variety of resources on using items found in nature to create dye for fabric and fiber. Books like A Weaver’s Garden: Growing Plants For Natural Dyes and Fibers and Natural Dyes and Homedying are a great fit for readers with a serious interest in the art of creating textiles and dying. They also have tons of useful information for anyone interested in doing low-stakes, informal experiments. 

    A Weaver’s Garden also includes another great use for tea bags. Did you know that chamomile can be used to create gold and greenish-gold dyes? Perhaps you’re curious to see what other colors might come from different varieties of tea or edible flowers, like hibiscus or jamaica (red!). Experiment with the tea bags in your pantry—boil them, then dip and brush onto scraps of paper and see what happens. 

    Maybe you want to knit from scraps? Try tying together leftover bits of yarn to create a colorful and resourceful skein, or ball of yarn, to practice from! For tips and tutorials to get started working with yarn for our younger friends, check out Knit, Hook, and Spin: A Kid’s Activity Guide to Fiber Arts and Crafts online with your library card.


    Taste

    Now that some of us have a little extra time on our hands, bread baking (from scratch) is having a moment. As a result, baker’s yeast can be hard to find at the store these days. This article from the New York Times gives insight into cultivating yeast from flour and water. Do It Yourself Yeast! The New York Times is available online with the use of your library card. If inspired by the idea of growing your own yeast, you might want to check out this sourdough starter recipe.

    Speaking of bread and cooking from scraps, below is a recipe adapted from Tamar Adler’s take on Bread Soup, or Ribollita. Ribollita is a classic Italian soup, noted for its resourceful use of leftover bread. Another wonderful version can be found in Danny Meyer’s The Union Square Cafe Cookbook, available as an ebook for digital checkout with your library card. Read Meyer’s method for incorporating dried beans if you don’t have cans available.

    Ingredients

    • 2 Tablespoons oil
    • 2 cups diced hearty and aromatic vegetables (a combination of vegetables if possible), such as onion, celery, and carrots
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
    • 2 Tablespoons dried herbs such as oregano, basil, or Italian seasoning (optional)
    • ½ teaspoon hot chile flakes or chile powder (optional)
    • 1 (14- to 28-ounce) can tomatoes, chopped, with juice
    • 1½ to 3 cups dark greens, frozen greens, or drained and rinsed canned greens, chopped
    • 1 to 2 cups of cooked beans, or 1 15-ounce can
    • 2¼ cups broth, water, or a combination
    • 2 cups stale bread, torn or chopped into ½-inch pieces
    • Salt and pepper


    Directions

    1. Heat the oil in a large pot over a medium temperature. Add the diced aromatic vegetables, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Stir continuously. 
    2. Add the dried herbs, chile flakes, tomatoes, greens, beans, broth and/or water, and a few pinches of salt. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
    3. Add the bread, turn the heat as low as possible, keep covered, and cook for ½ hour.
    4. Check occasionally while cooking and add a little extra broth or water, if needed. 
    5. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper as desired. If shredded cheese such as parmesan is available, this can be sprinkled on top of each bowl of soup.

     

    We hope these ideas and resources will inspire you to rethink waste and to give your scraps a new life. Tapping into our senses can open new pathways to renewed engagement with the world around us. 


    To learn more about the Culinary Literacy Center, please visit our website or connect with us on social media through Instagram and Facebook.

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