• 14

    Celebrate National Dessert Day in Philadelphia!

    by Caity R.

    Need an excuse to satisfy your sweet tooth? We are here to help! Today, October 14, is National Dessert Day, and a great opportunity to break out your favorite dessert of choice.

    While I truly believe that this year deserves multiple days of observance, it’s always nice to have a solid reason to eat cake on a weeknight. This year, I’m going to keep it local and explore desserts that are beloved by this city.

    Philadelphia may be known as a cheesesteak town, but I think it’s time we shift the narrative. Philadelphia is a place that knows and loves desserts. Beyond the cult following that exists for local snack food-producing brand Tastykake, there are plenty of desserts associated with the region.

    Water ice (not to be confused with Italian ice) has been popular here for over a century. Whether your favorite flavor is cherry, chocolate, or mango, water ice is an iconic Philadelphia treat. The proliferation of local dairies has also made Philadelphia a prime location for ice cream. Bassett’s is the oldest ice cream brand operating in America and was established all the way back in 1861. They were also the first vendor to sign a lease with Reading Terminal Market and have been operating there since 1892! Going one step further, ice cream floats were a local invention. Robert McCay Green came up with this delicious drink in 1874 when he ran out of cream while operating a soda-fountain and the invention quickly gained popularity. 

    Slightly more polarizing is Philadelphia’s fascination with Irish potatoes—which confusingly contain neither potatoes nor do they come from Ireland. While their exact origin is unknown, the coconut cream-based candies are a tradition in Philadelphia and can be found throughout the city in the weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. Philadelphia-style cheesecake, technically named for the Philadelphia company, not the city of Philadelphia, are well known for their use of cream cheese (instead of sour cream) as their star ingredient. Let’s claim that one, too.

    The influence of early German settlers to the region also had a deep impact on our dessert culture. The Pennsylvania Dutch popularized carnival favorite funnel cakes, as well as marshmallow-y whoopie pies. Apees cookies, flavored with anise, are a local, holiday-season tradition. My personal choice, however, for a German-descended dessert—and one very appropriate for this holiday—is Philadelphia Butter Cake (also known as "butterkuchen"). Similar in texture to a very rich pound cake, Philadelphia Butter Cake is known for having a very buttery, pudding-like center. This cake is especially popular in Northeast Philadelphia, and is the perfect decadent indulgence for National Dessert Day! If you want to try making it on your own, check out the recipe below.

    Philadelphia Butter Cake

    For the Base:

    • 1/4 cup (about 2 ounces) granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) salted butter
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 (1/4 ounce) packet active dry yeast
    • 1/2 cup warm milk (105-115°F)
    • 2 1/4 cups (about 12 ounces) flour, sifted
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

    For the Topping:

    • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
    • 2/3 cup (about 3 ounces) flour
    • 2 cups (about 16 ounces) superfine sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 4 tablespoons milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 


    1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix sugar, butter, and salt on low speed until combined. Add egg, and beat on medium speed for 1 minute.
    2. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm milk.
    3. To egg/sugar mixture, add flour, then yeast mixture and vanilla, beating about 3 minutes (with dough hook or by hand). Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead for 90 seconds. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a towel, and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
    4. Toward the end of the rising period, start preparing the topping. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes on medium speed. Add the flour and sugar to the mixture, and continue beating on medium speed until fully combined. Add the eggs one at a time, allowing the first to fully incorporate into the batter before adding the second. Add in the vanilla. Add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time. If the consistency is any thinner than a pancake batter, don't add any more milk.
    5. Grease or line a 9- by 13-inch aluminum pan with parchment paper.
    6. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Remove it from the bowl, and pat into the bottom of your prepared pan. Crimp the edges of the crust halfway up the sides of the container so that they will hold in the filling.
    7. Spread the topping evenly over the dough. Let stand for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F and position a rack in the middle position.
    8. Bake 30 minutes, or until browned on the edges but still quite gooey in the middle. It will solidify as it cools. Wait until it has cooled completely before serving; store in the refrigerator.

    *Recipe from Serious Eats.

    If this post has inspired you to continue celebrating National Dessert Day after today, check out the Culinary Literacy Center's upcoming program "Spooky Halloween Treats!" In this bake-along class, families will learn how to make a dreadfully delicious dessert from local baking extraordinaire Chef Monica. Tickets are $10 per (haunted) household or are complimentary for any who can't afford the fee at the moment. Get your tickets now, or email kitchen @ freelibrary.org for more information!

    culinary literacy

  • 8

    Language Through My Kitchen: Latin Cuisine

    by Mary Marques

    The Latin American Book Fair, in partnership with the Culinary Literacy Center, will be presenting Language Through My Kitchen: Latin Cuisine, during a virtual event broadcast on Facebook on Friday, October 16, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The idea of this project is to explore the origins of culinary ingredients and to provide the historic-cultural background of the dishes. 

    Celebrating Latin American Cuisine
    This concept was born during a brainstorm creative session of the book fair committee members. In that meeting, they were discussing the importance of community partnership in this project. The Culinary Literacy Center was recommended as a potential participant to assist with this idea. This center is known for teaching literacy skills through cooking; Edible Alphabet, Nourishing Literacy, Pop-up Cooking Classes are some of the instruction curriculum models developed to guide learning to the participants of all ages. This magnificent industrial kitchen is located on the fourth floor of Parkway Central Library

    Exploring Cultures Over Flavors
    This concept "will inspire the audience to learn about Latin Cuisine. Our idea will showcase the cultural and linguistic aspects of our most famous dishes. We will use historic references, anecdotes, and recipes" was the proposal of the book fair team. With additional help from talented community leaders, chefs, bloggers, and volunteers, this project will kick off with the Peruvian dish: "La causa rellena."

    Behind the story of a dish
    Do you know that each country in Latin American has a great variety of dishes that tell the history and evolution of its culture? As you know, oral traditions are passed from one generation to another. Have you heard about traditional recipes such as: ceviche, papa a la huancaína, pozole, arepa, or empanada? It is very interesting to see how similar some ingredients are, and how differently we use them in our own kitchen.

    Second Latin American Book Fair: Going Virtual!
    COVID-19 has changed the way we interact in social gatherings, and we must comply with health measures and safety protocols to avoid the spread of this disease. This year the book fair is going virtual! On Thursday, October 15, we will be opening with the poetry section.  On Friday, October 16, the program will be dedicated to the children's segment; the little ones of the house will have the opportunity to listen to family stories that speak of cultural traditions. And finally, on Saturday, October 17, we will close with the presentation of books from other literary genres.


    For more information, please visit www.latinbookfair.com. Follow the event news on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook at @latinbookfair. 

    Let's celebrate the quilt of cultures, languages, and traditions together!

    #LABF #latinos #bookfair #philadelphia #libros #español #languages #cultures #traditions

    family programs languages Children's books literacy storytime culinary literacy community diversity inclusivity Virtual Programs immigrant heritage

  • 11

    Whipping Up a Dream Pie

    by Naquawna L.

    As a child, I loved eating, tasting, and experimenting with different ingredients. On Saturdays, I would spend my day watching cooking shows before the Food Network became a thing. It was my dream to become a chef and I practiced what was portrayed on TV. I often played with food and prepared more food than I could eat. I was a strong-willed child with a vivid imagination and when left unattended, I would pretend I was a chef. I would use any ingredients I could get my hands on to create something that neither my family nor I would eat. Living in a large family household, my love affair with food was costing my parents loads of money, they didn’t have, on food waste.

    Desperate to impart a more constructive interaction with me and food, I began preparing dishes and creating recipes with my family; hashtag less food waste. In my house, we almost always had jello, fruit cocktail, and whipped topping. One day when my mother was off from work, we created Dream Pie using some of my favorite childhood snacks. Creating Dream Pie is one of the first accomplishments I can remember as a chef.

    Did you know, children who cook tend to have greater use of their imagination, are better at following directions, have higher self-esteem, and have better communication and interactions with adults? If you have a picky eater, a child experiencing behavioral issues, or a child struggling in school, perhaps cooking or baking with them could help. The skills I learned from cooking when I was a child had a significant impact on who I am today.

    Dream Pie is a light and fluffy no-bake dessert made with fruit, whipped topping, jello, and shortbread crust. Ultimately, there are countless variations of Dream Pie and you could use fruits and flavors that are suited to your family.

    Dream Pie

    • Prep time: 10 minutes
    • Refrigeration time: 2-3 hrs
    • Servings: 6-8


    • Shortbread crust
    • 8 oz. of whipped topping or fresh whipped cream 
    • 1 3 oz. pack of strawberry jello
    • 1 small can of Fruit cocktail drained
    • 8 oz. of sliced strawberries (for garnish)


    • Mix the cool whip and jello together
    • Fold in ½ of the fruit cocktail at a time
    • Pour entire mixture into a pie crust 
    • Arrange sliced strawberries in a pattern on top. 
    • Put in the refrigerator to set. This should take about 2-3 hours.
    • Once the pie has set cut and enjoy


    • If you can’t find strawberry jello, I have also used cherry.
    • When using the cherry jello, I use maraschino cherries for the garnish.
    • The shortbread crust can be substituted for any crust of your choice.

    We would love to see the results of your dream pie! Leave us a picture in the comments.

    To explore more experiments with food, check out these awesome titles from our catalog!


    Science Experiments with Food by Alex Kuskowski
    Make science simple! This book features easy and fun Science Experiments with Food using household items. Young readers can assemble experiments at home from a Lemon-Powered Lightbulb to Disco Dancing Spaghetti. No laboratory needed! Each activity includes easy instructions with how-to photos, and short science explanations. Use fun to introduce math and science to kids. Super simple says it all. Aligned to Common Core Standards and correlated to state standards.

    Food Experiments for Would-Be Scientists by Baby Professor
    Here's a yummy book of experiments for would-be scientists! Composed of scientific ideas to do with food, this book will make an addictive addition to your child's collection. Of course, since we're working with food and some cooking, adult supervision is required. Encourage your child to never stop learning.


    Cooking is Cool: Heat-Free Recipes for Kids to Cook by Marianne E. Dambra
    More than 50 heat-free recipes packed with flavor and learning. Cooking can be a delicious learning experience for children. As children read recipes, measure ingredients, and taste each dish, they build math and literacy skills, practice science process skills, and explore different food groups. Cooking Is Cool makes all of this hands-on learning possible without stepping foot in the kitchen. These classroom-friendly recipes are all heat-free, meaning they can be made without an oven, stove, microwave, or hot plate. With your guidance, budding chefs can follow the easy instructions to transform fresh, simple ingredients into tasty snacks, beverages, entrees, and treats. This book includes more than 50 heat-free recipes that are fun to make and taste great, an explanation of the learning that occurs as children cook, tips to create your own classroom cooking center, and nutrition information, extension ideas, and interesting food facts.

    Amazing (Mostly) Edible Science by Andrew Schloss
    Teaching your kids science just got better, and tastier! With the awe-inspiring and accessible recipes and projects in Amazing (Mostly) Edible Science, uniting science and cooking has never been easier. Introduce your children to the wonders of science by creating projects and experiments in your very own kitchen. Entertaining to make and spectacular to behold, not only will your child learn important scientific principles, but they can even enjoy the delicious final product. Almost everything made in this book is edible. Learn and appreciate projects like classic exploding volcano cakes, glow-in-the-dark Jell-O, singing cakes, and bouncy eggs. Food expert Andrew Schloss provides you and your kids with practical and humorous projects that include step by step instructions, illustrated with fun full-color photos sure to appeal to kids of all ages. All recipes/projects in this book are non-toxic and safe for consumption; some just to taste (slime, ectoplasm) and many you will love, such as molten chocolate cupcakes, disappearing peppermint pillows, and amber maple syrup crystals!

    How-To culinary literacy Recipes

  • 10

    Edible Alphabet Recipe of the Week: Veggie Mac and Cheese

    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. For the time being, all Edible Alphabet classes are being run virtually in the interest of public health and safety. During weeks when virtual classes are on break, we will be sharing weekly recipes from our class curriculum and participants.

    This week, I’m sharing another Edible Alphabet recipe we made in our most recent (and virtual) English course: Veggie Mac and Cheese. This recipe is popular for participants looking for a healthier spin on the U.S. American classic comfort dish, as well as with parents looking to incorporate more vegetables into their family meals. As we head back to (virtual) school and the weather cools, this dish will definitely make its way back into my monthly rotation.

    Speaking of getting back to school, the Free Library has lots of resources available virtually to support learners of all ages. Our homework helpline, Tutor.com, which is free to use for anyone with a library card, is one resource I think will be especially helpful to learners this fall. Tutor.com provides free live online tutoring in English and Spanish for elementary to college students, as well as adult learners, 7 days a week from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Tutor.com also provides support to English language learners at all ages. 

    If you would like to head back to school with Edible Alphabet this fall, we still have a few spots available in our classes that start in mid-September—register now!


    Veggie Mac and Cheese


    • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
    • ¼ cauliflower
    • 1 large carrot
    • 1 small butternut squash (about 1 ½ cups)
    • ½ cup vegetable broth
    • 2 cups milk
    • 8 oz. cheddar cheese
    • 4 oz. cream cheese
    • 1 oz. parmesan cheese
    • 1 oz. mozzarella cheese
    • Salt
    • Black pepper


    1. Heat a large pot of water on high until boiling.
    2. Add salt and pasta to the boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes (until al dente). Drain pasta in a colander and rinse with cold water.
    3. Peel and seed butternut squash. Chop into small pieces.
    4. Peel and chop carrot into rounds.
    5. Chop cauliflower into chunks.
    6. Add vegetables to a pot and cover with vegetable broth (add additional broth or water to ensure vegetables are covered). Heat on medium heat until vegetables are soft (10-15 minutes). Let cool.
    7. Grate cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses.
    8. Puree the vegetables and vegetable stock with an immersion blender (or conventional blender) until smooth.
    9. Add milk, cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella, and cream cheeses to the pot with the vegetable mixture. Heat on medium and stir until cheese is melted.
    10. Add pasta to the sauce and cook for 10-15 minutes until the sauce is thick and coats the noodles. Serve and enjoy.

    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 more Edible Alphabet recipes in the coming weeks!

    culinary literacy Recipes Cook This Now English Language Learners Edible Alphabet

  • 3

    Edible Alphabet Recipe of the Week: Vegetarian Jambalaya

    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. For the time being, all Edible Alphabet classes are being run virtually in the interest of public health and safety. During weeks when virtual classes are on break, we will be sharing weekly recipes from our class curriculum and participants.  

    This week, I’m sharing an Edible Alphabet recipe we made in our most recent (and virtual) English course: Vegetarian Jambalaya. This recipe is adapted from Leanne Brown’s excellent cookbook, Good and Cheap (also available in Spanish under the title Bueno y Barato). This one-pot meal comes together in under 30 minutes, is packed with flavor, vegetables, and protein, and rings in around $0.65 per serving! As always, this recipe can be customized to your palate. For a milder version, discard the seeds of the jalapeno and reduce or omit the cayenne. For a meatier version, add cooked sausage, chicken, or shrimp in place of the black-eyed peas. One of our class participants couldn’t track down black-eyed peas so she used black beans and her dish turned out fantastic. 

    Our next series of Edible Alphabet virtual classes will be starting in a few weeks, so register now! For those interested in exploring the food culture of Louisiana further, check out the Free Library’s collection of cajun and creole cookbooks available for download or contactless pick up from a neighborhood library near you. Looking for a soundtrack while you cook? Check out the online Jazz Music Library, available to all Free Library cardholders (and read more about Philadelphia Jazz Legends in this series).

    Happy Cooking!


    Vegetarian Jambalaya


    • 1 medium onion 
    • 3 stalks celery 
    • 1 green bell pepper 
    • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil 
    • 3 cloves garlic 
    • ½ jalapeño 
    • 2 large tomatoes 
    • 2 bay leaves 
    • 1 tsp. paprika 
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder 
    • ¼ tsp. cayenne 
    • ½ tsp. dried thyme 
    • ½ tsp. dried oregano 
    • 1 tsp. soy sauce 
    • ¾ cup long-grain white rice 
    • 3 cup vegetable broth 
    • 1 can (15 oz.) black-eyed peas 
    • Salt 
    • Pepper


    1. Dice onion and celery. Seed and dice green pepper.
    2. Heat vegetable oil in a pot at medium-high heat. 
    3. Add onion, celery, and green pepper to the pot and cook for 5 minutes, until vegetables are translucent but not brown. 
    4. Mince garlic and jalapeño. Chop tomatoes. 
    5. Add garlic, jalapeño, tomatoes, bay leaves, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, and soy sauce. Cook for 1 minute. 
    6. Add the rice and slowly pour in the vegetable broth. Lower heat to medium and let cook for 15 minutes. 
    7. Add black-eyed peas. Cook until rice absorbs all the liquid (5-10 more minutes). 
    8. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

    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 more Edible Alphabet recipes in the coming weeks!

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

  • 2

    Call for Artwork: Nourishing Literacy Series of Printed Learning Materials

    by Shayna M.

    Hello to our friends of all ages!

    The Nourishing Literacy team is in the process of creating a series of printed learning materials and we would be thrilled to include your artwork!

    Call for Artwork

    • Community Coloring Books and Activity Workbooks are the tools that we are currently creating.
    • In the future, some of the art submissions will be included in a Community Family Cookbook!
    • We are collecting drawings of root vegetables and leafy vegetables, with more opportunities coming up! 



    • All artists requested!! All styles, all abilities, all ages!!
    • Please create an outline of an image, rather than one that is colored in.
    • Please use a dark writing tool to go over the finished outline so it can be clearly seen.
    • If possible, please draw the image on a piece of white paper, 8.5 x 11-inch (letter size).


    Please Include

    • Artist’s first name
    • Artist’s age, if a child or teen
    • Something that the artist appreciates about the library
    • Name of food drawn


    Deadline Dates

    • Wednesday, September 9th = Root Vegetable Drawings
    • Wednesday, September 30th = Leafy Vegetable Drawings


    Options for Submission

    • Email a picture or scan of the artwork to kitchen @ freelibrary.org with "Nourishing Literacy Community Art" in the title by the requested date for submission.
    • Mail the artwork a few days before the requested date for submission to:

    Nourishing Literacy, Culinary Literacy Center
    Parkway Central Library, 4th Floor
    1901 Vine Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19103


    Please email any questions to kitchen @ freelibrary.org with "Nourishing Literacy" in the title.

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

    art culinary literacy

  • 26

    Edible Alphabet Recipe of the Week: Persian Kotlet

    by Lindsay S.

    Last week, we completed our first Virtual Edible Alphabet English 4-week course and it was a great success!

    Twenty participants from around the world (Burundi, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Italy, Iran, Ivory Coast, Japan, Pakistan, Syria, and Taiwan) joined us on a video call to cook, practice English, and connect with the library community during these challenging times of separation and social distancing. We were even able to arrange free and contactless grocery pick-up for 15 participants! Chef Shayla and I had a wonderful time connecting with and learning from class participants and are looking forward to more virtual classes this fall.
    Register today—please spread the word to any adult English language learners you think might be interested in this opportunity.

    I'm excited to share with you a cooking lesson from two long-time Edible Alphabet English class participants: Sara and Sholeh! Sara and Sholeh met in an Edible Alphabet class in 2018 and have since become close friends, coworkers, and neighbors. They completed a community chef training program provided by Healthy Communities last year. In this video, they provide step-by-step instructions for making kotlets, a delicious and hearty Persian beef-and-potato dish that can be served warm or cold. I made the dish with a meatless substitute and it turned out fantastic!

    If you are interested in further expanding your knowledge of Persian cooking, we have e-cookbooks available for download from our catalog. You can also pick up a physical cookbook on Persian cuisine from one of our neighborhood libraries that is offering contactless material pick-up.

    culinary literacy New Americans Recipes Cook This Now English Language Learners Languages and Learning Center Edible Alphabet

  • 22

    The Rainbow Pantry Comes Back for Seconds!

    by Shayna M.

    With the close of Pride Month last month, we continue to celebrate and be inspired by all of the stripes found on the Pride flag, and all of the people who are represented by this flag, throughout the year.

    Moved by the symbolism and importance of the Pride flag, the Progress Pride flag, and the advocacy and awareness evoked, creative cooks might like to try filling a plate with colorful foods that nourish the body and honor community members.

    As a continuation of the Rainbow Pantry suggestions offered in the spring, let’s round out our colorful plates to include all hues of the Pride flag! Below are ideas for additional colorful pantry preparations.

    Black: Nori Seaweed
    For a quick snack, toast nori sheets in a pan briefly on each side, until crisp. Lightly oil a bowl, add favorite seasonings, and gently toss the nori in the bowl, allowing it to break up into smaller, manageable pieces.

    Brown: Oats
    Heat oats in a conventional oven, toaster oven, or on a stovetop in a single layer, until fragrant and golden brown. Depending on the method used and the amount of oats, they will take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to cook. If unsure, check on the oats regularly as they toast. Once golden brown, toss the oats with a little honey or maple syrup, a pinch of salt, and cinnamon, if on hand. As the mix sits and cools, the oats will harden into crunchy bites. Use this to put on top of fresh or canned fruit or yogurt.

    Pink: Canned or Frozen Shrimp
    A great ingredient for an instant meal! Once drained and cooked (if frozen), toss shrimp with some vinegar or citrus juice and seasonings, allowing to marinate and soak up the flavors. Use a lettuce leaf as a wrapper for a light summer snack or meal. Fill the lettuce with the prepared shrimp, a vegetable such as shredded carrot, and toasted nuts or seeds if you like. Drizzle with a little soy sauce, chili sauce, sriracha, or anything else that is preferred and on hand.

    Light Blue: Blue Corn Maseca
    Maseca, or instant corn masa, can be found in blue, yellow, or white varieties and can be used for all kinds of recipes—including fresh tortillas! To make tortillas, mix maseca and water (a bit more maseca than water) until a soft dough comes together. Roll dough into small balls, and flatten. This can be done by putting the dough in a folded piece of plastic wrap and rolling over the plastic wrap with a rolling pin or plastic cup. Cook the tortillas in a pan for about 30 seconds on each side. Keep tortillas warm while the others cook, by wrapping the cooked tortillas a cloth towel.

    White: Canned Potatoes
    Try preparing roasted potato croutons for your next salad. Drain and rinse a can of potatoes, and slice potatoes into small squares. Toss in a small amount of oil and roast in the oven or toaster oven until golden browned and crisp. Roasted potato squares add texture and heartiness to salad.

    What additional colors and ingredients can you think of or find in a kitchen pantry?


    For colorful food inspirations, check out some of our Free Library ebooks for intergenerational readers.

    Rainbow Stew by Cathryn Falwell is a picture book that many of our younger Nourishing Literacy students have enjoyed listening to during visits to the Children’s Department. This story is about children who help harvest vegetables with their grandfather on his farm, which they use to cook and eat together, and it also includes a recipe.



    The Forest Feast for Kids by Erin Gleeson is a beautiful book with ideas for preparing fruits and vegetables simply, but with special care and attention. Erin Gleeson incorporates her artwork throughout the visual recipes.





    The Edible Rainbow Garden is written by Rosalind Creasy, an accomplished gardener and author who works with Hidden Villa, an educational farm for youth, intergenerational groups, and adults. This book features illustrated gardening tips and ideas for planning a garden with colors in mind, and it also contains garden-based family-friendly recipes.



    Some of our ebooks that feature pantry foods include the following:
    The Can Opener Gourmet by Laura Karr is a cookbook filled with ideas for canned foods, with a focus on wholesome, nourishing meals.





    Good and Cheap and the Spanish translation, Bueno y Barato, by Leanne Brown is a cookbook used in different Culinary Literacy Center classes.



    What sorts of colorful foods are you thinking of cooking up? How can you use what is already on hand to make satisfying and nourishing dishes?


    As we gather around our virtual communal table, we acknowledge and appreciate the Pride flag that has inspired our recipe ideas, and most importantly, the important people who the flag represents, our LGBTQIA+ community members.

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

    culinary literacy Free Library of Pride

  • 16

    Happy National Ice Cream Month!

    by Naquawna L.

    I know we have all heard the saying "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream." For people of all ages, from toddlers to seniors, ice cream has become an American classic; but do you know the history of this sweet treat?

    Originating in Ancient China, King Tang is referenced first for ice cream. It is believed between A.D. 618 – 907, King Tang of Shang employed about 100 “ice men” to prepare an ice cream-like dessert made out of buffalo milk, flour, and camphor. Fortunately, what we now enjoy is a much smoother and creamier version of ice cream, for which we can likely thank explorer Marco Polo. It has been claimed that Marco Polo (1254) learned the Ancient Chinese method of making ice cream with salt, which is now known as the freezing point depression, and shared it with others during his travels. Due to this fact, there are countless variations of ice cream we enjoy today.

    The most popular version of ice cream consumed today was introduced to Americans in 1744 through a letter written about one of Maryland’s colonial Governor’s dinner socials for the elite. The article highlighted the "delicious strawberry ice cream" served for dessert. With this in mind, it took an additional one hundred years before mass production began and ice cream became available to everyone. The very first known advertisement for ice cream was published in the New York Star Gazette in May of 1777. 

    Since then, ice cream has become an iconic summertime favorite and a major impact on the nation's economy. Remarkably, ice cream production has contributed eleven billion dollars directly to the nation's economy and supports more than 26,000 direct jobs that generate 1.6 billion in direct wages. Due to this large impact, in 1984 Ronald Reagan declared the month of July National Ice Cream Month. Ice cream was also given its own day. Every year ice cream day is held on the third Sunday of July. This year it will be held on July 19, 2020. 

    Want to learn more about the history of ice cream? Read this terrific article and timeline!

    Looking for some fun activities for Ice Cream Day? Why not make your own ice cream?! For a healthy ice cream alternative, "nice" cream is an easy, delicious way to make a sweet sorbet-like treat using frozen fruits. Try the recipe below and leave us a comment showing us of your results.

     Basic Banana Nice Cream Recipe


    • 4 cups frozen banana slices (~2 large bananas)
    • 2–4 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk (any milk of your choice will work)


    • Place frozen banana slices and 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk into a high-speed food processor or blender.
    • Blend on high for 1 to 2 minutes stopping to scrape the sides every so often. If your blender is having a hard time blending the bananas, add more almond milk by the tablespoon.
    • Once pureed together, your banana nice cream should be like a super thick smoothie or soft serve.
    • At this point, you have the option to eat immediately or to transfer to a parchment-lined pan or glass bowl to freeze for later. Be sure to cover.
    • Freeze banana nice cream for 1 to 2 hours so that it hardens enough to scoop like ice cream, but isn’t too hard where you can’t scoop it.
    • Feel Free to try out this recipe with different fruit or fruit blends.

    Allow nice cream to thaw for about 30 minutes before scooping and serving.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving Size: 1/2 recipe Calories: 123 Sugar: 17 Fat: 1 Carbohydrates: 31 Fiber: 4 Protein: 2

    Author: Lee Hersh of Fitfoodiefinds.com

    If you want to explore further, the library has tons of ebooks that will help you improve your ice cream-making skills at home! Here are a few to begin with:

    How to Make Ice Cream
    by Nicole Weston

    Making Vegan Frozen Treats by Nicole Weston

    Make Your Own Ice Cream
    by S. T. Rorer 

    culinary literacy summer

  • 14

    Edible Alphabet Recipe of the Week: Samosas

    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.  

    The herbs in my garden are taking off this week, so I decided to make a green herb dipping sauce and a batch of potato-pea samosas from Edible Alphabet’s global recipes workbook. This recipe is one of my favorites and it takes two shortcuts that reduce the time and mess: it calls for pre-made pie dough and the samosas are baked rather than fried. The recipe makes 16 samosas; I cut the recipe in half because I’m no longer cooking for a crowd. The samosas can also be wrapped and frozen before baking—just add an additional few minutes to the bake time in the oven. If you have leftover filling, it can be served over rice or with a side of naan and raita.  

    I am very excited to announce that in two weeks, we will be starting a summer session of Edible Alphabet English as a virtual program! If you or someone you know is interested in learning and practicing English through cooking, you can register today or email kitchen @ freelibrary.org for more information. If you are not an English language learner but are still interested in learning and connecting through food and the Free Library, I recommend you check out the Virtual Library Dinners happening weekly at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday evenings or the Book Feast taking place tomorrow, Wednesday, July 15 at 4:00 p.m., where they will be making banana pie inspired by Gabriel García Márquez’s Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude).


    Samosas and Dipping Sauce



    • 2 ready-made pie crusts (9-inch round)  
    • 2 small baking potatoes (or 1 large potato)  
    • 1 small onion  
    • 1 jalapeño pepper  
    • 1 clove garlic  
    • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger  
    • 1 tsp. curry powder
    • 1 tsp. ground cumin  
    • ½ tsp. ground allspice  
    • ½ tsp. cinnamon  
    • 1 Roma tomato  
    • ½ cup frozen peas  
    • 2 Tbsp. oil
    • 1 egg  
    • Salt (to taste)  
    • Black pepper (to taste)  
    • Flour (for rolling dough) 

    Dipping Sauce

    • 1 bunch fresh mint  
    • 1 bunch fresh cilantro  
    • 1 lime (juice only)  
    • 2 Tbsp. olive oil  
    • 1 jalapeño pepper (seeds and stem removed)  
    • 2 Tbsp. fresh ginger  
    • 2 cloves garlic  
    • 1 tsp. sugar 


    1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. 
    2. Peel and dice potatoes and onion. 
    3. Seed and dice tomato. Finely dice jalapeño pepper and garlic. Grate ginger. 
    4. Boil potatoes in a large pot of water for 5–7 minutes. Drain. 
    5. Heat oil in a pan and add onions. Sauté until tender (4–5 minutes.) 
    6. Add jalapeño pepper, garlic, ginger, and spices. Cook for 2–3 minutes. 
    7. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, peas, and 1 Tbsp. water, cook for 2 additional minutes, and then remove from heat. Use a fork to mash some of the potatoes and peas and stir to combine. 
    8. Sprinkle flour on a clean surface. Place pie crust on a floured surface and cut each pie round into 8 wedges. 
    9. Beat egg and small splash of water with a fork in a small bowl. 
    10. Spoon 1 Tbsp. of the filling onto each wedge. Brush the edges with egg wash and pull the corners up to form a pyramid. Place on a baking sheet. 
    11. Brush the samosas with egg wash and bake for 15–20 minutes, or until golden brown. 
    12. While the samosas bake, add all the ingredients for the dipping sauce to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth.

    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!

    languages culinary literacy Recipes English Language Learners Languages and Learning Center Virtual Programs Edible Alphabet


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