Thursday, September 18, 2014

Kids in the Kitchen with The Weekly Kid's Co-Op

Featuring Our Picture Book of the Day: Stone Soup

My boys loved reading Stone Soup by Jon J. Muth, and I loved the message of the book as it highlights the value of coming together as a community and of every person giving what they can. Each member of the village contributes to the soup pot and in the end the whole community has a feast. Through giving, everyone has more than they would have had on their own. It is a message I seek to instill in my children regularly and to live in my own life and professional work. 

The book also, of course, got the boys excited about making soup with me, so we made our own variety of "stone soup" using what we happened to have -- just as the villagers did in the book. We started with 3 "stones" (just as in the book). Our stones were garlic cloves.
Then we added onions, a must according to Wild Thing, because of the onions in the book, and then diced up some veggie Italian sausages we had. Wild Thing enjoyed adding ingredients to the pot, but mainly wanted to take photos of the soup-making process this time, rather than me taking photos of him. He did a great job with the photos. 

Caterpillar (3) helped me add in some chicken broth, broccoli and snow peas (again things we just happened to have) and some salt and pepper. Wild Thing didn't capture any pictures of Caterpillar helping as Caterpillar is very camera shy these days, so we mainly got shots of him making a run for it -- away from the camera...Basically, Caterpillar would add ingredients then make a break for it as Wild Thing helped stir the soup and then take photos. 

Ultimately, the stone soup turned out really well. My husband and I both really liked it. The boys are still not sold on soup -- the hot liquid part (even after it cools) is just odd to them, so they mainly ate some of the broccoli and sausage that I pulled out of the soup. 

Still, it's important for me to have the boys help me cook and to learn about different foods, and this "recipe" was particularly fun as it encouraged them to see how you can create a meal with what you already have with just a little bit of creativity. Here's some other fun kids in the kitchen activities from The Weekly Kid's Co-Op:

Monday, September 15, 2014

P is for Plátano: Discovering New Foods

Hispanic Heritage Month: Exploring Different Cultures Through Food

Food, books, music and language are the primary ways we enjoy learning about the world as a family. In April, we traveled to the Dominican Republic, where my husband's mother was from, for a family wedding. 

My boys can be picky eaters, so one of the things I worried about the most was that they would turn their nose up at local food and not respect that their relatives were cooking food for them and learn about another culture through food.

Much to my surprise, they both gobbled Arroz con Pollo (Chicken and Rice), fish straight from the ocean and cooked up beachside and served with fried dough, Dominican salami and eggs for breakfast, and plátanos (plantains) -- both served up as tostones (crispy fried plantains) and fried sweet plantains. Of course, they also ate chicken nuggets and pizza while we were there! 

Learning about plátanos/plantains is a great way to explore Hispanic culture. Plátanos are from India and the Caribbean. Discussing the origin of the fruit allows children to learn about the rich diversity of the Caribbean. Often, especially in Southern California, the focus on Hispanic culture and heritage centers on Mexico and Central America, but there is a rich Hispanic history in the Caribbean because of Christopher Columbus and the many other Spanish Explorers who colonized the islands. (We saw family home of Columbus when we were in Santo Domingo). 

When the boys first saw plantains, they immediately assumed they were bananas -- and they are right! They are both in the banana family and are just different varieties, like apples. Comparing them to apples that come in many varieties made this easier for the boys to understand. A fun activity is to look, touch and taste both plantains and bananas and compare how they are alike and how they are different, and to explore how differently each are prepared and eaten. For children who are old enough, it could be fun to make a chart and write the differences and similarities side by side. It's fun to also map your fruits and vegetables, including your bananas and plantains like Kids World Citizen did here.  

We can find plantains at all of our groceries stores, probably because we live in Southern California, but if you do not see it at your local grocery store, see if there is a Hispanic grocery store or market in your town/city and look there. 

Do you explore cultures and world geography through food? If so, what have been some of your favorite recipes and/or food learning experiences? 

Please tell me how you explore different cultures, and please enjoy the Third Annual Hispanic Heritage Blog Hop hosted by Multicultural Kid Blogs including an amazing giveaway that you won't want to miss! I'm linking this post to this awesome blog hop! Also sharing at the After-School Linky

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15 every year, “celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America” (from

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