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Archive for June, 2011

A week ago today, my class dressed in togas and threw a Roman feast.

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Unfortunately, it was raining outside, so our Roman Feast/ picnic was moved into the classroom.

The parents generously donated a ton of food.

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After being topped with crushed tomatoes and fresh herbs from my garden, the baked lentil and rice stuffed grape leaves turned out really well.

Most kids were adventurous enough to try the little stuffed rolls.

In addition to the food provided by the parents, we baked our own Ancient Roman bread.

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Honestly, this is probably the best bread I’ve ever made.

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Among the heaps of delicious food, the two large homemade loaves were the first to be eaten up.

I attribute the success of the bread to the long kneading times… when 18 kids each need a chance to knead the bread, the job gets done sufficiently well.

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We followed a recipe from a teachers’ resource website called Sparklebox.

The children had to follow the steps independently to make the bread from beginning to end.

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The bread was made with a mixture of whole wheat, rye and all-purpose flour.

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The Romans ate sweet breads too, but this recipe was for a savory bread.

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After the flours, water with dissolved yeast and salt water were combined, the real fun started!

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Time to knead!

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This dough goes through two kneading cycles prior to the final rise before baking the bread.

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Before the first rise.

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After the first rise. We had some very happy yeast!

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Second knead.

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The dough was shaped into two rounds then placed on baking trays coated with cornmeal. They were then sliced and set aside to rise one last time.

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Fresh from the oven!

This bread was crunchy on the outside but soft and tender on the inside.

Many of the kids had never baked bread before so I was overjoyed that it turned out so well.

I hope they try to teach their parents this simple recipe!

Ancient Roman Bread

Makes two large loaves

Ingredients

2 packages fast-rising dry yeast

2 1/2 cups tepid water

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup rye flour

Unbleached white flour to make up 950 grams in total flour weight

1 teaspoon salt mixed with 1 Tablespoon water

Cornmeal for baking sheets

Method

  1. Dissolve the dried yeast in the tepid water in a large bowl.
  2. Weight the whole wheat and rye flour together in a large bowl.Add all purpose flour to make up a total weight of 950 grams. Mix the flours together.
  3. Add 4 cups flour mixture to the water and yeast. Whip for around 10 minutes.
  4. Add the salty water and continue to mix.
  5. Add the remaining flour to the bowl and mix to form a dough. You may need to use your hands.
  6. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes.
  7. Put the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  8. Take the risen dough from the bowl knead once more for 10 minutes. Place back into the bowl and set aside to rise for another hour.
  9. Punch the dough down once more and split the dough to form 2 large loaves. Shape the loaves then place them on baking sheets which have been dusted with cornmeal. Gently slice the tops of the dough with 2-3 ventilation cracks. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and allow to rise until doubled in size.
  10. Bake in a preheated oven set to 230 C (450 F) for 25 minutes, or until the crusts are browned. The loaves should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  11. If you can wait, allow the bread to cook before slicing and eating.

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This Sunday, my friend Matt’s son, Oskar, celebrated his 3rd birthday.

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After two weeks of rain, the skies finally cleared and the sun shone down on the park picnic.

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It was a beautiful day, full of happy children, good food and time spent with friends.

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Earlier this week I saw an adorable cookie monster cupcake idea on a new-to-me blog called applejacks. A few days later, Annie of Annie’s Eats wrote about the Sesame Street themed birthday party she threw for her son.

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Inspired by both bloggers, I combined their ideas and created my own version of Sesame Street Cupcakes.

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They were a hit, even with the Elmo-loving birthday boy!

Although these adorable cupcakes ended happily, they began with a very sad state of affairs.

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My very first cupcake flop.

Although the recipe for funfetti cupcakes came from a website that I’ve used lots of times, for some reason, these cupcakes just didn’t work for me.

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So, I stuck with what I know and made the perfect vegan vanilla cupcakes.

Light, fluffy, vanilla deliciousness!

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I find it a bit ironic that the ‘traditional’ recipe was a disaster but the untraditional recipe worked like a charm.

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Earlier in the week, I prepared the eyes and colored coconut flakes.

The eyes were made by melting white chocolate, placing spoonfuls onto parchment paper, then sticking a chocolate chip in the middle of each dollop.

The eyes took several hours to completely set so making them ahead is a good idea.

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I’ve always been a bit partial towards died coconut flakes.

When I was young, my mom always made a 3D Easter basket scene by shaping rice crispy treats and coating them in beautiful Easter colored coconut.

I found a powdered food dye that created really vibrant colors.

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For the frosting, I stuck with my vegan vanilla buttercream frosting, minus the vegan part… I only had real butter left.

So I guess this was straight up vanilla buttercream then.

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I generously frosted the cupcakes…

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then placed them upside down in the coconut flakes.

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After a few rolls in the coconut flakes, the fuzzy ‘fur’ was stuck and ready to go.

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Although Annie’s cupcakes were adorable with their skillfully piped frosting fur, I love the way the coconut looks so fuzzy and puppet-like.

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In addition to the chocolate eyes, I used gummy treats (which are a cinch to cut,) chocolate chip cookies, oreo cookies and nutella to decorate the cupcake characters.

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Introducing the Sesame Street Characters!

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Cookie Monster (my favorite)

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Big Bird

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Oscar the Grouch

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Elmo

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Although Big Bird looks a bit out of proportioned and fearful for his life, I’m really happy with how the cupcakes turned out.

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They made everyone at the party smile.

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Well, everyone except Big Bird that is.

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Although the lentil and brown rice stuffed grape leaves were my most recent leaf stuffing adventure, they were not my first.

My first attempt at stuffing grape leaves was made using a simple recipe with feta cheese and flavored honey.

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I brought these fancy tasting, minimal effort treats to a barbeque at my friends’ house a couple weeks ago.

The combination of ingredients might seem odd, but the salty, sweet, herby taste caught everyone off guard and filled their eyes with an “mmmmhhh” expression. Once their mouths were empty, everyone was commenting on the deliciousness of these stuffed grape leaves.

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To make the flavored honey, simply mix fresh rosemary,  oregano, and pepper with honey. The original recipe called for pink pepper berries, but I substituted ground white pepper instead.

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Spread a small amount of the honey onto a pickled grape leaf, layer on a piece of feta then top with more honey.

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Not only does the honey taste amazing, it helps to ‘glue’ the grape leaf folds in place.

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Fold the leaf around the feta then secure closed with a wooden skewer.

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This recipe made 8 appetizer-sized bites which were later cooked on the grill until the cheese and honey had melted together.

My only regret is that I didn’t double the recipe.

Grilled Feta Stuffed Grape Leaves

From Schrot und Korn magazine

  • 8 pickled grape leaves
  • 50 grams liquid honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon pink pepper berries
  • 400 grams goat cheese feta
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 small wooden skewers, soaked in water to prevent burning
  1. Rinse and dry the pickled grape leaves, cut the feta cheese into 8 pieces.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the honey, rosemary, oregano and pepper berries.
  3. Place about half a teaspoon of the honey mixture onto the middle of each prepared grape leaf. Layer a piece of feta then another half teaspoon of honey. Sprinkle with sea salt, if desired.
  4. Fold the grape leaves and secure closed with a wooden skewer.
  5. Before grilling, brush each prepared leaf with olive oil. Grill on both sides about 5 minutes.

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Tomorrow is an exciting day in my classroom.

After learning about the Ancient Roman empire for two semesters, we will celebrate the culminating activity with a Roman feast.

The kids are beyond excited.

They’ve created their togas and stollas, fashioned their jewelry and broaches, and even decided on special Romanesque hairstyles.

But who am I kidding, the party isn’t about the fashion or Roman games, it’s about the food!

Luckily I have an amazing group of parents who are providing most of the food for the feast.

The kids, however, will bake Roman bread.

I’m contributing a recipe of my own- Grape leaves stuffed with lentils and shallot cooked brown rice.

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I’m not claiming that my contribution is an authentic Roman recipe, it’s more of a “What would Kendel make with the ingredients in a Roman kitchen.”

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Whereas the Romans would have used cereal grains like spelt, I’ve used brown rice which has been cooked with shallots and vegetable stock. Although brown rice was unknown to the Romans, I thought it would help hold the leaves together.

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I’ll top the prepared stuffed grape leaves with tomatoes tomorrow and bake them before serving.

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Hopefully the kids will feel like they’re truly at a Roman feast.

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I still had leftover lentils and brown rice once the leaves were all stuffed so ate the extra stuffing as dinner.

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With a simple drizzle of olive oil, these two easy ingredients made a filling and fancy-tasting dinner.

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Lentils with Shallots and Brown Rice

Vegan ~ Vegetarian ~ Simple

Ingredients

For the lentils

1 can cooked lentils

2 bay leaves

For the rice

1/2 cup brown rice

1- 1 1/4 cups water

2 small shallots, chopped

1 tsp. vegetable stock granules

olive oil

fresh black pepper

Method

  1. Cook the rice according to package instructions along with the addition of the shallots and stock granules.
  2. Warm the lentils and bay leaves over medium-low heat until the bay leaves become aromatic.
  3. Plate the rice and lentils together, drizzle with olive oil and season with pepper to taste.

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Green beans have always been one of my favorite vegetables.

I attribute my green bean love to my grandparents.

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Every spring, my grandpa plants an incredible vegetable garden. He plants lettuce, sweet corn, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, peppers, even peanuts, garlic and strawberries.

Although he was always on a careful planting schedule when I was young, he’d save green bean planting to do with me.

Green beans were always our special crop.

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Together, we’d prepare the soil, plant the seeds, give them their first drink of water and mark the rows. Every time my family and I would visit between spring and summer, my grandpa would take me out to the garden and proudly announce, “Look how much our beans have grown.”

In my mind, they were our beans, Grandpa’s and mine.

When the green beans were ready to harvest, Grandpa would call me up and exclaim that it was time to pick our beans.

He always waited and let me pick the first bean of the season.

Once we had a bucket full of freshly picked green beans, we’d bring them into the kitchen and my Grandma would take over.

She taught me how to snap off the ends and cook the beans to perfection with a butter and bacon.

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Years later, when I announced my vegetarianism, my grandparents made the ultimate sacrifice- they stopped cooking bacon with the green beans.

My brothers will be the first to admit that Grandma and Grandpa’s green beans just aren’t the same without the bacon, but they all lovingly made that change for me.

Even now, when I travel back to the US, my grandparents cook up green beans from the garden; specially saved and frozen for my next return.

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As I opened my CSA delivery this week and found a brown paper bag full of green beans, I was instantly taken back.

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Taken back to my grandparents’ garden, full of love, learning, gentleness and guidance.

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Although I wish I could have shared this green bean meal with my grandparents, I’m happy I can share it with you.

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Israeli Couscous with Garlic, Green Beans, Zucchini and Pine Nuts

Makes 3 servings ~ Ready in 15 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 zucchini, chopped into bite sized pieces

3 large handfuls fresh green beans

2 shallots, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 Tablespoons butter

1 1/3 cup Israeli couscous

1 3/4 cups boiling vegetable broth (or water with stock granules)

2 Heaping tablespoons pine nuts

salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parmesan cheese to garnish

Method

  1. Clean the green beans, remove the ends and cut into 1 inch pieces. Steam until slightly tender. Remove from heat.
  2. Place 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium sized pan along with the couscous. Cook over medium-high heat until the couscous begins to turn golden brown. Slowly stir in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil and butter in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat until melted. Add the garlic, shallots and zucchini. Sauté until the zucchini becomes slightly tender. Add the steamed green beans and continue to cook for a couple more minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Add the pine nuts to the vegetable mixture and cook until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. To serve, place the vegetables over the couscous and sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese.

Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful fathers and grandfathers out there… especially mine.

I love you all so much.

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After many, many hours of work, I’m happy to announce a new and much improved Eating Abroad recipes page.

My recipes page has transformed from a neglected list of poorly organized recipes…

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to a new, attractive, well organized collection of photos and recipes

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The recipes are now organized by meal category with a photo portal to a more detailed collection.

 

Do you notice the black borders around some photos?

Black frames = vegan recipes.

To use the new recipes page, simply click on the category that you’re interested in.

For example, if you’re looking for an oatmeal recipe, just click on oatmeal and you will be taken to the oatmeal section on the breakfast page.

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From the breakfast page, you can see all documented oatmeal recipes on the blog. Just click on the recipe that interests you, strawberry rhubarb oatmeal for example, and you will be taken to the post containing the recipe.

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Not only is the recipe page much more organized and full of photos, I’ve added another feature to help readers find the recipes they are looking for.

Eating Abroad Google Documents Database

Although I still have a bit or tidying up to do, I wanted to reveal both the new recipes page and Google documents database together.

Benefits of the Eating Abroad Recipe Database include:

  • ability to search by ingredient, phrase or key words
  • contains only the recipe
  • organized by course, country and coming soon, season
  • public collection- no need to sign up
  • printer friendly
  • easy to share with family and friends
  • recipes can be saved to your own Google docs account or to your computer

How to Use the Eating Abroad Recipe Database

To search by category

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Click on ‘Eating Abroad’ or the drop down menu in the left column to reveal the categories.

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Say you’re looking for an Indian recipe. First you have to click on ‘Main Dishes’ to open the collection.

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From there, click on ‘Indian’ to see the names of all saved Indian recipes on Eating Abroad.

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When you find a recipe you like, just click on it to open the recipe as a document. You can print or save the recipe or follow the link back to the blog post.

For most documents, I’ve only saved a few photos and the recipes. If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide, click on the blog link to find more detailed information.

How to use Eating Abroad Recipe Database

To Search by Key Words

Sometimes you may be looking for a recipe to use a certain ingredient or cooking method. In these cases, the search bar in Google docs is most helpful.

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Say you’re looking for a recipe using tofu.

Just type ‘tofu’ in the search bar and hit enter to get started.

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Be sure to click on ‘Search in All Items’ or else you may get an unnecessary “No matches found” message.

You can also search within collections by clicking on the category you want and then searching.

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Once you search within ‘All Items,’ a list will appear containing all recipes with tofu.

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Once you choose a recipe, click on it to open the document.

Piece of cake tofu!

I hope these changes will make finding recipes more easy.

I appreciate any and all feedback on the changes.

Just e-mail me, eatingabroad@googlemail.com

Please let me know if you find a typo or broken link.

General comments on what you like/ don’t like help me to make this blog more user-friendly, so feel free to let me know what you think!

Thank you for your help and…

Happy recipe hunting!

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When I came across this fun looking recipe a few weeks ago, I saved it away until I found the perfect tomatoes at the local Turkish grocery store.

Thick, firm, sturdy tomatoes served as the cup in which a complete, delicious breakfast was baked.

Although this dish has several steps and takes a bit of time, it really is worth the work for a tasty and surprising breakfast.

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Start by coring two large tomatoes, being sure to leave the sides intact. P5297188

Coat the inside of the tomatoes with a parsley, basil, salt and pepper rub.

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Cook garlic, leeks and spinach in a non-stick skillet until tender. (The original recipe calls for green onions but leeks worked well.)

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Place half of the spinach leek mixture in each tomato, pressing the stuffing down to fill the base of the tomato. Top with grated parmesan cheese.

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The tomato cups are now ready for the eggs.

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Carefully crack one whole egg into each tomato.

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Bake until the eggs are set. One of my tomato cups made it through the baking process and one burst. Either way, they still tasted fantastic.

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Top with fresh parsley and parmesan cheese. Serve with buttered toast and fresh fruit.

For Pip & Ebby’s printable recipe, visit this link.

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Fancy schmancy Sunday brunch!

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