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Thursday, March 17, 2011


This week our lesson was about Japan. We talked about the recent earthquakes and tsunamis and the devestation the people who live their are facing. We took a moment of silence to honor the people of Japan, and to be grateful that we live in a safe place, with schools in which to learn, and plenty of food to eat and water to drink. I was amazed at the childrens' response to that moment. It was beautiful.

We made sushi - maki rolls with carrots, cucumbers, asparagus
and brown rice. We use brown rice instead of white because brown rice has more vitamins and more fiber, plus the texture is great in sushi. Our students did not shy away from the asparagus and loved to snack on the carrots and cucumbers as we were preparing our rolls! You gotta love it when you have to tell kids to STOP eating all the vegetables!

Japan is an island nation with mountains - and not a lot of space for growing food. They do grow rice, and some fruits and vegetables but much of the food the Japanese people eat comes from the ocean, including seaweed!



Prepared Sushi Rice (short grain brown rice, rice wine vinegar, honey & green onions (optional))

Carrots (cut into matchsticks)

Asparagus (steamed)

Cucmbers (scoop the seeds out and cut into matchsticks)

Nori (toasted seaweed sheets)

Dipping Sauce (rice wine vinegar, tamari (soy sauce), honey)

Pickled Ginger


Prepare Rice:
Bring 4 cups of water, 2 cups short grain brown rice, and a tsp salt to a boil. Cover and reduce heat so the rice simmers. Be sure the heat is not so high that the water continues to boil, but not so low that there is no water bubbling/simmering. Cook for about 45 - 50 minutes (or until all the water is absorbed)

Prepare Rice Seasoning Mixture & Vegetables:
While the rice is cooking, combine 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 2 TBS honey, and 1 tsp salt. Mix until honey and salt are dissolved.

Also while your rice is cooking, cut your vegetables and prepare your dipping sauce. (Combine 3 TBS rice wine vinegar, 2 TBS tamari (soy sauce), 1 tsp honey, sliced green onions/scallions)

Put the hot cooked rice in a large bowl (a really large bowl). Begin to fold the rice over and sprinkle the seasoning mixture over as you fold.

Place a towel and a small bowl of water at your work space.

Place a sheet of nori (shiny side down) on a flat surface (or bamboo rolling mat) keeping the perforation lines horizontal.

Spread a thin layer of rice on the nori, leaving a 1" margin on each edge.

Your fingers will be VERY STICKY! Dip your fingers in the water and rub them together, then pat dry on the towel. It is good to keep them slightly damp, but not wet - the rice will not stick as much that way.

Next, at about 1 inch up from the bottom edge of the RICE, place each vegetable in a horizontal line. Do not put too much, or you will not be able to roll it up.

Now take the bottom edge of the nori and roll it over the vegetables, keeping it tight as you go. Continue to press and roll the nori up, slightly squeezing as you go.

Once you have a nice tight roll, slice the rough ends off. Now slice the roll into 1" pieces (do not make them too small or they will not hold together and if they are too big, you won't be able to fit it into your mouth!)

In Japan, it is important to present food beautifully. Make a beautiful arrangement of your maki pieces and any leftover slices of vegetables on a small plate or platter. Arrange your dipping sauce, ginger, and wasabi as well.

Take a moment to admire your work. Be grateful for all that you have. Smile. Breathe.

Now it's time to eat your maki roll! Place a dab of wasabi paste on your roll, dip it into the sauce and pop it in your mouth! MMMMMMM!!!!!!

Take a taste of the pickled ginger in between bites (or place a small amount on your maki roll and eat them together!)

We ended the week with another appearance on "Our Blue Ridge" on our local NBC station, WSLS 10! Check it out:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Our Happy Healthy Cooks LOVED today's lesson on India!

Today we made Curried Red Lentil Dahl, and we had a special guest, my friend Shashi Jain. She came dressed in traditional Indian clothing and brought a beautiful selection of clothing, toys and jewels from India. She told us about her life growing up in India and shared bindi with all the girls. Bindi is the jewel or red mark married women in India wear (it is also becoming popular to wear the bindi even if you are not married... fashion trumps tradition!) We listened and danced to Bhangra music, too! (check out bhangra dancing on you tube when you get a chance) It was so much fun!

The kids LOVED the Curried Red Lentil Dahl, I mean LOVED it!

Red Lentil Curried Dahl

Dahl is the Indian name for any member of the legume family—lentils, split peas, chick peas, and beans. Dahl recipes are traditionally made fairly thick and may be served over rice or with flatbread and a vegetable side dish. Many people in India eat with their right hand (instead of utensils), and flatbreads are served with meals because they can help scoop up all kinds of food. (Remember in North Africa, people eat with their thumb and pointer finger, but in India the entire hand can be used.)
Indian cooking features many delicious fragrant spices. There are more than one hundred spices used in Indian cooking! In traditional Indian cuisine, whole spices are roasted, and then ground, and then are added to the dahl. A simpler method is to use already ground spices to make your own curry blend.
Many people in India do not eat any meat (they are vegetarians). They enjoy lentils, beans, grains (especially rice), vegetables and fruits in their traditional recipes.

Here's the recipe:


1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, diced
1 red or green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger root
Curry Spices:
8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp turmeric
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp Salt
(Alternatively, you can use “Curry powder” instead)

2 small potatoes, peeled and cut in very small cubes
1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes, with juices
3 cups red or brown lentils or yellow or green split peas
4 cups water

Fresh cilantro, minced (optional)

Directions :
* Saute onions, garlic, and peppers in oil unitl soft, about 5 minutes.
* Add spices and saute for 1 minute.
* Add potatoes, tomatoes, water, ginger, and lentils.
* Cover and bring to boil.
* Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until lentils and potatoes are soft.

The dahl should be fairly thick; if necessary add more water. Chop the cilantro while the dahl is cooking. Put cilantro in a small bowl for an optional topping once the dahl is served. Eat with Indian Flat bread.

Here are some of our bindi-wearing girls!