Cook Up A Story for the Holidays

Cook Up A Story - craft fair

I enjoyed participating in a few holiday craft sales this year, showing off my book Cook Up A Story. I met many wonderful people who bought up most of my stock and all of my aprons and chef hats.

I only have a few copies left. In Canadian dollars I can offer a better price than that at the Blurb Book store, which quotes American dollars. Because of the current exchange rate,  Canadian prices are lower than those quoted on Blurb Bookstore on-line. And conversely prices are 33% lower yet if you are paying in US dollars. As of Dec 17, I’m down to my last three copies: More

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Holiday Open House, Sun Nov 27, 1-4pm

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‘Tis the season, whether we like it or not. I personally love it! So much fun getting together with old friends, sharing some sparkly, sampling baking made at special times of the year, remembering happy days from years past… and meeting new neighbors! I even love the whole shopping thing, searching out little baubles to put under the tree and surprising the people I love.

That’s why I happily agreed to help my daughter Kristina host an open house at her place this year to launch the holiday season. More

Vinny’s on Yum Goggle

Ile de Re: Fish market

Vinny’s been updating older posts recently and putting them up on Yum Goggle. Yum Goggle features food photography from contributors around the world. The photos whet your appetite for the recipes you can get simply by clicking on the pictures or the words GET THE RECIPE. It’s a great site and we’re proud to be a part of the team. More

Flash sale today, on-line at Blurb Books!

Healthy eating as a question of balance

Healthy eating is all about balance

If you have ever been tempted to buy a copy of Sharon Rudnitski’s book Cook Up A Story: Good Food Sets the Mood… now is the time.

For the next 3 days (until April 13), you can get it on-line for 35% off… the largest discount I’ve ever seen. Use the promo code APRILFLASH35 at checkout.

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How to cook eggs for raw-egg recipes

Dovecote sees the light

Dali’s hen house

 

Raw eggs

In my previous post, I talked about making eggnog from scratch using fresh clean unbroken eggs, cracking them carefully, and allowing them to cure in sugar and alcohol. Raw eggs are generally safe for healthy people.

If you are cooking for young children, pregnant mamas, the elderly, or people with weak immune systems, though, you won’t want to risk serving them raw eggs. But hey, you don’t have to ditch your favorite recipes. More

Tommy Tucker’s brown bread… cheesy and barbecued

Baked cheesy bread

Little Tommy Tucker sings for his supper, What shall we give him? Brown bread and butter. How shall he cut it without a knife? How shall he marry without a wife?

Isla was entertaining us for the 17th time one morning with her latest ditty, as I took my sharp, serrated blade from the rack and a round, seedy loaf of whole-grain bread from the cupboard. She stopped and raised her shoulders, palms out.  “Hey, Vinny, why doesn’t Tommy have a knife?”

“I suspect the poor kid was on the streets,” I answered. “The poem was written… like 200 years ago. If you didn’t have a family to look after you then and you More

Melting moments – A Christmas story tied up in bows

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Pinecone cake – a labor of love

“I don’t care about Christmas.” Eddy kicks the kitchen stool. “It won’t be the same, without Gramma.” Eddy’s heart feels frozen—it’s been that way ever since Gramma died.

Darren sighs. “Yeah, it’s been tough, buddy.”  He kneels beside his brother so he can see right into Eddy’s eyes. “Remember Gramma’s Christmas cookies?” Darren asks. “Let’s make some Melting moments.”

Eddy thinks of Gramma’s laugh when he got flour on his nose. “OK… I guess,” he says and reaches for Gramma’s recipe box. More

Mood Foods

Christmas bread

Christmas bread smells like good times

Study Guide for Cook Up A Story

CHAPTER 6

This is the last in my series on study guides for the print version of Cook Up A Story. Chapter 6 is about how our moods affect our food choices. We’re wired that way. The part of the brain that stores memory and feelings detects smells, too.

Our last story, Melting Moments, shows how cheery memories are braided together with smells, sounds and tastes. That’s why when we’re blue, we crave foods that remind us of good times. When a small boy finds himself missing his grandmother at Christmas, he takes comfort in his family and its holiday traditions.

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Don’t be shy… Milk’s got it!

Joe is quite the artist - More milk please

Study Guide to Cook Up A Story

CHAPTER 5

The many faces of milk is what Chapter 5 of the print version of Cook Up A Story is all about. The story, More Milk Please, offers a time-honored recipe for getting along with people—especially people of the opposite gender. Izzi’s best friend Jill and a jug of milk is all it takes to help her overcome her awkward shyness. More

Guilt-free advent ideas for kids of all ages

Bearwood rear gardens

English mansion

News flash – Vinny celebrates his third anniversary on WordPress today!

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It’s December! Many people start counting down the days to Christmas with an advent calendar. Each day comes with a thought, a scene, and/or a chocolate candy that brings us closer to the real meaning of the holiday. More

Creamy triple-chocolate mousse, loaded with omega-9 from avocado

Avocado Mousse

A healthy chocolate dessert

Instead of the suspicious fats usually lurking in rich desserts from heavy cream and butter, this chocolate pudding hides a secret agent known far and wide for his success in fighting disease. His name? Detective Avocado. More

Friendly fiber… When things go wrong, move on

Make magic with prunes

Make magic with prunes

Study Guide to Cook Up A Story

CHAPTER 4

Chapter 4 of the print version of Cook Up A Story  is all about fiber… a subject that can sometimes veer sadly toward the gross. The story, Prune Puff,  doesn’t disappoint. It’s all about how ridiculously wrong things can go in the kitchen. It starts when Clark tries to come up with a good science project. But you can do better than Clark. Follow Vinny’s simple recipe and concoct a delicious light luscious delectable cake… full of healthy fiber. Then, test your food science know-how. Take a quiz on fiber and do an experiment on the ingredient that puffs cakes up – baking powder.

The story underlines how important it is to label foods carefully. And not just in your own kitchen. All processed foods we buy have to be labeled. Vinny shows us how to understand the information on food labels.  Everybody can take a minute to refresh their know-how in this area – so important! More

Banana pudding cake, with coconut palm sugar

Healthy banana bread from super ripe bananas

Turn waste into want with moist banana cake

Waste not want not

“Yes, we have no bananas…,” Vinny said to his  friend Will, who turned up the other day wanting some of his favorite fruit. “We have bananas, but you won’t want to eat them,” Vinny explained, showing Will the goods. The black, squishy fruits resembled bananas only in shape. More

Remembering old soldiers with Clementine’s oxtail stew

Dad in the kitchenLest we forget…

In honor of Remembrance Day, on what would have been my dad’s 94rd birthday, I’m re-posting a feature that touches on times during the Second World War. More

Hey, Toronto!

Vinny-p03Please pass the word to your friends 🙂

Howdie! If any of my faithful readers are in downtown Toronto on Saturday, November 9, why don’t you drop by for a visit?

Sharon and I are in town for a child-development conference sponsored by Sick Kids, Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, talking about our book Cook Up A Story. We’re at the Novotel Toronto Centre, 46 The Esplanade, second floor, from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm. Come by for a chat. It will be so nice to meet you! More

Meal time is family time

Holiday  turkey

Study Guide to Cook Up A Story

CHAPTER 3

Chapter 3 of the print version of Cook Up A Story  offers kids a family ghost to scare them silly. Little Miss Ellie and the princess’s pie makes for a tasty Halloween treat. Then bake two delicious dishes from Ellie’s past. Ellie’s mixed French and Native background helps us learn to appreciate foods from other cultures. Sit down for a cozy chat with your folks and unmask recipes that conjure up your own family’s skeletons. Vinny uses Ellie’s Native roots to discuss food labels we see at the store: natural, organic, local, large-scale producers… We soon see that no one size fits all. There’s a lot to learn and the choice is up to us. More

Ghost frogs and pumpkin brulé…

Ghost frogs and pumpkin brule

Of course, the frog part was an accident!

When my little meringue ghosts collapsed after their stint in the oven into weird brown froggies on lily pads, I put it down to the stevia I subbed for more than half the sugar. It seems that for meringues to hold their height, the sugar-to-eggwhite ratio is crucial. Live and learn. More

Pump it! Fuel up with good food

barbecuing

The outdoors and exercise go hand-in-hand

Study Guide to Cook Up A Story

CHAPTER 2

In Chapter 2 of the print version of Cook Up A Story,  read Birthday bumps. It’s a hair-raising adventure about boys on the river, frogs, and wishes gone bad. Then make two delicious campfire treats: wings on a stick and birthday cupcakes baked in orange skins. Use a campfire, a barbecue, or your oven. Flip and Tigger introduce the idea of food as fuel. Vinny targets carbohydrates and suggests ways to gear up for active lives. Exercise is the chapter’s theme. More

Vinny’s first give-away garners bouquets from Singapore

package

Happiness often slips in through a door you never knew you left open. That’s my calendar’s message this morning, and it’s proving true in many ways. Here’s one example. Vinny’s pleased to announce that his first attempt at a give-away is all tidied up. His prize, a copy of his book, goes global! More

Body Basics – Chapter 1 of my book “Cook Up A Story”

Wauna's ice krispies

Wauna’s ice krispies

Study Guide to Cook Up A Story

CHAPTER 1 – BODY BASICS

In the print version of Vinny’s book Cook Up A Story, read Vinny’s original fairy tale, Wauna’s Song. Then cook up some  Ice Krispies, mentioned in Wauna’s joke to the evil Snow-Woman. Wauna makes it easy to learn about your body, how it works, and how we need balanced  meals to make it run smoothly. More

Study Guide – Turning a New Page

A family's guide to healthy eating

Making nutrition fun through stories

I’m helping Vinny set up a new page in his main menu, called Study Guide.

The plan is to present a guide to healthy eating at home and school, for parents and teachers, based on Cook Up A Story.

Cook Up A Story started out as a way to introduce kids and their families to healthy eating ideas. I hoped to make nutrition fun through stories.

I began with a print book of six adventures for kids, where food is a part of the plot. The stories make bridges to nonfiction articles on the basics of nutrition the whole family can enjoy. The book also features recipes with healthy ingredients, so families can cook up the dishes that star in the tales. More

Give Away – shhhh don’t tell

Vinny cart p17

Oh, go ahead. Tell everybody. Vinny is doing his very first give away! More

Heavenly healthier chocolate angel cake

angel food iced with avocado

Angel food cake iced with avocado cream

If a kid can read, he can likely cook. But the watchful eye of experience is a wonderful thing. Witness the action in Vinny’s one-act play and decide for yourself… More

Garbage soup makes a magical bone broth

Garbage soup

DIY with a different soup every time

The story of how bone broth came to be

On a winter’s night after a long day’s walk, a ragged beggar finds himself in a quiet farming village. He dreams of a warm fire and a hot meal. He knocks on the door of a tidy house. A pair of eyes peer out at him from behind the printed curtain. But no-one opens the door. At the next house a young woman with a crying baby tells him she has nothing to spare. He is even turned away from the Ukrainian church, where a few women are sewing together on a patchwork quilt. More

Lemon water and lemon curd magic

lemons

Lemony Snicket!

 Daily cup of warm water with lemon… a Miracle Worker?

I don’t like sour. But Dr. Mike of 17-day diet fame advises a glass of warm water spiked with the juice of half a lemon every morning…the minute we get up.

At first this sounded dire… like voodoo… a magic-potion sort of thing straight out of the pages of Lemony Snicket. But in the interests of scientific experimentation, I gave it a shot.

More

Saint Paddy Revisited

I’ve never tried reblogging before, but thought I’d give it a try this 17th of March. It’s St. Paddy’s day! Vinny’s Irish tea party from last year has lots of great links to recipes, songs and stories to help you celebrate the day with your family. Erin go bragh!

Cook Up a Story

“It’s Saint Paddy’s day tomorrow,” says Vinny, “Let’s throw an Irish tea party! Get out your top hats and Irish bowlers, invite Tiger and Firefox,  and set the table.

“But what should we serve?” ask Will and Isla.

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Pita Pan Bread from Whole-Grain Wheat

She may not be Tinkerbell... but she does have wings!

Our little friend here may not be Tinkerbell… but she does have wings!

Processed white flour

If flour lived in Never-Never Land, enriched white wheat flour would play the part of  Captain Hook. Arrrr… it’s bad to the core. In fact, it’s bad because it has no core.

After milling, only the endosperm remains. More

Fave fotos à la 2012

A year in review, through Vinny’s favorite pictures. The pictures are a fun way to index some of  the posts you liked best. Should old acquaintance be forgot… click through and remember! More

A Few Crunchy Numbers to Munch On… What was hot in 2012?

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Low-sugar cookies

"Skinny" Brownies

“Skinny” Brownies

Mohawk Gardens Public School

Vinny goes back to school

Beet cake

Choco-beet cake

Tibetan pie with it's hat off, so you can see what's inside

Yak’s Sherpa pie

Let's make some chips!

Kale and coconut oil

 

 Click the pics to view the posts   The carrots are cooked! Thanks to the WordPress gurus, we now know our blog, Cook Up A Story, got 11,000 views in 2012. People from all around the world logged on to read Vinny’s 41 stories over the year and to check out the 242 pictures we uploaded. I know there are lots of blogs out there with far bigger readerships, but I’m thrilled with the faithful following we’ve grown over the past year. Thanks so much to our readers who make blogging such a lot of  fun! More

Angels we have heard on high

Tea biscuit angels

Tell us to go out and buy!

So says Tom Lehrer, mathematician, teacher, lyricist, pianist, composer, singer/songwriter and all round great guy. He wasn’t much impressed with the consumerism that Christmas often embodies. His little holiday ditty from the 1960s is just as relevant today as it was when he penned it:

Christmas time is here, by golly,
Disapproval would be folly.
Deck the halls with hunks of holly,
Fill the cup and don’t say when.

This year we’re trying to fill our cups and plates, not with folly, but with great-tasting foods that feed our bodies and minds with goodness. Our host of angels are made from More

Shape Up with holiday cookies

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Our Christmas-shapes inventory is pathetically low.

The problem

Those aren’t Christmas cookies, Vinny,” says Isla. She’s looking at a new batch of Melting Moments fresh from the oven, each decorated with a jewel of raspberry jam (no sugar added) and crowned with flakes of real gold.

“Of course they are,” I say. “I make these every Christmas. Ergo, they are Christmas cookies. Delicious!”

“But, Vinny! Christmas cookies gotta have shapes! They gotta look like candy canes or Christmas trees!” More

Count Down to Christmas, Sugar Free!

 

Here we are, boys and girls, December First! It’s that magical time of the year when we start celebrating all things family, beginning with that special couple 2000 years ago who  rejoiced together  in a stable over the birth of their new-born son.

One fun tradition of the season is the Advent Calendar. Kids everywhere will be More

The Queen’s Beets – Let Them Eat Cake

“Woe is me!” sighs Marie.

How Queen Marie learns to dance

Marie Antoinette found herself  bored silly. She had everything she wanted. If she clapped once, her servant would come with a tray full of chocolate cake. Twice got her steaming mugs of cocoa and cream. Three times and she went mad over baskets of truffles and éclairs. But she wasn’t happy. More

Skinny Brownies with Three Kinds of Chocolate

Happy occasions demand chocolate!

A very chocolaty recipe jumped right onto my screen just after Halloween, from Chew Out Loud.

Vinny, however, found this recipe a tad high on sugar (2 1/2 cups). So we experimented with stevia in place of sugar. More

Mini Chefs Dish up Maxi Nutrition

This spring Cook Up A Story caught the imagination of a public school teacher in Burlington, Ontario. John Highley, who teaches at Mohawk Gardens Public School, said, “If we can  get the word out to schools, this thing might take right off. I see teachers using Cook Up a Story as a resource in their classrooms for nutrition/health units from grades 1 to 6, as well as the grade 5 chemistry unit.” More

Bananas make great skinny monkey cookies

Not only monkeys eat bananas… kids like them too

Sesame Street’s guest star Harry Belafonte sings beautifully about bananas: Come, Mr. Tally Man, Tally Me Bananas, he goes.

“Um, Excuse me… Sorry. Mr. Tally Man?asks Fozzie Bear.Uh, what’s that? What’s a tally man?”

The singer tells his muppet pals the tally man is a very important person. Without him, people in northern countries would have no bananas.

“Daaaaay yo! No bananas?” Vinny asks. “What would kids ever do without bananas?” More

Life-Ever-Lasting Sherpa’s Pie with Yak or Pork

Recipe for eternal youth – Sherpa’s pie

In my last post I told you the tale of how a girl named Yackity came to live on a yak farm in Canada. Although she was far from her home in Tibet, it was a fine life. Yackity learned how to grow many kinds of food and make delicious and healthy meals. But there was one dish that her mother had made for her, which was always her favorite… Sherpa’s pie.

We can imagine the life-ever-lasting Tibetans of the mythical Shangri-La baking Yackity’s one-dish dinner for their pampered guests. Its healthful ingredients likely held the key to their long lives. More

Yackity’s Yaks

Let me tell you the strange tale of how a Sherpa girl called Yackity ended up on a ranch far from home and got to the meat of the matter. More

Little Annie Okra

Fiber Bonanza!

Annie Okra hits the target every time when it comes to scrubbing out our innards. Also known as “lady finger,”  this nutritious green pod is rich in fiber as well as some other gluey stuff. This duo helps digest your dinner.  More

Apples and a Misty-Moisty Cake

Dan and Christine's wedding - apples

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

This little rhyme is one of the first things kids learn about healthy eating. One of baby’s first solid foods is apple sauce. And as kids grow, they often choose apples as a favorite snack. But are apples really so good for us? More

Stevia sweetens sand-dollar cookies

Make us some sand dollars, please Vinny?

“If I owned this cottage, I would never go home,” Will proclaims. We were packing up after three weeks at a glorious lake house, and it was hard to say goodbye.

A favorite activity there was playing on the beach. Will got Bank Street and Isla hung out on Alta Vista, one rock over, building shark pools, irrigation systems, and frog forts. Builders had to keep one eye open in case wily Billy, the water snake, popped in for a visit… but for the most part we were left alone.

We did work up an appetite though. “Have you got any cookies for us today, Vinny?” Isla asks. More

Raison d’etre

A whole bunch of raisins!

Once upon a time there was a bunch of grapes. They spent way too long in the sun and ended up as raisins. Did you know? More

Escargots and chocolate milk

Bon Appétit !

Escargot, if you don’t already know this, boys and girls, is French for snail. Many of the best restaurants offer escargots on their menus. They’re delicious!

I know one little girl who ordered escargots whenever she had a chance, which was most often when we were traveling in Quebec or France. She liked her snails with lots of garlic butter, washed down with chocolate milk. Servers shook their heads in wonder when she placed her order. More

Trail mix for cowboys and cowgirls – but without the acorns

Ke-mo-sah-bee! “Trusted friend”

The power of nuts

In a recent blog we talked about the goodness of hazelnuts. We even used hazelnuts to make some healthier homemade Nutella!

Acorns are nuts, too. But are they a food? Sure! Hazelnut and Acorn are friends. More

Stevia’s a real sweetheart

Princess of sweet

Once upon a time, there lived  a magical sweetener, named Stevia. Cousin of Chrysanthemum and sister of Sunflower, Stevia was incredibly sweet. The truth is Stevia was 300 times sweeter than her ugly stepmother, Sugar. Better yet, Stevia was  sweet without any added calories. And best of all, Stevia was so much kinder than any of her catty artificial friends, who promise the same calorie-free hit but deliver nothing but trouble. More

Cook up a treat from Redwall Abbey

Cooking up stories from Redwall Abbey

These traditional recipes were born during the scarce years of the Second World War… but many probably go back much farther than that, handed down by mothers and mother’s mothers in Britain ever since they began to grow potatoes and cabbages. More

Mares eat oats and Does eat oats

Banana oat cones are healthier than ice-cream. They are also ridiculously tasty!

Why do Mares and Does eat oats?” asks Will. “Oats look like dry little bits of paper. Ugh. Does Bambi’s mom know something we don’t?” More

Hazel tames the giant Nutella: Easy home-made spread

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Our elf Hazel is deeply wise.
Love her and she’ll quench your thirst for knowledge.
Then, she’ll bless you with a silver tongue,
for teaching others what you’ve learned.

So it’s said. But is there any truth behind the power of Elf Hazel?

What we know for sure: Hazel harnesses the strength of her namesake, the hazelnut. Like some other nuts and seeds, hazelnuts  feed the brain. More

What’s for lunch at Hogwarts? Potatoes!

Rumbledethumps... with sweet potatoes and white ones.

Rumbledethumps, without its coat of grated cheese (so you can properly see the filling).

British kids like Harry and Hermione find foods with the strangest names on their school menus. Which of these dishes isn’t like the others… Is it Bubble and Squeak? Rumbledethumps? Hash? Or Spotted Dick?  Here’s a hint: Think potatoes. More

Slaying the fearsome dragon fruit

Great bowls of fire!

There’s a strange new animal stalking the aisles of the produce section of our grocery store these days. It’s beautiful and a little dangerous looking… with long, scales tipped in green overlying a glossy, red, leathery skin. It’s almost as if it’s breathing flames at you… or getting ready to stab you with poison darts!

Oh No! It’s Dragon Fruit… Hide!

Of course it’s not an animal at all.  It’s a delicious but sinisterly attractive food called the Dragon Fruit. I say ‘sinister’ because you do have to be a little careful. More

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