Monthly Archives: July 2013

Fun–interview with Penzeys!

We’ve been a fan of Penzeys Spices since we lived in Pittsburgh.  The Strip District was our favorite place to get international food, and we would pop into Penzeys as we browsed the wonderful shops there.

A couple months ago, they contacted me about doing an interview for their catalog/magazine.  The interview was done by phone, and it was a fun process.  It helped me to think through the connections between cooking, teaching, and family.  I sent them a few recipes, and they picked a handful to feature in the catalog.  They worked them up in their test kitchen and took pretty pictures of the food.

The magazine is online–the Back to School 2013 edition (pp. 9 & 43).




American Cultures for Children

Tim discovered a series created in the 1980s, hosted by Phylicia Rashad on different cultures in America.  It’s aimed at elementary school children, and it explores a myriad of cultural backgrounds within America, from Arab-American to African-American to Irish-American to Japanese-American.  She simply states in each one that all of us belong to at least one culture, and many of us belong to more than one.  She encourages children to ask their parents and grandparents about their cultures, the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the music they listen to, and the holidays they celebrate.


The formats vary, but they all show traditional foods and costumes, give a basic history of the immigration from that country to America (i.e., the potato famine in Ireland), demonstrate a basic craft reflecting traditional arts, and have the children sing a song with a traditional singing group. Each one teaches children a few words from the original language, spoken by children from a variety of backgrounds.  Our kids are mesmerized by it, and afterwards request to try the foods and do the crafts shown.

Unfortunately, these were released on VHS and have not been rereleased in DVD format as far as we can find.  But we often see them on Amazon or similar sites for very reasonable prices.  We’ve found it to be an excellent resource for teaching our kids about other cultures, as well as beginning to give them an awareness that different cultures have historically experienced life in America in vastly different ways.

Eating the harvest: Teriyaki Salmon and Squash

With the gardens, I’ve felt pulled in two different directions: fresh, easy meals, and preserving food for later.

We’ve had an abundance of squash and zucchini, though between the heat and the torrential rains, that’s slowed down a bit.


Teriyaki Salmon and Squash

For the first meal, I mixed 1/2 cup Trader Joes’ Soyaki sauce with some extra ginger and garlic (a teaspoon or two of each grated on a microplane), and lime juice.  I divided it half, putting some in a bowl and some in a baggie.  I marinated about 1.5 lbs. of salmon in the baggie for about an hour in the fridge.

In the meantime, I sliced two each largeish zucchini and yellow squash lengthwise into 1/2 inch wide strips.  I mixed some hoisin sauce and sweet soy sauce into the Soyaki sauce to thicken it (just because I had them on hand–you totally could just use the Soyaki sauce, or mix in a little maple syrup and/or brown sugar).  I lightly salted and peppered the squash.

I heated my cast-iron grill pan to medium-high on the stovetop, and grilled the squash first, brushing each side with some of the reserved marinade. for about 3-4 minutes on each side, rotating the slices half-way through to get hatch marks.  I turned them when they looked a little bit transparent and were browned on the underside.


After the squash was done, I grilled the salmon, for about five minutes on the first side (again rotating them after a couple of minutes for hatch marks), and 3-4 on the second, brushing each side with the reserved mixture.


You can serve the salmon and squash slices as is, or cut them into cubes.  I did it both ways as we ate it for three days in a row.

Community garden, July 2




Our hard work is paying off!