(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
What could be more fun to discuss at the dinner table than dinner? Currently, for many it's back-to-school season and that often means stimulating family meal conversations peppered with current events. Why not stir that up with a bit of delicious food history as well. One thing that those with curious palates soon find out is that one can learn the history, culture, politics and other issues regarding a place through its food, whether that destination is as close as another part of your own state or as far away as a distant country. A good way for you and your kidlets to start and stay up on the news at the same time is to think about the location of an event in the news, discuss that event and then the foods and recipes that are famous there. Plan quick meals based on them as well, like the Florida and North Carolina tinged ones below, inspired from the locales of the recent political conventions.
Helpful dishes like these also prove cooking can be easy, nutritious, economical, fun - and fast. They take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare.
The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for tasty home cooking and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it! Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since there are no right or wrong amounts.
These are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations, so whatever you - or your kidlet helpers - choose to use can't help but draw "wows." Feast "Floribbean" Style
Delve into the history with your kids of how Caribbean, Latin American and Cuban cuisine have had major influence over what is now dubbed the "Floribbean" cooking style of Florida. For a fun and easy taste, marinate your favorite cut of lean pork (often used in such recipes) in a combination of fresh lime and orange juices, oregano, garlic and freshly ground pepper. Cook it on both sides, per the USDA, to an internal temperature of 145 ºF (or 160 ºF if ground) and serve in a thick roll topped with pickle spears and mustard.Everyone Will Carry On About Carolina Barbecue
To emulate those in North Carolina, where barbecue is king, why not experiment with making your own barbecue sauce. In those particular parts, vinegar is often a hallmark. You can combine apple cider vinegar, dark brown sugar, black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, ketchup and hot sauce and, in a flash, have a taste that's gone back centuries. To further get a feel - and scent - of the area, purchase packages of hickory chips to burn when you grill in a charcoal grill or smoker outdoors.Election Night Can Bring Back Delicious Memories of Martha Washington
When the presidential election hits in November, if you want to give your kids a feel for what it was like for the very first First Family, check out from the library, purchase (current paperbacks are about $30) or read excerpts and recipes online from Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery
. There are more than 500 family recipes handed down from Elizabethan times. At dinnertime, discuss the ingredients that differ from and/or are the same as today and what this means regarding history and culture. Have a Martha Washington cooking contest for election night dinner.QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
There are tricks to increasing or lessening the heat of your homemade salsa and other recipes that include peppers. The veins and seeds of peppers contain most of the heat. Include them (or varying amounts) depending on how hot you want your final product to be. Remember, though, that experts recommend wearing latex gloves when handling peppers and not touching your eyes during or afterward.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.