(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? For many families with young students who have just begun the school year that often means stimulating family meal conversations peppered with current events. This remains my favorite fall food event year after year.
Why not stir that up with a bit of delicious food history as well. Something 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 kids 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.
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."
Here are a few location-based ideas:
- 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 F (or 160 F if ground) and serve in a thick roll topped with pickle spears and mustard.
- Carolina Barbecue Is a Good Bet: 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.
- Passionate about Politics: 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.
In the book, 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. Consider planning a Martha Washington cooking contest.
FLORIBBEAN-FLAVORED PORK CHOPS WITH GARLIC-LIME SAUCE
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/8 cup fresh orange juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
6 (1/2-inch-thick) boneless pork chops
Yields 4 servings.
Whisk together lime juice, orange juice, garlic, oregano, black pepper, red-pepper flakes, and salt, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking well. Whisk in cilantro.
Prepare a gas grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-high heat. Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper. Oil grill rack, then grill pork chops, covered, turning over once, until just cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes total, until reaches an internal temperature of 145 F. Serve drizzled with some vinaigrette, and with remainder on the side.
-Adapted from Epicurious.comQUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Joy Cho intermingles culinary and craft ideas in Oh Joy! 60 Ways to Create & Give Joy
. She suggests being creative with skewering, such as gummies and other candies or melon chunks for a dessert offering. For me, it inspired a skewer that featured both and each bite was uniquely sweet, juicy and chewy. They make a nice presentation for a party and taste great, too.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.