Fifty Nifty Cool Capitals

Naming the 50 United States, that’s one thing. Fifty Nifty United States…. Did you learn that tune? [Update (October 25, 2009): Sorry, that site is closed now!]

Naming the 50 United States and the capitals, well, that’s another thing, and I’d definitely need a song for that. Animaniacs and Mrs. Jones to the rescue.

Now to find a tune naming the forty-seven fantastic prefectures of Japan….

Big Bowl Of Popcorn

Just a big bowl of popcorn, that was usually supper at my grandparents’ home on Saturday or Sunday evenings.

Maybe there was a light meal of leftovers, but I mostly remember the big bowls of popcorn, which somehow lasted us through several TV programs (CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, Hee Haw, The Lawrence Welk Show…goodness….okay, guess how old I am!).


If you have popcorn, sugar, light corn syrup, vanilla, salt and peanut butter in your pantry, come with me and help me make peanut butter popcorn balls.

1) Pop a lot of popcorn until you have 8 cups of it. Set that aside.

2) In a saucepan, mix ¼ cup sugar with ¼ cup corn syrup. Heat until the mixture is a rolling boil, then add ¼ cup peanut butter, ¼ teaspoon vanilla, and the tiniest pinch of salt.

3) Pour the peanut butter mixture over the popcorn, stir until everyone has met, and then form the popcorn into balls.

4) Sometimes I add chocolate chips, nuts and raisins. I never tell anyone when I do this, because then I have to be nice and share.


Somewhat Simple Samosas

Indian food! Mmmmm…..

I’m no expert, but I think Indian food is usually quite kid-friendly to eat, not always so kid-friendly to make. Support your local Indian restaurant for a while, and as soon as you notice your kids are addicted to the stuff, you should have no trouble convincing them to try making it at home.

Start with samosas, those yummy appetizer things and the first Indian food I ever made.

There are lots of recipes for samosas out there. I’ve latched on to grad school friend Bill’s recipe as my favorite. I’m going to give his detailed directions including all five gazillion ingredients…but you know you can omit the ingredients you can’t find: I still haven’t found anardana and amchoor, and, to my taste buds, these samosas still taste terrifically grand without them.

Tip 1: The stuffing is devourable all on its own, so you don’t really have to make the pastry.

Tip 2: If you want the stuffing to be inside something but you don’t want to make the pastry, try working with lumpia wraps (hey Dutch speakers: ja ja, loempia), phyllo dough or even tortillas.

Okay, here we go!

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Asparagus Pee!

Here’s another nifty way to divide your class into teams: who gets asparagus pee and who doesn’t?

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Here’s what you do: munch on some lightly steamed asparagus stalks. Later when you pee, a distinct smell may or may not waft up from the toilet bowl.

If you don’t smell anything, wait! Call in another nose to have a sniff before you flush the toilet. It seems to be a nose thing.

Okay, adults, the kids should be off giggling hysterically about this, and I hope they can’t wait for you to serve them some asparagus. Let them experiment, and they’ll be eating a happy healthy food, too.

And now that the kids are out of earshot, I can’t resist mentioning this: if you and your adult friends want to have some fun with asparagus, too, whistle while you wander over to the (not always vegetarian) section on asparagus in the Intercourses Cookbook. Asparagus is an, um, aphrodisiac.

Need I say more? Nope. Go.

Chickpea Quarter Pounder

What? Feng shui at the Golden Arches? Not vegetarian, mind you, which seems like a mild contradiction. But boy oh boy have they got vegetarianism figured out at McD’s in India! Separated food and utensils, and the vegetarian crew wears green aprons (red aprons mean non-veg?). Mom, can we go? Pleeeeeease?

I have decided that you need to copy me and stuff your pita bread with one of these veggie burgers. Then add all your favorite raw greens, condiments and vegetables (grilled!). You’ll have yourself a most phenomenal happy meal.

I have also decided you must buy the silliest small toy you can find at the dollar store (bubbles!). Plunk it in a paper bag along with this sandwich, and, yes, your friends will want one, too. Want a pita sandwich, I mean, not your silly small toy.

Recipe below comes from Angela Shelf Medearis’ The Ethnic Vegetarian, a cookbook I’m finding myself increasingly addicted to.

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Questions I Have – Part 2

1) Why are fire engines usually red?

2) Why, when you know you’re alone, do you knock on the restroom door to see if someone is in there?

3) Why, when you know you’re alone, do you close and lock the restroom door?

4) Why do you repeatedly get up to check the contents of the refrigerator? Did new food magically appear since you last checked it 20 minutes ago?

5) Why do you look up towards the ceiling/sky when you’re trying to count or remember something?

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