Like a lot of humans, zebras begin to discover the pleasures of reading and cooking when we’re very young.
And even before we have close encounters with books and words and kitchens and ingredients, we’ve explored deep within that special place where both reading and cooking come from.
It’s a magical world called Imagination.
One human who knew everything there is to know about magic and imagination was the legendary Dr. Seuss.
Reading any book is pure magic – and reading a Dr. Seuss book is marvelous, miraculous Mega-Magic.
Just think of this: Dr. Seuss used his imagination to write stories, creating wondrous, whimsical worlds where absolutely anything can happen – and actually does.
When you read a Dr. Seuss book, your eyes look at letters on a page and your brain changes all those squiggly lines into words and sentences and ideas.
By reading about Dr. Seuss’s magical places and creatures and ideas, they become part of you.
Now think about cooking: your hands mix up different combinations of ingredients, then you use heat or cold or time or techniques to transform those ingredients into special dishes to share with your family and friends.
By cooking, you can create fabulous flavors and aromas that tell the story of a place as close as your own kitchen — or as far away as the other side of the world.
You can bring back long-ago memories — and conjure up delicious new dreams.
By sharing the foods you’ve cooked, those stories and places and memories and dreams become part of everyone who eats your creations.
One of the most important storybooks I’ve ever read is On Beyond Zebra.
Here are Dr. Seuss’s magic words: “There’s no end to the things you might know, depending how far beyond Zebra you go!”
Reading those words was the first time I realized that OF COURSE I could go beyond my own scruffy striped self – and do anything my wild imagination could conceive.
Cooking with hooves? Sure!
Embarking on culinary explorations with kids? Absolutely!
Discovering everything there is to know about the wonderful world of food? You bet!
One of the best cookbooks I’ve ever read is the Green Eggs & Ham Cookbook, by Georgeanne Brennan.
In this magical, miraculous book, Georgeanne lovingly brings Dr. Seuss’s tasty imagination creations to life.
You can cook them all in your very own kitchen – and eat them in a box or with a fox, in a boat or with a goat.
You can eat them here or there.
You can savor your Seussational specialties ANYWHERE!
As you can see, I find all this very exciting.
And since I want to take you far beyond zebra, I decided to see if Georgeanne Brennan (who is an award-winning, world-famous cookbook author) would be willing to talk to an actual zebra (me).
Guess what? She was!
Read on for Georgeanne’s expert answers to clueless Seuss questions from a culinarily curious zebra.
What do you love most about reading and cooking?
“They both take me into another world. In reading, it’s the world the author created. With cooking, it is a world of process, flavor and taste that I’m creating. I guess you could say they are flip sides of the same coin. And of course, when I write cookbooks, I am doing that for others – taking them into another world through the writing, and inviting them to do their own creating with the recipes.”
What do you think Dr. Seuss loved most about reading and cooking?
“I don’t know what Dr. Seuss might have loved about actually cooking. From his wacky ways of creating food ideas, like ‘Schlopp with a Cherry on Top,’ I suspect he was quite a food person—but that he leveled his sharp eye and wit to the subject as part of creating his Seussian language and world. Plus, he created the illustrations!”
What are the most important things you’ve learned by reading, cooking & writing your way through Dr. Seuss?
“In writing the Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook, I got to peruse every single Dr. Seuss book, and there are more than 40 of them. I discovered many that I didn’t know about, and found them as rich or even richer in words and illustrations than the familiar favorites
And then, I got to create actual good-tasting, full-of-flavor recipes that anyone would like to eat, based on my inspirations either from words or illustrations. And Frankie Frankeny, the photographer for the book, had some great visions too.
For example, I created Zans’ Cans Chili using three kinds of beans, roasted garlic and sweet onions, lean ground meat, spices, herbs, cheese and sour cream. What’s not to like? Plus it’s great fun to say the name of the recipe. Or Roast Beast, a well-seasoned chicken with mushrooms under the skin to make it look lumpy and beast-y.”
Do you have any advice for kids who’d like to explore the magical world of food?
“The glorious thing about preparing food is that it’s a creative activity that brings your imagination into play around all of your senses – taste, smell, touch, sight, sound. And, unlike Play-Doh or Lego, both of which are great for the imagination, you get to serve your creation to others and eat it yourself. The world of food offers the maximum creativity, plus the fun of doing something for others, while enjoying it yourself.
And, if you write about food, or illustrate it, it gets even more fun. I wrote my first recipe book in 2nd grade. My recipes included things like Banana Snow (mashed bananas with whipped cream), but I spelled recipe wrong! (My mother saved the book—and I still have it, packed away in a trunk.)”
And now, for your imaginative eating enjoyment, here are two of Georgeanne’s special Seussian recipes from the Green Eggs & Ham Cookbook!
SEUSS RECIPE: Scrambled Eggs Super-Dee-Dooper-Dee-Booper, Special De Luxe à-la-Peter T. Hooper
Scrambled Eggs Super are super-simple to make, and you can change ingredients or add more, according to whatever eggs-cites you — pepperoni or bacon or corned beef hash, green peppers, mushrooms or broccoli. You decide!
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 large eggs, beaten
1 fully-cooked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, chopped
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
1. In a large frying pan, melt the butter and olive oil over low heat.
2. When they are hot, add the eggs, stirring them with a whisk or fork. Reduce the heat to low and add the sausage, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, salt and pepper. Stir until the eggs are no longer runny, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the avocado and gently fold it into the eggs, cooking another 30 seconds.
MAKES 4-5 SERVINGS
SEUSS RECIPE: The Cat-in-the-Hat’s Blueberry Bumplings
The Cat’s bumplings are plump things surprisingly like blueberry scones, just right for breakfast or snacking.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces butter, softened and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 cup frozen may be substituted)
1 large egg
3/4 cup half-and-half
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
2. Add the butter and mix well with your fingertips until crumbly, then add the fresh blueberries. (If frozen, add them after step 3.)
3. In a small bowl, mix together the egg and the half-and-half, then quickly beat into the flour mixture. Do not overwork.
4. Pat the dough out between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap until about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 2-inch circles, squares or triangles.
5. Place the cutouts on a baking sheet, non-stick or lined with parchment paper, and bake until golden on top, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.
MAKES ABOUT 12 BUMPLINGS
Zebra Editor’s Note: Both of the above recipes are reprinted with the publisher’s permission from: Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook by Georgeanne Brennan with photographs by Frankie Frankeny. TM & copyright © 2006 by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. Text copyright © 2006 by Georgeanne Brennan (excluding Dr. Seuss excerpts). Photographs copyright © 2006 by Frankie Frankeny (excluding Dr. Seuss images).
Hungry for more Seussational Specialties? Visit Georgeanne’s super-cool blog, “Who’s Cooking School Lunch?”, where you’ll find fun recipes from the Green Eggs & Ham Cookbook (all thoughtfully scaled for family meals or school lunch service)!