ZeMarvelous Miraculous Magic of Dr. Seuss

Scrambled Eggs & Blueberry Bumplings!

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.

Cat-in-the-Hat Witch Pumpkin

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.

Dr. Seuss On the Loose with Zebras
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ZePerfect Mardi Gras Celebration

ZeBot New Orleans Mardi Gras

If there’s one thing zebras love, it’s a celebration!

And when it’s Mardi Gras, which is all about local traditions, food, family and friends–well, that makes us so happy that our stripes start to turn colors.

Purple, green and gold, to be exact.
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ZeBig Chill: A Zebra Investigates Freeze-Dried Fruit

ZeBot & ZeBig Chill Snowman in Snow with White Frame

One thing zebras know is that when we don’t know something we want to know, it’s time to start asking lots of questions.

Case in point: the other day, I overheard some scientific humans discussing “freeze-drying” as a good way to preserve fresh fruit. Supposedly, when you freeze-dry fruit, it will keep its great taste and color for years and years!

Frosty Life Around the Fruit Bowl

How do we transform our favorite fresh fruits into freeze-dried fruits?

Well, I’m a huge fan of fruit, so that sounded totally cool to me (pun totally intended)! But how the heck would a zebra go about freeze-drying?

My zebra buddies and I decided to get some frosty advice from our coolest friends: the SnowDudes and the Penguin Brothers. They said they were pretty sure they’d seen a polar bear freezing-drying his own food, so how hard could it be?

Apples, Polar Bear Style

I get the feeling this guy does not read cookbooks — or science books!

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ZeHoliday Tradition: A Christmas Angel’s Recipe for Happiness

Caitlin the Christmas Angel

A heartfelt holiday story about my favorite little angel’s first heavenly Christmas — and ZeRecipe for her magical Angel Cloud cookies!

I hope you’ll share Caitlin’s magic (and cookies) with your family and friends, celebrating the happiness of holidays and everydays.

Because love is forever – and every moment is a gift.

Read the story and find the recipe here!

 

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ZePossibilities of Pumpkins

ZeBot's Pumpkin Patch Buddies

I just made ZeGreatest discovery! You know those orange spheres that are piling up in farmers’ markets and grocery stores? They’re pumpkins! Okay, you probably already knew this, but pumpkins are totally new to me. (Give me a break: I’m a zebra!)

I always figure the best way to find out about something you never knew existed is to do a little detective work. My favorite farmers, food historians and librarians were happy to help out. I even asked a couple of dogs, since if they like something, you KNOW it’s going to be cool.

My buddies Spot and Rover give pumpkins a BIG paws up!

My buddies Spot and Rover give pumpkins a BIG paws up!

I found out that pumpkins are members of the squash-and-gourd family (it’s always fun to have family, don’t you think?). Some people think pumpkins are vegetables, but they’re actually fruits. You can tell because fruits almost always have seeds on the inside (although berries like to be different and have them on the outside). If you’ve ever scooped the squishy guts out of a pumpkin, you know they have LOTS of seeds.

You might think from their bright orange color that pumpkins give you tons of energy — and you’d be right. They’re loaded with natural sweetness and awesome nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Crunchy roasted pumpkin seeds are packed with good-for-you stuff like protein, B vitamins, iron and vitamin E.

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George Washington, ZeFarmer: Exploring ZeCulinary Gardens of Mount Vernon

ZeBot Poses at Mount Vernon

What do kids, zebras and George Washington have in common?

Lots of things!

Vision. Imagination. Ingenuity.

The joyful desire to explore new ideas and discover innovative ways to do things. The belief that anything is possible—and that you can have fun making it happen.

If you’re an American kid, you already know that George Washington was the very first president of the United States.

But did you know he was also called America’s “foremost farmer”?

ZeBot Visionary Farmer

It makes sense, because both being president and a farmer have a lot to do with planting, growing and harvesting—whether you’re talking about seeds or ideas.

George Washington was as innovative and visionary at farming and horticulture as he was at helping to create a country. When he wasn’t busy being president, his primary occupation was being a farmer.

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Chuck Williams Teaches a Zebra ZeWay to Cook!

Chuck & ZeBot-framed“The way to be a good cook? Just cook!” –Chuck Williams

When my friend Chuck Williams told me that being a good cook is something that happens by just cooking, I nodded my head so hard my stripes got all squiggly.

If anyone knows about cooking, it’s Chuck. He’s 100 years old—and cooking is something he’s done ever since he was a kid. Today, Chuck is the author of lots of cookbooks and the founder of a very cool kitchenware store called Williams-Sonoma.

Chuck first started learning to cook back in the early 1900s, when he spent lots of time in the kitchen with his grandmother. In those days, people didn’t have microwave ovens or electric mixers or even many real cookbooks. So how did kids learn to cook?

“I learned to cook by watching my grandmother and listening carefully to everything she said,” Chuck told me .

“I helped her in the kitchen every day. I watched and I listened and I asked questions. One of my favorite things was making pies with her. After she finished trimming the crust, she would give me the scraps and let me try to make my own pie.”

Chuck at Age 12 -ZeBlog

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ZeHunger Challenge

ZeBot Hunger Challenge 2015

Zebras love challenges (including learning to cook and write without the benefit of opposable thumbs). And we’re always hungry for new things—new foods, new friends, new ideas.

So when I heard about the Hunger Challenge, I knew I wanted to give it a try—but in a ZeZillion years, I could never have imagined how powerfully it would help me learn about the world around me.

The Hunger Challenge is a five-day journey initiated by the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, whose executive director Paul Ash describes it as a special way to “become an advocate for the hungry.”

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Healthy Snacks for ZeBest of Friends

Miles & ZeBotOne of the most wonderful things about great food is that it’s so much fun to share with friends.

I’ve noticed that a love for cooking and eating together seems to be true across lots of different species, including zebras, dogs and humans.

One of my best friends is a super cool dog named Miles (which perfectly describes how far he can run—especially when he’s chasing a coyote).

Miles and I have lots in common, but a love for fun food is one of ZeStrongest.

Miles Having A Ball

In fact, Miles loves food so much that he occasionally tries to eat me (I realize I’m a bedraggled little zebra who looks a bit like a dog toy—but food, really?).

Miles & Shredded Doggy

Miles and I figured this issue could cause problems in our friendship, so we decided that real friends know how to compromise.

So here’s our compromise: I agree to help Miles whip up yummy, healthy snacks—and he agrees not to eat me.

Zebra-Canine Detente

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ZeMystery of ZeShoe Pastry

ZeBot and the Shoe Pastries

When my friend Holly told me she was writing a book about Shoe Pastry, I was totally intrigued.

“What kind of shoes would make the best pastry?” I wondered. “And wouldn’t putting shoes in your mouth instead of wearing them on your feet (or in my case, hooves) make you kind of—well, sick?”

How the heck am I going to mix these ingredients?

How the heck am I going to mix these ingredients?

Since I am a zebra who is supposed to know at least a little about human food by now, I didn’t want to ask those questions right away. After all, Holly Herrick is a famous cookbook author.

Instead, I had a great idea!I have another friend named Holly, who happens to be a super-smart Golden Retriever—and spends a lot of time in the kitchen.

I asked her about Shoe Pastry. Holly the Golden Retriever said she’d never tried it, but she’d eaten lots of shoes (including some pretty expensive ones) and they were very tasty.

Meet Holly -- a Golden Retriever with great taste in shoes!

Meet Holly — a Golden Retriever with great taste in shoes!

Still, I wasn’t sure—it just didn’t seem like you could (or even should) turn a shoe into a pastry.

So I had an even better idea: I asked Holly the Famous Cookbook Author if I could interview her about shoe pastry. That way, it would make sense to ask lots of questions (even really silly ones)—so that’s what I did!

Fortunately, right before I interviewed Holly, my friend ZoeBot (who’s super-brainy) suggested we try looking up “choux pastry” (which is French and sounds just like “shoe pastry”).

Shoe Pastry = Choux Pastry (And guess what: they do kind of look like cabbages, but they DON'T taste like them!)

Shoe Pastry = Choux Pastry
(Even though these pastries kind of look like cabbages, they DON’T taste like them!)

Guess what? She was right! It turns out that choux pastry gets its name from the French word for cabbage (choux), which is what the pastry sort of looks like when it’s baked.

Unlike most pastries, choux pastry is made using its own special technique. You start by mixing flour, butter and boiling water, then beating in eggs until you get a sticky, paste-like dough.

When you bake it, the oven’s heat turns the water into steam that puffs the dough into hollow golden pastries that taste AMAZING!

Want to see how it’s done (with hooves)? Watch this video!

Well, now that I knew a little more about the whole mysterious matter, I was ready to interview Holly Herrick, whose brilliant new book is called  “The French Cook: Cream Puffs & Eclairs.”

I'm not really in Holly's super-cool book -- but a zebra can always dream!

I’m not really in Holly’s super-cool book — but a zebra can always dream!

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ZeFamily Legacy of Brioche Pasquier

ZeBot & ZoeBot Have Breakfast at Brioche Pasquier“When someone shares a special family recipe with you, you become part of their family.”

That’s what my friend Hugues Pasquier told me when we shared a breakfast made with the brioche his family has been baking from the same recipe since 1936.

It was true: as my cousin ZoeBot and I savored each buttery golden bite, we felt the Pasquier family’s culinary heritage deep in our stripes.

If you’re an average American kid (or zebra), you may not have ever tried brioche. But in France, kids (and a few lucky zebras) have been eating brioche their whole lives.

Brioche (pronounced bree-oshe) is a French bakery specialty that looks and tastes like a magical cross between a bread and a cake.

Brioche by Chardin, 1763

Food historians say that’s it been a tradition since medieval times, with the recipe becoming richer with butter and eggs as the centuries passed.

Hugues told us that his grandfather Gabriel Pasquier was legendary for the brioche he crafted at his bakery in the tiny village of Les Cerqueux in France’s Loire River Valley.

Gabriel's Bakery

Gabriel’s recipe was unique because he always used two very special ingredients.

One was the family’s own levain, which is a natural sourdough starter that makes brioche (and other baked goods) rise. A starter works pretty much the same way modern yeast does, but it’s an older and more traditional way to leaven baked goods. Continue reading

ZeAmazing Magical Spice Detectives & ZeScience of Taste

ZeGreat Spice Detectives!Do you believe in magic?

That’s what some of my favorite kids and I asking were asking each other the first time we blended our own spices.

When we sprinkled our spices on hot, buttery baked sweet potatoes, the only way we could describe what happened inside our mouths was MAGIC!

But I’m kind of getting ahead of my own stripes by starting in ZeMiddle of my story.

ZeBot Spices for Whole Spice

It all began when I asked my friends Ronit and Shuli Madmone: “What are spices? And why do humans like them so much?”

I thought, considering that they’re experts who own a really cool company called Whole Spice and I’m a just a simple zebra who’s only beginning to explore the world of food, they would have given me a super-simple answer.

But they looked at each other and laughed, “If you really want to understand spices, ZeBot, come to our house.”

It turned out that my questions were the first steps on a journey that would take me into deliciously exciting new worlds.

For a taste of our adventure, please check out the video (below) — then read on!


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ZeGreat Heirloom Tomato Cake

ZeBot Heirloom Tomato CakeSummer is ZePerfect time for celebrations – and all the fresh colors and flavors at ZeFarmer’s Markets make it more fun than ever!

So you can imagine how excited I was to be invited to help host a Farmer’s Market Supper Party with some of the Bay Area’s coolest food bloggers and cookbook authors (links to all ZeRecipes are at the end of this post).

Our mission: to showcase the season’s bounty with a creative vegetarian supper. Everyone was very understanding about my being a novice cook/baker who’s all hooves (and no opposable thumbs) and told me it would be fine if I made up a zebra-friendly dessert.

I figured I’d do what ZeGrandma and ZeMom always taught me: don’t go to a farmer’s market with your stripes totally set on making something in particular.

ZeBot Tomatoes Napa

Instead, have fun wandering around and discovering the day’s freshly harvested treasures, then create a recipe based on what you find.
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Cooking Up ZeComfort in Elle’s Kitchen

ZeBot & Zebras wGrilled Cheese + Tomato Soup

The kitchen is the heart of your home – and home is where your heart is.

My friend Elle taught me this: just the way you can create a home inside your heart for everyone and everything, you can create a kitchen anywhere you want it to be.

In today’s super-fast-paced world, the endless barrage of technology can sometimes make folks feel a little crazy.

But Elle cooked up a special way for technology to bring us together.

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DIY Kids in ZeKitchen

3 Zebras + 2 Kids

When I first started thinking about cooking, I wondered if a zebra would really be able do it. I mean, having four hooves with no opposable thumbs definitely has its challenges, so I was feeling a tiny bit discouraged.

But then a wise kid named Max told me this, “Just because you’re not cooking now doesn’t mean you CAN’T – it only means you don’t know how yet. After you learn, you can do it yourself. As in: DIY, zebra dude!”

Max Slices Fruit

I realized he was absolutely right! If you want to do something, you just need to learn how to do it – and then you need to actually do it.

At our IACP Kids-in-the-Kitchen event at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, that’s exactly what we did!
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Celebrating Julia Child: ZeGreatest Advice for Learning to Cook!

ZeBot & Julia in the Kitchen

“Learn how to cook: try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless  – and above all, have fun.” – Julia Child

That’s my favorite advice from one of my favorite cooks in all of human (and zebraic) history! Even though I’m a zebra who is challenged by learning to cook with hooves,  Julia Child makes me feel confident that I can do it – learning from my mistakes and having fun the whole time.

Who’s Julia Child, you ask? Well, she was a super-nice human who would have been 101 years old today. She didn’t even start cooking until she was a grown-up, but she became one of the most famous food lovers in the whole world, writing lots of cookbooks and starring in what some humans (and zebras) call the best food TV shows ever.

Julia can teach ANYONE to master the art of French cooking – even zebras!

Julia can teach ANYONE to master the art of French cooking – even zebras!

Well, that’s good enough for this zebra! So to celebrate Julia’s birthday, I’ve been busily reading her books – and am pleased to share my top 10 favorite kitchen lessons. I hope they’ll become some of your favorites, too!

1. “Once you have mastered a technique, you hardly need look at a recipe again.”

Well, that makes perfect sense to me! So I’ve been practicing everything from whipping egg whites and cream to kneading bread dough.ZeBot and Julia Whipped Cream

I love the way touching the food (with clean hooves, of course) makes me feel. It seems like magic to feel the billowy clouds of whipped cream – and the velvety dough that gets softer and more willing to help me as I knead it.

(Hooves can have their downside in the kitchen, but they’re GREAT for kneading!)

ZeBot & Julia Dough

2. “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.

Zebras just aren’t fancy, so we’re glad we don’t have to pretend to be. Julia’s taught us that you just need good ingredients. That’s one of many reasons I spend as much time as I can at farmers’ markets learning about fun new vegetables – and the exciting stories behind them.

Zebras are totally into fresh -- check out what I just picked!

Zebras are totally into fresh — check out what I just picked!

3. “When you serve fine, fresh green vegetables, you want them to show off their color.”

Yes ­– exactly! Even though I’m black-and-white myself, I agree: fresh green = super-good.

Go Green ZeBot Asparagus

4. “The perfect vinaigrette is so easy to make that I see no reason whatsoever for bottled dressings.” 

I first learned how to make a vinaigrette at a class with some cool kids in Brooklyn, New York. I was the only zebra there, but no one seemed to mind.  We learned how to mix really good olive oil with different kinds of vinegars and seasonings. Then we tasted our vinaigrettes on lettuce, veggies and fruit. And you know what? Homemade salad dressing is AWESOME!

Julia's right – homemade salad dressings are ZeBest!

Julia’s right – homemade salad dressings are ZeBest!

5. “It behooves us to choose eggs carefully and to treat them right.”

In addition to loving the word “behooves,” zebras think that you should choose EVERYTHING carefully and treat it right – from your eggs to the chickens who are generous enough to lay them for you. We’ve learned that when you’re kind and treat the world with respect, it treats you the same way!

When I visited the French Laundry gardens, this chicken was nice enough to lay an egg just for me!

When I visited the French Laundry gardens, this chicken was nice enough to lay an egg just for me!

6. “Small helpings, no seconds. A little bit of everything. No snacking. And have a good time.”

Julia said this lots of times – but  I heard it from her favorite doctor, a very nice man I met on the beach on this island called Captiva. He told me that this was some of the best advice he’d ever heard about food – so he passed it on to me and to his two grandchildren Max & Lulu (who built me a beautiful sandcastle while their grandfather told his Julia story).

Here's the sandcastle that Julia's story built!

Here’s the sandcastle that Julia’s story built!

7. “It’s so beautifully arranged on the plate – you know someone’s fingers have been all over it.”

Well, yes – or in my case, someone’s hooves. Julia taught me that you eat with your eyes as well as your mouth. When you take the time to make your food look beautiful, it tastes better than ever!

Of course, you don’t want to have your hooves (or fingers) touching a dish that so much you can’t even tell what it is anymore.  Julia believed that, for the ultimate authenticity, the food should be respected and simplicity should reign. But when our hooves HAVE been all over something, zebras always admit it!

Can you tell my hooves have been all over these pears?

Can you tell my hooves have been all over these pears?

8. “…no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.”

Well, when I read that wisdom (after a few kitchen disasters that I won’t mention right now),  I started nodding my head like crazy and saying, “Well, I heard THAT!” So I’m going to practice and practice and practice until I’ve earned my kitchen stripes!

I'm learning to cook like a pro from Chef Joel at Bottega in the Napa Valley!

I’m learning to cook like a pro from Chef Joel at Bottega in the Napa Valley!

9. “I think careful cooking is love, don’t you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who’s close to you is about as nice a Valentine as you can give.”

I think so, too – on Valentine’s Day or any day. When you cook with love, you’re adding a magical ingredient that transforms any dish into something very special. So remember that when you’re cooking, okay? The secret ingredient is love!

I always feel lucky to discover magical new ingredients!

I always feel lucky to discover magical new ingredients!

One of the best ways to keep learning is to read  cookbooks!

One of the best ways to keep learning is to read cookbooks!

10. “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”

Zebras are curious by nature – we’re always exploring and trying to figure out how and why things are the way they are. In fact, we’re tremendously interested in everything. So I was very happy to learn that, when it comes to cooking and life, all I need to do is be passionate and keep feeding my interests.

That sounds like tons of fun to me – and I hope it does to you, too!

In fact, I’m going to celebrate Julia’s birthday by having an adventure in the kitchen right NOW.

ZeBot Birthday Candles

Happy 101st Birthday, Julia! Love, ZeBot

A Sweet Striped Surprise for ZeMom & ZeDad

ZeBot & Buddies Mise En Place for Shortbread

In the human world, there are special days to celebrate moms, dads and all the amazing things they do.  Zebras have pretty much the same custom — but because we have so much energy, we try to do something special for our parents every day.

My latest surprise for ZeMom & ZeDad was creating a special hoofmade treat just for them. Because ZeMom is the sweetest zebra ever, I wanted to make her something sweet – preferably with stripes. She’s very big on healthy foods, so that was also a factor. As for ZeDad, well, he’s one of those guys who LOVES any kind of desserts, especially decadent ones with stripes.

The question was: could I make something that was striped, decadent and still reasonably healthy?

I also wanted to be able to use lots and lots of imagination, as I think that is one of the best ingredients ever invented.

Chef Nora can teach anyone to bake--even zebras!

Chef Nora can teach anyone to bake–even zebras!

To get some expert advice, my favorite zebra kitchen pals and I went to visit our pastry chef friend, Nora Tong. If anyone knows how to make the ultimate desserts, she does!

Chef Nora was nice enough to invite me and my buddies to come a class that she was teaching to professional bakers and super-great home bakers from the Bakers Dozen. She was sharing her secrets for making perfect tarts, but she said that we could use our imagination to transform the recipe into almost anything else we wanted—including something striped!

I was wondering whether zebras could make a perfect pastry when it seems we’re all hooves. Chef Nora said, “Of course, you can, ZeBot—anyone can make wonderful pastries. The trick is to use the right recipe, then learn how to make it just the right way.”

Well, in this case, the right recipe had to be super-easy, striped and totally zebraproof. Chef Nora had the perfect one: she said we could turn her super-buttery shortbread tart crust into super-buttery striped shortbread cookies. Those could be the decadent part of our surprise. For the healthy part, she advised us to use even MORE imagination.

Mise en place is a great start that guarantees a happy ending!

Mise en place is a great start that guarantees a happy ending!

But first, we had to learn how to make the shortbread. Chef Nora said the first thing that both zebras and professional bakers need to do is to get out all our ingredients and baking tools, then re-read our recipe to make sure everything is clear.

This is called “mise en place,” which is French for “to put in place.” Why was Chef Nora using a French term? Because LOTS of the world’s great chefs are from France, so other chefs and bakers do this out of tradition.

Mise en place is a great way to make sure that you don’t end up in the middle of preparing your recipe, only to realize that you’re missing an ingredient, forgot a tool or don’t undertand all the steps.

Shortbread dough looks all crumbly before you press it into your baking pan.

Shortbread dough looks all crumbly before you press it into your baking pan.

Next, we learned how to mix a shortbread dough. It’s just the way you’d think you would do it: put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them up! We used a KitchenAid stand mixer, but you could also use a hand mixer, a big spoon—or even your clean hands (or hooves).

If you want to make chocolate dough, you need to melt chocolate first. Chef Nora showed ZoeBot how to do it on a burner, but she said you can also melt chocolate carefully in the microwave.

By the way, if you’re a kid or a zebra, you ALWAYS need an adult’s help with this–or anything else that involves heat. If you want, you can substitute cocoa powder (which is very healthy and super-chocolaty tasting). This is one of our favorite zebra tricks—you’ll find it in our recipe.

Yum: melted chocolate!

Yum: melted chocolate!

After everything is mixed, you need to know what to do with the dough. Chef Nora said you just take it out of the bowl and gently press it into your baking pan. The dough will look kind of crumbly in the bowl, but it sticks together when you press it into the pan. If you want to make sure your dough doesn’t puff up during baking, you poke it all over with a fork to make little holes. This is called “docking.”

See the little holes in one  tart crust? That's called "docking" and it's the same for cookies.

See the little holes in one tart dough? That’s called “docking”- and you use the same technique for cookie dough.

Then you bake your dough until it turns into a tart crust or cookies or whatever you’re making. If it’s a batch cookies, you cut them into little squares (just like in the photo below), then top them with whatever yummy thing you like best.

That sounded super-easy to us. Now we had to think of something ZeMom-healthy to go with our ZeDad-decadent cookies.

This is what shortbread cookies look like after they're baked.

This is what shortbread cookies look like after they’re baked.

And THIS is what they look like with yummy toppings!

And THIS is what they look like with yummy toppings! Chef Nora topped hers with a mocha cream and fresh berries.

When we got back home, we looked in our refrigerator to see what was in there. We wanted something sweet and creamy and healthy and somehow striped. My cousin ZoeBot had the brilliant idea of mixing up cottage cheese and yogurt and honey and vanilla.We put it in the food processor to make it creamy.

What did we do for stripes?

We love the way super-creamy treats feel in our mouths, so we used a food processor.

We love the way super-creamy treats feel in our mouths, so we used a food processor.

Well, we added cocoa to part of our sweet, creamy stuff. Then we made black and white stripes by layering it all in beautiful tall glasses. ZoeBot reads a lot, so she knew that the striped, creamy, layered desserts are called “parfaits.” Guess what language that is? Yep: French!

And guess what it means? Besides being a dessert, it means “perfect”! And that’s how we knew we’d found the perfect dessert for our parents. They’ve done more than anyone else in the whole universe to make our lives perfect—and also sweet, imaginative, healthy and striped.

This is what being a zebra is all about—and we wish the same for you.

Happy Mother’s and Father’s Day (every day) to parents and kids and zebras (everywhere)!

Hurray for striped cookies and parfaits!

Hurray for striped cookies and parfaits!

 

RECIPE: ZeBot’s Striped Parfait with Shortbread cookies:

A note from ZeBot: Because it’s hoofmade, my dessert shows how much I love my mom and dad. And it really describes them: striped & parfait (French for “perfect”!).

ZeDad’s Super Buttery Shortbread Cookies (adapted from an amazing recipe by Chef Nora Tong)

 What you need:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup melted butter, cooled to room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

What you do:

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Mix the flour and sugar in a KitchenAid stand mixer that’s fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the melted butter and vanilla, then mix until everything is combined. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can also use a hand-held mixer or a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients).

With clean hands (or hooves), press the dough onto a cookie sheet. It’s okay if the dough seems a little crumbly – just smoosh it all together.

Put the cookie sheet into a pre-heated oven, then bake until the shortbread is a deep golden-brown (this should take about 12-15 minutes).

Let the shortbread cool a bit, then ask an adult to help you cut it into whatever shapes you like – you can use either a pizza cutter or a knife to do this.

Note: If you want zebra stripes on your shortbread, ask an adult to help you melt some semisweet or milk chocolate chips (on the stovetop or in the microwave). Then use a spoon to drizzle the melted chocolate onto your shortbread shapes.

Makes about a dozen small cookies to go with your striped parfaits.

ZeMom’s Super Healthy Zebra-Striped Parfaits

What You Need:

2 cups low-fat cottage cheese

1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt

2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup honey

2 tbsp. cocoa

Strawberries for decoration

What You Do:

Put the cottage cheese, yogurt, vanilla and honey into the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Make sure the top of the bowl is on tightly, then push “start” and watch everything spin around until it’s completely mixed and velvety smooth.

Using a big spoon, carefully move half of the creamy mixture into a small mixing bowl (this will be the vanilla part for white stripes). Don’t worry about measuring – it doesn’t have to be EXACTLY half.

Add the cocoa to the fluffy, mixed-up stuff that’s still in the food processor, put the lid on and mix everything up until it’s dark and chocolaty.

To create your parfaits, use a small spoon to make creamy layers of white and chocolate in clear dessert glasses. You can start with either chocolate or vanilla – and make the layers as thick or thin as you want.

Decorate the parfaits with sliced strawberries and some of the shortbread cookies. Make it look really cool!

Makes four small, two medium or one GIANT parfait.

Make a sweet treat for your parents today!

Make a sweet treat for your parents today!

ZeAmazing DIY Cracker Caper

ZeBot @ CUESA

Have you ever noticed that food tastes better than ever when you make it yourself? I learned this from some really savvy 5th graders the other day, when I was invited to a supercool DIY class with CUESA’s Foodwise Kids at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market in San Francisco.

Our kitchen mission: learn to make our own fresh-baked crackers with seasonal market toppings. I was kind of worried about attempting all this with four clumsy hooves, but the kids told me that if they could DIY, then I could DIZ (which means: “Do It, Zebra!).

Sound like fun? If you can’t wait for a taste, you can watch our movie starring the super-chefs at Longfellow Elementary School right NOW!

And now, back to ZeBlog!
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Hail to ZeKale Chips!

No-Fail KaleIf you know anything about zebras, you’ve probably figured out that we love to graze, especially on green stuff. The other day, my cousin ZoeBot and I were trying to figure out if there was a green snack we’d never tasted AND that was possible for zebras to make without totally messing up the kitchen.

Zoe was a little nervous, since she just got here from Planet DooF, where we have no food at all (unless you count Gloop, which I certainly do not).

“I feel like I’m all hooves, ZeBot – I don’t want to try and fail,” she kept saying to me. “But I’m so hungry I think I could eat a whole hay bale – my appetite’s as big as a whale. I really have a taste for something yummy and fresh. You know: definitely not stale.”

Since Zoe obviously had a taste for rhymes, I yelled out the only thing I could think of: “KALE! Let’s make something with kale!”

We weren't sure what we'd make yet -- but we knew we'd need a little salt.

We weren’t sure what we’d make yet — but we knew we’d need a little salt.

What the heck is kale, you ask? Good question! In fact, it’s what Zoe asked, too! Kale is a kind of cabbage with really cool-looking curly green leaves. If you like technical stuff, you can call kale by its scientific name: Brassica oleracea. Or you can just call it “kale” (which is what zebras usually do).

Humans say kale originated in the Mediterranean part of Europe some time before the Middle Ages. Its strong leaves resisted frost damage, so kale was especially great for winter when most vegetables wouldn’t grow. And guess what? It’s also great for summer!

Zebras love snacks with a little zip – so we thought pepper would be good, too!

Zebras love snacks with a little zip – so we thought pepper would be good, too!

Kale is a real nutritional powerhouse! It’s naturally packed with Vitamins A, C and K (makes sense: it’s KALE, right?). These great-tasting leaves are also a good source of beta-carotene, lutein, calcium, potassium, fiber – and lots of other good-for-you stuff.

If you cook kale with a little olive oil, the nutrients are more bioavailable (that means they’re easier for your body to absorb). Olive oil also makes the kale taste better than ever.

We're SuperZebras, so used olive oil to get every last superpower from our kale!

We’re SuperZebras, so used olive oil to get every last superpower from our kale!

Zoe and I love superfoods, and we’re also crazy about healthy chips: so we decided to make kale chips. They tasted AMAZING: light and crispy with just the right amount of savory salty, peppery flavor.

We’re putting them in our Zebra Snack Hall of Fame and making them every chance we get – we hope you will, too. Hail to the Kale Chips!

Just a little while in the oven worked a delicious magic. Presto: kale chips!

Just a little while in the oven worked a delicious magic. Presto: kale chips!

Recipe:  SuperZebras’ Favorite Kale Chips

Ingredients:

A big bunch of kale or a bag of pre-washed & cut-up kale

Extra-virgin olive oil – about 2 tablespoons (you’re just going to drizzle it on)

Salt (just a sprinkling)

Fresh-ground black pepper (only if you like it)

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (if you’re a kid, make sure you have an adult around to help with hot stuff!)

2. If your kale isn’t pre-washed, now’s the time to wash it. Rinse the leaves really well, then drain them in a colander (those are kitchen tools that kind of look like bowls with holes – and that rhymes!).

3. Zebras love stems, but if you don’t, just tear the leaves off the stems. You can save the stems to make vegetable broth, put them in your compost bin or feed them to your favorite zebra (hint, hint!).

4. Put the kale leaves on a baking sheet. You can spray the sheet with a little cooking oil spray, line it with baking parchment  or use a silicone baking mat called a silpat (that’s what ZoeBot and I did).

5. Drizzle a bit of olive oil onto the leaves and toss them around with your hooves or hands, so that they all have a very thin coating. Make sure that they’re all in one layer and not stuck on top each other.

6. Sprinkle the kale leaves with salt (if you want, you can also add a little ground black pepper).

7. Ask an adult to put the kale leaves in the oven. If you’re old enough, you can do this yourself. How do you know if you’re old enough? Ask your parent or another adult in charge of you!

8. Bake the kale leaves for about 12-15 minutes or until they’re crispy. You need to watch them really carefully as you get to the end of baking so they don’t burn.

9. Put your kale chips in a bowl, yell “Hail to the Kale Chips,” and eat them. If you’re at all like a zebra, you’ll eat the whole batch!

As you can see, kale chips are super-simple to make – and a blast to eat! You can find lots more great recipes online (most of them are pretty much like the ones we made).

Photos and Text: Intergalactic © 2013 Laura Martin Bacon