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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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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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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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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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

Wokkin’ On Sunshine: A Magical Exploration of ZeWok Shop!

Chinatown Gate with ZeBotHey, who wants to go for a wok with me?

When I asked my Chinese-born American buddy Julianne that question, her reply (like yours might be) was: “Um, what’s a wok?”

Well, I knew that a wok is a kind of cooking pan — and being a zebra who loves to roam (and is very fond of puns), I’ve always like saying stuff like “let’s go for a wok.” But Julianne and I wanted to explore all the sizzling secrets to wonderful wok cooking.

Since we think the best way to start on any new  path of culinary discovery is to do some ZeSearch, we decided to begin in my ZeNormous cookbook library.

Julianne Does Research

The next thing we did was call my friend Grace Young, who has written lots of award-winning cookbooks all about the wok and the amazing things it can do.

It turns out that the voyage into the world of woks is deliciously vast and exciting.
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Grace Young & ZeYear of the Zebra

ZeYear of the Zebra

According to an old zebra saying,  friends can make your day—but my friend Grace just made my whole year!

It happened while we were talking about the Chinese New Year—a magical holiday time that falls between mid-January and late-February on the Western (solar) calendar.

Grace with the Ultimate Wok & a Zebra!

Meet Grace, “Poet Laureate of the Wok, Stir-Fry Guru & Wok Evangelist”!


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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