Moving Day

February 18, 2012

The day has come…Blog Moving Day that is.  As much fun as the first 2 blogs have been…lorieats and just sayin, the new blog: cooklearngrow is proving to be the next chapter of fun.

I invite you and especially your kiddos to join me at the new blog address: provides kids with

  • easy step by step pictures of cooking lessons

  • kid friendly recipes

  • show & tell…a fun area where kids have the opportunity to “show & tell” about their adventures in cooking.

  • links to food related games

  • list of area afterschool classes and summer camps

and it’s FREE!

Kids of all ages can create their own delicious food with easy and fun ideas.  Now kids outside of Austin can have a little more access to the fun cooking we have in class.

So spread the word to your friends and family and join us as we celebrate the fun of cooking at 

Don’t forget to tell the kids to send in their Show & Tell adventures!


Does your child LOVE to cook?

December 5, 2011

I am thrilled to welcome you and your child to Cook, Learn, Grow – a kid’s cooking school blog!

So thrilled you stopped by for a visit!  I hope your child finds fun and helpful cooking/food things at

Over the last several months, some very smart , gifted and cool people have been busy behind the scenes creating this new kid’s cooking blog- just for you!

To celebrate the “grand opening” of Cook, Learn, Grow!, I thought it would be fun to do a few giveaways.  You know, kind of like door prizes just for stopping by

I invite you to look around and visit each week as I will be adding new posts to help you learn about cooking and food.  Tell your friends about it too!

Here’s the fun part, the giveaways:

All you have to do is leave a comment at the bottom of this post answering this question:

“What is your age and your favorite Christmas or Hanukkah food?”

One entry per person, please.

No entries past 7:00pm Pacific Time Friday.

I will announce the winners on Monday, December 12.

Best wishes!

Here are the cool prizes coming to some lucky kiddos:

The prizes by age group:

Ages 0-5: A Head Chef’s Whisk and DK’s The Toddler Cookbook

Ages 6-8: A Head Chef’s Whisk and “C” is for Cooking

Ages 9-12: A Head Chef’s Spoon and DK’s Children’s Cookbook

Ages 13-18 : A Head Chef’s Spatula and Rachel Ray’s Cooking Rocks!

Summer in December?

December 1, 2011

You may be thinking about your Christmas wish list,

or your Hanukkah wish list,


but I am thinking about Summer 2012.

What’s happening then?  Summer Cooking Camp!
The theme will be: American Farmer’s Markets


Why am I posting about Summer in December?
So you can add it to your Christmas or Hanukkah wish list if you live in the Austin, Tx area.

There are some deeeelicious foods at a farmer’s market!  I love all the different colors, shapes, and sizes of food at a farmer’s market.


Chili peppers…(try them in brownies-sounds weird, but it’s really good!)

potatoes and tomatoes…I’m a poet and didn’t know it

Do you like pickles?  Can you do the pickle dance?  Then you should try homemade pickles.

What about herbs?  Remember the pickles above;  they have dill in them!

Ever heard of mint?  You can make strawberry-mint lemonade!

You can even buy your mom some beautiful fresh flowers.  Be sure to give her a hug with the flowers 🙂

Join us this coming summer for a week of Cooking Camp.  You will have tons of fun learning about the growing process of foods, cook seasonal summer foods from different regions of the USA, practice money skills at a camp market, learn about healthy and yummy foods, play food games and maybe even a little composting.

Click here for a short video on more cool foods you can find at a farmer’s market.

If you would like a spot in one the Austin area summer cooking camps, ask your mom or dad to email us for registration information.

Happy Cooking!


October 7, 2011

Samantha.  Not just any Samantha, but Samantha Sizemore!  Today she debuts her first food blog post here; her topic?  Rice. Glorious, healthy, sustainable, rice.

I am so excited to have her as a guest contributor!  She’s smart, she has small town values with a big city attitude, and because she was raised on a farm, she understands the connection and value of seed to plate.

Welcome Samantha; glad you dropped in!

A single grain of rice tipped the scale 

Rice is a common enough, every day ingredient. It is used in every genre in cooking, in every meal of the day and in every way imaginable. In fact, rice is used so often that it has almost become a part of the background – unnoticed.

A small town in south east Texas is looking to change that, however.

Winnie, Texas is located in the south-easternmost tip of the great state of Texas and is home to just under 3,000 people. Winnie’s proximity to the Texas-Louisiana border provides a strong Cajun influence its people and its cuisine.

Another benefit of Winnie’s location is its climate which is perfect for growing rice. There are countless rice farms located in this small town, many of which ship their products throughout the state of Texas.

In a town whose success is so closely tied to an agricultural product, it is no surprise that this product is held in an honorary position for the townspeople. Every year, at the end of the rice harvesting season, Winnie hosts the Texas Rice Festival.

a combine, pronounced: com‘-bine. used to cut and harvest rice

TRF, as locals call it, offers many attractions. Live shows featuring artists such as Joe Nichols, Wayne Toups, and Kevin Fowler take the stage nightly, junior high and high school students from around the area participate in livestock shows during the day and carnival rides operate from the early hours of the morning until late into the night.

The real star of the show, however, is the rice.

Food vending trailers and stands line the streets selling rice cooked in a variety of ways. Patrons can purchase rice balls (ground meat or chili surrounded by rice formed into a ball shape and then deep fried in peanut oil), boudain sausages, fried boudain nuggets (boudain sausages cut into bit-size pieces and then deep fried), rice in gumbo and rice in etouffe to name a few.

TRF aims to highlight the importance of rice, not only in the community, heritage and economy of Winnie, Texas, but also throughout the world.

Rice, although understated, performs an integral function in the creation of many dishes.

Family Meal Time Help: Put it on the calendar

September 26, 2011

From time to time, I get questions related to menu planning.  Most often, the questions are from busy moms who really want to cook but have a jam packed calendar and think there’s no time for it.  They often tell me how bad they feel eating out all the time but they struggle trying to get it all done.   When these conversations happen, I try to ease their stress with a few tips that help.

It starts with a plan.  Not the kind that is written in stone…just a plan.  A guide.  A little help to get people headed in the direction they say they want to go.  Being flexible with the plan is key to success.  If there’s no idea of what’s for dinner by afternoon time, it’s highly likely the family will be eating out or having to fend for themselves.  Which is sometimes a very good thing.

But for those who want to do a little more cooking, start with a blank piece of paper, your calendar and an apron.

On the blank piece of paper, make a list of 10-12 categories of foods.  Something like this:

Then on your calendar, count 7 days from today (or the day you do this) and write in one of the categories for each day. The reason for starting this 7 days out is to give yourself time to get ready.  Time to gather recipes if needed, make a grocery list, wrap your head around any questions and find the answers, etc.

Skip a day that you know you will not be home or anywhere near able to cook…probably Fridays would be the day for most folks.  Especially during football season.  Here’s an example of a menu calendar template: (if it’s too small to see, just click on it and it will enlarge)

On the template, feel free to make it your own by just putting 2-3 categories a week and leaving more room for leftovers, eating out, etc.  Do whatever it takes to help you ease into your comfort zone.  Don’t think you have to cook every single night; 7 days a week.  For most with super busy schedules, that’s not realistic.

Another idea I love to suggest is, if you have kid’s old enough to cook by themselves, by all means, let them have one night a week in the kitchen.   That is a win-win for everyone!

Once you reach a comfort level and would like to add a category or two, here are few ideas:

Ethnic Food

Iron Chef Night

Batch Cooking

Seafood Sunday

5 ingredients or less

Oh, and don’t forget to wear an apron! You’ll keep your clothes clean and you’ll look cute for your man!  Another win-win!  You know what they say, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach 😉

I hope this helps!  Feel free to email or reply with any questions or maybe tips and tricks you have that helps feed your family well!

Happy Cooking,


Family Fun: Chocolate Truffles

September 24, 2011

Last week we celebrated foods from Pennsylvania honoring US Constitution Day.  We started with Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches and finished with Hershey, PA Truffles.   Truffles are a fun recipe to make with the kids.  It’s hands-on, chocolatey and can be part of your Friday Night Family Fun!  Make Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches, truffles, play a board game, play iron chef, karaoke, watch a movie…just enjoy your family!  Live, Laugh, Love.

Wanted to share the recipe for the Truffles; here ya go!

Start with chocolate chips (we used semi-sweet but you can use milk, dark or whatever you like)

1 1/3 cups

heavy whipping cream comes next…

1/3 cup of this wonderful gift to the food world.

pour it into a small saucepan and turn the heat to medium-high

heat it until it just begins to have small bubbles; just to a boil

remove pot from the heat, turn the burner off and then add the chocolate chips

let the chocolate sit in the hot cream for about 3-4 minutes

then whisk the chocolate and cream together

keep whisking

whisk until smooth

then pour into a shallow dish

stick it in the refrigerator for at least an hour or until it is firm

the picture below is right before I put it in the fridge

here it is about an hour later

using a teaspoon, scoop out some of the chocolate (it will be firm, so dig in)

form the scooped chocolate into a roundish shape; it doesn’t have to be perfectly round!

using your palms (not your fingers), roll into roundish shapes

keep shaping and rolling…this is the fun part!

now it’s time to dust them with powdered sugar

put them all on a handy dandy plate and serve them on Family Fun Night!

or you could put them in a small fancy schmancy box,

tie a ribbon on it,

and give it to someone to make them happy and let them know you love them:

a friend,

a grandparent

an aunt or uncle,

a teacher

a neighbor

a stranger

Food is meant to be shared…spread the love and chocolate!

Happy Cooking,


“We the Kids” celebrated a piece of paper with beef and chocolate

September 17, 2011

The cooking class started with a US map and the questions: “Do you know why Pennsylvania is famous? Do you know what famous piece of paper was written and signed in Pennsylvania?

Answers varied but my favorite one was: “George Washington use to live there”.

Do you know?

If you don’t, today is your day: The United States Constitution was created and signed there!

I thought it would be fun to celebrate US Constitution Day by cooking food from Pennsylvania, the place where the Constitution was created and signed by our Founding Fathers.

Philadelphia, PA is home of the Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich and Hershey, PA is home of the world’s largest chocolate company, Hershey, Inc.  Ever heard of M&M’s, Hershey Bar or Whatchamacallits?

So guess what we made…Mini-Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches and Hershey Truffles.  What fun we had…wish you could have been there! You should try these with friends or family.  Email me if you would like the recipes.

The US Constitution was created over 200 years ago by a group of men who were the leaders of our country.  Those men are called our Founding Fathers. It was such a big deal that we celebrate it every September!

Why is it a big deal?  Well, because it was the beginning of the way we live in America and we still use the US Constitution today…2011.

What is the US Constitution?  Basically, it is a written list of rules and promises created by The Founding Fathers who wanted all Americans to have happiness, safety, and comfort.

They also wanted all Americans to have rights and privileges and to live a free life.  Not every country gets to live free with rights and privileges.

Imagine what it would be like if you weren’t allowed to choose your pizza toppings.  That would be kind of weird.  That is sort of how it was before we had the Constitution.  No freedom of choice.  For the most part, we need to be able to make our own choices for our own happiness, especially when it comes to pizza!

We read this cool story about it.

The US Constitution has lots of pages, including an introduction or, The Preamble, as it is called.  The Preamble is short and sweet and gives the idea of our Founding Fathers.

Here it is with what it means in parenthesis:

“We the People of the United States (all Americans, including children)
in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, (the rules to make things fair),
insure domestic Tranquility, (comfort),
provide for the common defense (protection-soldiers, cops, firefighters, emergency workers, etc),
promote the general Welfare (happiness),
and secure the Blessings of Liberty (freedom),
to ourselves and our Posterity (all Americans),
do ordain and establish this Constitution (written list of rules & promises to live by),
For the United States of America”(where we live)

A link to cool and fun facts about our Constitution is here.

Have fun and go cook something…it’s your freedom, enjoy it!

God Bless America and all who fight to keep us free!

Secrets…shhh, don’t tell anyone. (a repost)

August 23, 2011

The Secret is out: Eat to lose weight.

About Me:  I am not a nutritionist. I’m a teacher…and a  career changer to a trained chef with less than 5 years experience at the time of this post.  But that still doesn’t qualify me for this post.  But I am also a girl who has lived what I’m about to write about…losing weight.

Several years ago, I was at my highest weight and subsequently, clothes size.  Being the lazy person that I am who hates to work out, I wanted to lose weight by dieting without dieting.  Nothing out of the norm.  However, I found a life changing program called the Six-Week Body Makeover.  It’s foundation is made from the concept of using food to lose weight.  Ordinary, real food.  The concept is: It’s all about choices and metabolism.   The secret is what, how much and how often we feed our metabolism.   It had such an impact on me that I can’t help but share.  You know, one of those: “got to tell the whole world kind of moments”…

Secret #1:  eat often (the how often part)

Eat every 4-5 hours…start grazing small portions of proteins, complex carbohydrates and fresh yummy veggies.  NEVER SKIP BREAKFAST!!  The more you feed your metabolism, the more fat it burns.  (no big secret, just thought I mention that sugar brings our metabolism to a screeching halt!-this has always been my antagonistic arch enemy!  I LOVE LOTS OF SUGAR!)

Secret #2:  eat real food (the what part)

  • No fake butters: use real unsalted -get a butter crock or some kind of cute dish with a cover and leave your real, healthy butter on the counter for true spreadability…just like our grandmothers did!
  • Run as fast as you can from processed food (stuff in a box or plastic)- it’s toxic and there’s no way to be healthy with fake food. Period.
  • Buy Fresh, live fruits & veggies preferably from a local farmer’s market to get full nutrients & ripening benefits.
  • Use extra virgin olive oil on salads and as a finishing touch on anything.
  • Eat greek yogurt- why?  it has less sugar, if any and highest amounts of protein
  • Eat almonds- pure antioxidants and healthy fat (believe it or not, we need fat in our diet)
  • Drink water
  • Eat cold water fish
  • Eat pasture raised chicken and eggs

Secret #3: eat the rainbow (more of the what part)

Eat the colors of the rainbow every day for variety, nutrients and vitamins.

  • Proteins-fish, chicken, turkey, beef, tuna, egg whites and veggies
  • Complex  carbohydrates-any carb that’s not processed: rice, potatoes quinoa, oats, barley, cous cous, etc.
  • Vegetables-any kind, but the green leafy ones have the most antioxidants & health benefits.
  • Fruitany fruit is better than no fruit but try to stick to dark choices like blueberries, grapes, strawberries, blackberries, kiwi, cherries, etc.
  • Water-lots of it.  Sodas, fruit drinks are loaded with sugar and chemicals.  Carbonation makes us swell.
  • Caffeine & Alcohol-love it, but in moderation.  Try not to have caffeine after 3or 4pm.  The tannins in red wine are great antioxidants but be aware that wine actually is a stimulant and can cause restless nights.

Secret #4: Eat smaller portions. (the how much part)

There are so many obvious reasons but to stay with the grazing idea, small portions are key to eating up to 5 times a day and remember: that’s the secret to a happy metabolism.

Food for thought:        Planning is the key to success.

Try this: boil & cool a dozen eggs before you go to bed or while your getting dressed.  Then you have 4 servings of protein on the ready.  For those times when you need a grab and go meal, toss a banana or apple  and 3 boiled eggs in your bag and hit the trail.  (For added help, toss the yolks and eat only the whites)

Keep fresh blueberries and blackberries in your fridge when their in season…you can buy extra and freeze them too!

Look what happened last night.

August 21, 2011

Awhile back, Becky and I were trying to figure out what to do for Mary’s birthday.  Mary is very fond of Gone With The Wind.  She even has a parlor complete with memorabilia.  She’s serious about her Gone With The Wind. She’s from South Carolina…that may explain something.

Knowing this bit of information, I suggested a surprise Gone With The Wind themed dinner party.  Right then and there, we (behind Mary’s back while she went in for more iced tea) said yes!  Let’s do it!

So the scheming, lying, planning, and praying started.  We prayed not to get caught by Mary.  She’s got a radar that doesn’t miss much.

Where to hold this grand scheme?  We looked high and low but thought she would figure out the minute Duke drove towards a “special place”

So we enlisted Mike & Nancy, brother and sister-in-law.  Best move we ever made.  Not only would Mary be unsuspecting when they drove over to Mike’s the day of the party, Mike and Nancy were rock stars with behind the scenes  help.  We could not have done it without them!  They were on board from beginning to end.  Not only that, but their home is to die for.  Space, space, space. Done very, very, very well.  Gorgeous home with gorgeous views and amenities; a caterer’s dream.  It didn’t hurt that Duke, the architect, designed it.  He’s pretty good at that kind of stuff.  If you have a minute, you should check out some of his other projects, here.

After weeks and weeks of scheming, lying, planning, and praying, the day finally came.  What a blast!  Mike was the butler…here he is walking Mary into her surprise party.

The guests nibbled on these little cornbread and sausage appetizers while waiting for Mary to arrive.  The menu was Southern Style…BBQ, Fried Chicken, Cheese Grits, Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes, Squash Casserole, Becky’s Beans, Congealed Salad, Pecan Pie and Peach Cobbler.

After her shock and happy surprise, they were whisked off to the changing room to get ready for their party.  Tah-Dah-

Enter, Miss Scarlet and Mr Rhett.  What a lovely couple.

Here’s Prissy mingling with the crowd instead of helping Mammy get dinner ready for Miss Scarlett and her guest.  Prissy; worthless as usual.

Here’s Mammy, hollering, “Prissy, get yoself over here and help me.  Miss Scarlett needs caring for.  Lord have mercy, child, make yoself useful.”

FINALLY, Prissy got busy and made the table all pretty and ready for the party.

Hi Miss Scarlett and Mr Rhett!  Y’all look soooo lovely together.  Won’t you stay for dinnah?

A wounded Confederate Soldier and his nurse showed up for the party.

more hungry Confederates,

The dinner bell rang and by the looks of Miss Scarlett and Mr Rhett, dinner was finger-linkin good.  Miss Scarlett has been known to vow never to go hungry again.  She made good on her vow!
In the end, Miss Scarlett, Mary was a happy and surprised birthday girl.

My day yesterday

August 16, 2011

It started off with me tackling my never-ending to-do list.  So I psyched myself up to deal with receipts, go to “the office” (a corner of my bedroom), look at the God-forsaken pile of receipts that must be sorted, entered, organized, and filed away.  I wonder where the  heck is my intern?  Then I remembered that I don’t HAVE an intern, suddenly feel the urge to barf, leave the room and enjoy my denial.

Then what happened?  (that’s what Case likes to ask when we’re making up stories).  Well, the urge to barf quickly left when I received my contract renewal.  Income is a very good thing!

Then I rewarded myself with a deeeelicious chocolate chip cookie.  They were an apology-gift from the management of my apartment.  There’s been an ongoing “misunderstanding”.  Thankfully, they finally came to their senses and knew just how to receive my forgiveness-COOKIES!  Cookies bring forgiveness.

I still felt the need for rewards.  I’m kinda on the reward system here lately.  Tough job, but somebody has to do it!  To affirm my celebration of my contract renewal…I done went and bought me a new purse.  Not to worry-I bought it at Sam Moon’s for only $25.99.   Uh-mazing store with 3.72million purses, and stuff I don’t have space to list.  You really need to find one in a city near you and go visit.  Affordable, Selection off the charts, Fun Stuff!

I had a partner in crime for the rewards trip, Mary-Bec.  Well, actually her name is Becky.  When I first met  her, I kept calling her by her sister-in-law’s name, Mary, who introduced us.  (sometimes, I seriously think I need memory medicine.) So now, sometimes I just call her Mary-Bec.  She did want me to mention the purpose of her wearing reading glasses on top of her sunglasses; “it’s hell to get old”.  Thanks for sharing, Mary-Bec!

We actually were on a secret mission unrelated to the purse or rewards trip.  More on that later.  Will be fun, stay tuned.

Heading home, I see this road and sky view and remember how blessed I am.  God Bless Texas and hopefully our soon to be new President!

Disclaimer: I don’t normally flaunt my political opinions, but after being traumatized from the last presidential campaign while living in NYC, I’ve kind of changed my mind.