Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills
- blend :
to stir together two or more ingredients until just combined; blending is a gentler process than mixing.
- measure :
to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).
- pour :
to cause liquid, granules, or powder to stream from one container into another.
- simmer :
to cook a food gently, usually in a liquid, until softened.
- Medium saucepan
- Liquid measuring cup
- Blender (or pitcher + immersion blender)
- 4 C whole milk **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free milk)**
- 1/4 C sugar
- 2 big pinches ground cinnamon
Food Allergen Substitutions
- Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free milk for whole milk in Cappuccinos.
measure + simmer
Measure and add 4 cups milk to a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Add 1/4 cup sugar and 2 big pinches of cinnamon and stir until sugar dissolves, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool slightly.
blend + pour
Carefully add warm milk to a blender (or pitcher + immersion blender) and blend until milk develops a thick foam on top! Then pour into cups and "Slàinte" (Slawn-che)! (Cheers in Scottish Gaelic!)
Hi! I’m Cinnamon!
"Did you know that I'm a spice that comes from the inner bark of certain trees?! You can add me to both sweet and savory foods. Recipes generally call for ground cinnamon, but you can also use cinnamon sticks, dried strips of my bark that curl into a tube shape, to flavor apple cider, stews, curries, and more. Just don't forget to remove the stick before serving! And, what's more, I can make your kitchen and home smell wonderful!"
- Some people say the best kind of cinnamon, referred to as the "true cinnamon" and called Ceylon, is native to an island southeast of India called Sri Lanka. It has a more subtle flavor than other types. The most common cinnamon in use today, though, is derived from Cassia, which originated in China.
- Cinnamon is an ancient spice. It was imported to Egypt in about 2000 BCE. The ancient Egyptians used cinnamon together with myrrh to embalm the dead. They considered cinnamon to be more valuable than gold!
Anatomy & Etymology
- Cinnamon is the inner bark of some tree species of the genus Cinnamomum. Cinnamon trees can grow about 60 feet tall.
- Cinnamon farmers begin to harvest cinnamon when the tree reaches two years old. They cut the tree back so that shoots form from the stump. After one more year, the farmers strip the outer bark from the shoots and set the peels out to dry in the sun.
- When the bark dries, it curls into "quills," which are the sticks that are cut and sold as cinnamon sticks. They can also be ground into powdered cinnamon, which is how much of the cinnamon we see is sold in stores. So, what do a porcupine and a cinnamon tree have in common? They both grow quills!
- The word "cinnamon" comes from late Middle English derived from the Old French form, "cinnamome," from the Greek "kinnamon." The Greek was borrowed from a Phoenician word, which was similar to the related Hebrew word "qinnāmōn."
How to Pick, Buy, & Eat
- Cinnamon is harvested twice a year, immediately after the rainy season. The humidity in the air makes the bark peel more easily.
- The bark is typically peeled by hand by skilled peelers.
- The quality of cinnamon is judged by the thickness of the bark, the appearance of the quills (broken or whole), the aroma, and the flavor.
- Cinnamon is a spice used to add flavor to a variety of dishes. For example, it may be added to desserts, chocolate, toast (in cinnamon sugar), fruit (especially apples), roasted veggies, soups, tea, and hot cocoa. It's also good in savory dishes like Bavarian pot roast, Moroccan chicken, and Indian curry.
- It is best to eat cinnamon in small doses in its ground form, sprinkling it on top of food or adding a small teaspoon to food. Eating too much cinnamon could cause adverse health effects.
- Cinnamon has one of the most recognizable scents. Its pungent, spicy smell is due to the chemical called "cinnamaldehyde." This chemical is considered an antioxidant that has some anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
- Cinnamon is believed to regulate the sugar in our blood and possibly lower cholesterol; however, study findings aren't clear.
- Cinnamon oil can keep mosquitoes away! It kills mosquito larvae and probably repels adult mosquitoes, too.
Let's Learn About Italy!
- Italy became a unified country in 1861, only 150 years ago. It is sometimes called "bel paese" or "beautiful country."
- Italians invented the piano and the thermometer!
- In ancient Roman mythology, two twin brothers named Romulus and Remus founded Rome, Italy's capital city. The myth says the twins were abandoned and then discovered by a she-wolf before being found and raised by a shepherd and his wife. Eventually (and after many exciting adventures), they found themselves at the location of Palatine Hill, where Romulus built "Roma." The Italian wolf became Italy's unofficial national animal.
- In the 1930s and 40s, Mussolini, Italy's prime minister, and dictator tried to eliminate all foreign words from the Italian language. How did he do that? He just changed them! For example, in soccer, "goal" became "meta." Disney character names changed, too: Donald Duck became "Paperino;" Mickey Mouse became "Topolino;" and Goofy became "Pippo." Although they're not banned anymore, these words and names have stuck. So now if you go to the Italian Disneyland, called Gardaland Park, you will see Topolino and Pippo!
- About 60 million people call Italy home, and it is 116,350 square miles, slightly larger than the US state of Arizona. If you compare that to the United Kingdom, 67 million people live there, and it is about 94,350 square miles. So, the UK is smaller than Italy but has a bigger population!
- The Italian flag is green, white, and red. These colors represent hope, faith, and charity.
- The average Italian eats close to 55 pounds of pasta annually. If you think about how light pasta is, that is a considerable amount! There are more than 500 different types of pasta eaten in Italy today.
What's It Like to Be a Kid in Italy?
- Kids begin school at 6 years old. They grow up speaking Italian, but they learn English in school, so many become bilingual in Italian and English.
- The most popular sport for kids is football (soccer). The Italian word for soccer is "calcio," the same word they use for "kick." A favorite of younger kids is "Rody, the bouncing horse," a plastic horse that a small child can hop onto and bounce around the room. Rody was invented in Italy in 1984.
- The family ("la famiglia") is a central characteristic of Italian life. Children have great respect for their older relatives. It is traditional to name the first male child after the grandfather and the first female child after the grandmother.
- If kids live close to school, they can go home and have lunch with their families! Lunch at school might be pasta, meat with vegetables, a sandwich, or a salad with lots of ingredients. Families typically eat dinner later (7 to 8 pm), so kids end up staying up later, too!
- Between lunch and dinner, kids often enjoy "merenda," which is an afternoon snack that translates to "something that is deserved." It is really a mini-meal that can include both savory and sweet foods. Examples of savory foods are a salami or mortadella sandwich, a slice of rustic bread rubbed with a cut, raw tomato, or "pizza bianca" (white pizza without tomato sauce). Types of sweet foods eaten during merenda are "gelato" (a lower-fat type of ice cream), any kind of cake, or biscotti dipped in warm milk.