My Dad’s Grilled Cheese Happy Place

by Addie, age 10 1/2

Addie with Grilled Cheese for DOOF

You know that feeling of you just went to your happy place I get that feeling every time I eat my dad’s grilled cheese. I don’t know what he does to it, or is it just how he waits till that perfect second to take it off whatever he does to it they taste great.

Addie's Grilled Cheese

All the restaurants just make it too fancy my dad just uses Kraft cheese and whatever bread we have. To me my dad’s grilled cheeses are the best in the universe, but that’s just my opinion I wish I could have them 24-7 that would be awesome, and the best part is my dad likes making them so that’s great sometimes I see him sneak a bite.

I think he should open a restaurant and all they serve are my dad’s grilled cheese, but sadly that can’t happen my dad is already busy enough with work and all that.

Someday I hope that he will tell me his secret so I can make them for my kids when I’m older.

What I’m wondering: what food takes you to your happy place?

Addie with ZeBot

Want to write your own food blog for DooF?

ZeCaptiva Coconut Caper

Zebra Beach Picnic on Captiva Golf Course

When it comes to exploring, zebras (like kids) really know how to earn their stripes!

My Uncle Zep (also known as ZeGreat Chef Zepicure) and I got together to spend a whole month exploring a magical island called Captiva, which is just off the west coast of Florida in ZeGulf of Mexico.

The place where we’ve had our ZHQ (zebra headquarters) is called South Seas Island Resort — which was once a big plantation. In the early 1900s, it was one of the world’s largest growers of Key limes!

ZeScoutAbout at Beach

We’ve been roaming ZeBeaches and mangrove forests in search of adventure—and an island fruit that could keep us going strong through all our explorations, which tend to make us super hungry and thirsty.

Well, you can imagine how excited we were when we found these big nutty-looking green things underneath a palm tree. We thought it was really cool that they had subtle stripes—and decided to call them ZebraNuts.

Coconut Top Flying Off

To read ZeRest of the story of how our Jamaican buddy Jade gave us the REAL island scoop on these exotic fruits (and to check out our aMazing recipe for coconut smoothies), please visit me at ZeBot’s Kitchen!

All About Osh

by Kamola, age 9

Kamola & ZeBot Hail to ZeKale

I want to share one of my family’s favorite food traditions–and one of my very favorite foods in the whole world.

It is called osh.

I hope you like my video.

And I hope you’ll try making osh for your own family!

Want to write your own food blog for DooF? It’s fun and easy–for details, please click here!

Super-Secret Agent Spices!

ZeGreat Spice Detectives! by the Spice Secret Agents (oldest to youngest): Maorr (age 8), Ofri (age 8), Mathan (age 6), Aya (age 6), Ido (age 5) and Ophir (age 3 1/2)

We want to know EVERYTHING about spices, so we’re going to spy on them.

We’re going to be the world’s best spice secret agent spies. Kids are amazing secret agents. Even a zebra can be a secret agent.

The way you be a secret agent spice spy is to look and smell and touch and taste. You can do it when the spices aren’t watching!

Grinding Spices

We’re learning about every clue to find which spice is the most flavorful and has the strongest aroma.

We’re finding out who’s making them. Why are they making them?

We want to get to the bottom of this. We want answers now! We’re going to solve this mystery. But how?

ZeGreat Spice Hunt

We use our fingers to touch spices. We smell them. We taste them.

We use a magnifying glass to see what they look like up close.

We look at them whole and ground up.

We look in books to find out more and more and more.

We go to special classes by Whole Spice!

Ghost Chiles

What makes chiles spicy? There’s this chemical called (we looked in the Field Guide to Spices) called capsaicin. Chiles come from a family called capsicum which sounds like popsicle, except chiles are hot and popsicles are cold.

The hottest chiles in the whole world are called ghost chiles. They’re so hot they’re spooky!

All About Salt

Salt is not spooky at all. It comes from ocean water that evaporates and leaves behind salt.

Also we know that cilantro and coriander seeds come from the same plant.

ZeBot Cilantro

You can make spices taste different by blending them together. You can blend them any way that tastes good to you. That is the only rule: you have to blend them so that you like them!

We like to put our spice blends on baked sweet potatoes.

They are yummy AND very good for you!

Seasoning a Potato

Spices are fun!

Where do they come from? They come from the whole world! And they come from Whole Spice!

We will tell you A LOT more after we spy more. STAY TUNED!!!!!!

PS For more super-secret spiece info & to watch our super-spicy video, please visit ZeBot’s Kitchen!

A World of Spices ZeBot's Row of Spices

ZeHunger Challenge

ZeBot's Hunger Challengeby ZeBot Zebra

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.”

ZeBot Lentils

How do you do it? Well, it’s pretty simple, but not easy.

All you need to do is live on a food stamp budget ($4.50 per person/zebra per day) that’s supplemented by a list of fresh seasonal foods and staples that are available at the local food pantry.

By asking people (and zebras) to participate in the challenge, the Food Bank is hoping to create a perspective of understanding and empathy.

“We can read articles and digest statistics,” Paul says, “but until hunger is a visitor at your table, it’s difficult to wrap your head around the complexity of the problem.”

I wanted to wrap my head and heart and stripes around the challenges: I know that 1 in 4 local residents go hungry every day. And in other parts of the country and the world, the problem is even bigger.

Read more of ZeBot’s story — and find Deborah Madison’s Caramelized Tofu recipe here!

Cooking Up ZePerfect Mardi Gras

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.

In New Orleans, Mardi Gras celebrations are the most brilliantly colorful parties of the year.

In fact, you’ll see the signature purple, green and gold just about everywhere you look.

Why purple, green and gold? Well, each color has a special meaning: purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.

These became the celebration’s official colors back in 1872, when the first Mardi Gras parade brightened the streets of New Orleans.

“But what IS Mardi Gras?”  you may ask.

Great question! To find out, come visit me in my kitchen — right here!

ZeBot's Mardi Gras ZeSearch

Recipe for Cooking with Toddlers

I love when people ask me for tips about cooking with their kids.  Sometimes I feel really qualified to answer.  Other times, not so much.  But I got excited when someone on Twitter asked me for tips on how to make cooking with her 2 year old less frustrating…


1 gallon Patience
1 pinch Expectations
Several squirts of Hand Soap
2 dozen kitchen towels or rags?(and maybe a mop)
1 set measuring cups
1 set measuring spoons
1 wooden spoon or silicone spatula
Some inexpensive ingredients, such as water, dry rice, beans or oatmeal?(Or try something that is safe for your dog to lick from the floor)
1 large mixing bowl with a non-skid bottom*

A Few Suggestions:

  • If you woke up on the wrong side of the bed today, maybe you should reconsider this activity.  Have a glass of wine and a good night’s sleep – and try again tomorrow.
  • If you are new to cooking with your toddler, I would recommend that you start by practicing a few techniques before actually trying to prepare some real food.
  • Set up all of your tools and ingredients in advance, so that your young chef doesn’t have to use up her entire attention span waiting for you to get ready.

Continue reading at the What’s Cooking Blog:

Michelle Stern, DooF’s Community Outreach Director, owns What’s Cooking, a certified green company that offers cooking classes for children in the San Francisco Bay Area. When she isn’t in the kitchen or at the computer, she’s the head chauffeur for her two children, dog walker to her two mutts, and chicken feeder for her backyard flock.

Cooking With Kids for Community Service

On the surface, cooking with kids and community service might seem like they have nothing in common. But if you just take a moment to consider it, they share several characteristics. Both require a serving of cooperation, a dash of patience and a pinch of creativity. Think it might not be worth the effort? Close your eyes and recall the expression on your child’s face when you praised her cooking or his participation in the kitchen. Now, imagine her sharing the fruits of her labor with a hungry child, or selling his treats at a bake sale…and then donating the proceeds to a cause he cares about.

Continue reading to learn about some of my favorite organizations that encourage children to use cooking as a vehicle to help the needy.

Michelle Stern, DooF’s Community Outreach Director, owns What’s Cooking, a certified green company that offers cooking classes for children in the San Francisco Bay Area. When she isn’t in the kitchen or at the computer, she’s the head chauffeur for her two children, dog walker to her two mutts, and chicken feeder for her backyard flock.

Animal Themed Recipes

I’m usually not one to make cutesy recipes. I’m just not that creative. Plus I am optimistic (dumb?) enough to expect that kids might eat food that simply tastes good. Yes, I have heard that people eat with their eyes first. That doesn’t mean that I make ugly food (at least not on purpose). I just don’t usually put in an extra effort to make it adorable.


Making Cat Treats

That said, kids do appreciate a little extra effort in the food department. Whether I give it a cool name or tell a story about where it comes from, kids seem to be more interested in giving it a try.

In my cooking classes for kids, I have fun themes for our classes. We have eaten our way around the world, have cooked recipes from our favorite books and movies, and this fall we have a zoo in the kitchen…in name only, of course. My kids, in particular, love animals. Instead of taking ordinary foods and making them into animal shapes, I decided to give slight changes to the names of food, so that they have animal-themed names instead.

Continue reading for some ideas of how to re-name the foods that you are already making, so that your kids get excited to consume them!

Michelle Stern, DooF’s Community Outreach Director, owns What’s Cooking, a certified green company that offers cooking classes for children in the San Francisco Bay Area. When she isn’t in the kitchen or at the computer, she’s the head chauffeur for her two children, dog walker to her two mutts, and chicken feeder for her backyard flock.