2015 Gelett Burgess Awards Announced


The 2015 Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Awards have been announced. Please visit our website to view the titles selected for this year’s competition. Congratulations to all of the talented authors and illustrators who have made amazing contributions to children’s literature. We applaud your efforts.

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Herbs and Spices, Galore!

There is much fun to be had in discovering new herbs and spices to play with in the kitchen. One of my favorite activities on a lazy Saturday afternoon is to head over the the Savory Spice Shop. I always feel like a little kid in a candy shop when I find myself surrounded by bins, jars and sachets of herbs and spices from all over the world.


Each new discovery carries with it an educational opportunity as I learn about the cultural heritage, history, culinary and medical uses of the herbs and spices. If I concentrate, I can imagine myself as an early pioneer or explorer experiencing this strange and exotic find for the very first time. It’s pretty exciting if you start paying attention to the stories behind each of the ingredients neatly stored in jars, tucked all over the store. There was once a time when herbs and spices from the New World were more valuable than gold!

Indeed, the Savory Spice Shop holds a special place in my heart. Perhaps it’s because the staff are always so friendly and knowledgable, greeting me with huge smiles as I walk through the door. And perhaps it’s because they love my cookbook, The Cultured Chef! In fact, I’ll be signing copies this coming Saturday from 12-4 at the Sellwood location in Portland, Oregon.


Excerpt from the Sellwood Bee about my upcoming signing

Nicholas Beatty, author of “The Cultured Chef”, tells The Sellwood Bee, “I am a local author working with Jim and Anne Brown at the Savory Spice Shop in Sellwood. They have been very strong supporters of my cookbook, “The Cultured Chef: An International Cookbook for Kids”, since its early stages of research and development. The illustrator, Coleen McIntyre, and I will be signing books and providing sample recipes from the book December 5th from noon to 4 p.m.”

The Sellwood community held a very large role in the eventual publication of the book through our Kickstarter campaign, during which funds were raised to produce the book. The Savory Spice Shop is next to Umpqua Bank and across from the library, on S.E. 13th at Bidwell Street in Portland, Oregon. 

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The Hawaiian Naupaka Legend


(This legend tells the story about the two Hawaiian flowers, Mountain Naupaka, and Ocean Naupaka. The flowers are extremely similar in their half-shape, appearing as if each completes the other.)

There once was a Hawaiian maiden who lived high on the mountain. Every day she would travel down the slopes of the mountain to the ocean shore where she would bathe and play in the sun. One day a vibrant green Honu (Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle) saw the girl and became enchanted by her beauty. But the turtle was actually a Kupua, a shape-shifting trickster god who could take on any appearance he liked.

Overwhelmed by his love for the girl, the Kupua turned himself into a handsome young man and bodysurfed to the shore. The young man professed his love for the girl and each day when she came to the water’s edge they would splash and play until sunset. The girl would then return to the mountain.

Frustrated because of the need to part every evening, the young man proposed to the girl one afternoon. Together they found a Kupuna, a village elder, and asked him to perform the marriage ceremony. But the Kupuna realized the young man was actually a shape-shifter Kupua, and he knew a marriage was therefore forbidden between the two.

Frustrated, the Kupuna found a beautiful white flower blossoming on a nearby tree. He gave half of one of the blossoms to the girl, and left the other half on the tree. With tears in his eyes, he told the girl if she wished to see him again, she would bring her flower to this tree and reunite it with its other half. He would then return from the ocean and they would be together again. Read more about the flower here

The above photo was taken in Kailua, Oahu while my friend and I were on vacation. The little girl is our host’s daughter, who graciously posed for some photos.
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Make a Date to “Dine In”


Make a date to “Dine In” with a friend, your family or someone who could use a shared meal Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015. “Dine In” Day celebrates Family and Consumer Sciences Day and their work to promote and sustain healthy families.

Sign up to help meet the goal of 200,000 home-prepared shared meals. You’ll join with us plus 20,000 FCS professionals, 400,000 secondary and undergraduate students, and 100 colleges/departments at higher education institutions who teach daily the many benefits of home prepared and shared meals.

Research supports spreading the word about home-prepared meals.

“…children who take part in family meals are less likely to be overweight, eat more healthy foods, have less delinquency, greater academic achievement, improved psychological well-being, and positive family interactions.” view source

B1 Sun Zong homemade meals infographic

Join us in preparing a simple, nutritious meal at home by checking out these resources here

Need more resources? Go to The Family Dinner Project resources

or No Kid Hungry.

Tweet your dining fun at #healthyfamselfie or #fcsday.

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Behind-the-scenes look at The Cultured Chef

Creating The Cultured Chef was a very long process that not only involved thousands of hours in studio, but many hours researching each of the subjects represented in the book.

The author and illustrator were able to visit many of the locations depicted in The Cultured Chef in person, absorbing the flavor of the local culture and traditions.

How about a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Cultured Chef? Below you will find some of the raw illustrations created for the book, before they were added to the final book design. What are your favorite illustrations in the book?

Check out this link to view more!


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Vodou: A Way of Life In Haiti

papa_guedeBrought to Haiti by slaves who arrived more than three hundred years ago, Vodou means “spirit” in several African languages. Believers recognize a distant creator named Bondye who is detached and unknowable and is represented by many spirits called Loa. Haitians perform rituals in the form of songs, dances and by creating altars in an effort to connect with and please these spirits.

Brought to Haiti by slaves who arrived more than three hundred years ago, Vodou means “spirit” in several African languages. Believers recognize a distant creator named Bondye who is detached and unknowable and is represented by many spirits called Loa. Haitians perform rituals in the form of songs, dances and by creating altars in an effort to connect with and please these spirits.

Each of the spirits has his or her own unique personality, so believers of Vodou can choose which Loa they feel most connected to. During ceremonies the Loa are given food and drink in the hope they will offer special advice or words of wisdom.

 Papa Guédé

An example of one of the many Loa celebrated in Vodou is Papa Guédé, believed to be the skeleton of the first man who ever died. His primary role is to help people transition from life to death, but he’s also regarded as a protector of children. If a child is sick, people will pray to Papa Guédé to spare the child’s life.

Nicholas Beatty
 is a children’s book author working primarily in multicultural stories. He loves folktales, local legends and history. He finds his inspiration when he travels around the world, and his passion is in sharing those stories with others.

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Uncle Bouki and Ti Malice: A Haitian Folktale


This fine tale of Uncle Bouki and Ti Malice is one of many that entertain both young and old alike in Haiti. It seems as if Uncle Bouki is always getting into some kind of trouble… we all know an Uncle Bouki or two, don’t we?

One fine morning, Uncle Bouki was walking down the lane when his stomach began kicking and dancing; he was very hungry! While he rushed home to prepare a meal for himself, he saw a toothless old woman eating alongside the road.

“Mmmm, that looks delicious,” Uncle Bouki said. “What are you eating?” Distracted by the nosey Uncle Bouki, the old woman bit her lip and screamed out, “Ay-yai!”

With no time to lose, Uncle Bouki raced to the market in search of some delicious ay-yai for himself. The poor man was very hungry indeed! But when he arrived at the market and began asking questions, the vendors only laughed at him because ay-yai didn’t exist at all!

“I’m so hungry, I can’t think of anything else,” Uncle Bouki said to Ti Malice when he returned home. “Do you have any ay-yai?”

Ti Malice wanted to teach silly Uncle Bouki a lesson, so he gathered a number of items and placed them in a bag. “Here’s your ay-yai; it’s the best I have.”

Uncle Bouki pulled out an orange from the bag and said, “No, this isn’t what I’m looking for.” Next, he pulled out a pineapple and just shook his head. “No, not this one either.” Finally, he reached into the bag and pulled out a piece of cactus.

“Ay-yai, ay-yai!” screamed Uncle Bouki as the prickly cactus spines poked into his skin. “What did you do that for?” he asked. Ti Malice couldn’t control his laughter and answered, “You asked for some Ay-yai, and that’s just what you got!”

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Haitian Freedom Soup


For over one hundred years, the French controlled Haiti, taking advantage of the many natural resources and growing conditions the land had to offer. In order to farm massive amounts of sugar, coffee, cotton and indigo on their plantations, the French imported nearly one million slaves from Africa. Today a major percentage of Haiti’s population traces their ancestry to the African slaves.

The French plantation owners treated the slaves terribly, offering them only the minimum of what they needed to survive. While the slaves dined on a thin bread soup, the plantation owners enjoyed a rich and hearty pumpkin soup. In fact, the slaves were forbidden to eat the soup because it was considered too fancy for the simple people.

After more than one hundred years, the people of Haiti were fed up with the French. They began fighting back in 1791 and after a long battle won their independence! What was one of the first things they did following their victory? They celebrated by eating pumpkin soup! To this day, pumpkin soup is served in millions of homes every year on January 1 as a reminder of Haitian independence.


  • 2 pounds fresh pumpkin (2 cups mashed)
  • 10 cups water, plus more if needed
  • 1 13.5-ounce can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 small head green cabbage, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 lime
  • 1/4 pound macaroni
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large pot, add the pumpkin and water, stirring until it reaches an even consistency.
  2. Press cloves halfway into the flesh of the pepper, then add to pumpkin mixture.
  3. Add carrots, turnips, cabbage, nutmeg, lime juice, salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in macaroni, parsley and coconut milk, cover again and simmer gently until pasta is tender and soup is thickened, about 10 minutes more. Add more water to thin the soup if you find it too thick.
  5. Be creative with your presentation. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of crushed pistachios or whatever else you like.
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Day of the Dead Hollywood Forever 2009

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Kumeyaay Native Population and Dia de los Muertos

I am currently preparing for a trip to San Jose de la Pazza in Baja for Dia de los Muertos. The people of this village belong to the Native Population, the Kumeyaay/Kumiai, whose tribe was separated when the border was established between Mexico and the US. Nearly half of the population extends into Mexico going as far south as Ensenada.

It is possible to research the Kumeyaay people extensively at a website called www.Kumeyaay.info. There you will find a wealth of photos, archived documents, historical clippings, and information about the tribe today in both the United States and Mexico.

The Kumeyaay are well-known for their tightly coiled basketweaving techniques the indigenous California peoples have used for thousands of years for storage, winnowing, cooking, and serving food.

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