Menu: Hungary


Ava calls my mom Grammie Sue, but it really comes out more like "miss you," which is exactly how we're feeling today. Living far from my family was okay when I was single, but became excruciating once Ava was born. It's like Keith and I have a home filled with starlight and each day she glows and smiles and spreads joy all over the place. Not being able to share that on a regular basis feels like a crime. After a completely lovely visit, Mom flew back to Boston in the "ahww-pwane," as Ava calls … [Read more...]

About the food of Hungary


I'm Italian-Hungarian on my mother's side. Which is like saying I'm wet-dry. Hot-cold. Tall-short. In our family, the Italian side is loud, boisterous and in each other's business. On the Hungarian side no one talks about anything. Discussions rarely surface and, if they do, they begin and end with "just forget about it." I rather like the combination. It makes for interesting family gatherings. When I quizzed my mother about our Hungarian heritage, she said "I don't know. It wasn't like … [Read more...]

Monday Meal Review: Haiti & Honduras


Keith's parents would be here in just a few hours. I went to the window. Blue and clear. A good time as any to get cooking. I tore open the gelatin and whisked it together with warm water until dissolved.  Next, I cracked open the thick white coconut milk, and swirled it with the rest of the ingredients, stopping to dab a little vanilla extract on my wrists. Time for the stove top. I clicked on the burner and let things heat up. After a moment, the smell of summer billowed up. I poured … [Read more...]

Recipe: Blancmange (Haitian Coconut Fruit Jello)


Makes a 1 1/2 quart, large molded dessert There's something about jello that's so 1897. So Victorian. So old-school. So... over-the-top-retro. You see, 1897 is the magic year gelatin and fruit syrup were first combined to make the wobbly dessert we're familiar with today.  Fast forward through several decades and continents and you get today's recipe, blancmange. It's loaded up with evaporated and coconut milks, making it jello's creamy counter part. It's the reason Haiti's get up in the … [Read more...]

Recipe: Crunchy Jicama & Chayote Salad


Makes 1 large bowl If you've never had jicama or chayote, you're in for a real treat. Jicama is watery and crunchy, a lot like water chesnuts, but mildly sweet. Chayote is in the squash family, and you can taste it. When dressed with a splash of lime and orange juice, the salad brings together the tropical flavors of Central America. Ingredients: 1 jicama, peeled and sliced into matchsticks 1 chayote, sliced into matchsticks 2-3 large oranges, segmented 1/2 large red onion, sliced … [Read more...]

Recipe: Caribbean Coconut Ice Cream


Makes 5 cups I like to float around in easy, breezy sundresses all summer long. I also like to wear my hair short and laugh really loud at silly jokes. Finally, I like to eat ice cream by the gallon while squeezing my eyes really tight and imagining I'm on a Caribbean island. This is best done while nibbling on a cold spoonful of creamy coconut ice cream, made even sweeter by the fact that I didn't have to turn on the stove - not even for one second - to make it. Call me a glutton for … [Read more...]

There’s *what* in my drink?


Welcome to the wonderful world of "I didn't know that!" Haiti Take a stroll through the Haitian markets. Soak up the sights and smells. See that lady selling jars of brightly colored liquid? She'll tell you "All the medicine you'll ever need is in a jar of rum." She's not selling just any rum, this is the Klerin pharmacy, a.k.a. the white rum pharmacy. All manner of goodies are added to her jars - from spices to bark, fruit to leaves. A few sips of this trempé and you just might find … [Read more...]

Recipe: Plantain & Cheese Turnovers (Tortas de Plátano)


Makes 8-10 Imagine. It's the height of summer. You spend all day roughhousing with the ocean. When every muscle in your body is heavy, you lay down in the sand for an impromptu picnic with a package of street food - tortas. In less than a minute you make several cheesy, crispy, fried plantain tortas disappear into your happy belly.  After the last bite, you lick the salt from your fingers and drink a tall glass of water. You stretch out for a nap, still warm from the glow of a little too … [Read more...]