Month: November 2011


Menu: Lebanon

In between brushing Ava’s hair, making her breakfast and playing with scissors, paper and glue, I like to pretend we’re traveling. This week it’s all about Lebanon. I tell her about mountains and snow. We look at pictures of bustling city and sleeping country. We watch clips online. We talk about the pretty trees and the winding roads. She responds to it all by saying, in her sweet broken toddler-tongue “I want go, right now.” “Where,” I ask? I smile, leading her to repeat the very-big-word Lebanon back to me. “Christmas” she says, unblinking. Not exactly what I thought she’d say. Oh, to be a two year-old again.  And, yet, here I am, taking her to Lebanon via stovetop travel. Everything about this week’s menu is fantastic. Two heads of garlic. Roasted eggplant. Homemade pasta. Warm, cozy tea. The menu also happens to be entirely vegan. Nothing wrong with that. Not when it tastes this good. What sounds good to you?* Baba Ghanoush with Roasted Garlic [recipe] Smoky eggplant dip seasoned with lemon juice, tahini, parsley and an …

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The Cedar Forest in Al Arz, Lebanon. Photo by Aboluay.

About the food of Lebanon

Let’s climb around the mountains of Lebanon, shall we? Depending on the time of year, we might find a heavy haze of snow. In the hush and slush we can work up an appetite. Lebanon’s very name is inspired by her snow-capped mountains – Lebanon literally means white land. And, even in the humid summers, when the snow has long since melted, the sandy-sandstone  still looks white. Let’s pick our way between needly cedars, crumbly rocks, and thin brush, to our first meal. Your host will certainly welcome you with a bowl of nuts and, if a baby was recently born, with a cup of hot tea called Ainar served with nuts at the bottom of the teacup [recipe]. After tea, you might be served a mezze – an assortment of little dishes – including tabbouleh or hummus or or kibbeh (a blend of meat and bulgur, served raw or deep fried), baba ghanoush [recipe] or even kababs. So put on your smile, load up your plate, one item at a time, and get to digging. …

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O’ happy day. We’re almost halfway.

97 Over the last (almost) two years we’ve eaten meals from 97 countries* of the world. That means we’ve eaten just about half the world. Deep breath. Smile. Yum. We’re on our way. 12 In addition, I’ve met more than a dozen people exactly when I needed them to help me cook their countries. And when I say exactly, I mean in the week or days leading up to the country in question. Some straight-up knocked on my door, some were my checkout girls at Whole Foods, others were random mommies at library story times, while still others reached out via email.** Meeting someone who could help me with my recipes exactly when I needed them once is cool. Twice is a little creepy. More than a dozen times? Totally and completely epic. What does it all mean? The stars have aligned. I am on the right path. Correction: we’re on the right path. And I officially have goosebumps. 367 I’ve cooked a total of 367 recipes (what!?) from around the world. I about pass out when I read that number. Three hundred and sixty seven recipes. It’s true. …

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11 Global Gifts for Your Very Global Black Friday

While I am a stuff-my-face-with-turkey-and-gratitude kind of gal, I’m decidedly not a get-up-at-three-am-to-go-shopping kind of gal. Still, I love the satisfaction of finding just the right gift for just the right person. After all, what’s better than a moment like this, when you open up an entire world with a simple book … … or when you can practically smell the flowers of the world when you turn the page… … or when you get lost in a dream of snuggling in a hammock bed… … yes, just the right gift is worth a little looking. But can we just do it after breakfast, please? Or maybe next week? Thanks. YOUR  VERY GLOBAL GIFT GUIDE (Click the titles for more information)  Welcome to my list of globally inspired holiday gifts. It’s a hodge-podge of items, with a heavy emphasis on gifts for the very young child. Because, let’s face it, that’s my life right now. P.S. See if your local shops carry these items. You might be surprised.   1. COMAL GRIDDLE I purchased a carbon steel comal griddle at my …

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Gingerbread Cuteness; Celebrating our Local Winner

I’d like to frost my hair. Not in the 80’s “cool-hip-extra-frosted-spiky-tips” way, but with actual frosting. That way I could nibble on my hair whenever I got peckish. And, if given the choice, I definitely would live in a gingerbread house, like the witch in Hansel and Gretel. But I wouldn’t be a witch; I’d simply eat candy all day long. And lots, and lots of frosting. Today, in the spirit of all things frosting and candy, I give you the winner of the local division of our Gingerbread for Peace. Yay! Hurrah! Clap, clap, clap! P.S. You can still enter the contest (the remaining prize packages exceed $500 value) and look at the gallery of entries (cute, cute, cuteness). Get your gingerbread on for peace! “FEASTING AT THE GLOBAL BANQUET” Winner of the “Best in Tulsa” Philbrook Prize Package by Girl Scout Troop 94 Everything about this entry was spot on. It emphasized harmony…   … and peace… Wait, back up. Was that chow mein with a pair of chop sticks?! Yes, yes it was. In fact, this …

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Our Globally Inspired Thanksgiving

Hi Friends! This week we’re taking a break from our A-Z cooking Adventures for the week. I’m not sure what to make of that. I feel sort of exposed. Vulnerable. Like I’m in one of those dreams in which I am not dressed appropriately for the situation. Like… at all. At this point, 2 years into the Adventure, I feel like I should constantly be cooking something crazy wonderful for you to enjoy – for us to enjoy! But, here’s the thing… we have several important matters to attend to this week and I want to give each matter it’s proper due.   This is the big one! We’re coming up on our halfway mark! We’re rounding the corner to the downhill treck! It’s amazing and you’re amazing for being a part of this journey. I so appreciate you and your support. We have a super-cute winning gingerbread house from Tulsa to celebrate (don’t worry, you can still enter for the big prizes!). I can’t say too much, but you are going to love, love, …

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Monday Meal Review: Latvia

THE SCENE: Birth day. Ava’s nephew. Keith’s grandson. Kaiden Ray. He is here and he is beautiful. The night he was born Ava held this oh-so-new life on her tiny lap, so amazed. Spellbound. Once a few minutes went by, she honed in on her most serious concern for this tiny being. She wanted to know if Kaiden would have toys to play with. “Kaiden have toys?” she asked Alexis, his mother. “He doesn’t need toys right now,” she smiled, still radiant the way a new mother is. “One toy.”  Ava insisted, her brow furrowing in increased concern. The entire room chuckled. One toy, okay?  she repeated, not seeing what was so funny. A few days later the new family went home with their little boy and we were back to our old routines. It was dinner time. We’d already had the Latvian birthday cake in honor of Kaiden. We’d already had the apple pancakes in honor of apple season. Today was simply a day for pork chops and cranberry sauce. Simple, nothing fancy. But sweet …

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Latvia’s Apple Pancakes

This recipe is so familiar. Each bite feels like a  nibble straight out of my childhood. The funny thing is I’ve never, ever had this recipe. But, with cinnamon, cardamom, apples and pancakes-so-thin-they’re-basically-crêpes all rolled together with heaps of honey and yogurt, I can practically see my mom buzzing around the kitchen table. I smell the butter melting, crackling, sizzling, and I go right back to those days when I was too short to see into the mixing bowl. Thanks to this new-to-me recipe, I can taste my childhood all lumped together in this happy breakfast treat from Latvia. I’m totally into it. I suppose it’ll seem familiar to you, as well. After all, we’ve seen thin pancakes all along this journey, from Argentina to Ireland, and from Hungary to Eritrea. Today’s pancake is typical of the the Baltic and – even though they call it a pancake – the soft batter is almost thin enough to call a crêpe. Latvians love adding spiced apples to their pancakes. To be totally traditional, be sure to serve them with …

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Baltic Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries. Right now. It’s their time to shine. Latvians know what’s up when it comes to the cranberry. They eat it whipped in clouds of pudding, layered with breads, and beyond. Today, however, is about a mountain of sugar. A squiggle of orange zest. A few minutes on the stove and you’re done. It’s really that simple. Here’s what I did: 4 cups cranberries 1 cup water 1 cup sugar, extra to taste 2 tsp strips of orange zest. Quickly look through your cranberries as you put them in the pot – weed out any squishy, yucky ones. Add all the other ingredients to pot. Bring to a simmer and cook 10-15 minutes. Taste and add more sugar if desired. Refrigerate until cold. Don’t be scared of the popping. It’s just the cranberries saying hello. You can add cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger, or whatever suits you to fancy it up. And then, to eat it, dress up in a pretty bowl and spoon the sweet tart goodness all over a thick pork chop, Latvian-style. Eat …

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Latvian Birthday Cake | Klingeris

  Birthdays are fun but birth days are even more so. Family and friends hugging, smiling, crying – everyone in wide eyed at the wonder of a new child’s most innocent gaze. Since Keith’s grandson was born last week, I thought it appropriate to make a birthday cake in his honor. I sought out such a thing in Latvia,only to find something very unexpected. Latvians have a tradition of baking pretzel-shaped sweet bread – not exactly cake – and topping it with candles. The Klingeris, as its called, can be used to celebrate birthdays and name days – which, as it sounds, is the day dedicated to celebrating your particular name. From what I’ve read, Latvians celebrate name days with gifts and parties, and often these celebrations are even larger than their standard birthday celebrations. So let’s get to celebrating, Latvian-style. Welcome to the world, little Kaiden Ray. Recipe inspired by Latvia (Cultures of the World, Second), in which this treat is called by the more Scandinavian name Kringel) Makes 1 large pretzel Ingredients: 2 tsp yeast 1/2 …

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Menu: Latvia

The leaves are falling, orange, red and gold, making the trees look like scratchy skeletons. The days are short; night falls before dinner is over. We all have head colds. Something drastic has to be done in times like these; I had to improve the situation. So, I did what any normal person would do. I served up an entire menu of sweets for our Latvian Global Table. Sweets always make everything better. Yes, a happy collection of apples, cranberries, and sweet bread is just the ticket. What sounds good to you? Latvian Apple pancakes  [Recipe] Apples are at their best right now. Start of the morning with a bite of these thin apple pancakes, seasoned with cinnamon and cardamom. The final touch? A scoop of yogurt inside and a drizzled of honey on the outside. Baltic Cranberry Sauce [Recipe] Latvians love a nice piece of pork with cranberry sauce. Let’s be honest, the sweet-tart flavor of cranberries can make shoe leather taste good. Latvian Birthday Cake (Klingeris) [Recipe] Technically, this is not so much a cake as a …

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Beehive transport in Latvia. Photo by Tiago Fioreze.

About the food of Latvia

Maybe it’s this time of year – when the days are wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations and living so far away from my Bostonian roots feels so excruciatingly wrong – but five minutes into cracking the book on Latvia and I felt like I was in New England. Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But, with Latvian’s weighing in with favorite foods like apples, cranberries, meat, potatoes, and gingerbread – it’s hard not to draw the comparison. Apples make their way into sauces, pancakes [Recipe], ciders, breads, pastries and more. Cranberries are whipped up into layered bread puddings, traditional cranberry sauces [Recipe], and jellies. Meats are stewed and potatoes are served alongside, often boiled. And gingerbread? It makes its way into cookies [recipe], houses [epic], and more. The deeper I dug however, the more I realized the resemblance to my hometown ended there. Latvia is loaded up with other dishes I haven’t seen anywhere near Boston. Just for starters, there’s aspic (gelatinous savory jellies filled with chunks of meat and vegetables), sauerkraut, fishy potatoes (tossed with herring and smoked …

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