Month: May 2013


Menu: Syria

“If your friend is honey, don’t lick him all.” Syrian Proverb If I’m going to be honest, I’d have to say I’m not exactly sure what this proverb means (or, more to the point, I’m not sure I should be visualizing my friends as honey bears). My theory: the proverb is not literal (so few are), but it does teach that good things should not be taken advantage of. Lest we lick them all up. But what a vivid picture the Syrians paint to teach this message. The food is just as vivid. There are bright punches of garlic (an entire head in our lentil recipe), an entire bunch of cilantro, and as many sour cherries as a girl can stand. So let’s get vivid. All recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week. Syrian Lentils [Recipe] An addicting (and vegan) blend of lentils, swiss chard, and entire head of garlic. Dont’ forget the lemon juice, pomegranate syrup and cilantro. A big punch of flavor for very little effort. Lamb kebabs with Sour …

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Lattakia Beach. Photo by Taras Kalapun.

About the food of Syria

Oh, Syria. This wedge-shaped land spreads from the west, where she dips delicately into the Mediterranean sea, back to the east, up, over the mountains, all the way to the Iraqi border. Along the way, her cliffs and canyons smooth out into hot desert and scrubby grasslands. Lost, towards the south, is the ancient city of Damascus, quite possibly the world’s oldest city according to National Geographic.  While Damascus has all the allure of a teeming city and world heritage site, the fun fact that stuck with me the most was that the buses don’t stick to their scheduled stops in Damascus. They just drop you where you want to get off, as long as it’s on their route. Makes sense to me. This week we explore Syria’s love for bold flavors, like garlic, pomegranate, sour cherry, and more. Of course, traditional Middle Eastern favorites are everywhere, such as hummus, tabbouleh, stuffed grape leaves, and falafel… all enjoyed with a bite of homemade pita bread (and all, I might add, previously made for other Global Tables – simply follow the …

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Monday Meal Review: Switzerland

I can’t stop thinking about those three girls that were found last week: Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus. Also on my mind is Mr Ramsey, the man who stepped forward and kicked in the door to free the girls. Friends, it is so important to step up when we’re called. Is it scary? Yes. Can it be dangerous? Yes. But what else is life for, than helping  each other? I’m not by nature a hero. Once, when I was in my mid-twenties, I heard a man scream and groan next door. The sound was chilling, the urgency of the scream scraped up my spine, setting my every nerve on full alert. My gut reaction was to duck away from the window, for fear of being attacked or worse. Once on the floor, I called the police. They lit up the house next door in less than ten minutes. Nothing suspicious was found. No source ID’d for that scream. Their findings didn’t sit right to me, but I let it go because, surely, the …

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Swiss Fondue

If I had to face life or death, I’d choose Swiss Fondue. Every. Single. Time. This decision is purely based on personal experience. A) I know that life gets better whenever I dunk hunks of rustic bread into ooey-gooey cheese. To support my case, I must call attention to a fictional character: Heidi (does this help me or hurt me?). She knows all things are better with melted cheese because, apparently, this is the only thing she eats at her grandfather’s house, on the flower dotted Alps… and she is happier there than anywhere else in the world B) If I’m faced with death, I’m willing to bet that, if I crack open a pot of fondue, Mr. Death would certainly realize they are no match for boozy cheese. I’d like to think that, as he slunk away, I’d toss him a cube of cheesy bread for the road. A peace offering of sorts. Two days ago I wrote about my near death experience in the Swiss Alps and how Fondue is one of the few comfort …

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Almond Carrot Cake | Aargauer Rüeblitorte

Yes, I have a three year old daughter. No, I don’t hide a head of cauliflower in her mashed potatoes. I never slip zucchini in her pancakes when she’s not looking. And I refuse to bury carrots in her cake. I don’t cater to my daughter that way. Don’t get me wrong.  On any old Monday, Ava can blow through a bowl of cauliflower mashed potatoes. On the weekend, she can annihilate a tower of zucchini pancakes before the early bird has had his breakfast. And, as of today, she loves carrot in cake as well as any Swiss child. But she knows the vegetables are there. We talk about it. Laugh about it. In our house, we revel in a real carrot’s gnarly glory. I point out the knots, the hairs, the fuzzy green top to Ava.  She giggles, she scrunches up her nose, and then she chows down. When I happened upon this traditional Swiss Carrot Cake, I realized that, though Ava had enjoyed many a gnarly carrot, she had never eaten carrot …

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Menu: Switzerland

“Who doesn’t honor the Rappen isn’t worth the Franken” Swiss Proverb I’m not one to pass up a penny on the ground. If I were in Switzerland, I suppose I’d pick up a Rappen with the same thrifty care as any penny on our soil (Rappen are like Swiss Pennies). Apparently, I’m not alone. Enough Swiss people feel the same way, that they came up with the proverb at the top of this post: “Who doesn’t honor the Rappen isn’t worth the Franken” (100 Rappen make up a Franken). But this proverb isn’t really about money. This is about the seemingly unimportant details of our lives that we overlook in the hustle and bustle of day to day living. But these little details ARE important. So much so, that the Swiss tell us, if we don’t take the time to care for the small things in life, we aren’t worth the big. So what ‘Rappen’ have you been ignoring lately? Is it time to pick it up and give it some attention? And while we’re …

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About the food of Switzerland

The thing I remember most about Switzerland was skiing in the Alps. I remember, because I came ridiculously close to dying. I was a novice, skiing on a slope at least one level beyond my own . It was late afternoon and the snow that had melted slightly in the warm noonday sun had now begun to refreeze and harden. Suddenly, my skis caught in the ice and I could no longer get them to behave. Instead of turning with the rest of the skiers, I continued straight, towards a beautiful overlook. Beyond was the blue sky and a several hundred foot drop. The rounded edge of the overlook, which was only protected by a billowing piece of orange plastic netting, sped closer and closer. My skies continued to reject my inputs. I had a choice to face: throw myself down or go down. All the way down. So I threw myself backwards. The force of my descent caused my giant red and pink ski coat to fly up. The ice scraped along my back, leaving cuts and …

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Monday Meal Review: Sweden

“Det är skönare lyss till den sträng som brast än att aldrig spänna en båge.” “It is fairer to listen to the string that broke than to never strain a bow.” Verner von Heidenstam (Swedish Poet & Novelist) I slumped into my chair, put my head on my arms, and groaned. I’d spent hours making the Swedish princess cake, only to find out that the marzipan was too thin. Not only could I see the cake through the spring green coating, the marzipan began to crack as I struggled to stretch it over the cake. Whipped cream oozed thickly out of the seams and ripples. Back to the store it was, to find more marzipan, color it, and cover the cake anew. I also made the custard three times. And the cake batter three times. I huffed. I puffed. I had  a storm cloud over my head. If this cake was a constant struggle, it was mostly because I wanted the recipe to work. I wanted it to be easy for you to follow in …

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Swedish Meatballs

I never thought I’d say it but here goes: “I’ve spent the large majority of my adulthood pining over meatballs.” Not just any meatballs, but Swedish meatballs. We used to eat them for lunch at my small high school in Luxembourg. On those days, I made sure to bring enough money to buy two portions. The bellyache was worth it. When made perfectly, Swedish Meatballs are tender, but do not fall apart, thanks to the perfect balance of breadcrumbs and cream. After a brisk sizzle and shake in butter, they brown up and fill the kitchen with the delicious scent of fried onions (thanks to the grated onion that’s been worked into the  mix). Sneak a meatball from the pan, and you’ll discover the glory, complex flavor, thanks in great part to a blend of good quality meats (usually beef, pork, and veal, although many just use beef and pork). Somewhere in the background, there’s a ghost of something else. You might never figure it out, unless you were the one who made them: nutmeg. …

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Swedish Princess Cake | Prinsesstårta

They say this spring green dome from the 1930’s made with layers of sponge cake, raspberry jam, custard, and whipped cream is DIFFICULT. Everyone says so, in fact, except for the Swedes. Curious, right? I finally figured out why: Swedish folk have great recipes and three quarters of a century’s worth of tips and tricks up their sleeves. Like, ahem, pre-rolled marzipan and boxed custard. I even saw one Swedish video which used prepacked cake, already sliced in thirds. “We all start out as children.” This Swedish Proverb hints at what I learned, first hand, when making this cake: we must crawl before we can walk, we must be children before we are grown. Experience comes one step at a time. Considering I made each part of this cake 3 times, and messed it up terribly along the way… I thought you might benefit from my errors. So, do forgive me, but before we get into the recipe, I must tell you about the top five mistakes I made when making this cake, so you don’t do …

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Menu: Sweden

“Att våga är att tappa fotfästet en stund, att inte våga är att förlora sig själv.” “To dare is to lose your foothold for a moment, to not dare is to lose yourself.” (Strom, 1981)* Oh, this week. This beautiful week of Swedish cooking. As with all the “big hitter” countries, I entered this week with trepidation. It wasn’t because of the entree. I knew I’d make Swedish meatballs from the moment I began this Adventure. No, the main reason I was a bundle of nerves had everything to do with a cake. A cake! I really wanted to make a Swedish Princess Cake, but I feared I’d screw it up. I asked you all on our Facebook Page, and so many of you voted that you wanted to see the real deal.  Thank you for motivating me to go for it… for encouraging me to dare. The recipes and meal review will be posted throughout the week. Swedish Meatballs [Recipe] Beautiful, tiny meatballs made with pork and beef, seasoned with a grated onion, cream, and …

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