Year: 2014

Nordic Around the World Lunch

Ava’s Nordic Lunch

Ah, winter. This week I took inspiration from the chill in the air and went Nordic with Ava’s Around the World Lunch (Nordic simply means the cultural part of Northern Europe that includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The Nordic menu is quite simple and can be assembled in about five minutes. For Ava’s main meal, I went Danish: A few slices of dark rye bread smeared with a bit of butter are topped with a translucent slice of smoked salmon. Two smaller slices of bread were topped with cheese – use any mild cheese you like, especially Jalsberg which comes from Norway. Essentially simple Smørrebrød, these open-faced sandwiches include other common toppers such as sliced cucumbers and radishes – which she can eat on their own or turn them into toppers – finger food like this is perfect my kindergartner. Dessert was a few raspberries and a squeezable tube of blueberry skyr, an Icelandic-style yogurt known for being super low in sugar and high in protein (a.k.a. my five-year old won’t have a post-lunch energy crash). Ava was SO excited about the Siggi’s – I have a feeling they’re going into the …

Read More
Maltese November Bone Cookies Recipe

Maltese Bone Cookies with Marzipan Marrow

This month we’re celebrating the most anatomically correct cookie there ever was – one whose astounding details should make it a favorite with medical students everywhere, and one who would be well placed at every white coat graduation buffet. The origins of this beautiful cookie are far humbler than you might think – November Bones hail from the small island nation of Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea. Why November Bones? Forget dress up and trick-or-treating; most people in the island nation of Malta skip right over Halloween in favor of All Saints and All Souls Days, two feast days that honor the dead (these more reverent holidays are not about vampires and zombies, but about taking time to honor cherished family members who have passed on). On November 1st and 2nd the graves are cleaned and decorated, but it’s the November Bones (a.k.a. l-għadam tal-mejtin) that stretch the holiday well beyond the two days (they’re sold all month long in many bakeries). Anatomy of a Cookie Usually cookies are just a “shape it and bake it” operation, but November Bones could come straight from a …

Read More
South African Around the World Lunch

Ava’s South African Lunch

This week Around the World Lunch takes us to South Africa (thanks to your votes on our FB Page). The result is a hearty meal perfect for autumn, packed with nutrition. Watch a clip of Ava introducing this meal (and showing off her South African flag) on Instagram. Get Creative.  Who says creativity must be difficult? In a sea of bologna sandwiches, leftovers are a great way to mix things up and add interest to your child’s lunch! For dinner we made a batch of South African Yellow Rice (a.k.a. Geelrys), seasoned with turmeric, a touch of brown sugar, and raisins. While it’s amazing hot, it’s also decent cold the next day. South Africa is famous for her enormous coiled sausages, called Boerewors made up of beef and lamb or pork. These aren’t available here, so I improvised by browning a couple of small breakfast sausages. For cute-factor (and ease for small hands), try putting them on skewers. Balance. Nutrition is packed into the rest of this lunch. First up? Corn. Garnish a boiled ear of corn with a puff of smoky chile powder – a popular treatment …

Read More
The Creepiest Kitchens in the World

The 7 Creepiest Kitchens in the World

The kitchen should be the heart of every home, filled with happy memories… but these kitchens are chilling reminders of historical disasters, spine-chilling authors, and the cruelest politicians who ever lived.   Edgar Allan Poe (USA) This kitchen might seem quaint, but this iron stove fed the creativity of one of the world’s best mystery writers – Edgar Allan Poe. He lived in this cottage during the last few years of his life in the late 19th century, along with his wife, mother-in-law, cat, and birds: … Poe’s mother-in-law Maria Clemm prepared the family’s meals. Mary Gove Nichols recounted of this room, “The floor of the kitchen was white as wheaten flour. A table, a chair, and a little stove that it contained, seemed to furnish it perfectly.” Poe Museum. If you don’t remember the man, perhaps you’ll remember the famous opening to his poem The Raven: Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently …

Read More
Sushi Costume

16 Halloween Costumes Made from the World’s Most Iconic Foods

This Halloween go international: spin the globe and dress up as an iconic food from whatever country strikes your fancy! To get you started, here are 16 adorable costumes representing famous foods from all over the world.  Escargot (FRANCE)  Oohh la la! A bit of newsprint and foam balls and you’ve got the most adorable snail costume. Learn how to make the costume at Oh Happy Day. On snails: While the French are best known for their love of snails, the snail has a long (and slimy) history. Archaeologists have found snail shells from prehistoric times. The Roman Philosopher Pliny the Elder considered escargot an elite food to the Romans. There is also a recipe for snails in the oldest surviving cookbook written by Marcus Gavius Apicius, a Roman foodie from the 1st century. Sushi & Sashimi (JAPAN) This little sashimi eating sushi is way too cute. Find the costume on The Wishing Elephant, then try making our Futomaki recipe (a.k.a. Veggie Sushi) – it’s super fun! On Sushi: Sushi is a Japanese dish originally developed as a fermentation process for …

Read More

Celebrating the shining star of Palestinian cuisine: Musakhan

Within Palestine’s hotly contested territories there is one thing everyone can agree on: Musakhan. This simple dish doesn’t shout. It’s flavors don’t battle for dominance. No, Musakhan is a quiet meal – a layered preparation of chicken, onion softened with sumac, and doughy pieces of taboon bread. And yet this unassuming dish earned a Guinness World Record in 2010 in the city of Ramallah. Why a Guinness World Record Matters The clout of earning a Guinness World Record often remains limited to the feat itself – at most a symbol of egregious excess (consider the world’s largest pancake, for example – nearly 50 feet across with no other purpose than to … eat). But for Palestinians, the world’s largest Musakhan was a show of pride and honor far beyond simple bragging rights. Making the Musakhan was a critical show of cultural pride during a time of great crisis. More than 40 Palestinian chefs united efforts to cook and assemble the 4 meter loaf. The finished dish weighed nearly 3,000 pounds, including 1,100+ pounds of onion, 550+ pounds of flour, 370 …

Read More
Around the World Lunch: Greece

Ava’s Greek Lunch

For this edition of Ava’s Around the World Lunch we’re heading to Greece with mezze. If you play your cards right, the flavors of Greece can be in your child’s lunch box in less than five minutes. Quick-Fix Secret Tucked away in my pantry is my greatest quick-fix secret: stuffed grape leaves, a.k.a. dolma.  Sure, I’ve been known to make dolma. I happen to LOVE making them. But sometimes I’m in a hurry and need to grab something quick for my daughter’s lunch. While I’ve found dolma at grocery store salad bars, I don’t always think far enough ahead to grab some. Thankfully our local Middle Eastern market sells dolma in cans for $3.99. There’s well over a dozen in each can. While not the same as homemade, they still have the same great pop of lemon and rich olive oil. They’re great to have around for hectic mornings!  Serve with pitted olives and a little tomato sauce for dipping, just like the do in Greece. Is it Greek without Spanakopita? I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out. This is another recipe you …

Read More
besan doodh recipe

Besan Doodh: A Drink Worthy of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, Malala & Kailash

One thought crossed my mind every time I took a sip of the Besan Doodh. The thought overwhelmed the bold cardamom and it distracted from the warm milk tinged with saffron. A small thing, really – a sentence, again and again, bringing tears to my eyes. “I didn’t clip her wings.” These are the words of Malala Yousafzai’s father. Malala is a young woman from Pakistan – just 17 years old. She is easily the greatest superstar in the peace movement right now thanks to her unapologetic opposition to those who would keep girls from receiving an education. Though she’d been blogging for the BBC since she was 11, the whole world paid attention when she took a shot to the head on the way to school at age 15, two years ago. As of Friday, Malala is the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner and the first Pakistani winner. In a nice nod to her work for children’s education, she found out about the award during chemistry class. Malala’s father was the first person to write a girl’s name on the family …

Read More
Around the World Lunch: Egypt

Ava’s Egyptian Lunch

Ever since Ava’s Egyptian-themed birthday party this summer, she’s been obsessed with all things Egypt. Naturally, when I asked what she wanted to try for this week’s Around the World Lunch she sang out “EGYPT!” Finger Foods  First up? Ful medames (pronounced “fool”), Egyptian street food often served for breakfast and lunch. Ful is a dip made with fava beans cooked with onion and tomatoes. It’s high in protein making ful great for concentration during the school day!  For color and flavor I added torn parsley and drizzled some olive oil and lemon juice over the top, just like they do in Egypt. We treat ful like hummus, so on the side Ava has plenty of pita bread to dip, dip, dip. I also included tomatoes and a hard boiled egg, both popular ful toppings in Egypt. Dessert As a nod to Ava’s Egyptian birthday party, I included a slice of Basboosa, a Middle Eastern semolina cake laced with rose water and lemon juice. This cake is dense and sweet – but the touch of lemon juice and rose water balances everything out.  It’s …

Read More
Chana Masala Recipe

Chana Masala & The Remarkable Quest of Chris Guillebeau

Psst… Be sure to enter the giveway at the bottom of this post! I want to tell you a story about Chris Guillebeau – a man who traveled to every country in the world. It took him 10 years.  He’s not the first to do it, and he won’t be the last. And yet his quest is remarkable. Let me explain. From Quest to Calling I stumbled across Chris’ journey a few years back  when he had about three years left in his quest. I read with amusement about his jogging escapades on strange terrain, how airport lounges can double as offices (and triple as bedrooms!), and how he managed to maintain relationships with his family and friends all while exploring the world. Like many people, I was immediately smitten with Chris’ quest.  It’s not simply that his journey mirrored my own (cooking every country in the world for anyone stopping by) – but it was the fact that Chris was able to escape the confines of standard travel blogging to become a remarkable life blogger. That is to say, he used …

Read More
Ava's Around the World Lunch - France

Ava’s French Lunch

This week Ava’s Around the World Lunch is inspired by the food of France. The Snacks We were in a bit of a hurry, so I started by grabbing some popular French snacks – a dark chocolate covered biscuit and a tiny, ultra creamy imported French yogurt called Petit Montenbourg (Ava’s favorite flavor is raspberry, but the little six-pack also comes with flavors like pear, apricot and banana). It’s really special that I can offer Ava the same snacks I enjoyed when I lived in France as a teenager (I was delighted to find both at Whole Foods). The Sandwich As for Ava’s sandwich – we did a simple cheese sandwich, though butter and ham would also be very French. A little lettuce adds color and a bit of nutrition – remember romaine lettuce offers much more than iceberg (Romaine is 17% protein and one head contains 4 1/2 times more vitamin A than a large carrot!). I’ve always added greens to Ava’s sandwiches, so it’s never been a struggle to “get” her to eat them. Sometimes it’s just easier …

Read More
Where in the world are all the vegetarians

Where in the world are all the vegetarians?

This post started innocently enough – I was curious where all the vegetarians were around the world. But once I went down the rabbit hole, I was lost for good. Of the ten countries I was able to analyze, India takes the lead by a long, long shot. 31% vegetarian is amazing! And I wasn’t particularly surprised with the low results of Portugal and Spain (so many meat-heavy dishes there!). I thought Brazil’s would have been similar but it ranked quite high at 8%. Digging ever deeper, I found that the Brazilian city called Fortaleza is 13% vegetarian. 3 things to understand about vegetarian populations: Individual cities within a country will skew more or less vegetarian, depending on the culture The types of food a country loves will skew the results Some people who identify as vegan also identify as vegetarian. Depending on how accurate the survey is, there’s a risk they might have been counted twice. The huge frustration in my research. I may have been able to cook food from every African country, but no thanks to …

Read More