Author: Sasha Martin

South African Lunch

An African lunch for a cold day

Below freezing weather means one thing: the thermos goes on double duty. This week I filled Ava’s hot pink Hello Kitty thermos with a hearty bean stew bolstered with a swirl of red palm oil – a typical element in West African cooking. On the side – a fat hunk of mealie bread. This is southern Africa’s answer to corn bread (especially popular in South Africa). The fresh corn kernels add sweetness and interest beyond anything Jiffy Mix can offer. Tips and Tricks If you’d like a little spice in your mealie bread try adding some blackened chilie peppers (I like poblanos – here’s a recipe from Zambia). Try adding some sliced plantain to your kidney beans stew or swapping the kidney beans for black eyed peas. Why show you Ava’s lunch? Ava’s Around the World Lunches began when I shared a few of Ava’s globally-inspired lunches on Instagram and Facebook. Turns out a lot of people are looking for lunch ideas – whether for school or work. In this weekly column, I share one of our Around the …

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In Her Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Grandmas Around the World

5 Jaw-dropping books for international food lovers

Every once in a while I browse through my scattered but immense cookbook collection, thumbing for ideas like a hungry hitchhiker: Take me somewhere different. Take me somewhere new. These five books represent a selection of my favorite go-to cookbooks as well as several incredible coffee table books that make excellent gifts for loved ones with an international food obsession. 1. Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater The best cookbooks are like old friends, chatty and not afraid to share their dreams. Nigel Slater’s food descriptions are particularly delectable, especially when paired with honest photography and none of the fussy measurements that make cooking feel like a chore. A glug of this, a dash of that is often all we need, and Nigel knows this. Each volume is organized by ingredient (Tender is all about vegetables and has mostly savory recipes, while Ripe is all about fruit and has mostly sweet ones). These books transport me to Nigel’s British garden, every inch of which contains some food producing plant – a veritable Eden where nothing …

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How cold is too cold for recess? 24 parents around the world weigh in.

How cold is too cold for recess? 24 parents across the globe weigh in.

As a family we’ve always been big on eating and playing outside – even when the weather dips below freezing. Ava’s school is remarkably progressive in this regard – they’ll go out in snow, even if its just for a few minutes. But most schools in Oklahoma keep the kids indoors during recess for one simple reason – we’re more used to heat waves than snow storms. Our closets prove it: I don’t buy Ava a snow suit or snow boots unless a big storm threatens(otherwise it may never get used before her next growth spurt). I remember being all bundled up as a kid during bitter-cold weather in Boston and wanted to know if there was a geographic difference in how kids spend their lunch breaks during “inclement weather.”  Apparently some babies nap outside in freezing weather. So, yup. Turns out there is.   24 Parents answer my question: How cold is too cold for lunchtime recess?   “I live in NE Ohio & if the wind chill is 20°F / -6°C or lower the kids can’t go out for recess” Laura P. “I …

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It's all about the paste, the song.

The latest Viral song is for hummus lovers. Seriously.

Take one part hummus obsession and one part pop sensation – and this video by comedian Remy Munasifi (a.k.a. Go Remy) is the result. I laughed. I fell in love. And then I began rummaging around in my kitchen for hummus ingredients. Thankfully I had what I needed – and I was able to whip up the Lemon Garlic Hummus I made when my family tried Israel. Here’s to all things hummus! (And for those of you that think a video all about hummus will be a welcome break from pumpkin pie? Forget it. Watch the video and you’ll see how even pumpkin pie can “go” with hummus.) P.S. Big thanks to reader Viola S. for sharing this gem with me! So. Much. Fun. P.P.S. Here’s hoping you had an awesome Thanksgiving!

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10 Global Takes on Classic Thanksgiving Dishes

Sure, Thanksgiving is an American holiday but most of us can trace our ancestry back to some other part of the world. Which is why every year I like to bring you a selection of globally-inspired dishes for your Thanksgiving feast. Case in point? While mashed potatoes are classic components of the Thanksgiving table, there’s no reason you can’t add a bit of global flare to your recipe… and you’ll get a couple of ideas how to do so below! Here are 10 global takes on classic Thanksgiving dishes. Try one out and add a touch of adventure to your Thanksgiving feast. You’ll be glad you did! 1.  Sweet & Spicy Korean Braised Turkey 2. Zimbabwe’s Peanut Butter & Butternut Mash (Nhopi) 3. Zimbabwe’s Corn and Cheddar Stuffed Squash 4. Mealie Bread (Corn Bread) – Southern Africa 5. Sweet Potato Biscuits (Mbatata) – Malawi 6. Mashed Potatoes with Veggies | Irio – Tanzania 7. Caribbean Pumpkin & Coconut Cream Bisque 8. Pumpkin Olad’yi – Russia 9. Maple Glazed Rutabaga – Finland 10. Honey & Pistachio Stuffed Quince – Uzbekistan And if all that goodness whets your appetite, check out more Thanksgiving roundups …

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An Indian lunch for kids or work

Indian Curry for Lunch

Ava’s school encourages outdoor play – even when it snows. For this I am  SO grateful (if kids in northern climes like Alaska, Sweden, or Canada can go out to play when it’s cold outside my daughter can handle it, too). But if she’s going to face the elements, she also needs a hearty lunch to keep her furnace running. Curry is great for taking the snarl out of the winter air. This vegetarian chana masala warms with tomato cooked down into a bed of spices – cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic and ginger. A healthy toss with chopped Serrano chilies will add pleasing heat, but it’s easily left out of the dish for mild sensibilities. As for the rest? Like most kids (?) Ava loves rice. And a heaping spoonful of plain yogurt and soft naan balances any heat. Finally: green peas because, yum! That’s Ava’s lunch. What’s in your lunchbox? Tips Add a little salt to the plain yogurt to give it a savory quality little ones will really enjoy While you can certainly make naan (I have a yogurt …

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Sweet & Spicy Korean Braised Turkey

You’ve had roast turkey and deep-fried turkey… but what about turkey with real international flavor? This Thanksgiving let’s honor our melting pot culture with a recipe worth talking about. This Korean stuffed turkey breast is perfect for a smaller gathering of curious epicureans, happily feeding 4-6. I can’t decide if the best part is the sweet and spicy glaze (made with soy sauce, mirin, ginger and garlic)… … or the butternut squash stuffing (complete with chestnuts, glutinous rice, and jujube dates)… Or maybe it’s the fact that it can be made on the stovetop… saving the oven for more important things like pie. Lots of pie. The recipe is inspired by a Korean stuffed chicken breast recipe in The Flavors of Asia by Mai Pham. There’s only a couple of watch spots with the recipe. On soaking the rice: depending on the age it can be quite hard and if it isn’t soaked enough it stays that way. Thankfully there’s a guideline on most bags for how long. My recommendation is to double soaking times since the turkey provides a …

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French Around the World Lunch

Ava’s French Lunch

One of my favorite food memories from France was going out for couscous with my guardians. I was a wide-eyed teenager, happy to sit around a fragrant pot of stewed veggies and eat until my stomach ballooned. My favorite part was how the broth saturated the couscous, forming an unctuous gravy. The strong North African influence not only made its way into the restaurants  of Paris, but also into the home cooking – as I soon learned, couscous also makes a great base for ratatouille. Today I’ve combined my basic ratatouille recipe with plain couscous for Ava’s Around the World Lunch. Since ratatouille is often served room temperature, no microwaves will be needed at lunchtime. Perfect! To complete the meal? A miniature wheel of Brie and the cutest little pear you ever saw are shameless appeals to my daughter’s preference for anything “cute” (Which worked perfectly – I hear they were the first things to disappear at lunchtime). Tips: While Brie is one of the more mild French cheeses, sensitive eaters may want to swap the brie for a wedge of “Laughing Cow” …

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global-family-reunion

The World’s Largest Family Reunion Needs YOUR Food Story

  You might be cousins with Gandhi. Jeffrey Dahmer. Mother Teresa. Imagine. You build your family tree. I build my family tree. If there’s a common relative our trees are linked and our family doubles in size. Magnify this by millions (billions!) of people. The result is the biggest family tree in the world – one that will eventually represent the entire human race and prove that we are all cousins! Several sites like MyHeritage, WikiTree, and Family Search are working around the clock to make this dream a reality. While you’ll be able to see what celebrities you’re related to and how close the ties bind, this isn’t just some fluff project – knowing how the human race is linked will be critical as scientists work to understand genetic diseases such as Alzheimers. A cause for celebration Creating an enormous family tree requires an enormous family reunion – a Global Family Reunion, if you will. NY Times Bestselling author A.J. Jacobs will deliver the biggest, baddest family reunion the world has ever seen on June 6, 2015 in New York City. Thousands will attend. Celebrities will abound. Morgan …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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