Author: Sasha Martin

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How to throw an Egyptian themed birthday party

Walk the aisles of any party store and the selections are the same: overpriced plastic renditions of the latest Disney craze. But what would happen if I helped my child see there’s more to the world than someone else’s fairy tale? What interests your child? Start there. Ava’s Egyptian-themed birthday party came about in a round-about way… but it’s always been about what she loves. About six months before her 5th birthday, I noticed she would often ask to read a book on gemstones that her Grammie gave her. She poured over each drawing, asking me to list which gemstone was which. Soon, she knew our birthstones by heart – ruby and moonstone. Looking to build on her interest in Geology, I introduced her to Archaeology… the art of digging up artifacts from historical sites. We took several books out of the library about ancient Egypt in particular. Observing her continued fascination with the “dig,” I asked her if she would like to do some sort of dig for her birthday party and she enthusiastically …

pickled-figs

Homemade Balsamic Figs | Entertaining the Italian way

A daydream worth dreaming

Cobblestone alleys flanked by weathered walls. Hilltop churches. Sunlight warm on fig trees and grapevines.  This is the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

Deep in the cellars there’s Parmesan, balsamic, and prosciutto aging. They slumber in the dim recesses, the nuttiness and salt growing bolder, rounder. Waiting for the perfect moment to shine.

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If your part of the world was a burger, this would be it. (ASIAN EDITION)

Photos: Afghan girl, by Capt. J. Severns; Filipino girl by V. David, Nepalese child by Steve Evans.   What’s cooking in Asia? Asian food might have you thinking stir-fry and noodle soups, but I’m in the mood for a little imaginative play … I’m in the mood to make Asian-inspired Burgers. But first. A warning. Asia is HUGE. Not all the flavors are soy sauce and sesame oil! A road map to flavor We’ll start with a burger characteristic of the Middle East – yup – the Middle East is part of Asia, too! Then we’ll travel north through central Asia, onto the more “standard” Asian flavors, at which point we’ll make a SHARP turn south to hit Oceania… a bonus continent for this round! As always, these burgers are mere teasers. If any of them inspire you to explore the continents in more depth, check out more than 650 recipes I made from every country in world. There’s something for everyone! Also, check out the two other editions of this series: Part 1 (Burgers of the Americas & Europe) and Part 2 …

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If your part of the world was a burger, this would be it. (AFRICAN EDITION)

Photos: Moroccan girls by M. Osmenda, Bhutanese girl by C. Michel, & children in Ghana by K. McCormick. The heart of African cooking… I’m so excited about today… because today  we’re diving into the heart of African cooking. I’ll be sharing four burger creations inspired by four distinct regions of Africa. It’s not all the same… Next time someone tells you all African food tastes the same (or that they know nothing about African cooking), send them here. I know firsthand how much they’re missing. You see, when I first began cooking the world, I could fill a thimble with what I knew about African cooking. But there is enormous flavor, history, and creativity in Africa. Consider these four African-inspired burgers a teaser. Once your appetite is whetted, go on to the hundreds of recipes for each of the 54 countries in Africa that my family tried when we cooked our way around the world. Let this celebration of Africa’s culinary diversity be a reminder: Africa is not a country. The North African | Tagine Burger Inspired by the sweet and savory tagines of Morocco …

Swedish girl wearing a Midsummer crown. Photo by Bengt Nyman.

22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night

Midsummer’s Eve – the longest day of the year – is celebrated in dozens of countries with huge bonfires, maypole dancing, and glorious food. In Scandinavia, the sun never fully sets. But even if night falls where you live, you can still celebrate. To get into the spirit, simply drop out of big city chaos and into nature. This is a time to make flower crowns, swim in clear streams, sing hymns, and laugh more than is wise. Some say Midsummer is also a time for love. After long, dark winter the cheerful sun naturally warms hearts. One famous Swedish proverb states: “Midsummer Night is not long but it sets many cradles rocking.” It is also said that, if a woman is to pick seven flowers in silence and places them under her pillow on Midsummer Night, she will dream about her one true love. For me – already fully in love and married with a child – the main purpose of Midsummer is to enjoy the light with my family. Camping is a fantastic way to do …

The world in 12 burgers.

If your part of the world was a burger, this would be it. (AMERICAS EDITION)

Photos of children by Tabea Huth, Rod Waddington , Christopher Michel.   In honor of father’s day, and in consideration of the fact that I hardly ever make burgers despite my husband’s passion for them… I give you the world in a dozen burgers – a three part series to be presented throughout the month of June. First up? Europe and the Americas.   Next week stay tuned for PART 2 several African burgers (I’m SO excited about these ones). Finally, we’ll complete our world tour with PART 3… burgers inspired by parts of Asia and Oceania… yum and yum.   1. The Caribbean | Jerk Chicken Burger Good Caribbean cooking goes hand in hand with scotch bonnet peppers (a.k.a. Habeneros… a.k.a. a little heat mon). For this burger I took inspiration from the Jerk Seasoning we enjoyed when we cooked Jamaica. This muddy green blend contains enough habenero to make a firefighter sweat, tempered with mild bell pepper, green onion, garlic, ginger, a garden of herbs  (think thyme, basil, and parsley), plus a host of spices (say ‘yow‘ to allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and black …

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Spicy Vietnamese Slaw + Extreme Compassion

Extreme Compassion Stopping to move a wandering worm off the sidewalk. Helping a baby bird that fell out of it’s nest. Not walking by with indifference. This sort of extreme compassion is a thing that some of us – with our busy, distracted lives – strive for imperfectly. But there are others – startlingly kind souls – who live and breathe extreme compassion. Last week I went to the tailor – a big deal for me since I know how to sew. But I have a dress – a dress with lace, three layers, and a hidden zipper. I love this dress but it needs to be 2 sizes smaller. This project is totally out of my league. Wendy’s tiny, crowded shop is located in a remote basement shop of an art deco building in downtown Tulsa. Little Ava and I circled the whole property 5 times before we phoned Wendy, defeated. Two minutes later she appeared: a bespectacled Vietnamese woman in cherry lipstick. As she led us down to the basement she crooned “So pretty” in …

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21 of the World’s Best Grilled Eats

Have you fired up the grill yet? In honor of Memorial Day and the start of this year’s heat wave, here are some of the best grilled foods from our family’s around the world cooking adventure, including several vegan and vegetarian dishes. For more than 600 other recipes from every country in the world, check out my Countries I’ve cooked page.  P.S. The recipes below may be enjoyed in multiple countries, but the countries identified below indicate at what point in our adventure we sampled the dishes.  1. Carne Asada | PARAGUAY (Recipe) Oh man. Steak marinated in garlic, oregano, fresh lime juice, and black pepper? Then sliced and served in a tortilla with avocado, tomato, cheese, and more? Yes, and yes!   2.  Barbecue Ribs | USA (Recipe) These ribs are fall-off-the-bone good and blasted with paprika, brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic, cayenne pepper, and cracked peppercorns. After a low, slow grillin’, they’re brushed with a lick of sweet barbecue sauce at the end. Need I say more?   3. Beef Suya | NIGERIA (Recipe) If ever there was a recipe that surprised me with …

DIY Teacher's Gifts for under $3

18 Meaningful DIY Gifts for as little as $1.22 each for teachers, friends, & more!

What do you see when you look at several boxes of tea? I see opportuni-tea.  I’m so, so sorry! But it’s true: with just six boxes of tea, I can create a world of flavor for up to 18 people (some boxes only hold 16 bags) for hardly any money.  It’s so easy I almost feel guilty for making a step-by-step post about it. A little background first. There’s no end to the occasions that require thoughtful gifts. But it’s hard to find thoughtful gifts that are affordable. While these gifts would be great for Valentine’s Day, Office Christmas gifts, or party favors… School is almost over so we’re doing them as a teacher’s thank you. Ava will give one to each of her four teachers, as well as the preschool director. She’s had an amazing time these last few years, and we wanted to put care into thanking them. We accompanied the gifts with a little Q&A about Ava’s favorite memories and messages she wanted to pass on to make it even more personal. I chose …

Filipino Garlic Rice

Filipino Garlic-Fried Rice | Panlasang Pinoy

  A Labor of Love I have a garden. It’s small – an L-shaped  raised bed built with heavy stones. In it I have a few tomato plants, basil, thyme, parsley, chives, and lemongrass. There’s also an abundance of mums; they come back every year and explode with burgundy, gold, and white in the autumn. Just next to the wall is my terracotta strawberry planter, perched atop a pedestal of chubby cherubs. It’s about as idyllic as my corner of the world gets. This is the first year I’ve really been able to dote over my plants. I recently handed in the last edits of my memoir, so time – for a little while, at least – is mine again (I even used old drafts of my memoir as weed guard). But paying attention comes with a certain degree of… noticing. How ants cluster and teem along the stone wall whenever I water the plants. How on hot days, even before a leaf begins to wilt, it’s shiny luster goes dull. How my cat likes to sleep …

funny-kids

13 funny kids from all over the world, plus the food they eat.

In honor of Mother’s Day here are 13 children from all over the world with some of the cutest (and straight up giggle-worthy) expressions I’ve seen around. Along with each child’s photo you will discover a few of their country’s favorite recipes. If these munchkins inspire you to take a taste of something new, excellent! Simply follow the recipe links below to get cookin’!   1. INDIA   “And then he said… What!?”   Children in India love an ice cold kulfi pop on a hot summer’s day. And spinach with homemade cheese (saag panir) is a fun and healthy meal for lunch or dinner! Celebrate Mother’s Day with a recipe from India.     2. IRAN   “No, you can’t have my ice cream.”   Children in Iran love kebabs (on ‘swords’!), Persian sour cherry rice, and cucumber salad topped with sumac – the bold spices will surprise (and delight!) you. Celebrate Mother’s Day with a recipe from Iran.     3. PAKISTAN   “But mom… who’s that photobombing behind us?”   Kids in Pakistan clamor for …

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Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Mexican Grilled “Pizza” | Tlayuda

Sometimes I want it all: A clean house and a lazy weekend. A good night’s sleep and a Doctor Who marathon. Salad and pizza. Mexican and Italian food. I might not be able to balance out the former two, but as for the latter? Yes and yes.  The biggest tortilla in town. Tlayuda is Mexico’s answer to pizza. But don’t expect tomato sauce and basil leaves. This popular Oaxacan street food is made on an enormous tortilla and spread thickly with black beans (Take note: these aren’t ordinary black beans – they’ve been blended with a heaping of roasted garlic and onion, cumin, and chile powder). Purists will spread the tortilla with lard, too – though I prefer a light brush of vegetable oil. Finally, cheese is sprinkled on top, as is your choice of meat (beef, pork, or browned chorizo) and a garden’s-worth of toppings (think avocado, tomato, cheese, cilantro, lettuce, and jalepenos). It can be served open-faced or folded in half. When the first hot bite passes your lips, be prepared for a flavor explosion –  especially when you add a puckering of freshly …