Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

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This year Ava and I brought a loaf of Eritrean Hembesha bread to the annual Martin Luther King parade. It's a random sort of thing to bring to a parade, but I'd just pulled batch #3 out of the oven and couldn't stand the thought of the bread cooling down without being able to enjoy a still-steaming, soft wedge. There are few things better than a steaming-hot piece of homemade bread.  Hembesha is no exception: the east African bread is soft and earthy with whispers of garlic, coriander, … [Read more...]

5 Easy ways to use up your spices

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Cleaning out the spice drawer: you either love or hate the job. For every person that has a collection of barely-used spices from their wedding 20 years ago, there are folks who try to rotate through their spices yearly. But sometimes we get stuck on how to use up that last tablespoon of a spice without trudging through an obscure recipe (a recipe that probably barely uses a pinch of the herb or spice anyway).  The good news is that we don't need recipes - there are a handful of quick … [Read more...]

Labneh for dipping & gifting

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For much of December I found myself being entertained rather than entertaining. It was a nice, relaxing way to spend two weeks but I find myself - even now that we're well into the New Year - looking for a way to make someone else feel special and cared for.  After some recipe rummaging, I had my answer: Labneh. Soup might comfort, jelly might wibble-wobble, but Labneh delights. This Middle Eastern thickened yogurt appetizer seems oh so fancy but is really a set-it-and-forget-it kind of … [Read more...]

A Polish lunch that’ll clean out your fridge

Polish Lunch

Whether your child is in a growth spurt or you just need a meal to satisfy you longer than the 20 minutes it takes to eat it, Polish comfort food is the answer. We ate ours back on December 23rd, three hours before locking up the house and flying to spend 11 days with more than a dozen family members (First stop: Cape Charles Virginia, to see one of my brothers and sisters, and their kids. Second stop: Martinsburg, West Viriginia for our cousin's wedding and most of Keith's family). In … [Read more...]

Why I’m terrified of telling you about my memoir

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My dear friend Becky and I had been chatting over drinks for more than an hour when I suddenly mumbled "I'm terrified of telling my readers about my memoir." The admission took me by surprise, as did the tears that spilled down my cheeks. I added, almost self consciously, "I don't know how to tell them ... isn't that crazy?" I darted my eyes around R Bar expecting to lock eyes with frowning onlookers, but the only other patrons were engrossed with each other, the flush of new romance in … [Read more...]

10 New Year’s Food Traditions from around the World

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Before the confetti and the fireworks glitter through our skies, our global neighbors teach that we must first take a little time to dream. You see, if we imagine our futures as bright and as shiny and as real as the stars above us, we come that much closer to realizing our dreams. It's called positive thinking. And all around the world, people accomplish this through a brilliant collection of New Year's food traditions. These food traditions aren't just another nice meal with a game … [Read more...]

A Central American Lunch

Lunch from El Salvador

Central America can provide fresh, fun inspiration for the lunchbox (with a generous dash of indulgence). Since our family chose not to opt in for my daughter's school's weekly Pizza Day, I'm always looking for something special for Ava's Friday lunches. When I asked Ava how she enjoyed this particular Around the World lunch, Ava returned my question with wide eyes and an even wider grin. I have a feeling the cheesy pupusas from El Salvador did the trick. Pupusas are made with masa harina … [Read more...]

Feast of the 7 Fishes | Linguine with Baccalà Sauce

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A lump of salt cod (baccalà) just might be everything. To use the tough, leathery fillet - more hide than flesh - the cod must first be soaked in fresh clean water. Gradually the salt leaks into the water and clouds it. A change of water, then more salt comes out. Several more water changes. A couple of days go by. The cod becomes soft. Mild. Tender. Italians know: these steps cannot be skipped or the meal will be ruined. I find myself sifting around for meaning this year. Did you notice … [Read more...]

An African lunch for a cold day

South African Lunch

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 … [Read more...]

5 Jaw-dropping books for international food lovers

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

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 … [Read more...]