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Food Scrapbooking 101: Create a travelog of your cooking adventures

cooking-scrapbook-101

Cooking the world was the greatest gift I could give my family – full of delicious memories and learning opportunities. But what to do with all the pictures we took? As food tourists we armed ourselves with cameras and, just like real tourists trekking across the globe, we snapped pictures of every culinary landmark in our kitchens and around our dining tables. Hundreds of them! We uploaded our pictures here and on Instagram, feeling pleased with our work as parents.

But children don’t live on Instagram.

I had an uncomfortable realization the other day. My daughter, Ava, is just six years old. She ate a meal from the world’s 195+ countries by the time she was 4 1/2 years old. It is a scientific fact that, though her taste buds will always remember our adventure (making her much less picky than she otherwise might be), she might not.

The only time Ava sees photos from our Global Table Adventure is when I explicitly sit down with her at the computer. Our lives are incredibly busy. As you can imagine, this rarely happens.

Since the littlest among us don’t scroll through feeds to take in their world (thank goodness) we need to come up with something else.

Thankfully, there is a better way.

Food Scrapbooking 101

We can help our children cherish their Global Table Adventures with a Food Scrapbook – something they can hold in their hands, store on their bookshelves, and update as much as they’d like. They can keep their scrapbook until they’re grown, at which time they can recreate the dishes for their children. How beautiful is that?

Longtime readers, Midori and Brian, recently shared the scrapbook they made for their niece and nephew and I fell in love.

It was so great I wanted to share it with you, along with 5 Tips for creating a fantastic, fun, fascinating… Food Scrapbook!

1. Only scrapbook your favorite meals

how-to-make-a-food-scrapbook

It doesn’t matter whether you started cooking the world a decade ago or last weekend. Just jump in where you are. Remember, only the most remarkable meals are worth scrapbooking (I’d rather have a Food Scrapbook filled with 16 awesome memories than one hundred mediocre ones). Oh, and then there’s this little nugget to keep in mind:

Originally, we wanted to keep track of every recipe and any adjustments we made (or wanted to make), but we quickly fell behind and realized how long it would take to actually do that. (Brian)

Start by creating a page for your top 5 favorite recipes. You can always add more later.

2. Embrace imperfection

how-to-make-a-food-travel-scrapbook

Look how happy these kids are! This is the moment they got their Global Table Adventure scrapbook from Brian and Midori. It is more important to enjoy the scrapbook than fuss over making every detail perfect. True story: I still have the scrapbook I started for my wedding. It’s unfinished, collecting dust at the back of the closet… all because I put pressure on myself to make it “just right.” Unfortunately, “just right” meant it never got done. When I switched to an online editor I filled 300+ pages (including scans of our wedding cards and more) in a short amount of time.

  • If you’ve already completed your Global Table Adventure, you might find working digitally is quicker. I love Blurb (that’s what I used for my wedding book).
  • If you are still cooking the world and need the ability to keep adding to your Food Scrapbook, a simple 3-ring binder with plastic inserts will do the job. That’s what Midori and Brian did! The plastic inserts also make it spill resistant.

Whatever version you choose, all scrapbooks can be embellished with markers and glue… a sure way to get the kids involved.

3. Use a map for the table of contents

travel-scrapbook-table-of-contents

This is my favorite part about Brian and Midori’s Food Scrapbook. They used a world map as the table of contents! Simply write page numbers next to each country or continent. When the urge to recreate a favorite meal overtakes your family, you’ll be able to flip to the appropriate section in seconds. It’s also super easy to update – genius!

4. Make your Food Scrapbook personal

anime-fun-on-a-global-table-adventure

The most important (and fun) part of a Food Scrapbook is personalizing it. Do you like to match photos of your meal with anime? Midori, Brian and their friends do! Your interests make your Global Table Adventure different than mine. Your scrapbook should also reflect your personality.

Include unique details like:

  • Photos of the people involved
    Did you cook with your great grandfather or a cousin you rarely see?
  • Photos of the cooking process
    Document unusual experiences like working with banana leaves or rolling your own sushi for the first time.
  • Photos (or drawings) of traditional decorations
    Did a meal call for a special piece of equipment, like a tagine? Did the cooking method have an unusual step? Do a little sketch or include a photo!
  • Photos of the countries
    Find an old atlas or encyclopedia at the thrift store and cut it up to add international flavor to each page.
  • Recipes with your own special tweaks
    It’s okay to clip recipes from outside sources as long as they’re for your eyes only (ie. you aren’t making copies or selling your scrapbook at a fundraiser). Otherwise you’ll need special permission.
  • Receipts from interesting purchases
    Did you go to a cool international market and buy your first 50 pound bag of rice? Tape the receipt in your book.
  • Unusual food packaging
    Food packaging can be a work of art, especially if written in another language. Make sure it’s clean, then glue it in your scrapbook!
  • List of favorite resources
    When your child grows up, they might want to continue their Global Table Adventure. Add a list of resources in the back to help guide them on their stovetop travels.

food-scrapbook-details

5. Stay inspired

global-table-adventure-community

Inspiration can come from many places. These photos are just a few of the photos shared by the amazing Global Table Adventure community on Instagram (#GlobalTableAdventure).  Browse around, get inspired and continue your adventure knowing you’re in great company!  You might think of a new dish to try – or a new way to serve it, perfect for your beautiful, new scrapbook.

Instagram photos by the lovely…  @midorifaye (blog),  @ckeegan_foodandfoto (blog),  @busymamas (blog),  @mamadances,  @d.nev.richardson,  @sarah.jean,  @rebalowrie,  @laurenaiken1,  @haleyy_summers,  @backofthetaptap (blog).  Thank you for being a part of our community!

Bonus:

To help you on your Global Table Adventure, I created a FREE Starter Guide. These 45 pages are complete with tips for dealing with picky eaters, a “pact” for the whole family to sign, tips for hosting potlucks, and more – all to help make cooking the world a fun part of your lifestyle. Teachers and home educators will also enjoy my FREE Printable Passport Book for tracking progress through the countries (you might even want to create a mini food scrap book with it!).

Cheers, from our Global Table Adventure to yours!

honeymoon-smoothie-recipe-05

Recipe for Tanzanian Coconut Potato Soup

Tanzania’s Fairytale “Coconut Potato Soup” | Supu Viazi

Recipe for Tanzania's Coconut Potato Soup

A spoonful of Tanzania’s Coconut Potato Soup garnished with moons of buttery avocado will transport you to the windswept slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.  Never fear: The howl you’ll hear as you chow down won’t be the wind on your face, or some dangerous beast – but rather the horn of the Wakonyingo, calling for help.

Wakonyingo: Fact or fiction?

"Mawenzi Cone at sunrise from Kilimanjaro crater rim" by Sbork - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mawenzi_Cone_at_sunrise_from_Kilimanjaro_crater_rim.jpg#/media/File:Mawenzi_Cone_at_sunrise_from_Kilimanjaro_crater_rim.jpg

“Sunrise view from Kilimanjaro Crater Rim towards the Mawenzi Cone” by Sbork.

More than a hiker’s haven, Mount Kilimanjaro is a wellspring of legends involving the Wakonyingo pygmies. The stories fall somewhere between history and fairy tale. History reports that the Wakonyingo were an early tribe inhabiting Kilimanjaro, driven out or absorbed by invading tribes. The fairy tales report a far more interesting story – that the Wakonyingo fled beneath the mountain, where they remain today.

Legends claim they are still down there, hidden from sight in a network of tunnels and caves, living a life any gnome would love. They keep their cattle with them and even grow banana trees in their earthen lairs. Ladders from their caves are said to reach the heavens.

Turns out this underground lifestyle isn’t so far-fetched.

Tanzania's Tunnels - Photo by Robbie Todorovich, The Big Adventure

Chagga tunnel, Mount Kilimanjaro – Photos by Robbie Todorovich, The Big Adventure

Meku84

Chagga caves and tunnels were often masked by huts (photo by Meku84) and accessed by wooden ladders (photo by Robbie Todorovich, The Big Adventure).

The Chagga people (also Chaga), who’ve lived on the slopes of Kilimanjaro for several hundred years now, once dug tunnels to hide from invaders. They went so far as to keep their cows and kitchen underground. To stay secret, they used elaborate passwords at the mouths of the tunnels and even placed the underground kitchen beneath an above-ground hut. The hut always had a fire lit so the extra smoke wouldn’t be noticed by enemies. These tunnels can still be seen today.

The original Mr. Potato Head

Most hikers will never see the Wakonyingo, but if you venture off the beaten path you might catch one on a rare above-ground excursion. It is said that if you stumble upon a Wakonyingo, you will know him by his enormous head.

Legend states Wakonyingo’s heads are so heavy they sleep upright (for fear of being unable to pick themselves back up, off the ground). I searched for drawings in vain, but I like to imagine their epic noggins are similar in scale to Mr. Potato Head.

No doubt this is a dangerous life – any stumble or slip would leave the Wakonyingo incapacitated. As a safety precaution, they wear horns around their necks.

Sounding the horn is the fairyland equivalent of “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

Will you eat dinner tonight? Depends.

Ernst Platz, Eingeborenensiedlung vor dem Kilimandscharo, 1898

“Eingeborenensiedlung vor dem Kilimandscharo,” Ernst Platz (1898)

The Wakonyingo like to help the poor and play tricks on the greedy. A popular Chagga folkstory relates two brothers walking through the mountainside:

The first came upon an old woman who asked him to clean her eyes. He refused and walked on until he found a circle of the Wakonyingo, but not understanding who they were, he referred to them as children, asking when their fathers would be home. They told him to wait, as their fathers would return soon, and every time he renewed his question, they told him the same thing. Finally when night fell, he gave up, and and had to stumble home hungry in the dark. His brother went the same way some time later, and helped the old woman, who out of gratitude told him not to insult the Wakonyingo by calling them children. When he came upon their circle, he spoke to them as venerated elders, relating his family’s troubles with their cattle, and asking their chief for his advice. In return, he was rewarded with food, drink, and sent home with a full herd of cattle from the tribe. (Fairies on Kilimanjaro)

In summary, the Wakonyingo remind you to be polite to strangers and those who appear different from yourself. They’re not above delaying your dinner if you can’t handle these basic social skills. On the other hand, they will be more than happy to invite you to dinner if you show some interest in their community.

I’m a fan.

Eating “Supa Viazi” with the Wakonyingo

Recipe for Tanzanian Potato Soup

If you’d like to share a meal with the Wakonyingo (and get in their good graces), try whipping up a pot of homemade soup.

Many Tanzanian soups are thickened with coconut milk and include raw bananas (not plantains) or potatoes for filler. If meat is available, chicken or beef may be added. I recently stumbled across a Peace Corps cookbook with  recipe for Tanzanian Supu Viazi, or Coconut Potato Soup on National Geographic’s blog, The Plate and thought making an adaptation would be a fun way to get in the Wakonyingo’s good graces.

What is Supu Viazi?

At it’s heart, Supu Viazi is a simple potato soup with Tanzanian flare.

The coconut milk is key. Coconut trees flourish on Tanzania’s coastline, east of Kilimanjaro, making it a signature of local soups.

[In Tanzania] About 25 million coconut palms are cultivated on approximately  252,000 ha. The crop supports the livelihood of more than 300,000 rural households.*

A ladle or two of coconut milk is enough to give a large pot a swirl of creamy, tropical flavor.

Another signature component of Supu Viazi is the pepper, onion, and tomato base. This trio is so popular in Tanzania (and throughout sub-Saharan cooking), one bite tastes like home to locals (in much the same way as the cooking base “mirepoix” – onion, carrot, and celery – is classically French). Spicy or bell peppers work equally well in this base.

Recipe for Tanzanian Coconut Potato Soup

Last, but not least, be sure to cook the base down until the wet mixture dries into a paste. As it toasts, the flavor will deepen.  Give the whole mix a gentle bubble; the coconut will mingle with the softened potatoes in a dreamy way…

 

Finally, add the avocado garnish and you’ve created quite the fairy tale.

And that is a story I want to be a part of.

Recipe for Tanzania's Coconut Potato Soup

Texts & Resources

Kilimanjaro and Its People by Charles Dundas
Myths and Legends of the Bantu by Alice Werner
The Heartbeat of Indigenous Africa by R. Sambuli Mosha
Fairies on Kilimanjaro
Kumbe I can Cook! (2012 Peace Corps Cookbook)

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Soups in Tanzania are typically thickened with coconut milk, which gives our Supu Viazi lovely, tropical flare. Substitute in one green banana for one potato to add even more local flavor. Enjoy on a cold winter's day, while huddled by a fire ... or in an underground tunnel with the mysterious Wakonyingo people. My version is inspired by the recipe in "Kumbe I can Cook," the 2012 Peace Corps Tanzania Cookbook.Tanzania's Coconut Potato Soup | Supu Viazi
Servings Prep Time
4-6people 15minutes
Cook Time
50-60minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6people 15minutes
Cook Time
50-60minutes
Ingredients
Garnish:
Instructions
  1. In a medium pot over medium heat, sweat onion and garlic in oil until translucent (about 10 minutes). Add the peppers and carrots. Continue cooking another 5 minutes.
  2. Add the diced tomatoes, then increase heat to medium-high and cook vigorously until the juices evaporate and the tomatoes soften into a dry paste - this could take 10-15 minutes. Season and stir occasionally. While you could skip this step, toasting the tomatoes adds great flavor to an otherwise simple soup.
  3. Add the potatoes, the coconut milk and water. Add the salt and pepper and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender (20-30 minutes). Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  4. Serve hot with slices of avocado.
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.

Marion S. Trikosko
Title	Martin Luther King press conference

Make the world a better place by living with “Vision”

 David Bowie by Avro. Martin Luther King by Marion S. Trikosko.

What would you do today if you knew you’d be gone tomorrow?

News of David Bowie’s death has stunned the world. He managed to keep his 18-month battle with cancer secret and, though he left us suddenly, he has not left us alone. He spent his last 18 months feverishly at work on his latest album and it was released just two days before his battle with cancer ended.

Meanwhile, next week is Martin Luther King Day, a celebration of the man’s life and achievements. Though nearly fifty years has passed since his death, no one can say “I have a dream” without invoking King’s legacy as a leader of the African American civil rights movement. He spent his life working towards equality for all.

On the surface, Bowie and King couldn’t seem more different.

The first was a British glam rock artist. He wore face paint and embraced multiple characters over his long singing career. “Weird” is used as a term of endearment for the man and his work. The latter was a buttoned up Baptist minister from Atlanta, Georgia, versed in the art of public speaking. Rather than paint his face, King tried to strip away the brushstrokes of prejudice in the dawn of desegregation.

Though they came from different sides of the world, both men were visionaries.

What is a visionary?

Crop of "Heinrich Vogeler Sehnsucht (Träumerei) c1900" by Heinrich Vogeler - Künstlerkolonie Worpswede. 2011, ISBN 978-3-7913-4523-9. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Heinrich_Vogeler_Sehnsucht_(Tr%C3%A4umerei)_c1900.jpg#/media/File:Heinrich_Vogeler_Sehnsucht_(Tr%C3%A4umerei)_c1900.jpg

A visionary is a person with strong ideas about what the future could be. Typically their ideas aren’t mainstream or popular… at first.  The difference between an idle thinker and a visionary is the visionary doesn’t just sit on their laurels imagining a different future, they take actions to help shape the future.

No one skill has a monopoly on the ability to change the future, by the way. The world can be changed with a song just as well as it can by science.

Bowie’s landmark concert

Berlin Wall - Creative Commons

Bowie helped change the world forever when he performed his love song “Heroes” in his former residence – Berlin, Germany, 1987. In those days the Berlin Wall unfairly separated the East and West parts of the city. Despite police presence, thousands of oppressed East Berliners pushed past barricades, drawing nearer to the wall so they could hear the rock legend perform. David Bowie describes the scene:

They’d backed up the stage to the wall itself so that the wall was acting as our backdrop.We kind of heard that a few of the East Berliners might actually get a chance to hear the thing, but we didn’t realize in what numbers they would. And there were thousands on the other side that had come close to the wall. So it was like a double concert where the wall was the division, and we would hear them cheering and singing along from the other side. God, even now I get choked up. It was breaking my heart […] However well we do it these days it’s almost like walking through it compared to that night, because it meant so much more. That’s the town where it was written, and that’s the particular situation it was written about.”

In Their Own Words: Songwriters Talk about the Creative Process by Bill DeMain

The concert brought about riots in East Berlin and Mikhail Gorbachev tore down the wall shortly afterward. In reaction to David Bowie’s death, German officials acknowledged his help in shaping Germany’s future. Here’s just one of many tweets, this one from the German Foreign Office:

Good-bye, David Bowie. You are now among . Thank you for helping to bring down the .

Small actions of the great Dr. King

I have a dream marker courtesy of National Park Service Digital Image Archives

The list of Dr. King’s contributions are well-known and many. Most famous of all was his “I have a dream” speech, delivered to 200,000 civil rights supporters in Washington D.C. Few might know that “I have a dream” was an off the cuff insertion to his carefully crafted speech (source) – Turns out this small change had a huge impact on history. By allowing himself to be swept up in this vivid language, Dr. King shared his hope for the future with absolute clarity – and it caught like wildfire among the people.

Consider another small action of this great man. Rarely discussed is what Dr. King did with the original, type-written “I have a dream” speech. On the stage that day was a young basketball player, George Raveling, who later became the first African-American basketball coach at the University of Iowa and is now Nike’s Global Basketball Sports Marketing Director.  On the day of King’s speech, Raveling had none of those accolades. He was simply a 26-year old volunteer serving as extra security on the stage. After the speech, Raveling asked Dr. King if he could have the papers. Dr. King readily complied even though he knew how valuable the speech would be. After all, he opened his speech that day with:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

By choosing to hand off the original to one of his security guards, Dr. King showed where his values stood (typically he kept his speeches). This stunning gift surely endowed Raveling with something much greater than those papers. A sense of inclusion, acceptance and worth.

Today the speech is estimated to be worth up to $25,000,000. Raveling has no plans to sell.

What will your legacy be?

Time is short on this blue rock. You don’t have to be a performer like Bowie or an activist like Dr. King to shape the future. We don’t need to be superstars or stand on a stage to create a better world. But we do need to get clear with what our gifts are and how we can best use them right now, where we are, with what we have.

Start by creating a vision board.

If all this sounds overwhelming, I get it. Figuring out how to help the world seems really big. But I’d argue it’s simpler than doing your own taxes. To make it manageable, start small: create a vision board.

Creating a vision board is a relaxing and meditative process that can help you hone in on what is important to you, what projects you want to work on, and what kind of future you’d like to see. My husband, daughter, and I made our vision boards for 2016 together one afternoon earlier this month. Already, mine has been a big help in my home and work life.

TIPS FOR CREATING YOUR VISION BOARD

How to create a vision board

1. Embrace the messy process.

You will need to cut your way through a pile of magazines to end up with a small selection of iconic images for your vision board. At the end of this process you’ll have one sheet of card stock decorated with your vision but you’ll also have an enormous mess on the floor. This mess is the ultimate reminder that we must cut away a lot of junk to get at the heart of what’s important in life.

2. Don’t try to fit it all in.

Avoid gluing anything down until you’ve cut out all of your favorite images. Once you have everything you can start playing around with layout. You might find that some things you thought were important don’t actually fit. Rather than adding a second vision board when you run low on space (kidding, not kidding), get serious about what is most important to you. Just like a page, our lives our finite – and we can only fit so much in. You’ll be more effective if you are selective.

3. Your vision board won’t look like anyone else’s.

What is important to me isn’t necessarily important to my husband or daughter. We all have different things to contribute to the world – as well as different passions.

Creating a Vision Board

Ava’s focused on helping the environment and animals. Even more incredible, she created a scene with her symbolic images. The teacup represents her wish to be cozy and take time for tea… and she placed it as rain. The candle represents her wish to be surrounded by light… and she placed it as the sun. She made a tree with scraps to represent the environment and placed a stitched owl on the branch to show her desire to sew more. She also wants to help animals, do yoga, and have creative play (the fairy).

My husband’s includes using his skills to get creative (such as by reinventing Star Wars with his woodworking tools), just starting (when he’s not sure what to do), camping more, eating fruits and veggies … Prioritizing family and friends … with love at the center of everything.

My vision board asserts that I am responsible for my own happy ending – and that, ultimately, I want my story to be one of love. In the end that is all that matters. The umbrella symbolizes that I have the power to protect myself whatever the “weather” of life brings. The window is about bringing light into our home, and the wild plant is a reminder to trust my own creativity. There’s so much more, especially about what I want to GIVE to the world – the candle and champagne flute represent giving people a sense of peace and warmth while also letting them know they are celebrated and special, regardless of who they are or where they come from. I also included a castle – another reminder  to continue the fairy tale I started during NaNoWriMo.

There is no one right way to do this life.

Vision, photo by D Sharon Pruitt.

Who knows what happens when we are gone from this world. But if we choose to live by Bowie and Dr. King’s example, we can make tomorrow better for all – whether or not we live to see the results. When we are of service to our community – even in small ways – the future improves for all. There is no doubt: Our choices today directly impact tomorrow. What tomorrow will you help create?

Do your thing. Enjoy your sliver of infinity and spread goodness while you can.

P.S. I want to leave you with a demo young David Bowie recorded around the time Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. It never made it onto an album as far as I can tell and I’m not convinced the 1968 date on the video is correct as the words were written by Leslie Duncan and she didn’t release the single herself until 1970. All that aside, I hear his beautiful rendition with a different ear when I think about Dr. King’s message of freedom for all.

Photo of David Bowie by Avro. Martin Luther King by Marion S. Trikosko. Crop of painting by Heinrich Vogeler Sehnsucht (Träumerei). Photo of hand with light by D Sharon Pruitt.

Recipe for hot hummus with caramelized onion and mushroom

Warm Hummus with Mushrooms & Caramelized Onion

Recipe for Israeli hummus with mushrooms and caramelized onion

Israeli folks know – loaded hummus is everything.

An entire meal can be made from a cozy bowl of warm chickpea puree when loaded with caramelized onion and cumin-laced mushrooms. A raggedy pile of pita bread is the exclamation point on this edible yes.

Recipe for Israeli hummus with mushrooms and caramelized onion

To get your fix in Israel you’d head down to a hummusia restaurant. There you can order up warm or cold hummus with your favorite filling – anything from cooked cauliflower, to ground beef or lamb. You can even find the classic tomato and poached egg dish, shakshouka, in the middle of hummus! But you don’t need to travel to Israel to bring these amazing flavors into your kitchen. Today’s hot mushroom filling is just the warmth a 25F degree freeze calls for, and is a welcome break from the heavy meals (and mountains of dishes!) of the holiday season.

Hummusia photo by White City Boy

Hummusia in Tel Aviv. Photo by White City Boy

Real Talk: I need a cooking win. I’m 100% in the middle of a scary cooking carnival … in the last month of 2015 I made two bad lasagnas (in which the lasagna noodles actually dissolved), one excellent lasagna (finally!), and a whole lot of Smoking Bishop (in one miserable lapse of attention I managed to boil off all the boozy goodness). Also, I made my first French King’s Cake which leaked everywhere (but was still somehow as delicious as the King’s Cake we made from Liechtenstein). Today, I’m too tired to cook elaborate feasts, but too cold to snack on the chilly leftovers lingering in the back of the fridge.

It just so happens that my 2016 Vision Board includes a mushroom – a symbol of my dedication to share my quirky loves with all of you. Thankfully, warm hummus with spiced mushrooms is just such a dish. It might not be for everyone, but for those who are willing to indulge? It’s a wholesome and comforting affair.

2016 Vision Boards

Moving counter clockwise from the top: Vision Boards made by Keith, Ava, and me.

How to make warm hummus with spiced mushrooms

The first step is to get that hummus warm.

Spread a thick layer of hummus in a shallow, oven safe dish and use the back of a spoon to create a cavity. You can make your own Lemon Garlic Hummus, or use prepared hummus if you… can’t. wait. another. minute.

Recipe for Israeli hummus with mushrooms and caramelized onion

Did you know that grocers in the Middle East sell canned hummus to keep on hand for last minute meals? It’s better than the refrigerator stuff because you don’t need to add a bunch of junk to the hummus to preserve it, plus hummus is best served at room temperature or warm. Apparently we’re finally wising up in the USA – Sager Creek now offers small batch, kettle cooked Hummus for easy entertaining.

Whatever hummus you choose, drizzle generously with olive oil, cover with foil, and pop the whole shebang in the oven for a few minutes. Easy peasy.

Recipe for Israeli hummus with mushrooms and caramelized onion

While the hummus is warming up, saute the onion and  mushrooms in several glugs of olive oil (the more the better), along with some cumin and hot paprika. It’ll take a good 20-30 minutes to caramelize the onion and brown the mushroom.

Full disclosure: While the onion and mushroom slip into acquiescence, the most ridiculous scents will perfume your home. Good luck not sneaking one (or five) of those mushrooms from the pan before you ever sit down to eat.

Recipe for Israeli hummus with mushrooms and caramelized onion

Load the hot hummus with the mushrooms and garnish with pine nuts, parsley, and paprika. Drizzle on a little more olive oil if desired – it gives the finished dip unmistakable richness. Enjoy immediately with pita bread.

Recipe for hot hummus with caramelized onion and mushroom

The garlic, cumin, and paprika come together with the mushrooms’ umami and the onion’s sweetness to form a wild, hearty riff on hummus.  Whether you keep your ingredients separate or stir them all together, one thing is certain: this dip will not soon be forgotten.

I went nuts for the mushrooms, while Ava went nuts for the… pine nuts.

Recipe for Israeli hummus with mushrooms and caramelized onion

As for Keith, he wanted to know who ate all the caramelized onion (that’d be me!)

Recipe for Israeli hummus with mushrooms and caramelized onionEnjoy with a view of Israel’s stunning mountains, wherever you are.

Perhaps in the company of a friendly goat.

Israeli mountain goat by Sigal Ben Amram.

Israeli mountain goat by Sigal Ben Amram.

This post in partnership with Sager Creek Vegetable Company

 

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Loaded hummus is an Israeli favorite. This mushroom version is hearty enough to make a light meal for 2 people (serve with a salad on the side), or an appetizer for 4 or more folks. I love it on a cold winter's day.Warm Hummus with Spiced Mushrooms
Servings Prep Time
4people 10minutes
Cook Time
25minutes
Servings Prep Time
4people 10minutes
Cook Time
25minutes
Ingredients
Garnish
Serve with
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Meanwhile, prep all the ingredients - wipe down the mushrooms and halve them (large ones may need to be quartered), slice the onion thinly, and toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown.
  2. Place the hummus in an oven-safe baking dish or shallow bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and cover with foil. Bake for about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave in the oven until needed.
  3. Meanwhile, saute onion in 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until softened. Add the chopped garlic and sliced mushrooms and continue cooking until the mushrooms are tender and the onion is very soft - a good 10-15 minutes. I like it best after 15 minutes as this gives the onion time to caramelize and the mushrooms become very browned.
  4. Pile the mushroom mixture into the hummus, garnish as desired, and serve hot with pita bread.
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.

christmas-tree-featured

The greatest of gifts

christmas tree

The greatest of gifts don’t come in wrapping paper.  Sharing a loaf of just-baked bread with a friend, butter slipping into each steaming crevice. Washing the day down with a daring new drink – just enough to take the chill out of the air. And, above all, filling our hearts with gratitude for simple moments.

These are the best gifts of all.

Especially that last item – gratitude.

With gratitude every moment is a gift.
Gratitude fills up the giver and the receiver.
Gratitude isn’t about whether the glass if half full or half empty.
Gratitude is being glad there’s a drink there in the first place.

I’ve had some half full and half empty moments over the last few years. I became best friends with my mom. She was a huge support throughout my twenties and when I began this blog. And then I wrote a book and … I don’t know. Everything changed. We spoke every day while I was writing – laughing and sorting out dates – but now she’s gone into retreat. This time, instead of Samoa, Mom went to India and the Vatican. She’s sent newspaper clippings and rosaries.

All I know is that these objects don’t soften the blow. I miss her. My sister and I cry about it sometimes. Grown women, crying for our mother. Mom would call that tragicomedy. And she’d be right.

Perhaps it was too much, sharing our lives on the page like that. Editors will remind you to be mindful of one thing when writing memoir: no one asked to be in your book but you. It has to be difficult, people say. At least that much is true.

So I focus on my daughter. I teach her the holiday traditions Mom taught me. We’re making yarn ornaments and homemade pasta. Cooking and crafting keeps me busy. Seeing my daughter smile keeps my heart from breaking too much.

Oh, the gratitude I feel for this little girl’s smile.

It’s a funny thing. Gratitude fills you up, even when your heart is broken.

sasha and ava

Since Life from Scratch came out in March many of you have written to share your stories of overcoming hardship, of reconnecting with family, of finding your own peace, even if you cannot change circumstances. This holiday season, I find myself humbled by your stories. You say my story has helped you? Your stories have helped me.

Who knows what the New Year will hold.

I know there will be more half full and half empty moments.

Things will change. They always do. Nothing is written in stone.

Meanwhile, I am determined to remain hopeful – and grateful.

For this life, this day, this heart.

"Happiness is not a destination: Being happy takes constant weeding, a tending of emotions and circumstances as they arise. There’s no happily ever after, or any one person or place that can bring happiness. It takes work to be calm in the midst of turmoil. But releasing the need to control it – well, that’s a start." - Excerpt of 'Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness'' by Sasha Martin.

Just for you

For those of you who have read the book or purchased one for a friend, I want to say thank you. Please know that I wouldn’t change a word. My heart is true on those pages.

As an expression of gratitude I am offering an autographed Bookplate Sticker to the first 50 respondents. Consider it a virtual book signing… All you have to do is email me who the bookplate is for, what the message is, and the address where it needs to be sent. If you don’t want it personalized just let me know and I’ll simply sign my name and put a standard message. For details, see the image below.

Thank you for being a part of this adventure.

See you in 2016.

Pop up book signing - Life from Scratch

Recipe for Smoking Bishop

Smoking Bishop from “A Christmas Carol”

Recipe for Smoking Bishop

Twice a month I head up the road to a 1920’s mansion where I meet with several writers (many 25 years my senior). For two hours we laugh and ramble. Brief critiques soon devolve into spirited discussions about the good old days (most of which were well before my time). Writing exercises, often based on bizarre photos from the 1890’s, are read aloud. These displays of wit and absurdity often leave me in tears. Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Seuss, and Chretiens de Troyes get equal billing, but not by all members.

In an era of masterminds and conferences, this little Writer’s Group does not provide a leg up nor much in the way of pretense. At least one third of the attendees dismiss Facebook and have no idea what a tweet is. We’re a motley crew bound only by our love of the written word. And we’re not entirely productive. But goodness, it’s fun.

We just had our annual holiday party, which required I bring something hot, boozy, and – for extra credit – bookish.  I’m making a vegetable lasagna but that only satisfies the first criteria. Thankfully, Charles Dickens has the answer for the rest.

How to make a Smoking Bishop

 

Recipe for Smoking Bishop

What is a Smoking Bishop?

Originating in Britain and immortalized by Charles Dickens (1812-1870), a Smoking Bishop is a ‘smoking’ hot drink of wine and port mulled together with the juice of roasted bitter oranges, cloves, star anise, sugar and (occasionally) cinnamon. Compared to traditional mulled wine, which can sometimes be overwhelming, the spices take a minor role in a Smoking Bishop. With port, oranges and sugar, one would expect an overly sweet drink. But the after-punch of bitter fruit is the real star here, pulling our taste buds along a pleasant tightrope of flavor. Finding the balance is key to a good Smoking Bishop… and people have been trying since the 1800’s.

On December 17, 1843, the Smoking Bishop became etched in history with the publication of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Dickens places the drink in the final scene of the book, when Ebenezer Scrooge offers his overworked employee, Bob Cratchit (the dad of Tiny Tim), a bowl of Smoking Bishop, along with his promise to be, well… less of a Scrooge. Considering the book sold 5,000 copies by Christmas Eve (6 days later) and has never been out of print, I’d say readers felt this merry conclusion was a success.

Original woodblock artwork

This original woodblock illustration, “The Christmas Bowl,” is the final image in A Christmas Carol. Art by John Leech (1843)

“A Merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavor to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon over a bowl of Smoking Bishop, Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i Bob Cratchit!

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more…”

– A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens.

Scrooge and Cratchit share Smoking Bishop in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

1984 Illustration of “The Christmas Bowl” by Mark Peppé.

A note on the ingredients

How to make a Smoking Bishop

Back in the 1800’s, thirsty revelers roasted Seville oranges by the hearth for their Smoking Bishops. Seville oranges are bitter, especially when the skin has been browned by fire (this releases the oils and provides a bit of smoky char to the dish). When eaten in large quantities (particularly if one ingests the essential oil), Seville oranges are known to increase blood pressure and heart rate. The stimulant effect is perhaps one reason why the drink was so popular, though the bitter pith and sour pulp remains a signature element of a good Smoking Bishop.

Recipe for Smoking Bishop

Finding Seville oranges can be hard – there were none in my local market. Many folks will substitute a few sweet oranges with a lemon or grapefruit in the mix to give a bitter note. For this adaptation, I took inspiration from my local market and subbed in an Etrog (also known as Citron). The gnarly, pithy, acidic fruit is virtually inedible unless candied. One Etrog adds the ideal amount of bitters to balance out the port, sugar and sweeter oranges. Use one if you can. A grapefruit would be the next best thing. You could also just use a healthy dose of bottled bitters, but where’s the fun in that?

Also: Whatever you choose, be sure to buy organic, wax-free citrus (or scrub it well). Wax is not tasty.

How to make a Smoking Bishop

Recipe for Smoking Bishop

Preheat the oven to 350F. Stick 5 oranges with 5 whole cloves each, then slice in half. Slice the etrog (or grapefruit or lemon) in half as well. Place fruit on a sheet pan and roast for 35-45 minutes until the bottom is blackened and the fruit bulges open.

A recipe for Smoking Bishop

Using tongs, nestle the hot fruit in a non-reactive container (glass or ceramic works well). Add the brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, and star anise.

How to make Smoking Bishop

Pour on a bottle of red wine. I used a Cabernet Sauvignon because it balances out the sweet port well, but any good red wine will do.

Recipe for Smoking Bishop

Cover and set in a sunny window for 24 hours. This will give time for the fruit to release some of its essential oils.  And, apparently, get really steamy.

Recipe for Smoking Bishop

The next day, remove the fruit and juice it through a strainer set over a large pot. Press the pulp through the strainer as best you can to get every last drop. Discard the fruit skins. Now strain the wine mixture into the same pot.  Add the cinnamon sticks and star anise back into the pot. Heat until “smoking” hot (just below a simmer). Add the port and return to “smoking.”

A recipe for Smoking Bishop

Remove the cinnamon sticks and star anise; serve hot from a punch bowl (alternatively a good quality Air Pot will keep it at a merry temperature for 12-24 hours – that’s what I used for our holiday party!).

Charles Dickens's favorite writing spot

This Swiss Chalet became Charles Dickens’s favorite writing spot after the actor Charles Fechter gifted it to him in 1864 (The Life of Charles Dickens, by John Forster)

Sip with a view of one of Charles Dickens’s favorite writing spots – this Swiss chalet.

… and enjoy with a group of bookish friends.

Tulsa Writer's Cafe

Note: This old photo is missing several members (and we plum forgot to take one at the holiday party). Also: I am fascinated by the effect of using “panorama mode” on my phone. One guy lost his hand and has had his face twisted… but at least it’ll give you a sense of the group.

A word of gratitude

Finally, a special thanks to Mr. Dickens for keeping the Smoking Bishop tradition alive more than 150 years after his death.

Cheers to 26-year old Dickens and his puppy dog eyes (he’d already started writing Oliver Twist when this portrait was commissioned)…

"Charles Dickens by Daniel Maclise" by Daniel Maclise (died 1870) - National Portrait Gallery: NPG 1172While Commons policy accepts the use of this media, one or more third parties have made copyright claims against Wikimedia Commons in relation to the work from which this is sourced or a purely mechanical reproduction thereof. This may be due to recognition of the "sweat of the brow" doctrine, allowing works to be eligible for protection through skill and labour, and not purely by originality as is the case in the United States (where this website is hosted). These claims may or may not be valid in all jurisdictions.As such, use of this image in the jurisdiction of the claimant or other countries may be regarded as copyright infringement. Please see Commons:When to use the PD-Art tag for more information.See User:Dcoetzee/NPG legal threat for more information.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.English | Español | Français | Magyar | Italiano | Македонски | Türkmençe | +/−. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Charles_Dickens_by_Daniel_Maclise.jpg#/media/File:Charles_Dickens_by_Daniel_Maclise.jpg

“Charles Dickens by Daniel Maclise” (1838)

Cheers to 40 year-old Dickens with a dozen books and stories under his belt, including A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield (not to mention his fabulous sense of style which would also be under his belt, if they had been in fashion)…

"Charles Dickens by Antoine Claudet, 1852" by Antoine Francois Jean Claudet - Library Company of Philadelphia. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Charles_Dickens_by_Antoine_Claudet,_1852.png#/media/File:Charles_Dickens_by_Antoine_Claudet,_1852.png

“Charles Dickens by Antoine Claudet, 1852” by Antoine Francois Jean Claudet.

And cheers to wizened Dickens, in his later years – with so many classics written (When this photo was taken the ink may have been wet on A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations)

Charles Dickens, circa 1860

Charles Dickens, circa 1860

That beard, though!

Charles Dickens circa 1860.

Charles Dickens circa 1860.

Who knows what other delights Charles Dickens would have given us had he lived past 58.

As we scuttle our way through winter, let’s remember what Dickens’s beloved Scrooge and Tiny Tim taught us:

Cheer is as much a raising of the glass in toast, as a cracking and melting of the heart towards goodwill and blessings for all.

May it be so this holiday season!

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A Victorian era drink from the United Kingdom. The drink was immortalized by Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol. A balance of wine and port mulled with bittersweet fruit and spices. Wonderful served hot on a cold winter's day. Garnish with a little orange rind if desired. Makes just over 1 1/2 quarts.Smoking Bishop
Servings Prep Time
6-8people 15minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1hour 24hours
Servings Prep Time
6-8people 15minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1hour 24hours
Ingredients
Instructions
Day 1
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Stick 5 oranges with 5 whole cloves each, then slice in half. Slice the etrog (or grapefruit or lemon) in half as well. Place fruit on a sheet pan and roast for 35-45 minutes until the bottom is blackened and the fruit bulges open.
  2. Using tongs, nestle the hot fruit in a non-reactive container (glass or ceramic works well). Add the brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, and star anise.
  3. Pour on a bottle of red wine. I used a Cabernet Sauvignon because it balances out the sweet port well, but any good red wine will do.
  4. Cover and set in a sunny window for 24 hours. This will give time for the fruit to release some of its essential oils.
Day 2
  1. The next day, remove the fruit and juice it through a strainer set over a large pot. Press the pulp through the strainer as best you can to get every last drop. Discard the fruit skins. Now strain the wine mixture into the same pot. Add the cinnamon sticks and star anise back into the pot. Heat until "smoking" hot (just below a simmer). Add the port and return to "smoking."
  2. Remove the cinnamon sticks and star anise; serve hot from a punch bowl (alternatively a good quality Air Pot will keep it at a merry temperature for 12-24 hours!).
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.

gifts-from-the-heart-featured

Why I’m giving my family nothing for Christmas

Why I’m giving my family nothing for Christmas

We’re a few days post Thanksgiving. The words “hurry now” and “save 50%” have left our fingers twitching towards our wallets. In most cases we don’t even know what we want to buy – we just want to SAVE.

Friends, we’re in the liminal zone – wandering in a post-Thanksgiving haze, headed towards the New Year, just a few short weeks away. The time can easily be spent in a craze of shopping that we hope will somehow transform us into happier, more fulfilled versions of ourselves, but that only ends up dumping us on the other side of the New Year with more stuff. We wobble through the first days of the New Year, staggered by the weight of our new belongings, grappling for a resolution that will make the future somehow more meaningful.

Can we just… stop?

Instead of following the signs – “hurry now” and “save 50%” – let’s slow down and spend 100% on each other.

A family tradition

Why I’m giving my family nothing for Christmas

After my daughter’s first Christmas, when she got a million and one gifts, I realized I’d have to make a serious effort to help her understand that the holidays have nothing to do with how much loot she has under the tree. Now that she’s in school, this is even more critical (yes, even first-graders compare gifts).

I want her to know the holidays are about…

  • Believing in something bigger than ourselves.
  • Taking time to enjoy each other’s company.
  • Loving each other.

Instead of giving her PJ’s or a book on Christmas Eve, I realized I could use this quiet night to celebrate the things that money cannot buy.  That way, come Christmas Day, she would enjoy her tangible gifts with a little perspective – namely, that it’s not all about the object in the box, but the love and thought that goes into it.

And so our tradition was born. We call it Gifts from the Heart.

Gifts from the Heart

Every year since Ava’s first Christmas, my husband and I have marked Christmas Eve with a tradition of getting each other NOTHING. We even pass around an empty box to underscore the point.

Why I’m giving my family nothing for Christmas

Giving each other “nothing” is really about celebrating the gifts that cannot be wrapped – time, love, and intention. It works like this: During Christmas Eve dinner, we take turns passing around the empty box, offering each other something intangible.  We usually do it at the dinner table, after we’ve eaten. We take our time and turn the moment into a sweet celebration.

Examples from our family:

Last year, I knew that Ava wanted to have a lemonade stand. I also knew (from reading stories with her at bedtime) that she was smitten by Amelia Bedelia’s lemon meringue pie. When it was my turn I said:

Ava, I give you the gift of helping you organize a lemonade stand and making a lemon meringue pie together.

I then presented her with the box. In turn, she made a production of opening the drawstring and hugging the box to her heart.

Accepting the gift with some sort of drama is an beloved part of the ritual. It makes us laugh but it also helps us slow down, take a moment to acknowledge each other’s gifts. Rushing through the giving defeats the purpose.

After I gave Ava her gift, then she gave hers – time for me and Keith to play in her cardboard castle together (as well as “wings” to fly together – so cute!).

I gave Keith “7 boxes of donations” to help simplify our belongings. Keith turned around and gave me 7 boxes of donations and topped it off with a promise to take me out on a fancy date night. He gave Ava a fancy Father-Daughter night out, too, along with a night to bake cookies.

In the past we’ve given each other promises to be digital-free at certain times, to close the office door after 5 p.m. (we both work from home), and to eat breakfast together whenever possible.

And so it goes.

Why I’m giving my family nothing for Christmas

We wrote down our Gifts from the Heart in a notebook so that we could remember them from year to year. Plus, things like lemonade stands can’t be done in cold weather, so it helps my fuzzy brain to have a written record of exactly what I gifted my family for accountability purposes.

Why I’m giving my family nothing for Christmas

About the box

Why I'm giving my family nothing this Christmas

Passing an empty box for your Gifts from the Heart is symbolic and fun, though not entirely necessary. If you choose to use one, don’t fuss about finding something fancy.

Ours had a rather humble beginning. I found it nearly a decade ago on a shelf at the local thrift store, on top of a clothing rack near the candles. In fact, I think it used to hold candles. I was drawn to the box because it was so unusual – a lightweight metal frame wrapped in sheer cloth. The cloth pulls together on top with a drawstring, making it as much a bag as a box. I purchased it to transport our rings when Keith and I got married (instead of using a traditional pillow). I tied an “X” across the top frame with some ribbon and dangled the rings from the center. The rings remained visible as the terrified ring bearer walked them down the aisle.

Very cute.

After the wedding, I tucked the box in the back of a closet and forgot about it until we started our Gifts from the Heart tradition.

Why “nothing” is so great

Why I’m giving my family nothing for Christmas

 

By giving each other “nothing,” we’re actually setting intentions for the New Year – how we plan to spend time together, what’s important to us. It serves as a mini-vision board for family time.

Gifts from the Heart is about slowing down and spending 100%… on what matters.

That way, when the tide of gifts rises at dawn (as it inevitably does), there’s a small life raft of meaning for our children to grab onto. While I’ll always get Ava gifts on Christmas Day, I hope that, when she’s an adult, she’ll remember those intangible Gifts from the Heart most fondly.

Cultivating Gratitude

Another hope is to teach our children to appreciate what they’re given, no matter how small or large, real or intangible. Last year, I knew we were getting somewhere when Ava wrote us these spontaneous thank you notes. She did it late one night, after bedtime stories.

Why I’m giving my family nothing for ChristmasNo one asked her to do it.

She was 5-years old.

What a gift.

Here’s what she wrote:

To: mom

I lov the presets tha yoou gav me. I lov you.

and

To: Popo

I lov the presets that you gav me. I lov you.

I mean… c’mon.

You’re invited

If you like the idea of giving your family “nothing” this year, remember you don’t need a fancy box. Two cupped hands will do for sharing gifts from the heart. I think doing it around the dinner table is a nice touch, though what night you choose will certainly depend on your family traditions. Again: this is not about replacing traditional gift giving, but about underscoring the fact that the most important things in life can’t be wrapped.

Finally, remember the GTA community is here to support each other. I invite you to share  your photos and stories on Instagram with #GlobalTableAdventure and #Giftfromtheheart. Let’s cheer each other on!

Flemish Brussels Sprouts Recipe

Flemish Sauteed Brussels Sprouts | Spruitjes

Flemish Brussels Sprouts Recipe

The Holy Grail of Brussels sprouts is a perfectly sauteed specimen. Done poorly, they are stinky, squishy, and muddy in color. Generally, I don’t even bother – preferring instead to roast Brussels sprouts with a bit of olive oil and herbs.

Straightforward.
Foolproof.
Delicious.

Long ago I vowed never to disgrace my sprouts by cooking them any other way.

But this time of year there’s not much room in the oven for roasted veggies – hefty turkeys, geese, and hams elbow out all semblances of health food. Little choice remains for Brussels sprout fanatics but to relegate our baby cabbages to the stove top.

Seeking perfection overseas

I began my search for the perfect sauteed Brussels sprout in the logical place – Belgium, whose capital city is the Brussels sprout’s namesake. While several countries enjoy Brussels sprouts (including Italy and the United Kingdom), I figured Belgium would have the largest assortment of recipes to choose from.

"Floréal 04". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flor%C3%A9al_04.JPG#/media/File:Flor%C3%A9al_04.JPG

Floréal” in Brussels, Belgium.

I was wrong.

For starters, of the five Flemish restaurants I looked up in Brussels, none of them had Brussels sprouts on the menu (Was this perhaps a stubborn desire to defy expectations, I wonder?). Next, I reached out to a few contacts who’d lived in Belgium. Turns out, the traditional Flemish recipe varies little. For the most part, Belgians parcook their sprouts in either steam or boiling water, then finish them off by sauteing them in butter. A shallot or onion sweetens the mix, while a really creative recipe will add some cream or lemon juice. Nearly all recipes include a pinch of nutmeg.

Simplicity is a true test of a cook.

Any recipe with just a few ingredients has little margin for error. This recipe has fewer than five ingredients. No squeezed, slathered, or dusted ingredient is included to mask any overcooked specimens.

You might as well hope for a magical, bike-riding elf.

Oh wait…

Flemish Brussels Sprouts Recipe

Game Day pressure

I decided to bring my first attempt to a friend’s house for Game Night. Not only was I unsure how many friends actually liked the little cabbages, I had no idea if this new-to-me recipe was going to “work.”

Plus I spent an inordinate amount of time posing a doll and bicycle with a stalk of Brussels sprouts, which made everything a little more rushed in the end.

And ridiculous.

And fabulous.

And ridiculous.

Flemish Brussels Sprouts Recipe

The actual cooking process was painless and quick. In a mere 15 minutes I was ready to go, casserole in hand. My biggest fear? That when I took the lid off to reveal a puff of warm, fragrant steam, everyone was going to sniff, grimace, and take ten steps back.

Surpassing expectations

Instead of running for the door, our friends ate the buttery Brussels sprouts with gusto. Not one green leaf was left at the end of the night.

Even more pleasing, I managed to make a believer of… myself.

There was a lusciousness to the sauteed sprouts that cannot be replicated in the oven. Where the latter is bold and nutty, properly sauteed sprouts are buttery, each nibble silken and sweet.

Tips for perfect sauteed sprouts:

Flemish Brussels Sprouts Recipe

  • Trim off any tough outer leaves.
  • Use a timer when steaming the sprouts so they don’t get mushy.
  • Cool them off in an ice bath if not sauteing them right away (this will help keep them bright green).
  • When sauteing, use a large pan so they aren’t crammed in there. This is the only way to keep them from steaming further and getting mushy.
  • Season well because… yum.

One more thing.

For complete enjoyment of this dish, be sure to enjoy your sprouts with a dash of Brussels and your Brussels with a dash of sprouts.

Confused? Check out this map.

Turns out Brussels looks a lot like a Brussels sprout.

"Brussel 1657 Janssonius" by Janssonius, Johannes - Sanderusmaps. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brussel_1657_Janssonius.jpg#/media/File:Brussel_1657_Janssonius.jpg

Map of Brussels from 1657, by Johannes Janssonius, Johannes

I mean, c’mon…

"Chou de Bruxelles ordinaire Vilmorin-Andrieux 1904" by Mettais & VAC = Vilmorin-Andrieux & Compagnie - Vilmorin-Andrieux & Cie, 1904. Les plantes potagères. Description et culture des principaux légumes des climats tempérés. ed. 3. Paris, Vilmorin-Andrieux. fig., XX-804 p.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chou_de_Bruxelles_ordinaire_Vilmorin-Andrieux_1904.png#/media/File:Chou_de_Bruxelles_ordinaire_Vilmorin-Andrieux_1904.png

“Chou de Bruxelles ordinaire” by Mettais (1904)

Coincidence?
Conspiracy?
Destiny?

Only of the most delicious kind…

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

xxoo
Sasha & family

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A quick stove top method for making Brussels sprouts in the traditional Flemish way. Flemish Brussels Sprouts | Spruitjes
Servings Prep Time
4-6people 10minutes
Cook Time
15minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6people 10minutes
Cook Time
15minutes
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Steam the Brussels sprouts 8 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet and add the onion. Cook over medium-high until soft.
  2. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook 3-5 minutes to brown lightly, stirring occasionally. Season with nutmeg, salt & pepper.
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.

Part of the "I love you" wall in Paris, by Montmatre. Over 300 languages represented. Concept by Frédéric Baron.

We are the sum of our hearts

We are the sum of our hearts // Part of the “I love you” wall in Paris, by Montmatre. Over 300 languages represented. Concept by Frédéric Baron.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t love enough, that I don’t have enough fingers to stay on the pulse of the world – there are so many tragedies, so much hurt that needs tending.

Today I have some sort of flu that seems to be attacking my lungs in particular; I’m laying in bed with a low grade fever, feeling each labored breath, reading the news. As I grieve for the city I lived in as a child, I also read about how many other tragedies I missed in different parts of the world. I begin to feel shame, embarrassment. And in the midst of growing shame, I find that I can’t help but to continue to mourn for my old home.

Why?

Because that’s personal to me.

We are most affected by what is personal. And we are most effective at bringing about change when our cause is personal.

I often refer to this as “Turning your anguish into your answer.” Personal heartbreak can be fuel for your greatest good.

Here’s the thing – we all feel passionate about different subjects. When I share posts about injustices in foster care on my personal Facebook page, I get 1/10th of the likes and comments I usually get. Friends who are passionate about race relations face similar frustration when their articles aren’t as widely shared as they’d hoped. Same goes for folks who speak up for the homeless, the elderly, or, heck, those who work to improve city infrastructure. One person’s cause might seem remote to you, but aren’t you glad someone is championing that cause?

We all have a heart for something.

There is some overlap, but generally we’re on our own journeys, trying make the world better in our own way, for the whole. I smile when I see my friends championing race relations. I know they are making this world better for all of us. I hope they smile when they see me championing for foster youth. This, too, improves the world for all.

We’re all members of a real life Justice League, working together to fix this broken world – relying on everyone stepping up with their own unique contributions to better the whole.

Peace Pilgrim Quote

BUT… We still must help one another.

I am so grateful to my brothers and sisters who’ve pointed out how much heartbreak there is to fix in this world…and that we should not be selective with our horror and outrage.  There is much truth to this. If the idea of taking in all that pain seems to be too much …

Ask yourself if you can do one simple thing: Can you stand with Love?

We must recognize that our individual causes are just one part of the puzzle. Some serious love is required if we’re ever going to help humanity. Beyond our own causes, we must challenge ourselves – not to shutter down or turn a blind eye because that’s ‘someone else’s problem’ – but to be ever openhearted.

To care more.

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to be get better. It's not." Dr Suess

This means not resting on our laurels, comfortable with what we know.

Part of the issue is a lack of knowing or familiarity with certain parts of the world (or causes within our own communities). I realize people can’t fully mourn someplace they’ve never been to, never saw pictures of, never heard about, or – worse yet – got false information about. Unfortunately, the media controls a lot of what “we know”… and even covering a story doesn’t guarantee it gets shared enough to be seen on a large scale. I’ve tried to change that in my own small way, here on Global Table Adventure – by providing easily-accessible recipes for every country, no matter how small or “out of the media” it is.

You can dig through the archives (sorted A-Z by country) and learn about somewhere unfamiliar – so that next time that part of the world experiences grief, it’ll be a little more personal.

Consider choosing a country you wish had more of a presence in the media and trying a recipe from that nation. Share it with your loved ones (or on Instagram if you do that sort of thing), so that, together, we can better know our global family.

And while you’re at it, go ahead – read and share an article from a friend with a different cause than your own – be grateful they have the passion and time to research it.

That makes doing your part easier than ever.

I_Love_You_The_Wall,_Paris_March_28,_2011

“I love you” wall in Paris, by Montmatre. Over 300 languages represented. Concept by Frédéric Baron. Photo by ‘Oh Paris.’

Finally, let the wall of I LOVE YOU in Paris serve as a reminder that our capacity for love is what unites us. In the words of the creators:

In a world marked by violence and dominated by individualism, walls, like frontiers, are usually made to divide and to separate people and to protect them from one another. On the contrary, The Wall is a link, a place of reconciliation, a mirror which reflects an image of love and peace.

The Wall is built on a surface of 40m2 (10 x 4) and composed of 612 tiles of enamelled lava of 21×29.7 cm in size. The shape of the lava tiles remembers of the sheets of paper on which Frédéric Baron wrote his texts. The splashes of colour on the fresco are the pieces of a broken heart, those of a humanity which is too often torn apart and which The Wall attempts to reunite. (Source: Official Web Site for the I Love you Wall)

Remember, my friends…

xxoo
Sasha

globalpotluck-featured

How schools can use Thanksgiving to celebrate diversity

How schools can use Thanksgiving to celebrate diversity: Tips for hosting a Global Potluck

Your school can honor Thanksgiving in a thoughtful way.

Modern Thanksgiving celebrations typically mean an overload of turkey and one too many slices of pumpkin pie. Schools often add their own Thanksgiving feasts to the mix, giving our children a double whammy. Unless you love, love, love turkey, you’re likely to have a bit of Thanksgiving fatigue before the weekend is over.

We’re doing things differently at my daughter’s school.

A little background:

Our country is made up Native Americans and immigrants from every corner of the world. Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate how we’ve come together as a nation, but it’s also the perfect opportunity to honor where each of us comes from. As our country becomes more blended, it is important to recognize how our unique cultures add to the spirit of the whole.

How schools can use Thanksgiving to celebrate diversity: Tips for hosting a Global Potluck

The Challenge

As a way to celebrate your multicultural community, invite parents to contribute a dish to a school Thanksgiving potluck from their ancestors’ country (or countries) of origin. Here’s a sample letter that can be sent home in children’s folders or via email, accompanied by a Recipe Card (with map).

Dear Parents:

This year our Thanksgiving Feast will celebrate our school’s multicultural heritage.

Are your great grandparents from Italy? What about Brazil or Kenya? Did you move here from India? Or are you Native American?

We invite you to prepare a dish from your family heritage for the feast on November ____ at ____ AM. Attached is a sheet to fill out with your child. Please invite your child to color or place a sticker on the continent where your recipe originates. Please turn the paper in by _____.

I can’t wait to see what you make!

With gratitude,

____________________
Parent of    ____________

 

Global Potluck Recipe Card

Opportunity for learning

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, after the harvest. The event lasted for three days, with nearly twice as many Native Americans as Pilgrims in attendance (90 Native Americans versus 53 Pilgrims).

My daughter’s 24-person class served up 2 dozen dishes from every continent except Oceania. Only a couple of Native American families were represented on the buffet. Some schools may find they have no Native American dishes represented. This is a poignant reminder of how much things have changed since the Pilgrims came to America, and is a great opportunity for class (and family) discussion.

Decorating to make the event “flow”

How schools can use Thanksgiving to celebrate diversity: Tips for hosting a Global Potluck

1. Tables & Tablecloths

We set up 2 lines of tables on opposite sides of the room: One line of tables was the western hemisphere (North America & South America); the other line of tables was the eastern hemisphere (Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania).

We decorated them with tablecloths in different colors. Originally we were going to do a different color for each continent but ended up just doing 2 colors, one for each side of the world because we had a small group of families participating. If the event is a larger, all-school event, consider doing a set of tables for each continent to help parents and students see where one continent begins and another ends. The tablecloths also make clean up a breeze.

How schools can use Thanksgiving to celebrate diversity: Tips for hosting a Global Potluck

2. Continent Signs

My husband made continent signs on a laser cutter. You could do something simple by painting old tin cans and filling them with dried beans. Attach a handmade sign to a wooden dowel and poke it into the tin can base to secure the sign.

How schools can use Thanksgiving to celebrate diversity: Tips for hosting a Global Potluck

3. Food Signs

Families can identify their dishes with food signs. The signs should not be too large – no more than a 1/2 sheet of paper – because the tables quickly fill up with food. Include a spot to indicate any possible allergens as well as what part of the world the dish comes from. We taped these signs in front of the dishes so they didn’t get knocked to the floor accidentally.

How schools can use Thanksgiving to celebrate diversity: Tips for hosting a Global Potluck

4. Passports

Want extra credit? Give the kids a passport to stamp as they travel through the dishes. I made a fun, free Printable Passport Download for events like this:

DOWNLOAD YOUR PASSPORT NOW

What did the kids & families think?

We did this with the Kindergarten and Preschool families at my daughter’s school. We got feedback that this was the best school potluck the families had ever attended. Teachers loved the educational component – both as community building and a lesson in geography. Parents were thrilled to not have “another” dose of turkey (and a conversation starter with parents they may not know), while the children took great pride in sharing the food of their cultural heritage with their classmates. Families also loved preparing for the event, as it gave them a chance to talk with their children about their family’s roots.

An important note on sensitivity:

Our “melting pot” of a nation not only includes a variety of cultural heritages, but various family situations. Not all children know about their family’s roots – whether because of adoption, death, historical events, or the past is simply “not talked about.” For some, turkey & mashed potatoes are the only roots they know. With this in mind, please welcome whatever food the children and their loved ones choose to share. Your open heart validates their experience.

Happy Thanksgiving!
xxoo

How to make Argentine Pumpkin Soup

Argentine Beef Stew in a Pumpkin | Carbonada en Zapallo

Argentina's Beef Stew in a Pumpkin | Carbonada en Zapallo

In 2011 a young Argentine man went viral in a 6-second video when he laughed about the cost of a burger at a soccer stadium. His exact words were:

Con quince peso me hago alto guiso.pum

For 15 pesos I could make quite the stew.

To put this young man’s remarks in perspective, 15 Argentine pesos is just under $2 USD. It seems as though, relatively speaking, overpriced stadium food is a shared phenomenon – as common as rainy days and sunny dispositions. What is remarkable – and what made the young man’s comment go viral – is the assumption that good, homemade stew can be made for the cost of an overpriced burger.

I looked into his logic: here in the USA an overpriced stadium burger in Silicon Valley goes for $12.

Surely, I could make a soup for less than $12, even shopping at costly American grocery stores.

Testing the theory…

Curious (and inspired), I began looking into Argentine stews – sending me down a delicious rabbit hole of beef and root veggie based bowls. I finally emerged victorious, ready to adapt the most epic Argentine stew of all – Carbonada en Zapallo,  or Argentine Beef Stew in a Pumpkin. While the name might sound rather unremarkable, this soup follows the Argentine tradition of roasting and serving foods in gourds. True to tradition, this simple, earthy stew is, in fact, roasted and served inside an enormous pumpkin.

Argentina's Beef Stew in a Pumpkin | Carbonada en Zapallo

Typically, Carbonada en Zapallo is made for Christmas. I think it would make a grand Halloween or Thanksgiving dish, as well. Recipes vary but generally feature beef, potatoes, peppers, corn, and dried apricot. Sometimes there’s rice to thicken the mix. While the ingredients cost more than a $12 stadium burger, the soup would serve 8 times as many people making it much cheaper than the $96 it would take to purchase buying 8 fancy burgers.

Turns out the boy has a point!

Attempt # 1

Ingredients for an Argentine Beef Stew in a Pumpkin | Carbonada en Zapallo

My first attempt was a comical mad-dash, tearing through the kitchen at 4:30 p.m. on Halloween, half-dressed as Mary Poppins – daisy-covered hat cocked sideways, Victorian blouse unbuttoned for breathing purposes. We’d spent the afternoon on a Disney-themed float for Tulsa’s BooHaHa Halloween Parade. Keith, Ava and I wore our costumes from Ava’s British Mary Poppins Birthday Party this summer.

We got home with barely 45 minutes left before we needed to head to our next event: an evening Halloween Potluck and Trick-or-Treating extravaganza with friends. I tore through vegetables at speeds worthy of a television cooking competition. And, in an error characteristic of those competitions, I completely forgot to season the stew OR put the pumpkin “serving bowl” in the oven. Thankfully Keith seasoned the soup before loading the pot into our car for the party.

Dressed as silent film stars for Halloween.

While the soup bubbled on the stove (at a simmer furious boil, in hopes of softening the veggies), we all changed into our costumes for the 5:30 Halloween party – including Keith and me smearing entire containers of black and white face paint on ourselves. After only 57 minutes we pulled away from the house as silent film stars and a Renaissance princess … with a pot of Argentine stew on the floorboards. We were only 12 minutes late to the party. Later, when I  tasted the stew, I was shocked – it was delicious, managing to survive my haste and frazzle with grace.

Attempt #2

The second time I attempted Argentine Beef Stew in a Pumpkin I wanted to do anything but cook. I’d spent almost an hour crying in my parked car  (in my own driveway no less … am I the only one who does this?!). I followed that crying session with another on the couch, in my husband’s arms. All this while my daughter was at school, thankfully. With all those tears you’d think something terrible had happened – and in a way it had, but that was more than 2 decades ago.

Grief has no rhyme or reason. It is an old, unwelcome friend that pops in, unasked, and always outstays its welcome.

On this particular day the remarks of an acquaintance had scratched open old grief. What they said doesn’t matter – I want to put it behind me. But one thing is certain… No one is strong all of the time – we all have weak spots in our hearts – and the wrong thing uttered carelessly can take days to recover from. People like to tell me how “well I turned out” given my childhood – but some days I don’t feel like much of a survivor.

How to make Argentine Beef Stew in a Pumpkin | Carbonada en Zapallo: Behind the Scenes

Knowing I was running out of time to test the recipe (and light for the photos), I hoisted myself off the couch, away from the numbing scroll of my cellphone, and forced myself to cook. Every knife cut felt labored. But chopping through the great list of vegetables – onion, two kinds of peppers and potatoes, an enormous pumpkin – became meditative. I’m not sure if my mood lifted when I was scraping the seeds and sticky strings from the pumpkin, or if it was when I’d tossed the last herb into the simmering pot – but eventually I could breathe again.

I cooked the beef separately so my vegetarian daughter didn’t have to have any. Then, I ladled the soup into the pumpkin and roasted it for 30 more minutes. When it came time to serve the soup, I found I could not lift it off the baking sheet (the tender sides of the pumpkin threatened to crack in half). So I brought the enormous, brimming pumpkin and baking sheet to the dining table and stared at it. This soup was tremendous. A show stopper. Stellar.  There was enough for a party, but this was a school night – there’d be no party, no costumes, no festivity.

Cooking might have helped me pop back to the surface, but I wasn’t hungry.

How to make Argentine Beef Stew in a Pumpkin | Carbonada en Zapallo

I called Keith into the dining room, showed him how to scrape the pumpkin into the soup when serving and asked if he’d mind if I took some time for myself. Before I left, I let him take me in his arms and squeeze me. I gave my daughter a kiss and a reassuring smile, and then I drove down the road, to a place where I wasn’t a blogger. Where I had no obligation to be chipper. Where my life wasn’t required to be all happy ending, all the time. Where no one knew my story.

I took some time to think, write, and breathe.

When I came home that night I asked Keith how he’d liked the soup.

“It was sweet,” he said, taking me in his arms,”Is that because you cooked it in a pumpkin this time?”

I thought about how Keith’s love and support sweetens my life, even when I feel as gnarly as a knob of garlic. I thought about how my daughter says something every single day to make me laugh.

“Yes,” I said, letting my head fall on his shoulder, “the vessel makes all the difference.”

Argentine Beef Stew in a Pumpkin | Carbonada en Zapallo
P.S. Keith took this photo of Ava enjoying her vegetarian portion that night. The stew is just as good without the beef. No matter how you cook it, the stew works for happy, festive days, and it works for sad, winter days. This soup just.. works.

Thanks, Argentina.

Argentine Beef Stew in a Pumpkin

 

 

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Carbonada en Zapallo is a traditional Christmas dish in Argentina, it also makes a wonderful dish for Halloween or Thanksgiving potlucks. It's best to bake the pumpkin on something you can use for serving because trying to lift a softened pumpkin full of soup ... well, let's just say it begs to crack in half and spill everywhere. If this is not an option, roast the pumpkin on a baking sheet until well browned - about an hour and fifteen minutes, remove to serving platter and fill with completely cooked soup right before serving.Argentine Beef Stew in a Pumpkin | Carbonada en Zapallo
Servings Prep Time
1gallon 30minutes
Cook Time
1.5hours
Servings Prep Time
1gallon 30minutes
Cook Time
1.5hours
Ingredients
Instructions
Prepare the pumpkin:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Meanwhile, Cut the top off the pumpkin. If you are able to get a large one, as I did, you can cut it about 1/3 of the way down so that it is wide but shallow. Remove the strings and seeds - I find it helpful to use a paring knife to cut smooth the top four inches of the inner edge for presentation. Brush the cut edges with vegetable oil. Roast the oven for about 45 minutes.
For the soup:
  1. Add about 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to a large pot over high heat. Add the beef, stirring a couple of times to ensure even browning. If there is excess liquid, it will need to boil off before the meat begins browning.
  2. Reduce the heat, then add the onions and garlic. Once translucent, add the peppers and continue cooking for about five minutes. Add on the potatoes, tomatoes, corn, apricot, oregano, and bay leaves. Cover with 8 cups of broth.
  3. Simmer gently until the vegetables are just tender - about 30 minutes. Season to taste. Ladle into the pumpkin in the oven and bake 30 more minutes to finish cooking . Serve hot, on a chilly day. Spoon with some of the pumpkin flesh into each bowl.
Source:

Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin, Global Table Adventure. For personal or educational use only.

Organized spice jars: ground spices on the left, whole on the right. French Square spice jars so they don't turn.

10 Essential tools & ingredients for cooking the world

Curious what it would be like to eat a meal from every country? You’re not alone. More people than ever before are bringing the world into their kitchens. These 10 essentials will help you make eating internationally an easy part of your weekly routine, although only the first two are absolute requirements. 

1. A good attitude

eating-maldives

First things first: All the cookware in the world won’t help a bad outlook. The first requirement for trying international food is to be open minded. No saying “ugh” or “gross” at the dinner table.

Think: How would you feel if someone spoke that way about your mom’s cooking? Plus, if an entire country loves the food, is it really a question of preference or is liking a certain dish more about what we’re used to?

My rule of thumb? If you can’t think of anything nice to say, hold your tongue.

2. Time with your loved ones

menu.france

Can you cook alone? Yes. Can you eat 195 countries alone? Sure. But I spend enough time alone, in front of a laptop or cellphone. When you take on eating meals from every country in the world, you have the opportunity to take on lively cooking experiences and dinner conversations with those you care most about. Face-t0-face.

Even if you don’t start out sharing your adventure with others, learning about other cultures – and how they come together to make involved dishes like apple or beef empanadas, Hungarian campfire bacon,  and Kosovo’s campfire cake, Flija – might make you rethink your cooking experience. Within the first few months I donated my microwave, bread machine, and toaster – simplifying my tools so that my focus could be on cooking with loved ones.

Be prepared to bond.

3. Epic Spice Collection

Organized spice jars: ground spices on the left, whole on the right. French Square spice jars so they don't turn.

This is not a question of a frivolous, consumer-driven want but rather a question of what’s going to happen if you cook enough countries. In the early days you’ll be buying new spices for most recipes. After a while you’ll be well stocked. By the time you cook recipes from 195+ countries and territories, you might – like me – have 80+ herbs and spices (including whole and ground) tucked in multiple drawers and a cabinet.

The trick is keeping my insane spice collection organized…

I prefer keeping my spices in the dark. This extends their shelf life. Because I have so many, a standard spice rack doesn’t have enough room or flexibility for me. SO, I keep my spice collection in drawers and use a dowel to keep the jars towards the front (a dab of glue holds the dowel in place).*

When it comes to spice jars, I like the order and clarity provided by French Square spice jars (that link goes to a wholesaler that charges less than $1/ea). The square shape keeps the jars from spinning so I can easily read the labels. When it comes time to refill, I buy my spices in bulk so I don’t have to pay for jars I won’t use.

Be prepared: the same phenomenon happens with your coffee, tea, and alcohol collections… if you add global drink recipes to your around the world cooking adventure, be prepared to see your inventory grow… and grow.

* If you don’t have any power tools at home, measure the inside of your drawer and write down the number. Head to Home Depot and use the hand saw at their cutting station (over by the trim) to do the job. Make it a touch long and you can always hand sand it to wedge into place for a tighter fit.

4. World Map or Globe

World Map, with a gemstone on all the countries Sasha Martin's family ate on their Global Table Adventure.

A map or globe will be endlessly useful as you embark on your Global Table Adventure.  Once upon a time, before the age of GPS, maps were a utilitarian purchase. Today they can be an element of style. Make your statement by choosing an antique, modern, or scratch-off maps (yes, really)…. My husband even made the frame from a weathered bench.

Whatever you choose, make sure you like it. You’re going to be using the map for a while. At a rate of 1 country per week, it took us nearly four years to eat our way around the world … having a record of our culinary journey hanging near our dining table remains a source of pride and joy. We use it to identify countries, distances, and proximity to natural resources (like water, mountains, desert etc)… as well as to remember the places we’ve eaten.

5. Gemstones, thumbtacks, stickers

Speaking of a map or globe, find something to mark off the countries as you cook them. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your accomplishments pile up. We used simple gemstone stickers of varying sizes to mark countries. They sparkle, making the map a real conversation starter, especially in the evening when the lights are dim.

6. One good piece of cookware

Stirring pot from Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness

In all honesty there’s very little required specialty cookware when it comes to cooking the world. While many Americans have at least 4 small appliances (microwave, toaster, blender, hand mixer), many parts of the world keep their kitchens simple. Sure – it’s fun to add things like tagines to your collection. But if you only had one pot or pan, the most versatile would be a carbon steel wok. In a large wok you can boil noodles, make a stir-fry, braise meat, and even turn it upside down to grill flatbread on the domed surface. It can also go in the oven (with foil over the top) to make big rice dishes like Kabeli Palau from Afghanistan.

7. Steamer basket

Steamer Baskets choices - bamboo or stainless steel. Bamboo imparts flavor, stainless does not.

There were several times over the years of cooking the world that I had to steam food – as with fabulous coiled up pasta “Oromo” from Kyrgyzstan or vegetarian momos from Nepal. It’s worth investing in either a bamboo steamer or a tiered metal steamer for these types of meals. I found both at my local Asian market. The bamboo gives a nice woodsy flavor to steamed foods, while the stainless steel doesn’t impact taste at all.

A tip if the food is too big for a layered steamer, as with a stuffed artichoke? Use crumpled up foil at the bottom of a large pot.

8. A way to grind spices

Mortar and pestles are good for rough grinds, while an electric spice grinder is good for a fine powder.

Many recipes from around the world require spices to be ground, cracked, or chopped. For light jobs you can use a rolling pin but for finer results try a mortar and pestle or electric spice grinder. I like a mortar and pestle for wet grinding (things like garlic, salt and hot peppers together to make green papaya salad), while I like the electric grinder to create fine powders for homemade seasoning blends (fresh ground has much more flavor than the stuff you’ll find at the supermarket).

9. Portable Stove

vietnam.food.recipe.img_2995

Now we’re getting into the luxury supplies for cooking the world. For about $20 at your local Asian market you can purchase a small portable 1-burner stove (with carrying case) to use at your dining table. This is not at all required, but perfect for what I like to call DIY meals – where everyone gets to control their own plate and cook a little while they’re at it. Examples include bibimbap, Vietnamese fresh spring rolls, and Lao Rice Noodle Soup. If you want to spend double the money, buy one online.

10. Just for fun

seychelles.food.recipe.img_6235

While a wok is the most versatile piece of cookware for your culinary adventure, my next favorite piece of cookware is my comal. I use it to char garlic and tomatoes for Laotian salsa or Mexican mole, toast whole spices for various spice blends, and to grill homemade corn tortillas, pupusas, naan, chapati, or coconut roti.

And no one is going to get mad if you own a paella pan …

spain.food.recipe.img_0219

… or a tagine

morocco.food.img_6959

… especially if you make a Quick Paella or Moroccan lamb with honeyed figs for dinner.

Ready to start cooking the world?

No need to wait any longer. In my FREE “Global Table Adventure Starter Guide” you’ll find the resources you need to start cooking the world today.

Your 45-page guide includes:

  • Tips for Starting Your Adventure
  • Getting Everyone Involved
  • Ideas for Potlucks & Parties
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Suggested Reading
  • List of countries (by continent)
  • List of countries (A-Z)
  • Get Social! (How to Connect with other Global Table
    Adventurers)

Armed with my free online recipes and this guide, you’ll have everything you need to take your loved ones anywhere in the world you’d like… by dinnertime.

Get your Starter Guide now

 

P.S. Thanks to reader Andrea C. for asking about the essential tools and ingredients for cooking the world. Please email me with your questions – I’d love to help you out!