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Here, where it all began…

I’ve been rolling memories of this blog around in my head, like a loose tooth.

I reminisce late at night, when I can’t sleep. Ironically, this is how our adventure began more than seven years ago: Restless, at midnight. I’ll always remember waking Keith in the middle of that brittle February night to tell him I wanted to cook every country. And – love him – he agreed.

More than a place to store recipes from every country, this web site has since become our family’s digital home. Photos in nearly every recipe reveal our changing lives. A baby girl transforming into a young woman; my black hair turning more salt than pepper, then black again; my husband and I, married the better part of a decade.

Time passes, time passes, time passes. And still time passes.

When this all began, I was a novice cook, writer, and photographer. Over the years I grew my culinary chops, learned to spin a phrase, grew adept at taking photos, and made friends along the way. Global Table Adventure became a sandbox for families and students who want to explore food from every country. I made friends with Rick Steves. I published my memoir through National Geographic. Christopher Kimball interviewed me on Milk Street Radio.

Oh, yes.  This blog surpassed my every expectation and dream. In many ways it would be easy to continue churning out charming global cooking posts.

Except it isn’t easy. Not any more.

Life changes, almost without notice.

Ava had a double hernia surgery and changed schools in first grade. Keith’s father battled cancer last year. Family and friends got married. Family and friends passed away. Just last month, Keith had cancer removed from his face.

Remember how, in my memoir, I talked about not knowing how to be happy? About waiting for the “other shoe to drop”? Yeah.

Something about all this change is causing me to shrink back, slow down, and savor the time I have with the people I love. It also has an effect on the kind of work I want to put into the world. Land must lay fallow to produce something good; so, too, must I. I no longer want to chase a daily, weekly, or even monthly blog post schedule, but prefer to work quietly and deeply on the projects that speak most forcefully to my heart.

Even the artist Picasso went through distinct creative periods – periods where he pivoted, shifted, threw his palate out and began again. My name might not be Picasso, but I do find myself reaching for something other than international food. Like Picasso – who went through a blue period and a rose period and even cubism and surrealism and, yes, periods when he lay fallow – I feel called to create in new and daring ways – in ways that correspond to my life right now and, especially, in ways that serve my local community.

Some of it will involve international food and peace. And some of it won’t. Some of it will be a challenge, while some of it will simply be good for the heart.

Here’s a snapshot of my life right now

I’m writing a fantasy novel.
I’m growing cantaloupe in the garden.
I am a Research Fellow at the University of Tulsa.
I’m learning to make a great cup of coffee.
I’m learning to make a great loaf of sourdough.
I volunteer at my daughter’s school.
I am a foster youth advocate.
I go to the Renaissance Fair.

I practice yoga.
I write poetry.
I sew.

Even the kitchen is changing – the very place I cooked the world is expanding, changing, evolving… nothing stays the same forever.

Sharing these sorts of updates here would be confusing to the scores of families and students who come to this site for purposes of global enrichment. So I’m handing over the keys to YOU my sweet, Global Table Adventurers. This is your site – to cook from, to learn from, to use as you see fit. I’ll be doing the same thing – digging through the archives for dinner and party ideas.

So. I’ve said my piece. And I’ve said my peace. For seven years. Now I know what I’m supposed to do. Just walk away. Move on.

Except it isn’t ever that simple, is it?

I can’t completely disappear. I care about this community too much. You’ll always be able to find my latest at and on Instagram. If you’re on my email list, I’ll reach out about new projects (if not, you can subscribe on I won’t be creating recipes or blogging there – at least, not right now. And if I ever do, I won’t spend hours and hours building content. The site’s purpose will be to let you know about my art – it won’t be the art.

Meanwhile, the enormous “Global Table” this site represents will always be set – for you, for me, for the whole world. There’s room enough for all at the table: Remember to create space for each other’s ideas and fears and dreams. We are all humans. We all deserve dignity and respect.

We create peace when we learn about each other, when we understand one another.

And that’s the biggest Adventure of all.
Stay curious. Live with appetite.

With tears of love and gratitude,
Sasha, Keith, and Ava

Create a sweet gift using items from your spice drawer

DIY Masala Chai Mix Gift Set: Create a sweet gift using items from your spice drawer

We all have them. Those lovely people that fall in the gift-giving grey area. You’d like to give them a gift, but you don’t want to overwhelm them. A sweet token is all it takes. Instead of the typical cookies or cakes, this year try gifting something global: Homemade Spiced Chai Mix.

I first shared how to make these during my first-ever Pop-Up Bookclub on Facebook LIVE (watch the recording to see me assemble them). The mix goes as well on a doorknob as they would in a stocking. AND they barely take 3 minutes to assemble.

How to make your own Homemade Spiced Chai Mix

DIY Masala Chai Mix Gift Set: Create a sweet gift using items from your spice drawer and vintage bags

1. Into the cutest gift bag you can find, add:

10 cardamom pods, lightly cracked
10 black peppercorns
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 cinnamon sticks
1 large knuckle fresh ginger

2. Place the bag of spices in a box or larger bag with 6 black tea bags.

DIY Masala Chai Mix Gift Set: Create a sweet gift using items from your spice drawer

3. Include the instruction tags (Just use this easy Chai Mix Gift Tags PDF to download & print the instruction tags). I glued them to the inside flap of my box… but you could also hang them from ribbon.

DIY Masala Chai Mix Gift Tags: Create a sweet gift using items from your spice drawer


That’s it! 

Of course there are lots of variations to amp up this gift. You could include a strainer. You could hang the bag of Chai Mix from a wrapped box of black tea. You could include the directions inside the bag. You could simply have the recipient over for tea at your place 🙂 Also: Asian markets often sell ginger at room temperature – if they do, don’t worry about adding the note about refrigerating the ginger. If they don’t use it up fast enough, it may sprout (which is good news for their garden!).

life from scratchIf you’re interested, the original chai recipe can be found in my memoir, Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and ForgivenessIn the book you’ll find 28 other recipes from my time cooking the world, as well as the story behind why I became obsessed with cooking 195 countries in the first place (Hint: it had a lot to do with my topsy-turvy childhood).

Enjoy this sweet little gift for the loved ones in your life.

Sending lots of love to you and your loved ones this holiday season.


Save the date: Pop-up Book Club on Facebook LIVE

Pop-Up Book Club with Sasha Martin

I’m hosting my first-ever Pop-Up Book Club on Facebook Live on Monday, December 19th at 8 pm EST (7 pm CST). We’ll be talking about my memoir Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family and Forgiveness.

Ok, so going “live” feels a little scary. But I also think it’s going to be mad fun.

Here’s the deal: I want to connect with you in a deeper way. I’ve loved, loved, loved attending local book clubs. I go to people’s homes. We share food and wine. People cry. People laugh. I cry. I laugh.  I try to answer questions. We make friends. Facebook Live is the best way I can think of to bring this experience home to you. You can tune in from your couch, your bed, your kitchen – wherever you’re comfortable.

During our live chat, I will answer your questions about my memoir and show you a few items I used during my adventure to cook the world. I’ll also have a quick stocking stuffer idea using items you probably already have in your spice drawer. AND, if you want, I’ll give shout outs to anyone you’d like. 🙂

To attend my Pop-Up Book Club:

  1. Mark your calendar for Monday, December 19th, 2016 at  8 p.m. EST (7 p.m. Central).
  2. Head to my Facebook Fan Page at the appointed time. You can wear your jammies or Wonder Woman costume – it’s all good!
  3. The live video feed will start at the top of the hour and run for about 30 minutes. Tune in at any time and say “hi”! Keith will be on standby to read me your questions and all that good stuff.
  4. Bonus: One lucky commenter will get an autographed copy of my memoir during our chat.

I can’t wait to hang out with you! See you next week 🙂


P.S. Look at that wittle puppyyyyyyyy!
Life from scratch book signings

The ugly truth about chasing peace

Grand Canyon | by Chensiyuan

Grand Canyon | by Chensiyuan

Sometimes I think I chase this thing called peace because I can’t bear the thought of looking the ugly truth in the eye.

And the ugly truth is that peace will always be right behind some monster, some affront to everything we hold dear.

As we march forward in peace and love, there will be hard days. The odds will often be against us. We find happiness for a while, then something terrible happens. We try to keep our eyes on peace, but the monster blocks our view. It remains just out of reach. The wheel of fortune – she spins, she spins, she spins.  We stumble, we climb, we stumble, we climb. And so it goes.

So, then why am I here? Why even try? What can I offer? A companion on the road, I suppose. Someone who says, let’s keep going, one step at a time. Shoulder to shoulder, the journey is easier.

"Step by step walk the thousand-mile road" | Musashi

And what journey can continue without food?

This much I know: We break bread with each other because every movement, especially a peace movement, needs the fuel of fellowship. When we break bread it is a social contract that says: I see you, you are me, I am you. We are one.

More than ever, our world is hanging by threads of fear. We must march forward in peace.

What else can we do?

Nourish each other, mind and body, heart and soul.

Share a meal. That’s a start. Break bread with someone you don’t understand, with some marginalized part of your community, with someone you wish understood you. The path to peace has always been – and will always be – taking the time to understand.

Strip away your barriers. Seek to understand each other, to nourish each other.

Now is not the time for walls.

Ava and the Peace Garden

Bulgarians read “Life From Scratch” & fall in love

Sasha Martin and her daughter, Ava, get their first peek at the Bulgarian edition of LIFE FROM SCRATCH

It arrived one summer day in a nondescript, brown paper package reinforced with bubble wrap. We were on our way to the pool, I in my flip flops, she in her hat.

Keith,” I squealed (because squealing is still a thing that happens when joy doesn’t quite fit inside our hearts, the way it normally does), “Come quick.”

Ava gave a little leap in response to my outburst, catching my energy in the way that kids do. Keith ran to us, his face a mix of fear – was something wrong? Was Ava hurt?

But he read between the lines, between my big eyes and gaping mouth. He saw my laugh. This was good. This was very good.

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

There, in my hands, was the Bulgarian edition of Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness. Many books never make a second printing, let alone a foreign translation. My toes began, very much on their own, to wiggle in gratitude.

Lost in Translation

The Bulgarian edition was put together by the lovely folks at Egmont Bulgaria, and features equally lovely Cyrillic script.

Keith, Ava, and I took out my old copy (the tattered one that’s been to every book signing and book club from coast to coast) and compared the English copy to the Cyrillic.

I couldn’t read a thing. Not even my name.

Bulgarian memoir LIFE FROM SCRATCH

Or at least, I thought I couldn’t read a thing.

Understanding, finally

As I flipped pages, trying to find a side-by-side comparison, I found I could read a few words. French words to be precise – “croque monsieur,” as written in the lovely vignette featuring my sister’s visit to Paris.

Bulgarian memoir LIFE FROM SCRATCH

For context, here’s a photo from my sister’s visit to Paris. We are likely about to eat the croque monsieur (or, surely, recently ate it). What a gift her visit was, to me.

Sasha and sister in Paris

And, since we’re going down memory lane, here we are when I was little, in Jamaica Plain.

Sasha and her sister


Reading my name

A short while later, a reader saw me post on Instagram about my inability to read my own name. He took the time to email me and explained in simple terms how to unpack the letters. This is what he said:

I studied Russian when I was a kid in NZ so can read Cyrillic script, which is used by the Bulgarians too. C is pronounced S, and W is pronounced SH. An A is pronounced the way we do. So “Cawa” is “Sasha”. MA are as we pronounce them, P is an R, T is as stands, and the funny-looking backwards N is pronounced EE. The ordinary N is as usual. So – there you are: “Sasha Marteen”!

Thank you so much, Jonathan K., for helping me figure that out. Your sweet note is yet another reminder why I adore our community of families, cooks, and readers, always so generous and kind.

Why Bulgaria?

Several people have asked me why there’s a Bulgarian edition of Life from Scratch. I can’t help but smile. Remember Nick, the door-to-door salesman who rang the doorbell at the very moment I was looking up recipes for our Bulgarian Global Table? How I drug him into the house to help me? He spent about 30 minutes sitting at the dining table with me, narrowing down recipes and figure out exactly what to make. The menu we decided on included five dishes, among them chilled cucumber soup and a cheese pastry called banitsa.

Nick’s perfectly-timed appearance is one of the most beautiful moments of serendipity from my time cooking the world. It turns out the story fascinates Bulgarians as well. I recently did an interview with bTV, the largest news station in Bulgaria. The journalist told me Bulgarians have fallen in love.

I grabbed Nick’s photo that day. Granted, it was before I knew how to take photos… and he was quite shy… but, in any case, here’s Nick.


Thanks, Nick! Thanks, Bulgaria!


Silk Road Punch | Uzbek Kompot

Silk Road Punch | Uzbek Kompot Recipe

Today, we enjoy an autumn fruit punch from the heart of Uzbekistan’s Kyzyl Kum desert, shared with me by Paul Salopek, National Geographic fellow and journalist. The chilled punch quenches with ripe pear, apple, and plum, while a sprig of basil lends the memory of summer.

An opportunity for our children

At my grocery store, punch typically comes in a bottle or, more commonly, a box with a straw. At seven-years old, Ava has never considered what “punch” is, or how it might be made. This a good opportunity to remind our children that fruit punch is made from soft, sweet fruit – a seasonal thing, reliant on agreeable weather and the absence of pests. Punch came before refrigerators and standardization, each batch unlike the next, tasting only ‘of the moment.’

Once young children “get” the concept behind punch, they may begin to taste the individual fruits (or at least show interest in trying). Let them play with the recipe, and encourage them to invent their own favorite punch. After all, it’s as simple as stewing hunks of fruit in a sweet pot of water.

Silk Road Punch | Uzbek Kompot Recipe

Silk Road Punch | Uzbek Kompot Recipe

Silk Road Punch | Uzbek Kompot Recipe

A recipe with legs

Paul Salopek shares this Kompot recipe from the midst of the his  Out of Eden Walk— a storytelling trek across four continents in the footsteps of the first humans who colonized the Earth, carried out in partnership with National Geographic.  The recipe arrives in the same way the best recipes do – from personal recommendation, in this case, from Paul’s walking partner’s wife.

Silk Road Punch | Uzbek Kompot Recipe

The remainder of this post features Paul’s words and photographs, direct from Bukhara, Uzbekistan.

Walking some 22,000 miles across the world requires decent hydration. So when it comes to beverages, I pay special attention. Starting in Africa for the “Out of Eden Project,” I have walked through water well cultures, coffee cultures, tea cultures, and lately, kompot cultures.

What is kompot?

Kompot is a refreshing, natural, and energy-rich beverage made from boiling seasonal fruits in a large volume of water, sweetening to taste (and perhaps adding a spice or two), and, finally, chilling to sip on a thirsty day. Kompot was popular in Eastern and Southern Europe, Russia, the Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia—all societies that in the past have know the bite of food rationing. (Kompot was, among other things, a tasty way to preserve seasonal fruits in the era before globalized agriculture and refrigeration.) I began encountering the drink while walking through former Soviet-bloc countries. Today, it is losing ground against industrial soft drinks and bottled water. But it is still hugely popular in Uzbekistan—the fruit basket of Central Asia.

Choosing the fruit at a bazaar in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, an ancient oasis on the Silk Road. | Paul Salopek

Azizbek choosing the fruit at a bazaar in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, an ancient oasis on the Silk Road. | Paul Salopek

Buying the sugar at a bazaar in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. | Paul Salopek

Azizbek buying the sugar at a bazaar in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. | Paul Salopek

A happy hallucination

The following simple recipe is prepared in the Silk Road city of Bukhara by my Uzbek walking partner, Azizbek Khalmuradov. Walking recently through the blistering Kyzyl Kum desert, Khalmuradov told me: “I have this hallucination. I see a refrigerator, and when I open the door, there sits a large bottle of my wife’s cold kompot!”

Thank you, Paul and Azizbek, for sharing Silk Road Punch with us. To learn more about Paul’s Out of Eden Walk, please explore his story, chapter by chapter, on National Geographic. Follow the Journey at @OutofEdenWalk on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Kyzyl Kum | Paul Salopek

Kyzyl Kum | Paul Salopek

Kyzyl Kum camp | Paul Salopek

Kyzyl Kum camp | Paul Salopek

Votes: 2
Rating: 3.5
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Print Recipe
Kompot can be made with a variety of fruit and the amount of sugar added is variable according to taste. The original recipe uses purple basil, however my local shops were out - thankfully green basil tastes similar and does the trick. Also, the original recipe adds the basil after cooking, however I liked the floral note provided by cooking the basil together with the fruit.Silk Road Punch | Uzbek Kompot
Servings Prep Time
3quarts 10minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
50-60minutes 1hour
Servings Prep Time
3quarts 10minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
50-60minutes 1hour
  1. Halve or quarter the fruit and place into a large cooking pot with remaining ingredients. Place over a medium flame to boil. This gentle heating takes about 45 minutes, during which time the fruit will begin infusing the water with color and flavor. Towards the end of heating, taste for sugar, adding more as desired.
  2. Once boiling, reduce the flame to low, seal the pot with a lid. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from flame. Cool, covered, until room temperature, then transfer to a large canning jar or pitcher and refrigerate. The drink is typically stored with the softened fruit.
  4. When serving, the softened fruit may be enjoyed by the spoonful - simply add a little to each glass. Otherwise, strain before serving.

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

Nova Scotia’s Hodge Podge, with Tuna

Recipe for Nova Scotia's Hodge Podge, with Tuna

Nova Scotia’s Hodge Podge is a homey one-pot supper of fresh potatoes, carrots, peas and green beans. What takes it over the top? The addition of heavy cream and butter, along with a few pearl onions for mild sweetness.

A gardener’s delight

While there are different ways to go about making Hodge Podge, one thing is for certain: it’s best made straight from the garden, when vegetables are fresh and abundant, just as in the eastern Canadian province that lends its name to this dish.

Recipe for Nova Scotia's Hodge Podge, with Tuna

By Philip Barker, CC BY-SA 2.0,

A farm in Nova Scotia | Philip Barker

Fresh is fresh. In my research I discovered locals prepare Hodge Podge with baby potatoes just 50-60 days in the ground and the gangling carrots pulled to thin the garden bed. This is a foreign concept to someone who doesn’t grow their own vegetables, but it makes sense in verdant Nova Scotia. When a garden does well, it can produce so much food, it has to be used up throughout the growing season, not just in a final harvest.

Farm life is common in the province, as are farmer’s markets – and with names like Wild Mountain and Sugar Moon, Nova Scotia sets a dreamy standard for farm-life. The peninsula and a collection of islands on the edge of eastern Canada, no part of the province is more than 67 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

Oh, and puffin sightings are a thing.

Recipe for Nova Scotia's Hodge Podge, with Tuna

Hodge Podge turned brain food

Hodge Podge’s rich base reminds me of those creamy casseroles we’ve all had at family gatherings, like tuna noodle casserole – one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. Hodge Podge is often served with fish on the side, and I just knew it would taste wonderful with meaty hunks of tuna.

Now, before purists cry sacrilege, – tuna is a well-known brain food and has a strong connection to Nova Scotia.

When I was an undergrad at Wesleyan University, one professor practically prescribed the high-protein fish during exam season. Now that I’m a Research Fellow at Tulsa University, I’ve been stretching myself with loads of reading, poetry writing, and artwork.  If I’m ever going to make it through the year, I’m going to need to bulk up on brain food. That can only mean tuna (thanks to my old college professor, whose time-worn advice still rattles around between my ears).

Nova Scotian Hodge Podge Recipe - Including EZ-Open Genova Tuna

And then there’s the Nova Scotia connection. Fun fact: the largest tuna ever recorded was caught off of eastern Canada – in Nova Scotia in 1979, weighing in at 1,496 pounds. What. A. Fish.

So, there you have it. Two reasons to add some hearty hunks of tuna to a traditional Nova Scotia recipe.

The best Hodge Podge is a hodge podge

Nova Scotian Hodge Podge with Tuna

Recipe for Nova Scotia's Hodge Podge, with Tuna

Just like no two gardens are alike, no two Hodge Podge’s are exactly the same. The only hard-and-fast rule with Hodge Podge is to use a hodge podge of vegetables. Potatoes, carrots and beans are standard. Most recipes include yellow and green beans, while a few others add turnip and onion.

There are two ways to go from there. First, steam or boil all the veggies to perfect tenderness, then toss with milk, butter and cream. This gives you more control over the veggies (and they are less likely to fall apart). The second option is to cook the veggies directly in the milk, butter and cream. This option provides richer flavor throughout the vegetables, but does require a gentle flame as indicated in this recipe from 1784:

If you let this boil fast, it will waste too much; therefore you cannot do it too slow, if it does but simmer.

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse.

I went with Glasse’s approach, giving the vegetables a gentle simmer in the milk and cream. If it’s too rich for your tastes, simply sub half and half or even all milk for the liquid. There’s no one way to enjoy the comfort of Hodge Podge.


The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy
Hodge Podge video
Hodge Podge simmered in milk & cream
Hodge Podge with Trout
This post in partnership with Genova Tuna.

Votes: 0
Rating: 0
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Print Recipe
Hodge Podge is a colorful addition to the table - my family loves the rich, chowder-like flavor. Adding the vegetables in batches might seem a bit fiddly, but this makes sure each vegetable cooks in the perfect time. While you can eat it right away, letting the Hodge Podge rest works nicely to give the cream and milk time to settle. I've seen some recipes let the Hodge Podge rest all afternoon before reheating at dinnertime! This recipe can serve six hungry people, but will easily stretch for 10 or 12 people as a side.Nova Scotia's Hodge Podge, with Tuna
Servings Prep Time
6-12people 20minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
35minutes 30minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-12people 20minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
35minutes 30minutes
  1. Add the new potatoes, carrots, and turnips to a large, heavy-bottomed pot along with butter. Heat over medium and stir to coat vegetables in butter.
  2. Pour on the milk and cream, then season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook gently for 20-25 minutes (until the potatoes are nearly tender). Do not boil or the milk will separate.
  3. Stir in the green beans, peas and pearl onions. Cover and cook 10 more minutes, or until vegetables reach desired consistency.
  4. Stir in tuna and let mixture rest, covered 30 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes

A tip on working with fresh pearl onions - simply cut off the root end and cook in boiling water for 2 minutes. The onions will slip right out of their skins.


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

What does it mean to eat in peace?

Woman harvesting wheat by Yann Forget

What we put on our tables tells a mighty important story.

In my time so far as a Research Fellow at University of Tulsa, I’ve come to appreciate globalization of our food on an entirely new level. Everything is connected – seeds, weather, harvests, shipping, pricing, grocery store availability, history, cooking, healthy digestion. If there is turmoil in just one part of this system? Everything falls out of whack.

Fluctuations in the price of bread have brought about revolt. Even Mr. Death, himself, reflects the importance of the system; he carries a scythe – tool of the harvest.

He is the reaper.

If we are ever to realize peace, it must be from field to stomach.

Embroidered in 1929 on this sack: "My great-grandmother Rose, mother of Ashley, gave her daughter this sack when she was sold at 9 in South Carolina. It held a tattered dress, three handfuls of pecans, a braid of Rose's hair. Told her 'It is filled with my love always.' They never saw each other again. Ashley told this to my grandmother Ruth Middleton." Photo by Kelly Crow.

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture | Photo: Kelly Crow

Our food tells a story, heartbreaking at times. Embroidered in 1929 on the sack above:

My great-grandmother Rose, mother of Ashley, gave her daughter this sack when she was sold at 9 in South Carolina. It held a tattered dress, three handfuls of pecans, a braid of Rose’s hair. Told her ‘It is filled with my love always.’ They never saw each other again. Ashley told this to my grandmother Ruth Middleton.

What wrongs might we right in our lifetimes? What space might we hold for each other?

A meditation on peace

Overwhelmed with the complex food systems around us, I wrote this meditation and poem: “If there is to be peace.” It is based off of the “Prayer for Peace” by Chinese Philosopher Lao-Tse (also Lao-Tzu, 6th-5th c. B.C.). *

If there is to be peace, by Sasha Martin // If there is to be peace in the world There must be peace in the fields. If there is to be peace in the fields There must be peace at the mill. If there is to be peace at the mill, There must be peace among customers. If there is to be peace among customers, There must be peace in the kitchen. If there is to be peace in the kitchen, There must be peace at the table. If there is to be peace at the table, There must be peace in the stomach.

*Here is Lao’s original poem:

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace among neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

For more of my thoughts on peace at the dinner table, you may read my guest blog on the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities web site.

In peace and love,


The Science & Geography of Mermaids: A Birthday Party

Science of Mermaids Birthday Party: Challenge checklist

My daughter loves science and mermaids; when she couldn’t decide on a birthday theme, we agreed on an epic sci-fi mashup of mermaids, science, and geography.

Mermaid goals

Science of Mermaids: Mermaid goals

A pool party seemed inevitable when Ava wrote in her writing journal that her “greatest aspiration” was to become a mermaid. My goals were similar at 7 years old. Many nights I’d dream I was a mermaid, sunning on a rock, only to wake up abruptly whenever I splashed into the ocean, finding that I’d thrown myself off the bed and, instead of landing in a coral palace, I face-planted onto the hardwood floors.

Not all mermaids have red hair

Mami Wata

I really wanted Ava to think beyond the stock image of “Ariel,” so we spent some time this spring learning about merfolk around the world. We began our study with the Zambian mermaid Chitapo, followed by the Selkie of Scotland (and a few other neighboring countries) – their stories are here and here on the blog, along with recipes to match. As she learned about these amazing merfolk and ate food inspired by them, her excitement grew.

A tail of her own

The Science of Mermaids: A tail of her own

In early summer, we went to Florida to visit her Aunt and Uncle, the twins. Bringing her dream a little closer to reality, we all chipped in and got Ava a mermaid tail. When she opened her present she burst out “This is the best birthday ever!” We all laughed to see her flip her new fin with so much enthusiasm. (Secretly, we all wished we had a mermaid tail, too.)

Ava decided her mermaid name would be Emerald.

Science of Mermaids: A tail of her own

Getting crafty

When we got home, Ava and I spent part of our lazy summer days imaging and then creating the party games and decor… a summer camp of our own. As we were unfortunately unable to make contact with real-life mermaids during our gulf coast family vacation, we did our best to make the mermaid “science” as realistic as possible. The final result was better than I could have ever done on my own (or found at a party store), because my daughter’s imagination operates at 1000%. As an added bonus, we were able to use a lot of materials we already had on hand, which made this party fairly affordable.

Without further ado, here are our favorite details from her Science of Mermaids party:

1. Mermaid Anatomy 101
(a.k.a. Pin the organ on the mermaid)

Science of Mermaids: Pin the Anatomy on the Mermaid

Mermaids are living creatures which means they have organs, just like humans. They think with their brains, digest food with their stomachs, and love with their hearts.


How to create a magnetic Mermaid Anatomy Puzzle:

  1. Paint a mermaid on a piece of canvas (this is a great project for older children)! My daughter went all out, adding glitter, shells, and fabric oysters. Just be sure to leave plenty of room on the torso for the magnetic organs.
  2. Stitch a piece of sturdy fabric to the back of the canvas to make a large pocket. Slide a magnetic sheet from the hardware or craft store into this pocket. The magnetic sheet should fit snugly in the fabric pocket and should extend past the mermaid on all sides by a few inches (in case children miss the proper area while playing).
  3. Make magnetic organs – You can find rubber human organs at some craft stores or online. I glued the organs to small, round magnets with super-strong e6000; this worked perfectly for us. Tip: Test to make sure the magnets stick to the magnetic sheet through the canvas. If not, use larger magnets.
  4. Play! Older children might want to play blindfolded, while primary and elementary children might want to keep their eyes open and use this as a puzzle challenge.

2. Mermaid Habitat Toss

Science of Mermaids Birthday Party: Habitat Toss

Mermaids can live in salt water or fresh water. They eat seaweed. They use shells and coral reefs to build their homes. Like all creatures of the wild, they feel best in their natural habitat, where their surroundings are familiar.


How to create a Mermaid Habitat Toss:

  1. Cut 3-4 holes in a large sheet of plywood or cardboard. Each hole will represent one habitat. Make sure they are a few inches bigger than the soft mermaid toy you’ll be throwing through them.
  2. Paint a scene to bring the habitats to life. Again, Ava chose to go all out and glued on shells, sand and seaweed she collected on our family trip in Florida.
  3. Play! See if you can toss the mermaid back into each of her habitats. Older children can try this from further back for greater challenge.

The Science of Mermaids: Habitat Toss

3. Mermaid Economy (a.k.a. Treasure Dive)

Science of Mermaids Birthday Party: Treasure Hunt (Economy)

Mermaids don’t go to the bank, like humans. They collect treasures and hide them in wooden chests, underwater caves, and in bottles. Mermaids use this treasure to barter with other mermaids for food and other goods.


How to create Mermaid Treasure:

  1. Clean and remove labels from a plastic gallon-size juice bottle.
  2. Fill with play treasure (jewelry, coins, and gemstones). Top it off with water to make the bottle’s contents “float” around.
  3. Decorate lid and bottle if desired. We attached a fabric cover to the lid to discourage the children from opening the treasure. You could also use duct tape.
  4. Play! Drop the treasure at the bottom of the pool for the kids to find. They’ll do this over and over again!

4. Mermaid Reproduction (a.k.a. Dive for mermaid eggs)

Science of Mermaids Birthday Party: Mermaid Reproduction (Diving for Eggs)

Like a fish, mermaids lay eggs. This process is called spawning. They hide their eggs in protective foam in the bottom of the ocean.  Like humans, mermaid babies take 9 months to be born. Mermaid mothers care for their babies the same way human mothers do.


How to set up Diving for Mermaid Eggs:

  1. For the eggs, use water-safe lights, preferably spherical in shape and colorful. These can be found at craft stores and online. Add several to one or more small mesh bags. The bag represents the foam, will make the eggs easier to find, and keeps the kids from messing with the light mechanism.
  2. Play! Hide the bags around the pool and let the kids dive for them over and over again.

4. Geography of Merfolk

Science and Geography of Mermaids Party: Geography Garland

Not all mermaids have red hair. There are stories of mermaids from every continent in the world to captivate your guests. Each has unique characteristics, whether it be seaweed hair, snake tails, blowholes in the back of their necks, or removable seal skins.


How to create a Geography of Merfolk display:

  1. Download and print my PDF Merfolk around the World.
  2. Google images of mermaids. Search by the mermaid names (Chitapo, YawkYawk, Ningyo, Iara, Mama Glow, and Selkie), but also add quirky searches (look for “vintage mermaids” and Chagall mermaid paintings, for example).
  3. Cut and glue the mermaid images to colorful card stock, then modge podge to give them a finished look. String them up on tulle or yarn to complete the garland.
  4. Display the mermaid stories near the mermaid garland. You can add images of the mermaids, if you want. Note: I didn’t get a photo of this at the party – but I do have one below of it all tangled together with the cutouts, waiting to go out the door with the rest of the decor.
  5. Kids can try to match the merfolk stories to their image, or simply enjoy reading about them.

Science of Mermaids Birthday Party: Geography of Mermaids Display

5. Mermaid Photo Opp

Science of Mermaids Party: Mermaid Photo Opp Cutout

“Becoming” a mermaid was by far the biggest hit at the party. Perhaps this was because her organs were exposed, giving the kids an almost-creepy look-inside. This would make a great Halloween decoration, too!


How to make a mermaid cutout:

  1. Use a large piece of fabric, cardboard or wood.
  2. Trace the outline of a mermaid and paint or hotglue fabric to create the art. Be sure to add the inner organs to go with the science theme. I used scrap fabric from a bunch of projects – a great way to clean out my stash.
  3. Set up the photo opp so kids can stand behind it and take photos (we hung ours from a rafter and kept a step stool in the back since it was so tall).

Science of Mermaids Birthday Party: Anatomy photo opp

5. Crowning glory

Science of Mermaids Birthday Party: Driftwood Crowns

Science of Mermaids Birthday Party: Seashell Crowns

When the children finished their games, they were awarded with a homemade mermaid crown. We gave them their crown right before cutting the cake so that the real shells wouldn’t get damaged during water play (and had a better chance of making it home safe).

How to create mermaid shell crowns:

  1. Cut out foam into crescent shapes with a hot foam cutter.
  2. We hot glue the crescents to dollar store headbands (3 for $1) to create a sturdy, waterproof backing. Try to find headbands with a chainlink type pattern; this will bond better than a smooth surface.
  3. Hot glue shells, pearls, and blue netting to the foam, as desired.

How to create driftwood crowns:

  1. Sew fabric headbands. Use elastic to make them fit better. Make sure the fabric you choose doesn’t bleed color in the water.
  2. Hot glue on pieces of driftwood. We made “driftwood” by boiling sticks in salted water for an hour or two. (Ava actually thought for a minute that we’d be having sticks for dinner – ha!). Once the sticks were cool to the touch, I peeled off the bark to expose the pale wood.
  3. Decorate with starfish from the craft store.

Science of Mermaids Birthday Party: Seashell Crowns

6. Fun Summer Challenge Sign

To encourage the kids to try all the games, we created a “Fun Summer Challenge” sign. The kids were invited to add tally marks to show what they’d done (or decided not to do). This was also a secret way to help them realize what activities were available to play.

One little girl – just about three years old – asked what she was supposed to do. Understanding, in her own way, she was later found adding all the tallies, filling in every row, ever possible inch. When done, she stepped back from her masterpiece and added, with a content smile “There, I did it.”

Yes. Yes, you did.

Science of Mermaids Fun Summer Challenge Party Sign

Decor: Skelly the skeleton

Science of Mermaids Birthday Party: Skeleton Makeover

Mermaid skeletons show the upper skeleton of a human and the lower skeleton of a fish. They use their strong tail to swim great distances. Most mermaids have gills on the sides of their torso. Some mermaids have blowholes on the back of their necks – just like a dolphin or whale.

How to adapt a skeleton into a mermaid skeleton:

  1. Unscrew the legs from a standard skeleton.
  2. Use air-dry white clay to form a fish tail for the skeleton.
  3. Attach through the skeleton’s pelvis with zipties.
  4. Disguise the ziptie with a whimsical skirt. Add a hat and jewelry. Give her a name. Ours is Skelly.

Marzipan Cake Topper

Science of Mermaids: Marzipan mermaid cake topper

I made my first marzipan cake topper and omgosh I had so much fun. Marzipan cake toppers can be made way ahead (weeks or even months ahead if kept clean and covered in an airtight container), making for stress free party planning. This little gal (meant to be my daughter as a mermaid) was shaped with plain marzipan. She is stacked onto a straw for stability and decorated with color dust. A little edible “glue” was used to keep things like eyeballs and bathing suit in place.

Science of Mermaids Birthday Party: Marzipan cake topper

I put her on a cardboard base wrapped in aluminum foil. To help her stay put on the bundt cake, I gathered a handful of the foil below the cardboard to make a wide handle. This way, when I put her on top of the bundt cake, the foil handle went into the bundt’s center. I covered any visible aluminum with more marzipan (made to look like sand and rocks).

The sweet almond flavor went perfectly well with Ava’s cinnamon bundt cake with maple drizzle. As a bonus, she held up in super hot weather all afternoon. Much preferable to buttercream and more delicious than fondant.

Party Favors

Science of Mermaids Birthday Party Favor


A few salt water taffys, stickers, the homemade mermaid crown, and these Water Conservation Tips(PDF) went home with Ava’s friends, along with a hug and a thank you!

So that’s about it. Phew. Except for this (important) note

For lack of a better term, this is what I’d call a “slow birthday party.”

Ava wasn’t in many summer camps this year. We had a lot of time to play and create at home, which is part of why we were able to go all out with the handmade items. The experience lasted from spring through half the summer. It was about building projects and memories together over many months, not just a 2-hour party. Ava learned how to use a glue gun and made beautiful art. She learned how to use colored dust to decorate marzipan. She did some woodworking with her father. She tried a few international recipes while reading new stories.

The party was simply the culmination of her study of science and mermaids – an “art show” of sorts, showcasing everything she’d learned and experienced in the months prior.

I am a firm believer that parties are not about going as big as you can… but they should always be about something bigger.

Along those lines, this year Ava donated her birthday to animals in need. Here she is with one of the many animals that will benefit from her and her friends donations to Tulsa’s Animal Welfare center.

Donate your birthday party

I’m proud of our girl and grateful to share our experience with you. Sending love to you and yours for all your celebrations!


A Fellowship of Food

Expressions of peace through the art and poetry of food

This is my cat, Malky. Sitting on my homework.

Moments later, after some gentle kneading, he fell fast asleep, fuzz down on “The Language of Food,” by Dan Jurafsky. I debated the merits of waking him. But instead I’ve decided to use his catnap to tell you about my latest adventure.

A Fellowship of Food

I am proud (and honored) to announce that this week starts my journey as a 2016-2017 Research Fellow at the The University of Tulsa through the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities. That’s right – Ava isn’t the only one going back to school this fall!

The powers that be at TU dubbed this year’s fellowship The Year of Food. Every Tuesday myself and 8 other fellows will gather together to discuss our research. Each of us will have a unique perspective: some will look into food law, others food history or geography, still others food art. It’s going to be delicious for the belly and the mind.

The Peaceful Table

Year of Food Fellowship: Expressions of Peace at the Global Table

My research will focus on Expressions of Peace & War at the Global Table – in other words, what we need to “bring to the table” for a peaceful meal and world. I will examine how we use food to create identity and borders (emotional and geographic), and what that means to the conversation around peace. Since we can’t talk about peace without talking about her opposite – war – the scope of my project will include some consideration about the challenges we face on our journey towards peace.

Throughout the year, I will create art pieces and poetry that speak to my findings. In the spring, my work will be exhibited here in Tulsa – the idea is to present an art show and poetry reading so that the public can engage with these ideas. I don’t particularly want to provide definitive answers to these broad questions, but open up a dialogue about them.

My plan is to keep you updated throughout the year, so you can see what I’m learning and creating.

Until then, I’ll leave you with this passage from my first reading assignment, in which Dan Juafsky shares one of the characteristics that unites all humans – the fact that we’re all immigrants, and that no culture is an island:

Quote from Dan Jurafsky from "The Language of Food" | "So it seems that it's not just melting-pot America whose favorite foods come from somewhere else [...]. I'd like to think that the lesson here is that we're all immigrants, that no culture is an island, that beauty is created at the confusing and painful boundaries between cultures and peoples and religions. I guess we can only look forward to the day when the battles we fight are about nothing more significant than where to go for ceviche."

Thanks, as always, for being a part of our community. Remember, we’re all here to support you, whatever your journey might be. Share your experiences and cheer each other on Instagram and Facebook with #GlobalTableAdventure.


What if you could live off Victory?

What if you could live off Victory? | Simone Biles of USA, by Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil, CC BY 3.0 br,

Simone Biles of USA (Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil).

The Olympics celebrate the human form: bodies that move – blood pumping through veins, muscles twitching, brains firing. A place where gravity seems to be as awestruck as the rest of us.

What if you could live off Victory? |Kōhei Uchimura of Japan, by Agência Brasil Fotografias.

Kōhei Uchimura of Japan (Agência Brasil Fotografias).

What if you could live off Victory? |Kōhei Uchimura of Japan, by Agência Brasil Fotografias | Kohei Uchimura of Japan, by Roberto Castro/ -, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Kōhei Uchimura of Japan (Roberto Castro).

What if you could live off Victory? | Diego Hyplito by Roberto Castro/ -, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Diego Hyplito of Brazil (Roberto Castro)

What if you could live off Victory? | Kai Qin and Yuan Cao of China. By Agência Brasil Fotografias - BRITÂNICOS VENCEM E BRASILEIROS TERMINAM EM ÚLTIMO NO TRAMPOLIM DE 3M SINCRONIZADO DOS SALTOS ORNAMENTAIS, CC BY 2.0,

Kai Qin and Yuan Cao of Chin (Agência Brasil Fotografias).

Even as newscasters contextualize the athletes by their nations of origin, the games are a rare chorus in an often discordant world, its very premise a celebration of effort and victory over the latest political skirmish. John Williams, theme composer for four Olympic games, quite possibly said it best:

The Olympics are a wonderful metaphor for world cooperation, the kind of international competition that’s wholesome and healthy, an interplay between countries that represents the best in all of us.

What if you could live off Victory? | Germany vs. Canada, by Agência Brasília - Alemanha x Canadá - Futebol feminino - Olimpíadas Rio 2016, CC BY 2.0,

Germany vs. Canada (Agência Brasília).

What if you could live off Victory? | Neda Shahsavari of Iran & Aleksandra Privalova of Belarus, by Javid Nikpour -, CC BY 4.0,

Neda Shahsavari of Iran & Aleksandra Privalova of Belarus (Javid Nikpour).

What if you could live off Victory? | Colombia vs. Nigeria, by Rovena Rosa/Agência Brasil -, CC BY 3.0 br, São Paulo - Colômbia vence a Nigéria por 2x0 na Arena Corinthians (Rovena Rosa/Agência Brasil)

Colombia vs. Nigeria (Rovena Rosa/Agência Brasil).

The food of Victory

As I watch the players struggle and triumph, I can’t help but consider the food that makes those heroic bodies move. Despite some athletes endorsing frosted cereals and golden arches, I know the truth about good nutrition is far more complex. Back when I used to lift weights (another, bizarro lifetime ago), there was a lot of oatmeal, fresh fruit, eggs, and leafy greens in my life.

I shopped for produce obsessively.

San Francisco Farmer's Market by Sasha Martin

Shopping with a mind towards nutrition takes more time, energy, and money.

When any of these resources are thin, a person’s diet will be lacking – and we don’t have to be athletes to suffer the consequences.

In my career as a food writer, I try to shake up the world’s food story. Instead of focusing on poverty and war, relief efforts and famine, my goal was (and is) to unlock beloved recipes from all nations – to shine a light and honor their culinary victories. To tell the good stories. I began in February 2010 with Afghanistan and, by November 2013 I’d cooked more than 650 recipes from 195 countries, ending with Zimbabwe. Many of you have been with me since the beginning (Shoutout! Hugs and love to you!). As you know, the recipes are here, free of charge, to serve you and your families.

This collection of international recipes is another sort of victorious arena – a culinary Olympics, an edible chorus in a sometimes discordant world.


Recipes from every country in the world


The truth is that no one can live off of victory alone. We must make a global effort to ensure that there is adequate nutrition for all. And, fact of the matter is, right now there isn’t.

Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead said:

We live in a world today where the state of nutrition is relevant and important to each other country. […] In a world in which each half knows what the other half does, we cannot live with hunger and malnutrition in one part of the world while people in another part are not only well nourished, but over-nourished.

She said this back in 1970. And it’s true today.

But I promise the situation is not hopeless.

How can you help?

Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima lights the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. U.S. Army photo by Tim Hipps, IMCOM Public Affairs.

Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima lights the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. (Tim Hipps)

We need to light a fire under this issue.

We can start with nutrition education in our homes and schools – so we can raise a new generation of policy makers who give a darn (yes, yes, yes – lunch, snacks, after sport treats are educational opportunities!).

And then we can continue our efforts by taking part in global movements that put pressure on today’s global leaders. I’ve chosen to be a part of the #HungerFree movement to ensure good nutrition and the right start for all children in the world.

#HungerFree & the Olympics

Here are two simple ways for you to get involved and make a difference while enjoying the Olympic games.

1. This Olympics, lift your voice

One voice is lost in the wind, but many voices change the world. Join in on the #Nutrition4Gold conversation as we call on world leaders to #InvestInNutrition by increasing financial investments in nutrition, scaling up interventions that are proven to work and targeting the most vulnerable, ensuring a #HungerFree future for all children!

TWEET NOW: “World leaders: take action to ensure good nutrition & the right start for all children #nutrition4gold #Olympics2016”

2. Share a global meal

At your next Olympics watch party, cook a healthy meal inspired by your favorite athlete’s home country and then SHARE A PHOTO using the hashtag #nutrition4gold – then get all your friends to share too!

FOR RECIPE IDEAS and a party resource kit, visit my friends at HungerFree. They’ve put together an awesome collection, as well as these 10 other reasons to host any Olympics party.

All that’s left is to begin…

Rio de Janeiro - Cerimônia de abertura dos Jogos Olímpicos Rio 2016 no Estádio do Maracanã. (Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil)

Torch lighting at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, 2016 (Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil)

Until the next time, cheering you on with much love and good health to you and yours.



Turkish Stuffed Apricots – Sweet Fairy Food

turkish-apricot-recipe-01These golden morsels are inspired by a place where giant fairy chimneys rise above yellow brick roads, leading travelers past a network of underground cities. It sounds like fantasy. But this surreal scene lives – as real as you and me – in Cappadocia, Turkey.

What are Fairy Chimneys?

Uçhisar in Cappadocia, Turkey, by Wolfgang Moroder.

Uçhisar in Cappadocia, Turkey, by Wolfgang Moroder.

The fairy chimneys of Turkey (Peri Bajası) are geological remnants created by volcanic debris. These colossal outcrops can be as tall as the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil and almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty on the eastern US coastline. But unlike those human made structures, fairy chimneys were sculpted over millions of years by rain and wind, in the end weathering the elements better than the dinosaurs.

"Castle" Uçhisar in Cappadocia, Turkey, by Wolfgang Moroder.

“Castle” Uçhisar in Cappadocia, Turkey, by Wolfgang Moroder.

This not to say humans never set chisel to chimney; over the last millennia humans carved into the fairy chimneys to create secure homes and places to worship. These weren’t basic dugouts – many of the cave dwellings are connected with a network of tunnels and vent shafts, and decorated with mosaic floors and frescoes. The underground city at Derinkuyu, for example, is large enough to hold 20,000 people spread over seven interconnected levels, while the underground city at Kaymakli has nearly 100 tunnels.

A Churche in Göreme By Antoine Taveneaux - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

A church in Göreme, photo by Antoine Taveneaux.

View of the Christological cycle in the New Church By Georges Jansoone JoJan - Own work, CC BY 3.0,

View of the Christological cycle in the New Church, by Georges Jansoone JoJan.

Kaymakli underground city By © Nevit Dilmen, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Kaymakli underground city, photo by Nevit Dilmen.

Communication moved fast in these dimly lit dwellings; all it took was one fire to turn a fairy chimney into a beacon. In turn, other chimneys lit their beacons and, in seconds, a visual alarm could spread to all citizens – and sometimes to other cities – warning of imminent danger or other news.

Fairy Chimneys Today

Today, tourists flock to Cappadocia to marvel at the interweaving of civilization and rock. They stay in cave hotels, pray in stone churches, and wander the underground cities. Some might even study up on St. George the dragon killer while visiting – he is said to be from Cappadocia.

Beyond the typical tourist stops, the towns of Cappadocia offer traditional communities built on agriculture. The dusty, parched landscape gives way to fertile canyons, where villagers painstakingly tend their gardens and orchards – mostly a tapestry of apple, plum, pear and apricot trees.

What, then, is the yellow brick road?

By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen - Own work by uploader,, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Apricots drying in the sun in Cappadocia. Photo by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen.

If you work your way along the orchards of Cappadocia, you’ll find the yellow brick road: thousands of apricots, laying the sun to dry, blazing against the dirt like the hot strike of a match.  Turkey grows more apricots than anywhere else in the world, and the Cappadocia region is an important part of that tradition.

I thought it’d be fun to explore a recipe for stuffed apricots in honor of Cappadocia’s apricot groves. This traditional Turkish sweet (also known as Kaymakli Kayisi Tatlisi) uses just a handful of ingredients – apricot, lemon syrup, pistachios, and creamy cheese – making it a great appetizer for a dinner party or afternoon tea.

Making Turkish Stuffed Apricots

Sweet Apricot Bites - Turkish stuffed apricots

You can make Turkish stuffed apricots on a paper plate with a beach towel tablecloth. I know because we did! This summer Keith, Ava and I took a three-week road trip; we spent much of our time in Florida, with my brother, sister and her daughter and dad. With lots planned (the beach! Harry Potter at Universal! the pool! the planetarium!), we needed a recipe that would be easy to prepare.  Turkish stuffed apricots turned out to be a summer-proof solution.

There’s just a few steps: soak the apricots overnight, simmer them in syrup, and stuff with creamy, cool kaymak (or substitute marscapone). Garnish with crushed pistachios and you’re in business.

How to make Turkish stuffed apricots


The finished result combines the gentle sweetness of apricots with the lusciousness of cream. Pistachios add gentle crunch and a hint of salt. This is the sort of dessert folks who aren’t into sweets will love; it’s not a one-two punch of sticky sugar, but rather a wholesome, slow-burn energy treat.

In sum? It’s the type of dessert a granola bar would have a crush on.

A little help from family

Turkish stuffed apricots

My sister and brother (the twins known as Grace and Tim in my memoir) helped make the Turkish stuffed apricots on his Fort Meyers patio, the chlorine of the neighborhood pool still on our skin. The beach towel was my sister’s; the glass used to crush the pistachios, my brother’s. This was but one small recipe in a sea of homecooked meals, but as we stood there, on Tim’s patio, eating the apricots as fast as we could make them, I knew that even the simplest meals accomplish more than simple sustenance.

Making Turkish Stuffed Apricots

Cut into the facade of the apartment building, that second story patio was our own little cave dwelling… our own little fairy chimney. We found ourselves drawn to that space at all hours of the day, one night staying up until 5 am over several bottles of wine, incense trailing around our conversation. The flicker of candlelight was our beacon, allowing siblings who rarely see each other to really see each other.

A fairy chimney is about safety, community, about a little bit of magic.

Turkish stuffed apricots

Have you ever been the little sister? I am the little sister when I’m with my family. It’s one of my favorite feelings. My siblings reminded me not to worry so much. They gave me parenting tips. They’re creative, fun influences on my daughter. The tease me just the right amount and love me as only family can.

Their love is a cave dwelling. A safe place.

As you make these stuffed apricots, think about your safe place. Imagine the cave dwelling you might be taking for granted in the here and now. Then imagine Cappadoccia. Perhaps you are St. George, or a local farmer, or a villager hiding in the underground city from invaders. However you play it, these apricots will light the way to adventure… but, also, to deeper appreciation of what already is.

Turkish stuffed apricots

Resources & Further Reading:

Turkey’s Fairy Chimneys & Rock-Carved Churches in Kapadokya 
Cappadocia (Travel Guide), by Susanne Oberheu & Michael Wadenpohl
The Valley of Love and Dried Apricots
The Canyon of Cappadocia
Nose to Tail Cooking in Cappadocia

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Rating: 5
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Print Recipe
This Turkish appetizer is sweet and creamy - just right for a dinner party or afternoon tea. Start it the night before to soften up the apricots. There are three options for the stuffing, kaymak is the most traditional, while marscapone makes a great substitute. Some use strained Greek yogurt called labneh for this job (regular Greek yogurt will be too runny) - consider sweetening it with a little honey if you want to cut the tart flavor a bit.Sweet Apricot Bites - Turkish fairy food
Servings Prep Time
4-6people 15minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10minutes 8hours
Servings Prep Time
4-6people 15minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10minutes 8hours
  1. Soak apricots in a bowl of cold water for 8 hours (or overnight). Keep in the fridge. In the morning they will be plump.
  2. Drain off the soaking water into a small saucepan - there should be about a cup of liquid. If not, add a little water to make up the difference. Add sugar and simmer for ten minutes, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and add reserved apricots. Let sit in the syrup until cool to the touch (or until needed). The syrup will make the apricots shiny.
  4. Peel apricots halfway open and stuff with kaymak, marscapone, or Greek yogurt. You may find a few of the apricots are a little too soft - enjoy those while you work! For stuffing, I like to use a piping bag, although a spoon work work as well.
  5. Garnish with crushed pistachios and enjoy!

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