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Ugandan Rolex Recipe

Ugandan Rolex | Breakfast Wrap

Ugandan Rolex Recipe

Uganda’s “Rolex” is breakfast luxury that can be purchased on any street corner. Whipped egg is the gold setting. Precious studs of tomato and purple onion glitter across the surface like garnet and amethyst, while fine strands of cabbage sparkle like peridot. The completed jewel is nestled safely in a soft chapati wrap.

Ridiculous? Maybe.

But shouldn’t every day food be as precious as a “real” Rolex?

What is a Ugandan Rolex?

Rolex is classic Ugandan street food. The similarity to the luxury watch brand is happenstance: Once upon a time the vendors who made this treat called out “Rolled Eggs” – nothing more. The basic idea is eggs cooked with cabbage, onion, tomato, and sometimes peppers, which is then wrapped in chapati. But, as the words careened off their tongue, “Rolled Eggs” sounded more like “Rolex” to visitors. Gradually the (quite fun) misinterpretation stuck.

How do you make a Rolex?

To prepare a Rolex in the true Ugandan spirit, a few steps must be followed.

First, make your way to Uganda…

"Lake Viktoria 2009-08-26 14-01-23" by Simisa (talk · contribs) - Own work Simisa (talk · contribs). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Lake Victoria. Photo by Simisa.

… and find a welcoming village in which to set up your food cart.

"Ugandpic3" by CFM-Uganda - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -"Ugandpic3" by CFM-Uganda - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Child in Uganda. Photo by CFM-Uganda.

Then set up your station.

mug or cup  must be used to mix the ingredients together.

Ugandan Rolex Recipe

A standard to over-sized mug easily holds all the ingredients for a 2-egg Rolex. The high sides make whipping the mixture together a splash-free activity.  No wonder all the street vendors use one!

Second, the egg mixture must be poured onto a hot, well-oiled pan and spread out with the same spoon used to whip the eggs.

Ugandan Rolex Recipe

Again, this is all about thinking like a street vendor: No use getting another utensil dirty!

Once the first side is cooked, flip the eggs over. They should be lightly browned.


The bottom side will brown less – but you’ll be able to see those pretty ingredients…


As they cook, the hot eggs steam and soften the harsh crunch of cabbage and onion, while also stewing the tomatoes. A good dash of salt brings the flavors together into a craveable bite of Uganda.

Here’s the next pro tip from Uganda:

While the eggs are still in the pan, top them with a large chapati (you can use my recipe if you want). The steam coming off the eggs will soften the chapati and make it easier to roll.

Finally, many Rolex are wrapped in newspaper for serving.

Ugandan Rolex Recipe

Not all Ugandans do this – fancier street vendors slide them into cellophane baggies – though some claim the newsprint provides great flavor.

Say what you will about ingesting newsprint, there’s rustic charm to the practice. It soaks up any stray cooking oil or juices …

Ugandan Rolex Recipe

… and it keeps tiny hands from burning.

Rolex Recipe from Uganda

Ava wasn’t keen on eating newsprint, so she quickly removed hers.

Eating Uganda's Rolex

Ugandan Rolex Recipe

Her final assessment?




For the record, I agree.

How to serve a Ugandan Rolex

Here’s a great video showing a Rolex being made in Uganda.

And here’s one with the newsprint…


(Side note: notice how the whipped eggs come out? It would seem Ugandan eggs are more of a white gold than yellow!)

Votes: 2
Rating: 3.5
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Rolex is classic Ugandan street food. The similarity to the luxury watch brand is happenstance: Once upon a time the vendors who made this treat called out "Rolled Eggs" - nothing more. The basic idea is eggs cooked with cabbage, onion, tomato, and sometimes peppers, which is then wrapped in chapati. But, as the words careened off their tongue, "Rolled Eggs" sounded more like "Rolex" to visitors. Gradually the (quite fun) misinterpretation stuck.Ugandan Rolex
Servings Prep Time
1person 10minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
1person 10minutes
Cook Time
  1. Crack eggs into a large mug. Add the cabbage, tomato, red onion, and salt. Stir together with a spoon until well combined.
  2. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Oil well. Nonstick pans make the job even easier.
  3. Add the eggs and spread out into a flat circle with the back of your spoon. Let cook until mostly set and the bottom is browned.
  4. Flip and cook another couple of minutes. Top with chapati to heat it up.
  5. Remove from pan and, when cool enough to handle, roll it up! Enjoy your bite of Uganda.
Recipe Notes

Options: Right before serving consider adding hot peppers or more sliced tomatoes.


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

book club meal

5 creative ways to bring the world into your kitchens

These are 5 stories of ordinary people who brought the world into their kitchens in fun, creative ways. Their culinary adventures have spiced up dinnertime, taught them something new, and connected them to the world at large.

I hope you find their stories as inspiring as I have.

1. Charlie’s Odyssey


Charlie is a 10th grader. His class recently read The Odyssey and the teacher challenged each student to take on their own odysseys. Charlie decided to learn about food on different continents by trying several new recipes. He sent along pictures of the Pope’s Fettuccine and Horiatiki (Greek Village Salad) he tried (with an extra fancy glass of grape juice, of course).

Well done, Charlie!


2. A birthday ritual on the riverbank

Susan has used our Afghani recipes and articles to celebrate her friend’s birthday… for three years in a row!

Here’s Susan’s story:

When I first found your food adventure blog it was time to plan a birthday party for a friend who travels to India several times a year. […] Afghanistan became the menu for her outdoor party. We sat near the river on bedspreads that looked Afghani, ate from platters that were set on large fabric swatches [ covering a mini-trampoline ] to create a low table. Garments from India were offered to guests and we shared a Memory Meal together. […] That Afghani menu with warm Noni Bread is going into its 3rd year as a Birthday extravaganza.

A gift to treasure!

 3. Culinary Chronicles


Cynthia’s 6th and 7th grade English classes used our Map Room to select countries for a spring journal assignment called “Culinary Chronicles.” Each student tried a recipe from somewhere in the world and recorded their experience in five journal entries.

Journal entries included writing about their shopping and cooking experiences, process photos, and interviews with family members who tried the food. As you can see from the map, their culinary experiments tracked the entire globe!



Here are some of Cynthia’s reflections on the classwork:

Highlights for me were getting an insider’s peek into my students’ family life and kitchen.  Students expressed excitement over providing their family a reason for coming together.  Some had never been given an excuse to try and make anything for consumption before.  […]  I giggled at all the kitchen mishaps that occurred because I have experienced them all at one point or another – breaking things, mismeasuring ingredients, getting home from the store without a key ingredient, not reading the entire recipe before staring, etc.  Students were relieved that they were not alone!

Great job, kids!

4. Cooking for a cause

Sherri, her daughter, and a couple of her friends, used our Vegetarian Momo recipe last month to make 400 dumplings! Hunger wasn’t their motive: they sold them and made $700 for earthquake relief in Nepal.


This. is. amazing.


5. A Bookish Tasting Menu

Cheryl and a group of her friends in Wichita read my memoir for their book club. Inspired to try some international recipes, they created a tasting menu for their discussion… using recipes from nine countries – Algeria, France, Hungary, Albania, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Pakistan, and Argentina (click through to see recipes and posts for each region)!

book club buffet

book club menu ideas

Cheryl says:

We read your book and decided to cook several of the countries at our book club. We didn’t have any guidelines, just went for it! It was so fun for each of us to go around and share what our experience was like to cook that particular country, finding the ingredients, will they make it again, etc! Karen, who made the artisan bread shared how easy it was to make it, and how rewarding it was and how aromatic her kitchen was! The bread was fantastic! The book also opened up to us your blog and website…what an amazing resource! We all plan to utilize it to get out of our cooking comfort zones 🙂

book club international book club meal

So cool! Cheers to their beautiful friendship and the meal that fed it!

This is your adventure

Somewhere along the way I learned that, by cooking the world with my family and sharing the recipes online, I was feeding a global movement of people looking to learn about other cultures and connect to the world at large. These five stories are but a handful your adventures.  You inspire me. Keep cooking and loving your world – along the way you’ll make memories to last a lifetime.


Raspberry Hibiscus Paletas Recipe

Raspberry Hibiscus Paletas

Raspberry Hibiscus Paletas

What if summer’s best moments could be frozen in time?

Picking berries…

Running barefoot through tall grass…

Dancing in sun and water alike…

The smallest nibble of Paletas delivers a slush of ripe berries, sunshine, and laughter – about as close as I’ve ever gotten to capturing the glitter of the season… a frozen treat straight from Latin America and as precious as these Mexican garnets…

A beautiful, 1.4 cm, translucent, raspberry-red, compound grossular garnet is very aesthetically set on the matrix plate and is surrounded by smaller garnets and lustrous, translucent, tannish-yellow vesuvianite crystals on this fine piece from the mid-1990s finds at the well-known Lake Jaco deposit of Mexico. Classic combination material from the Robert Whitmore Collection # 3832.

A raspberry-red, compound grossular garnet, surrounded by smaller garnets and tannish-yellow vesuvianite crystals. Found at the Lake Jaco deposit, Mexico. Rob Lavinsky /


… but with much more color.

Seriously. These are lovelier than any gemstone…

Raspberry Hibiscus Paletas

The story behind these paletas is a simple one: I was looking for something my daughter could share with her classmates for her birthday celebration.

Keith and I wanted to bring something nutritious and festive. She wanted something sweet and summery (she’s a July 4th baby after all). Meanwhile, some of her classmates are lactose intolerant and gluten-free.

The happy solution came in the form of raspberry hibiscus paletas… a Latin-American recipe adapted from Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas.

Raspberry Hibiscus Paletas Recipe

You don’t need much.

Freshly brewed hibiscus tea.

A mound of crimson raspberries tossed with just enough sugar to take out the pucker.

Raspberry Hibiscus Paletas Recipe

Traditionally, paletas are frozen in popsicle form (palos means “stick”).

Photo by Arnold Gatilao.

Photo by Arnold Gatilao.

I considered making popsicles in paper cups, but didn’t have room in my skinny freezer to store them all. Four stores and several online searches later, I found Zipzicles.

A classroom’s-worth of these thin ice pops easily fits in my freezer.

Raspberry Hibiscus Paletas Recipe

The process is simple enough: blend all the ingredients and strain the seeds out. Then we used a funnel to add the liquid to the narrow bags and zipped them shut.

Freeze overnight.

While you wait you can sleep under a Mexican sky.

Guanajuato, Mexico at night. Photo by Thomas Castelazo.

Guanajuato, Mexico at night. Photo by Thomas Castelazo.

Ava carried the treats to school in a tub filled with ice.

Look how proud she is.

Raspberry Hibiscus Paletas Recipe

I brought mini banana muffins, too – just in case. But only two classmates chose the muffins.

That says it all, don’t you think?


Raspberry Hibiscus Paletas Recipe

Your turn.

I’d like to offer you a chance to make some frozen ice pops with your loved ones. Thanks to Zipzicles, one reader will win a Summer Prize Pack.

Summer Prize Pack

3 x 36 Zipzicle® ice pop pouches
(that’s a total of 108 pouches, just like the ones I used)
2 x 4-packs of colorful Zipzicle Neoprene Sleeves (to keep tiny fingers from freezing)


Enter to Win: (A Winner has been selected)

Leave a comment and tell me what flavor you’d like to put in your Zipzicle. Would you go with fresh fruit and tea, or banana with coconut milk, or perhaps a boozy grown up version?

A winner will be chosen randomly and announced by June 24, 2015.

Good luck!

UPDATE:  Congratulations, Cindi W! Enjoy making frozen treats with your Zipzicles Summer Prize Pack!

Votes: 1
Rating: 5
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Paletas are wonderful Latin American treats. Our raspberry hibiscus paletas is high in antioxidants and vitamin C, and remains a tad tart (I like a bit of pucker in my berry desserts). However, if you have a sweet tooth try adding up to one additional cup of sugar - tasting bit-by-bit so as to not accidentally overdo it. As written, the recipe makes approximately 7 1/2 cups after straining and easily fills 18 Zipzicles. Raspberry Hibiscus Paletas
Servings Prep Time
18people 20minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
5minutes 8hours
Servings Prep Time
18people 20minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
5minutes 8hours
  1. Brew the tea nice and strong. For this recipe, I use 6 tea bags. Add the sugar to the hot tea, stirring until dissolved.
  2. Add the raspberries and warm tea to the blender. Process together with the berries until smooth.
  3. Strain out the seeds. Pour remaining liquid to Zipzicles (or other molds) using a funnel.
  4. Freeze in a thin layer overnight (if you stack them on top of each other the freezing process may take twice as long).
Recipe Notes

In a hurry? Simply macerate the berries in the sugar and tea, leaving the seeds and several lumps. This is quite traditional as well.


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


Grilled lunch with a taste of Argentina


When I flip open my grill it’s rarely to flip burgers; My vegetarian 5-year old inspires me to think beyond hamburgers and hot dogs in the summer.


The Petrified Forest, Arizona. After 225 million years and lots of volcanic ash, this massive tree truck is now a rock… up close the rings sparkle.

Argentina is known for her amazing meats, but beyond that she’s earned a special place in my heart for this acorn squash salad. The charred gourd stuffed with peppery arugula and aged goat cheese first entered my awareness through the campfire cooking of Francis Mallmann. His recipe entails roasting an entire pumpkin buried under the embers of a campfire.

My recipe is simplified for the home chef – an acorn squash is easier to manage and cooks twice as fast. Ever since we first made it on this blog, some version of the salad has been in our regular rotation. We even made it on our recent camping trip to Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and the Petrified Forest.


Don’t restrict yourself to making a meal that’s 100% foreign to you and your family – too much work can dampen motivation for international eating. Also: some people are more likely to try new things if they have other familiar items on the plate.

This lunch celebrates culinary diversity by accenting the plate with decidedly un-Argentine foods – grilled salmon and broccoli.

My daughter’s plate had tofu.

(Also not from Argentina.)


Ava's Around the World Lunches

Around the World Lunches

Around the World Lunches began when I shared a few of Ava’s globally-inspired lunches on Instagram and Facebook. The response was immediate: Turns out a lot of people are looking for ideas.

Check out our other Around the World lunches – perfect for school or work.


How obsessively cooking the world helped me face my past


Have you ever heard someone mutter “I just want to leave the past behind me”?

When I started this blog, I thought it was about three little things: teaching my picky husband to look at food as an adventure, not an attack; raising my daughter with international perspective; and satisfying my own wanderlust. But when I began writing my memoir, my editor challenged me to dig deeper. She said something like: “Cooking the world, week after week, isn’t exactly a normal thing to do.” She sent me away to think about what my obsessive behavior was really about.

The past kept coming up. The foster homes. The separation from  my mother. The search for an unconditional home.

I soon realized cooking the world was not simply about the food. It was about finding a sense of belonging.

But, no matter how many countries I cooked, I’d never find my place in this world if I didn’t make peace with my past.


We all have struggles. I very clearly kept them off of this blog and, for the most part, still do. But burying the past as a way of life is not the answer. It leads to misplaced shame and gives too much power to the events that once hurt us. It can be toxic to cultivating true inner peace.

I now realize that, when I air out the past, I allow my wounds to breathe and heal.

So, how did cooking the world help me face my past?

Cooking a meal from every country in the world is a simple enough concept. Going through more than 195 countries and territories, week after week, served as a walking meditation. There was power in each meal, drawing together my family, giving me grounding (and a sense that I belonged to the world family).

Each time I cooked another country, I began to see similarities to dishes I’d had over the years. One country’s love for apricots reminded me of my grandpa. Another country’s obsession with avocados reminded me of my mother. And on it went.

For the most part, I avoided writing about these connections. After all, wasn’t this blog supposed to be about other people?

Indeed it was. But the more we study others, the more we learn about ourselves.

A quest of this sort could be finished, but not really complete…not until I faced these revelations – many of which which were intensely emotional. For me, the deep introspection came with writing my memoir (no pressure!). So many have asked if the process of writing about my atypical upbringing was therapeutic – in a word, yes.

Cooking the world by itself was emotionally passive. Connecting it to my childhood with self-awareness was the final, necessary step to completing my quest.

What I learned? Facing the past heals.

Overcoming past challenges in order to live our most vibrant life is something that we can all benefit from. I want to share more of my story with you and help you identify how you can turn your Anguish into your Answer for a happy family and work life. No more hiding. No more shame. Just an honest life, free from the bonds of fear.


If you’d like to explore some of these ideas with me, I’d love to meet with you. I’m thrilled to announce the extension of my book tour in the Midwest and NYC.

These aren’t just book signings. These are opportunities to hear more about my story and how you can turn your pain into your passion (especially the one in Kansas City). I’ve chosen to highlight these two events because they are going to be super fun – and are just around the corner – but there are more coming!


This Saturday (June 6th) I’ll be in New York City at the Global Family Reunion. This festival will break the world record for largest family reunion. During this fun-filled day, look for me on the storytelling stage where I’ll speak and host a book giveaway. Or bring your book and I can sign it! (Ticketed Event)


On Saturday, June 13th and Sunday, June 14th, I’ll be in Kansas City at the Life Purpose Project speaking about how my childhood helped shape me into the woman I am today – and how we can all use our paths to forge our futures. There will be a workshop so that you can leave the event equipped with the resources you need to effect change in your life (Ticketed Event).

For more future appearances and other details, check out my events page


Malaysian Herbed Rice Salad | Nasi Ulam

Recipe for Malaysian Herbed Rice Salad | Nasi Ulam

Do packaged herbs ever go on strike at the back of your fridge? Now, thanks to Malaysian Herbed Rice Salad, bundles of herbs can finally go to work in a dish that everyone will love.

When herbs go on strike

I wonder how many partially used packages of fresh herbs lay wilting at the back of fridges across America. I’ve certainly been there. Even though I “store” my herbs in the garden, disgruntled leaves occasionally congregate behind the eggs and mustard (the few remaining upright stems looking like picket signs).

The problem? Outside of a putting basil in pesto or parsley in tabbouleh, it’s hard to use most fresh herbs up.

To give our herbs a chance, we need to rethink how we use them. A pinch here or there doesn’t really do the trick when it comes to adding flavor or using them up. Standing them in a jar of fresh water helps tremendously (sometimes adding a couple of weeks of life to them).

Another idea is to find a recipe that makes good use of the herbs.

Recipe for Malaysian Herbed Rice Salad | Nasi Ulam

Malaysian Herbed Rice Salad

Malaysia teaches that we have to use herbs with as much confidence as we use lettuce – by the handful.  Only then will we get that burst of garden freshness we all crave come springtime and into the summer.

There are many versions of Malaysian Herbed Rice Salad. Here’s the basic formula: Room temperature rice + lots of fresh herbs + seasoning = easy summertime eating.

Recipe for Malaysian Herbed Rice Salad | Nasi Ulam

What herbs you add is fairly flexible except for the most rigid traditionalists. Choose between cilantro, culantro, and rau ram; between basil and Thai basil; and between chives and green onion.

The benefits of making an herb salad start before the first bite: Slicing into the greenery blooms their scent into every nook and cranny. Shut your eyes and you might think you’ve wandered into a sprawling, secret garden. The bouquet is a whimsy of basil, mint, limes, lemongrass, basil, cilantro, chives, and kaffir lime leaves… A crush of garlic, ginger, fish sauce, peanuts, and toasted coconut seals the deal.

Recipe for Malaysian Herbed Rice Salad | Nasi Ulam

Herbed Rice Salad makes a great back yard supper, particularly nice with tomato wedges or a couple of hard-boiled eggs. If you’d like to sweat after the sun goes down, add thinly sliced Thai bird chili peppers.

Traditional Malaysian Herbed Rice Salad recipes include dried shrimp but since Ava is vegetarian we’ve kept them off the ingredients list. Substitute some salt for the fish sauce if desired.

Oh and …

About a week after I made this salad, I opened the fridge and pulled the leftover herbs form their mason jar of water… They were still perky thanks to the water and I was able to make a second batch. This time I didn’t measure. There was significantly more mint and basil… I only had one lime… but the rice salad was still wonderful.

And I didn’t lose any herbs to the fridge.


Enjoy with an equally stunning view… like this one in Malaysia:

"KotaKinabalu Sabah CityMosque-08" by Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas / CC-BY-SA-3.0. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

“Kota Kinabalu Sabah City Mosque” by Photo by CEphoto.

Votes: 2
Rating: 4.5
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Malaysia teaches that we have to use herbs with as much confidence as we use lettuce – by the handful. Only then will we get that burst of garden freshness we all crave come springtime and into the summer. There are many versions of Malaysian Herbed Rice Salad. Here’s the basic formula: Room temperature rice + lots of fresh herbs + seasoning = easy summertime eating.Malaysian Herbed Rice Salad | Nasi Ulam
Servings Prep Time
4people 20minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
4people 20minutes
Cook Time
For the Rice
For the herbs
For the dressing
Prepare the rice
  1. Bring water to a boil. Add salt and rice. Return to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low so as to maintain simmer. Cook gently for about 16 minutes. Remove heat and let steam for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool to room temperature.
For the herbs
  1. Clean all herbs and pat dry. Slice and add to bowl. Set aside.
For the dressing
  1. Add all ingredients to a small bowl and stir to combine. Use chili peppers for heat, if desired.
To assemble the salad
  1. Toss all ingredients together when rice has cooled. Add dressing to taste. The salad tastes even better after 30 minutes - however you'll want to taste it and adjust the seasonings as it can mellow over time.
Recipe Notes

Make sure to add the fresh herbs to room temperature rice - anything warmer will blacken the herbs.

Serve with fried chicken and sambal or hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes.


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


Imagination born from a Kenyan Storytelling Chandelier

Kenyan Story Telling Mobile/Chandelier

The stories we share during mealtimes nourish us as much as the food we eat. But sometimes we need a little jump start to get conversation flowing. Kenyans use banana leaves to create artwork that not only evoke ancient folk tales but that inspire the telling of new stories.

I found our Kenyan storytelling chandelier at a garden festival called Springfest here in Tulsa. My daughter and I almost breezed right past the booth. The rain had just started coming down in earnest: Ava was dancing in puddles with a friend and I was hunkered beneath my umbrella, feeling grumbly about my wet socks.

But then those dancing figures caught my eye.

Tulsa SpringFest 2015

Turns out the chandelier was made by a group of women in Kenya. Proceeds of our sale went back to helping their village. The vendor told me there was a story behind each figure and when I asked her what they were, she coyly responded that it was up to us to tell it.

While most might use this sort of art over an infant’s crib as a mobile, when the vendor invoked the notion of using the figures for storytelling I knew that the piece belonged over our dining table. Thus the down to earth mobile became our chandelier – more than a conversation starter, these whimsical figures inspire stories for all ages.


Serving up imagination for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Mealtimes have changed in subtle ways since we hung up our story telling chandelier. It’s hard to quantify exactly what is different. Our minds are turned outwards from the minutia of our days – work, school, sleep, work, school, sleep – to possibility. Certainly, sometimes we forget the figures are there… but every once in a while the banana leaf chandelier catches on the spring breeze and begins twirling (Did you see it on Instagram?!). As it spins, our eyes are drawn upwards to those figures and the storytelling begins.

The figures are plain and, like a free-spirited sketch, they let the imagination do its part by filling in facial features and other details to suit the latest story.  Through my daughter’s imagination they have been sisters in the sky, constellations, and women whose injuries turn into good (a wounded foot turns sprouts a flower to rest on). Sometimes they’re hunters, sometimes they’re the hunted.

I see our stories growing more complex as time goes on, maturing alongside Ava.  This much I know: We’ll share stories about the past. And we’ll imagine a lively future. Always with our Kenyan Storytelling Chandelier.


How banana leaf art is made & where to get your own storytelling chandelier:

Banana leaf art is made when the leaves are green and flexible. They can be cut and bent into sculptures. It’s not easy, but the end result is fabulous. Some of them are dyed while others are natural in color, like mine.

I’ve scoured the web to find similar mobiles in case you are interested in bringing the art of storytelling to your mealtimes. I could only find one place – Africa Imports.  The prices are very low because this is a wholesale page but I called the number and they said you can still order from them even if you’re not a wholesaler. Also – they do give back to their artisans: “Africa Imports is not a big company, but we give a big percentage of our profits to help children in Africa. Right now, we guarantee that at least 2% of all of our sales will go to these orphanages and other charitable causes in Africa. As of October 2014, Africa Imports has donated a total of $502,816 to charitable causes in Africa. ” Read more about their giving.

Disclaimer: the link to Africa Imports is an affiliate link, so if you purchase one I will get a small commission (as well as a great deal of joy to know you’ll be enjoying a storytelling chandelier soon)!

I will update this page if I find further resources or if I’m able to reconnect with the vendor I met at Springfest. xxoo

Victoria Sponge Cake Recipe inspired by Mary Poppins

British Victoria Sponge Cake

Victoria Sponge Cake Recipe

Imagine a cake good enough to eat upside down.

This Victoria Sponge Cake is 100% inspired by Mary Poppins – that lovable British nanny at the heart of  countless quirky adventures – and, yes, it’s that good.

Victoria Sponge Cake Recipe inspired by Mary Poppins

The recipe is mentioned in Mary Poppins: 80th Anniversary Collection, which I gave my daughter for Valentine’s Day.

A note on these books: P.L. Travers’s collection goes well beyond the parameters of the Disney movie – the floating tea party scene at the heart of the film can be found on page 42, barely cracking the spine of this 1024 page classic.

Every night at bedtime we settle into a new chapter, following the 5 Banks children on another adventure. They paint the sky, eat gingerbread stars, hang out with the constellations at a circus in space, and travel the world with a compass – and all that within the first few hundred pages. Mary Poppins not only never explains their adventures once they’re over, she insists she has no idea what the children are talking about. More than buttoned up, Mary Poppins is flat out strict, yet the children always have fun when she’s around.

Reading Mary Poppins together

It’s in Mary Poppins Comes Back (the second book in the series), that Mary Poppins makes it clear that sponge cake is her cake of choice. She loves it so much, in fact, Mary pronounces her approval while floating on her head at an upside down tea party with Jane, Michael, and a man named Mr Turvy:

Turning their heads, Jane and Michael were surprised to see that the voice came from Mary Poppins’ parrot-headed umbrella, which was at that moment Catherine-wheeling towards the cake. It landed head-downwards on the tin and in two seconds had cut a large hole in it with its beak.

“There!” squawked the parrot-head conceitedly, “Polly did it! Handsome Polly!” And a happy self-satisfied smile spread over its beak as it settled head-downwards on the floor beside Mary Poppins.

“Well, that’s very kind, very kind,” said Mr Turvy in his gloomy voice, as the dark crust of the cake became visible.

He took a knife out of his pocket and cut a slice. He started violently, and peered at the cake more closely. Then he looked reproachfully at Mary Poppins.

“This is your doing, Mary! Don’t deny it. That cake, when the tin was last open, was a plum cake and now –”

“Sponge is much more digestible,” said Mary Poppins, primly. “Eat slowly please. You’re not starving savages!” she snapped, passing a small slice to each Jane and Michael.

Poppins’s insistence on proper behavior is comedic brilliance by author P.L. Travers … after all doesn’t floating on your head negate any need for proper decorum?

Not in Mary Poppins’s world.


How to make Victoria Sponge Cake

Victoria Sponge Cake is named for Queen Victoria (1819-1901) who enjoyed a slice or two at teatime during the 19th century. This was the era when taking formal tea became the thing. Since the queen favored sponge, the dessert became synonymous with British teatime.  

The mild cake is meant to be soft and spongy, hence the name. All you’ll need are a few pantry staples: flour, butter, sugar, egg, and levener – this simple cake requires no extravagance (most recipes, but not all, avoid vanilla extract and lemon zest). A plain, trim slice effortlessly makes a splash among fancier desserts on the tea spread, just as the girl-next-door shines sweetly among a gaggle of divas in stilettos.


In Britain, many recipes stipulate that the sugar, flour, butter and eggs should be the same weight, based on the weight of the eggs. I made this version by the cup for folks who don’t have a scale handy (or don’t feel like pulling one out). You’ll need 4 eggs.

Room temperature ingredients make the fluffiest cakes, as does creaming together the butter and sugar for a good five minutes.


After creaming the butter and sugar together, alternate adding the eggs and flour to form a thick, luscious mix. A little milk makes it looser but not pourable.



Finally, pop the cakes into a 350F oven (for a perfectly flat cake, use baking strips).

Once baked and cooled, I followed tradition and placed a thick layer of strawberry preserves and whipped cream between the cake layers (lemon curd is fabulous, too). Another not-exactly-traditional approach is to swap out the whipped cream for a layer of buttercream.


The top is left unadorned save a dusting of powdered sugar.



A few notes on the ingredients


Superfine Sugar

Superfine sugar is best for this recipe as the fine granules incorporate more readily. To make superfine sugar, take one heaping cup sugar and blend for about 1 minute. Measure out 1 cup and use as instructed. There’ll be a little leftover. See above – the sugar on the right is my homemade superfine sugar (click the photo to zoom in and see the difference in the granules). Note that it is not the same as powdered sugar.


I’d planned to use cake flour in hopes of making a perfectly featherlight cake but there was a drought of cake flour at every grocery store in Tulsa this week. And by every grocery store, I mean four… because, let’s be honest, if I can’t find cake flour in four grocery stores I’m done looking.

I wondered if perhaps, as the grocer at Whole Foods indicated, the glut of best-selling cake mixes and gluten free products has – quite possibly – permanently taken the small shelf space cake flour once occupied. After all, the poorest selling products get the boot. In which case we all better learn how to make cake without cake flour.

The good news? Victoria Sponge Cake is also fabulous with all-purpose flour and requires no special trips to the market.

Which leaves you more time for reading and eating!

And that, I’d say, is a win-win.

Suggested Reading:

Mary Poppins: 80th Anniversary Collection, Book 2 – Mary Poppins Comes Back – Chapter 4 – “Topsy Turvy.” by P.L. Travers.

Votes: 5
Rating: 4
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Victoria Sponge Cake is named for Queen Victoria (1819-1901) who enjoyed a slice or two at teatime during the 19th century. It is also a favorite of the fictional character, Mary Poppins. The mild cake is meant to be soft and spongy, hence the name. British Victorian Sponge Cake
Servings Prep Time
1layer cake (two 8" rounds) 25minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25minutes 1.5hours
Servings Prep Time
1layer cake (two 8" rounds) 25minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
25minutes 1.5hours
For the cake:
For filling & decorating
For the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Meanwhile, grease two 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.
  2. Beat butter and sugar together for several minutes until fluffy and white (using a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or hand mixer). Scrape sides occasionally.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
  4. Add the eggs and flour to the butter mixture in alternating thirds on low. Add the milk to loosen a bit. Scrape as needed. When fully combined, divide between baking pans.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until light brown and the surface springs back when pressed gently with the fingertip. Let cool completely - about 1 1/2 hours
For decorating:
  1. On the bottom layer of cake: Spoon on strawberry preserves or lemon curd. Top with a generous layer of whipped cream, then the second layer of cake. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with hot tea.
  1. Cooled cake layers may be wrapped in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, then stored in the freezer for a month or two. Thaw at room temperature, then decorate as usual.
Recipe Notes

To make superfine sugar, take one heaping cup sugar and blend or process for about 1 minute. Measure out 1 cup and use as instructed. There may be a little leftover.

To avoid a domed cake, use baking strips.


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


A Japanese Sushi-rolling Birthday Party

DIY Japanese Sushi-rolling Birthday Party

A Japanese birthday party is a fabulous alternative to the standard princess or pirate birthday party. A couple of years ago my good friend and artist Annie Ferris had a Japanese-themed birthday party for her daughter and was kind enough to share the photos. The girls are 4 years old, proving there’s no age limit to having a fun and educational birthday party.

I love how Annie managed to throw together a totally immersive experience while maintaining a down-to-earth vibe. Here are some of my favorite features of her daughter’s Japanese Birthday Party.

Sushi Rolling station

DIY Japanese Sushi-rolling Birthday Party

Ava still asks to make homemade sushi and this party is one reason why.

How to set up a Sushi Rolling Station:

Set up several low tables – kids craft tables or coffee tables work well – and use cushions for seating. Not only is this set up very Japanese, but it’s also easier for wiggly little ones to manage.

At each child’s place you’ll need:

DIY Japanese Sushi-rolling Birthday Party

In the center of the table Annie provided:

  • a pile of napkins (she used plain red for Japan but how cute are these blue fish?)
  • several bowls with vegetables like asparagus, avocado, and cucumber for homemade veggie sushi (recipe)
  • a block of cream cheese
  • homemade sushi rice (recipe)
  • decorations (more on that in a moment)

Annie also featured an easel at one end of the room with step-by-step instructions for rolling the sushi. She drew the instructions in marker – four per sheet.

DIY Japanese Sushi-rolling Birthday Party

Annie and her daughter went through the instructions slowly, making sure everyone had completed each step before moving on. Even the youngest sushi roller was able to participate with great success.

DIY Japanese Sushi-rolling Birthday Party

Since this party was for little people, Annie provided a few plastic serrated lettuce knives for slicing the sushi. While the knives were quite safe, pressing the knife straight into the rolled sushi didn’t work – however if the rolls were tight and I glided the knife gently back and forth it did work.

DIY Japanese Sushi-rolling Birthday PartyA few bottles of Sapporo were on hand for the adults. Cheers to that!

Homemade “Wasabi” cake

It might look like a spicy ball of wasabi, but this was the sweetest treat of all! Green frosting and sprinkles made this little girl’s homemade vanilla cake stay on theme.

DIY Japanese Sushi-rolling Birthday PartyOther sweets were found in the children’s goodie bags – such as Pocky Sticks and hard candies – all found at the local Asian market.

3. Decorations

Scattered around the party were:

While I’ve provided links to online shopping, most of these items were found at the local Asian market.

DIY Japanese Sushi-rolling Birthday Party DIY Japanese Sushi-rolling Birthday Party

4. Costumes etc.

The invitations came in little Asian-style takeout boxes (they were polka dotted) – these can be found at many craft stores or online. Included with the invitations were instructions to come dressed in Japanese clothes.

The costumes were a big hit with the children! From the fans to the kimonos, I love them all. The girl in the black and white dress had her hair tied in a bow on top of her head – just amazing… and next to her – I love that boy’s fish t-shirt!

DIY Japanese Sushi-rolling Birthday PartyMy daughter, below left, found her costume at our local Asian market… complete with wooden clogs. After the party these items were a great addition to her dress up chest!

DIY Japanese Sushi-rolling Birthday PartyIf you’re considering having a Japanese birthday party, I hope you’ve found some inspiration thanks to Annie’s fabulous Sushi Rolling Party!

Oh, and if you’ve hosted an epic globally-inspired birthday party let me know – I’d love to hear all about it!



Dipping into Mezze for Lunch

I don’t think a single day has passed without my five-year old eating some sort of food with her hands. While many parents might fret about their child’s “grabby” manners at the dinner table, I encourage her to explore how she eats her food as much as what she eats.

My guidelines are simple: only three fingers (the thumb, index and middle fingers of her right hand) and no more than one knuckle deep. Bread should be used whenever possible to help scoop up particularly messy food.

Oh, yeah… And use a napkin.

popcornSince cooking the world we’ve learned that eating with our hands slows us down and helps us connect to the meal (and each other) in a visceral way. Millions of people eat with their hands – in fact some estimates range from 1 to 2 billion folks daily. That’s people from India to Lebanon, and from Morocco to Ethiopia. The number grows dramatically if you consider the sandwich, popcorn, and pizza munching people right here in the USA. Even hummus  – once considered international food – is not only ubiquitous here in the states, it’s a viral sensation.

So what’s a girl to eat for Mezze?

Mezze is the art of small bites – anything from stuffed grape leaves to spanikopita. Today, mezze means homemade labneh, a high-protein lunch (and a welcome change from hummus). Labneh comes from the Middle East and Central Asia, with variations in eastern Europe. Simply strain some yogurt and season with lemon juice, herbs, a bit of salt, and olive oil. Friendly dippers include pita bread, carrots, and peppers. It might be too much to ask for a leisurely lunch with today’s hectic school schedules, but with a labneh-filled lunchbox filled, at least you’ll know it’ll be nutritious.

For other Mezze ideas, see our Greek Around the World Lunch.

Ava's Around the World LunchesAround the World Lunches

Around the World Lunches began when I shared a few of Ava’s globally-inspired lunches on Instagram and Facebook. The response was immediate: Turns out a lot of people are looking for ideas.

Check out our other Around the World lunches – perfect for school or work.


Honeymoon Smoothie | عصر المتزوجين

How to make a Honeymoon Smoothie from Yemen (عصير المتزوجين)

How do you know it’s springtime in Yemen? So much of Yemen is dusty: sand overwhelms the northern stretches in an area called “Rub’ al Khali” or the “Empty Quarter”; even ancient skyscrapers are made of sun-baked mud, as can be found in the town of Shibam.

"Shibam Wadi Hadhramaut Yemen" by Jialiang Gao - Original Photograph. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

“Shibam Hadhramaut, Yemen” by Jialiang Gao. In this town the houses are all made of mud brick, some towers are 11 stories high. While the town’s origins are from 2,000 years ago, many of the buildings were constructed in the 16th century.

"Shibam Yemen Interior" by Jialiang Gao - Original Photograph. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

“Shibam, Yemen – Interior” by Jialiang Gao.

But… like a mirage, there’s another, glimmering view of Yemen.

Between the dusty cliffs of the Hadramout desert lies a valley of prickly trees and honey bees, where one of the world’s great aphrodisiacs accumulates in golden pools.

This is Sidr Honey, a.k.a. jujube honey.

Jujube Tree. Photo by Thamizhpparithi Maari.

Jujube Tree. Photo by Thamizhpparithi Maari.

Every year, semi-nomadic beekeepers flock to the Do’an Valley, where the sweet fragrance of the jujube tree sets the bees into motion. The resulting honey is said to be a tremendous aphrodisiac.

And what do you do with an aphrodisiac?

You drink it, of course.

Honeymoon Smoothie

عصير المتزوجين is a love potion of sorts – a honey-laced smoothie meant to sweeten marriage and to help single folks find true love. I call it a “honeymoon smoothie,” though I read that the literal translation is “married couples juice.”

Inside you’ll find everything sweet and nutritious: mango, banana, dates, milk and honey…

How to make a Honeymoon Smoothie from Yemen (عصير المتزوجين)

How to make a Honeymoon Smoothie from Yemen (عصير المتزوجين)

And a sprinkling of nuts and coconut makes for a crunchy contrast.

How to make a Honeymoon Smoothie from Yemen (عصير المتزوجين)

Heart-to-Heart with my daughter

Lately my daughter has been asking about marriage. How I knew I wanted to marry Keith. How she’ll know which boy to marry.

How to make a Honeymoon Smoothie from Yemen (عصير المتزوجين)

My goodness. She’s so young for these questions. But our talk was tender and I didn’t shy away from her questions.

Not that it was immediately obvious what to tell her – how much is too much information, I wondered.

If you read my book then you know it wasn’t exactly appropriate to read from my memoir … so I simply told her that when I met Keith I felt as though my heart came home. I added that I spent some years “making sure” we would be good to each other even when we were grouchy. I explained that it’s easy to be kind when things are going well… but I wanted to make sure that, when times got tough, he wouldn’t be mean to me and that I wouldn’t be mean to him. That we would help each other.

She listened carefully, then replied: “If two mean people get married, will they have a mean baby?”

Ah, the mind of a 5 1/2 year old…

How to make a Honeymoon Smoothie from Yemen (عصير المتزوجين)

How to make a Honeymoon Smoothie from Yemen (عصير المتزوجين)

There are lots of ways to make this smoothie – the most important is to use very ripe fruit and add lots of honey. My recipe is adapted and simplified from Sheba Yemeni Food, where she adds a drizzle of Vimto to the glass for color (Vimto is a popular grape, raspberry, and blackcurrant cordial) and tahini havla for added flavor. Both are available at Middle Eastern markets, should you wish to make this variation.

Yemen might not have spring as we know it, but one sip of this smoothie and spring arrives.

It is no wonder this is wedding season.

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Rating: 5
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A love-potion of sorts from Yemen, perfect for newlyweds or those looking to get married. Make sure to add plenty of honey - that's a Yemeni aphrodisiac. Honeymoon Smoothie | عصير المتزوجين
Servings Prep Time
1quart 15minutes
Servings Prep Time
1quart 15minutes
For the smoothie:
  1. Peel and chop the fruit. Add to a blender with the dates and milk. Blend until smooth, add ice, then blend again. Sweeten with honey to taste, pulsing once or twice to incorporate.
  2. Serve in glasses drizzled with Vimto, if desired.
  3. Top with one or more items from the list of garnishes. If you'd like to grind the nuts into a powder, that's nice, too. Sliced banana and mango are another yummy idea.
  4. Serve cold with a straw or a spoon, and a smile.

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


Eat a country, build a country

Cooking a meal from Nauru, way out in Oceania? What about creating the island nation of Nauru as a supplemental learning project? This interactive sand box is a phenomenal learning tool that utilizes Xbox technology and sand to build topographic models on the fly. As kids push sand around, mountains and rivers are formed. You can even make it “rain” by holding your hand over the land – the rainwater flows realistically down hillsides.

Here are some kids playing with it and…

… Here’s more of an explanation of how it works.

I did some digging and found the directions for how to make the interactive sand box are available to anyone with a bit of coding know-how thanks to the developer, Oliver Kreylos (@okreylos) – a faculty member and self-proclaimed holodeck builder at the University of California Davis.


For those who are serious about bringing this project to their home, school, or local children’s museum: a few resources are available here and here. At the time of writing this article, Oliver Kreylosr’s opensource code page was down (a side effect of going viral, I’m sure) but here’s the link for when it comes back up.

Until then you can also build your countries the old-fashioned way – with balled up newspaper, more paper, and glue…


Tips for how to build an old-fashioned paper mache landmass or volcano:

1. To make a mountain, use paper, Elmer’s glue, and water. For a volcano, you’ll also need an empty water bottle.

2. To build your landmass: Make the glue really watery. Dip strips of paper in the glue and lay them across balled up paper and around the water bottle, if using. Leave the top of the water bottle clear of any paper so you can make it erupt later.

3. Let dry for a day or two, then decorate with paint and whatever else suits your fancy.

4. To make the volcano erupt: Add 2 Tbsp baking soda to the water bottle. Mix 1/4 cup vinegar and red food coloring (if desired) – pour into the bottle and watch her blow!

Here’s Ava with her tropical volcano last summer. We decorated it with flowers, grasses and moss from the garden. And, yes, you can watch it erupt (and see which “people” survive the lava flow).