Plan a “Kuku” picnic with tips & recipes from the Persian holiday Nowruz

Newroz celebration in Istanbul. Photo by Bertil Videt.

The first picnic of the year is a thing of beauty: tender daffodils and hyacinths poking through last season's dusty, yellowed grass. Herbs getting bushy and fragrant. The air is cool, but the sun is warm. If you're looking for an excuse to get outside and celebrate, you're in luck: the Persian New Year, known as Nowruz, is the time to do it. But before you scope out a sunny patch of grass, there are a few things you should know. Why Nowruz? Sure, you could just plunk down a blanket and … [Read more...]

Easy DIY Sushi Doll for a fun Doll’s Day celebration

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We grow out of playing with dolls. We bury their plastic limbs in toy boxes - boxes that are now covered in dust or long-since donated. Some even say dolls are for babies. But this is simply not true -- dolls are powerful symbols, and the Japanese festival called Doll's Day (a.k.a. Hina Matsuri) is a great example of how they can be used to celebrate heritage and the art of letting go. A Display of Heritage Doll's Day starts in February, when families display their dolls in a special spot, … [Read more...]

5 Secrets to Springtime in January, thanks to the Hindu Harvest Festival

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You know that old saying, "It's 5 o'clock somewhere"? Well the same can be said of springtime. Even while ice and and snow pummel the northern hemisphere and hot days sizzle in the southern, there are plenty of people celebrating springtime in India and other South Asian countries... Yes, in January. After the wild hair seventy degree day we had a couple of days ago, Ava and I were ready to say goodbye to winter, too. So how do we get there? This January 14 marks Makar Sankranti, the … [Read more...]

Monday Meal Review: Yemen

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httpv://youtu.be/0HwkROj5dvQ "Oh yeah..." Keith says, chewing thoughtfully. "These are good!" I look at him a moment, scanning his eyes, wondering if he is being truthful. Then I look down at the plate to check if he'd eaten the right thing. Sesame coated, almond stuffed dates. Yup. Could he really think the Stuffed Date Balls are good? To be fair, he had no idea what they were when he ate them, except I did warn him that the crunchy thing inside was an almond. Still, these date balls … [Read more...]

Recipe: Almond Stuffed Date Balls

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When I made the amazing Pistachio Date Balls for Iraq, I thought I'd seen the easiest recipe in the world.  It only uses two ingredients (third if you feel like getting extra fancy), and there's no cooking. Well, today's date balls are even easier: they don't require a food processor. Boom! Even as simple as they are, the flavor is amazing - as though from a much more complex recipe. There's a sweetness from the dates that transports me straight to Yemen... I mean, forget it. Let's … [Read more...]

Recipe: Spiced Skillet Eggs | Yemeni Shakshouka

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Eggs. In the shell, they seems so... ordinary. But glowing, too, like they're full of potential. Like they're ready to become something more. When it comes to breakfast, Yemen knows how to dress them up - as Shakshouka. Shakshouka is a beloved skillet egg dish popular all over North Africa and the Middle East. We've made shakshouka before - the kind that is rather like a tomato sauce with poached eggs inside (and, by the way, yum!) - but Yemen makes shakshouka … [Read more...]

Menu: Yemen

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Yemen happens to coincide with Halloween. Halloween means trick or treating. Tons of candy and dressing up as a dream - as someone else. Or something else. This year, Ava is going as "the night sky and harvest moon." Because, well, why not!? We made her dress with tulle, and she sewed her moon together from felt. I helped affixed it to the front of her dress. In the spirit of Halloween, we dressed up eggs and dates for our Yemeni menu.  I'm not sure either recipe would work for the … [Read more...]

About the food of Yemen

Footbridge in Shaharah, Yemen. Photo by Bernard Gagnon.

"Work like an ant and you'll eat sugar." Yemeni Proverb I can't decide if the country of Yemen looks like a check mark or a bow tie.  It depends on the map.  Still, every time I thought about how to begin this post, I kept coming back to that check mark - the kind you get when you do a good job on your homework. Probably because Yemen is the third to last country on our list of countries. Check, check, check. I can't. believe. it! But there is, indeed, more to Yemen than her … [Read more...]