pickled-figs

Homemade Balsamic Figs | Entertaining the Italian way

A daydream worth dreaming

Cobblestone alleys flanked by weathered walls. Hilltop churches. Sunlight warm on fig trees and grapevines.  This is the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

Deep in the cellars there’s Parmesan, balsamic, and prosciutto aging. They slumber in the dim recesses, the nuttiness and salt growing bolder, rounder. Waiting for the perfect moment to shine.

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Swedish girl wearing a Midsummer crown. Photo by Bengt Nyman.

22 Campfire & Scandinavian Recipes to celebrate Midsummer’s Night

Midsummer’s Eve – the longest day of the year – is celebrated in dozens of countries with huge bonfires, maypole dancing, and glorious food. In Scandinavia, the sun never fully sets. But even if night falls where you live, you can still celebrate. To get into the spirit, simply drop out of big city chaos and into nature. This is a time to make flower crowns, swim in clear streams, sing hymns, and laugh more than is wise. Some say Midsummer is also a time for love. After long, dark winter the cheerful sun naturally warms hearts. One famous Swedish proverb states: “Midsummer Night is not long but it sets many cradles rocking.” It is also said that, if a woman is to pick seven flowers in silence and places them under her pillow on Midsummer Night, she will dream about her one true love. For me – already fully in love and married with a child – the main purpose of Midsummer is to enjoy the light with my family. Camping is a fantastic way to do …

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21 of the World’s Best Grilled Eats

Have you fired up the grill yet? In honor of Memorial Day and the start of this year’s heat wave, here are some of the best grilled foods from our family’s around the world cooking adventure, including several vegan and vegetarian dishes. For more than 600 other recipes from every country in the world, check out my Countries I’ve cooked page.  P.S. The recipes below may be enjoyed in multiple countries, but the countries identified below indicate at what point in our adventure we sampled the dishes.  1. Carne Asada | PARAGUAY (Recipe) Oh man. Steak marinated in garlic, oregano, fresh lime juice, and black pepper? Then sliced and served in a tortilla with avocado, tomato, cheese, and more? Yes, and yes!   2.  Barbecue Ribs | USA (Recipe) These ribs are fall-off-the-bone good and blasted with paprika, brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic, cayenne pepper, and cracked peppercorns. After a low, slow grillin’, they’re brushed with a lick of sweet barbecue sauce at the end. Need I say more?   3. Beef Suya | NIGERIA (Recipe) If ever there was a recipe that surprised me with …

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DIY Teacher's Gifts for under $3

18 Meaningful DIY Gifts for as little as $1.22 each for teachers, friends, & more!

What do you see when you look at several boxes of tea? I see opportuni-tea.  I’m so, so sorry! But it’s true: with just six boxes of tea, I can create a world of flavor for up to 18 people (some boxes only hold 16 bags) for hardly any money.  It’s so easy I almost feel guilty for making a step-by-step post about it. A little background first. There’s no end to the occasions that require thoughtful gifts. But it’s hard to find thoughtful gifts that are affordable. While these gifts would be great for Valentine’s Day, Office Christmas gifts, or party favors… School is almost over so we’re doing them as a teacher’s thank you. Ava will give one to each of her four teachers, as well as the preschool director. She’s had an amazing time these last few years, and we wanted to put care into thanking them. We accompanied the gifts with a little Q&A about Ava’s favorite memories and messages she wanted to pass on to make it even more personal. I chose …

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Filipino Garlic Rice

Filipino Garlic-Fried Rice | Panlasang Pinoy

  A Labor of Love I have a garden. It’s small – an L-shaped  raised bed built with heavy stones. In it I have a few tomato plants, basil, thyme, parsley, chives, and lemongrass. There’s also an abundance of mums; they come back every year and explode with burgundy, gold, and white in the autumn. Just next to the wall is my terracotta strawberry planter, perched atop a pedestal of chubby cherubs. It’s about as idyllic as my corner of the world gets. This is the first year I’ve really been able to dote over my plants. I recently handed in the last edits of my memoir, so time – for a little while, at least – is mine again (I even used old drafts of my memoir as weed guard). But paying attention comes with a certain degree of… noticing. How ants cluster and teem along the stone wall whenever I water the plants. How on hot days, even before a leaf begins to wilt, it’s shiny luster goes dull. How my cat likes to sleep …

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Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Mexican Grilled “Pizza” | Tlayuda

Sometimes I want it all: A clean house and a lazy weekend. A good night’s sleep and a Doctor Who marathon. Salad and pizza. Mexican and Italian food. I might not be able to balance out the former two, but as for the latter? Yes and yes.  The biggest tortilla in town. Tlayuda is Mexico’s answer to pizza. But don’t expect tomato sauce and basil leaves. This popular Oaxacan street food is made on an enormous tortilla and spread thickly with black beans (Take note: these aren’t ordinary black beans – they’ve been blended with a heaping of roasted garlic and onion, cumin, and chile powder). Purists will spread the tortilla with lard, too – though I prefer a light brush of vegetable oil. Finally, cheese is sprinkled on top, as is your choice of meat (beef, pork, or browned chorizo) and a garden’s-worth of toppings (think avocado, tomato, cheese, cilantro, lettuce, and jalepenos). It can be served open-faced or folded in half. When the first hot bite passes your lips, be prepared for a flavor explosion –  especially when you add a puckering of freshly …

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cheese-platter

Celebrate Earth Day with a DIY “Local Cheese Platter” & Wine

Can you hear that sound? It’s the Earth Day Bell, ringing, ringing, ringing. Ringing for peace. Ringing for love. Ringing for this world of ours. Imagine a world without the scent of gasoline, where people don’t use 5 paper towels after washing their hands, where we put as many resources back into our earth as we take out of it. And then imagine no one bickering, arguing, yelling, shoving – not when one a guy lets his girl down, not when she lets him down; not when we’re scared, hungry, tired. It’s a hard thing to imagine. But Earth day invites us to do exactly that – and imagining is the first step to realizing a new future. What is Earth Day? In it’s most simple form: Earth Day is when people from nearly every country in the world spend one day a year honoring our beautiful Earth and the concept of peace. The Earth Day Bell was first heard in Japan, but now many countries include the ringing as part of their celebrations. “Earth …

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Go Global with 8 Edible Hiding Spots for your Easter Eggs

An Easter Tradition Easter Eggs are a thing in our house. We dye them. We decorate them. We gobble them up in two’s (it’s funny how a purple or green shell can make an ordinary egg taste eggstraordinary). When I was little Mom hid these boiled treats in the yard and, after we found them we ate them, still-warm from the sun. Today plastic eggs have taken over – probably because of one too many tummy aches after an overly hot Easter. But the kids don’t seem to notice; they scramble to collect these plastic shells, cracking them open to reveal stickers, coins, and candy. Each year the plastic eggs become more elaborate. Now they aren’t simply eggs, they’re monkeys or giraffes, baseballs or footballs. It’s fun, yes, but also starting to feel a bit… gimmicky. In the spirit of getting back to basics – to those real Easter Eggs of my childhood, I considered safe ways I could “hide” eggs for my daughter to find. Since it was 84F last week I knew the back yard …

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Celebrate Name Yourself Day with Nigerian Fried Rice

This Shall Not Die In Yoruba culture, in southwestern Nigeria and Southern Benin, the naming of babies is of the utmost importance – one that the Yoruba people believe will help determine their child’s future – their fate. That’s how a baby might come to be named Kokumo, or “This Shall Not Die.” I’ll be honest, the first time I imagined a baby with the word “die” in their name, I got the chills. But Kokuma is an optimistic, prayerful name. A wish for their child’s well-being – not some morbid statement. Today, in honor of international Name Yourself Day (April 8) I’d like to explore if we can find such power in our names – whether or not where we end up in life can be manifest through clear and purposeful intention repeated like mantra, with something as basic as our very own names. If it is true, then the meaning and sentiment of our names can have a big influence on who we are and what we do with our lives. So we should choose them …

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5 DIY Gardening Gifts for the Global Foodie

I’m already Gone Herbs are heaven. A few clippings of lemongrass into a pot of pho, some rosemary in a ball of bread dough, or  a sprinkling of cilantro over rice and I’m transported to another place entirely. Another continent. I don’t even have to eat the herbs – I can shut my eyes and breathe in their aroma and … ahhhh… I’m already gone. It doesn’t help that I’ve been digging in the garden for these last couple of weeks… early spring is my favorite time of year because anything is possible. Everything is about to take off and grow! A world of flavor Imagine giving your friends an herb starter plant from every continent so they can experience some of the edible, craveable bounty the world has to offer? Whenever they take clippings of those herbs and add them to their meals they’ll be eating their way around the world –  an easy way to make their lives a little happier and tastier. Yes, there are herbs from every continent. At the end of …

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Newroz celebration in Istanbul. Photo by Bertil Videt.

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

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 pull out a pb&j sandwich, but there’s a reason people have been celebrating Nowruz for centuries, all over Iran, Afghanistan, India, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, China, and Uzbekistan. Nowruz is FUN.  This is more than a picnic – this is a mega picnic – full of ULTIMATE meaning and all kinds of joy. What’s the big deal? Nowruz means “new light,” which is the kind of giddy statement people make after a long, dark winter: “Yay! …

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Make Saint Patrick’s Day even better: pour a mug of Guinness…cake!

Your friends are about to come over for your annual Saint Patty’s Day bash. They’re expecting the corned beef and cabbage, the glittery green shamrocks on walls and hats alike. They’re even expecting frosty mugs of beer. But they might not be expecting a cake they can “drink.” We’ve been down this road before: ultra moist Guinness Chocolate Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream. But this year I gave the recipe a festive spin by serving it in a frosty beer mug. Not to worry — this isn’t about smooshing cake into a cup – the trick is easier, classier, and more beautiful than you might imagine. The only special equipment required? A few clean, dry 15-ounce cans. In winter, this problem is easily solved by having soup for dinner. Grease and flour the cans (baking spray makes quick work of the job). Then line the sides with a strip of parchment paper (make sure the parchment sticks up 11/2-2 inches above the rim and covers the complete circumference – no need to cover the bottom). Fill …

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