Recipe: Rwandan “Agatogo” with Collard Greens

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There's an old Rwandan saying "The most extensive land is the human belly."  I like to think there's mountains and streams in there, glorious sunsets and easy, glimmering sunrises. Is that somehow unsavory? I don't know. I do know I want this land to be vast, and include as much variety as possible. I want to fit the whole world in there. And this, my friends, includes the plantain. Plantains have been an issue for my family from the beginning. Ava isn't really keen on them (or bananas). … [Read more...]

Recipe: Transylvanian Cauliflower Casserole with Cheese

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I don't usually give a lot of thought to Dracula, except for that one era in the nineties when several movies came out and I read "Interview with a Vampire" in two and a half late-night sittings. For a long time afterwards my brain bore the imprint of fear. Do not leave the windows open in the glittering, eerie night,  a little voice told me. Whatever you do, sleep with garlic in close proximity - preferably around the neck, the voice added. (I would have done so, if it hadn't been so … [Read more...]

Recipe: Romanian Stuffed Cabbage Leaves (Sarmale)

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Cabbage patch kids always seemed creepy to me when I was little. What kind of baby grows out of a cabbage? Could you still eat the cabbage once you harvested the baby? This doll raised lots of questions. Not to say this stopped me from wanting a cabbage patch doll more than Rainbow Brite leggings, because I did. The urge was major. Now that I am a couple (few) decades older, I know exactly what was going on - mostly because it's starting to happen with Ava. I wanted those dolls because all … [Read more...]

Recipe: Stuffed Grape Leaves | Warak Enab

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Time and time again I've failed to entice Ava with stuffed grape leaves. I tried back when we cooked Armenia, when the grape leaves were laced with an intoxicating blend of cinnamon, allspice and currants and she was an innocent, unquestioning 8-month old. Let's just say she wasn't ready - neither for the somewhat chewy outer "skin," nor the mystery of what was inside. Little kids like to know what mom is feeding them. Not one to give up easily, I spent the last 3 years casually pushing them … [Read more...]

Recipe: White Cucumber Salad | Mizeria

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Misery. When I get out of a steaming hot shower in the icy heart of winter and frost settles onto my damp neck before I can towel off. When I eat too much food at the fair and go to bed immediately afterwards. When my feet are tired and hot after a long, long day but - for whatever reason - I can't take my shoes off yet. When I eat cucumber salad? I feel fresh. Happy. Not exactly miserable. But misery is the Polish name of this crunchy, creamy cucumber salad made with sour cream, dill, a … [Read more...]

Recipe: Autumnal Veggies in Spiced Coconut Milk

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"I would eat that" says Mr. Picky, after taking a nibble off of my wooden spoon. I take a bite off the same spoon and let my eyes flutter shut. My mouth is filled with the most comforting, savory goodness. These coconut veggies taste exactly like a delicious hug on a rainy day... or a steaming hot shower after a rough and tumble game of basketball... or that happy dream you have after finishing a really, really great book (or show) - the kind of dream that lets the world of the characters … [Read more...]

Recipe: Pakistani Mixed Bean Salad

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Next time you go to a potluck,  spice up everyone's life with pakistani mixed bean salad. Each bite has bits of chickpea, northern white beans, tomato, onion, and peppers. The salad can be spicy or mild, tart or savory. It all depends on how you mix it. Either way, it's fresh, healthy, and - thanks to being seasoned with lemon juice, cilantro, and garam masala -  just on the other side of unusual. Be sure to make this salad at least a few hours before you need it, to give time for the … [Read more...]

Recipe: Grilled Kofta with Zucchini Sauce (with poll)

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This week we dove into a summery garden spread from Oman. Kofta are grilled hand-formed sausages enjoyed in Oman and neighboring countries. In fact, versions of kofta are enjoyed as far east as India (although these are typically served in meatball form). These Omani kofta sizzle with earthy cumin, warm flutterings of cinnamon, and are rounded out by coriander seed, fresh parsley and cilantro. The sauce - entirely vegan, by the way - is loaded up with fresh zucchini, garlic, parlsey and such … [Read more...]