All posts filed under: Worldwide

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 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. 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 …

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

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 …

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The ugly truth about chasing peace

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. And what journey can continue without food? This much I know: We break bread with each other because every movement, …

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Bulgarians read “Life From Scratch” & fall in love

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. 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 …

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What does it mean to eat in peace?

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. 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. …

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The Science & Geography of Mermaids: A Birthday Party

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 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 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 …

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A Fellowship 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 My research will focus on Expressions of Peace & War at …

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What if you could live off Victory?

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. 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. 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 …

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Peace is not a verb

Peace is not a verb Peace does not twist or rush between bodies of water or flesh; There is no giving or delivering of peace. Peace is not the catch in a mother’s throat before her scream scales the body nor does it rise from vacant eyes Peace does not love or die. Peace does not lift, does not hoist. There are no weeds peace uproots and replants with purpose. Peace is not something I do to you or force upon you; Though a lover makes love and a rapist rapes, Peace is without clambering, bargaining, begging for change. Peace is the weed being the weed; Peace is mourning all morning – if that’s what’s to be done. Peace is knowing things aren’t well and scraping breath over lung anyway. Peace is stillness in the storm – Finding the eye, the gaze; Lone requirement for clarity Lone requirement for change. *** This poem came to me last night. My cat had just brought in a mouse, which my husband and I proceeded to chase around …

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Dear Chris Kimball: Welcome to cooking the world!

Dear Mr. Kimball, At first, I was saddened to hear you left America’s Test Kitchen. Like so many, I’d come to rely on your impeccable standards and trustworthy recipes over the decades. They were a sure thing – dare I say, as sure as death and taxes but a lot more palatable. For me, this was more than a need for robot-like precision on my counter and in my oven (such an aim would be fruitless anyway: my oven runs hot – and it’ll be a long time before my pennies pile up enough to upgrade). My interest in your work started in 1998, when I was 19 years old. My mother is the one who introduced me to you, your recipes and your bow tie – an introduction wrapped up in the messy business of getting to know a mother who I had only seen once since I was 10 years old. Circumstances were challenging in my early childhood. My older brother and I slept in the living room, while Mom slept in the breadbox …

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Book writing for children: Laying foundations for peace

Creative writing is peace education. The process of creating a world on paper helps children understand the real world. When a child imagines themselves in strange situations – or better yet, when they imagine what another person would do in their story – they learn to “walk in other people’s shoes.” A question like “What would your character feel like in the desert, looking at up at a massive pyramid” gets at a deeper question – what is it like to live in another part of the world? Suddenly, a child who has put no thought into what it would be like to be born into a different situation is considering it. Creative writing helps children learn empathy. When done with care, creative writing is also a lesson in conflict resolution.  Writing exercises should be built around traditional story structure, meaning the children must put their characters in some sort of peril. If a character’s boat tips over, then the child must imagine a way to get their characters to safety. If two characters have a disagreement, …

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Accidental lessons in parenting from Japanese culinary masters

My favorite time to obsess about my parenting choices is when I’m washing dishes, a mixture of warm soapy water and tomato sauce soaking my belly. Am I raising my six-year old right? Should she be doing more than yoga and dance? Or is she already too busy? Does she have time to let her mind wander? Should she be helping me with the dishes? Or would she be better off making mud pies? Then I began reading Rice, Noodle, Fish, by Matt Goulding. The subtitle to this book is not Parenting for Chefs… Nor did Anthony Bourdain Books / HarperCollins, the publisher, intend this book to have an interdisciplinary application. But the best books do. This is not some gentle text. Pursuant to the actual subtitle, Deep Travels Through Japan’s Food Culture, this is not some gentle text, allowing the reader to sit comfortably in whatever generalist assumptions we might have about Japanese cooking. This is a 1,000-x magnification, showing crumb-level texture of the food scene in several major Japanese cities. From Tokyo to Noto, we sweep quickly past …

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