All posts tagged: winter

Happy Ethiopian New Year Greetings

Celebrating the Ethiopian New Year with Doro Wat

There’s been a movement to make Enkutatash – a.k.a. Ethiopian New Year – as popular as St. Patrick’s Day or Cinco de Mayo.  But instead of wearing green or dancing to a mariachi band you’re invited for a much simpler, down to earth sort of celebration. Wear white. Pick yellow daisies. And enjoy traditional Ethiopian food. Waaaay back when “Enkutatash” literally stands for “gift of jewels.” As the story goes, several thousand years ago the Queen of Sheba delivered more than 4.5 tons of gold and as many spices to King Solomon. King Solomon was quite the host as he, too, showered her with gifts: …in return, King Solomon had assembled an array of gifts for her arrival. Great caskets of sticky Nubian millet beer awaited her party. The gifts were staked on mules outside Solomon’s palace, ready for her people to take to their camp and enjoy. Silks and linens from Gaza, Assyria, and Lebanon. Tapestry from Ma-Wara-Mnar. Dresses, sweet fruit from Iraq, Mongolistan winter melons. And basins of water from the spring at Siloe. Following …

Julia Lipnitskaia, Russian figure skater. Photo by David W. Carmichael. Gold medal winner Stefan Groothuis during his race. Photo by M. Smelter.

7 Russian Dishes Worth Celebrating

Frankly, I’m embarrassed by the press’ coverage of the Olympics – it feels like the popular kids ganging up on the ‘outsiders’. While I don’t expect everything in the press to be all to be sunshine and rainbows, mean-spirited articles and blog posts whose primary goal has been to “poke fun” of the culture and people is a failure – a total disregard for the true purpose of the Olympics. We deserve more. They deserve better. The Olympics are a time to step up and celebrate each other – our athletes, our talents, that thing called dreams realized.  I recently read a fairly negative article about the food in Sochi, with interviewees calling their food experiences “bland” and “different” (citing the pervasiveness of cow tongue on the restaurant menus as a negative), with “McDonald’s as a best friend”. To be fair, the author did come around by the end of the article and cite a few decent meal reviews. Still, the time has come: someone needs to focus on the good. Let’s be real: it is all too …

Betsy Graves Reyneau, 1888-1964, Artist

Martin Luther King’s Radical Notion: Extreme Peace

Thanks to this blog many well-meaning, genuinely curious people ask me: “Do you really think peace is possible?” They say “really” with those drawn out vowels that mean they think I’m either a) ignorant or b) naive. When I sit and think about it, I realize they’re right, on both counts. I am ignorant. When I was in eighth grade, my class went on a trip to Greece. One night while we were there, an explosion shook the very foundation of our hotel. In the midst of the chaos, the rumor-mill started. Someone decided we were at war with a nearby country. The truth was far more innocuous: a gas station had a minor explosion a few miles away. But it taught me one simple lesson: ignorance starts wars. Sometimes I try to imagine what it would be like to work as a big shot in international affairs – knowing about the threats, the danger, the seething anger that threatens to boil over at any given moment. It is the job of those big shots to not be …

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

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 Hindu Harvest Festival. While Makar Sankranti is intended to celebrate the winter solstice and last year’s good harvest,  it also celebrates the arrival of spring. This is one of those “looking forward” to warmth, while looking back with appreciation. To Hindus, the Sun stands for knowledge, spiritual light and wisdom. Makara Sankranti signifies that we should turn away from the darkness of delusion in which we live, and begin to enjoy a new life with bright light within us to shine brighter and brighter. We should gradually begin to …

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Wassail

The question is not whether I’d sing to an apple tree, but rather where I can find an apple tree to sing to. My Oklahoman neighborhood just doesn’t deliver the crimson fruit. Regardless, I will tipple this wassail with a cheer (wassail literally means “wes hail”, or good cheer)- after all in 2014 I’m learning about celebrations around the world, a suitable follow-up to completing our first adventure: eating one meal for every country in the world. January is all about wassailing. What is wassailing? Wassailing is the Southern English art – yes, art – of cooking up some of last year’s apple crop with cider – sometimes with a flush of orange peel, warm cinnamon stick, flecks of nutmeg, or maybe allspice. To make it… just… Roast some apples. Click on the burner and clank on a pot of cider and spice. In a moment, heat shimmers through the pot and those first bubbles pop the surface. Seconds later, sweet apple and spice billows through the house. The roasted apples are whipped into a froth, then stirred to …

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The Pope’s Fettuccine | Fettuccine alla papalina

Before I knew about Papalina-style noodles, I thought Carbonara was the bees knees. But it turns out that Papalina is the richer version of carbonara. It uses cream, Parmesan, and prosciutto instead of the pancetta or guanciale (pig jowl) from in carbonara. One peppery bite in, and mac and cheese is a bland, happily forgotten memory. Let me be clear. My translation of the Italian is not entirely accurate. Papalina means skullcap, not pope. But I dubbed this recipe the Pope’s Fettuccine because it was literally created for Pope Pius XII in the late 1930’s. And guess what he wore? A skullcap. Anyway, there are many versions of how the recipe was invented. The most common, is that the pope wanted to enjoy a very typical Roman meal. The chef in charge decided that carbonara was very Roman… but he decided that he wanted to make a special version, just for the pope. So Papalina was born. Beautiful, peppery papalina.   It makes for a fancy but easy dinner party meal. It truly is the grown-up mac and …

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Ukranian Pasta Bake | Baked Lokshyna

Wouldn’t it be amazing if bacon could cure every ailment. In the Ukraine, I bet it does. Broken heart? Bacon. Spilled beet juice on your favorite sundress? Bacon. Thursday afternoon existential crisis? Bacon. I’m thinking it’s worth a try. That’s where this pasta bake comes in. “Lokshyna” are Ukrainian noodles, and today we’ve dressed them up with plenty of sizzling bacon, creamy cottage cheese, and a couple of cracked eggs to bind the casserole together. The finishing touch is a happy sprinkling of buttered breadcrumbs (as few or as many as you’d like). One note on authenticity: traditional versions of this recipe are made with fresh egg noodles. On a particularly harried shopping trip, I was unable to locate any… so my version is made with dried noodles. Keep in mind: if you do decide to use fresh noodles, you may need to alter the recipe. This is because fresh noodles can be baked uncooked, but will require more liquid to do so. But, either way, the Ukranian pasta casserole is… awesomely comforting (and perfect …

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Peanut Brittle with Coconut & Cardamom | Kashata

On the simmering streets of Uganda, you can walk up to a street vendor and satisfy your sweet tooth with a big bite of Kashata. Loosely speaking, Kashata is East African brittle.  It’s most popular in Uganda and Tanzania. It’s hard, sweet, and all kinds of delicious. I’ve seen Kashata shaped as cubes, balls, and diamonds. Some are flat, some are thick. Just like people, the shape doesn’t matter; it’s all about what’s on the inside. The most glorious Kashata are a blend of peanuts, shredded coconut, and either cinnamon or cardamom. You can also find Kashata made from all coconut or all peanuts. Moreover, sometimes you simply dump in whatever nuts you have on hand. Easy. Makes enough to share. 1-2 dozen (depending on how thin you spread the mixture) Ingredients: 2 cups sugar 1 1/2 – 2 cups peanuts 1 1/2 – 2 cups dried coconut (unsweet) 3/4 tsp ground cardamom (or cinnamon) pinch salt oil, for greasing Method: Let’s go to Uganda, where electricity is optional… because, truth be told, this entire …

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Lamb Plov with Dried Apricots & Raisins

I’m an awkward girl; I’m not up on fashion trends, my slang is two decades passe, and I’d rather drink wine at home than be surrounded by 100 people I don’t know. Dinner parties can really put me to the test, especially when I’m the hostess. I want everyone to have a good time, but I’m never entirely sure how to bring everyone together. That’s where Tajikistan can help. You know that moment, right as everyone sits down to eat? I refer to it as the calm before the storm. It’s a little bit awkward; there’s a pause while everyone gauges the mood of the room. What follows this quiet determines the success of every dinner party. In Tajikistan, where there’s a crowd, there’s Plov. Pulling up to a giant communal platter of rice brings a natural closeness.  By forcing yourself to dip hands into a communal platter breaks down any barriers and is a natural conversation starter. If your guests are unfamiliar with communal eating, the best thing to do is to give them …

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Mealie Bread

The next time you walk into your kitchen, walk into the warm, sweet scent of mealie bread. Let a smile curl along your lips as you taste that first, moist bite with your imagination. Then take a moment for real indulgence: spread softened butter across the still-warm bread, only to see it melt into and down the sides of the tender crumb. I’ve had lots of corn bread before, but never something as rich and flavorful as this Mealie Bread. The main difference between this and ordinary corn bread is that it doesn’t rely on cornmeal, but actual corn to flavor the bread. Mealie Bread is a treat you will find throughout southern Africa. In olden days, it was steamed over a campfire, with little more than ground corn, wrapped up in husks. They used white corn, not sweet, yellow corn. The end result was more of a wet corn pudding. Today’s southern Africans, however, love mealie bread with more of a bread consistency, so they include flour. The jury is out, however, on whether or not the …

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Sudanese Cinnamon Tea

Under the pulsing noonday sun, Tea Ladies line the streets of Sudan. They soak up what little shade they can find. Water simmers over charcoal stoves. They swirl a mishmash of ingredients through the steam, into the pot. You can pick your combination. Will it be mint? Or what about ginger? The most popular option for many patrons is cinnamon tea, a blend of black tea steeped with cinnamon sticks. Many patrons like to hold a sugar cube between the teeth while drinking to sweeten the brew. When business is good, men sit and talk at the edge of their Tea Lady’s makeshift stall. They sip her healing brews on metal chairs, a wooden box, or on their haunches. They don’t rush. They soak in the warmth. The might nibble some Zalabya, a.k.a. sugar dumplings, to go with it. Others rush by and drink on the run. When their too busy at home to make tea, this is their version of Starbucks or perhaps Dunkin Donuts. Makes 3 cups Ingredients: 3 cinnamon sticks 3 cups …

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Sri Lankan Yellow Rice | Kaha Bath

After you make this recipe, you will be haunted. Your home will blossom with the tropical scents of Sri Lanka. And your mouth will beg to remember each bite: the slightly toasted note from the curry leaves, the vanilla-like pandan, and the ultra creamy coconut milk.  Not to forget the cinnamon, because.. well, how could we? This sweet, sweet earthiness pulls the rice together. Yes. When it comes to this rice, it’s all good. Now, there’s nothing simpler than this rice.  This is an “Add everything to the pot and cook” sort of recipe… and once you make it, I’m certain it will make it’s way into the regular rotation. It’s simply too easy and too flavorful. To make your life easier, just follow these simple guidelines: 1. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest Asian market. 2. Pick up an armful of pandan and curry leaves and tuck them safely into your freezer door. 3. Toss them in a pot and enjoy the happily ever after that is Sri Lanka’s Yellow Rice, or Kaha Bath. 4. …