Monday Meal Review: Latvia

THE SCENE: Birth day.

Ava’s nephew. Keith’s grandson. Kaiden Ray. He is here and he is beautiful.

The night he was born Ava held this oh-so-new life on her tiny lap, so amazed. Spellbound. Once a few minutes went by, she honed in on her most serious concern for this tiny being.

She wanted to know if Kaiden would have toys to play with.

“Kaiden have toys?” she asked Alexis, his mother.

“He doesn’t need toys right now,” she smiled, still radiant the way a new mother is.

One toy.”  Ava insisted, her brow furrowing in increased concern.

The entire room chuckled.

One toy, okay?  she repeated, not seeing what was so funny.

A few days later the new family went home with their little boy and we were back to our old routines.

It was dinner time. We’d already had the Latvian birthday cake in honor of Kaiden. We’d already had the apple pancakes in honor of apple season. Today was simply a day for pork chops and cranberry sauce. Simple, nothing fancy. But sweet and tangy in the best possible way.

The sun was low and hazy, clinging to the gray clouds, as it often does in autumn evenings. We ate and talked. Soon our plates emptied. Then there were but a few scraps left in the serving bowls.

As the room fell quiet, Keith reached his hand to the center of the table and picked up the bowl of cranberry sauce. There was still about a cup left. Before I had time to drop my jaw, he’d scooped the last cup of berries into his mouth.

I was speechless.

More than speechless.

I was shocked.

“My Grandma always made sure there were cranberries on the table for me.” he said with a smile.

I didn’t know what to say.

“I always thought you hated cranberry sauce,” I finally managed. “I wasn’t even sure you’d be willing to try it,” I added.

He scraped the bottom of the bowl clean, licking the spoon.

“You even like the lumpy kind?” I said, unable to hide my amazement.


The bowl was empty, yet I would have bet money he hated cranberry sauce. Possibly even my life.

As I pondered the meaning of it all, Ava piped up “Kaiden have one toy, okay?”


Latvian Apple Pancakes [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

Welcome to the flavor of autumn, in a single bite. The warm spices – cinnamon and cardamom – made this universally appealing in our house – especially because the flavors remind me of my childhood. Keith liked it with extra honey and yogurt – and he’s totally right.

What I liked least about this dish:

While Ava loves pancakes and crepes, she simply didn’t like the chunky apple texture. She would have done better had I grated the apple. Also, I would prefer the apples be cooked more (my mother-in-law liked the crunch, however).

Latvian Birthday Cake (Klingeris) [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

While Guinness Chocolate Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream is my go-to birthday cake, I loved the novelty of serving a sweet bread with candles in it. Even Ava loved it, and wanted to blow the candle over and over again, while singing happy birthday. I like the flavor very much with a cup of hot tea. Even several days old, when it’s dry and a little crusty, makes for the perfect dunking material.

What I liked least about this dish:

Depending how thick you roll your strand before bending into a pretzel, you could potentially have different cooking time than me. Also, if the strand is thick it could puff up enough to totally “erase” the pretzel shape. Be sure to leave a fistful of space in each pretzel hole in order to be sure it won’t close up on you.

Baltic Cranberry Sauce [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

Easy. Tasty. Fun to play around with. That and the fact that it taught me something new about my husband. I literally had no idea he liked cranberry sauce. I would have bet money on it. Possibly even my life, if forced. I’m so glad I didn’t, though.

What I liked least about this dish:

Sometimes I’m not in the mood for chunky cranberry sauce, which is fine. All you have to do to make a nice smooth sauce is to strain and press the berries through a fine sieve. All the juices will flow through. Once refrigerated, they’ll take on a gelatinous appearance. Delish!

Ava’s Corner:


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