A friend and colleague is in town from Kosovo. Instead of having her to the house, per routine, I decided we should go out to dinner. No kids around would allow us to have more meaningful conversation and, plus, I could do it after Little Elephant hit the hay.
I choose a tiny little restaurant that I like because of its lack of menu, fabulous food, and the ability to hear your table mate. Also, assuming you eat early enough (which I generally do), it usually isn’t too smoky. We arrived, sat down, and 5 minutes later, the Prime Minister walked in. Given that the restaurant has about ten table, we were just next door. Certainly made me look like the good host and like I know where to eat in this city. Shh! Don’t tell her that it was a fluke!
Meal and company was often. Hopefully she will come back so we can test out other places in the city.
Wow! I had planned to share at least 5 good recipes this month. Without actively following my original goals– I actually met this one. I think I posted three (mushroom bisque and two recipes with pomegranate). I also linked to a ginger trifle and, posting one last one today, will help me reach my official goal! Yay me!
Irish Soda Bread (How my Mom makes it).
I wish I could tell you where this recipe is from (beyond a clipping in my Mom’s cookbook binder). But, it is delicious. Really, I should make it more often. But then I would be missing the Corned Beef and Cabbage to go with it.
PS Bonus recipe posted by me this month over at VillageQ!
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday; the time of year I get nostalgic for living in the US. I love the food. I love the family. I love the friends who are family. It is the perfect holiday- no religious connotations, no stress of gift giving, just food and loved ones.
Of course, being the wanderer I am, many times I have not made it home. Here is the rundown of Thanksgivings abroad:
- 1996 (Chile)- I honestly have no idea what I did. I was 16 and hadn’t reflected yet on what I was missing.
- 2000 (Chile)- Cooked thanksgiving dinner with my friend Melissa for my roommates and friends, 4 men. We greatly underestimated how long it would take a turkey to cook and had to confiscate car keys and cell phones to avoid a pizza dinner.
- 2002 (Moldova)- Thanksgiving with the other Peace Corps volunteers. Cooked dinner for 200+.
- 2003 (Moldova)- Thanksgiving with the other Peace Corps volunteers. Cooked dinner for 200+. Harder the second time as the cooks through I was too young to know how to cook and kept “helping”.
- 2007 (Chile)- Thanksgiving with some friends at Marisol’s. Lots of food. Lots of drink. Salsa dancing.
- 2010 (Kazakhstan)- Had dinner at my boss’ house with his boss and senior management. Still not sure how I got invited, but had a great time.
- 2011 (Kazakhstan)- Cooked duck over at Jim and T-raz’ place. Great friends. Great fun. Little Elephant’s first thanksgiving.
- 2012 (Albania)- Turkey from the cafeteria. Very low-key as we were waiting for my brother-in-law to arrive and celebrate. We did. Just one month later!
- 2013 (Albania)- Toddler play date while parents gobble turkey legs, mushroom bisque, two types of potatoes, cranberry dressing, ginger trifle, and a thrown together meal. It may not be quite as elaborately planned, but then again, what is with toddlers? And, turns out, with a few foodies, not elaborately planned can turn out delicious!
Photo: Clare Says
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I grew up eating this bisque; it is one of my favorite soups and certainly ranks up there as comfort food. That said, I rarely make it. It tastes so rich and decadent that I forget how simple it truly is. In fact, today, I made it while my daughter sat by my side. Once everything was chopped and cooking, we read a few books. Then, I returned to the kitchen. My point? It was simple and hands off enough that I could complete it without the 2-year-old having a melt down because Mommy’s attention was elsewhere! Even better? She loved it!
- Chop 1 lb. mushrooms (even better if you mix types of mushrooms).
- Add 3 cups chicken broth (4 cubes).
- Add 1 onion whole (sometimes I use two or I use read onions).
- Simmer 15-20 minutes.
- Remove Onion.
- Melt and heat 3 tbs. butter, add ¼ cup flour.
- Add 1 cup milk.
- Stir until thickened.
- Whisk into mushroom mix.
- Add ¾ – 1 cup heavy cream (sometimes I use whole milk or whatever I have). Salt, pepper, paprika or 1 tbs. parsley
- 1 tsp sherry (optional)
- Heat gently. Do not boil.
Pomegranates grow freely here in Albania and we are certainly loving this! Being used to pomegranates being a super expensive treat that we only get once in a while, having enough to experiment with is a huge treat! Not to mention, watching how much my daughter loves to eat them, fist fulls at a time.
First, I have now learned how to get the seeds out in a timely and less messy fashion.
I also have tried a few recipes. Here are “win” and my “fail” as it came to pomogrante recipes.
Win: Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate
- 7cups Brussels sprouts, sliced in half and any discolored leaves removed
- Olive oil to toss
- 2tablespoons maple syrup
- 1teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4cups pomegranate seeds, about half a large pomegranate
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with a few drizzles of olive oil. Spread the sprouts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, cut sides down. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the sprouts are tender and deep golden brown on their cut sides and showing some crispy edges.
- In a small bowl, whisk the maple syrup, vinegar and salt together. Remove the baking pan from the oven. Drizzle the syrup mixture over and use a spatula to lift the sprouts and gently toss to coat. Spread evenly again.
- Return the baking pan to the oven and roast for another 5 minutes. Combine the Brussels sprouts with the pomegranate seeds in a serving bowl and enjoy.
**Note: I love Brussels Sprouts to begin with. Also, I used frozen sprouts because that is what I had on hand. It worked although I am sure would have been better with fresh. I think my proportions were off and I had too many pomegranate seeds— but I liked it that way!
Fail: Roasted Pomegranate from Williams and Sonoma Appetizers cookbook
Roast a pomegranate in a preheated 400°F or 200°C oven until cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Split in half and drizzle with lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and honey. Sprinkle with salt and minced fresh mint.
**Note: The first few bites were actually quite good. The mix of sweet, salty, and sour. However, it grew old and I can’t imagine finishing one or having it often.
I don’t know what it is about driving, or rather bring driven, that makes me sleepy. I am easily lulled into dreamland as soon as we get moving. So is my daughter. This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, naps! Yay! On the other hand, once she is asleep, we are car-bound.
I take a lot of naps in the car with her. I write blog posts on my cell phone (like this one). Sometimes, I remember to being a book or work to do.
The worst, however, is when I am hungry. Especially if we had been on our way to a restaurant.
Today, I knew this would happen. And I had a huge craving for sushi. So, I tried something new. I called and asked if they delivered. They didn’t. They did do takeout, so I asked if they would just step out and I could pay at my car.
The woman answering the phone had a strong accent, the connection was bad, and my request was random. I tried again.
Finally, she understood and then shouted the request in Japanese to one of the servers. She agreed.
Thanks Ginza Sushi! The rainbow roll is great and eating in the car while my daughter naps is even better.
Sometimes, with huge spurts of energy, I want to be one of those Moms who makes the coolest cake and is a Do-It-Yourself guru. The kind who you can’t tell it was DIY. The topic of DIY oscillates Sometimes I want to be able to carve wood, update kitchens and bathrooms, or builds multistory tree houses. Other times, I want to return to sewing or learn how to bake amazing cakes.
This past week I came across Rosie Cake-Diva‘s amazing Facebook page! Not only does she show of her talent, but she has step by step instructions on how to make really cool cakes. While I will never to get her level, I think I could make a polka-dot cake. Here are examples:
And this is what the directions look like— Please note that I have cut off part of the instructions on purpose so that you go and like her Facebook page. I do not know Rosie. I have never had her cakes. She is not sponsoring this post. I just think it is so amazingly cool that she is teaching me, that I want to support her.
Pretty cool, right?