We’re back from Greece, my life and family are back on an even keel, and I’m ready to blog again. It’s fitting to resume blogging today; October 26 is my blog’s first birthday.
What a year this has been.
I’ve improved my writing and photography, but still have much to learn about both. I’ve struggled to maintain the discipline that regular blogging requires. Over the next year, I’ll continue that struggle and will do my best to provide interesting content and delicious recipes.
The best part of blogging is something I wouldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams - the dynamic and vital community of food writers. The generosity of fellow writers has been never ending. This kindness and thoughtfulness is a welcome counterpoint to the difficult economic and political challenges facing today’s world.
One way in which food writers build bonds and share information is though “events,” in which all are invited to write posts on a similar theme by a date certain. One of my favorite such events is Weekend Herb Blogging, an event created by Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen to highlight the herbs and other plants used by cooks around the world.
As it happens, today it’s my turn to summarize this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging entries.
Next week (October 27 – November 2, 2008) is the three year anniversary of Weekend Herb Blogging, and Kalyn encourages everyone to join in the anniversary celebration by submitting a recipe featuring their favorite herb, vegetable, or fruit. Kalyn has put together a whole week’s worth of anniversary events, including drawings for three fabulous prizes. Kalyn also has an important announcement about the future of Weekend Herb Blogging.
This week’s Weekend Herb Blogging entries are listed in the order I received them. If I’ve made an error, please let me know and I’ll fix it right away. Remember, next week’s third anniversary host is Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen.
Ning, ofHeart and Hearth, was lucky to receive a gift of several kilos of live crab. Ning’s maid generously contributed her family’s secret recipe for Drunken Crab, which Ning says is “the best crab we have ever tasted.” The crab is seasoned richly with fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, garlic, sesame oil, chili paste, and an entire liter of gin. Ning advises that what “cooking wine is to the Chinese, [gin is] to the Filipinos.
Cardamom Pear Cake
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Tina, ofChoosy Beggars, used her glut of pears to make Cardamom Pear Cake. Tina says her coffee cake is “wonderfully moist” and is “just perfect with a cup of Earl Gray tea or coffee.” Tina reports, “Five pears down, 500 more to go.”
Chania, Crete, Greece
Inspired by the current economic crisis, Maria, of the wonderful blogOrganically Cooked, boldly tried eating nettles for the first time. She put on her gloves and picked a pile of them. She substituted the nettles for spinach in Spanakopita and also made Kalitsounia (little Cretan hand pies) with nettle filling. Sadly, Maria wasn’t able to take a picture of the Kalitsounia because her family devoured them all as soon as they came out of the oven.
Pork and Vegetable Kebabs on Rosemary Skewers
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA
Last week, Nikki, ofNiksnacks, had a date with her stovetop smoker. She marinated chunks of pork tenderloin with orange juice, sage, and lavender, and threaded the pork and vegetables on rosemary skewers. Nikki briefly smoked the kebabs and finished cooking them in the oven. Nikki says, “Yum. If only every date I have could taste this good.” (For anyone who hasn’t tried rosemary skewers, I highly recommend trying them; here’s another idea for using them.)
Roasted Butternut Squash with Lemon, Thyme, and Parmesan
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Kalyn, ofKalyn’s Kitchen, created Weekend Herb Blogging and has faithfully organized it for the last three years, to well-deserved acclaim. This week, she made Roasted Butternut Squash with Lemon, Thyme, and Parmesan by roasting chunks of squash with olive oil, fresh thyme, and lemon juice, and finishing the roasted squash with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Autumn Fruit and Nut Salad with Pita Chips
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Yasmeen, ofHealth Nut, has been having a good time cooking and baking with seasonally fresh pumpkins. She reminds us to always use the “bounteous” and “beneficial” pumpkin seeds. Yasmeen’s Autumn Salad gets its “sensational flavor from crunchy pumpkin seeds … fresh apples, oranges, toasty almonds, and homemade pita chips.” She also describes her pumpkin seed roasting method.
Sfouggato with Asphodels
Mariana, ofHistory of Greek Food provides a very interesting lesson about the Greek omelet called Sfouggato. Mariana’s Sfouggato is particularly interesting because she made it with shoots of the asphodel, a flowering plant seen often in Greece. For anyone interested in food history, Mariana’s blog is a must read.
Sunroot Leek Flan with Horseradish Sauce
Valsorda, Lake Garda, Italy
Brii, ofBriggis Recept Och Ideer, writes about Jerusalem artichokes (also known as sunchokes, sunroots, and earth apples). Brii used them to make individual Sunroot Leak Flans, rich with cream cheese and seasoned with fresh ginger. Brii served the flans with a simple mixture of creamy yogurt and tangy horseradish.
Chocolate Poppy Seed Cake with Apples
Bardolino, Lake Garda, Italy
In honor of her Grandfather Silvio, Cinzia, of Cindystar, made Chocolate Poppy Seed Cake with Apples. Cinzia says the cake is “a sweet fantasy … made even more special by the poppy seeds that give this cake a unique and unusual taste and texture.” Cinzia also likes using poppy seeds in salads, sweet breads, and pastries.
Sagu Gula Bali (Sago with Spiced Coconut Milk)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Anna, of Morsels & Musings, uses sago pearls (similar to tapioca pearls) and pandan (screwpine) leaves to make an Indonesian dessert called Sagu Gula Bali. During a cooking class on Bali, Anna’s teacher explained that pandan is used in Southeast Asian cooking in a similar way to how vanilla is used in Western cooking. In the US and Australia, many Asian stores sell frozen pandan leaves which Anna says retain their flavor.
Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Alexandria, Virginia, USA
Cheryl, ofGluten Free Goodness, hosts a pumpkin carving contest every year for Halloween. This year she served Pumpkin Seed Brittle, based on an old nut brittle recipe in her collection. Because she cooks the sugar syrup in the microwave, Cheryl’s simple brittle takes only 10 minutes to make.
Petis Pois à La Française
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Haalo, ofCook (Almost) Anything at Least Once, recently found red-skinned peas in her local market. The peas look like, well, green peas, but the pods are something to behold; be sure to check out Haalo’s amazing pea pictures. Haalo used the peas to make Petis Pois à La Française, “a bistro favorite … made with onions, bacon, lettuce, and fresh peas [c]ooked in a good amount of butter.” Haalo recommends serving the peas with fresh baguette, perfect for sopping up the delicious juices.
Stir Fried Squid in Black Bean Sauce
Long Island, New York USA
Beachlover, ofBeachlover’s Kitchen, combined pre-cleaned squid with fermented black bean sauce to make quick and easy Stir Fried Squid in Black Bean Sauce. Beachlover says that fermented black beans are very fragrant, and are quite popular in China and other Asian countries.