's Sites We Love Saveur Magazine has listed The Skinny Gourmet among its "Sites We Love"

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Food for Thought: Wrap Up

All of the time I have spent living in Africa over the past few years has given me a special appreciation for those things that tie you to memories of home. So this January I decided to dedicate myself to recipes that were vehicles for memory. I was having a pretty good time at this myself, so I invited some other bloggers out there to join me and submit the recipe that made them feel nostalgic.

I want to thank those who participated for your delicious looking recipes, as well as for the thoughtful and beautifully written stories of the memories they evoked. Thanks also to those who wrote to say how much they enjoyed this opportunity to eat their way down memory lane.

Val at More Than Burnt Toast describes how much she lovesdolmades, Greek stuffed grape leaves. They remind her of times with friends past, but I also love how she uses the taste of the dolmades to transport her forward in time to a dreamy anticipated trip to Greece. Her post tugged at my heart-strings, because my Armenian grandmother always made Armenian-style dolmas in huge batches after my great-uncle harvested the grape leaves he grew in his yard. Val's entry made me feel a little nostalgic myself!

Núria from Barcelona submitted the savory Cargol treu banya - Snail show me your horns a dish of snail, garlic and mint on her blog Spanish Recipes. Nuria remembers hunting for snails with her younger brother after a heavy rain, and the heavenly scent of her mother cooking the snails in the kitchen. She even includes and adorable photo of her and her brother as children, as well as an audio file of her singing (in Catalan) the song for which this dish is named.

Manuela from Bakinghistory submitted a mouthwatering Crostata di Marmellata (Jam Tart) that takes her back to her earliest memories of learning to cook with her mother. The recipe dates back to 1891, and is full of home and hearth baking before the days of premade refrigerated pie crusts. Her entry definitely made me wish I had an oven here in Ghana to make this tart with some of the tropical fruits here.

Susan from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy submitted Pasta e Fagiola. She shares an absolutely beautifully written remembrance of her Italian grandparents and learning about gardening in her gentle grandfather's urban garden. She tops this homey Italian dish with "wish flowers" in honor of her grandfather. Curious about wish flowers? check her recipe out for more info.

Christy from Balance wrote about a lemon pudding cake. Christy's mother mailed her a few recipes from her childhood, and Christy discovered the amazing magic of intense lemon can be experienced quite differently as an adult. Her childhood recipe uses a meringue base to produce a cake that sounds delightfully light. I'm a big fan of lemon, so this recipe had me drooling.

Kellypea, of Sass & Veracity, writes from southern California about her decision to rediscover a childhood comfort food. I smiled as I read her post, because it reminded me of my childhood too: she describe a mother who worked hard and long to provide for her kids, and how that sometimes translated into food that was quick, inexpensive and filling. She embraces her childhood by returning to try her own, home-made take on the Swanson Pot Pies of her youth: Skillet Steak Pie.

Jen from Milk and Cookies wrote about her experience learning to make a childhood sweet, the Polvoron, from scratch. She describes polvorones as "a Filipino sweet that is somewhat like a toasted wheat cake that consists of flour, powdered milk, sugar and melted butter, and is compressed into a cake using a polvoron press." Like Kellypea, her post describes trying for the first time to make for herself something that was a purchased food from childhood. Her photos are sublime, documenting the steps involved in creating these tasty little treats. She uses a special press for making the polvorones, but she tells me that if you are feeling industrious, and you don't have access to the special equipment, you can certainly try to press them in whatever you have handy.

Kaykat, from Cooking From A to Z, wrote about a nostalgic comfort food that reminds her of growing up in Chennai, India. Thayir Saadam (Curd Rice). This dish combines home made yogurt curd with some carb-induced comfort to whip up a dish that is both hip and homey. The pomegranate garnish adds a great sparkle of color to the presentation.

Psychgrad from Equal Opportunity Kitchen submits a funny story about the ups and downs of making lasagne, which is one of her favorite comfort foods. She writes openly and honestly about learning to cook, and the bumps in the road en route to making a mouth-watering lasagne. In the end, she presents a unique recipe that smothers mushrooms spinach artichoke and tuna in three kinds of cheese, and tops it off with a ragu sauce. You can practically taste the steamy, melty goodness in every photo.

Deeba from Passionate About Baking... & beyond sent in a mouthwatering
Simple Home-style Lamb Curry. Deeba opens the post with the insightful quote from Lin Yutang, "What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?" I think this observation summarizes well what nearly everyone who posted experienced: the profound sense that the most dearly held food memories are those from our childhood. This dish reminds Deeba, now writing from North India, of her mother's masterful cooking. As a fan of Indian food myself, I fully intend to try this savory delight as soon as I can get my hands on all those spices!

My good friend Julie from Happy Mouth Experience wrote about Peanut Butter Balls. Although each of the women in her family had a slightly different way of making these bundles of tasty goodness, these peanut butter balls were the one infallible tradition that her family kept year-in and year-out. These are a delightful Midwestern treat. Folks from Ohio call them Buck-eye balls, but in Wisconsin (where Julie and I are both from) we mostly call them Bucky balls. Because we have a rivalry with folks from Ohio, and because the University of Wisconsin Madison mascot is Bucky the badger.

It must be said that when I lived in Ghana by myself for nearly ten months in 2003, Julie and her husband Jeremy were almost single-handedly responsible for keeping me feeling fed and loved.

Krissy from I think I have a recipe for that... wrote about Chili Mussels. She doesn't include a photo, but she writes a vivid picture with her words. I particularly love the way everything about the experience becomes part of the "recipe" from the salty breeze, to the depth of the river, to the generosity of a good friend with a backyard and a barbecue.

Want to see my own month-long contribution to food nostalgia? Check out:

Thanks to everyone who participated for sharing your memories and you recipes! I hope you enjoy.


Susan @ SGCC said...

Erin- Great job with the round-up! I see some awesome new recipes to try. Thank you for hosting this event.

Erin said...

Thanks! I am glad you liked it. It was really fun for me to read all the wonderful entries.

kellypea said...

Erin, Thank you again for hosting this. It was quite a bit of fun -- and I know how much work it is. You've done an excellent job on your "wrap up" and I can't wait to read all the entries.

PG said...

Thank you for adding my post. Your summary was great! I hate to be particular...but the picture you posted was of a lasagna that I am criticizing for being made with Kraft singles cheese slices. There is a picture of the lasagna I made is on a blue and white plate.

KayKat said...

Erin, I love your blurbs about all the entries, really entertaining. And I'm going to check out that playlist now :)

Laura said...

I think this was an awesome blogger event and I enjoyed reading about it. You have me determined to write about my family's sweet rolls when I next get the chance to make them. Which currently feels like it may be never, but I am sure it will slow down at some point. :)

Núria said...

Hola Sweetheart! I did enjoy it, now I will double enjoy it reading and knowing all these wonderful recipes and blogs!!!
Thanks for inviting and for the good job!

Anonymous said...

thanks for hosting this great event. I enjoyed being part of this and I look forward to reading all participants' entries and visiting their blogs. They all look wonderful!

-manuela (bakinghistory)

Chou said...

Erin, it's so fun to see the roundup. Thanks. :)

Erin said...

Thanks to everyone for being a bit patient with me on my first attempt at hosting an event. I apologize to the two entries that were initially left off the round-up. Sorry also to Psych-grad for featuring the wrong photo of her wonderful lasagna. All errors (that I know of) should now be fixed.

Ruth Daniels said...

What a great list of nostalgia...I wish I had known about the event. Oh well, I'll live vicariously through others. Thanks for sharing

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