Food for Thought

A Romantic Swedish Christmas

A Romantic Swedish Christmas Foodie Lit: A genre of novel and memoirs filled with food stories and recipes                     The darkness of the Swedish winter is lit by a multitude of candles—and what a pretty custom it is, as many Swedes prepare for a traditional Christmas. Susan's longtime Swedish friend, Lotta Heggestad, shared her family's Swedish Christmas customs. Susan celebrated a Swedish Christmas with her many years ago and has such wonderful memories!  Lotta sent pictures of her Mellanvik home, above, to give us an idea of the beauty and romance of this season. A traditional food is the saffron bun.  Lotta told us that the saffronsbullen are eaten with coffee for breakfast on the morning of St. Lucia, Dec. 13, and on Christmas Eve, on the julbrod, Christmas Table, with glögg, a delicious mulled wine, and the whole smorgasbord of traditional Swedish foods from Swedish meatballs, to Grav Lax, herring, salmon, meat, egg, bread, cheese, paté, rice porridge with cinnamon, sugar and milk, sausages and so on! Lotta added, “Otherwise we have the saffron buns for 'fika' i.e coffee or tea in the afternoon with buns and cookies. I think 'fika' is one of the most important words an immigrant learns after…

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Ready for a Creepy Romance for Halloween?

Foodie Lit: A genre of novel and memoirs filled with food stories and recipes Each month, I’ll share the magic of a good Foodie Lit read and one of its recipes.  Cooking and recipes in novels or memoirs take us into the mind of the character or narrator and brings us into the book’s kitchen to see, smell and share the lives within. Here’s to cooking and reading t Reverie by  Lauren Rico Steffann Challah French Toast Casserole “To do real damage, you have to know where they [the victims] are and how to push them to achieve maximum destruction.” And Jeremy, the psychopathic character author Lauren Rico creates, aims exactly for that in her novel, Reverie, the first in The Rhapsody Trio. Ready for a creepy romance for Halloween?  Try Reverie by Lauren Rico. Set in a music conservatory in New York City (warming my heart as that is one city where my husband studied violin for many years), we see competition, hard work, romance—and ok, it’s Halloween—a creepy boyfriend, sabotage and murder. Jeremy, a talented horn player and manipulative psychopath, is put into an international competition.Author Lauren Rico told me about how she developed this character. “So, my thought process was, if you…

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Mozambique’s typical food & Amani’s River

Foodie Lit: A genre of novel and memoirs filled with food stories and recipes Each month, I'll share the magic of a good Foodie Lit read and one of its recipes.  Cooking and recipes in novels or memoirs take us into the mind of the character or narrator and brings us into the book's kitchen to see, smell and share the lives within. Here's to cooking and reading together! Susan Amani's River and Collard Greens! In Amani’s River, an intense well-written historical novel by David Hartness, we are taken inside the mind of Aderito, a 10-year old American who travels with his father and mother to Mozambique. Aderito's father wants to help his family, caught in the brutal violence of the  Mozambique civil war, which raged from 1977-1992. Aderito becomes an unwilling child soldier in this civil war. A quiet studious child, Aderito is transformed into a murderer after his kidnapping by the Renamo rebel forces, fighting against a repressive government forces.  Both forces were accused later of war crimes. Beaten, starved and drugged, Aderito thinks, “This felt as if it were the end.”  But it was not. Memories of his former life fade. “Mixed with emotions, I felt the moral thing to do was tospare his life... However, the thing expected of me was to show my manhood and kill him for…

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The art of description – better too little than too much!

By Anna Belfrage  Whenever summer comes around, chances are I’ll be slouching in the shade reading a Lee Child novel. There is something very comforting about reading his books. Jack Reacher always survives, is always on the side of good, and the pace is fast and gripping. It is also a relief to read something outside my own genre, as the reading experience becomes more relaxed when I don’t go “Ooooo, that was an elegant insertion of historical detail” or “OMG: I wish I had written that!” or “That can’t be right, can it? A match in the 18th century?” (turns out it was – sort of). So I read Lee Child to relax – except I don’t, because Mr Child is an expert at succinct descriptions, a few word sufficing to paint a person, a location, a situation, and I read and reread, because seriously, to describe your characters is an art. As a writer, I have a very clear picture of what my protagonists look like – but the moment I turn them over to the public in a published book, I’m also inviting the readers to form their own images, and to do so I must describe…

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Foodie Lit: Medieval Times & Chicken!

Foodie Lit: A genre of novel and memoirs filled with food stories and recipes Each month, I'll share the magic of a good Foodie Lit read and one of its recipes.  Cooking and recipes in novels or memoirs take us into the mind of the character or narrator and brings us into the book's kitchen to see, smell and share the lives within. Here's to cooking and reading together! Susan A Swarming of Bees by Theresa Tomlinson     A Swarming of Bees by Theresa Tomlinson is an absorbing murder mystery set in the 7th century Anglo-Saxon Northumbria , in what is now northern Yorkshire. As Indie Food Blogger, I was asked to create a recipe from that time and place and that meant using only ingredients available.  Honey Chicken was a natural creation, as Fridgyth, the herb-wife and confident of the powerful Abbess Hild, keeps bees, an herb and vegetable garden and chickens! Meats were the glory of medieval meals, especially for the royals and the wealthy.  The peasants had meat less frequently, their meals frequently  were a mixture of whole grains and vegetables such as cabbage, chard, onions and leeks, garlic and carrots.  Vegetables were looked upon with some distain by many…

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Growing Up Jewish in Egypt- Their were no recipes, just cooking!

Growing up Jewish in Alexandria: The Story of a Sephardic Family's Exodus from Egypt By Lucienne Carasso Susan Weintrob indieBRAG Food Blogger Everydayhappyfoods A dear friend of mine grew up in Cairo.  Her story was quite similar to Lucienne's so it was natural to call her to ask about recipes from Egyptian Jewish Families.  "Recipes?" she responded. "There were no recipes, just cooking!" She went on to say "a lot of our food was vegetables stuffed with round meat and rice, fried, then you make a tomato sauce with lemon, a bit of sugar, and whatever spices you like.  In Egypt, we did not have steaks like here; our cows were skinney.  Our cholent (traditional Sabbath slow cooking stew) was meat, garbanzo beans and eggs wrapped separately, Mucluschia soup and of course, a lot of eggplant as a relish, fried or cooked. A favorite dish from Egypt and, in fact beloved in most of the Middle East, is eggplant relish, commonly known here as Baba Ganoush.  Simple, with variations from different traditions, eggplant relish is eaten warm or cold, as a side dish or a snack. The eggplant is roasted or baked.  Seasonings are often distinct to regions and cultures.  Serve…

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Seafood Chowder- A Southern Favorite

A Beautiful Glittering Lie: A Novel of the Civil War by J.D.R. Hawkins Susan Weintrob  indieBRAG Food Blogger Everydayhappyfoods   So many of the original Southern cities were close to the coast, where fish or other seafood was plentiful.  They were often added to chowder for a fabulous, rich flavor.  As the war between the North and South progressed, the Confederate troops suffered greatly as supplies were cut off.  The basic foods were hard to come by. This chowder can be made from corn and potatoes without seafood or fish and is equally delicious.  For troops near farms, potatoes and corn, onions and celery would have been available, as would have milk or cream. Bacon was a stock item for both armies and would have been available except when supplies were extremely scarce. Stock was made from scraps of vegetables, saved from other meal preparation. Wine was a treat, but we can think of making this recipe or receipt, as recipes were called through the 19th century, in 1861 when ingredients still would have been stocked—certainly for the officers. Recipes for stock and chowder have been found among recipes of the era. For our modern cooks, the base of the…

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What would stories about Pirates be without a bit of RUM?

Our indieBRAG Food Blogger, Susan Weintraub shares Rum and Cake to go with great pirate books - The Sea Witch Series by Helen Hollick What could be better! Pirates Rum Cake Susan Weintrob, Indie Brag and everydayhappyfoods.com Blogger Pirates had limited amounts of fresh meat, greens and insect free supplies.  Rum was one thing that there was a lot of !  I picture this cake appearing at the pirates’ table. Rum helped preserve the cake and the pirates! Sharing this cake at my South Carolina table felt right with so many pirates that populated this coast in the 18th century.  Pirate’s Rum Cake should taste fantastic at your table as well!   Pirates Rum Cake Modified from Yummly. Kitchen Nostalgia. CAKE 2 cups flour ⅓ cup cornstarch 1½ cups sugar or ¾ cup Stevia 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 5 eggs ½ cup vegetable oil ½ cup milk of choice (cow’s, almond or soy) 1 tsp lemon juice ½ cup rum 2 teaspoons vanilla ¼ cup dry breadcrumbs RUM BUTTER SAUCE: ½ cup (125 g) unsalted butter or dairy free margarine ¼ cup water ¼ - ½ cup sugar or ¼ cup Stevia ¼ - ½ cup rum ½…

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The Laura Ingalls Wilder Cookbook

Little House on the Prairie Series plus a discussion on children's books with recipes with educator Jennifer Avery By Susan Weintrob       “This was the first true story I read as a child. Laura was an ordinary girl and I identified with her. She met a mean girl at school, had a crush on a boy and ate meals with her family. She was a girl like me. I read every single book in the series.” Educator Jennifer Avery went on to tell me that this was the first view of life outside her 1970’s Brooklyn childhood. Jen and I worked together at Hannah Sennesh Community Day School in Brooklyn. We developed and she implemented a literary afterschool program for 1st and 2nd graders.  She selected books with recipes to read together and then cook, making the characters more real for the children. “Food in books brings another level of engagement and a new way of thinking. Children connect with food and how it relates to their own family. ‘My mom and I make my lunch for school each day.’ This is very unifying for children readers and helps them relate to the story and characters.” In the Little House series, children are introduced to the frontier of the 1880’s. While Laura…

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St. Patrick’s Day Is Nearly Upon Us- Let’s Eat!

    Try a new twist on the fabulous Irish Cabbage Soup, just in time for St. Patrick's Day. Susan’s grandmother made the best sweet and sour stuffed cabbage. So when her mom wanted sweet and sour cabbage soup, Susan deconstructed her Nana’s recipe and a warm and comforting cabbage soup was born! Nana’s Deconstructed Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup Serves 8-10 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 large onion, diced 1 pound chopped beef 2 stalks celery, diced 15 ounces diced tomatoes fresh or canned 1/2 cup carrots, diced 1 medium green or savoy cabbage, cored and shredded 8 cups stock 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced 2 small tart apples, diced ½ cup golden raisins 2 tablespoons brown sugar 1 teaspoon lemon juice 1 teaspoon dill weed Salt and pepper to taste Heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion until translucent, stirring as needed. Add beef and sauté until browned, stirring frequently. Add celery, tomatoes, carrots and cabbage. Sauté 5 minutes. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer covered until cabbage and vegetables are soft. Add mushrooms, apples and raisins. Simmer for 15 minutes or until apples are soft. Add brown sugar, lemon juice and dill weed.…

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