Sunday, June 29, 2014

Kaya's Berry Crisp

The tastiest way to eat cooked berries I know.

It's officially summer time, which means it's berry season! This time of year used to mean a special treat for my siblings and our neighbors, because we used to have tons of wild blackberry bushes lining our shared driveway. They'd usually flower in June, get berries in July that started off bright red and sour before turning black and juicy a few weeks later. We used to get a pretty good haul if we were patient, but usually we weren't - it was too much fun to just sneak a couple ripe ones every time we went down to the mailbox!

Unfortunately, my other neighbors at the time who have since moved away weed whacked the bushes into oblivion one year. They've never grown back, which is something I think we're all still deeply resentful of, and so those halcyon days are gone.

I'm still certainly fond of blackberries though, and you guys already know that Kaya would have been, too! although this isn't a dessert Kaya would have enjoyed in 1764, it's definitely a tasty way to serve up any berries or fruit you've got around the house, and is perfect for any time of year.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Kirsten's Hassleback Potatoes

A quick way to really spice up a potato!

I have been sitting on this port for an embarrassingly long time. I actually made this neat Swedish side dish about two months ago, but every time I sit down to try and put my thoughts on paper (or on the computer, as it were), I just didn't feel like it. Don't get me wrong, these were a tasty side dish I definitely wouldn't mind making again, but the magic was kind of missing, here.

Admittedly, that might have to do with the fact that our microwave broke in the middle of making it - don't worry, it's since been replaced - so the final touch was sort of missing from this particular culinary adventure. For all this and more, keep reading!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Julie's Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers

A fun new addition to any cookout!

Today is Father's Day! Since the weather's finally decent, we've been making good use of the grill, and that meant that I got to have my first lesson on how to use it from - you guessed it - my dad! Grilling is a family pass time passed down from my dad's dad to him, and I've been very interested in learning how to do it myself. Since the shrimp and pineapple kebabs featured in Julie and the Eagles and represented in her birthday lunch accessory set sounded tasty and seemed simple, I figured it was as good a place as any to start off. My dad also loves pineapple, so everything about this just seemed sort of perfect.

Besides, I'm still a little intimidated by cooking steaks, despite my more successful attempts in that arena so far.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Addy's Civil War Beef Stew

It turns out Civil War army rations aren't as horrible as you might think!

I closed my post last night with words from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, which is hands down one of my all time favorite speeches and I might get choked up every time I read it, let alone if I'm trying to recite it or listening to someone else do it. That's kind of been on the brain for me lately not only because I think its words are still incredibly relevant today, but also because last weekend, my town hosted a Civil War reenactment! I love Civil War reenactments. Living history is something I've always really enjoyed, and part of me would love to be able to do it for a career. The other part of me wonders if I'd do a good job staying in character - I feel like I'd be pretty self conscious!

So while I didn't participate, I did attend, and of course I got to thinking about what kind of food I could make to bring the event home. One of my favorite food blogs - The History Kitchen - had something that totally fit the bill: an authentic stew recipe that would have been cooked by Union soldiers in the field!

I know what you're thinking - Gwen, that sounds horrifying! But I promise it's not. With the benefit of fresh ingredients and a distinct lack of typhoid fever in the area, it's actually quite tasty, if a bit time consuming to make. Put a little faith in me and read on to find out more about it.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Seventy Years Ago Today: D-Day

Kind of hard to believe it's been 70 years, isn't it?

I don't have a recipe to share today - I wasn't sure that would be appropriate, honestly, considering what event I'm calling attention to - but I wanted to take a minute to give a shout out to D-Day, which happened seventy years ago today. Now, it's my experience that most historians - professional and amateur - like to argue a lot about when the actual turning point in a military conflict was (Civil War battlefields take this to the next level by holding a competition for the bloodiest spot of the war, from street to field to lane to square foot), and I've always thought this was a little silly because of course something as complicated as a war would have multiple turning points. Let's stop wasting time debating whether or not Stalingrad or D-Day or the Battle of the Bulge was "the" turning point, and focus on the important things, shall we?
But that being said, Operation Overlord was certainly one of if not the most important movements of the war (and I would say it does deserve to be called the most important), and anyone who tries to downplay its significance has no idea what they're talking about. Learning from mistakes that had been made during landings in Operation Torch (North Africa), Husky (Sicily) and in Salerno and Anzio in Italy, the Allies were able to launch a successful, mobile amphibious invasion of France, which also happens to be the largest seaborne invasion in history. For a motley group of multinational armies that often fought each other worse than some teenagers argue about boys, this was no small feat, and it did really put the writing on the wall that Germany's sun was setting and setting for good.

D-Day is actually what got me into learning about World War II exactly ten years ago. My French teacher in seventh grade devoted the entire week leading up to the 60th anniversary to showing us videos and giving lectures on each beach, different technological advancements used in the assault, and personal stories from the men who were there. Up until that point, my interest in history was a lot more premodern in its focus and honestly, I partially blame Molly's books for not hooking my attention. They really don't do a great job of bringing the war into the story the same way Felicity or Addy's do, and thus this was the first real exposure I had to World War II outside of watching Stalag 17 as a kid.

I've been kind of disappointed to see how little attention it's gotten in the media and in general, considering how important this day really was not only to America, or France or Germany, but honestly to the free world in general. I feel like it's just another example of how people don't really care that much anymore, and that depresses me more than I can say. The men who fought and died on those beaches deserve more than that, and those that lived through it certainly deserve more than a two minute segment on the TODAY Show that focuses more on Edward Snowden than on what they fought for. We're officially reaching a point in history where World War II is almost as far away from us as the Civil War was for them. Veterans are passing away every day, and we owe it to them to remember and to listen so that this chapter of world history doesn't fade away into obscurity.

So I hope you'll take a moment today to think about what it must have been like to wait on a tiny landing craft for the moment when you hit the beach, or to parachute out of a plane in the dark over a town you'd probably never heard of before shipping out, or waiting at home to hear what was happening and wonder if your son, father, brother or husband was involved, because Abraham Lincoln really did say it best in November of 1863: It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.