Monthly Archives: July 2011

Think Globally, Act Locally

caponata -edit

Being of Irish/Dutch heritage, “caponata” wasn’t exactly part of my vocabulary growing up.  I was introduced to it about 6 years ago and since then it has been a work in progress to duplicate that recipe.  It took a few tries, but I think I’ve pretty much nailed it.  I’ve had my fair share of different caponatas since then, but none have really stood up to that first one.

Those of you that are familiar with it can sing it’s praises,  but to those of you who aren’t… let me tell you what you’re missing.

Caponata is the epitome of Sicilian flavors.   It is sweet, sour and a little salty. It has a depth of flavor that comes out even more after a day or two, and like most things: every Sicilian household has their own variation.  It is basically a condiment. It is meant to be eaten along side a main course.  

The main ingredient is eggplant, which is the signature vegetable of Sicily. It is earthy from the eggplant, salty from capers & olives, bitter from vinegar and gets texture from the pine nuts.

That pretty much sums it up, but believe me when I tell you there is nothing I can say that will do it justice.

You know that saying:  She might not be the prettiest girl at the party,  but she has a great personality.  Well, THAT is caponata.  It isn’t the most appealing thing in a bowl, but for me it was love at first bite… cartoon style: stars in my eyes, birds singing over my head, heart beating visibly out of my chest.  

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Berry Slushy

With a majority of the country suffering from a blistering heat wave,  the thought of turning on the stove is honestly nauseating.   I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but when it is this hot I can barely stand the thought of eating anything warm so I decided to raid the freezer to see what I could make that did not involve cooking.

Luckily for me, I had stored a few pints of summer berries at their peak and I had some left-over simple syrup from the Summer Sangria so I was in business.

When I was younger, a slurpie was one of my favorite summer treats.  However, knowing what I know now I realize that perhaps all that sugar isn’t the best thing for me so I’ve started making my own version of a “slurpie”.  (I still get a frozen coke when I’m visiting home, it’s just a food memory that I can’t go without, but more on that another time)

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Get this Girl a Drink.

Summertime is for enjoying time outside with friends and family, both of which are on their way to stay with me at this very moment.  To get the festivities underway, I’ve made a Summer Sangria.  It’s light & fruity without being overly sweet.

It is quick & easy to make and because it’s made by the pitcher you aren’t stuck making drinks all night for your guests.

This sangria goes well with any BBQ food, try it the next time you find yourself outside with the people you love.

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Viva Espana!

I love Spain.  I love almost everything about it.  The energy, the food, the language, flamenco, the art, architecture, the history, the culture, the TAPAS, etc…  I have had a near obsession with all things Spanish for a very long time.  The first time I set foot on Spanish soil,  it almost seemed like I was home.  I know that is an odd statement,  but it is honestly how I felt.  It was as if I belonged there.  From that moment on,  it has been a long-distance love affair.  Spain is where I truly fell in love with food.

I remember vividly the first time I had tapas.  I was at an outdoor restaurant/tapas bar called Qu-Qu in Barcelona next to one of the main roads.  I still have a paper-wrapped toothpick from there that I keep in my jewelry box.  It’s been 12 or 13 years since that first trip and it left an impression on my soul that I still feel today.  I had never tasted anything like the food I had on that trip and it resonated with me in a way I had never experienced before.  The food was completely foreign to a Midwestern girl from a small town, but reading the menu and ordering things I had never seen or tasted before was exhilarating to me.  I almost felt like I had never really tasted food before.  I remember exactly what I had that day.

  • Patatas Bravas
  • Croquetas de jamon
  • Mahon & Manchego cheeses
  • Jamon Iberico
  • Tortilla Espanola

(I can’t figure out how to add the proper accents/tildes here, sorry!)

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Thai One On…

Salty, sweet, hot & sour.  These four words describe the flavors of Thai food.  Thai food is all about balance and that is one of the things I love most about it.  The flavors hit your tongue on every level.  There is an element of all of these tastes in every bite.  The beauty of Thai food is that none of the flavors overpower the others,  they all exist harmoniously on your palate and it is some of the most unique food you will ever have.

One of my favorite things to have in warmer weather are summer rolls.  They are light and refreshing with a nice bit of crunch to satisfy the need for some texture.  The ingredients can be anything you want them to be, so if you are in the mood for these but need to use what is already on hand, no worries.
From traditional summer rolls to the ones I’ll be making today; which are a bit of a twist on tradition,  they are a great summer meal and best of all, they are easy on the wallet and on the waist.

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