Rainy Day Oatmeal Raisin Cookies by L

"Mommy...Good!" Lil' T's delightful response after taking a big bite of her cookie.

“Mommy…Good!” Lil’ T’s delightful response after taking a big bite of her cookie.

Looking for something fun to do with your toddlers on a rainy day? How about some baking? We took advantage of one of our recent indoor days by whipping up a batch of our favorite oatmeal raisin cookies. This recipe comes from The New Laurel’s Kitchen cookbook. A sweet, yet, not too sweet, cookie that is loaded with tons of fiber. Therefore, I never feel too guilty when we indulge in this deliciously baked treat!

Here’s some scenes of my tots in baking mode:

Lil' P unwrapping the butter

Lil’ P unwrapping the butter

Lil' T adding the vanilla.

Lil’ T adding the vanilla.

Lil' P adding the raisins and mixing away.

Lil’ P adding the raisins and mixing away.

Lil' T dropping spoonfuls of batter.

Lil’ T dropping spoonfuls of batter.

Lil' T flattening the cookies out.

Lil’ T flattening the cookies out.

All set and ready for the oven!

All set and ready for the oven!

Oatmeal School Cookies adapted from The New Laurel’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 lightly beaten egg

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup toasted wheat germ (Prague friends- this can be found at DM or Bio shops in town)

3/4 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup raisins

Optional additions: Chocolate chips, chopped walnuts or toasted sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 375F or 180C

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.

Add egg, vanilla, salt and beat well.

Stir flour, baking powder, wheat germ, and rolled oats together with a fork.

Blend well with other ingredients. If your mixture is too dry (I’ve never had this problem, but..) just add a tablespoon or more of water if necessary to hold it together.

Place by tablespoon on well-greased cookie sheet or one lined with parchment paper.

Flatten them slightly.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Enjoy!

Sunday Blueberry Scones by L

We’re back in Prague and berries are everywhere! Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries (just to name a few) are the stars of our city’s Farmers Markets. It’s an explosion of berries here!

P2170263Having spent the last 6 weeks in Spain, where the weather was just too hot to be in the kitchen, I am suddenly struck by the baking bug. Maybe it has something to do with the berry boom, or that the weather in Prague is bearable enough to turn my oven back on. Whatever it is, I’m happy to be stirring up a commotion in my kitchen!

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This baked treat comes from the cookbook Breakfast, Lunch, Tea.   I previously highlighted a few other recipes from this British owned Parisian bakery on the blog. The book features several recipes on scones, but this one is my favorite to bake and eat!

P2170266Blueberry Scones

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2 cups plain flour

1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour

handful of cornmeal

2 heaping tablespoons baking powder

2 heaping tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

grated zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup (110g) unsalted butter

2 handfuls blueberries

1 egg

1 1/4 cups milk

1 tablespoon demerara sugarP2170269

Preheat the oven 400F/200C

Grease or line a baking tray.

Sift both flours into bowl and add cornmeal.

Mix in the baking powder, sugar and salt.

Then cut the butter in pieces and add to the mix.

With your fingers, rub in the butter with the ingredients until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Mix in lemon zest.

Add blueberries and carefully mix the ingredients.

Beat egg in a large bowl and add milk.

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, then pour in liquid.

Use a fork to begin blending ingredients, then use your hands.

Try not to over mix the dough. Lightly bring everything together.

The dough should not be sticky. If it’s too wet, add flour. Too dry, add milk.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about an 1 1/4 inches (3 cm) thick.

Using a round 2 inch (5cm) cutter, cut the dough in rounds and place them on the baking sheet.

Sprinkle with demerara sugar and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Cool for ten minutes.

Serve with cream or butter.

Enjoy!

Banana Pancakes by L

Summer has finally made an appearance in Prague and she isn’t holding back. Last week, we experienced some difficult days of heavy sweltering heat. Thankfully, a few storms rolled through and life has begun to cool down. Now that summer is here, I’ll bid farewell to my oven until the fall. Baking season for this mama is over until the cool temperatures return from their sunny holiday.

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So what should I do with the three very overly ripe bananas sitting on my counter? Those sweet things usually end up in a banana cake or muffin, but this morning, I sliced them up and added them to our pancakes. Our wonderful, no-fail recipe comes from the cookbook Breakfast Lunch Tea written by the amazingly delicious Rose Bakery in Paris, France (with a few healthy adaptations, of course.) If you ever happen to be in the 9th arrondissement, be sure to eat here. Your appetite will thank you. Every time I whip up a batch of these golden, thick and tender hotcakes, my taste buds are never disappointed. Delish!

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Actually, with the addition of the grilled bananas, it was even more delicious and sweeter than ever. My daughters, being the healthy conscious mom that I try to be, were served a plate of  these on their own, plain and simple. Mama, on the other hand, enjoyed her stack with a few spoonfuls of maple syrup. I could have done without, since the banana pancakes were so flavorful on their own. However, my dear sweet cousin J who recently visited us in Prague, gifted me with four bottles of Canadian Maple Syrup. I couldn’t let them go to waste.

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Banana Pancakes (adapted from Breakfast Lunch Tea)

(The original recipe uses plain white flour, but I used half white and half whole wheat)

2 eggs

1 cup milk

5 tablespoons melted butter or neutral oil

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup plain all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

In a small bowl, beat the eggs, milk and butter. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together both flours, salt, sugar and baking powder.

Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients.

Stir, until well combined. Do not over stir.

(Rose Bakery writes “no more than 8 times” with a large spoon!)

Rub a small frying pan with a little butter.

Then pour 3-4 tablespoons of batter into the pan.

Top with a few slices of banana.

Cook until a few bubbles appear and the sides look cooked.

Flip and cook for another minute.

Repeat until all the batter is used up.

Serve and enjoy immediately with your favorite condiments!

The Prague Basket’s 100th post! by Liezel

100 posts ago, I was trying to navigate through my new role in life, a mother of twins.

100 posts ago, I was searching for a way to fulfill a creative void.

100 posts ago, I was entertaining the idea of developing a new blog with the aid of my dearest gals in Prague, Allison and Nikki.

100 posts ago, The Prague Basket shared its first post.

100 posts later we are celebrating, and to commemorate this happy achievement we have a special gift for one of the readers/guests of our blog. The winner will receive a tender basket filled with goodies from the Andel Famers’ Market. Take a look…

A little thank you gift!

A little thank you gift!

To enter, please leave us a comment on the blog. The winner will be randomly chosen and announced by Tuesday, the 18th of June. In the meantime, click and reminisce with us a hundred posts ago… https://thepraguebasket.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/very-veggie-pasta-sauce-by-liezel/

Many thanks to our readers and we look forward to hearing from you. On behalf of The Prague Basket, we say “Dekuji!” (Thanks!)

L 🙂

Tortilla de esparragos/ Spanish Asparagus Omelette by L

Chrest season!

Chrest season!

I can’t believe how much my local farmers market has grown since last year! Normally, I would have to wait every other week to be able to take home the wonderful goods, but now the Andel market in Prague 5, is open every Friday and I look forward to it. This week a new stand appeared– asparagus season has hit and is in full force. Everywhere I look, bunches of asparagus spears are beckoning me to take them home.

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Andel Farmers’ Market, Praha 5

Even though it was my turn to post, I actually had no idea what I was going to cook or write about. Thank goodness for some farmers market inspiration. As soon as I saw the stand that is pictured above, I had tortilla de esparragos on my mind.

Best spot in town to buy eggs (and butter.)I'm a sucker for their packaging.

Best shop in town for fresh eggs and butter.  I’m a sucker for their packaging.

This meant I needed to round up some eggs, which wasn’t going to be a problem. Just a few stalls down was my favorite stand that not only sells fresh eggs, but also fresh butter, home-made jams, musli and honey.

Tortilla de esparragos

Tortilla de esparragos

If you have ever traveled to Spain, you will know that the word tortilla does not refer to a thin flat piece of bread meant to hold some hearty mexican-seasoned fillings. The best way to describe a tortilla is to compare it to an omelette and Spain’s most famous one is Tortilla de patata. A thick omelette made from a combination of potatoes, onions and eggs. However, that’s not the only tortilla out there. When it comes to tortillas, I have been spoiled by my husband and my father-in-law. They can both whip up some delicious varieties that can include zucchini, tuna, and artichokes (my ultimate favorite).

Always accompanied by a few slices of great bread!

Always accompanied by a few slices of great bread!

The star of this tortilla is asparagus. It is a dish that is quick and easy to make. If you’re looking to get into the asparagus action, give this one a try. It’s a no fail recipe!

Tortilla de esparragos (Spanish asparagus omelette)

1 bunch of asparagus, clean, peeled and diagonally chopped into small pieces

1 small onion, chopped

3-4 tablespoons of very good olive oil

salt

4 eggs

Warm up a non-stick frying pan.

Add two to three tablespoons of olive oil.

When hot, add the onions and let cook for 7-10 minutes.

Then add the pieces of asparagus and cook until tender, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. (about 20-25 minutes)

Add a few pinches of salt.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the eggs.

When the asparagus is cooked, add them to the eggs.

Stir and combine well.

If your pan looks dry, add another tablespoon of oil.

Add the mixture of vegetables and eggs to the pan.

On medium to low heat, let the egg cook through.

Run a fork around the edge of the pan to loosen the edges of the omelette.

When the edges appear cooked and the top of the omelette is slightly runny, take a plate that is big enough to cover the pan and place it on top.

Pick up the pan and use the other hand to hold the plate on top in place.

Standing over your kitchen sink, invert the pan and let the omelette fall onto the plate you have kept tightly over the pan.

Slide the omelette back into the frying pan and let it cook for another few minutes.

When done, place omelette on a platter and wait a few minutes to serve.

Be sure to accompany it with slices of great tasting bread.

These Zucchini Muffins are Jussssst Right! by L

The Chosen One

The Chosen One

On Fridays, at the Andel Farmers’ Market, there’s a stand I find a bit daunting because I haven’t mastered the Czech language. The vendor sells different kinds of bio flour, as well as a wide selection of bio dairy products. When I say “different kinds,” we’re talking about 7 varieties, from spelt to rye to whole wheat. However, it’s not just plain ol’ “Whole Wheat.” There are three to choose from and yes, I bought them all: “Hruba,” “Polohruba” and “Jemne Mleta.” I’d like to be able to ask a thousand questions about the range of available flours. Unfortunately, actually I should say embarrassingly, (after 8 years of living here) I can’t speak Czech well and so I am limited to the language translator app on my iPhone. My trusty translator tells me that “Hruba” is the coarsest of the three, “Polohruba” is medium coarse and “Jemne Mleta,” is finely ground.

One of these days I’m really going to have to get the skinny on all these flours. Many of the recipes I use call for whole wheat flour, but never do they specify how coarse the grain should be. Here in Prague, I have yet to find an all-purpose whole wheat flour. The unfortunate result has been a number of baking disasters and wasted hours in the kitchen. I kind of feel like Goldilocks, trying to find out which flour is “just right.” If anyone in the Prague area is an expert in flours, please feel free to rescue me!

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Ours come in Mommy size and Toddler size

I’ve been on the hunt for a healthy zucchini muffin that I could share with my two tots. One that uses whole wheat, a natural sweetener and of course it had to be both delicious and moist inside. I took a gamble and tried this new recipe using the whole wheat polohruba flour. Luckily, my muffins turned out “jusssst right!” My girls and I have been enjoying these for breakfast and snacks on the go. It’s perfect!

Just Right Zucchini Muffins (adapted from Weelicious)

1 cup all-purpose flour (for our Prague readers: I used hladka white flour)

1 cup whole wheat flour (for our Prague readers: I used polohruba whole wheat)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, whisked

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup vegetable or any other neutral oil

2/3 cup honey

1 1/2 cups zucchini, shredded (about 2 small zucchini)

(If you aren’t worried about nuts or added sweeteners, feel free to add a 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts or almonds or chocolate chips.)

P2060510

These didn’t last long in the muffin jar!

Preheat oven to 180/350 degrees.

Grease or line your muffin tins.

Place the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

Mix the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl.

Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture.

Stir until mixture is well combined.

Pour the batter into large or small muffins cups. (I made 24 mini’s and 5 in large silicone baking cups)

Bake 15-17 minutes for small muffins and 20-25 minutes for large ones.

Cool for 10 minutes and then serve.

Organic at your Door by L

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This week’s box of organic goodies.

During the winter season, I have come to rely on online shopping and free home delivery to do our grocery shopping. It’s not that I’m unable to brave the cold, but getting two toddlers zipped into their winter suits, schlepping a double stroller down the snowy sidewalks and then pushing it back with the additional weight of the grocery bags (which dangle or are stuffed in any available part of the stroller) makes what should be a simple task, a pain in the @$$!!

Fresh bedýnky has offered some comfort in that area of my life. They are a local organic food supplier that delivers great quality vegetables, fruits, dairy, meats and bread. They are also an excellent alternative to the big chain supermarkets. At this time of the year, the shelves can be scarce with appetizing produce. I end up paying a bit more for our food, but at least my bananas don’t show any signs of mold after 2 days of being in our home. Much of Fresh bedýnky’s items can also be found around Prague’s bio/organic food shops. However, instead of going out to do the shopping, I choose to spoil myself with the free home delivery because that means I get more time to play with my daughters.

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Signs of spring have begun to peek through winter’s haze and that means that the farmers markets will soon be a part of our lives again. We have been blessed with a few sunny days here in Prague, but winter continues to keep its cold grasp. So before it is time to start shedding off all those layers, here is one more recipe to ease those wintry chills.

Golden Broth (The Laurel’s Kitchen cookbook)

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup yellow split peas

2 tablespoons oil

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 quarts hot water

Saute onion, garlic and peas until brown.

Stir in turmeric and add water.

Let simmer for at least half hour.

Strain for a thin broth, puree for a thick one.

Golden Noodle Soup

2 quarts Golden Broth

handful of whole wheat noodles

1 cup each diced celery, potatoes, carrots

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

Bring broth to a boil in a deep heavy pan.

In a non stick pan, saute vegetables in oil for 5-8 minutes.

Lower heat and allow broth to simmer.

Add vegetables and noodles.

Let cook for half hour.

Before serving, add parsley and adjust the seasonings.

A Wee Valentine’s Day Celebration! by L

Happy Valentine's Day from Toddler Central!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Toddler Central!

While most children in Prague have been enjoying these past days dressed up in their costumes and celebrating Carnaval, our household is working on spreading the love. I have been busy preparing our home to celebrate my second favorite American holiday: Valentine’s Day! For me, this day has never been about the romance, the flowers or the chocolates.  Just like Julia Child and her husband, I get a kick out of making and sending home-made valentine cards to my family and friends. Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a greeting decorated with lots of hearts, glitter and lace with the colors red, pink and white? Even though Valentine’s day isn’t widely celebrated here in Prague, unlike the States, I am excited to introduce this holiday to my daughters and spread some of Cupid’s inspiration.

Our garland of homemade hearts!

Our garland of homemade hearts!

In fact, I must have been feeling extremely excited about Valentine’s day because I decided to host an afternoon play group for my daughters’ friends and their mothers. However, coming up with a menu was a bit challenging. What exactly does one prepare for a group of year old toddlers?

This is what I came up with:

Mini Heart Shaped Toast with Cheese and Jam

Mini Heart Shaped Toast with Cheese and Jam

Heart Shaped Cheese and Jam Sandwiches

Ingredients:

1 loaf of whole wheat or white bread

1 small heart-shaped cookie cutter

Olive oil (just enough to grease your baking tray)

1 round of pasteurized goat cheese

1 block of cream cheese

Your choice of red colored low sugar jam. We used raspberry and strawberry.

Preheat oven at 150 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with a few tablespoons of oil. Using a small heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut heart shapes from slices of bread. Place on cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Depending on what type of goat cheese you purchase, you can also add it to the baking tray to warm it up.

Serve with cream cheese, goat cheese, a serving of raspberry and strawberry jam.

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Carrot, Apple, Coconut and Cinnamon Mini-Muffins

This recipe was adapted from Weelicious.com One of our lil’ pals has a dairy allergy, so instead of whole cow’s milk, I used soy milk.

Carrot, Apple, Coconut and Cinnamon Mini-Muffins

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

2 carrots, peeled & grated, about 1 cup

1 apple, peeled and grated, about 1/2 cup

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup soy milk

1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

1/2 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl. In a small bowl, mix the carrots, apples and coconut together. In another separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.  Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet and stir to combine.  Then add the carrots, apple and coconut mix and carefully blend. Place 1 tbsp of batter into greased mini muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Heart Shaped Potato Poppers

Heart Shaped Potato Poppers

These are usually served in round balls, but for Valentine’s day, I used a large heart-shaped cookie cutter for this occasion.

Heart Shaped Potato Poppers (adapted from The Laurel’s Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1/2 onion, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 teaspoon thyme or oregano

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/4 cups mashed potato

1 cup cooked brown rice

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup bread crumbs (whole grain if possible)

1/4 cup crushed pine nuts (optional)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C

Saute onion and celery in oil. Add your choice of herb. Combine all ingredients and shape either into a heart or 1 1/2″ balls. Place on greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until slightly browned. Serve warm and if you like, with some tomato sauce.

Valentine’s Day isn’t Valentine’s Day for me if I don’t get crafty. Here are the links to some of the activities I did with my 18 month old twins! Happy Valentine’s Day from Prague!

Heart Garland

Valentine Footprints

Valentine treats for the Mamas and Lil'Ones

Valentine treats for the Mommies and Lil’Ones

Mommy and Me Miso Soup by L

Miso for my Munchkins and Me!

Miso for my Munchkins and Me!

When I was a little girl, my family attended church every Sunday. I never looked forward to going to church, but I sure did get excited about what came afterwards- lunch! Instead of big family dinners at Grandma’s house, we got to dine out. Who needs to be slaving over a stove and washing up a bunch of pots and dishes? It was Sunday. The Lord’s day. We all needed to rest and eat! When I say “WE,” I happen to mean my extended Filipino family of 9. When church was over, my granny, aunties, brothers, parents and I squeezed into our big blue van and headed to a restaurant.

Now that my brothers and I have grown up and moved out of the house, it’s great to see that this tradition still lives on. During our recent visit to NYC, we had plenty of Sunday lunches to catch up on and we made the best of every one of them. However, our whole family could no longer fit into my parents’ van. Over the years, a new generation of kids were born and spouses were added on. Our original party of 9 had expanded to a party of 15!

When the girls’ turned a year old, I was sad to see my babies become toddlers. Yet, one thing that is especially great about toddler hood is how the girls can eat practically anything I eat. So, when we went to dim sum, they feasted on congee, shu mai and shrimp rolls. When we had slices of New York pizza, they devoured the crusts and licked off the tasty tomato sauce! At our family’s favorite Japanese restaurant, they tried to eat sushi with chopsticks, but found that using their hands was a faster way to eat their cucumber rolls. They also delightfully slurped away at bowls of miso soup and I discovered their appreciation for this simple soup of fermented soy paste, sea veggies and tofu.

"I can do it all by myself, Mama!" T

“I can do it all by myself, Mama!” T

In fact, I wish I had thought of it sooner because it is one of the most simplest and tastiest soups to make. Oh, and of course, there are all the health benefits that come with it too!

This is miso soup from scratch, which is very simple to make. Truthfully, anything “instant” frightens me, but we all have to do what we have to do. If you keep reading on, you will find that making homemade miso soup is as simple as making oatmeal from scratch. (Reader- I hope you are making oatmeal from scratch 🙂 ) Miso soup and you might imagine: boiling water, ripping open a packet, pouring contents into a bowl, and with a swirl your soup is ready! Um… you are really missing out on something here. Yes, you still have to boil water, but with just a few simple additions, you can have a customized bowl of miso soup in your own home. Doesn’t everyone want something personalized and authentic these days?

"Seaweed is so much fun to play with, uh, I mean eat!" P

“Seaweed is so much fun to play with, uh, I mean eat!” P

I call this “Mommy and Me Miso Soup” because of the type of miso I used: white miso. This type is less salty than the others. Should I want to make a stronger pot miso for an adult palate, I tend to use a combination of brown and white miso and add a few more tablespoons.

Easiest broth you'll ever make!

Easiest broth you’ll ever make!

It all starts with the broth. You need some Dashi broth to get started and this is REALLY EASY! You just take strips of dried kombu and place it in a pot of cold water. Then leave it overnight. In the morning, your broth is ready to go. This really is a mama/papa friendly recipe! I sneaked in a few more vegetables such as shitake mushrooms and spinach to boost up the nutrients in our soup, but feel free to leave them out. It becomes an even simpler soup if you just stick to the wakame and tofu. Enjoy!

Miso Soup and More (adapted from Essentials of Asian Cuisine by Corinne Trang)

Konbu Dashi Broth:

1 package of about 2 oz. of Kombu.

2 quarts of cold water

With a damp paper towel, wipe the strips of Kombu.

Then place it in a big pot filled with cold water.

Let it sit for 12 hours or like I do,  overnight.

In the morning, the dried sea vegetable will have expanded and your broth is ready!

Remove the kelp (you can use slice it up and use it in a stir-fry with vegetables) and follow the miso recipe.

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Just a few simple ingredients found at my local organic bio shop.

Miso Soup:

8 cups of Konbu Dashi

1/4 cup of Wakame (this needs to be soaked prior to using it in the soup. Soak for 30 minutes, then drain)

1 block of tofu, cut into tiny cubes

3 tablespoons (more if just for mama and papa) white miso paste

2 scallions, sliced thinly,

6 fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced thinly

1/2 cup of spinach leaves

Set aside 1 cup of broth.

Place the rest of the broth in a deep pot.

Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat.

Add the mushrooms, wakame and tofu.

Let it cook for 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the miso paste with the remaining bowl of dashi.

Add spinach and check if the mushrooms are tender.

When ready, stir the miso paste into the soup and let it cook for another 2 minutes.

Do not let the miso paste cook any longer than that or you will lose all of its healthy benefits!

Pour into bowls and garnish with scallions.

Enjoy with your favorite lil’ person!

Hello Big Apple… We’re Back! by L

My little ones and I made the 9 hour journey back to my hometown, The Big Apple, aka New York City! I should be a little more specific and mention that my roots lay in the borough of Queens. It isn’t famous for its’ farmers markets, but nonetheless, it is full of various markets/shops that sell ingredients from all corners of the world.

Farmer’s Market at Atlas Center in Middle Village, Queens

Queens does have a few farmers markets. Fortunately, there just happens to be one that’s not too far away from my neighborhood. The major difference between visiting the markets when I’m back in NYC vs. Prague, is that I have to travel a bit further. The distances usually require a car trip or a few transfers on the subway. In Prague, MY markets are just a few footsteps away, *sigh.* The day I visited our local Queens market, it was sadly, the last day of the season. What do you think I saw plenty of?

Apples!

Apples! I especially liked how each crate described the variety of apples for sale. Furthermore, I found comfort and pleasure in the opportunity and ability to be able to decode the signs and talk freely with the vendors. This is definitely something I struggle with as an ex-pat living in Prague. Learning the local language, Czech, is a major challenge even for the polyglot that I am.

One of the most exciting and familiar things I picked up at the market was a bag of Apple Cider donuts. These sweet treats marked my autumn homecoming and I couldn’t wait to get back home, change into my cozy fleece pants, warm up a cup of tea, snuggle up on the couch and indulge in my moist, cinnamon, calorie-rich, old-fashioned type of donut. Hello NYC! It’s great to be home!

Sweetness in the bag!

I am feeling especially thankful for this year’s visit. The last time I celebrated an American Thanksgiving here in the States, was well over 7 years ago. Although, my Filipino family doesn’t really partake in the common Thanksgiving traditions, we have over the years adapted our table to feature some of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes.  Of course, there is a turkey with stuffing waiting to be carved into, two or three kinds of pies for dessert and cranberry sauce in bowls, but if you were a guest at my grandma’s house, you would also have to make space on your plate for some Filipino dishes in between the yams topped with marshmallows and creamy mashed potatoes.

The recipe that I am featuring in this post, however, isn’t a Filipino one this time around. I was planning to cook something for this year’s Thanksgiving meal, since it was my daughters’ introduction to this all-American holiday. However,  it needed to be a simple recipe and something that my girls could eat.

It was refreshing to see bunches of kale being sold at the market. I can usually snag one or two at the Naplavka market in Prague 2, however that takes a bit of work.  I have to ask the vendors about it ( I somehow manage in my weak Czech,) as it isn’t always displayed. Usually, the vendor runs behind the stall and magically comes back with some kale. Tracking down these healthy greens  can be an elbow shoving mess and when a kale lover like me finally gets some, it’s like gold.

Kale and Company

Here in Queens, it’s a breeze to buy kale. There was no need to tackle anyone or go on some adventurous hunt for those curly leafy green stalks. In fact,  I got so kale-happy when I saw bunches of them stacked up at the market, that I went home with an exaggerated amount. It didn’t take long for me to get sucked back into the act of consumerism.

Back in my parents’ kitchen, I decided to make a batch of garlic mashed potatoes to add to our array of side dishes. At some point,  I came up with this grand idea to sneak in some greens and ended up making a bowl of Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Kale. It was the first time that most of my family members would be trying kale. I thought that, maybe, it might become a new tradition of ours, or a legacy I leave behind at my family’s Thanksgiving table or just a dish that we once shared on Thanksgiving in the year 2012.

Happy Thanksgiving from NYC!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Kale

Kale:
1/2 onion chopped

1/2 bunch of kale, washed and chopped

1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth (add more if necessary)

Heat a shallow frying pan with 1-2 tablespoons of oil

Add onions and cool until transparent.

Then add kale and stir in well with the onions.

Add the broth and lower the heat.

When the kale is tender, set aside to cool.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

8-10 potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

8-10 peeled cloves of garlic

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup milk

salt and pepper to season

Boil potatoes and garlic in enough water to cover.

When cooked, drain potatoes.

Soften the butter and warm the milk a bit.

Mash the potatoes with a masher.

Add the warm milk and butter.

Continue to blend the ingredients.

If you want a smoother mash, use a hand blender.

Add the kale mixture.

Combine well and season with salt/pepper.