Friday, April 25, 2008

Aprile 25 and Apples & Thyme, the Roundup

Today is Liberation Day in Italy. A time for celebration when Italy was liberated from the occupiers of World War II. A national holiday and long weekend for most. You'll find everyone heading out for the mountains, the seaside, countryside and usually that will include some special food for the occasion. It's also a time of reflection of the many freedoms of which havng a choice of what we will eat and when is a pleasure we enjoy and mostly take for granted. So it is also a fitting time for us to round up this months Apples and Thyme blogging event, "Celebrating time in the kitchen with mothers and grandmothers" this months stories has expanded to celebrating others as well that have had significant infuences on our enjoyment of the culinary arts. It has been my pleasure to host April's Apple's and Thyme blogging fest. I was thrilled to participate and honored when Jeni & Inge of Passionate Palate and African Vanielje asked me to host this month. I think you'll find some great posts here celebrating time spent in the kitchen through a variety of humorous and touching stories. If you haven't discovered the different blogs listed blow, make sure to have a good read throught hem because they are a treasure trove of interesting recipes and stories about a variety of things sometimes other than food. Grab a cuppa and enjoy!
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First up this month from Bellini Valli of More than Burnt Toast in who hails from Canada and has the most incredible view on her blog. She never thought that her mom was a huge influence on her cooking, but delving into it further she decided that her mother really was the biggest influence of all. "She led me to discover new cuisines and dream of being the "hostest with the mostest" by serving up bland foods day after day."... Read about her time spent at a Greek cooking school and I think you'll find that her **Melitzanopita** will have you hankering for a leisurely cruise around the Greek islands and would be a fantastic center piece or addition to any appetizer/antipasti/meze layout you might put together.
Continuing on with a Greek theme, Ivy of "Kopiaste...to Greek Hospitality" invites all of us to discover the delights of making home style Cypriot Halloumi cheese in her post Say Cheese....or better Halloumi while reminiscing about her family. Her sister passed on her experiences of making this cheese before Ivy had the opportunity to learn it from her family. Nice to not lets these treasured recipes slip away. It's full of step by step information on how to make this family's national cheese, but best of all she gives lots of great suggestions of all kinds of great Halloumi dishes and links to recipes. If you haven't already discovered her blog wander on over with some time for a good read and plenty of recipes to keep you busy.
Transplanted island girl Rowena of Rubber Slippers in Italy, will give you a chuckle when you read about her early influences on her cooking with her entry of "Stone Soup" . It should be nostalgic look back for many of us, but you'll have to leave it to your imagination of what the soup looks like, as they ate it all before she could get a picture of it. Be sure and check out her many adventures trying out as many of the Italian festivals located near and far from her corner of Italy as she bravely samples her way around Italy. She'll inspire you to get out and up into the high country to experience what the locals are eating at the refugio when you get to the top too.
Baking Delights Mayre shares a heartfelt story of her visits with Aunt and their special early morning ritual of fresh biscuits topped with her home made Strawberry Jam. It will have you running to the kitchen to break out the biscuit makings and whipping up some jam. It's a timely variation as the strawberry season is upon most of us now. Mayre however gives it a new inventive twist to this favorite standby. Don't miss all the other interesting things on offer on her site, with links to giveaways too, if you're feeling lucky.
Hopefully, you won't be too weary to tour with Mele Cotto's Chris, through some of her old haunts, such as "Zabar's " and "Chelsea Market", as well as some new finds, like "Stew Leonards" in her post "NYC Tour Day 2 with a little Apples and Thyme" . It's worth having a double espresso to keep you going. You'll finish up over at her Mother's home for a tour of her Mother's memory wall and proudly they have the stamina to prepare some biscotti, fit for a Queen with her lovely Mom at the helm of her ever so red Kitchenaid. Make sure to check out all the delicious offerings that keeps Chris fed and will have you begging for more. Chris hosted the Apples and Thyme March edition. If you missed any of those have a look here.
African Vanielje, of the same named blog, and one of our founding hosts of "Apples and Thyme", Celebrates some time with her Mother . in which she recounts the many life lessons experienced growing up in her mothers restaurant kitchen. Working her way through a professional kitchen, she vividly and accurately describes learning not only the basics of commercial cooking and kitchen techniques, but the larger picture as well. "If you can’t make yourself heard you will be lost, and if you can’t earn your team’s respect you will be dead and buried." Amen, to that sentiment! Be sure and don't miss this South African tale.
My Bella Baita View's offering to this month's round up is a meandering story of my sister-in-laws prized family recipe, Grandmother Denzio's Ravioli . A reminiscence about how our extended family has as much influence at times as our relatives by blood. I try to take the mystery out of ravioli making and present it as a party waiting to happen. You might want to make it a basis for a fun get together sometime. Although, I have been making ravioli for awhile now, since I have been living in Italy, it took this story to push me to make this particularly special ravioli and revisit the first time I made them.

I just discovered that we somehow missed Giz and Psychgrad of Equal Opportunity Kitchen's wonderful post about Cholent, honoring Baba, their mother and grandmother respectively. They say the phots don't do the dish justice, but I think it looks very homey and I like the sounds of the crusty top. They have a fun interview with Baba talking about cholent and her family getting their dishes mixed up and the sad outcome of that sabbath meal. Do have a wander round their site as there is a lot of cooking and story telling going on.


We hope you enjoyed this months April round up. Apples and Thyme is taking a hiatus for a while due to busy schedules. Be sure to check back in with Jeni and African Vanielje, for the next edition. Although Apples and Thyme is taking a break, I would encourage all of you to find the time to spend some time in the kitchen with the people that you love, whoever they may be. Why not pass along some of your culinary tips, tricks, laughs, family stories, traditions and treasured recipes. It's an inexpensive gift and a priceless memory that can be savored over and over.
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