Germany’s Hokkaido Kürbis Obsession: How Deutschland Fell in Love with a Japanese Squash
Recipes History Germany’s Hokkaido Kürbis Obsession: How Deutschland Fell in Love with a Japanese Squash

It’s hard to miss Hokkaido Squash season in Germany, with special menus and all the farmers’ markets and vegetable stands piled high with the popular red-orange “Hokkaido Squash.” Wait, hold on… Hokkaido? That’s a region in Japan. And all the squash and pumpkins are new-world vegetables, anyway. So how the heck did Germany make the Hokkaido pumpkin its own? Our food history on the Hokkaido Kürbis takes us back to the 1500s, when the Portugese brought south and central-American pumpkins back to Europe.

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5 Make-Ahead Mixes to Rescue Your Busy Weekday Dinners
Recipes 5 Make-Ahead Mixes to Rescue Your Busy Weekday Dinners

When I have a little time on a Sunday and I know I’m going to have a particularly busy week coming up, I start thinking about a few little make-ahead projects that help to move dinner along more quickly or turn a basic dish into something a little more special. With just a small amount of advance preparation, I’ve found that reaching for few little jars can be fairly miraculous when I’m pressed for time.

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Mom’s Homemade Pizza & The Joy of Memory-Making Meals
Recipes Mom’s Homemade Pizza & The Joy of Memory-Making Meals

Today’s post is an homage to the pizza that mom makes, but like many Americans, I grew up with a broad spectrum of different foods that were all called “pizza.” At the far end of the thin-crust spectrum, we see things like the cracker-thin Neapolitan-style pizzas, light on toppings and baked to bubbly, lightly blackened pies in ultra-hot wood or coal-fire ovens. On the other end, you see emphasis on crust thicknesses rising all the way to the casserole-like excess that is Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, which can be so overloaded, it’s like an entire meal in a single slice.

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Eureka! The German-Russian Plum Kuchen
Food history Recipes Eureka! The German-Russian Plum Kuchen

Following the paths of history leads to a lot of strange endpoints. A group of people ends up halfway across the world, replanted in a strange location, and you wonder, why is there a population of Koreans in Kazakhstan? To this and many other Central Asian mysteries, my friend from Kazakhstan shrugs and simply says, “Stalin.” Unsurprisingly, when I went to find out why the Dakotas of North America are full of a population that identifies as “Germans from Russia,” the answer is partly Stalin.

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Picnic-Ready Mustard Eggs: Cooking With the Devil
Recipes How to Picnic-Ready Mustard Eggs: Cooking With the Devil

I like to take deviled eggs to picnics. They’re delicious, impressive and actually easier to transport and assemble than you’d think. Read on, and I’ll show you how to do it. But first, I have a story that goes along with my deviled eggs and that’s about one of my more embarassing moments… On a Pennsylvania-based business trip for work, I met and interviewed an Amish family. We were hoping to bring their free-range eggs into our business, so we got a tour of the facilities before being invited to sit down for lunch in their home.

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Plantain Bread & The Wonder of Quick Loaves
Recipes Plantain Bread & The Wonder of Quick Loaves

For some reason, I especially love recipes that turn old or ugly fruit and vegetables from trash to treasure. It’s almost like getting something for free. Rubbery zucchini? Zucchini Bread! Black, squishy bananas? Banana Bread! Dented Eggplant? Make Baba Ganoush! Bruised apples or strawberries? Perfect for a quick fruit sauce. When we had two soft, black plantains that were surplus to requirements for our Cuban dinner, I assumed they’d be a good addition to a quick bread, and I was more than thrilled with the result.

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A (Modern) Jazz Age Cocktail:
Recipes Travel A (Modern) Jazz Age Cocktail:

“First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” F. Scott Fitzgerald Say you find yourself standing on an uninhabited island among gaily costumed picnickers with a cocktail in your hand, a dance floor and orchestra before you, a pie contest to your left and the Dorothy Parker Society just behind you. Never fear. You’re probably not dreaming. You probably didn’t fall into a time warp.

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Mission: The Ice Cream Smorewich
Recipes Mission: The Ice Cream Smorewich

As the last big weekend for summer grilling approaches, what’s America’s ultimate summer dessert? The ice cream sandwich? The s’more? I had a thought this week… why not combine the two? Behold: The Ice Cream S’morewich! I’ve done a bit of (very tasty, very chocolaty) experimentation, and I’m here to tell you, there is a fast and easy way, and then there’s also the hero’s path: the longer (but rewarding) way.

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Gazpacho with Green Tomatoes
Recipes Gazpacho with Green Tomatoes

As the family legend has it, on the night before I was born, my mother cooked a pizza topped with sliced green tomatoes, and the next morning, pop! There I was. (Though, truth be told, it may actually have taken a bit more effort than I’m leading on…) I won’t go so far as to call green tomatoes some kind of folk remedy for inducing labor, but perhaps they provide a good incentive for anyone taking their sweet time in the womb.

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How to Stuff a Zucchini Blossom
Recipes How to How to Stuff a Zucchini Blossom

With so many fruits and vegetables available year-round, it’s rare in the modern world to enjoy a food that’s really, truly a limited-time offer. You can get an apple in June, when, by all rights, all the apples from the previous autumn should already be a fuzzy memory. But it seems it’s always apple season somewhere, and we’ve come to rely on that constant availability. But due to a brief season and great delicacy, the zucchini blossom (or courgette blossom, as J would say) is what I like to think of as “now or never” foods.

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About Me

Miss Ginsu is a nom-nom-nom de plume of Leitha Matz, who worked at Tabla and FreshDirect in NYC, wrote about the food scene from 2004 to 2009 in Brooklyn and presently lives in Berlin. Occasionally seen on TV cooking segments, Leitha has also written for FreshDirect, contributed to Cee Cee Berlin, The Food52 Cookbook and has been interviewed/quoted in The Food Keeper as well as The Washington Times and Salon.

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