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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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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A Day for Goooools and Globlins
A Day for Goooools and Globlins

I’d intended on making chocolate skulls with white chocolate and dark chocolate detailing. They were going to be So. Very. Cool. Unfortunately, the white chocolate refused to come out of the plastic skull molds. Instead, they looked like globby white chocolate messes. I needed a Plan B. Stat. Thanks to some handy pepitas, shredded coconut and chow mein noodles, Plan B was hatched… and out came these cute little globlins. My roomie called ‘em that.

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Recession-Proof Recipes: Apple-Bacon Chowder
Recession-Proof Recipes: Apple-Bacon Chowder

As economic worries become yet worse and more frightening, what could be a better Recession-Proof Recipe this week than a soothing cup of chowder? Comforting, delicious, endlessly flexible and — oh yes! quite economical — chowder is warm, filling and there for you when the economy is tanking and your savings are sad and wilted. We talked about Classic Manhattan and New England Chowder last January, but now that the season of summer corn is on the wane and the season of autumnal apples is on the rise, it seems appropriate to think about a combination of apples, corn and a few bits of smoky bacon or ham.

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Raising a Glass to Brazil: The Blackberry Caipirinha Cocktail
Recipes Raising a Glass to Brazil: The Blackberry Caipirinha Cocktail

I just want to take a moment to say “thank you” to Brazil. Why? Well, although the country has some challenges (poverty, etc.) those lovely Brazilians export a lot of wonderful things to the citizens of the rest of the world. Bossa nova, samba, capoeira, jiu-jitsu, feijoada, churrascaria, The Girl From Ipanema… all things evocative of sensuality and living life with verve. So thanks very much, Brazil! I raise a caipirinha to you.

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Dear Miss Ginsu: I Need A Brine for Pickling Green Beans
Recipes Dear Miss Ginsu: I Need A Brine for Pickling Green Beans

Dear Miss Ginsu, We have a huge bean harvest — got any recipes for pickled beans? Yours, — Swimming in ‘em Dear Swimmer, Oh, how I loove pickled green beans! They’re so very tasty. And texture-wise, I think I may even prefer them to pickled cucumbers. In fact, I hope there are still some CSA or farmers’ market beans on the way. Now if I can only keep from boiling and eating them straight away, I’m inspired to get some into jars.

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A Hammock, a Pimm’s Cup and Thou
Recipes A Hammock, a Pimm’s Cup and Thou

Personally, I feel that fully half of what makes the Pimm’s Cup such a beguiling summer cocktail is in the garnish. There are multiple variants, of course. Honestly many of them look waaaay too complicated for a lazy summer day. I favor the ultra-simple slice of cucumber + slice of lemon. But note that I’m pulling out my aunt’s amazing antique cups for this… presentation is important. Pimm’s makes a variety of styles, and that namesake cocktail made with the formulation known as No.

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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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