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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Ideas for Eggplants and an Easy Baba Ganoush
Ideas for Eggplants and an Easy Baba Ganoush

Dear Miss Ginsu, This week the farm share delivered a bunch of eggplants. I have not really done much with them before, so I ask your advice. Other than tossing some sauteed eggplant into a bean salad (not that there’s anything wrong with that), what other tips do you have? Best Regards, — Desperately Seeking Produce Advice Dear DSPA, Oh, you’re so lucky. I do love eggplants. They’re almost like vegetarian meat, so dice them and add them to curries and stews.

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Drinking Like a Viking: How to Make a Mead
Recipes How to Drinking Like a Viking: How to Make a Mead

Apparently, it’s the American Homebrewer’s Association Mead Day. And as it’s sweltering summertime out there, I can’t think of a better day to highlight the pleasures of DIY beverages, not to mention the plight of agricultural honeybees. Though oft dismissed as the stuff of Ren Fairs and the creative anachronism crowd, mead is actually not that difficult to do at home. And (bonus!) being a generous homebrewer is guaranteed to make you immediately popular in your neighborhood and totally valuable after the apocalypse.

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The Chowder Bowl
The Chowder Bowl

The Super Bowl is a copyrighted phrase owned by the NFL, so I guess I’m not even really supposed to mention those words together in this here blog post. I somehow doubt the league will run me down with a cease and desist order. Even so, maybe I’ll just call it “The Big Game” to play it safe. You’ll all know what I’m talking about, no? So I was thinking the other day… The Big Game is coming up this very weekend (February 3rd, for those of you who only watch this one game each year) and I know that our newest national holiday is pretty much locked down as far as the menu goes.

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Apricots, Apriums, Plumcots, Pluots & Plums
Recipes Apricots, Apriums, Plumcots, Pluots & Plums

Am I the only one that’s confused by exactly what the difference is between a pluot and a plumcot? Heck… It was only very recently that I discovered the existence of the aprium . As it turns out, pluots and apriums aren’t just recently popularized fruits. They’re the result of hard work by the Zaiger family of Modesto, California, who for the last 30 years or so, have been quietly marrying apricots and plums — among other stone fruits — in an effort to create crazy new fruits (with Zaiger-registered trademarks, of course) for the marketplace.

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The Tomato Sandwich. Simple. Succulent. Summer-y
Recipes The Tomato Sandwich. Simple. Succulent. Summer-y

Anything you’re forced to eat over the sink or off the edge of the deck is a sign of a life well-lived. Case in point: the Summer Tomato Sandwich. My landlord leaves tomatoes and cucumbers on the ledge of my kitchen windowsill. A neighborhood blessing. These very welcome offerings arrive mysteriously, no fanfare, as if on the wings of fairies, so it seems appropriate that they should make their way into my meals in a whimsical, offhand fashion.

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Horchata = Cold Comfort
Recipes Horchata = Cold Comfort

The cool, damp spring screeches to a sudden halt with a day so muggy it’s like walking around in someone’s mouth. And of course the air conditioner is out of service. Under these circumstances, I can’t think, I can’t focus and I feel so sweaty and gritty I want to peel my skin off. But a cool, sweet liquid hovers in my mind with a shimmering promise of sweet refreshment. Ahh, Horchata.

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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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