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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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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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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Terrifyingly Tasty Treats for Halloween
Terrifyingly Tasty Treats for Halloween

The “halloweenies” you see here are adorable, but they really don’t even deserve a recipe. They’re just cocktail-size sausages artistically wrapped in thin slices of puff pastry with little black currant or peppercorn eyes… (some people use mustard dabs for eyes after they’re cooked). Bake in a moderately hot oven (375 F/190 C) about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Halloween really snuck up on me this year, and that never happens.

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Smoked Chops & Apple-Kissed Kraut

I had grand plans for a gorgeous autumnal Choucroute Garni, but life interfered (I’m certain you’re well aware of know how life tends to do that) and I realized that a long-cooking dish in the Dutch oven simply wouldn’t do. Food needed to appear on the table STAT. Luckily, a deconstructed Choucroute Garni happens to make for one of the quickest meals out there. And a darn tasty one at that.

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Food Quote Friday: Christine Rhein

“Imagine if we could hear bread rising, dew forming, the budding of raspberries, the tear of a cocoon, a minnow’s pulse, our own cells growing, dying.” Christine Rhein from “Tuning”

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Autumn Cravings: A Pumpkin-Spice Breakfast Bread
Autumn Cravings: A Pumpkin-Spice Breakfast Bread

Call it squash seduction. Call it the autumnal chill. I don’t know what you want to call it, but the pumpkins in the farmers' market have been calling to me. Of course, I’ve been too lazy (or maybe just too busy) as of late to turn one of those tempting orange gourds into a pie. Luckily, I’m told that few palates can actually discern the difference between fresh-made pumpkin puree and the pumpkin puree that’s conveniently canned.

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Recipes Not the Lunchlady’s Goulash

At the tender age of six or seven, I had a clear moment of decision in the school lunchroom. As most epiphanies are, this revelation was heartfelt and simple. Though I’d traditionally devoured nearly anything that crossed my path — poisonous or not — I discovered a newfound hatred for goulash. Little did I know that the bland hamburger-macaroni combo they’d scooped onto my plastic tray and billed as goulash was actually a low-rent impostor.

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The Ginger Fizz: Vote. Drink. Hope for the Best.
The Ginger Fizz: Vote. Drink. Hope for the Best.

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, but in a tense time of great anticipation for the American people, this Election Day brings long lines at the polling places, a huge throng of first-time voters (noobs) and the need for a great autumnal cocktail. Because whether you’re happy with the outcome of the poll returns or not, I think we’re all going to need a drink. I’m not going to go with red drinks or blue drinks here, because 1.

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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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