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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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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Candy Cane Crunch Ice Cream with Shortbread Stars
Recipes Candy Cane Crunch Ice Cream with Shortbread Stars

*This post marks Day 24 of Miss Ginsu’s 2008 Advent Calendar. Merry Christmas Eve! If the weather outside is frightful, the first thing you’re thinking of might not be ice cream. But die-hards (like me) think about ice cream year-round — the holidays are no exception. I haven’t done an ice cream recipe in a few months, but I wanted to make this one a little more snazzy and festive for Christmas Eve — thus, the addition of those stripey little canes.

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Day 10: Dough for Play
Recipes Day 10: Dough for Play

*This post marks Day 10 of Miss Ginsu’s 2008 Advent Calendar . Even if you don’t have kids, you may find yourself in the company of little folks around the holidays. And wet, mucky, sleety days mean it’s not so fun to go outside and play. If you’re anticipating small guests, (or maybe just playful older guests), you can plan ahead and make some homemade play dough for a nice kitchen-table activity.

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Recipes Day 9: A Holiday Halva

*This post marks Day 9 of Miss Ginsu’s 2008 Advent Calendar. I find it really interesting that the Christmas season is supposed to be about the birth of Christ, and yet modern-era Christmas celebrations don’t feature anything that calls to mind the early Christian-era foods… that is, the foods of the Middle East. Rather than eating something like pita with hummus and baba ganoush or Spiced Ground Lamb, we feast on roasted turkey or baked hams for the holidays.

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Recipes Classic Peanut Butter Cookies: Adventures in Dangerous Baking

These days, you really can’t bring peanut butter cookies or peanut trail mix or even good old PB&J sandwiches into a lot of schools. One of my daddy friends tells me that his daughter’s school has banned not only peanuts, but homemade snacks in general. So put away your family’s favorite recipe for lemon bars. School treats must now be individually packaged snack foods. Great for food manufacturers. Lousy for parents who want to cook with their kids and demonstrate the value of the homemade.

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My Favorite Books for Food-Loving Kids

I was a lucky little kid. I had parents who read to me and bought me lots of books. Early on, they introduced me to the wonders of the public library and taught me to read, which cracked open the whole world’s opportunities. As an adult I still carry around a whole heap of warm, fuzzy nostalgia for the stories of Rudyard Kipling and Theodor Geisel, the weird poetry of Edward Lear and Shel Silverstein.

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China Princess Pecan Brittle: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Cookbook
Recipes China Princess Pecan Brittle: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Cookbook

Published in 1981, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Cookbook features 121 bright pages of simple recipes meant “for the young, and for the young in heart,” plus a handy cooking terms section and index. Don’t go envisioning Judy Garland now, friends. This book explores the far more complex Oz of literature. Author Monica Bayley explains in a foreword that her recipes are suggested by a formula of regional associations, references in the story text, and dominant food color matchups with Oz locations such as the yellow brick road, the Emerald City and the lands of Quadlings, Winkies, Gillikins and Munchkins.

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Recipes My Bizarre Cookbook Collection: The Sesame Street Cookbook

Since its inception in 1969, Sesame Street has been hearty seed for fertile young minds. From phonics and mathematics to Spanish and music appreciation, I personally owe that program a huge debt. High up on the itemized receipt for that debt, I include “The Sesame Street Cookbook,” published in 1971 by Pat Tornborg. This fine cookbook — my first — introduced me to such approachable delights as Mr. Snuffle-upagus' “Snuffle-Loaf in a Spaghetti Nest” and “Twiddle-Burgers” as well as culinary experiments, such as Oscar’s “Sardine and Orange Salad” and the Amazing Mumford’s “A La Peanut Butter Soup.

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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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