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Filipino-American menudo has a Mexican accent

When we had a big dinner at my childhood home, my mom would cook dishes that had Spanish-sounding names. It meant only one thing – we were having special guests. I grew up in a small, rural town in the Philippines. We had meals from produce my dad planted or livestock roaming in our yard. …

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Soulard Farmers Market is a St. Louis rite of spring

While I was growing up in St. Louis in the 1960s, my mother established a weekly market routine. Every Saturday morning, we headed to Soulard Farmers Market to buy the weekʼs fruit and vegetable supply from local farmers. (Mom always adamantly avoided the “commission house” sellers. We ate local food even back then.) Fresh produce …

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Community Kitchen: Swiss Mennonite raisin nut pie via Ohio

Grandma Ida Badertscher’s raisin nut pie reminds me of pecan pie, but without the overwhelming sweetness. The pie not only sets taste buds tingling, it serves up a whole lot of family history as well. When I got the recipe as a young bride, I had no idea that the more than 50-year-old recipe – …

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Community Kitchen: Pineapple tarts for Chinese New Year

I was leaving to spend the 2013 Chinese New Year with my mother, my brother and his family in Edmonton, Alberta. One of the last things I threw into my suitcase in Milwaukee was the only pineapple tart mold I could hurriedly find in my unruly miscellaneous baking drawer.  This mold, with a serrated copper …

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Community Kitchen: Bringing Italy back home

Viewed from the shoreline, the trabocco looked like a contraption left behind from the set of a pirate movie rather than the site of a cooking class. As we walked along the pier toward a hut on a weatherworn deck planted in the water along Italy’s Adriatic coastline, the scene became clearer. The random wooden …

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Community Kitchen: Grandma Ivy’s ham balls

My love of Swedish ham balls is so primal that I wonder if the aroma of the sauce cooking is what made me realize there might be a reason to move on from breast milk.  These sweet, sumptuous balls quickly became my yearly birthday tradition. When you grow up in Minnesota and your birthday is in December, you need …

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Community Kitchen: Eating local in St. Louis — backyard fruit and gooey butter cake

The local foods concept is déjà vu for me. I grew up in St. Louis in the 1960s, and seasonal, local food was simply how my family ate our way around the calendar. Strawberry picking and eating those fresh berries dripping juice straight from the plant meant that the school year was over. We had …

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Community Kitchen: Grandmother Hazel’s tomato pudding

My grandmother, Hazel, was a standout Southern cook. She was famous in Rocky Mount, N.C., for making the best, fluffiest yeast-risen rolls. She and her friends would gather once a week to make them, and the proofing gave them time to talk and share. A Virginia native, she was much taller than my Gullah grandfather. …

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Community Kitchen: Tomatoes, 1957

Well, it’s late June and the tomatoes are all set with an abundant supply of fruit. I’m 10 years old and standing in my daddy’s garden back in Hueytown, Ala. I’m looking desperately for signs of a tomato that is starting to turn ripe. Oh, for a little hint of reddish-orange tint so that I …

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Community Kitchen: Green smoothies for Father’s Day

My omnivorous son, Theo, coaxed me into reluctant motherhood when he came into the world, two years ago, on Father’s Day (June 19). Breastfeeding got off to a furious start, as Theo rapidly gained weight to rank in the 95th percentile. However, it was his father who recently made a critical culinary contribution. Theo started …

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