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I have three go to soups: chicken noodle, French onion and clam chowder. If they’re on the menu, I will order them. Always. I may stray now and again, but these are my constants. I was recently in a Cracker Barrel in a soupy mood and the two offerings of the day were: vegetable beef (never) and clam chowder (absolutely.) My friend asked the server if the clam chowder was New England (white), as opposed to the lesser known Manhattan (tomato based) or the even lesser known Rhode Island (brothy). We got a blank stare in return. Of course we did and we deserved it, the food snobs in a Cracker Barrel that we were.

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Hey! So I’ve been cooking up a storm lately, but nothing really blog worthy. More so, just some old favorites, many that I’ve already posted. With Easter coming up, there are some good things in the archives for your holiday brunches and dinners so let’s recap today.

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Yesterday was Pi(e) Day and, like many, I felt the need to make a pie. There were, however, a few hitches in my plan. First, I got a late start on the process so any hope of a Pi(e) Day post on the actual Pi(e) Day was quickly off the table. Whatever. Second, I spent the weekend working the International Housewares Show with a friend and my refrigerator was packed to the gills with the leftovers from our demos, a helluva lot of meat in this case. Beef, pork, chicken; it was all there in ridiculous quantities. As much as I like a good meat pie, this was not the time to figure that one out. Pushing the meat aside, I took stock of the rest of my fridge contents. Slim pickings. Eggs, of course. Two sticks of butter but not much else in terms of dairy unless I counted some rather questionable looking cheese. Some random vegetables, a few better looking than others. Condiments galore. I really didn’t want to go to the store. This was going to be interesting.

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How wonderful is a good bundt cake? There’s something so homey and comforting about a moist wedge, usually with some kind of fantastic sugary glaze, that makes me so stinkin’ happy. The last month has been a bit crazy – travel, wicked jetlag, insane Olympic viewing marathons – that I badly needed something homey and comforting. My cooking mojo was running low and dinner has often consisted of a bowl of popcorn or a plate of raw vegetables and whatever I could round up to act as a dip. For the last several posts, I’ve made foods from recently maligned countries, and while very good, they weren’t cake. I needed cake. When I saw my friend Cathy Barrow’s recipe in The Washington Times for a Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake, I perked up. I had meyer lemons. I had butter and eggs and whatnot. Game on.

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During this little project I’ve been doing for the last few weeks, exploring the foods of recently maligned cultures, I’ve become a bit fascinated with the layered Moroccan meat pie called b’stilla. It was one of the first things I thought of when I started this exploration. This isn’t that post. I did buy all the stuff to make a b’stilla but I just wasn’t feeling it. My first attempt was underwhelming and I really didn’t feel like making it again right now. Instead, struggling with some horrendous jet lag that has me turned all upside-down, I wanted something spicy, something comforting, something saucy. I wanted a project; one that would eat up some time since I seem to be awake at all kinds of weirdo hours and provide my addled brain something to focus on. I wanted doro wat. Luckily, I had everything on hand, including all the spices so I dove in, taking most of my Moroccan ingredients and turning them into a spicy Ethiopian chicken stew instead.

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Researching the foods of Africa in an effort to learn more about this recently maligned continent, I found so many things that sounded delicious. Too many. One day, I googled “African snacks” curious to see what came up for any of the 54 countries. I immediately perked up at the results which were far better than I had hoped. A litany of amazing things – meat pies, fritters, meat on sticks, and fried dough in all kinds of shapes and sizes and glazes. Among these were a few things with really great names that caught my attention immediately … chin chin, puff puffs and fat cakes. What?!? How much fun do these sound?!? I want to eat them all. Obviously I started with puff puffs. How could I not?

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I had friends over for dinner recently, where I tried out a bunch of dishes I’ve been working on, exploring the foods of maligned cultures that I know little about. Turns out, they knew little about them too. Haiti, El Salvador and all the countries that make up Africa, few knew much about the food and it lead to lively discussions, great conversation and a really enjoyable meal. Food has the power to do that, bring people together. Today’s post is from Haiti and it is a hell of a good stew – Poulet Creole. All the lively flavors interwoven in the country’s history, namely from waves of African and French immigrants, come together in this dish in the best possible ways.

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