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I’ve been completely immersed in Olympic coverage the last two weeks. It’s pretty much all I’ve accomplished even with a trip to New York City and several Client meetings.  I watch in the morning. I watch at night. I watch late late night. I tape during the day and watch in between. And can I just say, across the board, the ladies are killing it. I’m finding the women’s sports much more exciting than the men’s this go round. Also, throughout the games, I’ve been inspired to cook with a Brazilian flair, making all sorts of dishes that fit the theme. For an Opening Ceremonies party, I made Brazilian cheese bread (pão de queijo) and feijoada that were both very delicious. In the interim I made Coconut Quindim, a lovely and very easy coconut flan and a tropical Fresh Mango Coconut Tea Cake. Then the other night I made this: a coconut milk based fish stew known as moqueta.
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I’ve been on a real coconut bender lately. Some people despise coconut and I just don’t understand it. Coconut is delicious! I guess that just means more for me, which is A-OK. I’ve been going through coconut milk at a rapid pace lately, making a slew of frozen desserts, savory stews and rice dishes not to mention dried coconut in a bunch of things. I recently made a blender full of old school piña coladas for friends not long ago and they were fantastic. A properly made, boozy, retro piña colada is something that is most definitely due for a comeback. (I’m looking at you Tiki Bar trend.) Tasty but potentially lethal, you gotta keep and eye on these things and the rate at which your friends are downing them. Trust me on this. For an Olympic Opening Ceremonies party two weeks back, I was searching for an appropriate dessert and with neither the time nor the energy to attack my favorite egg custard tarts; I narrowed in a coconutty custard that looked perfect. Coconut Quindim. Interesting name. This had potential.

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I’m feeling rather tropical as of late. Must be the heat or maybe its the 24-hour cycle of Olympic events from Rio that is emanating from every electronic device I own. All this broadcasting from Copacabana Beach is making me crave tropical drinks with long straws and plastic monkey decorations like nobody’s business. A recent stop at the local produce market persuaded me to grab case of ripe mangoes bought on the cheap. I can never resist a deal. I immediately ate one warm out of the case, sticky orange juice running down my arm. The next day, I did the same thing with a cold one. I like them better cold. Two down, six to go. I made some coconut sticky rice and sliced the third one on top. Five left.

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Today is another of those goofy food holidays but this one actually makes sense given the season: National Zucchini Day. It’s that time of the year when for a lot of people, zucchinis grow 2 feet overnight and overwhelm their lives. Enthusiastic gardeners plant a little too aggressively in the spring and to their delight, the plants flourish. Come August, these formerly delightful gardens are spitting out giant zucchini like aliens. I’ve seen them abandoned in office kitchenettes, in paper bags mysteriously left near front doors, in sidewalk boxes marked “Take me! PLEASE!” and once, I saw a woman whip one out of her purse and give it to the bewildered hostess as an open house gift. Also around this time of year, I tend to get requests for a good zucchini recipe that isn’t a quick bread. As good as those are, they get pretty tired so I usually recommend this simple savory tart.

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I am an over the top, unapologetic Olympic fan and have been my entire life. I come from a family of Olympic fans. In 1980, my mom let me stay home from school to watch the USA vs. Russia hockey game in Lake Placid. As a kid, I was so enamored with Nadia Comaneci that I begged and begged my parents to enroll me in gymnastics. They did. My mom and I will routinely call each other in the middle of an event to discuss something amazing, outrageous or a rule technicality. It is not uncommon to find myself at 4 or 5am on the couch engrossed in wresting or curling or sailing or biathlon and maybe I even set an alarm to wake me in time. I cry during medal ceremonies. It may even be true that I make complicated excel spreadsheets of the TV coverage so I know exactly what is on when and on what channel. With over 6,755 hours of coverage this year, I have to go in with a plan.

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During these long hot days of summer my cooking mojo takes a nose dive. I don’t feel like doing much of anything and the thought of turning on the oven makes me cringe. Case in point: this weekend I baked two slab pies for a party that were delicious if incredibly frustrating. Hot kitchen and cold dough are not compatible in any way. It was a struggle that required a nap directly in front of a fan to cool down. While the pies were enthusiastically greeted at the party, I ditched them on the buffet table and immediately went to the bar to calm my overheated nerves. Not wanting to repeat that situation, today I wanted something sweet but something easy and nothing that would work up a sweat. I dug around in my unusually well stocked refrigerator, the result of enthusiastic shopping trips and the lack of energy to do much with my purchases. There was a pineapple with unfulfilled ambitions and a bunch of lemongrass that was supposed to go in something I never made. I looked at my little windowsill lime leaf tree and a decision was made.

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A few years ago I was in Bangkok, suffering from some tremendously awful jetlag. After a full, hard day of work in a foreign and unfamiliar kitchen, I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep so around 1am I gave up and decided to explore. I caught a cab and told the driver to take me to the Flower Market (Pak Khlong Talat) which I read doesn’t really get hopping until 2am or later. If I couldn’t sleep, at least I’d see part of the city as my sight seeing had been pretty limited up to that point.

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