Category Archives: Recipes & Food

The Origin Of Coffee

The Origin Of Coffee

 The Origin of Coffee


SAMSUNG CSCBefore my trip to Ethiopia last summer with the International Reporting Project I’d had no idea where coffee had originated. Imagine my thrill upon discovering that I was heading to the very birthplace of my favorite morning elixir.   Coffee, called Buna in Ethiopia, is central to the Ethiopian culture, and much to my delight, its intricate ritual of preparation takes place throughout the day in every possible setting.

The legend is that back around 800AD a young goat herder named Kaldi noticed his goats had increased energy and would begin jumping around the field every time they had eaten from a certain tree.  Kaldi gathered the tiny fruits from one of the trees and brought them to the village elders. The elders tossed them in the fire due to the bitter taste of the fruits, dismissing the young Shepard and his claims, but when the smell of the coffee roasting in the fire wafted out, their interest was piqued. The roasted seeds left behind were taken out of the fire and placed into water to cool, creating the first drink of coffee.  Now we grind the roasted seeds from inside the fruits, which are what we refer to as the coffee beans, and millions of people worldwide consume coffee each day in all sorts of permutations.


Look familiar?

“When you drink a cup of coffee ideas come marching in like an army”- Balzac

I fell madly in love with thick rich Ethiopian coffee while on our trip, and became enchanted by the ritual coffee preparation that I witnessed in factories, restaurants, homes, or on the sidewalk throughout our days.

North of Addis Ababa, exploring the islands of Lake Tana in Bahir Dar we passed wild coffee trees with branches of coffee fruit lining the paths, and again south of Addis, in the fields of Yetebon, coffee trees lines the fields. Ethiopia produces more coffee than any other African country, and coffee is its largest export. The climate is ideal for coffee growth, and most of the major coffee producing countries of the world lie in that same swath of tropical latitude.

Coffee beans growing in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Coffee beans growing in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

The seeds, or fresh coffee beans are hand roasted over hot coals, and or fire, in wide flat roasting pans called baret metad, with what I perceived as a cathartic patience, until they are perfectly done.


Trying my hand at roasting the beans

The coffee beans are crushed and then added to the hot water in the traditional Ethiopian clay coffee pot called a Jebena. IMG_2879

Once the coffee boils up the long neck of the Jebena it is done. Popcorn is the traditional coffee ceremony snack accompaniment when the coffee is served.

SAMSUNG CSCI travelled to Ethiopia as a New Media Fellow with the International Reporting Project to report on Newborn Health.

Cooking With Kids; ChopChop Invites You To The #BigPicnic

Cooking With Kids; ChopChop Invites You To The #BigPicnic

ChopChop Big PicnicParsnip and Dill, I tell my kids. Those are my secret ingredients for delicious chicken soup. Well not my recipe I confess, but passed on to me by Grandma Nettie, Auntie Kimbo’s grandmother. They know that “Auntie” Kimbo is not really their aunt, and that her name is Kim (Kimberly but don’t tell her I told you!).  They also know that Kim and I have been friends since we were six, and somewhere Kim turned into Kimbo, as those things go with longtime childhood friends.

In any case, my kids and I love to cook together and it has been fun as they grow to watch them conquer more and more complex cooking tasks on their own. And by complex I mean my 10-year-old is up to the cracking the eggs into a bowl without bits of shell getting in. One of the most rewarding moments of motherhood so far was the birthday morning that I woke up to heart-shaped pancakes made for me by my 13-year-old daughter. My child had cooked for me , and that felt revolutionary.

I like to cook with them for the same reason that I like to keep a small (o.k. weed infested) garden in our backyard. I like for them to know where their food comes from. To understand the process of how what we put into our body is made, and that they can make food for themselves, it does not have to come in a package or be bought off a shelf. We had been big fans of the quarterly publication ChopChop Magazine for years, loving to try the healthful recipes and snack suggestions within its colorful pages. ChopChop is a non-profit  with the mission to inspire and teach kids to cook and eat real food with their families.

Currently, 1 out of 400 children under 18 in the U.S. has diabetes, and nearly 1 in 3 is obese. ChopChop’s goal is to reverse this trend by teaching kids and their parents how to create healthy, delicious meals that are easy to prepare and use fresh, nutritious ingredients. ChopChop doesn’t demonize particular foods or use scare tactics. They just offer simple, healthy, and affordable recipes for children and parents to make together.

When we found out ChopChop had come out with a  ChopChop cookbook  we were thrilled.   We were sent a copy as a lead up to our participation in The Big Picnic, and when we received our copy of the cookbook  I had the kids pick out a recipe for us to try.  With four kids coming to a consensus can be challenging to say the least, this time somehow they all enthusiastically agreed that they wanted to make Matzo Balls to add to Grandma Nettie’s Chicken Soup.

The ChopChop Cookbook is made for kids so it is easy for them to read and follow the well explained simple recipes. Personally I never knew I could make Matzo balls, so to find them so easy to make surprised me. Of course the kids all wanted to crack the eggs so I was grateful that the recipe they chose called for 6! Of course rolling the Matzo balls was the most fun, but watching them fluff up as they cooked came pretty close.

big pic2

Inspired by National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month in September, The Big Picnic is being hosted on September 22nd by ChopChop and partner organizations including The White House as a virtual community picnic in which families across the country will cook and eat together at their own picnics. It will be a fun event with a serious goal: preventing childhood obesity.  Who doesn’t love a picnic!?! They are a great way to remind us that cooking and eating healthy food together is lots of fun—a time to share and enjoy. This event is all about good food and good company!

You can join The Big Picnic however you like, spread out a blanket , eat at a picnic table – outside or in. Invite friends, family,  neighbors, and make it as simple or as elaborate as you want. Take pictures or video and share with the hashtag #bigpicnic, and as a participant you will be eligible to win prizes like subscriptions to the magazine, a copy of the  ChopChop cookbook or other fun surprises. We’ll be there, eating our Matzo Ball Soup!

You can also Enter to Win a ChopChop cookbook and a one-year ChopChop Magazine subscription Below!
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This is an original post written by me as part of a program with The Mission List. I received a ChopChop cookbook + magazine subscription for culinary inspiration; as always all opinions are my own.




Fabulous Summer Cocktail: The Aperol Spritz

Fabulous Summer Cocktail: The Aperol Spritz

Aperol SpritzWe are compelled to call this Aperol Spritz fabulous because of our beautiful and yes, fabulous, Italian friend Fabiana who introduced it to us this summer. Aperol is an Italian bitter liqueur infused with orange, gentian, chinchona, rhubarb, and other herbs and spices,  combined with the prosecco and soda water it creates a light refreshing drink.

(this is what to look for in the liquor store)

(this is what to look for in the liquor store)

Recipe: 1/4 Prosecco,1/2 Aperol,1/4 Soda Water, garnish w/ 1 slice of orange & ice


My Favorite Summer Salad

My Favorite Summer Salad

My favorite summer salad recipe comes from a cookbook put together by families at my child’s school. My friend Stacy submitted this one, and it quickly became a menu regular in our house. This is a salad of substance in that  it’s healthful, can be served as a side dish or stand alone as a filling meal.

Southwestern Shrimp Salad



1 head of Romaine lettuce, chopped.

1 bag of frozen large cooked shrimp ( I’ve added the step of tossing  the shrimp in olive oil & old bay seasoning and grilling before adding to the salad which makes it over the top delicious!)

1/2 container grape tomatoes cut in half, about 1 cup.

1 cup roasted sweet corn (I use  Trader Joe’s)

1/2 avocado, chopped

1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped

1 cup of crushed tortilla chips (add on just before serving)

3 T light ranch dressing

1/2 lime juiced

fresh ground pepper to taste


Easy! Just mix all of the above ingredients together adding the tortilla chips right before serving, and enjoy!





Food For Thought; Save The Children Reports

Food For Thought; Save The Children Reports

report copyOn June 17th and 18th world leaders, including President Obama, will convene in Northern Ireland for the G8 Summit.  Based on a newly released report by Save The Children, titled Food For Thought, Global nutrition should be high on the agenda.   We have known for a long time that good nutrition is important for kids.  What the Food For Thought Report highlights is that it is not just important, it is critical.  Good nutrition, it turns out, especially in the first 1,000 days of life when the body and brain is growing rapidly, is more crucial to proper development than we realized.

“A quarter of the world’s children are suffering the effects of chronic malnutrition. Poor nutrition in the early years is driving a literacy and numeracy crisis in developing countries and is also a huge barrier to further progress in tackling child deaths,” said Carolyn Miles, Save the Children CEO and President.

Save the Children’s report also highlights the huge economic cost of chronic malnutrition. Chronic Malnutrition causes stunting of cognitive development that results in the inability to reach full adult potential.  That means a quarter of the worlds adults will not be able to fully contribute to their communities in the way they would had they received proper nutrition as a child.  Spending on nutrition programs is one of the most cost effective forms of development assistance, yet currently amounts to just 0.3 per cent of global development spending. Any investment now, the report says, would be a down payment on future prosperity.


brain copy

“Improving the nutritional status of children and women in the crucial 1,000-day window – from the start of a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday – could greatly increase a children’s ability to learn and to earn,” said Miles. “World leaders gathering in London on June 8th must commit to concrete actions to tackle malnutrition in those critical 1,000 days, and invest in the future of our children.”

Of course the need for good nutrition does not end there. As a parent I know it is a life long commitment to ensure that my kids eat healthfully. I also know how challenging it can be to make sure to fit in all of the nutrients kids need in their daily meals.  That’s why I love easy finger food vegetables for my kids like sliced cucumbers, carrot sticks or Iceberg lettuce wedges.

My favorite easy Gr8 recipe that all my kids love is Edamame:Edamame

Steam fresh or frozen Edamame in the pods.

Toss the cooked pods with a bit of kosher salt.

Let the kids pop out the beans and enjoy!

Check out more Gr8 recipes for healthful eating options on twitter #Gr8Recipes .








You can help let President Obama know that nutrition is an important item on the agenda by tweeting @whitehouse with your messages using the hashtags #next1000days and #Nutrition4Growth . A sample tweet may read something like this:

  •  @whitehouse let’s make sure all kids get healthy food in their #next1000days so they can reach their full potential. #Nutrition4Growth

Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

global teamI wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.

Our Motto: Individually we are all-powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.