Celebrating Banned Books Week: Lamb Stew from The Hunger Games

Did you know The Hunger Games was number five on the 2013 list of frequently challenged books?

Why not celebrate your freedom to read dystopian fiction by whipping up a batch of the best dinner The Capitol has to offer: Lamb and plum stew? If that’s not your thing, check out the Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook. With over 150 recipes, the odds are ever in your favor you’ll find something else to suit your fancy.



The Loofah Soap Experiment: Update #4

My loofah plant is exceeding all of my expectations for what a plant grown in a shady Ohio yard can achieve. It is the largest plant I have ever grown from seed. I garden for the simple joy of watching plants grow and this plant has been thrilling to watch as it takes over my fire pit, kindling pile and everything else that gets in its way.

Loofah plant

When I planted the seeds earlier this year, I hoped for at least one loofah that would be big enough to dry and use in a soapy creation. At last count, I have nine loofah and the largest currently measures 18 inches!


The fruit of the loofah is edible when it is young and tender, before it has developed the exfoliating fibers most people are familiar with. It is similar in texture and taste to zucchini and can be used in any recipe that calls for zucchini. If Bubba had been a loofah farmer instead of a shrimper, he would have said, “You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. There’s uh, loofah-kabobs, loofah creole, loofah gumbo.” You get the idea. (And, I may have seen a certain movie a few too many times.)

Bubba may have found a million different ways to prepare loofah but when it comes to home-grown veggies, I prefer a simple preparation with very few ingredients. I want to experience the flavor and character of the vegetables that I grow. When I cook zucchini, I sauté it with olive oil and a pinch of garlic and then season it with salt and pepper.  That preparation seemed like the easiest choice for my first foray into eating loofah.  The first chance I had, I picked a tiny baby loofah, cut it up into chunks and sautéed it just like I would a zucchini.

Tiny loofah

Four ingredients turned this tiny little vegetable into a tasty appetizer. (And I had fun stomping around the house and pretending I was a giant eating a full sized zucchini that I cut with my giant knife and served on my giant plate. I have an active imagination. Don’t judge.)



My only regret is that I didn’t pick more so that I could try other recipes like this Thai stir fry called Buab Pud Kai.

Have you seen loofah sold in markets where you live? Have you tried it in a recipe? Tell me all about it in the comments and share your recipes!


The Loofah Soap Experiment: Update #3

For most of the summer, I’ve been convinced that my loofah plant would never bear fruit. It has been an unusually cool summer and loofah plants need heat. The vines are huge and getting bigger very day. Neighbors, don’t let your cats out. Loofah hungry!

Loofah plant

The plant has been blooming for the last month, but no loofah.

Loofah flower

Then, we had rain and several sunny days in a row and suddenly, loofah!


At last count, I have five little loofah growing and dozens of flower buds. If the weather would just warm up, I think I might get at least one loofah that is large enough to dry and work with before the snow starts to fly. I might even get brave and pick a few small ones to eat.

Did you miss the first few installments of the loofah saga? Catch up with them here and here.

It’s San Lorenzo of Rome Feast Day!

The Bloggess - Her name is Juanita. Juanita Weasel

Someone didn’t say her prayers to San Lorenzo before getting started…  

Image and humor credit: The Bloggess. Alterations to protect my mother’s sensibilities: Mine.

When I learned that today was San Lorenzo feast day, I was very excited. Not because I am a die-hard Catholic that looks forward going to Mass and having a good meal afterward. Not because I’m a lapsed Catholic that’s just looking forward to an excuse for good party.

Nope, I wasn’t raised Catholic and don’t know much about Catholics’ saints and traditions. However, I love a good story and I was happy to learn the one Signor Martini told Diane Lane’s character Frances in the film Under the Tuscan Sun was, in fact, true. (True meaning not made up for the film; I realize Christian traditions do involve some mythology.)

If you’re not familiar with it, San Lorenzo was persecuted for defying an order to reveal church secrets to the Romans. His punishment was to be grilled over hot coals. According to legend, he quipped “Turn me over, I’m done on this side.”

In the movie, Signor Martini gives Frances a statue of the saint as a housewarming gift. As he does so, he tells her the story and explains this is why San Lorenzo is the patron saints of cooks. Ever since I saw that movie, I wondered if that story was based on a real Catholic saint. Now that I know it is, I wouldn’t be mad if someone gave me a little San Lorenzo statue as a housewarming gift. As any cook knows, sometimes we need all the help we can get when putting a meal together!

How about you? Do you say a prayer to San Lorenzo when you start a cooking project?