Five years ago, my dad's job offered him the opportunity to move abroad for work, which he and my mom happily accepted.
They rented out their home, packed up the dogs and were on their way to Frankfurt, Germany, for the experience of a lifetime.
After four years of living a new culture, traveling and meeting good friends, they found their way back to the states to settle in for good.
SARAH GREEN/Sun-Gazette Correspondent
Along with the wonderful mementos from their travels, they brought back wonderful stories and experiences, ones they will never forget.
While I was adjusting to my new life in the Big Apple, my parents were adjusting to their new life in "main-hattan" a name given to Frankfurt, which is situated along the Main River. My mom and I would swap stories about city life, often finding we were experiencing many of the same things.
I called her one day expressing frustration towards "New Yorkers" and the attitude that is so commonly associated with them, and she told me a story her neighbor, Ulla, had told her about German people. Ulla explained, "Germans are like coconuts, very hard on the outside, often times coming off as quite rude, but once you get past their shell, they are sweet and kind. They just need to be slowly chipped away at." She compared New Yorkers to Germans and I think of that often when I find myself in a situation where people are guarded or rude.
For this months recipe, I had envisioned a large salad highlighting beautiful produce, or perhaps an ice cream to indulge in during the summer heat, but I've decided instead to share a recipe that slowly helped me win over my neighbors, and chip away at their hard shells.
August marks the year anniversary of adopting my pup, Murphy.
He brings so much happiness to my life and I really could not imagine what life in the city would be like without him.
Before life with Murphy, my neighbors could not open and shut their doors fast enough, as if saying hello to someone in the hall might kill them.
Shortly after adopting Murphy I sent a letter to my immediate neighbors introducing this new ball of love and providing my phone number and email should he bark or bug anyone while I was away at work.
As we roamed the halls each day heading out for walks, he did what he does best and quickly won the hearts of the tenants in my building, making introductions I could never manage before.
He has become a bit of a fixture around the neighborhood, high stepping around each corner as if he owns the block.
These hard coconuts that I struggled to squeeze a hello out of, have begun reaching out to hang with Murphy during the long days that I am at work and have slowly begun to show their sweet side.
My neighbor above me took a particular interest in Murphy, after just loosing her pet; he offered her a nice sense of comfort.
After we got to talking, I found out that she was from Latvia, and our conversation quickly shifted to the cuisine of that region.
While my parents were abroad, I had traveled there briefly and found it difficult to find much that was gluten free.
We discussed her favorite dishes and how hard it can be to find authentic versions in the city and bonded over a shared love for food. As a thank you for her watching Murphy I tried to tackle Latvian food, trying my best to re-create her favorites.
When I made a dish called Debesmanna her face lit up and she and her husband returned the large container the next day, having finished it all in one night.
Amazed, I set out to make a gluten-free version and see what the hype was about.
A pudding-like dessert that is whipped to a light consistency and mixed with a slightly sweet, tart juice of your choice, hits all the right notes and makes for a nice treat whether eaten hot or cold.
Serve it with a drizzle of milk or cream and enjoy!
Debesmanna (Latvian Mousse)
Yields: 6 servings
(adapted from Saveur Magazine)
3 cups unsweetened tart cherry juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cream of rice
Milk for serving (optional)
In a medium saucepan bring the juice and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat.
Whisk in the cream of rice then reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, 5 minutes.
Transfer to the hot mixture to a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, and whip on medium-high until it thickens and doubles in volume, about 12-15 minutes.
Serve the pudding mousse hot or chilled in bowls with a touch of milk or cream poured over top, if desired.
Green was first diagnosed with gluten intolerances as a teenager. Soon after, she developed a blog to share her struggles and successes of adapting to a gluten-free life. Over the years, her passion for wellness has turned into a profession. A 2012 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in New York, she is continually networking with other gluten-free experts and expanding her knowledge. Her goal is to make gluten free an option for everyone, not just those in need. Green may be reached at email@example.com. Her column is published on the second Wednesday of each month.