Friday, February 7, 2014

Corn Pudding Recipe. Understanding a culture through it's food.

Have you seen a corn dish on a menu in Europe or Asia? Corn casseroles are as American as meat loaf. I grew up anticipating holiday meals — the only time my mom made this wickedly wonderful, sinfully rich corn dish. 

When I was an exchange student in Luxembourg, I wanted to make my host family something “typically American” and asked my mom to send me the Jiffy Corn Mix and the canned corn to make this recipe. Let’s just say, corn is not appreciated in European cuisine. The son of the family told me later that they feed corn to the pigs. Ha Ha. The joke was on me.

When my daughter and I biked across Kansas a few years ago, on our trans-continental ride, we pedaled for days through corn fields. So I had a lot of time to think about corn!  Corn and beef are as basic as apple pie in the Midwest and in the American culinary consciousness.
Every woman in my family has a different name for it: my mother in Ohio called it Corn Dump, my sister in Florida calls it Corn Pudding and I call it Corn Souffle.  Called by any name, this dish is delicious. Everyone asks for more and yes, for the recipe too. I always make it in a large 8×12″ glass casserole dish and it will serve 10-15 people. My friends beg me to bring it to the holiday party because it serves a crowd, is always a hit, and compliments turkey, beef or chicken.
Easy as 2,2,4,8!
Corn Souffle
  • 2 cans cream corn
  • 2 cans kernel corn
  • 2 boxes of Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 ounces of sour cream
Melt the butter. Mix all the ingredients in an 8×12″ or 10×13″ pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until the middle is firm and the top is a golden brown color. 
Left-overs are decadently wonderful reheated for breakfast!
Visit me at for more tastes of the world. 

My Favorite Walks in San Francisco

Despite its reputation for dizzying hills, San Francisco is a town for walking. Every weekend for seven years when I lived in San Francisco, I laced up my comfiest walking shoes and headed for varied neighborhoods and parks.  Lots more on my travel blog:

Try a few of these walks and you too will be struck by the juxtaposition of urbanity and nature. With the blue Pacific Ocean or the emerald hills of Marin County as a backdrop,  San Francisco impresses with a colorful palette: from Technicolor Mexican murals to pastel Victorian homes to lush gardens to contemporary architecture.

And when you tire of the pavement, retreat to the city’s green spaces for rejuvenating walks.
Land’s End is located in the northwest part of the city and is mostly National Park land with wooded trails, gardens, and views of the bay and the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. Walk along the Pacific Ocean on Ocean Beach or take my favorite hillside trail: Coastal Trail, which begins near the Cliff House Restaurant and Point Lobos Avenue.
You will pull out your cameras once again to get that stunning panorama or a shot of you all hoofing it up the hills. (The hills are often worth the climb — typically for the jaw-dropping vistas.) And it’s also almost impossible to get a bad meal in this town of veritable foodies. You’ll all gather around a large table for cheap dim sum in Chinatown, learn the proper way to unwrap the tin foil from your Mission-style burritos, and get gussied to hit some of the finest restaurants in the country. San Francisco has a way of rewarding you for all that walking.
Neighborhood for Strolling: North Beach, the city’s Italian-American quarter, a block from Chinatown, is one of my favorite places to stroll, sip house-roasted espresso, and shop. People-watch from a tiny sidewalk café filled with Old Italian gents; get your carb fix with a big bowl of pasta; or have a picnic on the grass at Washington Square with fixings from a nearby gourmet food shop.
Wandering through its side streets, you’ll happen upon gems like the San Francisco Art Institute, a Tuscan-style villa with a Diego Rivera mural, student galleries, and a large terrace with a sweeping view of the bay. Browse the shelves of the three-story City Lights Bookstore, the legacy of the 1950′s Beat poets, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, and founded by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. If you love the written word, a pilgrimage to City Lights is a must.  Highlights are Washington Square, St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Jack Kerouac Alley, City Lights Bookstore, and Club Fugazi with the famous Beach Blanket Babylon show.
Favorite Café: Take in the mix of cultures sitting outdoors or indoors at my favorite haunt in North Beach: Café Greco. Locals swear it has absolutely the best cappuccino in the city with the perfect swirl of coffee in the light foamy milk on the top. It’s a mecca for espresso buffs who sip while writing next year’s great novel. Located at 423 Columbus Ave, between Green and Vallejo Streets (415.397.6261).
Best Garden Walk: Take a short detour from North Beach and head down the famed Filbert Steps, flanked by cascading gardens, sculptures and benches — you’ll be glad you did. You may hear or catch a glimpse of the famous wild, green parrots that soar from tree to tree, as seen in the documentary The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.  Begin your stroll at the top of the steps at the corner of Montgomery and Filbert Streets and descend to Sansome Street.
Crissy Field Golden Gate Bridge
The Marina Green and Crissy Field offer one spectacular view after another of the glistening Bay, Alcatraz and the shimmering Golden Gate Bridge. I have a special connection with this waterfront area – I ran here every day after work for six years, and even had a jog along the water on the morning of my wedding. You could say, it’s kind of special to me.
While in the Marina district, going into Gove Café is like stepping into a world of relaxed, beautiful, athletic people. You’ll find the large selection of homemade pastries, chocolates, cookies and gelato are equally authentic and extraordinary.   Located at 2250 Chestnut Street.

BONUS: Want to know the best places to steal a kiss in San Francisco? Click here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Oprah Show - Girlfriend Getaways with Marybeth

Did you miss me on Oprah? Let's talk about girlfriend getaways on this blog.
Cheers, Marybeth

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Packing Panic

December 29, 2007

Packing Panic

Three days until departure for Bangkok and Kathmandu and we’re going into “Packing Panic Mode.” I’ve made a list and I’m checking it twice. Here are small things on my list that I always pack for an international trip:

  • Silicon ear plugs
  • An eye shield
  • Lots of zip lock bags, all sizes
  • A rubber door stopper for added security in hotel rooms.
  • A large safety pin or a clothespin to fully close the hotel drapes.
  • A washcloth because most hotels do not provide them.
  • A bottle opener and corkscrew. Although I can find these in almost all countries, it’s nice to have one ready for picnics or in my hotel room for a drink before dinner.
  • Individually wrapped chocolates, unless I’m going somewhere really warm. Chocolate or candy is a nice gift to offer to a desk clerk or someone who has been especially kind or helpful. If I am going to be hosted by a family, I always take a gift box of fancy chocolates.
  • Photos of my family, pets, garden, holiday celebrations and home.
  • Doubles of any item I “really” can’t live without -- like prescription glasses or sunglasses, and a copy of my passport, driver’s license, fingernail files, Chap Stick, and money.

The temperature on airplanes and aboard buses can vary from tropical heat to an Arctic chill. You can’t count on finding airline blankets on many flights so I’ll dress in layers for the long plane trip. I’ll also pack a sweater and socks in my carry-on bag.

Good Reading Material. I re-read the story of Anna Leonowens: The English Governess at the Siamese Court that inspired the musical The King and I, starring Yul Brynner. The king who she tutored had 600 wives and 85 children and the members of the British Colony were horrified that she accepting the teaching position to the royal family, because they feared she would end up in the royal harem. Within days we’ll sail along the Chao Phraya River and visit temples and palaces and wonder about the British widow’s life over a century ago (1862) in the country then know as Siam.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Nepal or Bust in 2008!

The Christmas gifts are opened and everyone's happy, so it's time to pack for the next trip. As you -- my traveling friends know -- my favorite gift is a boarding pass! On January 1st, my 19-year-old daughter (JC) and I leave via Thai Airways for Bangkok, where we'll spend 2 days then fly to Kathmandu. Travel along with us on this blog.

What are we doing in Nepal in January? I'll be doing research for my upcoming book: Best Girlfriend Getaways Worldwide, and JC will do anti-trafficking research with Nepalese NGO's.

Our trip will be a true "girlfriend getaway" because our neighbor Mary is joining us and we're staying with another girlfriend who lives half the year in Kathmandu, Olga Murray, the founder of Nepal Youth Opportunity Foundation

Packing countdown. What luggage shall we take? We'll check our roller bags, (I usually travel with one carry-aboard suitcase with wheels) but this trip I'm taking toys and basketballs for the boys and girls at the Nepalese children's homes we'll be visiting. And we'll need extra room to carry home our shopping treasures from the bazaars of Kathmandu.

At my home, packing begins a week in advance. I put lots of clothes on the floor next to my suitcase and begin adding and deleting. Since we'll spend a few days trekking in the hill country, we're packing walking shoes, moisture-absorbing socks, layers of warm clothes and a small backpack.

Next posting I'll tell you what "I never leave home without" and as the departure day gets closer I'll share my "long-flight" survival kit with you.

Please share your best packing tips with me too.
Cheers, Marybeth