Curried Butternut Squash Soup

You can’t go wrong with curry powder and coconut milk! With hints of cumin, chile and cinnamon this soup is guaranteed to warm your soul. It can be made thinner by adding more veggie broth or chunkier by cubing and setting aside some of the squash before it is pureed and adding it at the end. Get Toasty!

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Buttermilk Smashed Potatoes

These aren’t your normal mashed potatoes, light and fluffy with a little bit of tang…this take on the traditional mashed potatoes won’t weigh you down. If you feel like wildin’ out, mix your spuds with cranberries…a great way to use up some of the leftover cranberry sauce from the crostini you might have!

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Wilted Spinach Salad

Everyone loves their veggies right?! This is a fresh and zingy way to get the green veggie haters to love rabbit food!

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Roasted Acorn Squash with Black Bean and Olive Sauce

Fresh beans make for fresh smells…but if you don’t mind all that gas, feel free to substitute two cans of black beans. Serve this with wild rice to fulfill your carb cravings.

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Sweet Potato Crumble

Warning Warning…this is not a pie…Meaning it has no crust…Meaning for those bake-o-phobes out there, this is the perfect solution! This Sweet Potato Crumble is made complete with the addition of chopped Crystalized Ginger and Pecans on top! Note: If you have a sweet tooth, you may want to add 1/4 cup sugar to the potato mixture.

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Food … A weapon of War?!?! The Karen peoples of Burma

Picture 4For the most part I believe in clichés.  I mean they are clichés for a reason right? Cleanliness is a state of mind, Live and Learn, What goes around comes around . . . etc.  These are inherent truths to me.  But one cliché that has been standing out as a glaring falsity lately is “All is fair in love and war”.
My mom has been a great supporter of this new food adventure that I am on, she constantly sends me websites, puts me on to radio shows and saves video links for me to look up.  I love learning about food, nutrition and culture so I love it when she sends me these things, but recently she sent me something that truly horrified me.  Mom, being on the eternal quest for knowledge, spent the evening watching a program called Cooking in the Danger Zone: Burma, her brief synopsis went something like this——> The Burmese government is using food as a weapon of war.
I realize there are really bad things that go on in this world but this just made my heart flip, stomach turn and head spin!  This government has been using something that is a basic human right as a tool for warfare! If everything is supposed to be fair in love and war then can anything go?
Below you will find some info about the longest running civil war in the world (at the present time) . . . a war between the Burmese army and the Karen people who live on the border between Burma and Thailand.  While I would love to share with you some traditional food of the Karen people seeing as their food sources are consistently confiscated many of the people sustain themselves on rice and grubs.  Instead you can find some recipes for traditional Burmese dishes .   I wish you well.  Spreading peace through food.

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The echoes of colonialism continue to sound on the border between Burma and Thailand.  Here the Karen hill tribe has been fighting for its independence from the Burmese government since independence in 1949.  This mini-history delves into the past, discusses the present and ponders the future of the Karen people

The Past ———->
Thai_Padaung_Long_NeckThe Karen people are thought to originally be from Mongolia.  Driven south over the centuries by various tribes, the Karen are thought to be one of the first peoples to enter Burma, even before the Burman.  They have a distinct culture, language and religion that is quite different from the Burmese peoples. When the British colonized Burma in the early 18th century they turned to the Karen for support against the Burmese.  Beginning in the 1930’s and continuing through independence the British used Karen troops to help suppress a Burmese resistance, understandably leading to a feud of sorts between the Karen and Burmese.  The Karen peoples supported the British with the understanding that when independence came they would get their own state
Here history repeats itself.  The British left Burma hastily in 1948, taking many Karen with them to fight in WW2.  They left without giving the Karen’s their promised land and predictably upon their the Burmese began to attack Karen villages, burning churches and rice fields. Thus began what we now have as the longest ongoing civil war.  The Karen have been fighting the Burmese for their independence for the last 60 years.
In the 1970’s the Burmese junta implemented a strategy called the 4 cuts.  This tactic aims at eliminating the Karen’s food, supplies, information and recruits.   The army limits access to food by not allowing the Karen people out of their village so that they can farm their land.  They also confiscate produce and farm animals and place land mines in fields in order to make them inoperable.  The intent of these actions is to starve the Karen into submission and assimilate them into Burmese culture. A short interview with a Karen woman documents some of this atrocious practices.

The present ——–>
Picture 8
Today there are approximately 3 million Karen people living on the border of Burma and Thailand with another 100,000 Karen living in refugee camps in Thailand.  The Burmese army, a military junta called the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) is 400,000 troops strong and continues to use the 4 cuts strategy that begun in the 1970’s, burning fields, villages and livestock as well as using rape warfare against villagers and attacking the remaining 4,000 members of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA).
On June 6, 2009 the SPDC began shelling the area around the Burma Thai border and started to terrorize Karen villages.  Since that date more than 4,000 Karen have fled to refugee camps in Thailand, running from the shells and the army who would force them into slave labor.

How you can help ——–>
Knowledge is Power . . . read up on the history and current conflict in Burma.  Educate your family and peers.  Spread the word!

Karen Conflict 101

Cuisine within Context and the White Karen hill tribe of Northern Thailand

Behind the Karen Lines

The Current Conflict – June 2009

Burma Issues



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This photo was taken at the Su Htoo Pan Parahita Monastery in Burma by Jennifer Trejo circa 2007This photo was taken at the Su Htoo Pan Parahita Monastery in Burma by Jennifer Trejo circa 2007

When I first began to do research for this post I thought it would be great to share some traditional Karen recipes. The more I delved into the world of the Karen peoples the more I realized that this is a community that historically has much more to worry about than the development of a cuisine.  The Burmese junta continually places land mines in fields in order to make them inoperable. They limit the freedom of villagers so that they cannot till the land and they confiscate produce and farm animals in an effort to starve the Karen into assimilation. These people have through the ages been pushed from one land to another, always on the go they are forced to live off of what they can find in the forest.  Food_Not_Bombs logoHard to find sources of protein such as grubs are a delicacy for the Karen.  Rice is a staple as it is regularly delivered by aid organizations.  Their food is that of oppressed peoples, food is a necessity for survival, not an art.  Below I share with you some Burmese recipes with the hopes that one day the Karen will have a land of their own and a cuisine as deep as their history.

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Khausa

Growing up I was blessed with a mother who explored the world of food. This entree was a childhood favorite. A twist on spaghetti and meatballs this Indian/Burmese fusion is an exotic noodle dish topped with a spicy coconut curry and tender chunks of beef. It is sure to impress! If you don’t have garbanzo flour use a smaller amount of regular flour and you can sub fried onion slivers for the fried rice sticks or just forgo it all together.

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