Multi-Cultural Cast Members of Glee

Although, we have featured many stories on cast members of Glee we are not Gleeks.   Why have we done story after story on cast members of Glee over the years?  The cast is so multi-cultural in comparison to many other shows on television.  That is refreshing.  Having worked in the casting department of several shows, I am definitely sensitive to the subject.  As a writer, I do think that Glee fails miserably when it comes to writing for African Americans and  it has some casting issues too.  It is my Achilles heel, one for each foot  but I am not going there today.  Let’s stay positive and simply recognize the cast.  In today’s society more than ever in the United States, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Darren Criss with brother, mother and dad.

For instance to look at the very popular Darren Criss, you think “White Boy.”  Well, you would be partly right.  According to, Criss is Irish, Filipino, Spanish, and Chinese.  In an interview you can watch him describe his love for Filipino food while visiting Manila.

Harry Shum plays Mike Chang.  In real life Shum’s first language is Spanish.  He is a Costa Rican born Chinese guy.


Newer cast member Sugar Motta played Vanessa Lengies is both Egyptian and German. READ MORE

Special Guest John Stamos  played a dentist on Glee.  If he was dentist then I don’t think I would have a problem with getting cleaning on a regular basis.  Stamos is one of Hollywood most widely known American Greeks to the point of landing Greek yogurt commercials.  However, the Greek is only one half Greek.  READ MORE t1larg.stamos

naya RiveraNaya Rivera plays Santana.  Naya recently told MTV that she is is half Puerto Rican, one quarter German, and one quarter African-American.   In her earlier days she played an African American on family matters.  On Glee, she is a proud Latina.  Her cultural ambiguity didn’t exactly help the actress when she was just starting out in the business. READ MORE

Lea Michelle plays Rachel Berry. Doesn’t she have the most beautiful chocolate brown hair.  Her mother is Italian American and Roman Catholic while her father is of Spanish Sephardic Jewish ancestry, and Lea was raised Catholic.

Jenna Noelle Ushkowitz plays Tina Cohen-Chang.  She is   is an KoreanAmerican.   Tina was born in South Korea but she was adopted at the age of three months and raised in East Meadow, New York.

Review of Recipes to Remember- An Italian Cookbook

Recipes to Remember is an engaging cookbook fueled by family love.  I strongly encourage readers to take the time to recipes-to-rememberread the section near the beginning of the book described as, “My epicurean journey.”  It will help the reader appreciate each recipe preserved by author Barbara Magro.    She is not afraid to invite you to sit at the table while she explains the character arc of her life, how she arrives at the creation of this cookbook.   Her subtitle says, “My epicurean journey to preserve my mother’s Italian cooking from Memory Loss.”  The title quickly grabbed my attention because I could relate to it.  When I step in the kitchen, especially for the holidays it helps me connect with family no matter how far I am and who has passed.  Stirring ingredients stirs up memories.  Sharing the recipes preserves tradition and history.  Magro recognized with beginning stages of her mother’s memory loss would go a huge part of her family’s history.  With a sense of urgency, Magro stepped up to the challenge of saving her family’s culinary legacy. When Magro did this for her family, she tapped into a helping other Italian families conjure up pieces of family memories and I believe it would help any family to be inspired to get in the kitchen with your relatives to understand the importance of culinary family traditions.

The vibrant mostly in color cookbook is filled with 100 classic Italian recipes from antipasti (appetizers) to holiday recipes.  I appreciate that Magro does not opt to merely lump certain dishes into the standard sections.  The holiday dishes are highlighted from Easter to Christmas.  Look forward to finding recipes for antipasto classic, pasta e fagioli, various sauces, polpettone(meatloaf),  sausage stuffing for turkey,  veal parmesan, zeppole, pizza rustica, biscotti de mandoria(almond biscotti) and more.    If you have ever desired to learn more about Italian cooking starting with the cookbook of classics is a great way to start.  Seeing how the holiday recipes are grouped together is an excellent shortcut way to learn about Italian culinary traditions.

Most people do not pick up a cookbook to read a biography; however, this cookbook includes a compelling inspired story of creation. This book has one key ingredient many other cookbooks miss…soul.  It should be a gift to yourself and to put in someone’s culinary library.   A portion of the proceeds from Recipes to Remember benefits the Alzheimer’s Association.

Holiday Turkey Makeover: Grilled Turkey Panini

Image from

A lovely grilled turkey panini teamed seems a great way to change up the leftover turkey.  Grab the recipe below and turn that turkey into a fresh new meal!

Oh but wait! There’s more.  Click Here

Multi Cultural Siva Kaneswaran of Boy Band, “The Wanted”

Siva Kaneswaran is a member of boy band The Wanted. Like his band mate, Jay McGuiness, he has a twin brother, Kumar. Siva grew up in Ireland with an Irish mother and Sri Lankan Tamil father, along with six other siblings. He joined The Wanted after being spotted through his modelling campaigns.  Kaneswaran made Glamour’s Sexiest Men Alive list, ranking at 32 out of 100.   READ MORE

Watch The Wanted’s Video- Glad You Came

Cuban Pork Chops with Plantain Mash

We want to thank Gloria Cabada Leman of Carolina Hot Sauce Company for this recipe.   Pork chops and plantains are traditional Cuban foods, and my recipe is based on very old recipes dating back several generations. The Spanish name is “Costillas de Puerco con Machuquillo,” which translates to “pork chops with mashed plantains,” and the zesty marinade is called “mojo.” This very rich and highly flavorful dish requires at least 1 hour for marinating and then about an hour or so for cooking, but it’s not difficult and is worth the time. If you’re not familiar with Cuban food, this is an excellent introduction because the flavors are approachable and familiar rather than “exotic,” and it’s not hot or spicy (most Cuban food doesn’t use hot peppers).

For a healthier dish I reduced the salt (trust me, you won’t miss it), cut back on the amount of fat used in old recipes and suggested Spanish olive oil as an alternative pork fat. Also, traditional recipes call for frying the plantain rounds in a lot of oil, then mashing them with the cracklings and re-frying the mash in pork fat. Instead of double-frying the plantains, I boiled them first and then fried them after mashing.

The following recipe will serve two, and I don’t recommend simply doubling all the ingredients for more servings because it unbalances the marinade and probably also makes too much mashed plantain. I’m developing a 4-serving version and hope to post that in the future.

Ingredients for Pork Chops

  • 2 pork chops (about 1″ thick, approx. 3/4 lbs total weight)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup bitter orange (also called “naranja agria” or Seville orange juice)*
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup white wine (I used chardonnay but any drinkable dry white is fine)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs olive oil (preferably Spanish), pork lard or bacon fat

Ingredients for Plantain Mash

  • 2 green plantains (approx 1 1/4 lbs total)
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/2 Tbs salt
  • 1 Tbs bitter orange juice, or lemon or lime juice, in a small bowl
  • 1 Tbs olive oil (preferably Spanish), pork lard or bacon fat

Click For Directions

Sauerkraut with Mushrooms “Kapusta z Grzybami”- A Polish Christmas Recipe

Tradition calls for twelve courses to be served during Wigilia.  All the dishes are meatless kapusta-z-grzybami-8-891x500and should be made from foods that come from the four corners of the earth: forest, sea, field and orchard.

Polish cooks over the centuries had to be very resourceful, working within these limitations, and it is a tribute to their creativity that they came up with such a rich variety of recipes based on root vegetables, dried mushrooms and dried fruits, potatoes and cabbage, local fish, and flour-based pastries and dishes, such as kluski and pierogi.

These recipes are loved by Poles everywhere and in spite of the fact that Christmas Eve is no longer a day of fast and abstinence and even though fruits and vegetables as well as imported seafood are now widely available, on this day the traditional recipes are lovingly prepared in kitchens all across Poland and around the world.


  • 2 ounces dried mushrooms
  • 16 ounces fresh mushrooms (portabella mushrooms preferred)
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds sauerkraut, rinsed in cold water, and drained
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • salt and pepper

Directions: Soak the dried mushrooms in 2 cups of hot water for 2 hours drain, and squeeze dry in a cheesecloth. Chop finely. Wash and coarsely chop the fresh mushrooms and onion and sauté in the butter in a skillet for 5-7 minutes. Add sauerkraut to mushrooms; cook and stir for another 10 minutes.

Blend 1/3 cup water into flour, beating gently to remove lumps. Add slowly to sauerkraut and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

See other Polish Christmas Recipes


Talkin’ Turkey- Turkey Recipes and How to Brine

Photo by Crystal Johnson

Photo by Crystal Johnson

This is a story of encouragement for the person tackling their first turkey.  Veteran turkey makers looking to spice up your life, skip down to the variety of links below for instructions. .

During the Holiday Season in America usually starting at Thanksgiving and ending with Christmas, turkey is one of the most eaten birds.  Some are experts at cooking turkey.   Others are looking for the next best way to impress guests with an innovative interpretation of how to prepare it.  While are others are paralyzed at the thought of making one for the first time.   In fact, I admit to 20 years of adult age fear until someone assumed that because I am the editor of Multi Cultural Cooking Network that I knew how to prepare one.

She was a born in India, but grew up the first half of her life in England and has now lived in the states for over 20 years.  Her family wanted an American Thanksgiving meal.  She was all set to prepare Indian food then she asked for my help.  I put on my best poker face and talked her through and helped with the turkey, ham and other holiday sides.  Shee didn’t know we were both experiencing preparing our very first Thanksgiving turkey.

My dad and my mother had shown me different techniques over the years.  Somewhere in the recesses of my brain, it sunk in.  I hadn’t realized it.  My dad showed me how to brine. It is  a sure fire way for a flavorful  turkey.  Also don’t be ashamed of the turkey bag.  If it is your first time and you fear the dreaded dry turkey then use the bag. – Crystal A. Johnson, MCCN Editor and Chief

 Here are some recipes and techniques

Hostess Going Out of Business, May Sell Assets

Could it be the end to the sweet treats many have loved for decades?  Friday, Irving-based Hostess announced they were going out of business after filing a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The maker of Twinkies, Dingdongs and Wonder Bread said the company simply couldn’t survive with striking workers still on the picket line.

“We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” Hostess CEO Gregory F. Rayburn said in announcing that the firm had filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to shutter its business. READ MORE

Click to See Recipe for the Deep Fried Twinkie


myrockwalldentist.comIt literally seems as though not a day passes that I don’t hear, “Dr. Lepard, why do I have tooth decay and how do I stop it?”  Tooth decay or cavities is on the rise in our culture for a number of reasons.  Treatment may vary greatly according to the situation.  The good news is that all of the causes of tooth decay have answers.  An experienced, well educated dentists and hygienists have those answers.  

Poor diet and a diet high in sugar are next in the reasons for tooth decay. Some of the same practices that expand the waistlines also destroy tooth enamel.  Food and drink high in carbohydrates break down quickly in the “sticky goo”.  Patients frequently tell me that things like candy make their teeth sensitive — they are experiencing the acid formation in the soup of the plaque.  Beware—there are hidden sugar and acids out there.  Fruit juices can have as much sugar or a non-diet soft drink.  And speaking of diet soft drinks – read the label – it has acid in the mix.  This is not good for your teeth.  Our dental hygienist can help you evaluate your diet to help you steer clear of the poor choices and make better ones.

Poor oral hygiene practices. Today manual toothbrushes and floss are not the only way to remove the plaque.  In fact, automated brushes are one of the most effective ways to break up the party the plaque is having on your teeth.  Floss can be assisted by various oralirrigators.  Styles and kinds of these devices are suggested in my office according to each individual’s own unique situation.  Coaching by the hygienist on follow-up visits yield the most effective way to improve your oral hygiene.  And remember-plaque produces mouth odors not unlike rotten eggs!


How to Plan a Dinner Party

Planning a Dinner Party is one of my favorite things…in life.  The opportunity to entertain, express your ideas and love all comes into play especially when the party is kept intimate with no more than 8 to 10 people.  There are so many ways to set the table which can reflect culture, seasons, holiday and so much more.

Here are 5 Steps to Hosting a Dinner Party

  • Guest List & Invitations
  • Plan the Menu & Shop Ahead
  • Libations
  • Plan the Decor
  • Create an Ambiance

For a detail explanation on each step, Continue Reading

Watch Some Important Tips from an Interior Designer from – with emphasis on the table setting: