The project and the income it generates has improved the lives of at least 18,000 children, providing access to education, health care and more. The weavers are now able to pay school fees, purchase essential supplies and provide shoes and clean uniforms. They can even afford kerosene and candles to provide light in the evening so children can complete their schoolwork.
Weavers are also able to meet their children’s health and nutritional needs, and perhaps most importantly, they now have affordable health insurance and access to medical care when they need it.
Beyond the obvious benefits of scholastic supplies and health care, the children in weavers’ communities are benefiting in a number of less tangible ways. They feel immense pride in their mother’s ability to provide for them, praising them to friends and telling classmates that their mother’s baskets sell in America. The children are also enjoying strengthened relationships with their fathers who look after them while their mothers weave. The strong, cooperative relationships being forged between women and men are providing excellent examples for the future.
I always have fresh fruit on hand, and my basket displays them beautifully. Over the Christmas holiday guests would ask questions about this gorgeous basket. It’s definitely a conversation starter. I’m still deciding how I want to display it, because it really is a work of art. Upon browsing the website, I’ve found other gorgeous ones too. They are all so beautiful, and with half the proceeds going right back to the weavers and their families, it’s a cause I’d love to support.
Along with this beautiful basket, Everywhere Society sent me a Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving & Holiday Cookbook created by the Macy’s Culinary Council. Some of you may remember I attended an event in Macy’s Union Square and actually met one of the chefs featured in this book. I decided to experiment with some recipes for New Year’s Eve, and decided to try out the Zeppole recipe. It’s basically a deep fried pastry, and it’s amazingly easy and delicious! All the ingredients were easily found in my pantry, and it paired great with the Sparkling Prosecco Cocktail for a wonderful New Year’s Eve appetizer and drink.
The Zeppole just melts in your mouth and the Sparkling Prosecco Cocktail is like a grown up punch. So delicious!
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
Olive oil or canola oil for deep-frying
Ground cinnamon and granulated or confectioners’ sugar for dusting
In a small saucepan, combine the butter, granulated sugar, salt, and water over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the flour all at once with the spoon and immediately reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Continue to stir until the dough comes together in a ball and is shiny, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and let cool to room temperature. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until fully incorporated. Once all of the eggs have been added and the dough is thick, remove the bowl from the mixer stand, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
To deep-fry the pastries:
Pour the oil to a depth of 2 inches into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, place over medium-high heat, and heat to 350 degrees F. Line a large plate with several layers of paper towels.
Working in batches, and using a small ice-cream scoop or 2 spoons, scoop rounded tablespoons of the dough into the hot oil and fry the pastries, turning them occasionally with a slotted spoon, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Using the slotted spoon, transfer the pastries to the towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Dust the hot pastries with cinnamon and sugar and serve immediately.
You can gild the lily by serving zeppole with chocolate sauce or dulce de leche, or use a pastry bag to fill them with lemon curd.
Taste one of your first few zeppole to gauge the oil temperature. If it’s greasy, the oil isn’t hot enough; if it’s raw inside, the oil is too hot (and nothing’s worse than “lead zeppole”!).
About 1 cup mango, orange, grapefruit, or raspberry sorbet
½ cup liqueur such as Chambord, Grand Marnier, or framboise
1 (750-ml) bottle Prosecco or other sparkling wine
Disclosure: I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere provided me with a complimentary Rwanda Path to Peace basket and Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving and Holiday cookbook. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.