Dec 25, 2011

Merry Christmas and Have a Joyous New Year

May your days be filled with love and laughter.  Happy Holidays and I will see you in January.  I am taking a few days off to enjoy family and friends. 

Dec 23, 2011

The Life of a Modern Woman, Well, Sort of...

She is smart, she is sophisticated, she is beautiful, she is the All-American woman, uh, I mean girl and is only 3. This is really cute.

Dec 21, 2011

A New Moroccan Cookbook by Paula Wolfert

I could hardly wait to buy this new Moroccan cookbook when I heard about it a few months ago. It is over 500 pages of divine Moroccan recipes and lots of pictures too. Moroccan cuisine is like none that I have ever had. The food is spiced but not hot. Its all about the sauce, without it, well, it just isn't Moroccan. Once I ate my first meal, which was M'hummar, I was hooked. My cooking evolved into exotic dishes of chicken with olives and preserved lemons and many, many more. My friends and family rave over the food and often ask me to cook for them. 

There's Bastilla

and the meat lovers tangia

You can buy this book at Amazon for a reasonable price. It is well worth the investment. 

Photo's used with permission from the author.

Dec 16, 2011

Lucky Buttons

My Dad always carried buttons in his pants pockets.  I never knew why.  Today, while working on a scrapebook page, I remember going through his pockets as a child.  Oh no, I never looked for money, it was the other things that he carried that I was interested in. I remember that sometimes he would put his hand in his pocket and rub the buttons together. The size or color of the button didn't matter. They were magical. My father believed that they brought him luck.

I don't think this jar of buttons will fit in my pocket.

Dec 14, 2011

Photo from the Past

In the past week or so I have been scrapbooking more and came across an old picture of myself.  It is from 1990 and I was 30 years old then. Oh my how time flies. I wish that I was 30 again and could live things over with a little more wisdom, well actually a lot more wisdom. I felt beautiful then. Life was ahead of me and I had dreams. Today, I am still dreaming and shall continue to do so until they put me in the ground. Never give up on your dreams or on life.  Sometimes we get whacked but stand back up and keep going and maybe give a whack back.  

Dec 11, 2011

You is Kind, You is Smart, You is Important

These words resonated throughout the movie called "The Help".  It deals with prejudice in the south during the 1960's. We are all important and have value, yet some think that they are better than others just because of skin color.  What amazes me is all of the white people who lay out in the sun to brown up real good. But if they bring someone home who is brown, then, oh my, the world is coming to an end. We all have our prejudices whether we want to admit it or not.  I think that if we look at people on the inside then the world will be a better place to live. 

Look beyond the cover to discover what is written on the pages. Embrace the difference and learn from others and other cultures. Who knows, you may have a richer life for expanding your horizons.

Dec 9, 2011

The Eagle and the Raven: It's all about perspective

The Eagle by Houshang Mostoufi

An eagle was flying high above the mountains when he saw a raven well below him.  He remembered that ravens always live longer than eagles and so he flew down toward the raven to ask him what the secret to his longevity was.

The raven told the eagle that the secret was two-fold.  “It is my low flying, and my diet.” “I can fly low also, “said the eagle.  “But I feed off of birds I catch in flight.” And that is the problem, said the raven.  You must learn to eat as I do. Come with me to the swamp tomorrow, and I will show you how.”

The next morning the eagle went to the swamp with the raven and watched the raven feasting on the rubbish in the swamp.  He watched the raven pull apart the decomposed carcasses and sift his beak through the mud.

And to this, the eagle decided, “My friend, the raven, I can fly low, for the rest of my short life, but there is no way I can feed on this scum that gathers on the swamp floor.” The raven looked up to respond to the eagle, but all there was in the sky was the small silhouette of the eagle flying high above.

The moral of the story is:  Do you want to fly with the eagle or go dumpster diving with the raven?

Picture from here

Dec 7, 2011

Wadia Boutaba a New and Upcoming British\Moroccan Artist

Wadia Boutaba was born in the UK but her roots are from Morocco.  Her parents are from Nador in northern Morocco.  Although she is British by birth she likes to call herself the Moroccan Artist.  You can view some of her work on Facebook

With a degree in Textile Design Wadia began painting again while on leave from work after having her first child.  Her husband, who is also Moroccan, encouraged her to show her work to the public.

The news media has focused on the negative aspects of Muslims and through her art Wadia wants the world to see that they are not all bad people. 

I like her style, it is simple yet lovely.  She has received a good response to her art and looks forward to what the future may hold.

Dec 5, 2011

What does one do with rice bags?

I guess that I may be wierd, and I will be the first to admit it.  I don't want to throw those rice bags away.  It seems wasteful to put them in the trash. Somehow they can be used for other things.  It doesn't matter if they are made of burlap or cotton.  The zipper will keep things in and the bag may prove to be handy.  Should I hang them on the wall?  Will people think that I am strange if decorate with them?  Oh what to do! 

Why in the world did I buy 20 pounds of rice in the first place?  I must be crazy!

Dec 3, 2011

City of Cholesterol and One of the Fattest Too: Fort Wayne

In Prevention Magazine this month Fort Wayne, Indiana was #2 on the Most Artery-Clogging Cities in America list.  Oh, I am so proud!  (with sarcasm) However, Fort Wayne made another list in 2002 & 2005 as being one of the fattest cities in the nation. Wow!  We promote healthy eating and exercise here.  The mall will allow people to come in and walk for free.  We have the River Greenway, promoting walking and cycling. There are various avenues for exercise and places that promote healthy eating. 

Eat less and move more is easier said than done. The place that I worked before allowed us to take breaks in the mornings and afternoons.  I would walk up to 3 miles a day. I felt great.  Now that I have a different job, my movement during the day is very limited to non-existent.  Instead of working exercise in my work day, I have to make time at night or get up at the crack of dawn. It is hard to stay in shape. Don't you think?  

Picture is from here

Dec 1, 2011

Turkey or Chicken Soup With Rice

Since the weather has been more winter like, it is time to start making soup.  I came home from work wanting chicken or turkey and rice soup.  I still had turkey left from Thanksgiving and thought that I should put it to good use. I like to eat a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich with soup. 


3 cups of shredded chicken or turkey
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced
6-8 sprigs of Italian parsley, chopped  
1/2 tsp oregano leaves
1/2 tsp thyme
6-8 cups of water
3 extra large chicken bouillon cubes
salt/pepper to taste
1/2 cup of long grain rice
2 tbs ghee or clarified butter
1-2 tbs vegetable oil

In a soup pan add the vegetable oil, onion, celery, parsely, and spices.  Saute until the onions are soft.  Add the water and bouillon and bring to a boil.  Next,  add the carrots, rice, and chicken or turkey.  Simmer until the carrots and rice are tender, about 15 minutes.  Add the ghee for flavor.  Adjust spices to your taste.  Enjoy!  Serve with crispy bread or a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich.

Nov 29, 2011

With the Intent to deceive

“With the intent to deceive” kept going through my head all night.  One of my co-workers asked me if I could marry someone just to get out of terrible living conditions. It didn't take me long to respond. I’m not sure that I could do this. Yet it happens all of the time. People marry for various reasons, some honorable and some, well, not so honorable.  Since my divorce, I have been having a hard time financially. But to marry someone just to help pay my bills is deceitful and has never entered my mind.  I say this because I would rather do without or make a way for myself than to hurt someone intentionally. But not all people think this way. The used person has a heart, has feelings, and has a soul. Yet many people are used as if they have no value once the user is done with them.  They are cast aside like garbage. I read of many people, especially women, who are deceived into marrying someone from abroad with talk of love and devotion, only to find out that it was all a lie from the very beginning. Their self esteem plummets. The ‘victim’ often doubts their own self worth or plays the “what if” game in order to try and make sense of what happened. Users lie to the spouse, each other, and most of all to themselves, it is no big deal to lie, because they have been doing it all of their lives. “She pushed me away,” he said, “she has trust issues.”  The list can go on and on.  But the truth is he had another plan, an agenda. He was planning the divorce long before the marriage ever took place. He scoured the internet until he found his victim. She was his ticket to freedom. I guess you can look at it as you helped one person out of their misery only to put yourself into misery for trusting.  A heart can be broken and trusting another will be harder the next time around. But this too will pass. I would rather have the intent to love sincerely and not be afraid of God and karma to come looking for me. 

Picture came from here

Nov 27, 2011

Beef Kefta Curry

I love curry dishes.  This one can be flaming hot or very mild.  Unlike Moroccan food, which can take hours to prepare, Indian dishes are usually quick and easy to make with just as much flavor.  This recipe is wonderful and you will feel like you are eating in India once the first bite is taken.  


For the meatballs
1 lb ground beef or lamb
3 TBS onion, chopped
1 TBS chopped cilantro 
1 TBS plain yogurt
4 TBS flour
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 fresh green chili, seeded and finely chopped or you can use canned
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp black mustard seeds
salt/pepper to taste
1 egg

Mix all of the above ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Shape into balls and set aside.

For the curry sauce
2 TBS butter or vegetable oil or a combination of both
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 TBS curry powder
1 tsp cardamom powder or 4 green cardamom pods
2 1/2 cups of  chicken stock
1 TBS tomato puree
2 TBS plain yogurt
1 TBS cilantro, chopped

Heat the butter in a pan over medium heat.  Add the onion,garlic and cilantro and saute for about 10 minutes until the onion is soft.  Reduce the heat and then add the spices, stirring well. Then add the rest of the ingredients and stir well.  Simmer for about 10-20 minutes.  You want the sauce to be somewhat thick when finished.  Slowly add the meatballs.  If you stir them too much they will break apart. Simmer for another 20 minutes.  If it becomes too dry add more water.  Serve with naan or over plain rice.  Enjoy!

Nov 25, 2011

Why would a grown man want to marry a 9 year old little girl?

I have just read the book, "I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced."  I saw this book in the book stores a couple of years ago.  Now I have decided to read it.  Long story short this book is about a little girl whose father arranged for her to get married when she was 9 years old.  There are many factors which would drive a father to marry off their daughters at such a young age: poverty, local custom, and lack of education.  Nujood's family is from Yemen and marrying a young girl has been going on there for generations.  There is a tribal proverb that says: "To guarantee a happy marriage, marry a 9 year old girl." By the way, Nujood's husband was 30 years old.  What can a grown man have in common with a child of nine? I felt very sad after reading this book and nearly cried.  I just don't understand the thought pattern here and I kept asking myself why. I know that they want to ensure that children will be born to them in the marriage but oftentimes at the peril of the mother.  A child will not be as developed internally as she should and faces serious injury or worse.

Picture comes from National Geographic

Nujood shattered a taboo. This child's story traveled around the world.  Her courage to seek a divorce from an abusive man three times older than she, gave other girls the courage to stand up for themselves too. In February of 2009, the Yemeni Parliament finally passed a new law raising the legal age of consent for marriage to 17 for both boys and girls.  I wonder if this law is enforced?  I doubt it very seriously.

Nov 22, 2011

Southern Sweet Potato Pie

With Thanksgiving coming up (24th) we start thinking about the meal that we are going to prepare.  Oh there will be turkey or ham, potatoes, corn, green beans, stuffing, egg nog, and a variety of all kinds of things.  With pumpkins being in season, a lot of cooks make pies with them.  Did you know that you can make a pie with sweet potatoes?  Yes you can and they taste very much like pumpkin pie.  It is all in the spices that you use.  I have to admit that I tried to make this three times.  The third time was the charm. 

Sweet Potato Pie


3 small to medium sweet potatoes
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups of granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 stick of butter, melted      
1 cup of evaporated milk or heavy cream
1 ½ TBS cinnamon
1 ½ TBS nutmeg
½ cup of orange juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 teaspoon white sugar for dusting
2 deep dish pie crusts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into cubes.  Place in a large pot with enough water to cover and boil until tender.  Place potatoes in a bowl with eggs and butter.  Beat with a mixer for 2 minutes.  Add granulated sugar, brown sugar and milk while continuing to beat.  Then add the cinnamon, nutmeg, orange juice and vanilla.   Blend well.

Prick sides and bottom of pie crusts with a fork and sprinkle with 1 tsp of sugar.  Place in the oven for about 5 minutes until the crust is lightly browned or puffed a little.  Let cool.  Next, pour the mixture into pie crust and bake for 40-50 minutes or until done when a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.  Cool for 30 minutes and then refrigerate.  Serve with whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Nov 20, 2011

Biscuits Southern Style

Biscuits are a breakfast bread that originates in the Southern U.S. Every weekend my mother would make a huge breakfast and biscuits was always included. They are a soft quick bread and are primarily eaten at breakfast, but you can eat them any time.  I love them and make them whenever I have a day off.  The normal southern breakfast consists of biscuits, gravy, eggs, sausage or bacon and hash brown potatoes.  However, if you don't eat pork that is ok, you will be full when you leave the table without it or you can use turkey bacon instead or halal bacon. 


2 cups of all purpose flour or 2 cups of self rising flour and eliminate the baking powder and salt, which is already included in the flour mix
1 TBS baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 TBS sugar
1/3 cup of shortening
1 cup of milk or buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Cut in the shortening until it looks like coarse meal.  Gradually stir in the milk until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. 

Turn out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball.  Knead a couple of times, the less amount that you handle the dough the better.  Roll out the dough to about 1 inch thick.  Use a cutter or a juice glass to cut out the dough. Repeat until all of the dough is used. Place on a greased baking sheet.  Bake at 425 degress for about 15 - 20 minutes or until they are golden brown.  This recipe will make about 6-8 biscuits.

Nov 18, 2011

Traditional Dance of Afghanistan

Ever since I have started learning to belly dance, I have been fascinated with dances from all over the world. Just recently, I came across some videos on traditional dances from Afghanistan.  One of those dance forms is the Attan, the traditional Afghan dance. Attan has long been performed at weddings or other celebrations throughout Afghan history. Many consider it the national dance of Afghanistan, but it’s a part of Afghan culture that many in the West rarely see. The news media seems to focus so much on the bad in a culture that we rarely get to see the good.

This picture came from here

There is a dance troupe called Ballet Afsaneh, which formed in 1986 when the taliban put restrictions on art and culture.  They are based in San Franciso, California and perform in venues and festivals all over the world.  

 This image is from here

These women want to keep ancient traditional dances alive.  The group consists of women from various nationalities and is not just limited to women from Afghanistan.


One of those dance forms is the Attan, the traditional Afghan dance. Attan has long been performed at weddings or other celebrations throughout Afghan history. Many consider it the national dance of Afghanistan, but it’s a part of Afghan culture that many in the West rarely see.  These women are taking it upon themselves to break down stereotypes and to keep ancient traditions alive.

Nov 16, 2011

Let the Ocean Splash in my Chest

Like the Shepherd in the story of Moses and the Shepherd,
who wanted to pick the lice off God's robe, and stitch up God's shoes,
I want to be in such a passionate adoration
that my tent gets pitched against the sky!

Let the Beloved come and sit like a guard dog in front of the tent.
When the ocean surges, don't let me just hear it.
Let it splash in my chest.

Nov 14, 2011

How not to get punished for being a woman

I have just discovered a program called Amnesty TV.  This program is from the UK and comedian Shappi Khorsandi is in this clip. They have little spoofs on everyday life in various countries. This little clip talks about life in Saudia Arabia for a women. Some of it is exaggerated I am sure but not all of it. 

Women are just now able to vote and drive cars.  I'm for equal rights of women and children.  It was about 100 years ago (1920) that women were given the right to vote in this country. Muslim countries are about a century behind in just this one area, much less other areas of life. 

Nov 12, 2011

Bananas with Nuts and Spices

This recipe comes from central Africa. This recipe is sort of like apple crisp, which is an American favorite.  It is so easy to make, tastes even better with freshly made whipped cream. Yum!  It is made with rum but I was thinking that Amaretto would be good as well.  It has a sweet distinctive flavor.


6-8 ripe bananas, ripe but firm
2 TBS chopped unsalted cashews
2 TBS unsalted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup of coconut, unsweetened
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 TBS sugar
2/3 cup of orange juice
4 TBS rum
Whipped cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Slice the bananas and place them in a greased baking dish.  Mix together the nuts and the spices in a small bowl.  Pour the orange juice and rum over the bananas, then sprinkle the nut\spice mixture over the top.  Dot the top with butter.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes until the sauce is bubbly.  Serve with whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Nov 9, 2011

Moroccan Makfoul

This is a meat lovers dish. My nephew loved it and gobbled it up when he was over for his birthday dinner.  I found some goat meat at a local store and made this dish with it. This dish is very much like Chicken Teffaya, which is served with onions and raisins.  This can be served with carmelized onions and tomatoes. You can cook this dish in a pressure cooker, dutch oven or a traditional tajine.


2 lbs of beef, lamb, or goat meat, cut into 2 in or 3 inch pieces
2 large onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
salt/peppere to taste
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp turmeric
 a few saffron threads
1 tsp ras el hanout
1 cinnamon stick
3-4 sprigs of cilantro, chopped
3-4 sprigs of Italian parsley, chopped
3-4 TBS olive oil
3 cups of water

In a large pot or dutch oven place the olive oil and the meat over medium heat.  Brown on all sides.  Then add the onions, parsley, cilantro, and the spices.  Heat for about 10-15 minutes.  Then add 3 cups of hot water and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to a simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the meat is very tender.  Once the meat is well cooked reduce the liquid until it is thick.  Serve with French bread and a salad.  Enjoy!

Nov 7, 2011

Fear: The Ogre Who is as Big as you let Him

There was once a strong and inquisitive young man who loved to travel. In his thirst of knowledge, he moved from place to place and traveled from town to town, drinking in wisdom and recording everything that happened to him.

Eventually, he came to a beautiful village slumbering at the foot of a mountain surrounded on all sides by green hills where gentle winds blew intermittently, delighting the mind and refreshing the heart.  In this beautiful place, he was shocked to see that the inhabitants of this village were sad.   They moved sluggishly, dragging their feet.  To him they appeared no more than phantoms, without body or soul.  The sight of these phantoms terrified him.  He was determined to discover what made them so and set off to see a fabled wise man that lived alone in a hut, cut off from the village and its inhabitants.

When the young man met the wise man, he asked what secret lay behind this great paradox.  He asked why these people lived in a state of subjugation and dejection in a village where everything would seem to suggest that the people would be blessed with happiness and well-being. The sage came out of his hut and pointed to the top of the mountain.  “Look at that peak.  An enormous ogre sits up there.  From where he sits, he raves and shrieks, filling people’s hearts with fear by threatening to gobble them up if they leave their homes or do any kind of work at all. The people, terrorized by his shrieks, can live only by stealth.  Only their survival instinct keeps them going. They steal like mice in secret to gather enough to keep body and soul together.  They live day by day, waiting impatiently for the moment of their death. Their fear of this ogre has sapped their intellect and depleted their physical powers, reducing them to despair and hopelessness.”

The young man thought for a while and said, “I’m going to the top of the mountain.  I will talk to this ogre and ask what makes him threaten and frighten these people.  I will ask him why he wants to prevent them form leading their lives in peace and safety.”

“Go up to the top of the mountain? No sane person would risk his life by daring to meet the ogre.  I implore you not to do it for the sake of your life, young man!” But the young man would not be dissuaded.  He was determined to do what he believed had to be done.  And so, with slow but sure steps, he started on his way to the peak.

When the young man reached the peak, the ogre did, indeed seem large at first; however, what he found as he walked on astonished him.  The closer he got, the smaller the ogre became. By the time he arrived, he found that this great ogre who terrorized many was smaller than his littlest finger.  The young man opened his hand and held out his palm and the tiny ogre jumped onto it.

“Who are you?” the young man asked.  “I am Fear,” the ogre replied.  “Fear of what?” the young man asked.  “That depends on who you are.  How each person sees me depends on how he imagines me.  Some people fear illness, and they see me as disease.  Others see me as poverty, so they see me as poverty.  Others fear authority, so they see authority in me.  Some fear injustice, others fear wild beasts or storms, that’s how I appear to them.  He who fears water sees me as a torrent, he who fears war perceives in me an army, ammunition, and suchlike.”  “But why do they see you as bigger than you really are?” asked the young man. “To each person I appear as big as his fear.  And as long as they refuse to approach and confront me they will never know my true size.” replied the ogre. 

Exerpt from "A God Who Hates" by Wafa Sultan

Nov 3, 2011

Will the Future Generations Know that I was Here?

This week someone who is close to my brother passed away.  She was only three years older than I am.  When things like this happen to those who are close to us it makes us think about our own demise.  How will I be remembered?  I ask myself.  Like everyone else, I want to leave my mark on the world.  Ten years from my death will anyone remember that I was here?  This is for Diana: May your life be long remembered and the love you had for your family go on into the next life.

you mustn't be afraid of death
you're a deathless soul
you can't be kept in a dark grave
you're filled with God's glow

Nov 1, 2011

Banana Mandazi also known as Banana Fritters

Banana fritters are made throughout the world, from Africa to America. Now tell me, who doesn't enjoy a hot crispy sweet dessert with sugar on top?  I sure do.  This is a very easy recipe and the kids will love you for making them.  My mother used to make something similar with a whole banana and pastry wrapped around it, then fried.  It was so good. 


1 egg
2 ripe bananas,  broken into pieces
2/3 - 1 cup of milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups of self rising flour or 2 cups of  plain flour and 1 stp baking powder
3 TBS sugar
oil for deep frying

Place all of the ingredients, except the oil for frying, in a food processor or blender and mix until the batter is smooth.  If the batter is too thick add a bit more milk until you reach the consistency that you like.

Heat the oil in a large pan or deep fryer. When hot, carefully drop soup spoonfuls of the batter into the oil.  Brown on each side, about 3-4 minutes. Drain on a papertowel. Sprinkle with either powdered sugar or granulated.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Oct 30, 2011

Harissa: Moroccan Hot Sauce

Each country has its own version of hot sauce.  Morocco is no exception.  I have tried the harissa in a can, which is much to be desired.  Then there is the harissa in a tube. A tube? Really?  Then I tried Mustapha brand of Harissa.  This harissa is hard to beat.  But I am not here to talk about buying harissa, but making your own.  It is easy and inexpensive to make.  All it takes is a food processor or blender and a few ingredients and you will have a hot sauce to your liking.


6 ounces of dried chilies (equal amounts of Ancho, pasillas, new mexico, guajillo, and chipotle chilies) any combination you like.  Ancho and pasillas are very mild.

1 red bell pepper, roasted

6 oz of sundried tomatoes

5 cloves of garlic, roasted

salt to taste

1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds, freshly grounded

1 1/2 coriander seeds, freshley grounded

1 tsp cumin

2 tbs olive oil, plus extra for storage

Boil some water.  Place the chilies in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them.  Let the chilies soak for about 30 minutes.  Make sure that you wear gloves when handling peppers. Peel the garlic and add a little olive oil.  Place in aluminum and put in the oven for about 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees F.  They should be soft when you take them out of the oven.  Roast the red bell pepper at the same time.  This will take about 30 minutes in the oven.  Place the pepper on a broiler pan and keep turning every 10 minutes so that the skin is scorched on all sides. 

In the mean time, grind up the spices in a mortar or use a coffee grinder.  Once the peppers have been rehydrated, remove stem and seeds. Skin the  bell pepper and remove the seeds.  Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Adjust the spices according to your taste. Pour a thin film of olive oil on top for storage.  This will keep up to a month in the fridge or you can freeze it.  Enjoy!

P.S. There are different variations of this recipe.  You can add cilantro, lemon juice, onions or whatever ingredients that you like in your hot sauce. Harissa can also be used in place of tomato paste in your recipe.   

Oct 28, 2011

Israeli Fennel and Sesame Seed Rolls

I am the greatest bread lover that ever lived.  Well, at least I would like to think so.  I cannot eat a meal without bread.  The plate is just naked without it. Fennel seeds smell incredible.  I often use them when I make Khobz, a Moroccan flat bread.  The downside of making bread is that it takes a long time.  What I do is while the bread is rising for the first time, I plan a small trip to the store and try to make it back in time to shape it and let it rise for the second time.  You are not waiting what seems to be hours for the bread to rise.  This recipe was intended to be a sweet bread.  But I thought that it would be good to accompany the Chorba (soup) that I made in my previous post.  Yes, they were delicious.  I cut way down on the sugar and they came out perfect. 

2 tsp dried yeast
1 - 1 1/2 cups warm water
1 TBS sugar
6 TBS butter, melted
3 1/2 cups of bread flour
1 tsp salt
2 TBS sesame seeds
1 tsp fennal seed
1 egg, beaten for the glaze
1 TBS orange blossom water or almond extract, optional

Place the yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water, add the sugar.  Let if foam for about 10 minutes. Use a large bowl, add the flour, salt, orange blossom water, seeds, butter, and mix together.  Add the yeast and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. You may have to use more water or flour.  Transfer the dough to a medium sized oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap or a cloth and let it rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until doubled in size.  Next, knead again for a few minutes.  Then divide the dough into 12 small balls.  Place on a greased baking sheet and flatten just a little.  Space them about 2 inches apart.  Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and leave to rise for about an hour.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Brush the rolls with the beaten egg and then bake for about 12-15 minutes, until they are golden brown.  Serve warm with butter.  Enjoy!

P.S.  I usually mix the yeast with all of the ingredients instead of doing the above extra step of putting it in the warm water. 

Also, when I make bread, I turn the oven on a couple of minutes, then turn it off again.  Then I place the dough inside to rise.  I have really good luck with doing this. 

Oct 26, 2011

I've Buried the Hatchet and I am Moving On...

Monday was the year anniversary of when my marriage fell apart. On that day last year my husband moved out. I came home from work to an empty house and cried an ocean of tears.  Each of my footsteps echoed throughout the house. I encountered an emptiness that I had not experienced in a long time. Extreme loneliness settled in.

Here it is a year later. My life has changed a little since that time. I am still blogging, I am belly dancing, and I have put myself out there for another love to come into my life.  I need to bury the past and not look back.  But how do I accomplish this?  Living one day at a time was very hard at the beginning, now it is easier. Native Americans coined the phrase: "Burying the Hatchet" it is when two parties have come to an agreement. They take a hatchet and bury it so that no one will use that weapon to make war with the other. My goal is peace. I agree not to mourn the loss of my marriage any longer. I want good love to be drawn into my life.  I must let go of the pain and hurt.  I need freedom. It is time to open a new chapter.  Life goes on and so must I.

The label is symbolic of the time I had with my husband.  Today, it is buried in the back yard.  One of my readers told me that when God (Allah) takes away something it frees us up so that He can give us something better.  I am looking forward to genuine love, and its only purpose is loving. 

Oct 25, 2011

Moroccan Chorba (Soup) with Carrot and Summer Squash

It is the time of year for a warm, yet nutritious, bowl of soup and homemade bread.  As the soup is cooking, the house is filled with the aroma of exotic spices from North Africa.  I dream of Morocco, the Mosaic tiles, the muezzin calling for prayer, tajines, couscous, drinking mint tea...


3-4 TBS of olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 TBS tomato paste
1 TBS smen or butter
3-4 whole cloves
7-8 cups of chicken broth or 3-4 Knorr bouillon cubes and 7-8 cups of  water
1 tsp turmeric
1-2 tsp of Ras El Hanout
salt\pepper to taste
1-2 tsp sugar
4-8 sprigs of chopped cilantro, you can use Italian parsley and cilantro together too
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 cans (14 oz) of chopped tomatoes or 4 medium tomatoes, skinned and chopped
a handful of vermicelli or any other small pasta.
plain yogurt to garnish or sour cream or heavy cream

In a soup pot, add the olive oil, onions, celery, butter or smen.  Simmer until the onions are translucent.  Add the spices and the parsley/cilantro and simmer for a couple of minutes.  Next, add the rest of the ingredients except the broth and pasta.  Cook until the carrots and squash start to turn colors then add the broth.  Cook on medium heat for about 30-40 minutes.  Finally, add the pasta and cook for another 10 minutes or until the pasta is done.  You can puree this soup, but I like it chunky. Garnish with plain yogurt and chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Oct 23, 2011

Hummus with Olives

I really like Sabra Hummus. My favorite is with olives. Hummus can be difficult to put together though. I asked myself, How much of which ingredient do I put in? I have found recipes that call for an exorbitant amount of lemon juice, which, in turn, makes the hummus rather tart.  The key to making good hummus is starting off with a little lemon juice (or any other ingredient) and gradually adding as needed or not using it at all.  I always use a recipe as a guideline and make changes accordingly.  Remember your taste buds as you are putting dishes together.  Ask yourself if you would like a large amount of a spice or a small one. Then you will have more success with your recipes. By the way, my neighbor is my recipe taster.  She ate half of this the evening I gave it to her.  I ate a good portion of it myself too.


2 cans (15-16 oz) of garbanzo beans
4 TBS tahini (sesame seed butter)
1-2 squeezes of a lemon, more or less to your taste
salt\pepper to your taste
1 tsp cumin, optional
5-7 roasted garlic cloves
4 TBS olive oil, more if needed
reserved juice from garbanzo beans
paprika for garnish
 1 TBS chopped parsley or cilantro, optional
olives, 2-3 TBS, chopped, green or black

Rinse and drain the garbanzo beans.  In a food processor or blender, process the chickpeas with the garlic, tahini, cumin, salt, pepper, and lemon juice until blended.  Add the olive oil slowly while blending until the hummus is thick and smooth.  You can add some of the reserved juice from the garbanzo beans to make it less thick.  Place it in a bowl and smooth it around.  Make a well in the middle and fill with olives.  Sprinkle with paprika and drizzle more olive oil over the top.  You can garnish with parsley or cilantro.  Serve with naan or pita bread.  Enjoy!

Oct 20, 2011

Tostones with Seasoned Lime Salt (Twice-Fried Green Plantains)

A week or so ago, I put a recipe on the blog for fried plantains. That recipe was for plantains that were soft and sweet.  This recipe is for green plaintains.  I first saw this recipe on a show on PBS called Cooking with Daisy. Since then I found a recipe for the Tostones by Emeril Lagasse. He is one of the most famous chefs here in the States.  It seems like everything he makes is wonderful.  My brother and his girlfriend was over and I begged them to try this recipe with me.  Needless to say, the plate was empty in less than 10 minutes.  These are so delicious.  They are great as a snack or as a side dish with a meal. 

3 large green or slightly yellow plantains
Vegetable oil for frying
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon packed finely grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

In a deep fryer or large skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat to 350ºF.
With a sharp knife, cut the ends from each plantain and score the skins lengthwise several times to peel away the skin. Cut the plantains into 1 1/2- inch thick slices. In batches, fry the plantain pieces until just golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain.
Place a plantain slice on a flat work surface, and press down on it firmly with the back of a heavy plate or skillet until flattened to about 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining slices.
Reheat the oil and fry the tostones to a deeper color and warmed through, about 1 minute. Drain on paper towels briefly before serving. While the tostones are draining, combine the salt, lime zest and cumin in a small bowl and stir to blend. Season the tostones with the seasoned lime salt and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Oct 17, 2011

Mutawwa'in: Saudia Arabia's Vice Squad

I am currently reading a book called, “In the land of invisible women” by Qanta Ahmed.  I am nearly finished and have found this book to be very fascinating.  She is an English Muslim, who is a doctor, which suddenly finds herself in Saudi Arabia.  Even for a Muslim, Saudi Arabia is a place that can be scary and intimidating, especially for a female.

This brings me to my subject:  Mutawwa’in. Their official title: The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices. These men are the religious police that scour the city looking for religious offenders.  You know, looking for those folks who are going against their interpretation of Sharia Law.  Anyone that is engaged in homosexual behavior, prostitution, eating pork, drinking alcohol, not wearing an abayah or your veil or hijab is not on correctly could be in serious trouble.  If a store is found operating during prayer time and the “police” find it open, then it is forced to close.  Some people are beaten, taken to jail, or even deported (if an expat).  Qanta Ahmed was in a situation where she was at a dinner and both men and women were eating together.  The women were uncovered.  Somehow the Mutawwa'in found out and the place was raided, so to speak.  She was scared for her life along with her companions.  After much to-do, Qanta was escorted safely back to her living quarters.

I like the fact that here in the U.S. we are given the opportunity to accept or reject a way of life, a religion or whatever we choose.  I try to live my life like the Almighty is watching me all of the time, and He is.  I think that "He" is enough of the religious police that we need.  Do you have any thoughts?  I am open for discussion.

The picture is from here