Jul 31, 2011

A Widow's Plight

Eight widows from Palestine decide to start a company after their husbands pass away.  A woman in the Middle East is expected to stay at home after she is widowed.  If a woman decides to remarry, then she gives up her children and they will be raised by some of her family members because the husband will more than likely not want to take her children in.  Oh what a sacrifice to make!  These women gave it their best shot to start a company making pickles. Each one contributed 100 dollars to get it started. They worked tirelessly to get their product out in the marketplace.  Sometimes we pray for rain and it doesn't come.  At least they tried their best.

 You can watch the PBS episode called Pickles on this link.

Jul 29, 2011

Castles for Pigeons in Iran?

 I read an interesting article about castles for pigeons and in Iran of all places.  Why would someone want to build such an elaborate building for dirty birds, especially pigeons?  Well, for their, dung.  Apparently, pigeon dung is rich in phosphorus and has a high nitrogen content.  The dung was used to fertilize fruit trees, as well as cucumber and melon fields of Isfahan, Iran.

 These towers date back to the Safavid Period (1502-1736 AD).The pigeon droppings helped to feed the population of Isfahan which consisted of 500,000 people at the time.

These towers are still in use today, however, modern-day chemicals have made the use of these nearly obsolete.

The checkerboard arrangement of the holes allowed the pigeons freedom of movement and kept the amount of building material to a minimum.

Dung was an essential ingredient in the making of gunpowder, which consists of 75 percent potassium nitrate (saltpeter), 10 percent sulfur and 15 percent carbon.  Dung is some potent stuff!

The shah's army had no natural source of potassium nitrate, but was able to manufacture it using a mixture of dung, ash, lime and soil. The process of making gunpowder was widely known in the Middle East by 1280.

Sixty-five of these towers are in existence and are protected by the National Heritage list. Even though this is a strange subject to discuss, I found it to be fascinating when I read about it. 

Pics are from here

Jul 27, 2011

Phenomenal Women and I am One Too

What is a phenomenal woman?

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.
Maya Angelou

A bit of eyeliner doesn't hurt either!

Jul 25, 2011

Moroccan Smen or Preserved Butter with Oregano

I have been wanting to make smen for a very long time.  One of my readers provided me with a recipe and I could hardly wait to make it.  Smen is used to add additional flavor to Moroccan dishes such as tajines or couscous or anything else that you want to add more flavor. I have to admit that the first time I made it, the butter burned and is a dark brown.  So, I tried it again the same day.  This time it looks like it is supposed to.

1 lb of unsalted butter
2 TSP dried oregano
1 TBS sea salt 
Cheese cloth
cooking twine
Pint sized sterile jar, wide mouth

In a medium pot melt butter over low heat. Wrap the oregano in a square of cheese cloth and tie with kitchen twine.  Put the oregano sachet in with the melted butter.

Simmer the butter\oregano until a white sediment settles on the bottom of the pot, about 25-30 minutes.

Strain butter through some cheese cloth into a hot sterilized wide mouthed pint sized jar. I used a large mixing bowl with a spout and put cheese cloth on top with a rubber band.  I strained it twice. 

Next pour the golden liquid into your storage jar.  

Add the salt and mix well.  Let it stand in a cool place until butter becomes pungent. About 1-2 weeks. I can hardly wait to try this.  Enjoy!

Jul 24, 2011

Moroccan Yogurt called Raib

What makes this yogurt unique is the use of orange blossom water.  I like just a hint of the flavor in my recipes.  As an American, the use of this product is something that I am no accustomed to using or tasting.  The adventurer that I am, I am willing to try something before saying no that I don't like it.This recipe is easy but is time consuming.  However, you will not spend hours in the kitchen.


3 cups of milk, you can use lowfat or whole milk
6 oz of yogurt, make sure it has "live and active cultures" on the label, or you can use a yogurt starter
1/4 cup of sugar
2 TBS of orange blossom water, I only used 1 tsp (optional ingredient)
6 custard cups 

Pour two cups of milk and the sugar into a saucepan and put on medium heat.  Slowly bring the milk to a boil.  Once it has come to a boil, take off the burner and pour the mixture into a large bowl.  Leave there until the milk is lukewarm. Once lukewarm,add the orange blossom water and stir.  Next, take the remaining milk (1 cup) and yogurt and mix together, then add to the lukewarm milk mixture. Now it is ready to set up.  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F for about 10 minutes. While the oven is preheating, pour the mixture into 6 custard cups.  Place the cups in a shallow baking dish.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil.  Turn off the oven and place the dish inside.  This will stay there for 8-15 hours.  The longer it stays, the more dense the yogurt will be.  Once the yogurt is firm, remove from the oven and cover with foil or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to cool, for about 2-4 hours.  Serves 6. You can eat it plain or with fruit. Enjoy!

You can make this recipe minus the orange blossom water or add another flavoring. I am thinking of using orange flavored oil the next time. 

Jul 20, 2011

Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an

Did you know that Thomas Jefferson had a copy of the Qur'an in his personal library?  Impressive huh?  Jefferson read and collected a great number of books from his youth.  His collection totalled about 6500 books by the time he sold all of them to the Library of Congress.  The subjects ranged from philosophy to cooking. 

Jefferson bought his Qur'an around 1765, when he was still a student of law at the college of William & Mary in Virginia.   

Did you know that Morocco was the first country that Jefferson negotiated with which was a foreign power?

Almighty God hath created the
mind free all attempts to influence
it by temporal punishments or
burthens---are a departure from
the plan of the Holy Author of
our religion---no man shall be
compelled to frequent or support
any religious worship or ministry
or shall otherwise suffer on
account of his religious opinions
or belief, but all men shall be
free to profess and by argument
to maintain, their opinions in
matters of religion.  I know
but one code of morality for
men whether acting singly or

Thomas Jefferson 1777

Jul 17, 2011

They move their hips, they swirled, they danced...

It was hot, oh so hot. The only air that was moving came from my fan. But the dance was inside and wanting to come out.

Their hips swayed with the music

 They twirled

Happiness was on her lips as she danced

Up and down went her hips

  Her veil was as light as a feather, 

as her body moved with the music

Oh they were beautiful, as beautiful as can be,

Maybe one day this will be me

Jul 16, 2011

The Art of Collecting

I hadn't collected much in a few years.  But lately, I have discovered that I really enjoy looking at and using Japanese bowls.  I think that they are lovely.  The intricate designs that swirl around the bowls are pleasant to the eyes.  However, I am not the normal collector of things.  I don't care if I have "odd" ones.  If I only see one of something, I buy it and maybe I will find another one somewhere or maybe not.  If they are all are in the same color group then they blend with each other, at least that is my logic.  Sometime when setting the table I will use two sets of china which are different colors.  It can make the table look very pretty.  Here is what I have found lately:

I only have two of these

Four of this one

One of this

and one of this too

I bought myself a bouqet today and wanted to share it with you.

Jul 14, 2011

Art of a Temporary Kind

This week in Fort Wayne is the 3 Rivers Festival.  We start off with a parade and end with fireworks.  Then there is the food.  Oh my!  Over time the festival dwindled down to nearly nothing.  However, this year the vendors selling their wares came and then there were the artists. The sun is blaring and the artists are on the pavement trying to put the pictures in their minds on the ground.  I had artist envy as I walked the street looking at all of the pictures.  Stick people are a challenge for me. 

Green Eyes

This reminds me of a mural that is on the wall of the Hyde Brothers Bookstore

Great detail of the face

Escaping hell.  At first, I didn't want a picture of this.  As I studied the picture more I decided that it was worth capturing.  We are all escaping a "hell" of some sort.


An artist at work

One eyed one horned flying purple (green) people eater

More parrots

Another artist at work

Spanish Beauty, this is my favorite

Even though the artist had pink hair this was not a self portrait.

Amazing color and detail

Three boys at the park

It is a shame that once it rains all of this hardwork and visonary art will go down the drain. 

Jul 12, 2011

I wish that I could fly

I have a dream. It is but a small one, but a dream nonetheless. Dreams don't always have to be life changing. Have you ever written down the things that you would like to accomplish before you die?  I have. Just seeing the hot air balloons was thrilling enough for me right now.  But one of these days I will ride in one.
I would like fly to a land far far away
In a multicolored balloon
after a while the sun went down
 and the lights came on
I had a wonderful time

Jul 10, 2011

Geni's Amazing Shoes

 While I was in Chicago, I saw the most amazing shoes. I nearly jumped up and down with delight when I saw them. Ok, so I am a bit weird. Anyway, they were made in Pakistan and made of leather. The lady told me they were wedding shoes.  But I wanted them anyway.  I can wear them inside with a caftan on one of my rare lazy days.                               
 I have this fetish for pointed toe shoesThey look somewhat magical with the toe pointed in the air.
 Or there are the nicely decorated shoes with a variety of colors
Then there are those shoes which come from Morocco.  
The shoes are so pointed it is a wonder a foot can find its way it.  
           But it does somehow