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!