Jun 30, 2012

21 Days and 21 Tajine\Tagine Recipes

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have enough tajine recipes for 21 days without having the same one twice?  Well, my friends, you will have it.  For the month of June, I am posting a tajine recipe a day for 21 days.  What fun, huh?! Tajines are easy and very healthy for you since they are made with fresh ingredients. You and I will be cooking wonderful food together.  I can hardly wait to get started. If we are lucky I will try for 30!

Jun 28, 2012

Desiderata: Strive to be Happy


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth guietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
 Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.

Espeically, do not feign affection. Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.  But do not distress yourself with imaginings. 

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.  Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all it shams, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful.

Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann 1927

Jun 27, 2012


I love to make Samosa's, Sambusa's or egg rolls as we call them here in the States. I found a very tasty version from Saudi Arabia.  It is easy to make and is often made during Ramadan.  I tried to make them with a dough recipe but found it too frustrating to make.  I even went to the kitchen gadget store to buy a samosa maker. The dough stuck to the gadget and created holes.  So, I decided to use egg roll wrappers instead.  They turned out very well.  Next time, I am going to try using a pie crust and see how that works out.  Anyway, the flavor is wonderful. 


3 tsp vegetable oil
1 lb of ground meat
1 cup of chopped onions
Salt/pepper to taste
1 ½ tsp turmeric
1 cup of chopped Italian Parsley or ½ cup each parsley and cilantro
1 cup of chopped green onions
1 package of egg roll wrappers
Oil for frying

In a large non-stick pan or skillet brown the meat over medium heat until it is cooked through.  Next add the spices and saute for a couple of minutes. Then add the chopped onion. Sauté until the onion is translucent.  Take off the heat and add the chopped green onions and the parsley, mix well.  Set aside to cool.  Pull out the egg roll wrappers and place about a soup spoon in one of the corners and fold up like an envelope.  See directions below.  Place a medium to large pan on medium to high heat, add enough oil to deep fry the sambusa's.   When the oil is hot, put 3-4 egg rolls at a time in the pot. Fry until they are golden brown.  Serve with salad.  Enjoy!


How to Fold Egg Rolls

Lay the egg roll wrapper on the counter in front of you with one of the corners toward you. Think of the corners (from top to bottom and running clockwise) as north, east, south and west.

Imagine a line from west to east. Put some egg roll filling just below the line, making sure to leave enough room towards the edges, so that the egg roll can be folded.

Fold the south corner straight up, partially covering the filling. Bring in the west and east corners to the center. The fold for west and east should make the sides of the egg roll perpendicular to the bottom. Tuck the filling into the pocket you just created.

Brush butter on the north flap. Bring the north flap down over the pocket and seal it over.

Jun 26, 2012

Bella: The Cat Princess

My neighbor told me about a cat that would make a perfect companion for me. We travelled to a small city outside of my hometown. When I went in to see the cat she was hiding behind the washer and dryer trembling with fear.  The owners kept her in the garage because they had a large dog and a little boy who terrorized her.  I held her for a while before I decided to take her home. I am so glad that I did.  I brought her home over the weekend and I am thrilled with her.  Her name is Bella.  She is very small and oh so loving.  I think that I have a keeper.  I wish that husbands were this easy to get. 

Jun 22, 2012

The Weiner's Circle: I don't know how you sleep in your car at night!

I know that this is post does not go with the theme of my blog, but I just had to share this video. There is a hotdog stand in Chicago called the Weiner's Circle.  The employees are rude to the cutomers as they come up to the counter to order.  However, this is normal for this establishment.  Conan, a late night talk show host, had a very nice actor named Jack McBrayer visit this stand.  Warning:  The language is very vulgar, but I found this to be funny anyway.

Jun 18, 2012

Afghan Farmers Try Their Hands At Growing Saffron

Did you know that Afghanistan is the leading producer of Poppy in the world?  They grow 90% of the world's supply of this opiate and so far have cleaned out 99% of it out of the country.   However, things have begun to change. They have switched to growing saffron instead.  Farmers in Herat, Western Afghanistan, say not only does saffron fetch more profit than poppy but they have also found an enticing way to market it. It is packaged in beautiful little tins or what look like perfume bottles. The farmers are hoping the government will do even more to help Afghan saffron become  known worldwide.  Do you think that maybe the price will eventually come down?  Two grams is only $8.00 there, while I paid that much for 1/2 gram of the spice here in the states. However, I don't see a trip to Afghanistan in the near future. Selling opium goes against a Muslim's religious beliefs (or most other religions for those who are moral) and the selling of saffron has created jobs for women. Creating jobs for women is the most encouraging news that I have heard from Afghanistan. If a father makes enough money to be able to educate his daughters is a good thing too. All that needs to happen now is to find a way to process and package the saffron so that it can be shipped to various parts of the world. Afghan farmers hope the obstacles they face will disappear as they eye the world markets where the deep red spice can fetch thousands of dollars per pound.

Jun 17, 2012

Ancient Hand Paintings in a Spanish Cave

Hand painting's have been discovered in the El Castillo Cave in Spain.  The coating of the paintings were tested in 11 Spanish caves, researchers found that one is at least 40,800 years old. Can you imagine that the earth is that old? What makes the dating of the Spanish cave paintings important is that it’s around the time when modern humans first came into Europe from Africa.

Scientists claim that Neanderthals were in Europe about 250,000 years ago until about 35,000 years ago.  I have a hard time trying to imagine people being on this earth for so long. Modern humans arrived in Europe about 41,000 - 45,000 years ago, maybe sooner. I would love to go on an archaeological dig sometime. I think that it would be great fun, dirty, and I could meet some interesting people.  I just worry so much about the dirty part and my hair.  Ok, I know that all is vanity...

Jun 15, 2012

The Consequences of Love in Saudi Arabia

One of my belly dance friends gave me a book to read.  She picked it up at a greatly reduced price and liked the cover, not knowing that this book was more than a romance novel.  As she read, she thought of me.  Once she was finished she told me that she had a book for me to read.  It is called, The Consequences of Love, by Sulaiman Addonia. The story takes place in Saudi Arabia, the center of Islam and it's strict laws.  The place where men and women live separate lives. Women are forbidden. Love barely exists. Poverty and no connections, meant that a man could not marry. Within the first few chapters I read about sodomy, beheadings and the religious police. The story was intriguing. At a tender age, Naser and his younger brother Ibrahim were sent to Saudi Arabia to avoid the war back home, only to encounter a war of another kind.  His fight for the love of a woman began when Fiore dropped a note at his feet.  From that day forward, Naser's life would never be the same.  In school, dreams of the afterlife was so imposed on their lives that dreams on earth were forgotten. At 19, Fiore said that she was buried all of her waking life, including her dreams. Everything that she hoped for lay beyond the walls of her prison, which is called home. When she went out, her beauty was covered by a piece of cloth, and at home her intelligence and knowledge were shrouded by the walls of her room. Everything about her was concealed. The Consequences of Love is a dark and evocative testament to desire in an inhumane state.

Jun 13, 2012

Eritrea: Where in the World is it?

Have you ever heard of Eritrea?  I haven't either if you are one us poor Americans who didn't pay attention in Geography class.  It is in Africa, located in the horn of Africa to be exact. Asmara is the capital of this tiny country and the largest city in Eritrea with beautiful Italian-style architecture and fascinating historical sites for sightseeing. Asmara has breathtaking scenery and excellent opportunities for trekking. It is also the only place to visit in Eritrea that does not require a travel permit to travel in. Islam is the primary religion along with Eritrean Orthodox and Roman Catholicism.  There are about 650,000 people that inhabit this small country and only 59 % are literate. 

Street Scene in Asmara

The desert areas along the coast of the Red Sea is hot and dry. The highlands have a Mediterranean-style climate. The best time to visit Eritrea is from October to March when the weather in Eritrea is dry and pleasant. 

Wedding in Eritrea
Eritrea has been inhabited for at least 8,000 years by African tribes that had strong trading relations with the neighboring areas. Eritrea is a former Italian colony and the Eritrean culture, cuisine and architecture has been influenced by the Italian culture.

A house in Asmara
Colonized by Italy in 1890, Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993, after a 30-year struggle of independence from the Ethiopian rule. The traditional Eritrean way of life can be experienced in the tribal villages where people live by farming and herding.  Isn't this the best way to get to know a country by visiting the country folk? 

I am currently reading a book called, The Consequences of Love by Sulaiman Addonia who is from Eritrea and I will be giving a book review very soon. 

Jun 11, 2012

Spaghetti with Julienned Zucchini and Carrots

There is nothing as good as a creamy pasta dish, especially with spring vegetables. I made this for the first time today and it is delicious. I have always liked dill in my recipes and it gave this recipe a wonderful flavor. I served it with fried cube steak, but you can serve it with baked chicken, BBQ or baked fish. 


8 oz spaghetti
2-3 TBS butter
1 large zucchini, julienned
2 large carrots, julienned
2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbs fresh dill or 1 tsp of dry
salt\pepper to taste

Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions and drain when cooked.  Melt the butter in a large skillet or non stick pan over medium heat.  Add the carrots, zucchini, and garlic and sautee until the vegetables are tender.  Stir in the parmesan cheese, cream, and dill.  Simmer until the sauce thickens.  Pour over the sphagetti and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Jun 10, 2012

Summer and Camera Envy

Today,  I went to the park and took just a couple of pictures.  Even though the pictures turn out fairly decent I am having camera envy.  I want so much to be able to take those crisp pictures that I see everyone else taking.  Several times a friend has asked me to take photographs of them and the quality is just not what I am wanting. I am looking at getting a Nikon D90, which is a bit pricey but I think it will service me well for the blog.  By the way, I love the shot below.  I think it is gorgeous.

Regarding the picture below, there is a place at the park that I have taken a picture in the same spot for nearly all the seasons except Fall.  I am not happy with this photo because of the washed out look to it.  The sunshine washes out the leaves.  I like the shot just not the outcome.

Every time I look at it I tell myself that I can do much better than this.  So, hopefully I will be able to find a part-time job soon to help me buy the camera of my dreams. 

Jun 7, 2012

The Truth About Men

As a woman, men can sometimes be a mystery.  We wonder why they do the things that they do. Well, at least I do. They will say one thing and do another.  It is the doing another bit that we should pay attention to. Have you ever heard the phrase: actions speak louder than words?  I can almost bet that this refers primarily to men.  They lie, they cheat, and they cannot be trusted, which my mother told me once a long time ago.  Yet every woman wants a man in her life.  It is a natural thing to want a mate, but you need to find the right one.  Even after all of the hurt that I have put myself through willingly (I was not in a coma when I chose those men), I still would like to marry again.  We all make choices about love.  In my case, I wasted too much time waiting for someone to get their act together or just plain ole' deception.  In any case, there is help.  We just need to learn how to read the signs.

# 1: Don't chase men. Yep, that is what I said.  When men want you, they do the chasing.  I know that there has been a change in the way things are supposedly done, (i.e. women's liberation, etc...) but men still want to pursue a woman.

# 2: If you exchange phone numbers with a man, don't call him. If he doesn't call right away. Let it go. Don't give him a reminder call about you. If he likes you, then he will remember you and call right away.  If he doesn't call, then you have your answer. Accept the answer and go on. 

# 3: Men will make up excuses (lies) so that they will not hurt your feelings if they are not that attracted to you. Example: I am really busy with work, I am too tired, I have to wash my hair...

# 4: When a man stands you up, run, far, far away.  He is not worth your time or energy, that is unless you are running away from him.

# 5: If he ever cheats think twice about keeping him around. They don't respect you or does he respect himself either. A cheater will never prosper in this life.  They are always trying to deceive someone and then justify why they did it.  (I know about this one very well)

I can go on and on about men and their ways.  I found a good book that every woman should read.  It is called he's just not that into you by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo.  They tell it like it is.  Women, we are too valuable to be wasting our time on those men who just don't want us.  There is an ocean of men out there for women. Far too often we settle for less than what we deserve because we think that we cannot do any better. Who told you that anyway?    

Jun 5, 2012

Signs of Hope

During the past year and a half I felt little hope about my life in general. In December, I started working overtime. I worked seven days a week until I had enough money to get me started with the repairs that were so badly needed.  Then I hired a man to help me get back on my feet. Hope started to sing it's lovely song to me. Little by little things are happening and I am so thankful.

I came home today and one side of the house has primer on it.  I have always wanted a green house.  I can hardly wait until it is done.  

Jun 2, 2012

Death Knocked Twice

Death knocked on the door twice this week. On Tuesday morning, I received two calls concerning people that I am close to that passed away.  I know that life and death is a part of life; It is the death part that is the hardest.We will be  forever missing them that takes the most adjustment on our part.When you see the casket being lowered beneath the ground you realize it is final.  No longer will you hear their voice or see them smile. I try to keep the sound of their voice in my mind for as long as I can, then slowly it fades away...

All My Tears

When I go don't cry for me
In my fathers arms I'll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I'll be whole

Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus' face
And I will not be ashamed
For my savior knows my name

It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

Gold and silver blind the eye
Temporary riches lie
Come and eat from heaven's store
Come and drink and thirst no more

So weep not for me my friend
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to him
Who will raise the dead again

It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

 (Emmylou Harris)