Saturday, March 27, 2010

don't pretend that it is something that it is not-- for it is not, you know what I'm saying?

I have a cold, not too bad, but not too great either. The worst part is the coughing, I guess. My girls have the sniffles too. So my hero's been taking care of all three of us (along side our babysitter.) My day entails three short naps and lots of Hulu/Netflix watching. No complaints.

But you know, I've been thinking about 'tofu' (Yup, you heard it correctly!)::

A word of advice: don't introduce 'tofu' to Egyptians/Arabs or any meat eaters who aren't familiar with it as a meat substitute. It is NOT. If you want a first timer to try tofu and not hate it, just introduce it as a different kind of food, made from soy. That's it. No need to get fancy, and sell it as meat in disguise. It's rubbery texture and bland taste are nothing to compare with Meat my friends. And that is why, I have had trouble adding tofu to our diet, because even though I have come to this conclusion ages ago, I still compare it to meat and chicken. I currently have one of those organic, extra firm, tofu blocks in my fridge, and I am yet to tackle it. I did indeed make tofu before. umm, about five times in four years, not bad eh? Long story short, I will eat tofu that is not made by me, and I will not love it, no matter how superb the flavors are. My subconscious will yell at me "what is wrong with this meat?"... and I rest my case.

For all you tofu lovers out there, no offense, just next time don't ruin the palette of a potential tofu eater, just think about what I just said.

and peace.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

loving :: psychedelic children's museum

My favorite room. The girls just ribbon dance to African beats and their shadows get projected on a giant screen. The last photo Grabby was standing closer to the screen, hence the same height of Mei and Grabby's projection. It reminds me of a fifties children's book cover, ack!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

you're either going to love it or hate it

When I was Mei's age or maybe a couple of years older, I owned this sweet offwhite dress with tiny green flowers, a peter pan collar and ruffled shoulder sleeves-- it was my favorite dress. Just try to put little-five-years-old-me in anything but said dress, try it I dare you!

I have a photo of me and my twin sister displayed in my mother's place in Egypt, wearing that very dress along with a giant frown on my face. (I rarely smiled in photographs when I was a kid, my twin compensated with an ear to ear smile though. We're all about balance, you see)

Due to the tiny little green flowers--the dress was called (by me of course) 'The Molokhiyya dress'. What is Molokhiyya you might ask (if you're not Egyptian, or Syrian, or... who else makes Molokhiyya? educate me please)

(photo credit : Miro)

Molokhiyya was also a favorite... food that is. It looks like mint leaves only larger, and it comes in  bunches too. We (meaning Egyptians) have a special kitchen gadget designed especially to chop our beloved vegetable. It looks like a boat shaped steel knife with wooden handles on both ends. We call it "Makhrata". One can by all means use a  food processor to save some time, but ask my mom and she will tell you, that if you take that short cut, you won't get the perfect texture, that is sure to make the perfect dish. So a big chunk of my growing up memory, entails the five of us-- me, my mom, and my other sisters-- taking turns in chopping a big heap of leaves, while watching Egyptian black and white movies. A pretty good memory if you ask me, nothing wrong with that.

So without further adieu, I give you my favorite childhood food :: Molokhiyya

You'll need: place yourself in the car and find the nearest middle eastern or Arab food store near by, and buy yourself one frozen Molokhiyya packet (since they don't grow it in the land of the free, I buy the frozen finely minced Sultan brand, if you can find fresh Molokhiyya buy a big bunch.)

5 cups or more chicken broth (If you want the authentic taste buy yourself a rabbit and make broth with it-- Egyptians make it with Rabbit broth.)

2 (fat) garlic cloves minced.

1 tbsp butter or ghee or vegetable oil.

2 table spoons dried coriander. (I like my coriander, you can use only one)

salt, pepper, sweet paprika to taste.


If you're from the lucky ones and can find fresh molokhiyya, and bought yourself a bunch, here's what you'll need to do:
Cut all the leaves from the stems one by one by snipping them off with your hands just like how you would a flower. then rinse them well, and dry them very well (you want your leaves fully dry) then either pulse them in a food processor (sorry mom!) until the texture is very slimy and the leaves are very fine. Or if you have a 'makhratta' and you're not afraid of the extra work--get busy!

How to:

1.Make your chicken (or rabbit) broth by covering a chicken with boiling water with an onion, salt, pepper, two to three all spice corns and a couple of arab gum (mistekka) if you can find it. Boil for an hour, take the chicken (rabbit) out and continue boiling down until your broth is almost halved. or just buy your broth.

2. place you frozen Molokhiyya packet in your boiling broth and let thaw by reducing the heat to medium and covering, stir occasionally until your packet is thawed. (If you're using fresh kind, place it with the cold broth, and let cook on medium-low heat until it almost boils then reduce the heat to very low)

3. In a cast iron or non stick skillet, place your butter or oil, garlic and coriander. Stir fry until garlic is golden and everything is aromatic.

4. Scoop a spoon from your molokhiyya soup, and put it in the garlic mix skillet (it'll sizzle.) Then place it back in your soup. Turn your heat up and let boil quickly for a couple of seconds, then turn off your heat and cover. Let it rest for five minutes.

 5. serve over rice (I used short brown rice, but Egyptians use white short grain rice) or alone in a bowl with pitta bread. And don't forget your boiled chicken or Rabbit. You have yourself a full meal.

A note:

Don't over boil, or the soup will loose it's texture, and the leaves will fall to the bottom on the pot. Take off the stove as soon as you mix the garlic in.

The texture is a bit tricky (slimy) for this dish. I have made it to several novice Molokhiyya eaters. They either loved it, or hated it. No in-between. Just like Egyptians!


Monday, March 22, 2010

Bench Monday :: JUMP!

I've been seeing jumping Benches all over the group. This one is my first try at it, I jumped from the very first step, impressive no?  Captured on the last day of winter, abundant sunshine and a seventy degree weather. What's not to jump about?
(that's not a bench, these are stairs silly!)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Photo of the day :: first day of spring

Right now, it's thirty three degrees and snowing. Surprisingly enough I love it!

Happy (freaky) spring everyone!


Friday, March 19, 2010


I haven't done this for a while. Alhamdulilah Alhamdulilah Alhamdulilah (I can't help but say these words)

:: Weekly dinners with close by family. (today we ate in our yard and bid the last day of winter with a seventy degree weather. Tomorrow's forecast, freezing with rain and snow! I think winter and spring need to get off whatever it is that they're on-- seriously dude!)

:: Bunny ears in a binge (her idea, and oh my that pose!)
(she was pretending to be the white rabbit, I was Alice. We go back and forth)

::The weather, the great outdoors and my littlest monkey. (photo not from today)

:: Polka-dots and stripes together worm by my sunshine.

::Awesome kid friendly secondhand stores and... SCORE!
 (hooray for spaceman Grabby!)

:: This lovely dress. it brings happiness to my eyes just to look at it. I do not want to own it, seriously. It's like art. You know, just pause. enjoy. then move on. (and share!)

What are you loving?


Thursday, March 18, 2010

a little bit of this, a little bit of that

 About yesterday's blog. I may have unintentionally had you think that I was emotionally hurt or something-- I wasn't. I understand how her brain works (sorta). I was just insanely embarrassed and shocked for about 30 seconds, but then I snapped out of it. I mean the girl will go from a full force, high pitched screaming and wailing into sheer happiness in five seconds-- if you say the right words that is. She tells me while extending one of her arms: "mommy, my arm has feelings and you hurt them. I feel very sad." So I say while petting her arm: "oh you poor arm, don't feel sad, feel happy, and I won't hurt your feelings. Then she says: "mommy I think my arm in happy now." and then she hops away while giggling.

I get chased often by a giant walking book. The book will chase me until I eventually sit on the floor and then it'll get shoved into my face (oh the bruises I have from all these books being forcefully thrown at me --dang those cardboard books!)

Grabby is a book lover, and so is Mei of course! but Grabby, oh my, she'll walk a mile after me with a book-- or sometimes two (or as many as her little hands could carry--don't underestimate her, when there is will...)  as soon as she sees that the book landed securely into whatever part of my body she could attack, she will then proceed into giving me her back, then she will start backing in (yes just like a truck,) I can even hear the warning backing horn go in my head: BEEP BEEP BEEP and she's parked safely into my lap and on we proceed. She'll be a librarian this one, or a fish (she LOVES bath time, as soon as her eyes open in the morning she'll demand:BAA = bath. if I am not too tired she'll get a bath after every meal *whispering* sometimes before too)


This season's first lady bug. Hello and hello

In Egypt we call it 'Torly', in Morocco it's known as 'Tajin' and in America they call it 'Stew'. Call it what you will. In this household we call it exactly what you need to finish off another wonderful day Alhamdulilah (made with grass fed goat shanks, in case you're curious)


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

nicely played Mei!

My blue eyed, blond haired girl yelled this at me the other day-- as she was running away from me at a very crowded park:


Now I wouldn't mention her blue eyes or blond hair, except that I look NOTHING like her... and I wear a Muslim attire! (as a matter of fact I get asked often if I am Mei's nanny.)

So I am not sure if when the noise all stopped and everybody stared angrily at me was real, or it was projected that way in my head

What I CAN confirm of what really happened is my reaction: I froze for about thirty seconds in disbelief of what just took place (which probably didn't help make me look innocent) then proceeded towards my screaming three year old.

She never fails to surprise me this little one!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010


(hello beautiful)
 (yard play)
(new/ thrifted shoes- eccos!)
 (all you need for outside play: fruits, cheese, hand sanitizer, arnica)
(she matches her pants, I couldn't resist!)
 (sunshine art, and yes her nails need cutting--bad mama!)
 (what can I say, the girl's got style!)

Grabby was so very much present, only I couldn't resist capturing her moments with her face included, she makes my heart melt... they both do!


Monday, March 15, 2010

a lame excuse and a rant

It's 10:35 pm right now, my camera cord is in my upstairs drawer desk sitting all in darkness, My desktop is staying up late with me--downstairs that is, leaving my other desk-top vacant.

Let me try again at this: what I'm trying to convey to all of you currently confused readers (so very sorry, the class didn't pay off. I am indeed more stubborn than I thought) is I am too lazy to go upstairs and grab my camera cord to download a very late Bench Monday. Instead you get late night babbles (again so very sorry!)

I watched 'Alice in wonderland' in an IMAX theater this weekend-- I came out with a sore neck and a giant disappointment. How can anyone mess up an 'Alice in wonderland movie' in this day and age, let alone Tim Burton, c'mon! 'Alice in wonderland' got turned into an epic battle between good vs evil people, really? do we really need another one of these movies, like we don't have enough... plus where is all the word play? Alice for the first time in it's history made sense. IMAGINE THAT!
I did however enjoy Johnny Depp as the hatter very much, also Helena Bohnham Carter was a quite believable queen of hearts, but really she's a great cast at any unusual role I think. OK end of rant (not my usual self I know. I think I am passionate about this because Alice was a big part of my childhood memory. I did not read it until now, I must confess, but I did however watch the Disney movie and a french animated series that they broadcast over our Egyptian TV channels when I was growing up--very sentimental, sob sob.)

I am afraid this is all I have for today, a lame excuse and a rant. Blogger is acting weird and I am sitting here trying to have the patience to deal but can't.
(I want to assure everyone that despite the strange post, I am in a fantabulous mood these days. It's officially spring in our neck of the woods, need I say more?)


Friday, March 12, 2010

the color green

St Patrick's day is on March 17th. Here are some green crafts dedicated to the color green:

Green slime. I am totally giving this a go this year. Mei is currently obsessed with slime. "mommy it's eww, but we can eat it, right?"... "Um,wrong!"

Green glow water.  I don't own a black light, but it's still neat and green.

Green homemade play-dough. To make it green just use green food coloring. So st. patricky right?

Any crafty ideas dedicated to the color green in your quarters? please share


When I first got pregnant with Mei, I signed up to receive their updates, four years later and two babes they're still going strong.

In their weekly emails they have a section called fun facts for the week, here's this week's fun fact:
The biggest Rat in the world is as big as a dog. (should've been titled the scariest and grossest fact of the week!) I so did not want to know that!

Peace, hmph!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Right here, right now

It feels like spring over here, complete with random passing thunder storms n all. Was it yesterday? no the day before that: sixty degree weather and sunshine, we made it back inside with a struggle, which is what has been happening lately every time we try to go back inside. Mei throws a fit. I would too, except that someone has to prepare dinner--otherwise...

Don't expect much sense from me today. It's not likely--  you see I recently discovered a free kindle app. on my beloved iphone, older books can be free of charge or for a dollar max. You know what this means? (other than major squeals and dorky dances from my behalf) Alice in wonderland read out loud to both girls during bath time, and then a little bit more. The possibilities are limitless.


I used to think that I minded the rain, apparently I don't. (except when it's below freezing and raining) We ventured out today in the rain, no car, no stroller, no umbrella, or rain boots. ( I know I need to work on the latter two) The L was our friend for the day. I took the girls to not one but two different places with two different train stops, lots of up and down stairs, puddles, splashes, pigeons (?) stop lights, you get the idea (God bless the Ergo carrier.) I used to think I didn't like going out in the rain. I have no idea why i thought that, when all of my rain memories are good ones. Anyhoo this is my conclusion for today.

Also I haven't been taking pictures (well that's not entirely true of course, I do take "right now" photos still and share them with family, this doesn't count though, or at least to me it doesn't... alright?) I haven't been rushing to capture moments these days, because I don't feel the urge to find something inspiring or beautiful, the weather is doing this for me these days. I just want to sit and enjoy the transformation of our white grounds to brown, the little bulbs pushing through the earth, the birds songs, the sunshine and the rain, my babies running in our yard with just their t-shirts on. I don't want camera captures for these... I just want to be right here, right now.

Happy spring everyone (I know we're still some time short... just don't tell anyone)


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Try this, Ful

(get it?)

I've been meaning to share several fava bean recipes, but haven't had the chance. Here's a very simple recipe if you choose to make it from a can. 

But first--a snippet from wikipedia, for the novice fava bean eater:
Fava beans are a common staple food in the Egyptian diet, eaten by rich and poor alike. Egyptians eat fava beans in various ways: they may be shelled and then dried, bought dried and then cooked by adding water in very low heat for several hours, etc. They are the primary ingredient in Ta`meyyah (Egyptian Arabic for falafel), and Egyptians have made deriding Levantine felafel (made from chickpeas) as inferior something of a national sport. However, the most popular way of preparing fava beans in Egypt is by taking the mashed, cooked beans and adding oil, garlic, lemon, salt and cumin to it. It is then eaten with bread. The dish, known as ful medames, is traditionally eaten with onions (generally at breakfast) and is considered the Egyptian national dish.

You can also read this NPR piece about it.
know enough now? Good. Shall we proceed?

If you are of the fussy type– you can by all means buy your beans dried or fresh (if you can find them) and dry them, then soak them, then rinse them, then cook them over very low heat for over 8 hours, then mash them,  then dress them up in some salt, pepper, oil and lots of cumin, then follow the recipe below.
But if you want a quick health-ish fix, then start from this step :
Pre-cooked and peeled fava beans (Buy this brand and no other If you can find it at your local Arab store– “California Gardens” precooked and peeled fava beans. Or do the above prep. first.
2 table spoons olive oil, or butter
1 big tomato- chopped
1 small onion- chopped
1 small bell pepper- chopped
Half a bunch parsley- chopped ( and a little for garnish)
2 eggs
In ( preferably an non-stick) skillet, add your oil and toss in your onions and cook until soft and translucent ( don’t over cook) for about two minutes. Then open your can, and dump the contents of the whole thing in your skillet– stir it with the onions, and let cook for a couple more minutes.  Stir-in your parsley and tomatoes and cook until your veggies wilt a little.
Now, here’s the fun part– make a well in the middle of your skillet and break inside it one of your eggs, then carefully spread all the egg whites in the mixture, also scrape the top of the egg yolk, very careful not to pop it ( I don’t like wobbly thingies in my eggies!) and incorporate it in your cooking beans. Repeat this step for the second egg.
That’s it you’re done, add your garnish and serve with warmed pitta bread. ( btw I didn’t have parsley or bell peppers on hand)

Stay tuned for more fava bean recipes.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Scenes from our weekend and links

We've been having lots of sunshine (except for today's dreary weather) and above freezing temperatures. In celebration, anticipation, gratification and any other fitting-adjective-than-ends-with-ation, we bought one of those make-your-own-cheap-birdhouses from Target. (I now know why it only costs what it did, don't buy it) it took about a thousand years to assemble, not to mention the hammering noises that woke a napping baby up and the frustrations. It now lives in one of our bookshelves waiting to be further secured-- I don't want no little bird's blood upon my hands.
(on the upside Mei had a fantabulous time painting it)

sun + above freezing temperatures = quickly lets go outside!

(At an Egyptian restaurant--kebab, black tea with mint and loud Egyptian music. It can't possibly get better than this!) 
(1cup warm water+1/2 cup salt(stir)+ 1 cup flour +2tbsp cream of tartar + a couple of drops food coloring. Mix everything on a burner = Awesome homemade play-dough. Store in an airtight container)

(homemade eggplant pizza from the five minute book)

This was the number one song on the year I was born (oooh oooh oooh, and yes I know I'm old!)

This is crazy cool. (A very important someone mentioned that they would like to know what the links are about so they don't have to open something that might be a dud, so this one is about the origins of the moonwalk, clear!)
This is on the weekly desert menu.  simple. easy. delicious (the three most important ingredients for anything to get done in this household by moi)

I want to go watch Alice in wonderland in 3D because I heart Alice, also I heart wonderland and the title of the movie contains both of the words I just hearted but that's just me, I can't let it be, you see! (I couldn't help myself, sorry!)

 How did your weekend look like?


Saturday, March 6, 2010


I have one week left to finish my online writing class. I have three classes to go through, a ton of writing exercises, and a paper to hand in... Also a program to download so I can do all of the above.
Here's what I've learned so far:

I can spot most of my writing mistakes right away.
I have been reluctant to write because of the above reason.
I am a slacker.
It is very difficult to finish two writing classes back to back let alone three, my brain is fried people.
It's no fun learning about something you think you like-- you might discover you probably don't like it that much.
My writing skills are exactly the same-- expect now I can spot my mistakes.

Right now, my baby sitter is downstairs with the girls and I should be catching up with my class. Instead, I find myself looking at my sewing machine in despair. Maybe I signed up for the wrong class!


The other day I was thinking about all the the stuff looming over my head, while watching my three year old trash our living room (I've been unsuccessfully trying to teach her to clean up after herself...she's taking her sweet time) 
Okay Mei, let's leave all this junk behind and go outside for a walk. (Trying a final route to not give in to depression.)
No! I want to stay here.
Mei, pleeeease.
No mommy, let's make a train.
Mei, you'll get a lollipop when we go out, better yet, we can go to the coffee shop for some warm-hot-chocolate!
She thought for a little while. No. was her firm well thought of reply.

I was quite for about five minutes and then it came out, AHHHHHHHHHHH I screamed at the top of my lungs.
Mei looked at me perplexed and then she said: Mommy is this a game... A screaming game?
Yes! It's a contest Mei, of who can scream the loudest! Ready... AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! We both yelled together, then Grabby came closer to where we stood and gave her strongest squeal yet.

Our screams were replaced with loud laughter.. and then a miracle happened. Mei started picking up her blocks... all one hundred of them.

It pays off sometimes, you know being mad n all!


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

No Complaints...

Today is a good day, for I have successfully managed to transfer my photos from one device to the next without loosing any toe or bathroom tile in the process.

And you really can't go wrong when at sun down your kitchen window looks like this:
(disregard the random items scattered on the floor, and if you're wondering about our dinner table chairs...
mystery solved, they were turned into a train of course!)
It is also a good day because Grabby said "snow"today-- and she says it exactly like that, without any mispronunciation or anything.

And because of her

And him...

Here's another Happy-Inducing-Link. That's it... no complaints...

Have a good one!


Monday, March 1, 2010

Deleted Bench and links

I was just going to log on, give you a very late, yet silly Bench Monday which entailed a puppet camel and a thrifted chest, but I indeed have bad Camera mojo these days. I some how managed to erase all of today's captures... go me!

So instead you get links:

Her niece could really use some help.

I am considering getting this for Mei in yellow (her favorite color).

They have giant sale at urban outfitters, hop over there quick!

I had no idea that new bowls are a mood changer. Feeling restless towards the end of the season... treat yourself to some bowls!

Spring cleaning on my mind. (inspired by her, also check out her links)

What an awesome pattern!

I am all about solid scarves these days (they go with everything and are simple and straight to the point) I found some reasonably priced over there.

We are currently into this show. It's really interesting once you pass the first episode.

Anything you guys care to share?