Tag Archives: Holidays

Welcome to the Kitchen!

It is appropriate but entirely coincidental that this post is happening on New Year’s Day. I am not a resolution maker, or a goal maker, although I often think I should be. Maybe it would help me to focus more and stay aware of my accomplishments. I frequently feel like I float through my days without much sense of what I have done; I feel it more acutely now that Lulu is in preschool five days a week and I have these huge blocks of “free” time that get wasted on Facebook and Pinterest and puttering around the apartment not knowing what to do with myself.

So, I made myself a weekly schedule, and Wednesdays are “Blog Day.” Meaning that each Wednesday you will be treated to a new musing on expat life, or parenting, or a recipe for some delectable but not-too-complicated-or-crazy dish. Because I am still, and will always be, a simple home cook using whatever ingredients I can find easily and cheaply in my neighborhood.

Also, this:

IMG_0197

is the kitchen in which I cook. While it provides all my basic culinary needs,

Cupboards, counter and sink

Cupboards, counter and sink

Refrigerator (and washing machine)

Refrigerator (and washing machine)

Stove

Stove

it is no one’s idea of gourmet. It is, however, up-to-date with what Pinterest tells me is a current kitchen decorating trend: cupboards without doors. And as a bonus feature, we have the option of hot water from the sink—a luxury I have never had in the Middle East.

Without a doubt, this

Coffee and tea station

Coffee and tea station

is the part of the kitchen that gets the most action. I cannot even express how much I love my hot water kettle, and the nearly constant flow of tea and coffee is an important source of warmth these cold winter days.

 

P.S. I realize this is being posted on January 2, but I did write it on the 1st. As usual, life intervened before I could get this up 🙂

HOME AGAIN, HOME AGAIN, JIGGITY JIG

Three flight delays and 24 hours later than expected, we have finally returned to our Hillside home, exhausted and with the first head colds of this winter season.  Fortunately, before we left for this past 25 days of travel, I had the foresight to make a big batch of chicken noodle soup and leave it in the freezer.

I did not take a single picture of food or kitchen while we were traveling; it was a strange trip in that our time was spent primarily with other foreigners and without much exposure to the local foods.  We were in two countries very different from each other, but partly because of our very gracious hosts and partly because the last half of our trip was during ‘Eid al-Adha (the Feast of the Sacrifice celebrated by Muslims, a holiday period lasting well over a week in the country where we were) we did not even eat much in restaurants, other than several shwarma (I have no idea how to spell that in English) sandwiches.

So, hopefully cooking, writing and photographing will resume in the next few days.

FIX THIS: POMEGRANATE POUND CAKE

Although my birthday started out in a very American fashion, I had more fusion-oriented ideas for dinner and my cake.  Dinner was scrapped when one of our neighbors offered me a ride to the surprise dinner party Hungry Husband was planning for me (not realizing that it was supposed to be a surprise—poor sad Hungry Husband).  But I was really excited about my cake idea and made it before we left that evening so that it would be waiting for a late-night treat.

Unfortunately, this is one of those thoughts that was better in my imagination than real life, and I’m giving it to you for a challenge.  The primary issue was a lack of flavor, as the pomegranate did not seem to contribute the way I expected.  The seeds also turned weirdly hard and nubby after baking.  What would you change to ramp up the flavor and accentuate the pomegranate-ness?  Any ideas on how to prevent pomegranate seed hardness?  The original recipe follows; leave your suggestions in the comments!

Pomegranate Pound Cake

  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • ¾ c. buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. lime zest
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 2 ½ c. flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • seeds from 1 pomegranate

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Beat the butter and sugar until well combined.

Add the eggs and egg white, one at a time, to the butter and sugar.  Beat well.

In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk, lime, vanilla and baking soda until thoroughly blended.

In another bowl combine the flour and salt.

Alternately add the milk mixture and the flour mixture to the eggs and butter until well blended and without lumps.  Stir in the pomegranate seeds.

Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

BIRTHDAY BREAKFAST BONANZA

Yes, my birthday was last week.  I am now squarely into my 30s, no getting around it.  These things happen and the best way to deal with it is eat as if I still have the metabolism I had when I was in my 20s, when it would have been very easy to confuse me with a hummingbird: always moving and always eating and always remaining on the wee side of creation.

I was thinking about what I wanted to do to celebrate ahead of time, and one thing that kept coming to mind was breakfast.  Why not start the day off with something extraordinary?  Breakfast is a meal that I love—I am always so hungry in the mornings—but rarely put much effort into.  A normal breakfast consists of bread, cheese, jam, an egg (usually hard-boiled), a banana and yoghurt.  Sometimes for a “treat” I combine the jam, banana and yoghurt for a smoothie.

So it seemed like a proper, slightly decadent breakfast was called for.  I started daydreaming of The Golden Corral, which has the mother of all breakfast buffets.  I have mixed feelings about buffets but I get really happy whenever there’s someone to make me an omelet to order.  And french toast.  And hash browns.  And blueberry pancakes.  And flaky, buttery biscuits spread with strawberry jam.  Oh my.

I didn’t go quite that far, considering it was just me and Hungry Husband, but my eggs, (beef) bacon and Apple Cakes from Joy The Baker, served with cute little glasses of homemade cinnamon syrup, made me happy.  And full.  And after breakfast?  I took a nap, because that is what old people like me do when our stomachs are full.

A plate o' happiness