This New years day was different. I spent the day cooking! It felt great!
This New years day was different. I spent the day cooking! It felt great!
This post was written by Fattima. She will be gone this weekend but will be back next week to answer any questions or comments. In the mean time I will answer comments and have fun interacting with my friends! Yeah for Friday!
I tried huckleberry lemonade for the first time this summer and it was DELICIOUS. I was obsessed with how amazing it tasted and couldn’t believe I had never had it before, especially having lived in Idaho for about 8 years. I had heard that huckleberries were extremely expensive and would see them being sold at the farmer’s market but never understood why they were so expensive until now! Huckleberries are similar to blueberries but taste WAY better and are hard to come by.
I was dying to get my hands on some huckleberries but did not want to pay $50 for a gallon of huckleberries. I heard that they are wild and you have to go up in the mountains to pick them. This was tricky because you would need to know the right location to find them. My bf’s grandfather and father pick huckleberries and knew exactly where to go. We made a day of it and they were nice enough to take me up there to pick. We picked about 3 gallons of huckleberries. I am SO EXCITED. I was thinking about all of the desserts I could make with huckleberries.
Below is Huckleberry Cheese Cake!
1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
1/8 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups huckleberries
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon real lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
3- 8 oz packages of cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
The first thing you want to do is preheat your oven to 350F and get out a spring form pan. Next you will want to make your cheesecake crust. Crush the graham crackers up really well and add melted butter and sugar. Mix all of this together and put it in you spring form pan. Pat it down so it is even and if possible, pat it up the sides just a little. Put the crust in the oven for about 8 minutes. While the crust is cooking make your huckleberry sauce.
In a sauce pan on med heat mix together the sugar and huckleberries. In a separate bowl mix together the cornstarch, lemon juice and water. Once the sugar has dissolved, mix the cornstarch mixture into the huckleberries and sugar. Leave this on the stove for about 5 minutes and make sure that you are mixing it here and there while crushing some of the huckleberries. Remove from heat and let it sit. Now you will want to work on the cheesecake filling.
In a mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar. Once this is mixed well and fluffy add sour cream. Mix well then add the eggs one by one. Do not overbeat the mixture once you’ve added the eggs.
Put about a fourth of the cheesecake filling in the bottom of the pan and spread it but make sure not to scrape the bottom. Put about a fourth of the huckleberry mixture on top and swirl it in with a knife. Put about a half of the remaining cheesecake filling on top and again smooth it out then add about half of the huckleberry mixture. Put the remaining cheesecake mixture on top and add 3/4th of what’s left of the huckleberry mixture on top and swirl it. Place the cheesecake in the oven for about 1 hour. I would check it at an hour and make sure that it is not too jiggly in the middle. If it is, leave it in for an additional 5-10 mins. Let it cool before taking off the spring form pan ring. I made the mistake of serving the cheesecake soon after that. I would let it set in the fridge for about 2 hours. It tasted a lot better once it was cold. I am not a HUGE fan of cheesecake but OMG this was awesome!
I have just started back to cooking but as I mentioned my children have really grown in that area. It is so much fun seeing them experiment and then pass new ideas on to me! My daughter Fattima has agreed to take some photos and do a few posts for me on the blog of new things she has tried. Here are some of her favorites!
Being raised in a big family and having many childhood memories revolve around cooking, food has always been a big part of life. Some of my earliest memories are running into the house after school and being welcomed by the smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies battling the basil, oregano, and tomato of homemade lasagna. Our childish worries of the day were quickly forgotten as we crowded around and playfully fought over carefully rationing out our delicious dessert.
Three years ago, I decided to take a page from my mom’s book and went on my own (short-lived) exotic adventure. I lived with a Spanish couple for 5 months (Maria Angeles and Jose) in Bilbao, a city in the Basque Country (Northern Spain).
Maria and I had our ups and downs, but learned to accommodate the cultural differences by hashing it out with my broken Spanish and her limited English (She only knew the lyrics to Bon Jovi songs). I started telling her about the household I was raised in and my love for cooking. I particularly enjoyed one dish she made Tortilla de Patatas or Potato Tortilla. It was simple, tasty, and quick. Little did I know I would be greeted after classes by her customary cheek to cheek kisses and an apron! We were going to have an impromptu cooking lesson!
I hope you enjoy this little taste of Spain as I have over the past few years!
Pour a couple TBS of olive oil in a fry pan. Coarsely chop your onion. Peel and cube potato. Add your potato and onion to the fry pan on medium heat. Salt and pepper to taste Cook mixture about 20 minutes.
In a bowl, beat 3 eggs. Mix eggs with potato and onion. Pour mixture into fry pan. Cook as though you are making an omelet – do not scramble! Flip over in pan after cooking about 5 minutes.
Tip: At this point I usually slide my “omelet” onto a plate cover it with my fry pan and flip it.
The first time I tried flipping this dish without this little trick, I ended up standing in Maria’s tiny kitchen holding a pan with only half my egg dish. The other half not so gracefully plopped on the floor. As my face turned a deep and painful shade of red, Maria’s eyes bulged fixed on the gooey mess. By the time I pealed my eyes away from the disaster and looked to her in shock, her lips curled into a bright smile as she laughingly reeled off unfamiliar Spanish words; this particular incident was the start of my Spanish education in vocabulary Maria said she would deny teaching me if I ever used.
Cook eggs for another 5 minutes or until slightly brown.
A common Spanish tradition is to use French bread to serve a Tapa or as the Basque in Bilbao say Pintxo (appetizer). Slice a loaf of French bread and place a small piece of your Tortilla de Patata on top.
I’ve already introduced myself as a mom of 9 and home cook! But, living the Middle Eastern life style you must cook and that means from scratch, often times all day, big cooking! While living in Seattle my friends and I traded recipes, tips and stories until we perfected homemade Arabic bread, cheese and even yogurt. While living in Saudi that meant cooking many American dishes totally from scratch without key ingredients.
When my kids and I relocated to the U.S. 6 years ago, I worked to support the family at various jobs, a paper route at 2 a.m., a cook for a local girl’s college co-op and cleaning buildings. At that time I had 7 kids at home, and had little time or interest in cooking. Cooking had also become a chore, a drag! So cooking meant chicken nuggets and mac and cheese, which wasn’t bad but not what we were used to.
After things settled down a bit I was able to stay home and work on getting my kids into school and adjusted to our new life. My daughter worked on her GED as well as working at a local restaurant. I had two boys and a girl that were now attending public school and two little ones at home being schooled by me!! My daughter Fattima invited her boss, his wife and kids for dinner. I hadn’t done “real” cooking for about 3 years! Of course we ate, just not the kind of food it takes hours to cook. I thought about what I would make and came up with a Palestinian rice dish, Maclube or upside down. It is a rice dish layered with eggplant and chicken. I decided that would be fine for a main dish.
I set to work and made the dish. I had about 5 chicken legs left over that would not fit into my baking dish. They were spiced with the typical Middle Eastern flavors, cinnamon, allspice, cumin etc. and had been cooked to a tender falling off the bone point. I didn’t think the kids would have much interest in a pile of chicken legs but told them just the same.
I sat in my chair, the mom recliner, for a break. I put my feet up, sipped on my coffee and laid my head back. A few minutes went past, I heard hurried footsteps in the kitchen, cupboards jiggling, laughing and playful arguing. I had to see what was going on. I entered the kitchen to find my 21, 19,17, 15 and 13 year old children all gathered around a baking dish lined with the bones of chicken legs. Their faces were covered in broth dripping from the chicken. They were laughing and reminiscing about mom standing in the kitchen holding a baby, little ones tugging on her shirt wanting to “help” in the kitchen, which meant taste anything that was cooking! They said their fondest memories were of mom waiting for their return from school with a smile, the smell of onions, garlic and spices, fresh baked cake, cookies, those smells greeting them at the door. They argued over the last bit of chicken as they laughed and joked! I decided that is was time to get back to family cooking and that is where it all started. Now four years and many chicken legs later, I have embraced my love for cooking again!
One day after my son and I finished a phone call where we discussed many things but always got back to …. cooking, I found it very exciting, wow he loves to cook! And he is a fantastic cook, makes homemade pies, pizza, calzone, and he puts his own signature on each dish! I started thinking of each of my children from oldest to youngest and I was amazed, the oldest ones all have excellent cooking skills, and several of them have a creative and passionate interest in cooking! I told each of my kids how strange it was that so many of them loved to cook, they looked at me and laughed and then reminded me that they were raised in a house that revolved around cooking, baking, dessert nights for neighbors, huge dinner parties and COOKING!
For this reason, I think it would be fun to feature one of my kids every couple weeks and a dish they love to cook! So we will start with my daughter.
6 chicken legs
6 potatoes peeled and cubed
5 cloves garlic peeled, washed, chopped
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Place chicken legs in large baking pan, add potatoes. Salt the chicken and potatoes. Mix lemon juice, olive oil and garlic, pour over chicken and potatoes.
Put pan in oven for one hour or until chicken is done and brown. Do not cover.
Remove from oven.
I had never eaten, purchased or cooked with eggplant in my life. I really didn’t even know what it was! I bought a Middle Eastern cookbook and started leafing through the colorful pages. I picked out many recipes that I thought looked festive and different. I knew it would be simple to just follow the instructions. So I did, I made meat pies, cheese pies, rice pudding and a list of other traditional foods. I served them to my many Middle Eastern friends and each polite person asked “Oh is this an American dish, interesting” The first time I told them that it was their traditional dish sfeeha or roza halib the look I got was never forgotten! I had followed the recipes to the letter, bought the rose water, syrups and spices and yet here I was back to square one! I noticed that Middle Eastern cooks used eggplant so I decided to try making something with eggplant. Surely that shouldn’t be too hard. Although I had never eaten it or cooked it I figured it couldn’t be that hard, or could it? I made a dish with eggplant and it was bitter and rubbery! No more eggplant for me! I swore off of anything that needed this vegetable and gave up on Middle Eastern cooking all together. Months later I saw a recipe for Eggplant Parmesan and reluctantly gave it another try. This time it was a total success! Ever since then I have made this dish which I then found out is nothing like traditional Italian Eggplant Parmesan but still a big winner for me! My Arab friends loved it even though it was not a dish familiar to them. My kids grew up eating and loving this dish as well! This experience started my love for eggplant and I found other ways to use it. Many Middle Eastern dishes call for Eggplant and we will explore a few of these this week!
3 large eggplants
1 onion chopped
2 tsp. dry basil, 1 tsp. salt
2 pieces of bread
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2- 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
3 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley
Olive oil to saute eggplant
Directions Chop onion and saute in olive oil in large pan. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Wash the eggplant. Cut lengthwise. Using a spoon carefully scoop out flesh of eggplant. Set aside. Keep the shells in tact and set aside on tray in refrigerator. Coarsely chop the eggplant into bite size pieces. Put eggplant in pan with onions and continue to saute. Add salt and basil. Keep stirring and cooking. Add 2 cans of crushed tomatoes,stir well and keep cooking. Cover and keep on low boil. Stir every few minutes to keep from sticking or burning. While eggplant cooks, get 2 pieces of loaf bread, end pieces are fine. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until crisp and dry. Remove from oven. Break bread crumbs up and put in with the eggplant mixture, stir well. Add parsley, Parmesan cheese and stir. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Place eggplant shells in a baking pan in single layer. The pan must have high enough sides because you will be adding water to the pan. Using a spoon scoop eggplant mixture into each shell.
Pour water into pan around eggplants so that they do not stick to bottom and they cook well. Do not use allot of water and do not pour on top of eggplants.Approximate water to use–1/2 to 1 cup. Just enough to cover bottom of pan. Let eggplants cook for 1 hour until crusty on top. Be careful when removing pan from oven. Eggplants and water will be very hot. Let pan set and cool slightly. Move eggplants to serving platter. Using a spoon serve desired amount of eggplant mixture from shell, discard shell when empty.Can be eaten with Arabic bread, rice or plain. Delicious!
Hi, my name is Lynn. I was born and raised in the United States and grew up in a very average middle class lifestyle. I met and married a middle eastern man while in college and my life was forever changed.
I am a mother of 9 amazing, unique individuals. I raised them in Saudi Arabia until relocating back to the United states 6 years ago.
Being a mom to my kids has been my honor and highest accomplishment. My other passion is cooking. I believe in real cooking. I cooked on a stove that was purchsed at a flea market type place for $10. Only 2 of the 4 burners worked! Not fun! Western ingredients were hard to come by back 22 years ago as well as being very costly. I also had to operate my household on a tight budget so needless to say allot of obstacles to overcome. I learned that cooking doesn’t require high tech tools, expensive gourmet ingredients and substitutions are definitely a realistic alternative! Also never give up.
On this blog I will tell you about my life in Saudi, the highs and lows and pass on tried and true recipes. I have some videos for more difficult recipes.
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