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Posts tagged ‘Family’

Cooking and more cooking

These days have been spent; washing dishes, mixing meatballs, stirring sauce, whipping cream, adding spices, mixing dough, more dishes and quickly jotting more directions and fine tuning ingredients. My son purchased some items to make photography easier and so snapping pictures repeatedly has also been part of my daily routine. I am practicing and my kids are helping me out so for now more cooking, testing recipes and more snapping photos. I hope you are all well and I will be catching up this week.

I know my way around the kitchen but not so much around taking pictures of food! So I will take stacks of photos and in the end we will sort through them and start over if need be! Thanks for your patience while I work on this project!

 

Cookbook

 

dsc_0861_1 (1)I am back on track, working on my cookbook and on alternate days putting my real life story together. My goal is to test all recipes for the book during the month of January.

February will be the month of more testing by my family and friends and a constant effort of writing and editing recipes, taking pictures and deciding which dishes are truly suited for this book.dsc_0613

The other day as I chopped onions and garlic, peeled sweet potatoes and pulled together a fragrant red curry, Sumaya stood watching and listening to my back and forth reasoning regarding the cookbook. I told her that this seemed like part of my legacy and something that I wanted to complete. Thirty five years spent stirring sauces, adding spices, visiting neighbors to watch them cook and inviting people into my home for meals and to take part in my culinary adventures. Delivering trays lined with cream puffs, lemon bars and decadent chocolate tidbits. Taking informal lessons on Moroccan Couscous, Indian curries and Palestinian Maclube. Afterall it felt as if my children had been raised in the kitchen and had become amazing home cooks in their own right. She nodded her head, her shiny manicured nails gripping a mug of curry topped with a large spoon of yogurt. She smiled and clicked her fingertips on the glass counter and then asked me one simple question, “What would you give to have a book of your grandmother Elva’s recipes?” And with her words I gathered new motivation to work on my legacy.dsc_0857

My Christmas

As you may have noticed I basically took an unofficial winter break! We spent a merry holiday away from home for a few days where we enjoyed time with the little ones, their parents as well as my mom and dad.

dsc_0341We arrived on Sunday and got the girls settled in at my folks house, then headed to Osama and Jacki’s.img_3608

Aiden and Bennett opened their gifts and so did Alayna. The boys insisted on helping with construction of their tee-pee and Alayna showed more interest in helping than playing with her stuffed animal. Who can blame her?

Auntie Foof and Uncle Ben showed up with more gifts and soon after Great Grandma and Grandpa came with the girls. Siblings hung out and then it was time to cook.img_3409 Fattima, Sumaya and Deeja all helped their brother with his food preparation while I took my place on the comfy couch playing with the precious little ones.

The meal was amazing; perfectly steamed chicken that was finished with a pan frying to crisp it up, topped with a light sauce, homemade pasta and a crisp flavorful salad, yumm! Of course Jacki was in the kitchen helping, watching her babies and interacting with this lively group!

I’d like to say identical twins are no match for Gaga but they do keep me on my toes! Meanwhile Alayna is in the thick of things making her presence known!dsc_0438

The next day we went out to grab donuts and coffee and the day of Christmas eve began!

After the babies were snugly tucked into bed, Santa came and delivered their gifts.img_3554

Santa and her helpers were quite good at their job and once again I relaxed and watched it all unfold.

When morning came I heard the boys talking, then Daddy and Mom went in to get them and the fun began!

Numerous photos were taken but it was obvious that this would be a challenging effort and we decided “real” was better anyway!dsc_0500

Gifts were both practical and fun, children were grateful and parents exhausted. The next stop was Great Grama and Grampa’s on our way out of town. Brunch was served along with more gifts.

As always it was a memorable event!dsc_0515

Happy new year!

Baking, cooking and sugar plum fairies

Saturday afternoon a shiny, new stove arrived at my front door! The other stove was only nine years old but had seen much wear and tear, burners refused to turn off and heated up randomly and recently a buzzing noise from inside started catching the attention of my children. Still, I was so very grateful to have a stove as many people do not.

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Stove from Osama and Jacki!

If you have followed my blog and life story then you already know that I cooked on a stove that was purchased from a flea market of sorts in downtown Riyadh. Two of the four burners functioned and both shocked me if I used any metal utensils. We lived with no beds, chairs, tables etc. for a couple of years and with the very bare necessities when we lived outside of compounds. My parents supplied any luxury items for our family (new towels, clothing, shoes, kitchen gadgets, toys)  and we fought to hang on to those. We have all learned to be grateful for the smallest of things and realize material items cannot bring happiness, but they can make life very difficult when you do not have even the basics.

I was raised in a beautiful home on six sprawling acres of pine trees and never imagined living without the basics and also the many extras that I had become accustomed to. I was unaware of the insidious cycle of abuse until it swallowed me whole and spit me back out.

But now things are different and my children are allowed to make their own choices and to be who they were meant to be.

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My nine children

Meanwhile, I sit in my comfy recliner and sip coffee while visions of jelly roll, sugar cookies and fried rice dance in my head. Thoughts drift to concoctions that will be whipped up on a brand new stove!

Happy Holidays and remember that things can get better, there is always hope!

Blogging put on hold

 

Almost two weeks ago I received the honor of having three special guests arrive!

I was confident that it would be quite easy to keep up with my friends in blogging world and of course there were many photos and stories to share!

After all, Grama had a special helper this time who agreed to spend her days changing diapers, playing games, chasing twins through the house and caring for a little princess.

Cooking, baking and crafts commenced as the three little babies were snug at Grama’s house. Meanwhile Mother and Father were off on a family adventure that had been planned for a year. They were now sad about leaving their babies but were assured that everything would be fine! img_8643

Days were spent laughing, cooking, baking and doing crafts, all with their aunts and uncles.

Days ticked by until the first little one got a stomach virus, followed by his brother, then his aunt (the helper) and eventually his youngest uncle. Grama tended to sick babies, scrubbing and wiping. Care was given in the form of hugs, fluids and watchful eyes. At last everyone seemed well and low and behold six days had quickly passed. Plans to go to the science center, play place and other Christmas events had been dashed. Auntie Fon Fon and her trusty helper Ben managed a trip to a local town hosting a Christmas extravaganza.

Mom and Dad sent photos of their out and about time

Grama and Alayna were home alone and so it was time for a photo shoot.

Auntie Fon Fon took the boys to a local play place that proved to be total fun and will be a destination in the future.

Meals were eaten at their new table

Babies were tucked into bed

And finally day nine arrived and it was time to say goodbye. Mommy and Daddy finished their adventure.

Bags were packed, wash was done and final moments were shared.

Blogging had long since been given up on and Grama was sure that everyone would understand. Special moments like these don’t come around all the time.IMG_3229

Happy holidays everyone!IMG_20181202_101320

First year home-2009

This is the story of our first year back in America, other installments can be found here:

https://lynzrealcooking.com/first-year-home-2/first-year-home/

https://lynzrealcooking.com/first-year-home-2/first-year-home-2009/

https://lynzrealcooking.com/2018/11/16/first-year-2009-our-story/

 

Idaho 2009

A sharp buzzing pressed in my ear waking me from a restless sleep. It was time to rouse one of the girls, spoon coffee into a filter and pour a pot of water into the reservoir.  Thoughts of school and the day before held a nagging place in my gutt. The sad little figure that lay sprawled in the grass amongst students and helpers remained fixed in my memory. I had overlooked the possibility that this was my youngest child and instead a mask of denial coated my brain leaving it in an unrealistic fog. But after his sister sat beside him taking her place in a stance of not so much concern but possibly comfort, it was clear that things would not be as easy as I had hoped. My focus turned to the thought that there were only two more weeks of the paper route and then a new routine would take shape; no more nights spent wrapping bundles, sorting orders and jumping out to deliver to each and every home. Cooking for the co-op, cleaning once a week at a building and the odd sub job assured me that we could keep afloat and each time mom and dad visited they unloaded boxes of bread, croissants, peanut butter, canned vegetables and chicken, candy, school snacks and staples. Provisions were hauled into the apartment, stacked on the kitchen floor and put into cupboards. I watched as hot coffee dripped into the carafe and pushed away the idea that I was truly at fault but still I couldn’t help but wonder if leaving Saudi was for the best. I heard his words ring through my ears triggering shooting pangs of guilt to my core. “You are torturing me and the children with your stubborn and unhappy ways, you have become one of those women that I hate”

 

Family time plus nine

This past week was somewhat of a blur and flurry, guests arriving, shifting, cooking, cleaning and finally everyone packed up and made their way back to their homes. Yesterday afternoon the last of my children headed back home and now the house is relatively empty. The house is still a bit messy and today will be my big weekly clean up which means an all day effort of moving furniture, sweeping, scrubbing and finally everything will be back in place, shiny and routine. IMG_1500 (1)

Last Tuesday morning I cleaned the house, made guest beds, moved furniture around to accommodate our large family and stocked the pantry with basics.

Wednesday was spent baking and waiting for my kids to arrive. I worked on my contribution to the dessert table with a turtle cheesecake.

I did my last minute jobs to ensure that our house was once again ready to be bursting with the usual antics, and soon after Yusuf and Alicia came driving up in their brand new electric car. I am assuming in years from now the grandkids will look back and laugh at us oldies who were amazed by a car that needed to be plugged in and charged at few and far between supercharger stations!! The next order of business was a spin in the vehicle and a return home to get settled in.

My middle child flew into Spokane late Monday and insisted on chauffeuring  Grama and Grampa to our home on Wednesday. Meanwhile Saleeha and Edison would arrive around midnight, Osama, Jacki and kids made their way to Fattima and Ben’s that day around 3 and eventually everyone ended up at the family home for pizza and of course this included, home repairs, playing games, wrestling matches and some time for chatting.

That night my middle child picked up the engaged couple at our tiny local airport and everyone settled in.

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After a good night’s sleep it was time to head over to Fattima and Ben’s for breakfast and precious moments were spent with the whole family. All nine of my children were in one place and it was just like old/new times.

Babies were put down for naps, cars were loaded and it was time for the days festivities to begin.  This year I took charge and made sure things stayed on a loose schedule and it went fairly well. The family picture was scheduled for 12:30 and although everyone hemmed and hawed they knew I would not take no for an answer! I started with a picture of my parents and all of my children._DSC0019

Jacki and I switched places as photographer

Eventually Heme’s friend came over and took a photo of the whole group _DSC0056

Cooking commenced and a whirlwind of pans, dishwashers and dryers, oven overloaded with food, turkey and stuffing, shepherd’s pie and sweet potato au gratin, spinach salad, smashed potatoes and rolls were all served promptly at 3:00 p.m.

After dinner everyone pitched in and cleaned up following the jobs list to the letter. Dessert was the only thing that occurred out of order and a line that formed behind the cheesecake was inevitable. I really liked the recipe and only made a few changes, some of the batter for the cheesecake was mixed with caramel sauce and a portion was mixed with chocolate, marbling it with the plain cheesecake. I chose to make a chocolate ganache and topped that with caramel sauce and pecans.IMG_1091

Our white elephant was the best ever and my gifts were stolen numerous times, specialty candy and a puzzle of Seattle, a stack of scratch tickets, VR headset and a holiday tin of popcorn and finally I ended up with outdoor led light torches for the yard. The other gifts included; a tortilla press, a digital cooking thermometer, gift basket from the World market, snowman cookie jar, tiny pool table and candy and too many others to list.

Games, cards and movies were watched, babies carted around and general family time shared.

Cars were packed, bags loaded and slowly each family and individual went back to their place of residence leaving our cozy little household of only 4.  I think Alayna expresses our sentiment in splendid fashion with no words!IMG_1216

 

This Thanksgiving I was encouraged to take charge once again and so I found my rhythm and my place as the head of household.

Blessings to all and thankfulness for every day!

Thankful

It is the day before Thanksgiving and as I sit under the red blanket from mom, lights from our first small Christmas tree cast a shimmer on the window. Thoughts of previous years run through my mind, children, grand babies, turkey, game tournaments and also anxiety.img_1013.jpgNo one is up yet and as usual my 3:30 wake up comes and goes without notice. Hot steaming coffee is enjoyed from a large Christmas mug and a calm silence once again highlights the living room and kitchen clocks that keep time with a back and forth ticking pattern.

This has become my time, early morning starlight, fog, frost and glory. Some days I wonder what progress has really been made and then in quiet moments like this I remember and remind myself it is the little things that can ultimately turn out to be the quite large things.

I was once a valiant fighter and keeper of household peace and at times a stone monument unwavering and bold. Diapers, school trips, no electricity, no beds, mix batter, fold laundry, smile and breathe. In what seemed like a mere blink, I found myself reduced to a child like state, unable to manage the tiniest of tasks. But now a rebuilding and knowledge that I can move on and begin again has truly taken hold and for that and so many other things I am grateful.

I am thankful for:

1. My faith

2. My family; children and their partners, my parents, my three grand babies, my sister, nieces and nephews, my special cousin/sister, brother in laws, extended family.

3. Each child of mine and their heroic efforts to live and breathe in freedom. To love me without conditions or expectations. My heart and soul!

4. My mother and mentor who taught me to be my best no matter what.

5. My father who gave me courage and the strength to be me.

6. My sweet grand babies who have helped me to heal and have brought a new sense of purpose to my life and their amazing mommy who accepts me for the Grama that I am.

7. My friends who have encouraged and supported me

8. The ability to cook meals unhindered by anxiety for the most part.

9. Gorgeous nature God has put before me on a daily basis.

10. Being able to walk and exercise.

11. A significant reduction in anxiety and panic, good physical and mental health.

12. Overcoming an eating disorder that was part of the abuse cycle.

13. Having a home.

14. Having food, clean water and medical care.

15. Realizing I cannot be and am not perfect and neither are my family and friends.

16. publishing a book.

17. For my daughter’s marriage and her very special husband.

18. An engagement and upcoming wedding for my eldest daughter and her wonderful beloved.

19. Last but certainly not least, getting to spend special time with my lovely sister, mom and dad again as a little family unit!

One foot and then the next builds a path to freedom.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The weekend before Thanksgiving

 

 

 

The last day of school was Friday and now the kids have a week long break. This makes them happy and also brings me great joy as well. A menu has been posted, clean up jobs listed and the traditional family photo is scheduled.

Everyone will trickle into town over the next few days and guests will be divided between the newlyweds home and my house.

A competition over who has the best white elephant gift will inevitably continue from last year and a trophy that was fashioned for only one winner will be held in the highest regard! Meanwhile I will fawn over grandbabies, take the family picture and try to keep things on track in a loose but firm fashion. In other words, I am ready!

This weekend I made chocolate zucchini bread/cake and it was delicious! Moist, rich and decadent are the words I would use to best describe this cake. I am thinking of ways to change it so it is healthier and when I do, you will be the first to know!

Fattima and Ben popped over to share our special  Cougar gold cheese from Ferdinands on the W.S.U. campus. She made cheesies and I made chicken strips. https://lynzrealcooking.com/recipes-2/appetizers/cheesies/

After getting a few groceries I had the pleasure of being waited on by my gorgeous daughter. What could be better? She also made peppermint bark which turned out well.

More decorations were placed around the house and finally I just threw up my hands and announced that is was time for Christmas!img_0998-1

 

First year back home 2009-our story

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I edged closer to the tiny parking spot that stood above Frat row. It was a cement slab just big enough to accomodate a large vehicle but still unnerved me each time I navigated onto the platform.  Plastic bags were grabbed in batches and hauled over the rugged path and into the door of the old brick building. It was grocery day and that meant unloading and preparing a “fast food” meal including plenty of variety for those with dietary restrictions. I stuffed bags inside of each other forming a large ball of sacks that would be used for trash bags at a later time. Several packs of ground beef were placed into a large skillet and stirred, smashing them into smaller bits. The familiar sound of sizzling and the smell of taco meat would soon bring girls into the kitchen. Soos, Heme and Deeja made themselves busy with coloring books and crayons, cards and stickers. They placed themselves at a wooden table just outside the kitchen where residents would soon sit after dishing up their last meal for the day. Sullen faces stared blankly at my workstation and I knew that our discussion regarding school had still left them confused and fearful.

That day we had walked through the rickety wooden gate and into the school yard that lead to a side door. I kissed each one goodbye and delivered them to their respective classrooms, leaving my youngest for last. We had been to see the teacher days before and although she was inexperienced, she was also bubbly, kind and understanding. I was sure that everything would go as planned and so I walked with an air of confidence and pride.  We reached a brightly colored door that said Welcome to first grade. Other students sat at standard desks and tables, hanging hoodies and jackets on a coat rack, backpacks were shoved into cubbies and parents waved their goodbyes. The teacher nodded her head as if to tell me that it would be fine and it was time to leave. I gave a quick wave and returned the same way I had entered, leaving the wooden gate and parking lot behind.

From the upstairs window I scanned the school playground hoping to catch a glimpse of at least one of my four children. The recess bell rang and with it a massive exit from the side door of the one story school. Children carried balls and toys and quickly started in with their mid day break from books and lessons. A tiny figure stood alone in the large grass area, a hood tightly wrapped around the shiny hair of what appeared to be a small child. A stark contrast became unsettling as he crouched near the brightly colored playground equipment looking from side to side and finally giving in to tears. Classmates ran, laughing and giving chase, engaging in childish games that only youngsters play. Their smiles and shrieks of glee only heightened as activities progressed into throwing, catching and eventually climbing onto a metal structure. I watched him cover his face, firmly placing it into the school yard grass until a familiar figure with dark brown hair placed herself next to him and gave him the company he longed for.

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