Soooo, It’s Been Awhile

Hello, my people!

So, it’s been about five-six years since I’ve posted to this blog. I’ve logged in a few times over the years in an attempt to say hello, but I just stared at a blank screen and eventually gave up.

While I haven’t cooked as much over the years, I have been baking. I love cookies and baking A LOT and I turned that love into a home-based baking business. It’s been five years (I can’t believe it!) since Yalla Sweets came to fruition. And while I haven’t been as active with YS (are we seeing a pattern here??) as of late, it is always on my heart – just like this blog has been.

I know this year has been a super weird cluster of experiences many of us haven’t faced before. At the beginning of it, I baked and cleaned a ton. I figured it would be a good way for me to reconnect with my cookies and my obsession with food. And, it was for awhile until it wasn’t.

After having a conversation with a friend recently, I was reminded of Zayt and Zaatar and how much I loved this project. When I started this blog, there were only a few cookbooks that focused on Palestinian food/food from the Levant region. I’m so thrilled and proud to say that over the last decade, we have seen a number of gorgeous Palestinian cookbooks published. I love seeing the stories, memories, and recipes from other Palestinian food lovers. I especially love that our food is preserved in writing for others to learn about and appreciate.

I share all of this to say, I’m back! Zayt and Zaatar started as a personal project that allowed me to reconnect with the memory of my mama through learning and cooking her recipes. It was a powerful moment in my life and I hope that the stories resonated with those who took the time to read. I hope the recipes were made and shared with those you love (and turned out okay!).

Moving forward, I’m just going to write. I’ll write about food. I’ll write about cookies. I’ll write about baking. I’ll share recipes when I feel excited to share. I’ll write about memories around food. I’m not going to hold myself to a theme. I just want to write.

I’m going to give myself the grace to ease back into this and if there is a recipe you’d like to see or a food/baking-related topic you’d like me to touch on – feel free to leave a comment and ask!

Quinoa Mjaddarah (recipe included)

Mjaddarah is a very popular dish in the Middle East. It’s incredibly easy to make, inexpensive, and the perfect vegetarian/vegan option for folks. My mama made it often because it took very little effort to make and an hour in the kitchen generated enough food to feed 20 people for a week. That fact was a huge selling point for my mama. For me? Not so much. I didn’t enjoy eating the same thing five times a week, but boy do I appreciate leftovers now!

Mjaddarah is usually made with rice and lentils, but I don’t eat white rice much these days and I’m not a fan of brown rice. That being said, I have been without my (now) beloved Mjaddarah for quite awhile. It has become one of my favorite comfort foods over the years. Where once I turned my nose to this dish, demanding instead something terrible for me like a cheeseburger or boxed mac and cheese, now I crave Mjaddarah often.

quinoa mjaddarah

My dad came up with the genius idea of switching out the rice for quinoa. While I love quinoa, I was initially skeptical of the healthier substitution. I gotta say, the starchy yumminess of the  rice in this dish is what makes me feel so warm and cuddly when I indulge. I wasn’t sure quinoa would have the same effect. Rest assured, my dad’s recipe is just as comforting as my mama’s. And this one is better for you!

Ingredients
8 oz. (1/2 bag) brown lentils
1 1/3 cups dry quinoa
2 cups of water (plus more for cooking)
2 tablespoons of finely minced onion
1 tablespoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
A pinch of curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
1. Using a shallow pan or bowl, rinse out lentils to clean any excess dirt or unwanted debris.

2. Put quinoa in a very fine sieve and fill up a large bowl with mildly hot water and place the sieve inside the bowl. Change the water in the bowl every five minutes. Do this two or three times over a 15-minute period to get the quinoa cleaned. It is, more importantly, used as a method to par-cook the quinoa before mixing with the lentils.

3. Meanwhile, pour two cups of water into a medium pot and add the lentils. Cook on high heat until it starts to boil. Once boiling, switch to medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Take the sieve with the quinoa out of water and let it drain before adding to the lentils. At this stage, add all other ingredients. Also, add either water (or reduced-sodium chicken broth for added flavor) until it just covers the lentil/quinoa mixture and turn up the heat until it boils.

5.Once boiled, turn to low-medium heat. Simmer for 12-15 minutes. Check at 10 minutes to see if water has absorbed. Turn off heat once absorbed and leave lid on until ready to eat. Serve with fried onion and cucumber-tomato salad.

You can find the traditional recipe for Mjaddarah, as well as recipes for the fried onions and cucumber-tomato salad,  here.

Comment below and let me know what you think of this healthier version! If you make the recipe, feel free to tag me on Instagram (@yallasweets) and share your food pics and thoughts!

 

Home is Where the Heart Is

Happy 2016, everyone!

I have been baking away since the holidays and working on getting a little more creative with my cookie recipes. I’m finally getting to a place where I feel much more confident in my abilities as a baker, and that means there’s more room for adventure in what and how I bake.

I’ve also been thinking a bit about cooking in general. I don’t cook savory dishes as often as I used to, and I’m finding that I miss it a great deal more than I realized. I think I’m missing it because I miss being a more nurturing person. Food is a really authentic, heart-centered way to share your love and compassion with others. I certainly do that with my baking, but I just miss cooking. People always have to eat whole foods; they don’t necessarily always have to eat a cookie. (Though, I’m happy to argue the latter point ’til the cows come home.)

Thanks to a recommendation from a friend, I started watching episodes of “The Mind of a Chef” on Netflix. It’s a FANTASTIC show on PBS that follows the philosophies and work of some of the most inspiring and talented chefs in the country. And I am HOOKED. You are transported to a world where you can watch people cook, listen to their stories, delve into the whole world of farming, history, food science, and innovation. It’s utterly fascinating to me. It teaches you, once again AND if you’re listening, how interconnected we are in this world. Food, literally, is life. And for those of us who are passionate about it, food speaks stories, fuels bodies and minds, and serves as a medium for expression and revolution.

The third season (Episode 5 to be exact), takes you to Kentucky, where Chef Edward Lee lives and cooks. I was most struck by a conversation he had with another local chef, Chef Ouita Michel as they cooked together a dish with local ingredients. They discussed the idea that newer chefs that only have restaurant experience versus learning the tricks of the trade from home cooks and incorporating that into their culinary narrative are at a disadvantage. Chef Michel eloquently stated that, “Restaurants don’t define the food community in the United States.”

Now, I had been binge-watching this series all day while I baked for a client and those words made me stop what I was doing, sit down, and listen to the conversation with intent. Being the person I am, I struggle with the fact that I am not a professionally-trained maker of food and desserts. And while I honestly have no interest in being a world-renowned pastry chef, I feel like other people NEED me to be one in order for my work to have real merit. But, her words gave me freedom and reminded me that food is home and it doesn’t really matter where good food gets made.

One of the major threads I see woven into each one of these chef’s stories is how the food they grew up eating influences the food they cook today. I suppose it’s hard to separate the two. The food of your family is where you learned what you liked and what you didn’t like. If you were fortunate enough to come from a family where at least one of your parents, probably your mama, was cooking real food, you probably have a strong memory connection to the foods of your childhood. Use that. Don’t ever let those memories go. Use them to learn more about the food you grew up eating. Use it to comfort you in the moments when you need a hug from someone you love, but don’t, in that moment, have access to them for whatever reason. Food almost always tastes better when someone you love is cooking it for you, but there is immense comfort in being able to cook it for yourself, too.

I didn’t appreciate this enough when I was a kid, but I am SO unbelievably grateful that my mother (and father) inadvertently taught me the value of shopping for and making a meal. I get it now and it has fueled every aspect of this blog and my cooking/baking journeys.

So, I think I’m going to get back to trying out new savory recipes and documenting those experiences here. I have a few ideas in mind, but nothing concrete yet. I’ve just been studying and reading the topic of food for so long now that I want to get out of the theoretical and into the kitchen.

Stay tuned!

The Menu

Hi Y’all! It’s been a year since I committed to the idea of Yalla Sweets and I wanted to share with you all the culmination of that work. Here’s the first ever Yalla Sweets menu (just in time for the holidays)! This menu is a testimony to this blog and the years I spent learning to cook and bake and reconnect with the memory of my mother and the food I grew up eating. It’s a combination of nostalgia and Middle Eastern-inspired treats that are MY nostalgia. It is my goal and hope that these sweets bring you and the people you share them with real joy. YS-Menus_WEB

Birthday Wishes

mama

There’s no recipe sharing today, y’all. I wanted to take a few minutes to ramble away about this day and the woman that inspired this blog project and my future livelihood.

Today would have been my mama’s 61st birthday. My dad and I were reminiscing earlier today, and we both wondered aloud about what kind of woman my mother would have become had she been given the opportunity to beat cancer for good and live a more authentic life – one that wasn’t filled with fear and holding back.

She was an absolutely beautiful woman. I don’t say this because I have half her DNA and she gave me life; my mother was truly stunning. I’m not sure she realized her beauty, but her lack of awareness in that area didn’t change the fact that she was genuinely beautiful – both inside and out. She was incredibly hard on herself – a trait I picked up and haven’t quite been able to let go of just yet.

She was a good mother. And it has taken me a really long time to say that again. I spent a whole lotta years focused on the hurt and anger and frustration surrounding her illness and her death, and it took away from my ability to see my childhood in a more objective way. Though, I suppose childhood memories are one of those things that are meant to be a bit more subjective…

Anyway, a significant reason why I started this project all those years ago was to reconnect with the memories I had of my mama that were positive and nurturing and loving. Her cooking and baking have always provided comforting memories for me. I remember how hard she’d work to make us nourishing meals and I thought that if I taught myself how to cook her food, I’d be able to let go of the pain and the hurt and live my way into loving and appreciating her again.

Well, I’ve learned to make lots of yummy Palestinian food over the years, and I’m really in love with the fact that I am able to make the dishes I grew up eating. I still wish my mother was here to make them for me on occasion, but the next best thing is putting my love and soul into cooking and baking the food of my family, for my family.

It’s been 24 years since I lost my mother, and I am finally, FINALLY, in a place where my love for her outweighs my grief for her. Instead of focusing on the loss, I’m able to remember once again why I was so lucky to have her in my life for the brief 13 years that I did.

Her name was Nawal. She had a soul more vibrant than most people I know. She had one of those deep belly laughs – the kind that let you know she meant it when she laughed out loud. Her eyes sparkled with love, but, if you looked deeper, you could see there was a whole other person waiting inside of her to come out. She didn’t get the chance to reach her potential as a human being; as a woman; as a mother; a wife; a friend. I know, from the depths of my soul, my heart, that had she been able to live more freely, without the fear and anxiety of life, of family bullshit, of illness, she would have been unstoppable.

I understand now that I can’t live her unlived life. I can’t pick up where she left off or mend for her all the things she needed to sort out before she left this world. I tried, but it just isn’t my story to end.

My story is just beginning. At almost 38, I am finally beginning to understand what it means to live my best version of a life. It looks a lot like my kitchen does after I bake something – a complete and utter mess. (Have I mentioned I’m not exactly the tidiest of bakers?) But, that mess serves a valuable purpose. It’s one part of a whole. It’s the precursor to something sweet and satisfying that was made with my two hands and a little bit of my soul. It’s my way of reconnecting to my capability to love and nurture others. It’s one of those full circle kinda things, ya know?

So, with all these ramblings aside, I just really want to say: Happy Birthday, Mama. I love you.

A Fruit For Every Occasion

orange

I love fruit. I don’t eat it as often as I should, but there is very little fruit out there that I don’t genuinely enjoy eating (I’m looking at you, cantaloupe). So, over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been bringing a combination of fruits with me to work so I can snack on them throughout the day. Oranges have been making a frequent appearance – mostly because they are in season and really cheap to purchase as a result.

I have convinced myself that the vitamin C in these little guys is going to be my main resource for fighting off all the germs and keeping that flu nonsense the hell away from me. And I probably just jinxed myself by typing that – so there’s that.

Anyway, my point in writing to you about oranges isn’t to discuss their nutritional value as much as it is to share with you some of the memories I have of fruit and my family. The moment that sparked this idea happened recently during an interaction at work. I’d just finished peeling a rather fragrant orange and one of my coworkers came over to my desk to snag a couple of wedges. During this dialogue, he also shared a really sweet exchange he and his father used to share during the times when his father would peel an orange for him to eat. I love these moments with food – the times when something as simple as a piece of fruit can bring about cherished recollections of brief but profound moments in our personal timelines.

This made me think about all the things that fruit symbolizes for me. One of the very first memories that came to mind involved the ritual of hosting. When I was a kid, my immediate and extended families used to open their homes as a way to stay connected. I loved weekends because it meant I would get to hang out with my cousins and drink Coca-Cola out of fancy glasses and eagerly await the passing around of a box of See’s chocolates. (If you’re from Ramallah and live in Houston, it was standard protocol to have a box of See’s in your house. I’m sure it still is for many to this day.)

The most memorable part of these visits for me, however, involved the evening’s menu and how each course symbolized one pumpkin seed shell closer to calling it a night. The evening started with drinks (alcohol for the adults and soda for the kids) and small, fancy bowls of various nuts and seeds. Ashtrays were put out to collect the various shells from pumpkin or watermelon seeds, pistachios or turmous. The adults would crack things between their teeth whilst discussing various topics and the kids would be off playing video games or getting into some kind of trouble. After an hour or two, cups and bowls would be taken away and replaced with plates and a huge platter of fresh fruit. Back in the day, my mom and aunts used to spend a significant amount of time going to farms, farmer’s markets, and grocery stores to pick the best fruit. I remember the time it would take her to pick the just-right pieces for stuffing or pickling or chomping away on. It’s a neurosis I’ve carried with me into adulthood. It’s just unfortunate that I don’t currently have children of my own to stand next to me at the grocery store while I fondle every apple in the joint until I find one that doesn’t have a scratch, dent or bruise.

The fruit course also meant that we were getting dangerously close to the last service of the night and that meant, of course, that we all had to part ways. This was usually the point in the evening where elaborate plans for asking about sleepovers were drawn up. The fruit course wasn’t terribly exciting unless grapes or watermelon were involved.

The final offering for any given visit included coffee and sweets. The coffee was sometimes standard coffee (think Folgers), other times it was the much more fragrant and delicate Arabic coffee being served. My level of excitement over the sweets varied between zero when it was baklawa or ma’amoul to a hundred when it was ghraybeh or kanafeh. There was also much jubilation, from me in particular, when Pepperidge Farm apple turnovers made an appearance.

The evening would end with someone’s kid crying because of exhaustion or because someone got smacked or because the dream of spending the night away from home got squashed before one of us could finish sharing our proposal for why a sleepover was the best idea ever. The parents would say goodbye in stages – starting in the living room, and then again at the front door, and then one last time outside by the car. Brevity is not a thing my family has ever done well.

Those weekend nights were some of the best times of my life and I honestly hadn’t thought about them in ages until that random incident with the orange. It’s not a thing we do much anymore unless it’s associated with something specific. I really hope I’ll get the chance to resurrect them someday with my cousins as we begin to build our own families.

I know this post was more memory based than food/recipe based, but I did want to leave you with a very simple fruit dish that I grew up eating and still really love. I know fancy restaurants offer a variation on the watermelon/cheese idea – but the way I  learned to appreciate this combination was with huge wedges of ripe watermelon paired with a little salt and boiled white cheese. You can find more information about the boiled cheese here. I prefer using the boiled cheese versus pairing it with feta or any of  the other variations of salty white cheeses. Using a salt of your choosing (I stick with regular ‘ol Morton) allows you to better balance the sweet with the the salty. Plus, the chewy texture of the boiled cheese combined with the crisp crunch of the watermelon is a really delightful bonus. 

 Hope you enjoy if you decide to give it a try! 

A Song For The New Year

 

Yes. I know the New Year isn’t quite here yet. I’m just getting giving you a little background music to help you get ready. Though this song isn’t technically about food, it most certainly says a lot about my childhood. This was one of my very favorite songs growing up. My mother used to play it for me and sing to me as we listened. I didn’t realize until recently that the reason why I had such a hard time tracking this song down is because it was a song from a movie Sabah starred in and not one from an album. Apparently the scene in the movie is Sabah singing this song to her daughter which would, in turn, explain why my mama liked singing it to me.

The title “Aklek Menain Ya Batta”  very roughly translates to “You are so adorable. I just wanna eat you up!” Batta in Arabic translates to duck and is also used as a term of endearment. I loved the song so much because of the “quacks” you hear in the background. Hearing it again after all these years just makes me smile and it also really makes me miss my mother.

I’m excited to get back to cooking out there and writing here. Not all my posts will be recipe-related but I’ll try to keep them relevant to the memories and the food of my youth. In the meantime, enjoy a little music from the past and have yourselves a very HAPPY New Year!

Sahtein!

Food, Film and Moving Forward

May is proving to be one busy month!  This past weekend, I had the privilege of working with a group of local activists, organizers and artists on a project that I’ve been involved with for a couple of years now. We organize a local film festival that offers “an honest and independent view of Palestine and its diaspora’s society, culture, and political travails through the art of film.”

It’s a very intense thing to organize and I’ll admit that in my journey to ‘find myself’,  or whatever you call this period I’m going through, I seriously considered making this year my last year of involvement.  Sometimes, when I get too consumed by the voices in my head, I forget all the struggles that still need to be fought. This past weekend, I was reminded of those struggles and reminded of the responsibility I have in helping to make the world we live in a better place to inhabit.

Over the past several days, I have met women who had more strength, courage and beauty than I could ever hope to have. They are artists, musicians, filmmakers, mothers, daughters, photographers, engineers, organizers, friends, family, social workers, and writers. They are the inspiration I prayed for and found. I hope you all are reading this and I hope you know what an impact you’ve had on my life in such a short period of time. Even those of you I’ve known for awhile – I was able to see you in a different light.  I hope you all know how amazing you are and how lucky those of us who know you are to have you in our lives. Thank you.

And even though my intense weekend was a rather time consuming one, I did manage to make a little something to keep my culinary aspirations in working order. I decided to try my hand at hummus because I’ve never made it before and it seems like one of those recipes that everyone should learn to perfect at some point.

My mom and my aunts made hummus in a very specific way and I’m still working on trying to get that down. I happen to really love the way my dad makes hummus so I think my take on it was somewhere in the middle.  My mama’s hummus was thick and creamy with just the right balance of tart to tahini.  My dad’s recipe is a little more coarse in texture with a lot less tahini and a lot more garlic and lemon juice. There’s a hundred different ways to make hummus and you’d think it would be pretty easy to make. While it’s easy to make, it’s also equally as easy to screw up. I honestly don’t think you need to get all fancy with hummus. When you find the right combination, a simple hummus is perfection.

I have to admit, my favorite way to eat hummus when I was a kid was with Doritos. My mama was a big fan so we always had a bag or two on hand to eat with pretty much everything you could imagine. I’d make a big bowl of hummus and plant myself in front of the television for as long as it took to lick the bowl clean.

Here’s the recipe I used. How do you make hummus? Got a recipe I should check out?

Hummus

1 lb. (1 large can) of garbanzo beans

1 1/2 – 2 tbs. of tahini

2  large cloves of garlic – whole

3-4 tbs. of lemon juice

dash of salt

olive oil, paprika and parsley for garnish

Bring garbanzo beans to a boil. Once boiled, transfer to a mixing bowl and add the garlic, lemon, tahini and salt and mix together with a handheld blender (or throw it all in a blender if you have one) until smooth. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with a few whole garbanzo beans, dashes of paprika, a little olive oil and parsley.

Birthday Kibbeh!

Basim - The Early Years (a.k.a. My Dad!)

I want to start off this post by wishing my dad a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I decided to share (without telling him, of course. Hi Dad!!) an old photo of my pops to commemorate this special day.  He was a pretty cute kid, no? And, before I get into the boring food stuff, I just wanted to take a moment to share a little bit about my father.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I think the world of my dad. He is sincerely one of the kindest individuals I’ve ever known, and I’d like to think a lot of my “save the world” shenanigans can be attributed to his influence. He’s a beautiful artist who taught me a lot about the importance of creativity and supporting the arts.  He’s a great cook, a patient (well, somewhat patient) teacher and a awesome human being.

When we were younger, my dad used to take my brother and I over to the Arboretum on Sunday afternoons. We’d pack a small bag with stuff like water, lifesavers and snacks and we’d walk the trails together and explore nature. He called them ‘trust walks’.  There were times we’d meander through the trails with our eyes closed and trust that dad would guide us safely to our next destination.  I remember one such Sunday when I was instructed to open my eyes at our given destination only to discover he’d led me right over to a lizard. Now, I’m not a fan of lizards. I inherited that disdain from my mother, and my irrational reaction to their presence apparently served as great amusement for my father that day.  That little lizard and I were having a staring contest, y’all. We were that close to one another.

I never thought much about that story until now, and those walks really say a lot about my dad. No. Not that he enjoys freaking his children out with the things they fear most. Ok, well maybe a little. Mostly, those moments served as comic relief. They were there to remind us not to take everything so seriously and to enjoy the little things in life. I wish I could say I’ve taken those lessons to heart more than I have, but I suppose it’s never too late to get with the program!

So, in honor of his (undisclosed age) birthday, I decided to make a dish he loves – kibbeh. I have to say I was a bit worried about making this dish. After going through both my mama’s recipe and the recipe in Sahtein, I’d convinced myself this week’s attempt at cooking was going to result in an epic fail. I really wanted to try to make this on my own because it’s kind of lame to have your dad help cook his own birthday dinner. Alas, I needed his help throughout the process.

The recipe I shared last week was pretty spot on and I only  made a few minor changes. Instead of using lamb in the stuffing and beef for the raw kibbeh, I opted to use ground sirloin for the kibbeh stuffing and combination of lean ground beef and ground lamb (1 lb. of each) for the raw mixture. I added all the spices to the raw mixture and not just salt and pepper per the recipe. We also added about a tbsp. of a spice called ‘sumac’ because my dad likes the flavor. Sumac is a tart spice with a somewhat lemony flavor. I don’t know that sumac is traditionally used in kibbeh, but it was definitely a nice addition to the dish.

Aside from that, the only other minor change was the amount of burghul needed. Three cups proved to be a bit too much for the amount of meat we used, so we scaled it back a bit. I’d say we used about 2 and a half cups and it was just right.  I will also chill out on how much oil/butter I use next time. I underestimated the natural fat that the meat brings and used a wee bit too much added fat to the dish. I know butter is never a bad thing, but sometimes less is more.  It also took more than 30 minutes to cook. We did end up baking the dish at 400 vs. 450 and it cooked for a little under an hour. Make sure to keep a close eye on it after the 4o minute mark so it doesn’t overcook/burn.

The results, I am happy to say, were fantastic. It tastes just like I remember baked kibbeh to taste and, lemme tell ya, it’s been awhile. I paired it with some plain yogurt (I’m not brave enough to try making my own laban just yet) and a cucumber & tomato salad. I’ll share the rest of the photos tomorrow, but for now enjoy a lovely pic of the final product – cheesy mint leaf garnish included.

A Feast Worthy of A King

Give Peas A Chance!!

(Image Courtesy of Natalie Dee – www.nataliedee.com )

I remember three main dishes that my mom always seemed to make when I was a kid. I’d venture to say everyone’s mama made these dishes quite frequently because they were easy to make, cheap and you could make large enough quantities to last for days.  All three dishes had pretty much the same spicing and tomato base, the only variation was the vegetable used.  The dish I opted to cook this week is called Bazailah and it’s essentially a pea stew that you serve over rice. The other two use either okra or green beans and I’m less in love with those two dishes – though I will learn to make them, too.

I can’t say I was a big fan this dish when I was a kid (big surprise, right?), but as I’ve gotten older, Bazailah has become one of my favorite things to eat.  I guess because it is such an easy dish to make, my mama didn’t bother to write down a recipe for it. I pieced together the basics by going off my dad’s memory and it turned out well. I opted to use beef vs. lamb because I just like beef better.  The recipe from my past post includes the adjustments to spicing that was made – although I would have added even more pepper.  I also didn’t listen to my dad and add a little lemon juice at the end. It didn’t alter the dish a great deal, but the added acidity would have helped.I personally don’t remember my mom using lemon with this dish, but we invited two of my cousins over to eat and they both said that was an added ingredient, so I’ll definitely add it next time. I know I should listen to my dad more often when he’s helping me cook, but I’m stubborn. Go figure.

This was the first time I’d cooked something that was tasted by someone other than my dad and brother.  It was really nice to have my cousins over for a meal. It gave us a chance to compare our mother’s recipes and talk about the things we love to eat. We’re all motherless children now and I think it helps to connect to the memories of our mothers in a positive and proactive way. It was really the first time since I’ve started this project that I felt somewhat reconnected to my mother.  The experience also made me open to the idea of cooking with and for more people over the span of this project.  While I love that I’m finally learning to cook these meals, I’m more excited about the potential connections and stories that will emerge. I’m a little less apprehensive to share more personal memories of my mother – her life, her smile and her impact on me.  I think I’m ready for this idea to be the thing it needs to be.

The Basics - Oil, Garlic & Onions

Here's the Beef!

Peas!

Peas II!

Bazailah wah Ruz

Snapshot of My Mama's Cookbook + Sahtein