Thursday, September 30, 2010

Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe


Here's the recipe for mayonnaise I said I'd post up, that I always make to go with  seasoned baked potato wedges. Mayonnaise compliments many dishes including rice, sandwiches, salads. The mayonnaise I make at home tastes more wholesome and better than the brand we get from the store; and it's far cheaper. So here's what you need:

Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe

1 egg
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
2 tsp sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
salt to taste

Put your egg in the blender with the mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, and sugar. Blend it up until it's smooth. Now put the blender on low speed and pour in the oil very slowly, keep blending until the mayonnaise is thick and creamy. Taste and see if you'd like to add a little extra salt or sugar. Store in a jar in the fridge, and consume within 3 days.

*Replace vegetable oil with extra virgin olive oil for a Mediterranean taste.
*Add a clove of garlic to the mix for Japanese style mayo.
*Chop up some parsley or coriander and mix a little in, but don't put it in the blender with your mayonnaise or it will turn green! Mix it in after you're done blending.
* Add some sweet basil for an Italian taste.
*For some extra spice, you can add cayenne pepper, chili or curry as you like.

A Case of the Mommy Brain


Sometimes I get a case of the 'Mommy brain' as soon as I wake up in the morning. What day of the week is it again? Oh Thursday, better make the kids breakfast and send them off to school. Now where did those socks go, where's my keys? What was I doing?

Then I walk over to the kitchen to look for my keys, I notice some milk spilled on the counter and wipe that up, then I can't remember what I was looking for.

Or other times when I'm writing a post for my social networks or my blog, I forget how to spell something or can't remember the word for something I want to say. Which I find pretty strange, because when I was a youngan I used to win competitions for the school spelling bee.

But no need to stress, because I haven't met another mother who hasn't had this happen in one way or another!

In fact, Dr. Oz came on the Oprah show to discuss the difference between men and women, and he said that Mommy brain is a real condition. Our children consume most of our Omega-3 fats while they are in the womb, and our brains shrink by 8% during pregnancy! But he also said, that after the pregnancy, our brain begins to rewire and gets even more powerful than before you became pregnant. I think I need to see Dr. Oz about getting my brain manually rewired, because I don't think my memory is stronger than before I gave birth!  

This is what I think. The Mommy brain is like a computer. Most of our memory goes into the C drive for the main programs, like nurturing our family, running the home and what's important to us, then those few megabytes that are left are what we use to organize the rest of our life. It seems that one quarter of Mama's memory gets used up every time she bears a child.Our task manager develops a glitch. :D

So how can we get our 'task managers' up to date and sharpen our memory?


TASK MANAGER UPDATE! ORGANIZATION TECHNIQUES

*Good preparation. It's better to have things ready, than to run around at the last minute looking for them. Keep a special place for the keys, like a hook on the kitchen wall or next to the door. Mandate a drawer especially for socks. Organize what your kids are wearing to school the night before, have it all neatly folded on their dresser. If you're going out, plan ahead and get all you need in your bag and your clothes together so you won't be going out the door wondering where you left your cellphone or what happened to those nappy wipes. Put everything in it's place before they get lost or forgotten.
*Keep a diary. Writing down all the important things that you need to do, will definitely help to remember things.
*Calendars. Mark what you must do on certain days, especially good for invites and appointments.
*Utilizing technology. The calendar and notepad in your phone is an excellent way to remind you. Some phones even have custom alarms where you can name an alarm and the time it will go off, so you'll be instantly remembered to clean the litter box, take out the trash or make an important call.
*Write up a time matrix. Draw up a box with four sections: Important, not urgent, necessary, and not necessary. It should look something like this:


 Take care of the important and necessary things first and keep the time wasters and non-urgent things secondary.
 
MEMORY SHARPENERS

*Take omega-3 fatty acids. According to Dr. Oz, this will allow your brain to grow. Include fish, olive oil and winter squash in your diet. Eat walnuts and flaxseed, kidney beans, soybeans tuna and shrimp.
*Eat foods that improve memory performance, like blueberries, tumeric and foods containing cacao (like chocolate! 75% content of cacao or more will be beneficial)
*Have a variety of fruits and veggies.
*Get plenty of rest. Not so easy when caring for the kids leave you sleep deprived! But a small nap in the daytime and going to bed a bit earlier will maximize your beauty sleep.
*Take up some brain-boosting activities like cross-word puzzles, scrabble and quizzes. Keep the mind busy, read books, write, learn a new skill like crochet or typing. This will keep your mind sharp, and as you get older, you will get wiser.
*Exercise. Regular exercise will increase oxygen intake to the brain, improving it's performance. Walking is easy to do when you have children and has multiple benefits. Simple things like housework, taking the kids to the park and pushing baby in the stroller are all good and moderate exercise.

Every mother has agreed with me, that no matter what the sacrifices, it's all worth it. Children are priceless jewels, they grow up fast and even if we suffer this phenomenon called Mommy brain,  I wouldn't give up my job as a busy Mama. Having the life experience of being a mother, with commitment and good management, we'd definitely come out smarter too. What was I supposed to be doing right now? Oh, I better practice what I preach and go bake this bread that I've kneaded! Now, where's my glasses?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Seasoned Baked Potato Wedges: American Soul Food Recipe



My Mom in law asked me for a recipe in Arabic, 'you know that food you cooked the other day, where you put some potatoes and bread together in the oven?' I was puzzled, had no idea what she was talking about. I tried to remember all the dishes that I made this week, and then, aha- I remembered. It was the seasoned baked potato wedges. I was really missing the taste of African American style seasoned fried potato wedges one day, so I made a healthier baked version dipped in seasoned breadcrumbs.

This dish is simple to make and it's very filling. I used only 4 medium potatoes to feed 2 adults and 2 children and we all ate to our fill.


Seasoning salt and breadcrumbs are not available in my locality, so I had to improvise and make it myself! As we say, 'work with what ya got.' Breadcrumbs are easy to make. For the seasoning salt, I experimented with all sorts of different spices until I was delighted to come up with a mixture just like the one my Dad used to use in his fried chicken recipe. As a dip, I really wanted some mayonnaise. But the mayonnaise they sell at the store is expensive and the jar is very small, doesn't last long in a house with three children and extended family. So by trial and error I came up with the perfect mayonnaise which is even better than the stuff we get from the store.

Click here for my recipe of homemade seasoned breadcrumbs. I'll be posting up my recipe for homemade mayonnaise too, so stay tuned.

SEASONED BAKED POTATO WEDGES RECIPE

Serves 4

4 medium potatoes
2 eggs
2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
Cooking oil spray

Wash your potatoes and leave the skins on, cutting out any inedible pieces. Cut the potatoes into wedges by cutting them in quarters, and then cutting the quarters into halves. Whisk up the eggs with a fork in a separate bowl, and put your seasoned breadcrumbs into another separate bowl. Lightly oil your baking tray. Preheat the oven to medium heat.

Now dip your wedges one by one into the egg, then into the seasoned breadcrumbs, covering it generously, and then put them into the tray. Apply a little oil spray onto each piece. Cooking oil spray is hard to get here, so I just put some vegetable oil into a plain spray bottle.

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the wedges are golden brown. Serve while still hot, with mayonnaise on the side or your favorite dip. Enjoy your soul food! (:


* If you want some hot and spicy wedges, mix some cayenne pepper, chili powder or hot curry powder into the breadcrumbs.
*For the shake and bake method, put the seasoned breadcrumbs into a plastic bag. After dipping the wedges into the egg, put them into the bag, close it and shake it up until they are well coated. Then transfer to the tray.
*You can deep fry the wedges if you like.
*Use egg whites instead of whole eggs if you want to reduce calories.

Homemade Seasoned Breadcrumbs: American Soul Food Recipe

This is the recipe for the spiced breadcrumbs that I use to make seasoned baked potato wedges and seasoned baked chicken. It can be used to season fish, calamari and patties too. To make seasoned breadcrumbs, you will need a spice grinder.


Seasoned Breadcrumbs

Ingredients- Breadcrumbs:

4 slices day old bread (or 1 Moroccan bread)

Ingredients- Seasoning Salt:
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tsp garlic powder, or 1 cube garlic powder (run through the grinder)
1 tsp pepper
salt to taste


Run your bread through the food grinder, and put into a bowl. Mix 2 cups of breadcrumbs well with the seasoning salt.

*If you want spicy hot seasoning for your breadcrumbs, add cayenne pepper, chili powder or hot curry powder as you wish.
*For shake and bake recipes, put the seasoned breadcrumbs in a sealed bag with your pieces of food, and shake it up until it's well coated.
*Store breadcrumbs in the freezer. Plain breadcrumbs have many uses.
*The seasoning salt can be stored in a jar or a shaker and used to spice up your cooking. :))

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Day in Marrakesh

Picture owned by Halal Mama


Seeing Halal Mama's pictures of Djema al-fna has inspired me to write about my first journey there. I travelled down to Marrakesh about 2 weeks ago with my husband and children. It was an amazing place, full of traditional African-style architecture and the sights, sounds and cuisine make it such a unique Moroccan destination.

Djema al-fna was full of snake charmers, dancing monkeys, vendors, story-tellers, Gnaouan dance troops, horse carriages, motorists, tourists and lunatics! People slowly kept pouring in until it was packed by the late afternoon. The constant beating of drums gave it a sub-Saharan African feel. We prayed in the great Koutoubia Mosque, with it's 900 year-old colossal minaret and AlMohad style interior. Then we headed over to a restaurant in the early afternoon which was jam-packed with tourists. Their menu was pricey and their meals undersized. I could tell their kitchen was lacking in women, who cook Moroccan dishes with supreme flavor. Afterwards we entered the souq (market). It was full of various merchandise including souvenirs, food, clothes and all manner of traditional hand-crafted goods. I bought myself a cute little pink babouche keyring as a souvenir.

Unfortunately we had to go before nightfall so I missed out on all the flavor of Marrakeshi cuisine. However we did drink some spicy red cinnamon tea before we left, and it was splendid. We also had a taste of Marrakeshi 'sellou' which was soft with a sweet nutty taste. I definitely will be returning to amazing Marrakesh. B)


*Pictures of my trip coming soon

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ever Heard of Crochet Earrings?



Amazing pair of crocheted earrings. Created by Jeanette from the Astonishing Handmade blog.

Twitter, Facebook and Social Activism: Why the Revolution will not be Tweeted

Never underestimate the power of social media. A long news article but quite a good one. 8)

Smoked Green Pepper Salad: Moroccan Recipe


Moroccan style smoked green pepper salad compliments many of my main dishes. It's easy to make and has a slightly hot taste to it, that goes well with meats, rice and stews.

2 green peppers
1 small onion
4 tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp vinegar
salt, pepper to taste

Wash the green peppers and grill them whole, in the oven or over a gas stove until they are charred on both sides. Put them in a plastic bag, close it and leave it for a while. Then take them out, peel off the charred skin (I scrape it off with a knife), and chop the green pepper in half. Take out the seeds etc. and dice your green pepper or chop it into 1 inch pieces, as you prefer. Then dice your onion and tomatoes, and add that in with the chopped parsley, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix it up well and refrigerate it if you like cold salad. Goes as a perfect side dish with chicken sweet potato marqa (Moroccan stew), beans or just about any main dish.

7 Beauty Essentials for the Natural Muslim Woman

Coming Soon....

Short and Sweet Quranic Verse

☀☀If the ocean were ink to write out the words of my Lord, sooner would the sea be exhausted than the words of my Lord, even if we added another sea like it, for its aid [18:109]☀☀

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Savory Moroccan Beans Recipe


(image from recipe.voobay.com)

I made beans for lunch today, tasty Moroccan style beans. The secret for good tasty beans that you can't stop eating is in the slow cooking, and the spices.

SAVORY MOROCCAN BEANS RECIPE

Serves 4

2 soup bowls plain white beans
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
4 medium tomatoes
1/4 cup vegetable oil, or olive oil if you prefer
2 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp yellow food coloring (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cube chicken/meat stock (optional)

The night before cooking, clean, wash and soak your beans in a bowl of water and leave them overnight. Dice the onion, and put it in a pot. Grate in the garlic, and cut the tomatoes in halves, remove the centers and grate the pulp into the pot (alternatively you can cut the center and the skins off the tomatoes and blend them up in a food processor before adding them). Add the spices and parsley, but don't add the beans yet. Brown the onions and garlic in the oil and spices on low heat. When the onions are soft, put in the beans and cover them with water, at least one inch above the beans.

Cover your pot. If you're using a pressure cooker, close it tight. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes. Now open the pot and check the water level. If the water is drying up, cover the beans again, this time the water level just above the beans by 1/2 inch. Now cover your pot (or close your pressure cooker) and cook on low heat another 15 minutes, then check your water level again and see if the beans are cooked. Crumble in your chicken/meat stock if you want to add this. Beans will cook faster in a pressure cooker, after about 30 minutes but it takes longer with a standard pot. Take the pot off the heat when the beans are tender and serve. This will go nicely with Moroccan bread and a salad on the side.


*If you like meat in your beans, you can add a few pieces of chicken, beef or lamb to the browned onions, tomatoes and spices, cover the meat in water and cook it on medium heat, adding a little water every 15 minutes if necessary until it is nearly tender. Then add your beans and cook them as above with the meat included.

Classic, Chic Cardigan Inspired by Chanel




Tres chic cardigan, would go with just about anything and everything! Only $5USD for this very stylish pattern at Little Thingies.

Chic Blackberry Cover: Yarn Eye Candy




I definitely gotta try making this one! It would go perfectly with a Blackberry phone, Nokia, Samsung or any name similar size. Another one going down on my project list. B)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Overnight Foot Softener- Beauty Remedies of North Africa


Wouldn't it be great if you could apply a treatment at night, and wake up with soft, pampered feet? This is another great age-old remedy that Moroccan women use, to soften up rough, dry feet.

OVERNIGHT FOOT SOFTENER

1 four inch candle, about as thick as a thumb
1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 drops rose oil

Chop up the candle into 1 inch pieces and pull out the wick. Put the candle into a pot with the olive oil and rose oil, and put it over gentle heat. Stir the wax and oil together with a spoon. Now let this cool and put it into a jar. You can double this amount or even triple it, it will last a long time. Wash your feet and dry well. Apply the wax generously to your feet and cover with cotton socks. Have a good sleep and wake up with your feet soft and pampered. Use as often as needed. Store the jar in a cool, dry place.

Full and Fragrant Hair Rinse- Beauty Remedies of North Africa



I was told of an old beauty remedy for full, luxurious hair that was used by Moroccan women for centuries. The women would use this mixture on their hair, sprinkle it on themselves as a perfume and even around the home for a relaxing, alluring smell.

FULL, FRAGRANT HAIR RINSE

1 handful lavender
1 handful rose petals
1 handful cloves
800 ml water

Add the lavender, rose petals and cloves to a pot of water. Bring to the boil and simmer until the water turns purple from the lavender. Turn it off, let it cool and drain it into a 750ml bottle or a jar. Whenever you wash your hair, rinse this through your hair and pat it dry. The lavender and cloves will work to make your hair fuller, longer and healthier. The roses will add a beautiful fragrance.

*If you don't have roses or lavender available, you can add a few drops of its' essential oil instead. Rose water is okay in place of petals too, add 1/4 cup.

Dry Hair Treatment- Beauty Remedies of North Africa

This is a natural, cheap and effective treatment for dry hair that Moroccan women use. Argan oil can be used in place of olive oil, but this is more expensive and harder to get. They apply this to their hair, cover it then let it sit for a while. Then they go wash it off in the hamam. Your hair will come out soft and less brittle after using this treatment at least once a week.

SIMPLE AND NATURAL DRY HAIR TREATMENT

1 egg
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Take one whole egg, and put it in a bowl with the olive oil. If your hair is very long or you have a lot of it, you may need 1/2 cup olive oil. Whisk it up with a fork and put the mixture in the palms of your hands. Start applying to your hair, from the roots to the tips. Cover your hair with a shower cap or plastic bag. Moroccan women have hair wraps just for this. Leave it on for about half an hour at least. Wash it out with warm water, not hot or your hair will be covered in boiled egg. :D

Wash your hair with a gentle shampoo, or if your hair is extremely dry, you can mix a tsp lemon juice with a dollop of good conditioner, work this through your hair and rinse it off and your hair will be clean without being stripped of it's moisture. Apply a few drops of olive oil to your hair before styling, add a little extra to the ends. Apply olive oil to your hair whenever you want to style it or give it some moisture. Repeat this treatment once or twice a week to replenish dry hair.

Natural Rouge: Beauty Remedies of North Africa

Before the advent of lipstick, North African women have been applying this natural rouge to their lips and cheeks for ages.

NATURAL ROUGE

2 beetroots
water

Wash your beetroots, cut off the tops and cover them in water. Cover the pot and boil them on medium heat until the beetroots are soft. Take the beetroots out of the water without throwing the water out, and preferably, peel them and eat them. It is said they are very good for women's health. They taste great in Moroccan beetroot salad.

Now put about 1/4 cup of butter into a bowl, and mix a tablespoon of beetroot juice (that was left in the pot) in with the butter. Mix it in well, use your hands if you have to. Keep mixing until the butter and juice are blended together and rouge in color. You can add a bit more juice if you like, experiment and see how dark you want it but you might have to add a bit more butter if it gets too runny. Now apply this rouge to your lips, cheeks or eyelids as you desire and store it in the fridge in a sealed jar/container. The mixture will last a few days.

Moroccan Bread Recipe





















It took me years to figure out how to make the perfect Moroccan bread. I wasn't used to cooking with a gas oven, and my Mom in law cooks without recipes or specific measurements. Bread is an essential part of Moroccan cuisine, and it is eaten with anything you can dip it in. Moroccans grow their own wheat if they have land, harvest it, carefully wash and clean it then take it to the flour mill. Urban Moroccans buy wheat from vendors and will do the same if they have a sunny place around the home to lay out the wheat after washing.

Bread baked in the traditional wooden oven have supreme texture and taste. Most Moroccans send their bread to the local wood oven and pay a little to get it cooked just right.

AUTHENTIC MOROCCAN BREAD

Makes about 4 round breads

4 soup bowls full of flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh yeast
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
2 soup bowls tepid water

Put your flour into a large bowl, make a well in the center and add your sugar and yeast. Add the salt into the side of the flour, not in the center with the yeast. Add the oil. Now fill up a pot with water and heat it until it's tepid warm. Transfer water to a soup bowl and pour the water slowly over the flour with one hand, and mix it in with the other. Pour in the second bowl of water, keep pouring very slowly and mixing until your dough is about the consistency of playdough. Now put the pot on the side and start kneading the dough, adding a dash of water whenever you need, to get it moist and soft. Keep kneading, for about 10 minutes until the dough is so soft, that if you place the tip of your finger in it, it easily goes right through, without any dough sticking to your finger.

Now sprinkle some fine semolina onto a flat surface, like your bench, and shape your dough with it. Divide the dough into four pieces then shape into 4 balls, not round but a little flat. Now sprinkle a little extra semolina over them and cover with a cloth for about 30-45 minutes, until it is risen. You will know it has risen when you press one finger lightly onto one of the breads and the impression bounces back a little. Now turn your oven onto medium heat and prick your bread in a few places with a fork or knife. Bake in the oven until golden brown. If you cook with gas or you can turn off the top element in your oven, cook the bread from the bottom first, then when the bottom is browned turn the bottom down very low and cook it from the top.

Chicken and Sweet Potato Marqa (Stew): Moroccan Recipe

Now, what did I cook today? That's right, a delicious Moroccan dish called 'marqa', a kind of tasty stew with chicken and sweet potatoes. Homemade food is so much tastier in Morocco than restaurant meals. You can make this madly delicious dish in your home too, if you love sweet potatoes like me. ;)

CHICKEN MARQA WITH SWEET POTATOES

Serves 4

1 onion
2 cloves garlic
4 pieces chicken - drumstick, breast, whatever pieces you wish
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp yellow food coloring (optional)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
6 sweet potatoes
1 tsp cinnamon

Chop up the onion, and put it in your pot. Grate the garlic finely over the onions, then add the chicken, the spices (everything except the cinnamon) and the oil. Barely cover the chicken with water and cover the pot; cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is browned on the bottom and there is still a little sauce left in the pot. Then, turn the chicken over the other side and let it brown on very low heat, as not to let the sauce all dry up.

Now when your chicken is browned on both sides, turn off the heat, take it out and place on a plate. Peel your sweet potatoes, cut them into quarters and put them in the sauce left in the pot. Add water to barely cover your potatoes, sprinkle them with cinnamon and cover the pot, cooking on medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender. Now add your chicken and heat it up gently when you are ready to serve. If you like you can take out a big plate and put your chicken in the center and sweet potatoes all around, then top it with some sauce to dip your Moroccan bread. Bon Appetit. :)