August 31, 2011

Random bits and pieces

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. Usually I'm not too wordless (or I am fairly verbose, take your pick!) but here is a lazy-daisy picture post for your viewing enjoyment. To all my fb peeps, sorry you've seen these pictures. :-P
Aaminah learned about the surface tension of water; I learned how to let her play in it! :-)

Subhanallah, how peaceful.

Aaminah reading to her toy :-)

Just like her mama, she took my camera, staged this pic and came to show me. Masha'allah!

Made home-made "birds in a blanket". Uh turkey sausage wrapped in home-made buttermilk biscuit dough.

Hmm dipped in grape jam, yes ma'am!
Ma salaama ya'll!

August 29, 2011

Post #2: Homemade spaghetti

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. So I went on a bit of a cooking spree recently and I decided to make homemade spaghetti again. I learned how to make homemade sauce from A but of course, like always, I then put my own spin on it.

You'll need:

olive oil
1 4oz can tomato paste
chopped onion
4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped or mashed
2 dried red chilis (can use more, wasn't very spicy) or turkish red pepper paste, love 'em both
small can black olives
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp homemade spice mix (this one had 1 clove, bit of cinnamon, cumin, a dried lemon, coriander seeds)
1 tbsp oregano, more or less to taste
package turkey meatballs or can use whatever meat ya'll prefer
parmesan cheese for yummy goodness at the end ;-)
Get your olive oil nice and shimmery-hot, medium heat.

Add the tomato paste but be careful! Mine had a little sizzle to it. :-)

About a tbsp of salt, don't over salt, you can always add later

Poppin' in 2 dried red chilis; shoulda put one more but was nice masha'Allah

In go da onions!

Aww, can't forget the garlic! Yummmm!

Let it cook, stirring often, for at least 15 minutes. Low heat.

Added the chopped black olives. Everyone here are olive snobs but I can use these in sauces. :-)

See how the oil is separating? Yeah, that's what you want. Cook til it gets a nice dark color and don't forget to stir!

I added chopped turkey meatballs. You can leave 'em whole but I prefer them chopped up.

Tada! I used about 12 oz of pasta, probably coulda just done with 8 oz but I don't mind a drier pasta. I don't like gobs of sauce on mine. :-) Oh and cue the parmesan please!
Hmmm so that's that. I like to use a smaller noodle, I know scientifically a thick sauce should have a tube pasta or one with a corkscrew shape but I like thin noodles like vermicelli (above) or cappelini (angel hair). And al-dente my behind. Sorry I kinda like my pasta soft, I always go that last minute of cooking. :-)

Oatmeal, New England style

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I have a few recipes I wanna post but I thought I'd do this one. It's not really a recipe but more of a method. Down south we always ate oatmeal (porridge to my UK peeps!) with butter and sugar and then a side of buttered toast and bacon. Yep that's it.

Up here it's a whole different ballgame. Check out the pics and you'll see. Note: this is NOT for the faint of heart. The amount of carbs, total sugar, and fat is shockingly high. We haven't had it for probably 4 months. :-)

For the oatmeal itself we used 3/4 cups oats to 1.5 cups milk. Yeah they use milk here, too. Back home? Water. :-)

I deviated slightly here; I add my butter to the entire bowl, not just the little hole you make later. :-)

Next liberally sprinkle it with brown, not white!, sugar.
Next made an indention in the middle and fill it with hot, 100% pure maple syrup.
OK so that's that. Btw, pure maple syrup costs around $20 for half litre; it's ridiculously expensive but oh-so-yummy. Sorry, Mrs. Butterworth's, your generic butter-flavored, imitation maple syrup product just can't compete! :-)

Ma salaama ya'll...

August 25, 2011

It's all in the attitude...

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. You know from reading my blog here that I've been less than happy with my local Islamic community. The lack of adhab (manners) coupled with my homesickness really made me not very eager to attend the masjid here.

Alhamdulillah that has changed this Ramadhan. Basically I came to the conclusion that nothing will change without those willing to change it and I can, in my small way, be part of a positive change. I also decided it is incumbent upon me to seek out those kind, like-minded sisters that I want to have dealing with. The others? I say "A'salaamu alaikum" with a smile and keep a'truckin'.

So I've put my new attitude to work in the latter half of this Ramadhan and I am very happy and surprised with the results. I've made some new friends and identified new friendly faces. Now granted if none of these sisters showed up I would feel a bit out of sorts but alhamdulillah that is why my daughter is another blessing. We always have each other and I am just I would manage. It just wouldn't be as fun. :-)

Now, if you were to ask, yes I would say many of them are converts. And then there are a few Arabs, an African or two, as well as a couple of Indo-pak sisters. So it's not exactly a homogenous group. Oh yes and another Persian sister who is masha'Allah so nice; I really enjoyed talking with her last night.

I'm very grateful I pushed myself out of my comfort zone (which appeared to only be my old masjid! lol) and really try to make myself at home here in MA. I am much happier now this Ramadhan, having other sisters to commune with. Oh yeah and not cooking 3 meals a day helps too. LOL

I've not been making suhoor, my husband has so I'm sleeping in until Fajr. I make a bit for Aaminah for breakfast and lunch, I might eat a tiny bit (I can't fast due to my transplant issues) and then we've been going to the masjid every night for iftar. It's been liberating and I've enjoyed my cooking hiatus!

I did make some khadra lubya wa roz to take tonight to the masjid to share at my table. I feel a little bad about that because I can't make enough to feed all the sisters but we can't always eat the food there. I do bring enough so that anyone who sits down where we are will be invited to have some and I never only serve it to others of my ethnic group. So I squelched my feelings of guilt and brought it in to share. Everyone really loved it and I'm glad I did. :-)

I helped with the taraweeh babysitting one night. Ya Allah! First off, I didn't get home until 12:30 a.m. which is horribly late. I had Aaminah with me and she was absolutely tuckered. Spent, stick-a-fork-in-her-done! Then the kids... really. They were horrible. Absolutely no manners, no gratitude and can you say LOUD??? Ok to be fair there was a small enclave of quiet, sweet children but they were totally over-ran by the rambunctious wanna-be runaways.

No one wanted to stay in the babysitting room and I can't really blame them. It was hot and over-crowded but we did have many activities for them. Masha'Allah the sisters who do the babysitting do it fi sabilillah. I will be honest, I would not do it every night. There is no way. Alhamdulillah they are better sisters than I and much more patient. May Allah swt give them blessings, amin!

Well this was a bit of a mish-mashed post but kinda a Ramadhan update. Ma salaama ya'll!

August 23, 2011

Favorite Qur'an verses/hadith

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. So I'm facing some issues right now (what believer doesn't???) and I do indeed take comfort in the words from the Qur'an. I want to post some of my favorites right now and insha'Allah it can serve as a reminder to us all, in good times AND in bad.

"Verily, after hardship there is ease." Qur'an 94:6

"Bear with patience whatever befalls you" Qur'an 31:17

"And put your trust in ALLAH if you are a believer indeed" Qur'an 5:23

""No calamity befalls on earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees – before We bring it into existence." Qur'an 57:22

"Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest." Qur'an 13:28

"Therefore remember Me and I will remember you…" Qur'an 2:152

The Prophet (pbuh) said, "Whoever Allah wishes good for, He inflicts him (with hardship)." [Bukhari]

I've had some issues I've been dealing with and I will admit there are times when I have forgotten to turn in everything to my Creator. I find when I read verses such as these, it serves as a great reminder and helps me to trust in Allah and His grace and providence.

One issue is my transplant. I've been having some pain around my transplant site and they've schedule and ultrasound and clinic appointment tomorrow. My creatnine has crept up again, 1.97 which is almost 2.0 (yeah duh! lol). That is kinda the number where they say, Oh snap, kidney looks like it might be failing.

Just make du'a for me, sisters, that I come through these hardships with stronger iman and even more faith and trust in the qadr of Allah. And while we're at it, please make dua' for a very nice Persian sister I've met the past 2 Ramadhans at my masjid. She's so kind masha'Allah and she asked me to make du'a for her sons, that they become strong in their faith.

It touched a chord in me. I am always humbled by those with strong faith, who turn first to Allah in their hearts when trouble strikes them. And her asking me to pray for her and her sons... it humbled me, sisters. So please, if you can remember. make du'a for this sisters and ask Allah to grant her requests and also remember me to Allah.

Jazakum Allahu khair!

UPDATE: I just heard our brothers and sisters in Libya are liberated! The tyrant Ghadafi is gone! Allahuakbar! Allahuakbar!! Allahuakbar!!! May Allah swt guide their new leaders to institute laws that are just and equitable for all and free all our ummah from persecution, amin!

August 21, 2011

What do you wear in your home?

*At Sr. Ahsan's suggestion, I removed the photo of a classical painting depicting a woman in a Turkish hammam (public bath). It was Islamically inappropriate in that it showed her awrah and I thank the sister for speaking up. :-)*

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. After a conversation with a friend I was wondering what other wear in their home? I feel like I might be a little weird, now, based on her laughter. I always wear a long dress (usually sleeveless, tho, I get hot easy) and most often with light, stretchy pants under it but not always. I have a couple of "house-dresses" I wear that are actually made for out and about but aren't too hijab friendly for me.

On the rare occasion I wear a shirt, it comes to my knees and then I wear pants with it. Sometimes I do wear a denim skirt and kameez shirt in the house but to be honest I generally don't go to all the trouble.

I guess I get a kick out of all the old paintings and descriptions of a seraglio and the scantily-clad women. Also in a book written by an American reporter about women in Islam (I won't give the title a shout-out) she described being invited to a part in the middle east where the before burka'd women were in transparent negligees, their lack of hair apparent. I was like LOL yeah right! I hate it when the media panders the to appetites of the masses.

And this was supposed to be in KSA if memory serves. Anyway I really doubt the veracity of her claims and I am pretty sure most of my readers dress in a somewhat similiarly modest fashion.

So, what do you guys wear in the home?

Got blog?

I just love wordles!

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! Just wanting anyone who reads here regularly and has a blog to please comment below. Sometimes I forget to check out people's blog and I hate to think I have people who read here but I forget to read theirs!

So if it isn't too much to ask, please just shoot me a comment and say, "Hey, UofA, why dontcha ever check out MY blog?" except please be nice. I don't wanna cry. :-)

Btw, I am posting this at 2am. Ya Allah! I babysitted for taraweeh prayer and Islamc school fundraiser tonight and didn't get home til 1 am; that is also cleaning up after the little demons darlings! That's a whole other post, though, the craziness and lack of manners. Anyway is sooo late and I'm sooo tired that my eyes are crossing and the page looks blurry. Forgive any typos. :-)

Alrighty, ma salaama!

August 19, 2011

Chinese food and craft time

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. Aaminah and I decided to grab some Chinese food tonight so off we headed to Star Ocean. Yes, Star Ocean. Not sure why the names seem to be randomly picked; I am sure it translates into some magnificent like their awesomeness is as big as the ocean but in English, it doesn't really come across. :-)

Anyway we got a small order of spicy garlic chicken with steamed white rice, 2 veggie spring rolls, and a side of chicken tempura for mah baby. Just in case she didn't like the garlic chicken and veggies.

Well it turned out it was not spicy at all and pretty darn sweet but still tasted nice. It had a lot of different veggies which was good and the sticky white rice was nice.

I'm a fan of spring rolls but like 'em rolled smaller than they do here. Not a biggie but just how it is. The chicken tempura was surprisingly good; we both ate 2 pieces.

Before attacking it...
We paid under $13 for all this food and it is still enough for a meal tomorrow if not a bit more. Really fair prices, freshly cooked food, and it was done in about 7 minutes. They deliver but we went out to get it cause I didn't have a menu handy. Ah well... :-)

My plate, not even half of the food plus I couldn't eat it all.

Earlier today Aaminah found a birdhouse I had bought for my boys to paint probably 5 yrs ago? lol Anyway she wanted to paint it, at first I said no then I changed my mind. So I hauled out some watercolors, set her up and masha'allah she painted for over 30 minutes!!!!!

Should I drink it??
I like that color :-)
Ahhh therapeutic!
Girl was serious about her water cup; we changed it probably 7 times lol
Look how pristine she kept her colors masha'Allah :-)
All done Mama!
If you don't already have a lil curly-headed sweetie around, I definitely recommend picking one up. :-) They brighten any place you put them.

Ma salaama ya'll...

August 18, 2011

Oh the shame of it!

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. Alternate title: hijabi closet of shame. Most of us have one. Filled to bursting with clothes that a) don't fit b) went out of style 10 yrs ago, c)bought on a splurge and later regretted it or mostly likely, d) a combination of the above. :-)

So I decided to come clean, as it were, and air my secret obsession with clothes I don't wear yet still, for some reason, hang onto. Mostly because I am just so positive I'll lose that 20lbs and then, well won't I have enough clothes! lol

Insha'allah you get some enjoyment out of this; sorry it came out kinda dark. The bedroom only has lamplight, not an overhead, so it maybe isn't stellar quality. Oh and I got inspired by Sr. Mona's recent video efforts.

Ma salaama ya'll!

August 17, 2011

30 days of iftars, sorry ya'll

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. The 30 days of iftars feature is being suspended as I've ran out of anything interesting to cook and ran out of interest to finish. Eh, I would feel guilty but I don't think I will. I'll still, of course, post any noteworthy culinary experiences, should I happen to do anything worthy of noting. :-))

Ma salaama ya'll... :-)

August 14, 2011

30 days of iftars: #11-14

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. So nights 11, 12, and 13 the family went to the masjid. Oh wait, maybe they just went twice but now I can't remember what I made. Umm I think we had leftovers. Anyway that's what happens when I put off updating my blog. :-)

That brings us to tonight, the 14th of Ramadhan. I made another shorba. Yes go ahead, gasp and be surprised. :-) I was planning on just making the plain lentil soup I had made previously but I got creative. Anyway I think I took pics of every step so this is gonna be a picture post. Hope ya'll got a good high-speed connection! ;-)

So I get my handy-dandy soup pot out and put some water in it. No I don't measure it, just enough to last us 2 days worth of soup. :-)

A pot of water. Captivating. :-D
OK so then I add enough chicken stock paste to flavor said water. Once again, eyeball it. Actually I ended up not eyeballing it too well because I had to add more later. Ah well. :-) Btw, if you aren't gonna make your own stock, I think this concentrated paste tastes better than canned. And please never use a cube!!! Mostly salt and msg in those little buggers.
Scintillating photojournalism. Yah, I know.
OK so added the chicken base to the water, got it boiling good.

Plop! Please notice the water displacement; I thought it looked cool. lol
Now is time to prep the other ingredients. Few cloves garlic, smashed and chopped finely. F I N E L Y. Yes don't be lazy. If you aren't gonna saute your garlic it needs to be in small pieces not chunks. :-) Oh wait, I didn't take pics of that but you can see the end result. Instead I wanted to regale you with a picture of my favorite knife. It's awwww-some! I don't let the kids touch it nor does it goes in the dishwasher. It has an uber-sharp blade and Ima keeping it safe!!! lol
This is the BEST knife. Uber-expensive but A had gotten it from an apartment; they people left a whole set behind. Cha-ching!
So then I prepped the food; sliced the carrots and chopped the garlic. Then I decided, what the heck, let's live a little and deviated from the recipe. I added some frozen spinach for an extra nutritional punch. POW! ZAP! PING! Oh and the red lentils too. :-)

Cute cutting board. :-) It makes me happy to chop!
Alrighty, into the pot you go!

Hmm I cheated; the spinach is already in the pot! Mwa-ha-ha! My evil knows no bounds!
So now what to do? Hmm I think I'll add my secret ingredient: hot pepper paste. Most halal stores I've been in sell it; it's a Turkish product. I've had many different brands. It's good because it's not incendiary but pleasantly warm. I love chipotles in adobo sauce for most things but some foods (lentil soup for example) really don't need the smoky heat of chipotles.

It lasts a long time, too. :-)

So I was all finished when I thought, hmm let's add another veggie and make it a regular old soup. So in was chunked a car of shoepeg corn. It's really sweet though and in retrospect I might not have added it although Aaminah was very happy. :-)
Hmmmm corn... :-)
Oh then I boiled it all for maybe 20 minutes, added my lentils, overcooked them as usual to mush, and voila! I then made the salad and look how lovely my avocado came out? Really it doesn't take a lot to make me happy. :-)

Perfect, butter flesh, no bruising, yay!
Now, here's the soup!

This was my bowl. :-)
And here is the salad:

OK so now I'm up-to-date and insha'Allah will do better. ;-) Ma salaama ya'll!

August 12, 2011

Just for fun- Video fixed!

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. Here is my little songstress, channeling Rapunzel from "Tangled". Please note her dramatic theatrics at the end of the song. :-)

Btw, this is the second time I've tried to post this particular thing; you know I've had issues with blogger and video but this one is much shorter. If it still doesn't show up, all you'll see is a grainy pic of a good-morning hair girl.

August 11, 2011

30 days of iftars: #10

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. So Ramadhan is 1/3 gone; have you made use of your time? I will admit I have not. This year is a challenge for me and my iman is not at its highest. I can't fast because I was sooo sick this past year and had the rejection episode in March. My kidney function hovering around 30% and I have to keep my little buddy hydrated.

That said of course I am able to engage in other ibadah but I will be honest with you all as I try to always do: I am just not doing it. I have been slogging half-heartedly through learning my new surah (114 An-Nas), I make my fard prayers, stay away from major sins, and that's probably the highlight of my Ramadhan. In short, nothing has changed except now dinner must be at an EXACT time and I get up to make suhoor at an unhealthy hour.

I long for those first 3 Ramadhans when I felt spiritually renewed, recharged, revitalized. I know my personal issues have affected me but I take full responsibility. I know the benefits and blessings of this month and I am letting them pass me by. All I can ask is Allah swt grants me forgiveness and helps me get back to the place I long to be, amin.

Alright so on to the iftar menu. (Pretty-birding, ok? lol) I made a nice marqa (which is shorba, soup, served over couscous or some other starchy thing I guess). I did actually take some pics; I know I've made this before but I tweaked the recipe a wee bit and I liked the pics so here ya go.

Since I've posted this recipe before I'll just go over some highlights. I changed my spice mixture to make it a little more savory. I threw some of this into the grinder:

1 tsp coriander seeds
1 clove (not garlic, just a clove lol)
2 dried red chilis
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp cumin
pinch salt, dunno why, just wanted to
1/2 small cinnamon stick.

OK so as always I browned my meat (used beef for a change) in olive oil. At first it will release a lot of steam and liquid so it's imperative you cook it til it's dried with just the oil bubbling around and fragrant. Don't be stingy with the oil; our halal butcher always uses very lean meat so the oil is essential. I cover the bottom of the heavy huge soup pot with about 1/4 inch oil. Yeah, not stingy. :-)

After the liquid evaporates, I added my finely chopped garlic, probably 5 cloves of it. Then 1/2 of a larger can of tomato paste (NOT sauce, nasty) which was about 5 tbsp I think. Anyway brown the heck out of it with your flame or burner on medium low; the pot is very heated from cooking the beef so long and it doesn't need a high temp; don't wanna scorch the tomato base.

See how dark the paste becomes and how the oil separates? Niiiiiice

What happens to your lens when you get too close to steamy, cooking food lol

Then I threw in the peeled "baby" carrots and a can of well-rinsed chickpeas/hummus. Aaminah is a hummus fiend masha'Allah so she snacked on a few straight from the can .

Same pic but the first one developed a weird orange line thru it, interesting. :-)

Then I added the trimmed brussel sprouts; my family loves 'em. Plus you know I love to mix up the color of my dishes. :-)

So then I gave it a good boil maybe 20 minutes then added 2 quartered potatoes and made a bit of couscous. I cheat on the couscous btw; I boil water, add it to my couscous then cover and let it steam that way. It comes out fluffy and yummy so no worries. I hate a lot of prep for simple foods.

Alright here is a pic of a half-eaten bowl of soup. Oh I did add a bit too much olive oil; tasted lovely but there was a slight sheen on the top.

August 10, 2011

30 days of iftars: #8 & #9

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. So let's get back to our Ramadhan menu. I know I've been leaving out suhoor but really we eat almost the same things. Boiled eggs, mini bagels or pita bread, olive oil, yougurt, fruit or we do a multi-grain cereal with 1% milk and then yougurt or granola bar. Simple. A few days I've done an egg sandwich on oatbread. I grew up eating the cheap white bread which I still love with mayo and fried bologny (as we say in the south!) but I stay faaaar from that snack now! lol

So day #8: I made another shorba (of course) and this one was uber-simple and very yummy. Use canned, frozen, or reconstituted chicken stock. I use about 3 qts generally. Add a few cloves of finely chopped garlic and a good swirl of olive oil. Sometimes I lightly saute the garlic first but my family loves garlic so it isn't necessary.

Then I added some shredded carrot, just a bit to add to the color and overall texture/nutritional value. Give it a nice boil, then add your rinsed/drained red lentils. Yes I love these little guys. I like the color and how fast they cook. :-) Gently boil for maybe 15 minutes, test for the doneness you prefer. I like them slightly mushy, kinda disintegrating. Maybe ya'll like it different so cook it less or more.

We also had salad of course, and then I made a pretty tasty dish with the leftover burgers. There wasn't a lot left so I sauteed some baby 'bella mushrooms and an onion in a bit of butter, then mixed a mushroom gravy (from packet lol) and added the chopped, cooked burgers. I served it over plain boiled basmati rice. It was surprisingly good! Oh I did add a little "Bam!" to it with a tbsp of chipotle adobo sauce. Hmmmmmmm good!

Looks possibly less than appetizing but don't let its appearance fool you. :-)


We had the leftover lentil shorba (addis abba) and salad (duh!). :-) Aaminah was craving some salmon so we made a baked salmon fillet, Me... sorry I only like salmon in patties, mixed with celery, onion, egg, and cornmeal. :-) I know, southern girl likes fried food, go figure. lol I used the 3 spice mix I ground fresh the other day (coriander, dried lemon and caraway), some salt, cumin, and maybe something else I forgot. :-)

We had about 1 pound of skin on, Atlantic salmon and we baked it at 350 for around 45-50 minutes, checking frequently. Oh and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top so it doesn't dry out.

Funny story, Aaminah loves salmon, adores it, her eating habits are masha'Allah very mediterranean. :-) However she has recently developed this understanding of exactly where our food comes from. Last night, she took one look at her salmon and said, "I am afraid it's alive!"

It didn't matter how I tried to reassure her she just woulnd't eat it. I can't blame her, I'm weird with food too. I tried our normal little funny things when I am trying to make her laugh. I picked up a bit of salmon and said "Eat me, eat me, I'll make you strong!".

She eyed it skeptically then announced, "I don't EAT fish that TALKS. No no!". LOL So that backfired and she only ate a few bites of a dish she normally loves.

I also bought some ice cream for a treat and she was excited.

Once again sorry for the lack of photos but if something turns out a treat, I'll try to remember and snap a shot. :-)

Ma salaam ya'll....

August 8, 2011

30 days of iftars: #6 & #7!

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll! Whew, Ramadhan is one busy month. Sorry for not keeping up with daily posts but you know... :-)

So #6... after my shorba debacle A decided to lend a hand in the kitchen. Really he is SO much fun to cook with! And this time, he cleaned as he went. Double yes! His style is rustic mediterranean/Tunisian and it's a nice blend, lemme say. He wanted to make a more palatable authentic soup so off I went to the store. Yeah, errand girl and sous chef. :-)

His list: cornish hen (you know the super cute little ones!) which he cut up and fried in a bit of olive oil with some smashed garlic and chopped onion. Really you have to know how he cooks; it's just so primal. Honestly. Smash! the garlic, rough-chop the onion, hack the cute little cornish hen into pieces. Oh then we added a small can of tomato paste. You have to fry this mixture nicely to take the acidity from the tomatoes, maybe 15-20 minutes at medium heat, giving it a good stir now and then.

Oh wait, I forgot.. spices. Yes so  heuses an interesting mixture, let me recall. All amounts are arbitrary; he said half a tsp but what he used was a regular small spoon from the drawer which is more like a complete teaspoon measurement. :-) Here's the list and approximate amounts:

Cumin, ground, 1 tsp
Dried lemon, 1 small, crushed then ground
caraway seeds, 1 tsp ground
turmeric 1 tsp (A swears this kills the chicken odor)
coriander 1 tsp, ground
freshly dried ground mint (sprinkled on individual bowls)

 OK so throw your spices in the pot whilst it is frying, then add a quantity of water (maybe 5 cups?) and 2 quartered potatoes and about 7 carrots, cut in half and sliced. Boil for about 20 minutes then add about a cup of well-rinsed red lentils. Gently simmer for another 20 minutes or so, sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and you're done.

This is nice, has a fresh taste, low in fat, and very healthy for iftar. I served it with quartered pitas, yougurt, and salad.

#7 I made hamburgers. I finely chopped half a small onion and also added about 3 tbsp pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Be careful, you can get it too spicy if you aren't careful. Aaminah and I love the smoky quality they give the burgers. Add some salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Now the mixing part is key. If you overmix hamburger meat it gets tough. Our halal butcher always seems to have only very lean ground beef which, while healthier, doesn't make for as tasty burgers. I really recommend 80/20 lean to fat ratio for a burger. This was more like 90/10 but alhamdulillah.

So after mixing gently, I shape into patties about an inch larger than the bun we use and make them very thing, about 1/4 inch. You know burgers shrink and thicken as they cook so this ends us with, for us, the perfect size of burger.

I preheated my grill super-hot, placed the burgers, and got a nice brown on one side in about 3-4 minutes, flipped, browned the other, then turned the flame down to low and flipped one more time. Put the cheese on top and then left the burgers on the grill with the flame off and lid closed til we were ready to eat.

We had chips :-) and salad, an olive mixture, and of course all the condiments: mayo, ketchup, mustard, pickled peppers, and my fave, mashed avocado. Yum, yum, and yum. :-)

Alright, sorry for no photos but you know, time to eat and everyone is like a starving beast, no one wants to wait for me to pull out the camera. Oh and I just forget too. :-) Insha'Allah I'll take it up a notch. :-)

Ma salaama!