September 22, 2011


A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. Sorry I've been so quiet lately; our life is in a bit of upheaval, trying to get everything moved. It's really stressful trying to get things organized long distance.

Hudson is about a 15 hour drive from Knoxville; I have to find a way to get all my furniture, our clothing, Aaminah's toys, cooking utensils, etc down here. I found an apartment but unfortunately they do not have an opening until November.

We are staying with my friend Sr. Lisa right now, may Allah bless her. She had her baby boy, Bilal, a beautiful little guy masha'allah! I've been busy trying to help her, take care of Aaminah, get our things situated, see family and friends... really I am exhausted.

I have most of the things taken care of except for the physical moving. Ya Allah.. honestly I don't know what to do. A offered to pack my things, rent a truck, and even load it; masha'Allah that's very kind. However, I have to find someone to drive it down plus my van.

I am terrified at the thought of having to do that myself; I'm not sure why either. I've been driving for 20 years, it's not like I'm incapable. However, that 15 hour drive, especially if driving a moving van and towing a van!, is more than daunting.

If ya'll have any ideas for me, please share. Otherwise, I am just not sure what to do. :-)

Ma salaama...

September 15, 2011

Wow :-(

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. For the majority of you, thank you so much for your care, concern and duat. Wallahi you just don't know how much you are appreciated!

However, I did receive one comment I felt was decidedly un-sister-like in it's tone. Here is the comment received from Anon of my last post (about my divorce and move):


I dont mean to be rude, but why aren't your sons living with you? I just cant understand why you would leave your children to raise your husband children and your daughter. And if they didnt want to move, then YOU have to stay put for them.

From what you mention here, they havent been living with you for awhile. Its very strange to me."


Anonymous, wow. Guess your comment kinda took me by surprise. I like to see my blog as a positive place, one I turn to for support but alhamdulillah.

So long story short: i was dying. Yeah that's pretty short. And going through a divorce. And my ex's family paid for a lawyer but I had no money for one. My ex asked to have full custody on paper because of my rapidly failing health. (My kidneys were failing, I was in End Stage Renal Disease and I had suffered a stroke and 3 grand mal seizures.) He said he didn't want any issues with my family interfering if I were to die suddenly and had joint custody.

I agreed. He is an excellent father and was always honest. For several years I picked my boys up every day after dialysis when I could barely drag my body out of the clinic. ALHAMDULILLAH.

I helped them with their school reports, bandaged their cuts, and helped heal their little broken hearts. ALHAMDULILLAH.

I scheduled parent conferences between the thirteen different surgeries I had during the space of 2 years. I even managed to make goodies for bake sales and chaperone field trips. ALHAMDULILLAH.

Did I forget to mention I also went to college, full-time, pre-nursing major, and got a 3.8 gpa? ALHAMDULILLAH.
I did all I could, I gave my best, and then some. I did it gratefully, joyfully, happily because they were my sons. ALHAMDULILLAH.

Then their father got a girlfriend. Oh don't worry getting them today, he said, just rest a little. You're so sick. When he kept making excuses and I said, ok I'm just coming to get them he said no. He reminded me that on paper HE had full custody and HE felt it was for their "best interests" to not be back and forth between our homes.

So for a while I got them every Wednesday and every weekend. ALHAMDULILLAH.

Then he said, you know, the Wednesday really messes up their week and I want them some on the weekends. How about you just get them on every other weekend and every Sunday?

I cried, I begged... he was firm. It seems I wasn't good for his relationship with the new woman. I was still on disability, still poor, and had no way to pay a lawyer to go back to court to change the custody arrangement. ALHAMDULILLAH!

I did contact Legal Aid; they do not take family law cases. ALHAMDULILLAH.

So fast forward many years. I convert to Islam and search for a husband who will move to my town so I can be with my sons every other weekend. It's hard, I find one, and he turns out to be a green-card seeker. ALHAMDULILLAH!

I finally accepted A's proposal and with it, the knowledge I had to move away. I am sure that you know children are given to the father after a certain age or upon the re-marriage of the mother. So according to Allah swt my sons were supposed to be with their father, although it was something I fought against and could find no comfort in for a long time.

I finally realized that while they do need their mother, they need to grow to be MEN. They need to grow with a strong male example. Their father loves them and is a wonderful dad to them.

I was faced with the decision of remaining single (which is not from our religion!) to see my sons every other weekend. Or remarry (as we are urged to do) and allow them to live with their father (as Shariah tells us they should).

I guess, Anon, I fail to see what's so confusing about this. I went through a horribly sad time, I missed my sons so much and I did everything in my power to be a loving, attentive mother.

I'm sorry you feel it's very strange. Next time, ukhti, try making 70 excuses for your brother (or sister) and make du'a for her instead of judging her.

To my readers: Sorry if I am a little emotional. Usually I am pretty even-keeled but this is indeed a sore point with me. I am feeling a little fragile right now and just don't need this kind of drama. If I have spoken out of turn, I ask you all to forgive me.

Ma salaama...

Ummi is movin'

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. So here's a bit of an interesting update: Ummi of Aami is moving. No not to wordpress, not to a private domain... I'm actually, physically, moving. Back home to Tenneessee. Alhamdulillah for it all.

I've missed my sons, my family, my muslim community here. I missed my volunteer activities at my masjid and I missed my job there, too, as the administrative assistant. I missed my muslim sisters here and the companionship and camaraderie we shared.

Alhamdulillah A and I had some issues in our marriage but my stance has not changed. I will never divulge private information that was at one time priveleged confidences between spouses. May Allah give him better in this life and the next, amin.

Of course we did not divorce in animosity; we are Muslims alhamdulillah and fear Allah so we have kept our discourses kind and have no ill will or feelings towards the other. I just ask that you all keep us in your du'a. You should also know I did not disclose our issues when they first occurred; it's just that I'm now comfortable informing you guys.

So of course I'll miss some things about Massachusetts; Aaminah and I lived in the cutest little town, Hudson. It was awesome in the winter, to experience the 3 foot high snow drifts and snow in the moonlight is something I wish everyone could experience in this life. The summers were muhajabat friendly too and sisters, ya'll know that's awesome!

But in the end, I wanna be home. Where snow is practically non-existant and schools close if 2 inches fall. Where snow falling in the moonlight is a rare occurence indeed and the summers send me running inside, to seek the comfort of an overworked A/C. Home is home and the rest simply doesn't matter.

So how will this affect UofA? Psssht ya'll must be kidding. I'll still be here, doing what I do, talking about mi vida loca, my children and family, my faith, food.... yeah you got it.

I love you all fi sabilillah!!! Ma salaama...

September 12, 2011

On hiatus

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. I left on Sept 2nd for a long over-due visit back home to East TN. Yay!!!! :-) I've spent time with all of my close family and I've seen my muslim family too. It's been awesome!!!!!  My friend Sr. Lisa is expecting a baby on the 19th of this month and her husband had to go out of the country for a couple of weeks. I stepped in to fill-in. :-)

I'm so excited about her baby!!!! Insha'Allah I can stay here a bit after he's born as well although once Abu Bilal returns it will be a tight fit and a bit awkward, staying around a non-mahrem. Anyway, I'm home!!!!

Here are a few pics for your viewing enjoyment. :-) And I'll be back, sooner or later; sorry I've neglected ya'll!!!

Aaminah and Alex, two of my babies!

Brother, Mom, myself (how did you know?? lol) and my sis.

View of my great-uncle's flower-covered shed. Beautiful!

Me and ALL my babies! 18, 14, and 3... wow.

She's a country girl at heart! PS this is a self-portrait titled "Bare feet" lol

Yeah, I was "glowing". It was hot as heck out there!

At least 3 generation have swung on that tree! Mamaw (my grandmother) used to have a clotheline strung there.
Aaminah and I at 'eid prayer. BEFORE the crowd. This is my chador-e-melli abaya btw. :-)
My little sweetheart. Later there was no room to move up there, masha'Allah!
From Oct. 2010 when we last visited :-)

September 1, 2011

Stupid cats and buttermilk biscuits

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. So the title of my blog post is born of my early-morning annoyance. :-) I got up to pray fajr and decided to stay up, do the post on my homemade buttermilk biscuits, and have a nice cuppa latte. Uh, yeah, homemade from a mix! :-D

Anyway had my steamy, milky, yummy cup all made but didn't put the spill-proof lid on it yet. Foreshadowing, anyone? lol It was a bit too hot. Then my stepdaughter Zainab needed me to sign a few forms for school, ok great.

Basheq our cat likes to jump on our counters. I hate it. I don't want his behind on the place where I prep my food. So he jumps up, Zainab PETS HIM, and I instruct her to make him get down. This is a never-ending saga at our home. Well he jumps up again and I slap his bottom.

He takes off like a greased bullet, not jumping straight down, but rather streaking across the counter, spilling my FULL HOT CUP OF STEAMING LATTE, knocking over a dish and the fruit bowl. STUPID CAT!!!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrr. I put up with him on the best of days (ok ok so I like him a little!) but this just took the cat. Well that's a freudian slip. Meant to say "cake" as in took the cake. LOL

Out goes the cat on the balcony, and down goes me and Z to clean the floor. So now, here I sit, happily ensconced with my 2nd latte of the day and a toasted Pop-Tart. Ooops, sorry, toaster pastry cause ya'll know frugal mamas buy generic. LOL

Alright on to the recipe! I need to check and see if I have any photos; surely at some point I've photographed my lovelies. :-) To any of my UK/rest of the world readers, down south in the US a biscuit is a work of art. It's not a sweet or what we call a cookie and ya'll call biscuit. It's a yummy, lovely, fluffy, edible work of art and every southern cook worth her weight (and ya'll, I got some weight!!!) can make these babies.

I started being responsible to make the family bread when I was about 9 or so. Down south, for the most part, that's either buttermilk biscuits or cornbread. Rolls are for Sunday dinners and Thanksgiving. Please try to keep up. lol

First, and this is gonna stymie most of my readers, you must must must must have White Lily self-rising flour. OK so you can use all-purpose, I'm no stranger to adding baking powder, but White Lily is a must. It's the only flour made from soft winter wheat. It has a lower gluten level which equates to being less tough and chewy. Nice for white bread, bad for biscuits.

You can use another flour but I will not eat your biscuits. LOL When I came here to Massachusetts, I tried King Arthur (a very well-respected brand) Pillsbury, and generic brands. Nothing came close. I looked it up online, trying to find a retailer here. No such luck.

So how, Ummi of Aami, do you get your flour? It's a well-known fact you must bring me a 5lb sack or two when you visit here. My mom and sister both have kept me supplied if I am judicious in my usage. Meaning no more thrice weekly biscuit baking sessions. Boo hoo hoo! Losing my southern accent and my biscuit eating. LOL Actually my sister MAILED me 10 lbs of the good stuff once.

White Lily used to be produced in Knoxville, TN, my little almost-home town. (I was from the countryside, not the "big city" lol.) They shut down production and now it's getting harder to find. They were bought out by Smuckers (damn you, Smuckers!) and now it's made in a plant in Ohio.

OK I just realized how extremely passionate I feel about the subject of biscuit-making and flour. That's because, as a southern girl, biscuits were a part of the almost daily fabric of our lives. Many stories and memories are played out with them in the background, the humble little biscuit.

Alright so if you can get the flour then you need the fat. Before, of course, people used lard which is rendered pig fat. OMG. We never used it (of course pre-Islam I used to eat pork) but it has a heavy greasy odor that's a bit foul to my delicate sensibilities. hehe  The fat of choice?

Cue Crisco! Hydrogenated vegetable oil, solid at room temp and creamy white. OK yeah I've used generic in the past but for my bona-fide, no-fail biscuits, it's Crisco baby.

Yeah, as the picture shows, it makes awesome pie-crust too. ;-)

Alright, flour check, shortenin' check, now the buttermilk. Finally something you can get generic but up here in MA I prefer to use Katie's. Is a home-town company and a great product. Anyway never ever ever ever ever make biscuits without buttemilk. If you don't have it, you don't need biscuits. Do yourself a favor and just make bread. LOL Because there is truly no substitute for thick, tangy buttermilk. Still following? Ok great...

Hey, that's it! 3 ingredients, super-yummy, and here's how ya make it:

Pre-heat oven to 500f. Yes, 500. They cook hot and fast!

Measure out 2 cups self-rising flour. If using all-purpose add half-tsp salt and about 1 tbsp baking powder. Add around a 1/4 cup shortening and mix til crumbly. Don't over mix; I use either a pastry blender or a fork. It should resemble course crumbs.

Next take about 3/4 cup buttermilk. Add it slowly to make sure you don't over-saturate. Wet dough sucks! Mix in slowly with a fork and mix it gently. You don't wanna over-stimulate the gluten; biscuits should be light and airy.

So mix it gently til you have a cohesive ball of dough, sticky but not wet! Turn it out onto a well-floured counter top. Growing up, we used to make them on newspaper. Yeah, go figure. Anyway sprinkle it lightly with flour, and knead GENTLY 8-10 times. Really use a light touch or you'll end up with hockey pucks. :-)

Either roll or pat out; I usually just pat it out with my hands. I also don't have a biscuit cutter so I use the outer sleeve of my measuring cup (it's a sliding one). I really need a biscuit cutter tho!

Gather up the scraps and gently pat them out cut again. We don't waste biscuit dough!!! lol

Place them gently on the non-greased cookie sheet. I don't let my touch, placing them an inch or so apart. Do it however you like.

Never throw away the little scrap left over. Either make a whimsical biscuit shape or let your kids make their own. Aaminah and both my boys loved doing that.

Now bake in the hot 500f oven for 10 minutes. Yeah 10 minutes. In the meantime, melt a bit of butter to brush on the tops as soon as they come out. The yum-factor is outta this world.

Serve with turkey sausage gravy (oh yes please!), any breakfast meat, or just butter, jelly or honey. Or do like us and eat it all 3 ways at one time. haha Makes 8 or so biscuits.

Hmmm now I'm wanting some biscuits! Here's a pic of the finished, mouth-watering photo:

Delicious homemade buttermilk biscuit with beef baconomgomgomg! :)

Ma salaama ya'll! This was in response to Sr. Teri's request for my buttermilk biscuit recipe.