Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dinner in Beirut

I have been on a Lebanese food kick lately. Well more specifically a Beiruty food kick. As I have learned there is a difference in the food you'll find in Beirut vs up north, down south or in the mountains.

I have been scouring internet looking for some of the best (read: easy yet classic) recipes and I came up with three (well four but I don't want to talk about the fatayer - cheese or spinach filled pastry. I'm denying it ever happened)

So I started with Mdardara (I'm pretty sure it's pronounced mmmmdrdrdrdra) which is lentils and rice. This has to be one the easiest dishes ever but it looks complicated which is my favorite attribute in a dish. Mdardara is sauteed onions cooked with one part rice and one part soaked lentils and should be served with fresh plain yogurt.

Then came the Salat Al Patata or Lebanese Potato Salad. Now I'm not such a potato salad fan because I can't stand mayo but this potato salad (much like the german version) doesn't use any mayo. Instead it uses olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, pepper and salt. And can I just say YUM. This salad has potato, tomato, green bell pepper and pearl onions and it's both refreshing and filling at the same time. I can see this dish becoming a spring and summer staple around this house

Finally by request I made Fasulia Metable or White Bean Salad. It is another simple but tasty dish. One can of rinsed white beans, some onion, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and petter. Easy peasy and it seemed to disappear before my eyes!

Three wonderful, fresh dishes straight from the streets of Beirut

But I'll have to get back to you on the fatayer... I will attempt it again and I shall WIN!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Button Band Fingerless Gloves

A few months ago I knit these gloves based on the gloves Penny wears in
Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog.

Today I offer you the pattern for free so that you can wear Penny's gloves too

download now(pdf format)

About the pattern:

Yarn: Worsted weight yarn in two colors - I used Knit Pick Wool of the Andes in black and sage
Needles: US size 7
Buttons: I used 18 but you'll need more or less depending on how long you make your gloves
Additional: These fingerless gloves are knit flat.
Skills needed: Make one, Knit, Purl, changing colors, over all a great pattern for a moderate/beginner knitter but interesting enough with the stripes for a more advanced knitter

Note: this pattern has not been test knit... please contact me for any questions or corrections

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tomatoes, feta and bread! Oh My!

One of my very favorite quick and easy dinners in Abu Dhabi was cherry tomatoes with feta cheese, a little olive oil, cracked black pepper and arabic bread. The combination of flavors and textures was just right. Salty, peppery, cheesey and the oooh the juicy cherry tomatoes added a freshness and sweetness that balanced out the cheese.

The bread is what brought the whole dish together. It just doesn't taste the same with out it. While it seems insignificant it's one of the crucial elements of the dish (it's also the best way to get all the extra olive oil drips and feta crumbles at the end)

The corner store by our house would sell the flat bread fresh daily. All I had to do was roll up in my car and a man would come out with the bread which was usually still warm. I'd give him about $.40 and be on my way home.

Preparation was always fast. Crumble some feta cheese on a plate, wash and halve some cherry tomatoes (the really good ones are the cheap ones from Oman - you could get a whole container for under a dollar!). I would then get some lebanese olive oil to pour over the fetta and then crack loads of black pepper over the top. On top of the tomatoes I would add my own twist by sprinkling some Lawry's Seasoning Salt over the top and wha-la. Dinner was ready.

I would grab the plate, bread and a coke in a bottle and head in to the living room where I would sit to enjoy my meal. Ripping off pieces of bread and scooping up a little feta soaked in olive oil and a tomato half. Piece by piece I would finish my meal. Often my husband would come home to find me sitting on the floor, eating at the coffee table, watching BBC Food. He would always chuckle as he headed to go rustle up his own dinner.

Needless to say it's very easy to find all of those ingredients out here... except for the arabic bread. Grocery stores just don't carry the same kind of thin pocket bread that is just slightly sweet and dusted in flower. I had tried to make due with regular pocket bread but it's way to thick to try to scoop up little bits of feta and tomato. Tortilla, while it looks like it should work great, just doesn't even come close.

This is one of those dishes that if I can't have it right I don't really want it... so I have gone with out (I know life is hard!). That was until this weekend. I found my bread! And I sat down at my coffee table with a coke and plate of cherry tomatoes and feta cheese and enjoyed the yumminess

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Road Trip!

The hubbs and I decided to go on a road trip mostly for the reason that while he has been to every state in the Midwest I have been to nowhere (except Chicago but not sure if where you lives counts). So in our quest to see more of America we drove up to Kalamazoo MI and then down to Indianapolis IN

Kalamazoo was smaller than I anticipated for a college town but it was beautiful.

What an amazing place to see in the Fall

And my car had no problem finding the nearest Starbucks

After a little sight seeing and driving around I found the nearest yarn shop but sadly it had closed it's doors. So then we headed south to Indianapolis

One of the main reasons we decided Indianapolis

was a MUST see was that it is home to one of three Old Spaghetti Factory Restaurants in the Midwest. This is one of my all time favorite places to eat.

You get ice cream with every meal how can you not like that?

What was hilarious was that we swung by the hotel and I was putting the restaurant in to the search on my navigation. When it came up it said "Your destination is 0.0 mi away"

"huh" I thought and started looking around me. I couldn't see a restaurant anywere so I got out of the car and asked the valet who politely pointed directly across the street from where we were standing. "You see that OPEN sign" he said.

"huh" I thought again. I handed the valet my keys and ran across the street. Best hotel spot EVAH!!

The next day we wondered around the city, which is undergoing major construction and renovations for the upcoming Super Bowl in 2012 (I think), and taking in the sites. What a lovely little city

After a bit of wandering it was time to make the 3.5 hr drive home

There were a few times I thought we had made a wrong turn somewhere

but then we came across this... How amazingly beautiful are these wind farms?

Finally after hours we came home to our last of three tolls

And even though we had another half hour of traffic ahead of us, it felt great to be home...

Monday, November 8, 2010


1 - It's getting colder and colder. At night it's hovering around freezing and it's only November

2 - I used my Kitchen Aid!

3 - And made chocolate cookies

4 - They were some tasty cookies.

5 - I'm knitting a secret set of mitts for the hubbs. I hope he likes them

6 - I have realized (yet again) that I don't like knitting something for someone when I cant get them to try on said knit every few rows just to make sure it still fits.

7 - It's 6 pm and pitch black outside... explain to me again why we need daylight savings times?

8 - Although I guess that would have meant it would have been pitch black outside at 6 pm weeks ago

9 - Whatever, I'm still going to complain about it

10 - oooh I can turn my car on from my phone! SCORE!

p.s. I am purposely not talking about how amazingly well the ducks are doing...I figure if I don't acknowledge it then it can't go away

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Irish wool

My sister recently came back from her annual trip to Ireland and with her she brought me one of my very favorite things. Irish yarn, made from Irish sheep.

This time she sent me nine (9!!) skeins of Cushendale Woollen Mills worsted in the iris color way. I'm beyond excited. It's the perfect winter yarn and it makes me daydream of intricate cabled sweaters that are slightly scratchy but SO warm and cozy.

I love the feel of the yarn, the heathered blue purple color and knowing that it comes right from the sheep. In a way having a yarn that I know comes from so close to where the wool was sheared makes me feel closer to knitting. Touching & smelling the yarn brings images of emerald hills with little sheeps living happily, eating grass and sharing their warmth. People then taking that wool and turning it into roving, dying it and spinning it into something that I can knit with.

I love that.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One step closer

Today I came one step closer to becoming a grown up

I got a Kitchen Aid...

... and I'm beyond excited.

It all started a few weeks ago when my mom called me and said "we need to talk". She had noticed all the baking I have been doing on my blog and other cooking adventures that I told her about in passing and realized that it was time for me to have my very first Kitchen Aid. "Baking will be so much faster and easier" she promised

I was reluctant. I mean they are big and they are expensive! and they take precious counter space. But mostly it just felt like a grown up thing I wasn't sure I was worthy of yet... What if i didn't use it? What if I broke it?

But my mom made one final point and I was sold... "It's dishwasher safe."

We talked about colors and engine sizes and finally settled on the 5.5L currently being sold at our favorite got to place, Costco. After too-ing and fro-ing between black, white or silver we agreed that silver would be the best bet for an appliance that should last the majority of my baking career.

So today, after my mom arranged for it to be waiting for me at my local Costco, I went and picked it up.

And I love it. And it's beautiful. And I can't stop starring at it. I feel so grown up!

And I can't wait to make some cookies!!

Thank you mom for a wonderful housewarming gift!

Monday, November 1, 2010


I'm so happy to be back in America for fall... And I must say that Chicago in the fall is gorgeous.

I love the colors, the leaves turning, the crisp chill in the air. It makes me want to cook and knit and just enjoy as we head in to winter.

So while I have been making cupcakes as chicken soup I have also dug deep in my stash to find some orange Posh sock yarn.

I'm making a simple ribbed hat for the hubb. As it gets colder and colder, hats are a daily need these days and that means we need options. Orange is the perfect fall option