20 June 2017

Travel Food

I need to start collecting some recipes for meals that only require a few ingredients, especially those you can carry in a suitcase or that are available just about everywhere.  Here's the first batch.

Nutella mousse.  Requires a blender or mixer and bowls and spoons, plus nutella and whipping cream.

Whip two parts cream to soft peaks, then add one part nutella and gently mix.  Pour into individual serving bowls and chill for a couple of hours, if you like.  One cup of cream and 1/2 cup of nutella is plenty for 3-4 people.

Ramen.  Requires ramen packets, microwaveable containers, protein and vegetables as available, and other toppings like cayenne, vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce, gochujang, as available.

This is just regular instant Ramen, but you can make it much better without too much effort.  Boil and shred some chicken or scramble or fry an egg to add to your noodles, or fry some tofu (the chicken is easiest because you can store it in the freezer to use over a few days).  Add a big handful of greens, like spinach or jusay, to your hot broth and they'll wilt and be delicious.  Use the provided flavoring packets wisely or add your own flavorings if any are available.  I think the ramen with four different flavor packets is best for this.

Spaetzle.  Requires a pot, a bowl to mix the batter, a grater or strainer with big holes (or a spaetzle thing), an efficient way to get the spaetzle out of the pot, plus eggs, milk, salt, flour, cheese, and butter.

Get a big pot of water boiling. Combine 4 eggs, 1/3 cup milk, 2 tsp salt, and 2 cups flour in a bowl. Pour some of the batter into the strainer or onto the grater and push it through the holes (I smush it with the back of a spoon) into the boiling water.  The batter will blop out in bits.  Boil till they float in a couple of minutes.  Fish them out and serve with butter and strong cheese.

Rice with yogurt curry. Requires a small pot and a spoon, plus rice, yogurt, onion/shallots/scallions oil, turmeric, cayenne, cumin, salt, and mustard seeds.

Oil
1 T black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Minced shallots, not too much
1/2 cup water
2 cups yogurt
1 tsp salt

Heat the oil and the mustard seeds in a small pot over medium-high heat till the mustard seeds have mostly popped (keep the lid on). Lower the heat and to medium and add the spices and shallots and stir-fry for a few minutes till the shallots have softened a bit. Add the water, then whisk in the yogurt. After it's combined well and the sauce is smooth, stir in the salt. Heat gently till the sauce is warm (don't boil). Serve over rice.

31 May 2017

You can see where we ended up on the escarpment here, and if you zoom out, see the wadi we followed for a long way.  You can see a road leading to power  lines just south of there and it looks like we can access that road from some new points, instead of the old blocked-off ones.

Google Earth does not do this place justice at all, nor does a cell phone camera.




30 May 2017

Ramadan

It's interesting to be in a rather strict Muslim country for Ramadan.  Ramadan in Kyrgyzstan is barely noticeable.  In Palestine plenty of people are observing it but since there are lots of non-Muslims living there too, it doesn't completely take over the month for everyone. But here, it does.

There's a mandated shortened workday of six hours.  Generally that means people come in around ten or eleven and work till four or five.  My children love the late start at school and early release.

Any business might be closed during the day but open at midnight.  My husband needed a haircut in Saturday and his usual place was closed at 11 am, but when he went back at 10 pm, he was able to get the haircut. Even medical places do this.

Grocery stores usually open from 10 am to 6 pm, then again from around 9 pm till 2 am.  I'm going to the grocery store later today and I'm curious to see if there are any changes inside. I'm just glad it's allowed to buy ingredients during the day and that the stores open in time to get a shopping trip done before noon prayers. I hear they can be very crowded in the late afternoon.

Restaurants are closed during the day.  They open in time for iftar and feed many, many people.  

There is no eating or drinking allowed in public during the day.  I might get a pass, since I'm obviously foreign, if I make a mistake, but eating or drinking in public during Ramadan is actually a deportable offense.  Even water.  The water is tricky for me since I carry it everywhere because I get dehydrated here very easily.  But I also don't go out much during the day.

I love being in a place where I can watch the majority religion join together for some type of religious observation. But the majority also needs to remember to not try to control everyone's lives.

Update:  I didn't make it to Lulu today because the traffic was horrible.  I was too optimistic thinking that I could get there and do the grocery shopping before prayers.  Well, I probably had time, but when we weren't even halfway there after 25 minutes, it wasn't worth it.  So I went to Hyper Panda instead.  I'll try Lulu again next week.  The grocery store was normal though.  I'd wondered if prepared foods were banned, but no.

Also, the A/C in the kitchen died last week.  The repair people are coming either tonight or tomorrow night after 9 pm.  Lovely.

29 May 2017

Wadis and Camels

Our usual road to the escarpment is often blocked now, which isn't surprising, but I convinced my husband that an adventure would be a good idea so we tried going to a different part of the escarpment.  The problem is that there really are very few roads going there so you just have to hope.


We got lucky and found a wadi that went all the way to the edge of the escarpment, complete with a bit of a track.  It was a long ride with some dicey parts, but we made it all the way there.  We were joined by camels and goats in several places.

I doubt we'll ever go out there again, but that wasn't the point. It was so nice to get out and do this.  More photos when I get them off the other device.


23 May 2017

Refugees in the Book of Mormon

There are multiple refugee stories in the heritage of many religions and cultures.  From Passover to the Hijra to US Thanksgiving to so many other examples, it's likely that most people have a refugee story.

One of my favorites is from my own religious tradition, in the Book of Mormon.  There are a number of refugee stories in the Book of Mormon, but I'm writing here about the people of Ammon.

The people of Ammon were a group of people was being targeted because they had converted to another religion.  They had also taken a vow of non-violence as part of their conversion.  A small faction in their homeland incited war against the people of Ammon and many were being killed. They had to leave.

But the only place to go was to the Nephites, the people they had warred with before their conversion.  The Nephites didn't much like the people of Ammon's ethnic group, calling them lazy and filthy.  And the people of Ammon had killed many Nephites before they took their vow of non-violence.  The people of Ammon were not at all sure it was wise to go to the Nephites, but Ammon (their new religious leader who was a Nephite and the son of a former Nephite king) convinced them to seek refuge with the Nephites.

So the people of Ammon picked up as a group and went to the border of the Nephite land.  Ammon, who had prayed about all of this, went to the chief judge and asked if the people of Ammon would be admitted.

And here's the part I like best.  The Nephites voted (no idea if women were allowed to vote, but I'm assuming not) and agreed to take in the people of Ammon.  But not only did the Nephites give them a place to live, they also agreed to protect them so they wouldn't break their vow of non-violence, in exchange for a tax to help support the Nephite army.

So you have one group of people welcoming refugees who not only were from an ethnic group they hated and fought with, but they agreed to give them a place to live and provided military protection because they would no longer fight themselves.  Good stuff. And I hope my pronouns didn't get too confusing.


21 May 2017

There's a rather large event going on in Riyadh right now.  My favorite part is the Islamic Summit because there are flags from all over the Muslim world lining the streets.  It's lovely to see all those old friends.







08 May 2017

Cucumber Feta Salad

This is amazing. If you're stuck with the huge American cucumbers, peel and seed them, but if you can get smaller, thinner-skinner cucumbers, you can just cut them up. The amounts are all very adjustable.  Fiddle with it to taste.

1/2 kilo cucumbers, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1-2 T chopped mint
1/2 T or more sumac
Pinch or more cayenne
A bit of minced garlic
Blop of olive oil
Lemon juice
Salt 

Mix everything together and serve.

07 May 2017

But the Plumerias are Blooming



In The Geography of Bliss, a book I didn't like much, the author says that people in Moldova were really focused on the fresh vegetables and he seemed to think that was odd.  But for me, after living in Kyrgyzstan once and having returned since reading the book, that phrase is perfect.  The vegetables really are very fresh (something that cannot be taken for granted), but even more than that, sometimes you just need to focus on something good.  So yes, the vegetables are fresh, but when you say that, you're also acknowledging that a place like Kyrgyzstan isn't always that easy to deal with, but it's certainly not all bad.  Even if the vegetables are really limited in the winter.

Right now my corresponding phrase for Saudi Arabia is "But the plumerias are blooming."  They started blooming again a few weeks ago, after it warmed up a lot, and they'll keep going till November when it cools off.  I have lots of plumerias in my garden and I can smell them when I go outside, especially in the evening. 

It's hard to be here when it's hot.  The heat is awful, of course, but it also takes away my last bit of independence.   I really can't go anywhere without finding someone to drive me because I live too far to walk from any public indoor place.  Biking is a possibility, but I have to admit to being really annoyed with having to bike in the heat when a bunch of men are driving around in cars.  So I can either be annoyed and find someone to drive me in an air conditioned car, or I can be annoyed while also baking on a bike.  When none of your options are good, it doesn't really matter much if you have choices.

Saudi does seem to be relaxing some of its guardianship rules though.  One can hope. And the plumerias are blossoming.

03 May 2017

Four-wheeling

The very first thing we ever did in the desert was four-wheeling.  There are people renting four-wheelers in outside the city in nice sandy patches and can rent one for about $15-20/hour.  

I don't ride, because I am not that coordinated, but I still love to go out with the group and be in the desert.  Also, we go down the escarpment and I never pass up a chance to do that.




01 May 2017

Strasbourg

I can't believe I didn't mention what we ate in Austria.  We had a kitchen where we were staying so we went to the grocery story (rather complicated by our arrival on a Saturday night a few minutes after the grocery store had closed for the weekend) and mostly cooked at home.  There was lots more spaetzle and cheese along with yogurt and muesli.  Delightful.

We had one night between Austria and needing to be back in Paris for our flight, so that morning we decided to go back through Strasbourg, I think to maximize castle and Lego store visits.  I was just happy to go to Strasbourg since it has a long and interesting history.  We were mostly driving but I still loved it.  And we were back to French food.  Also, the place we stayed had kuglehopf.







30 April 2017

Austria

After Germany we went to Austria for a few days and stayed in Ehrwald. It was a perfect location where we could zip off to castles or just enjoy the Alps.  We also went up the Zugzpitz and on the Highline 179 and went to church in Innsbruck  And more Lego stores.

A lot of these photos are from Germany since we drove over the border a lot while we were staying in Austria.












27 April 2017

Germany

After Paris we drove to Germany to meet my sister. In an amazing coincidence, we had each independently planned on being in the same part of Germany on the same day.  I hadn't even known she was going to be in Europe at all.  It still gives me warm fuzzies.  We reserved a room at the place they were staying at and went to castles and lovely towns the next day before we drove off to Austria and they went to Switzerland.  Also, I'm sure there was a Lego store in the somewhere, in the morning of the day we met up.

Also, France even has delicious gas station food.  The best food in Germany was what my brother-in-law made, but the place we stayed had an amazing breakfast.  So yummy.










26 April 2017

Paris

I never really blogged about spending a few days in Europe last year.

We started in Paris and stayed in a hotel near the Eiffel Tower. We were there on Bastille Day for the second day.  Paris with three children is different than the Paris I would want to see, but we went to the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, the Catacombs, the Louvre (free on Bastille Day which is nice when you have people who don't want to stay long), Notre Dame, and the Lego store.  I'd decided that this trip would go better if all I cared about was eating iconic food rather than getting to the places I really wanted to see, so I was happy to eat crepes by the Eiffel Tower and fresh croissants and baguettes.  It was a lovely quick stop but I'd really like to go back with just my husband (or on my own) and spend more time there.







23 April 2017

So, I recently discovered that my youngest likes nori chips, and since the sushi maki wasn't a hit, I decided that we'd try a new sushi system for dinner that works a lot better.  First, make sushi rice http://amiralace.blogspot.com/2017/03/hiromis-sushi-rice.html.

But rather than rolling it, I just let everyone do their own thing.  I make a bunch of nori chips (cut up some nori sheets, brush with oil and sprinkle with salt, then bake till they're crispy) for the boys, put out some nori sheets for the people who want to roll, and whatever fillings we're using. Especially for the people who don't trust that I'm hiding something weird in the sushi, this new system works much better.

19 April 2017

Crockpot Adobo

Brown 2-3 pounds of pounds of chicken, any kind you like, in some oil and put it in a crockpot.  Combine 2/3 cup cane vinegar (you can get this in an Asian grocery, especially one that carries Filipino products), 2/3 cup soy sauce, a bit of sugar, and the juice of one lime, if you like, and some oyster sauce.  Pour that over the chicken and throw in a bunch of peppercorns, a lot of whole garlic cloves, and a few bay leaves.  Cook on low for about five hours.  

16 April 2017

Happy Easter!

That very day two of them [I like to think they were Mary and her husband Cleopas] were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

15 April 2017

Holy Saturday

More holiness give me,
More sweetness within,
More patience in suff’ring,
More sorrow for sin,
More faith in my Savior,
More sense of His care,
More joy in His service,
More freedom in prayer.
 
More gratitude give me,
More trust in the Lord,
More zeal for His glory,
More hope in His Word,
More tears for His sorrows,
More pain at His grief,
More meekness in trial,
More praise for relief.

More victory give me,
More strength to o’ercome,
More freedom from earth-stains,
More quest for the throne,
More fit for the kingdom,
More useful I’d be,
More blessed and holy,
More, Savior, like Thee.

Holy Fire
The Harrowing of Hades

Hot Cross Buns

This just makes a few buns so you can easily double the recipe.  You can also make the buns twice as big if you want larger ones.  The cardamom is there because I like it but you can easily leave it out.

2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 T spices (I use cardamom seeds, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves)
1/8 cup sugar, or to taste
1 tsp yeast
1/4 cup grated butter
1 egg beaten with 1/4 cup milk

Combine the first five dry ingredients, then rub the butter in till it's a bit crumbly. Taste it and add more sugar if you want your buns sweeter.  Add the egg and milk mixture and pull the dough together, adding a little more milk if it's too stiff.  Let it sit for a few minutes then divide into 8 pieces and shape into buns.  Put them on a baking sheet, cover, and let rise for about an hour.  They won't double in size. Preheat the oven to 200/400 and bake for 12 minutes.  After they've cooled, drizzle a cross on each with icing.

14 April 2017

Mournful Friday

Holy Week and Easter are a little complicated in Saudi Arabia, not surprisingly.  Some people try to talk about Easter Sunday on Holy Friday which just doesn't work for me, but I shall survive.  Yesterday at Lulu they had some fruit buns that can only be described as cross buns (they were not hot).  I like finding surreptitious holiday items here, like Valentine's roses, Christmas ornaments, and these buns.  I didn't quite dare take a photo.  I should have bought a package, but no one in this house would eat them and I didn't think about the photo part of buying them.

2015
2014
2006
Stations of the Cross at the Templo Expiatorio in Guadalajara 




O Savior, thou who wearest
A crown of piercing thorn,
The pain thou meekly bearest,
Weigh'd down by grief and scorn.

The soldiers mock and flail thee;
For drink they give thee gall;
Upon the cross they nail thee
To die, O King of all.

No creature is so lowly,
No sinner so depraved,
But feels thy presence holy,
And thru thy love is saved.

Tho craven friends betray thee,
They feel thy love's embrace;
The very foes who slay thee
Have access to thy grace.

Thy sacrifice transcended
The mortal law's demand;
Thy mercy is extended
To ev'ry time and land.

No more can Satan harm us.
Tho long the fight may be,
Nor fear of death alarm us;
We live, O Lord, thru thee.

What praises can we offer
To think thee, Lord most high?
In our place thou didst suffer;
In our place thou didst die,

By heaven's plan appointed,
To ransom us, our King.
O Jesus, the anointed,
To thee our love we bring.

13 April 2017

Jueves Santo Empanadas

2 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
About 1/2 cup grated cold butter
1 egg
About 1/4-1/2 cup milk

Combine the dry ingredients, then add the grated butter and mix with your hands till it's all crumbly.  Combine the egg and milk and add to the flour mixture and stir in.  Start with less milk and add more if you need it.  Pull it into a dough and knead a bit, adding a little flour to make a soft dough.  Cover and put in the fridge for 30 minutes, then roll out, add a filling, pinch closed, and bake at 375 till golden.  

I still love coconut for these, but the number one family favorite filling is raspberry jam with labnah or cream cheese.