Thursday, 29 November 2012

Fig men

Snacks are essential in our household mid-morning and mid-afternoon. It keeps us all going, especially the kids.  One child’s crazies are often subsided with a snack of some kind.  Thinking back to living with my parents I recall that we snacked a fair bit too.  More often than not it was nuts, seeds or fresh fruit.  Dad would roast whatever was in season, chestnuts, peanuts etc. or there would be a bowl of pumpkin or watermelon seeds which mum would leave out on the bench.  

Dessert was fresh fruit (and often still is!).  Watermelon, grapes, honeydew or cantaloupe (rockmelon) was very normal for finishing off a meal in summer.  We also grew fruits including plums, apricots, figs, prickly pear, persimmons and pomegranates (and you all know how much I like Pomegranates) as well as having really great almond and walnut trees.  

These two nut trees would produce enough nuts to fill a fruit box or two or three each season.  I don’t think I came across anyone else who grew almonds or walnuts in their backyard but they are unbelievably delicious when they are fresh.  Almonds with their white flesh are sweet and soft.  Walnuts are slightly crunchy but still tender with their natural and healthy oil.  

Konafa   كنافة
Konafa   كنافة 
Goulash, Baklava   جلاش  Baklawa  بقلاوة
Goulash, Baklava   جلاش  Baklawa  بقلاوة 
With so many nuts there was never a shortage for chopping up and using them in dishes such as Konafa   كنافة , Quataef /kataif, and Goulash, Baklava   جلاش  Baklawa  بقلاوة    These pastries are common Egyptian sweets that are filled or stuffed with chopped nuts, sugar, coconut and / or sultanas then drenched in thick sugar syrup.

Kataif / Qatayef قطايف
Kataif / Qatayef قطايف 
Goulash, Baklava   جلاش  Baklawa  بقلاوة
Goulash, Baklava   جلاش  Baklawa  بقلاوة 

Kataif / Qatayef قطايف
Kataif / Qatayef قطايف 

Besides the sweets the nuts were laid out on newspaper and dried so they would be like the nuts you get from a shop.  In the evenings I remember my dad getting dried figs then cutting a slit across the centre to form a sort of pocket and filling them with almonds or walnuts.  

fig men
fig men

fig menThe crunch of the nuts sandwiched between sweet popping seeds from the figs was a fantastic combination.  I think the walnuts are perfect with the dried figs.  I am not sure if they were something my dad put together himself or whether he had them growing up but I find them a very easy and sweet treat and I just love the look of them, little fig men (reminds me of Pacman when I was growing up).  I dare say that dressing them up by drizzling a little melted chocolate over them would render them a great accompaniment to tea or coffee instead of the usual biscuit fare.
fig men

I have a few ready today for the kids to enjoy, a much more nutritious alternative to chips and lollies!

 fig men

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Meat Lahm لحم and more vocab!

I’m not sure where to start today.  It has been a very busy and exciting three months as we have moved into Spring here in Australia and I have been working ridiculously hard on my health and fitness.  While the effort is never wasted it has meant that I have not done as much cooking.   The boys have also had to curb their kitchen creations.  I stopped mentioning cooking together and hoped the boys wouldn't notice but that wasn't to be. 

 For those following the “Cooking in Your Pyjamas” videos and watching the boys cooking together and eating the fruits of their labor then you will be happy to know that I have uploaded another great creation.  Chocolate and coconut self-saucing pudding.  A twist to the usual Chocolate pudding which has to be my husbands all time favourite dessert.  He did however approve of this so variation so that’s a relief! 

The link is below if you are interested in seeing the video of the boys at work.  They really do have so much fun and in this one my youngest son finds feeding his older brother very funny.  You can also find more of the "Cooking in Your Pyjamas" cooking videos in the playlist on YouTube under "Dynas Egyptian Cooking Channel".

Anyway back to the Egyptian cooking.  I think now that the weather is warming up I will no doubt be outdoors so the boys can burn of energy and I do look forward to getting into the kitchen again and getting the boys involved.  In the mean time I thought I would add to the word list since it has been over a month from the last addition.  As usual you can find the entire list in the “language centre” tab at the top.

Today’s topic: Meat!

Meat                                  Lahm                                                               لحم

Basturma                             Basturma                                                          بسطرمة
Beef                                    Lahm ba`ar                                                      البقر لحوم
Cured Ham                         Lahm Khanzir memalah                            مملح خنزير لحم
Hamburger mince                Hamburger Lahm Mafroom               المفروم اللحم همبرغر
Lamb                                  Hamal                                                                    حمل
Liver                                   Kebdah                                                                   كبد
Kidney                                Kalawy                                                                 كلوي
Meat                                   Lahm                                                                       لحم
Pork                                   Lahm Khanzir                                                  خنزير لحم
Rabbit                                Arnab                                                                    أرنب
Sausage                             Sausage                                                                  سجق
Sheep                                Kharoof                                                               خروف
Steak                                 Steak                                                                     ستيك
Veal                                  Lahm Betelo                                                         بتلو لحم

I think I needed to revisit these again.  We often don’t cook a huge range of meats and I must say that my favorites are Chicken and Lamb so that is what I prefer but I still have rabbit in the freezer so there is always something a little different I don’t have to go shopping for when the desire strikes me!

Monday, 5 November 2012


There are a few really strong memories I have of growing up.  I thought I was Australian in most respects as I didn’t really understand or experience what living in Egypt would have been like.  I thought my parents were strict (certainly compared to many other kids I went to school with) and I wasn’t into sports or much physical activity, and I knew that we ate different food since people would often ask me what Egyptians eat.  I am also pretty sure my siblings and I were the only kids to have cheese and mortadella sandwiches for lunch at school.  I stopped having mortadella (a deli processed meat) when I left school and had it again for the first time in over 15 years recently.  I bought some for my son to try instead of the usual ham.  Now that my first born is at kinder I am exposed to the school activities that accompany school life.  Papers and crafts from the days’ activities and a constant array of fundraising offers.  I am already thinking of all the cakes and slices that would be good for stalls and parties.  Having these things on my mind often leads me back to my childhood and what I experienced growing up when my mum had to make things for me to take along to stalls and parties.  I forgot about one of the all-time classics where school fetes and stalls are concerned - at least they were when I was growing up - the simple and astoundingly popular with children - Toffees.  I had forgotten until a child memory of it came back to me last weekend.

While I was making wax (refer to blog entitled Wax and Waxing) my oldest asked me what I was doing and why.  The usual conversation with him.  I was explaining that it was wax but made from sugar and naturally that lead to “Can I taste it”.  I said you can taste it before I use it but then you can’t have any more.  I thought that was sufficient for an answer but when he asked me why I went on to say that he would then end up eating hair and dead skin cells  and that can’t be nice.  He settled for a little of the wax, decided that it was good and asked me to make some more wax for him to eat since I was going to use the one in my hand.  I told him he couldn’t eat wax because it was so sticky.  Trust me I said, I tried it once.  I told him there was sugar made into toffee which was hard and you can suck on it and that I would make it for him so he could try that too, then I sent him out of the bathroom to wax in peace.

He didn’t forget and repeatedly asked me to make toffees.  I can’t help but laugh to think of my mum attempting to make me these for a school fete when I was in primary school.  I remember it so well because it was clearly something completely new to her.  All I knew was it was sugar and so she made us toffees just like she made wax.  Sugar, water and lemon (Recipe for wax in the wax blog I mentioned earlier).  Anyway, it was completely inedible.  I tried to eat one but it went everywhere, was distinctly lemony and got stuck to the roof of your mouth, teeth, lips, fingers, clothes…


I know that my son will not have to have that experience but it does bring a smile to my face when I think about my experience of toffee.  So while not a typical Egyptian recipe my mum did attempt to make some the Egyptian way.  I can definitely attest to this being unsuccessful so don’t bother trying to make toffees the Egyptian way.  You can see a video of how to make hard toffees at Dyna’s Egyptian Cooking Channel on YouTube under a separate playlist where my kids feature with their own recipes.  Toffees is now one of them. (Or you can click on the picture below)

Happy sucking!