Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kibbeh bil Sanieh: My Last Post for a While




It was a different summer this year. Alternating between weeks full of fun and days drenched in worry and reminiscence. A summer full of transitions and changes. Nine weeks of vacation went by sadly too soon but it has been great to get back into the usual rhythm of my day: waking before the sun, reading, pilates and a quiet breakfast by myself before waking the others and plunging into my busy day. With the kids back in school theoretically I have had more time these past 3 weeks to dedicate to things I have wanted to get back to all summer. But blogging (or blog-following) just can't be one of them at the moment. My heart is not into it. Words represent a struggle for me right now: whether I'm reading a book (fiction) or writing a blog post. All of it may as well be an alien script.

These are busy times for me and I have a lot on my plate: I've got two much-postponed creative projects on the plate, a re-location to plan and execute, refresher-lessons in French and I'm also back in University. Adding three (demanding) kids to that crazy mix makes my days go by dizzyingly fast. After I submitted my Dissertation last year I was on a bit of a roll and really wanted to delve deeper into the subject of my research so I seriously contemplated enrolling in a PhD program . . that desire lasted about 3 months. Many of my friends from Graduate School were going ahead and starting their Doctorates but I felt this was not the right time for me to make that kind of rigorous, long-term Academic commitment. Besides, I would really rather just get back to work instead of being The-Woman-Who-Went-To-University-Forever! So the Certification I'm doing now is hopefully my very last foray into Academics for at least the next couple of years.

The start of a new year is usually symbolic: a time to take stock of what we've come from and where we are going next. While this is not technically the beginning of a new year, the last few weeks of summer have given me time to reflect a lot on all this while I slowly made my way back into my pre-Summer routine. To keep a balance right now, I have to prioritize and so blogging will take a back seat until I can figure it all out.

With that out of the way, I have to tell you that for me the best part of the end of vacation is that Families are back: there is laughter and frolic at the community pool, happy squeals in the playground as friends re-unite after the Summer. Friends returning from their home countries often come bearing gifts. My latest little treasure is a jar of Baharat - the Lebanese 7-spice mix. A unique, freshly-ground blend brought back for me straight from my friend's ancestral village. After being blown away by a Bulgar salad she made one day I had asked her for a recipe. She told me the amazing flavours came from Baharat she had brought back from Lebanon. I felt it tasted a little like Garam Masala but definitely used a different ratio of spices, giving it a different fragrance and edge altogether. When asked to explain which seven spices it contained she said she had no idea what this particular spice mix was made up of exactly: while the base recipe usually contains allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves and coriander she guessed that this one contained not only the classic blend but also crushed rose petals and dried ginger. She explained that the blend is generally exclusive to the family or region that it originates from. I confirmed this through an article here. But I wasn't any closer to finding how to recreate the exact blend at home. It tasted so different from the store-bought mix. Luckily, I received it as a gift. What followed, of course, had to be my very first attempt at making Kibbeh

Kibbeh is a Middle Eastern dish made up of ground meat, bulgar wheat, onions and Baharat. It is usually shaped like a croquette and is deep fried yielding a crispy outer shell and soft, meaty centre. I took the simpler route and made it in the form of a baked pie known as Kibbeh bil Sanieh. I followed the recipe here and had enough of the 'outer dough' left over that I shaped it into patties which I froze for later use. All I had to do then was shallow-fry them when needed and this makes an easy option for the kid's lunch boxes on days I'm running out of steam. Or inspiration Or both. 

Now off I go on my hiatus. See you soon! 



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