Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Random thoughts and Lebanese food

Good start to a new week.  The blog thing is going well…I have been going back and forth on it.  I enjoy the writing and sharing recipes part, but a part of it makes me feel very vulnerable…putting all your thoughts out there.  Like who cares what is going in my life?  But, then I get some really positive feedback from friends and I feel really good about.  I'm gonna just keep taking it day by day and see how it all goes and what it all turns into.  I know that I will always write cuz I love it, I'll just see how the blog thing goes.  If I find I am not writing true to myself because I am thinking about what people will think of it then I gotta stop.  (That's why the first few posts are soooo honest, I wrote those long before I thought about putting them out there for everyone to see, but they explain so much about who I am)

Anywho…It is another beautiful Montana day.  Yesterday there were signs of spring everywhere.  There was the first thunderstorm of the year followed by a down pour.  We had the windows open in the house and the rain smelt so good.  (Amy has me totally addicted to the rain…I always think of her!!)  Then we took an after dinner walk and we saw our first robin!!!  Yay!  Total signs that spring is coming.  (and dandelions!!)  One of the reasons we had the windows open (besides the fact that it was over 50-degrees, which in Montana terms might as well be 75) was because Matt painted one of the walls in our living room.  We've been making little changes in the house this past winter…freshening things up, but staying on a budget.  We have the wall that our fireplace is on that sticks out a bit and we thought we should paint it.  It all came up because I bought a new clock for above the tv and it didn't look quite right with the light tan walls.  So, instead of getting a different clock (I really dig the one I got) we decided to paint the wall grey.  It turned out nice.  Only problem is now we desperately need to get new curtains for the living room…they just look so horribly cheap and wrong.  (And probably were cheap considering we bought them when we bought the house and realized how expensive window treatments for an entire house were)  So…now I continue my mission to find nice, affordable curtains that actually fit our windows without me having to hem them…sewing is not my thing.  


Other random things I'm loving besides the sunshine….Layla's sleepy-waking-up face after nap.  She has two ways she wakes up…one with a total grump face on and she needs a few (or 15) minutes to snap out of it.  Or, totally happy and full of love and snuggles for you.  Today was the latter and I soaked it up.  


Another thing that has totally been on my mind today is that we are talking about getting Ava started in soccer.  She didn't mention it, but we kinda want to get her involved in something.  She was really into dance for a couple years, then got over it so we've taken this year off.  We tell her that if there is something she wants to get involved in just let us know, but I kinda think after full days at school and homework she just wants to come home and play.  I go back and forth on this…part of me wants to just let her be a kid in her downtime.  She has this amazing imagination and can turn anything into play.  (Most recently is "cooking" outside…using rocks as eggs and all the debris from the yard …she even took some old leaves and made "grape leaves"  too cute!)  Then the other part of me wants to expose her to different things so then she can decide if she likes it or not.  She tends to be on the shy side, so I think it could be really good for her.  Not much time to decide…we have to register her today.  Layla wants to do soccer, but she's so busy with dance.  I am gonna stick with my one activity at a time rule…otherwise it can just be too much.  

This morning I did my weekly routine of making a menu of meals for the week before heading to the grocery store. I enjoy this and dread it at the same time.  I LOVE cooking and food (as I've mentioned) however, sometime I feel a little overwhelmed trying to decide what to make, which night depending on what activities we have that day or if I'm working, etc.  And-adding variety-this has become even more difficult this past year since we have gone semi-vegetarian.  We eat a lot of fish and a little red meat, but since we don't do chicken or pork anymore there are a lot of things I used to cook that I don't anymore.  So...e once a week I pour through cook books to try to decide what new things to try and old ones to go back on.

Soooooo long ago I really disliked Lebanese food, but man has it grown on me and I find myself craving it!!  And, after years of practice-I'm getting pretty good at making it.  Layla loves it and will try anything...Ava is a little reluctant, but I think like me-it'll grow on her.  She does love the spinach pies....

So...here's the recipes for this Lebanese feast:

SPINACH PIES
PIE DOUGH:
-Place 2 cups of warm water & 2 tbls sugar in a large bowl.  Add 1 pkg of active dry yeast.  Let rest for 5 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup canola oil, a couple tsp of salt & 1 egg.  Slowly start adding flour, a cup at a time (usually 5-6 cups total) until it begins to form a dough.  Knead until the dough is smooth.  Rub a little oil over the dough, put in a bowl, cover with a towel and let it rest around 40 minutes.
FILLING:
-Toast 1/2 cup pine nuts in a pan on med. heat until brown, set aside
-Finely chop (I use a food processor to make it easy) 1 bunch of spinach, 1 bunch of parsley and 1 large onion.  Put them all in a large bowl with the juice from 1 lemon, 1/2 cup olive oil, the pine nuts, salt & pepper and 1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese.  (I know cheese is not typical in Lebanese dishes, but I think cheese makes EVERYTHING better!!)  Mix it all up and you're ready to fill!
-Divide the dough in half and use half at a time.  Roll out on a well floured surface to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into a 3-4 inch round and fill with a spoonful of filling and fold in three sides to form a triangle.  Pinch the seams.  Place on a greased cookie sheet.  Cook in a pre-heated oven (400 degrees) for 20 minutes until golden brown.  You can serve them warm or cold....preferably with hummus!!

RICE AND BEANS  (This recipe came from my mother in law.  We all love it when she makes it, so I finally had to get the recipe so I could make it!!)
-Brown 1 diced onion and 1 diced garlic clove in a pan with oil.  Add 1 "15" ounce can tomato sauce, 2 "15" ounce cans diced tomatoes, 8 oz of water, 1 1/2 pounds fresh green bean, salt and pepper.  Cover & simmer on low heat until beans are tender.  (Around 30-45 minutes)  
-Serve with rice (she uses Uncle Ben's Rice-it's the best for this recipe!)  And, if you want top with sauteed pine nuts to the rice mixture.

Last random thought-I was talking to my mom about  Ava's birthday .…we had talked at one point about doing pony rides for her birthday and we would have to do it out at my parents because we don't have room her.  So, my mom said she had told my dad that and about how much Ava wants a horse for her birthday.  Well, my dad was like "she can have a horse, she can keep it here"  So, I was like "Ummm, no…we can't move a horse to Florida"  Gotta keep mentioning it once in awhile so if by some chance we actually did move, my mom can't say she didn't know.

That's all I got for today… it's time to go pick up little Miss Ava! 

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