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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Menu Plan: Purification and the End of the Christmas Season (Septuagesima)

First, I would like to thank you for your prayers. I have had several nights of more than five hours of sleep, which I know sounds like a pittance, but was a huge improvement over the past four weeks. My father did get to go home last Monday, and is recovering there. We are so grateful to God.

This week is full of saints' days and feasts. It is also the last feast of the Nativity. The Purification of the Virgin Mary and Presentation of Christ in the Temple are the last celebrations of the infant narrative and come as we start to prepare for Lent and Christ's prophetic ministry on Earth. It is hard to believe it, but today is the first Sunday in the countdown to the Lenten season. It feels like this entire past year has been a long Lent. I try to remember that Lent is given to us to be strengthened for the work Christ has us to do.

We keep our Christmas tree up through the entirety of the Christmas season, plus the Feast of the Purification. So, we have to take it down this week. That makes me a little sad, but it is good to have a visual break in the seasons of the year. I will take the crèche down and put our normal mantel decorations back up, and we will have a couple weeks before we participate in the bright sadness that is Lent. For this week, though, we feast and celebrate.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Saturday, January 30, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Rouz Araby (or Saleeq), Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies, Cashew "Brutal," and Mock Turtles


Rouz Araby

This is a simple, barely spiced, soft rice dish that is a national dish of Saudi Arabia. It is easy to digest, warm and comforting, and often one of the first foods children eat. My mother used to make this when I wasn't feeling well, and it is relatively quick to make and tasty. If you are smart, you can put the spices into a tea ball or scrap of cheesecloth so it is easy to fish out of the rice when you are finished. If you are like me, you can just forget all of that and leave it in and eat around it when you serve the rice and chicken. Some people don't make the broth with the onion, but I think it adds a good flavor to the dish, and rather than discard it, I broil it along with the chicken and serve it.

This dish is commonly made with either lamb or chicken, but I grew up with it using chicken, so that is what I have directed here. Another thing about this recipe is that it is a great way to stretch a small amount of chicken over a lot of people. This makes enough for our family of ten (half of whom are adult sized), with leftovers enough for lunch for a few people. It is easy to cut it in half, if your family is smaller. I buy the Egyptian rice at an Arabic market in Spokane, but if you don't have one in your town or a nearby city, you can order it online. This recipe can be halved.

3 pounds bone in, skin on, chicken pieces (I like to use leg quarters, thighs, or drumsticks)
6 whole cardamom pods
1 teaspoon mastic (also known as Arabic gum - not to be confused with gum Arabic)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 large onion, peeled and halved, almost to the root end, but leaving the onion in one piece
3 quarts cool water
2 quarts whole milk (plus up to 4 cups more)
4 cups Egyptian rice (or another short grain rice), washed and drained
1/2 cup ghee or clarified butter, divided
salt and pepper, to taste
juice of a lemon, to serve

Place the chicken, cardamom, mastic, kosher salt, and onion in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Cover with 3 quarts of water and bring to a boil, skimming carefully to remove impurities, while leaving the spices in the pot (see my note above on how to make this simpler for yourself). Boil for 30 minutes, then take off the heat.

Remove the chicken and onion with a slotted spoon to a baking sheet. Some liquid from the pot will be in the pan, and that is fine. Brush with about 1 tablespoon of the clarified butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Add milk and rice to the broth remaining in the pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low, and cover partially (I leave the spoon in the pot and put the lid on off center), stirring occasionally. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes, then stir well. Do not allow the rice to burn. If it looks too dry, you can add a little more milk at this point, up to 4 cups more. Replace the cover and allow to cook another 15 minutes.

Preheat your broiler on high and place the chicken in the oven to broil for about 20 - 30 minutes while the rice finishes.

At the end of the second 15 minutes, stir in the remaining clarified butter to the rice and cook uncovered over low for another 10 minutes. Taste for salt and season, if necessary. Serve on a flat platter, placing the crisp chicken on top and drizzling with the clarified butter and chicken juices. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the chicken.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies

These cookies began with a Martha Stewart recipe, but I honestly thought it had too much chocolate in it, so I took some out and then fiddled with the recipe some more. This is how we like them, and they are dark and chocolatey, without being overwhelming.

1 3/4 cups pastry flour
1 1/4 cups Dutch process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla brandy or extract
1 1/2 cups dried sour cherries

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In bowl of electric mixer, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until well combined. Add flour mixture, and beat on low until just combined. Fold in cherries with spatula or wooden spoon.

Scoop balls of dough, about a tablespoon each, and place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and cracked, about 10 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely. Store in airtight container at room temperature, up to three days. Can be frozen.

Cashew Brutal

Microwave Cashew Brutal

This is one of the only reasons I keep a microwave. It is also one of only two recipes in which I use any sort of corn syrup. This recipe isn't entirely fail safe, but it is pretty close. Our microwave is pretty weak, so I have added a minute to my times here. If your microwave is a more powerful model, you may wish to use 4 minutes, 4 minutes, and 2 minutes, rather than the times I mention here.

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup raw cashews (must be raw, it toasts in the microwave)
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease a sheet pan with butter and set aside.

Add sugar, corn syrup, salt and cashews to a buttered microwave safe dish (I used a 8-cup measuring bowl).

Microwave for 5 minutes and then stir and microwave for another 5 minutes.

Add the butter and stir, then microwave for another 3 minutes.

Add the baking soda and vanilla (it will foam up) and stir until it is no longer foamy. Pour onto a buttered baking sheet and spread a little to make it thin.

Alow to cool and then break into little pieces to serve.

Mock Turtles

We feel particularly clever for naming these candies this. They are a great sweet and salty treat, simple for children to make, and quick for unexpected gifts. They slightly resemble the actual chocolate caramel turtle candies, thus the name.

Equal numbers of:
Rolo candies
pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Set out a jelly roll or sheet pan and arrange pretzels in one layer. Place a single Rolo in the center of each pretzel.

Bake for 3 minutes. Remove pan from oven immediately. Press a single pecan half into each chocolate. Allow to cool completely, then serve. That's it!

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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Craft On: Second Annual Around the World Stitch Along & A Giveaway!

Basbousa and Boys

Here is some progress on my Basbousa sweetheart mittens. Is it terrible to admit how much I love them? This is a fun design for me. The challenge is going to be getting photography since Rich is going to have to be the other half of the modeling and he normally is behind the camera. I had hoped to have the sample and pattern ready to publish by Valentine's Day, but I am thinking it is more likely to be ready for beta knitting then.

However, it should be published in time to be entered in for a physical prize in our second annual Around the World Stitch Along. If you are interested in joining as a participating designer, please join the group on Ravelry and check out this informational post (link to Ravelry) with a link to the sign up form. We are looking for both knit and crochet designers from all around the world, but especially from Northern, Central, and Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia from the Middle East to the Far East, South America, and Australasia. You must be willing and able to check in on both Ravelry (daily) and Slack (at least weekly - for planning and informational purposes) to participate as a designer.

If you are interested in joining in the fun as a crafter, please also join the group and see what we are up to and if it is something you might enjoy. You can also take a look at our Instagram feed to get a feel for what was happening last year. We are always thrilled to have sponsors for physical prizes, too, but please stick around and join the fun, too. We would love you to join us as knitters and crocheters in the group and chat.

This next bit of news is not a challenge, however. Because of the weirdness with postal service, the hard copy of Serendipity: Luxury Knits didn't get to me in a timely fashion. In fact, it had to be re-sent (so I am now wondering if another set will show up in a few months out of the blue). I have two copies, though, and I wanted to give away a copy of this fabulous book of designs. It is a point of pride that my work has been included with the 12 other lovely designs in this book, and I would love to share it with one of my followers. Please contact me to enter, including your name, mailing address, and I will pick a winner at random on February 4! Remember to use the e-mail address you want me to use to notify you if you win.

As for our reading, we finished Little Women and have begun Little Men. I'm getting a little more reading done in Desert Queen, and hope to finish it before the SAL starts. I haven't been sleeping nearly enough, though, and trying to read in this state of exhaustion has been a challenge.

Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Menu Plan: January 24 - 30

Is it spring yet? No? Then, I am going back to bed. I can't do that, you say? Hmph.

We continue to eat largely out of our pantry, freezers, and fridge. I am feeling a little out of steam, though, as I have had terrible insomnia over the past three or four weeks, and am just exhausted all the time. More than I normally am, even. Please pray for me to get more rest. It is a challenge to do my work at home with the kids and schoolwork, let alone other things right now. It is hard to find creativity for meal planning right now.

We were really grateful that I had put a lasagna in the freezer the last time we had it, because it meant that we had dinner tonight that didn't require my cooking it. Rich heated it up in the oven and made garlic bread while I could rest after church. It was a huge blessing to me, and everyone was able to eat a tasty dinner.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Sunday, January 17, 2021

Menu Plan: Christmas Season and Ordinary Time

We are sort of back in ordinary time. It is still the Christmas season through the Feast of the Purification, and though our readings still illuminate the incarnation and the manifestation of Christ as God in this world, we are gearing down in preparation for the bright sadness of Lent and the rejoicing that comes at the Paschal feast.

January is always a rough month. It is cold, dark, even with the days getting a little longer, and there is nothing fun to distract us from the frigid misery. It is actually not as cold as normal here, but since that is about the temperature of Satan's heart, it's not like it is hard to be warmer. I am missing living in a more temperate place and travel and all the things that could take me from this cold right now. We are revisiting our modified hibernation plan.

We have had some bright spots to cheer us up, though. Besides the good news with my father and one of my brothers last week, we also had cause to rejoice with Alexander who finally was offered a job, which he has accepted and signed paperwork (which was the reason I didn't share about it last week), in his field. It is an entry level job, but already pays a third more than his job he has now, and will give him experience, further training, and benefits. Also, on Thursday, I received another call from my brother telling us that our father was slated to go home Monday, barring any problems over the weekend. We are praying that it is so, as that means he should be home by tonight (our time) and rest and recovery at home with the people who love him around him will be much better.

This week's menu is still mostly out of our freezers, fridge and pantry. We are cooking it down until Ash Wednesday, and being as frugal as possible while we pay down debt. We have made some great progress on that score, and hope to have it managed in time to be able to travel again when that opens up once more. I know I have been terrible about keeping up my recipe round up posts, and I am sorry about that. Between the SAD and the exhaustion of the holidays and the darkness and cold and the recovery from the year we have just had, I have been so much more worn out than normal, even for this time of year, and I am spending my energy on the family and meal preparation.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Shabboura and Basbousa



Shabboura is a crisp cracker that is almost like biscotti that I grew up eating with this spready cheese that came in glass jars that you could wash and turn into tea glasses. I'm not sure if other Arabs have a different name for them, because even at the Arab markets I haven't been able to find them and the shopkeepers (one Iraqi, one Lebanese) have no idea what I am talking about when I say it. I found almost no references to it online, in English or Arabic, though I found one video that made a version that was more like a cookie than the savory cracker I remember. So, I started with her method and played with the ingredients and proportions and this is what I came up with that was the closest. Honestly, I think the ones we got from back "home" when I was growing up may have been a little stale and, therefore, harder and more sturdy, than these, but this is the taste I remember. I thought these would be hard to make, but really they were quite simple, and very worth the little effort. Eating these reminds me of summer vacations with my family, eating and having picnics and traveling. Even that cheese in the glass jar is imbued with a flavor and honor that it really doesn't deserve (my kids don't like it nearly the way I did, though they do like the jars for tea glasses). I hope you enjoy these. They are flavorful enough to eat without anything on them, but a little briny cheese really makes them.

5 cups pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons whole cumin seed
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon nigella (black sesame) seeds
2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup safflower, or other, light oil
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup ghee or clarified butter, melted and divided

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a jelly roll pan with 1 tablespoon ghee and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cumin seed, sesame seed, sugar, nigella seed, and salt.

In another large bowl or KitchenAid mixer bowl, whisk together eggs, safflower oil, and milk.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. The dough will be slightly stiff, but flexible, with a consistency like cookie dough.

Press the dough into the prepared pan and flatten with your hands to an even thickness.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pan and cut into 1 inch by 3 inch strips, placing them cut side down into the pan again, and drizzle evenly with remaining 3 tablespoons of the ghee or clarified butter. Place back in the oven and back another 15 - 20 minutes to brown slightly.



This dessert is a lovely, dense, comforting semolina cake. I grew up eating it with whole blanched almonds in the center of each triangle or diamond, which is a little fancier, but for every day, I use finely crushed pistachios (not as finely as I should have in that picture above). It is common to include dried coconut in the cake batter, but I didn't remember my mother doing that very often, nor the texture of the strands of coconut in the cake, so I modified the family recipe to include coconut flour for the flavor while retaining the texture I remembered. The soaking syrup I use here is wonderfully aromatic, and it is well worth seeking out the saffrom and orange flower water, if you don't have them already, like we do. Some people grease the pan with tahina, and say that it really elevates the cake, but neither my mother nor my aunt do that, so I am hesitant. One day, I may try it and report back to you.

Sheera (Syrup): (can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for at least a week)

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/8 teaspoon saffron, crumbled
1/4 cup orange flower water


2 cups fine semolina flour
1 cup coconut flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup melted ghee, clarified butter, or unsalted butter
2 cups plain, whole fat yogurt
4 large eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup finely crushed raw, unsalted pistachios or about 30 - 40 whole blanched almonds, to garnish

Make the syrup by bringing the sugar, water and saffron to a boil in a larger than necessary saucepan. Boil for about 5 minutes over medium heat, then remove from heat to cool. Stir in the orange flower water and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate until needed.

Preheat oven to 375˚F and grease the bottom and sides of a 9" X 13" or equivalent round baking dish with ghee or butter.

In a large bowl, mix the semolina, coconut flour, sugar, and baking powder well. Pour in the melted ghee and mix to coat the flours. Add the yogurt and eggs and mix to a smooth consistency.

Spread into the prepared pan and pat the top smoothly with wet hands. Scrore in a diamond or triangle pattern to mark the pieces, creating 30 - 40 pieces (depending on how you cut the cake). Sprinkle with the pistachios, evenly over the top, or place one blanched almond in the middle of each marked piece.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and pour cold syrup over the top. Cover pan with foil and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, with the foil off, at least 2 hours, so the syrup will soak into the cake. This cake is really better the next day, but who can wait?


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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Craft On: Year End Review


This is a couple weeks late, but I wanted to do my annual reckoning for my crafts and reading. This year was not an easy one, and it was not as conducive to getting more accomplished, but I am proud of what I did. My goals for this year are to read more deeply, to finish up more WsIP, and to balance my design work with the most important work of loving and raising my family. It has been a hard balance to keep lately.

You can see up there some of my latest finished projects and the things I am working on now. I did finish my GAL project, though not until a couple days into January. Likewise, I finally got a picture of Nejat's finished stocking, and I am now working on two designs, plus a pair of convertible mittens for Alexander. It would be wonderful to knit as prolifically as I did when we had fewer children and I had more available time, but that is not in the cards for a while, so I am content finishing projects from before, and working on several new ones for this year. I did frog a project that was long unfinished and would not fit the intended recipient and have a new idea of what to do with the yarn for her. So, without further ado, here are my finished items and my read books of 2020

2020 Finished Objects

You can see that it wasn't a lot that I made this year, nor were there any really large projects. However, each was made well and with love and have made at least one someone happy.

2020 Books Read

(including read aloud books, but not picture books/story books)
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Still no amazing records in my reading, and most of the reading I did this year, or rather most of the reading I completed this year, were read alouds with the kids. As of now, I finished one happy little murder, Chocolate Cream Pie Murder and we are almost finished with Little Women. Nejat wanted to know why it was a sad story, and we explained that it was both sad and happy, the way life is. I finally started reading Desert Queen in earnest. It is a really enjoyable book, though the author shares the modern view that the only intellectual pursuits that are worthwhile are those which are open primarily to men and that women of superior intellect cannot be satisfied with a life at home, as that would never provide them any mental stimulation. It is frustrating to read, especially as instead of elevating women, it instead cheapens and denigrates their accomplishments, and cedes that the only approval worth having is that of the "patriarchy," ironically. However, it is a common prejudice of modernity, and certainly not unique to the author, so I note those annoyances, and move on in my reading.

If you have read far, thank you! Watch this space for an opportunity to win a fun prize next week. There was a mailing mishap with the books I was supposed to receive which included my pattern in Knit Picks Serendipity collection, and they arrived last week. I will be giving one away as a prize here as a thank you to my readers and supporters.

Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Sunday, January 10, 2021

Menu Plan: Last Three Days of the Octave of Epiphany

Christ is illumined! Let us shine forth with Him!

Glory to God in His Saints! My father was moved to a normal hospital ward! Thank you for your prayers.

Besides that, my brother and his wife safely delivered a son. We had some other good news this past week that hasn't quite been finalized, so I will share that when I can. I know it has been a topsy turvy week, but I am focusing on my family and friends right now to keep me a bit more stable. We are so deeply grateful to God for the extremely good, the very good, news we have had.

This next week was supposed to be our first full week of schooling, but the January exhaustion has hit us all, so we are spending some more time on just reading and math, and getting some organization done. It's not hard to catch up at home. This past year was rather hard on everyone, so we are being gentle with ourselves.

Since we did that inventory of our food and drink in the house, I am trying to be more mindful of eating what we have and only buying what we really need or to replace things we use. This month, through Ash Wednesday, my plan is to only buy paper/cleaning/pet supplies, milk and a few fresh things we need. So, our meals are utilizing our stores. We ran out of dried thyme, but the winter has been so mild here that our planted thyme is just overflowing all over the yard. We are trying to clear out our home of excess, so I am also going through my yarn stash and offering more for sale, giving some away to friends, and donating to the senior center in our town. It will feel so much better to have the space in our home and in our minds. We will tackle books, too! In any case, this will help us spend less, too, and we have been paying down debt lately, which feels great. I do the budgets, and it is a burden to me to always be keeping ten plate spinning and in the air, as well as having to be the one to say no. This will allow us to say yes to more. It is a time of easing burdens and increasing blessing here. I hope your new year is full of blessing.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Sunday, January 03, 2021

Menu Plan: 10th - 12th Days of Christmas and Theophany

Christ is illumined! Let us shine forth with Him!

I love the icon of Theophany. Christ is buried in the cave of water in His baptism, but is not immersed as it is Creation which is baptised by Him. The waters of the Jordan are turned back ("When the waters saw thee, O God, when the waters saw thee, they were afraid, yea, the deep trembled" ~ Psalm 77:16, "The sea looked and fled, Jordan turned back." ~ Psalm 114:3). All Creation is moved by His presence. Our readings this week will reflect His revelation and manifestation to the world. All of those readings show the presence of the Trinity as well. It is such a moving and wondrous season in the Church Year.

Our feasting will end this week, but we will keep the festal season of the Nativity through the feast of the Purification on February 2. We keep our decorations up for the season, as well, and play Christmas music, still. Next week, school will begin again, but we are enjoying our break still. It is the end of the feast, but not the end of the Christmas season. Rather than beginning the day after Halloween, it begins late Christmas Eve, and goes through February 2. We have shaken off the commercial aspect and the secular misrepresentation of this miraculous feast of the Incarnation. Now, we can celebrate in earnest while the rest have abandoned its observance.

I thank you for your prayers for my father, and am glad to say that he is slowly improving. We are continuing in prayer for him and our family.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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