Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Or...tomato! All summer, we've had access to lots of tomatoes. They're starting to dwindle, but I'm still buying them while they're looking good. The only problem is that Ira is not a fan of uncooked tomatoes. Even if I saute them, I think they're still not mushy enough for him. So in an effort to make both of us happy, I bought about 10 romas the other day with the intention of roasting them. It's something I've always wanted to try. After doing some research online on my favorite food blogs, I came up with a plan. Today I prepped the firm red wonders and threw them in the oven. You can see the before and after pictures above. I haven't decided if I'm going to turn them into a sauce, or a soup. I'll let you know...
Roasted Tomatoes
about a dozen (or less) small tomatoes sliced lengthwise
olive oil
6 or 7 cloves of garlic
herbs of your choice (I used basil, but marjoram or oregano would be lovely)
salt and pepper
Grease the pan or shallow baking dish with some olive oil. After slicing the tomatoes, place them skin side down on the pan. Nestle the garlic in between the tomatoes and spread the herbs on top. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. You can blend and add stock to make soup, or toss together with pasta, or something else even more exciting!


When I think of harvest images of pumpkins, apples, and gourds come to mind. We can find those things here, but they are mostly imported and just not the same. What we DO have are dates. Brown ones, red ones, and yellow ones. And they're EVERYWHERE. All over the market. So, being a "eat with the season" kind of girl, I bought them up. But now what? You can only have so many date snacks. So, I came up with an idea today. It's not new, lots of people have stuffed dates before, but I think that this recipe is pretty good. Ira agrees...I haven't specified quantity because sometimes the goat cheese comes in small packages. Improvise, people! I think they would be great little party treats, we're just snacking on them...

Dates stuffed with goat cheese and almonds

Slice dates lengthwise and remove pits (if necessary). Spoon a half teaspoon of goat cheese in each date. Place one almond on top. Refrigerate after assembling. Oh, and try not to eat them all beofre serving.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Up late...again...

I have never in my life had a hard time falling asleep. I can sleep anywhere, anytime. In college, I bought a special watch with an alarm so I could sleep between classes, in public! I didn't care. I have always been able to nod off as soon as my head hit the pillow, or my book bag, whatever the case may be. Now of course I've had the occasional too-late-espresso or first-day-at-a-new-job nerves that have kept me up, but something about Egypt...I just can't get to sleep before 2 or 3 am no matter how hard I try. I very rarely drink caffeine anymore, I exercise, the bed is increasingly comfortable (thanks to some purchases at & Co.) but I just can't sleep! We live on a fairly quiet street, but you can still hear strange noises like dogs barking at weird hours and airplanes (lots of flights land late at night here) not to mention the honking horns and occasional yelling. And although I've gotten used to the call to prayer throughout the day it never fails to jolt me from sleep. I should probably start going to bed earlier, but I don't get home from teaching yoga until after 9:00 and we try to have some semblance of a dinner and hang out for a little bit. Not to mention it's a good time to chat with friends and family in the States. So what's a girl to do??? No seriously, I'm asking. If ANYONE has an advice, please, I'd love to hear it. The silver lining in all of this? I won't have any trouble staying up to watch OBAMA make his victory speech a week from now!! The rest of the week will be a disaster, but that's ok, I'll lose sleep so my grandkids can have a good story.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I promised some recipes a few days ago, so here it goes. The first one has been the staple snack in the Dworkin household for a few weeks now. The last time we went to Carrefour (Egyptian wal-mart, as you may recall), I bought some popcorn kernels. I could see the skepticism on Ira's face. "What are you going to do with those?" he was thinking. That night I made my first attempt at the spicy popcorn to which we are now addicted. It was pretty good, a little burnt and I overshot the spices a little bit. I made it again a few nights later and this time it was a little too salty. The night of my birthday party (or the morning after my birthday party, depending on how you look at it) I made some for the lingering guests. It was very popular. The next time Amanda came over for knitting night, I made some for her, and the Ira and I had some last night while we watched "Burn After Reading". It's so simple and it tastes so good, it really makes me wonder why we ever made popcorn in the microwave...
Cajun Popcorn
first, you need a medium sized pot with a tight fitting lid
about 3 tbs. olive oil
about 1/2 cup kernels
1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
coat the bottom of the pan with the oil. Sprinkle the Old Bay on top. Dump the kernels in the pan. Over med-high heat, let them do their thing! It only takes about 3 or 4 minutes. I shake the pan every minute or so to make sure they're all getting a turn. You can experiment with different spices and herbs. This just happens to be the one that we like the best. After you hear the popping slow down, take it off the heat and place in a big bowl, salt to taste. However, a good movie or some bad reality TV are required to make this recipe taste its best.
And speaking of TV, one of good things about Egyptian TV is, well, European TV. I love watching all the British fashion shows and the BBC news, of course. But the cooking shows are by far the best. I know that the food network in the states has both Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver, but over here they each have like 5 shows. So the other day I was watching Nigella and she was making something with glass noodles (rice noodles or vermicelli) and shrimp. I thought to myself "I know I can find both glass noodles AND shrimp at the market!" So off I went. Not only did I find those two ingredients, but I found basil for the first time. I bought two bunches because I couldn't resist. Cleaning the prawns was a huge (and smelly) pain, but the resulting meal was delicious, and there was a enough for leftovers which almost never happens around here. While at the market, there weren't any veggies that looked exciting to me, you could add some snap peas or green beans and I'm sure it would be great.
Super Fragrant Noodles with Shrimp
one package vermicelli noodles
1 lb. shrimp (preferably fresh)
big handful chopped basil
big handful chopped cilantro
for the sauce:
1 tbs. minced garlic
1 tbs. minced ginger
2 tbs. minced scallions
2 tbs. peanut butter
1/2 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup sesame oil (plus a little more to saute the shrimp)
one sliced chili pepper for garnish
Because you have a few things going at once here, I would make the sauce first. Place the garlic, ginger, scallions, peanut butter, soy sauce, and oil in a bowl and whisk together. This is the ratio that tasted good to me, but you can adjust it if you need to. Set the sauce aside. Next, boil the water for the noodles. While that's heating up, clean the shrimp (or have the dude at the store do it, which is what I should have done!) Saute with the sesame oil over medium heat until pink. Remove from the heat. Once the water has come to a boil, turn off the heat and drop in the noodles. Only leave them in for a minute or two and then drain. Toss together the shrimp, noodles, basil, and cilantro. Place in bowls and top with sauce and chili peppers. It's also good cold the next day!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I missed you, too

Ok, I know have been the WORST blogger ever! I was extremely frustrated with not being able to post pictures. It was making me not want to be on the site at all! Ira and I disagree on this, but I think this crazy thing that he downloaded is to blame. Now, let me first say that I love him for downloading this thing that will make watching movies and tv shows easier, he's awesome. The resulting slowness and inability to upload pictures to my blog and to Facebook, not so awesome. Now, like I said, we disagree about whether this downloaded thing is to blame, but I just think it's too much of a coincidence that everything went wonky as soon as he did it. Ok, now that the annoying stuff is out of the way...the birthday was lovely. We went on a felluca ride down the Nile. The party a few days later was a lot of fun. Of course, I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say how MUCH I missed my family and friends. It was sad at times to think about you guys, but all and all it was really nice. And I love Ira so much for making it special. Yoga is going well. My classes are getting bigger each week and I think my students are really catching on and learning the series. In other news...I got my ticket to come home!! I'll be back on December 11th, I'm very excited and it's just around the corner. Plans are already being made! I have to say though, ever since we bought the ticket, the days have been dragging. Figures. I've been making some fun dinners lately, so I'm going to post some recipes later today or tomorrow. I hope Fall is treating everyone well!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Post" Birthday

My birthday was on Monday and while it may be tempting for me to go on and on about how much my life has changed in a year, blah, blah, I will spare all of you. Ira gave me a lovely Egyptian birthday complete with a champagne cruise down the Nile. While we were on the magical ride, he gave me all of the cards that everyone had sent from the states. I tearfully read all of them (I know there are some that haven't arrived yet, and I'll be just as excited to read those!) and here are some highlights...
"Good friends are like stars. You don't always see them, but you always know they're there!", "You need to find a Stallions-esque place to go wild dancing", "Scribble, Scribble, Scribble" (that was little Stuart), "You live your life so fully and everyone around you gets to enjoy!", "May flowers always bloom in your garden"
So now we're just getting the flat (and our livers) ready for the party tomorrow night! I have a new dress and there's a fridge full of beer and 2 bottles of Turkish gin. A recipe for disaster, or the best party ever?? You'll have to wait til Friday to find out...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

These are a few...

...of my favorite things. I was inspired to make a list of "Things I like" by my old college pal, Nicole. Her blog puts mine to shame, and in one of her latest posts she said that when she's feeling grumpy or "squinky" as I like to call it, she makes a list of the things she likes and that sort of sets her straight. I'm not feeling particularly squinky these days, but I DO have a birthday coming up in a few and I don't think it would hurt to jot down some of the things that make me want to turn 31 with a little grace and humor. Feel free to follow suit! What do you like???
yarn, smooth wooden knitting needles, when Ira laughs so hard that he doesn't make any sound but his whole body shakes, when Lauren and I laugh and then look at each other and laugh again because our laughs are the same, getting so deep in a yoga posture that I could stay there all day, watching one of my students get so deep in a yoga posture they could stay there all day, champagne, fresh basil, pedicures, One Good Woman, Phillies games, LuLu Mae, cupcakes, New York City when it's cold, my goofy embroidered Ugg boots, New England when it's hot, the beds at the Waldorf Astoria, Istanbul, quilts, when Heather sends me blogs I might like, Christmas movies, sparkly things, the way books smell both old and new, little dresses, dancing, Domani Star pasta, Domani Star anything, movie theater popcorn and a disgustingly syrupy coke slushie, putting my feet up, Kate Spade, the woods, campfire, crunchy snow, cold cheeks, clean sheets, when Ira does the dishes (which he always does), entertaining, reading, writing, cooking, tea, coffee, when Laurie and I plan craft projects, talking on the phone with my mom, dancing with my dad, endless shopping/eating trips with Kelly, Carmel apples, mac and cheese (homemade and from a box, for different reasons), driving north, putting the ipod on shuffle and all of my favorite songs come on right in a row, concerts with my friends, knitting/beer drinking night with Amanda, talking to little Stuart on Skype, when my little brother tells me he loves school, over sized wine glasses, over sized coffee mugs, the perfect pillow, the way I feel after being on the beach all day, the promise of a garden, jeans, And Co., Maadi House pool, red wine, thinking about our wedding day, our wedding pictures, Ira's friends, a girl who can sing, Obama on a roll, crying at a movie preview and knowing that Heather probably cried when she saw it even though she hates crying in public, Doylestown, taking the train, the way a yarn store smells, walking past stores in Maadi and wondering when I'll go inside, tea on the ferry in Turkey, when I sort of understand the Arabic on TV, watching Friends with Arabic subtitles, every single thing about Kauai, Ira in a suit, rain, Friday New York Times, my ceramic measuring spoons, flea markets, poolside with Lauren, organic facials, spicy candles, pictures of my grandparents, Cafe Fresco, Gaya, a nice big bag, the kittens in front of our building, the trees in Maadi with the pink flowers, the trees in Maadi with the orange flowers, jammie bottoms, clean feet, a new journal, sleeping in, waking up early to travel somewhere, playing cards, Dimitri Martin, finding long lost friends on facebook, Tina Fey, the perfect yoga playlist, fruit, farms, carnivals, muffin tops...

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Ira Photo Caption Contest

While we were in Turkey, I managed to somehow take two of the funniest pictures of Ira. I've decided to have a photo caption contest. If you win, you will have the disticintion of being the wittiest person who reads this blog. Now if that isn't motivating, I don't know what is! Here are some of the entries so far...
Picture One "Please. My hat is way cooler than his."- Lauren
" If you think he looks cranky now, wait until he realizes where my other hand is!"- Heather
"Ah Ha! Now I know what I want to be when I grow up!"-Laurie
Picture Two "So this is what I get for 40 Lira? Talk about inflation!"- Dad (Bob)
" I turned my head for only a second! These Turkish cats are out of control - and we thought the Egyptian felines were spoiled!"- Heather

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Turkey Trot

Boy, did we ever trot!! I'm going to warn you in advance that this is going to be a long one. 5 jam-packed days makes for one jam-packed blog entry! So I would get a snack or a drink or something and settle in (bathroom breaks are allowed)...
Night One We arrived late on Monday night. The flight was fine, just a little over 2 hours. And they still serve food on foreign flights, so we had a little early dinner, too. The customs process was very smooth, although I'm not a seasoned traveller (yet) I have to say that when we entered both Amsterdam and Istanbul the guys stamping our passports have been so nice and maybe even a little flirtatious! haha The hotel shuttle picked us up and got us to the Stone Hotel in one piece. We went up to our room, which was a little on the small side, but very nice and clean. We were very excited to go up on to the rooftop, as the "Garden Terrace" was one of the selling points for us in choosing this hotel. We were on the top floor, so we walked up one flight to find that the terrace was going to be closed for renovations all week! We were very disappointed. I think we both had images of relaxing up there and enjoying the view with a glass of Turkish wine or a book, or both! A little defeated and a little hungry, we went out to get a bite to eat. Just around the corner from the hotel was a quintessential Turkish restaurant called "ozgur hedef". We had a nice meal, the salad was really good. Almost all the salads we had there had purple cabbage on them and it was always kind of salty and vinegary and I really liked it. I just bought some cabbage at the store so i can try and replicate it. The tomato soup was good, also a Turkish staple. It's simple but with a little mild shredded cheese on top. The dessert was Turkish baklava, even better than Greek baklava in my opinion, it has more honey and less nuts (insert joke here). The hostess was very sweet and gave us a brochure when we left, even though we already had one. When we got back to the hotel we looked at it and this is what is says on the back. No, I have not made any typing or grammatical errors: "From the grandfather immature meat and roasted sausage and a fish and rich variety the our work. 46. The meat kinds which we made to reproduce in our year to cook enjoyment is to the you we are leaving." Whatever. It was good.
Day One Our first stop was downstairs in the garden of the hotel for breakfast. It was pretty simple and very European. Most days I ate some bread (which I swear to God tasted exactly like the Italian bread from Giant!) with a little jam, a couple of hard boiled egg whites (sorry mom, I hate those yokes and you weren't there to eat them for me), some really good honeydew and watermelon, and some half decent coffee. So after that we made our way to the Blue Mosque which was right up the hill from our hotel. It's pretty impressive even from the outside. The inside is beautiful, and mostly blue, duh. It is kind of funny to be in such a big crowd while everyone has their shoes off, you can always tell the people who didn't plan ahead for that! I know this is a cop-out but I'm just going to let you look at the slide show to see what is was like, in order to cut down on this already wordy entry! After we left the mosque, we walked around the courtyard between the Blue Mosque and Ayasofya. There were lots of food peddlers selling all sorts of yummy things. On the recommendation of one of Ira's friends from home, we tried this thing that sort of looked like a soft pretzel with sesame seeds. She said it was one of her favorite foods in Turkey. We must have gotten a bad one. It tasted like a stale bagel to me. Oh well. There were men all over the city selling roasted chestnuts and I couldn't resist. The smell reminded me of when my dad used to roast them around the holidays. So I bought a small green and white striped bag, and they were delicious! And they were hot which was perfect on the cool fall day. We walked around Ayasofya because it was closed for the first day of the Eid, as was the palace. It was fine, it gave us a chance to get our bearings a little bit and do some window shopping. We also stumbled upon an art gallery that had some wonderful pieces. But on our first day we weren't in much of a buying mood yet. After a walk through a lovely park and along the waterfront, we made our way back to Sultanhamet, which is the neighborhood where our hotel was located. We were in need of some lunch a this point, and as we were walking we were enticed by one cafe in particular that had very big white cushions on the chairs and bright gerbera daisies on the tables. We sat down and I had a glass of wine and bowl of lentil soup, another staple in Turkey. I think i tried the lentil soup at a half dozen places but this one was the best, It was lemony and had a lot of black pepper. This was also the cafe where we fell in love with apple tea. It's served in dainty glasses with ornate coasters and tiny silver spoons. It's pretty close to hot apple cider, but it's a little lighter and sweeter. We drank our weight in apple tea over the course of the week! We sat for quite a while until I noticed my dining companion was nodding off in the comfy chairs. So, we headed up the hill to the hotel for a little rest before taking on the Istanbul nightlife. Our evening was spent in Bayone. After walking around a bit, we decided on a little sidewalk cafe. It was cool because it was a white tablecloth kind of place, but there was graffiti on the walls. We ordered a bottle of wine, Turkish wine is really good. I am officially a fan. We shared a few mezes (small plates) we ordered things like green beans, yogurt dip with dill and mint, eggplant, and we also got a small fish platter with octopus, shrimp, prawns, and calamari. It was all to die for, especially the fish. We walked around a bit more and then took a cab back across the bridge.
Day Two I woke up with a cold on Wednesday. I guess my sinuses were not happy with the very sudden 25 degree shift in temperature. Although the rest of me loved it! We started the day at Ayasofya which I found far more impressive than the Blue Mosque. Even though we saw them in reverse order from when they were built, I'm glad we saw them in the order that we did. It was stunning. I was silenced as I stood there and looked up, slacked jawed, haha. They've been doing work on it for something like 50 years so there was scaffolding everywhere but it didn't really take any of the splendor away for me. I was thinking about my aunt Barb the whole time because of the era of the building and the mosaics, it would have been all very interesting for her. It also reminded me of being in all of those Paris churches with her, too. So, I tried to take lots of pictures to do her proud! My head cold was getting the better of me after we left Ayasofya so we went back to the hotel to get some rest. While we were there, we heard lots of banging and drilling over our heads. Remember the renovations?? Well, not only were we not enjoying the rooftop views, we were now having to endure the sound of crumbling plaster, wondering if someone or something was going to fall through the ceiling at any moment. So, Ira, being the best husband in the world that he is, went down to the front desk and politely asked when the demolition crew would be finished for the day. They assured him no more than 30 minutes. 45 minutes later...they assured him no more than 30 minutes. 30 minutes later... we were looking at switching hotels. After not having much luck with that, he went down one more time and told them that we were going to check out. He came back up and said "Pack up, they're moving us into a suite with a jacuzzi! Oh, and try to act really sick when you go down there, I've played up that angle a lot" I've never packed so fast in my life. I gave a few half-hearted coughs on my way past the desk, and then we were all smiles once we were in there! It was so nice. After that, we went to the world famous "Pudding Shop" the food was great and Ira had rice pudding and I had chocolate, both were heavenly.
Day Three We spent a good portion of the day at Topkapi Palace, the one that was closed on our first day. The grounds are huge, well, the palace is huge too. Anyway, we started in one of the many galleries. The lines were really long, the crowds were pushy, and it was hot in most of the rooms. It was hard because you basically had about 3 seconds to look at everything and then keep moving down the line. Not my idea of fun. The first few ones we went into were mostly the jewels of one sultan or another, honestly not that exciting. But we did see some more interesting things as we went along. Morbid as it was, we saw St. John the Baptist's skull and arm bone. And the beard and teeth of Mohammad. Who knew such things were still around?! Oh! And Moses' staff. The harem was pretty, all of the mosaics all over the palace were so cool. The views from every room were breathtaking. We ate lunch at a cafe right on the palace grounds, the view was perfect and the food was good too. We even met some people from Pa! Next came one of my favorite parts of the trip. The Istanbul Modern. It's a modern art museum right on the water in a very industrial part of town. I loved it, it was one of, if not the best museum I've even seen. The design and layout was perfect. It was not to big, not too small. And I loved virtually every piece of art I saw. The film installations were also wonderful. We had a drink on the terrace overlooking the water. It was very peaceful and I got some great pictures, too. That night we went up to Bayone again. This time we ate on a rooftop, overlooking the city and the sea. We had some not so typical Turkish food: pizza, fries, and tortellini! But it was good. We asked for the check and he looked at us and asked "one or two?" We thought it was odd that he was asking us about separate checks, but we said "one" and then to our surprise he brought out one cup of tea! We looked in our Turkey book and it turns out that the Turkish word for tea is "Cay" but it's pronounced with a "ch" sound. Haha! So we drank the tea and had a little laugh at our expense.
Day Four Friday we went on a ferry ride to the Prince's Islands which are right near Istanbul on the Sea of Marmara. The ferry was very crowded but we were pleasantly surprised to see them selling tea in glass cups right on the ferry. And they were only 50 YTL, about 50 cents. The first island was crowded, and we weren't that impressed. It was nice, and fairly quaint, but we were anxious to see the next one. It wasn't as crowded, and a little nicer, but still not what I was expecting. However, we did play cards and suck back the apple tea at a really sweet little tea place. Our waiter was amused by us for some reason and the view over the water was spectacular. Ira beat me at rummy though, as usual...We took the ferry back and headed to Bayone one more time for a "traditional Turkish meal" (according to our Turkish friend Aras) It's been in business since 1888. It was so good! I drank black grape juice! We had a pickle plate with beets, cucumbers. peppers, olives...yum. And an artichoke plate which had peas, potatoes, and carrots. It was also sort of pickled. My main course was a veggie saute' of sorts, it was seasoned perfectly and the eggplant was some of the best I've ever had. And then. Dessert. This place is known for its fruit desserts and we had a hard time deciding. I had a milk pudding with blackberry and Ira went with a mixed fruit compote. We've still debating the contents. We're pretty sure there were cherries, grapes, apricot, pear, and quince. On a sugar high, we walked for a little bit but the crowds were really overwhelming for me after being around so many people all week, so we got a cab home.
Day Five We slept in a little bit and then had our last breakfast out on the patio. Then, we made our way to the Grand Bazaar. It was a lot of fun and we came away with a few treasures like a handmade table runner, a tablecloth for the outside table, a tea set, a silk scarf, and a few other treasures that will have to wait for December to be revealed...The big "score" for me was stumbling upon a yarn shop. I was, at first, unimpressed because it wasn't very nice to touch and it all seemed a little...processed. But then. I found. The mother load. A pile, literally, a pile of hand-dyed yarn. The stuff that I covet in the states. And get this. You paid for it by weight. I got two arms full of hand-dyed yarn for about 4 dollars. One skein of it would have cost over 20 dollars at home. Amazing. I'm thinking about making a blanket, but I haven't decided yet. We also found our way to the Basilica Cistern which is this incredible underground structure with columns and about a foot of underground water, with fish in it! There were these 2 Medusa heads at the bottom of two of the columns that looked so strangely out of place but so interesting. When we walked down there, it was like there was a whole other world down there. Amazing. We relaxed a played some more cards for a while at the Green Cafe', it was very calming and I wanted to take a nap there on the comfy sofas! We walked a little more and then made our way to our last dinner in Istanbul. Pomegranate juice, salad, and tomato soup for me. Pomegranate juice, and Turkish ravioli for Ira. It was perfect. We had a wonderful time. I'm really starting to get a taste for international travel! We're talking about Germany and Greece in the spring...we'll see. For now, it's back to reality and making a life for ourselves here in Cairo.