Friday, August 15, 2014

My Summer Vacation: Food and Drink

Asalamu Alaykom,

I'm back in Egypt after successfully completing the "Mummy's Curse" diet plan.  Yes, somehow I picked up a bug which kicked in on the fourth day home.  Alhumdulillah.  It's been a marvelous weight loss method for all those extra pounds I picked up in the States.  Now I'm following the BRAT diet and hoping to stay hydrated and energetic.

My mother had asked me several times during Ramadan if I thought I was going to lose any weight and I told her, "NO WAY!"  because I knew that late night eating for iftar did not spell staying in shape.  I also knew that I was sampling more high calorie food than I normally did back home.

What did I enjoy?

1.  Tortilla Chips and Salsa with Guacamole and Sour Cream

I don't get to eat this except when we visit Chili's.  Even when we go there, they never have guacamole so I made quite a lot of avocado dip.  The sour cream?  We kind of have that here but it's salted and runny so I had to buy a tub of that thick sour cream.  As you'll see, I made the most of the dairy aisle.

2.  Cheese

There was NO La Vache Qui Rit on our shopping list.  I love me some tiny triangles of processed cheese spread but I needed some American vacuum-packed rectangles for a change.

Grilled cheese sandwiches were delicious.  Probably the best one was when I made the sandwich with Swiss and rye and then I put in some Budding sliced pastrami with a dab of mustard.  Grilled cheddar on whole wheat or Monterry Jack on sourdough were good too.

To go with the chips and salsa, I made a lot of quesadillas.  I have yet to see flour tortillas in Egypt.  I will miss them!

3.  Root Beer and Ginger Ale

Silly, but those two pops are no where to be found in Egypt and my guess is that they sound like alcohol (but of course they're not).  I had a couple of root beer floats.  I had ginger ale and cranberry juice.

4.  Ice Cream

Yes, I can buy ice cream in Egypt.  Usually, we don't buy it in containers from the grocery store but as the novelty ice creams from the snack stands.  To be able to buy half-gallons of my favorites was just too much of a temptation.  El-Kid and I downed almost three half-gallons over the summer.  I bought my favorites of Peppermint Bon Bon and its cousin Peppermint Krisp (now re-named "Pink Peppermint").  Then, I had to try Raspberry Fudge.  I even made a couple of banana splits for El-Kid.

5.  Blueberries and Raspberries

I was very happy to eat my fill of blueberries.  I came at the right time of the year for those.  We were treated to blueberry muffins and a blueberry tart.  I made blueberry pancakes.  We put blueberries in the fruit salad and into yogurt.  Eventually, I actually ate enough blueberries.

I was disappointed by the raspberries.  I remembered them as being sweeter.  They weren't.  Their tartness was a bummer.  I still put them on top of my Grape Nuts.

6.  Grape Nuts

It's a teenage favorite.  I used to live on Grape Nuts with brown sugar on top.  Whether with milk or with yogurt, I couldn't get enough of it.  I ate it a few times for suhour with fruit.

7.  Macaroni and Cheese

This was another disappointment.  I remembered it tasting better than it did.  I still ate it!  Don't get me wrong.  I just didn't LOVE it like I remembered.  El-Kid still loved it.

I kept trying to find the Annie's Italian pasta and I still have a hankering for that (which will have to go unanswered).

8.  Old-fashioned Donuts

We have the baked donuts in Egypt but not the fried ones.  Or rather, we have something doughy that gets fried but then they place it in heavy syrup.  Egypt always overdoes the sweetness.  I was happy to have these fried cakes again.

9.  Oreos with Mint

Yes, I love mint flavor and these were delicious.  Eat two and you're full.

10.  Caramel Corn

I've made my own caramel corn here and it was really good.  The kind my mom brought home was too sweet but so addictive that we all at it up any way.

11.  Tex-Mex, Chinese and Indian Food

As I've said, we go to Chili's.  We do have Chinese and Indian restaurants here but my husband is reluctant to go to them.  I'm also hesitant to go without an influx of tourists keeping the food fresh.  In the States, it's fun to sample the ethnic diversity.  I really enjoyed each kind of restaurant.

For Tex-Mex, I actually ate in the South, which was a first.  It was a little hotter than I thought it would be.  I had to be careful with the pork/beans issue and thankfully remembered to ask if the complimentary pinto beans were made with pork.  When I was told that they were, I was disappointed but happy I had asked.  The server came back with a different kind of beans which were vegetarian.

Chinese was a take-out order.  We all ordered a different kind of chicken dish.  I had cashew chicken and it was delicious.

Unfortunately, I wasn't clear enough when I was ordering the egg rolls and ended up with pork.  You should have seen me run to the garbage with that first bite in my mouth!  Ahhh, this is why we say, "Bismallah." My intention was good even if my ordering sucked.

The other scary part is how expensive the meal for four was.  I spent close to $50.  Multiply that by 7 and it's 350 LE to me.

I bought a boxes of pot stickers and spring rolls for $1 each at Dollar Tree and those were just as good as anything from the restaurant.  It made for a great iftar over rice.

The Indian restaurant is where we went for Eid.  They have a daily buffet and I felt that would be easy on everyone.  El-Kid loaded up on rice and chicken.  My mom was OK there with her gluten-free, dairy-free diet.  I took a little of everything:  samosas with mint and tamarind sauces, raita (yogurt with cucumber), palak paneer (cooked spinach with cheese), lamb, chicken rogan (oven baked), gobi (cauliflower) and naan (flat bread).

The quality wasn't what I remembered from all of my many visits in the past.  Still, it was a treat and I might even investigate a good Indian restaurant here.  Chicken Tikka doesn't count.

12.  Wild Rice

This is really unknown in Egypt.  I brought back a pound of it.  I grew up eating wild rice and it's so deliciously earthy.  I made wild rice in a mix with white and brown a couple of times for my mom.  She has given me props for knowing how to cook rice better than her now.

I ate some of the cold wild rice over lettuce leaves in a salad topped with grapefruit wedges and balsamic vinegar.

13.  Corn Dogs

Really?  These are delicious.  El-Kid couldn't eat enough of these.  I bought the chicken franks version.  They were a hit with my mom as well and she plans to eat up the ones we left behind.

I wish we could have bought some with us!

14.  Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This was one of El-Kid's special requests from Grandma.  He remembered how good it is.

15.  Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

This was another request.  They are best right from the oven when the chocolate is gooey.  Mom used Ghirardelli chips for extra yumminess.

One of the things I wanted most from the States was my old recipe book.  Although I had tried to create a new recipe book, it wasn't the same.  While I was staying with my mom, I did a lot of cooking.  El-Kid was so happy with the results.  He enthusiastically shared the news of my culinary skills with Baba during a phone call back home.  Inshahallah, I will continue to explore what I really enjoy to make and eat.

No, food isn't a big focus of my life but it is an aspect I have allowed other people to control too much.  It's been very nice to have sisters-in-law cook our nightly meals.  At the same time, I have lost some of my feeling of what it means to be a homemaker.  I will be looking for how to balance these differences out.


1 comment:

Party of 5 said...

I hope you can find that balance Yosra. I am not good at sharing my kitchen, but when my mom visited it was interesting...we had to compromise ALOT.
Jamaican...halal and kosher all in the same meal. It was nice for hubby to see that too.

So cute that El-Kid was excited about your new(ish) skills???? cute mashaAllah.