Montag, 15. Juli 2013

Thoughts on Ramadan and Simplicity

A fresh salad, simple and oh so good!

Wait, Ramadan and Simplicity? How do these two connect??
Maybe you have seen pictures of iftar tables, bending with food, plates loaded with lamb and veggies, loafs of warm bread and lots of dates and fresh fruits and salads. So where is the simplicity??

Well, first of all, I have read so many great blog posts everywhere on the subject of simplicity, they are inspiring me so much. Rhonda at Down-to-earth is doing an especially inspiring series of posts on the subject of starting a life more simple. I love her view on simplifying your life.

Second: To me, Ramadan is always a good time for changes. The on ething I have changed this year is the food. Well, not the food itself, don't mess with traditions! But I am changing the way we deal with the food. Year after year, we have wasted so much food! Where is the sense in that, fasting for 30 days AND throw away food at the same time?
There were always leftovers. Your eyes are big, but the stomach gets smaller and smaller. Every night, there was soup on the table, bread, some meat stew, finger food like bourek, salad and pickles. We are only three people in our household, no wonder we could not eat all of this.

And I forgot to freeze the leftovers more than once. I left the dry bread untill it collected dust and could not be re-used anymore. Or I left the bread in a plastic bag so it became molded. This year, I cook less. I freeze leftovers, I buy less bread.

I also  opt for less packaged food . At the supermarket, everything comes in plastic foil, so I am trying to buy veggies and fruit at the organinic supermarket or at the Turkish market, where you can pick as much as you need, without packaging. Usually, I send Hubby too the Turkish market. But then he comes home with every.single.vegetable in his own plastic bag, everything in a  big bag and some extra (!) plastic bags, for "just in case"...It's driving me crazy!

Now I am doing the shopping by myself with my own bags. I'll try freezing the leftovers  in glass jars rather than plastic, have never tried this, but have seen so many times on the net. Also, this year, I will not buy the -very convenient- cans of chickpeas, instead I will buy large bags of dry ones and soak and cook them myself., so easy...

We will still have soup, bread, stew, salad, fingerfood and pickles every night. Just a little les sof it all.

Donnerstag, 11. Juli 2013

This week on my balcony...

He is a bit camera-shy

One of the tomatoe-plants. Hopefully, this will make one serving of salad...

Thai Basil, growing stronger everyday

Another batch of mixed salad

There is no way that our humble balcony could ever compete with those wonderful gardens that I always see in blogs like Soulemama or Beauty that moves... Well, if you look at it from the right perspective, it is quite green and blooming!
But I love to grow our own vegetables, really. Hubby always makes fun of me in spring, when I am planning on what vegetables to grow. "It's not a garden, remember?" I do remember, but when we do have a salad, all grown by ourselves, he loves it just as much as I do.
This week I will present you a visitor that I found in the jasmin, maybe you can spot him? (It's a June bug, they love the big linden tree behind the house)

Sonntag, 7. Juli 2013

Ramadan Preparations

 Freezer cooking the Algerian way, five packs of baklava should get us through this months...

Part of the Ramadan shopping, fresh coriander is essential for the shorba, the soup we have for iftar

This week we will enter the Holy Month of Ramadan. As a muslim family, it is obligatory that we do fast from dawn till sunset, no food, no drink for 30 days.  I remember Ramadan back in Algeria, some members of the family woke up for suhoor, the meal before sunset, they had some dates and lots of water. Others would just sleep until noon. The men would go to the market, then my mother-in-law would prepare iftar, the evening meal with that you are breaking of the daily fast. This would be followed by a long nap in the afternoon, and then, finally at about 8 pm, iftar time. Such a bliss to have the first sip of water!
This year here in Germany, the fasting begins at about 3.00 AM and lasts until 9.30 PM. Many people experience a kind of mental high during this time, a feeling of strengthened faith and a reconnection with God. They read the Quran a lot, and spent much time in the mosque, praying. But what if you have to go to work? Not a very good idea, indeed...You get up at 2.30 am, have a quick breakfast, go back to bed and try to get some more sleep. Then off to work. No coffee... No chocolate......
Have you ever tried to concentrate when the only thing on your mind is food? (Or, as the days go by, sleep?)
You get home, take a quick nap and then wait for iftar. You stay up late, as there is not much time for your body and stomach to make up for 17 hours of fasting. And it goes on like this for the next 29 days.
I know, this might sound strange or weird to non-muslims, especially now in the summer months, as you are not allowed to drink during the heat of the day.
But as much as I dread the month of Ramadan, it is always a precious time, a good experience. It always makes me think about food a lot, how we handle it, how much we waste, what it is like to be hungry. Have you ever noticed just how much food you eat during the day without really noticing? Without being hungry?
I am always surprised how often I enter the kitchen and snack on some olives, nuts or some chocolate.
During Ramadan, we usually break the fasting with a glass of water and some dates. I promise you, there has never been a drink sweeter or more refreshing than this humble glass of water at iftar. I can literally feel it running through my body.I am looking forward to this feeling already.
So, the shopping is done, there is meat in the freezer and the pantry is filled. I have been browsing through Algerian cookbooks to get some ideas of what to cook and the menu for the first day (at least) is ready. I always want to be more organised, like freezing bourek or appetizers, but I never make it this far ;-)
Seventeen hours of fasting can become very long, I wonder if I will make it this year without falling asleep on my desk at work. We will start on Tuesday or Wednesday, anybody wants to see our iftar table then??

Donnerstag, 4. Juli 2013

Trying to FLY again...

Preparing a bulgur salad 

A relatively clean kitchen, imagine that!

Healthy lunch, bulgur salad, leftover chickpeas, olives and dates

For years I have been trying to get my home under control. Still, I always had loads of dirty laundry, the kitchen was a mess and menu planning a long distance goal. Yesterday, we came home late, had a quick dinner and went to bed soon. When I came in the kitchen this morning, it was a mess! I said to myself: "This is enough!"
We had to leave for school and work later than usual this morning, so after Hubby had left for work, I quickly unloaded and re-loaded the dishwasher and handwashed a few pots. 15 minutes later, everything was clean again. And I asked myself, why I had not done this the night before. My morning tea would have been much sweeter without this mess! So, from today on, I'll continue with my basic rules, but combine them also with FLYlady-priciples. They are already mixed up a bit, so this will not be too much.  Enough with letting the house run me, time to actively run the house myself. Tonight, after dinner, I prepared lunch for the next day and cleaned the kitchen. Again, only fifteen minutes, and everything was clean and I still had enough time to relax on the sofa. And I'll have a healthy lunch at work...
Let's see how long I will keep up with this!!