Monday, July 29, 2013

Weekend Snippet

That's right, snippet, not snippets.
Our weekend was full and lovely, and had all sorts of perks
like corn on the cob
and hot tubs...
and so much more. 

I'd love to share more stories, and more photos
but see this little girl? 
she drank a too much water from said hot tub
her grandpa warned me about what she had done

...and sure enough, she has spent the morning puking on my lap
so this is all I can muster up today.

the end.

Friday, July 26, 2013

✻ Friday Food Fair ✻ {Fatayers}


I discovered these little pockets of heaven one day while shopping at a local middle eastern grocery store, called "Medina".

I initially visited their shop  for spices that can't be found at ordinary chain grocery stores (the particular one I was looking for was sumac), and then also started to buy other things there, like free range eggs that they get them from a nearby Amish farm, goat's milk yogurt, marinated meats, hummus, babaganoush, pita, pickled turnips....let's just say that this place quickly became one of my favorites.

They also happen to sell some prepared foods, and me being me, had to pick some things up to take home and try.
We instantly fell in love with these triangular pockets full of spinach, and sometimes spinach mixed with cheese, depending on the kind we buy.

Of course, I had no idea what they were actually called because they labelled it only as "spinach pie", so that everyone could understand, no doubt.
But these pies were so much better than just spinach. I do love spinach, but these were impressive and full of flavour. 

I called a sweet friend of mine who is from Quatar and grilled her about these, and she knew immediately what I was talking about. She told me that they were called "Fatayers" and that they were a traditional Lebanese food. It's one of those foods that everyone has their own way of making, of course, so the recipes are plentiful. Some women will vow to never use milk in their dough, others always use it, etc.

The interesting tart flavours I was picking up on was lemon and sumac, which, ironically, I had just purchased.

I was buying the sumac for another recipe, but luckily had enough to make some of these too.
My friend was gracious enough to give me her mother's own recipe, which has become a favorite around here.

They're really easy, and fast, and can be whipped up last minute if you use quick rise yeast.

Sometimes I slip some feta or paneer (Indian cheese) into them as well. You can use fresh or frozen spinach...i'm sure some people swear by one or the other, but I've made both and I can't tell a difference once it's cooked. I think it would be far more economical to go with the frozen route though.
The most important thing to do though is make sure that the spinach is well drained.

yields approx 32


For the dough:
  • 425 g. flour (approx 3 cups)
  • 3/4 cup milk*, warm (or water)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or honey
  • 1 tsp dry active yeast
  • 1/4 cup canola or extra virgin olive oil
For the filling:
  • 500 g spinach, finely chopped (I use frozen chopped. Just thaw, drain really well. For this recipe, use two blocks)
  • 2 medium onions, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • juice of 2-3 lemons, to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sumac 
  • salt and black pepper, to taste

Putting them all together

  1.  Add the yeast to the warm milk with the half teaspoon of sugar or honey. Cover and set aside for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Prepare the dough by mixing the oil with the flour and slowly mix in the yeast-milk mixture. Add salt to taste and knead for 10-15 minutes or until the dough is soft and elastic.
  3. Divide the dough into individual balls (small tennis/large golf ball size) and cover with a damp towel while you prepare the filling.
  4. Add salt, pepper and sumac to the diced onions and red bell peppers to soften them. In a separate bowl add the salt to the spinach and rub the leaves with your hands until they begin to wilt.
  5. Squeeze out as much water from the spinach as you can and then mix with the seasoned onion and red bell pepper mixture. Add lemon juice and adjust seasoning to taste.
  6. Begin forming the fatayer by flattening out each piece of dough. It helps to do this on a lightly oiled plate. If the dough begins to contract too much, that means it is not well rested yet.
  7. Add a spoonful of the spinach mixture to the center of the disc while making sure to keep the sides clear of oil or filling. This will help create a better seal later.
  8. Crimp the dough into a triangular shape and set on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  9. Brush with milk or a light egg wash and bake in a 450 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve warm or at room temperature


{This Moment}

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Yarn Along {bubblegum}

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Yarning along with Ginny

I've made it a goal to knit some little cardigans for several of my nieces and nephews for Christmas this year, and I thought it would be best if I start a little bit early (as in now.)
For the little girls, I decided to go with the vertebrae again because it was such a fun and quick knit, and the closest thing I could find to what my sister wanted for them. Something quick and cute to throw over a sleeveless dress in the fall or winter, but something that could go well with jeans as well.

I've started one in bubblegum pink (my oldest niece's request was that it be this colour) and it's been flying off the needles. I can probably have the sleeves done by the end of the day if I can get some knitting time in.

I've still been reading "The Beauty of Humanity Movement" and I've also started "NourishingTtraditions" by Sally Fallon this week.
I just found nourishing traditions from a clearance bin at one of the local health food stores, and it's a book that I've had my eye on for a quite a while.  It focuses mainly on fermented foods and how they benefit our bodies, and is loaded with recipes and ways to squeeze more fermented foods (full of pro-biotics) into our diets. This book definitely does not disappoint.

Ok, maybe the part where she said that I should get rid of my pressure cooker. That was disappointing.She says it cooks food above boiling temperatures which isn't as nature intended. But really, did nature intend to us to cook everything? Will we ever know? I can understand the microwave....but my beloved pressure cooker? Paws off, Sally lady. Hmph!

Binding off,


Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekend Snippets

The fun all started on Friday night, when the army of angry clouds marched through the sky. The weather radio was brought out, the tv weather channel played suspensefully in the background as we huddled by the windows, debating whether or not we should go to the basement.
I don't think that I'll ever get used to not having to run to the basement or cellar. 

Candles were lit by two boys desperately eager for a real storm, and they got it. 
Wind, rain, hail, thunder, and lighting.. And not just in one simple movement, but 4 seemingly separate shows, with sunshine and rainbows for an intermission. Little miss sassy pants seemed completely happy with the loud booms and flashes of lighting...clearly she fits in well.

I almost went outside to pick some tomatoes, but just as the raindrops slowed just enough for me to venture out another black cloud would roll in, causing more wind and more rain. 
There were some major power outages across the city, limbs down, basements flooded, and trees blocking road ways.
We were spared, for the most part. The mangled and tangled tomato plants might tell you another story, but at least they're still alive. I think they still have hope.

The storm drove away the humidity which is glorious because it made being outdoors became fun again. That heat wave was appreciated at first,(you know, from a gardener's perspective) but had long over-stayed  it's welcome.

A road trip to bass pro shop was in order, so Saturday we took it with the windows rolled down and music up loud. I got to knit happily during the 1 hour drive...we sure do drive a long way for this silly store, but it's such a (cheap) adventure for the boys. And I like their cookware section full of cast iron and smokers. More cast iron than I'd ever need or want, but still fun to look.

I must have looked a bit of a mess, because while Lotte and I were admiring the fish and waterfalls, I heard some muttering about "no make up, no wedding ring, long hair, girls have to wear skirts" (Lotte was in a dress, and I in a denim skirt) and the mention of  "religious cult? Mormon?"
I had to giggle a little to myself, and make a note to wear my wedding ring next time I venture out. Or maybe at least some makeup. Haha, because I wouldn't want to cause any confusion!

Sunday was met with cool temperatures and overcast skies. After church (note*, not cult) we had an afternoon at home of housework. The attempted relocation of a birds' nest from our roof, (not ready to talk about that) and then an evening of music in the park again. It's become a Sunday night favorite, I'll sure miss those Sunday nights come Autumn. It's been fun for our whole family and Lotte can run until her chubby little legs give out. Come fall, we might just have to go picnic anyway, without the music. Or bring our own ;)

Binding off, 

Friday, July 19, 2013

✻ Friday Food Fair ✻ {Petha}

 (Hindi: पेठा pronounced [ˈpeːʈʰaː]) is a translucent soft candy from North India and Pakistan (Punjab region and metros). Usually rectangular or cylindrical, it is made from the ash gourd vegetable (also known as winter melon or white pumpkin, or simply petha
 in Hindi and Urdu).

There is a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant/takeout place here in Hamilton called The Himalaya.
This restaurant really doesn't seem like anything terribly magical from the outside. It's in a fairly plain looking strip mall, between a somewhat neglected convenience store and some offices, on a little side street in the east end of the city.

I first went to this place because I happened to be walking by one day after an appointment, and saw a sign advertising Samosas, 2 for $1.
Being the complete sucker for Samosas that I am, I decided to venture in. 

What I didn't expect though was to see an entire glass bar and counter filled and overflowing with colourful little cakes and pastries, in all different shapes and sizes. 
Some in syrup, some caked with coconut. Some rolled in pistachios, others clearly made of some form of fruit or vegetable. 

Ever since my first trip, I've been completely hooked. Not only hooked on their samosas (which are by far, the best samosas I've ever had in my life, I think I've told just about everyone I know to try them) but hooked on trying something new from their counter each time I visit. Sometimes I'll have a little variety box made up and bring them to a friend's house so we can try a nibble of each one.

Now, I'm not much of a "sweets" person. Aside from the occasional pang for chocolate, sugar is not my downfall. (I have many-but you won't find them in the sweet department.) But these aren't just your run-of-the-mill cakes, pies and doughnuts. These were something that I had to try.

My first sample was "Petha". It's appearance alone had me completely curious. Anyone could tell by looking at it that this was either fruit or vegetable, something organic, but what? These were translucent, slightly veiny, white chunks, floating in some sort of sugar syrup.
I ordered one small, 1 inch piece, to which not a single eyebrow was raised. And after I bit into it I instantly knew why.

This was sweeter than any other candy or dessert I can think to name. But delicious, and seemingly buttery. 
 And w
ith an ever-so-slight flavour that I couldn't really put my finger on. Something familiar.
And the texture was similar to a watermelon pickle, or even a little bit like candied/dried pineapple. I had to buy more

I don't know if they're meant to just be eaten whole, but I eat tiny bits of them on the sides of other things. (like a pickle, or a chutney.)

I tried these quite a few times before I was able to find out exactly what it was I was eating. Often, it happens that the person working the counter doesn't speak much English, so the routine is to just point at what you want to buy. I had looked online, looking up everything I could think of trying to find out what on earth these little bits of deliciousness were.
I was buying them for my friends and family to try, without even being able to tell them what they actually trying.

Luckily, one day a very friendly girl who was working at the counter spoke quite a bit of English and told me what these are. She told me that these are called "petha" (pronounced in a way that I would spell as "pet'sa")  a very traditional sweet and that they're made from "Ash Gourd" or "winter pumpkin". That familiar taste that I noticed is something that they add to the syrup...rosewater.

Last month, while shopping at our regular all-around-Canadian grocery store (Freshco), I found these in the "international" section. The same candied gourd, but dried. They were right under my nose the entire time! This variety doesn't have the rosewater or the syrup,  but they're pretty close to the real deal. 

While we all love the fresh syrupy ones, no one seems to mind the dried ones at all.
In fact... went to take a picture today, and found that this was all that's left!

Clearly I'm going to have to hide my future friday foods if I want any left to photograph.


What new or different foods have you tried recently? I'd love to hear about them!
Go out and try something new!

Original Friday Food Fair Post here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Yarn Along ::Noro Log Cabin::

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Yarning along with Ginny

I can't hardly believe it, but I have no projects on the needles right now other than this. I've recently finished a little sweater, but I forgot to photograph it so i'll save it for next week.

A little while ago I started the Noro Log Cabin Blanket. It's just a simple square by square project that is eventually all picked up and formed into one big blanket.  Several of us at our Knitting group decided to make these together as a knit along, just for fun.
One of my friends has already cranked out an entire blanket and is on to her second! And she's giving the first one away for a wedding present. We've all told her that she should just give them the token salad bowl or crockpot (I mean, after all, who else but a knitter would truly appreciate an entire blanket made of noro?), but she won't listen to us.

This is a fun, simple knit and I have no deadline so i'm enjoying this just as an "in between" project. I've also really appreciated this because we're in the middle of an intense heat wave and  these squares aren't big heavy to rest on my lap as I knit, and they're pretty forgiving when my iced tea glass makes condensation all over them as I knit. I may have even used them for coasters now and then.

The only hard part will be finding 20 different colourways of noro, which is what the pattern calls for. 
I suppose you could repeat a few, but that wouldn't be as much fun, would it? Now I have an even greater excuse to peruse every yarn store I happen to find. Oh Drat.

My Reading as been light this week. I've set aside "The Beauty of Humanity Movement" for some of the well loved Yarn Harlot's humour in "Stephanie Pearl Mcphee Casts Off". I've read her other books, but I think I'm enjoying this one the most out of all of them. Maybe it's because I've been knitting longer and now I "get it" more...but i'm not sure. I really do think this book is golden. Who would have thought that there could be so much potential humour from something as simple as Knitting?

Binding off,

Monday, July 15, 2013

Weekend Snippets

we had a one photo kind of weekend
involving a lot of work and not much play
we had to do grown up things like

:buy food to feed our hungry hungry hippos:
:get stuck in traffic for an insanely long time at the canadian/u.s.a border:
 I'm glad I brought my knitting as we were stuck long enough to knit two whole toddler sleeves
:bedroom rearranging:
:repeated crayon removal from lotte's mouth:
:policing squabbles between two siblings:
:there was mixing of peroxide and baking soda, and cleaning all the things:
but it wasn't completely without adventure

there was a gutsy salamander who escaped and was roaming the bedroom
poor georgina didn't last very long out of her tank
there was a toddler who figured out how to spray the garden hose at her mommy and daddy
when they least suspected, of course
on the jet setting
and she didn't give it up very easily when asked
there were samosas and iced tea
sunday night live music in the park
evening picnicking with friends and their littles, who all danced together to the music
and of course little Evie who is dutifully and deliciously fat
who just laid there as the picnic center piece, enjoying the  commotion around her

Weekending along with Amanda

Friday, July 12, 2013

✻ Friday Food Fair ✻

I know that I often talk about how I miss being in the country, how much I miss my family in Kansas and how "there's no place like home". (And that line is brilliant, because it's indeed true.)

However, there are certain things about being in the city that over the years I've grown to love.
The Events.
The shops.
The communities within the city....

The Markets

As silly as this might sound, if I were to ever leave the city, this would be one of the things I would miss the most. Right after my own friends and community, of course. 

If I hadn't moved to Canada, I don't think I would have the passion I do today for finding new, and different (and sometimes seemingly downright bizarre) foods when I shop at these ethnic markets and shops that are scattered throughout our city.

 I do realize that there are American cities that hold the same treasures, but I assure you, I lived no where near these places. 
If I still lived where I did, I have not a single doubt in my mind that my grocery shopping would be limited to the local Walmart and Krogers. My widest sense of culture would include some Mexican, Runza hut, and the local American-Chinese Buffet. 
Of course there would definitely be some freedom in getting food from local farms-which would be fantastic. But that's another post.

When I first visited Canada, we stayed in Toronto with some friends, close to Chinatown. I remember walking down the sidewalk of this overwhelmingly busy city in complete awe, and a little bit of shock (and possibly experiencing a little bit of PTSD over the whole subway thing,)  at how close together the buildings were, how people didn't all have their own driveway or even their own front yards, but most of all, how different "groceries" were. 

Milk came in bags, first of all. 
I still think that's gross, and quite wrong, for the record, but there it is. 

But this was so much more than bagged milk. 

 This was about the live chickens in make-shift shopping cart cages being sold on the sidewalk.

Roasted Chickens hanging in windows
The flopping fish laid out on beds of ice. 
Yogurt in twenty varieties alone without even including the ones that were flavoured. 
Cheeses besides just Mozzerella and Cheddar, that you didn't even have to make yourself. Sausages hanging from open rafter ceilings in mesh bags.

Fast food didn't have to be McDonalds or Wendys

(I later learned on the same trip that Canada did indeed have these places too, and I unabashedly admit, breathed a small sigh of relief. I could learn to love Ronald even though he did have a small, unfamiliar maple leaf on the pocket of his fashionably horrible, but internationally loved, striped shirt.)

Fast food here could mean buying a cup of coffee and a doughnut from the man wearing a turban standing at a booth full of newspapers at that terrible, damaging, subway station.
I had recently seen Annie. I asked my Dad if that man was "Punjab". He may have been, but i'm sure that wasn't his name.

It could mean buying a sausage from a man who just happened to have his bbq with him on the street corner. 
Please note, I was young.

Or buying a big bowl of noodle soup, so big it could feed our whole family, from the restaurant that didn't bother to hang curtains in their kitchen windows, even though the kitchen, oddly, happened to be right at the front of their restaurant.  
I may have been just a little bit dumb, too.

My favorite "Canadian" fast food became bbq pork and curry beef buns from the tung hing bakery. The curry beef was so spicy to my little untrained palette that I remember my ear drums burning. And I liked it.

Although, I remember being so thirsty- to the point of tears, and I really could have used some water. And at the time, bottled water wasn't really a thing yet, and it was near impossible to get a cup of water at an authentic Chinese restaurant or bakery.
So I had to settle for scalding hot Jasmine tea that blistered the roof of my mouth.
Jasmine and I have never really been good friends since that incident.

I naively thought that all of Canada was like this. 
I later learned that we were moving to another city entirely, not Toronto, and certainly not Chinatown, but to a city with the same old boring chain grocery stores, with plentiful hints of promise for something more. A city that grew to have a lot of the same wonderful places and cultures of people.

We are so very blessed to be able to have the world at our doorstep.

And it's not just about the food. Sure, the food tastes amazing, and is full of surprises. But it's also the people. The stories behind the foods and where they came from.The history behind it all. Why did they think to do this, with these spices, to this vegetable? How did they turn this mundane grain into something so magical?

Ask anyone in my family, and they'll tell you that I'm the one to come to for weird food or beverages. And it's true. I'll be the first to try anything that I haven't seen before. 
Yes, Sometimes it's only once.
I have ordered things in restaurants that have made the cooks come out and ask me, nicely, "lady, are you sure this is what you mean to order?"
Then they bring me whatever the experiment of the day is, and my family (and on occasion, the staff) waits for me to try the first bite. This usually ends in passing it around the table so that everyone can try a bite or sip. ends in laughter.
FYI. If something is called "Fire Bowl", they aren't kidding around.

While I don't get to try ethnic restaurants as often as I would like-I do have a little hobby, (err, habit-I blame my mother,) of trying something new each time I shop at a market.

Sometimes it's a strange candy from India. Sometimes it's an Eastern European beverage. Or it's a preserved and fermented bottle of unidentified vegetables that you're supposed to eat on rice. Of course, I won't know it's supposed to be eaten on rice until I go home, translate the label online and research it.
Once in a while, it's a tin can of Chinese radishes, intended for Hot and Sour soup, that spark when you put them in the microwave and you decide that you probably Shouldn't be eating them.

Oh, the adventure.

I've decided that each Friday shall be Friday Food Fair here on the Mayberry Home Journal. 

Each week I will post about whatever food adventure I've recently had. Yes, (much to the Mr's regret, although, often pleasure) this is at least a weekly thing. 

It might be a packaged food, it might be prepared.
It might be a beverage.
It might be a fruit. It might be vegetable.
It might be unidentifiable.
It might be healthy.

It might involve hot water and chemicals.
It might be something that everyone else has had and I've just missed out on because sometimes it seems I live under a rock these days.

Join me on Fridays for the newest adventure. And please feel free to share what food adventures you've had recently, either in the comments or on my facebook page.

P.S. My prayers have been answered, for there's a Tung Hing bakery in Hamilton now too. You should go pick yourself up a curry beef bun.

And some water.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Yarn Along :: Leftie ::

Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?  -Yarning along with Ginny

The Leftie has finally crawled off my needles. If anyone remembers, last week I was talking about playing chicken with what was left of my itty bitty ball of yarn. 
Well, I lost at that game.
There wasn't enough to do a final repeat, so I ended up having to rip back to the last red leaf and binding off there. And the real kicker was that only had a eeensy weensy bit of red left to do it with. But alas, it was done, with about 8 inches to spare. Horray!

I haven't started any large projects since completing this, but I'm finishing up a few little Lotte sweaters for the fall. Nothing fancy, just plain Jane cozy. I'm still itching to find the perfect "larger" project. I think I may have fallen in love with fingering weight, something that I never thought would happen.

I'm sad to report that my reading hasn't been up to snuff this week. I've dug my way through some more of "the Beauty of Humanity Movement" and I've really enjoyed it so far.
And-each time I've picked it up, it's left me craving
phở (traditional Vietnamese beef noodle soup, which is pronounced feu-like fire is pronounced in french), so I might have to make some this week.

What have you been knitting? Or making? Or reading?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Weekend Snippets

Warm, humid breeze
...followed by rain showers
on a garden full of promise
evening songs sung by cicadas
a little road trip with Papaw Jake
a few rows in on a frustrating knitting project with a pattern full of errors
but it was all ok because there was fresh strawberry juice on ice
and stacks of cucumbers layered with dill 
bluegrass and blues for background music
played by our very own talented Zeke
an evening at the kitchen table, 
of doodling lots and lots of babies with a little certain someone
she made me draw the whole family
and then scribbled over each and every person
a late night of laundry duty
sunday morning church service
a quick trip (say what??) into my new favorite, local yarn store
a picnic of bruchetta sandwiches at the park with Mamaw & Papaw Willie
laying on blankets in the grass
while listening to a local band who rocked it
new dancing partners
snuggles with the newest family member...and kissing her chubby cheeks
lighting bugs on the walk home
a tall glass of good ol' Kansas style iced tea (there's no taste like home?)
while flipping through a fun magazine
tired bodies into bed.
* * *

joining Amanda in Weekending

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Yarning Along...Out Back

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now?

I'm blogging from the back yard today, as it's gorgeous outside and this temperature shouldn't be missed.  We've had beautiful weather these last few days.
Not too hot, but warm enough that the tomatoes are happy and thriving. (Which is really all that matters...right?)

Things feel a little bit southern out here-Zeke is practicing the slide guitar, glasses are filled with iced tea, and a plate of piping hot fried zucchini is sitting in the middle our picnic blanket, cooling just enough that we can devour them comfortably.

I'm working on my Leftie, and I'm at that point where I get to play a little bit of *chicken* with whats left of my yarn. Is it enough to finish another repeat? Do i knit on, and risk running out and having to rip back? Or do i just rip back now to the end of the last repeat and kind off? I love this kind of dilemma, and it might be sad to admit, but it makes me as pleased as pie.

I just finished reading 'The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow', and i think i can sincerely say that its one of the best books that I've ever read. It reads like a real, heartfelt, deep and fascinating tale.

It was a book that didn't have me on the edge of my seat, but i still couldn't put it down.
Set in the Fifties, in New Orleans, the scenery alone was enough to keep me captivated. The actual story line was absolutely beautiful though, and the characters were believably human, peppered with flaw, love, and haunting remorse.

Its going to be difficult to find another book to follow in its footsteps, but the first few chapters of "The Beauty of Humanity Movement" by Camilla Gibb have shown a lot of promise! It's set in Vietnam, and loaded with sweet historic and cultural tidbits, which is right up my alley.

The Zucchini is cooled off now, off to get some before I miss out!