Apple chutney, preserving the summer

We organized an apple picking at a nearby orchard in the village of Surda, just outside Ramallah.  Abu Osama, orchard owner, invited us to pick from his bounty.  The early figs, da four, were already gone.  But he still had plums and the small baladi sweet apple.  While I enjoy eating fresh fruit in season, I love preserving fruit for when there is no seasonal fruit available.  I would rather eat a jar of my home made apple sauce rather than buy out of season apples imported from who knows where and grown in harmful conditions.

Tonight, I decided to cook some of the apples into a sweet-sour-cinnamony apple chutney.  I never measure when cooking fruit for preserving.  I am a lazy cook.

Apple Chutney:

a whole bunch of ripe apples, I filled my pot mid-way

sugar, I used a half cup

cinnamon, about 1 tablespoon

vinegar, I used a half cup of grape vinegar

Chop apples and leave apple cores for the compost or chickens. Mix all ingredients in a large pot.  Cook over medium heat stirring periodically until liquid absorbed and apples tender.  Boil a teapot full of water.  Pour the boiled water in the glass jars and metal caps that will house the apple chutney. Empty the jars and fill with apple chutney and tighten lid.  When cool, store apple chutney in your pantry.


What are you preserving this summer? Tell me.

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apricot custard

It’s finally that time of year – the short two week window- where the baladi apricot has ripened for our enjoyment.  We are having a good season this year.  The market is full of the small baladi apricot known as mishmish mistikawi.  And this Sunday, we are going apricot picking at a local farm in kufr malik, a village outside of Ramallah.

But I have already indulged in the harvest and have been eating apricot custard all week.  Simply grease a baking dish, fill the baking dish half way with sliced fresh apricots, and then cover with the custard mixture.  To make the custard mixture, mix six eggs and one cup of sugar in a large bowl.  Add a 1/2 cup of milk, 4 tablespoons of whole wheat flour, a bit of coarse salt, and some good vanilla.  Mix.  Pour over apricots.  Bake in a preheated oven for approximately 35 minutes at 200 degrees.  The custard should be firm.  Cool to room temperature and eat!

This has been my breakfast (and dinner) everyday this week.  A perfect start to the day.


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Real Taboun Bread

My latest article on the Palestinian Taboun..

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Cabbage salad in creamy almond butter dressing

I’m in garden starvation mode.  I have harvested my spring greens, peas, and fava beans.   I just planted seeds for the summer harvest.  Besides my motley of herbs, and a few loquats on my little tree, my garden is bare.  I harvested the parsley last week for a nice tabouleh.  The parsley needs another week or so to grow back.  I picked some thyme, marjoram, and mint for a new tabouleh.  But my body is craving more green.  My chickens are famished; they have been poking at their eggs.  My eggs!  I needed to save the eggs.  I have not figured out how to grow food to eliminate this starvation period.

I broke down and bought two heads of cabbage from the main market, partly to feed my chickens and save my eggs, and partly to feed me.

Cabbage slaw in creamy almond butter dressing

I didn’t measure.  I don’t think exact measurements matter with this salad.  Just taste the dressing and keep adjusting the ingredients until you like the flavor and the texture/thickness.   Thinly slice green and purple cabbage and a bit of onion to fill a bowl.    I also added sun flower seeds to this bowl.  In a small bowl, mix tahini (sesame seed paste), lemon juice, almond butter, salt, and ground flax seed.  You may need to add some water for a more fluid texture.  Pour dressing over cabbage and mix well.

I had the almond butter in my fridge.  I made it a month ago when I had the craving for a pb&j.  Simply grind almonds and a bit of olive oil in a food processor until it achieves the texture of a smooth almond butter.

I gave my chickens slices of cabbage – without the dressing.

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Where are the Atareen

My latest article about atareen, or herbalists, in Palestine:

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What to do with my baladi eggs and baladi potatoes?

After a six-month winter hiatus, my three chickens have started to produce some eggs.  I love the large creamy yolks. And after trying these free-range chicken eggs, it’s difficult to go back to the factory eggs where chickens spend their lives in a teeny cage with a light bulb and are forced to extract egg after egg all year long.   I could not bring myself to buy these eggs so I too took a six-month hiatus from eating eggs.

After I had my fill of scrambled, soft boiled, and sunny side up eggs, I was ready for eggs and potato. Eggs and potato fried for breakfast. Eggs and potato boiled and flavored for an awesome egg salad sandwich for lunch. I want me some eggs and potato, but they have to be baladi.

It is March in Palestine and baladi eggs and potatoes are in season. I walked through the main market, al hisbeh, in Al beirh in search of the soil covered potatoes. There were none. Only mesh bags of polished clean potatoes were on display. All Israeli. No baladi in the main vegetable market in town. How could this be? I thought there was a call out to boycott Israeli products. Did they forget to include the produce?

Later in the week, I decided to walk through the Masrara market in Jerusalem after Friday prayers. I love the energy on the streets.   The Masrara market is open all week long, but it expands on Fridays. Vendors spread out their goodies on the streets and sidewalk. Fish. Grilled meats in case you are hungry. Boxes of produce. Lots of produce. Some with a sticker identifying the name of the Israeli company. I could not bring myself to buy anything with a sticker.

“How much is this?” a lady asked in Hebrew as she pointed to a tangerine that she was peeling. She started peeling it to feed her child before she even asked.

“No worries. It’s a gift”, responded the Palestinian shopkeeper. This is the story of our lives.

I continued to walk. The variety of produce was astounding. Citrus. Apples. Persimmons. Tomatoes and cucumbers. Even mini-peaches. Most of these products were not in season.   Yes, there were large mesh bags of polished potatoes. I walked some more and finally found one box of soil-covered baladi potatoes and irregular shaped red carrots. I bought some of each. Finally.

“Where do these come from?” I asked the shopkeeper as I pointed to the baladi potatoes and baladi red carrots.

“Hebron”, he responded.

“But how did they enter Jerusalem?”

“Anything is possible with money”.

Fried baladi eggs and potatoes

Chop one medium potato and one medium red carrot and fry in a bit of olive oil. Keep the heat on low and stir occasionally until cooked. Sprinke with sea salt for taste. Mix two eggs with a bit of sea salt in a bowl. Pour eggs over potatoes and carrot and continue to cook on low. Stir. Once eggs are cooked, turn off the heat. Devour!

The red carrots are optional. Since I had a bunch of fresh rosemary from my garden, I chopped some rosemary and fried it with the potatoes and carrot.

Fried eggs and potato

Fried eggs and potato

Egg Potato Salad

Boil two medium potatoes. After 30 minutes, add four eggs to the pot and continue to boil for another 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the potatoes and eggs to continue to cook in the hot water. When cool, peel the potatoes and chop. Peel the eggs and chop. Place potatoes and eggs into a bowl. Season with sea salt for taste. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon mustard, and the juice of half a lemon. Mix. I also added some salted capers that I had preserved from last year’s caper harvest.

egg and potato salad

egg and potato salad

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baladi batata…at last

I finally found baladi batata (potato).  After searching through the main market, al hisbeh, in Al-beirh, the vendors told me that there is no baladi Palestinian batata in the market.  The Israeli potato, polished and packed in mesh bags, was the only potato in the market.  The vendors claimed that the Palestinian harvest failed this year.  Liars, I thought.  We had a good rainy winter and this is the baladi batata harvest season.   Something is wrong with the market.

I finally found the soil covered batata in Jerusalem at the Masrara market. The Masrara is a neighborhood cut in half in 1948 after Israel was established.  The vendor told me that the batata came from Hebron.  But how did it enter Jerusalem, I asked.  After all, the Israelis unilaterally annexed Jerusalem and do not allow goods from the West Bank to enter.  The vendor explained that anything is possible when money is involved.

I am so excited.  I have been waiting to make egg salad with my free range chicken eggs and the baladi batata.  More to come later this weekend with recipe and all.

seasonal palestinian

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