‘Tis the Season

Now that Thanksgiving is over, my roommate and I have been able to shamelessly deck out our apartment with Christmas decorations.  We play Christmas music constantly, put cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in everything we eat (or drink) and turn on our flashing Christmas lights in the evening.  Last night when just the Christmas lights were on and I was drinking tea by the window, I felt the same Christmas rush I used to feel for weeks leading up to the holiday when I was little.

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The only snowman you’ll see in Casablanca

Last year, I really missed the US after being gone for several months, partly because I missed my favorite foods.  However, this morning I went running by a sushi restaurant and a Mexican restaurant, and did not feel any (or very much) longing for those familiar cuisines (there are a lot of Asian restaurants in my neighborhood in Chicago!).  My secret, you ask?  Seasonal foods.  I mentioned that I’ve really been enjoying pomegranates.  Well, I’ve also been enjoying pumpkin, first in jack-o-lantern form, then in soup, and most recently in bread.  Bread!  And this morning, as I was listening to Michael Bublé’s All I Want for Christmas is You and chopping vegetables, I thought, why not put more vegetables in bread?  So now I’ve got zucchini bread and carrot bread.  And I’m feeling generous, so I’m even going to share my recipe with you.

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Zucchini on top, carrot underneath, deliciousness everywhere.

1 cup mashed pumpkin/grated zucchini/grated carrot (choose one)

1 cup flour (I used white flour because that’s all I had, and I actually substituted 1 cup of semolina in the carrot bread, which gives it a nice nutty flavor and some more texture)

1/2 cup plain yogurt

Baking powder

1 tsp salt

3/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup water (I used lemon-ginger juice instead)

1 big spoonful of ginger and of cinnamon (I like it with more spice!)

Mix together and bake for about 45 minutes, and then eat your vegetables!  I guess now you know why I’m not a food blogger…my recipes change each time I make them depending on what I have, what sounds good, and what my mood is.  Have fun experimenting!

The Strange Fruits of Casablanca

Every week, I try to bring a guest vegetable into my kitchen.  This past week I branched out and instead tried a new fruit: Kaki, also known as persimmon, and also as disgusting.  Kaki has a pretty good taste, but it has a weird chalky texture that makes you feel like you need to brush your teeth immediately.

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A few weeks ago, my guest of honor was fennel.  I got it for free from the vegetable seller who probably thought I was ridiculous for being so perplexed by it.  Fennel is pretty funny-looking, but if you can look past appearances, it’s delicious in salads.
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Beets, sweet potatoes (native to Africa, not the same as American yams), green beans, cabbage, and eggplant have also made a debut in my kitchen.  Last week I had pomegranate in my morning yogurt, continuing with the fruit theme.  Next week, I am going to have my sister stay here as a guest instead of vegetables, which should be a much different situation.
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A beautiful but time-consuming fruit.
In the spirit of discovery that I’ve been enjoying here in Morocco, my boyfriend and I have been working on developing two original recipes: Eggsta and Magic Menu.  Eggsta is a whimsical combination of eggs and pasta, making a kind of swirled omelette.  We have been cautiously introducing more vegetables to the dish, one at a time.  Magic Menu, an equally droll creation, is a pudding-like dish made of couscous in leben (another mysterious food) that can be infused with a number of delicious fruit combinations.
This week, I have a super exciting holiday-related guest vegetable: pumpkin!  Cleaned out thanks to a team of hardworking kindergarteners who aren’t afraid of a little mess.  Got any pumpkin recipes?!
IMG_3574Some of us thought there would be pasta inside this guy (which would have been good for Eggsta!) but in fact he was filled with pumpkin.