Welcome to 29 Portsmouth Terrace, Apt. 3

Welcome to a place that is born out of loss. In it, I will cook my way through grief. My name is Becca. On May 19th, 2018 my best friend Abby died suddenly and unexpectedly leaving me forever changed.

This solo exercise is an expression of love and sorrow. It is a way to honor her, remember our connection and heal my way forward through the comfort of a kitchen, a physical space where I feel at home. I am a passionate cook with a knack for finding exceptional recipes. The kitchen I will post from is in a studio apartment in a grand 19th century house that I leased for one year starting in June 2019 and ending in May 2020. I do not live there. I cook and contemplate there.

I have chosen twelve cookbooks from my library. I will cook, bake, photograph and share my way through as many recipes as possible each month. The plan: each recipe will be a first trial. Like in life, no practice run. The idea is to work with the books I have collected over the years but somehow didn’t have enough time or focus to explore. Also, it has occurred to me in this process of grief, the importance of practicing presence with whatever I am feeling. Feel the feels, so to speak. I really don’t need anything more than a beginner’s mind and an open heart. That seems like an authentic launching point. Abby would have been pleased.

  • June: My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss
  • July: Purple Citrus Sweet Perfume by Silvena Rowe
  • August: Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown
  • September: 660 Curries by Raghaven Iyer
  • October: Market Cooking by David Tanis
  • November: Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
  • December: Eat by Nigel Slater
  • January: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
  • February: Truly Mexican by Roberto Santibanez
  • March: Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi
  • April: Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat
  • May: Together: Our Community Cookbook: The Hubb Community Kitchen

Month of May: “Together: Our Community Cookbook” Recipe: Aysha Bora’s Potato Fritters with Cilantro Chutney

“We were together, I forget the rest.” Walt Whitman

Potato fritters are made in three parts. I suppose just like the template of a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. How fitting this last recipe is as I come to the conclusion of my year long adventure. The studio is now empty with key in hand ready to be released.

I woke up this morning feeling so sad and helpless at the recent events of our country and world. Everything seems so scary, so crazy, so divisive and in desperate long overdue need for real healing. I/we have a lot more work to do to transform our home into a more kinder, a more just place for people, for animals, for plants, for life! We are all in this predicament together whether we want to acknowledge it or not. What to do exactly? All that comes to my mind right now is to take small steps toward being much more aware of the problems at hand and adjust my daily choices while I try to remain as hopeful and loving as possible. We appear to be waking up to a new reality while simultaneously being caught dab smack in the middle of a ginormous global growing pain. It will get worse before it gets better, that’s a given.

For days I have been reflecting on my earlier ideas for the final post. Initially I thought I could summarize all the realizations and inner shifts I had experienced during this year. But every time I gave any real attention to this possibility there were no words, no thoughts, no feelings. Only silence stared back at me. So after returning to the drawing board more than a few times I switched directions. Instead I decided to end with a letter from a time gone by but still relevant and meaningful to this day. This was written on yellow ruled paper in black ink on July 25, 1991, on Abby’s 27th birthday. It seemed like a sweet way to say good bye to you my reader and to my transformative twelve months at 29 Portsmouth Ave. Apt. 3. I hope you will agree.

Abby, well my friend, here it is, another birthday. Time continuing on, never stopping…like Niagara Falls. When we met I was twenty years old. We’ve known each other eight years already. Can you believe it? Look around- so much has changed in that time, imagine eight years from now. Wow- it’s exciting, it’s scary. We have been through so much together and apart. Do you remember the night it rained clear marbles at the cabin and paint dripped in color down the magic mirror? Remember crying one shared tear to Rickie Lee Jone’s We Belong Together? I remember you sending me your pencil portrait for one birthday and on the back of it you wrote, “Who has the words to close the distance between you and me?” But deep inside we knew there was little distance between us, between our hearts and souls. How I longed to be near you then. Remember the year you came out to Sodus and took the train with Rita and little Chasca potato? You gave me a handwoven scarf. Remember the cross section of the cerebellum I made for you?- that was your 25th. I remember patiently carving out the paper with an exacto knife. Remember the birthday when Rita was a newborn- things were rocky for us that year. I gave you a Mexican cotton handbag with shells and rocks. Remember the poem I wrote about Gordy and our bubble acid day? What every happened to that? Funny…memories to us now. And here another one in the making. I suppose the gift of brandy is symbolic of the hard times right now. I want you to know and never forget, I am always here for you. I am always open to listen. You can cry and slobber on my shoulder anytime, whatever it is you want to do. I am here for you during your hard times as well as the good. There is nothing or no one that can come between our love as you are my sister. I love you so deeply and I feel the love you have for me. I appreciate everything about you. Communicating with you is so easy. Don’t be afraid to feel, don’t be afraid to cry, laugh from your gut, run in the woods. You have a lot of healing to do. Feel and let go. Take your time, it doesn’t have to be all figured out now- there’s time and we are young. You are an incredibly beautiful person Abby and I love you forever. We are blessed with life, blessed with a friendship rare in these times. Becca

Ingredients: Potato filling: 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 inch piece of freshly grated ginger, 1 green chile seeded and finely chopped, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/4 cup cilantro, 1 lb mashed potato, juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 tsp sugar, salt, 6.5 cups sunflower oil, Batter: 1.5 cups chickpea flour, 1/4 tsp asafoetida, 1/2 tsp baking soda. 1 tbsp olive oil, 3/4 water, Chutney: 4 cups chopped cilantro, 3 peeled garlic cloves, 4 green chiles, 7 tbsp water, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup yogurt.

Beginning: Make the potato filling. Boil potatoes and mash. Heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat and add ginger, chile, turmeric and cilantro, cook for 1 minute. Add mashed potato, lemon juice, sugar and salt, mix well. Taste for seasoning and transfer to a plate, spread out and let cool for 20 minutes. When cooled off, divide into 10-12 balls and put in refrigerator for 25 minutes.

Middle: Make batter with all batter ingredients and mix with a whisk to form a smooth mixture. Put in refrigerator. Make the cilantro chutney by adding all chutney ingredients into a food processor until desired consistency and set aside.

Ending: Heat the oil until it reaches 350 F. Coat the balls into the batter mixture and carefully fry 2-3 balls at a time until golden about 3-4 minutes or less. Transfer to a plate with paper towels and repeat in batches. Serve hot with cilantro chutney.

Month of May: “Together:Our Community Cookbook” Recipe: Intlak Alsaiegh’s Tabbouleh

“Perhaps my best years are gone, when there was a chance of happiness. But I wouldn’t want them back. Not with the fire in me now.” Samuel Beckett

Tabbouleh is a well known middle eastern salad made from tiny little pieces of bulgur wheat, parsley, scallions and mint with tomato, olives and cucumber added. In Arab cooking it is often offered on the table as something green.

Over this year in the solitude of my studio there has been an overarching mixture of putting little pieces together of my friendship with Abby, my memories of our lives and my own personal meaning of losing her. Honestly, after two years in I don’t believe the grief will ever end. Time will not completely heal such a mammoth loss but the acute suffering has certainly lessened.

For decades I worked alongside grieving families as a hospice nurse but nothing has taught me more about grief than my own raw personal experience with it. We all travel on this road in our own unique way, in our own time and for some, maybe not at all because the pain could be too agonizing to let in. There are no one size fits all answers that I once believed. I have learned to be more compassionate not only with myself but with others as well. We all have the right to follow our own feelings without a single drop of judgement. The way forward for me it seems is to be vigilantly aware and receptive to that very still inner self. To be present with the emotional roller coaster as much as I am able and possibly most importantly to be courageous enough to feel the feelings no matter how excruciating they might be to bear. Tears help too.

The question of what is it about Abby and our connection that stands miles apart from anyone else I have ever known and loved kept rising to the surface. What is it? What was so vastly different about her?? I suspect one core answer might be that together and apart we were always seeking, always waiting for that elusive something, for that perfect someone that could help bury our unsatisfying relentless wanderlust. That shared manner of being bonded us in a way I never felt with anyone else. It was a mutual identity that we didn’t have to explain because we could clearly understand it, ironically not in ourselves but in each other.

Only recently have I come to realize from Abby’s permanent absence, by some way of a miracle, that I have somehow tapped into what I have been searching for most likely all of my life. I have discovered that what I needed was me. I needed to find me. I needed to listen to me. I needed to love me. And when that shift finally happened for real, after years of doing the hardcore emotional work, my restlessness was unexpectedly and surprisingly laid to rest. And as long as I remember that and keep my eyes on the prize, I get to come home to myself time and time again.

Ingredients: 1/4 cup bulgur wheat, 5 tbsp boiling water, 5 cups chopped parsley, 1/2 cup chopped mint, 2 scallions thinly sliced, 1/3 cucumber peeled, seeded and chopped, 1 cup cherry tomatoes chopped, 1/4 cup whole and 1/3 cup pitted green olives chopped. Dressing: 1/4 cup olive oil, juice of 1.5 lemons, 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses, salt and pepper.

  1. Put the bulgur wheat in a bowl, add the boiling water and cover with a tight lid allowing to steam for 20 minutes.
  2. Make the dressing by mixing the oil, lemon juice and molasses with a pinch of salt and vinegar.
  3. Using a fork fluff up the bulgur wheat. Add all the ingredients together and add half the dressing, mix and taste, add remaining dressing if desired. Serve in a lovely dish or platter with whole tomatoes and olives on top.

Month of May: “Together: Our Community Kitchen” Recipe: Oxana Sinitsyna’s Russian Semolina and Kefir Cake

“Your memory feels like home to me. So when ever my mind wanders, it always finds it’s way back to you” Renata Suzuki

Kefir is fermented milk that originated in the Caucasus Mountains of Russia. Added here to this all semolina flour cake, the kefir adds a little tang to the sweetness. It is a dense but spongy and definitely not too sweet. Delicious with tea.

Abby and I loved the outdoors, especially being in the hills and mountains. It was another deep connection between us. Below is an iconic picture from our Appalachian trail adventure in the Great Smoky Mountains taken by some unsuspecting passerby hiker who had no idea just how close these two humans actually were. I love this photo of us so much. It is one of my favorites.

Ingredients: 1 cup plus 2 tbsp course semolina, 1 cup plain kefir, 7 tbsp unsalted room temperature butter, 1/4 tsp salt, 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar, 1/2 vanilla bean paste ( I used 1 tsp. vanilla), 2 eggs, 1 tsp baking soda, condensed milk or powdered sugar (optional)

1.Place the semolina and kefir in a bowl and blend. Let set for 2 hours and cover with a clean kitchen towel.

2. Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a 9 inch cake pan. Beat butter until soft, add salt and brown sugar and beat until creamy and slightly lighter in color. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time. Gradually incorporate the semolina mixture, then the baking soda. Beat well after each addition. Pour batter into cake pan and cook for 35-40 minutes until brown and spongy. Let cool in pan. Serve with condensed milk if desired. I sprinkled mine with powdered sugar.

Month of May: “Together: Our Community Cookbook” Recipe: Intlak Alsaiegh’s Beef and Eggplant Casserole

“We write to taste life in the moment and in retrospect. ” Anais Nin

This Persian recipe takes a little time to prepare. Each ingredient is gently pan fried and then assembled together for a final roasting. I didn’t have any tamarind paste so I substituted lime with brown sugar. I also didn’t have fresh tomatoes so I used canned instead. The sweetness of the sauce makes for a delightful surprising combination that enhances the soft eggplant and brings all the flavors together.

Yesterday I started packing up my studio. I have just a few more days there and then my blog is ready to come to an end. I organized the box of letters I had written Abby that she so lovingly saved. Over the months I have read and re-read each letter that span a decade of the 1990’s. Not only are these letters a precious physical belonging but they have also come to represent a larger meaning. It is a box of my longing. Letter after letter, the theme of longing is strikingly present. Longing to be in driftless region of southwest Wisconsin… longing to be near my friend, longing to be in those god damn magical hills, longing for my independence, year after year, writing after writing. It is undeniable. The box also included a handful of romantic letters from an old love that I must have given her to hold onto for me. She knew all too well that I had a tendency to throw away memorabilia out of anger and pain. I am so glad she saved them for me. I can now look back on those days of intensity and heartbreak with an acquired wisdom and maturity. Also included were letters from a few friends and lovers of Abby’s, photos, cards and some poetic scribblings. The shoe box was stuffed, it was black and labeled “rock and candy.”

I thought about the last time Abby and I ever talked. Days before her last communication we were having a phone conversation while I was taking a walk. I remember it was a warm early morning and the crab apple blossoms were all over the sidewalk were I was standing. I was looking down. I vividly remember a dense layer of pink petals on the ground all around my feet. She said Rita had come to get the kids and she needed to hang up. We were trying to agree upon the best date for a visit. I was finally coming back to the midwest to see her. The next morning she texted me for the last time. “I’m sorry I had to go so abruptly….I feel there was something else you wanted to say.”

Can you believe it?? Those were her last words to me, forever and ever. So haunting, so uncanny, so prophetic. I responded with a one word “nope” and a winking emoji. But I was wrong. I was very wrong. There were many many many more things I wanted to say…. hence “A Year at Portsmouth.”

Ingredients: 3/4 pound ground beef, 4 large minced garlic cloves, 3/4 tsp curry powder, 2 eggplants about 1.5 pounds cut into 1/2 inch slices, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 large potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices, 1 large onion peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices, 1 large green pepper cored and sliced (I used red), 1.5 cups water, 4 tbsp tamarind paste, 1.5 tbsp sugar, 3 ripe tomatoes cut into 1/2 inch slices, salt and pepper.

1.Preheat oven to 400. Place the beef and half the garlic into a bowl, add curry powder ( I used ground cumin and turmeric) and mix. Make into 12 small meatballs and set aside.

2. Heat a large non stick pan to medium high heat. Brush the eggplant with oil on both sides and cook for 4-5 minutes each side until golden. Brush the potato slices with oil and cook for about 6 minutes on each side. They should be golden but not cooked all the way through. Set aside.

3.Cook the onion slices and pepper in about 2 tbsp of oil for about 5 minutes. At last minute put in remaining garlic and set aside. Cook meatballs for about 2-3 minutes until golden but not cooked through.

4. In a measuring cup mix the water with the tamarind paste (I used brown sugar and lime juice to taste) and sugar until blended. Arrange the eggplant, potato, onion, pepper, tomatoes and meatballs in a 12 inch round baking dish overlapping them. Pour over the sauce. Cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes then uncover and cook 20 minutes more. Serve with basmati rice.

Month of May: “Together: Our Community Cookbook” Recipe: Leila Hedjem’s Spiced Mint Tea

“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it out.” Song of Solomon 8:6

May 19, 2018 at 5 am. I set my alarm to get up in the dark and tune in to the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. I, along with millions of others watched an unprecedented historical event occur…the union of two people representing a changing of the traditional guard. A world where race, position and title did not matter. All that mattered was the love of two hearts. I recall from those early hours how high I felt listening to a black minister set Windsor’s St George’s Chapel on fire with his words of the power of all kinds of love, not just romantic love. He quoted Martin Luther King Jr who said, “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way.” I was soaring…internally I felt I had somehow permanently changed…that this sermon strangely had set me on a different course that would change my life forever.

Hours later, I would prove my intuition correct.

I received a call from whom I presumed was Abby as her name came across my phone. I couldn’t wait to share with her the internal shift I had felt that morning. I knew she would be interested. Our last conversation was cut short and we needed to re-connect and solidify my travel dates for a visit. Then I heard Rita, Abby’s daughter’s voice. “Rebecca, this is Rita. My mom died this morning.” Her voice was low, soft, shaky. All I remember after that is speaking in a voice outside of myself, “No, No, No, No!!!” Then Andy came into the kitchen asking what had happened. Rita needed to know if I knew of any will or papers her mom might had stored away. I did not. We cried for a moment together, then Rita said she would need to call me back. We hung up.

I fell to my knees and sobbed.

Meanwhile, right outside my kitchen window, at the same time, my magnolia tree and purple irises were in full bloom.

Ingredients: mint leaves, 1 clove, 1 cinnamon stick

  1. Take 3/4 cup of mint leaves and spices and add to a pot with 3 cups boiling water. Steep for 5 minutes and serve with 1 tsp of honey or sugar to sweeten.

Month of May: “Together: Our Community Cookbook” Recipe: Dayo Gilmour’s Fennel and Orange Salad

“My recipe for dealing with anger and frustration: set the kitchen timer for twenty minutes, cry, rant and rave, and at the sound of the bell, simmer down and go about business as usual.” Phyllis Diller

Fennel and orange are an Italian match made in heaven. Here is one of the easiest salads to make as long as you have a good knife or mandoline for slicing. No frustrating recipe here.

Deep breath…sigh.

It’s been a few frustrating days around here lately. My computer is on the fritz, temporarily unemployed, my husband preparing for an upcoming serious surgery, the nation has gone mad with virus and collective rage, everywhere the stress and anxiety is high and everything is taking all my patience and strength. Anyone else feeling this way lately??

Abby was my go to person for decades. She knew me very well. She knew my story. She listened…deeply. I miss not being able to reach out to her, especially during crazy moments like these.

Deep breath…sigh

Well, think I will put the timer on for twenty minutes, rant first, rave second. Then pick myself up and go back to business as unusual.

Ingredients: 2 fennel bulbs, 2 large oranges, 2 tbsp. raisins, 1 tsp, apple cider vinegar, 5 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, 3 tbsp. toasted pine nuts, 1 tbsp. pumpkin seeds, sea salt

1.Trim the fennel bulb. discarding the bases , core and tough outer layers. Cut off the tops and reserve a few fronds. Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, slice the fennel as thinly as possible. Transfer to a bowl of ice water until ready to assemble, which will prevent browning and keep it crisp. Squeeze one orange and place juice in bowl. Peel the other orange and cut into small chunks.

2.. For dressing, add vinegar and salt to orange juice and then whisk in oil. Place fennel, reserved fronds, orange chunks, raisins, pumpkins seeds and pine nuts in mixing bowl. Add dressing and gently toss. Serve on platter.

Month of May: “Together: Our Community Cookbook Recipe: Munira Mahmud’s Spiced Lamb Pilao and Aysha Bora’s Indian Shortbread

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind however small. And in return, life – and travel, leave marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though they hurt.” Anthony Bourdain

These words resonate with my own life experience. These words and this recipe resonate with my life changing memories of India. In 2006 I flew 20 hours in one direction away from my homeland. I spent three weeks in the monsoon season of May in Calcutta assisting the nuns of Mother Teresa’s missionary caring for the sick and dying. Intense is an understatement to the poverty, the pollution, the heat, the suffering I witnessed there. Yet, strangely and utterly surprising, among the discomfort and pain I also found profound kindnesses and love unimaginable. A paradox, an ambiguity. Just like this grief journey.

Ingredients: 4 tablespoons ghee, 2 large onions finely chopped, 2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder cut into bitesize chunks, 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, 2 tablespoons cumin seed, 8 crushed cardamom pods, 6 cloves, 4 cinnamon sticks, water, 1 and 3/4 cup of basmati rice, salt, 2/3 cup plain yogurt and mint leaves

  1. Heat oil in heavy pan over medium heat and cook onions until soft and golden. Remove onions and add lamb in batches until browned. Return onions to all lamb and add spices with seasoning. Mix well. Add 1 and 2/3 cup of water and bring to boil first and then simmer with a lid on low heat for 3 hours.
  2. Once lamb is tender add rice and 2/3 cup of water and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Do not lift lid if you can. Remove from heat and let sit for another 15 minutes. Combine mint leaves with yogurt to serve on side. Remove lid and fluff with fork. Taste and adjust for more salt and pepper.

Ingredients: 1/2 cup ghee, 1 cup confectioners sugar, 2 tablespoons plain yogurt, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour, 5 tablespoons chickpea flour, ground cardamom from 4 pods, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 2 tablespoons of ground pistachios

  1. Put ghee and sugar in food processor for about 10 seconds. Add yogurt and blitz for a second or two. Add sifted flours, cardamom and powder and pulse until combined.
  2. Using your hands make about 35 balls (mine made less) about 1/2 ounce each and place on lined baking sheets. Chill for 20 minutes and bake at 350F for about 13-15 minutes. Check halfway through. Remove from oven and sprinkle with ground pistachios.

Month of May: “Together: Our Community Cookbook” Recipe: Leila Hedjem’s Baked Fish with Tahini and Pomegranate

“One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish” Dr Seuss

Well, I think I just discovered an indispensable sauce for all fish! Tahini sauce. Minutes to assemble. But please don’t underestimate this Algerian recipe by its simplicity. With the first bite the fish is suddenly elevated to a whole new level where you think, ‘I can’t imagine fish ever again without this.” 

From the time Abby was very little, she loved to fish. She loved to be on the water near them, she loved to catch them, she loved to smoke them, she loved to eat them. I remember many wild pale orange fleshed colored trout she would catch in the Kickapoo river and bring back for us to cook. One vivid memory comes to mind was when I first came to the valley in the time of early spring where we prepared and shared a completely wild caught and harvested meal. It consisted of morel mushrooms found hiding near rotting elm trees, secret patches of wild asparagus and river run trout…all brought to the cabin table by Abby’s knowledge of the seasons and plants, keen eye and natural talents. It was a remarkable meal and an experience I will always remember.

Just as I will remember my beloved Uncle Newt who took me as a small girl out on the clean beautiful waters of the Finger Lakes of New York state to fish with him in his small one motor metal row boat on summer days. We ate lovingly prepared sandwiches wrapped in wax paper and drank iced tea from a Coleman container that I still have to this day. He fished for perch and bass and our family’s freezers were always filled with aluminum foil packages layered with boneless fillets. He was the one that gave me the gift of appreciating the great outdoors for which I am eternally grateful.

These are the things that are priceless in our lives, aren’t they? How we touch one another in our simple acts of generosity and love. Ordinary sharing that over time becomes much much more than anything but ordinary.

Ingredients: 4 boneless skinless filets of cod or other fish about 5 oz. each, 1 tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper, 4 tbsp. of tahini, juice of 1 lemon, 1 garlic clove minced, 2-4 tbsp. warm water, 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, 1/3 cup fresh pomegranate seeds, 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts.

1.Preheat oven to 400F. Place fish in a baking dish and drizzle with oil and season. Cook for 10-12 minutes depending on thickness of your fish.

2. In a bowl, mix the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Gradually add warm water until you reach the consistency of plain yogurt.

3. When fish is done, pour sauce over it and garnish with pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and parsley.

Month of May: “Together: Our Community Cookbook” Recipe: Cherine Mallah’s Moroccan Pancakes with Honey and Almond Butter

“My mother was my first country, the first place I ever lived.” Nayyirah Waheed

Moroccan pancakes! What a delightful discovery! They are kind of a cross between a pancake and a crumpet. What makes them unique is you don’t flip them! Yeasty and filling, made with semolina flour and virtually no fat. The possibilities are endless.

Many possibilities for women become dormant once infants arrive on the scene. Abby and I both became pregnant the same year and had our babies in 1985. Pregnant together…children having children. Abby had her Rita in June and I had my Sean in August.  Abby’s Chasca was not far behind in May of 1988.

Here is the sum total of these life changing events in one sentence. Those babies, our children, all became our north stars and EVERYTHING that followed, for better or for worse, was for them. 

Ingredients: For the pancakes: 1 cup fine semolina, 1/2 cup self rising flour, 1 tsp. fast acting dried yeast, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. sugar, pinch of salt, 1.5 cups warm water (about 110-115F) For the topping (almond butter and honey) 1/4 cup almond butter, 3 tbsp. honey, 1 tsp. argan oil ( I didn’t have, so I used hazelnut oil, any nutty oil will do)

  1. Put all the pancake ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to make a smooth batter. Cover loosely with a towel and let rise for about 45 minutes until plenty of bubbles have formed and the batter has risen. Meanwhile, put the amlou ingredients in a small bowl, mix and set aside.
  2. Heat a non stick frying pan over medium-low heat, when hot, add a small ladleful to the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the surface has lots of bubbles and has dried. DO NOT FLIP! Transfer to parchment paper and repeat with the rest of the batter for a total of 12 pancakes. Let pancakes cool slightly before you stack them, or they may stick together. Serve warm with drizzled almond butter and honey topping.

Month of May: “Together: Our Community Cookbook” Recipe: Jennifer Fatima Odonkor’s Harira or Moroccan Chickpea Soup

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” Twyla Tharp

Moroccan chickpea soup with dates is a simple inexpensive soup made from ingredients that seem as though they would clash but surprisingly they don’t. Somehow it all worked and it is delicious.

Below is a tiled gallery of just a tiny sampling of art work Abby made throughout the years. I know she struggled her whole life with the deep need to create in contrast with the constant call of responsibilities to earn a living and raise a family. Many times along the way she started art businesses, participated in art shows as well as side hustles. I had always hoped she would have partnered up with some super wealthy person so she could stay at home and unleash all that ever flowing artistic energy. Even though that never came to be, she forged ahead in spite of her many hardships and obstacles and generously shared with us so many many beautiful creations along the way. Whether it was baskets, loom weavings, ceramics, oil painting, charcoal drawing, soft fiber sculptures, stained glass, willow furniture or barn boards…Abby could do it all.

Ingredients: 2 onions roughly chopped, 4 celery sticks chopped, 1 can diced tomatoes, > 1 cup cilantro, 1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, 1 tsp. ground pepper, 1/2 tsp. white pepper, 1.5 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. turmeric, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tsp ginger, 1/5 tsp olive oil, 1 quart boiling water, 1/2 can chickpeas rinsed and skins removed, 1/3 cup brown rice vermicelli noodles broke in small pieces, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp. ghee, handful of dates.

1.Place the onions, celery, fresh herbs and tomatoes in a food processor and process until smooth. Pour the ingredients into a large pot. Add spices and salt and olive oil and bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the boiling water, turn up the heat and boil for 20-25 minutes until thickened. Add the chickpeas and noodles, turn heat to low and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Whisk the egg along with the ghee, whisking all the time for 5 minutes. Make sure the heat is very low.

4.Serve the soup with chopped dates and bread. Squeeze a lemon wedge in if desired.