The rowdy ruffians are positively addicted to cooking these days. It is true that the stove gives comforting warmth that my tropical offspring miss. However, they also enjoy the process itself and it pleases them to no end to see others appreciating their concoctions. The other day, Bear made applesauce and Mars prepared her specialty – omelette with homegrown garlic sprouts – for a guest’s breakfast.
I remember one of the girls’ early culinary attempts. They decided, one day, to make their own lunch and conspired gleefully in the kitchen. They later invited me to sample their meal – I’d thought it was something elaborate or out of the ordinary considering their blissful expressions, but I was mistaken. It turned out to be a simple dish of boiled potatoes seasoned with butter, salt and pepper. :) It was delicious though – one of those things that just hit the spot, you know? – and quite healthful and it made me realise that I had a lot to learn from my children. One of the most important things that they have taught me is to find joy and contentment in the littlest things. Indeed, when it comes to food, frugal and easy need not mean compromising on flavour or quality.
I’ve been inspired by Kate’s blog (she has tips on frugal living and back-to-basic meals), discussions with my friend Tea (you guys MUST pester her to blog about the amazing things she has learnt about healthful eating!) and meals my friend Umm Aymun prepares (she makes the simplest things so mouthwatering that it is amazing, I kid you not! These Urdu-speaking folk have close to magical talents!). We’ve made a conscious effort to eat more home cooked meals and to use more organic foods. We are fortunate in this respect – raw milk, pure butter/ghee, free range eggs and organic meats and produce are more easily available and affordable here than in my home country.
We have been enjoying making hearty meals that require minimal ingredients and preparation. I’m not against elaborate meals – it is a blessing to present the best to your family and guests – but it simply is not something sustainable or even necessary on a daily basis. Eating simply can mean savings that can be used for more useful things and charity. It also inculcates self-restraint – all too often, we indulge our nafs and throw moderation to the wind. We would do well to be the sort of people who can make do, people who know the difference between “needs” and “wants”. The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said, “A human being has not filled any vessel which is worse than a belly. Enough for the son of Adam are some mouthfuls that can keep his back straight, but if there is no escape, he should fill it a third with food, a third with drink and a third empty.” [at-Tirmidhi]
For us, easy meals allow us all to be involved in the preparation. The girls feel a great sense of participation and achievement. What is more, not slaving over the stove means that we have more time for reading, crafting and of course, worship. I’ve begun a little notebook of easy-peasy recipes for the girls that I’ve stuck onto the refridgerator door – they can refer to it any time they feel like cooking in shaa Allah.
We’ve been having lots of fruit and vegetables. Pomegranates are a favourite – they are so gorgeous truly! Lunches are often our version of Subs – sandwiches of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, capsicum and cottage cheese with little dollops of mayo and mustard – they are so appetizing ma shaa Allah. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, nothing beats the taste of produce here – they are so fresh and the flavours just burst in your mouth.
Here are some other dishes we’ve been doing recently…
… a variation of my children’s potato dish … boiled potatoes cooked with onions, garlic and minced chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper. I used the kids’ homegrown garlic sprouts to garnish and they were delighted! Another 20-minute dish that was much appreciated, alhamdulillah…
… we have cut down on fried foods so these are becoming a rarity (honest, Tea!)… I made my version of pakoras as we had left-over bread and crusts. I just chucked them all in a bowl with flour, eggs, onions, coriander and spring onion greens and spices and fried the crazy mix up :)
It will be a busy week – the kids have to hit the books and I have to tidy our living area once again – a mammoth task, believe you me! I hope it also means another week of simple pleasures… in shaa Allah :)