Put simply: I really adore my mom, Kathy. She has inspired so many of the recipes on this blog, and despite the distance between us, continues teaching me more about cooking each day. February 4 was her birthday, so let me tell you a little bit about her, and showcase some of the classic Mom-inspired recipes I’ve shared here over the past three years.
Mom is a writer with four novels and a book of short stories under her belt, and frequently lectures at universities about her work, writing, and the Middle East. She is extremely poised and glamorous 99% of the time. During that 1% where she is not poised and glamorous, she is trying to make herself a better human. She is charitable, has a huge heart and genuinely cares for people and global issues. She is strong and stands by her beliefs. She has experienced many tragic losses and yet her optimism remains intact – I wonder if I’ll ever have her resilience. She has lived in Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Bahrain, New York and Washington (and I’m probably leaving one out!), and has adjusted remarkably to the seismic shift from life in the Middle East to life in America. She knows her way around the kitchen, too, and has soothed practically every ailment in my life with something homemade.
She loves me even though I’ve been unbearable at times, and supported me when I chose to move away and explore once, twice, three and now four times. She has a big, mischievous laugh. She is a fiery redhead and, if in a crowded place, I always look for her hair in the sea of brown and black. She is loved intensely by all of us, though I venture that her two grandsons have her heart, visible in the care packages she sends to them in Holland. She’s left some serious shoes to fill. If I come close I’ll consider that a success.
Some of your favorite posts (and certainly mine) are heirlooms, passed down to me by her. Here are just a few – just click on the photo to find the recipe.
Layali Lubnan (“Lebanese Nights”): semolina pudding with whipped cream, orange blossom syrup and crushed pistachios.
Crazy good, crazy green, citrusy baby spinach and walnut pesto. I will never forget the first time I ate this.
Allayeh: Arabic-style bolognese. Budget-friendly, freezes well, kicks regular old meat sauce up about 50 notches.
Cherry and brown sugar cake: my base recipe for every tea cake, coffee cake and seasonal fruit cake. The best.
Roasted Cauliflower with Dates and Rosemary.
Arabic-style fruit salad with flower water
Mana’eesh with za’atar: irresistible za’atar breakfast pastries.