Recipe Index

Recipes inspired by Mom: A birthday tribute


Vanilla, coconut and lemon curd anniversary cake |

Put simply: I really adore my mom, Kathy.ย 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, Semolina Pudding with Apricots and Pistachio | Middle Eastern recipes by Wandering Spice

Layali Lubnan (“Lebanese Nights”): semolina pudding with whipped cream, orange blossom syrup and crushed pistachios.

Baby spinach pesto |

Crazy good, crazy green, citrusy baby spinach and walnut pesto. I will never forget the first time I ate this.

Allayeh (Middle Eastern bolognese) | Wandering Spice

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, Pine Nuts and Rosemary

Roasted Cauliflower with Dates and Rosemary.

mom's fruit salad

Arabic-style fruit salad with flower water

Manaeesh bi zaatar

Mana’eesh with za’atar: irresistible za’atar breakfast pastries.

And so many more. Her sweet potatoes, her favorite apple and walnut cake from 1960s Kuwait, her maqloubeh (upside-down rice). And undoubtedly, many more to come. Happy birthday and thanks, mom.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Barbara 28/05/2014 at 11:11 am

    Your mom is a member of our writing group, and I love her dearly. What a wondrous, loving and completely deserved tribute to an amazing woman. Too good!Bar

    • Reply Yasmeen 28/05/2014 at 10:23 pm

      Thanks Barbara! I know she feels the same way about you from her stories about the group over the years. She is remarkable, I’m so very lucky she’s mine.

  • Reply Winston 09/02/2014 at 8:30 pm

    Love love love this post. Your blog is such a great celebration of your culture and loving tribute of the wonderful people that inspires you the most: your family. Please never stop doing what you’re doing.

  • Reply Tutti Dolci 09/02/2014 at 5:33 pm

    Such a sweet tribute, and what delicious recipes!

  • Reply Yafa Sakkejha 09/02/2014 at 6:47 am


  • Reply leaf 08/02/2014 at 7:28 pm

    What a lovely tribute! I’ll definitely have to try one of your mum’s recipes someday.

  • Reply Heidi Apples 08/02/2014 at 1:06 pm

    Happy birthday, Kathy! What a beautiful tribute, inspiring recipes from an inspiring family x

  • Reply Elizabeth@thebackyardlemontree 07/02/2014 at 10:08 pm

    That’s quite an honor roll of cooking inspiration. Your mum looks beautiful.

    • Reply Yasmeen 09/02/2014 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks, Elizabeth – there are many more to share!

  • Reply Hadia 07/02/2014 at 11:30 am

    Yasmeen, your article filled my heart with happiness, and I am sure your mom must have been thrilled to read it . Your mom seems to be a wonderful lady. The food looks delicious too… This is Hadia from Hadia’s Lebanese Cuisisne

    • Reply Yasmeen 09/02/2014 at 8:55 pm

      Hi Hadia, I’m so glad you stopped by, and thank you for your kind words. She’s very special to me (and many!) and deserved a mention for how positively influential she has been on all of us.

  • Reply Nancy 07/02/2014 at 11:22 am

    One of my favourite things about going home is cooking in the kitchen with my Mum. There’s nothing better than standing side by side in the kitchen with her in silence and enjoying the rhythm of cutting, slicing and cooking together. Makes leaving so bittersweet. Your Mum looks beautiful – and not old enough to be your Mum!

    • Reply Yasmeen 09/02/2014 at 8:54 pm

      What a nice visual – mother and daughter in the kitchen, silently going about the ritual of making a meal. It does make leaving bittersweet – I feel it every time we part ways.

  • Reply Dixya Bhattarai RD 07/02/2014 at 6:19 am

    your mama sounds like a amazing person ๐Ÿ™‚ beautiful tribute. even though I was not much of a cook when i was living with my parents, there are so many dishes that I make and simply reminds me of my mom. Moms are the best ๐Ÿ™‚ that allayeh looks crazy good – is it on your blog?

    • Reply Yasmeen 07/02/2014 at 8:08 am

      She is a very inspiring woman – I feel very lucky to have her. What recipes that you make remind you of your mom? Just click on the photo to get any of the recipes ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Rosa 06/02/2014 at 10:03 pm

    Fabulous food! I particularly like the mana’eesh, allayeh and the roasted cauliflowers.



    • Reply Yasmeen 07/02/2014 at 8:09 am

      Thanks, Rosa! That roasted cauliflower with dates was a revelation. I’d never had anything like it before she introduced it to me several months ago.

    Leave a Reply