Friday 31 December 2010

Umm Salihah’s Yummy Omelette

As it was Jummah day and I fancied making everyone a special breakfast, I decided to make this, a dish taught to me by my friend Aunty R and modified by me a little.

6 eggs
2 tablespoons water
Chilli powder to suit taste (I used one teaspoon)
Salt to taste (I used ½ a teaspoon)
1 small onion - diced
1 tomato – de-seeded and diced
¼ green pepper – diced
1 medium potato – cut into fine julienne strips
Oil to fry

Mix water and chilli powder. Add onion, tomato, potato, green pepper and salt. Heat the oil in a (preferably non-stick) frying pan. Pour half of the mixture into the pan and cook on low heat for approx minute. Slide onto a plate and then carefully turn over and return to pan to cook through the other side – should take 1-3 minutes. Slide out onto a plate once cooked and quarter.

You can eat alone, or I like to serve with toast.

Alhamdulillah a few of you have requested recipes for various dishes. I am happy to share the ones that are mine, but many are the recipes of a friend (Aunty F – I am friends with a lot of Aunties, they are handy to know). She is a widow with young daughters and currently in a very difficult financial situation. So although she is happy for me to share her recipes, home remedies and beauty tips, I would like to compile them in a way that benefits her too insh’Allah. That said I will be posting details of some of them as I go.

Sunday 26 December 2010

Halva Puri and Getting Organised

What do you do when you are stuck at home, hubby is awat for the weekend and you are likely to go stir-crazy with three full-of-beans kids that haven't been out of the house all day?

Why make halva puri of course! Actually usually I would have sloped off around to my mum's and spent the day watching tv, but decided to try something more productive instead.

I haven't had this since my childhood, but my live-in Aunty has been craing halva puri for ages, so said she would show me how to make these. These are a traditional south asian holiday breakfast dish, but particularly popular where my husband comes from, the party-loving city of Lahore in Pakistan.

We made chickpeas (took 15 minutes):

A mashed potato dish (again that took 15-20 minutes):

The halva, or fluffy semolina pudding - which was the best I have ever tasted:

And of course puri's - or fried flat bread. These are usually heavy, but this recipe makes them lighter:

The kids took one look and refused to eat any of it, but once I had cajoled them into it, they were scoffing the food down.

Learning to cook has inspired me to take a fresh look at my kitchen and which ingredients I have taken to using - more whole spices - cardamoms, peppercorns and cumin , less garam masala and introducing black seed and black mustard seeds.

It also made me think about how I use my kitchen space, particularly how I store those things I use less and how perhaps I use somethings less because of the way I store them (out of reach, at the back).

This is the trolley my sweety bought back from a removal job one day (have I said I love his job? - I'm sure I have). This has become a dumping ground for all sorts including the kids playdough and paints, old newspapers, pack-lunch boxes and kids water bottles (yes that is a hot pot lurking under the newspapers and a bin in the corner for chapatti flour - you would never guess we were Pakistani's would you?)

This is my cupboard for spices and cooking ingredients (I took the picture after I had already taken a load of bags out - you know the ones someone opens and then ties a rubber band around the mouth of and leaves in there).

I had fun making these little labels:

The trolley was fairly easy to sort out and now houses all of my lentils and pulses as well:

The spice cupboard (no Pakistani's don't have spice racks, we have spice cupboards) was a real source of kitchen therapy. I had a box at the back of another cupboard which housed the excess from packets of spice that didn't fully fit into containers. I bought bigger jars for the spices I use a lot of and decanted all of these left-over packets. This including three half-packs of turmeric. It just showed me that when you are not organised and cannot see what is already in the kitchen cupboards, you end up spending more.

Organising these two spaces also had a knock-on effect and freed up space in other parts of the kicthen - which I also organised - so now we have a baking cupboard where all of our cake-making stuff and pasta's are stored and the snack cupboard (where the junk food lurks) is half-empty.
All I have to do now is start writing down all of the amazing recipes I am learning insh'Allah before I forget them.

Saturday 25 December 2010

Mum and Muslim Magazine Latest Edition


the December 2010/January 2011 edition of Mum and Muslim magazine is now out.

Please do visit and leave comments and suggestions. Sister Sumaiyyah amd her team have worked hard to get this edition out. None of those involved are paid and all those who contribute do so in the hope that their knowledge and experience will benefit others insh'Allah.

We are still looking for contributors, because we would like the voices represented in the magazine to be as varied as possible. We want to embrace the full beauty and diversity of our ummah and learn from as many people as possible and hopefully pass that wisdom on to others.

We are looking for anyone interested in sharing their experience or their literary work – articles, poems, short stories, how-to-tutorials are all of interest to us. Although our magazine is centred around parenting, we also publish material that may not be directly related to parenting but may be useful to parents/families – so recipes, lifestyle, product reviews, crafts and creative writing, again, are all of interest to us.

We would also love to get on board photographers – you don’t have to be a professional, you just have to have some clear, crisp shots that we can use to liven up our pages.

So, if you are interested in writing for us (fi’sabillah for now), submitting something you have written or sending us some photographs that we can use, please e-mail us at Bloggers are welcome to send us material they have used before if they think it is particularly relevant and we will link back to your blogs insh’Allah.

Please do have a look around our website and get a feel of what we are aiming to do and take a look at the sections to see if there is knowledge, experience or wisdom that you have to offer. If you aren’t able to contribute at this time, please do have a browse and leave a comment. Your feedback is invaluable to us so that we can learn what is useful and interesting to readers and what is not.

Bloggers – we will soon have a button for our site to place on your website or blog and we would love if you could mention our site or display the button. More news on this once it is ready insh’Allah.

In the meantime, jazakh’Allah-khairun for your support, ideas, kind comments, e-mails and enquiries, please do keep them coming.

Friday 17 December 2010

Snowy Jummah Day

Jummah Mubarak all,

had a busy but pleasant Jummah day:

Working from home and avoiding the freezing cold commute and getting more time dozing in bed into the bargain.

Getting to spend a pleasant morning in hubby's company whilst the kids were at school - that happens...almost never.

Watching snowflakes unexpectedly fall past my window (that comes from having no TV and never checking the weather).

Going for a walk with this little one in the snow during my lunchtime whilst he picked up snow and flung it in every direction. This is our regular routine on my working from home days - I pick him up from nursery and we go for a walk and come home with our grocery shopping. Today it was bags of fruit and veg.

Getting a call from the kid's school saying that it was closing early in case of "dangerous conditions" - they didn't close last time when it snowed much more, so I am suspicious of this excuse.

Trying to find the kids something interesting to do whilst I worked. LittleLady played around with trying to sew something out of some pretty peices of fabric I had ad Little Man made a diorama of the zoo.

Getting a cooking lesson from the lady who is living in our spare room at the moment and helps us with the school run. She is the most amazing and inspiring lady and I hope to learn loads from her including how to cook food that will leave you licking your plate insh'Allah.

Today we made cauliflour, carrot, pea and potato curry, but it was different to any vegetable curry I have cooked before and truly delicious.

This is the third dish she has shown me after boneless chicken curry and lamb and spinach curry. My hubby is over the moon at my newly acquired ability to cook. I wanted to post some of the recipes with pictures, but this lady is in a difficult place financially and I want her to benefit from her expertise - any ideas would be welcome?

The newest edition of the fascinating InCulture Parent is now out and they have published my column "Muslim Children and Christmas" - please do check it out and leave a comment.

Hope your Jummah day went well too insh'Allah.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Mini Bazaar

One of my friends, who is a colleague at work, is very entrepreneurial and always buzzing with great ideas. Last week she suggested to a few different people that we bring in things that we make one lunchtime and try to sell them. As we hadn't gained permission, we had to do this quietly and so only a few poeple at a time could come along.

I took a few things in and set up my corner of the table:

Despite the fact that we had to be very discreet, I managed to sell quite a few things and make some money. It was anice little confidence booster and experiment in what sells and what attracts attention. Hopefully we can do this again in the future with permission and get a lot more customers. It also inspired me to think about selling at a few events/bazaars in the future.

December 2010 and Homemade Lightbox

I thought I would share a picture of the lightbox I put together with an iron, box lid and blu-tack to try and get decent pictures of the the cards:

This was what I used in this post and the last two posts to try and get photo's without too much shadow in them. I wasn't crazy about the results, but have to be creative because we have such short hours of (grey) daylight at the moment.

December 2010 Cards: Sparkly Stuff

December 2010 - Wedding and Lovey-Dovey Cards

Saturday 4 December 2010

Finding Bliss amongst the Busy

Alhamdulillah, I have had an eventful and challenging two weeks or so:

  • My brother-in-law travelled to Pakistan to get married, meaning that for the first time in four or five years it is just me, hubby and kids in the house – not for more than a few days of course... • My dad travelled to Pakistan to be with his brothers and sisters on the second anniversary of his mother’s death.
  • Not so eventful in itself, but at the same time my mum spent last weekend in and out of hospital with severe stomach pains scaring the hell out of us (we think it might be a stomach ulcer, please do make dua for her).
  • We have had a little boy, staying with us whilst his parents undertake hajj. We are not quite sure when they are back (hopefully this Sunday, as the planned flight for last Thursday didn’t get confirmed). He is eight and one of the naughtiest, most testing children I have ever come across. Boy has he taught me some lessons in setting boundaries and non-violent discipline (you can’t hit other people’s kids no matter how much you want to can you?).
  • In the absence of brother-in-law, we spent a whole Saturday clearing out his room, putting his stuff in storage and packing some of it for hubby to take Pakistan.
  • Hubby then found an older lady, who was looking for a room, to move in with us in exchange for helping us with the children’s school run. Alhamdulillah she has turned to be a wonderful lady. I don’t expect anything apart from help with the school run, but she has been happy to help out with watching the children whilst I rushed out to see my mum when she got ill. She is also an amazing cook and has promised to teach me how to make her amazing dishes (and all of her home beauty remedies) – so watch this space insh’Allah.
  • My husband flew out to Pakistan to on Thursday to attend two of his brothers’ weddings which are happening this weekend. I am pretty upset about being left behind, but the wedding was announced at short notice and I did not have enough leave before the Christmas break, nor was I willing to take the kids out of school (once you lose your school place here you can get placed in all sorts of random schools which could mean your kids are miles away from each other in different borough’s).
  • In case you didn’t notice, it snowed (in November! Only a few inches I know, but we are not very good at dealing with it).
  • All of the kids, myself and the live-in-Aunty, have all caught nasty colds, meaning we have a chorus of coughs going on and my first job of the day was cleaning up vomit from Gorgeous bed and various spots he managed to get to on the landing.
  • Work has been very busy with a project around reporting on the borough’s performance and approach to the 2012 Games, a project to design and run a survey on witness support services, managing three housing surveys and a feedback survey, supporting on a service quality review, trying to do my first equalities assessment and two days of training in business process reviews (Lean systems thinking). This week we have also been having meetings about the organisations expected job cuts and changes to terms and conditions (proposing no more dependants leave, no sick pay for the first three days you are sick, reducing annual leave, pay freeze, reviewing everyone’s pay and grades).

So I am pretty busy at the moment with working full time, having the kids on my own, having another (challenging) child, who goes to a different school to my children, (so two school runs - over the ice and snow), fretting about mum and missing hubby like crazy.

I managed to get quite stressed last week about how I will manage it all. After a good cry on my husband’s shoulder (I just needed to get it all out including the upset about missing the wedding), I realised that I needed to have the right attitude to manage the situation. I believe there is pretty much a solution to every problem if you are willing to be patient and thoughtful and if your mind is in the right place. Once I had vented and cleared my mind out, I could start to think about getting myself organised.

I arranged two days to work at home and one day of annual leave. Aunty agreed to cover the school run on the remaining days as she is not working elsewhere on those days. I was worried about a course I had to attend in Epping, usually my husband would drop me there and pick me up as I don’t drive and it is miles from the train station. Alhamdulillah, Allah (SWT) made this easy for me as the venue was changed this week to somewhere close by and very convenient for me to get to.

Mum has been better this week, although still in some pain, but she has been her stalwart self, sending everyone off to work and trying to get straight back into the kitchen.

The “challenging” child has on more than one occasion, nearly sent me crazy, but I have to say I have learnt soooo much about managing children older than my three and heading off bad behaviour (I plan to write an article on my experience for Mum and Muslim shortly).

I was angry and upset at missing the two weddings happening today and tomorrow in Pakistan and had decided that I would not speak to anyone over there. However, out of guilt for leaving me here, hubby has agreed to take us all on holiday (I proposed Turkey, Morocco or Tunisia in the first instance, I also managed to sneak in Cornwall, the Peak District and the Lake District whilst I was at it, so we shall see!). We probably could not have afforded the £700 approx each tickets for the five of us, plus the costs of staying there (Pakistani relations are very expensive!). I am still cut up about not being included or considered in the discussions around setting wedding dates. I have managed to dispel some of my anger after meeting family who have just come back from hajj. They told me that they made lots of dua for me to make umrah (pilgrimage) and hajj soon. I thought perhaps that if I behave a bit more kindly to my relations Allah (SWT) might send me to his house insh’Allah (how I would love to do Umrah with my children in the calmer period after the hajj rush), so that is my motivation to get over how I feel:

“Those who suppress their anger and forgive people-verily God loves those who do good."~ Qur’an, 3:134

Work had been hectic, but alhamdulillah I have learnt so much in the last few months and picked up so many skills. I am also enjoying it.

Aside from that, I am trying to take good care of myself and the kids and really enjoy the next few days together. I took them for burgers and grilled chicken last night and before we could order everyone needed to go the loo. Of course there were no toilets, so I trekked them all over to mum’s where she made homemade burgers for them all (I told you she was stalwart).

Today I will make sure everyone goes to the loo first (although I did that yesterday too) and then take them for burgers for lunch I have asked them to think about what they would like to do this weekend keeping in mind the youngest is throwing up and there is ice outside – I find if you set some basic parameters it is easier for kids to make reasonable suggestions and easier for you to say no to unreasonable ones. One thought that comes to mind is a midnight feast for the kids – I am wondering what kind of foods to do this with (most likely a special picnic on my bedroom floor).

I am also spending time sorting out my beads again (sooo therapeutic) to gear up for a weekend of crafts:

A friend is organising a sell/swap/buy event at work and wanted me to bring some stuff in and see if it sells. I have some ideas (cards, bracelets, treat pouches, gift baskets) and it will be a nice opportunity for me to test out if people like the stuff and what kind of prices they will pay, pictures to follow insh’Allah.

Feels like a nice few days to look forward to insh’Allah.

Pretty, Snowy Epping

View from my window during training in Loughton, Epping:

Friday 26 November 2010

Eid Party

We usually throw one Eid party a year for ladies and children but in the last year or two I had found these getting rowdy and moving away from my aim of providing a halal environment for my Muslimah friends to meet, enjoy and in some small way remember Allah (SWT):

Abu Hurairah and Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "When a group of people assemble for the remembrance of Allah, the angels surround them (with their wings), (Allah's) mercy envelops them, Sakinah, or tranquillity descends upon them and Allah makes a mention of them before those who are near Him.'' ~ narrated by Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Bayhaqi

I think between myself and my sisters we wanted to keep this Eid simple. Also, I found that when we have a rowdy Sisters party the kids get forgotten a bit as does any remembrance of Allah (SWT). So this time I decide we would have a smaller kids party.

I managed to keep the cost of the party to about £50 by using things I had in the house and trying to be creative. These bangles were mostly fromLittle Lady. She gets lots from both grandmothers and often outgrows them before she has even wore them (I am not kidding - the bangles I bought her for Eid-ul-Fitr wouldn't fit her by Eid-ul-Adha! This child will be towering over me soon insh'Allah - good job I like the idea of a tall daughter). Other belonged to me and my sisters. I wrapped them in cellophane to keep them together and for guests to take home at the end of the party.

Long-suffering Sister was kind enough to wrap the prizes for the party games including the endless layers required for the pass-the-parcel. We put together a table with the bangles, prizes and another basket with my henna design folder and some henna cones.

I had left over party loot boxes from last year which I dug out and filled with toys, stationary and sweets for the kids and toiletries, hair accessories, sweets, little soaps and candles and all sorts of random bits and peices I have accumulated over the year (I have a box on top of a cupboard and every time I find something I could use I throw it up into the box, when party time comes around, I take the box down and it is jam packed). I like the party boxes as a way to say thank you to guests for coming along, but they are only do-able if I keep the costs down.

I had to have a sweet bar or something similar just to play with the colours, but I wanted to avoid the table full of nothing but sugary sweets and e-numbers which send the kids crazy.

I opted for the kids of fruits and veg that my kids really like - strawberries, rasberries, pomodorino tomatoes, grape and carrot sticks. The first three were not cheap, particularly out of season, but the kids did eat some and I only needed one little box of each. (The pretty white crystallised sweets are sugar crystal lollies which look ever so pretty but just taste like mishri, an old fashioned south asian sweet we used to get as kids).

There were some sweets of course. Little Lady had lots of fun seperating the colours. Those are halal cola bottles in the little bucket of brown sweets, both mine and Little Ladies faves.

I managed to do my henna the night before the party, but Kooky Little Sis was kind enough to the little girls at the party.

The kids were hilarious - we managed to get through two pass the parcels and one game of musical chairs - with lots of sulks and tears - mainly on my kids part I have to admit. After the third game, I gave up and just handed the prizes out.
The food was fab, Umm Imran made a massive dish of tuna pasta, my neighbour bought along a tray of samosa's even though I only gave her about two hours notice for the party (I forgot all about her) and another friend brought a big pot of her delicious chicken biryani. There were also spring rolls, potato salad and slaw, fried chicken, wedges and fries. I would have taken pics but I was too busy serving (okay eating). Kooky has much better pics, if I manage to get them off her I will add to this post.
Girl Who Walks in the Rain gave me the coolest gift. Handmade too - okay maybe not by her, but you can definitely picture me in my black abaya and hijab sauntering down to the canteen with this little number in my hand.

N.B. thanks for the pasta Umm Imran - not only did we enjoy it at the party and parcel some out to friends to take home who wanted to try some, it came in handy the next day for unexpected guests and for one of the kids packed lunch for a trip the day after that - jazakh'Allah-khairun for the barakah filled food!