The Kasbah Chronicles
Les Chroniques de la Kasbah
In English and en français
Now it its 13th year
C’est la 13ième année!
A FIERY SUNRISE IN VISTA
The French have adopted our custom. C’est vraiment too much!
My literary trip to New England
visit with local authors, and visit to the homes of major American literary figures such as the home Little Women and Louisa May Alcott, chez Longfellow in Portland, ME, Thoreau’s farmhouse digs, and Robert Frost’s enchanted forest and tree-lined Poetry Trail.
A thrill for me was to “visit” my book, Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion, on display in the gift shop of at the quirky and awe-inspiring Isabella Stewart Museum in Boston. I love finding my books in such famous “homes.”
Boston has discovered fish tacos (so has Paris, by the way…but that is another story.)
One of my quests? To eat as many lobster rolls as possible. I am happy to report I overdosed.
We did see the leaves turn, we walked under a covered bridge, and we ate more lobster rolls. Oh yes! We even went on a lobster fishing expedition near Kennebunkport, ME. Good news: the lobster catch this year is excellent. Lobsters have returned to the waters of New England.
One of the most unusual items I discovered along the way is this Moroccan Rose and Grapefruit flavored vodka—in the wilds of Vermont. Really? Tasted like pure vodka to me!
(I will spare you a repeat of comedian Art Buchwald’s column on Le Jour de Merci Donnant (where he explains Thanksgiving to the French, but I still think it’s hilarious!) And cassolita is the perfect side dish for turkey
Moroccan Squash with Caramelized Onions
1 lb Mediterranean pumpkin or butternut squash
Place unpeeled squash in baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F until soft, about 1 hour. Let cool. Peel and cut into serving pieces and place in baking dish.
Cook the onions in the oil, with the cinnamon, sugar, salt, and pepper, until very soft, about 15 minutes. Add the raisins and cook 5 minutes longer. Spread the mixture over the squash, sprinkle with the almonds, cover with foil, and return to the oven to heat for 20 minutes.
Closer to home:
Where have the avocados gone? Quelle tristesse, où sont passés les avocats (fruits, pas les hommes?)
Roi du chocolat:
Teslas in my maman’s home town of Châlons-en-Champagne. It’s fun to follow the news of the town where my mother was born, and where my maternal great-parents lived until the mid-1920s. I have been steeped in THEIR lives for the past 18 months—from the Belle Epoque to the end of WW2, through their own handwritten legacy: a daily journal and 70 family recipes. A gut-wrenching project. What would be their reaction upon this latest mode of transportation?
Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion has also found a home at the beautiful Sherman Library and Botanical Gardens in Corona del Mar, CA. An ideal time to visit is during the holidays.
Discovery of the month: Idiotismes gastronomiques:
Bismillah and Bon Appétit and
UN BON L”HALLOWEEN…
PS: I am still downsizing and getting rid of a number of vintage and antique Moroccan artifacts. Please send me an email if you would like to view the items before the holidays.
The Kasbah Chronicles
Les Chroniques de la Kasbah
Happy Valentine’s DAY
Bonne Fête de Saint Valentin
In Praise of CENTENARIANS
Kitty in the media:
WineDineandTravel magazine: California’s historic HIGHWAY 395
Podcast with Kitty: Moroccan cuisine: an overview
Classes and presentations
Links of interest
News of Morocco and beyond
Moroccan items for sale
I perch on the edge of another momentous birthday, I need to salute two centenarians in my life: Flor, my mother’s first cousin, who reached this milestone last August—and whose voice sounds as lively today as that of an 18-year-old’s; and Irene, who has reached 103 and was one of the very first passengers to join me on my gastronomic tour along the Kasbah Trail three decades ago. What role models!
Covid and confined — with a BIG difference: My husband and I got our first dose of the vaccine. Funny how a weight has been lifted from our shoulders—even though we need a second dose.
The confinement has not put halt to my work. I am knee-deep in family history spanning WWI and WWII—recipes from Alsace-Lorraine included, bien sûr.
My thoughts return to last year at this time: I was in heaven petting the whales in Baja California and making snowballs in Baja’s sierra. That trip has kept my wanderlust at bay for the past 12 months, but enough already!
Je voudrais saluer deux amies centenaires : cousine Flor, qui a passé le cap en août dernier, et Irene, qui va avoir 103 ans! Toutes deux dignes de ma profonde admiration.
GROSSE différence entre ce mois de confinement et mes dernières Chroniques : mon mari et moi avons finalement obtenu la première dose du vaccin. Si vous regardez les nouvelles, vous savez que les USA ont été lents à démarrer. J’espère que les choses se sont mieux passées chez vous. On respire mieux, mais à 6 pieds de distance! Heureusement que l’an dernier à cette date, j’ai pu aller au Mexique, en Californie du Sud caresser les baleines !
Spices in Moroccan cooking
Friday, Feb. 26, 2021
Coronado Public Library (and it is a beautiful one!)
The use of cumin in tagines and other Moroccan dishes. This is a great program sponsored by the library called Spice it Up, Coronado! FREE! But you need to register.
Facebook and Instagram:
Kitty in the media:
Looking for a sort of STAYCATION (nouveau mot à la mode: en vacances près de chez soi.)
Un autre voyage très sympa en janvier 2020.
Here is my article on California’s Highway 395—a slice of historic California
Kitty and a Podcast:
Moroccan cuisine: influences and history
Apricots in Silicon Valley even rate their own museum: Abricots de Silicon Valley.
Il ne faut pas oublier qu’avant de devenir le paradis des techies, Silicon Valley était couverte d’arbres fruitiers notamment des meilleurs abricotiers du pays.
I was thrilled to read the article on apricots, and had to share my apricot adventures in Silicon Valley. I visited several farmers in late 1999—among them the famous Mariani orchards in Morgan Hill, CA. Andy Mariani, who is still in business, is one of this country most knowledgeable stone fruit experts (https://andysorchard.com.) (They ship!) He shared a recipe for The California Farm Cookbook (Kitty Morse, Pelican Publishing).
CALIFORNIA APRICOTS: A History (and a recipe)
Mariani Orchards’ Apricot-Amaretto Sandwiches
“On our family farm,” says Andy Mariani of Mariani Orchards, “autumn is a favorite time of the year.” The tall, dark-haired, and soft-spoken Andy is proud to carry on the family tradition–one begun by his forefathers who originated in Vis, an island off the Dalmatian Coast. The senior Mariani began farming in California in 1932, finally settling in the idyllic Morgan Hill area of the Santa Clara Valley–the perfect location to grow plump apricots and sweet cherries. Andy’s brothers and sisters help in the running of the orchard as well as in the ever-expanding mail-order business. “Fruit grown elsewhere in California doesn’t seem to have the sweetness ours do,” says Andy, who credits the high quality of the Mariani fruit to the proximity of the ocean, and to a cool growing season. The delicious result of the Mariani’s labors is evident when biting into the oversized, dried Blenheim apricots which they use to make their superb Apricot Amaretto-Sandwiches.
Marzipan OR almond paste (available in supermarkets or specialty food stores)
Almond extract or Amaretto liqueur
Jumbo, dried Mariani apricots to suit
Guittard A’peels dipping chocolate (#9760)
If using marzipan, which is sweeter than almond paste, use a few drops of almond extract or Amaretto to cut sweetness. Roll marzipan or almond paste into a log shape, until it reaches the same diameter as the apricot half. Cut round patties about 1/4″ in width. To assemble sandwich, trim apricot half to perfect circle on sheet of wax paper. Place almond paste patty on top, and cover with second apricot half. Squeeze slightly so filling adheres to apricot. Trim to size. If smaller sandwich is preferred, simply cut in half. For extra special treat, dip sandwich in melted chocolate. Let cool on wax paper. Store in airtight container until ready to eat.
Note: Almond paste is available in bulk from large bakeries. Commercial marzipan found in supermarkets tends to be very sweet. Guittard A’peels dipping chocolate #9760 is specially formulated to stick to dried fruit. You can order the 2″ wide jumbo apricots directly from the Marianis.
Flashback to Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories, and our historic medina of Azemmour.
Azemmour vu du ciel 2020 Nous vous proposons des vues d’Azemmour comme vous ne les avez jamais vu.
Speaking of COVID:
https://laquotidienne.ma/article/actualites-economiques/covid-19-le-premier-scanner-de-depistage-au-maroc-et-en-afrique-installe-a-casablanca United Imaging Healthcare (UIH), grand acteur international dans le domaine des équipements médicaux, a introduit le tout premier système de dépistage Covid-19 en Afrique.
Did you know ?
French in Africa: French is the official language of 21 countries in Africa. (They don’t mention North Africa, but they should!
Nouveau mot de vocabulaire:
New FRENCH WORD: OVER THE TOP !!! I leave it up to you to translate.
“Un afterwork au bureau, des amis à la maison, une envie d’Alsace, un match de football, basket ou rugby…
Received from Morocco: I love the spellings…« le nouveau président (djo baidn donc bay bay korona »
Bon appétit! A la prochaine!
50 years and counting!
Our confined celebration!
NO Travels (except on paper)
My oyster binge in L’AMPOLLA, Spain
California’s Historic Highway 395
Classes and presentations via ZOOM
A virtual cooking class with Spice and Leaf
Kitty chats with….
My NEW project
A new, family cookbook
News of Morocco and beyond
Links of interest
“C’est toujours vendredi.. It is always Friday.” So:
HAPPY (BELATED) FOURTH OF JULY!
The ongoing confinement and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests brought to mind the “Long Hot Summer of 1967” race riots when America was once before in turmoil. I was confined to my apartment with my roommate for 4 days, while the inner cities of Milwaukee, Chicago, and Detroit were going up in flames. This was my first introduction to political unrest in the US, and it was an eye-opener.
The past weeks brought a sense of heartbreaking déjà vu at this turning point in our nation’s history. I remain a (grateful immigrant) optimist.
Memories of a 1967 confinement:
One outcome of my 1967 confinement: we avoided hunger pangs with cans of tuna fish (my cooking career evolved long after the riots!) Thanks to my wonderful American roommate, Ann, I discovered the subtle “delights” of tuna casserole: a basic white sauce, a can of tuna and a few frozen peas and voilà: a great topping for boiled rice! What a taste discovery! After 4 days confined to our first-floor walk-up, the casserole attained the rank of comfort food for me, although it will never top couscous in the style of Casablanca, or my French grandmother’s purée de pomes de terre (mashed potatoes)!
The present confinement reactivated my culinary juices. I finally put pen to paper with an idea that I had been harboring for some time: a cookbook combining family history with recipes from Alsace Lorraine, my mother’s birthplace (much like The Scent of Orange Blossoms, which featured my North African ancestry). Among the French documents I inherited, I uncovered the journal of my great grand-father, a French army doctor who served during WWI, and hand written recipes from his wife, my great-grandmother, who died at the hands of the Nazis just before the end of WWII. So what is a cookbook author to do? Immerse myself in cuisine bourgeoise de famille, and test and cook. Cook and test.
NO title yet…STAY TUNED!
Le confinement me pousse à cuisiner–très à propos car parmi les papiers de famille de ma mère, j’ai retrouvé des documents relatifs à ses grand-parents alsaciens–qui malheureusement ont disparu sous l’occupation nazie. J’ai donc hérité de photos, de documents de famille–et d’une centaine de recettes écrites à la main par mon arrière grandmère, typiques du Grand Est–en particulier de Châlons sur Marne maintenant appelée Châlons en Champagne, ville natale de ma mère. Que faire de ce trésor familial sinon écrire un livre en leur souvenir? choucroute, baekhopf, bredele (Alsatian cookies) et bien plus. Plus de détails à venir…
Mon but ce mois ci est d’écouler les bottes de chou friséMy present challenge is to cook with the bunches and bunches of kale and chard obtained from April Viles at SandnStraw Farm in Vista (CA). The farm stand is opened 2 days a week. Check out their website www.sandnstraw.com
Here are two recipes I developed:
Chard and Garbanzo Bean Hummus (Hummus au chou frisé et pois chiches):
1 (14-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1 cup COOKED and chopped chard
2 teaspoons cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
A squeeze of lemon juice
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Sun dried tomatoes optional)
Blend all ingredients together, and voilà, chard hummus
Kitty’s Curried Chard and Zucchini Soup
Velouté de Courgettes au curry et chou frisé
I serve this hot or cold, depending on the season.
Prepare this a few hours ahead of time, and refrigerate.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced (or leeks)
4 small zucchini, peeled and diced (courgettes)
1 cup COOKED, drained, and chopped CHARD and Kale!!!
1 small potato, peeled and diced
1 teaspoons mild curry powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups chicken broth
½ cup plain nonfat yogurt
Chopped parsley or cilantro, for garnish
In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, zucchini, chard, and potato. Sprinkle with the curry powder. Lightly brown the vegetables, stirring occasionally. Turn heat down to medium low. Cover and cook until vegetables are soft. Adjust curry powder and salt. Let cool.
Place half the vegetables in a blender or food processor. Add half the broth and half the yogurt. Blend until very smooth. Repeat the process until all the vegetables are used. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate. Sprinkle with herbs, and serve.
Feedback: Thank you!
I thought you would like to know that I tried your husband Owen’s recipe. I love Costco’s scallops…always a good quick meal. And, of course, I sear them. So I cut them up (frozen) into about 6 pieces each, sauteed them in butter, added lemon juice and white wine, salt and pepper, let them caramelize, and put them on top of a large salad (with avocados). (Steak salad without the steak:) It was delicious! Owen rocks!. . .
Just for you, a tall glass of freshly squeezed blood orange juice from our very own blood orange tree: Un verre de jus de sanguine?
Kitty in the media: PODCAST a new experience for me:
My host, Jessica, explained:
“I wanted this episode (the very first!) to be about Sephardic food in North Africa and to get to know you better (and your love of cilantro!) Jessica, A Jewish Convert Talks To A Global Community in her new blog..This is the link to my website, specifically the post about your wonderful cookbook, it was one of my first posts: https://newjewkitchen.com/the-scent-of-orange-blossoms/ I
Kitty’s recent published articles:
Staying put while roaming the globe before confinement:
California’s Historic Highway 395, along the eastern sierras.
My oyster binge in L’Ampolla, Spain
A night on the Queen Mary in Long Beach (CA)
Classes: ZOOM in on A virtual cooking class!
JOIN ME for this Fun event:
Sunday, August 2, 4PM Pacific
www.spiceitupwithdeb.com. Please open the link to view the menu.
I will chat alongside my energetic friend Debbie Kornberg, on
Spice It Up with Deb: A Live Cooking Experience.
- Pick your cooking class
- Receive a list of ingredients and recipes.
- Order your SPICE + LEAF products through AMAZON.
- Cook in your kitchen at the same time I am cooking in my kitchen all in real-time with guided instruction!
- Explore the flavors of the world without having to leave your kitchen!
- By the end of class, you will have a meal ready to serve.
Included in the class price is a copy of Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion
I got the books (Edible Flowers) today. They are beautiful. I really love them more than I expected and I had very high expectations. They are beyond beautiful and wonderful. So I put another check in the mail to you for two more books. . .” Carole
Links of interest en français et en anglais:
site bilingue pour les français aux USA.
Frenchly.us and French Books
Frenchly is the premier website for Francophiles in the US and abroad, covering news, arts, culture, style, and all things French. Check out their French books:
Voyages en France tout en restant chez soi:
How about touring France from the comfort of home?
Moroccan cookies anyone?
In time for the upcoming Feast of the Lamb (Aid el Fitr) or any celebration:
For the best mail order Moroccan cookies visit https://www.meskasweets.com. Made in New Jersey and shipped to you fresh. I guarantee you will not be disappointed!
From their website: “Our cookies are available in traditional variety as well as fusions with the trendiest flavors… As such we offer a Gluten Free Moroccan Macaron line with Organic Japanese Matcha Green Tea, Coffee… All of our treats are freshly made in NJ using the finest ingredients, have no preservatives and no GMO products. In addition to being delicious, our treats are Kosher (OU) Pareve.
Kitty still has copies of:
Shameless plug: If you have read any of the books, in English or en français, a review on the Amazon book site is always appreciated….
Min Tea and Minarets
Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued
and Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion
ALL downloadable on Amazon.com
Yes, even the Pope liked A Biblical Feast (via Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, CA) …the book is out of print. Downloadable, however
Morocco is (almost) out of the woods. Moroccans are allowed to travel to England but we are not! One reason perhaps: Even Moroccan buses wear masks….
and in the words of WOODY ALLEN
and STAY SAFE
Si vous avez une liste de correspondants e-mail, vous pouvez faire circuler lien pour
Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued sur la page Facebook ou sur Amazon.com
à la française: MAY 1, 2020
WE NEED SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE
IN THIS TIME OF COVID-19
at a social distance!
BONNE FETE DU MUGUET!
American-style MOTHER’s DAY:
From May 1 to May, 10th, 2020 Kitty will ship signed copies of her book, Edible Flowers: a Kitchen Companion for more than 50% OFF list price(details below).
RAMADAN started on April 25. Time to make Ramadan pastries. Ramadan Mubarak!
WHAT IS LA FETE DU MUGUET ?
In France, it is customary to give a sprig of lily of the valley on May 1st. The day doubles as a celebration of springtime as well as Fête du Travail to honor workers of the world
Origins of Fete du Muguet in France
« . . l’origine de la fête du muguet remonte à l’époque romaine, en latin, le 1ier mai : maius mensis, mois de la déesse Maïa, on célébrait sa fête le 1ier mai, en plantant des arbres de Mai, symbole du réveil printanier de la nature (cf Grand Larousse Encyclopédique de 1962 tome 6 page 997) »
“…the origins of the Fete du Muguet harks back to Roman times, in Latin the month of May translates as: maius mensis, month of the Goddess Maia, whose feast was celebrated on May 1, in planting Trees of May, to symbolize nature’s rebirth. . . “
IN HONOR OF MOTHER’S DAY!
Do edible flowers grow in your garden (without the use of pesticides). It might be rosemary, thyme, parsley, or cilantro (my favorite!), or even roses. You will find a recipe for these blossoms in the book.
SPRINKLE FOWERS ON YOUR PLATE (OR YOUR FRIEND’S PLATE) Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion, is a lovely seasonal gift for a mother, grandmother, sister, or a gardening friend.
From May 1 to May 10th, 2020, purchase a copy of Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion for over 50% OFF the list price
Shipping in the US only: $3.00 ( I will bundle books if you purchase more than one)
TOTAL for ONE copy: $10.50 includes shipping in the US.
I will personally sign each book per your instructions. Send me a message with a shipping address.
Note: The book is also available through amazon.com (LINK) as a hard copy and for download.
When the going gets tough, the tough get cookin’….
The Kasbah Chronicles: now in its 12th year!
Quarantine edition, March/April 2020
(Full disclosure: I started these chronicles 3 weeks ago)
Time flies when you are quarantined.
Diary of a quarantine
Chard and more recipes available on my website
The 60th anniversary of the Agadir Earthquake of 1960
Kitty’s Whale of an Adventure
Kitty in the media
Links of Interest
My pet peeves (on restaurant menus)
My best wishes for
a Happy (virtual?) Passover
a Happy (virtual?) Easter
Anyone can subscribe (send me an email) or unsubscribe (you know what to do!)
Diary of a quarantine:
I hope these Chronicles find you and yours in good health, albeit perhaps chomping at the bit. I can’t think of a better place to be than at our very own Kasbah, and for that, I am grateful. My heart breaks for all those who do not have a roof over their heads, especially homeless students and San Diegans. I can only hope that most have found food and shelter during this horrible “storm”.
We are quarantined in Vista, as is everyone else around the world. Being stuck at home is no hardship, since I spend most of my days at my computer in any case, but there is a strange aura about. The world is topsy turvy, but plants are thriving; my fig tree is off to a new start, so is the pomegranate bush; rose bushes greet me with a new bud each morning (I thank them profusely). Meyer lemons are just about done (have you made your preserved lemons yet. Check out my website!) My blood oranges fall to the ground by the dozen so I spend hours making marmalade and syrup.
The funny thing is, I feel like cooking. I want comfort food! As I have written on numerous occasions, my favorite comfort food is couscous. The classic dish calls for 7 different kinds of fresh vegetables which I may or may not have on hand. So I added what I find in the recesses of my freezer: frozen broccoli? Frozen artichoke hearts? As long as I have fresh cabbage, I am happy.
Whenever I am uninspired, I fall back on one of my first books, 365 Ways to Cook Vegetarian (HarperCollins) written under duress and edited over the phone during an epic and exhausting Labor Day week-end with a (manic) New York editor. The book sold tens of thousands of copies (not much in it for me), and one day reappeared under a new cover and size on the shelves of Barnes and Noble under the B and N imprint. OOPS, no one had let me know.
The book contains some of my favorite recipes, all meatless (not vegan, though it contains many vegan recipes). 365 is my go to cookbook, the one that contains all sorts of dishes from family and friends (they all get credit!) One of my personal favorites is the Vegetable Lasagna, one given to me by a local farmer.
The other is a super Vegetarian Harira, a meatless take on the Moroccan bean soup served during the month of Ramadan. My new adaptation: HARIRA WITH KALE. And, surprise, I even rediscovered my recipe for Egg Foo Young (remember egg foo young, the fake Chinese special??) Talk about antiquated comfort food!!
I didn’t have all the “Chinese” ingredients, so I chopped up some kale and other left overs, added eggs and Asian flavorings, and BINGO! My off with the virus version wasn’t half bad, and cleared the fridge!
KITTY’S RECIPES: Please visit the link below for MY LATEST TAKE ON Vegetarian Harira with Kale, and others.
I love feedback, let me know if they work for you, or add one of your own!
To fight the virus eat 2 garlic cloves.
It’s of no use
but it’ll keep people away from you!
Week one: March 16 to 21, 2020:
The virus is still at bay, or so we think. I go on what turns out to be last shopping expedition at my favorite supermarket.
Faced with a wall of greens, I purchase chard (which I rarely use) and a very expensive box of baby zucchini. My imagination is at a standstill. I purchase 3 containers of coconut yogurt, and a pound of sliced ham. Two mangos and an indispensable bunch of cilantro.
I head for home, aware that confinement might begin the same week. A light bulb goes off: I call the family farm down the street to subscribe to a weekly CSA box: I will get farm fresh greens and a dozen eggs beginning Saturday. On the appointed day, I pick up more chard and kale. And the curly kind at that. What will I make with this abundance of curly kale?
It rains the next day: my Pavlovian response is to make soup. How about a sort-of-Tuscan Kale soup (white beans aside, since my husband is off carbs) I fill my crockpot with chard, broth, a sliced carrot, and half a leftover sausage. Relief comes the next morning: We have kale soup for several days. I must use the rest of the kale before next Saturday!
Week two: March 23 to 27, 2020
It is still raining. I need comfort food, and for me, that means couscous. I limit myself to making the meatless couscous stew (from The Vegetarian table: North Africa; I have a handful of new copies, if you are interested.) Used copies on amazon.com. My vegetable bin holds celery, cabbage, one limp zucchini, an onion, and yes: chard. I fill my crock pot with canned tomatoes, vegetables and spices necessary for couscous soup and usually requires 7 different kinds of vegetables, The new chard-laden version warms the cockles of my heart, and I serve it with “instant” couscous on the side. It’s so comforting to inhale the aromas of home: saffron, ginger, cilantro, turmeric. Two days’ worth of meals!
Chronicle Books also made a calendar out of it. It’s way past its sell by date, but has gorgeous pictures and recipes for 12 dishes
Oh NO: More green leaves left: I flip through my own Moroccan cookbooks to “rediscover” Kale a la Chermoula (from Cooking at the Kasbah). Chermoula spices flavor a marinade of cumin, salt, garlic, herbs, lemon juice and olive oil. Combine that with a little tomato sauce, and you have a killer base for chard. So, I chop (very fine) my curly leaves, and pop them in a pan with olive oil. A good amount of garlic and some diced preserved lemon rind: voila. So much for chard.
I discovered a box of Trader’s Joe’s chakchouka, or shakshuka in English. I had my doubts about a TJ special, but much to my surprise, the flavors are there, though the amount is pitifully small inside a big plastic bowl, so forget TJ and make your own. TJ’s is a pureed of peppers with chermoula spices—in North Africa, the real chakchouka is chunky, made with ROASTED bell peppers and tomatoes, and used as a nest for tiny meatballs or poached eggs.
Make your own!
My freezer held other surprises. I often forget to label left overs. I once gave my mother what I thought was a perfect dinner—whatever it was—and she thanked me the next day for her mystery dessert. I now use masking tape.
My rummaging yielded a large package of frozen scallops (from Costco’s, they are delicious.) That evening my husband, Owen, was inspired. He is more scientist than cook, and shuns common “cooking rules” when it comes to scallops. No quick searing for my guy. He dices them when they are still a little frozen, cooks them in butter, lemon juice and white wine until they are caramelized. He then combines them with diced avocado and sprinkles the dish with chopped cilantro. I even wrote down that recipe so we don’t forget it.
Week 3: March 23 to 28:
We have plenty of food, but I need cilantro (kesbour, coriandre, Chinese parsley)! Je ne peux cuisiner a la marocaine sans kesbour) s
My closest supermarket offers home deliveries via Instacart. Except deliveries now take over a week.
Thus, 2 ½ weeks into our confinement, I decide to brave the aisles of my favorite food store, Frazier Farms, in Vista (CA). I know the layout by heart, so I plan my “razzia” accordingly. Surprisingly, the store was not busy, hardly anyone was wearing a mask (I was) and kept to their own business.
Life goes on at the farm: First fraises des bois of the year!
It was the disinfecting routine once I got home from the supermarket that exhausted me:
Make a shopping list
Don mask at home and save the gloves for the store
Jump in the car.
My husband drops me off in front of the store.
I tie a bandana over my mask (the bandana soon slips off)
I clean the handle of my market basket.
I enter the store
I avoid human contact
I consult my shopping list and zig zag all over the store to find the items
The store is well stocked, much to my surprise
I check out and have to bag my own items in my own bags
My husband asks me to hop in the back of the car with the purchases
We enter the garden where we had prepared a large container of bleach water
We dip all plastic wrapped items in the mix
Meat goes in a cooler with a large ice pack for 24 hours
I take a shower in our back bathroom and leave my clothes on the floor
I get dressed
I AM EXHAUSTED. I DON’T CARE IF I GET ANOTHER OVERLOAD OF KALE.
Since my shopping expedition, I have learned this:
DO NOT TAKE REUSABLE BAGS TO THE STOR
A friend called me with a query:
She loves my tagine of chicken with prunes (now called dried plums) but she didn’t have prunes.
Could she substitute dried apricots? Bien sûr!! Or dried cherries, or dried cranberries… That’s the beauty of tagines: the meat and fruit combination is up to you. What counts are the spices. Fruit tagines usually call for cinnamon, ginger, ras el hanout, or nutmeg. Many seafood tagines rely on a chermoula blend (see Kale with Chermoula) of cumin and paprika, among others.
UNDER the corona wire: My whale of an adventure:
I had planned a trip in mid-February, before the Covid-19 scare, to pet the whales in Guerrero Negro, Baja California. I thank my lucky stars for being able to go, for this is a trip to remember. What an out-of-this world experience to float alongside friendly cetaceans larger than our panga (boat). I still cannot get over the thrill of seeing a whale pop up next to us (or thump the underside of the panga), and cast a glance at the exhilarated humans trying to make physical contact. The thing is, the animals seemed to like it! Access to the lagoon is limited and regulated by the Mexican government. Thank you, Mike Essary of www.bajacustomtours.com, a San Diego-based Baja expert who leads small expeditions to Guerrero Negro and many other parts of Baja. I will describe my adventure in greater detail in a later issue of the Chronicles.
Kitty in the media:
This is what I have been up to: You can read a few of my travel stories on this link:
Look at what was on display at the San Diego Library: thank you so much, dear readers of the Chronicles, for sending me these pictures and at the Museum of Man in Balboa Park: eBook cover News of Morocco and beyond:
Morocco is under the same total lockdown as we are.
A look back at the Agadir Earthquake of 1960: I was there
February 29 marked the 60th anniversary of the Agadir earthquake, a tragedy for Morocco. On that day in 1960, a horrible earthquake destroyed the port of Agadir (at the time, the world’s leading producer of sardines.) Though we lived in Casablanca, about 300 miles north of the Atlantic fishing port, I still recall the terror we felt living on the fifth floor. The building shook for what seemed forever, to the point where we lost our balance. My parents, as terrified as anyone, herded my brother and me into the lift, an antique wooden “crate” with swinging doors, and by some miracle, we reached the rez de chaussée, or ground floor. We ran across the street into Casablanca’s largest park, now known as Parc de la Ligue Arabe, to join the hundreds of other casablancais escaping swaying buildings. We spent one night in the park, but many erected tents, and remained there for days. We discovered later the earthquake’s terrible toll: the magnitude 5.7 created a tsunami, and flattened the port of Agadir, a town of 47,000 inhabitants. 15,000 (more or less) people perished in 15 seconds.
Did you know? Le saviez-vous?
Pionniers français du Far West!
French pioneers of the American frontier.. who knew..
Los Angeles has a French history
Los Angeles en français, le spécialiste des activités touristiques francophones à Los Angeles.
I can’t wait to take a French tour of LA!
On language: A word issue where I needed correcting:
One day last week, a TV reporter was interviewing an elementary school teacher. She was telling how she “conversates” with her students.
“I conversated with them, and told them that everything was OK,” said she.
Really? Conversate? I laughed, and so did my husband (and so did a couple of friends with whom I happened to “conversate”). A day or two later, said friend and I consulted GOOGLE…
I literally had to EAT MY WORD:
Conversate is a NEW WORD recently added to the American lexicon:
According to grammerly.com is due to “back-formation.” (Never heard of that either!)
- “The Definition of Conversate. Conversate means to have a conversation. To get to conversate, you’d have to take the noun “conversation,” remove the suffix -ion, add an “e” at the end, and use it as a verb. That process is called back-formation, and the result is often a word that’s considered nonstandard—at least for a while.”
So, let’s keep conversating!!
More on the subject of English: The challenge of irregular verbs
Un cauchemar que les verbes irréguliers anglais.
Heard almost daily on TV:
I should have WENT (Aie aie aie!)
I have went (Yes, I heard this)
I been there
He done that
ANOTHER OF MY PET PEEVES! French words listed on American restaurant menus:
AAARRRGH: gravy “au jus”?? REDUNDANT….
It seems to me that if a patron is spending $80 and up for dinner in a chichi restaurant the equally chichi menu should be FREE of foreign language mistakes: It’s easy to correct: call the nearest French dept at a university or high school. OR SEND ME AN EMAIL!
Overheard a Surfer Dude on TV:
“It was like Amazingly awesome!”
I don’t think I can top that!
Correction: an eagle-eyed reader of these Chronicles brought to my attention that the Queen Mary is NOT moored in Laguna Beach, but in LONG BEACH (CA). Thank you for bringing this to my attention.
Can I blame the self-correct feature on the computer (Probably not!)
PS: If you have time on your hands, I always appreciate a LIKE on y Facebook page for Le Riad au Bord le L’Oued or for Mint Tea and Minarets. And a review on the amazon pages for the books.
Si vous avez une liste de correspondants e-mail, vous pouvez faire circuler lien pour Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued sur la page Facebook ou sur Amazon.com
Every click helps.
WEAR YOUR MASK!