Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fruit & Nut Chili

We made this dish when friends came over a while ago, but only just wrote it down. I almost laughed my head off trying to get the ingredients (and proportions) from Okaasan. Erm... 1/2 or 3/4 maybe 1 teaspoon of... Expert cooks are hard to learn from. I'll try to make the recipe soon to check what I wrote down, and maybe get a picture.

We originally got the recipe from my cousin, so it's written for an American kitchen. I'll write down both versions. Okaasan brought the recipe with her from one of her visits, I didn't try the original my cousin made. We like it on the sweet side, rather than the original spicy.

We usually just have this with rice (vegetarian day), and I can understand with all the chopping involved (making it our way) it's enough cooking for the day. ^_^

The original recipe:
1 cup chopped onions
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 16 oz. cans chopped tomatoes, undrained
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14 ½ oz. can vegetable / chicken broth
2 green peppers, diced
2 4 oz. cans chilies
2 tart apples, diced
1 tablespoon McCormick chili powder **
2 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 15 oz. cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup raisins
½ cup cheddar cheese, grated

Okaasan's version (adapted for an Egyptian (sort of) kitchen):
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
6 large tomatoes, chopped (2-3 cups)
½ or 1 jar tomato sauce (will have to experiment, sorry)
2-3 bell peppers (yellow, red & green if you want. We don't like to use the green ones cause they are bitter here. We used them when friends came over, but we added sugar to cover up the bitterness.)
2 apples (preferably tart, but we use what's in season)
1 tablespoon McCormick chili powder **
2 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
2 cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup chopped almonds 
½ cup raisins
cheddar cheese, grated (we usually buy ½ a kilo (one piece) and eyeball how much we want. Okaasan says ½ cup doesn't sound like much)

Okaasan makes her own veggie broth, so she puts together whatever she has. Usually makes a big batch and freezes it for later. If you make your own broth, best make it ahead of time.

Parsley, carrots, onion, peas, potatoes. Cook for about half an hour, or until the veggies are soft. Puree and voila!

Directions for the chili:

  1. Sautee onion and garlic in some oil.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes with their liquid, the broth, tomato sauce, the peppers, apples, chili powder, cocoa & cinnamon. Cover and simmer for 1/2 an hour.
  3. Add beans, almonds and raisins. Cook for 10 more minutes.
  4. Serve with cheese.
** Okaasan says she saw the chili powder in Egypt, not sure which supermarket. It basically has chili pepper, spices, salt and garlic in it.

Discovered the original calls for sour cream too, but bleh, too much fat. We do without it. ^_^

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Confidence Boost?

A Malaysian friend came to Egypt this week for a visit. She was with a group and they had an ustaz so I wasn't sure how much I'd see of her. Well, alhamdulillah I got to spend two days with the group so far, praying I can see them again before they go back. I enjoyed spending time with her & her friends (brought back some memories of Malaysia) but I got more than that... ^_^

Both ustazes (ustaz A & ustaz B, sorry don't know their names ^_^;) are fluent in Arabic. Ustaz A has been here for five years & ustaz B just graduated in 2010. Didn't ask too many questions hence the lack of info. But let's say an average of 5-6 years spent here. Once in a while there was a misunderstanding, but otherwise there was no problem communicating.

How's that related? Well, it got me thinking about my language learning. I spent 4 years studying Mandarin and don't feel very confident about it. I'm also trying to learn Malay but not putting a lot of effort into it (want to keep it fun, no stress). Those two days I spent with the group were packed with Malay. The ustazes spoke Malay to the group, once in a while translated to me in Arabic or I asked my friend to translate into English. But I had an idea of what was being said sometimes. A few key words I'm familiar with + talking about Egypt helped a lot with guessing. ^_^

What's interesting is how different I feel about these two languages. Each one has its own story of how I came to it. With Mandarin I'm very shy about practicing it, I'm afraid of making mistakes, don't have much confidence though my grades should be proof of something, right? Well, on the other hand, my knowledge of Malay is very limited. I hardly spend any time on learning the grammar, and nasyids are one of  my sources for vocab. Yet I feel quite comfortable making a fool of myself in Malay (well, with friends it's a lot easier ^_^). I managed not to say bahasa cinta (love language, if there's any such thing) instead of bahasa Cina (Chinese language), although I almost slipped once or twice. What's with Cina & cinta anyways? ^_^;

Ustaz A asked how many languages I speak, and I said two of them aren't worth mentioning. He said something like "qaleelan qaleelan fa Saar jabalan kabeeran" (little by little it becomes a big mountain). Thank you ustaz & thank you Asma for inviting me to join you. Will miss you ya sodeeqa. ;)

Comparing 5-6 years of full immersion to my 4 years of Mandarin without tells me I have quite a long way to go. I need to spend more time listening and less time worrying about progress. Things will fall in place with time isA. Hmmm, so what's the plan? For Mandarin, I'll focus on CSLpod, ChineseClass101 and Slow Chinese rather than isA. For Malay, is my friend till I get more vocab into me but I need to actually study my books rather than just read them. But most importantly need more patience, it's a virtue after all. Pray for me.