Monday, January 16, 2012

2012 Begins with Sara + Zatar

Mather Street, OAKLAND.

I begin this year's blog with a little  lunch with/for Sara. 

Never having met me, she still arrived fully open and full of generosity to share her personal and family stories of return to Anatolia.  

Lucky Me!  The year is now officially started.

Here she is, looking like her Mother, contemplating a house in her Mother's Mother's village.  The whole family visited and found her grandmother's house, too.  The current owner invited them in to view the view they had heard about; the view of the orchard from the inside windows.

Here's what we ate:

Onion and Butternut Squash Pizza with Rosemary or ZATAR.
Rumeli's Black Beans with 
       Avocado, Lebne (Greek Yogurt) •& Coconut Lebne, (Damn, I forgot to buy Cilantro.)
Coconut Basmati Rice
•Garbanzo Salad with fresh Lemon and Parmesan
•Dessert?  Oh, damn, I forgot that, too.

Onion and Butternut Squash Pizza

For each (10") pizza

•1 cup thinly sliced onion (1med. onion red or white)
1/2 butternut squash - peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
            mix these in a bowl with
1-2 Tb dry rosemary  (fresh if you have it; but not powdered) OR
1-2 Tb Zatar
I made two pizzas, Rosemary for Sara, Zatar when the family showed up hungry. 

Olive oil… about ¼ cup
salt and black pepper to taste
Pizza dough or premaide pizza crust.
2 tablespoons grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese. Cheese is optional, of course.
Lay the onions and squash in a single layer on a cookie tin and bake at 400 till the onion is almost brown.   About 10 minutes

Place on your home-made or TJ's made pizza dough, or, if Alanya has put some in your cabinet, some pre-made whole wheat pizza crusts. Or Boboli. why not?

 Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese.  

If you want to be Vegan, just sprinkle with salt.  

Sprinkle with salt anyway.
Bake till it looks wonderful. Until you can't stand it anymore.

The original recipe comes from HERE

 We hardly talked about food. My god, no recipes?   Honestly, having read Sara's father's mother's story, how could we eat?  

But we could eat, because her grandparents survived.  Her father's mother, Vergeen, had not only survived, she survived to sing songs to her children.  Her son sang her songs when he returned to her village.

(Here is her paternal grandmother's story)
(her maternal grandmother has another story.)

So we dug into the beans.

Rumeli’s Unbelievably Good Black Beans

for each can of organic black beans (including their juice) use approximately the following. 

2 lg garlic cloves
1 Tsp-1 Tb olive oil
1 ½  tsp cinnamon
1  ½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp cayenne or chili powder or Aleppo pepper
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup brown sugar

Fry the garlic and spices in the oil for a second or two to take the edge off the rawness of the garlic and to let the spices bloom.

Add the beans and liquid and the brown sugar.

Cook till the flavors meld.   We usually use about 4 cans of beans, in which case you can simmer over the lowest fire for an hour. 

So: not spicy enough?  fry some more spices and garlic and stir in.
TOO much flavor (hard to imagine) add another can of beans (or something. a potato?)

 The original recipe comes from HERE.

  Make Basmati rice using coconut milk or coconut cream.  I used 2 cups of rice, 1 can of coconut cream (UNSHAKEN so I could take about 2 TB of the cream off the top and mix it into some yogurt) and another can of water.  But coconut milk would be fine.  The rice was far too sticky, but wonderfully good.
Strained (“Greek”) Yogurt
Strained (“Greek”) Yogurt mixed with some of the coconut cream from the can of coconut cream.  If you are using coconut milk for your rice, then you are out of luck.

Sara made me feel the parallels between Armenian and Native American stories and experiences, their loss of justice and their sense of where they might belong.
Here is one link that Sara sent:
 Want more? Ask.

OH, and don't forget the salad!  
Chickpea Salad with Lemon and Parmesan

This is so good you won’t want to share it.  But taste and add salt even though you just grated Parmesan all over it.

1 can chickpeas,  drained and rinsed

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. olive oil

A pinch of salt

1⁄4 cup loosely packed shredded Parmigiano Reggiano

more salt

Combine and stir gently.

Serve immediately, or chill, covered, until serving.

To add color, serve with some arugula.

Yes, you can make it in advance.
The original recipe comes from HERE.

I feel that I have entered Sara's family story.  I hope to honor it as I write the book. (stay tuned.) (Eat while tuning.)

To set the record straight, though,  we had a wonderful time ----yakking about families, which are always, in the end, well, the best entertainment.

On cue, my family showed up ready for leftovers and therapeutic massages from Sharon Pelle.  Our respect for (ok, need for) these massages felt good to Sara who is a massage therapist.  Who woulda' thought?

 Selim and Sandriz
 Alanya and Naveed
 Mikej and Leftovers
 Naveed and Rumeli's foot. 
(Naveed is a Massage Therapist Intern.)
So, we landed on our feet.

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