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Aisha’s Egypt: The Olive & Pickle Vendor

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This is a busy shopping area of El Mahala, Egypt, next to the central bus station. El Mahala is a major shopping hub for all of Egypt, and actually the whole sprawling city is one big shopping extravaganza. Everywhere you turn, it is crowded and bustling with traffic, people and merchandise.

We found a great little restraunt in a chaotic corner off the bus station, and had a great lunch of pizza, pepsi, and ice cream sundaes for dessert. Those pictures didn’t come out, but happily I stopped to take a few photos from the door looking into the street overflowing with vendors and shoppers.

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Recipe w/Pics: Turning Sugarcane Into Juice

Thirsty for something different, deliciously sweet and excellent for your health? How about some fresh sugarcane juice!

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Our fence has become a sugarcane jungle, as it multiplies quickly

After Mohamed transplanted my little sugarcane babies from the roof to the land next to the fence, I thought they looked very nice there. They made a tall green wall of fringe that appealed to my inner landscape designer. Never underestimate the rich egyptian soil, though, because it can turn a few sugarcane babies into a jungle faster than weeds on steroids.

After cutting through the jungle with a machete, or as it is called here, a “sho’ruf,” Mohamed cut a few sugarcane stalks away from the fence and carried them back closer to the house.

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A few sugarcane stalks cleaned and cut into short sections

Then he stripped away all the leaves, and washed and rinsed the bare stalks clean from any dust or soil. Next he cut the long stalks into shorter sections, and collected them all in a bucket.

I really like fresh sugarcane juice. It’s quite sweet, and ordinarily I prefer my sweeteners artificial and calorie free, but I always make an exception for fresh sugarcane juice. It’s probably the National Drink of Egypt, and it’s definitely good for whatever’s ailing you. It’s high in Vitamin C, to boost your immune system, especially if you have a cold. It has a low glycemic index, so sugarcane juice won’t make you sleepy by blasting you with insulin. It is rich in carbohydrates, so it will give you energy and refresh you, but it is digested slowly, as it has no simple sugars.

Sugarcane juice is a vegan source of protein, too, and studies have shown it to be useful against prostate and breast cancer cells, possibly due to the alkalinity of the juice. Juice high in alkalinity is excellent for treatment of kidney, bladder, prostate, and urinary tract troubles, so sugarcane juice is not only going to hydrate you quickly in hot weather, it’s going to cleanse your whole system gently at the same time. And don’t forget that sugarcane grows into a jungle quickly, too, and it never needs spraying for pests, so it’s a highly sustainable, organically grown crop, producing a natural drink far better for our health than carbonated soda pop. I guess you can tell I really like sugarcane juice!

So this homely looking bucket of sticks probably looks different to you, now, than it did at first glance, right? Let’s carry it to the juicer and fire her up!
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Recipe w/Pics: Egyptian Stuffed Grape Leaves

A better title for this post is probably, “Why God Made Restraunts”

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Egyptian Stuffed Grape Leaves

Within this post, you will learn how to make stuffed grape leaves, and also find recipes for delicious roasted chicken, great chicken soup, and also rich pasta sauce, all made from scratch. If you are vegetarian, you can omit the chicken from the broth and still get a delicious onion soup.

Preserved grape leaves can be purchased in a jar at middle eastern and mediterranean grocery stores. That’s the easy way. I, on the other hand, have no grocery store nearby, and Abu Khalid at the little ‘dukan’ down the street will scandal my husband’s wife all over the village if I ask him to import me a jar of grape leaves from someplace exotic like Cairo or Alexandria. So if you are like me, you’ll just have to pull them off the vine. We’ll save the post for growing your own grapes up on the roof for another time, when you return for another visit!

So, you can use young tender grape leaves, turnip leaves, cabbage, romaine lettuce, any edible green leaf that is large enough to work with. Large leaves, like some varieties of grape leaves, and of course cabbage, must be cut down to proper size. A leaf or a section the size of the palm of your hand (don’t include your fingers – palm only) is a very good size for making stuffed [anything] leaves.
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Recipe w/Pics: What To Do With A Ripe Papaya

RIPE PAPAYA ALERT!

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Ripe Papaya Alert!

I don’t have much experience with papayas yet, but I’m starting to get the hang of them. When a neighbor gave us a papaya two springs ago, I had never actually held a whole one in my hand before. Honestly, it didn’t taste all that great, but if you put enough sugar on anything you can acquire a taste for it right away. Papayas are famously good for our health, and are incredibly rich in antioxidants, so I felt obligated to appreciate the gift. Gardening is one of my favorite pastimes and when I saw all those seeds inside it, it was a challenge I couldn’t resist! I was then advised by the same neighbor to never touch a papaya seed by my skin, or it will only produce a male tree. I’m not superstitious, but I took the advice seriously and never touched the seeds except with a spoon. It took forever for the seeds to germinate, but my patience paid off. All my baby papaya trees that I grew on the back sunroof are now growing very nicely in the land where Mohamed transplanted them just about one year ago. (Click here to see the photos in a previous post)

Papaya trees grow incredibly fast, and even more amazingly, they produce fruit from their first flowering cycle! They went from slender seedlings to tender transplants and then blossomed into a papaya jungle!

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My Papaya babies grew up fast!


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Recipe w/pics: Young Pigeon (Squab) Stuffed with Rice

This is a picture of our pigeon barn:
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By the way, if a pigeon is old enough to fly, it is no longer considered squab. It’s just a pigeon!

From wikipedia: Main article: Squab (food)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_pigeon#For_food
“Pigeons are also bred for meat, generally called squab and harvested from young birds. Pigeons grow to a very large size in the nest before they are fledged and able to fly, and in this stage of their development (when they are called squabs) they are prized as food. For commercial meat production a breed of large white pigeon, named “King pigeon,” has been developed by selective breeding. Breeds of Pigeons developed for their meat are collectively known as Utility Pigeons.”

This is what they look like when they are still “Squab”:

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mmmmmm mmmmm! tasty!!! Well, perhaps after you taste this famous dish, you’ll agree!

 
********* STUFFED SQUAB *********  or

*** Young Pigeons Stuffed with Rice ***

With the recipe and photos intermingled:
 

I think you might not like the gory details of slitting his throat, so I’ll just say that you can chop off his head completely, but some folks like to eat the head, too, and it helps in the stuffing of the food cavity area above the breast if you have his head still attached to hold onto it as you stuff (covered below). So just cut the throat carefully to the spine but not all the way through the bones, and if you are muslim, don’t forget to say “Bismillah arRahman irRaheem!” as you do so. If you are not, this is a grateful invocation to our Merciful Creator in appreciation for this delicious food.

Next don’t forget to carefully remove the feed sack down his throat next to the windpipe. This is a rather delicate maneuver, just shove your finger down the slit from the knife in his neck between his skin next to the windpipe and peel away the feedbag from the skin.  Pull it out carefully, trying not to make any damage to his skin. This is a lot easier to say than do, and a lot easier to do before putting him in the hot water, but if you forget, it’s still possible to pull the feed bag out after the dunking.
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