Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lays Flavors in Abu Dhabi

Flavors I've never seen before: Spanish Black Olives, South African Cheese and Mexican Chili Con Carne.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Kid's Unscripted: Chapter 27

Elias: "Dancing shoes!" (pointing at some camo-colored Croc-like shoes.)"Belly button dancing! Chin dancing! Head dancing!"
Me: "Do they just make everything dance?"
Elias: (Nodding head vigorously) "Yes!"
Elias: "Elias need it!"
Talia: (big sigh) "I need to teach you how to use pronouns!"
Me: "Talia, do you like the name Calliope?"
Talia: "It's not my favorite..."
Me: "Do you like the name Penelope?"
Talia: "Those names sound like geography names!"
Talia: (about soup she didn't care for) "I'm too full to eat anymore..."
Me: "So you don't want fruit with yogurt?"
Talia: "I meant... I'm too full to eat anything after dessert!"
Elias: (looking a wind blowing the grass) "Grass waving at Elias!"
Talia: (reading to Elias) "Do you want to laugh at that?"
Elias: (fit of fake laughter...)
Talia: "Elias, you're a monkey!"
Elias: "Elias a big boy!"
Me: "Can the big boy put this in the trash, then?"
Elias: "Oh, Elias monkey..."
Elias: "Ezra woked up! Opened pretty brown eyes!"
Talia: "Look! I found a cricket... Oops. His abdomen fell off..."
Talia: "I like spicy things... except for spicy things that aren't cheese."
Elias: "Elias not peach, Elias gray."
Elias: "Elias want a purple banana!"
Ben: "Talia, can you see that book Ok? Do your eyes ever get blurry?"
Talia: "Only if I've been looking at it too long and need to stretch my eyes out."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ramadan, Date Harvest and Date Cake

It's Ramadan and summer at the same time. What that means in the produce section of stores is that you will see large crates of dates for sale everywhere.

During Ramadan, able-bodied Muslims fast throughout the day and break their fast at night with a few dates, typically. In addition to this, it's harvest time for dates all over the country. Date palms line the miles of road between Ruwais and Abu Dhabi, are planted throughout the city, in every park and green space. Typically the dates have a mesh bag around them to catch the dates and protect them from birds or other things.
Dates are really filling, have a lot of nutritional benefits, are supposed to help a woman have shorter labor, aid digestive issues and, depending on who you ask, are given as a remedy for just about everything here.

When Ben brought home 2 huge boxes of them I began looking for a way to use them beyond eating fresh since we have so many. This recipe for date cake was one Ben and a teacher he works with liked with had good things to say about. The kids loved it, too. Dates have a caramel-like flavor when ripe that comes through in this cake without the odd resemblance of, well, whatever you think an actual date looks like...

Most of the boxes of dates are fresh, still yellow and smooth, but quickly turn brown after a day or two, but not the brown, dried version you're probably most familiar with. If not used soon, within a week the dates start oozing and have interesting reactions with baking soda.
(Can this fall under home school experiment?)

Date Cake

  • 3cups/500 g dates pitted
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2cup / 100g brown sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 1/10 stick - 125 g Butter
  • 1 1/2 Cups Self raising flour
  • 2 tsp Vanila
  • 1 tsp Bicarb.
  • Preheat the oven 180 or 160 fan forced.
  • Add the dates, Butter, sugar & water.
  • Cook it till it boils
  • Add bicarb and leave it to cool down.
  • Whisk the eggs.
  • Add eggs, self raising flour,vanila and mix well.
  • Add the mixture in to a baking tray and bake 40 min.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Our Neighbors Have a Mango Tree

Sometimes it's surprising how something so insignificant as our neighbors having a mango tree has several small impacts on our own lives. It's not something I would have even though to consider when moving to this house.

The back yards of the villas here are separated by walls about 7 feet tall. The walls have a gap on each end about 4 inches wide, so it isn't exactly private. Some people have opted to fill the gaps with boards, bricks or climbing vines. I wonder if this were for the convenience of the cats to wander through each yard, though they seem to have no trouble scaling the sealed ones.

The neighbors on both sides of our back yard patio have mango trees. One of them hangs over our clothes line. In the spring, all of the pollen falls on our drying clothes. In the summer green mangoes plop around and as the season progresses, ripe ones ferment on the ground over the fence filling the air with a sweet, sticky, fruit smell. The ants make trails from their homes to the mangoes and march back and forth until it is gone.

Talia and Elias collect the fallen, brown mango leaves and pretend they are gardeners. Talia crunches the leaves in her hands and Elias follows her directions to "fertilize" different areas of the garden with them. His bare little baby-looking feet slap, slap on the bricks as he runs from the terraced part of the patio to the grassy part looking for a bare spot to distribute the "fertilizer."
Looking up into the mango tree.

School children play behind the back wall yard of our villa and the ones we are sandwiched between. They throw stones at the mangos and use tubing from the watering system for the school yard to reach up and try to knock down the mangos. Once, when I was out hanging clothes on the line, several of the boys from the school had managed to grab a branch and get up into the tree. I said "get down" and they did. The school ground caretakers are more smooth about it, they get a long branch and tie a small stick to the end so that they can snag the branch right above the mango and jerk it down. When that isn't available, they are strong and flexible: They run at the wall and grab the top and with a few kicks and grunts are up the side and onto the roof of the terrace, up the tree and tossing the mangos down for the others to catch. The school grounds caretakers are always careful to put the mess made from the mango leaves right back into they yard that hosts the tree. Occasionally a hand shoves some over our section of the wall on accident.

One weekend our engineer-neighbors, who share the house provided by their company with the mango tree in the back, climbed up in the tree and harvested the majority of the mangos. I noticed because I was upstairs and was startled to see that there was a man even with our upstairs window in our bedroom.

Three mangos happened to land on our brick patio, kamikaze style. The impact busted the end that made contact. I let it ripen, but only half was ripening. Talia and I tried it, the ripe end was sweet and the green end tart like a sour candy. They were both delicious. The flavor wasn't enough to drive us to scale the neighbor's fence, but we did understand why so many green mangos were being sold in the markets!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Kids Unscripted; Chapter 26

Elias: (holding Ezra:) "baby have one, two ears!"
Elias: (helping mix banana bread with a spoon, scooping egg in mixture and dropping it back in) "Egg says 'bloooop!'"
Talia: "There's a new boy in my class."
Me: "What's his name?"
Talia: "It starts with a 'p' but it isn't 'Psalms' or 'P.J.'..."
Elias: "'C' says 'kuh.' Apple says 'mmmmmm!"
Elias: "...eighteen, nineteen, ten-teen..."
Talia: "When I met Ezra at the hospital when he was first born, I fell in love with him because I just love tiny, cute babies!"
Talia: "Every time I take a drink, I feel super-hero fresh! Like an apple!"
Talia: "Washing dishes is fixing history."
Talia: "Sometimes a little bit plus a little bit makes a lot."
Elias: [about Ezra stretching] "Baby made a 'Y!'"
Talia: "I know that makes sense because it was said by an adult..... But I don't know what it means!"
Talia: "I think cheetahs are cute but I don't like them because they're meat-eaters. I wish they were broccoli-eaters because I don't like broccoli very much."