Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Baking from the Books: Biscotti.

What feels by now - and according to the speed of the internet really is - decades ago Heidi of the great blog 101cookbooks.com wrote about her visit to the American Academy in Rome, the Sustainable Food Project and a book that had recently been published by the American Academy. The was back in October last year.
By now I am the proud owner of said little book.

It really is a little book and could be easily overlooked on a bookshelf but size isn't all that matters and this is a real gem. I have fallen hard for this book.
You see, within a couple of days I made three different cookies.
I love this book for several reasons:
A lot of the cookies or biscotti are gluten free in the sense that they use ground nuts like pistachios or almonds instead of flour.
What I have tried so for have all been very delicate and sophisticated little concoctions. They aren't overly sweet, use great natural ingredients like orange flower water and the recipes are very well written without being fussy.

I am not sharing the recipes with you though. Not because I don't want to, it's just: they aren't perfect yet. And, I am pretty sure here, it's not the recipes fault but my execution. The good thing for me is, though, that I think I have already figured out where I went wrong each time.
The first cookie I tried is called "Biscotti Lucia". Besides being dairy and gluten free these cookies are made by grinding almonds in a food processor, adding lemon zest and beaten egg white. I didn't grind the almonds fine enough so there were still quite a few chunky pieces which, texturally, I wasn't very fond of. Additionally to that the recipe calls for 1 1/2 egg whites. How much is that exactly? I think I used too much (every other ingredient is given in cups and grams which I think is fabulous) and my dough came out quite wet which in consequence made cookies spread more than they were supposed to.
Cookie No. 2, "Dita di Fata" (or Fairy Fingers), pictured in the back, are flavored with Orange Blossom Water. Like the Biscotti the cookies use ground almonds (in addition to flour) in their dry ingredients but also butter which in combination with a very warm kitchen (hello, I am still in hot hot hot Jordan) made my little fingers spread like crazy.
In both cases I would use pre-ground almond meal next time and freeze the fairy fingers before baking which helps prevent spreading.

Almond cookies.

Should I tell you about Cookie No. 3? Yes? Okay, cookie no. 3 is called Biscotti al limone e pistacchio and is a sandwich cookie flavored with pistachios and lemon. The frosting in the middle is nothing but royal icing which is a thick mixture of powdered sugar and lemon juice. The pistachios on top of the sandwich adhere with the help of a very thin layer of said icing.
They would be perfect on a mixed cookie plate or as gifts for the holidays don't you think? Alas, the icing is too sweet which, it being a sandwich cookie, means the whole cookie is a tad too sweet. Also, I wasn't too thrilled about the quantity it makes. I like to try new things often which is difficult to justify if you still have 2 dozen cookies lying around. (Which is why I might never make a certain sesame cookie in the Gourmet Cookie book: The ingredients cannot be easily halved and it says: Makes 5 dozen cookies).

Next time I would not make sandwich cookies. I would only make the top part with the sprinkled pistachios and the icing.
Biscotti al limone e pistaccio

I have a whole bunch of post its-notes on several pages more like Pinolate (Pine Nut Cookies), Meringhe al Limone e Mandorle (Meringues with lemon and almonds) and Biscotti al Pistacchio (Pistachio Cookies) but before I can do that I need to find a way to empty the cookie jar. Maybe hold a regular tea time.
(If you follow the link above to Heidi's post in which she shares the recipe for the Pistachio Cookies I mentioned.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ramadan Sweets.

Ramadan is coming to a close but before it's over let me tell you about one of something that is only available now during the month.
When I moved to Jordan I was excited about the local produce and looked forward to eating more seasonal fruits, vegetables and dishes in general. Turns out, Jordanians don't really eat all that seasonal. Most dishes are served year round as most produce is available year round thanks to the fantastic weather.
I was rather disappointed when I first found out about it but it makes sense that the food served during Ramadan is the same as usual just prepared with more attention to make sure it's perfect. The month of fasting moves through the year and will, at some far away point, reach winter again.

There are some sweets, though, that are only made during Ramadan. We eat them in abundance during the month. At the beginning of the month pretty much every bakery in the country sets up a special station outside where qatayef are prepared. Qatayef are similar to pancakes in size and preparation except that only one side is baked. They aren't very sweet and used for 2 different desserts. In one the pancakes are stuffed with cheese or nuts and then deep fried before being drowsed with sugar syrup. The wonderful Anissa Helou wrote a whole blog post about them and even included a recipe which I have yet to try (maybe when Ramadan is over and the special qatayef stalls have disappeared) but right now there is no need as they are available everywhere.

Ramadan sweets.

The second dessert is pictured above and my all time favorite. The same pancakes are pinched together on one side to create a cone shape and then filled with qishtah (clotted cream), sprinkled with pistachios and drizzled with honey (My clotted cream is a little runny because I didn't refrigerate it before using it). There are lots of variations from Nutella to jams to fresh fruits.
No matter which other sweets are offered after the iftar dinner you can be sure the plates with qatayef and assafir (birds) will be finished in no time.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Week Thirty Eight. One day at a time.

Just some snippets.
*
I have a deep rooted fear against women driving in Jordan (it's so unfair I know especially as so many men drive so badly too) but it's even greater when the car in question has a Saudi Arabian license plate. I get it, only in Jordan (or any other country except Saudi) are they allowed to drive so they take advantage. Unfortunately this lack of practice is really irritating.
*
Today I went to the mall, stood on (preposition?) the escalator and the woman in front of me with her stroller moved to the side to let me pass. This is nothing new where you live? This has never happened to me in Jordan. The whole concept of stay right, walk left is unheard of and that although I am a strong believer that Jordanians, unfortunately, work in a way that everyone pretends to be really busy but nothing ever gets done on time. But this woman today afternoon gave way to my urgencies (buying books) without me even saying a word.
*
It's very rare that I leave a bookshop without buying at least one book. Even if I have a whole pile at home that awaits me. I guess, in a way, buying books is for me like buying shoes for other women. Although, actually, that's not true. I am weak at the sight of a pretty pair of shoes the same way as a nice book.
*
I will be dancing a little happy dance in a week or so when Ramadan is over. This has been quite a long month and I don't even fast. In fact, I haven't fasted a single day (in comparison to the last two years where I would fast some days). I am so looking forward to September. Back to a better routine, friendlier people with better breath, opening hours that aren't a joke, an occasional glass of wine or two.
*
September also means the beginning of the next school year and boy, it's time school starts again. Maybe my stepchildren think about it differently but I cannot wait to get my routine back even if that means waking up at 6 to get them ready for the school bus. 
*
A sentence in a letter by the Head of School to parents made me laugh today even though it was a rather annoying statement. Most of the communication between parents and school will and has been done by email now, said the letter, so parents were advised to submit their email addresses. In parentheses, the letter said, Tuition Fee Statement would be sent specifically to the father's email address while everything else gets just sent to the parents. It's an infuriating statement, I think, assuming that financial decision are only carried out by one party and that being the male. Yes, most women don't work once they have kids here, but what the hell? 
I expected more from one of the "elite" schools in this country. (Dear Jordanian readers: You are now given the chance to roll your eyes that we are sending my stepdaughter to the yuppy school Baccalaureate with tuition fees so high you'd never guess this is a developing country.)

{Thirty eight down, fourteen more to go.}

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Roasted Potatoes, Lebanese Style.

Remember when I told you all about Beirut and how I fell in love with some places during our stay? I told you about them here, here and here.
At the restaurant Al-Tawlet my husband fell head over heels for several items they served that day. A differently prepared roasted cauliflower dish that made the vegetable shine without being heavy from olive oil as it's often the case with roasted dishes. He also loved the pairing of tomato jam and a local white cheese so much he suggested we buy a jar of said jam (and we did!).

For the potato dish I want to tell you about he went so far to ask one of the chefs behind the counter to let him on the secret of these potatoes.

Herbed Roasted potatoes.

They were served at room temperature but similarly to the cauliflower had been roasted in some olive oil. They were crunchy without being dry. There was heat and also fresh herbs but we couldn't figure out exactly how they did it.

The chef, maybe charmed by my husband, maybe very proud of what the restaurant has to offer, gave him the method. As is often with restaurants, the measurements were completely up to us.
Once we reached home I set out to recreate the dish.
I must have done it right.

Following is a very loose version without measurements. Adjust the amounts to your own liking and play around with it, this dish can be easily adapted and changed.

Herb Roasted Potatoes, Lebanese Style

Waxy potatoes
Olive oil
Sea salt
Fresh garlic
Fresh coriander, chopped
Parsley, chopped - optional
chilies

Heat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Position a rack in the middle of the oven.
Cut the potatoes into an even size (I cubed them about 1/2inch/1 cm), the smaller the size the shorter the time in the oven.
Use a baking dish that will fit all the potatoes in one even layer. Add to the pan, lightly (!) add some olive oil and sprinkle on some sea salt (there will be more oil added later so use a light hand now).
Bake in the oven for about an hour but keep an eye on them. They will start to cook after about 20minutes and should be turned about twice to ensure even browning.
During the last 5 minutes of the baking time, chop a good handful of coriander (and parsley if you have) and as much garlic as you like medium fine.
Heat olive oil in a small pan, adding the garlic and after a minute or when the garlic has started to release flavor add half the coriander and cook only long enough until the coriander wilts.
Immediately pour the garlic-coriander-oil mixture over the potatoes, adding as much chili - I used dried flakes but you could also use fresh - as you can muster and the remaining coriander (and parsley), turning the potatoes in the herbs.

Serve warm or at room temperature.
I have served this dish as a side for a barbecue of different meats, it would also be lovely with fish. If I hosted brunch at my house this would definitely be part of the spread.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Carrot Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting.

On the third day of Ramadan (if you're keeping count that means 2 whole weeks ago) my parents in law hosted a big dinner. It's a traditional thing. One day during that month everyone comes to your house and then you go to (almost) everyone's house. It's a way of seeing the family and it's supposed to take off the every day cooking pressure.
Also, it's a big deal.
The food has to come in big quantities and of great qualities. If you eat one main meal a day, it better be well seasoned and done. Timing is crucial. Whatever isn't done when the call for prayer announces the break of the fast will stay in the kitchen. 


I made these Carrot Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting along with Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Chip Cookies. Of course, I wasn't the only one making dessert and we ended up having too much of everything. (We ended up having too much of everything else too but that surprises no one.)


Carrot Cupcakes with Mascarpone frosting.


These cupcakes stayed almost completely untouched on the table looking sad and neglected in all their beauty. You see, those dinners are, at least in our family, a rather traditional thing. The women exceed themselves in making perfect Arabic food. Foreigner food (the things I make) go a little bit neglected because they are new and unknown.
I picked one up, peeled the paper away, took a bite and was happy about all that were left. They made great lunches, afternoon snacks and midday foods for the next few days. 
And while they stayed in the fridge for a couple of days, I can also say that they hold up surprisingly well. 
The mascarpone frosting is my new favorite frosting of all times. It's light like whipped cream but holds up as good as cream cheese without getting too hard or drying up. The cupcakes underneath stayed moist and flavorful without getting soggy. They are warm and spicy and the prettiest shade of pink from the grated carrots.


I am giving you the recipe the way Louisa at the Wednesday chef wrote about it. The only thing I changed: I omitted the lemon zest in the frosting. I felt it was not necessary. 
Also, I probably topped each cupcake with less frosting than Louisa because I had quite some leftover which wasn't all that bad because the frosting took amazingly well to the Chocolate Cupcakes.

Carrot Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting
Makes 14 cupcakes
Cupcakes:
1 pound carrots (about 5), peeled
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup Demerara sugar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
Frosting:
1 cup mascarpone
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (MM: I omitted it.)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/ 180°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners, and line 2 more cups in a second muffin tin.
2. Grate the carrots using a food processor fitted with the shredding blade, or the medium holes of a box grater. You will need a total of 2 1/2 cups.
3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the Demerara sugar, oil, sour cream, and vanilla. Add the egg and egg yolk and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Using a spatula, fold the carrots into the batter. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling them about three-quarters full.
5. Bake, rotating the tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Invert the cupcakes onto a wire rack, turn them top side up and let them cool completely.
6. To make the frosting, combine the mascarpone, cream, crème fraîche, sugar, salt, vanilla and lemon zest and beat on medium speed with an electric whisk or mixer until the mixture becomes thick, about 5 minutes. (The frosting can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a day. Let it come to room temperature and whisk together if necessary before using.) Using a metal spatula or a butter knife, spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of the frosting over the top of each cupcake.
7. The cupcakes can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Week Thirty Seven. One day at a time.

Mondays always take me by surprise. But not in this beginning of the week, the weekend is just over kind of way. My first day of the week is Sunday, given that in Jordan the weekend includes Friday and Saturday (It's even worse, in a way, in Yemen where Saturday is the first day of the week making it almost, as a side note, impossible to properly do business).
Mondays take me by surprise because sometime during the day I remember my assignment to this blog and wonder what I should tell you about this time.

My week started with an email to my supervisor for my Master Thesis. He had offered, back then in April, to publish a 2000 word article about my Master Thesis. Back then no one would have guessed that the Yemeni people would rise up against their dictator like other Arab people despite the ongoing Arab Spring. My Master Thesis about "Financial institutions within the political system of Yemen" hadn't lost its relevance yet. By now, it pretty much doesn't matter anymore. The Yemeni people are struggling more than ever and an anti-corruption agency is the least of their concerns.
Although all this is no news I hadn't discussed it with my supervisor but I was pretty sure my article would never appear in a print publication. And so I got in touch with him signing my email with "Best Regards from Amman". He picked up on that line right away (no intention from my side! Promise!).

If I could write about Jordan in the Arab Spring? Maybe a feature, an interview, an observation.
It's a gesture I appreciate. It made me smile when he asked if I knew anybody in Syria by chance (which I don't, unfortunately).

I am already on my second day of the week, I have a big dinner to prepare for tomorrow at our house and then the week has reached it's halfway point for the weekend. I liked this turn. Very much indeed as I am still struggling to find my place and Ramadan with its weird half days isn't helping.
And yes, I will scrap something together about Jordan even though I don't have the slightest clue yet, how I am going to do that. But that's okay. I will consider it a job.
Last week I also finally found a list of coffee shops and restaurants open during Ramadan. Which was a) a big relief for this non-faster, b) the list included my very favorite tea bar in this city and c) gave me the opportunity to pick up my husband from the office yesterday and take him out for lunch.
So, on Wednesday you will find me in the Turtle Green tea bar, on Rainbow Street, right opposite the British Council in the middle of Amman looking all busy and occupied like those freelance writers.
(I do have recipes to share with you though. Which puts me into a little bit of a dilemma...)

{Thirty Seven down, fifteen more to go.}

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Berlin in July.

I finally had my pictures from the 5days in Berlin developed!
Taking pictures with a camera that you are still getting used to is a little tricky. I am terrified every time I change the film. And so it turned out that not all the pictures I took were of equal quality.

Let me show you my favorite 5.

Giant soap bubbles.
Giant soap bubbles. To my surprise they are actually focused. I didn't expect this.
I love seeing soap bubbles. And I always stop and stare when I come across someone somewhere making them.

My Berlin.
This is what Berlin can be like: lush and green, an overcast and dreary sky and rough around the edges. It's not always pretty, it's sometimes pretty ugly. However, I never fail to be charmed by it.

Mirabelle plums.
Tiny mirabelle plums. I couldn't pass on them. I took a basket home and gorged at the colors.

Loved the afternoon light.

Most of the days I was there the sun was shining. It wasn't the weather you'd expect for summer days. By far it was too cold. But those streaks of sun every once in a while with their golden glow were more than enough to satisfy me. I get blinded by the whitish merciless sunlight in Amman.
This is also my way of saying: Hi! Nice to see you!

I remember being Yemen, walking past men of all ages and shapes and having the urge to take pictures of them. I wanted to capture their faces as they fascinated me so much. Alas, I didn't do it. I was too scared of the rejection. I am pretty shy when push comes to shove. In Berlin, I passed by a coffee shop with a guy sitting in the doorframe. I instantly knew he was perfect in the way he sat, looked and the setting around him. I walked on, kicking myself for not asking him. One walk around the block had me standing in front of the place once more. I smiled, I asked, I took my picture, I thanked him, I walked on. I wish I had seen more faces like his during my trip.
A stranger.

Have a great Sunday everyone! 

Monday, August 08, 2011

Week Thirty Six. One day at a time.

It's really only been a week since Ramadan started?
Time is a really weird thing during this month. It moves really fast making the days so much shorter and nothing really gets down and all the same, time is moving so slow like tourists on a busy sidewalk. How can it only be day 8 of it? We were so active already, went out for dinner, had a big dinner at our house. And we still have 21days ahead?

Still 3 weeks until the holidays we haven't decided on. While I long to be in Europe, almost any European metropole would be fine with me, I look at the airfare from Jordan to any lovely city on the other side of the Mediterranean and cringe. Why is it so expensive?
I haven't even thought about hotels or furnished apartments or the cost of moving around and that despite the fact that the high season is probably not over yet in Europe in early September. We want to travel with my husbands children which makes it ever more expensive and at the same time more consideration needs to be put as to what is and what isn't possible to do with them. What I don't want anymore, however, is spend my vacations with them by the side of a pool or a beach just because it's more convenient than showing them the beauty of say Paris, Lisbon or Istanbul.
It wouldn't hurt to expose them I believe and at the same time I wonder if I might need a vacation afterwards to recover.

Do you have any travel plans for later this year? I have my parents coming in October and I will spend Christmas with them in Berlin but still have a slot empty for November. Let's see how I can fill that up.

{Thirty Six down, sixteen still to go.}

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Adventures into Arabic foods, Part 1

Way back in April I bought half a dozen cookbooks on a whim allowing myself this expense because of the upcoming move. Included in this list was a book on Middle Eastern cuisine.
Although I had lived in Jordan for longer stretches of time I had never attempted to cook Arabic food. My mother in law is a great cook so the task of imitating one of her dishes always felt daunting. I did want to know how she prepared her foods but I also knew I wouldn't get proper recipes from her. Experienced cooks cook according to experience not recipes.
I chose this book as a guideline. It would help me with recipes known by my immediate family and introduce me to dishes from the Arab Gulf which I haven't travelled to.

Moussa'aka bil zeit.

Some days ago, for the beginning of Ramadan, I took the opportunity to finally try. I had bookmarked quite a dishes but decided on something the author claimed to be Jordanian but I had never eaten in my parents-in-law's house: Moussaka'a bi zeit.
The first thought I had from the name: It could be like the Greek dish featuring minced meat, potatoes and feta cheese. Except, potatoes and feta cheese aren't very common in Jordanian meals.

This is a casserole consisting of fried eggplants layered with chickpeas, tomatoes and onions which is then cooked in the oven. According to my cookbook, it should be served cold. According to my mother in law it's eaten warm. Mine had reached room temperature by dinner time and I found that to be pretty perfect.
I changed some things which are reflected in the recipe below.

Moussaka'a bi zeit
Adapted from "The Middle Eastern Cookbook"

The recipe has you soak and cook 1 cup (7oz) of dried chick peas a step I skipped by using canned beans instead. Canned beans might lack some of the flavor but make up for it by convenience. Besides, the whole dish would bake for an hour making it nearly impossible to distinguish between the two kinds.

2 cans (240g net each) chick peas, rinsed and drained
3 large eggplants (about 1300g)
1/4 cup olive oil and more for frying
750 g tomatoes (around 5 large ones=
12 small onions, peeled and left whole (I cut the bigger ones up which made them disintegrate slightly.)
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
Salt and Pepper to taste

Peel the eggplants, slice them length way into 0.5cm slices and season slightly with salt. Fry the eggplant slices in batches in olive or vegetable oil until brown on both sides, about 3 - 5 minutes depending on the size and thickness of your slices. Drain on paper towels.

Roughly chop half the tomatoes into cubes and the other half into slices. Heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large pan and fry the garlic and onions until the start to brown slightly. Add the cubed tomatoes and the chickpeas and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat or until the tomatoes have turned into mush.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Place the eggplant slices in an 11 x 13 inch (28 x 33 cm) oven-proof dish, then layer the onion and chick pea mixture on top, topping everything with the slices tomatoes.

Dissolve the tomato paste in 1 1/2 cups of water and pour it evenly over the baking dish. Don't fill the dish up too much but leave space towards the top. Your baking time will depend on the amount of liquid in the pan. Season with plenty of salt and pepper.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes (according to the recipe) up until 50 minutes (my attempt trying to get the liquid to evaporate (which was only partly a success)).

According to Maria Khalife the recipe serves 5. Even with the adjustments I made and the smaller amount of chick peas I would say the serving size is enough for 5 as a side dish but could only be enough for 3 to 4 when served as a main dish.

Accidentally this dish is: gluten free and vegan. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Ramadan and how it changes things.

Yesterday marked the first day of Ramadan, the religious month of fasting for Muslims.
In practical terms and in terms of going out Ramadan changes a lot for every day life. 
Traffic becomes unbearable all day long and especially in the late afternoon as everyone is thirsty, hungry and just wants to go home. There is a sense of aggression in the air and I wouldn't be afraid if the amount of accidents rises.

Until a day before bars and liquor shops remain open and restaurants serve alcohol. By law it is prohibited to serve alcohol in Jordan during Ramadan and liquor shops take the month off. I wouldn't be surprised if they made their biggest profits on the days leading to the month when everyone who doesn't fast stocks up. 

Most restaurants close down during the day and only open for dinner when diners arrive up to half an hour before the fast is broken to make sure their order is placed and they can start to eat with everyone around. It's quite the sight to sit in a restaurant full to the last chair, everyone's chatting and full of anticipation. If the starters have already been served they remain as untouched as the drinks. 

The malls and shops change their opening hours closing about two hours before the breaking of the fast and open again about 90minutes afterwards to stay open till late at night. 

The every-day-rhythm changes with shorter workdays that start late because employees stay up late making use of the time they are allowed to drink, eat, smoke and - let's not forget this - have sex.
In regards to the battle of the sexes: Modesty and decency become bigger issues during Ramadan. More people pray the required five times or spent time in the mosque. At the same time, the dress code changes. A top or a skirt that would pass Jordanian standards during any other month is suddenly indecent because too revealing. 
The fasting might be good in a lot of ways - clearing the head, putting things into perspective, giving back, cleansing in one way or another - it's not all good and sometimes people take it a little overboard with the righteousness. 

Monday, August 01, 2011

Week Thirty Five. One day at a time.

I am celebrating my 26th birthday today. Although celebrating is somehow the wrong word.
We celebrated already yesterday night. My husband and I went out for dinner and we went out yesterday on purpose. We wanted to toast to my birthday and we wanted to do so with alcohol. From today on, bars and liquor shops are closed for the month and restaurants (most of them) only open for dinner without serving any alcohol. Ramadan has started.
It only occurred to us how late it was when our waiter announced "Last Order!" at 11:30PM. Of course we could have had our drinks after midnight but the restaurant is, legally, not allowed to serve any anymore.

My day today was spent in the kitchen - content for a change - as I ignored the dust bunnies in the rest of the house, hovered over half a dozen cookbooks, making plans and adding ever more post its to my books, knowing I don't have to cook this month. My contributions to my mother-in-laws table will be appreciated but aren't expected. I find it a little sad that I am not taken more serious but at the same time, if given the chance I would rather bake, bake, bake than cook (and besides, Ramadan is about comfort food and comfort dishes and I have still not started to cook traditionally Arabic so she is always a little reserved).

Anyway, what does turning 26 mean to me? It bothers me a little.
(What didn't bother me about today: The attention I received. So many people congratulating me today. I felt blessed and so very happy about each and every one. (And bad at the same time because I remembered a few I had forgotten recently because of one reason or another. I am very sorry about that!))
I don't want to be already halfway through my twenties. I like being in my twenties.
Most people thought I looked older ever since I turned 16. I am finally as old as I look. Come to think of it: I hope I will continue to be told I look like mid-twenty in 10 years from now.
A month ago I bought, in a moment of clouded judgement it must be, a tub of eye-cream (I started paying attention to following a skincare regime already last year). Nothing against wrinkles, just some moisturizer.
I am not more vain than the person next door (promise! Despite the moisturizer!) and I am not afraid of looking old and wrinkled some day. When I think of age I have other thoughts creeping up: What will I have missed, what might I never be able to do. I am just afraid of missing out and regretting it later on.

I need to stop feeling this way and start to do.
And while I am saying this again and again, I have already grown tired of it myself because there is, still, more saying and too little doing in my words.

{Thirty five down, seventeen more to go.}