Category Archives: Lebanon

Leaving Lebanon

For Christmas this past year, I received a cookbook I have been drooling over for a long time…  

Not only does this cookbook have amazing recipes from three fabulous countries of the world, it also has detailed information on each country and their unique style of cuisine.  All of the recipes last night were taken from Arabesque.  

Up to this point, I have only ventured into the Moroccan section but last night I attempted my first Lebanese dinner. With its influence from French, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern Cuisine, the flavors blended together in Lebanese cuisine are like none other.  So fresh and colorful, a great combination of sweet, savory and spicy.  

Much like a Greek dinner, Lebanese meals begin with a Mezze (starter) course.   

Lebanese Dinner Menu  

Mezze:  

    

Eggplant and Tomato Salad

 

With the toasted pitas, this salad was a big hit, even with Brian who typically doesn’t enjoy eggplant.

Tabbouleh

 

I have had Tabbouleh before in Paris-a combination of bulgur, tomatoes, parsley and mint- and we decided to eat it in the traditional Lebanese-style, scooped up with a romaine leaf.  

  

  

  

Main Dish:  

Shish Barak  

  

This dish was absolutely AMAZING!!!  Grilled lamb with onions, cinnamon, nutmeg allspice and pine-nuts, wrapped in phyllo dough, baked and topped with a garlic-yogurt-olive oil sauce. I will definitely be trying this again.  

Roast Potatoes with Lemon and Coriander

 

We eat a lot of roasted potatoes in our home, especially roasted potatoes with rosemary, olive oil and sea salt, but I have to admit, these potatoes might be even more delicious.  Boiled then roasted with garlic, oil and salt the final touch of tossing the potatoes in fresh-squeezed lemon juice and coriander may have been the trick. Another recipe we will be enjoying again in the future.  

Dessert:  

Milk Pudding with Honey, Almonds and Pistachios

 

This recipe had a great taste, but I didn’t quite get the texture right as it was a bit soupy.  Now that I have a bit of experience with the ingredients used in Lebanese cuisine (eggplant, tahini, bulgur, parsley, mint, pine nuts, phyllo dough, etc.) and a bit of the technique I can’t wait to try some more recipes!  

Thank you Lebanon for letting us explore your country.  We have so enjoyed your music, learning about cedar and especially your delicious food!  As we continue to make new Lebanese recipes and smell our cedar planks, we will remember your nation and keep you in prayer.  

Thank you 

  

Merci  

Shukranشكرا  

  

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Scents of Cedar

Today we had some fun with cedar.  After checking a few places for cedar chips, etc. we found cedar drawer planks at The Container Store. While cedar is a bit more expensive ($10 for a pack of 5), in this case these will have a dual-purpose for us as actual drawer liners and crafts.

First, the kids spent some time smelling the cedar.  Immediately for me, I had flashbacks of our childhood hamsters. For the kids, this was the first time they’ve smelled cedar and since it has such a powerful fragrance we decided to remember to pray for Lebanon each time we smell it.

Since the planks are rectangular, I thought it would be fun to do a type of wood-carving craft on them and Brian came up with an easy, non-dangerous way to carve.  I carved my name first and showed Tallinn how to do it. Then, I held the chisel and he hammered his name. Apparently I underestimated Tallinn’s carving abilities and he eagerly carved out “Cardiff” and “Daddy” all on his own.  The letters are quite Greek in style as it wasn’t easy to make curves and since the cedar planks came in packs of five, we each have a personalized cedar drawer liner to remind us of our journey to Lebanon.

Even Cardiff tried it!

We have one more to do as Addie went on a little afternoon date with her daddy while the boys and I got busy with the hammer. 

Tomorrow we will conclude with our Lebanese dinner!

The Chicken Song

There is a fun website called mamalisa that has songs from all over the world, including several from Lebanon.  Each song includes lyrics in English and in Arabic along with a downloadable MP3 version you can listen along to.

Tallinn’s favorite was The Chicken Song

These chickens… How they are beautiful
They are walking around their mother happily
They drank water and said Wow Yum Yum
They raised their heads and thanked God happily.

 

So fun!

Attempting Arabic

Today we ventured into a new learning activity….writing in Arabic.  Of course it would be helpful to have learned ahead of time what each letter is, etc., but instead, we went straight to the writing.

Thanks to the internet there are programs online where all you have to do is enter your name and they will translate it into arabic for you.  Of course, the arabic is teeny-tiny and hard to read, unless you are willing to pay for a larger version (that’s how they hook you, I guess). But, we opted to attempt reading the small versions and do it ourselves.

Yesterday, my mom was babysitting the kids for a while and got some inspiration from our Lebanon 1-2-3 book. She and Tallinn came up with their own Lebanese rug designs which I think turned out very well.  We decided to add these designs to the Arabic name to give it a very Arabic feel.

I would love to say that Cardiff did this entire project himself, but let’s remember, he’s TWO!    Here’s mine:

After a few practice rounds on his easel, Tallinn tried his on paper….

then he added some Arabic-rug-style-artwork….and a turtle.

As I’m really nothing of an Arabic expert I have no idea what our finished names even say :), but they appear Arabic and seem to resemble the internet translations we found.

Poor Addie missed out today as she desperately needed a nap. We might try again tomorrow but I do think this is a bit advanced for her as well.

Lebanon 1-2-3

Today, before our summer fun activities, we began our morning bright and early with a Lebanese counting book I found awhile back on Amazon.  One thing I love about this book is that it is in three languages-English, French and Arabic.  (If only I could read Arabic 🙂 ).

So, we read this cute book, in English and French and then moved on to this week’s verse.  We’re still working on Psalm 100 and likely need to go back and refresh a bit more, but this week we added verse 4.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving 

and his courts with praise;

give thanks to him and praise his

name.

Landing in Lebanon

Well, we barely left South Africa as I think the coziness of winter grounded our feet a bit and, with our virtual hot chocolate, we found it quite hard to leave.  That and a not-so-fun illness that kept us up most nights and housebound.

Happily, we are healthy again and ready to move….and we’re back to summer!  From one of the most Southern points, we have ventured north to the Mediterranean.  Famous for “the best food in the world” according to some, and large stately cedar trees, once used to help build the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, we have landed in Lebanon.

This small, mountainous country of lute-playing and religious diversity has been in existence since ancient times, going back as far as 7,000 years.  Once ruled by the French, it has much to offer in the way of cuisine and culture so we’re diving in and going as deep as we can possibly go in a week.

For our geography today, we traveled the globe to Lebanon and remembered that it was near Israel and Greece.  Then, we did a flag painting craft after observing different pictures of  the famous Lebanese Cedar Trees.  Using some new 5 cent rulers Brian bought on sale, we practiced drawing the three segments of the flag, then the kids got started with their cedar trees.

Once the trees were finished, they painted the red borders of the flag using a wide paint brush.

And, Voila!  The finished flags. I love the way they turned out!

My flag