Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tunisia. Tunisia which is in Africa.

I always knew that it was a strong possibility that we were going to move to Tunisia some day.  I have always thought that it was somewhere in the distance and wasn't something I really even needed to think about for a long time.  That distance has gotten shorter and shorter as time has gone on the possibility of moving is becoming a reality.  My brain is finding it hard to process the fact that one day in the near future I could be living in Tunisia.  And living there indefinitely.  Tunisia.  Tunisia is in Africa.  One day I could be living in Africa. One day maybe I'll understand what the other people that live in Tunisia, which is in Africa, are saying.  One day maybe I'll actually like living in Tunisia, which is in Africa.  Maybe one day I can go see some giraffes!  In AFRICA!

This is the countryside in Labiyad which is the "town" near where my husband's little village is.  They have a school, masjid (mosque), and a coffeeshop in Labiyad as well as a souk (marketplace) one day of the week which qualifies it as a town.  This is the view from my in-law's front door.  It's so gorgeous!

This is hindi - prickly pear cactus.  My husband (A) LOVES hindi.  When he was a kid, he made a business from hindi.  He would pick it the night before, all by hand, using a long stick because you can't touch the hindi before you wash it.  Not only does it have the prickles on the outside, it also has this hairy stuff that makes you itch for days if you touch it.  The next day, he would leave early in the morning (3 or 4am) and take the donkey to Haajeb al Ayoun to sell on the street.  He's always been a businessman, mashaAllah.  Hindi is not the business we will be doing when we move to Tunisia.

And here's Baba (my father-in-law) and his sheep.  This year, at the age of 84, he is no longer able to care for his sheep.  Makes me sad because I know he loves walking with morning and night.  The main reason that he can't take care of them any longer is because of thieves in the area.  BOO to the thieves!!

We won't be living in Labiyad when we move to Tunisia.  We won't even be living in Haajeb al Ayoun (the namesake of this blog).  We will most likely live near the capital city of Tunis so that I have access to other English speakers as well as some of the creature comforts I'm used to.  I have a strict set of parameters that my husband must meet before I even consider moving including: running water in the house, a bathtub and shower, and internet.  

We also won't be living here.  This is Sidi Bou Said with beautiful houses built into the hills along the beach.  It's absolutely gorgeous, but you have to have a lot more money than we have to live here!

Tunisia and especially the city of Kairouan is known for their blue doors.  I would LOVE to live in a house with a blue door.  I've always said that I have wanted to to live in a house where you could tell someone generally where you live but they could find it because of some distinguising feature.  Like the house is painted yellow or that you have a blue door. 

How dreamy would it be to walk down this corridor to this blue door when coming home?  Alas, we won't be living here either.  Maybe we'll have a cool door though!

While moving away from my family, friends and the life I've known for 30 years is really scary, I know that moving to Tunisia will have its' own benefits.  I'll be close to my husband's huge family and they have all taken me in as their own, alhamdulilleh.  I also think my husband will be happier there which makes for a happier home.  I'll come visit Minnesota at least once per year (hopefully twice) and will have internet to keep in touch of course.  I know that I'll learn a lot about myself if/when we do move to Tunisia and I know that I will have many, many stories to tell during our time there!  The funniest thing about me moving to Tunisia is that just four years ago when my husband and I met, I had never even heard of Tunisia and now I will probably be moving there!  Life is really full of some amazing twists and turns. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hands Spread DISEASE

Found in a local restaurant bathroom:

Don't mind the nasty used sponge, but do be sure to wash your hands!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hamburger Steaks with Creamy Onion Gravy

Hamburger Steaks with Creamy Onion Gravy.  I'll give you a minute to think about that.  Hamburger Steaks.  With Creamy. Onion. Gravy.  If this recipe doesn't sound American to you, I'm not sure what will.  I was a little worried that this recipe would taste flat to both my husband and I because we are used to eating so internationally, but we both LOVED it.  So, so good!

I didn't take pictures of it because it was late, I was hungry and I wanted to eat.  I'm planning on taking more pictures for this blog in the future!

I used this recipe I found on Pinterest.  Love Pinterest.  I promise I won't talk about Pinterest in every single post.  Seriously though, that website is pure genius.

Here's my adapted recipe:

Hamburger Steaks with Creamy Onion Gravy
1 to 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
1/2 onion, grated
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 t seasoned salt (I used Lawry's)
1/2 t garlic powder
Fresh ground black pepper
~1/4 c flour for dredging
~3 T canola oil
2 medium onions, halved and sliced
1 c beef broth
1 c water
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c flour for gravy

Heat oil over medium high in large cast iron skillet (of course you can use a regular stainless skillet, but don't use nonstick because you can't get it hot enough).  Mix ground beef, grated onion, cayenne, seasoned salt, garlic powder and black pepper gently.  Form into 4 oval shaped thick patties.  Dredge each patty lightly in flour, then brown very well in pan.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Remove excess grease from pan leaving a little for the onions.  Reduce heat to medium and add the sliced onions.  Cook until lightly caramelized.  Meanwhile, whisk together beef broth, water, 1/4 c flour, and pepper to combine.  Pour into the skillet and stir constantly for a few minutes until it begins to thicken.

Return the hamburger steaks to the pan, turn to coat, and reduce heat to very low and simmer, covered for 20 minutes.  If you want the sauce thicker after 20 minutes, remove the hamburger steaks and turn the heat up to medium to thicken for a few minutes.

I served these with mashed potatoes and buttered peas.  Delicious!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Baked Oatmeal

Last year during Ramadan, I made baked oatmeal to eat at the morning meal before fasting all day.  It did not get eaten and neither A (my husband) or I really liked it.  I knew that it had potential and that I liked the idea of having the oatmeal with a less runny consistency.  A few months ago, I made baked oatmeal to take to a friend's for a brunch which everyone, including myself, loved.  I forgot about baked oatmeal again until I started seeing recipes on Pinterest (which I love) for baked oatmeal.  This morning, I wanted something yummy for breakfast and decided to try one of the recipes.  I used this recipe from the Taste of Home website for my base.  I used 1 cup of not packed brown sugar because I'm trying to cut down my sugar intake.  Next time, I think I'll cut it down to 1/2 cup.  I also added 1t of vanilla extract and used 2t of cinnamon.  It's truly delicious.  I poured a little bit of hot milk over my serving and mmmm!  The leftovers will make good breakfasts for those mornings that I don't feel like making anything.  I hope I can convince A to try it (and like it).

A Weird Name for a Blog

I have been wanting to blog for a couple of years now but was always stuck on what I would call the blog or what focus it would have or which of my interests it would be about.  Yesterday, I decided that I was limiting myself too much so I have decided to start this blog and will cover all my various interests.  There may be posts about any variety of things including food, crochet, Islam, weight loss, healthy living, and my general life.  I blogged for a few years like this and really enjoyed it.  It's more a blog for me and some of my close family and friends, but if I garner other readers as well it would be great.

Now, what about the name?  My husband's family is from a small village in Tunisia near a small city called "Haajeb el Ayoun".  Literally this means, "brow of the eye" which really amused me.  The name has stuck with me for over a year so instead of trying to think of a clever name for my blog that encompasses all my interests, I decided on this.  I think it fits.