2-Minute Cucumber, Red Pepper and Tomato Salad

24 Mar

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In an attempt to eat more healthy snacks and try and take advantage of all the fresh, readily available fruits and veggies, I present to you a delicious, easy salad.

I first created this with my mom while she visited in January and it took all of two minutes to make.

  • Buy several tomatoes, cucumbers and red peppers from local veggie stand down the street
  • Clean well!
  • Cut  all into small pieces (I usually use two cucumbers (which are smaller here in Egypt), two tomatoes and one red pepper)
  • Put into bowl
  • Add sprinkling of olive oil, apple cider vinegar
  • Add dashes of cinnamon powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, curry and sugar.
  • Add a sprinkling of feta cheese on top if you’re feeling feisty, or a cube of cheese on the side
  • Eat with a fork and feel refreshed and delicious.

Birthdays in Egypt

24 Mar


This is a birthday cake for a four year old in Egypt. Needless to say, it’s kind of ridiculous.

A) What four year old likes kiwi, pineapple or loads of fruit?

B) What four year old can fit any of this into their mouth without half of it falling on the ground?

C) What four year old can hold a plate weighed down by this amount of frosting, fruit and general nonsense?

The answer to these questions is: Egyptian children. Sort of. Or at least their parents think so. About once a month, I play host to a birthday party in my KG1 classroom. My kids are turning 4 or 5 and their parents want to make a show out of it.

Now, I had my share of birthday parties at school in the U.S., but that meant bringing a tray of cupcakes that we ate towards the end of the day. Or, my mom would make a Betty Crocker cake or two and bring them in to split up amongst whoever came on the last half day before spring break. (March 15 is one of those “inconvenient”birthday times when all your friends are already on vacation for spring break.) I digress.

But in Egypt, a child’s in-class birthday means the following.

  •  A cake (or two or three) the size of said child celebrating their birthday.
  • A “side dish” of mini pizzas, chipsee (the national and omnipresent chip company here), cheese rolls or bags of candy (bon bons.)
  • A separate cake for the teachers (including me, the assistant, all of the other KG teachers and their assistants, the Arabic, music and PE teacher and Ms. Boni, the overseer of all things KG.)
  • Plates, forks, napkins and a massive knife to cut said cakes.
  • Roman candles (not really, but they bring in candles that do wild tricks and are potentially classified as fireworks in the U.S.)
  • Party favors. These can be any one of the following: a glitter pinata, balloons, pens with balloons on the end, various noisemakers, bubbles, silly spray, fake snow, straight up glitter for kids to throw around, etc. It is all very messy, noisy and probably most of these things are not meant to be handled by people under the age of 10. Much less by three year olds.

Birthday are a major deal in Egypt, but after all the show and pounds of cake brought in, none of it tastes good. These are the kinds of cakes that are of course beautiful, but absolutely disgusting! Too much sugar, too much frosting, too much display chocolate, too many “gold” flecks, too much fruit jelly, too much sugared fruit, too much cream, etc. Just too much.

In the end, I will take my small homemade Betty Crocker cake, topped with a jar of cream cheese frosting and a simple candle instead of the horse and pony show that is an Egyptian child’s in-class birthday party.

Homemade Pizza & Carrot Soup

21 Mar

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This soup was inspired by Ms. Boni, who is the ruler of all thing KG at Amanda’s school. While Amanda’s mom was in Cairo, we were lucky to have dinner at Ms. Boni’s where she made us her version of Mac and Cheese and her famous carrot soup.

Having loved it so much, and having just bought our blender (!) we were excited to give it a whirl ourselves.

See this link for our pizza recipe:


Carrot Soup:

We hit up the veggie stand and got three potatoes and a kilo of carrots

-Peel carrots and one potato and chop into cubes

-Boil until all are soft

-Place in blender and gently puree

-Add one cup of hot water

-Add one bullion cube

-Add salt, pepper, a dash of curry powder, onion powder and cinnamon

-Serve piping hot in a big bowl.

The natural carrot taste is delightful, and the potato works to thicken up the soup. This needs very little seasoning and works as a great side dish or main course. I just bought some more carrots and am looking forward to making it again this weekend!

Alexandria Food Highlights

21 Mar

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This trip took place in February and included Amanda and her mom. After sampling (or rather gorging) at The Fish Market, it was a refreshing treat to stumble upon a beach-side cafe across from the Alexandria Library that featured this kiwi smoothie. AKA The Best Smoothie Ever.

We keep trying to recreate it at home with our blender and freshly bought kiwis, but it turns out Brandan may be allergic to them (tingly lips and mouth?) and it just isn’t as good without a beach in front of you. Alas, it’s a gorgeous looking drink, and simply delightful on the tongue. Can’t wait to go back to this cafe with Brandan’s grandparents and Dad in April!

Heliopolis Food Highlights

21 Mar

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This post includes food items from two separate trips to Heliopolis!

Tasted in January with Amanda’s Mom:

Amanda and her mom took a trip to Heliopolis for a girls’ weekend and ended up discovering delicious mango, strawberry and vanilla bean sorbet at a wonderful French cafe. It just happened to be across from Mubarak’s former palace, or as our taxi driver said (quite adamantly) “Egypt’s palace.” We knew we wanted ice cream and a drink, as we had been walking all over a shopping district in Heliopolis (Shubra), but the ordering process was a bit frenzied, as we had no menus and had to simply point at fellow customers’ tables that featured ice cream, saying “izeen nefs haga,” or “we want the same thing.” It worked out alright, and we each got three delicious scoops of sorbet with fruit underneath and pistachios sprinkled on top. Delicious.

Tasted in March with Brandan:

We went to Heliopolis last weekend for Amanda’s birthday! Though we did not return to the sorbet cafe, we ate amazing (and greatly missed) Mexican food at City Stars (the second largest mall in the Middle East) and feasted on the most culturally diverse breakfast buffet known to man at the Intercontinental Hotel.

Our breakfast included: bacon, eggs, falafel, hummus, pita, doughnuts, croissants, veggie curry, dates, apricots, pineapple, lots of coffee, strawberry and orange juice, potatoes, a california roll and lots of…chocolate. Brandan went up for seconds to make sure we each had enough dark chocolate morsels on our breakfast plates. So delicious and a good meal to start off our second day of shopping and stressful movie watching. (That’s another blog entry for another day. But let it be known that watching movies with Egyptians is…loud. Very loud.) We can’t wait to go back to Heliopolis soon though, even for just enough time to eat at the Mexican restaurant again and sneak away some chocolate from the breakfast buffet.

hello! (again!)

21 Mar

Our blog has moved from tumblr (http://carmelizedpans.tumblr.com ) to here. BOOM.

this will allow our countless fans to comment on our recipes and food memories without being a member of our publishing platform. woohoo!

so read on for tasty recipes & for food adventures in Cairo and our kitchen.

Highlights since our last update on Tumblr:

-We got a BLENDER. a beautiful black and decker blender that allows us to make smoothies at all hours, chop nuts, grate cheese and experiment with all sorts of flavors. (citrus and pistacchio do not go well together…who would have thought.)

This glorious machine was purchased at Carrefour while my mom was visiting Cairo before moving to Brasil! We use it several times a week and it has inspired us to be even more creative with our cooking.

-We have both committed to try and eat more healthy foods, and maybe fewer Oreos and stuffed crust pizza. This is challenging…as Carrefour just had an amazing deal on packs of Oreos. We bought them, but they serve as a reward or small snack when we really need it. Our goal is less of some foods, more of better foods and to work out in some fashion regularly. We have given up on finding an exercise bike to purchase here (after months of searching, rationalizing the investment and payback when we move) and overall hassle of doing anything in Cairo, we have decided we need to just do what we can without buying fancy equipment. That can be lifting our weights in the apartment and doing some sort of cardio or stretching. Go us!

-We have committed to staying in Cairo for the summer. Amanda accepted a job at The Cairo American College teaching pre-Kindergarten and journalism. This will give us a chance to experience Cairo in the summma summa time when it is hot and delicious foods like mangos are in season. More food adventures await us this summer!

Stay tuned for more!

A and B