♦ Enjoy It All!

Dear Shaina,

Sorry I haven’t written. I didn’t shrug off my commitment…I just had no idea what day it was!  I have been in a suspended universe, crossing states and time zones and climates without intention, finding myself a bit surprised as the new flora and fauna appeared through the windshield.

Beautiful Skies Everywhere

Beautiful Skies Everywhere

Billboards and neon signs announced the emergence of fast food restaurants, motels and souvenir shops…way stations for travelers…sprouting up on the edge of the highway like bustling ant colonies. Gas stations offered up bathroom breaks and a 100 different flavors of beef jerky (I am not kidding). Hampton Inns and random small-town family owned ethnic restaurants offered some comfort as we settled in for the night and played a little makeshift two-person mah jong. Despite the cultural and topographical diversity, the McDonalds and Walmarts and Motel 6’s reminded us of the common thread that binds this country from end to end, however loosely.

The days had no names and the times kept changing so I just gave up on tracking them. My watch remained on Birmingham time.

And Beautiful Sunsets

And Beautiful Sunsets

Our goal was uneventful. Arriving safely was our objective and we did it! We made it in five and a half days. Hardly bad-assed and no strangers in the backseat (it was way too full of stuff).  I am amazed at how quickly one can whip across this country in a car.  I am inspired to do it again and take more time to experience the nuances of the American dream.  I am also inspired to clean out all the crap in our house, for your sake, if nothing else!

As for exaggerating adventures, yours or mine, I am way too old for that.  I know that life follows you wherever you go…with all its choices, dilemmas, joys and complications.

Life is short and full. So…why not? Go for it…with my fullest blessing!  I am looking forward to helping you pack up (I’m a pro), driving to NY with you and sending you off on this next journey, just as I am already praying for your safe return. I still can’t believe you are going back to India! At least its only for four months so I wont feel compelled to visit you again…I have had quite enough experience with alternative bathroom facilities for a while.   I am looking forward to reading all your weird Indian recipes!

Glad to be Home

Glad to be Home

In the meantime, I also participated in a mega Shabbat gathering while in San Francisco. We enjoyed homemade challah, stuffed peppers, roasted Brussel sprouts and a veggie stew and I learned how to make a delicious Persian rice dish that I think you’ll love.  It’s full of fresh herbs and fava beans and is delicious plain or served as an accompaniment to stuffed peppers or veggie stew.

Enjoy it all!

Love,

Mom xoxooxoxoxooxoxoxooxoxoxoxooxoxxoox

Lily’s Persian Style Herbed Rice 

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Serves 10 – 15

(It looks more complicated than it is!)

  • 2 cups basmati rice (brown or white)
  • 2-3 Tblsp of salt
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 bunch fresh dill
  • 1 bunch fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 bulbs fresh garlic or 3 cloves regular garlic minced
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen fava beans (may substitute lima beans or edamame)
  • 1/4″ canola oil to cover the bottom of the pot
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 or 3 small potatoes (Yukon gold or red) sliced in thin rounds to cover the bottom of the pot
  • 1/2 tsp Saffron threads crushed and dissolved in 2-3 Tblsp butter or oil with a 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

IMG_0763

Rinse uncooked rice in cold water several times until water runs clear.
Bring a large pot of water with 2-3 tblsp of salt to a boil. (Make sure the pot is a heavy bottom pot.)
Add basmati rice to boiling water and boil rapidly for 10 minutes until rice is partially cooked.  Do not overcook.
Bring pot to the sink and pour the cold water over the rice to make the starchy water overflow.
Drain rice into a colander and set rice aside in a large bowl.
Chop all dill, parsley, cilantro, garlic and onions together in a food processor .
With a large spoon, mix together the drained rice and all the herbs and beans and toss loosely into a mound in a large bowl.
Grind together with a mortar and pestle 1/2 tsp saffron, 1/2 tsp turmeric and a 1 tsp sugar .
In a small bowl, melt 2-3 tblsp butter and mix ground spices into melted butter.

IMG_0766Put the heavy bottomed pot back onto the stove.
Add oil (enough to just cover the bottom).
Add 1 1/2 tsp turmeric to the oil and heat over medium heat while stirring.
Slice small potatoes into thin rounds and cover the oil on bottom of the pot with one layer of potatoes.
Toss all of the rice mixture into the pot covering the potatoes.
Poke 3-4 holes with the long handle of a wooden spoon into the mound of rice and pour the butter and saffron mixture down the holes.
Place about 3 layers of paper towels or a clean cotton kitchen towel over the top of the pot and then place the lid tightly over the pot.
Cook at medium heat for 8 minutes.
Turn the stove down to the lowest temperature it will go and steam for 35 more minutes.  Be careful to keep the temperature low so you don’t burn the potatoes.
To serve, scoop the rice out from the top of the pan being careful not to brake the crust on the bottom. Place in a serving dish.
Once all the rice is out except for the potato crust (tadig), carefully remove the potato crust from the bottom of the pot and flip the crust over placing it over the rice in the serving dish.

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It should be golden brown and beautiful! Enjoy!

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