Archive for March, 2010

For the first time in my life I am a part of a committee as in BC, DC , kitty party. What is a BC? you make ask. A group of women gather together to pool their money into a ‘fund’; every one puts in x amount of money into the ‘pot’ ie. $500. One lucky sister gets the to take the kitty home. ( Every month a different woman takes the money until the round in complete)

Here is how to set one up –

  1. Gather like-minded women you trust- usually works well with at least 12 women- one for each month
  2. Decide the amount of the “fund” ie. $12,000
  3. Decide the amount of contribution. For example- if the fund is 12,000 then the participants can choose to give the whole $1000 a month and take $12,000 when it is their turn OR they can have a partner and contribute $500 each and take $6000 when it is their turn.
  4. Appoint one coordinator who reminds people of the dates and amounts. This person is also in charge of gathering all the checks and giving it to the lucky sister.( Don’t do cash, as its harder to take care of and bills may turn out counterfeit)
  5. Decide at the beginning of the session who will receive the money in which month either by lottery or by request.
  6. Decide a fun activity for the participants to do when they get together ie. In our BC the gal who gets the “fund” hosts a dinner at her house. Others go out to restaurants or have speakers come in or take a class together whats ever works.

It is a great way for ladies to socialize and save some money. Women can also ask for the kitty at a time when they most need it ie. an upcoming wedding in the family, vacations, a trip to the ‘maikah’ (their parent’s home) or any other reason when they don’t want to ask their husbands for spending money.  This tradition is very common in the subcontinent. Credit cards are a very new phenomenon in there. And bank loans for women who don’t have a steady income are non-existent. So from the villages in Gujrat to the mega city of Karachi, women from all strata of society indulge.  One friend of mine renovated her kitchen with the money. My neighbor asked for the first take and bought a car – INTEREST free and paid it off in a year!!

I had my reservations at first. Why do I need to do this? I can always get an interest free credit card and buy what ever I need or just try to save some money in a drawer. That reminds me of Maasi- my mother’s maid, who saves her money under her mattress only to have her druggie son steal it. I have dual degree in Accounting and a BBA I should be able to save money in a bank account somewhere!!  But I know myself- I am not good with cash, I ‘ll lose it or spend it or give it away (when I feel guilty). Credit cards never give me the feeling of accomplishment – mostly I make impulse purchases and later get buyer’s remorse. Thank God for my husband’s policy of paying off credit cards at the end of the month. I think when you save up for something it means more to you. It has VALUE.

The choice I had to make was should I ask to receive the money at the beginning or at the end. The beginning would work well for people who have a hard time getting a loan or even a credit card. I decided the end will work for me; this way whatever I buy or save for will have value because I actually waited for it for a whole 12 months instead of the instant gratification we all have become accustomed to.

Anyways, since I am the lucky sistah this month, I get to host the party at my house. All ladies means No hijab!   To offset the gossip fest and to remember God when He blesses us – I asked a lovely sister to speak. Maybe we can make zikr together… Alhamduillilah (Praise the Lord) now I don’t have to stress about my sister in law’s wedding in July- I saved up enough for the tickets to the East Coast, her wedding gift, and shopping!! Now to cook some Persian food…

Here is my menu :

Pita Chips and Hummus (Not really Persian but it’ll do)

Herb Salad with Pomegranate with Tahini dressing

Herb Salad with Pomegranate with Tahini Dressing

Kashk-e Bademjan based on my favorite Persian restaurant in Sacramento Scheharzade

some people like it chunky but I prefer it really smooth and smothered in Olive Oil.

  • 6 small eggplants, peeled
  • 1 large or 2 medium yellow onions
  • 2 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped (dried mint also works here)
  • few cloves garlic
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 cup of  kashk- this is whey- I buy the B.B. brand from small Persian store called Mom and Pop’s Deli
  1. Roast the eggplants in their skins until they collapse- I do this in our BBQ to give them a smoky flavor or you can use a touch od liquid smoke in the oven; peel, then proceed as below
  2. Fry the onions until golden brown.
  3. Remove all  but two tablespoon of the onions from the pot.  Add the mint to the onions. Continue to fry until the mint is fragrant, and the onions are medium-dark brown and starting to crisp a bit. Remove and set aside; use this for garnish.
  4. Add garlic until it pops. Return the rest of the onions and eggplants to the pot. Add the tomato and season lightly with salt & pepper (the kashk is quite salty, so be careful).
  5. Use a mixer, mash the eggplants until smooth
  6. Add one cup of kashk, whip until mousse-like. Re-season, if necessary.
  7. Garnish with extra-virgin olive oil and the fried onion/mint mixture.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature with pita or use as a delicious side with your koobideh and tahdig.
Tahdig with Potatoes & Zaresh
( Dr. Z’s, my mum-in-law’s best friend who spent quite some time in Tehran as a newlywed taught me how to make this but I added my twists to it – ofcourse!)
Tahdig with Potatoes & Zaresh

Tahdig with Potatoes & Zaresh

and finally my habibi’s favorite Koobideh Kebob

Koobideh Kebob

That is recipe is another post by itself since it has evolved over the course of my marriage.

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My husband & I have made a major lifestyle change this year. As we head into our mid thirties, our bodies are changing on us. We were always night-owls ever since college. He would workout at night- the gym is less crowded- less fitnah. Then work on his paperwork til the wee hours of night.  I would even do my grocery shopping at night since taking 3 kids to the store during the day was pure torture.  As a result, I’m ashamed to say we would miss our Fajr  a lot.

This year with LF#3 in pre-school and LF#2 in school until 2:12, leaves just LF#4 at home and he hasn’t hit the terrible twos yet. My husband’s work schedule has Alhamdulillah become somewhat ‘normal’, with the 2:00 am calls diminishing as the hospital’s overtime budgets shrink.

As a result of all of this, we now go to bed by 10:00 as opposed to 2:00.  The other reason for making this change was I am salah-training my LF#1 and frankly it was embarrassing when she asked me all too often why I had not woke her up for fajr.

This poster courtesy of OJS- my brother -in-love

Here is a motivating article on the dawn prayer.

Another how-to for the Fajr showdown

Now waking up before dawn breaks, he still fits the gym in – less fitnah that early in the morning too. My kids haven’t been tardy once since we started.  The best part about it is LF#1 and I are bonding during prayers. It’s quiet in the morning – we talk without her younger siblings interrupting after every word. I know that there will be days when it is not perfect so pray for me.

I am including the yummy breakfast recipe we are making together now that we have time to enjoy them.

LF#1 Fave: Omlette a la Mama

7 Organic Free Range Eggs -one for every person in the family plus one

1 medium brown onion

Olive Oil (for the Sunnah)

Pepper jack cheese- I use the Tillamook brand, its creamy, halal certified, rennet free and the enzymes are microbial/ vegetable based AND made with milk produced without rBST. I love this company, its a cooperative of 110 dairy families.

Here is the link- Tillamook answers cheese questions.

Buy the big block from Costco , shred it, put it in small ziplocs and freeze it

Red Chili powder- a pinch

Sea Salt

Fresh crushed black pepper

Fresh cilantro or parsley (whatever is available)

  • Grate the cheese
  • Cube the onions.
  • Beat the eggs well in a large bowl. The longer you beat it the smoother your omelette will be.
  • Season as desired.
  • Warm your pan (use cast iron)  and coat it lightly with olive oil over medium heat ( don’t use too much oil it will make the omelette soggy & greasy)
  • Saute the onions until translucent
  • Pour the eggs into the pan and cook until the bottom starts solidifying
  • Lift up the pan edges so all the runny eggs flow to the side of the pan
  • Fill the middle with onions, herbs and cheese and fold the omelette.

When we are in a hurry then we just add the onions to the eggs and fry the mixture, flip the omelette and just sprinkle the cheese on top.

Grown up version- add mushrooms & green bell pepper for the hubbie.

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