Holidays with my family require a few signature dishes. Every family has their own traditions and at my house our traditional holiday dishes revolve around meat and protein. Of course there is the common turkey at Thanksgiving, and spiral ham, or beef roast at other occasions, but we also have other requirements. Often, before Christmas or especially Easter (the big Christian holidays), many people give something up as a sacrifice. My family and I typically give up meat and/or animal products, so when it comes time to break our fast and celebrate, we chow down on all of the foods we missed out on.
Even if we don’t always give something up by fasting, certain foods have now found a place at our table for more than just their delicious taste. These foods have come to represent sitting around the table together and being thankful for who and what we have (sentiments we don’t only reserve for Thanksgiving). The flavors represent years of tradition, togetherness, and loving preparation that goes into the meals. While all of these foods may be eaten throughout the year, my family typically saves them for occasions so that they remain special.
Over the next few weeks, I will reveal the secrets to some of my mother’s best recipes. Despite the many many times I’ve begged her over the years to write down her recipes, she never did. When I asked her why she wouldn’t, we had the following conversation:
Me: It’s not hard! Can’t you just write down what you do, when you do it, and how much you added?
Mom: But there is no recipe! You just make it!
Me: An apple has no recipe! If it has ingredients and a process, then it has a recipe!
Finally, with pen and paper in hand, I watched (and helped) my mother work while I wrote down everything I could to capture her recipes. When she opened a package of meat, I asked her how much it weighed by reading the label. When she would pour salt out into her hand, I would grab her hand and dump the salt into a teaspoon measurement to figure out how much she used. When she added pureed onion, I placed a 1/3 cup measuring scoop in her hand and told her to use it. She looked at me like I was crazy, but also like it had never occurred to her that it was possible to measure her ingredients.
I have no problem at all with people eye-balling their ingredients because that’s just normal cooking, but you need to measure things out at least once so that you can pass on those recipes to people you care about. After this ordeal, with far fewer verbal snaps at one another than I would have imagined, I told my mother that she could go back to business as usual. I got what I needed.
Over the next few weeks, I will share the following recipes:
- Baid Mez3lil (yes that is a 3 in the middle of the word to represent a sound we don’t have in English!) or Baid Mezaghlil (Fried Hard Boiled Eggs);
- Grilled Lamb with a Middle Eastern Marinade;
- Grilled Kofta (Ground beef with spices);
- Fried Chicken Tenderloins (you won’t find this recipe anywhere else because my mother made it up!); and
- Cucumber Yogurt Sauce (similar to Tzatziki)
My Mum never measured anything. She never owned a weighing scales and produced some of the most wonderful food. Her brown bread, rhubarb crumble and vanilla fudge all spring to mind. She now comes over to ours most Sunday evenings and advises / helps me with our Family Dinner that has been running in our house for as long as I have children (adults now). It gets better all the time.
Looking forward to your posts.
I agree with you. I think the best cooks can just “feel” a recipe. That doesn’t help the rest of us out though who want to mimic their creations! It’s great that you all get together on Sundays and still keep tradition going strong. Sounds like a great time, especially with some of the fantastic stuff coming out of your kitchen!
I agree with your mum, there are so many foods I make without a recipe, I just make them and add ingredients as I go along, tasting and adjusting. And usually they turn out really nice. Now that I’m blogging this has changed because I have to write down quantities added. I still weigh everything when I bake though, I can’t imagine baking otherwise! I love that your holiday traditional holiday dishes revolve around meat and protein. I’m a die-hard carnivore.. Have a great weekend!
I’m going to be looking forward to your mother’s recipes. I don’t think our families realize how much we enjoy the traditional cooking that they have made and don’t want the traditions to end.
Great blog! Great composition! would definitely love to try your mom’s recipe 🙂 The food looks good and delicious.
Thanks so much and thanks for stopping by. I’m confident the upcoming recipes won’t disappoint. You’ve got some really professional looking pics on your site. Keep it up!
Sorry for late response, looking forward for your upcoming recipes 🙂 Any, thank you.
This whole meal looks amazing. I love Middle Eastern (especially Turkish and Persian) food… it’s probably my absolute favourite, though unfortunately I’ve learned everything I know from books rather than a wonderful home cook 🙂
I’m also one of those darn annoying cooks who never measures anything. I’ve been trying to actually measure and record quantities for the purposes of blogging though. It’s been really good for me… especially as I want to keep my recipes for my kids one day (aw, it’s true!) whilst also being able to replicate dishes the same each time (rather than coming up with something brilliant and never being able to make it again!). I’m glad you have been able to record some of your mother’s recipes. It’s a precious thing, to keep family traditions alive. I love your blog. This is my first visit but it’s been a real inspiration. Thanks!
Thanks so much. I really appreciate the kind words. It’s nice to know that: 1) People are reading; and 2) They like what they’re reading! I hear you about the measurements. I only started taking measurements for the blog, so that I could relate some kind of readable instructions. I’ve looked around you blog a bit and I look forward to seeing what else you have in store for your readers!
Equal thanks to you, I appreciate the kind words of encouragement. I look forward to swapping more recipes and tips as the year progresses! You’ve definitely got a great thing going on here and I’m happy to be following you.