Keik-e Yazdi

Discussed Persian food a few weeks ago with a friend who very generously offered to cook all sorts of yummy Persian goodies for me.  I would LOVE to have her, someone, anyone cooking Persian goodies for me....but it has to be without meat.

Yanni chi, bedoon-e gusht?? (What do you mean, no meat??)

Well, it can't have any meat in it.

Morgh chi? (How about chicken?)

No.  No beef, chicken, lamb, fish; no eggs; no wheat.

Nemishe!  (Can't be done!)  Ye zarre gusht.  (Just a little bit of meat.)

Alas (or aakhe, as one says in Farsi), most Persian food doesn't translate well to vegetarian and/or gluten-free.  Some dishes are vegetarian, like kashk-e bademjoon, or some simple rice dishes like adas polo (though people usually add chicken to the rice dishes).  Most of the delicious khoreshes (sauces) -- fesenjoon, ghorme sabzi, and others -- they're just not the same.  Must work on vegetarianizing those!

Unfortunately another one of those pesky, persistent little "craving seeds" was planted during that last foodie conversation and I had in my mind that I must come up with a vegetarian, gluten-free version of keik-e yazdi, little rosewater and cardamom-scented (really, what other scent is there in Persian desserts??) cakes.  So I got right on it.

I soaked some flax seeds, mixed up some Pamela's flour, melted butter, added some rose water, freshly ground cardamom, a little this and a little that, nary a trace of eggs, or wheat, and  popped them into the oven and waited.  Not in vain either, mind you.  

Mage mishe?? (Is it possible??)

Khob, bokhor yedune.  (Well, taste one.)

Che aali!!!  Dasturesh-o barayam benevis. (How wonderful!!!  Write the recipe for me.)

These little gems are lovely with hot tea, coffee, or chocolate.  Perfect after spicy food or whenever you need an exotic little pick-me-up. 

Noosh-e jaan.  (Enjoy).

Craving satisfied

Sometimes you get a craving and it haunts you till you give in.  Ever had one of those?  Yeah, I thought so!!

Well, I got one for....drumroll please.....doughnuts.  Uhuh, doughnuts.

I'm not a doughnut person -- except, maybe those hubcap-sized midnight snack Moroccan ones we had in Paris back in the 70's --  but not too long ago I read about a recipe for some "killer" gluten-free doughnuts and I must admit they looked and sounded pretty good.  And J is always raving about some maple doughnuts that his favorite doughnut baker lady never makes enough of and why can't she make more of them and fewer of those multicolor-sprinkles ones that sit in the case till the store closes?!?  Ah, but that's another story.

So yesterday I'm shopping at Whole Foods and because it's so crowded, the checkout line I'm in snakes  into the frozen food cases and there I am eye to doughnut hole.  Gluten-free doughnuts, no less.  I was tempted, but for some reason never opened the case to get a box.  Instead, I came home and made one.

One single, solitary, all by it's lonesome doughnut.

Black. Fuzzy. Flowery.
A knit and felted doughnut-shaped ring, "sprinkled" with a little bit of free-form embroidery.

And it's gluten-free!!

I've got the hots for cold

If you know anything about me, it’s that I don’t like cold.  Oh, I like cold things all right: ice cream, Eiskaffee, um….uh….hm, this list is shorter than I thought it would be.  And it’s got to be pretty warm for me to even enjoy those short-list items. 

I much prefer warm things: snuggly warm sheets and down blankets; warm baked goods; warm wool socks, hats, scarves, and mittens; warm hugs; warm thoughts; and the “warm” list goes on and on.  Add to that all the hot things I like, e.g. hot soup, hot water bottles, hot tea, etc. and the list goes on ad infinitum.

Guess here is where I should clarify that I don’t like the cold – cold weather.  Let me take that back.  I like cold weather that involves beautiful azure skies, whipped cream mounds of snow, cardinals happily chirping away high atop ice-glazed tree branches, skaters waltzing dreamily over a frozen pond, the scent of piñon wafting heavenward in twirls of misty grey……yep, just like on the “wish you were here” postcards.  That’s not the kind of cold we have here in North Texas.  No, we have the “icy wet wind that goes right through every last layer of clothes and straight to your marrow” kind of cold.  Doesn’t last from November through April, doesn’t even last all of winter.  No matter, I don’t like it.  Each year I hope pray to wind up living in a more “comfortable” geography; alas, as the cold inevitably sets in and I’m still in North Texas, I try to make peace with it…embrace it.  I’m here to tell you that, a few decades later, reverse psychology for cold does not work……not for me, anyway.

So, how to cope with the cold??  Heaps of warm/hot things.  Mornings start with one last snuggle under the duvet and the promise of a mug of steaming hot tea.  Followed by copious amounts of more hot tea, from Earl Grey, to sencha, to mugicha, to any number of herbal teas and/or coffees like Teecino. Candles flicker in warming vanilla, winter forest, or spicy fruit scents.  Hot lunch promptly ensues, followed by hot snacks & tea, followed by more hot tea, followed by hot dinner, and that final steaming cup of nitey-nite before it’s off to the land of down.

I think you’re beginning to see the picture, that I don’t like cold.  Which it started off as to today:  40 degrees, windy, dismal lack of sunshine.  Which immediately got me thinking about what I’d have for lunch today.  Which was going to have to be something quick because I had way to much work to do.  And, which, was unfortunate because I didn’t have any leftovers to warm up.  So, as I’m nodding off concentrating during a work colleague’s brilliant webex presentation, I’m trying to picture what’s in the fridge that would whip up into a speedy meal.  An onion, carrots, zucchinis….uttapam!  Too much work, plus they’d for sure burn while I’m on the concall.  Same thing with a pot of clean-out-the-fridge soup and abgreste Nudeln, too.  Curry!  Red curry!  With zucchinis & green beans.  And tempeh.  And brown rice.  Yes!!  And within about 5 minutes it was done: measured rice into cooker, added water, pinch of himmy, spoon of coconut oil, and pressed “cook;” heated some coconut cream, added some red curry paste, along with some tamari, coconut sugar, and a red chili. Rinsed and chopped the zucchinis and green beans, threw them into the curry, along with some julienned kaffir lime leaves.  Sliced up the tempeh and set it into the rice-cooker steamer.  That’s it.  All while listening to the concall….on mute, natch….in about 5 minutes.  The rice cooked, the tempeh steamed, and the curry simmered for another 10 minutes.  The house was filled with the exotic perfume of Thai deliciousness, and I was….ahem….surprising glad it was chilly outside, because I sure don’t eat that kind of food for lunch when it’s warm J

Rumpelstiltskin: almond butter & hemp

I know, I know.  It’s been 3 months!!  Not only did lot of water go under the bridge, it swept the bridge clean away.  NOT……but it seems that way some times.
First this happened and that didn’t happen.  Then this didn’t happen, and that did happen, then it all did and/or didn’t happen.  Couldn’t keep up and CharivariLife just stumbled, then crawled, and finally heaved a great sigh and laid down by the wayside….savasana……only to catch some much-needed breath before it could slowly, gently, revive itself.

Meanwhile, there was a great trip to California and a wonderful visit with best old friends…old best friends? Best older friends? Older best friends?  How to word it without sounding “odd,” (oh my, that sounds wrong, too)??  Hm, maybe I should say long-time best friends.  Yeah, that’s it!! Anyway, so fun to catch up on “deep into the night” conversations, good food, lots of laughter, some tears, and promises to make it all happen again soon.  The plan is for Austin in the spring!  Nothing like the Texas Hill Country in springtime!!  Miles of yellow flowers, poppies, Indian paintbrush, bluebonnets....and lots of sunshine.

What are the girls waiting on, you ask?  Homemade raw organic almond butter.  I’ve been making little batches, spiked with a touch of himmy, and eating it on my breakfast toast in the mornings.  By the way, Food for Life makes a most wonderful Bhutanese red rice bread that is so delicious toasted & spread with almond butter and a drop of raw honey.  I love it because, not only is it gluten-free, it’s egg-free, too – woohoo!!  The girls obviously like it, as well, and are passively "vulturing" around the table, hoping it will inspire my generosity.  Don’t count on it, girls. 

Each batch of the almond butter takes quite a while to make in the food processor because the motor tends to want to burn up.  You process the almonds till they’re floury, then keep on processing till the almond meal becomes like a ball of dough and spins around the processor bowl a few times.  Apparently that releases the oil and voila – almond butter.  Now I know why it’s so expensive in the stores: it’s labor intensive, besides the fact that organic almonds aren’t cheap.  But it is so good and so so worth it.  Give it a try; just make sure you let the machine rest occasionally to cool the motor.  Otherwise, that jar of almond butter will have cost you the price of a new processor J
Doesn’t that look gorgeous? I feel like I’m making something magical when I’m making almond butter.  Made me think of Rumpelstiltskin spinning straw into gold.  I don’t like raw almonds, but grind them up and add a sprinkle of salt, and I’m all over it. 

Which brings me to………
The postie left me a wonderful surprise in my mailbox today – 1500 yards of 100% pure spun hemp by Hemp for Knitting. Can’t wait to start knitting with this yarn.  Not sure what it will end up being – Shawl? Cardi? Face flannels? (Flannel sounds much nicer than wash-cloth.) And the color – isn’t it absolutely gorgeous??  I LOVE green!!
And now, one last item…… J and the girls ran a 10k last weekend, while I supportively cheered them on from the warmth of the car….knitting away on a lace moebius wrap. It was too windy and chilly to sit at the amphitheater and listen to the band, so I got in some knitting and could watch them as they started the first round of the run………..and welcome them back.  I made a short video; will work on getting it posted, as well as some pics from SoCal.

A bientot......

112 degrees

Not sure what the final temperature will be today in Dallas, but it's currently at 112 degrees Fahrenheit.  112!!! 

Two things are for sure -- it's hot and it's a record.....again!  Whew!!

Besides the movement of automated things like cars, buses, and 18-wheelers, it's quite still outside.  Sort of like a science fiction, nuclear winter movie where all life has been decimated.  Trees are dropping leaves like it's fall.  Lawns are crunchy brown.  Flowers are wilting, hanging on for dear life only with double-doses of hand watering.  Nobody's out walking, running, biking.  Nobody's walking their pets.  It's too hot to swim.

You've heard of brain-freeze??  How 'bout brain-fry!!

It's hot. 

But never too hot for dessert.  Especially one you can pull from the fridge :)

Today's polka-dot-plate-special is raw vanilla-lavender and chocolate macaroons, served with some juicy raspberries.  I got the recipe from Nutiva's Facebook posts, but had to change them up since they obviously left out some very key ingredients -- like a binding agent.  They're delish and keep in the fridge so you're I'm not tempted to eat a whole plateful before they go south :) 

If you're interested in my version, comment below and I'll post

Monday Memo: Stay Cool!

We're at Day 23 of the 100+ temperatures for Dallas/Ft.Worth.  We even got a "hot" shout-out on NPR this morning. It felt as fun as when Texas made the Top 10 on the obesity list.

Anyway........for this kind of weather, it's important to stay cool as possible, to stay hydrated, and make sure we get a nice balance of salts, minerals, and sugars.  Besides eating tons of salads and other fresh, raw foods, it's nice to be able to sip (or slurp) on something that meets all the above criteria:

Paloodeh fits the bill.  Paloodeh??

If you know anything about Persian cuisine, you've probably had or heard of faloodeh, a yummy dessert of frozen rice vermicelli in cherry-rose syrup, usually served along with bastani Akbar Mashti, saffron-rosewater ice cream.  If you don't know anything about Persian cuisine, now aren't faloodeh ba bastani Akbar Mashti a great incentive to give Iranian food a try?!?!

Of course, one does not live on rosewater and saffron-scented desserts alone.  And that's where paloodeh, frozen cantaloupe slush, comes in.  Iranians love their melons (of course, always bigger, better, and sweeter in Iran) and have found that these frozen drinks area a wonderful way to keep cool, keep hydrated, and keep fed.  So simple, it's made of cantaloupe (طالبي) whirred to a slush with ice cubes -- ah, so good!!

Paloodeh پالوده (Frozen Canteloupe Slush)

If the cantaloupe is not totally ripe, ie sweet, you can add some sweetener.  Also, a little spoon of rosewater or lemon juice changes the flavor.  Just don't do the East Texas thing, and season with salt and pepper!! Nah, go ahead if it floats your boat :)
I usually figure on 2 measures of cantaloupe to 1 measure of ice, but it all depends on how fragrant the fruit is and how icy you want it.

1 cantaloupe, peeled and cubed
cubed ice
the tiniest pinch of himmy (Himalayan salt)
sugar, to taste

Drop the cantaloupe into the blender container with the salt and pulse a few times. Add the ice and blend till smooth. Makes 2 tall glasses of nutritious, cooling refreshment.

Salad with blue potatoes and a side of memories

Just a quick pick of my lunch yesterday: steamed tempeh with wild rice, tomatoes, carrots, celery, cilantro and smurf-blue potatoes topped with lemony vinaigrette.  Aren't the potatoes cool?  All organic, and oh so yummy!

Makes me think of Annette-Kolb Gymnasium Traunstein.  We had to memorize a poem in 1. Klasse, das alizarinblaue Zwergenkind by Freiherr Börries von Münchhausen, about a tiny little fairy creature who decides to take a dip in an inkwell.  When he comes up from the ink, he's all blue; he crawls out of the well, and plops his hinie onto a sheet of blotting paper, leaving behind a stamp, described like this:

Da hats ein Dreierbrotchen gedruckt,

Ein kleinwinziges, zweihälftiges Dreierbrot,

Ha ha!! You'd have to understand German and know about German breads to get this one, but it's too cute!!

We had to memorize lots of poetry in Deutschklasse in the late 60's.  That's when school was school: lot of memorization, correct spelling and grammar, respect for authority, etc etc etc.  All about academics.  But it was lots of fun, too.  Like when we sang buranko buranko (a Japanese swing song - another memory) for our class and the principal in our embroidered Chinese pajamas that Mama brought us back from Singapore while Daddy was in Viet Name.  Has that really been more than 40 years ago??

Mensch, die Zeit vergeht......

p.s. it's GOOD for you!!

A quick p.s. to today's earlier post, just learned from watching the Dr. Oz's "Cancer Edition" show, that matcha includes the following lovely anticarcinogenic benefit: 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon equals about 8-10 cups of cancer-fighting green tea goodness.

Of course, you want to make sure that you're drinking quality, organic matcha - not just any old powdered green tea will do. You are what you eat and drink!!

So, blend up some berry matcha coolers and know that you're doing your body matcha good :)

And, since I collect heart rocks, wanted to post a picture from our last vaca in Colorado.

Blazing hot, but matcha cooler today

So, today is the 18th straight day of 100 or more degrees. What IS a body to do to stay cool??

Several weeks back as the 100's started, I popped into Whole Foods for some shopping. Dying of thirst, as one naturally does when it's this hot, I headed to the drinks bar and perused the menu. The frozen matcha slush sounded really good and refreshing, but then they also had a berry slush that sounded perky enough to counteract my wilting. Hm, which to choose? Which to choose?? Wer die Wahl, hat die Qual :)

I settled on the matcha slush, but a la Starbucks, I asked for a "shot" of berry - ha, I felt so clever :)

Can you do that for me, I asked the lovely dreadlocked mistress of libations.

Sure! What kind of milk do you want, she asked.

Coconut, please.

And with that she deftly scooped ice into the mixer, poured on the milk, added a scoop of matcha, drizzled in some syrup, set it on the base and whizzed it all into a slushy, frothy green 20-ounce concoction of sippableness. Don't know if sippableness is a word, but oooooh, it was love at first brain-freezable sip.

This is a drink that iss going to keep me hydrated (and awake) all summer.

Next day, I decided to try making it at home with frozen fruit and a touch of sweetener, since berry syrups aren't a staple in my pantry. Good choice!

Berry Matcha Cooler

I use a personal blender by Tribest, but any blender will do.

If you have some berry syrups, you may want to give those a shot, as they would no doubt intensify the fruit flavor. I bet it would be wonderful with peaches, too, or guavas.

I like it less milky, but you can add more milk to temper the matcha if it's too "bitter" for you.

1/2 to 1 cup coconut milk (or whatever kind you like)

1-2 teaspoons matcha -- how awake do you want to be, ha ha

1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey

7 or 8 frozen strawberries

Add all the above to your blender container. Blend -- you may need to add more liquid or more berries, depending on the size of your fruit -- until it's uniformly slushy. Also, check for sweetness and if you need more, add and finish blending.

Enjoy; I bet you'll feel matcha cooler :)

Presto Pesto

The heat is on!! The veggie garden is basically a goner.....sigh........

Just pulled up the last of the fruitless tomato plants. The only thing left now is the basil (with morning and evening watering) and the jalapenos. So they go into everything we're cooking, or uncooking, now. Into the salads, the sandwiches, the scrambled eggs, you name it. Thinking of making some ice cream or sorbet with basil & pineapple. See, you name it, and basil or jalapenos are in it.

But the crowning achievement for basil is pesto -- ah, homemade pesto. Green summery goodness to slather on al dente pasta or a sandwich or to dip with chips.

So easy to make and it keeps for a good while, as long as you keep it sott'olio - covered with olive oil. Pick the basil in the morning before the sun hits it, wash it well and let it dry. Drop a couple of cloves of garlic into the food processor, followed by a good handful of nuts (I know pine nuts are de rigeur, but I like walnuts). Pulse a few times, just to chop them a bit. Cube the best cheese you can afford, either parmiggiano or pecorino romano, and drop it into the processor and pulse 4 or 5 times. When the basil is dry, put it in the machine and run while adding enough olive oil to make it saucey -- not too runny, but not too dry and pasty either. Stop and check it occasionally and when it's the consistency you like, presto it's finished.

A, che buono.......and it's only available in summer :)

Water under the bridge......

"Water under the bridge" obviously herewith applies just metaphorically. See, in Texas, we're in a drought. Wildfires. Lake levels sinking one foot per day! High temperatures. Sustained high winds.

Traffic jams everywhere and, as I heard this morning, heaps of them are cause by stalled cars -- with batteries that have succumbed to the heat.

It's hot. It's bad. Worst it's been in a long, long time. Longer than I've been alive.

Nevertheless, though there's not much water under the literal bridge, there's been lots under our metaphoric bridge....

Several surgeries -- all's good in the hood :)

Trips to the ER -- happy endings

A wedding -- happy ever after

Kitchen & bath renovations -- never again

Backyard renovation -- worth it

Personal renovation -- well, this one never really ends, does it?

Upside, however, is being able to participate in some of the flow of that metaphorical "water". Gotta focus on the fullness in the glass and the potential for the water level to rise and overflow :)

And eating some delicious foods, as one can do only in summer, is definitely an upside. Freshest greens & tomatoes. Sweet corn. Jalapenos from the garden. Fragrant basils. Yummo!!

Right now I've got the dehydrator going with some pureed bananas (for raw crepes!!); some tart shells that I'll fill maybe with some strawberry kreme (I know, doesn't that sound great?!?!); and raw oatmeal cookies with dates, apricots, and coconut -- great for breakfast.

I made the cookies something like this: Into a food processor dump 1/2 cup soaked walnuts, 6 soft medjools, 1/4 cup diced apricots, 1/2 cup coconut, about 1 cup of oats, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 tablespoon coconut butter, good pinch salt. All the measurements are what I imagined I put into the machine. Whizz it around till it's the consistency you like, adding a little liquid if it won't hold together. Shape into little round pillows/buttons - about 1 1/2" diameter and 3/4" thick (or whatever works for you) - then refrigerate and eat like cookie dough cookies, or dehydrate till they're dry.

The salad in the photo is my version of Bún Chay: rice vermicelli, sunflower sprouts, ribboned carrots, julienned cucumbers, diced tomatoes, basil (Italian and Thai), and chopped peanuts. I topped all with a little sauce of lime juice mixed with water, tamari, and maple syrup. So refreshing, light but filling, and suuuper tasty!!

For dessert, it's Inside Out PB Cups - my gluten free, vegan, ravishingly delicious and good-for-you version of Reese's cups. Not sure if I'll post the recipe.....BUT......I will gladly share them with you if you come see me :)

Meanwhile, à bientôt!

Vyeri, vyeri good...almost lyike Russian

Today's post comes to you directly from Siberia, Texas.

A blizzardy, ice-cicly 15 degrees, with a windchill hovering around the big "O" certainly makes North Texas feel more like Siberia than...well, than North Texas. And when I think of Siberia, I think of a feast I got to share in one evening...

Twenty-some winters ago, I took Z to a supermarket and watched as she wandered from aisle to aisle like a slowmo pinball, staring in absolute awe at the quantities of groceries available. The fresh veggies, the canned and frozen ones; bread on the bakery shelves and frozen dough in the cases; beef, pork, lamb, fish, chicken; boxes of mixes for this and for that. And plenty of all of it. No queues of grumpy, elbowing, "hey, the back of the line is back there"-pointing shoppers.

Behesht e! Behesht e, Dana joon!

"It's paradise!" she exclaimed in her Farsi-by-way-of-Uzbekistan accent. Z had insisted on cooking dinner for us all that evening and wanted to buy some meat and vegetables to make soup and mantu, Uzbeki dumplings. So we went to the supermarket, she picked up a small package of meat, a handful of veggies and potatoes, and since I was sure we had flour at home, we left to get started on the feast.

As she cooked, she told stories of how she and B had met after he'd gotten stranded in Uzbekistan; how happy they were to have long-lost relatives in Amyerika; how life was in Uzbekistan (according to her, not the worst since B was a doctor); how pearls, furs and diamonds were inexpensive and how food was a luxury there; and on and on while she cut up the meat and veggies for the soup, and rolled and stuffed the mantu dough.

All the while, I was wondering how she was going to feed about 20 of us with the groceries we'd purchased. Like matryoshka, Russian nesting dolls?? Somehow we'd be surprised by the contents of the soup pot?

Each guest's bowl was lovingly and proudly filled with broth and tiny pieces of meat and vegetables. In the spirit of true Uzbeki hospitality, our hosts dished out the "best" to their guests.

I've never had a more watery "soup" than that evening. But I don't think I've ever heard two people "savor" and "mm and yumm" over their food more than Z and B did that night. This "paradisaic" soup was the richest food that they'd had in a very long time, and it was a splurge for them to use enough meat to make the soup taste just slightly more appetizing than the dishwater they were used to. The potato mantu, on the other hand, were delicious.

As the years passed, her soups got thicker and thicker, to where you could actually taste the ingredients, the chicken, the vegetables, the cilantro, the spices.

One time Z came over for lunch. I'd made a good warm soup out of beets and red cabbage, kind of a non-traditional vegetarian borscht. "Vyeri, vyeri good...almost lyike Russian." I took it as a compliment.

So as I'm rummaging through my fridge today looking for something "warming" to make while this Arctic front blasts through the region, I see a beet, some red cabbage, onions, and start thinking about throwing together a big pot of borscht. Well, something borscht-like, anyway. Even J has pronounced it vyeri, vyeri good....almost lyike Russian :)

Let me know what you think and if you've got any good "Siberia" stories :)

Banana's "Vyeri, Vyeri Good...Almost Like Russian" Borscht

2 onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups red lentils 1 beet, shredded (I did this in the processor)
1 large carrot, shredded
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup ruby quinoa, washed
1/4 cup dried dill (or 1 cup fresh)
2 veggie soup cubes
1 tablespoon Bragg's liquid aminos
1 tablespoon powdered limu omani (dried lime)
or 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
fresh ground pepper

Heat a large soup pot over medium high and add the onions. When they're fragrant and starting to color, add the garlic. Stir for about a minute, then add the lentils, along with enough water to cover. Cook till the lentils are soft.

Add the remaining ingredients and let simmer till everything is soft. Season with lemon juice, pepper, and salt. If desired, serve with a dollop of sour cream or Greek-style yogurt.

Memo from the Language Fairy


It’s winter.

It’s winter and I’m cold.

It’s winter and I’m cold, and I won’t warm up until May.

It’s winter and I’m cold, and I won’t warm up until May so I’ll be making hot soup till then.

Learning a new language is tough and it seems there are nearly as many suggestions for learning one as there are languages themselves.  I’m so fortunate to have grown up speaking more than one language because that ensured that I could think in another language.  If I want to say something in German, I don’t have to first say it in English, then translate it into German.  If I want to say something in German, I just say it.  Same thing with Italian.  Or French.  Or Italian.  Or Farsi. 

Not that I speak all, or any, of them perfectly. Far from it! But I think in phrases in those languages and get stuck only when it comes to a particular word, or an idiomatic expression.  And when I learn a little of a new language, I learn it in phrases.

Aap ka kiya hale hey?

Kif halek?

Kak vi pozhivayetye?

That’s “How are you?” in Urdu, Arabic, and Russian respectively.

Kids learn in building blocks of phrases, always adding to their foundation.

Want milk.

I want milk, please.

I want chocolate milk, please.

I want chocolate milk and cookies, please.

I’m having some milk and cookies, and yes watching TV helps me concentrate while I do my homework.

The one big “advantage” little kids have over adults learning a new language is that they are by default immersed in their “new” language.  That eliminates the one big impediment for most people who are learning a new language – conjugation.  Immersion means you’re going to be speaking, hearing, and most likely reading and writing, your new language.  Little kids learn conjugation via mother’s milk.  But most of us aren’t learning a new language via immersion.  So, guess what?  We’re going to have to buckle down and conjugate some verbs, the regular and irregular ones.  You simply cannot learn a language well without doing that.  Is it fun?  Oh sure!!  Pull another tooth while you’re at it!


To:        New Language Learner

FROM:  The Language Fairy

It does not come by osmosis!!!

You can get by without conjugating verbs.  People will understand you when you speak.  You’ll understand people when they speak, and you’ll be able to read and understand the language.  But you won’t be able to say you speak the language.  Maybe that you’re learning the language, but not that you speak it.  So do yourself the small favor of conjugating the main verbs (to be, have, do, go, give, take, see, feel, and so forth) and a few not so common ones….amazing how your grasp of the language


Whew! Got that off my chest.  Feel tons better :)

I do two things when it’s cold: 

1) I drink hot tea.  I drink lots and lots of hot tea.  I drink lots and lots of hot tea all day long. 

And 2) I cook and eat lots of hot soup.  Spicy tomato soup.  Potato leek soup.  Lentil soup.  Quer durch den Kuehlschrank soup (literally translated as diagonally through the fridge soup).  Miso soup.  Just about any kind of fresh homemade soup or veggie stew you can imagine.

Tonight it was Sweet Potato Soup with Thai flavors, va in soup-ra intori dorost kardam (Farsi for this is how I made the soup)

1 cup coconut cream

2 tablespoons red curry paste

1 cup coconut milk

1 vegan soup bouillon cube

1/2 cup chopped onion

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in small cubes

2 kaffir lime leaves, julienned



handful of green peas

cilantro, chopped

lime juice

In a large pot, heat the coconut cream over medium high heat; stir in the curry paste and cook for a few minutes.  Add the coconut milk, soup cube, onions, sweet potatoes, and lime leaves.

Lower heat and cook, covered and occasionally stirring, until the potatoes are soft.  You may need to add some water if it gets too thick.  Puree and return to the stove; season with salt.

Add the green peas and cook for a few more minutes.  Garnish with cilantro and sprinkle with fresh lime juice.

Nushe jaan va be salaamati.  In other words, bon apetit (I know, I know; it should have an accent mark, but I can’t figure out how to insert one with this program) and be well :)