Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Foods a la Louisiane: Jambalaya

Did I tell you I collect cookbooks? One of the guidelines I use is that the cookbook have the name of a person attached to each recipe; if your name is on a recipe going into a book, you know you are going to be very careful that this recipe is really, really good.

I don’t remember buying this cookbook, but it is a gem. On the other hand, there have been some surprises . . . there is a recipe for making boudin, that ubiquitous Cajun sausage, and it starts off with “1 large hoghead.” The directions state that you boil the hog’s head until tender, let it cool, remove meat from bones, then grind hoghead meat with heart, kidney, onions, parsley, etc. in a meat grinder.

Thank goodness boudin is not a favorite of mine. Andouille, a spicier sausage, IS a favorite of mine and if I see a recipe for andouille, I am NOT going to look at it.

I love making jambalaya – and here is a genuine Louisiana recipe:

1/2 cup vegetable oil or drippings
2 medium onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onion tops
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Red Pepper to taste
Pepper to taste
Browning agent or 2 teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet
2 lbs peeled raw shrimp
4 cups long grain rice

Heat oil over low heat in a heavy 6 quart Dutch oven until warmed. Add vegetables; saute until lightly browned. Add enough water to cover vegetables; add seasoning and browning agent. Bring to a boil; add shrimp. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir in rice; cook 10 minutes. Cover and cook until rice is tender, stirring occasionally. Yield 10 – 12 servings.

I do jambalaya all the time (DISCLAIMER: I am neither a Louisiana native nor of Cajun descent, so what I do cannot be taken as authentic, even if it is tasty 🙂 ) and I use more spices, chopped tomatoes and I don’t add the shrimp until the rice is cooked; I add it at the end and give it five minutes for the heat of the rice and cooked ingredients to cook the shrimp. We also use andouille sausage (or a turkey sausage if we are entertaining Moslem friends) and some cut artichoke hearts, maybe a small jar of pimentos, maybe some leftover peas. Sort of like a jambalaya/paella 🙂

October 24, 2012 Posted by | Books, Cooking, Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, NonFiction, Recipes | | 4 Comments

African Sweet Potato Peanut Soup

This is another wonderful recipe I found on My sweet daughter-in-law told me about, and once I signed up, they started sending me recipes every day. Not all of them are of interest to me, but most of those I have tried have been really good.

We LOVE this soup. It is delicious, and easy to fix. While it is an African recipe, we find that many of the most delicious Southern dishes are similar to African dishes, probably because there were so many African ex-pats brought to the USA and settled in the South a few hundred years ago. Their legacy lives on in Southern cookbooks.

African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup

• 1 tablespoon good olive oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 6 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 2 teaspoons ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 pinch ground cloves
• 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
• 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
• 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
• 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
• 1 pinch cayenne pepper
• 2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
• 1 bunch fresh chopped cilantro

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Mix in the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne and cloves. Stir in the tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrot, and continue to cook and stir about 5 minutes.

2. Pour chicken broth into the saucepan, and season the mixture with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Add peanut butter.

3. Remove the soup mixture from heat. With a blender wand, blend the soup and peanuts until almost smooth. Stir in fresh cilantro. Serve hot.

August 30, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Arts & Handicrafts, Cooking, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, Recipes | 2 Comments

Tabak Rohoo: A Damascene Dish

Syria is heavy on our hearts, and in our helplessness, we honor our Syrian friends by trying a Damascus dish, Tabak Rohoo.

Although we did not manage to empty the cooking pot by sliding the completed dish out still in layers (a challenge for the future), this dish was so delicious that we plan to have it often. AdventureMan was amazed; he doesn’t even like lamb, but this lamb is delicious.

It is hard to imagine that this dish might be even better if made with ghee. We substituted a very good olive oil. 🙂

The recipe is from, where I find some of the best recipes ever 🙂

A Vegetable Stew – Tabakh Rohoo

“This is an Arabic vegetable stew made in layers and served with steamed rice or bulgur. My Damascene sister in law recently showed me how to make this. It is delicious. The addition of ghee or rendered butter at the end of the cooking is a traditional Damascene style of cooking; however, these days these dishes are made without the extra fat.”

20 Min
1 Hr 15 Min
1 Hr 35 Min
• 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
• 1 pound lamb meat, cut into small pieces
• 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 pinch ground cardamom
• 2 onions, sliced
• 1 potato, peeled and sliced
• 1 pound eggplant, peeled and cubed
• 1 pound zucchini, thickly sliced
• 2 pounds tomatoes, cubed
• 1 chile pepper, chopped
• salt to taste
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 1/4 cup water
• 6 cloves garlic
• salt to taste
• 3 tablespoons dried mint

1. Heat the ghee in a large pot over medium heat. Place the lamb meat in the pot, and cook until evenly brown. Season with allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom.

2. Place a layer of onion on top of the lamb in the pot, followed by layers of potato, eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes. Do not stir. Place the chile pepper in the center of the vegetables. Season with salt. Mix the tomato paste and water, and pour over the vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 1 hour, until vegetables are tender.

3. With a mortar and pestle, crush together the garlic, salt, and mint. Mix with 2 tablespoons of liquid from the pot, and pour over ingredients in pot. (I used a mini-jar on my blender. I tried the mortor and pestle, but there was a lot of stuff and it was messy and unsuccessful. The blender did just fine, and this mixture is essential to the delicious nature of the dish – Intlxpatr)

When removing the mixture to the serving dish – a fairly open or wide bowl – tip the pot and let it slide out the side so that it stays in the layers.

August 29, 2012 Posted by | Cooking, ExPat Life, Experiment, Middle East, Recipes | 7 Comments

My Halal Kitchen by Yvonne Maffei

Just in time for your Eid celebrations, a blog called My Halal Kitchen, with some of the most amazing and delicious totally halal recipes you can imagine.

Here is what the author has to say about herself:

Publisher Bio

Yvonne Maffei, MA graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies and a Master’s degree in International Studies, where she specialized in international education, journalism and health. She has lived and traveled abroad in various regions throughout Latin America, Europe, the southern Mediterranean and North Africa as well as the American foodie cities of San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Yvonne has been cooking and writing since she was a pre-teen and always wanted to turn her passion and hobby into something more. When one of her recipes was published in Cooking Light magazine, it was all the inspiration she needed to make a necessary life and career change. After years of being a school teacher, she decided to re-angle her teaching platform from the classroom to her blog where she began writing about halal food and cooking and thus began a new career out of writing about food, travel and healthy, halal living. Today Yvonne writes and publishes, a blog about halal food and cooking. She currently teaches cooking classes, gives lectures on healthy eating, and consults schools on how to source healthy, halal ingredients and create tasty healthy and halal recipes for their school lunches. She resides in Chicago, IL.

Her recipes are clear and easily understood, and her illustrations are beautiful. She also provides resources for halal-standard foods, and fresh dairy and produce.

August 18, 2012 Posted by | Blogging, Cooking, Eid, Food, Recipes | Leave a comment

Open Faced Crab Sandwiches

Remember Qwon Chi Rolls? No self respecting Alaska girl would eat a roll make with “Crab with a K” which we all know is really Alaskan pollack re-textured to remotely resemble real crab. My friends, don’t eat that pretend stuff. Look for real crab. It’s out there.


When I was a little girl, my parents would go out, and sometimes they would come back, bring their friends, and my mother would make open faced crab sandwiches. To me, they are still special; I get hungry just thinking about them.


They are fun, and easy to make.


You get Crab – the real thing. I like claw meat, but any crab you prefer, as long as it is REAL crab, will do. You put crab meat in a bowl. You add just a little horseradish, just a little fresh ground pepper and a little fresh ground salt. You add some of the green from green onions, not a lot, just a little, and then you add just a little mayonnaise.


Toast English muffins, and spread crab generously on the muffins.


Top the crab with grated cheddar cheese, and broil in the oven until the cheese is melted.


Now, they are ready to eat!


I think I had better go eat dinner . . . . I’m HUNGRY!

January 18, 2012 Posted by | Alaska, Cultural, Food, Friends & Friendship, Recipes | 5 Comments

Cooling Cucumber Salad

I made this for the first time the other night; it was a big hit. It is also a great way to utilize all those cucumbers appearing in your garden 🙂

Cooling Cucumber Salad

3 English cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon dried mint

Mix the cucumbers and onion in a large bowl.

Combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Pour vinegar/water/sugar over the cucumber and onions.

Stir in mint, cover, and refrigerate. Marinate half a day, and serve.

So simple! So easy!

August 17, 2011 Posted by | Cooking, Gardens, Recipes | Leave a comment

Lunch in Paris (A Love Story With Recipes) by Elizabeth Bond

I just finished this book, and I need to review it so that I can pass it along to my daughter-in-law, who sees France, as I do, through eyes of love. Americans either love France or hate it, for some reason France evokes strong emotions one way or the other.

This author is a New Yorker, and her experiences are not my experiences, because her culture is not my culture. New York is a culture all its own. On the other hand, her experiences as an expat are universal, and her insecurity with the language, the culture and the customs are magnified by her commitment to marrying a French man and living in France for the rest of her life.

For the record, I really loved this book.

Can you read a recipe and have a pretty good idea what it is going to look like and how it will taste? In my family, we read cook books for fun. The recipes Elizabeth Bond has included are great recipes, a great start on French cooking the simple and fresh way. Even someone who has never cooked French food can make most of the dishes she creates in this book. In my very favorite chapter, A New Year’s Feast, there are several recipes for North African dishes I have eaten and loved – and oh, I am eager to try these! Chicken Tajine with Two Kinds of Lemon! Tajine with Meatballs and Spiced Apricots! Oh, YUMMMM!

In one part of the book, the author talks about some very basic differences between how Americans approach life and how the French view life:

I watched the couples walking around the lake. “Maybe it’s the New Yorker in me. I’m too used to rushing around. But everyone here is so relaxed, it’s like they’re moving in slow motion.”

“Why should they rush? They’re not going to get anywhere.”

Sometimes I really have no idea what he is taling about.

“You will never understand. You come from a place where everything is possible.” We lay side by side on the grass, our eyes half closed.

“It’s Henry Miller that said, ‘In America, every man is potentially a president. Here, every man is potentially a zero.’ ”

And then he told me a story.

“When I was sixteen it was time to decide what kind of studies I would pursue. I was the best in the class in Math and Physics, but also the best in Literature. I went to the school library and the woman behind the desk gave me a book. It was called All the Jobs in the World. I looked through it. I found two things I liked: scientific researcher and film director. I brought the book to the front and showed her my choices. ‘Ah non,’ she said, ‘You forgot to look at the key.’ And she pointed to the top of the page. Next to each job were the dollar signs – three dollar signs if the job paid a lot of money, one dollar sign if it paid very little. Next to the dollar sign was a door. If the door was wide open it was very easy to tet this job, if the door was open just a little bit, it was very hard. ‘Regard,‘ she said, ‘You have picked only jobs with no dollar signs and a closed door. Tu n’y arriveras jamais. You will never get there.”

‘You should become an engineer,’ she said. My parents never met anyone who did these other things. We don’t come from that world. They had no friends they could call to get me a job. They were afraid I would fail and they couldn’t help me. They were afraid I would have no place in the society. And I didn’t have the force to do it myself. I didn’t want to disappoint them. So I became an engineer.”

“It’s just like that here. If you want to do something different, if you head sticks up just a little, they cut it off. It’s been like that since the Revolution. You know the saying, Liberte,’ Egalite,’ Fraternite,’ equality is right in the middle. Everyone has got to be the same.

Of all the stories Gwendal has told me, before or since, this one shocked me the most. Never in my life, not once, had anyone ever told me there was something I couldn’t do, couldn’t be.

Have you ever known an expat wife (a woman who has married a man of another culture and lived in his country)? Expat wives are some of the bravest women I have ever met. No matter how long you have been married to a man of another culture, you can still be surprised.

The expat wives I have known have been smart, gifted people, woman who have been blessed to see the world through the eyes of more than one culture, and it changes everything. Their children are amazing – most will speak – and think – in more than one language. They have a sort of international fluidity, as well as intercultural fluency. It isn’t everyone’s choice, but those who chose it often live lives you and I can only begin to imagine. Elizabeth Bond has opened the door a little, and shared some of those experiences with us.

The book I bought has Reader’s Groups questions in the back, and they are good questions. Read the questions first; it gives you food for thought as you read through her experiences.

April 11, 2011 Posted by | Adventure, Biography, Books, Bureaucracy, Character, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Food, France, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Mating Behavior, Recipes, Relationships, Shopping | 11 Comments

Sugar Cookies Rolled in Coconut

Sugar Cookies Rolled in Coconut

1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped red and green candied cherries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
• 1 cup flaked coconut

1. In mixing bowl beat butter or margarine until softened, add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the milk and vanilla and mix well.

2. Add the flour and beat until well mixed. Stir in the cherries and pecans.

3. Shape into three 7-inch long rolls. Roll in the coconut to coat.

4. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for several hours or overnight.

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

6. Cut rolls into 1/4-inch slices and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 12 minutes or until done. Remove to a wire rack and cool.

December 19, 2010 Posted by | Christmas, Cooking, Recipes | Leave a comment

Christmas Cookies – Check!

This is a time of the year when I count my blessings. And yes, yes, it isn’t the only time of the year, LOL, any opportunity will do, but of all the weeks in the year, the week before Christmas is my favorite.

You know me. I’m a front-loader; when there is something I need to have done, I do it right away so it doesn’t hang over me, growing daily because I am dreading doing it for having put it off. For me, just do it. Then it doesn’t have time to grow!

I will admit, I am still doing some small unavoidable wrapping, but the gifts are mostly bought and/or figured out.

Because I remember what it was to be a working wife and working mother, I volunteered to bake extra Christmas cookies, so my daughter-in law wouldn’t have to worry about it. When you don’t HAVE to do it, it’s fun!

Every year I learn something. This year – and trust me, there have been many many years of baking Christmas cookies – I (gasp) followed the instructions, and used a paintbrush to put the glaze on. Holy Smokes. HOLY Smokes. Had I known, had I trusted, my life would have been so much easier. Friends, if you are painting a glaze onto sugar cookies – use a paintbrush. It works like a charm.

Tiny Pecan Muffins:

I tried a new recipe for the Russian Teacakes; they taste delicious but I like them better when they are balls, not more like cookies:

These are new this year, and so easy I think I will do them every year. They are a sugar cookie, but you make them in rolls, chill them in the refrigerator, then slice and bake. Sooooo EASY! 🙂

These are the hardest, the Rosettes, which you make one by one, standing over hot oil with a metal rod and form, but they are everyone’s favorites, and they are a family tradition, so I do them every year:

For photos of the process, and for recipes for rosettes, you can click here.

Basic Sugar Cookies

Rosettes Recipe

Russian Teacakes Recipe

December 19, 2010 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Christmas, Cooking, Cultural, Family Issues, Food, Generational, Recipes | 6 Comments

Chinese Chicken Salad

A new favorite in our house – and so easy to make:

Chinese Chicken Salad

• 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
• 2 tablespoons peanut butter
• 2 teaspoons brown sugar
• 3/4 teaspoon hot chili paste
• 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
• 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon sesame oil
• 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (or I use rotisserie chicken to save time, chopped up)
• 1 package top ramen noodles, broken into little pieces
• 1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
• 4 cups romaine lettuce – torn, washed and dried
• 2 cups shredded carrots
• 1 bunch green onions, chopped
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. For the dressing, mix together the hoisin sauce, peanut butter, brown sugar, chili paste, ginger, vinegar and sesame oil.

2. Grill or broil chicken until cooked, cool and slice.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C). Spray a large shallow pan with nonstick vegetable spray, arrange ramen noodles and almond slivers in a single layer and bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool.

4. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, wontons, lettuce, carrots, green onions and cilantro. Toss with dressing and serve.

It’s what’s for dinner. 🙂

December 7, 2010 Posted by | Cross Cultural, Food, Recipes | Leave a comment