Day 1: Ramadan Kareem !

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Normally, the run up to Ramadan is filled with a ton of prep. Rearranging the house, buying new dishes, cleaning out the cupboards and the ‘fridge. However, this Ramadan is a tad different. Since welcoming our little girl to the world in May, things have been upside down and topsy turvy in my home. And that is why I found myself at LuLu Hypermarket at 2 am with the Hubs, my three daughters and our nearly 2 month old daughter.

The good news is that the store was nearly empty. The bad news is that the staff were putting away hundreds of items from FULL carriages that careless shoppers filled and left behind.

Why?

There were at least 20 shopping carriages brimming with unwanted goods. Some were dairy and should have been refrigerated. I can only pray those were not put back on the shelves or an unsuspecting customer might look forward to a bout of food poisoning. Ugh! Who in their right mind would fill up shopping carriages with food and leave them behind?

We finally made it home by 2am. We got the groceries in the house and put away by 3 am. I tried, in vain, to get our two month old to bed before the Adhan came. So my pre-dawn meal consisted of two spoonfuls of cereal and a sip of water.

The first day of fasting, surprisingly, went by in a flash. I had just enough time to perform the daily prayers, rearrange the kitchen and cook the Iftar meal. With the help of my 13 year old daughter we made a yoghurt curry with fried potato/onion fritters floating inside served over white rice.

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Dessert was a caramel cake from Lulu Hypermarket’s bakery which serves up the BEST cakes in ALL of Kuwait! Yum!

See you tomorrow!

And what is your favorite Ramadan food or recipes ?

Constant Cravings- Fun Food Finds in Kuwait

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I’ve been blessed to live in Kuwait for awhile. And every couple of months the cravings for certain types of food I grew up with start to kick in. I’m not talking about homemade food from home, but rather the uniquely American concoctions that I’ve come to love ever since childhood.

Twizzler’s licorice, Peeps- Marshmallow treats, peanut butter anything..and the list goes on and on and on.

Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to find SOME of the things that bring back nostalgic memories for me. The chain of Sultan Center grocery stores in Kuwait are great places to uncover some of those beloved treats.

The downside, however, is the astronomical price that some of these imported American goods fetch on store shelves. I paid a trip to the Sultan Center near Shaab Amusement Park in Salmiya and was downright appalled at the hefty price tags. A tiny pint of Tropicana single-serve orange juice was almost $6 once converted from Kuwaiti Dinars. And a pack of Oreo Mini Cookies was almost $24 after converted. OMG!!

The buyer most assuredly has to be aware when shopping in Kuwait. Pay close attention to the price tags. Right beside the expensive Oreos Minis I found a huge pack of full-sized Oreos for less than $4.

I just don’t understand how the prices can be jacked up so high. It’s often exciting to stumble upon a long lost edible treasure, however I refuse to give in and pay a huge price just to get a “fix”. I will purchase the affordable items and either do without or place an order with a seller on Ebay.

Life in Kuwait – Sand-ball Fight?

 

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Growing up on the US East Coast, it was common for my siblings and I to have snowball fights any time we had a snowstorm. They only lasted a few minutes due to the sheer wind factor of the moment. But the memories will last a lifetime.

Fast forward to my sojourn in Kuwait. And I’ve noticed a pretty disturbing trend whenever I visit the beaches of Kuwait. Kids of all ages, shapes and sizes have no problem at all with throwing thick fistfuls of sand in each others faces! The scenario has played out time and time again. The kid throwing chases another one until he catches up with him and delivers his load of sand straight into his face. Then, that kid returns the favor with an equally brutally plume of sand in his opponent’s face. And all I can think of is “scratched corneas” as I watch the scene go on for quite a number of minutes.  The parents of these little sandmonsters stand by watching without reprimanding their kids at all.

I was always taught that it wasn’t nice to throw dirt or sand into someone else’s face. However, with the lack of snow in Kuwait, perhaps it isn’t any wonder that kids have developed their own sand-ball fights!

 

 

Super Eat Restaurant Kuwait

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Normally, I would be at the beach today for lunch and play time with the kids. However, I woke up in a very “blah” mood and decided to stay home today. Thursday is typically the only day that I don’t cook. Instead, I use the day to catch up on deadlines and then spend the evenings with my family.

And on days like today, the only food I really want  is something that is not only delicious but isn’t a fast-food option. This little gem of a restaurant called Super Eat is located in Abraq Khaitan. It serves authentic Pakistani food, which in reality is the same as Indian food!

For less than 5KD (around $17), I can feed a family of 6 with freshly made food that is beyond delicious. What I like most about Super Eat is that it is impeccably clean, the food is always fresh and wrapped meticulously. Like other small restaurants in Kuwait, or “hotels” as some people weirdly refer to them, they serve a weekly revolving menu. So every day there is an offering of 4-5 dishes with a couple of staples on the menu.

Some of my faves include:

Chicken Korma

Chicken Briyani

Aloo Gobi or Spicy Cauliflower

Shammi Kababs – Lamb kababs

Spicy Fried Chicken

All the orders include bread, salad and sweet rice.

Stop by and enjoy the amazing food. You won’t be sorry AND you’ll start craving Super Eat as much as I do!

located in Abraq Khaitan Kuwait. Phone: 00965 24717788

 

JJ’s Burgers – Kuwait

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We stopped by the new Four Square on Blajat Street last night. It features JJ’s Burgers, Sandawicha, Meywa and Abou Jassem. After much deliberation, and insistence from the peanut gallery (aka my kids), we decided to grab a bite at JJ’s Burgers. I’ve never heard of this restaurant before and found little info about it online. Regardless, it turned out to be a very tasty adventure!

The exterior of Four Square is attractive and very modern. The interior of JJ’s Burgers is bright and welcoming. My main complaint is that there is nowhere to sit except for six chairs situated against the window with a thin bar-like table running across the space. My family quickly occupied ALL the chairs much to the chagrin of the other customers.

The menu was full of a lot of great choices that were new to me. I opted for the Farmer Chicken Burger which is a grilled chicken breast with lettuce, tomato, Parmesan cheese and ranch dressing. My husband got a cheeseburger and the kids opted for chicken burger kids meals.

My sandwich was nothing short of amazing.  It was fresh and full of flavor.1521591_576081822461650_2040706022_n

My kids loved the chicken burgers, however they were given SPICY ones by mistake. Fortunately, they opted to eat them instead of waiting for a new order. And my husband’s cheeseburger, he says, was one of the best he has had in Kuwait. The only sides we ordered were french fries and onion rings which were equally good. We will definitely be going back. I do, however, hope that more seating options will be made available. Eating in the car is not really en vogue in Kuwait. And I noticed a lot of customers LEAVING not only JJ’s but the other three restaurants from what appeared to be a lack of seating. What’s the point of having great food if there is nowhere to sit?? Last, but not least, there was no toy included with the kid’s meal which was a disappoint to my kids. C’mon JJ’s!

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Broccoli Debate

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You wouldn’t expect a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli to be  a hot topic in Kuwait, but it is!  Just ask any new implant to Kuwait and they’ll tell you…quite loudly I am sure! The reason for the debate is the PRICE of a head of fresh broccoli in Kuwait.

Most fresh vegetables in Kuwait are extremely affordable and cost about a fraction what they would cost in other nations. In Kuwait, however, a fresh head of broccoli runs in upwards of $12. And it’s not even organic!

The reason for the steep price is because there really is not a market for broccoli in Kuwait. Arabic dishes and Southeast Asian cuisine (since a great number of expatriates hail from this region) do not contain broccoli. The only ones clamoring for this delicious vegetable are expatriates hailing from the USA and Europe. To those people, this question begs to be asked:

Why not embrace FROZEN broccoli spears instead? It is much easier to prepare and no worries about worms or wilted potions. A bag of frozen broccoli runs around $3.50 which can have anyone bathing in the vegetable, if they so desire.

The key to carving out a comfy niche in Kuwait is ADAPTABILITY! Most imports from western countries are readily available, sometimes with a hefty price tag and sometimes with a reasonable one. It’s up to the buyer to be aware of prices when shopping and to strike a happy balance.

One of my own broccoli creations is a simple saute that delivers a big punch of flavor!

Teriyaki and Garlic Sauteed Broccoli Spears

Ingredients:

I bag of frozen broccoli – steamed to perfection

2 cloves of garlic

1 Tbl olive oil

2 Tbl teriyaki sauce

Salt & Pepper to taste

In a small frying pan, saute  garlic in olive oil until golden brown. Remove from heat. Pour in the teriyaki sauce and then the steamed broccoli. Return to a very low heat and let the broccoli absorb some of the liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Color me FROZEN!

In all the years I’ve lived in Kuwait, I don’t think there has been a colder winter. It’s funny because I grew up on the East Coast of the USA and am use to massive snowstorms that bring with them negative temperatures. Life in the desert has softened my New Englander’s edge. These days, I often wake up to get the kids ready for school with a blanket wrapped squarely around my shoulders and quickly stuff my feet into a pair of furry slippers.

This morning, in particular, I could see the steam rising from my mouth as I blew out into an opened window. It’s rare for it to be cold enough to actually “see” the warmth of your breath floating away in Kuwait, but today was an exception to that rule! I quickly slammed it shut and regretted ever complaining about the scorching summers in Kuwait. Oh what I would give for a 41C day!

When it’s cold outside, I simply cannot eat cold food…not even milk. Today, my kids wanted freshly chopped grapes and strawberries as part of their school lunch. I could not fathom taking a bite as my fingers shook while cutting those frozen little baubles of juiciness. Instead, breakfast today will be served up boiling hot! And it will be a steaming mug of Horlick’s.

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I never heard of this “malted milk beverage” until moving to the Middle East. And I was afraid to even try it. I, of course, had visions of Ovaltine floating around in my head. But I tried it for the first time this summer and am hooked. I use the “light” version which you mix with water. I mix 4 tablespoons into a mug of boiling hot water. It is quick, nutritious, low calorie and keeps me full for a good four hours. A sprinkle of cinnamon and I am good to go!

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It’s just after 7am and I have deadlines out the wazoo. It’s Thursday, so will be taking the kids out to lunch today and tonight homemade pizza! I will share my fabulous pizza recipe in a future post!

 

 

Loving These Friendly Skies!

Every Thursday, my husband and I pick up the kids from school to take them for lunch. Thursday is the start of the weekend with our days off being Friday and Saturday. Typically, we go to the McDonald’s on Gulf Road.

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It’s fast and the kids, of course, love it. However, the best reason is that it is sitting right next to the beach. After we eat, we always go for a walk on the beach. My three daughters love kicking off their school shoes and running in the sand.

Yesterday was pretty blustery, but we still wanted to go. We all ate inside and then we headed off to the beach. The Husband and I sat on the beach while the girls (ages 12, 8 & 5 by the way) made sand angels behind us. As we chatted, I looked out into the distance and saw three dark gray fighter planes in perfect formation flying pretty low. Speechless, I merely pointed up at the sky and my husband turned around and nearly jumped out of his skin.

When you see fighter planes unexpectedly flying in the sky….in the Middle East especially…it does give you a bit of an adrenaline rush, not knowing if the %3@! is about to hit the fan! They were flying so low that we could actually FEEL the gush of wind as they swept by. After the initial shock, it was pretty amazing. They flew over the same patch of ocean three times in different formations. We surmised there must be an air show or training exercise going on that we did not know about.

Back to our conversation and a few minutes later…a trio of French-made Puma Helicopters (yup..I googled that!) made their way across the sea.

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We waved frantically at the helicopters, much to the chagrin of the other beach-goers who were indifferent to the hullabaloo that clearly delighted my little family. I could have sworn I saw an arm waving from behind the glass and told the kids someone had waved at us. No one believed me. About 20 minutes later, ONE of the helicopters made its way back to the beach. But this time, it was heading right for us and I mean right directly in our path. It also had a chain hanging from beneath that was holding a large Kuwaiti flag.

It could not have been more than 30-40 feet above us…and I mean right above. Once again we all waved like village idiots and this time…the pilot…literally leaned a bit out of the opened cockpit window and waved at us!!  It was the greatest “I told you so!” moment ever.  And it was amazing to have such a massive beast of machinery slowly hovering right over our heads!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holy Chobani Yogurt! (How to Make Your Own Chobani Style Greek Yogurt)

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Now you probably wouldn’t consider something like Chobani Yogurt to be  considered a luxury item. I use to buy Chobani yogurt when I was in the United States for around  $1 for each silky smooth fruity pot. For the past couple of years, I haven’t seen a single Chobani available in Kuwait…whether at the pricey western supermarkets or the local co-ops. So color me happy when I visited The Sultan Center branch at Al Kout mall this past weekend. I literally shrieked in delight when I saw several stacks of Chobani yogurt waiting for me in the refrigerated section. I savored the moment as my eyes scrolled down to the price…950 fils which is roughly $3.35 !  I honestly could not believe it. Imported products are a bit more expensive in Kuwait, but this was just way too much.

Mix in my notoriously frugal nature and I was fully prepared to walk away. But my oldest daughter put her foot down…poor thing…and grabbed ONE. She chose the banana-strawberry. It has been sitting in the fridge for almost 5 days! I keep asking her when she is going to eat it and she shrugs happily. Hoping she gobbles it up BEFORE it expires!

As an American living in Kuwait, it is a blessing that we have almost everything here that we have in America. However, there are those little things that you just cannot get a hold of no matter how hard you try. Forget about the Chobani for a minute. Greek Yogurt, in general, is not wildly popular or readily available in Kuwait. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it on store shelves. However, last year, KDD did release a product called “Royal Yogurt” which I have yet to try. No idea if this could be the elusive Greek yogurt of my innermost fantasies.

Like all things in life, necessity really is the Mother of all invention. I’ve made my own Greek yogurt for years with a simple plastic sieve placed over a large bowl. I dump in 3-4 pots of 170gm KDD lowfat yogurt, cover the entire contraption with foil and refrigerate over night.

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The result is a thick and creamy Greek yogurt that, I believe, could give Chobani a run for its’ money. Now to Chobani-ize it, I turn to my secret arsenal of St. Dalfour 100% Spreadable Fruit Jams.

 

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Just a tablespoon of jam per one cup of the Greek yogurt and you’ll have a stunning low cal treat for any time of day!

Question: What’s your favorite way to eat yogurt?

 

 

Appliance Review: Yonanas Ice Cream & Treat Maker

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For a sweet and low calorie frozen treat…you simply cannot go wrong with the Yonanas Ice Cream & Treat Maker!  In one word…YUM! I bought this handy dandy little “ice cream” maker from Taw9eel.com over the summer and am still using it despite the cold winter temperatures in Kuwait. It was my family’s most used appliance this summer. Both parents and kids will simply adore the fruity frozen concoctions that this little wonder whips up! And best of all….your treats will have zero fat and zero sugar!

How it works:

You have to plan ahead and freeze several bananas overnight. Wrap ripe bananas, individually, in plastic wrap and freeze. You also want to have a bag of frozen strawberries or mixed frozen berries on hand.

Assemble the unit and plug it in. Start with about half of a frozen banana and a small handful of berries…now push on the top to process. You’ll be surprised how much “ice cream” this makes!  After you’ve made as much as you want, disassemble and use a rubber spatula to collect the ice cream that is leftover inside.

Top each one of your sundaes with small candies, sliced fruit or chocolate sauce!

For best results: Use chilled glass bowls to prevent the mixture from melting too quickly.

**This is a great way to use up ripe bananas without having to toss them in the bin!

**It is currently available on http://www.Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

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