A calm Sunday. Produce, food, and fresh air. I was at my uncle’s house in Ghbaleh. One of my wishes is to have a home with a garden and be able to plant and pick my own food.
There are fruits that I would never like to buy from the produce vendors or supermarkets: figs, loquats, and mulberries. I would only eat them if I know someone has picked them for me, or, even better, if I pick them myself.
No, scratch that.
I would love to eat them if I’m under the tree, picking those bite-size fruits and dropping then directly into my mouth.
I had the chance, for the very first time this season to pick a handful of figs. I ate it all on the way back from the tree. I also picked another handful of the most flavorful organic strawberries I’ve ever eaten. Yummmm. Despite their small size, they are full of flavor. Since they’re organic and not sprayed with pesticides, you only need to give the strawberries a wipe with your fingers and pop them in your mouth worry free.
I followed that by lunch: mom’s cooking. Stuffed zucchini, green squash and eggplants in tomato sauce, all picked from the garden/orchard.
Mom’s stuffed vegetables:
- 1/2kg green squash
- 1/2kg zucchini
- 1/2kg eggplants (small and round)
- 1 1/2 cups short grain rice (Italian or Egyptian rice)
- 300gm finely ground beef (you can use any kind of meat you like, or even skip for vegetarian alternative)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 4 fresh tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- Wash vegetables
- Peel green squash well. Skin can be bitter and may not allow liquids to be absorbed
- Cut off top and bottom. The top will give you access to core the squash
- Cut a small piece of the inside of each squash to check if it is bitter. If bitter, discard immediately
- Core the squash well and keep in water
- Core zucchini and eggplants and keep in water as well
- Wash vegetables again and place on a kitchen towel
- In a bowl, mix rice, meat, oil salt and spices
- Line the bottom of a large pot with thick slices of tomatoes and/or bell peppers
- Stuff the vegetables until half full and place opening upwards. Stack the rest on top
- Fill the pot with water until it covers half the length of the vegetables (depends on the vegetables and the depth/width of the pot)
- Bring pot to boil then reduce to medium low for 15 minutes
- During that time, blend or process (grate) tomatoes
- Stir in the tomato paste until dissolved
- Pour tomato mixture into the pot, cover, and let it simmer again for 15 minutes
- Remove from heat and taste to check if rice and vegetables are cooked well
We had to end the day, as the tradition states, with a lot of ice cream.
It was such a fun day where I was able to reconnect with nature after spending most of my time in Beirut, the cement jungle.
What kind of fun day have you had recently?