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Laayla

Plain Cooker

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Bismehe Ta3ala,

Assalam Alikum.

I started to cook meals 8 years ago.  Eight years later, I have improved Alhamd'Allah, but still I have a lot of learning to do.  I am considered a plain cooker.  There are some meals I make that are delicious, and then others are just eatable.  Nothing wow, about what I cook.  What does it take to have the "touch" in cooking?  Alhamd'Allah my children don't complain, they are wonderful and eat what I cook and do not give me a hard time.  My dh, he is very considerate and doesn't make any complaints, that is his akhlaq and he doesn't like to hurt me with complaining if the food is not up to par.  I need help to stop being the average cooker and want to put a smile on my dh's face when he eats.  What can I do to improve my cooking?

Typically, I make Lebanese food.  What is the secret in mastering cooking?  I try my utmost for the food to be healthy.  I think that is why the meals are plain is because I try to give my children healthy food and not let them get used to easy, fried, greasy food.

Another thing is cooking is not my 'joy' but more of a chore.  Something I need to do and get it out of the way.  I'm being very honest, because I would like help in making more delicious meals for my dh.  

What people have told me before about cooking:

-play around with the spices

-know how to use the fire well

-slow cook the food

-understand the texture of the food and when to put one type of ingredient before the other

-get fresh ingredients

What else can I do or how can I learn to be a better cook?

Thank you for your time and help.  

M3 Salamah, FE AMIN Allah

 

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:ws:

 

Dear sister,

Cooking is so beautiful, I personally love it. I wish I had more time to cook, I find it relaxing. I learnt cooking by myself in my college days because no one in my family taught me =D lol I can imagine you running a household and with children it may feel as a chore but I believe the root of it is to cook with passion despite the odds. Understanding how food plays a role in our spirituality and well being as a whole will inspire you. I'm glad you care for becoming a better cook to please your family because ultimately that means you want to please Allah.

Also maybe you are too hard on yourself and maybe your family really enjoys your food, but it's also good to try to improve ourselves because we always have room for improvement :)

With that being said, I learnt a lot from cooking shows, exploring other cultures cooking is very good. I'm Mexican but I love Lebanese food and I've learnt a couple dishes from you guys. Lebanese food in fact is my favorite, I could eat it everyday lol but I think changing things a bit helps a lot. I love Pakistani food if it is not spicy lol.. anyway the point is, maybe your husband and kids will like other foods. Don't be afraid of something you haven't made before. I put that fear aside and it has worked most of the times. Every cook has their own touch, I believe some people that are really good is a mix of experience and genetics perhaps along with positive energy. 8 years of cooking is not too long, try to do research on foods from other cultures, the only problem I find with that is that I personally need to try the food first and then I can perhaps try to imitate it. 

Anyway sorry I wasn't of much help but I believe healthy food is the best gift you can give to your family, spices do help but they also need to be balanced, I just get a "feeling" of how much I should put, but then again, watching cooking shows helped me greatly!!! and if lack of time is a factor try this lady: http://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/30-minute-meals/30-minute-meals4.html

Ma'salama :)

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My sister-in-law is a good cook and I noticed that she uses real lemon juice and not the bottled one. Of course I use the bottled one because it is so convenient. She adds the lemon juice very close to serving time so it stays fruity fresh, without that "cooked to death" taste. She also makes garnish for her foods, to add at the last minute, like chopped fresh herbs [parsley, garlic chives or green onions, etc.], chopped roasted nuts, shredded cheese, croutons, etc.

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Imagine your cooking a meal for a member of Ahlulbayt, then you will pour your heart into it and enjoy the cooking more. Think as though you've been granted the chance to nourish a young Hasan (as) Hussien (as)how you would make the food for them to be savory and healthy with every bite. Khadija (as) would eat grass and save the small amounts of real food she had for the Prophet pbuh, because she wanted to make sure he enjoyed it and got the necessary vitamins to keep him in goodn health. That is how important preparing a good meal was to Khadija, cuz she wanted the very best for her husband (pbuh).

I also love to cook as many of the sisters have said they enjoy cooking as well. I would pick out the best ingredients that I can manage, and carefully measure out the ingredients and I would modify the recipe to the enjoyment of my husband and children maintaining that it is still in the boundaries of what is considered healthy. Also fresh squeezed juices is something the entire family can look forward too.

 

Edited by Miss Wonderful

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I am sorry for off topic but wow marshaAllah you are so considerate to think about this, even though your family does not complain or say anything you still seek to make it better. MarshaAllah that is true love for your children and your husband, it is something that is unspoken. May Allah(SWT) reward you!

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Bismehe Ta3ala,

Assalam Alikum Dear Sisters Miss W, SN, and Hameedah,

Thank you for your suggestions and sweet words of encouragement.  You are all too kind.

Today I boiled chicken and roasted potatoes and combined the two with garlic and let it all bake in the oven.  Alhamd'Allah, everyone was happy.  I have leftovers, I just need to add more chicken broth and a touch of fresh lemon juice and it will be ready for a meal again.  I just need to make another dish, since it won't be enough for everyone.  Is it hard for you sisters to decide what meal to cook everyday?  Are you the type to also ask other sisters/family members/friends, what are you cooking today?

Sister Hameedeh, I had my SIL visit today and she is an expert cook she learned from her mother.  My dh loves her cooking and actually says it is like my mom's cooking. So she eat what I made and she suggested add more broth since the potatoes soaked up all the juice and when you turn off the stove add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Of course she said, you need to add more salt.  

You see as I indicated before I try to cook healthy.  Which means I lower the salt intake, oils, and fats.  My children are used to that type of eating, but dh is not and he likes the food to be authentic (3la assoula).  Do you see my dilemma?

Brother Ibn Sina,

God bless you.  My dh works hard and my children also come back home from a long day at school.  I like them to come home smelling the food I make and also enjoying it while eating.  Secretly, I would enjoy someone cooking for me and I just eat. haha.  But, Sub7an'Allah you can't have your cake and eat it too.  I'm reading your signature and Insh'Allah we will overcome our hardships in this life.  

M3 Salamah, FE AMIN Allah

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Salam sis Laayla, 

I can  relate to some of the things you said.I also find cooking a chore and would love to have someone cook for me.I can't give you much advice since I am not very familiar with the Arab/lebanese dishes but what I do to make up for my plain cooking is add side dishes. There are a few that I have mastered over the years, some kebabs, salads, different types of raitas. I feel they somewhat make up in case of the main dish being simple. 

Do you work to make the food look more visually appealing? The look of a meal can have the effect of either appetite stimulation or depression.So, while I do not enjoy cooking, I love plating and garnishing and I have noticed my children eat more when I work on the presentation. The fruit always disappears quickly when it's cut and arranged in interesting shapes or dressed in honey or maple syrup. For and easy dessert you can take a warm brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle some chocolate syrup over it(not very  healthy or low calorie but still :P maybe keep the portions small ) 

The chicken and potatoes you cooked today, mashallah, could you make a sauce to go with it? If I have left over from one meal I try to make something different with it rather than serving it again. Like If there is left over chicken from the curry it's is mostly used to make sandwiches the next day along with fries or roast potatoes so there is  a different meal with little extra time and effort. 

I am sure you are doing a great job, I was touched by your post...... May Allah reward you for all your hard work and efforts :) 

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Bismehe Ta3ala,

Sister Starlight,

How are you?  Insh'Allah you and your family are fine and in good health.  I used to study under a Sheikh, him and his wife are Pakistani. His wife would cook for the students.  I enjoyed her food, it was delicious. I also surrounded myself around all different nationalities.  I would eat Indian/Paki, Italian, Iranian, Greek, Turkish, and ME cuisine.  I loved the variety of food I have experienced and it made me feel special having the opportunity to eat food from all different countries.  

I like your suggestions dear sis, but I get overwhelmed with time.  I know some women out there can "DO IT ALL," but I can't.  You are correct about presentation, to appeal the eye before tasting the food.  Who wouldn't salivate over a brownie with vanilla ice cream?  haha  But you see it will be hurtful to feed my dh and children when my dear mother can't have any. :(  

One time I had broccoli, and I tried to make broccoli soup, but after one spoon my dh left it the way it was. lol  He said what got you the idea to do that. :)  Of course it is not a Lebanese dish.   He was like :confused: 

I appreciate your suggestions, and I hope to broaden my horizons in cooking like you sis. Insh'Allah Khayr.

God bless you and thank you for your input.

M3 Salamah, FE AMIN ALAH

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Dear Laayla,

I'm not sure if this is helpful, and it's nothing extraordinary...but how about cooking something non-traditional every now and then like lasagna and enchiladas? They're pretty easy to make, and quick. And kids Love it. Tip: add ricotta cheese to the layers when you make lasagna :) 

Or how about Alfredo, or tacos, or grilled panini sandwiches?

Or, how about salmon? You just pop it in the oven basically. And it's super healthy. 

Oh you know a good cross between healthy and yummy? Sweet potato fries. Or just seasoning potato slices with olive oil and spices and popping those in the oven--super tasty. 

Another great healthy option (it's more of like a side/snack): Guacamole dip. Just smash the avocados and add all the ingredients, and it's healthy and just so good. We get the whole grain tortilla chips to go with it ;)

One of my all time favorites: Lentil Soup. Perhaps you could try making it the Iranian version to see if there are any tweaks from the Lebanese version in case it's something new and interesting....

Wish you all the best Inshallah, and I'm sure you're already a wonderful cook! 

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Bismehe Ta3ala,

Assalam Alikum Dear Sister Sumayyeh

Bless your heart for taking the time to respond.  If I was living in America, those items are easily available.  But since I'm in Lebanon, first it is hard to find those ingredients and second, once I do find them they are expensive. :(

I liked the idea of the sweet potatoes, Mash'Allah.  

Alhamd'Allah I do make lentil soup, with all its varieties.  Thank you for the motivation and encouragement sister.  

BTW, I watched your video on your sig. I agree with all his points.  Which reminds me I should post about a topic similar to his remarks.  Thank you for sharing.  He is a new face I haven't heard of him before. 

God bless you and have a wonderful day.

M3 Salamah, FE AMIN Allah

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