This Global Kitchen | Day 7: Middle East
My name is Lauren, I am the wife to one handsome Crossfit-er and the mother to a wild 2 year old. We live in the Middle East and have been studying Arabic for the past 9 months. My husband works as a Crossfit coach here. I never in a million years would have guessed I would fall so in love with this place, but our home has become a refuge, and one with a revolving door. We are so grateful for having an open-door policy where anybody can come in anytime, and a home where we can host people comfortably. One thing I was really unsure of when moving here was whether or not I would love my kitchen.
We spent the first few weeks going around to different apartments. Many of the houses in our region have kitchens enclosed in four walls with a door going into the kitchen (we've been told this is for the smells and sounds to stay in the kitchen and not wander into other rooms). I've lived in an apartment previously where the kitchen was completely closed off and I realized it took away from my creativity. I needed to have space where I could feel I was a part of the conversation even if I was cleaning the dishes or cooking while listening to the conversation.
When we first started looking for a home, I was very discouraged by how many homes didn't have an open floor plan. But then we came upon this new apartment in a brand new building that fit in our price range and I was hooked! I pictured plants everywhere and baskets, a coffee bar, and a little stool for my daughter to help me cook. Even though this kitchen isn't exactly what I would want in every single way, it met all of my necessities and I am beyond grateful for the big ole window that brings in all the natural light.
I am a huge open shelving lover, and as you have seen they are very trendy right now. The only problem is when you live in a rental you can't take the cabinets out and put in open shelving, so instead we just took the doors off of these cabinets to create an open shelving look.
It's too hot to have the window open most of the time, but when we do get to open it we love all the natural light that comes in! This little corner is where we spend most of our mornings and evenings.
I think I should start a business finding new ways to decorate with baskets. This wall was empty for the longest time, but this little quote really brought our whole kitchen together. My least favorite part of the kitchen is this awkwardly tall water dispenser. We unfortunately can't drink the water from the sink so we have to have this, and I couldn't find a better place to put it.
The most recent addition to our kitchen is our coffee nook. My husband gets annoyed when I ask him to do all of these projects, but this was his personal favorite because he is the main coffee drinker in the family! Give me all the coffee and all the plants please!
Another glimpse of our coffee nook! We are obsessed with coffee and all the different ways of making it. The Chemex has traveled all over the world with us!
We have lots of people we love all over the world so this was our attempt at knowing what time it is where all of our people we love live.
On the other side of our very awkwardly tall island we set up our dining room. This space is normally used as another living room, but we are a family of three that loves eating at the table together so we decided to make it our dining room. We love when we get to fill our table with family and friends!
The corner art and baskets are my personal favorite part of the whole house. I cut newspaper into the sizes of the frames and baskets and rearranged the newspaper on the wall until I figured out the best configuration for the baskets and frames!
My Favorite Expat friendly Recipe:
Easy Enchilda Sauce
by Lauren | TakingRoute.net
I made these for our neighbors and they absolutely loved it. I paired it with some Mexican rice, tortilla chips, and homemade salsa! You can also make and freeze the enchilada sauce for up to 6 months so I always double the recipe to put some in the freezer.
- 1 (4-ounce) bag dried New Mexico or Anaheim chilis (12 to 15 chilis), stemmed and with the seeds removed
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons crumbled dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Heat a large saucepan over high heat. Add the chilis and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, just until the chilis become aromatic. Cover the chilis completely with water (about 4 cups) and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the raisins, and let sit for about 30 minutes.
Transfer the chilis and raisins to a blender, reserving the soaking water. Add the garlic, tomato paste, cumin, oregano, and salt, along with about 2 cups of the soaking water (if the chilis are very spicy, you can substitute chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water for some or all of the soaking liquid), and process to a smooth puree. Add the remaining water and process to combine.
Heat the oil in the saucepan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the flour over the oil and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the pureed chili mixture, and simmer until the sauce thickens, 10 to 15 minutes. Use immediately or let cool and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to a week or in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Expat Notes: To dry the peppers: we only have larger red peppers we can buy at the supermarket here, and I haven't been able to find dried peppers. So, I buy 12-15 larger red peppers, de-seed and de-stem them, slice them length wise and put them on a cookie sheet (make sure they are not overlapping each other). I set my oven on the lowest setting, keep the door on my oven cracked with a wooden spoon and dry the peppers for 2 hours. When you remove them, they should all have turned pretty much black with a little bit of red still shining through. Make sure your oven is on the lowest setting or you will burn them.