Friday, February 12, 2016

The Art of Cubish Cooking

For me cooking has always had special meaning however as I've gotten older I've found that there are only a few foods that I truly enjoy cooking. These foods typically have special meaning and tie me to my roots.

Don't get me wrong, I love trying new recipes, trying to replicate dishes I've tried, and different places around town but my life doesn't revolve around food nor do I want to spend all day in the kitchen. Nor do I want to wash the pots, pans, and accoutrement that follow.

 I'm also incredibly lucky to have a husband who loves to cook so I don't have to and even though we don't always like the same things I so appreciate him and how hard he tries. I honestly believed that I wasn't a picky eater until I met my husband lol. All in all though I think our palates balance each other's well and there are always my three favorite words: Let's Eat Out. 

However when I do cook here are some of my favorite things to make:
1) Frijoles negros and arroz blanco (Black Beans and White Rice)
2) Ceviche
3) Maduros and Tostones
4) Maria Bonita soup
5) Shrimp burgers
6) Yuca con mojo (now that I have the recipe right)
7) Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon
8) Matzo ball soup
9) Turkey Chili (I blame my mom for this obsession ;) )
10) Pretty much anything that involves lime and avocado

If you notice, there is absolutely no baking involved in any of my favorites. That is because I am not a baker. My husband, however is. He makes beautiful challah loaves and rolls, cheesecakes, cakes, cookies, and other lovely leavened treats. It's not that I don't appreciate them I just feel too restricted. I love the freedom of the math of cooking, ie: adding, subtracting, substituting, and measuring by taste and texture. I also can devote more time to the other requirements of my cooking method. Here are the requirements to having a deliciously cooked Cuban meal.

1) All necessary ingredients. You can only imagine how many times I've had to make substitutions because I realized that I  was out of something at the last minute.
2) Cuban/Salsa/Latin music which must be played Loudly!
3) Dancing, lots of dancing. So much that I joke that my kitchen is made for dancing...and cooking
4) Can do attitude and fun!

Believe me what the promise in Simply Irresistible is true. Whatever you are feeling when you're cooking completely goes into the food, good or bad, so make it a delicious and happy memory. Whatever you do or make do it well and remember to pay homage to your creativity or like me, your raíces, or roots.

Growing up we ate a relatively Latin/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern American diet. This included a lot of chicken, fish, seafood, beans, rice, vegetables, and occasional beef and pastas. That's not to say that I didn't have traditional American food it's just not the first thing that I'd reach for. For my family the meal wasn't necessarily about the food but instead what many cultures call the Sobremesa.

Sobremesa in our family happened often times on Friday nights when my brother and I weren't busy with friends, BBYO, school, etc or our weekly Saturday or Sunday night dinners with our abuelos and the rest of our immediate family. When stayed in chances are Alle would make Arroz con pollo, Maduros or arroz con frijoles negros with quimbombó (okra) or berenjena (eggplant), and end with un cafecito or Cafe con Leche (because there is always time for un Cafecito). If we went out we'd go to one of abuelo's favorite restaurants, usually somewhere Chinese, Italian, Turkish, American, or somewhere he could get a good cup of soup. I never made plans that night unless I wanted to go out later because we were usually out with our family until at least 10pm.  

Looking back those were some of the best meals that I had ever had and I would give anything to sit in between my abuelos at a meal again. It is my firm belief that because of family traditions like this I always wanted to ensure that I had a place in my home wherever I lived to carry on this beautiful custom. We've already had some wonderful sobremesas of our own with our friends and family here and I look forward to many more to come.

I'll leave with a few cute quotes/images that I've found along the way.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Making a House Our Home

When Brad and I moved to Pittsburgh and decided to buy a house we knew that it was going to be an interesting journey. For those who have never been to Pittsburgh or are unfamiliar with the housing market here there are a few things to note when you are planning to purchase a home:

1) If you want a new house (ie: 1970 or newer) expect to pay a lot more and live at least 30 minutes (before traffic) outside of the city of Pittsburgh limits

2) If you want to get the most house for your mortgage places areas like the Northside are definitely worth a look

3) If you're looking for new developments with larger square footage expect to pay at least $50,000 more and live at least 45 minutes outside of the city of Pittsburgh

4) In Pittsburgh badly maintained can often trump badly made

5) Yinzers love traditional victorians, tudors, and walk ups. Just look around they're everywhere!

6) Want a garage? Good luck. Street parking is king here. 

7) Pittsburgh among world's best long-term real estate investments- meaning homes stay in families for year. For example, our neighbor is in her 70s and still lives in the house she grew up in which belonged to her great grandparents. 

After seeing 6 houses and with the help of our amazing realtor we found our new home. Luckily I married a very resourceful man because it is definitely a fixer upper. To date we (mostly Brad) have: waterproofed the porch, fixed some direly needed venting, painted 80% of the house on the inside, replaced over 4 incredibly outdated fixtures (including a glass bathroom door), and probably a ton of things that I'm forgetting. Slowly but surely our house is changing from a place we live to a place to live, love, and call our own. 

Here are a few before and after pictures:



Manny of course fell asleep on the job but we're just glad that our new furniture is Manny tested Manny approved

So as you can see we're definitely making progress. I'm looking forward to the countless years we will spend together in our home and hopefully soon we will be able to start our family and bring even more happiness and love into our little piece of heaven in the Burgh.  

About Mariam

Life is sweet

Life is sweet

And they lived happily ever after

And they lived happily ever after

One day a beautiful Jewish girl met a nice Jewish boy and made their mothers very, very, very happy

One day a beautiful Jewish girl met a nice Jewish boy and made their mothers very, very, very happy

About Me

For those of you who know me, writing has always been one of my passions, with the exception of my Masters or any ridiculously long testament within the wide world of Academia. I've only had the pleasure of blogging a couple of times, mostly for a few classes in graduate school, but figured it was time to organize my numerous thoughts and musings with all of you out there in cyber land. I created this page because my mind is always running and often times my thoughts get lost in the hubub. Plus, my friends have always said that I'm a great storyteller, so I'd love to share them now with you. In the meantime, I'll leave you with this... Throughout the past 33 years of my life I've seen, heard, and experienced so many different things as well as had many adventures and dream of so many possibilities. But in short, what it comes down to is this..I'm just a little Jubana trying to make a difference in the world. Everyday I live my life to the fullest and have fun doing it. Life can't always be about work or how much money you make. There's so much more to life than that.