StoryBook Club visits Arabia!

"Sheherezade and 1001 Arabian Nights" was the story that was our theme this month!

It was a trip to Arabia that we sought and we found!

First, let's look at the evening fare: (Omar the Tent Maker would've been proud of the cuisine!)

We met at Kate Hoy's house (our first invasion of her abode for our gathering :)
There was a most beauteous table set for our repast!

Complete with Doumbek, Aladdin's Lamp, Shimmy Belts and authentic camel blanket!
These wee goodies in the top of this next pic are "Stephanie's Dates" (cheese filled bacon wrapped dates! Recipe at end of this story)

We all brought appropriate gastronomic delights to our feast!
There was: a delicious and refreshing Mint drink, Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), Hummus, Tzatziki and pita bread, Chicken and Couscous, Tabouli, Bacon wrapped-cheese stuffed figs (OMG were they awesome) and Baklava for dessert!

This is "Merlyn's Tabouli" (recipe at end of story....)

WONDROUS. The food was deliriously good.
I am pretty sure this was one of our best food nights EVER.

But then again....

We always say that :)

Now to the story:

Did you know that the stories, Aladdin and Sinbad the Sailor and Ali Baba & the 40 Thieves...
all came from the original story of Sheherezade?

She was a woman (daughter of a Vizer) who volunteered to marry the man who would marry every day and behead the newly married bride every morning following the consumation of his marriage. Every day he'd wed a new woman. Every night he'd deflower her and take her as his wife. The following morning he'd behead her and wed a new woman.

Sheherezade knew the score. She VOLUNTEERED to wed this guy, (who was mistrustful of women, seeing as how his previous wife fecked around on him...and he killed her and her lover...then started his serial marriages/murders), and she had a PLAN.

She would tell him a story every night.
But she wouldn't finish it.
She'd save the ending to the following day....
and so she'd carry over the story, so her husband would be curious to the ending...
and spare her life.
For a 1001 nights.

Unbeliveable but true.

And the husband finally (after over 3 years of nightly stories....) decided that she wasn't half bad and decided not to kill her.
And she saved ALL the women in the area from a genocide.

All because she was a Grand Storyteller!

We talked about SO much with this story! Women's rights in the Middle East countries, Culture differences, Stereotypes, Propoganda.


 And yes, we DID watch Disney's "Aladdin" 
It has been deemed one of THE most stereotypically offensive movies out there.
But even so....we loved it, and were raised on it, and noted the differences of such as we watched it again with Storycologists' eyes.

We were amazed to see that all the "bad" guys were portrayed as VERY Middle Eastern looking (dark hair, beards, and were dressed and portrayed as dirty, lying, lazy thieves, or overly aggressive military types or manipulative connivers. While the more "white looking" Aladdin was the "Hero".)


We also were delighted to realize with the readings that the cadence of the language of Arabic and Hebrew is SO liltingly delicious to listen to, with its' poetic rise and fall of the innotation of syllables and roll of the tongue.

Listen for yourself:

It is a very interesting language to listen to...and somewhat comforting in its rise and fall and syllable content:

Here are some pics of guests.
We all love to play with the THEMES and bring appropriate gifts of food and dress.
Merlyn burned some Frankincense and Myrhrr and made the whole house smell deliciously exotic, mysterious and lovely.

Harry even wore his Fez :)


"Tall Tales" of America!
  (in honor of the coming of fall, Johnny Appleseed and our American heritage, roots and harvest).

See you then!

Due to Popular Request....

"Merlyn's Taboul" Recipe

This will be an interesting recipe, since I learned it at the elbow of my friend Ada, about 33 years ago or so…I have added along the years, change things (as to what I have on hand)..and I don’t really measure.
But here goes for the most recent concoction:

Bulgur Wheat
Ripe tomatoes
Garlic oil
Tamari/soy sauce
Lemon (or lime) juice
Feta cheese

In this recipe I used a mixture of grains. So this is how I did the bulgur and the couscous…
In separate saucepans (with tight fitting lids) I drizzled some garlic oil and got it hot. I add a cup of dry grain (bulgur or couscous) into the hot oil and stir until the grain “smells like popcorn”. Then I add a cup of water to it, stir, cover and lower heat to simmer for about 5-10 minutes (but with the couscous I just turn the heat OFF). Then I let the grain set for 15 minutes and “fluff”.
I added both grains together, and added chopped onion, tomatoes and stirred in lemon/lime juice and tamari (soy sauce) to “taste”. It should have a definite “lemony” taste (at least to me, it should )
Sprinkled in parsley flakes and added crumbled feta at the end.
Garnished it with sliced tomatoes and feta chunks.

Stephanie's Dates

Cut dates down the center with a knife and pull out the pit. 
Fill the date with soft goat cheese. 
Wrap in bacon and pop in the over at 350 until the bacon starts to crisp and sizzle, about 30 minutes.
 It’s that simple kids!

Keith's "Mint Drink"   (Sekanjabin)
Dissolve 4 cups sugar in 2 1/2 cups of water; when it comes to a boil add 1 cup wine vinegar. 

Simmer 1/2 hour. Add a handful of mint, remove from fire, let cool.
 Dilute the resulting syrup to taste with ice water (5 to 10 parts water to 1 part syrup).
The syrup stores without refrigeration.
Note: This is the only recipe in the Miscelleny that is based on a modern source: A Book of Middle Eastern Food, by Claudia Roden. Sekanjabin is a period drink; it is mentioned in the Fihrist of al-Nadim, which was written in the tenth century. The only period recipe I have found for it (in the Andalusian cookbook) is called "Sekanjabin Simple" and omits the mint. It is one of a large variety of similar drinks described in that cookbook-flavored syrups intended to be diluted in either hot or cold water before drinking."

(Keith says, " I do most of it in the microwave, as that does not heat up the house, in a 8 cup glass measuring cup.")