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  • Almond and Fig

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

Fall is so pretty in Chicago, the leaves are changing colors. Red, orange yellow and purple all over the place. This crisp cool weather makes me want to bake all things fall. Currently crushing on all things apples and pumpkins. My kids love granola on top of their yogurt bowls in the morning. So I gave this family favorite a fall makeover to fit the season. It makes for a great seasonal breakfast or snack. The best thing about making granola at home is that its so easy, no special tools, you can control the quality of the ingredients, adjust the flavors according to the season. You have complete control on the fat and the sweeteners you use. And the best part is that it has a long shelf life so you can enjoy it all season long.


  • 3 cups rolled oats

  • 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds

  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries

  • 2 tbls chia seeds

  • 2 tbls hemp seeds

  • 1/2 cup walnuts roughly chopped

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

  • A few grinds of nutmeg

  • a pinch of flaky salt

  • 1 tsp of vanilla

  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (adjust sweetness to your liking)

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1 tbls walnut oil (optional)


  1. Preheat your oven to 325 F.

  2. In a large bowl stir together all the wet ingredients (pumpkin purée, coconut oil, walnut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla) until evenly combined.

  1. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients (walnuts, oats, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice, hemp seeds, chia seeds)

  1. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until the oat mixture absorbs the pumpkin mixture.

  1. Place mixture on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 30 - 35 minutes until crisped and slightly browned to your liking. Toss every 10 - 15 minutes.

  1. Add the cranberries the last 10 min of your baking time. Let granola cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container.

How to use Granola:

Granola is delicious on its own, added to cereal, on top of yogurt, oatmeal, baked fruit, or even ice cream and if you put it in a glass jar it will make for a perfect edible gift.

Storing Granola

Granola can be stored in an airtight container, in a cool, dry spot for six months (sometimes longer). You can also freeze granola and granola bars just as you would cookies. wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and/or in resealable freezer bag. The only thing is that your dried fruits might get hard. If you are going to freeze I would add the dried fruits after thawing.

  • Almond and Fig

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

I love love pickles especially these pink pickles!!!! The pickles get their pink hue from the beets. Turnip and beet pickles are crunchy, briny, salty, savory I could eat a bowl full. The combination of the earthy sweet beets and the turnips paired with garlic and some spice like jalapeno is incredible. My dad and my sister Reem are the pickle experts in our family. Dad never follows a recipe so I naturally asked my sister Reem to help (you are welcome everybody).

Pickles and olives are an important part of the Middle Eastern pantry or staple ingredients. Growing up a plate of pickles and a bowl of olives were standard on the breakfast, lunch or dinner table. In the summer you will see lots of cucumber pickles, in the winter more cauliflower or eggplants depending on the season.

These pickles are pretty simple, all you need is a few ingredients, no special pickling tools and the best part they are ready in a few days. They are perfect for the inpatient lady in me. The pickles will get more zesty, crunchy and their pick color will deepen over time. They are absolutely delicious on their own (I snack on them every time I open the fridge), part of a mezze table, in sandwiches, with falafel, on top of hummus, or baba ghanouj. Also they are really good eaten with lentil rice (mujadara) or lentil soup. They will last in the fridge up to 3 months. And the best part they have no added colors or preservatives. They are naturally pink from the beets.


6-8 turnips

3 beets

2 jalapenos (optional)

3 garlic cloves thinly sliced (optional)

8 tbls coarse sea salt

8 cups of water (2 Liters)

distilled white vinegar

Tools: sterilized glass jars



Dilute the salt in the water and set aside. Cut the beets and the turnips in half and then cut into wedges about 1/4 -1/2 inch thick. In a sterilized 2 liter glass jar or two smaller jars stack the veggies alternating the beets and the turnips. Add the jalapeño and the garlic slices. Fill third of the jar with distilled white vinegar. And then fill the jar with the salt water mixture all the way to the top to cover the vegetables. Cover the jar with a tight lid. Give it a nice shake to distribute everything evenly. Let it sit at room temperature for 5-7 days and watch the mixture turn pink its pretty cool. After 5 days the pickles are ready to eat. Refrigerate after opening. Jars will last for a few months in the fridge.

Give the jar a good shake so the beets bleed through

After a few hours the color turns deep pink

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  • Almond and Fig

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

If you walk into my grandmas house especially in the summertime and at the end of season. In her sun room (her favorite room in the house and mine too) chances are that you probably will see bundles of herbs tied with twine hanging from the metal bars on her window. Or long kitchen towels covered with crunchy wrinkled herbs or some seasonal vegetable of sort that’s she’s preserving for winter. She loves to can, jam, and preserve seasonal produce to use in her cooking all year around. I was so lucky to be home this summer and she loaded my suitcases with things she preserved with her own hands a gift i will cherish all year long. If she’s drying herbs after the leaves are completely dry she puts them in hand sewn bags that she makes herself. Once you open the bag the smell is always amazing. In this picture she was drying some mint and sage for me to take home.

My Tita right outside her sunroom. Hanging her kitchen towels. My mom planted small herb containers right outside her door so she can have easy access to them at all times.

Grandmas hand sewn bags to preserve the dry herbs

My Amto Aida is Titas best hand in the kitchen. Tita dried some Jute Mallow leaves in Arabic called Mulukhieh to be cooked in family favorite stew all winter long. Amto spreads them on large kitchen towels (ok this one is probably a sheet) to dry.

Drying your own herbs is pretty great and rewarding for many reasons: not only it’s cheaper than any packaged herbs you can buy but you have complete control over its quality.

* Ideal herbs to dry: Rosemary, thyme, lemon verbena, mint, oregano, sage, parsley, dill, marjoram, I am sure their is plenty more have fun experimenting.

Although there is so many ways you can dry herbs but I prefer this simple, easy, no tools required method. Follow these simple steps that i learned from my grandmother and you got yourself delicious herbs all winter long:

1. Best time to harvest your herbs is in the morning before the sun is shining on them. It’s also best to pick the herbs before the plants start to flower. This way you are sure to get tender and green leaves.

2. Wash your herbs well under cold water and dry them with a kitchen towel. Make sure you pick off any leaves that are yellow or spotted.

3. For herbs with stems like lemon verbena, thyme, rosemary, oregano tie your herbs with a twine or rubber bands in bundles and hang them in a place that is warm, dry and dust free with some air circulation. The smaller the bundle the faster they dry. For herbs like mint, sage..etc. you can pluck the leaves and after you wash them and pat them dry scatter them on a kitchen towel in one layer and allow them to dry completely. Make sure you give them a toss every few hours or so to make sure they are dry on all sides.

4. Once your herbs are completely dry (they should be able to crumble easily in your hands) you can separate the leaves from the stems and put your dried herbs into mason jars or spice bottles. Or you can keep the leaves on the stem and store them that way.

5. Store your herbs in in a cool, dry place away from direct light like your kitchen cabinet.

6. When you want to use the dried herbs rub them between your fingers to release their flavor.

Keep in mind:

* Dried herbs are good for 6 months to one year if stored properly

* When cooking with dried herbs that the flavor is more concentrated than fresh herbs. If you have a recipe that calls for fresh herbs, substitute with about- one third the amount of dried herbs

Herbs are so important in Palestinian cooking. Seeds are so cherished and guarded. They get passed down from family to family, farmer to farmer, generation to another. When we bought our home my grandmother gave us oregano and mint seeds to grow. Over the years they grew so big that i too share them with family and friends and they are a constant reminder of my grandmother and the endless love she has for us.

The oregano bush that grew from my grandmother's seeds. From Palestine to Chicago they give me a sense of home.

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