Food for Thought . . .

October 27, 2009


Asalaam ‘Alaikum,

While some may think this has nothing to do with homeschooling, the foods we eat and feed our children has been on my mind for quite some time. It’s not only the foods we eat, but also the amount of healthy activities we have in our lives. What I mean is, as Muslims we should take care of our bodies and teach our children to do the same. It is rather difficult to do that without eating properly, eating the proper amounts, and knowing the importance of physical exercise.

A year or so ago I started to have a health problem and quickly realized my own mistakes – my parents where not what you would call the best example when it came to good health habits. However, it is never too late to learn! Alhumdulilah, just by changing my lifestyle I have been able to rid myself of any health problems.

Since that time I have made it my goal to find out as much as I can about the foods we eat and to find ways to improve our lifestyle choices. Most of all, I am trying to be a good example to my children. One thing is common with many homeschool parents – at least I would think so. We are often so busy we may forget (or chose to) to make time for ourselves. At least, this was true with me. We were so busy trying to get through the school year and all the other responsibilities I have that I didn’t think I could find time to take care of my own needs. It may sound great to be so selfless – however, in the long-run it will hurt you and your family. You need to take care of YOU.

First of all, we have greatly increased the amount of exercise we do. Fortunately, we do have a women’s gym locally and I try to break free of our schedule to go at least 3 times a week. Also, when Dad is able, we try to go walking while the girls ride their bikes around the neighborhood (about 1 1/2 miles). The kids really love to exercise and will often join me if I exercise at home. When the weather gets warmer, I am going to try to take the kids more regularly to a park nearby as well – they really need to run around a bit each day. When the weather is better – usually on weekends – we take the kids into the mountains and go hiking. The kids absolutely love this – not only do we get in some exercise (we usually hike for about 4-6 hours) – but we also get to be around nature and all it’s beauty. We usually pack snacks and find a nice place to rest on our trip to have a little picnic. It truly is treasured family time.

Next, we also have been trying to focus on the amount of food we eat. For dinners, we have been trying to have a light meal – soup and bread or just a salad. Think of it – usually our meals are heaviest at dinner time. However, you then go to bed. What in the world does your body need all that food for – just to sleep? We now try to have our “big meal” for lunch time. It’s not only eating a heavy meal at dinner. We also truly need to go back to following the Qur’an and sunnah with regard to food:

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “and eat and drink

but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allaah) likes not Al‑Musrifoon

(those who waste by extravagance)” [al-A’raaf 7:31]


The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat a few mouthfuls, to keep him going. If he must do that (fill his stomach), then let him fill one third with food, one third with drink and one third with air.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (2380); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah (2265).

Unfortunately, I think it is easy for many of us to overlook this important lesson. After starting to have health problems, I consciously tried to do this and the results were amazing. The way we live and our attitudes about food are deeply ingrained in us – depending on how we were taught as children. For example it is so hard for us to think we can do very much with little food in our stomachs. During Rammadan many people don’t do much physical activity because they can’t handle it with their stomachs empty. One day while fasting last year my husband wanted to go hiking. At first I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it – not because of an empty stomach, but because I couldn’t drink water. However, it was one of the harder hikes we had gone on and I made it! It was not difficult for me, masha’Allah. After that, I realized that we greatly underestimate our abilities. So, we should try to eat less – and we shouldn’t use that as an excuse to do less in our lives. We just don’t need the amount of food that we fill our stomachs with.

One thing that I reflect on is that people used to eat communally. This is one of the things I love about visiting Yemen – where they do that on a daily basis. At home, my husband loves to eat hot sauce on everything and my daughters and I definitely can’t handle spicy food. So, the girls and I eat together, but my husband does not. I truly miss everyone eating together! There is something wonderful about reaching for food on a plate together with family and friends. Also, I think (but could be wrong) that you just don’t eat as much as when you pile food on a plate all for yourself.

One habit I hate for a parent to have (yes, I am sure we all have done this at one time or another) is to encourage our family members to finish all the food on their plates. Now, I am not encouraging wasting your food – but why do you have to put so much on the plate to begin with? I guess I have a different point of view for one reason which is still vivid in my mind. Each holiday my grandmother would love to make sweet potato casserole (and, I might add – she was not a good cook). I really – really – really – do not like sweet potatoes (perhaps for this reason). Each year she would pile my plate high with her sweet potato casserole – fully knowing that I did not like it. She would then tell me I had to eat everything on my plate before I could leave the table. [Yes, my grandmother was not very nice – long story!] It took me forever, but I always ate it in the end – even if it took me all evening. I had no choice. For that reason, I have a hard time putting food on a plate for other people (which I realize it perhaps not very good etiquette when you think of how hospitable many Arabs are when they have guests) – but I really hate to force anything on anyone. I prepare the food, lay it out and ask everyone to serve themselves. This way, they don’t have to eat anything they don’t like and they don’t have to waste any food unnecessarily.

While this is now an ingrained habit when it comes to guests – it is a little less ingrained when it comes to the kids. However, I have been reflecting on that lately. My husband was telling the girls the other day to finish every last bite the other day and I finally wondered “why”. What difference does it make if they eat every last bite. Isn’t that what a fridge is for anyway – just put it in a container and have them eat it at another meal. I don’t want them to grow up thinking they always have to “clean their plates” even when they are already satisfied with less food. I mean, isn’t it a good time to teach them good eating habits now, while they are still learning and growing? How can you expect them to follow the sunnah if you keep enforcing the “clean your plate” law?

Here are a few other quotes to reflect on this issue:

Al-Haakim narrated that Abu Juhayfah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The more people eat their fill in this world, the more hungry they will be on the Day of Resurrection.”


Sufyaan al-Thawri (may Allaah have mercy on his) said: If you want your body to be healthy and to sleep less, then eat less.


Eating too much also makes the heart heedless.

It was said to Imam Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on him): Does a man find any softness and humility in his heart when he is full? He said, I do not think so.


So, all of the above are a few changes we have made to our lifestyle – but there is one that we have been working on slowly but surely and I keep finding more information to adjust our lifestyle a little more. Our recent endeavor into eating healthy was started by a few books that I loaned from the library (excellent books that I really recommend you take out of the library). The books are several in a series entitled “Eat this, not that” by David Zinczenko. Talk about enlightening! Subhan’Allah! After reading these books – it is hard to see how people can be surprised that many Americans are obese. If they only knew what they were putting into their mouths! Alhumdulilah, we do not eat many many of those foods in the books – but there are things like condiments and other similar things we add to our foods during cooking that made me shocked. As a result, I have been working on a few things:

1. I have tried my best to cut out most (if not all) of the refined foods in our diet. I have been working on learning how to bake fresh whole-wheat breads and the family is enjoying my experiments. Just wish it didn’t take so long – but it truly is worth it, masha’Allah. When I finally get a recipe or two that are truly wonderful and meet my needs, I think I might set up one day a week to bake many loaves of bread and then freeze them for later use. Not only do I use whole-wheat flour in bread, but I have also used them in baking other things like muffins and scones (for example).

2. Not only have I started using whole wheat for baking, but I have also tried to cut out most of the butter and fats that are unnecessary in baking. I don’t mean unnecessary as in they are not needed – even in baking bread you need some. However, I guess I mean unnecessary in the huge amounts that many recipes call for. If a recipe calls for too much, I just won’t make it. And, if I can adjust the recipe by using other ingredients (applesauce, for example) then I will.

3. We already NEVER have sweets, juices or junk food in our house (if you want to know why – definitely look at the “Eat this, not that” books! This has been a rule in our house forever, alhumdulilah. If we have anything – it is usually every every once in a while and we only have enough for that one time and that’s it. If it’s not there, you are less likely to be tempted by it.

4. If we do have sweets in the house (on those rare occasions) – I prefer to make them home made so I know what is put into them. Also, I try to use all natural and healthy ingredients.

5. We always try to have fruit in the house. In Yemen, one of the wonderful habits of my husband’s family is that they make everyone eat a piece of fruit after EVERY MEAL. If there is desert, which is not that often, you have to eat fruit before you can have any. They always have baskets of fresh oranges, tangerines, apples, pears, etc. Alhumdulilah, I am fortunate because my kids love fruit!

6. We always have fresh vegetables in the house – in my opinion, organic is best. If we don’t – we have to go out and get some. Masha’Allah, in Yemen my husband’s father would go out each morning before work to buy the day’s vegetables. I love to cook – alhumdulilah – and one thing I learned early on was to always include vegetables in your cooking. My mom was not a good cook (sorry Mom). When she would make vegetables, she would boil them – dump out the water and then pour melted butter over them. That’s it – very bland. I was fortunate to become good friends with a Turkish family when I first became Muslim and they are experts at cooking healthy, masha’Allah. Their meals would be heavy on the vegetables and meat would be added for some flavor. I have found other recipes from other cultures (including Yemen) and have incorporated them into our daily meals. I feel guilty if we just eat meat and rice.

7. We rarely eat out. If we do, it is usually to eat fish – and definitely not fried. I guess that’s why my husband’s favorite place to visit is California. I used to hate seafood. I only ate it fried, if at all. However, I have learned to actually love fish, but only if it is not too fishy as some can be. At first, my kids hated seafood because they saw that I wouldn’t eat it. Now my children love to eat it and my oldest even loves to go eat sushi with her Dad (I won’t go that far, sorry!)

8. We also have starting using things that the Prophet recommended for eating healthy. So, each day we take black seeds, honey, etc. as part of our daily routine.

Alhumdilulah, these changes have been good ones, although not always easy. The point I wanted to make is that we really need to think about the foods we put into our mouths and into the mouths of our children. This isn’t only a time to feed their minds with good ideas – to sacrifice to homeschool them and teach them in a way that is good and upright. We also need to teach them to have healthy living habits – because it not only affects their minds and bodies, but it also affects their iman and their strength to do what is right. Allah knows best, but I think because I spend a lot of time with my children, it is easier for me to realize how important it is. Perhaps, with this reminder, you will see it is important to.

I’m curious – who else has been trying to live a healthier lifestyle? What changes have you made? What books/resources have influenced you in these changes? Are there any recipes, books or cookbooks you highly recommend? I’d love to hear from you!

When I first started thinking about healthier eating, I read some of the following books that were extremely insightful:

Learning About the Foods You Eat:

Twinkie, deconstructed : my journey to discover how the ingredients found in processed foods are grown, mined (yes, mined), and manipulated into what America eats. by Steve Ettlinger.

The jungle effect : a doctor discovers the healthiest diets from around the world– why they work and how to bring them home. ByDaphne Miller.

In Defense of Food: An Eaters Maifesto. by Michael Pollan

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. By Michael Pollan.

Chew On This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food by Charles Wilson

I don’t necessarily agree with all the ideas mentioned in these books, however I find all of them enlightening to the condition of the foods we eat. In order to be a responsible consumer and to adequately protect our health, we must be knowledgeable about the state of the foods available around us. For those of you who are overseas and think this won’t happen to you – this way of producing food is spreading all over the world. Doesn’t almost every country have some form of fast food now? It influences how food is produced – it’s just a matter of time. While I wish we could raise our own animals for food and have our own large garden in the backyard – at least for now it is not feasible. So, I do what I can to eat healthier. I hope someday, Insha’Allah, that we will be able to better control the foods that we grow and the foods that we eat – for the health of us all and the health of our planet.

A Few Cookbooks I recommend:

Classic vegetarian cooking from the Middle East and North Africa. by Habeeb Salloum.

Great natural breads made easy : simple ways to make healthful bread. by Bernice Hunt. (Awesome Book!)

Kneadlessly simple : fabulous, fuss-free, no-knead breads. By Nancy Baggett.

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. By Jeff Hertzberg MD

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients by Jeff Hertzberg MD

Bread Alone: Bold Fresh Loaves from Your Own Hands. by Daniel Leader

The Art of Turkish Cooking (Hippocrene International Cookbook Classics) by Neset Eren

These are just a few of the books I found useful and I am sure many more can be added to the list. Do you have any recommendations?

Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
Sumayyah Umm SAA

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15 Responses to “ Food for Thought . . . ”

  1. Kanadiyah on October 27, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Jazaki Allah khair sis for the great tips! Aweeeesome posting… I am feeling so inspired right now. I used to be really into this kind of thing then got busy and distracted, but inshaAllah I hope I can make real effort this time (particularly w the bread baking)

  2. educatingthemuslimchild on October 27, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum Dearest Kanadiyah:

    I’m glad you benefitted from it. I used to make bread almost every day – way back before I had kids. After that, it rarely happened – but I have been itching to get back to it. I recently started getting some books about baking. Let’s just say my husband calls me “the baker” these days!

    Alhumdulilah – I am blessed that I like to cook – it would be hard if I didn’t.

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
    Sumayyah

  3. Um Nour/Hollie on October 28, 2009 at 6:57 am

    Assalm alykom dearest sister:

    I am glad to see your writing on the net! This is what my family does to stay healthy. We bought a small farm for one. We raise all of our own meat and eggs for our personal consumption. I am very leery of any meat that is commercial. All of the meat sellers even the halal ones have too much hormones in the meat. We raise sheep and chickens and the difference in grass and corn fed meat is HUGE! The next thing is to cut down on processed foods. We make our own pita bread every day. My family loves sweets and we eat them, but only if they are home made. We also love pizza and we only eat it homemade. I also make all my own yogurt. We just got milking goats last weekend and I hope to experiment with cheese next. Also,part of eating healthy is eating together. I cook a home cooked meal almost every night and we eat together at the table as a family. Exercise is also important. Everyday, before we start school, we exercise and walk a mile. With my little kids we also walk but not as much. The key is to make time for it all.

  4. educatingthemuslimchild on October 28, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum Dearest Um Nour:

    Gosh, I miss you! I really wish we could be able to do what you did – but I don’t know if my husband would ever be up to it. I just recently got some books about making cheese and wanted to look into it – to see how difficult it would be and time consuming – it sounds like an adventure. Just wish we had our own cows/goats for the milk!

    Living healthfully really makes a difference, masha’Allah.

    By the way – you don’t happen to have a recipe for pita bread made with whole wheat or at least half wheat and half white? I’ve been looking and haven’t found anything good yet. Jazak Allah Khair!

    Hope to hear from you again!

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
    Sumayyah

  5. Ummu Dujanah on October 28, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Assalam aleikum,
    Dear sister,

    Jazakillahu khar for this great article, it truly is inspirational mashallah! You made me laugh with the strory of your grandmother!… Subhanallah I see some common points between us, my mother wasn’t a very good cook either and I found it very hard to learn to cook all by myself. I have also been brought up to finish my plate and eat everything even if I don’t like it, and unconsciously it has been my approach with my children! What you said about how it relates to the sunnah really made me think… It would be great if you could post some of your best recipes inshallah (if you have time of course), at the moment I am trying to replace the meat we eat with more vegetables, but it is hard to find recipes that make a whole meal and which are not too time consuming. Again jazakillahu khair!

  6. educatingthemuslimchild on October 28, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum Ummu Dujanah:

    Yes, I actually still remember grandma whenever I see sweet potatoes. A friend told me once perhaps she didn’t know how to cook them. There are some things that I have never eaten that I would be willing to eat – but, sweet potatoes is not on that list. I have been ruined forever!

    When I get a chance I will try to post some of my favorite recipes – I have lots as I love to cook and try new things. For foods leaning more heavily on the vegetables – definitely try finding a cookbook for Turkish foods at your local library if you can – I can definitely say that you can’t go wrong with Turkish recipes. Every one I have tried, I have loved, masha’Allah. I also think there are some cookbooks out there these days that realize that more people are wanting to put vegetables back into the forefront of their meal. So, while the recipes are mainly vegetarian – you can also add meat to them. You might want to check and see if you can find some – the recipes I have found were pretty easy to prepare and turned out to be delicious, masha’Allah!

    By the way – don’t forget about the importance of whole grains. There are a lot of Middle Eastern recipes that add lentils, bulgur, and other grains to make foods simply delicious and they are healthy for you too. I can’t think of any specific books to recommend right now – but this is definitely another area to look into, masha’Allah.

    Asalaam’ Alaikum,
    Sumayyah

  7. Ummu Dujanah on October 29, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Assalam aleikum,

    Dear sister,

    Jazakillahu khair for these tips mashallah. I will definitely follow your suggestions inshallah. I have been trying lots of different websites/books, but whenever I try a new recipe, it rarely turns out ok, even when I follow it scrupulously! It is much more helpful to have the advice of someone with experience and who has done the research before, like you. I will continue to check your blog inshallah. May Allah reward you for your time, and may you share in the reward every time it benefits someone, amin.

  8. educatingthemuslimchild on October 29, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum Ummu Dujanah:

    Truthfully, it has taken a loong time – and a lot of practice to find good recipes. Many times (like you) I have found a recipe and made it exactly as the recipe tells me to and it is horrible. How I hate when that happens! I will tell you one great trick I know now for finding good recipes. I NEVER buy a cookbook first. I always get a recipe book from our local library (or from inter-library loan) first. If I’m interesting in learning how to make better soups, I do a search for soup cookbooks. If I’m interesting in learning vegetarian foods, I look for vegetarian cookbooks. When I get the book, I try a recipe or two. Usually I look for a recipe that has items in it that I know I like and something that sounds good to me. If I like the recipe I may try another. If it turns out good – I usually keep the recipe.

    Later, I usually keep a notebook handy – browse through the recipes to see which ones I like. If I end up writing down most of the recipe pages – I know the book is a keeper. I do not have a huge collection of recipe books – but I have some that I know I can turn to again and again.

    The books I mentioned (the cookbooks) – I have purchased all of them and there are only two (I think) that I am hoping to purchase in the near future, insha’Allah. Since I only got into the bread making craze recently – I’m still working on the collection, masha’Allah.

    Sometimes a recipe might not turn out exactly as I like – but after cooking all these years, I have learned to alter the taste to make it better and make those changes the next time if I can do it then.

    Hope this helps, insha’Allah.

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
    Sumayyah

  9. Ummu Dujanah on October 30, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Assalam aleikum,

    Dear sister,

    Mashallah! I didn’t know how to get started and you are providing all the answers I need. I am sure other sisters will benefit from this as well.

    I will have a look at my local library for cookbooks with vegetarian recipes. I would like to buy the Vegetarian Recipes from the Middle East, the Art of Turkish Cooking and a book to learn how to bake bread. We eat so much bread in our house. I used to have a breadmaker I used until it broke, since then I returned buying bread… What put me off is the hand kneading (I am very bad at that, each time I tried the bread was not edible lol!) I didn’t know you can make bread without kneading subhanallah! So maybe I’ll get the Kneadlessly simple book, or which one do you think is good for complete beginners?

    Again jazakillahu khair for making the time for me, I was going through a time I didn’t know what and how to cook anymore. It is hard when the whole family depends on you and when you are not very confident with cooking. Alhamdulillah, Allah opens His way when He makes it possible to get advice from sisters like you.

    wassalam aleikum
    Ummu Dujanah

    PS: I also benefitted a lot from yemenlinks and your posts on mailing lists etc

  10. educatingthemuslimchild on October 30, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum Ummu Dujanah:

    Alhumdulilah – I am glad the posts have helped – these are things I am working on with my own family. It’s not easy sometimes but I want to improve things. I once thought about making the dough for bread and then freezing it uncooked. Kind of like the bread dough you can buy in the stores. I wanted to do it myself because I wanted to be in charge of the ingredients and I also wanted whole wheat. I found out – from some of the bread books though that there is a lot of waiting involved – as a homeschooler that didn’t bother me – however, they said that bread is better baked and then frozen. This way, whenever you want bread you can simply take it out of the freezer and thaw it for 30 minutes or so. Yesterday I was really short on time so I just took some frozen bread and thawed it for a few minutes in the microwave. I then cut it into slices and finished thawing in a minute. The bread was still delicious – but if you have the time, I definitely think it’s best to heat it in the oven. So, there is hope out there for those of us who don’t always have the time.

    As for a book I recommend in baking bread – I’m still working and searching through those I have borrowed from the library. If you are able, I definitely recommend getting several of them from the library. See which one works best for you. Then you can buy the one that works best for you. For me, I really love getting my hands dirty – so I love kneading (don’t tell anyone). I have sometimes made bread this way and other days I have craved bread but didn’t have time. So, I popped ingredients into our bread machine and had bread not that long after to put in the oven. Here’s one thing I recommend – don’t ever bake the bread in the bread machine. At least on my machine you have the option to just make the dough. It rises and then I take it out and shape it or put it into a baking dish to rise. I can’t get used to the idea of eating bread that looks so strange! It just looks better this way (in my opinion).

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
    Sumayyah

  11. educatingthemuslimchild on October 30, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum:

    There’s one other book that I forgot to mention. In researching this new trend of “no knead” breads – I found out that it actually isn’t a new trend. It has been around a while. One book that was recommended on that topic was “No Need to Knead” by Suzanne Dunaway. Not sure when it was published and I just got it so I haven’t had a chance to try any of the recipes. However, it was recommended so I thought I would share.

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
    Sumayyah

  12. Ummu Dujanah on October 31, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Assalam aleikum,

    Jazakillahu khair for this again, mashallah. When you freeze uncooked dough, when does it rise? After thawing? Also, when you bake it, then freeze,doesn’t it make lots of crumbs when you take it out the freezer? I will follow your advice and resist the temptation to buy books before trying out different things… It is so time consuming, but I know I have to go through this in order to be able to cook better inshallah. Make dua for me, I’ll make for you and your family. You helped me so much mashallah. Forgive me if I have to keep it short. You are in my duas.
    wassalam aleikum
    Ummu Dujanah

  13. educatingthemuslimchild on October 31, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum Dearest Ummu Dujanah:

    Not sure where you live – but in the US grocery stores (at least those near me) they sell frozen dough shaped in a loaf. It usually comes with three or four loaves in a bag. You keep it in the freezer and then you thaw a loaf when you are ready. However, I have only seen white bread (I’m trying to make more healthy grain breads). Anyway, you can make your own bread dough and then freeze it. You would take it out of the freezer to thaw. Once it has risen, it is ready to bake. However, it may take a while since it is frozen. So, don’t expect fresh bread in a short while this way. This is more beneficial when you can take it out in the morning and from time to time check it to see if it has risen. Right now I have been making bread recipes that create more than one loaf. I keep one loaf for us to eat and freeze the other. I’m really wanting to make batches all at one time but haven’t had the time to do so. I read where this one woman’s mother would make like 16-20 loaves in one day, masha’Allah and it would be frozen for the family to eat that week. Anyway, what works for me is to wrap the bread in foil and then put it in a sealed baggie – just put it in the freezer. When I am in need of bread – I simply take the bread out of the baggie and put the bread – still covered in foil – into the oven. I think I read that it takes approximately 30 minutes to heat up this way and when it comes out of the oven – it really does taste like it was freshly made.

    Insha’Allah things will work out for you – you just have to be patient. It’s not easy to fix everything all at once or to learn something new. However, if you take it one step at a time you will really make great strides. The important thing is to try things out before you buy so you don’t regret it later. Everyone has a preference for different tastes – so you need to see what works for you and your family. Being an American – and having a Mom who didn’t like to cook has been advantageous for me because I am not tied down to any one culture’s meals. I cook foods from all over the world [except Pakistan or India – way too hot for me – sorry 🙁 I am an American wimp] and I am always trying something new. Even today I don’t completely 100% trust myself in the kitchen. However, I am now a bit more confident than when I was younger. If something doesn’t taste right I will try to think of what I can add to make it taste better – based on my knowledge of the different spices that I commonly use.

    And, to really give you a laugh. When my husband and I were first married – we ate lots of spaghetti, meatloaf and turkey hot dogs. Even today my husband refuses to eat spaghetti (and we don’t eat hot dogs or meatloaf anymore) – so the kids and I will only eat spaghetti sometimes for lunch if he is not home. We usually don’t eat many American inspired foods otherwise. Anyway, that was my main menu for a long time until I met people who were willing and able to teach me different things. We’ve been married for 16 years now – so it does take a while before you move from one end of the spectrum to the other 😉 Have hope – and I will make dua for you – I know how much it meant for me to provide for my family – and that definitely included providing good food that we could all enjoy.

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
    Sumayyah

  14. Ummu Dujanah on November 8, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Assalam aleikum wa rahmatullah,

    Dear sister,

    I have only read your reply tonight, forgive me I was away for a while. It has been so nice to read your long messages full of advice. Yes, it is a matter of time and patience, subhanallah. So far I have tried various things but it is hard when there is noone to point you in the right direction, so I have improved alahamdulillah, but not as I would like to. I know I have to be more patient and steadfast!
    This week I have tried to bake more with the children, basic things such as muffins, chocolate cakes… We borrowed cookbooks for children from the library, at least it is not too difficult for me! When something goes wrong in a recipe, I can’t always tell where it comes from, I hope inshallah with experince it will get easier. I have been married for 9 years alhamdulillah, but improvement has been slow!

    Jazakillahu khair for all your advice about bread. I have to try and fit all this in my busy schedule, but as you say, one thing at a time… I often start different things, then I give up because I can’t carry on… So, one thing at a time inshallah… I’ll let you know how it goes. Again may Allah reward you for all the time you spent replying to me.

    wassalam aleikum
    Ummu Dujanah

    PS: Is it possible to email you privately?

  15. educatingthemuslimchild on November 9, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatahu:

    I replied to your email address from my personal email. Did you receive it? If not, check your spam folder.

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
    Sumayyah

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