Tag Archives: Deirmimas

Eid el Berbara or Saint Barbara’s Day

6 Dec

Kids wearing costumes for a competition party at Eid el Berbara

Eid el Berbara, celebrated on December 4th, is a very popular holiday here in Lebanon, specially among children because they have the occasion to disguise the way they like, to wear any kind of costumes, scary masks. It is the eastern Halloween.

This holiday refers to Saint Barbara who disguised herself in different characters in order to escape the Romans who were persecuting her. She used to hide in wheat fields. That’s why we eat this wheat  dessert at Sainte Barbara’s Day.

Boiled wheat topped with cashews, almonds, walnuts, raisins, sultanas and sweetened with either sugar or honey.

The children wear their costumes or masks and tour the neighborhood, visit the houses for trick or treats… They receive either sweets, candy or money…. and when present at your doorstep, they start singing a special song for Saint Berbara.

 

As for the traditional food, several sweets are prepared for this occasions. And yummii, how delicious they are!!!  There are, boiled whole wheat, flavored with anis, served with almonds, blanched or unblanched, pistachios, raisins, walnuts, pine nuts, and sweetened with either sugar or honey and with a drizzle of orange blosson water. Also a sweet called Qatayef, a sweet dough like a crêpe filled with either ashta (cream), which we drizzle over some sugar syrup (Qater) and rose petals cooked with sugar syrup, or a mixture of crushed walnuts with sugar and orange blossom water.  And a fried dough soaked in sugar syrup called Maacroun.

Qatayef with mixture of walnuts, sugar & orange blossom water

Zalebieh Or Lebanese Doughnuts

8 Nov

To celebrate the ending of the olive harvest, the housewives prepare a sweet  dough, Zalebieh, that is fried in the new olive oil. This is the tradition at my village. It is the Lebanese way of preparing doughnuts.

Even though, there is still few days to finish the olive pressing, my mom wanted to prepare the sweets during the past weekend since we were there.

I love the Zalebieh alot, I love its texture, its flavor. We use different kinds of spices. Nutmeg, anise, mahlab. The dough is kneaded few times and is left wrapped with warm clothes for few hours to rise.

This time, we fried the doughs in olive oil, the new pressed one, two weeks aged. I felt something spicy when I took the first bite, an unusual taste, not related to the spices we used which weren’t that spicy. This sharp strong taste goes to the taste of olive oil. I remembered that feeling when I first tasted the olive oil, plain, I felt something sharp, hot at the back of my mouth. It was a tasty great flavor.

Soft & chewy from the inside and crunchy from the outside

I would like to share with you this “delicious” picture since the main topic is “new olive oil”. This bread is baked on the saj, it is used for the man’oushe, a very delicious breakfast dough topped with zaatar mixture. So I dipped this fresh warm plain bread in the olive oil, and you won’t believe how delicious it is. Extremely delicious.

  

Before I end this post, I would like to say that I added in the previous post, Olive Harvest,  two pictures that I couldn’t shoot last weekend because it rained and it was impossible to go olive harvesting. So I went the past weekend to the field, and I helped the guys a little and took these two pictures.

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Olive Harvest

1 Nov

It is the olive season. Harvesting season. Last weekend we went to the village and we visited one of the old olives presses places. From the moment I entered the place, the smell of the olives threw me in a state of reminiscence as I remembered my childhood when I first smelled it. And it is going to be hard for me to explain about the smell, a place redolent of olive scent. It is a great, amazing, strong smell, one of a kind, one of the best fragrances. It has the smell of the ground, the nature, the trees.

And what’s perfect than bringing home the finest olive oil and the most delicious olives to enjoy with pita bread and labné, or with zaatar ( a mix of dried thyme, sumac, toasted sesame and olive oil), we call it “tartine zaatar”. There is also this tradition to fry some sweet dough, called Zalebieh, in the first new crop of olive oil.

Our village is surrounded by olive trees

Olive season is one of the most important season for the villagers because all the crop is preserved for a couple of years, some of it is sold as olives and as olive oil. Almost every family in my village has its own crop, its own trees. There are two ways of harvesting the olives, either by picking the olives by hand, the nice big ones, these would be preserved for eating, or “hitting” the olive tree with a stick and the olives will fall on a cloth placed under the tree.

These are collected, brought to olives presses and pressed and olive oil is extracted. Usually the black olives are pressed unless the grains were flawless, nice and big.

Black olives from our crop

Olives are preserved in jars with water and salt. We also add some lemon rinds, others add some fresh thymes.

Green olives from our harvest

The process of pressing olives is simple and nice. They start by splitting the olives from the leaves .. 

splitting the olives from the leaves

Then the olives are being washed in water

olives being rinsed...

… then sent to be ground and the paste is spread on a fabric made of goat’s hair… and then pressed and olive oil is extracted..

..the olive paste is being spread on layers...

... being pressed..

..then after being pressed, the oil is separated from the water and pulp and is poured into the jars or bottles…

The olive oil is still turbid and dense, it needs quite some time to be clearer

After being pressed and oil is extracted, the olives residue is not thrown away but it is used during winter to set aflame in the fireplace, along with woods.

I have tasted some of our olive oil and it tastes great, it is sharp, dense, and new. In the past, villagers used to eat and enjoy some drizzled fresh olive oil on a hot fresh loaf of saj bread baked by ladies in the village on the same day of olives presses. Fresh olive oil, fresh bread… How wonderful!!!

Fresh and new olive oil from our trees, our crop. I find it exquisite.

The dessert below has nothing to do with olives harvesting, but I mentioned it because it is one of the different kind of sweets that villagers bring along to the olives harvest to give them strength so they can continue their day. And because I ate alot of it during the weekend, either with biscuits or plain. This sweet is called “Raha” it’s chewy, coated with powdered sugar has different flavors and it is yummii, so delicious.

Fruits from our garden

4 Oct

It is amazing how Nature can be so generous, so wonderful when it comes to giving us what we need to continue breathing and growing, and to improve our lifestyle. I cherish every moment spent in nature, every beautiful scene, every breeze, every sunlight, every tree. Ohh, how I love trees!. How I love the small cedar I planted in our home garden 3 years ago and that is growing splendidly.

It is the sweetest persimmon I have ever taste... so delicious...

We’ve been spending almost every weekend in the village. And lately, I’ve been feeling a little more nostalgic and emotional when it comes to my home village, especially when the weekend ends and we have to go back to our routinely daily life in the city. I think, these emotions are a result to the major life change that’s gonna occur in my life, hopefully, soon. Yes, I said hopefully, because it’s the kind of shift that we need, to experience more opportunities, more potentials in our life.

That what leaves me with a tear in my eye, every time I leave my home village. Is it a fear of not returning there for a long period of time, or is it something else, well I’m not sure!!

Looks like jewels, their sourish, sweet taste combined is so delicious, I just can't have enough.

A crowned fruit...!!

Fall is here. And our days spent at the village are almost over. Winter days are a bit harsh there. Some seasonal fruits, persimmon, pomegranates, are ripened now. So I took the advantage to take some pictures and share them with you in this post. No recipes, just photos. Hope you enjoy them.

Feast Of Saint Memas

18 Sep

Our village, Deirmimas is named in honour of Saint Memas, “Deir” means convent, and “Mimas” refers to Saint Memas or Mamas, a third-century shepherd who preached Christianity and had a lion as a protector. He was persecuted and became a martyr. Later on, in the middle ages, in his honour, a convent was built on top of a hill surrounded by olive trees. And a village grew next to this convent and was named Deirmimas.

Every year, on the 15th of September, our village celebrates this feast and organizes few activities. One of them is preparing different kind of finger-food, prepared by the ladies, arranging them on tables placed next to the church. This year I wanted to offer something, so I thought of some nice and easy sweets, the first thing that came up to my mind was the traditional Sfouf. And I’m glad I baked it because there were only two kind of desserts in addition to fruits.

 Enjoy the pictures.

seems like a fire but it's not, it is the sunlight breaking through the clouds

Scenes From My Beloved Village

18 Sep

I have been spending almost every weekend of this summer at my village, at this beautiful southern village, Deirmimas, existing on a hill, surrounded by nature, green and great mountains, overlooking at the Litani river. And this village is known for the production of good-quality olives and olive oil, its delicious figs, grapes and pomegranates. I toured the narrow alleys of the village, I love walking around those old, picturesque houses, enjoying strong breeze, beautiful scenes, and being close to nature and I took few pictures and posted them here. Hope you enjoy them.

Figs & Prickly Pears

3 Aug

These two summer fruits are my favourite. Figs and Prickly pears. The most awaited seasonal fruits to me. I enjoy having them on breakfast, they are fresh, cold and sweet specially the white figs, which I love more than the red ones. And they both are extremely healthy.

I impatiently wait for the begining of the season, end of July, to enjoy the first bites. I also love going to the bushes, holding a basket in my hand, and picking the figs. The very ripe figs are sun-dried for few days and are eaten on winter, cold days. They are very delicious.

I haven’t tried baking figs in desserts because I enjoy eating them plain, since the season is short. But I was thinking of an easy recipe where I can use the very ripe, soft figs (teein in arabic), that can be very sweet. I’ll search for a recipe and if any of you have one easy recipe please share it with me.

The prickly pears (sobeir in arabic) are best eaten plain and cold. Maybe it adds a delicious flavor if mixed in a smoothie. The fruit is full of small round pips that need to be swallow and not chewed, because sometimes they stick to the teeth. For that reason some people do not eat the prickly pears.

I posted below few pictures of how to peel a prickly pear. The skin of the prickly pears are full of spines, so you must be very careful. Before peeling and cutting them, they need to be washed and cleaned very good so you get rid of the spines, my dad rub them in the soil to remove the spines off the skin before starting.

First step, hold the fruit with a big tweezer and cut both edges.

Cut the skin from the center

Take the skin off the fruit, holding one side with a knife.

Hold the other side with your finger, remove the fruit off the skin and put them in a bowl to be refrigerated.

Two containers of peeled and unpeeled prickly pears

Since we’re talking about seasonal fruits, I’m gonna share with you in this post a couple of photos of a yellow watermelon, that my dad planted in our small garden, and that is quite phenomenal and unique to us, since we’re used to the red watermelons. Probably this yellow watermelon is common abroad, but not in Lebanon, here we can’t find this kind in the markets.

My uncle bought the seeds last summer without knowing that they belong to yellow watermelons. And when we opened a ripe one, we were so surprised and delightful, we have never saw such beautiful, bright color.

Our Growing Garden

21 Jul

Tomatoes

In a previous post I posted few photos of our garden at the home village. The plants that were growing, the fruits and vegetables that were blooming. They were still little plants and small fruits. Now they’re much bigger and close to be ripened and ready to be eaten.

Big Watermelon

I won’t say much, I’ll just post some pictures and you enjoy the beauty of the nature.

Young corn cobs

A ripe cucumber

A plump cucumber

A cucumber enjoying the sun

A bunch of dried spring onions

Parsley

A rosemary bush

A close up shot of rosemary

A beautiful basil

Ripe & ripening blackberries on a bush

Red figs, first of the season. Crunchy, sweet & sourish at the same time.

Yummi delicious figs

A huge cucumber, this kind has a lighter green color and differs slightly in taste.

Swami enjoying the nature

In Our Garden…

28 Jun
small plum tomatoes

Small Plum Tomatoes

Tomatoes Plant

Many beautiful things are happening in our home garden at the village. Trees are growing, plants are developing, flowers are blooming, and us enjoying the nature.

Blackberries Blooming

My parents spend the summer at the village away from the hotness of the city, they take care of the new plants and trees we have in the backyard. The garden is quite large, not all the space is used because it needs some organization that requires a certain budget, time and effort.

Unripe Prickly Pears

Figs Tree

I’ll share with you some photos of the Cactus Fruit and the Figs when they are ripe and ready to be eaten. The season should start in August. As well as for the Grapes.

Watermelons Growing

Yellow Watermelon

 The plantations are enough to be taking care of properly by mom and dad; and enough for us to enjoy eating them. We have planted different kind of basic vegetables in our garden. Tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, coriander, mint, basil, corn cobs, watermelons, spring onions, avocado tree (still young). And many fruit trees, wild and domesticated.

Young Pomegranates (the season is due in Autumn)

Wild Pear Tree

 Every weekend I go to the village, first of all, because it’s quiet, peacefull, clean, away from the chaos and the pollution of the city. And because I love being close to nature. And because I enjoy working in the garden. Watering the plants and trees, cultivating some ripe fruits and vegetables and sometimes participating and helping my parents in planting a new plant. Digging, and preparing the soil to receive a new member.

Grapes in a tender stage

The most enjoyable time we spend is when we, the family, are all gathered in the backyard, sitting in the garden enjoying some comfort food. Or doing some barbecue. Or just hanging out and relaxing. Enjoy the photos.

We use the Sumac mixed with dried thyme and roasted sesame to form a paste called "Zaatar". We also mix it with olive oil.

Basil Plant - Not Edible. It gives a great smell when you shake it.

Edible Basil Plant

To end this post by this beautiful rose and this cedar that I planted 3 years ago; it was a small baby cedar and now it is growing and flourishing… Its name is Tina.

A Rose

Tina The Cedar - 3 years old

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