Wednesday, 30 November 2011

What will the future hold?

Everything started in the late 1990's, when the whole family went to Egypt. I was young, really young and had no knowledge why or when and why I was there, all I remember is I was playing with a bunch of petite humble girls in the middle of the dessert. They were herding a flock of sheep's and I merged them, those memories were concealed somewhere in my head over the years. 4 years or 5+ years ago we went back there to that dynasty which I have no images left in my head. I wasn't thrilled about it, I still remember the hours I spent in the car, my feet felt like they were on fire! The flooring of the car had a hole and the car was speeding, the back seat floor temperature was high and I tried to lift my feet up to cool them down.
As soon as we reached the house, after a 4 hour flight + 4 hours of driving + 30 minutes until we reached the house. It was after mid-night around 1:00 AM. When I saw the door, everything burst out of my head and I regret being here, for some reason I had a feeling I wouldn’t be satisfied.
That night I slept on my bed which is jam-packed with sand and dust, I felt deprived, I felt as if I was plucked out of my world. I woke up the following morning looking out of the window and saw women herding, kids carrying water in torn gasoline bottles, and men walking up the hills and then at that precise moment I remembered everything, the day I met those people, the day I played with them. It's like I had amnesia or something.

An Emirati girl why would she be there? Let me answer you, it was in the late 70 and 80's when my dad is obsessed with falcons, he crossed the world for those birds. I still remember the day he told me when he stole falcons from China and got away with it. I saw the photo's when he was in Frankfurt with David holding those treasurable creatures. My dad was passionate, he crossed  the Middle-East, Africa, and Asia for falcons. He went to Sena with my Grandpa and Saif emleeh, they came across the people who lived in the Sahara of Sena, the people who until this very day still live the same way they did 100 years ago. Years later my dad bought a property nearby a tribe and built a house on the side, on the highest dune in the area.

Hello and welcome to our house, as you can see there are no shops around us the only brick build base beside us was an abandoned school which was an unfortunate attempt in educating Bedouins in Sena. Let’s look at the superior picture and pinpoint our exact location on this earth, the nearest town is around half-hour drive and 1 hour drive to Israel.

Every night for the past 2 months I've been hearing the sound of missiles and explosive, it didn’t feel right. I imagined this where my life would end, they would hit us any day. The sensation was unreal. I even thought if i spoke to my friends about it would they ever believe me?
The reason is, nobody would be around such tough zones, well let’s outlook it differently, would anyone be interested in visiting those places? My answer to that is we were there because new crops were deported from Spain to Egypt for plantation.

Throughout the period my dad started to buy grounds near the farm and expanded it. So most of the time we were left home alone in the internal of the dessert, all I did is read books and sit on top of the dunes, those volcanic sand dunes. I ended up walking around the dessert, I met some familiar girls, they remember me so well and I can barely recall them. Talking to them was an inspirational moment, the purest minds you will ever find, they know nothing about the contemporary female fashion world or about sex or about edifice your guru happy life. Can you imagine how peaceful is that?
 The only problem I faced is those little evil creatures that bite! These live on sheep's and camels. I think he accomplished his goal drawing “the last supper “on my body. I was itching day and night.

Pure evil.

Well, one day my dad decided we should visit (Shaikh Ziwayd) famous Wednesday market, when we went there, all we did is buy veggies, eggs and poultry. 10 minutes later we were in Rafah, yes, never in a million years I thought I'd be there, but somehow destiny dropped me there. I saw dreadful matter which I don't want to evoke, I saw those unfortunate people standing on the roof across the borders, Palestinian, yes, palestinian.

I didn't want to recollect this stage of my life, because that wasn't my life, I can't live like that, I just felt immoral being among those people, wait, don't get me wrong, I meant I felt as if I was trying to elitist on those people, no haram I would never do that. I'm used to dress in decent clothes and wear makeup every day.  In my simplicity those people look at it as if I'm a monarch. Those societies know nothing about the outer world, can you visualize if they went to America? They'd consider you Aliens, I speculate, ya they would probably think that way. 

but I'm fortunate , a seed of such experience was grown in me, this made me appreciate life, appreciate god, appreciate people, humanity, life as a whole. I've been to a place called "Zaraneek" it is where salt is produced, before we went there we passed by a house across the street and I saw a man, a man that I not once thought I'd see in my entire life 'Salaam'. When I saw him I had flashbacks of the past, this man was the gentleman I played with when I was a kid, this man worked for my father, and he was looking after the camels in the manor. Oh dear 'Salam' I missed him, I never knew he was Egyptian. However, the Zaraneek was a snow-like field, it was filled with salt. The endless piles of salt, before this visit I remembered when my brother and sister tried to walk in these salt pools which didn’t dry yet, they said it felt like knifes. I wanted to dip my feet inside them, but it was so red and looked like blood, I chickened out and just meditate god’s creation.

The Zaraneek was an interesting story my dad told us, I envy my father, he is such a great man, I believed one day I will get my husband and children to these area and just share my experience, my dad and grandpa's adventure. At least I did something different in my life. Every time these images arise into my mind, all I could think of is this phrase "الحمد لله الذي فضلنا على كثير من عباده

Shaikha x

Friday, 25 November 2011

Roll cake

This is my first attempt in making roll cake, the mistake I almost did is over cooking the sponge cake. I was looking at it in the oven and touching the top of it and it felt so sticky, I actually over-cooked it slightly. Thankfully, I folded it without cracking. 

For the filling I used cream-cheese vanilla bean, I added fresh pomegranate on the filling and rolled it out. I rested the cake in the fridge over night.

Shaika x

Saturday, 19 November 2011


This picture is dedicated to my father. He's a fisher man, a man I'm proud of. This is the traditional food - white rice and fried fish. This is the ultimate comfort food.

Ignore the chopsticks this doesn't connect to our culture at all loool. It's just giving the picture third dimension look.


Shaikha x

Friday, 18 November 2011

Key lime pie fusion of Cheese Cake

I love cheesecake thanks to the ancient Greece its popular. My memories of cheesecake started with my sister and aunt, can't decide who was first. I still remember the day I saw the red strawberry jelly on top of that creamy texture, I wanted it just for the strawberry jelly on top, and I loved it.

Years later I discovered its called cheesecake and wondered, where the hell is the cheese in this dessert? All types of cheese is salty and mild. But then, I knew cream cheese existed and its Philadelphia. Obviously I was so young to know those kind of information about food, 10 or 9 perhaps?

I found this recipe online, and gave it a shot. One of the steps in making this cheesecake is poaching the lime a day ahead in water, sugar and mint syrup and add the sliced lime and cook for 10 minutes and let the flavors infuse over night. Myself, I didn't like the smell and the taste of the syrup and decided not to use the syrup and squeezed the limes, this gave them this odd shape. At least I used it for decoration.

Overall, it taste very good. I wasn't a fan of the filling but it tastes like cheesecake but without that punch or kick of that "REAL" cheese cake.


Serves 8-10
Preparation time: 1 day in advance for the poached lime slices, + about 35 minutes, + chilling
Cooking time:  35-45 minutes

For the poached lime slices
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint  
  • 4 limes, finely sliced
For the base
  • 3½ cups crushed graham crackers
  • ¼lb plus 1 tbsp (11/8 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
For the filling
  • 4 large eggs, separated   
  • 2½ cups condensed milk
  • finely grated zest and juice of 4 limes
  • ¼ cup superfine sugar
For the topping
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting
The day before making the pie, prepare the poached lime slices for the decoration. Place the sugar in a pan with the water and bring to a boil. Simmer until the sugar has melted, then add half the mint leaves and all the lime slices. Poach the lime in this minty syrup for about 10 minutes, then allow to cool and infuse overnight. 

To make the base, mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and press into a buttered deep 10 inch removable-bottomed, preferably fluted, tart pan. If you don't have one of the latter, use a springform pan of the same size and just press the crumbs two-thirds of the way up the side. Let the base rest for another hour in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. 

Line the crumb shell with waxed paper and half-fill it with ceramic pie weights or uncooked dried beans. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove the weights and cook for another 5 minutes until the base has darkened slightly in color. Remove from the oven and cool.

For the filling, beat the egg yolks in a bowl until light and fluffy, then beat in the condensed milk and lime zest and juice.
In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and superfine sugar until firm, then gently fold into the lime mixture, using a large metal spoon.
Completely fill the crumb shell with the lime mixture and bake in the preheated oven, at the same temperature, for 20-25 minutes until set and lightly browned around the edges. Allow to cool. It will sink slightly, so don't worry.  

Loosen the edges of the tart, remove the pan and transfer to a serving plate. Finally, whip the cream until it peaks, spoon into a pastry bag, and pipe around the edge of the cold tart. Dust the top with confectioners' sugar, then decorate with the poached lime slices and some of the syrup, discarding the cooked mint and adding the remaining fresh mint leaves.

Shaikha x

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