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Happy Nowruz! And Introduction to my Mini Series on Persian Cuisine!


Hello all, I say I will update every week and then I go missing for 3 weeks. Tsk tsk. Remember that cold I was getting? It turned into the worst cold I’ve ever had in my life, lasting well over 2 weeks and me still sniffling and coughing. But we aren’t going to talk about that today. Nope. Today we are going to talk about the Persian New Year- Nowruz.

Being an Iranian-Canadian I have quite the clash of both the cultures, which even though they can make my life a bit complicated at times, I love to no end and wouldn’t change for the world. Today I would like to introduce you to my world and my Persian Routes. Hopefully you enjoy!




So, what is Nowruz(or Norouz)?

Nowruz is a rich tradition that is celebrated by many different countries and territories, and marks the first day of spring (Persian Equinox) and also happens to mark the beginning of the Persian New Year. Nowruz recognizes the rebirth of nature, and despite its Iranian Characteristics, is celebrated by many people throughout the world.

(In fact, according to a quick wiki search, Practiced principally in: Albania, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan as well as Ethnic groups in: Zoroastrians, Sufis, Bahá'ís and the Iranian diaspora. Also observed in Armenia, Bosnia, Caucasus, Crimea, Georgia, India, Kashmir, Macedonia, Pakistan, Serbia, and among Uyghurs and Salars of China.)

ALSO, The UN's General Assembly in 2010 recognized the International Day of Nowruz, describing it as a spring festival of Persian origin which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years, and was officially registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity!



What’s amazing about this is that not too many people in North America have ever heard of Nowruz, let alone know its practices! I also found the internet was a bit limited in resources…so hopefully this post will help just a little. :)

The word Nowruz literally translates into ‘New Day’ (Now=new, rouz=day) in Persian, and the festival marks the beginning of the solar year and new year on the Iranian calendar, as well as among several other nationalities. It is a time to celebrate life at the time when life begins or is renewed – this renewal of nature is the essence of this millennia-old tradition. My favorite part about nowruz is that it is not a religious holiday – it’s a cultural one. So on new years, everyone, from Christian, Jew, Muslim, Zoroastrian, (and even atheist) come together to celebrate the first day of spring and the beginning of the new year!!


Nowruz has many different components and ‘steps’ to it, as most holidays do. Hopefully next year I will be able to blog about it more, and be able to cover each part more as it comes by. The preparations for Nowruz include Chahārshanbe Sūrī, (some bonfire fun) and some ‘Khaneh Tekani” which is basically some major house cleaning in preparation for the new year. Some people believe that the origin of the very North American practice of “spring cleaning” originates from Norouz!

A major tradition of Nowruz is that of setting a table of ‘haft seen’ – which translates into the 7 “s” (the letter ‘s’- is pronounced as seen in Farsi) upon this table one sets things that symbolize good luck for the upcoming year (you will come to find that Persians are VERY superstitious;) )
There are many things to put on the table, many symbolizing different things, but the 7 ‘s’ must be present! (lucky number 7) On our table we put the following:

(left to Right)
1) Seer - Garlic - Garlic has been known for centuries for its medicinal benefits and symbolizes good health for the new year
2) Sabzeh - Spring Sprouts - Made from wheat or lentil this S signifies rebirth and renewal.
Rice - not part of the haft seen - but symbolizes better fortune
3) Somagh - Crushed Sumac berries - symbolizing (the color of) sunrise ( and with the sun all evil is conquered.)
4) Seem (fish) - Gold Fish - Gold Fish in a clear white bowl represents life and the end of the astral year associated with the constellation Pisces.


Decorated eggs - Symbolizes fertility. Eggs are usually painted by children much like Easter eggs are painted.


5) Serkeh - White Vinegar signifies age and patience.


6) Seeb - apple - A big red apple represents health and beauty.


7) Seke - Coins - represents wealth and prosperity ( I didnt get a sepearte picture of it..but its the little bowl with coins in it)

Other things to put on the table:


A mirror - To bring light & brightness into the New Year



Candles- enlightenment and happiness




Your chosen religious book - Ex. Quran, Bible, Torah etc... some people like to put a book from Hafez instead (a book of poetry from one of the Ancient and most respected poets in Persian History)





One of the major things that one must not forget, especially when you have a food blog, is that you need to have lots of sweets and pastries on the table as well (an throughout the holiday! Of COURSE ;) )


There are many other things representing different types of good luck that can also be placed on the table!


At the exact time of new years, the family surrounds the table and count in the new year together!




Now, time for a little confession. New Years was actually last week (on the 20th). I *meant* to update on said date, but you guys know how it gets! ;)


As well, I'm sure you guys remember me mentioning a few times that I plan on doing a mini-series on Persian Cuisine, but couldn't think of a good way to 'kick start' it. But now I have come to the conclusion of "what better time to start than at New Year?" So, I hope you guys enjoy and tag along! I plan on learning more about Persian Cuisine and sharing recipes with you guys soon! So check back often ;)

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Yummy gooey Brownies




Guess who decided to go and catch a cold again? Yah. Brilliant old me. I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I keep getting sick! This is actually starting to get ridiculous! Anyone know of quick and easy ways of boosting your immune system? If so, hook me up. Come to think of it, I should probably do a google search on that when and if I get the time.


You see I’ve been really busy with school and extracurriculars that I’ve barely had time for baking. *gasp* I know right? Too busy to bake? Has the world gone mad? Is the sky still blue? What is my realityyyyy?!?!?


*ahem* yes. Back to topic. I’ve been pretty busy and will probably be busy until the end of April. However, I will try my very best to update at least once a week. I probably wont have time to bake but I have about 3 recipes I’ve made who are just waiting to be given their moment in the spotlight, which I will probably get to every week during my criminal law or public law class(yup, I’m THAT good a student :) ).






Now, enough of my babbling, on to these delicious little babies. I made these about 2 weeks ago when I was recovering from my LAST cold. I was looking for something chocolaty and yummy…and, well, comfort foody. And yes, that is a word.
I stumbled over this recipe through tastespotting, and decided to try something new – and not jump to my go-to yummy but easy brownie recipe. And man oh man, I did * not * regret that decision!



Rick Katz’s Brownies For Julia
(found the recipe here)
* 1 c. all-purpose flour
* 1 tsp salt
* 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
* 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (Or substitute like I did)
* 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped ~~I used semi-sweet
* 2 c. sugar
* 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
* 4 large eggs
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350º F. Put a 9 inch square baking pan (I like to use Pyrex for this) on a baking sheet. Whisk flour and salt together.

Set a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, put the butter and chocolate in. Stir frequently until the ingredients are just melted-you don’t want them to get so hot that the butter separates. I melted these in the microwave in my usual fashion. Add 1 c. sugar and whisk gently just to incorporate it, then remove the bowl from the pan of water. Stir in the vanilla and transfer to a large bowl.


Put the remaining cup of sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer or a medium bowl and whisking a whisk, stir in the eggs. Switch to a rubber spatula and little by little add half of the sugar-egg mixture to the warm chocolate, stirring very gently without stopping-you don’t want the heat of the chocolate to cook the eggs.

With the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, or have your chef son beat the reaming sugar and eggs on medium-high for about 3 minutes, or until they double in volume. Using a spatula and a light touch, fold the whipped eggs into the chocolate, stopping just short of blending them in completely.
Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the batter and delicately fold them in, working only until they disappear. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the spatula.

Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until the top looks dry. Poke a thin knife intot he center and take a peek: The brownies should be only just set and still pretty gooey.

Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.

The brownies are fragile and best cut in the pan. Cut eighteen 1½ x 3 inch bars.





Overall Rating:
I really, really, REALLY, liked these brownies! Granted they are a bit more complex than my go-to-brownies, but they are well worth it if you are craving something extra special! I accidentally over baked mine by a few minutes so it was a tad bit too chewy…but I didn’t mind. Who would love this? Anyone who loves a really chocolatey, chewy, and gooey brownie! I would give it a 7.5 on my tasting guide…which is the best any brownie will ever get ;) totally on my favorite list!

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Garlic Spinach




Sorry bout being a little quiet the past few days! What with being sick and falling behind with everything, I haven't had much time to update this blog. (I also managed to finish that Thomas Hobbes essay! MAN that guy needs to think his thoughts straight and not be such a pessimist! )



Also, thanks for the opinions and well wishes from my last post :) Seems like ginger has some magical qualities I should try next time?



So, this is just going to be a quick update seeing as I don't have much time - I'm typing this up in my Criminal Law class...I know, I know, I'm a wonderful student aren't I?

I made some spinach last week, a semi-regular staple in our house. I love mine with a few scoops of cold creamy plain yogurt...mmm..... how bout you guys? How do YOU like your spinach? :)



Garlic Spinach Recipe:



* 16 oz of Fresh Spinach (I used 2 of these prepackaged packets)
* 1/4 cup of olive oil
* 1 tbsp of butter
* 1 tsp of lemon juice
* 4-6 cloves of garlic, crushed and diced finely (depends on how garlicy you want it)

Instructions:

1. Pour olive oil and butter into a big pan and allow to warm up and melt. Add the garlic and fry until just slightly browned- make sure you don't burn it!
***make sure you use a big pan! The spinach takes up a LOT of space before it gets cooked! I had to switch pans!





2. Wash spinach well and toss it into the pan, and stir to avoid any burning.
** I found that adding one packet at a time worked best since it takes a lot of space when uncooked!

3. Pour some lemon juice on top and you are done!

** you could try and sprinkle some cheese on there if you'd like too! :)



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Random Fun Stuff

Song of the week: Glee Season 2!!

Watching: Criminal Minds season 6 (man! its mind blowing)

Inspirational Quote:

"Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself"

Random Foodie Fact:

"The world's first chocolate candy was produced in 1828 by Dutch chocolate-maker Conrad J. Van Houten."

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