Author Archives: Kitty

About Kitty

I am a food and travel writer and cookbook author. My main passions are the cuisine of Morocco, the country where I was born, and cooking with the seasonal bounty of California's farms.

The Kasbah Chronicles: Last of the decade! Bye Bye COVID…

The Kasbah Chronicles

Les Chroniques de la Kasbah

In English and en français

This book tree looks as if it is created from copies of Mint Tea and Minarets! I wish!

Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année

 Musings

Will COVID soon tiptoe out of the picture?

Covid, va-t-en. On t’a assez vu et entendu

 

Musings:

My fervent wish in jotting down these final Chronicles of 2020, is for everyone to remain in good health. No need to elaborate. We are literally all in the same boat.

So pour yourself a glass of champagne! Drink up on Zoom, Facetime, or Whatsapp, but drink up. Champagne is produced in my mother’s birthplace, Châlons-en Champagne. Or, savor cerises à l’eau de vie, brandied cherries, a potent cherry brandy that my Alsatian ancestors used to make. (YES! My great-grandmother’s recipe is in my next book!)

Repas de Noel:  Is this how one must celebrate in 2020?

Wouldn’t you like to attend this festival?

To savor with many glasses of champagne from Epernay, a champagne-producing town in my mother’s native Champagne

And Christmas cookies galore…like this one from The California Farm Cookbook (by yours truly, Pelican Publishing 1994.) As you know, I travelled around Alta and Baja California interviewing farmers and seeking their recipe for their product. These biscotti are high on my list of favorites:

Tom Cooper’s Molasses Macadamia Nut Biscotti

About 40 biscotti

Make a double batch of these biscotti–the first one is sure to disappear in a flash! At the time, Tom Cooper was a macadamia nut grower in Fallbrook, CA.

3/4 cup butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup light molasses

1 egg

2 cups sifted flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted macadamias, crushed

1/2 cup raisins

Sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, molasses, and egg, until smooth.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and spices. Combine with the butter mixture and mix well. Add nuts and raisins. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Shape each half into log about 2-inches in diameter and 12-inches long. Sprinkle a 14-inch piece of aluminum foil with sugar. Roll each log in sugar until coated. Set them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until crusty, 12 to 14 minutes. Logs will flatten considerably as they bake. Remove from the oven, and cool until soft enough to slice. With a sharp knife cut each log into 1-inch wide diagonal slices. Place on a rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Copyright Kitty Morse, 1994.

From our stunning San Diego Library downtown:

A poem: “Looking Forward, I Believe”.  

It’s always nice to be included in the San Diego Public Library’s 2019 Local Authors Showcase

San Diego authors penned poems regarding “the issues facing us today, including civic responsibility in a democracy, inequality and discrimination, and the fundamental human right to vote.”

Overheard: Thanks for sharing!

It’s such fun to catch clips of conversation as I walk. Sandy and Sue overheard this in Dana Point, the picturesque harbor south of Laguna Beach, in Orange County (CA.) Thank you for lending me your ears!

“and then they would each get their own sweet potato….” WOW! Must have been a luxury!

“Is Santa older than God?” a child asks her parents.

Overheard near the statue of Santa Claus holding a surfboard.

 

HERE! The theme of my introduction to my book

Couscous: Fresh and Flavorful Contemporary Recipes (Chronicle Books, 1999, copyright Kitty Morse).

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/16/unesco-adds-couscous-to-list-of-intangible-world-heritage

UNESCO’s Inscription of Couscous Traditions, an Example of International Cultural Cooperation

If I may quote myself:

What pasta is to Italians, what rice is to the Chinese, couscous is to the inhabitants of the Maghreb al-Akhsa (“the land where the sun sets”), as the countries of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia are known collectively…”

Why the surprise? From Couscous: Fresh and Flavorful Contemporary Recipes

Former Tunisian president Habib Bourghiba allegedly once said that couscous is the common thread linking the nations of the Maghreb. In other words, North Africa ends at the point where couscous gives way to rice and millet. This unofficial boundary is thought to lie somewhere west of Lybia’s Gulf of Sidra.”

 

Unesco quote: “How heritage brings people together. The registration of “Knowledge, know-how and practices related to the production and consumption of couscous” is the result of a joint application by Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. This joint inscription of a shared heritage illustrates the extent to which intangible cultural heritage can be a subject on which States meet and cooperate.”

 

Morocco resumes diplomatic relations with Israel:

Why is anyone surprised at this? Co-existence is the norm in Morocco.

https://thehill.com/policy/international/529639-trump-says-morocco-to-begin-diplomatic-relations-with-israel

Some of you may have already visited the Jewish Museum in Casablanca. As ground-breaking is the fact that Moroccan schools are incorporating the history of Morocco’s Jews into their curriculum. In Arabic! Not the least of which is their cuisine (as described in The Scent of Orange Blossoms: Sephardic Cuisine from Morocco)

https://actu.orange.fr/societe/culture/le-maroc-inscrit-la-culture-juive-dans-ses-programmes-scolaires-CNT000001vxyOo/photos/photo-d-archive-fournie-par-le-palais-royal-marocain-le-15-janvier-2020-montrant-le-roi-mohamed-vi-c-lors-d-une-visite-a-la-maison-de-la-memoire-un-musee-dedie-a-la-coexistence-des-juifs-et-des-musulmans-a-essaouira-sud-a1a337017228d5860762047e4cd858f2.html

« Avant même de normaliser ses relations diplomatiques avec Israël, le Maroc a lancé une réforme scolaire décrite par certains comme un “tsunami”: l’histoire et la culture de la communauté juive vont bientôt être enseignées aux élèves de ce pays où l’islam est religion d’Etat.Les premiers cours, en langue arabe, seront dispensés au prochain trimestre en dernière année de primaire, où l’âge des élèves tourne autour de 11 ans, selon le ministère marocain de l’Education nationale.

Cette introduction est une première dans le monde arabe. Elle fait l’effet d’un tsunami”, s’exalte Serge Berdugo, le secrétaire général du Conseil de la communauté israélite du royaume, joint par l’AFP à Casablanca. (M. Berdugo was the minister of tourism at one point).

Présent dans l’architecture, la musique, la cuisine, “l’affluent juif” de la culture marocaine apparaît désormais dans les nouveaux manuels d’éducation sociale du primaire, dans un chapitre consacré au sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah, dit Mohammed III (XVIIIe siècle). Inscrire l’identité juive dans le corpus scolaire “permettra de forger la perception et la construction de futurs citoyens conscients de leur héritage pluriel”, estime Mohammed Hatimi, un professeur d’histoire spécialiste de la question.

https:// afmilwaukee.org/boutique/

As many of you know, my “American roots” are planted in Milwaukee, WI. The city has quite a sizeable francophone population and an active Alliance Française. Check out their online boutique for some unusual French-theme items.

L’Alliance Française de Milwaukee (où j’ai vécu 9 ans) est très active. Vous trouverez des articles amusants à l’accent français dans leur boutique en ligne…

 

Recent French fiction about America.

AH! Cette Amérique, on ne cesse d’essayer de la décrire…

https://france-amerique.com/en/writing-the-states-recent-french-fiction-about-america/?ct=t(France-Amerique-newsletter-28-june-2018_COPY_01)

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55069048

That’s interesting: Why France may ban discrimination against accents. The French, like the British, immediately categorize you by the way you speak. . .

 

https://frenchly.us/french-holiday-songs/

This is a fun site. Listen with kids or grandkids. I sang them when I was growing up!

All the French favorite Christmas songs with words.

Les chants de Noël. Site sympa, surtout pour les enfants.

 

French word of the month: Did you know Québecois call a podcast a balado?

In Montreal, you don’t say podcast, you say “balado.”

www.linternaute.fr/dictionnaire/fr/definition/balado

Balado, courriel, divulgâcher… Les québécismes au secours de la langue française !

 

« From the verb (se) balader, to walk. C’est l’apocope de baladodiffusion, mot qui équivaut également à l’anglais podcasting. Après le baladeur, qui avait remplacé le walkman. . . Ne dites pas podcast… dites « balado » Le nom balado, né en 2005 au Québec, est entré dans Le Petit Larousse en 2008 et dans Le Petit Robert l’année suivante. » C’est l’apocope de baladodiffusion, mot qui équivaut également à l’anglais podcasting. Après le baladeur, qui avait remplacé le walkman, place au balado ! »

 

The Rare Seeds That Escaped Syria for an Arctic Vault

Formerly stashed at Svalbard, they’ve since sprouted in Morocco and beyond.

https://www.wired.com/story/these-rare-seeds-escaped-syrias-war-to-help-feed-the-world/

When I was researching A Bibical Feast: Foods from the Holy Land, I got in touch with ICARDA to make sure I was using lentils similar to varieties grown in biblical times. ICARDA was cataloguing 11,000 (eleven thousand) varieties of lentils. I am so happy they have managed to save their agricultural treasures, some of them in Morocco:

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/syria-war-seeds-svalbard?utm_source=Gastro+Obscura+Weekly+E-mail&utm_campaign=cb595b53d1-GASTRO_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_12_05&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2418498528-cb595b53d1-70078185&mc_cid=cb595b53d1&mc_eid=b65bf497a5

 “This piece was originally published in Wired and appears here as part of our Climate Desk collaboration. In 2014, the remaining staff of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, or ICARDA, fled their beloved gene bank in Tel Hadia, 20 miles south of Aleppo. Syria’s civil war, which had broken out three years earlier, had finally made the staffing of the facility untenable. But the scientists had already shipped off a resource of incalculable value: the seeds of the most important crops on Earth.”

Merci for reading!

Until next year!

Please leave a comment.. I will answer!

 

KM

 

The Kasbah Chronicles 2020:Thanksgiving—covid go away!

In English and en français
Les Chroniques de la Kasbah
The Kasbah Chronicles

When we could travel:
Kitty in Tien An Men square (1984)

When we could entertain:
My husband built and decorated our Moroccan tent so we could throw our diffas (Moroccan feasts):
Yes, that is our camel, handcrafted in Safi, Morocco

VISTA SUNSET  from our terrace

How can one NOT be struck with awe?

News of Morocco and beyond
Links of interest
COUSCOUS for Thanksgiving, BIEN SUR
Moroccan items for sale: Christmas gifts on your mind? I ship!

MUSINGS:

HORRORS! I woke up this morning with Thanksgiving looming. How can that be? Life began on an even keel 11 months ago and we are still navigating choppy COVID waters. Incroyable.

I wish you all a HAPPY AND SAFE Thanksgiving. Ours will be an intimate affair: a walk on the beach, and for me, a roasted Turkey leg.  I don’t know why I don’t make turkey more often during the year—it’s as if I find it sacrilegious to eat it except at Thanksgiving. Le Jour de Merci Donnant, as comic Art Buchwald used to call it, is my favorite celebration of the year. It’s a time to be grateful for what I have, for what I have accomplished, for my friends, and for living in this amazing (though a little muddled) country. So from me to the universe, MERCI. (But enough of COVID already.)
As for turkey, I  include a recipe for an Alsatian-style Medallions of Turkey with Cherries (Escalopes de Dinde aux Cerises) in my upcoming book, BITTER SWEET (more on the subject as things evolve!)

Once again, my maternal great-grandmother’s cassolita

:

Baked Pumpkin with Caramelized Onions, Cinnamon, and Almonds

Serves 6

My maternal great-grandmother who lived in Casablanca, served cassolita as a topping for couscous. Perfect Thanksgiving side-dish as well.

2 pounds butternut squash
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 onions, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup seedless raisins, plumped in warm water and drained
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the squash in an ovenproof dish. Add the water and cover tightly. Bake until tender, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool. Peel and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil and sauté the onions until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of the almonds, the raisins, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and pepper to the onions. Cook, stirring, until the onions are caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. Spread the onion mixture evenly over the peeled squash. Return to the oven and heat through, 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining almonds and serve.
From Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from my Moroccan Kitchen by Kitty Morse
Bon appétit!

If you cook à la française, this COOKING VOCABULARY is for you
https://frenchtogether.com/french-cooking-vocabulary/

“Whether you’re a budding chef, enthusiastic foodie, or just trying to expand your knowledge of the French language and culture, there are two main kinds of French cooking vocabulary you need to know: cooking words commonly used in French recipes, and French cooking words that have been borrowed into English.”

Links of interest:

Well, knock me down with a feather: Did you know that cuscus is an animal? And a prehistoric one at that? https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/what-was-first-domesticated-animal?

How much do you know about the origins of pumpkin pie?
https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/thanksgiving-pumpkin-pie-culture-war?utm_s
“Thanksgiving an Act of Northern Aggression.
In the 19th century, pumpkin pie ignited a culture war.” by Ariel Knoebel

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/statue-of-liberty-menorah
A Menorah That Honors an Immigrant’s Story.
After escaping the Holocaust, Manfred Anson paid tribute to his new home. .

Morocco to the rescue:
https://www.wired.com/story/these-rare-seeds-escaped-syrias-war-to-help-feed-the-world/

“This real life story honestly feels like it’s straight out of the pages of a KSR novel. In 2014, Syrian scientists managed to get the seeds of some of the most important crops on Earth into a vault in the Arctic before war destroyed everything. Years later, against all odds, they’ve regrown 25-30 heirloom species in Morocco and Lebanon with the goal of eventually returning them to their homelands.”

 En français and in English, a quandary for translators: TRUMPISMS! https://france-amerique.com/fr/translating-trump-mission-impossible/?ct=t(France-Amerique-newsletter-28-june-2018_COPY_01) Traduire Trump: mission impossible ? par Claire Levenson
Depuis la campagne et l’élection de Donald Trump en 2016, les traducteurs et journalistes du monde entier sont confrontés à un dilemme inédit : rendre intelligible le discours trumpien. . .»

An Ethiopian pop up restaurant in Orange County (CA):
My longtime family friend, professor and art historian Peri Klem is an expert on the culture of the Oromo in Ethiopia. I wanted to share her link: https://www.tiyya.org/who-we-are
“ Tiyya is a non-profit in Orange County that was started by an Oromo woman and her daughter. They help refugee families with meals and after school programs and I have been supporting them for a number of years.  They now have a restaurant called Flavors of Afar that serves food from Djibouti and Eritrea.  If you have friends in LA or Orange County please tell them about it.
Done Peri..

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/prison-de-kara?utm_source
Prison de Kara, Meknès, Morocco. Designed as a labyrinth, this subterranean prison was crafted without bars or doors (and now serves as a movie set) You may have visited it on one of my tours.

and beautiful French gardens:
https://france-amerique.com/fr/the-most-beautiful-french-gardens-in-the-united-states

NEED A LAST MINUTE MOROCCAN GIFT?
I have a few copies of my own books left, including The Vegetarian Table: North Africa in hard copy (USD30.00) plus shipping, and two copies of Cooking at the Kasbah in GERMAN ($45 each.) My first book, Come with me to the Kasbah illustrated by 12 Moroccan artists in 1989, is now considered a classic. You can probably find used copies on Amazon.com (I haven’t checked!) but if you want a signed copy, let me know.

MOROCCAN ITEMS  FOR SALE:
I have many more items that I haven’t posted. Send me an email if you are interested in more pictures.
https://www.kittymorse.com/the-kasbah-chronicles/moroccan-items-for-sale-updated-regularly

Thank you for the feedback!
“Dear Kitty,
Thank you for what I consider your best ‘Chronicle’. (October 2020)
So interesting throughout – reminded me of the wonderful trips to Morocco.
I can’t wait to try the recipes included herein…All the best from South Africa!”
Kind regards, Kathleen

and

“Your recipes sounded so mouth-watering that I can’t wait to make them.”
Tom W, Escondido, CA.

FYI: For fun:
Music of the Maghreb:
https://gallica.bnf.fr/blog/13022019/les-playlists-de-gallica-la-musique-andalouse-du-maghreb

And comme toujours, as always:
Bismillah
and Bon Appétit
KEEP COVID AT BAY

The Kasbah Chronicles: October November 2020

These seals at Oceanside Harbor have the right idea: Wake me up when COVID is over…

MUSINGS

The Kasbah Chronicles

Les Chroniques de la Kasbah

In English and en français

Musings

Notes on my next cookbook

A new twist on a Moroccan classic

Links of interest

News of Morocco and beyond

Improve your spoken French!

Moroccan items for sale

Musings:

In this, the ninth month of the COVID pandemic, I am at a loss for words. I cannot complain, since our Vista Kasbah is the best place for me to be sequestered—but boy, am I getting itchy feet. Yet, the idea of getting on an airplane still does not appeal to me.

Actually, the pandemic has served an exciting purpose: I have been hard at work on my next book, Bitter Sweet: legacy from my Alsatian ancestors (working title). Beautiful food photography included too!

I received an email blast from the High Atlas Foundation, a most worthy NGO in Morocco :

https://mailchi.mp/highatlasfoundation/article-reviving-a-monastery-for-community-development?e=4GUbJ49kBE. Unpublished article on Tioumliline by Lamia Radi, Rabat, Morocco.

Toumliline remains a magical name in my mind. Toum as we all called it, was a refuge for Catholic nuns in the Middle Atlas Mountains. It was a popular destination and Catholic retreat for many of my Catholic friends, especially at Easter:

“On part a Toum….” they would announce… each year.

Those among you who accompanied me to Morocco will remember the longest day of the trip as we crossed the Atlas Mountains from Fez to the oasis of Tinehrir. Half way up, Tioum hides among the forest of cedar trees not far from the snow slopes of the Mishliffen. Macaques on the way to Toum…

The very first avocado from our very own tree..

 

Let’s head to the kitchen

 new twist on egg tagine with lox

Morocco meets Brooklyn

(variations in Cooking at the Kasbah, The Vegetarian Table: North Africa and Mint Tea and Minarets.)

do you get the idea I love this egg dish?!!

Egg Tagine with Olives and lox

Serves 4

Make the tomato chermoula sauce ahead of time:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, very finely diced

1 (14¼-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

½ teaspoon sugar (optional)

10 green or purple olives, rinsed, pitted, and coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 bay leaf

¼ cup minced cilantro

In a tagine or medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, sugar, olives, garlic, and bay leaf. Mash lightly with a fork. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tomatoes thicken somewhat, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Add cilantro.

Adapted from Mint Tea and  Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories.

For ONE person:

One egg, beaten

1 or 2 slices of lox, diced

Pour the egg in a small oiled skillet. Swirl around as for an omelet. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with 2 tablespoons of the chermoula, and diced salmon.

Copyright Kitty Morse 2020

More: The French are crazy about “crumbles” savory or sweet. Who knew that “crumbles” (and biscuits d’Halloween) would make such an impact?

Crumble de courgettes  au Parmesan

Serves 4

  • 4 T olive oil
  • 4 medium zucchini, peeled and sliced very thin
  • 4 T flour
  • 2 T bread crumbs (or almond meal)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • 4 T butter, softened
  • 4 slices of ham or prosciutto (optional), cut into ribbons

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring the oil to medium heat in a pan or skillet. Saute the zucchini slices until soft. Drain and set aside.

For the crumble, combine the flour, bread crumbs, parmesan, and salt. Add the softened butter and mix with your fingertips. Alternate layers of zucchini, and ham (if using) in a medium baking dish. Top with the crumble mixture and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

My friend Stephenie Coug

hlin, owner of Seabreeze Farm in Del Mar (CA) a mere 2 or 3 miles from the ocean, grows and delivers her own GORGEOUS produce. Heck her out!

https://csa.farmigo.com/store/seabreezed

News of Morocco, France, and beyond:

Casablanca is undergoing a renewal, and hopefully a getting a good coat of paint. We lived on Avenue Hassan II, across from the park, one the city’s main arteries. This is what our building looked like in the earl 1920s…a beautiful Moorish art deco structure. it needs a new coat of paint in this century. Local casablancais have finally realized what an architectural treasure they have in downtown Casablanca..

https://aujourdhui.ma/culture/un-programme-de-mise-a-niveau-du-centre-ville-historique-de-casablanca-voit-le-jourIl+s’articule+autour+de+quatre+projets+Dans+le+cadre+du+plan+de+sauvegarde+et+de+valorisation+du+patrimoine+de+Casablanca,+la+Société+de+développement+local+Cas :

MOROCCAN ITEMS FOR SALE:
PLEASE VIEW DEDICATED PAGE ON THIS WEBSITE

Bellows, camel leather, copper and wood. ABout 48 years old.. Works fine.

 

All these will appear on my dedicated page.

These lithographs were produced by he same printer who printed my first book, Come with me to the Kasbah. Printer and publishing house are long gone

I am asking USD70 a piece. Shipped in a tube. About 23.5 by 15. 5 inches.

,

Wine Dine and Travel, award-winning emagazine

In addition to writing cookbooks, I have long written travel features focusing on foods of all sorts, from how to make couscous in the style of Casablanca, to food markets around the globe. Truth be told, my favorite pastime, wherever I am,  is to meet local growers and producers, be it farmers, ranchers, or cheese makers everywhere I travel. Gathering wheat for making couscous in Morocco; exploring Adelaide’s (Australia) bustling Central Market; savoring Chile’s acclaimed mussels on the island of Chiloe; taste-testing (!!) cava (champagne) and oysters in l’Ampolla, Spain; grazing through Barcelona’s famed La Boqueria; and eating Cuba’s iconic ropa vieja. . This passion began decades ago when I wrote a weekly column titled “In Season” for the San Diego edition of the Los Angeles Times–My agricultural education lasted two and a half years, starting with the first ever farmer’s market in San Diego County, the granddaddy of them all Vista Farmer’s market (held in the parking lot of our library in the very early 1980s, with just 18 farmers, many retired military. My “farm” experts then were the managers and market co-founders, wonderful and generous Dick and Margo Bauman, both now deceased. The LA Times left San Diego, and that only inspired me to continue seeking farmers around the state, and to write The California Farm Cookbook (Pelican Publishing, 1994). For the next year or so, I sought out and visited with dozens of farmers long before Farm to Table became overused  buzzwords.

More recently, this GORGEOUS Internet magazine  allows me to resume my path: Wine Dine and Travel magazine (http://www.winedineandtravel.com), an award-winning quarterly that features wine, dining, and globe trotting! I am now a staff writer. Here are links  to my articles.

Our most Excellent Cuba Adventure (Fall 2020)

Morocco’s Kasbah Trail (Spring 2020), my favorite itinerary in Morocco

THE KASBAH TRAIL

Barcelona’s La Boqueria Market (2020)

http://online.anyflip.com/dmdy/tzrk/mobile/index.html#p=105

A Vietnamese paradise for foodies: the ancient city of Hoi An: Discovering Argentina issue, p. 236

http://anyflip.com/bookcase/duev