Category Archives: Have a Taste!

Recipes

From the Kasbah: Let’s celebrate: Fete du Muguet, Mother’s Day and Ramadan 2020

à la française: MAY 1, 2020

 

WE NEED SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE

IN THIS TIME OF COVID-19

at a social distance!

 

BONNE FETE DU MUGUET!

American-style MOTHER’s DAY:

From May 1 to May, 10th, 2020 Kitty will ship signed copies of her book, Edible Flowers: a Kitchen Companion for more than 50% OFF list price(details below).

RAMADAN started on April 25. Time to make Ramadan pastries. Ramadan Mubarak!

WHAT IS LA FETE DU MUGUET ?

In France, it is customary to give a sprig of lily of the valley on May 1st. The day doubles as a celebration of springtime as well as Fête du Travail to honor workers of the world

Origins of Fete du Muguet in France

« . . l’origine de la fête du muguet remonte à l’époque romaine, en latin, le 1ier mai : maius mensis, mois de la déesse Maïa, on célébrait sa fête le 1ier mai, en plantant des arbres de Mai, symbole du réveil printanier de la nature (cf Grand Larousse Encyclopédique de 1962 tome 6 page 997) »

“…the origins of the Fete du Muguet harks back to Roman times, in Latin the month of May translates as: maius mensis, month of the Goddess Maia, whose feast was celebrated on May 1, in planting Trees of May, to symbolize nature’s rebirth. . . “

IN HONOR OF MOTHER’S DAY!

Do edible flowers grow in your garden (without the use of pesticides). It might be rosemary, thyme, parsley, or cilantro (my favorite!), or even roses. You will find a recipe for these blossoms in the book.

SPRINKLE FOWERS ON YOUR PLATE (OR YOUR FRIEND’S PLATE) Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion, is a lovely seasonal gift for a mother, grandmother, sister, or a gardening friend.

From May 1 to May 10th, 2020, purchase a copy of Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion for over 50% OFF the list price

Book: $7.50

Shipping in the US only: $3.00 ( I will bundle books if you purchase more than one)

TOTAL for ONE copy: $10.50 includes shipping in the US.

I will personally sign each book per your instructions. Send me a message with a shipping address.

Note: The book is also available through amazon.com (LINK) as a hard copy and for download.

 

Recipes to Fend off the Coronavirus

Here are recipes I mention in the March/April edition of the Kasbah Chronicles. I hope you enjoy them

I love getting feedback, so if you like them or have a question, please contact me or post a request on the page

A bas le corona virus

Kitty’s Fight the Virus Vegetarian Harira with Kale

Serves 8

I use my crockpot!

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, sliced

1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon turmeric

8 Spanish saffron threads, crushed

½ bunch cilantro

10 sprigs flat-leaf Italian parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

6 cups vegetable broth

1 cup wheat berries, soaked and preferably, pre-cooked

1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans

4 cups chopped kale leaves (or chard)

Wedges of lemon

In a slow cooker or soup pot, heat the oil and cook the onions until wilted.

In a blender or food processor, process in increments until fairly smooth, the tomatoes, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, saffron, cilantro, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add this mixture to the onions and bring to a boil. Add the broth and wheat berries and cook until tender.

About 20 minutes before serving, add undrained garbanzo beans and kale.

Serve in large soup bowls. Squeeze a little lemon juice into each bowl. Leftover harira freezes very well.

Adapted from 365 Ways to Cook Vegetarian by Kitty Morse

You will also find variations of this recipe using lamb in Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from my Moroccan Kitchen (Chronicle Books 1999) and Mint Tea and Minarets: A Banquet of Moroccan Memories (La Caravane 2014.)

 

 

Kitty’s  What’s in my Fridge

Kale Soup with zucchini and onion

Leftover roasted zucchini

3 boiled baby potatoes

1 cooked sweet potato

4 to 6 leaves Kale or Swiss chard, broken up

½ onion

Make 2 cups broth with BETTER THAN BOUILLON!

In a small pan, cook all ingredients except bouillon until tender. Let cool.

Blend until smooth, adding bouillon in increments. Salt and pepper to taste

 

Kale with Chermoula:

Serves 2 or 3

Adapted from From Cooking at the Kasbah: recipes from my Moroccan Kitchen, p. 59

I  blanch the leaves for a minute or two. I strain them and let them cool. Using scissors, I chop them into small strips. Then, I am ready for action! Kale ( or chard, or mallow (bokkola in Morocco, or spinach)  with Chermoula. This is a dish dear to Moroccan hearts.

1 bunch baby kale

5 or 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika

Preserved lemon rind, finely diced, to taste (refer to my video on YouTube)

½ cup water

Blanch the kale, and strain. Cut into thin strips.

In a small pan or skillet over medium heat, combine olive oil, garlic, cumin and paprika. Stir to blend and do not burn or the spices will turn bitter. Add kale and water. Cover and cook until kale is very tender, 15 to 20 mns. Add diced preserved lemon rind to taste, and a pinch of salt, if necessary. Stir again. Remove from heat. Serve at room temperature.

Easy Overnight Vegetarian Lasagna

Adapted from 365 Ways to Cook Vegetarian by Kitty Morse

Prep:  35 minutes

 Cook:  1 hour 30 minutes 

Stand: 8 to 24 hours

Serves about 6

You can prepare this the day before and refrigerate until cooking time.

I sometimes spread fresh or creamed spinach or fresh diced tomatoes over the zucchini.

Note: I like to mix red sauce and white sauce. I sometimes add dabs of basil pesto on my layers (Costco has a delicious)

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions, diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded, and cut into strips

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups prepared spaghetti sauce

1/2 cup red wine

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes

2 cups sliced button mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

9 to 10 uncooked lasagne

4 medium (about 4 cups) peeled zucchini, very thinly sliced

Shredded parmesan cheese

  1. In a 6-quart Dutch oven, heat olive oil. Cook onion, pepper, and garlic over medium heat, stirring occasionally until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add spaghetti sauce, wine, stewed tomatoes, and mushrooms. Cover and cook over medium heat, 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove from heat. Add parsley and salt and pepper.
  3. Cover bottom of a lightly oiled 9×13-inch baking dish with a thin layer of sauce. Arrange 1/3 lasagne over sauce.  Top noodles evenly with zucchini slices.  Cover zucchini with a little sauce.  Repeat procedure in the same order until all ingredients are used. Cover final layer with sauce.  Sprinkle with cheese

You should have 3 layers of lasagna. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring dish to room temperature. Bake, covered, for 1 hour and 30 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.

 

Bon appétit!

 

Le Riad au Bord de l’oued: winner (translation) Gourmand World awards

What a lovely surprise to wake up to this message on December 1, 2019

Le riad au bord de l´oued  is the Winner for Morocco in the Gourmand World Awards in the category B12 Translation .

You now qualify to compete for Best in the World 2020  with winners from other countries in the same category. This year a total of 225 countries participated in the competition. You can see  the complete list of winners 2020 on www.cookbookfair.com

The following link will give you a General Presentation of the Gourmand Awards, including our Gourmand World Summit 2019 at UNESCO, the International Village of Gastronomy in front of the Eiffel Tower, and the  awards ceremony in Macao. last  July

https://www.cookbookfair.com/images/pdf/Gourmand_Awards_General_Presentation_2019_11.pdf

Your book will be in the events next year. . .”
Congratulations and best wishes for 2020

Edouard Cointreau
President

Onwards!

Please like the Facebook page or the Amazon.com listing. Every little thumbs up helps, I am told!

https://www.facebook.com/Le-Riad-au-Bord-de-lOued-110970043646415

Visit Le Riad page on this website.

Merci!

 

The Kasbah Chronicles: November 2019: Musings on Le Riad au Bord de ‘lOued on Amazon.com, Tapas, and Manzanar

MUSINGS

Enfin! Version française. . .
Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued
en livre electronique sur Amazon.com
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YYLJX2K/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Le+Riad+au+bord+de+
Lisez 40 pages

Visitez ma page Facebook pour en lire un extrait
https://www.facebook.com/pg/Le-Riad-au-Bord-de-lOued
ou

in English
https://www.amazon.com/Mint-Tea-Minarets-Moroccan-Memories
How I met Jacques Chirac
J’ai rencontré M. Chirac aux J.O. de Los Angeles

Barcelona’s tapas heaven La Boqueria
L’Ampolla’s oysters…
Les huîtres de l’Ampolla.. à déguster

California’s Historic highway 395
US395: Route historique de Californie
Manzanar Japanese Relocation Camp

A new neighbor: A Family Farm
Nouveaux voisins: une ferme…

Les touristes francais sont partout!
Un bistro français sur la route de Death Valley

News of Morocco and beyond
Links of interest in English and en français:

Homage à Jacques Chirac:
https://france-amerique.com/fr/on-the-road-to-the-elysee-jacques-chirac-in-america/?ct=t(France-Amerique-newsletter-28-june-2018_COPY_01)

I got to shake the hand of this noted head of state during the summer of 1984 when I was hired as an interpreter/escort for the French Olympic team at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. I was fortunate to work for the French Olympic Committee in the Olympic Village at USC. That glimpse into the world of athletics made me appreciate the dedication of young men and women from all over the world, whose sole goal was to stand on the podium and represent their country. . As a thank you for my help, the French team allowed me to march in the closing ceremonies, and provided me with the  French Olympic Uniform. What a thrill! When the flying saucer bearing Lionel Ritchie landed a few feet from where I stood, I was already on another planet with excitement! His hit “All Night Long” rang out over the stadium and into the night as we danced around the “flying saucer.”

J’ai rencontré M. Chirac aux J.O. de Los Angeles en 1984 quand il est venu saluer les athlètes français Je leur servais d’interprète. Ils m’ont invitée à participer à la cérémonie de clôture…mémorable.. lorsque qu’une soucoupe volante a atteri devant nous, avec, comme “pilote” Lionel Ritchie qui chantait “All Night Long.”  Avec tous les J.O., il se passe un festival artistique international. J’ai eu la chance de travailler avec Ariane Mnouchkine du Théatre du Soleil qui donnait une de ses premières représentations aux Etats Unis..Nous avons parcouru tout Los Angeles pour trouver des kilomètres de soie naturelle pour leur toile de fond. J’ai hérité de bouteilles de vin olympique.

Few realize that along with the Olympic games comes a gathering of artists, actors, musicians, from around the globe. In 1984, that meant more than 400 performances by 145 theater, dance and music companies, representing every continent and 18 countries. That year I discovered the  Theatre du Soleil, a French kabuki theater company who needed hundreds of yards of pure silk for their backdrop. The French team left me with cases of their very own Olympic wine (they were the only ones to bring their own crémant label (champagne). I still have stacks of stationery bearing the COQ SPORTIF logo!

After escorting members of the media around LA, and watching them at “work”, I decided to pursue writing as a career. 1984 was a turning point.
Apres avoir servi d’interprète aux membres de la presse internationale, j’ai décidé de me lancer dans le journalisme. Et voilà comment tout a commencé pour moi.

Speaking of the Olympics, I have a collection of French pins, all bearing the COQ SPORTIF logo.
Does anyone know of a collector interested in French Olympic pins?.
E-Mail me for details if you are interested.

Je voudrais vendre des pins olympiques français qui datent de 1984. Connaitriez-vous un collectionneur?
Deux examples. J’en ai plus…

 

Barcelona (suite et fin): La Boqueria
Heavenly tapas; paradis des tapas

 

I spent 2 delicious days in Barcelona on my way back from Morocco last May.
NO wonder the city is one of the most visited in the world.  And the food! … Be forewarned upon entering La Boqueria, Barcelona’s binge-inducing public market: Go hungry, zip up your pockets, and hang on to your iPhone. In spite of the masses of people, La Boqueria proved to be a highlight of my brief visit. The entrance to this city landmark is just off Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s renowned tree-shaded pedestrian thoroughfare. Smoothies, chocolate covered strawberries, jamon serrano, Manchego cheese, fried calamari, and tapas galore… need I say more?

Can you smell the garlic?

I was headed to l’Ampolla, two hours to the south,  to visit a friend of mine. (Les vacanciers français connaissent bien l’Ampolla) I couldn’t even find mention of this diminutive Catalonian beach town in guidebooks. Immediately after landing, I took a taxi to Barcelona’s main train station, to hop on the train to Tarragona, as advised: “You will see the stops listed on the overhead electronic billboard,” said the ticket vendor…Really? After 2 or 3 stations, I realized the electronic loop was stuck: the same station came up time and again! So, fellow travelers were kind enough to tell me when I should get off. Ah! The delights of Spanish trains… memorize your itinerary and your stop beforehand.

L’Ampolla:

So tiny is the town that it merits barely a 3 mn stop on the train (to Tarragona). (Attention, à l’Ampolla, le train ne s’arrête que 3 minutes. Pas de taxis ni de bus) No taxis, no buses, but a lovely waterfront. It is also the gateway to the Rio Ebre estuary, home to pink  flamingoes and famous OYSTERBEDS: Les parcs à huitres de l’Ampolla sont connus de toute l’Europe, et surtout, des français. L’Ampolla is Catalan for ”cruet” and so, my friend and I headed for the far reaches of the “cruet” to the oyster and mussel farm of Mirador de la badia
( http://miradorbadia.com) at the mouth of the Rio Ebre. Here, the mingling of waters from the Rio EBRO (in Spanish) and the warm Mediterranean create the mellow environment for l’Ampolla’s claim to fame. The shellfish’s mild flavor derives from the unique combination of salt water with the nutrient-rich fresh waters of the river.


Heaven= freshly shucked oysters and a LITER of cava (Spanish champagne)

This is also home to one of Spain’s largest rice growing regions (L’embouchure du Rio Ebre est aussi le pays des rizières) where paddies attract flocks of migrating PINK FLAMINGOES on their way to Africa: Bird Watchers, take note!

CLOSER TO HOME:  Une route historique en Californie. La route US 395 longe le côté est des sierras (vers Death Valley et Yosemite) avec touristes français en abondance. .

We recently took a drive up highway 395, the historic road that hugs the Eastern sierras (past Mt Whitney, the highest summit of the Sierra Nevada, and the contiguous United States.) I wanted to see Fall foliage, and leaves turning, a rare sight in the southern part of the state. We did find a few gold-colored leaves, but more exciting was discovering the historic sites along the way: from the ghost town of Randsburg (Ville fantôme extra) east of Los Angeles, to Ridgecrest, home to the famed China Lake military base and the Maturango Museum (https://maturango.org/ ) featuring Coso petroglyphs of the Northern Mojave Desert Tour. Here too, you will find the Death Valley Tourist Center. The most moving national park/museum came a little farther north at Manzanar National Historic Site (https://www.nps.gov/manz/index) , a couple of miles south of Independence. My interest in the site was parked by an exhibit at the California Center for the Arts last year, which commemorated the history of this American tragedy along with exhibits and photographs of Manzanar by Ansel Adams. More than 10,000 internees were summarily ordered to leave Southern California.

From the Manzanar website: “Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps at which Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were incarcerated during World War II.” Located at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada in eastern California’s Owens Valley, Manzanar has been identified as the best preserved of these camps…We elected to explore the park (about 1 square mile) on foot, so

we could step inside reconstructed barracks where families shared a few square feet of living space, view the remnants of an episcopal church and a Buddhist temple, traces of a baseball diamond, and the elaborate Japanese gardens created by internees. The experience was at once soul-enriching and heart-wrenching—an episode of 20th century American history that is often overlooked.

A few miles up the road, we came upon Independence, CA. Mind you, I had never heard of the town until a few weeks ago. Misled by Google maps which labels it as the “entrance” to Mt Whitney National Park, I delved a little further: As the crow flies, Independence is about 15 miles from Mt Whitney.. but, no way can you enter the park from the east. A 5 hour detour will lead you back to the “real” entrance, north of Bakersfield. I had already made a reservation based on TripAdvisor reviews at the historic 1927 vintage, ghost-ridden Winnedumah Hotel that once welcomed the likes of John Wayne and Bing Crosby, directly across from the old courthouse/library where Charles Manson was arraigned.

Built in 1927, the Winnedumah Hotel is under new ownership and management, and undergoing a revitalization while staying true to its origins. We were there at the start of the renovations, and many kinks remain to be worked out with the plumbing, electricity, and structure. But that doesn’t deflect from the lobby filled with authentic 1920s furniture, the period artwork, and the original grand piano. Perhaps the most surprising of all, for me, was that we kept running into French tourists. Go figure. We dined at the ONLY establishment in town, the Still Life Café, an authentic French bistro (www.facebook.com/StillLifeCafe) ½ block away, also French-owned. Another surprise. Indeed, the menu lists such classics as boeuf bourguignon and endives braisées (my favorite), French onion soup (the REAL thing) and other cuisine bourgeoise classics. The owner, Malika, who hails from Algeria and relocated here  from further south on 395, prepares everything to order. And she COOKS wearing A KAFTAN. Too much. Maman, daughter, grandchild, and grand-père all work the tiny dining room. They open when they feel like it so be sure to call ahead. Again, go figure..
Still Life Cafe 

Nos nouveaux voisins:
A new neighbor
: SandnStraw farm, Vista, CA (https://www.sandnstraw.com)

Those who have been following me for a while know of my interest in California agriculture. The California Farm Cookbook is now over 20 years old (YIKES) but my interest in family farms hasn’t waned. So I was thrilled to find a new farm down the street. This delightful venue sells garden fresh produce, and shelters a petting zoo, and homes for Stormy the Pig, goats, ducks, and sheep. For now, SandnStraw is only open to the public on Wednesdays and Saturdays (Check their website) There is plenty of parking, and even a picnic area.

Have you tasted this? Let me know! I haven’t made the leap!

Kitty is selling: Pls spread the word:

For STAMP COLLECTORS: This seems so archaic—collecting stamps, but I was an avid collector when I was young. These were bought in Morocco: four packets containing eight Moroccan stamps apiece were purchased in Morocco. Each set is under cellophane and holds a combination of out of circulation and contemporary stamps (some cancelled, some not). Dates range from French Protectorate days (1912 to 1956) to contemporary.

Need a gift? I’ll sign and send one of my books!
FREE SHIPPING in the US FOR EDIBLE FLOWERS ($15.95)
and
MINT TEA AND MINARETS: ($27). I only have 50 hard copies left. You can also get it as an eBook on Amazon.com.
Just send me a check or pay via Paypal. I will sign and ship the book in the US only.

Kitty is selling: I have many Moroccan handicrafs for sale. Send me an emakil, amd I will send you photo:
–brass mirrors, kaftans, vintage brass and copper plates, costume jewelry, and much more..

This pair of matching door knockers were made to order for me in Marrakech, Morocco about 30 years ago. FOR A BIG FRONT DOOR.
I thought we would use them for our front door, but my husband decided otherwise.
Very traditional design. Two separate mounts, one for each door knock. All handmade, brass, similar to the ones you see on the doors of the Royal Palace in Fez, and created by local artisans. I have never polished them, but if you do, they will shine like gold.
SOLD AS A PAIR: USD250.00
Height of Knocker: 17”
Diameter of lattice part: 8 ½ “ to 9”
Wall Mount: 7”
Small round attachment to hit:
5 “ in diameter
Brass screw: 5” long
Weight:
About 6 lbs APIECE
I will send via cheapest rate possible, OR a local pick up can be arranged upon request.

 

Voici le lien sur Amazon.com pour Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued. Vous pouvez le télécharger sur votre tablette ou votre ordi.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YYLJX2K/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Le+Riad+au+bord+de+l%27oued&qid=1570749667&s

Si vous avez une petite minute, cochez le “J’aime” sur facebook. Aidez moi à faire de la pub.
Ecrivez un message sur la page Facebook du llivre. https://www.facebook.com/Le-Riad-au-Bord-de-lOued-110970043646415

News of Morocco and beyond:
Paris à bicylcette; cycle around Paris: https://www.ozy.com/acumen/biking-in-paris-is-booming-but-why/227290/?utm_term=OZY&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DD_2019_11_05&utm_content=Final

Morocco travelers! New direct flights to Morocco: Vols directs vers le Maroc à partir de Miami
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/17/travel/nonstop-flights-africa.html
In spring 2019, Royal Air Maroc offered the first Miami-to-Africa nonstop route in two decades, a direct route from Miami to Casablanca. And by next summer, fliers will be able to go nonstop from Philadelphia to Casablanca, on American Airlines’ new route (Also three times a week, but only 7 1/2 hours). In the American Airlines announcement of the new route, the Casablanca route is intended to link up with Royal Air Maroc, which will be joining the OneWorld alliance in 2020.

Français en Amerique: les immigrants français aux USA
https://france-amerique.com/fr/on-the-trail-of-french-speaking-migrants-in-north-america/

Explication de Thanksgiving:
Thanksgiving/Le Jour de Merci Donnant.. pour les francophones..
Art Buchwald’ s classic explanation of Le Jour de Merci Donnant to French speakers:
lhttps://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/27/opinion/IHT-meanwhile-the-dinde-is-dandy-so-lets-give-thanks.html

All that remains is for me to wish you HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Voici le lien sur Amazon.com pour Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued. Vous pouvez le télécharger sur votre tablette ou votre ordi.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YYLJX2K/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Le+Riad+au+bord+de+l%27oued&qid=1570749667&s

Kitty

 

Briouats for my hero, Neil Armstrong

Briouats for Neil Armstrong

By

Kitty Morse

As many of you know from past Kasbah Chronicle MUSINGS (March 2019), I attended SPACE CAMP on Valentine’s Day weekend 2019, and played at being an astronaut with my friend Pat McArdle, who is, like me, a space “cadet”.

This is what spurred on the whole idea:

The 50th anniversary of the landing spurred a long-held desire to attend Space Camp at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL.

Such was my initial fascination with the moon landing that, on D-Day, July 20, 1969, I organized a moon party in Milwaukee (WI) where I attended university, and served up a green sponge cake to family and friends. (Remember when the moon was made of green cheese?) Little did I know at the time that the Man on the Mon himself would appear at my doorstep decades later.

I had picked up a brochure advertising Space Camp in 1996. Each year since, I added it to my bucket list and slipped it under my desk calendar. The time had come to act! I called the number on the faded brochure. Yes! Adult Space Academy (US Space and Rocket Center(www.spacecamp.com) offered adult weekends of astronaut training. A fellow space junkie joined me in my lunar fantasies and we booked a fight to Huntsville.

Space Camp, aka www.RocketCenter.com, is the brainchild of rocket scientist Dr. Werner von Braun who spearheaded the development of the Apollo-era rockets that took America to the moon, and his colleague Edward Buckbee, the camp’s first director. Indeed, the Huntsville site counts a number of astronauts, engineers, and space scientists among its alumni, as well as among its docents.

The 363-foot-tall replica of the Saturn V moon rocket, visible for miles across the flat Alabama landscape, serves as a beacon for Space Camp. Upon arrival, we checked in at Habitats for Space Camp, a building resembling a well-fed caterpillar, to claim our bunk beds, before heading out across Tranquility Base where the enormous Pathfinder shuttle simulator and Saturn V, hold center court.

Our lunar-centric program kept us on the go from 7:30 in the morning until 9 at night. Over two-and-a-half days, we bonded with the dozen millennial members of our Team Pioneer, directed a simulated shuttle landing, bounced off bungee cords to experience lunar gravity, built a model rocket, and explored the nooks and crannies of the Space Station. We had the opportunity to tour NASA’s (real) Marshall Space Flight Center where scientists are in constant contact with the International Space Station.

The highlight was taking part in the Extra Vehicular Activity (pardon me, the EVA) which mirrored the Hughes Westar Satellite Repair spacewalk, an actual mission performed in 1984 to repair a communications satellite and replace the antennas to restore communication.

For that, two experienced attendants helped me into an ice jacket (the space suit is so hot that astronauts need to wear such a clothing item for an extended mission), and then into a space suit and helmet. The extra 15 pounds of ice made it somewhat arduous to crawl out into ‘space’ where I was tethered to a harness about 15 feet off the ground. My mission was to pull myself along a cable encircling the satellite, retrieve a malfunctioning antenna, and hand it to my partner who stood on a mechanical limb 20 feet off the ground.

The next morning, we breakfasted at the Mars Grill in the company of former NASA scientists and engineers, one of whom had designed the lunar rovers used during several moonshots. Both the Lunar Rover and the Saturn V Apollo moon rocket are on display inside the hangar-like Saturn V Hall of the Davidson Center for Space Exploration. We were left awestruck in front of the extraterrestrial accomplishments of Neil Armstrong and his moon bound colleagues.

Barely a dozen years earlier, I had the good fortune to meet the “man on the moon” in person on my home turf in Vista, CA. Friday April 20, 2005, we received a call from our neighbor, Bob H., a distinguished retired Marine test pilot.

“We are expecting a special guest. Would you like to come over for drinks?” Neil Armstrong and Bob were roommates in flight school and their friendship went back decades. The astronaut was to drop by Bob’s on his way to accepting an award from the Golden Eagles, a prestigious association of military flyers. That year, the organization was holding its annual meeting in San Diego.

Needless to say, my anticipation reached its peak when we knocked on Bob’s door. He had advised us not to allude to the moon landing. Neil had had enough of the world’s attention (we later learned that a barber had been selling locks of the astronaut’s hair on eBay). Neither should we ask him to pose for pictures (though Neil later broke his rule for us.)

“Hi, I am Neil Armstrong,” said the man himself, as he stood up to shake our hands.

His broad built came as a surprise. In my mind’s eye, he was still the youthful, slender astronaut who first stepped onto the lunar surface and declared to a transfixed planet earth glued to millions of television screens:

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Decades on, I faced a grey-haired man in his sixties, wearing coat and tie. His eyes sparkled behind his glasses. He looked unmistakably like the younger Neil Armstrong.

“Hi, I’m Kitty Morse,” I stuttered, almost mute with awe.

My husband, more quick-witted than I, had his opening message ready:

Hi!” he said, shaking Neil’s hand. “Neil, I have had a mound of trouble trying to coax your former roommate out of his shell!” Bob, of course, being the quintessential extrovert.

“Well, that must have taken all of five minutes,” responded our visitor with a chuckle. Our former neighbor, Bob, was probably one of the most gregarious men we had ever met. At one point, knowing I was born in Morocco, the astronaut broached the subject of Moroccan cuisine. He was an avid golfer who had been a guest of the King of Morocco on numerous occasions. Indeed, Hassan II, father of present King Mohammed VI, appointed Armstrong to the Moroccan Academy of Sciences. Thus, the astronaut had visited my home turf a number of times. He sampled my briouats (Moroccan eggrolls): “My, these are tasty,” he said. “Do Moroccans use curry?” I explained as diplomatically as I could that curry is not a spice in the Moroccan repertoire. No matter. My hero reached for another briouat.

I floated on air on my walk home. The phone rang as soon as we stepped inside our front door. It was Bob.

“Hey, neighbors! Neil really enjoyed his visit with you. Could he come over and have his picture taken with you two?”

“Wait! Let me check my watch: “OK!” Owen and I floated off into “space” with excitement.

Briouats served to Neil Armstrong!

For about 24 (2  /12-inch) briouats:

3 boneless chicken thighs

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger powder

½ medium onion, diced

½ cup water

1 egg, lightly beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

15 sprigs cilantro, minced

½  a preserved lemon, rind finely diced

8 lumpia wrappers or thickest quality phyllo dough,  (available in specialty stores, Arab markets, Asian markets, and many large supermarkets in the fresh Asian ingredients section)

Oil for frying

In a medium saucepan, place the thighs, cinnamon, ginger, onion and water. Cook over medium heat, turning the thighs over to coat with spices, for 15 to 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a cutting board. Let cool and finely chop the chicken.

To the pan, add the beaten egg. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens and the egg sets. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sauce to the chopped chicken. Add the cilantro and the preserved lemon. Mix well. Set aside.

Stack 3 lumpia wrappers. Cut into strips 2  ½-inch wide. Proceed in a similar manner for the remaining wrappers. Stack the strips on top of each other and keep them covered with plastic wrap or a lightly dampened cloth to prevent drying while filling the briouats.

Place 1 teaspoon of the filling about 1 inch from the bottom edge of the strip. Fold a corner of the strip so the bottom edge lies diagonally across half of the filling, but NOT flush with the long edge. Fold over to the opposite side, this time, flush with the long edge, as you would a flag.  Fold side to side until you reach the top of the strip, to obtain a triangular shape. Tuck the unused end of the strip inside the last fold. Repeat with remaining strips until all the filling has been used.

At this point, briouats can be frozen. Place on a tray and freeze. Transfer to a tightly sealed container. Freeze up to 3 months.

To fry, do not thaw. In a heavy medium saucepan, pour the oil to a depth of 2 inches. Heat it until it reaches 325 degrees F, or until a piece of dough dropped into it sizzles instantly. Fry the briouats in batches until golden, about 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Keep warm in the oven. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of lemon juice.

 

All text and photos copyright Kitty Morse 2019