Tag Archives: Moroccan food

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

 

 

The Kasbah Chronicles APRIL 2019

The Kasbah Chronicles

Until my return from Morocco. . .

I leave behind these gorgeous Vista clouds

Contents

MUSINGS

RECIPE

Talks and presentations

March slipped away from me. In am in full “packing” mode. We have a full tour! April 23rd to May 2nd, I will be in Morocco with Adventures by the Book. And this is the view of the Mother of Spring river from Dar Zitoun’s atrium window.

I am still basking in the thrill of my lunar adventure (before it appeared in the NY Times!)

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/19/travel/anniversaries-in-wyoming-and-huntsville-alabama.

Space Camp was one of the most fun experiences of my life. Please bear with me: just one more picture!

 

Kitty’s Blood Orange Syrup and Jelly

Ripe fruit fall off our blood orange tree faster than I can pick them! To savor their flavor at other times of the year, I make this ambrosial syrup, keep it in the fridge, and serve it with champagne or with carbonated water for a refreshing summer beverage.

2 ¼ cups fresh blood orange juice, strained

½ cup water

1 1/3 cups sugar

For the syrup: Place juice, water, and sugar in heavy pan. Simmer for 20 to 30 mns to viscous liquid stage. Refrigerate. Add 2 tablespoons to a glass of white wine, champagne, or prosecco. Or simply combine with water and ice cubes, to taste.

For the jelly: Simmer 20 mns longer, or until mixture forms a very soft ball when dropped in cold water.  Let cool overnight on the kitchen counter. Store in sterilized containers and seal. Spread on toast, or use as a topping for yogurt, mascarpone, ricotta, etc . . .

 

Kitty in the media: http://online.anyflip.com/dmdy/nwaa/mobile/index.html

Wine Dine and Travel Spring is a gorgeous online travel magazine, and free for the download. This issue features Argentina in depth. I am very excited to be among its contributors. Read about my trip to Hoi An, one of Vietnam’s most historic cities.

 

Classes and presentations:

LIFE, Mira Costa College, Oceanside, CA

www.miracosta.edu/instruction/programsforseniors_life.html

Learning Is For Everyone (LIFE) Oceanside LIFE.

 

Why attend Adult Space Camp in Huntsville, AL?

Kitty Morse and co-space junkie Pat McArdle celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing

July 19, 2019. 2PM

 

LIFE: Mira Costa College, Oceanside, CA

www.miracosta.edu/instruction/programsforseniors_life.html

Kitty Morse: Revisiting Morocco’s Sahara and the mythical Kasbah Trail.

FRI. AUG 2, 2019

 

Culinary Historians of San Diego:

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Savoring Morocco’s Kasbah Trail

My interview on Pink Pangea

This lovely travel site bills itself as a travel site for women.

Very interesting and informative, and they published an interview about Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories

Published on Pink Pangea on December 31, 2015 at this link:

THANKSGIVING or Le Jour de Merci Donnant 2014

I flew across the pond to Morocco in early November to take care of Dar Zitoun, our family riad, 90 kilometres south of Casablanca.  My memoir, Mint Tea and Minarets relates the story of this local landmark which I hadn’t visited in FOUR years. Although Dar Zitoun has been in the family for over half a century, it is time to put it on the market and hand over the keys to the next buyer. It is now “staged” for a sale.

In Morocco, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with old friends who always make my trip worthwhile. I am no longer conducting tours, but I can assure you that Morocco remains a welcoming destination.

First impressions: Air France rocks! And the connections between Paris and Morocco are excellent. I have no idea how the 800 passenger Airbus gets off the ground, but a complimentary glass of champagne and a smiling Air France flight attendant (yes, even in “cattle car”) did much to lessen my fears. While Charles de Gaulle airport is geared to luxury and comfort with soft music, a MUSEUM, and comfortable seating throughout, the Delta terminal at Kennedy is the “wretched” refuge of “huddles masses,” sitting and lying around on the floor. Is this the impression we want to give our visitors?  Hats off to the TSA, however. Passport control now consists of scanning your passport into a machine.

Morocco sits squarely in the twenty first century. TEXTING is the norm. Freeways, skyscrapers, traffic jams to rival downtown L.A’s, Casablanca’s state of the art train station and sleek electric trams have transformed the landscape (downtown is now a giant pedestrian mall, how cool is that?) I browsed around the Galeries Lafayette, the iconic French store, at the Morocco Mall. STARBUCKS, KFC, MacDos and Pizza Huts are leading the fast food  invasion. A royal wedding in Rabat topped it all off (I wasn’t among the guests, but I did meet up with Mrs. Chirac, wife of the former French president, in the Rabat medina!) Rabat’s recently opened Musée d’Art Contemporain is definitely worth the detour, as is dining in a riverfront restaurant in the new marina along the Bou Regreg.

These pictures will explain: The NEW Casablanca Train station/Casa Port.

October 2014 update

I will be on my way to the real kasbah when you read this. As many of you know, I haven’t been there in four years, an eternity for me. Dar Zitoun awaits on the banks of the Mother of Spring.

I was thrilled last month to be interviewed for NPR’s The Salt Blog, where my recipe for smen, Morocco’s unique preserved butter, is now online. The recipe is from Mint Tea and Minarets.

Smen: NPR The Salt

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/10/09/353510171/smen-is-moroccos-funky-fermented-butter-that-lasts-for-years

A new Middle Eastern market opened in our neighborhood, and look at what I found:

Russian couscous, can you believe it? When I first arrived in the US in the mid 1960s, my grandfather had to special order it in New York from Mid East importers. Great exultation followed upon the arrival of our couscous fix in Milwaukee, WI!