My favorite comfort foods: Macaroni beh Laban

You can credit my microbiology teacher who gave me serious craves for yogurt during a lecture on fermented food 😉 

Being of Lebanese/Syrian descent, I grew up in kitchens where dairy products were omnipresent. I did not realize how much we loved milk and cheese until I evoked our traditional dishes to my Moroccan Friend who casually mentioned that apart one popular brand of cheese spread, people in Morocco used little dairy.

When I would visit my Lebanese Teta (grammy) in Canada, I knew I would find, in her fridge, a plastic pot of commercial yogurt filled with her homemade yogurt, that she would prepare in batches large enough to supply her needs for all the Middle-Eastern recipes calling for yogurt. We have yogurt-based soup served with a side of rice (shakrieh w rez); traditional tzatziki (yogurt with fresh or dried mint leaves, diced cucumbers and a small amount of grated garlic) that is served with hot meals such as mujaddara or any kind of rice; we mince salad and blend it with yogurt and mint. We also have a densier, creamier version of yogurt-lebneh, drizzled with olive oil and garnished with olives, and, you guess it, mint again. And the list could expand as we have cheese-based dessert such as kunafeh and halawet b jeben- mozzarella and ricotta-based cheesecake, you could say.

It never fails to surprise my French friends when I tell them that we use yogurt as an ingredient in salted dishes, as in our Western culture it is eaten as such, or topped with fruit/cereals. But yogurt used in main courses or served aside in a little cup, scooped with some of your steaming rice, has this way of bringing a refreshing, light touch to a variety of meals.

Today, I am sharing with you a super easy recipe that has been one of the most loved comfort food here at home: macaroni beh laban, literally, « pasta with yogurt ».

 

IMG_7137

Tonight’s dinner ! 

 

Basically, macaroni beh laban is a dish made of pasta topped with a refreshing minty, garlicey yogurt sauce. The choice of pasta is left to your discretion; while my mom is fond of spaghetti, I prefer Farfalle, or Fetuccini, at least not some « elongated » pasta, as I feel like the sauce coats smaller pasta better and it just tastes more savoury, for some reason.

The nice thing is that you can eat two ways- either with your steaming pasta covered with this fresh sauce, or prepare your macaroni beh laban as a cold pasta salad, i.e, cook the pasta and allow to cool in the fridge and then incorporate your sauce.

The latter option was chosen by my mom when this summer, we attended our local assembly potluck and my mom wanted something quick to make and that could feed a crowd. While I have tested in the past a variety of Lebanese recipes on my non-levantine friends, and it was usually a hit, I was curious to see what reaction this dish would trigger as it is fairly different from the well-known Arabic/Israeli dishes that, if you ever went to a Middle-Eastern restaurant, you were likely to have had on the table (mezze dishes such as houmous, falafels, tabbouleh…). I doubt you would eat Macaroni beh Laban somewhere out of home as it is the comfort food that your mom and your teta make when you are really hungry or sick.

So I was pretty pleased when someone approached me at lunch and asked me if my mom did the pasta pot, because it was delicious ! The contrast between the hot pasta, the tanginess of yogurt, the refreshing mint and the little « stinginess » of grated garlic, that brings out the flavor of this dish, is ah-mazing ! You can now curl up on your couch and enjoy your Saturday evening with this effortless comfort food.

 

MACARONI BEH LABAN

Recipe courtesy of antoniotahhan.com

approx 4-6 servings

Ingredients

•1 lb pasta

•24 oz plain, whole milk yogurt (3/4 large container)

•1 1/2 – 2 tbsp dried mint (Stéphanie’s note: I use both dried and fresh when possible)

•1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced (or more !!)

•salt, to taste

•extra-virgin olive oil, optional

Directions 

  1. Make sauce by mixing together yogurt, garlic and mint. Set aside at room temperature.
  2. Bring water to a boil, season with plenty of salt (1-2 tbsp), and cook pasta according to instructions on the box.
  3. Once pasta is done cooking, drain very well and mix with yogurt sauce that has been sitting at room temperature.
  4. Season with salt and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.
Advertisements

When a Rock Sunk Slowly-Jon Bloom

Hello everyone !

Yesterday, as I was browsing Desiringgod.org online book library, I came across Jon Bloom’s book whose title “Not by Sight” caught my eye. This book is in fact a series of meditations on the topic of faith, beautifully articulated around a part of the scriptures narrated in the form of a vividly described story. The way it is written actually make you feel as if you were a spectator of the story, which I love. I thought I would share one of these meditations with you.

Like lots of other books on Desiring God, you can find it for free online.

medium_not-by-sight

 

“The day had been another mind-blower for the disciples.

As they rowed toward Capernaum it was hard to stop talking about what they had seen. Five thousand men, plus women and children, and Jesus had fed them all ! With one boy’s lunch! The power Jesus commanded both thrilled and unnerved them.

And they had felt the heady momentum of surging public support when the massive picnic turned into a “Jesus for king” rally. The people had begun to understand! The Messiah had arrived! The kingdom was beginning to emerge right before their eyes.

And then it had all ended so strangely. Surprisingly, Jesus was visibly disturbed by the crowd’s enthusiasm and he moved quickly to douse it with hard, confusing words. The people’s support soured to disillusionment.

Jesus could be so hard to figure out.

And why had he been in such a hurry for them to get to Capernaum that he had them row by night? And why were they to leave without him? They had taken the last boat on the shore. If Jesus intended to join them in Capernaum by morning, it was going to be one whale of a walk.

Then the wind picked up and the waves grew stronger, pushing against every pull of the oars. This was going to add hours to the trip. Adrenaline-fueled discussion was replaced by fatigue-fueled irritability. One of them commented that at this speed, Jesus would probably beat them there on foot.

Just then another shouted, “What’s that?” All eyes strained sternward. A form was approaching in the murky dark. Peter stood up on the small rear deck and looked hard. It could not possibly be what it looked like. But soon it was unmistakable. Someone — or something — was walking toward them across the water! An unearthly fear seized the men. One spoke in a hushed panic: “It is a ghost!” The rowers found new energy.

But a familiar voice called to them, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Jesus? It sounded like Jesus. But he was walking on top the water! Maybe a spirit could do that, but not a human! Peter motioned to the rowers to stop. It was Jesus. Mouths hung open but no one had words.

Except Peter. “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Every astonished face turned to Peter. No one else had even thought of that yet. Jesus responded, “Come.”

So Peter sat on the gunwale, swung his legs over the side, and carefully put his weight on what should have engulfed him. Then stood up. There was a collective gasp from the boat. One degree of surreal to another. Then he began to take tentative steps toward Jesus. The others held their breath.

Suddenly Peter froze. He looked down at the waves drenching his legs. There was panic in his eyes. Then he began to sink, as if into mud. He reached out toward Jesus and cried, “Lord, save me!” Jesus stepped forward, reached out, grabbed his arm, and pulled him up. Peter, looking intensely at Jesus, was breathing hard.

Jesus said to him with affectionate firmness said, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”


Peter showed remarkable faith in asking to follow Jesus out on to the water. No one else did.

But when he began walking, what held him up? We might quickly assume it was his faith. But that’s not accurate. Peter’s faith wasn’t keeping him afloat. Jesus was. Peter knew that. That’s why he didn’t just leap out of the boat on his own. He asked Jesus to command him to come. What Jesus did was honor Peter’s faith by commanding the water to bear his weight.

Lesson #1: faith is not faith in our faith in Jesus, it’s faith in the power of Jesus’ word.

But once Peter was outside the safety of the boat, on uncharted waters, everything started feeling precarious. Why? Well, because people don’t actually walk on water. We may be so familiar to the story that the ridiculousness of walking on water doesn’t strike us. But it struck Peter at that moment.

And he started to sink.

But have you ever noticed that Peter the Rock didn’t sink like a rock? The last time you jumped into a pool, how gradually did you sink? There’s something profound going on here.

Peter began to sink when his faith shifted from the firmness of Jesus’ word to the instability of his circumstance. And when he did, it was Jesus letting him sink — slowly. And for Peter that was a grace.

Why? Because Peter’s sinking produced his cry to Jesus. It quickly got Peter to stop looking to the world or himself as the source of truth and salvation and got his focus back on his Savior. When he did that Jesus pulled him back up.

Lesson #2: Jesus’ word is truer and stronger than what we see or feel, and when we doubt that, sometimes he graciously lets us sink to help us refocus.

Trusting in Jesus and his word over our perceptions is difficult to learn. That’s why the Lord takes us through so many different faith-testing, faith-building experiences.

And when he does, it is never for just our own benefit. He’s displaying his power so others’ faith will be strengthened too. And, like the rest of the disciples, once Jesus and Peter were back in the boat, we end up saying to the Lord, “Truly you are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33).”

 

“Satan’s defeat is sure”- John Piper

280d21981386313208f180526ceede01

 

1 John 3:8: “The Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil.”

Revelation 12:10 says, “I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.’” Satan’s defeat is sure. But his accusations haven’t ceased.

It is the same with us as it was with Job. Satan says to God about us, They don’t really love you; they love your benefits. “Stretch out your hand and touch all that [they have], and [they] will curse you to your face” (Job 1:11). Their faith isn’t real. Satan accuses us before God, as he did Job. But it is a glorious thing that followers of Jesus have an advocate who “always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

John Piper, Satan’s Ten Strategies Against You

I’m back !

typewriter

 

Hi Dear Friends !

I hope you are all doing well ! It’s been already 8 months (!) since I last wrote on the blog. I terribly missed it ! The reason for my extended absence was simple- an incredibly busy internship in Toulouse, in the South of France, where I completed my Master’s degree in a pharmaceutical company. I still have my dissertation defense on September 8th (I would definitely appreciate your prayers !). God willing, right after it, I will move to Lyon for an apprenticeship in a pharmaceutical company. Having changed my career path, I need extra experience in the new field I have chosen, which means I’ll be enrolling in another Master’s degree in September in Strasbourg. My time will be split between classes in Strasbourg University and work at the pharmaceutical company in Lyon.

Anyway, I’m so glad to be back on the blog ! Writing regularly is a huge pleasure of mine and it is something that helped me, through the years, to be intentional, especially in my spiritual discipline. Today, I started “journaling” in a beautiful little notebook about something I have done in the past, as a young Christian, but that I have not been consistent with through the years: Scriptures memorization.

This summer, we went to a one week conference in the beautiful mountains in Ardèche, France, and one brother made the following remarks during a youth group study: “If there is one thing I can tell you, it is that I feel like I have wasted a lot of time in my life.”

It is something I can echo to. I have wasted a lot of time on things that were not profitable, and neglected, at times, communion with God, which caused me lots of grief. As you are reading this, please pause with me for a second. How many time do we pick our iPhones, aimlessly scrolling (sometimes for hours !) on pages, social media, and, when the evening comes, we realize that we have not spend time with the Lord, but-since we are tired, we postpone that to the day after, only to repeat the same cycle ? I am definitely guilty of that. And as the cycle repeats itself, day after day, week after week, we can grow colder toward the Lord and His Word-and that is a great danger, along with all the consequences that come with it. Is it not something worth pondering that sometimes, it is the innocent, everyday life “stuff” that keeps us busy ? This year, I realized that you can make an idol out of literally anything. As I think of all the times I have enshrined something else than Christ in my thoughts, it makes my heart cringes. Idols are so cheap. For me, an idol looks like the desire for approval from others, as well as the crave for respectability-a deadly thing. And the time spent for that idol ? Aimless hours spent seeking for finding ways to gain more approval.

As I was sitting with a brother in a conference, he gave me an advice: “while you’re young, memorize scriptures”. I want to make those words a reality-not simply bow to them and nod “Yes, that’s vital”, and leave them there. Whatever it takes, I pray-and I will need to really pray for that, because resolutions are easy to take, but I need the Lord’s help to carry on– that I will develop the habit of hiding God’s word in my heart and allow it to transform me, day after day. I want to dedicate a time, everyday, for this, and make it special.

Today, I memorized Psalm 1:

Psalm 1

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
    Nor stands in the path of sinners,
    Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
    Planted by the rivers of water,
    That brings forth its fruit in its season,
    Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

 

What a good place to start ! I noted in my diary the interesting fact that there is a “versus” between verse 1 and 2: “Blessed is the one who does not…” “But whose delight is in the the law of the Lord”. It might seem evident that as we walk with the Lord, we are kept from evil, but do we actually delight in the law of the Lord ? Do we meditate on it ? Or do we just appreciate the idea of it, without really practicing it? Maybe other time consuming things keep us from doing so?

I love this psalm because in a way, it is a good introduction to Scriptures memorization, by reminding us of its importance. I look forward to blog, Lord willing, about this journey of mine.

Truly yours,

Stéphanie

 

 

A new chapter

Hy everyone !

First of all-happy new year ! I finally get to sit down to write a post, my ! This blog has been collecting dust ! Well, it’s time to give it a second chance because it will be a much needed tool if I don’t want to become a hermit by the end of the year.

This semester, the last of my studies, has left me running around, trying over and over to get an internship. I sent tons of resumes and cover letters, and, at some point, I almost had to quit: I did not find a suitable one, nor did my professor, until that long awaited moment when the phone rang and, after a 40 minutes interview, voilà ! I was accepted in a French pharmaceutical company. Just like that ! Nope, I’m kidding. It was a true miracle. This story will probably be for another blog post.

For now, I’m ELATED that they have asked me to join them in the sunny area of Toulouse, in the South. For now, I’m not really nervous and I don’t plan to get nervous either, but my mother is starting to get emotional as her second baby is about to leave the nest. I used to live only an hour away from my parents home, so visiting them every weekend was no problem, which will not be norm now I’m moving 5 hours away. I admire you guys, especially in America, because you often leave the house at a young age to go to college-I count myself lucky to have spent 6 years by my family’s side.

The Lord has really been gracious. The whole “behind the scenes” preparation that it took to get into this master’s degree and in order to be accepted for this position came with lots of tears and discouragement, but, in it, I saw the hand of the Lord, who led me in an adventure far more different than what I expected.

So this is it, friends ! I’ll be leaving Tours by the end of January and will start a 6 month journey, or, who knows, longer, in Toulouse, and I hope to chronicle my happenings here.

 

“Do not worry”

birds

Pinterest

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:25-34)

Put your hope in God, not wealth !

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan?” Matthew 6:27

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Kicking off the day with Oswald Chambers:

“The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else. “Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord”;…  The Highest Good—The Pilgrim’s Song Book”

O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want-Psalm 34:9

Bowing your head before eating that burger

praying-before-meals

Policemen praying before a meal-Pinterest

Note: This post is not meant at all to draw attention to myself and to my prayer life. I’m just sharing some insights I recently had on the topic of prayer in public.

Truth to be told, I often eat at home because in the cafeteria there’s way too much food on the tray and the consequences of eating too much at lunch time are usually seen in the afternoon: in 6 years of uni I took more naps in class than I can remember. However, yesterday, for the first time in a long time- a very long time, I had to eat at the cafeteria with some friends. As people sat and start eating their entrées and undertook the task of gobbling down their cheeseburger, I looked at mine. What do I do ? I want to thank God. The first Person that I want to thank, and honor before that meal is the Lord. I rested my head upon my hand, said a quick prayer in my head and as always, people started asked me questions: “Are you okay ? Do you have a headache ?” “I’m okay, thank you !”. Though I have the habit to pray silently when I’m alone, I sensed that I had taken the posture I usually adopt when I try to “shrink”, to hide; had anybody seen me he would have never known I was praying. Yet I pray even when I’m alone- I am not trying to display it in public for the sake of being seen. Prayer is an integral part of my life. After the last lecture of the day, I tried to recollect my thoughts.

Continue reading “Bowing your head before eating that burger”

“In due time”

“God’s Holy Spirit and man’s sin cannot live together peaceably; they may both be in the same heart, but they cannot both reign there, nor can they both be quiet there; for “the Spirit lusteth against the flesh, and the flesh lusteth against the Spirit;” they cannot rest, but there will be a perpetual warring in the soul, so that the Christian will have to cry, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” But in due time the Spirit will drive out all sin, and will present us blameless before the throne of his Majesty with exceeding great joy” -Charles Spurgeon