Celebrating Eid in the Time of Corona

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is coming to an end this Saturday marking the end of the sunset-to-sunrise fast. Under normal circumstances, Muslims around the world would celebrate Eid al-Fitr with large family feasts, music, sung poetry, and sumptuous foods and desserts. Sadly, not so this time around.

Eid will feel different this year with smaller—or possibly digital—stay-at-home family gatherings and more subdued celebrations. My staff and I would like to wish all our Muslim brothers and sisters a Happy and Blessed Eid—one that is filled with love, good health, safety, and, most importantly, the hope that the virus shall soon pass and next year’s celebration will be bigger, better, and more joyous. 

On the positive side, during our shelter-in-place months, many have rediscovered the joy of reading and cooking at home. The promise of literature as a way to unite us again is taking shape and helping us take our minds off of all the lies, disinformation, incompetence, and vile toxicity that is being propagated by the current administration.

Below are my recommendations for good Eid reads and gift ideas. And to say THANK YOU for your unwavering support during these difficult times, we’d like to share with you the recipe for qatayef from Joudie Kalla’s Baladi: Palestine, a wonderful Eid dessert famous throughout the Arab World. We have made it many times at home and I can tell you that it is delicious and guaranteed to bring you some desperately needed lockdown pleasure. Remember, we are still offering a free gift and free shipping until the end of May.

Thank you for your support. Please stay healthy and safe.

Michel Moushabeck
Founder/Publisher/Editor

     

 
 

 

 

Recipe: Joudie Kalla’s Qatayef

Qatayef
Soft pancakes filled with cream in an orange blossom sugar syrup

Qatayef are soft, pillowy pancakes that are simply gorgeous. They are freshly made and stuffed with all sorts of fillings—cream, pistachios, walnuts, cheeses. . . They are sometimes eaten soft and sometimes fried, the choice is yours—the method of preparing them and putting them together is the same.

I love making these for special occasions such as Eid and birthdays, since they are such a treat and also look beautiful. Their texture is so unctuous that you just have to eat more than one. Every family has their own way of making them, and this is the way we do it at home.

Makes 25–30

For the pancakes
2 cups (500 ml) warm milk
2 cups (500 ml) warm
water
1 x ¼ oz (7 g) envelope of
instant yeast
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
2 ½ cups (10½ oz/300 g)
all-purpose flour
1 cup (6 oz/170 g) fine
semolina

sunflower oil
1 quantity Sweetened Cream or variation (see below)
1 quantity Sugar Syrup (page 232) mixed with 2 tsp orange blossom water
crushed pistachios, to scatter
crushed dried rose petals, to scatter

In a bowl, combine all the pancake ingredients, mix well, then set aside for 30 minutes to rise.

When the mixture has rested and the gluten has grown, heat a frying pan over low heat and grease it with a little sunflower oil. Place a small ladleful of the mixture into the pan to make a 3 inch (7.5 cm) pancake, and let it cook without flipping. You should start to see small air bubbles form on the top. When it is golden on the bottom and cooked through, remove from the pan, set aside, and repeat with the remaining mixture. Once you have made all of them, you can start stuffing. I use the sweetened cream filling from the Warbat Bil Ishta (page 212; see below), but feel free to use your own preferred filling. Place a dollop of stuffing in the center of one pancake. If you are serving straight away, begin pressing the edges of the pancake together on one side, but stop half way, so you have a semicircle that is open on one side, exposing some of the filling. Repeat with the rest.

If you are deep-frying, seal the pancakes all the way around the edges. Half-fill a deep pan with oil, heat it to 350ºF (180ºC), and fry the pancakes until slightly golden and a little crisp on both sides. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels for a few minutes.

To serve either version, drizzle with the orange blossom sugar syrup and scatter with pistachios and rose petals.

Sweetened Cream Filling (with Variation)

8 ½ cups (2 liters) whole milk
¾ cup (180 ml) white wine vinegar
2–3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp butter
⅔ cup (150 ml) heavy cream

For the sweetened cream, place the milk in a saucepan over low heat and bring to a boil. Once boiled, add the vinegar. The mixture will split, but that’s fine. Pass the mixture through a sieve, keeping the curd and discarding all the liquid. Add the sugar (according to how sweet you like things) and the butter to the curd and mix to combine. Add the cream, mix well, and place in the refrigerator.

OR

As an alternative filling recipe, cut the crusts off 12 slices of white toasting bread, then use a food processor to process the bread to a chunky powder. Combine with 2 cups (500 ml) of heavy cream and 2–4 tablespoons of sugar.

 

Baladi: Palestine
A Celebration of Food from Land and Sea
By Joudie Kalla • Photography by Jamie Orlando Smith

 

We Are All In The Same Storm, But We Are Not In The Same Boat

So many folks have said about the pandemic that “We’re all in this together,” and I even started saying it myself. But this is untrue in every way you look at it. The truth of the matter is that we are so not all in this together—at least not in equal measure.

The world we live in was never equal before the pandemic and is not equal during the pandemic. While we are all suffering to some degree, the disease has hit some people so much harder than others and has shown us the disparities and inequalities much more starkly than ever before.

Like many of you, I look at the Covid-19 statistics on a daily basis and I wonder why the death rate in the US is so much higher than anywhere else in the world. And how many lives may have perished unnecessarily; how many livelihoods destroyed; how many overworked healthcare workers and other essential personnel facing undue hardships and stress; and how much grief and pain families who have lost loved ones have to endure.

In these uncertain times it’s hard to know what to do. In my household, it helped enormously to stop listening to the toxic filth coming out of the White House. I feel that there has never been a greater need for us to hear the truths afforded by science—and, of course, the deeper truths afforded by literature. 

We can help with the latter. Below are some our new spring 2020 titles and older ones I highly recommend. Working on books like these help me get through each day and give me hope about the post-pandemic world we will rebuild once we rid ourselves of the dual virus: Covid-19 and Trump (and his cronies in power who are best placed to exploit the coronavirus pandemic). I hope that these book recommendations will contribute to helping lift your spirits and act as an effective antidote to anxiety and distress during these challenging times.

Remember we are still offering a free gift and free shipping until the end of May.

Thank you for your support. Please stay healthy and safe.

Michel Moushabeck
Founder/Publisher/Editor

 

   

 

 

The Dual Scourge of Nakba and Corona

While being quarantined is the shocking new reality to most people around the globe, it has become a fact of life to Palestinians facing unprecedented hardship and daily nightmares. The conditions in Gaza alone should make any decent human being fume with anger: over two million people in an open air prison facing massive shortages of life saving medicines and medical supplies due to Israel’s illegal blockade and the international community’s inaction.

Before my father died, he gave me the key to our house in Jerusalem. My memory of that day is as vivid and bright as a silver coin in the sun. I will always remember it. He looked at me with his kind eyes and said: “This is the key to our house in Qatamon; the house belonged to my father and now it belongs to you, your children, and grandchildren.” Of course, my father was not naive. He knew all too well that our house in Palestine is gone—forever. But he wanted to make sure that I would tell my children so that they would tell their children about our Jerusalem home.

Seventy two years ago today, the Jewish state of Israel was established and the Palestinian state of despair and homelessness began. Palestinians refer to this day as “al-Nakba,” the catastrophe that resulted in the ethnic cleansing of nearly 750,000 natives and the destruction of more than 500 Palestinian villages and towns. May 15, 1948 is a date forever etched in the collective memory of every Palestinian. No one can forget what happened in the run-up to that fateful day. During that time, the world witnessed one of the largest forced migrations in modern history. Today, Israel’s founding strategy of the forcible removal of the indigenous population continues. For decades Palestinians have been prevented from exercising their rights to freedom and self-determination; for decades they have endured horrific conditions of apartheid and brutal military occupation; and after decades, the hope of recovering even a small portion of their historic homeland has slipped away. And Palestinians know that the worst is yet to come, especially under the ultra-right, extremist government of Israeli Prime Minister Natanyahu, who is moving quickly towards the annexation of the West Bank.

The level of Palestinian despair is at an all time high. Palestinians continue to be colonized; Palestinian lands continue to be confiscated for illegal settlement building; Palestinian refugees continue to be exiled; and Palestinians living inside Israel continue to be discriminated against. Under the watchful eye—or intentional blindness—of its greatest ally, the United States, Israel has not only continued but has intensified its inhumane policies and violations of international law.

The Nakba did not end in 1948; it continues to impact Palestinians everywhere. Al-Nakba Day serves as an important reminder that until there is an end to the occupation, until Palestinians get justice and equal rights, and until Israel adheres to international law there can be no hope for peace.

Consider giving a friend a book on Palestine or by a Palestinian writer. Below are a few recommendations. 

Stay safe,
Michel Moushabeck
Founder/Publisher/Editor
 

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A Free Gift and Free Delivery Until May 30th

As the publisher of Interlink Publishing, I have the honor of writing to you and speaking on behalf of my entire family and staff in expressing our collective gratitude to each of you for your continued support as we face the most difficult challenges we’ve ever experienced as an indie press.

Arundhati Roy wrote in a recent article: “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.” 

Indie publishers and  booksellers have a shared commitment for a better world. They bring people together to share ideas that will help transform society. As such, they are society’s lifeline. Today, as we face the daunting challenge of staying afloat and keeping our staff employed, we are determined to stay alive and relevant so we can do our part in “imagining another world” and fighting for it.

To help us get over this hurdle, I am asking you to tell your friends about our special offer. Place an order from our website before May 30th and you’ll receive a surprise gift from us to thank you for supporting us during these difficult times. You’ll also get free delivery. Choose a genre for your free book—cookbook, history book, travel literature, or fiction—and I will personally select a title I think you’ll enjoy. Simply indicate your genre choice in the note section at checkout.

Stay safe,
Michel Moushabeck
Founder/Publisher/Editor

 

 

Mother Love in the Time of Corona

It’s not easy being a mom. Add a global pandemic and an economic shutdown to the mix and, all of a sudden, mom’s job becomes so much harder. Moms are often care givers, providers, educators, chefs, and housekeepers as well as employees or small business owners, all at once.

Isolating with my daughter’s family—with two boys ages 3 years and 9 months—who seven weeks ago moved in with us until it is safer for them to go back home, I have witnessed firsthand my daughter’s daily workload while also dealing with the distress and anxiety this pandemic has brought, and I have also seen the joy that parenthood gives her. My youngest daughter—who is also a full-time Interlink staff member and just had her new baby girl under lockdown—will no doubt agree.

Mother’s Day feels different this year. We may need to celebrate the mothers in our lives under lockdown, and sometimes at a great distance. Below are some of my family’s favorite gift books by authors who honor their mothers on every page, carrying on their traditions from afar. We hope they inspire you to share stories, learn from your mother, appreciate your time together, or look forward to shared meals once again. 

Sending all moms out there our warmest wishes for a Happy Mother’s Day! We are still offering free shipping during the lockdown period, and now offer eGift cards as well.

Thank you for your support. 

Stay safe,
Michel Moushabeck
Founder/Publisher/Editor

 

Provence: The Cookbook
by Caroline Rimbert Craig 
“My culinary education involved watching and helping the older generation of women in my family in the kitchen, seeing things transform in the pan, tasting, noticing how a recipe was adapted…” READ MORE

Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen by Alissa Timoshkina
“A renowned Russian food historian, William Pokhlebkin (whose pen name derives from the Russian word for “stew”), claimed that one could spot a happy family by the presence or absence of soups in their meals. My mom, aware of that opinion, prides herself on the fact that in her household there is always soup on any given day of the year.….” READ MORE 

Palestine on a Plate: Memories from My Mother’s Kitchen by Joudie Kalla
“I love the commitment and love she has for all of us. She always makes our favorite foods when we have been missed and I now do the same when I am missing her.“  READ MORE 

Carpathia: Food from the Heart of Romania by Irina Georgescu
“I have kept as close as possible to the traditional ingredients and flavors, how my mom used to cook… Food is a way of remembering our roots and bringing back memories. To us food brings comfort and the sweet feeling of belonging, wherever and whoever we are.” READ MORE