- 8:29 pm - Sun, Jan 19, 2014
- 80,781 notes
“Your name is Tasbeeh. Don’t let them call you by anything else.”
My mother speaks to me in Arabic; the command sounds more forceful in her mother tongue, a Libyan dialect that is all sharp edges and hard, guttural sounds. I am seven years old and it has never occurred to me to disobey my mother. Until twelve years old, I would believe God gave her the supernatural ability to tell when I’m lying.
“Don’t let them give you an English nickname,” my mother insists once again, “I didn’t raise amreekan.”
My mother spits out this last word with venom. Amreekan. Americans. It sounds like a curse coming out of her mouth. Eight years in this country and she’s still not convinced she lives here. She wears her headscarf tightly around her neck, wades across the school lawn in long, floor-skimming skirts. Eight years in this country and her tongue refuses to bend and soften for the English language. It embarrasses me, her heavy Arab tongue, wrapping itself so forcefully around the clumsy syllables of English, strangling them out of their meaning.
But she is fierce and fearless. I have never heard her apologize to anyone. She will hold up long grocery lines checking and double-checking the receipt in case they’re trying to cheat us. My humiliation is heavy enough for the both of us. My English is not. Sometimes I step away, so people don’t know we’re together but my dark hair and skin betray me as a member of her tribe.
On my first day of school, my mother presses a kiss to my cheek.
“Your name is Tasbeeh,” she says again, like I’ve forgotten. “Tasbeeh.”
Roll call is the worst part of my day. After a long list of Brittanys, Jonathans, Ashleys, and Yen-but-call-me-Jens, the teacher rests on my name in silence. She squints. She has never seen this combination of letters strung together in this order before. They are incomprehensible. What is this h doing at the end? Maybe it is a typo.
“Tasbeeh,” I mutter, with my hand half up in the air. “Tasbeeh.”
“Do you go by anything else?”
“No,” I say. “Just Tasbeeh. Tas-beeh.”
“Tazbee. All right. Alex?”
She moves on before I can correct her. She said it wrong. She said it so wrong. I have never heard my name said so ugly before, like it’s a burden. Her entire face contorts as she says it, like she is expelling a distasteful thing from her mouth. She avoids saying it for the rest of the day, but she has already baptized me with this new name. It is the name everyone knows me by, now, for the next six years I am in elementary school. “Tazbee,” a name with no grace, no meaning, no history; it belongs in no language.
“Tazbee,” says one of the students on the playground, later. “Like Tazmanian Devil?” Everyone laughs. I laugh too. It is funny, if you think about it.
I do not correct anyone for years. One day, in third grade, a plane flies above our school.
“Your dad up there, Bin Laden?” The voice comes from behind. It is dripping in derision.
“My name is Tazbee,” I say. I said it in this heavy English accent, so he may know who I am. I am American. But when I turn around they are gone.
I go to middle school far, far away. It is a 30-minute drive from our house. It’s a beautiful set of buildings located a few blocks off the beach. I have never in my life seen so many blond people, so many colored irises. This is a school full of Ashtons and Penelopes, Patricks and Sophias. Beautiful names that belong to beautiful faces. The kind of names that promise a lifetime of social triumph.
I am one of two headscarved girls at this new school. We are assigned the same gym class. We are the only ones in sweatpants and long-sleeved undershirts. We are both dreading roll call. When the gym teacher pauses at my name, I am already red with humiliation.
“How do I say your name?” she asks.
“Tazbee,” I say.
“Can I just call you Tess?”
I want to say yes. Call me Tess. But my mother will know, somehow. She will see it written in my eyes. God will whisper it in her ear. Her disappointment will overwhelm me.
“No,” I say, “Please call me Tazbee.”
I don’t hear her say it for the rest of the year.
My history teacher calls me Tashbah for the entire year. It does not matter how often I correct her, she reverts to that misshapen sneeze of a word. It is the ugliest conglomeration of sounds I have ever heard.
When my mother comes to parents’ night, she corrects her angrily, “Tasbeeh. Her name is Tasbeeh.” My history teacher grimaces. I want the world to swallow me up.
My college professors don’t even bother. I will only know them for a few months of the year. They smother my name in their mouths. It is a hindrance for their tongues. They hand me papers silently. One of them mumbles it unintelligibly whenever he calls on my hand. Another just calls me “T.”
My name is a burden. My name is a burden. My name is a burden. I am a burden.
On the radio I hear a story about a tribe in some remote, rural place that has no name for the color blue. They do not know what the color blue is. It has no name so it does not exist. It does not exist because it has no name.
At the start of a new semester, I walk into a math class. My teacher is blond and blue-eyed. I don’t remember his name. When he comes to mine on the roll call, he takes the requisite pause. I hold my breath.
“How do I pronounce your name?” he asks.
I say, “Just call me Tess.”
“Is that how it’s pronounced?”
I say, “No one’s ever been able to pronounce it.”
“That’s probably because they didn’t want to try,” he said. “What is your name?”
When I say my name, it feels like redemption. I have never said it this way before. Tasbeeh. He repeats it back to me several times until he’s got it. It is difficult for his American tongue. His has none of the strength, none of the force of my mother’s. But he gets it, eventually, and it sounds beautiful. I have never heard it sound so beautiful. I have never felt so deserving of a name. My name feels like a crown.
“Thank you for my name, mama.”
When the barista asks me my name, sharpie poised above the coffee cup, I tell him: “My name is Tasbeeh. It’s a tough t clinging to a soft a, which melts into a silky ssss, which loosely hugs the b, and the rest of my name is a hard whisper — eeh. Tasbeeh. My name is Tasbeeh. Hold it in your mouth until it becomes a prayer. My name is a valuable undertaking. My name requires your rapt attention. Say my name in one swift note – Tasbeeeeeeeh – sand let the h heat your throat like cinnamon. Tasbeeh. My name is an endeavor. My name is a song. Tasbeeh. It means giving glory to God. Tasbeeh. Wrap your tongue around my name, unravel it with the music of your voice, and give God what he is due
- 11:11 pm - Wed, Nov 9, 2011
- 19 notes
Thanksgiving Recipes, pt 2 - EAT THIS
Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without side dishes or salads or soups(maybe?), but there is a staple that is such a…well, staple that it’s often included without even needing mention. I speak, of course, of rolls. Either soft yeast dinner rolls or cornbread skillets, a table isn’t complete without bread.
“Challah” atch’yo girl!
I mean, seriously. In the food world, bread is amazing. Everybody loves it, and it costs - like - not even a dollar to make a few loaves. The world has been shaped and even some cultures are undeniably recognized by their breads. The French have the baguette, the Jews have Challah, the British have scones, and we have…Wonder! Yay!
My point is that we can’t have Thanksgiving without bread of some kind, and in Culinary school I have cooked a lot of bread. Not to my chagrin, mind you! I love bread - and I love it even more when any skinny/fat girl says “Eeew bread is so bad for you!”
Bitch, please. If this stuff was really that bad for me, I’d be dead in a ditch somewhere. I love bread so much more violently out of my hatred for those girls.
(By the way, for those who don’t know, I define a Skinny/Fat girl as a girl that doesn’t want to lose weight in a normal healthy way such as eating right and exercising over an extended period. No, this is the person that takes drops under the tongue and eats a 500 calorie-a-day diet to lose 30 lbs in 30 days - which just seems FREAKISHLY unhealthy to me. I also define that bitch as the 20-lb-dripping-wet-ho that says “Oh no Tiffany, you’re not fat - I’m fat!” THOSE are skinny/fat girls. I’ll probably reference those more in my blogs in the future. Anyway.)
They’re so shiny with butter! They almost look plastic!
But, no, I love bread. All kinds. This particular bread dish I would like to share with you is the twist on a classic: Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins! It screams cornbread classico, but with a bit of a twist. This recipe is straight out of my notebook from Culinary school, and the best part is that it’s only a tad spicy, for those sensitive folks out there.
Of course, feel free to take this cornbread muffin recipe and make it your own. The beautiful part of this recipe is that you can pretty much add anything, with a few minor adjustments here and there, which we will discuss later. But you can add any little ingredient to this recipe and make it your own - and let it become your new Thanksgiving Tradition for your family to enjoy through generations. And don’t worry, nobody has to know that you got the recipe from a 23-year-old girl with chipping toenail polish.
Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins
- 12 oz cornmeal
- 12 oz pastry/A.P. flour(mixed if possible)
- 3 oz sugar
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 24 fl. oz buttermilk
- 6 eggs
- 8 fl. oz oil
- 6 oz corn kernels
- 6 oz grated cheese(we used cheddar/pepperjack)
- 4 oz jalapenos, brunoise
(Please measure via weight using a scale. It will work out SO MUCH BETTER.) Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prepare your muffin tins by greasing the cups or by lining them with paper liners. Seed and finely dice the jalapenos, and set aside. If buttermilk is not readily available, you can easily create it by combining the necessary amount of milk with a few teaspoons of rice wine vinegar(my personal favorite) and letting it sit for at least 15 minutes at room temperature on the counter.
Don’t ask me who’s in the background. I forgot.
Combine all dry ingredients together in a large bowl, ideally via sifting. Whisk together the buttermilk, cheese, eggs and oil. Keep the corn kernels and jalapenos to the side, as they will be mixed in last. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the liquid ingredients.
Stir a maximum of 12 times, scraping the bottom of the bowl. You don’t want to get rid of lumps. You only want to combine the ingredients - they don’t call muffins ‘quickbreads’ for no reason! Fold in the corn kernels and jalapenos right at the very end, mixing a minimal amount of times.
Portion the batter into the prepared amount of tins as quickly as you can. Time is important, because baking soda and baking powder are time-sensitive, and the longer you wait, the less fluffy-muffiny-goodness you have. Therein, make sure that EVERYTHING is ready, because you don’t want your batter sitting and going flat while you prepare your muffin tins. So do be deliberate. An ice cream scoop is ideal for portioning quickly, but two large spoons will do just fine in a pinch.
Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes then lower the oven to 350 until done, about another five minutes, if that. You basically just want to watch until they are GBD, or “golden-brown delicious” around the edges. Test with a toothpick, but be brief when you do. Every time you open your oven, you lower the temperature and change the pressure of the baking conditions, which can harm your final product, and that’s not what we want.
Once removed from the oven, make sure to let them rest in the pan for at least 10 minutes before overturning them. After that little period of rest, you can take them out of their tins and let them hang out on the counter, ideally on a cooling rack. I understand that not everybody has them, but they’re not even ten bucks at a local Walmart, and really worth the investment for superior baked goods - or at least baked goods that can cool faster and go in your mouth sooner.
Ignore the red stuff. Or not.
Serve these warm with a compound butter of your choice. These are seriously awesome.
For those of you who don’t already know, a compound butter is just butter that’s been whipped together with flavorings such as lemon juice, minced garlic, herbs and spices, or other tasty things to make everything seem a tad more special. My personal favorite is honey butter, which is so easy and so tasty that you’ll want to keep a batch or two on hand in your fridge for bagels and toast. Also, most compound butters freeze perfectly, so they can be made in advance in blocks. For an extra kick, pipe them on a plate with a star tip to get that “Wow” factor.
- 4:32 pm - Mon, Nov 7, 2011
Thanksgiving Recipes, pt 1 - EAT THIS
- 12:17 pm - Thu, Oct 27, 2011
- 3 notes
Hot-to-Trot Jalapenos Have a Sweet Side
Did you know that jalapenos turn red when they get cold? Did you also know that jalapenos are ridiculously good for you? What’s that? They’re too hot? Oh, well I have the perfect solution for you:
Straight from the bountiful valleys of Ojai, California - right in LA’s backyard - comes Ojai Jalapeno jelly, which has been featured in many different recipes and on television several times. Now it comes to you in a fabulous review from me, the Wannabe Gourmande of StyleCoven.com! Are you ready? Here we go!
Light olive/grass green color which is perfect if you’d like to add a little pep to your dishes. We spread them on sandwiches, but when spread on the inside of a nice thin crepe, then with a layer of greek yogurt and then with a layer of chopped chicken - when rolled and cut crosswise you’re bound to end up with a fun and colorful(and healthy) way to snack. The sheen from the jelly is slightly reminiscent of gummy bears fresh out of the package.
Peppery and aromatic, like somebody had made a jalapeno aromatherapy candle for your bathroom - or kitchen, or bedroom. I’m not here to judge where you like your candles.
Sweet at first - shockingly so - but with a sexy kind of spiciness that doesn’t burn your tongue at all. In fact, the spicy peppery flavor creeps up your nose to give it a fantastical tickle, with the heat that finishes right at the end. Since this is a jelly and not a whole jalapeno, the seeds have been removed, which is the source of much of the jalapeno’s capsaicin. Keep in mind, though, that this is still fairly spicy - so don’t overdo it. It’s perfect as an addition to a recipe.
Canapes and crostinis are easy hors d’oeuvres that anybody can do, especially with this jelly: we did a mini crostini of baguette, Ojai Jalapeno Jelly, deli-style turkey breast and some provolone cheese. Simply spread a thin layer of the jelly on your bread, top with sliced turkey breast and then cheese - then broil in the oven til GBD - otherwise known as golden-brown and delicious.
You could also just spread it on a cracker with some cream cheese as a light snack, or add it to a soup or spread for a party. You really can’t go wrong when you find the right condiments.
We here at StyleCoven.com believe that everything on this earth has a purpose, be it water for sustaining life or Michael Jackson for still marking the world, even after his death. But what are the benefits of jalapenos? Well allow me to educate:
Jalapenos not only taste good, but they clear up sinus pressure, chronic congestion and sinus diseases, and have been known to help migraine pains. Also, the pepper heat in the capsaicin helps to not only relieve congestion but fight and prevent such conditions as Sinusitis.
Jalapenos - along with other chili peppers - also help to lower blood pressure(which is amazing in this high-stress society) and kickstart your metabolism to help burn fat and keep you going longer. Also, they may help lower cholesterol and help you fight heart disease in the long run.
Finally, something amazing: we all know that capsaicin burns our tongues, but did you know that it can help fight cancer? No, seriously - you can look it up in the March 15 issue of Cancer Research magazine. Apparently, the capsaicin drives prostate cancer cells to kill themselves, which slows the growth of tumors dramatically.
The Final Word:
This blogger cannot think of a single reason one should NOT use this product. Its the perfect addition to a party, tasty as all get-out, smooth, good-looking, and has a real expected-yet-unexpected kick to it - much like Al Pacino in “The Scent of a Woman.”
You can find this via Ojai Jalapeno Jelly.com or through a gourmet store, much like Il Fustino in the picturesque town of Santa Barbara, CA, which we can attribute this blog to. After all, without products, we couldn’t do product reviews, now could we?
This is the first installment of a series of fantastic product reviews that we will be doing on various Il Fustino products. Everything from gourmet olive oils to 25-year-old balsamic vinegars to Chocolate Bacon Peanut Brittle(no joke) will be covered in this series, so stay tuned and stay hungry. And just for fun, here’s a teaser of some of the gorgeous photos we will be showing, courtesy of Jani Bryson and Jodi Matthews of Kansas City.
- 5:45 pm - Mon, Jan 24, 2011
Make “Whoopie” for Valentine’s Day
Nine out of ten, Valentine’s Day is the root of disappointment for a lot of people. It’s made some people bitter and angry, and even in denial about their disdain for the holiday…but not for me. I’ve had fairly good Valentine’s Day experiences, even though for most of then I’ve been single. Last Valentine’s Day I got a puppy, who is now, by far, my best friend ever. (I named her “Chodoi,” Japanese for “perfect”.) This Valentine’s Day is looking to be awesome, and I know just what I’m going to do for A.
A. is easily the skinniest fat kid there is. (I know…it makes me angry, too, that he’s skinny as a rail and eats like a horse.) He’s really into food, which is good because it’s just about the only thing I can do right. Luckily, I’ve got Sur La Table at my disposal.
At my disposal, I have Chocolate Whoopie Pie mix and India Tree “String of Pearls” decorating pearls. I also have a Heart-shaped Wilton cake pan that’s not only perfect for this day of days, but is non-stick!
Now that I have the mix at my disposal, I can make my lovely desserts. It was really, really easy(as all box-mixes have been made to be) and really, really fast. All you have to do is preheat the oven to 400 degrees and combine the wet with the dry. I had never made these before so I was kind of surprised by how springy the mix turned out to be. I had to be pretty lax with the mix and I thought they wouldn’t fill the pan…but—to my delight—the cakes puffed up like marshmallows and were huge!
I cut the tops off and made the pretty(for Valentine’s Day) cakes using the shapely bottoms. I saved the tops for me(a little reward for doing such a good job) and the box made a lovely dozen of whoopie pies(half puffy half shapely…kind of like me).
The frosting mix was included, but I wanted to take it a step further using rose water instead of milk as the liquid. This was so romantic, and making the rose water felt like drawing myself a bath and sprinkling rose petals in the water for myself. The best way to make rose water is to simply steep petals in warm water for at least 40 minutes to get a gently poached petal…and a pretty gold-ish colored water that have the rose flavor in it.
After about 40 minutes on a low poach, it’ll look something like this. Who knew that roses could go from red to white?
To make the frosting, I took the frosting mix, 4 oz. of cream cheese, 3 tablespoons of rose water, an extra cup of powdered sugar and 1 stick of room-temperature butter. Creaming them all together with the petals(drained) in the frosting makes them so beautiful and so-so-SO tasty! Want a finishing touch?
Take the pearls and put them in a shallow bowl. Then simply roll the sandwiched cookie/pies in the pearls sideways to make them stick. Display with roses and greenery, and make whoopie for Valentine’s Day. See if minimal effort can’t get you maximum results.
by TheWannabeGourmande for StyleCoven
- 7:06 pm - Wed, Jan 19, 2011
- 4 notes
Lemon Pudding Cake with Berries and Chantilly cream
In the spirit of the winter months that are upon us, I wanted to do something festive and fabulous for all of our readers. Of course I wanted to provide an easy recipe that is quick and tasty, but I really wanted to pump up the “wow” factor for everyone, considering that Valentine’s day is upon us. Maybe this will be a good practice-run for your Valentine’s day dinner/dessert? Either way, you’ll be wow-ing yourself on how simple it all is to create this stunning of a dish.
Lemon Pudding Cake w/ Berries and Chantilly Cream
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp lemon zest
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1/2 stick(4 Tbsp) butter, melted
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Separate the egg yolks and whites, and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and 2/3 cups of the sugar. Add the lemon juice, buttermilk and lemon zest, and whisk until smooth. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they’re broken up and slightly fluffy, then whisk in the melted butter. Once it turns the right color, combine the two mixtures with(you guessed it) your whisk.
Meanwhile, in your electric mixer(unless you want to be crazy and do it by hand) whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Put the speed up to high and slowly sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until soft peaks are formed. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the whites to the egg-lemon mixture. Be careful so as not to deflate the bubbles, but the mixture should be smooth.
Portion the cake mixture into either 8 individual ramekins(4 oz. should do) or into an 8-inch cake pan. Either way, you should bake this cake in a water bath so as to make sure the cooking is even. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the tops just crack and are golden-brown but the centers are still jiggly.
To present as above, flip over the ramekins onto their own plates. Pipe Chantilly cream on top and garnish with strawberries, either crushed or fresh.
To make Chantilly Cream
- 1 cup heavy cream(whipping cream)
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
In an electric mixer, whip the cream until thick and fluffy. Halfway through, add the vanilla and the sugar. Put the cream into a piping bag with a star tip, and decorate accordingly. If you like, crush a pint of strawberries that have been quartered and de-stemmed with 1/8 cup sugar and a shot of Triple-sec liqueur. Or make strawberry fans. Whichever you think is prettier, you do. This is your “Wow” factor, right?
- 10:21 pm - Tue, Jan 11, 2011
- 3 notes
UNRAVEL THE ATLANTIS*LEMURIA CONNECTION TO MT. SHASTA - THE HERMETIC HOUR - 8:00 PM PST - 1/13/2011
Reposted from LFD.
For over a century travelers, explorers and mystics across America have clamored for stories about the legendary lost continent of Atlantis. Since the 1882 publication of Ignatious Donnelly’s "Atlantis", the myth of Atlantis has inspired at least two generations of dreamers, prophets and film makers.
From Stargate: Atlantis - Sony Pictures
In the wake of the programming tsunami that swept away sci-f fan fave, “Stargate: Atlantis,” there remains a craving for more information about this spectacular lost world and how it relates to events that have been prophesized to unfold in 2012. Although “Stargate: Atlantis” has projected a new Atlantis in the global consciousness, more and more people are interested in discovering just how much Atlantis had to do with our past.
Reposted from Lemuria, The Lost Continent
As growing interest in the lost continent of Lemuria is continues to skyrocket, we predict that there will be more movies and television shows about Lemuria in the near future. Always the avante garde, Carroll “Poke” Runyon, wrote and directed the first full-length movie about Lemuria –BEYOND LEMURIA (on sale at Amazon) in 2007 just in time for network programming execs to think “Lemuria” for the new shows we expect every season on SyFy, Discovery and BBC. We expect to see Runyon as a very busy “Lemurian Expert” in the next few months. And, hopefully he’ll be on camera because he does have a knack for gathering beautiful people.
Actress Isabela Shahira and Producer Poke Runyon
Although this exotic little video is emerging as a cult favorite among UFO and paranormal aficionados it’s most relevant contribution to entertainment to date is serving as a springboard for actor/producer Cristofer Sanders, who is now working on the smash hit tv show, “My Ghost Story” on Biography and Isabela Shahira who is cast in the upcoming horror flick – WAR OF THE DRAGON.
The program promises to deliver Runyon’s own mystic experience, recounted in "Mysteries of Mt. Shasta, Home of the Underground Dwellers and Ancient Gods." (also from Amazon) They will also cover Pluto’s Cave, the Nan Madol connection and their experiments with Dr. X’s recreation of the “Hidden World Receiver,” the actual device that inspired the fabulous “Intragravatron” in “Beyond Lemuria.” Tune in and listen for the voices beyond the Vortex—-and the latest theory on J.C. Brown’s lost treasure.
So, if you’re hankering to get your “Sci-Fi” on and want to talk to a real expert before he’s overbooked on these subjects and more – check out
The Hermetic Hour - 1/13/2011 http://www.blogtalkradio.com/the-hermetic-hour
- 9:42 pm
- 3 notes
Pumpkin cupcakes with spicy cream cheese frosting are traditional, but chocolate’s richness and depth adds to the complexity of these oh-so-fun cupcakes.
By The Wannabe Gourmande for Style Coven