Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"Graceful" Moments

Mr. A and I hosted dinner last weekend. Nothing too fancy; just a nice dinner with a few friends. Every time we host, Mr. A challenges me to keep things simple. Every time we host, I find a way to ignore his challenges. I know the only reason he asks me to keep things simple is so that I don't tire myself out and don't find myself in a difficult situation.

A few days before a get-together at our house, I make my game plan, grab my apron and attack full force! I get so much satisfaction when I feed people so I sometimes get overly enthusiastic (and overly ambitious), decide to prepare more and more dishes and end up (happily) cooking for days for a meal that will disappear within an hour. 

I am not quite sure what happens to me when we are expecting guests. I suddenly get this urge to be the "Hostess with the Mostess" and picture myself as a 1950s housewife... a domestic Goddess who can tackle anything & everything with grace. Mamie used to tell me that watching me in the kitchen reminded her of watching a ballet performance (can't get more graceful than that!)

This said, take a look at the following video.



It's funny (is funny the right word?) that many people who saw this movie (Julie & Julia) thought of me during this meltdown scene. I wish I could say I don't know what they're talking about but... 

To be fair, my meltdowns are not as dramatic. And I would not say I have meltdowns; I have "moments". I call them I-can't-do-this/I-have-no-time/my-game-plan-failed/why-did-I-get-too-ambitious/should-have-ordered-pizza stressful moments. During those times, I am ashamed to say, I am as graceful as a drunk lumberjack or a sweaty sumo fighter.

With great efforts to self-improve & become a better version of myself (we can all improve!), I have been trying very hard to avoid these "moments" & stay as graceful as possible. The trick is to respect your limits. 

“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.” 
                                             - Albert Einstein

I am very proud to say that the last get-together preparations were stress-free and filled with only beautiful and happy moments. I made "Manteh", a delicious traditional Armenian dish that is similar to ravioli. They are small, crispy meat "dumplings" that you serve with yogurt, broth and spices.
*Note: Fill your plate because they disappear very quickly!

Manteh
yield: 6-8 people

Dough
- 8 cups flour
- 4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- enough water to form a ball of dough (about 3 cups)

Meat Mixture
- 1 kg ground beef
- 4 small onions (very finely chopped)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp ground red pepper (or paprika)
- 2 tsp all-spice

Toppings
- Chicken broth
- Labneh (thick yogurt)
- Spices: Sumac, dried mint, Armenian pepper (or paprika)

Directions
1. For the dough: Mix flour and salt together. Add the olive oil and gradually add water half a cup at a time until you have a ball of dough. Add more water if needed. Knead the dough for a few minutes, place in a bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it rest approximately 30 minutes.

2. For the meat mixture: Chop onions very finely and mix all the ingredients together.

3. Roll out the dough and cut into 1 inch squares. Top each square with a little piece of meat and pinch two side together to form a little boat-like shape. Place on a greased baking sheet.

4. Bake for about 30-45 minutes in a 350F oven (until the top and bottom are slightly golden).

5. To make your plate: Put Manteh in a bowl, top with hot chicken broth, labneh and spices. 













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