Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Armenian Museum of Watertown, MA announces its Recipe-Sharing Project!

My husband and I started TheArmenianKitchen website in March 2009 with the sole purpose of preserving and sharing Armenian recipes.

Imagine how delighted I was when, just recently, Lucine Kasbarian brought to my attention an Armenian-recipe -sharing project initiated by the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown, MA!


Sarma Gurgood
Without hesitation, I sent them one of my grandmother’s recipes, Sarma Gurgood, a Musa Daghsi favorite in our household.

The project is open to anyone who has an Armenian recipe and/or custom to share. As a participant, you should understand you are giving the Museum permission to post your recipes and photos on their social media pages and on the Museum’s website

Participants are asked to limit the recipe to 500 words and 2 images. Once the recipe is received, a follow-up email will be sent so that participants can send the recipe’s photo(s). 

Don't delay - Recipe submissions should be made ASAP!
Are you ready? Simply click on this link to get started! 

Friday, July 10, 2020

Jajuk: A Chilled Yogurt and Cucumber Soup

When I think of summer, cucumbers come to mind - as in “cool as a cucumber.” The high-water content of the cucumber provides a moist, cooling effect to the palate.

My grandmother called cucumbers “varoonk." My father sprinkled salt on the thin, moist slices to bring out their goodness. My niece and nephew would fight over cucumbers when they were little.
I just like them for their cool, crisp snap when biting into one.

Armenian cucumber
If you’re lucky, you might even find Armenian cucumbers in stores, otherwise, they can be grown in a home garden.

Did you know that the Armenian cucumber is actually a variety of melon?
It’s related to the muskmelon and is known by several names: yard-long cucumbers, snake cucumbers, and snake melons. The Armenian cucumber is long, slender, not bitter, is burp-less, easy to digest, can be eaten with the skin still on, and - tastes like a cucumber.

No matter what type of cucumber you find, here’s a favorite hot-weather recipe combined plain yogurt that will cool you down the instant you take the first sip:
JOOJUKH, ARMENIAN COLD YOGURT AND CUCUMBER SOUP | The Gutsy Gourmet
Photo from The Gutsy Gourmet

Chilled Yogurt-Cucumber Soup (Jajuk)
Yield: about 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 long, seedless cucumber, washed & peeled
2 cups plain yogurt
½ cup cold water
1 clove garlic, squeezed through a garlic press, or hand-mashed (optional)
Dash salt
2 tsp. crushed dried mint

Directions:
1. Cut the cucumber in quarters, lengthwise. Slice each section into thin pieces.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt with the water.
3. To the yogurt, stir in cucumbers, garlic, if using, salt, and mint. To keep this very cold, add a few ice cubes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
4. To serve, stir, ladle into bowls, and add an ice cube in each bowl. Garnish with fresh sprigs of mint.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Grandma Mary’s Delightful Cake (or Church Delight Cake)

Grandma Mary’s Delightful Cake
(or Church Delight Cake)
 By Christine Vartanian Datian

This recipe is featured in the Collections from the Grapevine Cookbook, published by the Ladies Society of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church in Fowler, California.  
 
Grandma Mary’s Delightful Cake
 Enjoy Mary Boyajian Mirigian’s Delightful Cake recipe she made for family dinners and church events at the St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church in Fowler, California for many years Mary was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1902, and as a child moved to the small town of Fowler, California, known for its grape vineyards and expansive farm land.  She was a charter member of the Armenian-American Citizens' League, active in the California Armenian Home Guild, American Legion Auxiliary, Fresno County Farm Bureau Women, and St. Gregory Senior Ladies Society.  She was married to Mesrob K. Mirigian of Fowler, and had three daughters and nine grandchildren.

Though she passed away in 1981 at age 79, Mary passed along her many creative skills for baking, cooking, and sewing to her beloved granddaughter Mary Ekmalian of Fresno.  This is a cherished recipe of Mary and her mother, Arpeni "Penny" Mirigian, who passed away in 2019 at age 97.  “Being raisin growers and farmers, my grandmother and her family looked for new ways to use raisins in their recipes, many of which remain with us now. The skills I learned from her and my late mother, I embellish on today.  Back then, immigrant families could not afford a lot of ingredients.  My grandparents raised their family during the Great Depression in the San Joaquin Valley. Those were challenging times for Armenian families just to survive,” Mary says.  “Old family recipes are special -- how you make your family happy when they taste your food, that makes all the difference.  When people tell you how delicious these recipes are today, that makes you feel good,” she adds.
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup raisins
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup margarine or butter, at room temperature 
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mace (or nutmeg)*
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cups walnuts, chopped, to taste
Frosting
1/4 cube (2 Tbsp.) margarine or butter
1/4 cup milk, heated
3/4 box powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Preparation:
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
Wash raisins.  In a medium pot, combine water and raisins and cook until the water has been reduced to 1 1/2 cups.  Reserve cooked raisins to add later.
Measure into a mixing bowl: the sugar, margarine or butter, eggs, and salt, and blend well together.  Measure into a flour sifter: flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and mace; sift together three times.  Gradually add sifted mixture into wet mixture.  Add the cooled raisin water to this mixture.  Add vanilla.  Blend well, and stir in walnuts and the 1 1/2 cups cooked raisins.  Pour into a large 12” X 17” greased and floured baking sheet.  Bake at 300 degrees for 25 minutes. 
Frosting:  Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Spread on warm cake before cutting into squares.
Makes 54 (2”) squares 1/2” thick.
* Possible mace substitutes include nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, ginger or pumpkin pie spice.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Bitlis Tutoo (Sour Cabbage Stew) from 'Breaking Bread with William Saroyan'

The following recipe for Bitlis Tutoo (Sour Cabbage Stew) from 'Breaking Bread with William Saroyan' was posted in The Armenian Mirror-Spectator by Christine Vartanian Datian.
William Saroyan
A bit of background information:
Tutoo is an old recipe from the Bitlis and Mush (Mus) regions in Turkey. It is thought by historians to have been brought by the French Crusaders, who later married Armenian women and stayed in the Bitlis region. Tutoo means sour in Armenian, and the stew can live up to its name. It includes both fermented cabbage and the brine used to pickle the cabbage. Most Armenian cookbooks and on-line recipes call for at least a 10-day fermentation period.



The updated recipe below is courtesy of Queenie Dardarian, ‘A Hundred Years and Still Cooking’, the First Armenian Presbyterian Church of Fresno (FAPC) Fidelis Women’s Society Centennial recipe collection.

Bitlis Tutoo (Sour Cabbage Stew)                                               
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 lb. lamb necks or stew meat (or a little more)
1-2 large onions, halved and sliced
8 cups fermented cabbage, with its own juice
3/4 cup dzedzads (shelled whole grain wheat - or gorghod), found in Middle Eastern stores
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
2-3 cups of water
Juice of 1 or 2 large lemons (add more for tart flavor)
Crushed dried basil and paprika or cayenne pepper, optional

Preparation to ferment cabbage:

Ingredients:

3 large heads cabbage, chopped in 1-inch squares
Pickling salt, not iodized
1/4 cup dzedzads 
4 quarts water

For the fermenting: Have ready a large crock or 1-gallon glass jar for fermenting cabbage. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, adding salt to taste. Let it cool to tepid temperature. Rinse and add 1/4 cup dzedzads to the bottom of the crock or glass jar. Add cut cabbage to the container, and cover with water to cover top. Stir and cover container partially, leaving an opening for stirring. Loosely cap the jar. Retain 1 cup of brine to add to the jar during fermentation to keep the cabbage covered with liquid. Place jar on a plate (in case your fermentation bubbles over) and store out of direct sunlight in your kitchen. Stir thoroughly to help release gases caused by fermentation for once or twice a day for 10 to 21 days (or longer). After cabbage has fermented, refrigerate tutoo by transferring it to large glass jars or other covered containers.

Preparation for the stew: In a large kettle or a heavy enameled 7-quart pot, cover lamb meat with some cabbage water and cook for one hour. Skim off any impurities. After one hour, remove the bones. Rinse and add 3/4 cup dzedzads to the pot. Add onions, cabbage, tomato sauce, water, lemon juice, basil, paprika or cayenne pepper (if using), and bring back to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about two hours or until lamb is very tender.


'Breaking Bread with William Saroyan' By Janice Stevens and Pat Hunter, published by Heliograph Publishing.

To order today, call or contact:

Janice Stevens
Gallery II
1490 W. Shaw Ste G.
Fresno, CA 93711
(559) 222-4443
janicemstevens@cs.com
https://www.gallery2fresno.com/

References:
https://www.gallery2fresno.com/product/breaking-bread-william-saroyan/

http://www.abrilbooks.com/books/cookbooks/breaking-bread-with-william-saroyan.html

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Father’s Day Ice Cream Surprise

This year poses a different scenario for Father’s Day. Undoubtedly there will be barbecues, weather-permitting, and other ways to show love and appreciation to one’s dad, while, hopefully, keeping a safe distance.

Our daughter and son-in-law are in upstate NY. Clearly, we won’t be seeing them on Father’s Day. So, how do they plan to celebrate Dad from a distance? With an ice cream delivery, of course! (I was in on this secret gift because I had to be on the look-out for its delivery at our end.)

You might be asking how this could be done without ice cream melting in transit. That was our concern, too and hoped we weren’t in for a messy ice cream disaster. 

Fortunately, the ice cream company (Jeni’s) packed it so well in a cooler with dry-ice, that it was still solid-as-a-rock frozen when it arrived.


Doug was surprised and delighted with this early gift – now his biggest decision is … which flavor to try first!

Happy Father’s Day to Dads everywhere!

Friday, June 12, 2020

Zucchini-Pecan Muffins

It was as though I'd received a mystery food basket - you know, like the ones chefs receive on the Food Network show 'Chopped'. I searched through my freezer and refrigerator to see which ingredients needed to be used immediately, then thought about what to make with them. 
Pecans in the freezer and a couple of zucchini that were on the brink topped the list.
After some careful consideration, this is what I made...

Zucchini-Pecan Muffins ready to serve
Zucchini-Pecan Muffins                                                
Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients:
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. (packed) grated fresh zucchini
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda  
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, chopped (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Mix in the sugar and vanilla extract. Stir in the grated zucchini, oil and applesauce.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt until combined.

4. Sift the dry ingredients into the egg-zucchini mixture without over-mixing. Fold-in nuts, if using.

5. Lightly coat each cup in the muffin tin with vegetable oil spray. Use a spoon or small ladle to distribute the muffin batter evenly among the cups, filling them almost to the top.

6. Bake at 350°F on the middle rack until muffins are golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Insert a wooden toothpick in the center of the largest muffin. When removed, a clean toothpick assures the muffins are done.
Muffins just out of the oven
7. Place muffin tin on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from the tin; allow to cool another 20 minutes.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Stanley’s Armenian Cuisine Restaurant – Stanley Kooyumjian's story and two of his recipes

Stanley Kooyumjian's story and recipes recently appeared in The Armenian Mirror-Spectator. I share this with you, thanks to Christine Datian.

Stanley Kooyumjian's story:
The original concept for Stanley’s famous Armenian Cuisine Restaurants was developed at the Home Market, an old downtown Fresno grocery store that opened in 1903. It was later owned by George Kooyumjian, Stanley’s hard-working immigrant father.

George came to America and settled his family in Fresno at the time of the Armenian Genocide.  He began working at the Home Market as a butcher, preparing lamb cuts and marinated shish kebab.  George’s prized recipe for shish kebab had been passed down by father to son in the Kooyumjian family for generations. The Home Market’s popularity grew with Fresno’s local Armenian community in the 1930s and 1940s, as it specialized in featuring a variety of Armenian foods like rice, bulgur, beans, lamb, bread [lavash], cheese, grape leaves, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

George became a respected caterer for local Armenian church dinners and picnics throughout the San Joaquin Valley,
On his father’s death in the summer of 1958, young Stanley Kooyumjian and his devoted, talented mother, Gladys, took over the family business, worked together for years. They eventually opened Stanley’s Armenian Cuisine Restaurant in downtown Fresno, and later, a second location, Stanley’s on Shaw Avenue. Both very popular, Stanley’s restaurants were known for featuring delicious Armenian cuisine, impeccable service, and for an endless choice of fine wines and spirits.  Like his father, Stanley specialized in catering services for many local Fresno businesses, special events, and weddings, and was an expert in wine and the preparation of lamb.  His catering services served as many as 1,500 people at a single setting, with Stanley often cooking his family’s traditional shish kebab recipe over his own barbecue.

When Stanley sold the family business, he did not abandon fine cuisine, lamb, or wine.  He retired from the restaurant business in 1983 and joined the American Sheep Producers Association as the West Coast marketing director. In 1998, at an Armenian Studies Banquet at California State University, Fresno (CSUF), Stanley served as a special guest chef, preparing a memorable braised-lamb shanks dinner for over 250 guests for His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Stanley's Shish Kebab and Pilaf
Two of Stanley's recipes:

Stanley’s Shish Kebab
Ingredients:
3 pounds lean leg of lamb, cut into 2-ounce cubes
1 1/2 cups yellow or white onions, diced
1 cup green bell pepper, diced*
1 cup fresh parsley, minced
2-3 large garlic cloves, finely minced
About 2 teaspoons salt
About 1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup inexpensive red wine, such as Carlo Rossi burgundy, or juice
of one large freshly squeezed lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
*Diced red onions, zucchini, red or yellow bell peppers, eggplant and cherry tomatoes may be used in this recipe.

Preparation:
In a medium (non-corrosive) bowl, combine cubed lamb, onions, bell pepper, parsley and garlic.  Add salt and pepper.  Pour wine (or lemon juice) and olive oil over lamb and vegetables, then mix well.  Cover tightly, refrigerate, and allow to marinate 6-24 hours.  Mix occasionally.
Thread meat onto skewers or alternate with pieces of onions and bell peppers (and other vegetables, if used).  Place skewers on hot grill over hot coals or under hot broiler.  Turn as needed to cook uniformly on all sides until the meat is medium doneness (browned well on the outside and still pink on the inside).  Serve with rice or bulgur pilaf.
Serves 6.
Stanley's Kouzou Kuzartma (Baked Lamb Shanks)
Stanley’s Kouzou Kuzartma (Baked Lamb Shanks)

Ingredients:
4 lamb shanks, preferably from a leg of lamb
Salt and pepper
4 cups sliced white or yellow onions
1 large bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, reserving 1/2
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 10 oz. can tomato sauce
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes in puree or diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup California burgundy wine, to taste
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 225-250 degrees F.  Thoroughly salt and pepper lamb shanks.  In a roasting pan with rack, add water and place lamb shanks on rack.  Bake uncovered for 2 hours.  While shanks are browning in oven, proceed with sauce.  In a skillet, sauté onions, garlic and bell pepper until onions are opaque.  Add crushed or diced tomatoes, wine and 1/2 of the parsley.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Remove shanks from oven.  Remove rack, drain liquid, and discard.  Spread sauce evenly over shanks.  Cover lightly with lid or foil and place in oven.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Remove lid or foil and return to oven for 30 minutes.  Garnish with remaining sauce and parsley and serve with rice or bulgur pilaf.
Serves 4.

Note: The Fresno Bee's blog item on Stanley Kooyumjian’s passing at age 77 in 2010 drew remembrances and condolences from Stanley’s many customers and dedicated employees who testified to the high caliber of Stanley’s traditional Armenian dishes, the unrivaled excellence of his food, wine, and service, and to Stanley’s exceptional professionalism and character as a friend, and a respected community and business leader for decades.


For these recipes, go to: https://mirrorspectator.com/2020/05/28/recipe-corner-shish-kebab-and-kouzou-kuzartma-baked-lamb-shanks/
*Many of Stanley Kooyumjian’s original recipes are reprinted from A Harvest of Recipe Cookbook, Pilgrim Armenian Congregational Church, Fresno, California.
https://scontent.fymy1-2.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/418567_120977341364946_1192607578_n.jpg?_nc_cat=111&_nc_sid=2d5d41&_nc_ohc=WTkevbg2gdQAX8dS-De&_nc_ht=scontent.fymy1-2.fna&oh=16352b07a06ca5d00b4da6da688b128f&oe=5EE4524E
References:
https://www.armeniandiaspora.com/showthread.php?245567-Readers-Loved-Armenian-Kebab-King. 
http://www.lostfresno.com/phpBB3/download/file.php?id=8293&sid=c35cc0a072ee7905816740c2a1ebad86&mode=view.
https://www.cafemeetingplace.com/features/item/761-the-flavorful-culture-of-lamb
http://www.findglocal.com/US/Fresno/101367439992603/Stanley%27s-on-Shaw
https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Middle-Eastern-Restaurant/Stanleys-on-Shaw-101367439992603/
https://www.thearmeniankitchen.com/2010/08/passing-of-armenian-lamb-apostle.html
https://www.thearmeniankitchen.com/search/label/American%20%20lamb

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Can't get enough of Parsley, Onions, and Eggs? You're not the only one!

I'm re-posting a story from the early days of The Armenian Kitchen. This time it's a Dikranagerdsi favorite - 'Sokhov Boghdonosov Dabag' (Parsley, Onions, and Eggs) - also known as 'Ejjeh' to those from other regions.

Besides our recipe, Onnik Dinkjian's recipe for this dish as well as my muffin-cup version are included. 






Muffin-style Parsley, Onions, and Eggs served with Basturma! 
The story and recipes

The combination of parsley and onions is familiar to most of us as the perfect complement to a multitude of dishes, but the practice of mixing them with eggs is especially popular among Armenians from Dikranagerd. My father and my mother-in-law, who both spoke and cooked in the distinctive Dikranagertsi style, called this sokhov boghdonosov dabag.
Parsley, onions and eggs -aka- sokhov boghdonosov dabag - prepared by Onnik Dinkjian. His recipe is below.(Photo credit: Anahid Dinkjian)
This might be my favorite breakfast of all time -- except, it's not just for breakfast.
Eggs are generally associated with the morning meal, but this recipe makes a very satisfying meal any time of day. It can be eaten hot, cold, or at room temperature.
And it's perfect for wrapping in fresh, soft lavash.

Our recipe for Parsley, Onions and Eggs 
Ingredients:
4 to 6 eggs
1 diced medium yellow onion (or 1 cup chopped green onion)
1 bunch parsley, chopped
olive oil
salt
pepper

Directions:
1. Beat the eggs until smooth.
2. Slowly heat a 10-inch skillet with just enough olive oil to sauté the onion until slightly soft.
3. Add the sautéed onion and the parsley to the egg and beat again until blended.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Reheat the skillet with about 1/8 inch of oil, being careful not to let the oil smoke.
6. Test by adding a few drops of egg mixture to see if the oil is ready.
7. Slowly pour in enough egg mixture to make a thin sheet slightly thicker than a crepe and about six inches across.
8. Turn once, cooking until slightly brown on each side.
9. Remove and place on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Onnik Dinkjian's recipe: Parsley, Onions and Eggs 
Note: Ingredient amounts are up to you!
Onion (chopped coarsely) 
Fresh Parsley (chopped fine) 
eggs 

Directions: Mix all ingredients together. 

Use CANOLA Oil, (not olive oil), Heat GENEROUS amount of Canola oil in the pan so that the mixture fluffs up and can almost float in the pan. 
(Spoon some of the egg mixture into the hot oil. Cook a few at a time until all mixture is used.)

When browned (on both sides) and eggs are cooked, serve with salt/pepper and fresh parsley sprig for garnish.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

If the spice of life remains elusive, you might just have anosmia

A little over 10 years ago, a thunderous thump on the head severed the delicate tendrils connecting my olfactory nerve to my brain.

I was left with a condition called anosmia. Simply put, I can’t smell a thing.

Most people I tell this to immediately see the bright side. I am not bothered by skunks, or bus fumes—or  human fumes for that matter. I could nap next to a garbage heap or picnic by a pig pen and be blissfully unaware of the stench.

But I’d happily trade the occasional unpleasant odor for the simple joy of sniffing the lawn after a rain, or waking up to the aroma of coffee and bacon. 

I miss the scent of fresh-cut flowers in a vase and fresh-baked bread on the table. I miss my wife’s perfume.

But what I miss most of all are the flavors of just about everything I love to eat. Think back to your last really stuffy head cold and you’ll get an idea what food tastes like to me.

Just a little background: Anosmia is a common complication of traumatic head injuries but it can also result from reactions to medication as well as infections. Recently it has been identified as a possible complication of COVID19.
  
Whatever the cause, millions of people experience anosmia. For some it’s temporary but for me and many others it’s permanent—and the consequences can be serious. Consider not being able to smell a gas leak, or smoke from a house fire. Think of all the times you cautiously sniff a piece of fish before you cook it or the milk before you pour it in your coffee.

Being unable to administer a simple sniff test can take an emotional toll as well as physical toll, particularly for those living alone. Welcoming visitors can be daunting when you don’t know if the laundry hamper stinks, or even if you stink. 

The resulting anxiety makes it difficult for some sufferers to maintain relationships with other people. A healthy relationship to food can be equally challenging.

I knew smell played a role in taste but I had no idea how powerful it was until I lost it. Turns out, I’d been giving my tongue far too much credit all my life. 

Now it’s all I have left, and no matter what I eat my taste buds recognize only the five basics: Sweet. Tart. Bitter. Salty. Savory. As for everything else that we think of as flavor, only the nose knows.

I’m lucky to have been spared unpleasant aftertastes and phantom smells that sometimes accompany anosmia. It’s no wonder some sufferers lose their appetite. Others who find life unacceptably bland go overboard indulging in sugar and salt, with predictably damaging effects.

I’d like to say I maintain a healthy balance. I’d also like to say I still have a full head of dark hair. In truth, I have to remind myself to eat things I can't enjoy and pass up the chocolate chip ice cream. 

But don’t we all? I just need a little more reminding than most because so many normally attractive options might as well be literally off the table.

I simply can’t taste most seasonings or spices. That eliminates garlic and basil and oregano, and even assertive Middle Eastern flavorings like coriander and allspice and zaatar. Without reading the label, I can’t distinguish strawberry jelly from grape or apple. Savory is strictly one-taste-fits-all. Blindfold me and steak tastes like lamb, which tastes like chicken.

Luckily, I rarely eat blindfolded. One of my most interesting post-traumatic revelations is that taste, like all of our senses, resides in the brain. Our sensory organs, such as the nose and ears, are merely receptors. It’s up to our brains to make sense of what’s being received.

The first time we eat anything, the brain makes a profile of the experience. That includes the look, smell and texture as well as the flavor. The second time your eyes see a spoonful of the same stuff heading toward your mouth, your brain calls up the profile from memory. 

If it’s a good memory, we open wide and salivate. If it’s a bad memory, we clench our teeth and maybe even gag. This is the saving grace of being Armenian with anosmia: When it comes to food, I have great memories. Believe me, I cling to them with all my might.

With Robyn’s generous help and support, I even continue to cook the way I always did. I marinate my kebab and season it generously in the Armenian “by the eye” tradition rather than with measuring spoons. Robyn assures me I do OK, which is not as crazy as it sounds. After all, Beethoven showed us it’s possible to write a fair symphony without being able to hear the notes. (Memo to self: He was Beethoven, after all.)

I’d love to tell you that life with anosmia has become so routine that I no longer think much about it, but I do—and probably that’s for the best. We’re born with just five senses, which are our only connection to the world outside ourselves. One of mine disappeared in a flash and left another severely diminished.

So it’s best to keep the remaining receptors on high alert even if that’s sometimes uncomfortable. I find that chocolate chip ice cream helps ease the pain. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Wash your hands…PLEASE!

The following story originally posted on March 27, 2009, shortly after the introduction of The Armenian Kitchen website. 

With the Corona virus still active and states re-opening businesses in haste, proper hand washing is of the utmost importance. As a retired culinary teacher, I felt it a timely story to re-post.

Wash your hands…PLEASE!

I always started the school year teaching my culinary students about safety and sanitation - even before I would instruct them on basic cooking skills. I wanted to be sure they understood the importance of safe kitchen practices and proper sanitation concepts.

“Sanitation is not an option, it is an obligation” to the health and safety of your family, friends, you - or anyone you feed. This begins with one simple task - HAND WASHING. That’s right, washing your hands regularly, and correctly, can help reduce the spread of bacteria significantly.

Think about what you do with your hands, the things you touch. When you cough or sneeze into your hands, or blow your nose, do you wash them immediately? What do you do if you’re using a public rest facility where soap and hot water aren’t readily available?

Hand washing helps prevent cross-contamination, that is, the spread of germs or bacteria from your hands to another person, food, utensils, equipment and/or work surfaces.

Personal hygiene is very important when working with food, too.

Here’s a perfect example of how poor personal hygiene affected food preparation and customer safety:

Years ago, a Fort Lauderdale, FL restaurant, The Ancient Mariner actually went out of business because of one employee who didn’t wash his hands thoroughly. He caused hundreds of guests to become ill over a period of a few months. How?

Here's how. He worked on the salad station, preparing salad dressing, tasting the recipe with his fingers. The unsuspecting guests who ate salad with the dressing he made ended up ill - many were hospitalized. The Board of Health investigated & found this one employee to be the culprit. Not only did he have hepatitis, but they discovered feces under his fingernails! (Remember that part where he tasted the dressings with his fingers? Need I say more?)

How Culinary Professionals Wash Their Hands - and you should, too!:

People think they know how to wash their hands. Turn water on, rub a little soap on their palms, swish, rinse & done.

Here’s how food professionals are trained to wash their hands:

~Use water as hot as your hands can comfortably stand.

~Wet hands & apply soap (antibacterial preferred).

~Scrub between fingers & under the nails (keep nails trimmed short).

~Rub hands together vigorously for 20 seconds (hum “Happy Birthday”)

~Rinse hands thoroughly.

~Turn off faucet with a single-use disposable towel or your elbow.