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Archive for the ‘recipe’ Category

Magic Monkey Mix

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on January 4, 2012

Okay, it’s not my invention, it is my mother in laws….it starts out like this:

What’s in there?  What isn’t?  What I could identify ..ginger, bay leaves, peppercorns, capers, red peppers, mustard seed, dried cilantro, cumin, cloves, anise, cinnamon  and about 100 other spices that I can’t identify…including those twig things.

Grind it all up and it looks like this:

When you grind it up, the entire house gets this heady, exotic aroma floating thru it…a mixture of a “Christmas” aroma and that certain something that you just can’t  identify.  I love going to Khan Khalili and walking thru the spice market….amazing experience, your senses are just assaulted.  Each shop has their own version of mama’s magic spice mix.

Use:  chicken and beef as a rub…and excellent when used in mashi – stuffed grape leaves, or cabbage, or bell peppers or squash..you see where I am going with this?  If it can be hollowed out or rolled and stuffed with rice, it is mashi!




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Cookin’ with the Munky: Lentil Salad – A Meal in Itself

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on January 4, 2012

  A Tribute to the Bean

Beans! Beans! Beans! You’re just full of beans!  Time to spill the beans! “It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people doesn’t add up to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that. Now, now… Here’s looking at you kid.” “Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof.”

Ok..you see where I am going here.  Now let’s get down to business..first a disclaimer:   unless it is a baking recipe, baking is more science than anything so I do give exact measurements,  for most other recipes I won’t..it is a matter of taste.  I used to get frustrated when I would watch my mom cook and ask her exactly how much is that mom?  She would say..Munky just do it to taste, I would complain, Mom I don’t have any taste, my taste is YOUR taste.  I got over that idea, and so will you.  We will begin this recipe in the spirit of the great Julia Childs…“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”


Brown Lentils Dry – wash and soak them over night, they will swell.  Rinse well, and pour into a big pot of boiling salted water.  Depending on the lentil itself this may take 20 to 30 minutes, periodically check make sure it does not boil dry and to see if it is done.  Do not over cook, you do not want mush, you want a completely cooked the bean, these are not big beans by the way, not like pinto beans for example, they are much smaller, thinner.  When cooked, drain the water off, rinse again and let it sit in a strainer for a bit to get rid of excess water.  If you discover that you have cooked way too many beans, once the water has drained, simply put into a freezer bag and tuck into your freezer for a future salad in minutes.  If you do not drain off the excess water and freeze them, you will end up with a block of ice and icky mushy beans later.

Fresh cilantro chopped – this is a pungent herb so don’t over do it, unless you really like cilantro then knock yourself out.

Fresh parsley chopped – be generous, and besides that it’s good for you.  Did you know parsley is a natural diuretic?

Green Onion chopped – use the green chive like parts and the actual onion – waste not want not.

Diced tomatoes.

Ground Cumin to taste.  Cumin is a wonderful spice..there is evidence of cumin seeds 2,000 BC.  Depending on the grade of spice start out sparingly, you can always add more, but you can’t take it away.

And of course if you hate onions, well then don’t add them..or if you hate cilantro, don’t use it..this is optional cooking, not mandatory.

Combine everything together…and then add the secret ingredient..

Munky’s Magical Elixir

Step 1.

Crushed Garlic – be brave, be bold, there is no such thing as too much garlic in the Munky’s world.  It is a natural antibiotic, and a blood thinner.  It is by the way a true character flaw if you do not like garlic.  There is no hope for you to lead a truly inspired culinary life if you banish garlic from your cooking.

For the sake of argument let’s say 2 Tablespoons, which you are going to then add a heaping teaspoon of salt, mix it all together.   Your eyes should be watering now if you are doing it right.

Step 2.

Fresh squeezed lemon – you can probably use that stuff from a plastic lemon, but I prefer not to know about it ok?

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (yes you could use some other vegetable oil and I really don’t want to know about that at all)  I cannot tell you how much of a difference olive oil makes, not only in the flavour, but also for your health.

The ratio is approximately 1 part lemon juice to 1.25 to 1.5 parts of olive oil.

Add the garlic salt mixture from step one and shake it all up to combine.

Pour over the lentil salad mixture…and gently mix it all up..and taste..you may need more salt, you may need more lemon?

I love serving this over a bed of greens, anything will work, different lettuces,  arugula, spinach..whatever you want..


This salad seems to get better the longer it sits, and will stay perky in the frig for a few days..if you don’t eat it all on the first day.  Of course lettuce does not store well once it is dressed…so don’t try that one.

Bon Appetite!



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Cooking with the Munky Breakfast for a Month – Egyptian Wheat Porridge (Beleela)

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on October 16, 2011

Mama used to say breakfast was the most important meal of the day…and she was/is right! This afternoon I made breakfast for the month.

Studies have study has shown a link between nutrition and cognitive development in children.   Children who participated in the School Breakfast Program were shown to have significantly higher standardized achievement test scores than eligible non-participants.  (Of course keep electing those people from the Tea Party and GOP and we won’t have Breakfast Programs for children…but I digress).  For those of us who are not children Researchers from the National Weight Control Registry, a database of more than 3,000 people who have lost at least 60 pounds and kept it off for an average of 6 years, found that eating breakfast every day was a weight control strategy for 78% of the people in the registry. People who kept off weight long-term also reported eating a low-fat diet and exercising for an hour or more each day.

Overnight the body’s motor slows down so you can sleep. Breakfast gets it going again. By not eating breakfast, you run your motor on empty, because you haven’t switched on the motor correctly. The body trying to conserve the energy it has – and as far as the body knows, it is entering starvation mode, and needs to conserve all the spare energy it has in store. It doesn’t have the mechanism to understand that you chose to start your engines without topping up the fuel tank. By not eating breakfast regularly, the reduction in metabolism can cause an increase of 3kg / year.

I am also a believer in Dr. Oz’s idea if what you are eating doesn’t look like it did in nature then don’t eat it. (Of course there are exceptions…like cheesecake for example, cupcakes, snicker’s bars – do you see where I am going with this?)

Wheat looks like this:

Not like this:

Long before Kellogg’s Cereals  and others perverted wheat it used to be good for us.  The body needs carbohydrates.  The body also needs fiber.  Wheat is perfect.

Munky’s Wheaty Breakfast

Ingredients:  Wheat – that’s it, just wheat.  Here is the tricky part for those of you in the US, I don’t know if I have ever seen just wheat kernals sold in the store.  I imagine some place like Whole Foods would have it.  In Egypt you can buy just wheat, not processed at all, or you can buy Beleela which the outshell is removed.  Either wheat is perfectly acceptable for breakfast.   If the out hull is removed it has a creamier texture when cooked, it comes down to a personal preference.

Method:  Rinse the wheat removing any little stones etc and soak over night, the wheat will swell in size.  Rinse again until the water runs clear, cover the wheat with water  and boil until the kernels are tender.  Do NOT let it boil dry.  Depending on the type of wheat, with or without the out shell/hull it will take any where from 45 minutes to an hour or more.  Periodically pull out a kernel and taste it, it should be soft, not mushy, but soft, cooked.  When cooked pour the wheat thru a strainer to and rinse with water.  Give it 15 or 20 minutes to sit in the strainer so all the water is drained off, this way when you freeze them they are not one solid ice block.  Put in freezer bags and toss into the freezer.  I pull one out a week, let it thaw over night in the refrigerator ( or if you forget and are in a hurry you can just run water over them in a strainer and in about 2 minutes you have cereal)

Dressing Up Your Wheat

I’m all for natural wholesome food, but I need a little zip too!

In the mood for something warm on a brisk morning?  Heat up your beleela with milk.  (By the way if you have never had or don’t remember the last time you had milk from a real live cow and not from the plastic bottles in the grocery store, you don’t know what milk is…)

My favorite?  A big dollop of yogurt, preferably the thick Greek style yogurt, you can add honey or sugar to sweeten it.  Cut up an apple and banana, or drop in a handful of berries, cherries…it’s up to you.

Beleela with cherries and yogurt

Warning – if you are not used to alot of fiber in  your diet this is a 5 out of 5 rating 

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