Saturday, December 31, 2011

Salad Recipe from THE ANTIOCHIANS

Last night, Marash Girl finally decided to begin reading her copy of  THE ANTIOCHIANS, a novel set in Kessab, Syria, in the early 20th Century, based on the early life of the author, Dr. Albert S. Apelian, the book presented to her many years ago by Dr. Apelian when THE ANTIOCHIANS was first published.  Marash Girl had to stop reading the novel at page 20 in order to share with you, dear reader, a recipe Dr. Apelian shares with his readers for a salad his main character eats in a Kebabji (a restaurant specializing in shish kebab).  This is what Dr. Apelian writes:  "Kevork Agha . . .was served cubes of leg of lamb broiled on spits and a combination salad composed of chopped onions, (fresh) tomatoes, green peppers, parsley and crushed walnut-meat smothered in freshly squeezed pomegranate juice."

Were Marash Girl to make this salad (which she soon will), she would use her Cuisinart to grind the walnuts (as she has no idea how to crush walnuts) and bottled pure pomegranate juice (as she has no idea how to freshly squeeze pomegranates)!

Couldn't wait to share the recipe with you, dear reader...  If you try it before Marash Girl does, be sure to leave a comment as to how the salad comes out.

Marash Girl will keep you apprised of her reading of THE ANTIOCHIANS as she continues the adventure.

Oh, and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011


Antique Armenian Lined Copper Gazan (ղազան)
In this season of festivities, Marash Girl always needs
large gazans (ղազան), pots large enough to make boulghour pilaf, lentil pilaf, chick pea salad, and tortellini salad for 100.  Ruminating on this fact brought to mind a favorite story of Marash Girl's Marashtsi relatives, a story oft-told in Turkish by her father Peter.  Here goes in English.

One day, Nasreddin Hodja borrowed a large pot from his neighbor.  After a week, he returned the pot to his neighbor with a tiny pot inside.  

The neighbor, surprised, held up the small pot and asked, "What's this? 
"Oh," replied Hodja, "the pot had a baby." 

The neighbor, delighted that Hodja was crazy enough to believe that a pot could have a  baby, carried the large pot and the baby pot home with him.  

A week later, Hodja borrowed the large pot again. The neighbor was happy to lend Hodja the pot. . . But this time, Hodja did not return the pot.  

The neighbor went to Hodja's house looking for his large pot: "Where's my pot?" he asked, annoyed.

"The pot died," intoned Hodja.

"Died?" shouted the neighbor. . . "How can a pot die?"  

"If a pot can have a baby, a pot can die!" chuckled Hodja.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Among the favorite salads at our Christmas Eve party EVERY YEAR is Marash Girl's adaptation of a recipe handed down by Shamiram Barooshian who brought the recipe with her as she escaped genocide almost 100 years ago.

If it weren't for Shamiram, Marash Girl would have no quick and luscious treat to serve the vegan members of the family.

Marash Girl rinses a pound of dried chick peas and soaks the chick peas overnight. The next day, she drains and rinses the soaked chick peas, covers them with cool water, and simmers them for 1 hour, after which the chick peas should be strained & refrigerated. When she doesn't have the time to use dried chickpeas, Marash Girl starts with a one gallon can of chick peas (yes, this is a staple for her vegan family members and a favorite of everyone else), rinses the canned chick peas thoroughly under cool, clear water and places the chick peas in a large bowl.  Whether using the canned or the home cooked chick peas, she then pours good olive oil, fresh lemon juice and a good wine vinegar in which a garlic clove has been marinating (always a staple in Marash Girl's kitchen), Kosher salt and Armenian (Aintab) red pepper and leaves the combination to marinate for an hour, or overnight.  Just before serving, she adds  lots of freshly chopped Italian parsley (including the finely chopped stems)  & freshly chopped scallions or chives.  This delicious salad is ready to serve within the hour and if refrigerated, will keep for days . . . that is, if it isn't finished the day you serve it!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Amahl and the Night Visitors

Remember watching this on TV when it first came out in 1951?  Well, perhaps you don't have that many years in you, but it was pretty exciting for the folks that saw it on their recently acquired TV's.   Soon everyone who owned a piano (and that was a lot of folks back then) owned the sheet music for Amahl and the Night Visitors, playing and singing the music, and humming the tunes which became almost as well known as traditional Christmas Carols.   In 1955, Amahl and the Night Visitors was performed at Newton High School with Donald March conducting the orchestra, Susan Stone playing the part of the mother, and Mark Golub as one of the three kings.  More recently, Marash Girl used to take her children to a performance of Amahl and the Night Visitors every year that it was performed at the Newton Presbyterian Church in Newton Corner.

Amahl and the Night Visitors was the first opera commissioned especially for television.  If you're wishing you could hear the original opera again, you can find a recording of the original at UTube (in 5 parts).  If you were hoping to obtain a copy of the sheet music, you're in luck!  One copy of the complete score, piano part, lyrics in English, and all voice parts in the original 65 page booklet is available at

Monday, December 26, 2011

Asian treats on the day after Christmas

For Christmas, Marash Girl asked for a day trip to an unknown place, a place (or places) she had never been to before, and lunch or dinner again in a place she had never eaten before. Little did she know that her adventure would begin today right around the corner from the family's Christmas gathering place (thanks to Nisha's hospitality) in Burlington, Massachusetts!  With most of the family headed for the Boston Museum of Science, Marash Girl and Karoun headed around the block to #3 Old Concord Road in Burlington -- and what's there? Surprise!  H Mart . . . an oriental supermarket as large as any Marash Girl has frequented.  And what a treat!  Look at a display in the fruit and vegetable aisle.
Fresh mandarin oranges, leaves and all!
Before beginning our tour of the market, we decided to stop for a freshly baked oriental pastry and tea.  Sitting in the food court,  we noticed a big pot of steaming soup on the table behind us.  Soon the soup was joined by the chef (who had prepared it) and his kitchen assistants. As the chef began ladling out the soup,  Marash Girl commented, That looks delicious! How do you make it?  As he shared his recipe, the chef  allowed me to take a photo of his soup, though not of himself:  just put miso in water with tofu and fresh vegetables!  But be careful not to put TOO much miso, he added, as he pointed the way to the quarts of miso paste along the back wall!  Marash Girl can't wait to try it -- she'll add Chinese broccoli when she makes this soup!
Before leaving, Karoun (note the cup of coffee she's clutching in her right hand)  checked out the elegant display of roots for making oriental  teas. She found the long sought after licorice root but no wild orchid.  What she didn't know was that licorice root tea used to be Marash Girl's favorite!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Blessings

Early edition of John Hancock Christmas Carols
Peace on earth, good will to all.  Luckily, Christmas is wherever you are, because this year, Marash Girl's family must carry their joy with them, their songs in their hearts, and the little Christmas Carol booklets from John Hancock, some from as early as the 1930's, in their pockets.  What memories those booklets carry with them.  Where did Mommy acquire them? Did Mommy and Daddy have John Hancock Insurance, or were those little books everywhere, free for the taking in every store, ubiquitous during the Christmas holidays . . . Don't know, but do know that Mommy valued those little booklets which were in the family home over the years, even as the covers changed from a traditional colored Christmas night scene to a less colorful black red and white design. Marash Girl and her family had those little booklets  handy as did all the carolers who went caroling from door to door in those days -- (though it is unsure as to how they could read the words in the dark as the print was very tiny!)  John Hancock Christmas Carol booklets were as much a part of Christmas as the Christmas tree and the creche.  (Whoops . . . the commercialization of Christmas, but Marash Girl didn't know it then!)

Marash Girl's mother treasured those booklets and carefully packed them away on January 6 in readiness for the next Christmas celebration . . . and to this day, the family sings carols from those booklets which have become part and parcel of Christmas.  This year, as the family will be celebrating away from the homestead, Marash Girl went looking for the tiny treasury of Christmas carols; they were where they always are, on the right, in the cabinet next to the piano.  This year again, the greater family will participate in singing their joy to the heavens, young and old, Christians and Jews.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tortellini Salad a la Marash Girl

Here's a very quick and very easy salad that Marash Girl first made a few years ago at Karoun's high school graduation party -- their very own invention:  Tortellini Salad, and if it were not for the wonderful offerings at Costco, the combination would never have occurred to us!  Here it is in all of its festive glory.

1 large bag of all natural, no preservatives, frozen cheese tortellini
1 quart bottle of marinated artichoke hearts
1 quart bottle of peeled whole fire roasted red peppers in water (NOT PICKLED)
Boil fresh water in large pan, toss in still frozen tortellini, simmer until al dente. Carefully strain and discard water.

While the tortellini is simmering, strain and RESERVE the marinade from the artichoke hearts to use for dressing.  Quarter the artichokes. Put aside. 
Strain the water from the pimento peppers and discard that water.  Thinly slice the red peppers.  (If you prefer, thinly sliced sun dried tomatoes may be substituted for red peppers.)
While the tortellini is still warm, add the marinade from the artichoke hearts, the quartered artichokes, and the thinly sliced red peppers.  Toss carefully so as not to damage the integrity of any of the ingredients.  Adjust seasoning to taste by adding sparingly any of the following:  kosher salt, a good olive oil, red wine vinegar in which has been marinating a garlic clove. Refrigerate before serving.

Easy, quick, festive, and delicious!  This dish will be featured tonight at the family's annual Christmas Eve Open House.  Merry Christmas to all . . .

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mittens - you can't lose them if you don't use them!

Or put another way, if you use them, you'll lose them, or at least one of them.  Time to ask Grandma to crochet a chain attaching mitten to mitten and running that chain through the sleeves of our snow jackets, no matter what our age!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quick and Easy Chicken Parmesan

Marash Girl went to dinner last night, to an elegant dinner prepared by her daughter in 1/2 hour, and you, too, can do the same.  Marash Girl will share the recipe with you ONLY if you promise to invite her to dinner when you prepare this quick and delicious meal.
Here's the recipe as created by Marash Girl's daughter, Nisha.  Really an adaptation of Chicken Parmesan with none of the fuss or muss!
For a generous meal for two . . .

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
Beat one or two eggs. Set aside.  Place bread crumbs (home made or purchased) in another flat bowl.
Dip chicken tenders first into beaten egg, then into bread crumbs so that both sides are covered with the crumbs.
Place chicken tenders on lightly greasedPyrex glass tray or baking dish.. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Remove from oven.  Cover the chicken tenders first with your favorite spaghetti sauce (she used tomato basil) and then with grated cheese (she used a good cheddar but any meltable cheese will do).   Bake for another 10 minutes.

While chicken is baking, saute a combination of frenched green beens and tiny pieces of broccolli (frozen or fresh). 

Voila.  A meal to live for!  Thank you, Nisha!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

From Farm to Table - Local Produce At Its Best

Still thinking about those summers living on the top of Wilbraham Mountain . . . the children used to work at the farm in the valley. The farmer would pay the children with vegetables as well as a roll of quarters.  Young Deron was so proud to be bringing fresh vegetables home to the family, vegetables that he himself had harvested, so proud that he announced to his Grandpa Peter one day, "Look, Grandpa, I'm putting food on the table!"  

Grandpa Peter, a lifelong gardener himself, never tired of telling the tale.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


As the first day of winter approaches, Marash Girl can't help but think about summer and the mountain, and the farm in the valley wheare the children learned to plant and harvest.  One summer many years ago, the children asked, "Who is that woman who lives with the farmer? Is that his wife?"  "No, she's the farmer's paramour," answered Marash Girl.  What the children heard Marash Girl say was, "She's the farmer's power mower!" and so she remained in the minds of the children . . . and, for that matter, in reality!

Monday, December 19, 2011


Is there anything heavier to bear than the coffin which carries someone you love?  To walk beside the coffin, with one hand on its highly polished mahogany, in front of you, behind you, around you, all those who loved the one whom the coffin enshrouds, and then to help to lift that shiny, tightly fitted container onto the hearse which will transport your once living vibrant friend to his final resting place. . .  What greater burden could their be . . .

Sunday, December 18, 2011


As a child, he hears but does not listen.  Now he listens but does not hear.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tebowing in the 1960's: Richie Koumruian in Brooklyn, NY

It was in the little house on E. 15th Street in Brooklyn, New York, that Marash Girl first witnessed Tebowing.  It was her jokester cousin Richie Koumruian of firefly fame visiting his grandfather (Marash Girl's Uncle Manoog), and amusing his young cousins, by randomly and suddenly falling into the Tebow position, mimicking relatives who made a show of their religiosity, and sending us into gales of laughter.  Even then, he, like young Marash Girl, knew that in the Bible we are instructed to pray in secret.

In Matthew 6: 5-6, Jesus delivers His Sermon on the Mount (King James Translation):
". . .And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

The closet we enter must be our hearts, for if not our hearts, how else could we follow Saint Paul's advice to pray without ceasing. . . (I Thessalonians 5:17)

All of the above withstanding, this post is not meant to be a criticism of Tebow.  Tebow is posturing.  Posturing is part of football. And posturing is Tebow's way of taking a stand for Christ. Good for him, or as the old folks might have said multilingually, (and they were all VERY multilingual), Afferrim, djanum! Abris, dghas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Remembering Norman Krim

In yesterday's Boston Globe, you may have seen the following death notice:
"KRIM, Norman B. 98 of Newton on Wednesday morning, December 14, 2011. Radio Shack, Pollack Company, Raytheon Exec and Inventor, and at the Cutting Edge of Transistor Development. At Raytheon Krim was at the cutting edge of miniaturizing electron tubes in the 1940's, innovating many improvements for radar and armaments during WWII, and developing the first pocket radio using his tubes and later transistors for transistor radios in the 50's, leading the company and the global market on transistors. He was President of Radio Shack, a Boston-based company, and later of Joseph Pollak Company."
But Norm was none of that for Peter and Marash Girl.  They came to know Norm much later.  Peter and Norm first met at Newton Wellesley Hospital, after each of them had had a serious bout with their hearts.  They exercised together weekly under the supervision of Nurse Giselle who they adored. They soon decided to  start going for lunch after their weekly exercise, and go to lunch they did.  Once a week, after exercise, Norm and Peter, and soon Neil, would go to the Old Country Buffet in Watertown to chow down.  They looked forward to those luncheons.  But the day came when Newton Wellesley decided to cut back on its expenses and no longer allowed these 'boys' the luxury of a supervised exercise room, so their exercise became lonely daily walks, but their jovial luncheons continued weekly, now at the Newton Marriott where the waitresses and waiters doted on the three men as they ordered their Wednesday luncheon buffets.   A handsomer threesome you could not find! 
l to r  Neil Smith, Dr. Timothy Johnson (ABC & Channel 5), Norm Krim, Peter Bilezikian pose for Marash Girl at the Newton Marriott
The view of the Charles River was unmatchable and the conversations were non-stop . . . everything from history (ancient and modern), to old jokes to taxes to Presidential politics to memories of days gone by to the love life of the prettiest waitress in the room to the food being offered that day to the work that Norm was doing as archivist for Raytheon.   The day came when Peter gave up his driver's license (at age 92) and Marash Girl, who then drove Peter to those luncheons, joined the fray.  A more gracious group of jokesters could not be found . . . a contradiction in terms?  Not with these guys.  The 'boys' loved going to lunch at the Marriott and the waitresses doted on the 'boys'. When Peter left them for a Better Place in March of 2010, the luncheons were no longer.  As Marash Girl's father used to comment on such occasions, "Those days are gone . . . forever." 

But Marash Girl figures that Peter and Norm are whipping it up in heaven just as they did on earth, even as she writes this post.

Services for Norman Krim will be held this Sunday, December 18, at Levine Chapel, 470 Harvard Street in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Red Cabbage Salad . . . Especially for Chris Metz

If recipes aren't made in heaven, perhaps delicious food is, at the least, blessed.  So winging it one Christmas, Marash Girl created a never before tasted or seen salad.  Here is Marash Girl's recipe for Red Cabbage Salad.

Remove outer leaves and quarter a small head of red cabbage. (Small insures tender leaves.)
Cut the cabbage into quarters, rinse under cold water, drain, and remove core.
Thinly slice or shred the quartered cabbage.

Salad dressing:

Tamari (ONLY the naturally brewed tamari soy sauce such as SAN-J that can be purchased at all natural food stores; the other 'stuff' that you must absolutely avoid, popular commercial 'soy sauce', is composed primarily of salt and caramel food coloring with lots of preservatives!)
Olive Oil (good and fresh)
Wine vinegar (i.e. a good red wine vinegar that has had a peeled clove of garlic marinating in it for a while)

Don't even try this recipe if you don't have a good Tamari.

That's it.  Now don't ask Marash Girl how much of each ingredient.    Taste it and you decide.  Better  to start with less and add more than the other way around, right? And no, Marash Girl DOES NOT add salt, pepper or Aintab red pepper to this salad!

The great thing about Red Cabbage Salad is that it tastes better the longer it sits, so you don't have to feel guilty when you make it the day before your event.

Whenever Marash Girl makes this salad, she makes it with Christopher Metz in mind. He loved Marash Girl's red cabbage salad so much that he got to take home all the leftovers (if there ever were any)!  Unforunately, this salad won't survive a trip to Thailand. . .

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


As the holidays approach, and you, the cook (be you mother or father, daughter or son, niece or nephew, or simply friend) start thinking about the perfect holiday table, don't stress.  Just remember what Medzmama preached:  "Recipes aren't made in heaven." 

Have fun.  That doesn't mean that you should necessarily try a new creation the night before the holiday.  As you may have gathered from past posts, you don't have to follow any recipe exactly.  In fact, you don't have to follow any recipe.  Adapt, create, try new spices, try new ingredients.  And taste!  That's the secret!  Keep tasting till the taste is right!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cream Kadayif for Christmas

Every Christmas, my mother would make Cream Kadayif-- not the kadayif with the nuts and the sugar syrup that everybody else used to make, but the kadayif with the rich delicious cream filling.  I can still see my mother in the doorway of the dining room, presenting her waiting admirers with a circular tray of cream kadayif just out of the oven! Where did she learn to make it?  Not sure, but we think she learned from Rose, the friend we wouldn't be without in the kitchen.  From my mother, Grandma Jennie, we learned what food was supposed to look like, taste like, smell like, but from Rose we learned to make it because my mom was no longer with us.  Rose was a friend of my mother's; they were both Aintabtsi; they were both great cooks; they both attended the Armenian Women's Educational Club in Watertown, Massachusetts; they both attended every meeting where, whether at their home or at another member's home,  the table would be spread with the most savory and sweet of Armenian delicacies.  We were all lucky because Rose's daughter, Mary Baboian Balyosian, recorded those recipes and published them in a volume which we all cherish (and which, in fact, I have for sale, inscribed and signed by Mary, online at my bookstore:

My daughter Nisha wanted to continue the Cream Kadayif Christmas tradition started by Grandma Jennie, but because I had never made cream kadayif, I simply handed Nisha Rose Baboian's Armenian American Cookbook (of which we have a copy on each floor of our home and in each home of each of my daughters).  Of course, Nisha and I both remembered what the cream kadayif was supposed to look like and taste like, and we made sure that ours looked and tasted just like Grandma Jennie's.  Whenever someone asked how to make Nisha's Cream Kadayif, Nisha gave all the credit to her Grandma Jennie and Rose (both great Aintabsi cooks, of course -- Rose was actually born In Aintab), and directed them to Rose's cookbook.  'But why doesn't my kadayif come out the same as yours?', my brother's wife Anjel asked every year.  Well, we never really knew the answer to that until this Christmas when Nisha suddenly realized that we've been making Grandma Jennie's Kadayif all along, not Rose's!  We always put  twice as much cream filling (and probably a dab of extra cream and and a smidgeon of extra butter,)  and that has made all the difference!!!  (Credit to Robert Frost for the last seven words of this post!)

Monday, December 12, 2011


A handsome dark-haired policeman crossed the children in front of the old Claflin School at the corner of Washington Park and Walnut Street in Newtonville (opposite what was then the Newtonville Library and is now the Newton Senior Citizen Center). An honored few student crossing guards would assist the policeman, standing at the curb, protecting classmates from rushing headlong into the traffic (even though there were not many cars  then) -- the 6th Grade students wore white bands across their jackets to signify their special status.  Marash Girl always remembered the dark-haired policeman (and the other policeman who was known as Happy because he always had a smile and a happy word for the kids). Marash Girl didn't know the dark-haired policeman's name at the time. It wasn't until years later that she met Larry -- her mother (Jennie) had long since gone to heaven (with a smile on her face, mind you!), her father was in his mid-eighties, and so was Larry. It was then that she learned that Larry and her father had always been good friends. And it was then that she began to accompany her father on visits to Larry and his wife, visits which were returned at Marash Girl's Christmas parties (an extravaganza of vast proportions, with all of Newton Corner, and Armenian friends and family from Watertown and Belmont, and a chosen few from the 14 villages of Newton.)

One Christmas season, and after Larry's wife had passed away, some days before Christmas Eve, Larry arrived at Marash Girl's house in Newton Corner for a short visit with her father (Peter) and noticed that Marash Girl had cut down the top from another table to use as the surface for a beautiful Victorian coffee table base (which she had purchased years earlier from Garage Sales in Newton Highlands when she was escorting her niece Katie Atikian and Katie's new husband Jerry Reilly on a tour of the antique shops in Newton -- they insisted on her buying the beautiful Victorian table base for the living room of her Victorian house built in 1870, even though the table WAS missing its top!) Larry took one look at the table, excused himself, went out to his car, returned with a tape measure, took the measurements of the erstwhile table top, looked at the colors in the oriental rug, and left. Marash Girl had no idea what he had in mind.

On that Christmas Eve, too early for the party, there was a knock at the door of the old Victorian house on Maple Avenue, and on answering it, Marash Girl found Larry hoisting a beautifully finished granite table top -- (he had carried it up the six front stairs and lugged it across the porch by himself, but it took two adults to help him get it into the living room and place it atop the Victorian coffee table base.) Magnificent! Marash Girl couldn't believe it! A perfect fit and a perfect match for the oriental rug (which, by the way, had been left to her by Uncle Vartan -- Reverend Vartan Bilezikian -- it had been in his living room all those years that Marash Girl and her siblings visited as children, singing hymns to the heavens!) Marash Girl was laughing and crying and hugging Larry and her father (who just happened to be there also). . . a gift of vaster proportions than she could have ever imagined.

Marash Girl was to learn later that Larry's father had been a stonemason and a marble cutter and in Larry's back yard (Larry lived down the Lake, i.e., Nonantum,  the oldest village in Newton) had been stored years earlier pieces of uncut, unfinished marble and granite. That week, Larry had rummaged under the snow in his backyard and found the perfect piece for Marash Girl's coffee table; rekindling the talents that his father had taught him years earlier, Larry created a work of beauty which sits in the living room on Maple Avenue to this day, a centerpiece for all to admire, a memorial to Larry Maffeola and his father.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Losh Kebab (Armenian Hamburgers) - 2.5 variations on a theme

 Oh, to cook on the fireplace on top of  Wilbraham Mountain
In Marash Girl's family, a favorite way of preparing hamburgers (traditionally made with ground lamb, but often made with part lamb and part beef, or simply ground beef) is to mix the ground meat with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, Aintab red pepper, and lots of finely chopped Italian parsley -- the flat leaf variety (Marash Girl stops there but Marash Boy prefers to add 100% all natural soy tamari in place of the seasonings mentioned above).  In addition to the parsley and seasonings, Grandma Jennie and Medzmama added finely chopped onions, finely chopped green peppers, and tomato paste.  Whatever you decide to add to your ground meat, mix well with your CLEAN hands and shape into patties or shape into hot dog shapes onto a skewer; cook under broiler or over gas grill, or better yet, over a charcoal grill or an open fire.

     The Armenians call this meal Losh Kebab or simply Losh, and often serve it in pideh bread with lots of pervaz for garnish. (Remember? Finely chopped fresh parsley, fresh green peppers, and fresh scallions tossed together.)

     Take Marash Girl's word for it:  Losh Kebab is deLOSHous!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

La Lechuza - And on earth, peace, good will

La Lechuza, la lechuza
Hace shhh, hace shhh
Hagamos silencio, hagamos silencio
Por favor, por favor.
(sung to the tune of "Frere Jacques")

When Aline was very young, and Raffi was in utero, Aline would always sing to Raffi .  She would sing  the song (see above) that she had learned at her day care, the Little Flower Montessori School. 

How is it that you learned this song? Marash Girl asked her granddaughter.

In school, whenever we were noisy, the teachers would start singing to us, and pretty soon we would join in and we would all be singing and then we would all be quiet and peaceful.  (A lesson to be learned here, ladies and gentleman?)

Aline loved singing this song and would sing it to her little brother during that time when she could not yet see him.

Thus it was that after Raffi was born, whenever he started crying or fussing, Aline would sing 'La Lechuza' to him, and hearing the voice and the music that he had known from before his birth, Raffi would stop crying and be at peace with the world around him.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Armenian Bulghour Pilaf - Three Variations on a Theme

Marash Girl's simply delicious bulghour pilaf:

Finely chop or slice one large yellow onion (after peeling, of course); In a heavy leCreuset pot or the like, saute onions unhtil golden in approx. 1/4 c. olive oil.  Add 1 cup MEDIUM bulghour.  Saute til color changes slightly.  Add 1 can V-8 juice and 1/4 c. water (for a total of  1 3/4 c. of liquid).  Bring to boil, stirring.  Turn off heat and leave mixture to sit in pot, covered, for about 20 minutes.  Perfect bulghour pilaf.

A variation on the above:  

Fancy bulghour pilaf:  In heavy pot, saute one chopped onion, one chopped green peppers, one chopped tomato, add one cup medium bulghour and saute for a minute.  Add 1 3/4 c. chicken broth.  Salt to taste.  Bring to boil, stirring.  Turn off heat and leave mixture to sit in heavy pot, covered, for about 20 minutes.

Traditional Armenian bulghour pilaf. 

In heavy pot, saute a handful of fine vermicelli (shehreh), broken into pieces in 1/4 c. olive or butter or a combination of the two. Add 1 c. medium bulghour; saute.  Add 2 c. chicken broth and salt to taste. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat and leave mixture to sit in heavy pot, covered, for about 20 minutes.

1) Make sure you purchase your bulghour from a Middle Eastern (preferably Armenian, of course) Grocery Store.  DO NOT purchase bulghour from the natural foods store, because it's not the right thing and your dish will not come out the way it should.

2) Marash Girl's mother and grandmothers used to simmer the boulghour pilaf for 15 minutes, but that's not necessary when you use a covered heavy pot, especially in the light of going green and avoiding the possibility of burning the pilaf!

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Marash Girl received a chain email from her friend who was sharing Marash Girl's recipe for lamb shanks, a recipe Marash Girl had shared with her years ago.  Here it is:

Wash lamb shanks under cold water and pat dry. Cover the lamb shanks with peeled, broadly sliced onions, peeled & chopped garlic (Marash Girl's addition -- Medz Mama would never use garlic and onions in the same dish), fresh green peppers, seeded & broadly sliced, fresh tomatoes sliced into quarters or canned whole tomatoes, kosher salt, pepper, Aintab red pepper.  (The chain email recommended cumin and bay leaf, though that was definitely not original to Marash or to MedzMama.)  Simmer in slow cooker, or bake in oven uncovered for an hour or two, or until lamb falls easily off of bone.  Serve hot over Armenian rice pilaf or bulghour pilaf.

Marash Girl's friend (and partner in crime during their trip to Egypt) writes, "I recommend serving this as lamb shanks or for a larger group I suggest taking the lamb off the bone before serving.  I sometimes do this same recipe but use cinnamon and allspice instead of cumin."

If you don't know how to make either rice pilaf or bulghour pilaf, serve the lamb shanks over plain rice, or check in later this week for the recipe for Marash Girl's very own bulghour pilaf.

N.B.  Here's the recipe as Marash Girl and her friend recorded it many years ago:
5 lamb shanks, 8 large quartered tomatoes or 2 large cans of whole tomatoes,
5 coarsely cut green peppers, 2 large onions sliced, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 bay leaf, 2 tbsps. cumin
Place lamb shanks in casserole, bake covered at 350 for 2 hours.  Serve over rice.  If you plan to serve this at a buffet dinner, you may want to remove bone before serving.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


On the 20th anniversary of her mother's death,  Marash Girl was reading the Armenian Mirror Spectator (Nov. 26, 2011, issue) when she came upon a letter to the editor from Haig Der Manuelian (HOVNANIAN DESERVES ACCOLADES, OTHER ASSEMBLY FOUNDERS NEED TO BE REMEMBERED).  In that letter, der Manuelian mentions Marash Girl's work in the 1970's as the administrator of the ALMA Oral History Project, but what he does not mention, nor does he know, is the part that Marash Girl's mother played in that project.  If it were not for the support that her mother gave Marash Girl at that time, caring for the children, cooking, providing names and introductions to survivors who her mother knew would be willing to talk with her, there is no way that Marash Girl could have administered ALMA's Oral History Project.  So here's to you, Mummy, Lucille Mae (Jennie) Vartanian Bilezikian, who allowed the project to happen, and here's to all the survivors who were willing to relive the horror of their experiences in order that their stories be known to all in the future.

To read other blogs by Marash Girl on Armenian Oral History, please click the following links:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

'Yardsaling' with my father

My father loved antiques, not because they were antiques, but because they were made by craftsmen.  He recognized and valued good work.  He was the best person to have along with me on yard sale Saturdays.  He would spot furniture that I never saw, way in the corner of the yard.   (At an 'everything for free' yard sale, he saw the most valuable item there -- an old wooden trunk; it was late in the day and everyone else had missed it.)  He never complained when I saw a lamp sitting on the sidewalk on trash day -- he knew he could fix it and it would be far better than any lamp you could buy in a store today.

He welcomed the pile of 'sticks' I brought to him one day -- sticks that had been sitting on the sidewalk, free for the taking.  He reconstructed those sticks into their original state -- and presented me with an early handmade Massachusetts chair, circa 1795.  He not only put that chair together, but had his artist friend touch up the hand painting that had been damaged on the back of that chair.

He saw value in what other people threw away, and gave me my first lessons in true recycling.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The honor system works in New York City!

Called Select Bus Service, this new form of trust is currently available in Manhattan only on the M15 line (this is the bus route with the most riders of any one bus route in the MTA; it runs along the east side of Manhattan from Harlem to the Staten Island Ferry terminal).  In an effort to find ways to make bus service run more smoothly, the MTA decided to introduce a system that allows riders to pay before they board a bus.  That way, the riders can use any of the three doors (older buses have only two doors) to board.  This cuts down on waiting time for every rider to pay at the front before the bus can continue along its route.  Of course, this manner of payment is an honor system of sorts.  Prepayment gives the rider a receipt which is to be shown on demand if asked for proof of payment on the bus.  The penalty for 'non-payment' is $110.  I've never seen anyone asked nor have I been asked to show proof of payment, and I ride that bus at least twice a week.  I think the MTA hopes to expand this service to other lines, and has in fact, instituted a similar system on one of the crosstown buses.

Above contributed by visiting blogger DC.  Check out his blog at

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A BOOK ON ARMENIAN NAMES? A Book that makes a Perfect Gift

Want to give your soon to be born child/grandchild/greatgrandchild an Armenian name but don't know many?  Consider ordering ARMENIANS' NAMES, a book compiled in the 1970's by Martha Bilezikian Atikian (daughter of Armenian parents from Marash and Aintep)  and Hagop Atikian (an Armenian who immigrated to the United States from Kessab, Syria).  Completely in English, ARMENIANS' NAMES lists boys' names and girls' names alphabetically, and gives their meanings, and yes, all in English.  The compilation is fascinating and the brand new, out of print book, a perfect gift for couples about to have a baby.  Just go to, and fill in the search block with the last name of the author and/or the title of the book.  Ordering information will appear soon thereafter.

The book ARMENIANS' NAMES is the perfect anytime anywhere gift. 

Giving a child an Armenian name is a gift that lasts forever.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Century 21, New York City's Filene's Basement, is not kidding when it claims it has fashion worth fighting for.  A New York fashion maven of Marash Girl's acquaintance reports that no sooner had she selected a dress from the rack at Century 21,when a stranger came by and grabbed it out of her hand, leaving the New York fashion maven speechless and dressless.

Friday, December 2, 2011


"I know my ideas are right and I don't need to prove them."

Brandeis Sophomore explaining why she didn't apply to Harvard.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What is your plinth?

Marash Girl just learned about plinths this last month from Eulogio Guzman, Professor in the Visual and Critical Studies Department at the Museum School, Tufts University, during the preparation for the Yusuf Karsh Exhibit at the Armenian Library and Museum of America, and her newly acquired knowledge got her to wondering.

A plinth.  A foundation for what comes next.  As unsubstantial as it seems, it carries weight and bulk, weight and bulk which, without the plinth. could not stand.  Our feet are, in a sense, our plinth.  Or for many the BIBLE may be the plinth.  Witness the children's Sunday School chorus:

                   The   B    I     B    L   E
                   Yes, that's the Book for me
                    I stand alone on the Word of God
                   The   B     I     B     L    E!

Or another popular Sunday School chorus (calling to mind Daniel in the Lion's Den of Old Testament fame):
                    Standing by a purpose true,
                    Heeding God’s command,
                    Honor them, the faithful few!
                    All hail to Daniel’s band.
  •             Dare to be a Daniel,
                Dare to stand alone!
                Dare to have a purpose firm!
                Dare to make it known.

For those without a Sunday School background, the concept of the plinth may call up memories of a song popularized by Bette Midler, and sorry for the mixed metaphor here, 'You are the Wind Beneath my Wings . . .'  -- Or could wind also be considered a plinth?

So think about it.  What steadies you?  What grounds you?  What holds you stable, without fear of falling?

Who or what is your plinth?