if you know me well, you probably aren’t shocked by the fact i’m not the biggest fan of your run-of-the-mill, traditional valentine’s day. to me, it seems like just another capitalistic exploit of female insecurities created & perpetuated by the media & society that ends in a facebook competition about whose boyfriend spent the most money on them. at the end of the day, the score is romantic-industrial complex: 1, american women: 0.
after years of me begging him to stop, nathan has finally quit buying me flowers & chocolates (i mean let’s face it–i buy myself that stuff whenever the fancy strikes me, anyway). i don’t need gifts to know nathan loves me–he does my dishes during finals, he always gives me the last cookie & if i’m not okay, neither is he. therefore, for as long as i can remember, valentine’s day (for me) has been about showing love to the people who may be more apt to forget about my appreciation for them–my friends & my family.
& this year is no different. this year was about showing love to my girlfriends here in madison. the past couple years of my life would have been hell without them. between experiencing my first year of law school & losing my puppy, hamlet, in a tragic accident last fall, i know i wouldn’t have been okay without their love. so, to show my thanks to this amazing group of women in my life, i invited everyone over & tried my hand at making arabic food for the first time.
it went swimmingly (other than the fact that tots ate an entire box of chocolate-covered cherries, got so sick that i had to trap her in the bathtub, make her throw up by forcing peroxide down her throat & supervise her from my perch on the bathroom counter, where i was eating my dinner, away from my guests)!
i put out a tray of traditional middle eastern appetizers–feta cheese with jalepenos & olive oil (gibna baida, or white cheese in arabic), marinated olives, labneh with olive oil & pickled turnips (my favorite). i didn’t make any of that myself, but i did make fattoush (a salad with pita bread croutons & lemon-sumac dressing that i’ll be posting about tomorrow) & kofta (ground lamb traditionally grilled on skewers & seasoned with allspice & cayenne). everything tasted how it was supposed to & my friends agreed that it was blog-worthy.
-2 lbs ground lamb, or a mix of beef & lamb
-1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
-1 large white onion, grated
-1 tsp salt, or to taste
-1/4 tsp allspice
-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
-several grinds of fresh black pepper
combine all ingredients in a large bowl with your hands. form mixture into about 16 thick, 4-inch long logs. bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until meat is cooked to your desired doneness. enjoy.