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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

[Roasted pumpkin seeds] Fibre-rich snacks after carving Jack-O-Lantern

I remembered that I already had posted this recipe last year, only after I took the pictures and prepared the photos for this post. 

So please let me re-post this recipe.
This might be the first time, but you may see me repeating recipes in the 

Since a few years ago Mr. D has carved three Jack-O-Lanterns before Halloween, which has left more than a few hundred pumpkin seeds, also with ample pulp :(

It's irksome to get rid of so much pulp, but YOU CAN DO IT!
Don't throw out pumpkin seeds and make this yummy crunchy snacks.

I roasted pumpkin seeds last weekend. I must confess that I've waited for a year to roast pumpkins.

Once pulp is removed, everything is so easy.
Remi and I love this snack! Try.

Oh, by the way, our three Jack-O-Lanterns are simpler than last year's. You can see 2011 Jack-O-Lanterns here.

Here goes the recipe, for the second time.

(Adapted from

Raw whole pumpkin seeds from a medium size pumpkin
1 Tablespoons olive oil
(melted butter works too)
1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning
1 pinch salt
Optional: 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon onion powder


1. Remove pulp and rinse the pumpkin seeds and let dry overnight (at least)
2. Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit (135 degrees Celsius).

3. Toss seeds with the olive oil, cajun seasoning & onion powder (if desired), and salt.

4. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a foiled baking sheet. I forgot to layer the foil this year as I didn't double-check the recipe since I knew the recipe by heart. :(

and bake in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes or until golden brown; stir once.

They cool down in no time, i.e. edible right away. :)

Believe me, it will not last more than 48 hours.

It was a wet Halloween here . Kids stilled enjoyed trick-or-treating a lot.
We gave out bags of chips this year for treats. It was fun.

It's the last day of October!
Have a nice evening.

Roasted Pumpkin seeds

Sunday, October 28, 2012

[Afghani Chicken Pulao] National rice dish of Afghanistan (Kabuli palao)

I should admit that I didn't recall much more than Taliban when Afghanistan was metioned, until I read the Kite runner a few years ago.
Have you read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini? If you didn't yet, you should absolutely read this novel! Yes, it's true that the novel is sad and may make you cry as it did to me. It is a very very well written book that cannot be stopped once start reading it. The novel was criticized because of its offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group.
For me, even though the story was a bit too cruel, I find it a great story. And I think Khalid Hosseini described the details so well and I appreciate it since, thanks to his novel, I could learn lots of things and cuisines that belonged to Afghanistan.
Nonetheless, the novel taught me there was peaceful and normal days in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, before Taliban occupied the country.
That is how I got to interested in Afghan cuisine, and got to know that the rice was "king" of all foods in Afghanistan.
The Chicken palao recipe I learned is one of the national dishes in Afghanistan.
Qabili Palao is the Afghanistan's national dish made with meat and stock added, topped with fried raisins, carrots and pistachios.
(As I love the flavor, I try to keep the original recipe as it is. However, I omit pistachio only becase my yougner son is allergic to peanuts and all the treenuts)
 There are a few dishes introduced at the Kite Runner. However, as palao becomes one of my favorite job, I imagine and think of the book.
Anyway, the dish of the Afghan pulao is called the "the king" of all foods in Afghanistan.
You'd better use long grain rice to make an authentic rice dish of Afghanistan.
This pulao is just so good that I can't describe the taste properly.  But the combination of the spices with basmati and onion is heavenly.
You should try this authentic Afghani recipe!
I got this recipe from an Afghan woman's blog, but I can't find the link now :(
Here goes the recipe:
2 Cups Basmati rice
3-4 chicken legs
3-4 chicken thighs.
1 + 1/2 Cups onions, diced
1/3 Cup olive oil
1/2 -1C Chicken broth
1+1/2 ts cumin
1+1/2 ts cardamom
pepper 1/2 ts
8 Cups water

1.  Wash and dry chicken legs and thighs with kitchen towel. Remove skins
if there is any. 

Mix cardamom, cumin, and pepper, and set aside.

2.  Place onion in the food processor and pulse if for a few times. Don't make it too mashed.
3. Heat olive oil over medium high heat and fry onion until golden-brown. It will take 7-10 minutes.
4. Add chicken legs and thighs containing bones.
5. It will take 10-12 minutes to cook chickens.
Add 1/4 Cup chicken broth, or a bit more, depending on how fast the broth disappears, and continue to cook.
6. Once the liquid is all absorbed, add another 1/4 cup chicken broth.
7. Add cumin, cardamom, and salt.
Mix well and let it simmer for another 10 minutes.

8. By this time, the entire house smell
Set the cooked chicken aside.
9. Boil a large amount of water with sea salt and cook the rice in as in the instruction.
  Drain the lidquid and set aside in the same pot until ready to assemble.

10.  Preheat oven to 375°F (190 °c)

 11. Add onion+spice sauce to the cooked rice in the pot, and combine well.

12. Place cooked chickens on top of the rice & sauce.

13. Cover the post with an aluminium foil and place the skillet in the oven. Leave in the oven for 15 minutes.
Believe me. This rice is the best of all the rice dishes I have had.
It's heavenly! You should try this!
It also very good to have pulao with greek yogurt! They get along very well.
Afghan Pulao (Palao)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

[Place des Vosges] A Perfect Symmetrical Square in Paris

I've never had a chance to see la Place des Vosges (pronunciation: [plas de voʒ]) even though I heard that it was one of the most beautiful squares in the world.
I've been curious about the square's style which is said to be a perfect example of the early 17th century architecture articulating the red brick façades with rows of stone wedges, the steep slate roofs,and small dormer windows underneath. Also, I had longed to see the famous vaulted arcades that run through the entire colonnaded ground floor that links all pavilions.
So this time I was determined to see the acclaimed square and the maison de Victor Hugo in it.
   The Place des Vosges, originally known as the Place Royale, is the oldest planned square in Paris.
The place ([plas]) was built by Henri IV from 1605 to 1612, to celebrate the wedding of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria. The
Place is a true square (140 m x 140 m), which set a paradigm of all the residential squares of European cities for a few decades.

In 1604, King Henry IV built a Royal pavilion with red brick and white stone facades, steep slate roofs and dorm windows, at the southern end of the place des Vosges, and ordered all 35 other buildings bordering the square to follow the same design. The outcome is a symmetrical square surrounded by buildings of the same design.
In 1639 Cardinal Richelieu had an equestrian statue of King Louis XIII erected at the centre of the square. It was destroyed during the French Revolution but a new statue of King Louis XIII was installed in 1825.
At the Place des Vosges, there are benches and lawn where you sit and admire the architecture of the square, as long as you want.
We bought sandwiches and pastries on our way to the square and had our Parisien lunch. :)
(Du flan nature - one of my favorite desserts)
I concur with the opinion that the Place des Vosges is one of the most beautiful squares in the world.

This early 17th century square is wonderfully planned in a way, only French architecture could have designed.
HOWEVER, there is a remarkable stain that cannot be ignored despite the beauty of the square.

Lawn is beautifully trimmed nicely position, only if you see it from 20 feet away. 
If you look at these people who are enjoying the grass, you get to have temptation to lie down like them!
But!, when you go closer or sit on the lawn, you will notice innumerable cigarette ends.
I find it's such a shame that such a beautiful lawn is neglected. I saw that the lawn was  taken care of, otherwise the grass wouldn't have been cut at the same height. But, the lawncarers seem cigarette blinds. There were tons!
After lunch, we went to see the Maison de Victor Hugo.
You need to go through vaulted arcades standing on square pillars.
 There were quite a few famous Frenchmen lived at the Place des Vosges.
Victor Hugo was among them. Victor Hugo lived on the second floor of house nr 6, the 'Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée', from 1832 to 1848.
 Victor Hugo, around 1825 (age of 23)
Bust of Victor Hugo in his thirties.
(Victor Hugo in later years)
(Hugo's standing desk)
And, the  Maison de Victor Hugo is now a museum, operated by the City of Paris, which opens the preserved house that Victor Hugo lived in for 16 years, to the public.
As a big fan of Les Misérables (1862) and Notre-Dame de Paris(English: The Hunchback of Notre-Dame)  (1831), I was eager to see the house of the national hero of French people.
This house at the Place des Vosges is the place where Hugo wrote most of 'Les Misérables' even thought publication of the novel was much later.
It's 3000 square-feet apartment.
(Place des Vosges from the maison de Victor Hugo)
Souvenirs, drawings and books, from his childhood to his exile between 1852 and 1870, are on display.
 (Publications of Les Misérables in many different languages)
(Caricature of Victor Hugo on a newspaper)
It was quite an interesting apartment with lots of "different" decorations.
For example,
this is the dining room. As a museum, it looks well decorated and dressed up.  But, seriously, would you like to have a dining room with this kind of wallpaper?
 (Well, please don't get offended if you have similar wallpaper, it's only my personal taste which favors neutral or bright colors)
(Chinese living room)
I was surprised to see a huge collection of fine china at Victor Hugo's maison.
Remi and Pablo at the maison
Statue of "Cosette" of Les Misérables
The best yield from this visit was that Remi and Pablo got interested in the story of Les Misérables which I read them as bedtime story for a few days after we came back from France. It took me three days to get through the children's version of  Les Misérables.
 Boys liked the maison de Victor Hugo, but they preferred outside the museum.
We had some idle time at the courtyard of the Hôtel de Sully, an adjacent building to the Place des Vosges.
The Hôtel de Sully was classified as a historic monument in 1862. The Hôtel de Sully houses the Caisse nationale des monuments historiques et des sites since 1967.
Oh, by the way, the visits to both Places des Vosges and the Maison de Victor Hugo are free. :) Maybe that's why I liked the place even more. :)
I checked one of my bucket list. It was a peaceful afternoon with lots of fascinating architecture and legacies of a great author of 19th century.

You can see more posts about my trip to France if you click the links below:

1) [Auberge Ravoux] Van Gogh's last residence in Auvers-sur-Oise
2) [Basilique Saint-Denis] French Royal Necropolis - The burial place of the French Kings
3) [2012 Maffliers] Kids grow fast... and we age faster...?
4) [Chateau de Chantilly] Le musée Condé - The generosity of a royal prince
5) [Balade gourmande] Brittany by sail: Unforgettable day on a traditional boat in Cancale
6) [Must eat foods in France] You must try these ten inexpensive food in France
7) [Four Representative Architectures in Paris] The most visited edifices in Europe - Part I
8) [Four Representative Architectures in Paris] Notre Dame de Paris - Part II
9) [Four Representative Architectures in Paris Part III] Musee de Louvre or simply Louvre
10) [Opera Garnier] The symbol of Elegance at the centre of Paris
11) [Mont Saint-Michel] Picturesque UNESCO Hertiage site in Normandy

Place des Vosges