Sunday, April 29, 2007

Salsa by the Gallon

This recipe might not be of much interest to my U.S. friends who live in the land of salsa plenty, but for the salsa lovers of Amman, where a 16 oz. jar of Pace salsa costs a cool five dollars this recipe might be helpful: 2.25 gallons of salsa at a cost of about fifteen dollars--or--9.5 litres for about JD 11. Quite a savings.

Our family likes salsa. Loves salsa. I used to make it from scratch and from all fresh ingredients when the children were young. I seeded all the hot peppers by hand and will never forget how I learned the hard way how important it is to wear rubber gloves when working with hot peppers. Those were the days when the children were playing at my feet. Now, they are playing at the ballfield and the conservatory so there is no time to peel 10 Kilograms of tomatoes or seed hot peppers. Thus, I've cut some time corners by using now available canned chopped tomatoes and jalepeno peppers. The cilantro/kuzbara, garlic, onion, and lemon juice are still fresh.

The Recipe~

Combine in a large stock pot:

3 large cans of cooked chopped tomatoes, in juice. These cans were labled at 2.550 K and I purchased them at Carrefour in the bulk section. They looked to be the same size as the cans available at Costco in the States.
1 cup fresh lemon juice
3 bunches of cilantro
Take the leaves off the stems and chop them in the food processor. Three Amman size bunches yielded a large salad bowl/mixing bowl of leaves after they were removed from the stems. Maybe about 12-15 cups of loose leaves, not packed down.
4 large onions, chopped in the food processor
40 cloves of garlic, chopped in the food processor
5 canned jalepeno peppers, choppped in the food processor. Adjust the amount of this ingredient according to taste.
3 Tablespoons salt

Bring all the ingredients to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. The salsa can now be canned (20 minute hot water bath) or frozen. No time for canning right now so this batch goes into the freezer. My discriminating tasters say that the quality of the salsa was not compromised by the use of some prepared ingredients. Now, if we could just find someone to import tortilla chips for less than nine dollars a family-size bag!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Spring Baseball~A Family Affair

It's hard to believe that we are nearly half-way through our short spring baseball season. Active Son pointed out that I am only blogging about flowers and, well, other important things take place during spring--like baseball! Not that I could forget, as the beginning of this year's baseball season was truly an all consuming family affair.

Dear Husband, whose name should be changed to Coach Husband, though that doesn't sound quite right, was reluctant to give up his beloved coaching to take on the mantle of Baseball Commissioner. But, help was needed and he was the man for the job, so step up he did. And he needn't have worried about giving up coaching as the league was short a coach in the Senior division, thus, he is coaching Active Son's team as well as Commish-ing. He loves it--except for all the administrative details, so I am helping with some of those.

Active Son is pitching in the Senior division, Younger Son is pitching in the Kid Pitch division and "Tayta" donned a baseball uniform for the first time and is participating in the Coach Pitch division. I was skeptical as Tata is not known for her physical prowess, but dad taught her how to swing a bat and she is actually hitting the ball and getting on base!

We had two early season injuries. Dear Husband's was actually a pre-season injury--a baseball to the right cheek during practice. He was, in his own words, trying to "multi-task" during a drill and balls started flying a little too quickly. He had a nice shiner on opening day;he looked kind of tough but I'm not sure it instilled confidence in the hearts of the mother's bringing their little T-ball players to the field for the first time. Active Son's foot/ankle was the second injury, as he landed the wrong way on first base heading back after a lead off. Thankfully, nothing was broken or sprained so he was only out for one game.

And, If you are interesting in more player photos and a few words from the Commish, check out the Amman Little League Baseball Blog.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


After cyclamen, I think the poppy to be the most graceful Jordanian wildflower flower, particularly, Papaver subpiriforme, pictured left. Though their unopened buds droop softly, once opened, a crumpled crimson flower unfurls to stand erect upon a long and delicate stem.

Much mythology and lore surrounds the poppy, revered by the ancients and the medievals for its magical powers. Poppy remains have been found in Egyptian tombs over 3000 years old and there are many references to its magical and healing powers in Greek and Roman myths. The species Papaver Somniferus (not indigenious in Jordan) is named after the Roman God, Somnus, bringer of sleep. Demeter, the Greek Earth goddess also believed in the healing power of the poppy and from them she was relived of pain as she searched for her abducted daugher, Persephone. When Adonis died, poppies were said to have sprung from the tears of his beloved, Aphrodite, and based on this myth, poppies became a favorite love charm of the Middle Ages; the list of poppy association with myth, sleep, dreams, the underworld, healing, etc. is long.

Glaucium aleppicum

Besides Genus Papaver, Jordan boasts at least three species of poppies from genus Glaucium. The plant and the flowers are sturdier than those of genus Papaver and the buds are more elongated and often erect.

Glaucium grandiflorum

Romemeria hybrida

Papaver subpiriforme

I photographed these two poppies on our Easter walk. As the wind gently blew over them they appeared to be talking. Really! Even my dear husband noticed and he is not one to talk to flowers--even though he now knows a few by name.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Amman Symphony Orchestra


An Hour with Mendelssohn

Mohammad Sidiq , conductor

Nabih Bolos, solo violin

Wednesday, 18 April 2007-7:30 pm

Al Hussein Cultural Center – Ras Al Ain

The concert program will include:

The Italian Symphony

Violin concerto in E minor

Ticket price J D5

Tickets available at:

Al Qaser Howard Johnson Hotel, tel. 5666140

Music Box, tel.5815745

Extra Music, tel.5861885

Romero Restaurant, tel. 4644228/7

Cozmo, tel.5501240

Café Moka, tel. 5926285

The Good Book shop, tel.4613939

Al Hussein Cultural Center, tel. 4735187

National Music Conservatory, tel. 5687620/1 -5605772

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Spring Reading Challenge Update~My Apologia

The longed for contemplative life has eluded me the past three or four weeks and I have come to understand the phrase "Spring Reading Challenge" in a new way; it has been a challenge to find any time to read. The last half of March and April have been a whirlwind of camping, baseball games and administration, houseguests, etc., etc.. All good and necessary things in this season of life but I do find myself longing for more time to read and think. Not to mention, write. And though I've not made the progress I had hoped for, I am yet optimistic and am thankful for the plan and structure that the reading challenge has provided.

The meager update:

I had never read anything by John Donne until last month and was stunned by the beauty of his poetry and prose. Hopefully another blog post on Donne will follow.

My teenagers have finished Paradise Lost, though mom still has two books (of twelve) to go. I'm reading this poem outloud, all 300+ pages of it. Milton's verse is that hard for me to follow. We all agreed that book IX (of XII) is the obvious climax--the fall of Adam and Eve. Milton's amplification of the temptations and predispositions which led Eve, and then Adam to eat the forbidden fruit provided fodder for an interesting discussion of the distinctions between man and woman. If my children remember even ten percent of this discussion they will be so, so much farther along in their understanding than I was when I first married!

I began Christianity for Modern Pagans; Pascal's Pensees, today and I can already tell that I am going to love this book. Though, it's really not a proper book, but rather Pascal's thoughts/fragments, organized and explained ("festooned") by the very readable Peter Kreeft. I read only 43 pages today but have already come up with a full page of discussion questions for us to work through on Tuesday. I am thinking that I will slow down the schedule for this book if the rest of it is as profitable for thought and discussion as the first 43 pages. Ah, I feel the contemplative life coming back to me!

All the other books on my list continue to be read, bit by bit. The Art of Teaching is nearly finished and I think I'll have to postpone Poetic Knowledge until a later date. Life is just too full right now. I did add one new book to my list and I finished about half of it before life errupted with unrelenting activity:

Uncle Tungsten, Memories of a Chemical Boyhood, by Oliver Sacks.

This is a fascinating book which will be part of oldest daughter's summer intensive chemisty course, just one of two or three books we will read as I attempt to add an element of poetic knowledge to the study of chemistry. Beautifully written. More when I finish.

And the challenge continues...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Resurrection Sunday

On Sunday morning, just after the sun came up, we gathered with brothers and sisters of many nationalities on a forested hilltop to worship God through the hearing of his Word, prayer, and song. Beginning our worship in cloudy and windy weather, we finished by singing praises to our risen Lord as the sun broke through the clouds.

Afterward, we enjoyed a picnic breakfast and a time of warm fellowship, sharing colored eggs, cinnamon rolls and Moravian Easter cake. The sheep strolled in to enjoy the grass and wildflowers.

After nearly everyone had packed up and began heading back to Amman, dear husband suggested to the husband of the remaining family that we seize the opportunity to take a hike through the countryside on such a beautiful morning. Truly, there won't be many more spring days like this one.

This picture, of the kids racing/walking ahead of the adults, who enjoyed lingering along the trail to enjoy the beauty of the day and the scenery, reminded of the the passage we'd heard earlier that morning, Luke 24, and of the disciples walking with the un-recognized Jesus on the road to Emmaus:

"'Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?' And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself."

As the brother who taught the Word that morning remarked, "That would be one great Bible Study to be in on!"

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

"The flowers appear on the earth,

The time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance."
Song of Solomon 2:12-13

The clouds parted at about 11:30 this morning so I grabbed the camera and the youngers and I headed south, towards the Jordan Valley, just about 25 minutes from our home and the habitat of some of the most diverse flora in the world. What a riot of color greeted us! God has graciously let the rain fall in abundance this past winter and now we are enjoying an exquisite spring.

My youngers are pretty good sports about receiving impromptu botany lessons ad naueseum. I have to admit, I do get a little loopy about wildflowers when they are this beautiful and profuse. Younger son was happy to find a scorpion under a rock and enjoyed chasing a couple of lizards. He also saved the day when he rescued my lens cap which had fallen into a rocky crevice.

These pictures are especially for Lori, who specifically requested pictures of "fields of flowers". I wish you could have been with us today, Lori. I'll post some individual "portraits" later on.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Case of Mistaken Identity

This crimson flower beautifies many a Jordanian hill and field in the early weeks of spring. Often referred to as a poppy, it is, in fact, a crown anemone (pronounced "an'a mo nee" or "a ne'mo nee"--I use the first pronunciation for the flower and the second for the sea creature of the same name), a member of the Ranunculaceae family.

Though the blooming time of the anemone and the poppy overlap I have found that in many places, the anemone blooms first, the poppy, later. There are other ways the casual observer can distinguish between the anemone and the poppy: the leaf of the anemone is divided, giving it a more feathery appearance. Secondly,

the petals of both flowers are arranged differently; if one observes the bud of of an anemone one notices that the petals are layered in an orderly fashion, however the petals of a poppy appear as crumpled red tissue, wadded inside the poppy pod. Also, poppies contain a milky juice not found in anemones. Less noticeable differences include the fact that anemones are perennials, poppies, annuals, and poppies can be found in drier habitats than anemones.

Family~ Ranunculaceae
Anemone coronaria

Two more common members of the showy Ranunculaceae family:

Adonis aestivalis