Cooking with love

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Updated 14 November 2012
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Cooking with love

Cooking with love could very well be the title of this delightful cookery book. The idea behind the book was Rasha Al-Hejailan’s desire to rekindle old friendships and re-connect with estranged relatives, hence the title “The Women In My Life”. Their flagship recipes can be seen in the second half of the book while the author treats us in the first part to a mouthwatering selection of appetizers, main courses and desserts.
“The whole process of thinking up a dish and working on it from A to Z is completely therapeutic and stress relieving for me. Maybe it’s the repetitive motions of cutting and stirring and kneading, or the nostalgic smells that are like an aromatherapy session that takes you to a familiar place and time,” explains Rasha.
I could hardly resist making the “Coffee Pancakes” and apparently I am not the only one! According to Rasha, this recipe has garnered an unprecedented attention. This convivial breakfast food is as easy to make as it appears in the recipe. For plain pancakes, just remove the coffee. They are wickedly delicious.

Ingredients
One and a half cup flour
One teaspoon baking powder
One teaspoon baking soda
A pinch of salt
Two tablespoons sugar
Two tablespoons instant coffee
One cup milk
Half a cup of yogurt
One egg
Two tablespoons oil
A quarter teaspoon of butter


Method:
Mix all dry ingredients except coffee. In a separate bowl, beat in milk, yogurt, oil, egg and coffee.
Combine all the ingredients and mix well.
Heat a frying pan and brush with some butter.
Add a quarter cup of batter into the frying pan and cook until tiny bubbles start to appear. Then flip the pancake on the other side. Allow to cook for a few seconds then remove. Repeat with the remaining batter.

“My cookbook or what I like to think of as a ‘recipe journal’ is unlike a conventional cookbook. It has a personal touch whereby you feel like you know the owner of the recipe. This is why I decided to take care of the editing and photography myself and keep it true to the initial intention, an amateur recipe journal with delicious and simple every day recipes cooked by the average woman,” explains Rasha.
Incidentally, part of the books’ sale proceeds are going to two different charities, one is “Helping Hands KSA” a local charity in Saudi Arabia that directly supports underprivileged children. The other is a newly established pediatric care department at “Fawzia Sultan Rehabilitation Institute” in Kuwait where the 28 year old Saudi born Rasha is currently living.
I loved the “Rocca and Feta Salad” with a blueberry dressing.
Rocca or rocket, the English name has a slightly hot, peppery taste, which blends perfectly with the blueberry, rightly declared in America, ‘the aristocrat of soft fruit’.
I also found an excellent hash browns recipe with herbs and cheese. Other recipes with potatoes include “Potato au Gratin” and “Battered Potato Rounds”.
French, Indian, Italian and Chinese cuisine have some excellent spinach dishes but Rasha has chosen a Greek spinach and feta savory pie, “Spanacopita” for this nutritive leafy vegetable.
Would you believe that there exists a sweet spinach tart, a specialty made in the south of France! After all, there are a number of vegetables that end up in cakes and other desserts. The courgette is one of them. I was treated once to a delicious cake made with finely grated courgettes. However, we are much more familiar with the carrot cake. An easy recipe, that takes only ten minutes to prepare, is available in the book.
“Fruit Sushi” is probably the most original recipe in the book. The seaweed has been replaced by a chocolate wrapping and the rice is combined with a trio of colorful fruit. The result is a scrumptious sweet ‘maki’, which I would love to order in Japanese restaurants where menus often do not have a list of tempting desserts.
“The whole point was to include recipes that all women can try making. Part of the book‘s appeal is that it isn’t intimidating and is written for the average woman, even those who are not enthusiastic about cooking. The ingredients are readily available and the measurements are in a user-friendly form (cups and spoon) rather than grams and liters, which put off a number of people from cooking. The book has really gotten people in an adventurous and experimental mood, especially the first timers. Some start with the more simple dishes like the “Labnah and Spinach Open Sandwich”, and some are digging straight into more complicated ones like the “Butter Chicken”!” says Rasha.
This delightful cookery book is available at Areej Café in Centria Shopping Mall in Riyadh and sold by order through e-mail.
For more information, please visit: www.facebook.com/TheWomenInMyLive

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Army splits with West Point grad who touted communist revolt

In this May 2016 photo provided by Spenser Rapone, Rapone displays a shirt bearing the image of socialist icon Che Guevara under his uniform, after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. (AP)
Updated 20 June 2018
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Army splits with West Point grad who touted communist revolt

  • “I would encourage all soldiers who have a conscience to lay down their arms and join me and so many others who are willing to stop serving the agents of imperialism and join us in a revolutionary movement”
  • Less than a year after Rapone’s images drew a firestorm of vitriol and even death threats, the second lieutenant who became known as the “commie cadet” is officially out of the US Army with an other-than-honorable discharge

WATERTOWN, New York: The images Spenser Rapone posted on Twitter from his West Point graduation were intentionally shocking: In one, the cadet opens his dress uniform to expose a T-shirt with a blood-red image of socialist icon Che Guevara. In another, he raises his fist and flips his cap to reveal the message: “Communism will win.”
Less than a year after Rapone’s images drew a firestorm of vitriol and even death threats, the second lieutenant who became known as the “commie cadet” is officially out of the US Army with an other-than-honorable discharge.
Top brass at Fort Drum accepted Rapone’s resignation Monday after an earlier reprimand for “conduct unbecoming of an officer.” Rapone said an investigation found he went online to advocate for a socialist revolution and disparage high-ranking officers. Officially, the Army said in a statement only that it conducted a full investigation and “appropriate action was taken.”
An unrepentant Rapone summed up the fallout in yet another tweet Monday that showed him extending a middle finger at a sign at the entrance to Fort Drum, accompanied by the words, “One final salute.”
“I consider myself a revolutionary socialist,” the 26-year-old Rapone told The Associated Press. “I would encourage all soldiers who have a conscience to lay down their arms and join me and so many others who are willing to stop serving the agents of imperialism and join us in a revolutionary movement.”
Rapone said his journey to communism grew out of his experiences as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan before he was accepted into the U.S. Military Academy. And those views only hardened during his studies of history as one of the academy’s “Long Gray Line.”
He explained that he took the offending selfies at his May 2016 West Point graduation ceremony and kept them to himself until last September, when he tweeted them in solidarity with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was taking heat for kneeling for the national anthem to raise awareness of racism. Many other military personnel also tweeted in favor of Kaepernick, although most were supporting free speech, not communism.
West Point released a statement after Rapone posted the photos, saying his actions “in no way reflect the values of the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Army.” And U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, called on the secretary of the Army to remove Rapone from the officer ranks.
“While in uniform, Spenser Rapone advocated for communism and political violence, and expressed support and sympathy for enemies of the United States,” Rubio said Monday, adding “I’m glad to see that they have given him an ‘other-than-honorable’ discharge.”
One of six children growing up in New Castle, Pennsylvania, Rapone said he applied to West Point, which is tuition-free, because he couldn’t afford college. He was nominated out of high school by then-U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire in 2010.
“He was an honors student, an athlete, a model citizen who volunteered in the community,” recalled Altmire, a Democrat. “During the interview, he expressed patriotism and looked just like a top-notch candidate. There were no red flags of any kind.”
But he wasn’t accepted to West Point, so Rapone enlisted in the Army. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 and was assigned as an assistant machine gunner in Khost Province.
“We were bullies in one of the poorest countries on Earth,” Rapone said. “We have one of the most technologically advanced militaries of all time and all we were doing is brutalizing and invading and terrorizing a population that had nothing to do with what the United States claimed was a threat.”
Toward the end of his deployment, he learned West Point fulfills a certain quota of enlisted soldiers every year. Despite his growing disillusionment about the military, he applied and got in.
“I was still idealistic,” he said.” I figured maybe I could change things from inside.”
In addition to classic socialist theorists such as Karl Marx, Rapone says he found inspiration in the writings of Stan Goff, a retired Special Forces master sergeant who became a socialist anti-war activist.
Even while still a cadet, Rapone’s online postings alarmed a West Point history professor, who wrote Rapone up, saying his online postings were “red flags that cannot be ignored.” Rapone was disciplined but still allowed to graduate.
Greg Rinckey, an attorney specializing in military law, said it’s rare for an officer out of West Point to receive an other-than-honorable discharge. He added that it’s possible the military academy could seek repayment of the cost of Rapone’s education because he didn’t serve the full five-year service obligation required upon graduation.
“I knew there could be repercussions,” said Rapone, who is scheduled to speak at a socialism conference in Chicago next month. “Of course my military career is dead in the water. On the other hand, many people reached out and showed me support. There are a lot of veterans both active duty and not that feel like I do.”