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So here we go! First day back to normal after all the holiday (beautiful) madness and emotional rollercoaster that comes with this time of year.

New year, new us? Well, I don’t really think so. I’m kind of happy with my current me; I don’t really want to be a new me; this must mean I’m doing SOMETHING right, doesn’t it? I’m truly grateful for everything I have and don’t want things to change.

In the world of Therapy, cooking and having a positive entourage have always been recommended to boost serotonin levels and increase relaxation and happiness. Over time, I have found that baking cakes have the superpower of calming me down, bringing me to impressive levels of serenity – something I didn’t know I was capable of, being the anxious person I am.

cooking in group | breadonbutter

In the past year, I was lucky to make new friends who love cooking and food as much as I do. Since I’m prone to sharing my recipes and not greedily keep them in a secret notebook, I’ve engaged in a new venture: gathering people around our stove. I find it so much fun and gratifying to have friends over with their favorite ingredients and recipes to cook all together and learn from each other. Laughs are also guaranteed!

cooking in group | breadonbutter

Based on these good times and on the atmosphere of family meals and children wandering around the cook in the kitchen to learn and get a taste of what’s cooking, we had our first cook-off not long ago. Hisham from Cookin5m2, Sarah who owns Dulce n’ Banana, Maya who writes Playing With Fashion, Betty who’s the great photographer behind BetKet Photography, Sleiman who’s the one behind K-frame, and of course my husband and favorite Chef Jean, were all here to lend a hand in a meal we all had together. Hisham made a delicious chicken pot pie, Sarah made a special apple crumble and we all worked to concoct entrees of all flavors and genres.

cooking in group | breadonbutter

Food has a lot of meaning. Whether it’s culturally, ethnically, or religiously, it brings people together. Baking, cooking a meal, shopping for the food and certainly sitting down together and socializing is a pure pleasure of life.

Cook-offs are not only meant to give a chance to meet new people, but also to discover food and ingredients that people might not have come across before. Also, everyone can leave with leftovers and a new recipe.

In the future, I’d love to bring experienced winemakers, brewers, bakers, butchers, etc. to teach others tricks and techniques.

The main focus of cooking in group is on socializing, learning to cook and to cook together, learning about new ingredients and types of food, maybe even how to shop for food before learning how to cook it.

The cook-off affected all of our moods positively. Having this meal gave us greater satisfaction because we cooked it together.

Cooking has therapeutic value physically, cognitively, socially and intrapersonally. Physically, cooking requires good movement in shoulders, fingers, wrists, elbow, neck, as well as good overall balance. Adequate muscle strength is needed in upper limbs for lifting, mixing, cutting and chopping. Furthermore, sensory awareness is important in considering safety while dealing with hot and sharp objects.

This is the therapeutic value noted by the University of Alberta.

Here are more photos of our cook-off if you’d like to see. There will be other cook-offs organized so if you wish to participate, all you have to do is send an email to: breadonbutterblog@gmail.com ! 🙂

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Photos were all taken by the great Betty from BetKet Photography.

Dining table and chairs from Dfouny Technotel  – available for rent

cooking in group | breadonbutter

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In Lebanon, whether you’re 8 or 28, you are ordered to attend the occasional (if not weekly) Sunday lunch. While most of the Generation Y people only show their love for it, we all know that deep down, we have come to dread it. That day that was all about good food and time with family has become this interrogatory nightmare you prepare for during the week before, and spend the week after recovering from. I was at one of those lunches not long ago as a member of Generation Y – also called, the Peter Pan Generation.

Mostly the children of  the “baby-boomer” – whose behavior we can explore some other time, when we have a few hours to kill – Gen Y kids were born just before internet and right at the end of Walkmans, Game Boys and Super Mario Bros on a giant computer screen. Their life is now shaped by technology and they are never quite satisfied with what they have. I’m sure most of you read last year’s Huffington Post article on how Generation Y Yuppies are always unhappy (here).  It mainly shows that everything derives from one simple formula:

Happiness = Reality – Expectations.

Generation Y’s expectations are indeed very much higher than their reality. Simply put, we are delusional because of our parents and grandparents – or should I say thanks to them – as they built us this happy childhood, making us think we can be whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want. But little did we all know that this seemingly perfect cycle has major flaws.

Generation Y | Breadonbutter

It all starts (and ends) in the controversy that derives from our baby-boomer parents’ (God bless them) behavior. They really want the best for us but they project their own unfinished business on us. Off the top of my head, they want us to leave our country, travel, go experience things of this world, but only for a limited time period whereby they expect us to come back and “settle”.

The Sunday lunch is where all this controversy can happen. It is the place where blaming, emotional blackmailing and threats materialize. I can imagine you get the picture. All kinds of proteins (meat, chicken, snails, kafta, etc.) and all kinds of herbs and carbs are set on the table. Everyone is passing everything around. Everyone insists on everyone eating. And that’s where it happens. Your lifestyle is questioned, and then praised. Your decisions are criticized, and then praised. Your health is questioned but then never praised. Girls who haven’t had the time to put on their make-up are considered “dying” (really funny cartoon by Ink on the Side on this link). Boys who have lost weight are considered to be mis-fed. Because God forbid the boys be criticized. In a nutshell, Sunday lunch has become a way for all baby-boomers to let go of their demons and unleash them on us, Generation Y – discontented and uncontrollable Generation Y.

But from time to time, when parents have a little more to drink, you discover they went through the same and made the same decisions when they were younger; and you start looking at them as people, who were young once and who only want what’s best for you.

It’s at the end of Sunday that you can finally let go and stop holding your breath. This blessed day is over and we can all go back to our “normal”, unsatisfied, ambitious, grumpy, rebellious and happy selves!

I guess what I’m trying to say is, listen to their advice, nod along, and then go off and make your own gut-felt choices. AND do your stomach a favor and stick to one meat type. It will help the digestion process and spare you all the bloating 😉

generation Y | Breadonbutter

 

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People who know me well know that sushi is a big part of my life. I sometimes even wonder what it is that I truly love about it: the soy sauce, the rice, or what it’s really about – the fish? If the latter’s the case for me and for sushi lovers out there, well I got news! Fish population is changing and a lot is happening to it!

Jiro Ono, star of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi“, a documentary portraying the 85 year-old world class sushi chef, and owner of the three-michelin star renowned sushi restaurant, has recently warned people about the changes in sushi ingredients that will be happening in the near future. In fact, not only will there be changes, but some fish species might most likely disappear. Ono, host of the top world celebrities like Obama and Joel Robuchon said in a press conference on Tuesday:

I told my young men three years ago sushi materials will totally change in five years. And now, such a trend is becoming a reality little by little. […]

The traditional spread of fatty tuna, eel and shellfish may soon be forced to give way to the bane of any fishmonger — farmed seafood

Jiro Ono

“Many of the ocean’s fisheries are on the brink of collapse as populations of some of the most well-known fish species plummet. Earlier this year, the body that monitors bluefin tuna in the Pacific Ocean recommended drastic cuts to catch limits as populations plunged to just 8 percent of their original levels. 80 percent of the world’s bluefin is consumed by the Japanese and demand elsewhere is only growing.”

Source: Huffington Post

In some countries, actions are being taken to address the issue of overfishing and there are even plans to create fish sanctuaries to protect the endangered species. This makes you wonder about countries by the sea, like ours. Will the people in charge of this matter, deal with it properly?

What do you think of this? Would you continue having your weekly sushi meal if you knew the fish was raised in a farm?

P.S. Below is the “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” trailer for you to watch!