I had a lot of hopes for this week. For lazy walks on the beach collecting shells. Gently rocking on the seesaw back and forth at the park. Sinking our toes into the damp grass in the play area downstairs. It was Maryam's spring break last week and I had racked my brains for ways to keep her entertained.
In my day, a few coloring pencils and some scraps of paper would have kept me amused for hours. But not Maryam. She's always on the go, like a butterfly prancing from one room to another, building memories with her lego, painting flowers for her virtual garden. A whirlwind, she leaves a trail of destruction behind her.
But alas, it was not meant to be. We had some unusually stormy weather here in Dubai with a little drizzle of much needed rain here and there and some lightening. This brought with it dusty shamals and the weather just did not permit us to enjoy the outdoors. But we had an exciting trip to a local organic farm in Abu Dhabi that I wasn't going to cancel for anything. I met Sayeer at the farmers market and organised a trip on Saturday with my friend Sarah and her 7 year old son.
I had excitedly told Maryam all week that we would be visiting a farm where she could finally meet all the characters that make up such a big part of her world- imaginary friends from her favorite nursery rhymes. I told her she would meet 'baa baa black sheep' and 'moo moo there' and the fuzzy 'cuckoo' from her cuckoo book.
It took us one and a half hours of driving to reach the farm with Maryam singing different renditions of 'baa baa black sheep' the entire journey. She munched on these chocolate coated tangerines the entire journey. We were greeted at the 60 hectare farm by Sayeer who patiently gave us a tour and answered all the questions we fired at him. The farm has shade houses as well as cool houses in addition to fields and barns for livestock.
We first visited the cool houses where we saw a myriad varieties of tomatoes, peppers whose colors eclipsed the rainbow, chillies and cucumbers. I was enchanted to see the growth cycle of strawberries at different stages. The herb garden had me envious as I brushed my hand over the nimble but robust chives. There was so much to see, to take in and savour, to learn and to appreciate.
Maryam's favorite part of the day was visiting the barn full of sheep, goats, hens, chickens, turkey and peacocks. I was amazed to see that that the chickens lay their eggs all over the barn, from the roofs to the doorways. Although excited, Maryam was a little overwhelmed, even scared of the live animals and decided to keep her distance.
This was my first time at a farm and one of the main reasons I visited was because I never knew how the food I was eating reached my plate. I never knew potatoes grew underground or that strawberries are born when their flower is pollinated. Did you know?
I want Maryam to grow up knowing exactly where her food has originated from, make her appreciate fresh and local ingredients and make correct and informed decisions when it comes to nutrition. At this stage, she is still young but nurturing good food habits must start early. I am proud to say she is a true gourmande- passionate about food, ready and willing to try anything at least once.
This is a healthy snack that we have devoured many times over in the last few months. Maryam seemed baffled at first as to how her normal tangerine had magically transformed into a deeply satisfying chocolate snack. She apprehensively put one into her mouth and I heard the initial crunch as the silky chocolate coating crumbled. Her eyes lit up with delight as the realization dawned on her that it was indeed chocolate. A sprinkling of chopped nuts, desiccated coconut or sea salt make them extra special. I came across this recipe on Jessica's beautiful blog, How Sweet Eats. Go check it out if you haven't already.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank the wonderful people over at Aquarius Magazine including the editor Sally for featuring me as their Real Life Inspiration for the month of April. Shukran, I much appreciate it for the second month in a row. Could I be third time lucky? You will just have to wait and find out!
Here is a link to the article if you want to have a read.
Chocolate Dipped Tangerines
3 tangerines, peeled and segmented
100 gms dark chocolate
desiccated coconut, chopped nuts for garnish
Line a tray with wax paper. Break the chocolate into pieces heat in a microwave in 30 second intervals until it has melted. Dip each tangerine segment halfway into the melted chocolate and rest it on the baking tray to dry. You can sprinkle with chopped nuts or desiccated coconut. Leave to dry for 10 minutes before it's ready to serve.