little paths so startled

living, decorating, and eating in hattiesburg, mississippi

Archive for January 2013

new year’s resolution: edited, organized closet

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I knew I was stressed last semester when simply getting dressed – putting together outfits and trying to remember what I’d worn the week (or day) before – was hive-inducing.  It’s not that my options were limited.  And my closet was certainly organized (thanks to a previous year’s organizing blitz).  I just couldn’t see how the pieces were working together, and the result was unwelcome added stress.

Enter Stylebook, an iPhone app I’d read about and been too lazy to try.  (Taking pictures of every piece of clothing I owned seemed exhausting.)  But when a nasty cold had me stuck at home for several days after the holidays, I decided to take it on.  And as I began the painstaking process of photographing my clothing, I realized that I’d been hoarding clothes like crazy.  I still had clothes from college and my first year of working – when I had no definable style whatsoever and tended to err on the frumpy side too keep from looking too young (!).  So I made a decision: if I couldn’t motivate myself to photograph and catalog the item, it went in the donation pile.

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It was a little scary for this hoarder to get rid of so much at once, but when I started using the app’s “Look” function to put together outfits, I realized I still have plenty of options.  Suddenly, my closet could breathe.  (And that’s no small feat in such a tiny space.)  As I took out each piece of clothing, I checked for holes, tears, stains, and pills, and I invested in a multipurpose sweater comb and fabric spray to keep my clothes looking (and smelling) like new.

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I’m also determined to eliminate (or at least reduce the frequency of) the work-week wardrobe crises.  I’ve found the calendar function in the app to be a useful planning tool; plus, I can see what I’ve worn recently.  There’s also a handy packing list function that will, I hope, preempt my packing panics.  Was this editing and organizing process tedious?  Yes.  Was it worth it?  For me, absolutely.  Here’s to a year of dressing and living well.

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Written by Ann

January 18, 2013 at 5:48 pm

cusheri

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We rang in the new year with one of our favorite meals: cusheri.  (Think spaghetti, but WAY better.)  Also spelled kushari, this is a popular Egyptian dish sold by street vendors, and I often wish, as I pull out nearly every pot I own to make this dish, that we had street vendors selling it here.  (Not pictured above: rice cooker, colander, stainless steel bowl.)  My friend and colleague, who is a masterful chef and particularly good at Mediterranean fare, kindly shared this recipe with me.

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Danielle’s Cusheri
1/2 cup vegetable oil
 1 monstrous onion, sliced into paper thin rings
 2 cups Basmati rice
 1/2 cup lentils
 1 cup macaroni elbows
 1 can chickpeas
 1/4 c. broken vermicelli
 2 Tbs. butter*
 Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
Cook onions very slowly in vegetable oil until they are brown and delicious–should take at least 45 minutes.  Cook rice in salted water until tender.  Cook lentils in salted water until they are tender but not mushy.  Cook elbows in salted water until al dente.  Sauté vermicelli in butter until lightly browned and nutty, then add hot water and boil until tender.  Combine rice, lentil, macaroni, vermicelli and chickepeas (you can heat the chickpeas just by putting them in a colander and pouring the boiling macaroni over them when you strain it).  Pour the onions and oil on top and mix well.
Danielle also notes, “When it’s just us at home, I serve it with Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, which tastes just like the sauce I used to get it with in the Middle East, but when I make it for company (or for Egyptians), I make the sauces, too.”
*This could easily be vegan-ized by substituting Earth Balance for the butter.
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Danielle’s Red Cusheri Sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
16 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 ½ Tbs. chopped garlic
½ c. water
2 Tbs. vegetable bouillon*
2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 ½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
½ tsp. black pepper
Sauté onion for 15 minutes until it turns yellow. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
*The original recipe calls for chicken base here.
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The result is the ultimate comfort food.  Thanks to Danielle Sypher-Haley for sharing!

Written by Ann

January 1, 2013 at 11:57 am