No Place Like Home – Tucson

It has been a long time since my last post so I thought it only fitting to revive the blog with a post about my last trip home to Tucson. Also, speaking of home, great timing to mention that this is the same week we welcomed a new Abyad into the world, Justus Jeffrey Abyad. I am now an uncle for the 6th time and enjoying it. 🙂

Tucson ShotOne of my favorite food activities when staying with family is breakfast. When done Middle Eastern style, it will usually consist of a bunch of little dishes including a lot of cheese, bread, eggs, falafel, fruit, more cheese, and sometimes “ful” (an Arabic dish that is basically fava beans). And possibly my favorite cheese ever is Armenian string cheese. We grew up eating this constantly, also good toasted and melted on pita bread.

String CheeseHere is the ful, awesome with fresh tomato and onion.

FulJust to prep you, the food in this post will be really diverse but it is a typical showing of what is eaten when I go home. 🙂

Anytime I am home in Tucson, a large chunk of my time is spent with my Vietnamese family. This last trip, I got a chance to hang out with one my best friends growing up (Trung), and his girlfriend Paulina. Paulina very lovingly made us some homemade Pho which was awesome. I wanted to take a picture of them but they weren’t being so cooperative so I’ll just have to find one of Trung in Vietnam, drinking from a cup with his name!Trung and CoffeeHere are the Pho and condiments… done the right way with fresh meat and ingredients.

IMG_6768 PhoFortunately this trip was also the week of Thanksgiving so we spent Thanksgiving at my Uncle and Aunt’s house in Phoenix allowing for another Middle Eastern Thanksgiving experience which I can share with you here…

The TableAnd just to get closer…

BOOM tabouleh…

TabboulehBOOM green bean casserole…

green beansBOOM sweet potato casserole…

sweet potato casseroleBOOM kibbeh…

kibbehand finally grapeleaves…

grapeleavesAnd so you can have a view of the plate…

PlateSo Happy Thanksgiving a little late. And this last segment of going home was our visit to Old Tucson Studios, which every child in Tucson loves. It is an actual film studio that has been filming since 1939, filming movies like Tombstone and The Three Amigos!

Old TucsonCheck out the excitement on this child (Bethany); the excitement I also shared when driving/riding in these cars…

bethan in old tucsonFood wise, we had a pretty great experience here as well. There was an open grill with lots of good stuff including the infamous Sonoran Hot Dog which I love and can only get, legitimately, in Tucson.

Sonoran Dog SignSonoran DogWith some nachos…

NachosHere are some grill shots…

Flame broiled IMG_6916Cooked CornSo there’s a rundown if what just 3 days may look like in Tucson, always a good food experience. 🙂 How can you turn this down?

Tucson

 

 

Thanksgiving at the Abyad Home

I have a lot of posts to catch up on but I wanted to do the Thanksgiving post as it is timely. I celebrated the holiday with my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew. This is a small one for the Abyads since we are always a part of some large gathering. This was actually my brother’s first Thanksgiving at home since he was married (7 years ago). So this was Amanda’s first time making everything, with a little help from Jeff and I, very little… And it was great! Amanda is a great cook, she claims she is just good at following recipes…

Recipes such as our Mom’s stuffing balls. My brother and I have always been a fan and Amanda did a good job replicating them.

And this was before the gravy being poured around them (well, I guess it is just sauce; the sauce from the cooked Turkey).

Another favorite of mine is the Sweet Potatoes dish, especially when it’s sweet with marshmallows and pecans!

Looks good and fluffy right?

And cranberries!

And since we didn’t get to see the parade or the dog show (Amanda was happy about that) this year as we did not have cable, we waited patiently all day hanging out around the house…

Jeff made some chai lattes and Amanda and Lucy made cookies. Ephraim hung out with his same-size version of Cinderella.

Amanda with her good motherly skills was teaching Lucy how to frost the cookies…

I don’t know why I don’t have any pictures of the other cookies, but Jeff later showed everyone up with some incredible artistic renditions of a Turkey cookie and a Pilgrim’s hat. Jeff, if you have pics of them you should upload them or something…

And remember how I said Ephraim hung out with Cinderella? Well here they are…

Quite an eventful day and then we had dinner, trying to fit as much of the food as possible on the table.

Jeff’s huge plates were definitely helpful for this meal…

I almost forgot about the pie! This was my contribution to the meal. We actually went to Whole Foods Thanksgiving day to pick up the pie and it worked out well. They had a Buy One Get One sale, I guess they were trying to get rid of them which worked in our favor. We got a traditional pumpkin pie and this amazing Dark Chocolate Pecan pie!!

And my favorite Pumpkin Ice Cream!

This ice cream is REAL serious good. It is only seasonal and last year I only got it twice since it was sold out every other time I went to Whole Foods. It is also really good with Ginger Snaps.

And with that, I’d like to share a pretty funny nostalgic picture of when we used to spend our Thanksgivings in Palm Desert with my cousins Randa and Akram and their kids Matthew and Sarah. My brother and I were reminiscing about how we miss those Thanksgivings since we always had a lot of fun family around. So we found this picture from like the year 2000 I think? These pictures are strange to me for several reasons: it’s before I had braces, before my brother and sister were married and I feel like we all look so different!