February 1, 2013

What Really Matters.

January is a time when most people tend to check up on their life.  A new year is beginning, so we start reflecting on our past, taking stock of where we stand.  We scrutinize our achievements and the progress of our careers.  We examine our health and look more carefully at the figures in our bank accounts.  We also ponder our relationships with friends and loved ones and seek new ways to improve and reconnect.

Personally, I am no stranger to this process.  Every January, like clockwork, I sit down with a pen and paper to give my life the yearly physical.  I think about what I would like to achieve and I put together all sorts of to-do lists and plans for the months ahead.  I categorize, prioritize and monetize my entries.  The longer the list, the better I feel.  But as I grow older, I'm noticing that the content of my lists is definitely changing. While I still think that having serious career and life goals is key, my approach to list-writing is slowly morphing to reflect what's really becoming important to me.

For example, this year I created a new list that I titled "Things That Make Maroun Happy".  Hands down, my favorite list so far!  It came about because I felt that my goals seem to focus mostly on money and my career, and that bothered me.  I needed to balance that by creating simpler, less rigid life aims for myself.  Something more intrinsically enjoyable to me.  So, with that criteria in mind, I started thinking of some of the things that I would REALLY like to do this year to spice things up, and I came up with a few objectives.

Speaking of cooking with a group, I'll be doing that this weekend with two very dear friends of mine, Pat and Sarah at their gorgeous home in San Francisco.  The basement is spacious and perfect for such a project.  It has French doors that open up onto a beautiful urban garden, in which grows an amazing variety of organic herbs, fruits and vegetables.  There's even a hot house where tomatoes thrive in the winter time!

The girls and I are going to make a huge batch of Kibbeh meatballs.  A labor of love, no doubt, but well worth the effort.  Kibbeh is a recipe for Lebanese meatballs, made with Bulgur wheat and stuffed with pine nuts and spiced lamb and then fried.  Absolutely delicious.  We'll probably make around 300 meatballs, divvy up the batch between us, have some for dinner that night and freeze the rest for another time.  (Kibbeh meatballs freeze beautifully).  I'll snap a few pics of that and post them in the next issue.  I'll also share the easy recipe, which requires just a few simple ingredients.

Borough Market, London.  I could spend all day here!

I haven't been writing here for a while, so I thought I would also share a few photos that I took of me, my friends and my family.  The photos span a couple of years back and depict various themes of people cooking, eating and drinking.  So, in case you were wondering what I've been doing since I last wrote in this blog.  Well, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!

One of several daily Lebanese coffee breaks
Thanksgiving at home in San Francisco
Quality Control by our Moms
Lunch at Im Sherif, Beirut with two amazing people

Visit to the Lavaux Hillside Vineyards, Montreux, Switzerland

Dinner in the heart of a working salt mine in Bex, Switzerland
Cooking with friends in Paso Robles Wine Country, California

Paul enjoying a small cocktail at Palmilla, Los Cabos, Mexico

Seafood lunch with the family in Beirut

My brother Wael manning the Barbeque