White pizza with homemade pizza dough :-)

When we lived in the US, I always wanted to try and make my own pizza dough, but living so close to Trader Joe’s made it easy to cheat since they have their own version in the fridge, and it is quite delicious. Sigh, how I miss Trader Joe’s!

When I got to the Middle East, I found out pretty quickly that pre-made dough is not the easiest thing to find here.  So finally, I was faced with the fun challenge of making my own pizza crust!

Luckily on the Nest’s What’s Cooking board,  there was a post from someone else about pizza dough. A few were recommended, but the one I saw the most was this one. It’s a blog called Annie’s Eats, and I have tried some great recipes from her blog.  However, that recipe was posted for someone with a stand mixer – which I do not have.  She linked to the original recipe (with options to make it by hand) that was posted on a Browneyedbaker’s blog, so I followed that one, and used this recipe.

Now remember that I am in the Middle East – some of the things in this recipe were not necessarily available to me.  (Also I did not have the car today, so I was stuck with Carrefour, a grocery store across the street).  I have not seen anything close to bread flour here,  so I decided to try  Chappata Atta, which is used to make Indian breads, so I thought it might be a good substitute. Also, the instant yeast that I found did not need mixing with water. (Now I have a ton of yeast though, so I plan to try making a lot of breads)!

Putting this dough together was a cinch, and really took no time at all. Then I let it rise while I watched some tv, and was amazed at just how big it got! When it came to shaping the dough…that was a little more difficult! I had to watch a few videos on how to do it, before I got the hang of it.

Looks delicious doesn’t it? I thought so 🙂 (Don’t mind my horrible pictures – they were taken on my iPhone! It’s the easiest and fastest way to get the pictures posted).

The pizza is a white pizza with garlic, mozzarella, ricotta cheese and parmesan. It’s a creation inspired by our favorite pizza at a cute little place in Montana called MacKenzie River Pizza.  Any time we are in Montana to visit Dave’s parents, we have to go there! The pizza we usually get there has ricotta, mushrooms and bacon. (Let’s not talk about bacon though…).

Check out their website and menu! (We love the Madison). And if you ever get to Montana – you should really go there! The recipe for both the pizza dough, and white pizza are after the jump! 🙂

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St. Paddy’s Day!

So March 17th is Dave’s favorite holiday, so we celebrate every year by having a party, eating some Irish fare and watching one of our favorite Irish movies!

No matter where we are,  we wanted to continue our tradition, so we invited some friends over to celebrate with us! Here was the menu:

Guinness Stew (with braised lamb) Both of these were great – braising the lamb really locks in flavor, and the stew was delicious!

Veggie Guinness Stew (Same recipe as above, no meat)

Irish Brown Bread (Homemade by me) This is an amazing recipe (and blog), and the bread comes together so easily!

Colcannon (thanks to our friend Marjorie!)

Irish Cream Cake for dessert 🙂

I did not take pictures of any of the food or the party, but I have linked to the recipes in case you want to try any of them! Along side this delicious food, we of course served Guinness for our guests 🙂

After enjoying some delicious dinner, we watched Darby O’Gill and the Little People.  Never heard of it? It’s an oldie but goodie Disney film that Dave introduced me to a few years ago, with a very young Sean Connery! Dave watched it every year when growing up on St. Paddy’s Day, and now we do too!

It was a really fun party and I cannot wait to do it again next year! (Maybe then I will remember to take pictures of the food and the party!) And thanks to our friends that came! Hope you enjoyed it!

Bilingual country

Being an ex-pat always comes with its challenges, and one of the big ones is language!  Luckily, we are in a country where English and Arabic are both commonly spoken. I am relieved about that! I know it would be incredibly difficult if English was not spoken here.  There are still communication barriers, but we are able to speak with people and not have too many issues 🙂

Since this is such a bilingual country, all storefronts, products,  logos, and other public material is usually in both Arabic and English. (There are newspapers and tv channels that are not both however. Makes for some fun tv watching, ha ha).  For us, it is really common to see everything in English and Arabic, but I thought it would be fun to show you guys what I see on a daily basis.

So while at Villagio Mall the other day, I took  a few pictures of some store fronts to give you an idea of what it looks like. I plan to take more pictures, and do a few more blog posts like this! 🙂  (Oh, and I apologize for the blurry pictures – I am just using my iPhone camera).

First, is an all natural health/beauty store called L’occitane. I love this store! Here is the store front, with the English on the left, and Arabic on the right 🙂

Here is Lacoste, a brand made popular with its polo shirts with its alligator logo 🙂

And here is the British department store, Marks & Spencer.

Pretty cool huh? I love the look of the Arabic language, and would love to learn it while I am here.  That is something I need to work on 😛 I will take some more pictures and continue to post them in the next few weeks! 🙂

If you have any thing in particular you want to see (fast food places, products, etc), let me know and I will try to take pictures of it! 🙂

Hilary comes to Doha!

Who would have thought that coming to Doha would give us the opportunity to see Hilary Clinton?! Not me, that’s for sure!

The whole thing happened pretty quickly. We found out the Thursday before that she would be in Education City on Sunday, and that she would be at our university. We were warned to come in early on that day, since there would be heavy security with metal detectors. There was a limited supply of tickets for each university, and although we were not lucky enough to get tickets, we were told we could watch from the upper level.

Then over the weekend, Bill Clinton was hospitalized and Hilary delayed her trip by a day.  We weren’t sure if she would still come, but luckily she did! So the morning of, we arrived bright and early, and made it easily through security.  Hilary was scheduled to speak about 10 AM, so around 9 we headed out to the second floor balcony to see what was happening.

We watched as students, faculty and staff from all the universities of Education City filed in, and many colleagues joined us on the balcony to watch.  As it got closer to 10, we were surprised to see a lot of empty seats.  The assistant dean saw us up top, and flagged us to come down. So we ran as fast as we could, to grab some seats before the town hall meeting started.  It was pretty exciting 🙂

And then, right around 10 AM, Hilary came out in a sharp blue suit and headed to the stage. She looked great, and I was just excited to be in the same room with her. Check her out!

The town hall meeting was being hosted by Al Jazeera, and so the interviewer spoke in both Arabic and then would repeat him self in English. There were also devices available that were translating the Arabic part, but we were late, so we were not able to request one.

It all went pretty quick – many students asked about Iran, and it seemed that a lot of the focus was on that. There were a few other questions that dealt with a few other issues, and then it was over.  She had a quick trip to Doha, and we were lucky that she still had time to come to us!

Check out the gigapan of her visit 🙂 You can see me, Dave, and my friends Jeff and Kira.  We all look sort of perplexed, like we are deep in thought about what Hilary is saying! (We are in one of the very last rows on the right-ish side!)

http://gigapan.org/gigapans/42926/

It was a pretty exciting day! After that, Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy also came to speak to Education City! I am curious to see who will come to speak in the future 🙂

Follow Up to dispelling rumors post…

My poor blog! I have neglected it, and you my readers! I do apologize! Somehow I mean to write a blog post, and then some thing else gets in the way! I have a few other posts I hope to get caught up on soon!

I wanted to answer some questions asked in my previous post about dispelling rumors about living abroad  in a Muslim country.

From my good friend, C :-)She wants to know if I ever feel awkward being a minority in another country? Do I think I stand out being from the US, or just as a Westerner in general? Do I get a feel for how other people view Americans?

The funny thing about this question is that I am not in the minority.  Ex-pats actually make up a very large portion of Qatar’s rapidly growing population! The native Qataris are a small part of the population, there are many other Muslims who reside who and also wear their native dress, so on a trip to the mall, you will see a mix of abayas, thobes, and regular street clothes.  I wanted to share a break down of the different cultures, but I am unable to find an article or statistics about the population.   If I find one, I will update! 🙂

I do stand out as being a Westerner, for sure.  The main reason being that I don’t wear an abaya,  but there are other reasons too.  When I am out at stores or restaurants, I often get asked where I am from.  I am not sure if they ask because of my fair skin tone, blue eyes, and brown hair, or possibly just my cheerful disposition.  The fact that they ask me these questions makes me think I must be standing out to them, as a non Middle-Easterner.

It’s really fascinating to learn how other people feel about America.  When people do ask where I am from, and I say the US, the response is usually the same.  They are usually excited and tell me how they want to go there someday. (These are mainly workers from the Philippines, Asian countries, etc).  It is interesting to see that so many people are still interested in traveling to the US and possibly living there.

Not sure what the Qataris think of the US, but for the most part, I have always had positive responses when I say where I am from.  It makes me realize how lucky I was to grow up in the US, and it is neat to see that there are still many people to hope to travel there in search of freedom, and the American dream, I suppose.

Another comment that I wanted to answer is from my mother in law.  She wants to know if I associate much with the people of the area or do I primarily just hang out with other Americans?

So far, I mainly hang out with just Americans.  They are all working at the same University as Dave, and we have become friends quickly. As faculty, my friends certainly have more access to Qataris,  because they have some of them as their students.  I am not quite sure how to meet a Qatari, but I would love to, because there are SO many misconceptions between Qataris and ex-pats, and I would love to get a different perspective, and see things the way they see it, and try to understand their point of view.

Ex-pat life in general is good, and there are so many benefits to it. But there are cultural differences, and it takes time to understand them and learn to work with the cultural norms in your new country.  We were lucky that one of the barriers was not language! Since the majority of people speak English, we have been able to navigate very well. If they only spoke Arabic – we’d be in trouble 😛

Hope this is somewhat enlightening, and if you have more thoughts, questions, ideas….let me know! 🙂