When I became a stay-at-home mother after being a working professional since I was 18 was to say the least, an adjustment. You would think that being from Louisville, Kentucky that I would have plenty of mom friends. However, growing up in an impoverished neighborhood meant that my childhood friends started having children at the age of 16 or they had turned into adults living lifestyles that I did not want to associate myself with. So, in a strange way, I actually felt very lonely in my hometown and decided to join a local moms club. That's where I met Amal. She is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside and she was dealing with the adjustment of feeling alone as a mother in a new city also.
Born and raised in: I was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Hamtramck, Michigan.
How long have you lived in Kentucky? Just over a year.
How has your experience been with moving to a new city with two toddlers? It's been interesting. I learned that I CAN do it on my own and that the world is not as scary as the media portrays it to be. My family was very helpful. I lived in a two-family flat with my in-laws back in Michigan. My mother-in-law always took care of my first born. Especially when I was pregnant with my second, and shortly after baby was born. She pretty much took care of him for the first couple months until we were all able to sleep again. I also almost never went grocery shopping with kids because I always had a strong supportive family that would watch the kids. Oh, how I miss that! My kids were also the first grandchildren for my parents. They and my siblings were always excited to see them which resulted in free babysitting. So going from all that family support to a new city where we have nothing but ourselves, was a VERY difficult transition for me.
What did you mean, "the world is not as scary as the media portrays it?"
It was more of a general statement. If you're watching the news all day, 1 out of every 10 stories will be a positive one. And this applies everywhere. Moving to Kentucky, especially during the height of Islamophobia, was jumping out of my comfort zone. I didn't know what to expect. I did not stand out in Michigan, and here, I do.
I have two precious little boys that I have to take care of and raise in a country where people are being told not to like us. But I realized, people are people where ever you go. We all want the same thing. To be accepted, to live fully, and to be happy. All news outlets like to zoom in on scary things, because it naturally attracts people and increases their ratings. Not to be naive or anything, the world isn't ideal. But there is more good than bad, that's for sure.
Life is too short to be scared of living, which is exactly what started happening to me when I made the Dailymail or CNN part of my morning routine.
What has been the biggest surprise about Kentucky life? It's so different than urban Detroit.The biggest difference about living in Kentucky, besides being away from my family, is the lifestyle here. It's so calm and quiet. It was a little too quiet at first, but I'm starting to dig it. Southeast Michigan is very urban and busy. There are no two lane roads and you have to drive out for the pretty scenery that seems to surround you in Kentucky. Detroit has plenty of great restaurants also, each one as good as the last.
Biggest surprise about Kentucky food culture?
I haven't tried anything new or special here. The food culture in Michigan is much more diverse! I'm clearly missing something!
How would you describe meal time at your house? Exciting. I love to cook new things and the kids are always eager to eat so they're usually on their best behavior until the food hits their plate. It's always short lived and it can get crazy. You never know with two littles.
Most memorable meal time?
Ramadan (2016) meal time has been the best month of meals for me since I became a mom! During the holy month, we fast (in regards to food and drink), from sunrise until sunset. I was staying in Michigan with my parents for most of the Spring and Summer, taking full time classes at the local college. My kids were enrolled in daycare. So they were pooped by the time 8pm rolled around. 98% of the time, things were pretty ideal and they'd be in bed BY sunset.
Since I was staying with my mom, I rarely cooked. I didn't have to worry about feeding my kids (already asleep) or my husband (who was in KY).
So picture that. Meal time after a long, hot day. I got to sit down and not think about anything but eating my food while it was HOT. That almost never happens. Ever. I owe my mom big time. 25 years later and she's still taking care of me. It's so ironic!
Recipe for the pizza This recipe was inspired by my amazing friend, Crystal, who is the genius behind the original black bean taco pizza! It's super simple and very versatile. You can add whatever ingredients you have on hand into the salad, even shredded chicken or ground beef/turkey.
Ingredients Pizza crust: 2 1/2 cups flour (more for kneading and dusting) 1 - 2 cups warm water 1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon active dry yeast 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salad topping: 3-4 cups iceberg lettuce shredded 1-2 roma tomatoes chopped 1/2 cup colby jack cheese 1/4 cup red onion diced 1/4 cup corn (optional) 1 tablespoon cilantro minced (optional) 1 cup shredded chicken or taco meat (optional) Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime Ranch Tortilla strips
Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Pour sugar and yeast into 1 cup warm water and let foam in large bowl (5-10 minutes).
3. Purée black beans in blender or food processor with taco seasoning and olive oil until you get a paste like consistency. Set aside.
4. Add olive oil, salt, and flour to yeast mixture and knead until you get a soft but firm dough. Add more flour or water as necessary but don't over knead. Cover with towel and set on top of oven for 10-15 minutes.
5. Mix lettuce, tomato, onion, corn, cheese, meat, and cilantro in large bowl. Squeeze lemon or lime over salad mixture, cover and set aside.
6. Dust your surface and roll pizza dough into desired size. Place onto desired baking sheet/stone. Spread black bean mixture over pizza. Top with cheese. Bake for 35-45 minutes until crust is done to your liking.
7. Once pizza is ready, sprinkle salad mixture, tortilla strips, and drizzle of ranch over slice.