Sunday, June 19, 2016

Ramadan Preschool Count and Clip Activity

Have your little ones practice math during Ramadan with this Ramadan/Islamic themed Count and Clip Preschool activity!

 (My preschooler loves it! She doesn't quite get the numerals yet (recognition), but she loves to give her fine motor skills a work out and her big sis helps her with the counting and placement of the clothespins)

Comes in "English" numerals....

and Hindi "Arabic" numerals

And put them in a resealable baggy for easy storage!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Things to Do During Ramadan # 8: Make Date Banana Bread

On my quest to use dates in as many things as I can, I made date banana bread yesterday. My family loves banana bread so I decided to try to make it with dates for the first time. It was delicious, alhamdulillah.

My base recipe came from Banana Date Nut Bread from the site.

I basically followed the directions except:

Sugar: The recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar. My oldest daughter said it sounded like you'd get diabetes from that so I only used 1/2 cup of sugar. You could probably use even less than that as dates and bananas can be very sweet on their own and I did see recipes calling for no sugar.

Butter: The recipe calls for butter but in quick breads, I generally use vegetable oil, which is what I used. 

Dates: The recipe calls for chopped dried dates, but I used our moist medjool dates. I put them in a bowl of water and microwaved for about 2.5 minutes, then I let them stand in the water til they were even mushier.  After that, I put the dates and water in the blender. Now, the next time through, inshaa Allah, I won't add in all the water that I had in the bowl as it made the date-water mixture very soupy. But I still poured it in the banana bread mix and it came out moist and delicious!

Date Banana Bread

Now with my Date Banana Smoothie, I am 2-0 on date recipes this Ramadan!

Throwback Thursday: A Ramadan Day in Yemen

We lived in Sana'a, Yemen from late 2003 to summer 2009. The following post is a post that I compiled for my TJ Yemen blog back in 2008.  Everyone agrees that our Ramadans in Yemen were hands down our best Ramadans, maa shaa Allah.

A Ramadan Day in Yemen

9:30 am.
The normally bustling streets are almost totally deserted……
Where are the people?
Where is the traffic?
The streets are usually busy by now……
Why are most of the stores closed? The big protective metal security doors are all mostly shut except a few here and there.
A busy suq area is desolate…………….
Why are the traffic booths unmanned?
Looks like a Jumuah morning, except……………
the restaurants are closed too!
…. and besides, it’s a Monday.
Well, there’s only one other possible reason…..

It’s Ramadan!

Here’s a look at a typical Ramadan day out on the town in Sana’a, Yemen as seen through the eyes of an American……
By 10 or 10:30 am, the city begins to awaken.
A few more people will have emerged from slumber and make their way out onto the almost empty streets. A few more cars begin to occupy the quiet roads.
Not too many children are on the street, most of the children are in school as usual. The public school boys left for school earlier this morning. The public school girls will leave for school at around dhuhr, following their normal schedules.
A few more stores have opened. More big metal doors have opened up.
If you are planning on going to big supermarkets like City Mart or Shumayla Hari, however, you’ll have to wait another hour for City Mart and until after dhuhr for Shumayla Hari. Some stores that are typically open in the morning and close at dhuhr will not open up until after dhuhr, but stay open in the afternoon when they are normally closed.
Fast forward a few hours and its dhuhr. The adhaan has been heard and the dhuhr prayer has been prayed. The streets and sidewalks begin to fill. Only a few shops remain closed.
By 2pm or a little later, things look almost normal. Street vendors are out, but a little earlier than usual. They would typically start selling their wares after asr. And street vendors of a different type are present…….those selling samosas and others selling sweets covered with sticky sweet syrup! The wonderful smell of crispy recently fried samosas begins to fill the air……
Samosa stands. You will find seemingly dozens of these in just a few blocks…
Bakeries and sweet shops are bustling with customers buying sweets.
You also see vendors and military personnel sitting around reading Quraan.
30 minutes or so before Maghrib……
The streets begin to thin out again…………………
The sun begins to sink behind the mountains……
At many sites around town people gather outside storefront areas to await free food for their iftar as part of a Ramadan “mashru’ ” (project) for giving iftar to those in need.
The adhaan is called and people all over are breaking their fast with samosas, dates, sweets, soups, etc. Some houses are filled with guests breaking iftar with their hosts, their voices can be heard from outside the houses. The maghrib prayer is made and people return to their homes for the delicious food that could be smelled cooking during the day, teasing hungry fasters, but forbidden for consumption at that time.
After dinner, people will gather together and watch Arab soap operas, chew qat, light firecrackers, and pray the taraweeh prayer. Much to the chagrin of those unfortunate to live nearby, construction on houses will pick back up in the late night hours, their workers having slept a good portion of the day. Many people will stay up into the wee hours of the morning or until salatul Fajr and then sleep for most of the morning and then another Ramadan day begins….

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Things to Do During Ramadan # 7: Make a Date Banana Smoothie

During Ramadan, I go bonkers over recipes that include dates. Not everyone in the family likes dates, but I love them.  The first time I had a date shake, I was hooked.  Last year I bought a blender so ever since then we've been making all kinds of shakes and smoothies. (We didn't have a blender for years).

After surfing online to find a date banana smoothie recipe, I basically just threw one together myself as I didn't have some of the other ingredients that made the recipes I saw a little more exotic.


  • 1/4 cup dates or about 4-5 medjool dates (pitted)
  • 1-1/2  cups milk (I used almond soy milk though)
  • 2 teaspoons chia seeds (optional, but one of the recipes I looked at called for them and I had them on hand so I used them. The recipe did advise soaking the chia seeds, but this was last minute so I threw them in anyway)
  • 1 banana
And that's it! In my recently old sugar addict days I would have dumped way too much sugar in there but now I enjoy smoothies and shakes with no sugar at all! If it is not sweet enough, you could add a bit of honey or, sometimes, if a smoothie isn't sweet enough, I'll add another banana.

I saw some recipes that called for adding yogurt (my daughter said that just didn't sound right, lol, so I trusted her as she is my expert smoothie maker, having surpassed me in the art of smoothie/shake making). 

What to Do

Place everything in the blender (my blender recommends adding the liquid first) and blend. I probably needed to blend it a bit more as I had a lot of date chunks at the bottom of my glass (but they were still delicious to eat by themselves at the end.

My refreshing date banana smoothie at the end of a day of fasting:

Monday, June 6, 2016

Things to Do During Ramadan #6 - Make Crescent Shaped Cookies!

Yesterday as we prepared for Ramadan, the kids and I made crescent moon and star shaped cookies. It was a fun activity. I always mean to do it every Ramadan but it's been years since we have gotten around to making them again.  The kids had fun!

We used a soft cutout sugar cookie recipe from one of my favorite recipe sites, Sally's Baking Addiction. I imagined that they were going to be difficult to make, but they were pretty easy.

The ingredients were pretty basic things I generally have on hand:

  • 3/4 cup  unsalted butter, slightly softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (I didn't have this, but they were still very tasty!)
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
You can get the recipe from the link above. One of the things that she stressed was to make sure that you chill the dough, and she recommended rolling it out first before chilling.

I had originally intended to ice them with colored frosting but I couldn't find the colors that I wanted, so we colored the cookie dough!

We ended up making stars as well (because I had a star cookie cutter). For the crescent moons, I used a plastic biscuit cutter.

We made the crescents by using the round cutter and overlapping circles (my daughter's idea)

Then it was time to ice them. I rarely frost cookies so I happened along another site that suggested making an outline shape with the icing first, filling in some of the inside and spreading with a knife.

Our finished products!

It was mostly my teenage daughters, seven year old daughter and I making the cookies, but my 11 year old son joined in to help ice a few as well.

I hope, in shaa Allah to do more baking this Ramadan as the kids really enjoyed it.