Scraped Knees and Apricot Sherbert

I am soo happy to see that Apricots have now joined the other organic fruit on display at our neighborhood groceries.

I remember my Mom giving me a leg-up to get into the Apricot trees in our orchard in Lebanon, and me picking the red-cheeked, juicy ones that were too high to reach from the ground, and gently tossing them onto a folded blanket that Mom spread under the tree.

For every few I tossed down, I ate one, until both the baskets and I were filled to the top! My nephew or cousins would be in other trees, and sometimes I felt it my duty to turn the basket filling into a contest. Our fruit picking trips always included a picnic featuring tasty Lebanese mezza dishes (appetizers) that Mom made the day before... Tabboouleh, stuffed Grapes leaves, homemade Arabic bread, Hummus or Baba ghannouj, cheeses, olives, fresh veggies, and a watermelon for dessert.

As a skinny preteen, I usually had scraped knees and was often found in trees or sitting top of the many 6-foot tall stone walls in our home town. I'm not so found of climbing into trees anymore, unless they are low to the ground!

Yesterday I brought Apricots home of course, and after eating 3 or 4, I decided to cook some up into jam and sherbet. Below is the dairy-free Sherbet recipe.


  • 2 lb. ripe Organic Apricots (12-15)
  • 1/4  c. Water
  • ¾ c. Almond or Soy Milk
  • ¾ c. Xylitol or 2-3 packets Stevia (to taste)
  • 3 drops Almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp. Orange Blossom Water (Whole Foods or Middle Eastern market)

Split apricots and remove pit. Cut each into 1/6’s.

Reserve 1 Tbs. of the apricots.

Cook apricots with water in a medium non-reactive saucepan over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 10 mins. Add milk.

Remove from heat and stir in sweetener.

Let cool to room temp.

Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth. Stir in the extract, orange water and rest of the apricot pieces.

Chill thoroughly, then freeze in ice cream maker, or pour into Popsicle molds.

~ Sahtein! (double health)


Sitting on the living room floor upstairs White veil folded over the top of her head

She holds in her lap a large round tray

Full of lentils,

Her right hand pushing each wavy row at a time

Up towards the top of the tray

Inspecting them for debris.


She wears a navy dress with white polka dots

And every grandchild knows that dress.

She’s recounting another story,

Always full of every possible detail

Often mimicking the players

In perfect adaptations,

While we sit listening.


Lentils picked through ...the tray

Is taken to the kitchen by the maid,

Downstairs she follows onions beckoning

To be chopped into perfect small dice

Excited to enhance the fledgling soup

Sautéed in green-gold olive oil

They wait to turn a luscious brown.


The telephone rings

Her youngest sister calling to say she’s coming by

One of my round aunts clad in black

White veil clinging to graying hair

Rosy face and twinkling eyes,

Three kisses on two cheeks

And a pinch of the chin.


The thick soup bubbles on the stove

Melding the flavors of crisp onions

And brown lentils with a hint of cumin,

A quick stir with the wooden spoon

Between lines of conversation

The latest family gossip

Floating around the room.


Arabic coffee is brewing next to the lentils

Thick, dark, rich its heady aroma

Vying for space between the airborne words

A quick boil, a resting minute for grounds to settle

Then into tiny flowered porcelain cups

A hint of sugar sprinkled, and quickly stirred

More news, laughter and plans for a visit


To an elderly friend who recently lost a husband...

The stone house on the corner

Above Abu Salim’s grocery store

A basket dangles from the balcony

Waiting to descend into his hands

And be filled and hoisted up again.


A sheik in black with a blue striped vest

Manicured mustache curled

A white cotton cap on his head,

He walks along-side his doe-eyed donkey

She, carrying baskets of honeyed figs

From the orchards at the top of the hill

Weaving down the winding streets to market.


‘Ahlan Yousef’ a greeting meets him

The source sits on a wooden chair

In front of the inviting barber shop

Sipping coffee from a gold-rimmed demitasse

A backgammon table laid out

Waiting for participants

On this sunny mountain day.


A hand touching his forehead in response

Donkey and master are closer to market

A taxi honks to get by the pedestrians

Tangling in the streets

Each shop with its own bouquet of people

Talking, kissing, catching up on the events

Since 10pm the night before.


Long straight hair at the skilled hands of hairdressers

Flow down slender shoulders

Framing lovely dark eyes,

As young women walk arm in arm in pretty skirts

Snacking on toasted melon seeds from crumpled paper bags

Avoiding the glances of young men

In tight shirts and store windows.


Each mother tows more than a child

Pretty frilly socks and matching ribbon in curls

Adorning chubby faces

Or shining black shoes and knitted sweaters

On a future man of the village

Who now holds a cone dripping with

Mango, peach and pistachio ice cream.


Stray dogs make their way to the back of butcher shops

Patiently waiting for today’s scraps

While the owner haggles with the woman

Veiled and gesturing at a piece of meat

Which he holds in his hand

20 lira is not what she pays for that very same

At Abu Amin’s shop across town.


A policeman’s whistle at a gray car double parking

The man in a blue shirt, his wife and children

In the back seat leaning out of windows

“Bas takki” he shouts at the officer

‘Just one moment’ and he’ll be gone

Just long enough for Sameera to run into the pharmacy

For father’s medication.


The incomparable Fairuz sings over the noise in the square

Her rich voice idealizing her country,

Comes from a radio on the balcony

Above the fabric store

Where Im Ali sews dresses for customers

While her children are in school,

Colors streaming from hangers.


‘Hey, ya Kamaaaaal’, call a group of young men

Leaning against a Mercedes

Turning the head of another making his way

Across the street to Ziad’s bookstore

Whistles and hand clapping when he hears

Laughter at his distraction as he finally sees

The goateed chins that beckon him.


Hugs go around the now circle of friends

Plans for an evening stroll after dinner

And hints at who they might run into

To spice the night’s ritual

A clasp of hands before Kamal returns to his path

A mental note to complete homework

Before the stroke of 9.


Dotted along the streets grey taxis

Usually a 6-year-old Mercedes

Carries six passengers tightly squeezed

Back from a day of work in the sun.

Skin darkened, sporting darker mustaches

Looking forward to joining family for dinner

Displayed in six or seven flowered dishes


Meals are an invitation to share good fortune

To catch up on the day’s news

To show generosity towards friends and family..

Mothers and grandmothers in their long dark skirts

Many wearing the white flowing thin veil over their hair

Spend the afternoon together preparing the evening meal

Always Turkish coffee at the ready.


Children play on the large verandas

Or on the street corners

Looked after by older siblings, cousins,

Or cheerful shopkeepers who too are friends..

No neighbor in this village is a stranger

No one keeps to themselves for this is a Community

Of family overflowing with love and concern.


Their hearts like their houses are close,

Like the winding alley ways

Their lives wind around one another

No one hesitates to ask for aid.

Nabeel skips morning chores to take Aunt Im Jamal to the doctor

Lena walks to town for a spool of brown wool

To mend upstairs’ Abu Fady’s jacket.


Between these snug two and three-story stone buildings

Serving as houses and shops…

Stray slender pine trees and fragrant flowery bushes

Winding narrow stairways and alleys

Sprinkled with cats and people

Busy with the day’s work

Acknowledging each other.


Where the spaces between structures grow larger

Stand houses capped with red tile roofs

Sit upon hill crescents offering dizzying views

Of tree green valleys and mountains

Gentle sloping land down to the shimmering

Blue waters of the warm Mediterranean

Its shores outlining modern cities.

There the men and women have a brisker pace

There the shops are shinier

The cars polished carrying fashionable passengers

The buildings taller, the streets wider

The pace faster, but still allowing friends to linger

Over coffees and sweets and late lunches

In the outdoor Cafés dotting every corner.

The cheeks here are red with premeditated color,

The shoes and handbags from twin material,

The conversations in three alternating languages

At each dining table, in each bunch of students

At Chez Michelle’s Salon and George’s Boutique

The dresses shorter, the makeup brighter

The flirting noticeable.


Her white head-cover now exchanged for a black one,

She makes her way to the city in the white Mercedes,

Kameel, the driver, in white starched shirt and long pinky nail

Making polite conversation...

Visits to Daoud the tailor, Kabé the jeweler,

And Abu Talal... the wholesale grocer,

Before returning home to the mountains.


A little something for me and my sister

Dad’s favorite fruits, dried beans and rice

To last a few weeks..

A bunch of fresh dates from Arabia

And ripe, orange, fleshy mangos from Egypt.

All congregate in the large kitchen

To help with parts of the bountiful evening meal.

~ Hoda A.© 2009