Assalamu-alaikum (peace be upon you),

Our younger youth enjoy a valuable lesson about choosing our words wisely with Ihsan. Look Nabeel has a question everyone!

Last night, our youth took part in an epic cooking session which would have made even the most revered chefs proud. Before our young men could roll up their sleeves and prepare their meals, the evening began by praying Isha prayer in congregation at the masjid. After Isha prayer was completed, we broke up into two groups for our weekly youth discussion. Last night’s topic was “My Tongue = My Ticket” and focused on gaining a deeper appreciation for the advice our Creator gave His creation in Surah Al-Isra (17), Verse 53 (close translation of the meaning):

“Say (Oh Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) to My servants that they should (only) say those things that are best; for Satan does plant seeds of dissension/anger/enmity (between people).”

Oftentimes we forget the impact our words can have on other people. Words of praise, thanks, and encouragement can help inspire or motivate a sibling, friend, or classmate to keep trying hard and push through an obstacle. Words of anger, spite, and pure nastiness can cause tremendous pain and sorrow. Therefore it it critical for us to choose our words wisely when we communicate with other people in our life. If we use the best (nice) words when talking to our family members, friends, and community members, these words will plant a seed of friendship and mercy in the heart of the person whom we are talking to. With every additional positive interaction with this individual, it is as if we are watering the seed and allowing it to grow in the person’s heart (and thus the concern and mercy in the person’s heart for us will continue to grow).

The reverse is true as well. When we get into an argument or discussion where hurtful and derogatory language is used, a seed of enmity and hurt gets planted in the hearts of the two people who are arguing. If forgiveness is not sought for the hurtful words exchanged between the two people arguing, this can lead to two friends becoming enemies. Thus it is important that in every conversation we take part in, we choose only the best words to avoid creating friction and enmity between ourselves and the people we are talking to.

The empty table awaits its much anticipated guests. Oh where art thou young men?

After the youth discussion was complete, our young men began the short jaunt downstairs to the multipurpose room for our main event – American Cooking Night. This event provided an opportunity for our mentors to educate our youth on the important life skill of cooking. Last night, our youth worked in small teams to prepare one item in our four-course dinner:

  • Fried chicken
  • Macaroni-and-cheese
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Salad

Remember when we used to pick players during recess for basketball - looks like recess is back in session for American Cooking Night!

It doesn’t get any more American than these four items. Below are the recipes we used for our meal along with a few pictures of our youth in action. Enjoy!

FRIED CHICKEN

Fried Chicken

Ingredients needed:

– Chicken drumsticks

– Cooking oil

– Shan Broast Mix (1 box)

– Water

Equipment needed:

– Cooking pot

– Deep fryer

– Fridge

– Mixing bowl

The recipe for fried chicken is as follows:

Step 1: Boil the drumsticks on low heat in the cooking pot for 10-15 minutes.
Step 2: Coat the boiled drumsticks with Shan Broast Mix in the mixing bowl.
Step 3: Let the coated drumsticks sit in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
Step 4: Fry the drumsticks for 1-2 minutes in a deep fryer.

Hamzeh and Mujtaba gleefully coat the chicken drumsticks with batter.

Tassawar shows Malik the art of coating chicken with batter. Is it just us or could this picture have come from the Food Network - the lighting is perfect!

Our coated chicken chills in the fridge for 10 minutes. Please disregard the "Do Not Touch" sign.

Ihsan instructs Hamzeh on the skill of frying chicken; Mujtaba gives his team's chicken two thumbs-up. Our youth concur with Mujtaba's assessment.

MACARONI-AND-CHEESE

Macaroni-and-cheese

Ingredients needed:

– Butter

– Macaroni-and-cheese box (can purchase in a box at your local super market)

– Milk

– Sour cream

– Water

Equipment needed:

– Cooking pot

– Measuring cups

– Measuring spoons

– Stirring spoon

– Strainer

The recipe for macaroni-and-cheese is as follows:

Step 1: Fill a cooking pot halfway with water.
Step 2: Place cooking pot on low heat on oven. Add box(es) of macaroni-and-cheese to cooking pot. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until pasta is tender.
Step 3: Drain water from pasta using a strainer. Return drained pasta back into cooking pot and place on oven (on low heat).
Step 4: Mix cheese, 1-2 spoons of sour cream, and one cup of milk with pasta. Stir contents for 5-10 minutes before serving.

A pot, a gallon of milk, butter, a strainer, and lots and lots of boxes of macaroni-and-cheese. I wonder what our youth will turn these ingredients into.

Muhammad adds the cheese as Mohamed stirs. Yes you read correctly - there are two Muhammads in this photo. Guess which one is which.

"This is veeeeerrryyy cheesy" says Hamza. In the background Raad diligently mixes the macaroni-and-cheese product to a perfect consistency.

Yeeeeaaaaahhhhhh, mac and cheese is AWESOME! It looks like the bowl is so heavy Muhammad is about to fall over.

MASHED POTATOES

Some say "potayTOE," we say "poTAtoe." Raw ingredients await to be carefully churned into mashed potatoes. Has anyone seen our mashing tool?

Ingredients needed:

– 24 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

– 3 cups warm milk

– 1.5 cups butter or margarine

– 4.5 teaspoons salt

– Dash of black pepper

– Water

Items needed:

– Measuring cups

– Measuring spoon

– Potato peeler

– Saucepan or cooking pot

– Spoons (for mashing potatoes)

Our recipe for homemade mashed potatoes:

Step 1: Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil.

Step 2: Cook potatoes for 20-25 minutes or until very tender.

Step 3: Drain well.

Step 4: Add milk, butter, salt and pepper.

Step 5: Mash potatoes until light and fluffy.

Step 6: Serve to your guests!

How many potatoes can we fit in one pot? Apparently 20 according to Salah's team.

Nabeel, Ahmed, and Assim start smashing potatoes. Why are mashed potatoes called mashed potatoes and not smashed potatoes?

Amr seems to think we've reached the right consistency with our mashed potatoes...

Salah disagrees and steps in to finish the job.

Mashed potatoes success! Hazem looks excited for dinner - time to EAT! Wait, where is our salad?

ARABIC SALAD

His and Her Arabic Salad

Ingredients needed:

– Cucumbers

– Green peppers

– One head of organic lettuce

– One lemon

– Seasoning (salt and pepper)

– Tomatoes

Equipment needed:

– Cutting board

– Knife

– Large salad bowl

Below is the recipe we used for our salad:

Step 1:Wash all of the vegetables with warm water.

Step 2: Cut the tomatoes and green peppers in 1 inch square pieces.

Step 3: Slice the lettuce to 1 inch piece.

Step 4: Peel and slice the cucumbers into quarter-size pieces.

Step 5: Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and squeeze half a lemon on top.

Step 6: Add a dash of salt, mix, and serve!

Knives, cutting boards, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and bell peppers. What will end up in the salad bowl?

Murtaza educates us on a valuable step when preparing a salad - wash the ingredients first. Salmonella is not the most friendly bacterium to meet in your tummy.

Essa, Danyal, Amine, and Murtaza carefully slice tomatoes and cucumbers for our salad. We totally dig the safety gloves!

"It is a bell pepper man!" Meanwhile our salad bowl is starting to look very colorful.

Omar decided to take a break from cutting salad to pose for the camera...not quite sure what is going on here. Okay back to the salad!

Danyal uses his muscles to squeeze the juice out of the lemon - just one...more...drop...DONE! "Phew that was hard."

Ta da! Team Fahad looks quite proud of their salad product - looks delicious gentlemen.

After spending an hour cooking in the kitchen and multipurpose room, our youth and mentors were finally ready to sit down, say bismillah, and dig in for an enjoyable family-style meal.

Danyal chases Amine around the table as they graciously set up our tables for dinner.

Our young men finally get to sit down and enjoy the meal they cooked. Dig in friends!

We hope you enjoyed watching our youth sharpen their culinary skills. Until next week, enjoy the pictures!

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