(1) What inspired you to start this website, and how’d you come up with the name?
Both of us have been keeping our own food blogs, and through them, we’ve been sharing our cooking philosophies and scrumptious Middle-Eastern-inspired recipes with the world for the past several years. When we connected online, we decided that our talents individually can’t compete with our talents collectively; or as they say, “Two heads are better than one.” So, MidEats was born! After deliberating about the name for weeks, we decided on MidEats because of, well, the obvious play on the word “Mideast” – see, we manage to find food/“eats” in everything! It’s a (healthy) obsession! 😉
(2) Are these recipes your own? Where did you get them from?
Recipes evolve over time, and many of the recipes on our website are based on traditional Middle Eastern dishes. For example, neither of us actually created “kibbeh”; nor would we ever we claim that we did. Sometimes, we present our own version of the dish, or some traditional rendition that was passed down. Knowing Middle Eastern culture though, and how Middle Eastern women work in the kitchen, there’s never a strictly traditional version; and the number of variations are nearly infinite. When we want to get really traditional, we try to distill the recipe to its simplest version and point out a few common variations. At the same time, some things about our cooking styles are truly unique. For example, Brenda cooks onions with pomegranate molasses, and she’s probably among very few who do that. Heba always incorporates healthier alternatives in Middle Eastern recipes; for example, she often makes stuffed bell peppers and zucchini with a mixture of quinoa (instead of white rice) and grass-fed beef, and she’s pretty sure quinoa doesn’t feature heavily in the Middle Eastern food world. She’s also always thinking of ways to convert well-loved Middle Eastern dishes into gluten-free versions. Before we cook a traditional dish, both of us extensively research recipes that are either in print and online (and the most important part of this research often includes phone calls to our mothers and grandparents). We then sit down and draft our own before we hit the burner. So that was a long winded way of saying, YES! These are our recipes and our own renditions of traditional favorites!
(3) What are your food and cooking philosophies?
Both Heba and Brenda have different food philosophies, which makes MidEats all the more unique. The good thing is that we do agree on basic principles, and we’ll let you in on a little secret: the best meals are only possible with the best ingredients. We believe in real food — not food products, and not items pretending to be food. We like the real thing and we shy away from artificial preservatives, additives, and prefer whole grains and wholesome products. In our cooking, we strive to use the best and purest (least refined) ingredients we can find, though that is not always easy if we’re trying to emulate the certain traditional Middle Eastern dishes, especially for recipes calling for white rice or refined white flour. We always look for ways to tweak traditional recipes to incorporate healthy ingredients.
(4) Did you take those awesome pictures?
Yes, but we’re in the process of learning how to use our DSLRs, so please bear with us while we experiment with the angles, light, colors, and layouts of our pictures. Our purpose in sharing food pictures with you is threefold: to instruct on how the final product and the steps to get there should look, to share our love for creative expression and photography, and — we ain’t tryin to hide it — to make you drool and rush to your kitchen to prepare a meal from scratch!
(5) Who designed your logo?
We owe our awesome logo to Sean Swanson, who tirelessly worked on it to achieve our vision of incorporating tasteful Moroccan tile design. We highly recommend Sean’s work!
(6) Can I copy your recipe or your picture?
The whole reason we set up this website is for you to gain inspiration in the kitchen, and to share our our recipes and traditions with you. While we cannot control what happens on the worldwide web, we ask that you cite our recipes when discussing them or modifying them. Please use common blogger courtesy. We have grand dreams of publishing a book, and once that happens, we will have copyright protection over that. As for the pictures, we also kindly ask that you shout out to the photographer in chief — whether in a post written by Heba or Brenda — when linking any pictures from MidEats to your post, and don’t attempt to sell the pictures or any product that features them for profit. Shukran (thanks) for being considerate in advance!
(7) Where do you buy your food and other ingredients? What about those strange ingredients, such as pomegranate molasses and cardamom extract?
For the most part, specialty ingredients can be found in Middle Eastern, and sometimes Indian grocery stores. Every now and then, the Middle Eastern section of large grocery stores, such as Whole Foods, will carry some of these special ingredients. Furthermore, Amazon carries a wide variety of products, but just as MidEats has high standards, be sure you purchase only those with high star ratings. An organically produced (non-irradiated) cumin will make your dish taste so much better — and will produce a more nutritious meal — than a low quality, rancid one.
Also, both Heba and Brenda are huge fans of purchasing local food. We always make attempts to support our local economies and encourage, small, sustainable farming practices. To find the absolute best ingredients, find a farm-share program, or visit your local farmers’ market.