Greetings from Jerusalem. I am here for about ten days working with a non-profit that exists to teach child-friendly care principles to hospital staff. The invite for the trip came less than three weeks ago and here I am. 

Tonight, I find myself without plans or obligations and I'm staying in a guest house with a relatively well-equipped kitchen, so here we go. The president of the non-profit I am traveling with brought me za'tar (spiced thyme) from one of her trips to Jerusalem a while back. I have used it here and there. We bought a bag yesterday, along with chicken, eggplant, and this date molasses that I may start adding to my coffee, bathing in, drinking straight, or all of the above.

Here's what I'm making and what you'll need to do the same:

For the chicken:

2 chicken leg quarters

1/4 cup olive oil

3 TBSP za'atar

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 TBSP organic date syrup (So, I don't yet know if this is available in the States. Try a Mediterranean market, and in a pinch, you could use a different syrup or maybe molasses.)

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients, rub onto chicken pieces and let marinate for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake chicken for one hour, or until done. 

For the eggplant:

1 medium eggplant

1-2 TBSP of salt

2 TBSP olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

First, you must salt the eggplant. Peel it, slice it and place slices in a colander. Sprinkle salt liberally over both sides of the slices and let set for an hour. Then, rinse thoroughly with water and pat dry, squeezing excess moisture from the eggplant. 

Heat olive oil in a skillet and add garlic. Add eggplant in a single layer -- do not crowd. Cook first side for 2-3 minutes and turn. Then turn and move the pieces every 30 seconds to 1 minute until both sides are golden brown. Cook in batches as necessary. 

As for this trip overall, all I can say is it is in no way what I expected. I'm not sure what I expected. To be in a place with so much history and so much history currently being made, so many cultures, interests...there are no words...yet. I hope there is food, though. I'll be sharing more in the days to come.