HypnoBirthing: Some Thoughts on Hypnosis

It seems that when a lot of Christians hear about hypnobirthing, they immediately write it off because of hypnosis. I had felt the same way myself, but also had never been able to articulate scripturally what was wrong with the kind of self-hypnosis put forth by hypnobirthing, before or after reading the book. So we did some research.

The most common arguments against hypnosis:
-The Bible condemns hypnosis directly (I have yet to find a verse condemning hypnosis itself as much as hypnosis-like things that are condemned because of their use in pagan worship)
-Hypnosis opens a person up to demonic influences (If it a self-hypnosis that is controlled by the person being hypnotized, and is not pagan or “mind emptying” this argument may not be valid, but is still a big concern).
-Hypnosis is a step away from the alertness and self-control that Christians are supposed to operate under (However with self-hypnosis you are in control and aware of what is going on, thus less likely to be influenced by bad teaching or thought. But in a state where you are withdrawn from reality and have altered perception, there is still need for great caution).
– The way it has been viewed historically. (Often associated with the occult, why is it only now becoming fine for the church? Or has it always been linked to new age/occult, or is that the new thing?)
– It closely parallels mysticism, which is also a tough subject for Christians. We don’t believe that mystical experiences are wrong (if defined as simply supernatural experiences), but we do believe that the kinds of mystical experiences in oriental and catholic mysticism, not to mention the occult, etc. are evil. Paul was a mystic; he reaches places in his epistles where the logic goes away and gives way to doxology. The conviction of the Holy Spirit is a mystic experience in a sense; it is supernatural. Having a deeper sight of the glory of God or the love of God can lead to a mystic experience. But these are truth-driven spiritual reality-drive experiences, not simply good-feeling experiences or vague spiritual experiences that we then later define as having been a gift from God. And we are not seeking these experiences so much as we are seeking God, and sometimes it may cause such an experience.

Arguments Christians make defending hypnosis:
-The bible contains positive examples of hypnosis (often referenced is Paul’s vision in Acts 10, where he falls into a trance, but there is no indication that this was any form of self-hypnosis – the only physical indication we have is that it may have been hunger-induced)
– Jesus wants you to have an abundant life, and we have studies showing that this helps, so we should use it. (This is used more in reference to using hypnosis for weight loss, etc. But that’s not what Jesus meant when he was talking about an abundant life, nor is it the most biblical way to change your life).

Some critique of self-hypnosis applies less to birth than to other things it is used for (like weight loss, breaking habits, etc). In those cases, hypnotherapy does not match up with the biblical system of sanctification and mental/spiritual healing. It would seem to “short circuit” the process of the renewing of the mind, which involves submitting the whole person to the truth in prayer, reading the word, and meditating on truth, so we would urge Christians to step away from using hypnosis beyond an analgesic.

For HypnoBirthing, I’m totally on board with deep relaxation and reminding yourself of truth to speed and ease labor (while remembering it’s not a magic bullet!). The shady area is when it gets into altered consciousness (discussed more in my previous post) and repetitions that aren’t entirely true and become the mind-emptying mantra-like meditations related to eastern religions. It also becomes dangerous when it is used as escapism (a pitfall I see more outside birth/pain) – our first resort and our escape should be crying out to God and looking to Jesus, not self-hypnotizing. I think that if the focus within the hypnotized state is God (ie, the “affirmations” are biblical truth) then the two can become intertwined.
But if you aren’t comfortable with the self-hypnosis part, there is still much that can be learned from HypnoBirthing, not just the information in the book, but even the method itself.
The idea that our minds affect what our bodies are doing, especially with regard to fear/stress/tension making birth more difficult and painful (something that is common throughout Ina May’s book, Bradley Method, HypnoBirthing, Childbirth Without Fear, and Redeeming Childbirth) so reminding yourself of truth is going to help, like it would calm any anxiety or stress (“My body is designed to do this,” – however one disagreement I have with most crunchy birthing method stuff is that it doesn’t take into account the fall, “God is in control,” etc).
However, to me this falls more into the prayer and renewing your mind category so I feel like it’s something that while it may have the same effect is entirely different at root. Our goal shouldn’t be a result of pain-free childbirth, but the truth. For the Christian, truth brings peace, whether it brings relief of suffering or not, and any discomfort in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum can be met with worship if we have prepared ourselves to do so (I’ll give some ideas in my next post).

HypnoBirthing: Summary

I had heard about HypnoBirthing before I was pregnant with S, but hadn’t looked into it that much and didn’t look into it much during that pregnancy. It seemed like it would be weird and new age, so I avoided it. But a friend that teaches it said that while some people use it that way, it really isn’t, which got me interested in it, especially after I talked with her about S’s birth and how much I hated pushing. She looked at me and said “you didn’t have to push at all,” and talked about HypnoBirthing’s breathing the baby out technique. So I borrowed the book from her to learn more.

HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method is not hard to read, and not that hard to understand, but like Bradley Method, would take a lot of practice if you’re really going to utilize it. I was reading it more from curiosity than with a plan to utilize it in labor, and many of the concepts were familiar to me from Bradley Method, Childbirth Without Fear, and Ina May.
Its basic philosophy is that childbirth is normal, natural, and healthy, and therefore can be calm. It focuses a lot on the power of the mind and words, neither of which can be denied, and are things that are emphasized by many other birthing methods. It sees the birth provider as a lifeguard, there for problems but otherwise as uninvolved as possible.
HypnoBirthing traces the history of childbirth, especially how it became negatively stigmatized in the 2nd Century AD, and with that fear of it increased and so did pain, and when chlorofoam became popular, birth moved to the hospital so that it could be used, and from there anesthesia, analgesia, and medicine to speed and ease labor became the norm. It focuses on the fear = taut cervix= pain idea, that a perceived threat puts our bodies into flight/freeze/fight mode, which when you’re in labor leads to tension and thus more pain as the baby needs space and opening to get out.

This all leads to the method part of HypnoBirthing: teaching your body how to relax so that your muscles can do their thing and the more relaxed you are, the less painful birth will be – some HypnoBirthing mothers say their births were painless, which I don’t think is contrary to the curse as what we often translate “pain” is the same word used for Adam that is usually translated “toil.”

HypnoBirthing teaches relaxation through breathing patterns, massages, music, etc, that will help you relax, and having an “anchor” to help you go into relaxation mode (think Pavlov’s Dogs). It reminded me a lot of the Bradley Method’s emphasis on relaxation, at least at first.

My biggest surprise while reading the book was how little of it was anything beyond relaxation. It defines hypnosis as the same thing we go into when we daydream or are so absorbed in something we lose track of time or stop paying attention to what’s around us. This is consistent with a lot of the techniques in the book, as the teaching is on how to deeply relax and not how to hypnotize yourself in the way most people think about hypnosis. But while the book uses “hypnosis” and “relaxation” synonymously most of the time, it does eventually move from deep relaxation techniques into things that would be more generally considered as hypnosis, so its definition isn’t completely accurate. Later on, there are exercises for “numbing” parts of your body and things like that which are more of how we generally think of hypnosis, a transition into an alternate reality. This seems to be the danger with hypnosis, where the lines between what is real and what isn’t are blurred, and in a state where you are so deeply relaxed you are unaware of a lot of things, this could lead to acting on things that aren’t true (like a woman who, in hypnosis, thought her pain was gone and began to run around, damaging her spinal cord and dying). HypnoBirthing’s use of hypnosis is more than just what you find yourself in when you zone out and does get into a slightly altered state of consciousness – not one that we find so completely altered that the method should be thrown out, but altered enough that caution is urged.

Another word of caution: I had already returned the book before I was made aware of this so I can’t remember how it was talked about, but HypnoBirthing does mention Harmonious Attraction/the Law of Attraction, which is a New Age version of Karma.

While hypnosis and relaxation have more to do with the mind and body, HypnoBirthing also focuses on the power of word. This comes in having a positive view towards birth (mentioned above, with pregnancy and birth being normal, healthy parts of life) and knowing that the female body was designed to birth. It also includes “birth affirmations,” which some people use as mantras, but they don’t have to be used in a repetitive/mind emptying way. Some of them are also odd and things that I would debate the truthfulness of (“your birthing will unfold exactly as you see it now. You have defined your birthing in this way, and your birthing will happen as you have defined it”). This can be taught and used in a new age way, with the idea that you can not only affect your body by what you say, but even alter reality by your words, especially when you are in hypnosis, which is something we are not comfortable with.
That said, the idea that words are powerful and can affect the physical body is not wrong, but we need to make sure that they are TRUTH. As Christians we should be preaching truth to ourselves whether we are in the pain of labor or not!
With this, I want to note that HypnoBirthing talks a lot about the design of the body for birth, and how our bodies are not flawed. I agree with this in part: the design of the female body to birth a baby is not flawed. However, we live in a fallen world, so we do have to be careful in how we think about all that. That said, the uterus is a powerful, well-designed muscle and the way the physical birthing process works is amazing to study. Ina May says that if men had such a muscle they would brag about it… and while I don’t usually do that it IS my favorite muscle.
A third aspect of the HypnoBirthing method is visualization, picturing things like the opening of a rose (in relation to your cervix opening, etc), which I would categorize similarly to words and the effect words can have on our physical bodies. However, I don’t think I would give words and visualization quite as much power as HypnoBirthing does.

The book is also full of other stuff:
– pre-birth nurturing and connecting with your baby
– Nutrition (pretty standard recommendations)
– Exercise (again, pretty standard for pregnancy, with an emphasis on posture/positioning)
– It talks about perineal massage as “mandatory,” but more recent stuff has shown that it may or may not really help.
– Sample birth preferences (love the wording choice there – preferences, not plan)
– Breathing the baby out instead of pushing (see video here).
– some talk about postpartum – breastfeeding, fourth trimester, etc.

It brought up a lot of wondering for me about S’s birth and the way it progressed – especially if her birth was so easy because we were on our own and unhindered for most of labor and really quite unaware of how far along I was. But also it has me wondering about pushing and tearing – since I hated pushing so much, and I know that rather than loosening when she crowned my reaction to the midwife saying “this is the part we talked about where you stop pushing,” was something that caused more tension and thus tearing. So I am hoping to “breathe the baby out” but we’ll see what my body wants to do… with S the natural expulsive reflex got pretty strong and there were times I definitely wanted to push!

HypnoBirthing was a helpful book for me to read, and I think it definitely could be a very useful, pain-relieving method. But it did leave me with questions, mostly as I worked through the feeling of hypnosis being wrong, which led to really thinking about WHY it is viewed that way in Christian circles and if it’s a proper view for the self-hypnosis in HypnoBirthing that goes beyond deep relaxation.

Fuji Hiking


When we realized that with Ezra’s work schedule, climbing season, and the baby’s due date Ezra wasn’t going to be able to come to Fuji to hike (since the wind and rain sent us away when we tried), I found a friend to come with me. It still looked like it might rain, but since the roads up are closed to private cars during climbing season, we decided to go since it was our last chance. Thankfully, God heard our prayers for good weather and it was cool and drizzly at times but neither hot and sunny nor too rainy!


Looking down from 5th Station, the highest part you can drive to.


Altitude at 5th Station


Showing 5th station altitude and peak altitude


5th Station – mostly shops and a few restaurants, but also a place to stay the night before/after a climb and a bus stop.


Climbing season started the next day but the trail was still technically off limits, but from April-October it isn’t really closed. Still, someone told us to talk to the guy at the information center first so we did that, telling him how far we were planning on going (about 1 km to 6th Station). There were plenty of other people on the trail.


First stop: a waterfall… at least that’s what the map said.


From 5th to 6th station is a 90m elevation change total, and is mostly flat or with a slight incline, but it felt like there was more uphill than that, but maybe that’s just because both my friend and I are pregnant, and I also had S on my back, so that plus the altitude definitely made it harder, as did the trail itself, which was mostly deep gravel.


View from 6th Station, which wasn’t much more than an info desk and bathrooms.


And a sign post – it’s only 5.2 km further to the top, but takes 6 hours to summit!


The view came and went but the clouds were almost always beautiful.


Back at 5th station, browsing the shops. In case you ever wanted Mr Potato head Fuji socks.

Or toilet paper from Fuji.


We just got the stamps and I found a pottery shard at 6th station.

If we were going to be here next summer I would likely train and summit, but it was totally out of the question being pregnant, and not sure I could even have done it next summer while nursing because of the time away from baby and because of how much more altitude affects me while nursing.

June


Special treat/protein for after my glucose test.


Beach day with friends


Guess the flavor!


Miso from a friend… full story coming later.


The bugs are coming out! Thankfully I’ve yet to see anything worse than a cockroach.


the ladies all brought treats for our last English Class.


She is obsessed with her towel and wears it all day long when we’re at home. She hates baths, but maybe because of that the towel is a comfort item since it signals snuggles at the end.


Fuji Safari Park!


Watch your step or you’ll turn into a bunny?


Ready to get on our jungle bus to feed the animals!


feeding lions. S loved being so close to the animals, but it freaked me out a bit to have her so close to them.


I’m so glad we’re in Japan because I’ve been craving sushi this pregnancy.


Japanese playgrounds are so much more exciting than American ones!


Preparing to lead a Bible study by going back through some Csehy notes


A friend who plays viola came over and we played some duets, my on the violin part with my oboe.


Another friend and I hiked on Fuji – no summitting since I’m pregnant, but I still wanted to hike). Separate post coming!

favorite recipes// cucumber basil avocado gazpacho // polenta pancakes // slow cooker chicken taquitos // salmon broccoli divan // matcha pineapple smoothie – delicious with an avocado thrown in! // pineapple popsicles // no fuss eggplant parmesanno fuss eggplant parmesan (added some lemon juice and lemon zest) // crunchy roasted chickpeas 

best of online// 7 questions to ask an older mother // some thoughts on announcing pregnancies early // the problem with the Pinterest wedding // what kids around the world eat for breakfastwhat kids around the world eat for breakfast // Bach Prelude with animated graphic score – pretty neat and would help me with memorization, I think // good parents connect not just correct // little eyes are watching in worship // how to talk to your children about transgender issues (appreciated the comments on gender stereotyping) // an elegiac fugue for Dr Hsu // 12 signs you’re breastfeeding a newborn (this made me laugh)

reading of late// Red Rain // HypnoBirthing // finished Compelling Interest // Redeeming Childbirth // Knowledge of the Holy // Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth // Secrets of the Baby Whisperer // King’s Warrior // To End All Wars

what brings joy// cuddles from S // gentle baby kicks // hiking // rain // sushi // recording Ferling Etudes

The Munchkins// we had another ultrasound and baby #2 is still definitely a girl. ;) She’s also still very active! S says new words every day, some of which are hilarious and make no sense (she calls bananas “golego” and kombucha “dubadub”), loves her friends, and loves to make us laugh or do things she thinks are silly.

writing// Read to Win is still going on! // A new prologue for Faith Victorious

Bump 2.0 – Second Trimester

I’m 28 or 29 weeks along as I write this, which I find hard to believe! Some days this pregnancy feels so slow, but other days it seems like it’s going by so quickly! I feel like I would be ready to have the baby today, but am also more than happy to wait two-three more months to meet our little girl! She has a name but we aren’t telling in case we change our minds last minute.

This pregnancy continues to be pretty similar to S’s, which I am thankful for as it’s meant it’s still been pretty easy! My gag reflex has even calmed down, which is nice as I can eat eggs again, and I haven’t had to use magnesium oil for restless legs in a while, though I have taken a few epsom salt baths due to sore and aching muscles.

S seems to understand there is a baby in my tummy and loves to give my belly kisses and snuggles. We have ordered a few “big sister” books and my friend gave me one, so I’m excited to read those to her to help prepare her more. She has a baby doll that she adores.


23 weeks with S (on left) and this pregnancy (23 or 24 weeks this time). I was fully expecting to show sooner, but I didn’t! This was the first week both pregnancies that I felt like I had a bump of any sort.


Luscious pregnancy hair is again a myth.


I had a second growth/anatomy scan because they were worried about the baby being small. I understand there are complications with babies not growing… but seeing that I think I’m due later than dates would have us believe and the ultrasounds have always agreed with that, I’m a little annoyed they don’t just change the due date to 6 days later. We have talked about how that would affect induction if we get to that point, and they have said they won’t push it before 42 weeks ever, but probably wouldn’t even then since the due date might be later. So we’ll see. With S being born 10 days early I doubt we’ll get to 42 weeks by the first due date.
And the extra ultrasound meant we got to see our little lady’s face pretty clearly, which was fun!


(28 weeks with S, 28/29 with baby 2)
I keep feeling like this baby is way lower and I’m way bigger but it actually doesn’t seem to be that way at all! Maybe a little bigger but I also couldn’t get my hand in the right place! And I know this is definitely 3rd trimester but it’s my latest photo since I’m taking less this pregnancy.
I have gained less weight so far, but since I was a few pounds up from pre-pregnancy weight with S, I weigh about the same, but generally feel healthier and more in shape. I’m guessing that’s from being able to keep working out like I had been before I got pregnant, since with S I went from running to walking (if even), whereas I’ve kept up with HIIT and walking this time around. And we haven’t been living in a hotel room and I ate better in Dubai than I did on the road and on vacation when I was pregnant with S. I’ve also been craving healthier stuff (cheese, pickles, pineapple, refried beans, sushi) than I was with S.

I had to do the orange drink for the glucose test this time – no jellybeans at the hospital here. I felt awful after I had it and really didn’t do well with the blood draws (feeling woozy from sugar + needles = never a good combo for me), but downed a protein bar as soon as it was over and did pass just fine.

And due to insurance, blood type, and language barriers, we’re pretty much stuck at one hospital, which made the decision easier but also makes me a little nervous about the birth. But everyone says good things about it, and in Japan they are much more natural-birth minded anyway. Otherwise the main difference between S’s birth and this one (from the view we have now!) is that I want to deliver on my side or hands and knees to prevent tearing.

It’s also interesting to go through pregnancy in another culture. You don’t really see ladies that are heavily pregnant around. I wouldn’t say it’s viewed as “illness,” but they are definitely stricter about rest (many hospitals and birth centers here you stay for 5 days after a vaginal delivery!). You can eat sushi and go to onsen just fine, but traveling is frowned upon. And despite the Japanese generally being more reserved, ladies at English Class (and not), tend to be more open about commenting on size, asking if you’re pregnant, and touching your belly (or lack thereof. I don’t mind it once I’m bigger, but up until about the third trimester I really don’t want my belly touched as it often just feels/looks like fat).

I may or may not get around to doing an update around 37 weeks, so the next one may be after the birth!

Book Review: Resounding Truth

Jeremy Begbie’s book “Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music” had been recommended to me a few years ago. I read the first few pages on our West Coast road trip this summer since a friend had it on her bookshelf, and then put it on my list to read in 2016. It took me a while to get through it, but was very good. It’s probably the most academic and technical book I’ll read all year, but was still very easy to follow and understand, and very accessible to my level (or memory ;)) of music theory and history – background that you wouldn’t absolutely need to read the book, but that was very helpful and meant that I didn’t have to stop and look things up while reading. I enjoyed that side of it, though, because it’s been a while since I did anything that engaged me with music theory and history so my brain was eager to have those thoughts again.

A few times I commented aloud “this is so good!” while reading it, and Ezra would ask “what’s it about?” and I found myself struggling a bit for answers, since it was about a lot more than I had expected. Resounding Truth is about how our theology should affect our music, but also pulls a lot from music that helps understand theology more. But that’s an overly-simplistic summary because it’s about a lot more than that, as Begbie traces aspects of music history and church history, applying it to life as a Christian Musician as he builds on things he talked about in previous chapters.

In his conclusion, Begbie asks questions that I think summarize well what the book is about –
“Are music making and music hearing to be understood as embedded in and responsible to an order wider than that which we generate? One that is worthy of respect and trust? … even if not raised with theological concerns in mind, this issue inevitably presses us strongly in a theological direction – if the world is given, then by what or whom, and to what end?” (page 307)
On page 308, he says “my prime concern has been… to jolt the imagination by setting every aspect of music in the context of the breathtaking vision of reality opened up by the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Begbie looks at a lot of pitfalls in how Christians think about music, how having God as Creator should affect the kind of music we write/perform/listen to, and how as Christians Musicians we can take part in the cultural mandate (Genesis 1:28), discovering, respecting, developing, healing, and anticipating together as the body of Christ, musicians and non-musicians.

I am glad I read Resounding Truth more slowly than I read most books, but even so I feel the need to go back over many parts of it and re-read the book from time to time to really grasp everything Begbie writes. And I have some listening to do that I didn’t get around to while reading… like listening to Messaien’s “Quartet for the End of Time” with a better understanding of its history and Messaien’s approach to music.

If you’re a musician I can’t recommend this book enough, and if you have little to no background in music I still recommend it, but you may want to read a book about music history first, or something about art and worldview, like Nancy Pearcey’s “Saving Leonardo” before you read Resounding Truth to be more familiar with some of the music history Begbie builds on.

Ottolenghi: Jerusalem

My brother-in-law gave my sister Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook, and my parents saw it while visiting them. Then Ezra and I visted them and loved looking at the recipes – and then my parents gave it to me for my birthday. We decided pretty quickly that we didn’t just want to try some of the recipes, but we wanted to cook through the entire cookbook. So in August 2014 we started cooking through it, taking a break for a bit after S was born and when we first got to Japan. We finished in May 2016 (but if we’re honest there is one pickle recipe in the back we haven’t made because I can’t find turnips out of season).


(date and almond spinach salad)

A large number of the recipes are spectacularly delicious. Quite a few are also rather labor intensive and very few are quick, weeknight meals. Some call for odd ingredients that we had to substitute or order online (especially when we moved to Japan and lost our International Market!). The International Market was a huge help in finding some of the odder ingredients or finding higher quality tahini than the American grocery stores carry and getting a better deal on spices and fresh herbs. But even with the market it wasn’t the most budget-friendly book to cook through, although it made having meatless nights easier because his vegetable, grain, and side recipes are so delicious you can use them as a main and don’t even miss the meat.


(maqluba)

There were only one or two recipes did we not like (and those were ones we had expected to not like). Some weren’t spectacular but were delicious for what they were – like wilted chard. Our most common substitutions were using honey instead of sugar and using ground spices instead of whole ones. We couldn’t find quince so used pears, and iinstead of Jerusalem artichokes – which I have never seen – we used water chestnuts. A budget-minded substitution was using canned artichoke hearts instead of 12 artichoke bottoms.


(chocolate krantz cake)

Most of the time the recipes went off perfectly, but the one thing we always had trouble with was the dishes where rice is cooked in with other things. Our guess is that he had a gas stove, but we did have a gas stove for part of the time we had trouble with it. So I’m not entirely sure what was going on. But we usually ended up adding more water and extending the cooking time a bit. Otherwise we didn’t have any trouble with following the directions or recipes flopping. That said, they never looked quite as beautiful as the pictures, but were still usually safe to make for guests even if we hadn’t cooked them before, and it’s still our go-to for guests.


(ma’amul was the one more labor intensive recipe I gave up on and made into bars)

The cookbook itself is gorgeous, and one of my regrets is not having a cookbook stand that would cover it. We did write notes on all the recipes, but I also got a lot of splashes and grease marks on pages.


(the result of a confused cooking time)

It really grew my cooking, too. Using allspice as a savory spice was new to me but now something I love with ground beef. There were also a variety of new techniques (like confit) and skills I learned making things, especially working with phyllo dough. We were introduced to some new ingredients and vegetables (like kohlrabi, although I usually couldn’t find it and used jicama), and used cuts of meat we wouldn’t normally use (I never would have purchased lamb neck, nor guessed it would be so tasty!).


(hummus and tabouleh)

He was often very clear about weights and measurements even of produce, which was very helpful, especially as onions come in all sorts of sizes!


(fig compote)

For me, having grown up around a lot of these dishes, cooking through was very nostalgic, and there were times I didn’t recognize a recipe but as soon as I bit in memories came flooding back. Some things have a unique twist to them, but some, like his hummus, falafel, baba ghanoush, mejadara – are just like my childhood.


(ka’ach bilmalch)

Favorite recipes: (the asterisks are the “best of the best”)
*Roasted sweet potatoes and fresh figs (pg 26). Fresh figs are delicious but not necessary. Oddly enough, they were easier to find *in Japan than in Cali!
Baby spinach salad with dates and almonds (page 30).
Roasted butternut and red onion with tahini and za’atar (page 36) – one we’ve made about 3 times!
Lemony leek meatballs (page 44).
*Pureed beets with yogurt & za’atar (page 53).
Fried cauliflower with tahini (60).
*Roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad (page 62)
*Butternut squash & tahini spread (page 69).
spicy beet, leek, and walnut salad (73).
roasted potatoes with caramel and prunes (page 86).
sabih (page 91) – but DON’T fry the eggplant! Eggplant just soaks up the oil and it’s gross. Much better grilled!
*balilah (page 102)
basmati and wild rice with chickpeas, currants, and herbs (106)
hummus with lamb neck (page 118)
*burnt eggplant and mograbieh soup (page 141)
spicy freekeh soup with meatballs (page 148)
*lamb stuffed quince with pomegranate (page 155)
*turnip and veal cake (page 156)
*stuffed onions (page 157)
kubbeh hamusta (page 162)
*stuffed eggplant with lamb and pine nuts (page 166)
*chicken with caramelized onion and cardamom rice (page 184). One of Ezra’s top recipes!
*chicken sofrito (page 190). I think our favorite! We have plans to combine this with the veal cake recipe, using the veal cake one but subbing chicken for veal and adding whole cloves of garlic.
*lamb meatballs with barberries, yogurt, and herbs (page 199)
*turkey and zucchini burgers (page 200) – quick for Ottolenghi!
*slow-cooked veal with prunes and leek (page 206) probably my favorite meat one aside from sofrito.
fricassee salad (page 227).
prawns, scallops, and clams with tomato and feta (page 233).
marinated sweet and sour fish (page 238). I didn’t love this, but Ezra did, mostly for how unique it is.
ka’ach bilmalch (page 248)
burekas (page 254)

And we’ll just say ALL of the desserts because I would be listing practically all of them.
We also did all the condiments, and our only issue there was that we’re not big fans of his pickles. The dukkah (page 300) is absolutely delicious and great on salad with dates.