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What's Cooking in Region 1 - October 2005
by Marghretta McBean

The long hot days of summer are gradually giving way to shorter days and cool nights. My garden's bumper crop of basil (five! different kinds) is slowly diminishing and I doubt if any more tomatoes will make an appearance. The kale, beets and salsify, however, will have no problem with the frosty days ahead. And I'm planting hyacinth bulbs under tomorrow's full moon.

Moving away from my bucolic reveries, I can report that the recent AMC (American Mensa Committee - Mensa's board of directors) meeting held in Arlington Texas was a pleasant and productive affair. An all-day planning session yielded many worthwhile, interesting goals. The motion to amend the Local Group Host Agreement by including the national office staff as Annual Gathering (AG) registration agents was defeated. One salient point did emerge from the spirited discussion: AGs are national events which are partially funded by American Mensa Ltd. While host groups provide the locale, volunteers, speakers, hospitality, etc. they do not operate independently. I was surprised to learn there is even a cap on the amount of money a group can expect to net, a reason some groups have refrained from bidding for an AG. Several issues that surfaced will be explored as they directly impact not only local group-national office relations, but also the very nature of membership in a national organisation.

I have appointed Lawrence (Larry) Pool of Northern New Jersey Mensa and Ernest Adams of Connecticut & Western Massachusetts Mensa as Region 1's representatives to the Mensa Hall of Fame Committee, which will choose the 2006 nominees.

October is the month of National Testing Day; get a friend to take a Mensa test and make her/his IQ happy.

Happy 25th Birthday to New Hampshire Mensa! Best Wishes on its Silver Anniversary!

L'shanah tovah ("for a good year") - it's the Jewish Year 5766. May the new year bring peace to all.

Ramadan is the holiest month in the lunar Islamic calendar, beginning when the moon is at its apogee (maximum distance from Earth) from the earth. Devout Muslims fast during daylight hours, eating only at night. In 2005, the first day of fasting begins on 4 October and ends on November 2nd.

Basbousa is an Egyptian sweet dense cake saturated with syrup. It is served after the nightly Ramadan meal. Other versions of Basbousa include Nammurra (Lebanese) and Hareesa (Palestinian).:


  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 tsp. - 2* Tbl. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1¼ cups semolina**
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Whole blanched almonds, pistachios, or pine nuts
    1. Prepare syrup by putting the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let boil until it appears clear. Add lemon juice and let boil for a minute or so. Remove from saucepan and let cool completely.
    2. Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a bowl beat all cake ingredients and stir until well mixed. Pour into a 9-inch square baking pan. Decorate the surface with nuts.
    3. Bake until golden for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and pour some syrup over the entire cake surface and return the pan to the oven for about 5 minutes to dry the surface.
    4. Allow to cool, then cut the basbousa into squares like brownies. Serve with additional syrup.

    * I like tart so I use more.
    ** Cream of wheat can be substituted for the semolina. Also, you can reduce the semolina by half and add ground almonds instead.

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