Wide Earth Smallholding

Wide Earth Smallholding

And Allaah has made for you the earth a wide expanse.(Qur'aan- 71:19)

From the Ground Up: Building a Village, Eco-Kid Style: Creative Parenting, Part Four

This is the fourth in our series on Creative Parenting. This post was written a little over a year ago. Insh’Allaah be sure to check in for new posts in the series weekly! 

To read more about their build a village project, visit here and here.

I’ve been homeschooling my children for all of their lives. There are ups and downs, times when they are excited and times when they get bored and lethargic. When we decided to return to the States recently, they seemed to feel that that meant no more homeschooling. To get their energy levels back up I decided to set them a challenge that would continue through the year, from Yemen to America.

They were told to design a largely self-sustaining, environmentally friendly, culturally appropriate village, complete with houses, businesses, gardens…in short,whatever they felt was necessary to make the village work. They had to do this from scratch, choosing a site, evaluating it, seeing what resources existed and what the climate was like, determining need and wants for the community, planning housing, looking at livelihood possibilities for the occupants, and even crops, livestock, and energy planning. In the end they will build two model homes using two different alternative systems, and will have an extensive portfolio of designs and ideas that they can apply in real situations throughout their lives.

Nusaybah's House
Nusaybah’s House

Before we left Yemen, some of them had already made their house models. Juwairiyah and Nusaybah made their of compressed earth and cob, using stone molds and props to assist informing the walls. Hudhaifah used mud blocks in a pseudo Earthship house. The bricks were made by his little siblings, Mu’aadh and Maryam. The two of them had a little temporary business going, and made a few riyals with their brick-making enterprise; utilizing the principles of using local labor, local materials, and local building styles to make a house appropriate to the climate and geography of the area.

The mud brick business
The mud brick business

Juwairiyah, my thirteen-year-old daughter, is the least excited about the whole project. She has worked on her own house, but turns up her nose about some of her siblings’ “green” ideas, such as compost toilets. “If you’re going to have those,” she says, “I’ll make my own sewage treatment plant and hook my toilets up to it!” She says that Permaculture is “too complicated”- but I am hoping to wear her down on that one, as I explain how at its simplest it is observing patterns in nature and mimicking them in our own growing systems.

The land they have chosen to “build” on is in Colorado, near Boulder. Sukhailah has been studying the climate and geography of that area, and has been designing gardens and zones based on many of the principles of Permaculture. Hudhaifah is designing an alternative energy system based largely on solar, but using other methods as well. They have been reading up on composting toilets and livestock such as chickens and sheep. They record all of their ideas and observations and are working together to come up with a village that is a model of sustainability and environmental consciousness.

How will it all turn out? I’ll post progress reports as we go along. I didn’t place any time limit on their project, so that they can research and explore as many ideas and possibilities as they want to. They are gaining knowledge in so many beneficial areas. But perhaps more importantly, they are learning how they can truly make a difference in their world.

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    1. I think it would work just fine. I have read that some people cook the pumpkin down a bit before pureeing, but I never have, and I haven’t had any problems. Pumpkin tea bread?? Mmmmmmm….

  1. Pumpkin banana bread with apples

    Total time: 60 minutes


    4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft, room temperature
    1 cup regular white sugar
    2 eggs
    2 very ripe bananas, mashed
    1/2 cup Greek yogurt
    1/2 cup pumpkin puree
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    2 cups sliced apple chunks, or about 2 medium size apples (cored), or 1 large size apple (cored)

    Use a 9×5 inch loaf pan or a 8×4 inch loaf pan (plus 3 muffin cups) – see note below

    1) Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, using electric mixer, beat 4 tablespoons of butter and 1 cup of white sugar on high speed for 1 minute until well-combined. You will get coarse looking mixture (not creamy).

    2) Add 2 eggs to the butter-sugar mixture and continue beating for another minute until very creamy and very smooth.

    3) Add mashed bananas, Greek yogurt, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract to the butter-sugar-eggs mixture, and continue beating, using electric mixer, until well combined – for about another minute.

    4) In a separate medium bowl, combine sifted flour (do not overpack the flour, when measuring it using measuring cups!), baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Mix until well combined.

    5) Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients, and mix, using large spoon, just until combined. DO NOT OVERMIX. If there are lumps – they will work themselves out during baking. Fold in apple chunks.

    6) Butter a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, butter the parchment paper too. Note: lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper ensures that the bottom of the bread will not get stuck. Pour the batter in the pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

    From http://juliasalbum.com/2013/10/pumpkin-banana-bread-with-apples/

  2. Pumpkin 7 Layer Bars

    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
    1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
    1 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
    1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
    1/4 – 1/2 cup whole cane sugar
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 cup chocolate chips
    1/2 cup chopped pecans
    1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
    1/2 – 1 cup sweetened condensed milk

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, melt the butter.
    In a large plastic bag place several graham crackers, remove all the air possible, and seal the bag. Roll a rolling pin over the crackers until they form finely ground graham cracker crumbs. Measure out and add the crumbs to the melted butter, stirring to combine well.
    Pour the graham cracker crumb mixture into the bottom of a large baking dish or 9×13 pan. Press the crumbs down to form a packed crust. Bake until fragrant and golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.
    In the meantime, put the pumpkin puree, cream cheese, sugar, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl and beat with the hand mixer until smooth and fluffy. When you take the baked crust out of the oven, spoon this pumpkin mixture over the crust and smooth out in an even layer.
    Sprinkle the chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut in order over the pumpkin mixture. Drizzle with sweetened condensed milk. Bake until the coconut is fragrant and lightly toasted, about 35-45 minutes.
    Remove from the oven and let cool for about 30 minutes before cutting. Preferably, let them cool completely and then cut.


  3. Maashaa Allah, we don’t find pumpkins that are small and sweet here, but we love them! Here, we almost always have butternut squash instead.

    I, too, love it cubed in soups, stews, sauteed with onion, garlic, and herbs mixed with pasta, and even pumpkin curry. I often saute it with other vegetables like cauliflower and spinach for a colorful lunch when everyone else is chewing meat, LOL. A sister told me a fast way to “roast” the seeds, which I did once…basically taking them after the cleaning prep and doing them on the stovetop in a pan with a bit of butter and a sprinkling of salt. Yummy if you want to eat them straight away.

    Here’s a recipe that I am planning to make, using honey or date syrup because I find stevia has an aftertaste. Of course, it will have to be a butternut squash cheesecake as long as I’m here, but I can live with that. Pumpkins will come, bi idhn Illah, with another year and some water and sunshine.

    Pumpkin Cheesecake
    20mins prep, 1 hour cooking
    serves 6-8 (so triple it when we come, LOL!)


    About 1 cup of almonds, pecans or hazelnuts, finely powdered in blender or food processor
    2 Tablespoons of coconut oil or butter
    1 egg
    cinnamon to taste
    honey or stevia to taste

    12 ounces pumpkin puree (about 1.5 cups of homemade or about 1 can store bought)
    2 Tablespoons of coconut oil
    2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese at room temperature
    3 eggs
    1 tsp pumpkin pie spices (to taste) or 1 tsp cinnamon and a sprinkle each of nutmeg and cloves
    1 tsp vanilla (optional)
    stevia or honey to taste (I used 2 tsp of powdered stevia leaf from the garden)
    [Note: The above recipe can be doubled to fit in a 9×13 baking dish]

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    Finely powder the almonds or pecans in food processor or blender.
    Mix with cinnamon, stevia, egg and coconut oil and use hands to press into bottom of pie pan.
    Put in heating oven for 10-15 minutes until crust is slightly toasted.
    In the meantime, mix the pumpkin puree, cream cheese, spices, coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, and sweetener with a mixer or immersion blender (or just throw in a blender).
    When crust has started to toast, remove from oven and pour filling into pan.
    Return to oven and cook for 35-45 minutes or until top doesn’t wiggle in center and starts to slightly crack on sides.
    Remove and let cool.
    Chill at least 2 hours or overnight before serving.


    1. YUM! Mash’Allaah, we have to try this too. Insh’Allaah we will make when you are making it, and we can compare notes! You are right, stevia does have an aftertaste, almost like artificial sweeteners. I use it in teas sometimes, but it isn’t very good for baking in my opinion.

  4. Sad, but true, I’m lactose intolerant and I love dairy. If it’s milky, creamy, buttery, or cheesy then I’m already wishing it was in front of me. I’m sure if a little more cornstarch was added to this and it was chilled, it would be smooth pumpkin pudding….and if it was frozen, pumpkin pudding pops. “This looks yummy!” says Mai as she reaches for the whole box of Lactaid tablets, LOL.

    Warm Pumpkin Custard Drink

    3 cups whole milk
    4 egg yolks
    1/3 cup real maple syrup
    1 cup canned or pureed pumpkin
    2 Tablespoon arrowroot powder or corn starch
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk, egg yolks, maple syrup, pumpkin, arrowroot powder, and spices. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly (I use a whisk) until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir until creamy. Pour into mugs and serve warm.


  5. I apologize for commenting again, but I guess I can be a big mouth when it is something strongly attached to my heart. I love pumpkin even more because our Prophet, Muhammad sall Allahu alayhi wa sallam, loved it. It follows that everything loved by the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam is good and beneficial to us, al hamdul’Illah. It is all part and parcel of my wanting every bit of the Sunnah in my life and to be attached to the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam in as many ways as possible. In fact, when my husband asked me to make him pumpkin soup shortly after we were married, because he read the hadith about the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam loving it and chasing the pieces around in the bowl, it made me love my husband even more, maashaa Allah.

    Okay, I’ll shut up now and look for somewhere to put all that “Sunnah emotion” brimming in me!

    1. Yes, alhamdulillah. When I was writing this article the children were talking about that hadeeth, mash’Allaah. It is interesting because there is some discussion as to whether it was pumpkin or another type of squash, so that it why I didn’t add it into the post. You know how I am about exactness of speech, mash’Allaah.

      1. Yes, caution is a blessed quality maashaa Allah…and I love that about you, along with everything else, Barak Allahu feeki! Indeed, that is why I’m so happy with the different squashes…and feel good eating ALL of them, al hamdul’Illah.

        1. I find that especially butternut and acorn are interchangeable with each other and with pumpkin. I also think they are all so PRETTY mash’Allaah! And they keep for ages, which is always good.

  6. As Salamualaikum! Everything sounds so good! Mashaallah sis mai posted some yummy recipes! I have never really had much pumpkin and I am in the midwest (ohio) where there are tons of pumpkin fests and sales throughout the fall!so I’ll have to try these in sha’Allah I do love pumpkin flavor in my coffee though. I was wandering, how do you think pumpkin would taste in bone broth? I am trying to get a more nutritious and balanced diet and bone broth seems to keep my interest!

    Pumpkin seeds are also a big hit in egypt! When I lived there, the Egyptians were always chewing on pumpkin seeds, and you’d see the shells all over the ground lol ma sha’allah.

    barakaallahu feekum for the recipes!!


    1. Wa Aleikum Assalam wa Rahmatullah! Pumpkin flavored coffee sounds pretty good, mash’Allaah. I have seen tea as well, but never tried it. I think it would be worth trying in the bone broth, although I have never tried it myself. In Yemen pumpkin seeds were popular, as was another smaller seed- I don’t know the name in English, actually. The Yemenis were very adept at getting the shells off when the seeds were in their mouths, something I never mastered. For pumpkin seeds, we eat the whole shebang, mash’Allaah. Feekee BarakAllaah!

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