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Old Soul

(by Karine Boulianne)

Somehow, any arguments with my daughter Kellie-Anne rarely last beyond five minutes of sulking, despite the fact that we’re both strong-willed and one of us is 14. She's really the mature one.

We are French-Canadian but moved to Dubai when Kellie-Anne was six and her brother Samy was four. My husband and I always wanted to live somewhere different than what we knew, and promised that if one of us got an opportunity overseas, we would consider it. When he was offered a job in the Middle East, we were all in.

Dubai is exotic—the ancient and the modern existing side-by-side. Ex-pats probably feel the wonderment even more intensely, and ex-pats populate the city (a huge percentage). We made friends from all over the world, so we discovered many different foods (although we balked at incorporating kangaroo into our regular cuisine). Dubai is a place where friends become a new family because the family of origin is often a continent or two away. The official religion of the United Arab Emirates is Islam, so all the holidays are Muslim, and our discovery of a heritage we knew little about broadened our view of the world.

I never had to worry about Kellie-Anne adapting to a new environment. She is highly committed to anything she undertakes, but she’s also an old soul, making friends easily, with a humility that is unusual in most people twice her age. Although devoted to school and music, the one thing that makes her really happy is cooking. It’s her way to chill, enjoying the process and indulging in the delicious results.

I am quite able to cook. I just don't enjoy it as much as my daughter, and she kind of kicked me out of the kitchen in a natural way, cooking while I was at work, until I realized that she took over. Now I am, at best, her sous-chef, often moving to some high-beat music while she cooks, and even more often I’m the cleaning crew. (She is far more creative than I, with more initiative, but she’s one of the clumsiest people imaginable. An entire jar of salt may end up on the floor. And we’re still trying to forget the pizza that she dropped, cheesy side down, on its way to the oven.)

Sharing the kitchen together is a blast. We’re both goofy—making weird voices or imitating the slow-motion “bullet time” moves of The Matrix (actually, we do that in public too; we really don't care what people might think), singing loudly or pretending that we can't sing at all (which is the case for me but definitely not for Kellie-Anne). Our serious conversations take place somewhere else—the kitchen is an area for letting it loose.

I’ve always believed that taking risks makes life interesting, and you'll never learn anything if you don't make mistakes. After eight years in Dubai, our family is ready for another adventure: We’ve moved to New Jersey. We're all in. Who knows? Could be even more exotic than the Persian Gulf.


Karine Boulianne was recently the managing director for a medical communication agency and then general manager for a home healthcare company in Dubai. Her daughter Kellie-Anne Poirier is a singer and songwriter who was a candidate on La Voix Junior, the French-Canadian version of The Voice Kids; she can be found on Instagram and YouTube.

Kellie-Anne’s Spiced Molasses Cookies

(If using coconut oil, the recipe is vegan.)

1 medium ripe banana, mashed

1/4 c. coconut oil (any other oil or butter)

1/2 c. stevia or 3/4 c. maple syrup

1/4 c. or more molasses

1/2 c. almond flour

1/2 c. soy flour

1 c. all-purpose flour

2 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. ground cloves

2 T. chia seeds

chocolate chips (optional)

almond butter at room temperature (optional)

In a large bowl, mash banana and oil together.

Add stevia or maple syrup and molasses.

Add almond, soy and all-purpose flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground cloves, and chia seeds.

Add chocolate chips, if using.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Form mixture into small balls, about 1 T. each.

Place on two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, and flatten slightly with a spatula.

Bake for 9 - 10 minutes (the longer you bake them, the chewier they become).

Let cool.

Drizzle with almond butter before serving.

Makes about 18 cookies.


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