By Hoda El Sherif

“Work hard, party hard.” Who hasn’t considered adopting this as a rule at least once through their adult life, uttering it endlessly and spending months ‘manifesting’ it? With age (I admit I am getting older), my view of work-life balance has altered. What was once a difficult road to tread has recently become an attainable habit, a state I actively strive toward.

Waterboarded by pitches, emails, meetings and news all week long, I’ve come to appreciate a certain kind of quiet, the kind that accompanies weekends in Cairo. Weekends are a great opportunity to utilize free time, and by ‘utilize’ I mean really savor it by doing something fun, something profound, something that brings you joy.

For me, food is one such thing, so are family, close friends and neighbors who I have grown to consider a part of my family. I have long been a fan of entertaining, the non-performative “unfussy” kind, as put by the ever-inspirational Alison Roman. When I cook, the kitchen is my stage, a space for trial and error. And most important of all, it’s a space to be shared with loved ones, warm enough to hold their laughter and life’s messy stories.

My new kitchen is adorned with beautiful pieces by Miele, the high-end appliances brand that offers life-long, gorgeous household products. Miele’s kitchen appliances are resilient, dependable and as versatile as any recipe. From making my morning coffee while reading a book to baking cookies for my daughter’s bake sale, all the way to loading the dishwasher at the end of a dinner party, my kitchen routine is powered by Miele.

Before I have friends over, I skim my fridge and think of what wholesome, locally manufactured produce I can buy to complement what’s already there. Every foray into grocery shopping — whether it’s at the nearby Gourmet or a local market — is a moment of bliss. I immediately go for what is in season and build it up from there.

Scrumptious, juicy watermelon with a side of white cheese; fresh mangoes from Ismailia casually tossed on a bed of greens; salt-crusted salmon with wilted kale leaves; brie, crackers and homemade cherry jam; Karkade Mint Cooler. Yum.

Propelled by the sensory and the unconventional, throughout the coming months, I will be putting together recipes and easy entertaining tips inspired by meals I host at my home. Each article, aided with photography, will feature a local collaborator, from Makar Farms and the Butcher House to Lulu’s Kitchen and 30 North.

After months of social distancing, I am excited to be thinking about and sharing new ways to socialize around food. Thank you in advance to everyone who will take part in this journey.