Thursday, 19 July 2018

This and That


Another busy day. I had hoped to complete my cooking yesterday but there were various visitors during the day and that put my schedule out so I had to do it today as the chicken had defrosted.

I made a Middle Eastern chicken tagine with saffron and hard boiled eggs. Unfortunately I didn’t photograph it. I will try and remember to do so when I serve it. The cooking today was freezer fodder so not served up attractively enough to photograph anyway. This recipe had instructions to colour the peeled hard boiled eggs with water in which saffron had been steeped, but this didn’t work – perhaps my saffron isn’t as yellow as it should be; I’ve noticed a distinct lack of colouring from it before. Anyway, I added a teaspoon of turmeric to the water and that seemed to do the trick – they came out a wonderful rich dark yellow! The chicken is served with the eggs between the chicken pieces. I cut the eggs in half longwise. Finally, the dish is sprinkled with blanched almonds fried in olive oil.

I didn’t want to waste the turmeric liquid so I decided to go ahead and make some bulgar wheat as well, to go with the chicken, and I added this coloured liquid to the stock in which the bulgar wheat was cooked, making it come out a nice yellow colour. Once cooked, I added pine nuts fried in olive oil and soaked raisins.

These dishes have now gone in the freezer.

I also finished making yesterday’s vegetable soup by blitzing it in my high-speed blender. It is utterly delicious – it really makes a difference having a decent stock as a basis for it, and this time I used the bone broth I made last week. I’ve made a huge bowl of really thick soup which will need diluting with further stock when it is served, but in the meantime in its really thick state, it takes up less room in the freezer.

Middle Eastern Meal

Last night we went to my friend’s for another Middle Eastern meal, following on from the one I cooked for her last week. She has the most beautiful kitchen, not large, but quite quirky and full of character, and with a lovely warm and welcoming atmosphere. When we arrived she had laid the table ready with the first dish of food which was bulgar wheat served with lettuce and other accompaniments – she showed us how to make little parcels with the lettuce, and it was utterly delicious.

Doesn’t this look absolutely beautiful?

When we’d got started on that, she brought out the lamb kibbeh. I had been longing to try kibbeh – it’s in my new Claudia Roden recipe book but I haven’t made it yet. Another really delicious dish, this time served with freshly squeezed lime.

Baby tomatoes, Greek yoghurt, olives and kefir cheese (this latter brought by me) to accompany the dishes.

Also to accompany the dishes: pitta bread and a cucumber and yoghurt salad something like Indian raita. This gives a wonderful cool balance to the spiced food – not that this was heavily spiced, but as with most Middle Eastern food, it was delicately spiced so that you got all the flavours, and no one flavour was overwhelming.

For dessert she had made the most fabulous sticky and sweet baclava. These are her two photos.

I haven’t attempted this yet either – it’s a time-consuming process, but the results are well worth it!

To finish our meal, I had brought along my Turkish coffee set, and the coffee all ready to make up. I bought this set in the souk in Jerusalem back in 1998; there are six cups in all, each little brass cup having a white china insert. It is supposed to be on a brass tray but for the life of me I can’t find this at the moment!

To make the Turkish coffee (I got this recipe from an Iraqi junior doctor who was working with my dad before I got married so probably late 1970s/early 1980s), you take a scoop of highest-roasted coffee beans, and about 4 whole cardamom pods per person, and grind them to the finest dust possible. Place this in a small pan with 1 teaspoon of sugar per person, and add water, allowing space for it to boil up without overflowing. Put it on the heat and let it bubble up, immediately removing it from the heat till it subsides; repeat this 3 more times, then decant into the coffee pot and serve. It is very strong and very sweet, and thick, with the grounds still in it. The addition of the cardamom adds an even more exotic twist, making the coffee taste almost like a liqueur. It’s fabulous.


Out in the garden all day again, and joining us when we sat up at the top eating our meals.

Lily drinking from the bird bath!

I made a video of this, but haven’t had a chance to edit it yet.

Lily was very annoyed with us this evening after supper when we wouldn’t let her out again, and kept up her crying and stamping her cross little paw for 10-15 minutes. We persuaded her to go on the trolley eventually, but for some reason they’re not that keen all of a sudden. Ruby decided she’d prefer to sleep right outside the bedroom door just where I’d tread on her so this has been vigorously discourages several times during the course of the evening, putting her firmly with her sister and telling her to stay put on the trolley!

Our Garden

Our garden is looking very pretty at the moment, thanks to my hubby’s hard work. The lawn is very brown from lack of rain, though, and the beautiful white climbing rose is now over, but there’s still plenty of colour.

As you can see in the previous photo, all the geraniums he planted this year in the herbaceous border are now in flower.

The large buddleia. Both buddleias are attracting lots of butterflies – some unusual varieties too – far more than we had last year. I have started video-ing them and once I’ve got enough, I’ll compile them together.

Pots of geraniums on the patio and along the path below the steps.

The lovely herb garden my hubby made for me. I often potter out with my scissors and cut them for my cooking.


I finally managed to block the multi-coloured socks I finished a while back and they now look quite presentable.

I shall take them to church on Sunday and hopefully someone will take them and give them to the homeless, or hang on to them till the winter – not sure if they are doing the same project again this year but someone is bound to be able to pass them on for me. I’d have finished them last winter if we hadn’t entered that time of ongoing crisis for several months!

Another Outing Tomorrow

Off to Hope Cove with our walking friends tomorrow. I haven’t been before, and apparently it’s very pretty. More pictures once we’ve been!


  1. I think I would have liked that feast! Nicely presented! I was thinking of putting a bird bath in the garden but then I realized, it would be like offering the little birdies to Oreo on a platter LOL! Lovely flowers - keep them watered in this heat!

  2. I have to agree Shoshi, having a good stock really does make all the difference. Wonderful foods and I absolutely adore Baklava, it's making my mouth water just saying the word hee hee!!
    Love those colourful socks, I live in those sorts of things come the winter.
    Wishing you the happiest of weekends Tracey xx


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