Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Still Cooking up a Storm




Life is fairly tranquil at the moment; busy, but tranquil. Mum hovers between really lucid days, and days like yesterday, when she seemed quite confused, and we spent a long time talking about family members and events, to try and anchor her down in reality. I know her condition is progressive, she won't be getting better, but it is so sad at times, being with her. Then she'll say something so funny we both have a good laugh and a cuddle, and it seems we may manage after all, for a while.

I did a craft fair at Fakenham Makers Market last week and sold a quilt to a lovely couple. They were expectant grandparents and I even got to see the ultra-sound scan print-out! My stand was near the entrance to the church which was a great spot as I was able to spread myself out.



The quilt I sold was the very end one on the left, a folk sampler I made some years ago; it has lots of small images for a little one to point to and learn from. The couple were so pleased with it, I hope the new parents are as well!

I also sold a Japanese pouch, some post cards, several pincushions, and a needle case. Not huge sales, but the quilt made a heck of a difference. I have just one more craft fair this year, at Shipden Church later this month.

Meanwhile I'm still enjoying being busy in the kitchen, more jelly making, using a generous bagful of apples from next door -



Note the somewhat improved Heath Robinson jelly-straining apparatus! Though because of the long drop I did get a few splashes on the wall, which was easily cleaned this morning.

I've really got into the middle-eastern / Mediterranean cooking lately. Jim loves it and it's such a joy to prepare. Mind you, I have the luxury of not being at work any more, I can spend hours in the kitchen. It is so much harder to be creative with your cookery if you have a young family to consider, or work outside the home - or both! We were discussing at lunch time what a double edged sword the whole supermarket thing has been for British women in particular. Liberating in many ways, I feel we really threw the baby out with the bath water,  in so many others.



This was part of a mezze table I laid on last week. On the left, a dish of gigantes - butter beans slowly cooked in a sauce of onions, garlic, tomatoes and olive oil. I cannot begin to tell you how delicious these were, I shall be making them again soon. Very easy, and very quick  -  I used tinned butter beans - and cheap. With flat bread and a salad they are a complete meal, and you can eat them hot, warm or  cool. Next to them is a dish of chick-pea hummus, which we ate with flat bread and raw vegetables. On the end some slow roasted peppers and tomatoes.


Another day I made some lamb meatballs in onion, garlic and tomato sauce, served with giant cous-cous, a nice change from rice or ordinary cous-cous. In the small bowl there's some baba ghanoush, Jim's all-time favourite, topped with a sprinkling of sumach.


And here is the Spanokopita I made this morning, only the second time I've made it, but to be honest it isn't terribly difficult or time consuming. A box of filo pastry, some ricotta, some grated Lancashire cheese because that is what I had in the fridge, a bag of spinach, half a medium onion, an egg, grated nutmeg, salt and pepper, some olive oil and some melted butter to brown the top.  I made it in a medium deep cake pan, well oiled (the pan not me!) and it turned out beautifully. I can claim no real credit, because the filo pastry just ends up this way, when you fold over the overhanging ends, and use the final two pieces of pastry torn in half and scrunched to give this lovely effect. We'll have it for lunch tomorrow with some left over roasted pepper and tomatoes, and perhaps some flatbread if I can get it right this time!

So there you have it. Still can't get back into the music, sadly but I am listening to it in the car now. We are well into autumn now, having seen the last of those lovely warm sunny days we were unexpectedly gifted with. The clocks will soon be going back, and once more my car clock will read the correct time! For another six months, anyway!

22 comments:

  1. All the food looks absolutely amazing, Lynne!!! I've had giant cous-cous out but never cooked it at home - must try. xx

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    1. Thanks Lizzy. I think they call it moutabah but not sure - you have to cook it rather like say, macaroni, unlike just steaming it like ordinary cous-cous.It is lovely! Lx

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  2. Oh Lynne, that first paragraph, bought back lots of painful memories. Such a difficult time, and yet your love will help you through it. They cared for us, now it's our turn. The food you cooked looks delicious, love a bit of Moroccan/Mediterranean food too. Big squeeze :) xxx

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    1. Amanda I well remember your own experiences, it is hard, but you have to be there with them, as you say. Thanks for the hug! Lxx

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  3. Yum yum, the food looks lovely. Are the recipes from a book or the internet?

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    1. Hi Dc. A mixture, mostly from my cookery books, though once I've used them once or twice I tend to go my won way! Specifically I'm in love at the moment with Rick Steins' Mediterranean Odyssey, and his From Venice to Istanbul, Ottolenghi's The Cook Book, Moro, by Moro, and Honey and Co. There are also some great youtube videos. I wish I lived somewhere, near the harbour, next to a brilliant fresh food market, with plenty of lovely sunshine! Ah well, one can dream!

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  4. Good Day Sweet Friend, as always Lynne, your needle work amazes me. In a time of too much automation your talented fingers are keeping the marvelous traditional standards alive and well . . . and perfected to treasured pieces of art. You stitch, you play music and now I find that you prepare strange (to me) and adventurous foods. Will, you ever stop amazing me? This has been an interesting post from the first word to the last . . . you don't post often, but when you do, it is a pure joy to read. I am sorry about your mother, here's wishing you more laughs and cuddles and less worries . . . God bless you.
    Your blogging sister,
    Connie :)

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    1. Thank you, as ALWAYS, dear Connie, for your lovely post! I'm amazed you haven't come across Mediterranean and Middle Eastern (Turkish, Northern African) food before, American being the culinary melting pot that it is! We enjoy it, and I really enjoy experimenting in the kitchen.
      Mum is OK, but some days, it can be a bit hard, when the reality of her situation really comes home to me. Lxxx

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  5. I have always loved to cook in this style, the spices are so readily available now. I am trying hard not to buy Venice to Istanbul, I want it though I just do not need it. I sometimes follow a recipe once, then chop and change as I see fit. Well done on the quilt sale, they all look good on display.

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    1. Hi Pam, I put off buying this book because I thought it would be a repeat of his Mediterranean book, but it isn't, lots of lovely new recipes. My books are really my only vice these days, as I don't buy fabric any more. ANd yes, you are quite right, the recipe is just the starting point, and therein lies the fun! Lxx

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  6. yes sad memories of my dad when he was suffering with vascular dementia (don't know which kind your mum has got) there was a lovely programme on channel 4 a few months back about a home for dementia sufferers and the way they dealt with the inmates!!! basically they went along with what they said - one was permanently looking for his dad and so they would reply that he was at work or down the pub or whatever - made me feel really guilty that i told my dad that mum was dead when he asked where she was because he would cry - my sister on the other hand would always say she had popped out and i thought THAT was cruel - how wrong was i? anyway cherish every good day and breathe deeply when things are a little trying - it is a very cruel disease because you have lost your mum yet she is still here take care xxx

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    1. Mum has Alzheimers, Lynne, but essentially the result is much the same. overall she is making very very slow journey but some days she is just that bit more wobbly. Thank you for your posts, Lynne! Lxx

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  7. What a heart-warming post, Lynne! I'd love to have a go at the butter bean dish, if you'd be so kind as to send me the recipe :) Dave and I really enjoyed Rick Stein's culinery travelogue - first time I'd heard of sumach. There are several Turkish restaurants popping up in Leicester; the staff are only too happy to explain what the various dishes are, too.

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    1. Hi Jayne, thanks! Now then you will kick yourself for asking for this recipe- it is SO simple, and I'm sure there are hundreds of slight regional variations; it's found as widely as Spain (though of course the Moorish influence accounts for that) to Istanbul! I'll put the recipe on face book for you. Lxxx

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  8. My mother had the disease also. But the very worst was my 64 year old sister in law who passed from it in just 2 short years. Lynne, those quilts are lovely and the foods look so yummy!

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    1. Gosh Linda, that is so quick for it to take hold like that! And she was no age at all, how devastating. It truly is a vile condition.

      Thanks for popping in, Linda! Lx

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  9. My Dad has vascular dementia and Alzheimers ... life is just too cruel sometimes! Although that said he is doing far better than my mother in law who's Alzheimer's has advanced much more quickly. It's two and a half years now since she had us all believing she had terminal cancer and it was in fact nothing of the kind, that's when we were first became aware she had a problem. The really sad part is that since then she has revealed to her sons a lot of secrets she'd been keeping for years (since long before the dementia), things she'd forgotten they didn't know about, and now those things are known they have done a lot of damage to the people I love. These blasted diseases of the aging brain/mind are such a curse. I do hope you and your Mum continue to have a fairly gentle journey and send hugs and love because I know how hard it is.

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    1. Dear Annie, thanks for your very supportive words, this devil of a curse touches more and more of us doesn't it? I wonder about it sometimes - I know we are living longer, but that surely can't account for all of it. My money is on the sugar and polyunsaturates in our diet, as a starting off point. We shall see. It really pulled me up short the other day, as she was the worst that I've seen her. However, even during that episode, she turned herself round and she managed a chuckle and we talked about 'normal' things, and when I left she was calm and smiling. I thank god my dad isn't here to see her reduced to this, it would have broken his heart. Lxxx

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  10. So sorry to hear about your mum Lynne. My husband always says when the subject of dementia crops up that as long as the sufferer is happy why should it be a problem which I feel is missing the point big time.

    I love the sound and look of your middle eastern feast. It's one of my favourite cuisines (most of them are to be honest) and I shall definitely be researching the butterbean dish, I love butterbeans and the tinned ones are so good and cheap. My family would love that spread too.

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    1. Hi Sue, yes, I see where your husband is coming from, but that is only half of it, isn't it?
      This kind of cooking appeals on so many levels, to me. Pleasant and not too onerous to prepare, rustic yet just a little exotic in appearance, and heavenly to eat! Do have a go at the bean dish, your family will love it I'm sure!

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  11. Your stall looks pretty, and tempting! Well done on selling one of your lovely quilts too, lucky grandchild eh?
    I think we've spoken of this before, but I do empathise with you over your situation with Mum. There were lots of times when my Mum didn't recognise me, or called me by another name. The only time she was lucid was drug-induced. It was an incredibly, incredibly sad time - for me and her. She died forty years ago now, just on her 50th birthday, too young by far. We just have to think about the good memories don't we? Take care x

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  12. Gosh Edwina, that is an incredibly young age to lose your mum! At least i've had mine for 93 years! She does often refer to me as "my mum" but immediately corrects herself, more of a word-slip than a mis-recognition or memory thing. And yes, memories are what keeps our loved one's with us when they've gone. xxx

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