Wednesday 28 May 2014


Good Afternoon to you,

Have you ever noticed, that when you buy something new, or you become interested in something new, that something, which you have never noticed before, seems to appear everywhere.

For instance, when we bought our car, I knew of one other person who had the same make of car, but the first time I drove the car, the same make and model seemed to be everywhere.... alright I may be exaggerating just a little, but it seemed that every other car  which drove by me, was the same as ours. Why is that, obviously the other cars had been on the road before we bought our car, so why had I never noticed them.

..... and then, remember last week, when I took part in making a hooky and proggy mat, the same thing happened. I really don't think I saw any mats around, before this point, well to be honest, not since I saw the rag rugs in Ivy and Gramps' home, but that was many years ago and then, low and behold, I picked up a magazine, and there was the most beautiful proggy mat.... which I hasten to add, cost a lot of money, which really isn't surprising considering the amount of work which goes into making a proggy mat. The mat had not been made with scraps of material, but with carefully selected pieces of pastel coloured material, which when put together looked beautiful.

..... and then I saw a cushion cover which had been made with the hooky method. Once again, not made with random colours, but carefully selected colours and it was lovely..... but until this week I had not noticed any mats or cushions using this art form.

..... and then I discovered, someone within our Monday group makes beautiful landscape pictures using the proddy method. The material which is used, is mainly tweed material of differing colours and I am told that this lady's work is beautiful.

So why does this happen?  

Is it because, having been introduced to something new,  my brain is enjoying the newly acquired experience and wants to experience more of the same..... only joking. I was just wondering, does this happen to you or am I on my own with this?

So moving on, it is  time to tell you what I am making today, but first, in case you had forgotten, the ban still exists on all baked cakes.... well just for a little while longer, so instead of something baked, I have something which is 'finger licking' good today..... sorry to borrow the phrase, but you will find, licking your fingers after each bite,

of these Hot and Spicy Broad Beans, will be just what you want to do.  They can be as hot as you would like them to be.  For George and I, one chilli is ample, with the seeds removed, but you may prefer to add the seeds for that extra bit of heat.

So it's on with the pinnie, and the music I am listening to today, is 

the wonderful voice of Luther Vandross.  The first time I heard Luther sing, 'Dance With My Father Again', I burst in to tears.... it was so unexpected, but the words touched a place in my heart.

So, it is time to organise my ingredients,


500g broad beans
2 tablespoonfuls of ground nut oil
1 red chilli
2 tablespoonful of soy sauce
1 clove of garlic
30g fresh ginger
1 teaspoonful of flaked natural sea salt


Bring a pan of water to the boil,
add the broad beans.
Return the water to the boil
and simmer for 5 minutes.

Grate the garlic


remove the skin from the ginger

grate the ginger.

Remove the stem from the chilli


finely chop the
(I used rubber gloves for this)
If you prefer a little more heat,
add the chilli seeds
and if you like even more heat
feel free to add another chilli,
the choice is yours.

Place 2 tablespoonfuls of ground nut oil
into a pan which is deep enough
to hold the broad beans.

Heat the oil


add the grated garlic, grated ginger
 and finely chopped chilli
and cook for a minute.

Add the soy sauce


remove the pan from the heat.

the broad beans


toss the ingredients together
until the broad beans are coated.

Taste to see if a little more soy sauce is needed,
if so add now
toss together.

Place in a  bowl

sprinkle with flaked natural sea salt
then all there is to do,


Now, you might have noticed that I have not removed the outer layer of the broad bean.  The reason for this is that George loves the chewy texture of the broad bean, whereas I prefer the inner tasty bean.  So George eats the bean as it is and I pop the bean from it's shell.

Earlier I mentioned that these hot and spicy broad beans were food to eat with the fingers and in my mind's eye I can see Natasha and Danielle with a surprised look on their faces, because I am not a finger food person.  I am the person, who when she first went to a MacDonald's Restaurant, many, many years,  when the girls were small, asked for a knife and fork!  Yes, I honestly did. So they will be surprised to read that I enjoy eating these hot and spicy broad beans with my fingers. What is the saying 'Your never too old to change'.... I do believe that is true.

Take care and I will see you on Sunday.

This week I will be joining,


Sunday 25 May 2014


Good Morning to you,

As a child, I remember quite vividly, Gramps making rag rugs, as there was always a half moon rag rug placed in front of the fire place. The rag rug was not used in the parlour, as the parlour was a very formal room and it was the room where all Ivy's beautiful possessions were displayed. The parlour was also the room where visitors were invited to sit and enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of cake.  The rag rug was not grand enough for the parlour, so it was situated in the family room..... the family room was where Ivy and Gramps lived on a daily basis.... a much more relaxed area.

So it was with great excitement that I visited the Sunderland Museum for a demonstration on how to make rag rugs.  I thought we would be shown how they were made, so both my friends and myself were really surprised when we were handed the equipment to try this skill.  

..... and fun it was.  The first technique we learnt was how to make a proggy mat. Proggy is a Northumbrian word and in other parts of the country these mats are known as proddy mats or clippy mats.

To start our proggy sampler we were give a piece of hessian, a prodder to make a hole in the hessian and in the centre of the table was a selection of materials.  Our tutor demonstrated  the technique and then we tried our hand at making a proggy sampler.... we all loved the technique and we were all up and running in no time.

The prodder I had chosen to use, had a beautiful wooden handle, which had been well used, as it was so very smooth and wonderful to hold.... of course I am now on the hunt for a wooden handled prodder. One of the girls used a sharpened wooden clothes peg, which worked just as well.... remember recycling was a way of life, nothing was ever wasted. We then chose strips of material which had already been cut up for us to use.    My friend Mary told me that as a child she grew up on a farm and had been taught this technique by her mother, as they had proggy mats all around the house, so she was very experienced and produced a lovely sampler.

The second technique we learnt was how to make a hooky mat and for this we used something akin to a crochet hook..... again with a beautifully smooth wooden handle..... and yes, you've guessed it, I am on the hunt for one of these as well. Again there are alternative tools and one of them is a thick crochet hook. The technique was different, because for the hooky mat we created small hoops which could be left as they were or snipped.

Our tutor gave us a little back ground to both mats and she said that often, these mats were used on beds during the winter time,  as the Northumbrian winters were and still are very cold.  When the mats had worn a little they were then placed on the floor as rugs and then as the rugs became even more worn, the pieces would be cut up and used for something else.... so nothing was wasted.

It was a lovely afternoon and we were all inspired to make something.  I am fascinated with the process and it makes me realise how easy my life is today, compared to Ivy and Phyllis' generation of women. 

So by the time I travelled back from Sunderland to Newcastle it was a little late.  George was busy in the garage so I needed to come up with a meal pretty quickly..... and as speed was of the essence, I decided to make,

a Three Bean Salad for our supper.  I usually use dried beans, because they are a lot cheaper, but I also have a few tins of beans in my store cupboard, ready to make a quick meal.  So I sorted through my store cupboard and found the beans I was looking for. The meal took a little longer than usual, because normally I would just add ingredients as I go, because I have made this Three Bean Salad so many times, I do not need to weigh anything, but as George was very busy in the garage,  it allowed me a little extra time to make a note of the ingredients, so that I could make sure I gave you the correct amounts.

So, it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to today is someone who you will be very well acquainted with,

James Taylor.  I think the song which you will know him best for is 'You've got a Friend', I also like 'Isn't it Nice To Be Home Again'. So whilst I am enjoying 'Places in My Past' I will organise my ingredients.


175g Pinto Beans
240g Cannellini Beans
240g Red Kidney Beans
150g Artichoke Hearts
140g Sun Dried Tomatoes
2 large Spring Onions
1 handful of coriander leaves
2 tablespoonfuls of Capers


4 tablespoonfuls of Olive Oil
2 cloves of Garlic
2 tablespoonfuls of lemon juice
1 tablespoonful of dried oregano
1 teaspoonful of sea salt
1 teaspoonful of ground black pepper


Rinse the pinto beans,

the cannellini beans

and the 
red kidney beans.

Finely grate the garlic.

Cut the artichoke hearts into quarters,


slice the sun dried tomatoes


the spring onions


drain the
liquid from the capers
and set everything aside for the moment.


Place the olive oil,

dried oregano
(this is the oregano which I dried so I will
remove the leaves from the stems)

Add the grated garlic
which you previously set aside

add the juice of the lemon,
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
a few of the sliced spring onions

to a jam jar.
Replace the lid 

shake for a couple of minutes,
to combine the ingredients.
Remove the lid
and taste to see if more
lemon juice, salt or pepper needs
to be added, if so, add now.

Leave to stand for 10 minutes
to allow the sliced spring onions
to infuse with the dressing.

Place pinto, cannellini and red kidney beans
in to a bowl
the sliced spring onions,
the sun dried tomatoes,

the coriander leaves.

Reserve a little dressing for the
artichoke hearts
pour  the rest of the dressing
over the bean salad
toss  everything together, until
everything is coated with the dressing.
Do this gently as you do not want to 
break the beans.


pour the reserved dressing
over the artichoke hearts

arrange the artichoke hearts
on top
of the beans.

We often eat this three bean salad, just as it is, but on this occasion I added some cooked salmon.  

By the time the three bean salad was on the table, George had finished what  he was doing in the garage and had showered.  He was ravenous because he had been so busy he had forgotten to eat his lunch.... so this meal was ready in the nick of time.

.... and just in case you are wondering, this is a,

 Proggy mat 
this is a

Hooky mat

Of course, this is just a small demonstration piece, but it gives you the idea of what a large rug would look like.

Take care and I will see you on Wednesday.

This week I will be joining,


Wednesday 21 May 2014


Good Evening to you,

When we first moved to Cyprus, we lived in an apartment, as we had not decided where we wanted to live, so it was a handy base to explore the area. 

It was a sleepy area during the day, but in the evening the place came alive with activity. People would be out and about,  walking in the cool evening air, others would be sitting on their verandahs enjoying their evening meal, and the sound of people enjoying life would float through the air.

Across the road from our apartment, there was a lovely little taverna.  The taverna was owned by Maria and Georgios..... and they made the most wonderful kebabs, in fact, I think it would be fair to say, they specialised in making kebabs.  It was a family run business, and our arrival co-incided with the opening of the taverna. I used to sit on my verandah and watch Maria, Georgios and their family, getting the taverna ready for the opening day. I knew when opening day finally arrived, because my word, the smell of cooking filled the air.  From the day it opened the taverna was a huge success and the place was always filled with people, some staying to eat and others taking their food home.  During the winter months it would be mainly local residents who ate at the taverna and during the summer months it would be filled with local residents, families holidaying from Nicosia and tourists from abroad, but the one thing both seasons had in common was the fact that the taverna was always busy.

Now here's the thing, I really am not a great lover of meat, I enjoy it now and again, but I have to tell you, I loved the smell of the kebabs cooking on the grill.  

Once the meat had been cooked, the skewer was placed inside the waiting, warmed pita bread and in one swift movement, the pieces of meat were removed from the skewer and were inserted into the pita bread. With the meat nestled inside the pita bread, it was time for the topping, which would be an abundance of Greek salad, which was made by Maria's grandmother and mother. This was all neatly wrapped up in paper. There was an additional accompaniment,  which would be served with the kebab and this came in a little pot, and that something, was Tzatziki and it was divine. 

We became very good friends with Maria and Georgios and they would always wave and talk to us whenever we were out and about.  

When we first moved to Cyprus, George was backwards and forwards to England for a while. The first time George returned to Cyprus, I collected him from the airport. We arrived home and the first thing George did, was not change his clothes to put on his shorts, no, he went straight onto the verandah..... waved at Maria and called for 2 kebabs.... she waved back and told him it would take 30 minutes.....this gave George time to shower and change.... and do you know, as George was ready to collect the kebabs, there was a knock on the door.  George opened the door to find Maria standing there with the kebabs in her hand.  Maria handed George the kebabs and  she would not accept payment, she just said in her broken English "It is good to be home..... yes!" To which George replied "Nai, efcharisto" (yes, thank you.)  

George said once he could smell the jasmine in the evening air and heard people loudly talking and laughing,  he knew he was home...... and of course the kebabs made by Maria and Georgios were also a wonderful welcome home. 

Do you remember the little pot of tzatziki I told you about, 

well that is what we will be making today..... George is very happy, because he loves tzatziki, so without further ado, it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to is,

Sade, pronounced 'Sharday'.  This is a fabulous album and one we often listen to in the evening.  I love the whole album and while I listen to 'Love is Stronger than Pride' I will organise my ingredients.


250g Greek Yoghurt
1 large cucumber
2 cloves of garlic
(or less if you prefer)
2 small sprigs of fresh mint
1 tablespoonful of lemon juice
1 teaspoonful of salt


Peel the cucumber,

cut in half and then
into quarters.

Using a teaspoon,
remove the seeds from the cucumber

grate the cucumber.

Place the cucumber in
a sieve

sprinkle over 
1 teaspoonful of salt.
Leave to sit for 10-15 minutes
as this will help to remove
the liquid from the cucumber.
Be patient, as you do not want to miss this step,
otherwise you will have a watery tzatziki.

the cucumber with the back of a spoon
to make sure you have removed as much
liquid as possible.

You can see here how much liquid I removed.

Crush the garlic
now it is time to mix the ingredients together.

Place the yoghurt 


the grated cucumber in a bowl
and mix together.

Add the crushed garlic 

lemon juice.
Add a little at a time,
and mix together.

Remove the mint leaves from the stems
finely chop the mint.
Add to the ingredients.

Give everything a good stir
and taste
to see if more salt is required,
if so, add now.

You will find that once
you make your own Tzatziki
you will continue to do so.

A couple of things to mention, please do use 100% fat Greek Yoghurt, as if you use the low fat version you will loose some of the flavour and you will be disappointed in the end result.  

As far as the lemons are concerned, I have written in the list of ingredients, 1 tablespoonful of lemon juice, but add half a tablespoonful first and taste, as you do not want the tzatziki to be too lemony.  If you need more, add more after the first tasting.

I am so pleased because the mint I have used today, is from my garden. My herb bed is really growing well, since our weekend of warm weather..... long may it continue.

So take care, enjoy the Tzatziki and I will see you on Sunday.

This week I will be joining,


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