Saturday, February 25, 2012

From the Kitchen Witch’s Kitchen

Part one:  Amazing-naise

Just in case you’re one of the few people who hasn't tasted it yet, Amazing-naise is my own home-made mayonnaise with a twist, and one of the most popular brews I came up with in my kitchen.  I’m proud to say I’m one of a long line of master makers of lovely stuff in the kitchen.  For a really long time I actually thought that gene skipped me, but thanks to one of my new friends, the pretty perky Petra, I have seen the oven light, smelled the lovely smell of freshly baked cookies and got with the recipe.  Yes, Yan is not the only one who can cook – I CAN too, and not just ‘cos I read so good. 

For those of you who have daughters that still need to do home economics or whatever it’s called in your part of the world, at school – don’t let her!  That was where my irrational perception of my own domestic in-abilities first started.  Not to let the past hit us on our behinds or anything, but it took me making my own wedding dress to finally let me realize I can sew and like I mentioned, Petra only recently enlightened me to my own cooking skill.  So, on to the mayonnaise, or as we all know it today; Amazing-naise.

The history :  The consumer industry’s need to add preservatives to everything is what drove me to my grandmother’s well worn Royal Recipe book, which I had on loan from my master maker of lovely stuff in the kitchen mom - which turned into a gift - dankie Mamma ;) Fortunately I have never been one to stick to recipes and luckily at that point I had big bunches of beautiful green Basil in my garden in Hopefield, and the rest – as they say – is history.  So here is the recipe:

1 handful of fresh Basil
1 egg
1 teaspoon of mustard
1 tablespoon of sugar  
Add all of the above IN THIS ORDER in your blender and blend until everything is combined together completely, then add…

1 tablespoon of white vinegar
Blend again, just to combine and then, very very slowly, almost one teaspoon at a time add

1 Cup of vegetable oil. 
When you've added half of the oil and the mixture isn’t runny anymore, add

1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Now add the remaining oil …. still slowly but now not so crucial anymore.

Secrets and tips:
In my opinion the secret is the adding of the oil - real slow AND fast blending speed.   I have once used an electric beater and it also worked but I felt the beater was getting too hot.  Bottom line:  oil slow, mixing speed fast.

The mixture will be quite bubbly in the beginning
What the mayo looks like when it's right

The herbs:  My favourite is Basil but I have made this with Coriander (cilantro), which worked nicely.  I’ve tried using Rocket leaves (because I love the peppery taste) but that didn’t work, it was quite runny which will still be ok for a salad dressing but not what I was after.

Coriander or Cilantro
Spices:  When I make regular mayonnaise I use honey instead of sugar - you can add any spice you like when making regular mayonnaise to spice it up, I’ve done some spicy mayo using paprika and fresh chili peppers.  All spices must be added together in the beginning and blended together before you add the vinegar.

Oil:  I use canola oil, it is light, got lots of good stuff in and doesn’t have a strong flavor, olive oil’s flavor is too strong but I’m sure you can use it if it works for you, it didn’t for me.

Quantities:  You’ll see that it is pretty much one of everything, and doubling, tripling or however many-ing of the recipe works, I can fit five cups into my blender and it was still as perfect. 


Our own lovely home made honey and mustard mayonnaise 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Not quite a blog

For a while now these frames with "What people think I do" have been circulating on Facebook, some are nice, some are scary and I eventually saw one (about teachers) that I thought was worth sharing.  A friend of mine then posted a link to a site where I can do this myself, and voila!!

So this is my poor excuse for a 'make-up' blog since I didn't do one last week

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Thousand and One Coffee Mornings

You can say a lot about the English, their taste in food, their socio-political system, and the English weather, but one thing that the English are good at – really good at, is socializing.  Have you been to a good ol’ English pub or belonged to one of the Hash clubs all over the world, or met someone for afternoon tea?  - it is all about the socializing.  The same with coffee mornings.  There are coffee mornings which girl friends arrange at their houses, or in coffee shops, there are coffee mornings arranged by groups in order to help people make new friends and there are coffee mornings arranged for charity.  You meet at the allocated time and place and usually coffee and eats will be provided.  You then sit down and join in one of the conversations that happen around you. 

The first time in the UAE, around 2 BC (Before Children,) coffee mornings were the worst things on my agenda, I accepted the invitations because in those days the ex-pats were a close knit community and everyone knew I had nothing else to do.  I viewed the coffee mornings as time spent with ambitionless wives-of-someone wearing pearls and cashmere with high heeled shoes, vicariously living through their children, grand-children or husbands.  Talk was quiet and centered mostly around other people, TV programs or cleaning products, and then of course the, when-I-gave-birth horror stories. 

It took me a long time to join the ex-pat women coffee morning arranged on Monday mornings in Mirdif City Centre.  I arrived fully expecting to see the pearl and cashmere clan, whispering quietly together with cups tinkling delicately on saucers.  Instead I saw a group of women, some in jeans and Ts, with coffee in mugs, eating muffins with their fingers and you know what, I still don’t know who their husbands are, how many kids they have or what they use to get stains out of their dishcloths.  I did, however, get to know this great Italian broad who used to farm in the outback before she came to Dubai, a funky Lebanese interior decorator who doesn’t want kids and want to learn to tango, an ex-teacher who teaches aerobics to guys, a British quiz master who plays golf and a stunning French girl who struggles to speak English but who will be great at charades.

Is it the general make-up of the ex-pat community that changed or is it just me that landed among a great group of girls?  As I grow older I find that my attention deficit … o look at the pretty butterfly .. disorder becomes more pronounced.  I can’t stand being bored, I might have mentioned before that I consider being boring to be particularly rude.  I refuse to spend time with people or things that bore me.    Sometimes I find myself terribly boring.  It is then that I look up interesting people or places, or just loose myself in a good book.  I think someone famous once said “I’d rather be quite alone than in bad company,” well, it looks as if I don’t have to be quite alone, there are so many interesting people around. 

There is, however, a small small part of me that thinks maybe it is not the community that changed, but me.  Maybe I can now, fifteen years down the line, discover the adventurer inside the nifty fifty year old next to me, because even though I am also a wife-of, (thankfully without the cashmere and high heels - if you ever see me wearing pearls and cashmere smack me) like most other women, just a person with dreams and ideals, and I can now see those dreams and ideals in others.  In the end we are all, much more, the same and it’s nice to know.  Let’s drink a coffee to that.