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Category Archives: Cooking & Cleaning

Taming the Backyard Jungle with Beer and Good Tunes

Before

After

Considering our backyard was untouched for a year and a half, when my boyfriend and Tony first moved in to the house in Newtown, it was not in terrible condition. Sure, the branches had overgrown and claimed any open space to form a canopy and the spider webs thick enough to have been weaved by Spiderman, but it was not unmanageable.  All of these little annoyances are a small price to pay for the fact that in the Inner West, houses actually have decent sized backyards.  Only 15 minutes from the heart of the city and with a complete garden, best of both worlds actually.

Coming back to the taming process of our suburban jungle, it took 3 grown men a couple of hours to get the backyard to its present form. The motivating effects of beer and music cannot be ignored in this process. Beer, the great catalyst for accomplishing unpleasant tasks shone like gold once again.

This post is dedicated to the efforts of the men involved.  Marty, thank you for organising it and putting in a hard day’s work.  Ollie and Big Al, you guys did an awesome job pruning, cutting and cleaning.  Thanks heaps!

Man Oh Man! Eggs

Today I have a simple egg recipe that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Menemen is a town in Izmir and the egg recipe may have originated from there but everywhere in Turkey Menemen style of eggs are much loved.

To make eggs for two you will need:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 large Capsicum
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 3 tomatoes

Chop the onions finely is small cubes and stir fry them in a pan with a little vegetable oil.  Add the finely chooped capsicum.  Scramble the eggs and mix with the chopped tomatoes in a bowl and then add this to the pan to stir fry.  The eggs are ready when they have cooked to your liking.

Voila!  Simple, nutritious, and filling!

Sesame Honey Lemongrasss (Ginger) Chicken

Last night I decided to make something a bit spicy and sweet.  This simple recipe for a honey sesame ginger chicken was the perfect recipe for what I was craving.  However, right now, ginger is selling at about $23 per Kilo.  Looked as I might for a small ginger stump, I was unable to find one that would just give that grated fresh ginger flavour.  I decided substituting ginger for lemongrass and using a bit of ginger powder might even improve this old recipe.

For my lemongrass, sesame, ginger, honey chicken recipe the ingredients are:

  • 500 grams of chicken thigh, cut into strips
  • Finely diced lemongrass
  • 1 Tablespoon of honey
  • 2 Tablespoons of roasted sesame
  • 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
  • Sesame oil for stir frying

Marinade the chicken thigh in lemongrass, honey, soy sauce and roasted sesame.  Then stir fry all the ingredients.  After 15-20 minutes, ready to eat.

Note: I added dried red chilis.  This made the recipe spicier and hotter than I imagined.  I will not be adding chilis again.

The Infidel Mountain Salad

‘Gavur Dagi” Salad, or as it translates to English ‘Infidel Mountain Salad’, as ridiculous as it sounds is actually a very delicious, fresh, nutritious and detoxifying salad containing plenty of parsley, which is excellent for our detox organ, the liver.

As for the origin of the name, I can only ponder that the salad comes from the eastern region of Turkey, where Mount Ararat (in Turkish Agri Mountain)is located.  This region with the controversial mountain had plenty of Armenian residents of the Orthodox Christian faith.  As it’s customary in countries with a predominant religion, those who were not of the 99% Muslim population were ousted as the ‘Infidels’. 

Putting aside the history, the controversy, the conflicts I think everybody in Turkey unifies on the fact that this salad is delicious.  There may be different versions of the recipe but this one I’m going to give is tested and approved in Sydney by my circle of friends.  This recipe serves 6

Ingredients:

*Plenty of Parsley

*1 White Onion

*6 Tomatoes

*3 Cucumbers

*1 Capsicum

*1 Pomegrenate

*Some Crushed Walnuts

*Olive Oil

*Balsamic Vinegar

The trick to making this salad tasty is mincing the ingredients as finely as you can.  When you finely chop the fresh vegetables you’re ensuring that you unlock their full flavours and the complementing flavours can intermingle in the salad.  The chopped ingredients come together to form the uniform taste of the marvellous salad. 

Sprinkle olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dressing.

It is ironic that these different vegetables can come together to synergise in such a burst of flavour yet we as people, with similar flavours, colours and shared history still fail to be uniform in some parts of the world, not saying where I mean exactly but you get the gist.

Comforting Autumn Foods

As the nature dons its autumn hues, deep reds, oranges, browns and yellows, the food that comes to our tables also shows up in those familiar colours of autumn. Think corns, pumpkins, squashes, carrots. These foods are all rich in beta-keratin, which gives them the beautiful colours and also supplements our immune system during this critical time of seasonal transition. Some of the yummiest comfort foods can be made from pumpkins, corn, carrots, which all have a pleasently sweet-ish flavor that works well in savories and sometimes sweets.

Pumpkin soup rich with nutmeg and spices is a well known and liked soup with the English speaking people originating from Europe but did you know that you can make a delicious pumpkin jam? The Pumpkin jam is a quintessential crowning desert of New Year’s feasts in many Turkish homes. It is best served with walnuts and a bit of rich buttermilk. Today, I will illustrate how to make it as it is very simple and requires only butternut squash, sugar, water and walnuts. Simply cut the butternut squash into chunks, put it in a boiler, add some suhgar, wait for it to release its juices and start boiling in a bit of water until the squash has softened and soaked in the syrup.

Chunks of Butternut squash

Squash giving off their juice in the sugar

Lovely smell of boiling butternut squash in syrup

Sprinkle the jam with walnuts and voila!