Pootling Along on a Summer Breeze

The headline sounds a bit toad of Toad Hall ( Wind in the Willows ) but that sort of sums up my past few days. We have been lucky enough down in the south of England to have had good weather the past week or so, yes good weather you heard me right. The sun has shone and that has meant that outside beckons. It has been a mixture of chores and pleasure that have captured my attention, mostly chores sadly but when the sun is shining everything is more enjoyable. I have been doing a bit of house maintenance and a bit of gardening both at home and at our community garden. It’s always a busy time this part of the year and especially so this year as we have been trying to catch up after the awful Spring weather. I’m in charge of the onion family, so that’s: leeks, garlic, onions, shallots chives as well as chard, spinach and various other odds and sods, pardon the pun.

This is only my second growing season so I’m still learning. I’m determined to do all I can to get a good crop of leeks this year which means I’ve sown a lot of seed which will means they will all need transplanting when they’re big enough. My own garden is quite mature now which presents another set of challenges as everything needs taking hold of to keep it under control. I’ve also had quite a bit of die back on some shrubs so that has had to be tackled.

This week though I had a break and was lucky enough to spend a delightful day with my friend Gill http://paisleypedlar.wordpress.com at the Guildford Flower Festival see photos to check out the superb flower arrangements. These inspired me with some ideas for a batik or two. I haven’t done any art work for such a time I am quite missing it and am determined to make a space to do some very soon. Meanwhile I have enjoyed taking the photos.

All these activities inevitably have meant I’ve spent a lot less time at the computer and thinking about marketing, hooray! However I have been blogging on the Cyprus News Report site which seem to be getting a few reads hopefully this will lead to sales eventually. Also today, Sunday, the  long awaited result of my Cyprus Mail interview is out today in Cyprus, I can’t wait to see it.

The break should see me back in the groove and refreshed!

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Inspiration- Stifado!

Red onion slices

Red onion slices (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve not been feeling very inspired lately, mundane jobs have been on my agenda like decorating and gardening which are taking up a lot of my time. I find my brain just seems to switch off and focus on the job in hand at these times, which I suppose is a good thing. But doesn’t give me any food for thought when it comes to writing a blog on Cyprus! But inspiration came and the result is – Stifado

Of course always I have “Androula’s Kitchen- Cypus on a Plate” on my mind and trying to work out my next step towards getting in print. That never goes away in fact it goes around my head constantly buzzing like some persistent mosquito! I think I know exactly where I should go next and then a new bit of information comes my way and scuppers my plan so it’s onto the next idea. But it has been said by many wise people that determination wins the day so that helps me re-focus and move forward however slowly it may feel to me, every step I take is one step closer to success.

The gardening I mentioned has been mostly at the community garden to which I belong in our village. It has been quite a stressful growing season this year as we have had so much rain together with cold temperatures. I was tending quite a big plot of potatoes and onions and these took up a lot of my time it seemed, battling against the elements and disease. Surprisingly we still managed to get a fair old crop and now it’s potatoes and onions with everything.

Onions are a major part in cooking, so many dishes use onions as a base for flavour and they are good for you too. Onions are good for the prevention of heart disease and also act as an anti oxidant. We have also been growing garlic , which is of course the same family and the thing I found surprising is how sweet fresh garlic tastes. As we have had such wet weather some of the onions have suffered and needed to be eaten straight away as they would rot if stored. So it was a hunt for recipes that use onions. I have been making onion tarts which in fact are a bit like a pizza but with just caramelised onions, anchovies and olives on top. Delicious, but it’s really a French recipe and as this is a blog about Cypriot things I think a Cypriot recipe is in order.

There are several Cypriot recipes that use lots of onions, my favourite is Stifado which also uses potatoes so perfect for my  purposes at this time. Rosie, a friend of  Androula’s and a great cook, gave me this recipe and I use it a lot. Enjoy.

Stifado

Serves 4

1 rabbit or hare cut into pieces

500 g shallots whole or onions quartered ( usually the weight of onions is equal to the meat)

500 g potatoes (optional) peeled, quartered or left whole if small

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

1 stick cinnamon

300 ml red wine

140 ml red wine vinegar

1 dessertspoon tomato puree, thinned with water or 284 ml passata ( sieved tomato)

salt

2 tablespoons olive oil for cooking

Fry the rabbit pieces in the oil until the meat turns golden then take out and put aside. Peel the shallots or onions, if using onions cut them into quarters but leave the shallots whole, peel and cut the potato if necessary and add to the juices in the pan, cook until the onions are soft. Put the meat back in the pan together with the peppercorns, salt, bay leaves, cinnamon, red wine and red wine vinegar together with the tomato juice or puree give everything a good stir. The liquid should cover the meat so add a little water if required. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then cover and leave to cook on a low heat or cook in a moderate oven gas mark 5/190C for 1½ to 2 hours until the meat falls from the bone and the juices are reduced.