Thursday, 31 March 2011

Tried and Tested: Bulgur salad

I wanted to give a shout about bulgur which is a commonly used cereal food in the Middle East. It is made from wheat and is very versatile and compared to unenriched white rice, bulgur has more fiber and protein, a lower glycemic index, and higher levels of most vitamins and minerals.
I think the nutty taste is much better than the rather bland couscous.

Here is a popular recipe in our house:

Bring 5 dl water to boil and add 250 grams of bulgur.
Let this boil for about 5 mins - test to ensure the bulgur has gone soft.
Drain well and bring to a bowl.

While the bulgur is cooking, fry some
bacon and
onion and
chop up some parsley.
Add this along with some
green peas
to the cooked bulgur and
season to taste.


Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Norwegians Get Around!

Look what I found in the shop today!

Doesn't take much to well up with national pride!


Not many Norwegian products to see in the shops here in the UK... Maybe they are just too expensive for the UK market??? I think the only exception is Scan bran crispbread (made in Larvik),
so seeing Isklar was a surprise!

Still, it isn't Farris and it just taste like... well, water...
I like the shape of the bottle and it is interesting that the company chose to keep the Norwegian name.
Which by the way means 'Ice clear'


Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Challenging Award

I have been given another award from the lovely Norwegian blogger Størstepia. It is so nice to know that somebody reads my 'mutterings' and wants to send me an AWARD!
Thank you!!

As these awards go, there are some obligations:
1. Link to the person who gave you the award (done!)
2 Answer 10 questions (see below)
3. Pass it on to 10 other bloggers - well, I think this award has been sent around to a lot of people, but I am happy to pass it on to all those on my blogroll!
They are truly all inspiring each in their own way.

1. Why did you start blogging?
Think I have answered this before, but it is simply my modern take on a (public) diary about me, my interests/life/family. No big philosophy behind it, just trying out a new media and taking up another hobby.

2. Which blogs do you follow?
It is a very eclectic mix, really. More or less as varied as my interests and hobbies. So, anything from craft blogs, to mummy-blogs, to photography blogs, to foody-blogs, to interior blogs.

3. Favourite make up brand?
Clinique & Clarins

4. Favourite clothes brand?
Hahaha... I am probably the least interested of all women in clothes... Couldn't care less about brands, and absolutely HATE shopping for clothes. But I tend to visit East, PhaseEight, and Ann Harvey. Or H&M and KappAhl when I am home in Norway

5. Your must-have makeup product?
Mascara and eyebrow liner!

6. Favourite color

7. Perfume
It has for many years been Red Door by Elizabeth Arden, but The Professor bought me Chance by Chanel and that suits me well, too.
8. Favourite film
Don't think I have any. But I am generally weak for a romantic rom-com.
9. Which country would you like to visit and why
Oh, difficult question!
We have been to many countries already, but there is so much to explore!
I would love to go to Egypt. Particularly with Our Boy, I think. Australia is also high on the list as well as India, Dubai and Mexico. The main reason is because I haven't been there!
10 What is on your night stand?
A pair of cheap reading glasses. Can no longer read books without glasses and the good ones are always in my bag while these cheapy ones 'live' on my night stand.
There is also a lamp, a radio alarm clock and a book I picked up at the summer fete last summer called 'A Village Diary'.
Not the best book, but it puts me to sleep

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Being Counted

Not only did the clocks go forward to summer time today (did you remember?) but we are also being counted...

I must have filled in a form like this last time which was 10 years ago, but I don't remember...
Anyway, such questionnaires bring up a number of amusing questions for a multicultural family like ours...

Like 'what is your main language?' Well, that depends, doesn't it? On my mood, temper and not least the topic. I consider myself fully bilingual (although some of my friends in Norway at times express horror of my at time shambolic use of Norwegian...;-)), but we also throw in some other words and expressions from Persian when the topic calls for it. Or even some very internally made up words that only make sense to us in the family. So, what to do???


Then there is the question of ethnicity and cultural background. 
Will there ever be a day I wouldn't say I am Norwegian? I hope not. We have been here for almost 12 years and will I ever say I am British? It is even more complicated for Our Boy who was born in Norway but raised in England by what is probably categorised ethnically as Norwegian/Iranian parents. 
Some times it is hard to fit in a 'box'...

Well, I have filled in the form to the best of my ability and will leave the puzzles and queries for future descendants and genealogists to ponder when they look us up in censuses :-)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, 25 March 2011


Finally!!!! we can open the patio doors to the garden and let the sunshine in!

The Cat can hardly believe it! He just loves the freedom of walking in and out as he pleases :-)

What a lovely start to the weekend! I feel some garden work 'calling'... No need to cut the grass this weekend as we did that last week, but perhaps time to plant some new blooms...?

Have a lovely weekend no matter what weather you have!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, 24 March 2011

We Fell in Love...

We have a tendency of holidaying two or three times in the same place before I get 'itchy' and want to explore more of the world. To be honest, I think The Professor would be happy to stay in the same place year in and year out, but I get restless...

Last summer was our first time in Juan-Les-Pins, next to Antibes in the south of France.
And we absolutely loved it!
It was a bit of a different holiday since Our Boy was in a language school in Antibes and therefore not staying with us, whilst The Professor and I had rented a flat in the neighbouring town of Juan-Les-Pins ('just in case') next to some friends of ours from NorwayOur Boy had a great time and so did we. But he actually missed not holidaying as normal with us - something I think is rather sweet considering that this will probably not be the case for many more years.
So, no language school this year, but we all felt we are not quite 'done' with France.

I like to organise the holiday good time in advance and started the family discussion to The Professor's horror and unbelief already at Christmas time. Now this is one of the few occasions where our cultural differences come to light as The Professor has 'no' understanding for planning while I actually ENJOY planning...

After a lot of discussion about dates I cut to the chase and have now agreed the rent of a flat in Juan-Les-Pins for 2 weeks this summer and today the flights are being booked!
It is all sorted - many months in advance!!!

Now comes the lovely period of sweet dreams and great anticipation...!

Me like!


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Recommended Reading: Courderoy Mansions

Many are familiar with the lovely series 'No 1 Ladies Detective Agency' by Alexander McCall Smith which has also been made into a television series.

But many might not be aware of this prolific retired professor of Medical Law's other series and even children's books.
I enjoy even more his series 'The Sunday Philosophy Club' and '44 Scotland Street' and I am an avid fan of his eccentric characters and his light, warm and amusing writing.

Corduroy Mansions is his latest series and is the award-winning online novel which he wrote exclusive to I read some of the chapters online (they published one each day), but decided to get the book in the end. There is something nicer about reading a book than on the screen, I think. Each chapter is just 2-4 pages as it was initially written for a newspaper
- just perfect reading before falling asleep and it leaves you with a nice warm feeling and a smile on your face...
I am now on the hunt for book no 2 in this series!


The cast in short:

In the top flat in Courderoy Mansions lives William, with a faithful ex-vegetarian dog named Freddie de la Hay (what a fab name!!) and a freeloading son who he hopes will soon fly the nest. Four lively young women share the first-floor flat, including twinset-and-pearls Caroline from Cheltenham, Dee, vitamin addict and avid subscriber to Anti-oxidant News, and Jenny, a put-upon PA. And round the corner lives Oedipus Snark MP, possibly the world’s only loathsome Lib Dem, who has succeeded in offending everyone he knows, and many others besides. But what dark revenge is being plotted by his mother, Berthea Snark, and by his girlfriend, Barbara Ragg…?

Monday, 21 March 2011

Privileged Surroundings

End of term lunch held for the students in privileged surroundings...

And lucky us that also get to come!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Happy New Year!

We have been spending a lovely New Year's Weekend (Persian New Year tonight!) with The Professor
To be frank, we haven't been able to fulfill all the practical plans I had made, but that is ok... There will be days after these!

Very fittingly, spring has more or less 'sprung' here and I mowed the lawn for the first time this year today!
I tried to convince myself that it MUST mean we are getting a little closer to summer...


As it is Nowruz tonight I leave you with tip which is a typical Persian New Year's dish:

Traditional Persian food for the New Year is fish (often fried) served with rice cooked with dill.
Try adding some dill to your rice next time.
It is really different, aromatic and tasty!

Eid-e shoma mobarak!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Another Glimpse...

The decorating project of Our Boy's room is more or less done
(still need to paint the skirting above the wardrobe...). 

With The Professor home for a long weekend (hurrah!) I hope to get a hand and finish hanging the various pictures/decorations on the walls.
As most British homes our walls are plastered and a nightmare to hang anything from... It is particularly 'scary' with freshly plastered and painted and so far 'untouched' walls...

Stickers are therefore great for easy decorating with NO NAILS needed! The picture above shows a part of a London Skyline sticker I got from John Lewis.

More will follow

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Tried and Tested: Old Fashioned Prune Pudding (Sviskegrøt)

My contribution to this month's challenge which is 'Fruit' from Sota Saker is a good-old-fashioned-easy-peasy prune dessert (sviskegrøt) 

It sure brings back childhood memories...


Soak 250 grams prunes in 6-8 dl of water over night
Bring the prunes along with the water to the boil with 1 dl sugar.

Whisk 2 1/2 tbs potato flour with
1/4 dl cold water and
add slowly to the boiling prunes.

Stirr well and bring the mixture swiftly back to the boil before taking it off the heat.

Adjust any extra sugar needed and serve cold (I don't mind it luke warm) with a vanilla custard/cream/or even just plain milk.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Blast From the Past....?

I couldn't help thinking when the new Yellow Pages landed on our doorstep yesterday morning that this surely must be a 'blast from the past'...
I can't remember the last time I picked up an old fashioned phone book to either look up a company not to mention a person...!

Although this new edition of the Yellow Pages is smaller - in A4 format - it MUST be such a waste of resources and waste of use of advertising money. In this day and age of the Internet most people AND companies can be found on the Internet. I tend to go by recommendations by friends and various websites if I am looking for a particular service. I never use a phone book to get somebody's phone number - most people's mobile phone numbers are not even listed, so not much use.

I wonder how many more years we will see a good old-fashioned phone book around?
Also, there must be a way to opt out of receiving them...?

My own little contribution to saving the environment ...


Do YOU use the phone book?

Monday, 14 March 2011

Precious Moments

It feels a little unreal being back to normal life after a whirlwind of a weekend with lovely friends visiting from Norway. 
We have talked a lot, laughed a lot, walked a lot, planned a lot, shopped some, and not to forget eaten much and well.
Time flew too fast and we hope to see them again here soon.

We have also watched in horror the catastrophe in Japan the last few days unfold. Our heart goes out to all those affected.
It is a brutal reminder of how precious life is and the importance of  the slightly worn phrase
'to seize the day'
and to treasure family and friends.

Friday, 11 March 2011

New Year and Excitement!

Not much more till the ...
Nowruz celebration!
In short, Nowruz, new day or New Year as the Iranians call it, is a celebration of spring Equinox.
It is the most cherished of all the Iranian festivals and is celebrated by all.

This year it is at 11.21 pm (UK time) Sunday 20 March.

I wrote more extensively about the Nowruz celebration last year, so you can read about it here if you would like to know more.
Like many festivals around the world it is about being together -  friends/family and enjoying good food and looking forward to the new year.
And like many other celebrations it is also about cleaning the house in anticipation of the new year and buying new clothes


And almost in a Nowruz spirit of receiving visitors,
we are expecting dear friends from Norway this weekend!

So excited!!!


Wednesday, 9 March 2011


I am posting today the phone cover of my new IPhone 4 just to prove

1. I have SOMETHING from Cath Kidston...
(there is now a Cath Kidston shop in town - very tempting and naughty!)


2. This phone is MINE
- this feminine cover is the best way to defend the phone from prying male teenage hands...


PS: Both Our Boy and The Cat are doing better
- thanks for all your concern and well wishes!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday is here and that means that pancakes are traditionally on the menu today.

Our Boy is suffering with the pain from the braces installed yesterday and insisted that the ONLY thing he could manage to eat for breakfast AND lunch were pancakes...


So, I indulge...

He prefers his pancakes with either
  • a little sugar and lemon or
  • jam or
  • fresh berries or
  • maple syrup or
  • cheese for a more savoury variety.
There are not many things I don't particularly enjoy, but I admit that I pass on pancakes (I do make them for the family!). They are fine as part of a dessert, but growing up one of the weekly fares was traditional pancakes and pea soup. I would eat the soup with gusto while gladly give up the pancakes...

How do you prefer your pancakes?

PS - I forgot - Happy International Woman's Day!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Bracing Spring Effect

a poorly pussy cat...

Today has been really hectic.
After an important work meeting I had to leave after lunch to take Our Boy to the dentist to have braces installed. He was very relaxed about it - think I suffered more watching...
He only got the uppers installed this time and the bottom will follow in 8 weeks time. In 20 months he will be done!

To be honest, I am not sure he really needs them. But the dentist was adamant that it was necessary and as the National Health Service (NHS) will pay for them we have accepted.

Ok, perhaps a couple of the teeth are not 100% perfectly straight (but he has NEVER had a cavity!), but do we all have to have perfectly aligned teeth? Doesn't some minor teeth irregularities (and they are truly minor) make people a bit more individual and 'interesting'? Do we all have to have the same PERFECT smile? Has this quest for perfection gone a bit too far? I just ask...

Note on costs - if you want the 'invisible' type on the inside of the teeth it will set you back £10 000... Nope - this type is not covered by NHS so he has the regular 'train tracks'...

Several of my friends had braces, but I never had. However, I am sure I would have had if I was a child of today. Instead, I was given a small wooden spatula and instructed to sit and push one crooked tooth forward 10 mins every evening. I never heard of anybody else getting this treatment... and I am not sure it made any difference.

On a more worrying note was that Our Cat seemed in obvious pain when we stroked him over the back and he seemed generally low. I took him to the vet this evening and the verdict is that he must have been in a fight, has got an abscess or infection in his muscle tissue on his back, has high fever and is generally feeling rotten.
So, hopefully the injection and 5 days with tablets will make him a happy pussy cat again.

It obviously doesn't help that that he has been neutered
- territorial fighting cats is a sure sign that spring is here!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Organising Recipes Tip!

 I have collected food recipes for as long as I can remember and have several ring-binders full of newspaper/magazine clippings and handwritten notes in addition to numerous cook books...The clippings are a rather messy system and in time the paper they are printed/written on becomes stained and even brittle. They are way too many to keep in the kitchen so many of the books and folders live in my study room - two floors above the kitchen.
All the recipes in this blog have been "Tried and Tested" and are our firm favorites and become a natural reduced version of all the folders and clippings and books.

As I don't have a computer/Ipad in the kitchen (yet)... I found it annoying to have to look them up on the blog each time I wanted to make any of them.

I have ordered a printout of my blog for 2010 and I am waiting in great anticipation to see it! I know you can also choose to have even just certain entries printed from Blog2Print, but as this was a rather expensive enterprise, I have been thinking of a way of collecting my recipes from the blog in a more comprehensive and tangible way.

A few weeks ago I bought a simple laminate machine to make labels for my kitchen jars and this laminate-idea developed into printing off my recipes, laminating them and putting them in a cute ring binder to keep in the kitchen.

Now they are durable, on hand in the kitchen and can withstand a splash or two!


Saturday, 5 March 2011

Recommended Viewing: Julie & Julia

Having spent most of today spring cleaning the house I rounded the afternoon off watching a film I have been recommended many times: "Julie and Julia" with one of my favourite actresses - Meryl Streep. Meryl never ceases to amaze me and she fills the role beautifully.

I loved the film and thoroughly recommend it. 
It is a must see for anybody who loves cooking and blogging. Actually lovely to think the film is based on two true stories.

Now I want to get a copy of Julia Child's cookbook 
"Mastering the Art of French Cooking".


Friday, 4 March 2011

Wonderful Weekend Anticipation

picture borrowed from the Internet
I don't know what happened to this week!
It has just flown by.
Being busy has that effect, I guess.

The week has as usual been filled with
  • work (but funnily enough I don't feel I have much to show for it, though...),
  • a day long conference on employment law,
  • a quick drink with the girls one night,
  • taking Our Boy to his guitar class,
  • lovely lunch with a friend
  • yoga class in the evening,
  • some work meetings
  • many phone calls,
  • cooking dinners,
  • some cleaning,
  • some laundry,
  • some tv,
  • reading 
  • and so on...
In short - LIFE

But it has been really chilly even though it looks like spring.
The picture above is from the area behind the colleges called 'The Backs' and it looks exactly like this now as the crocuses are all in bloom.

I hope the weekend will give some time for taking some pictures and catching some rays of sunshine.

According to the app on my new phone (!) it is going to be sunny on Sunday!
I hope you have some sunshine, too.
Wherever you are!


Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Gadget Love! And Bad Karma?

I have got a new IPhone 4 and I am in loooooove!

I always laughed a bit of the The Professor and Our Boy who are both serious gadget lovers, but I am proud to say I now have the swankiest phone in the house.
And I love it!
Still not figured out how to update the blog with it (think there is an app for that - does anybody know?), but managed to take a picture this morning of my breakfast (Oatibix with low fat cherry yogurt and fresh mango, for those who are interested ;-) - the bowl is from the lovely Swedish chain Indiska).

On the not so bright side, my computer is acting up and although Our Boy swears he is innocent..., it still needs to go to the shop for repair.
Me not like.

And to add to this, the dishwasher refuses to cooperate - lights are on, but no action as if 'nobody is home'. We didn't notice this until the machine was full, of course. So, back to good old fashioned washing up and waiting for a repair man.
To be honest, I wonder whether they will be able to repair it. We have had it for almost 6 years and that seems to be good going in our part of the country with all the hard water we have... BUT - I need it to work as we are expecting visitors in a weeks time and I am sure we want to do other things than doing dishes...!

The third thing that is not working in my house is the underfloor heating in the kitchen. It has actually been like this for a few months and it is bitterly cold to walk on the tiles. I have had an electrician giving it a 'glance', and he couldn't find anything wrong..., but I guess I need to have a longer consultation on this...

But isn't it funny how several things tend to go wrong at the same time???