Last night I sliced and baked aubergine, red pepper, tomatoes in olive oil and oregano. These fruits don’t need much to bring out their flavours.

My intention was to make Ajvar. It’s a condiment made from sweet red peppers and also sometimes with aubergine added. Chillies can be included if hot is the preference. Tomatoes don’t go in, I just had them to use.

I let the fruits cool then today had them on sourdough toast, drizzled with the olive oil they baked in, accompanied by slices of avocado, cucumber and some rocket to complement the reds and purples with greens – hot with cool.

If you want to make Ajvar ‘extra’ then add some smoked paprika and garlic, but I like it as it is. Today I will mash up the roasted fruits and keep my Ajvar in the fridge for immediate consumption rather than conserving it. It will go nicely with tacos later.

It’s not commonly known in the UK and is found predominantly across Southern Slavic Europe and the Balkans – so from Croatia across and including Turkey. It’s a delightfully tasty alternative to hummus if you want an extra dip or something to spread on bread.

The origin of the word is Turkish from – hayvar, made in the Balkans when peppers arrived.  Like many things  we share its recipe across borders, along with filo, domaca kafa, baklava, burek, cevapi, and so on.

It can be found in Euro and Eastern mini markets here now and  in Holland and Barrett!

Have you investigated Granny’s Secret? It’s a UK-based company run by a woman who makes conserves, preserves, juices – all from fruits.


Check out Granny’s Secret website link above – see what you think, and go get a jar of Ajvar!


And read some more about it on Hindustan Times!

Gold stars for everyone who can pronounce Ajvar correctly!


Confessions of a lost appetite

So many things are coming to a head and amongst all the action I seem to have lost my appetite. I have decided to focus on a limited selection of fruits, breads, white fish and eggs for now and will be reading some Ottolenghi for inspiration. His Middle Eastern palate  combines sweet with savoury – it all looks delicious, and he has a new recipe book out.

It’s disappointing when you spend time making soup, pita, salads, only to find that everything smells and tastes like cardboard – like Aldi does when you walk in! It’s all the cereal boxes under the lights and lack of air conditioning. Mr Fluff however is delighted that there are healthy blueberry muffins in the house. Who ever heard of a cat eating blueberries (apparently it’s okay for them to). They are well-hidden in a sealed box after cooling.

It’s also been hard going in to work at a place where the needs of others are huge and their self absorbed attitude and behaviour is draining on a daily basis. I no longer have the capacity or patience for underpinning and supporting flailing arts organisations or boards of staid oldies who won’t do the right things to help themselves. Going round in circles and not  taking  a risk isn’t my style.

So, as they say, be the change you want to see. Constant evolving is where it’s at, there is no sitting still. In many ways I feel quite robust at the moment, not defeated, but adapting. Dry sunny autumn days call for walks where I spot all the apple and pear trees dropping their fruits and it seems no one heeds what is all around them.

Maybe it’s time for this nation to change its attitude to the meaning of life. It doesn’t exist on a supermarket shelf, a screen, or in a vat of alcohol, it’s out there.

Travel is imminent – looking forward to a change of scene.




Counting Butterflies – A Day Off

A longer weekend. We have rain after what seems to have been weeks of heat. In fact, it’s only been three, or was it four. I wonder if the grass will grow again, will it be green and long. No hose pipe bans here as yet. I remember the summer of ’95 and syphoning off bath water to feed the greenhouse then.

We grew all kinds of fruits in that little space. Cucumbers, loved by us and the slugs that found their way in. Peppers and tomatoes, turning from green to yellow and red, like traffic lights. An aubergine plant, a melon plant which broke through to the outside, reaching for the sky – no fruit though.

I grow nothing right now. But hope to again. Instead I go in search of good fruit. The local grocer has a decent variety as do the market stalls. The difference between a large lemon with  thick skin and a puny think-skinned one is all about aroma, flavour, longevity.

Aldi offers decent avocados, in a relaxing, meditative green that you’d want to dive in to. Piccolo tomatoes which smell as if they are straight from the soil. Clusters of beets, radishes, carrots, all bundled.

Shopping around pays, but it doesn’t have to cost the earth either.

I have gotten through a fair amount of writing in recent weeks and achieved quite a bit. There is now a brief hiatus as I wait for autumn to bring fresh results. September tends to bring change for me year on year.

As I go walkabout, it is more and more apparent to me what my life *should* be hereon in.

In the meantime, I have reading. Ivo Andric’s Bosnian Chronicle, Collected Fictions – Jorge Luis Borge and to finish Pullman’s latest La Belle Sauvage, which is delightful. Three more shorter novels on the side thereafter with cuisine themes, and a reserve at the library waits for me – George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo.

Someone once said all you need is a library and a garden and life’s just fine. Okay. I may have finally come to accept that. Except one needs yarns too.

Starting today for the next three weeks, Butterfly Conservation are asking us to count butterflies. Visit their website, download the app or chart. Spend 15 mins at a time counting. This can be done as often as you like over the next three weeks. I’ve noticed many butterflies recently in this hot summer, and bees. Just lovely, absolutely lovely.