How I do Things

Autumn brings fog to this Pennine-side of Yorkshire. I have missed its eery presence creating a blanket over houses and trees. Only the sound of traffic, trains and the scrapyard are evidence of a world beyond my windows.

I have signed up to do a thing. My decision is made. In just a few days the process will start. It should have begun last year, but the gods conspired to keep me afloat in the Tundra. The big danger was that, with time and space to think, I started to imagine other things to do. But I have pulled myself back. Focus, concentration and applying oneself are returning after a hiatus of several years.

As I meander through my work I also make a spinach gibanica, sausage and bean casserole, a sunflower seed and oatmeal loaf. They will see me through the next few days and feed my brain.

I do most things ‘off the cuff’ in my own life, mostly because so much of my work life involves organising, being exact, correct.

It’s a relief to just write, cook, sing and be as I please. But I am still a multi-tasker. I read that way too – three books painstakingly, at a time, for pleasure.

For a couple of weeks now there has been a problem with delivering work items to my address. Suddenly gremlins have appeared. An otherwise smooth operation has become a joke, a farce, as books, documents and magazines fly around the planet in search of me!

I shrug.

Someone once said to me that I’d be a force to reckon with if I wasn’t so easily distracted by all the many interesting and wonderful experiences in life. Just as it looks like I could be quite a presence, something would come along, and off I would go.

Not now. My soul and inner spirit are revitalising very quickly. When I began to feel that all was lost and I would wander down endless roads my inner fire  suddenly re ignited. The wind is blowing gently through  and warms me.

Okay, yes, I will be distracted. That’s a given. It’s good for me! I’m off to sing this week!

Today I visited a friend of my mother’s. They grew up together, had their children together. And yes, fell out a lot over the decades. She is eighty soon. She has dementia and knows me as her friend’s little girl. My name evades her mind, but my face does not. I sometimes wonder if she sees me as that five year old child with strawberry blonde hair. I hope so.

In the world out there, as people exit their countries in droves, our government plays hide  and seek. Like the child who believes he is hiding by covering his eyes with his hands, our leader seems to think we can’t see him for what he is.

We leave because we must.

The SunDSCF0204

The MoonDSCF0203

And The Stars           DSCF0205


There is no set recipe for this dish, it’s all down to how you like it.

Firstly let me explain something about gibanica (gib-an-it-sa). It isn’t eaten as a main course or a starter. It’s rarely eaten with anything else, although it seems some like it with a bit of sour cream. It’s normally served all by itself, either straight after the main course at a slava or other big sit-down meal; or  just with a coffee, followed by a piece of walnut torte or figs and yoghurt.

I didn’t like it as a child – or rather it didn’t like me -eggs and cheese didn’t agree with me. I make it now and then, when the mood takes me. And each one is different.

What you need:

1 large round enamel tevsija. You don’t have one? Then any good-size oven dish will do – a deep one.

1 packet of fresh Greek or Turkish filo pastry – but you will only need to use half the sheets.

Alternately make your own filo! Just a good plain flour, warm water and olive oil – plus patience and working by the feel of the dough. I used to make it with my mother and stretch it over the dining table.

Anyway, let’s carry on.

Pre-heat the oven to pretty hot.

Take a large bowl and in it crack 8 medium-size eggs

Whisk them and add a little salt.

Add approx 250g of butter or margarine or olive spread

Add 250g of cream cheese  low or full-fat

Grate approx 300g of a white crumbly cheese like wensleydale into the bowl

Add around 500ml of milk semi-skimmed or skimmed

Now gently break up the butter and cream cheese in the mixture,whilst stirring round the crumbly cheese and milk. What you should have is a lumpy mixture, not too runny. Taste it, it should be slightly salty.

Oil the base of your oven dish and take two sheets of filo. Place them in the bottom all scrunched up like a range of mountains with peaks. Ladle over some of the mixture.

Put on the next two sheets in the same manner and repeat the ladling. Eight sheets are usually enough. The last two go on top -all the mixture should underneath them.

Take a sheet of greaseproof paper and place on top. Sometimes I line the dish with paper as well.

Pop the gibanica in the oven for 30 minutes. It should rise. Take away the paper for the last 10 minutes to let it brown. The gibanica is normally done after 40 minutes -give it another five if you are not convinced.

I like my gibanica warm, some prefer it straight out of the oven, others stone-cold. Keep it in the fridge and it will last up to three days.

How much should you eat in one sitting? My advice is be sensible -it’s very filling even if you use all low-fat, skimmed-milk ingredients. I’m happy to have a piece for lunch followed by some fruit. A slice at breakfast? Yes, very decadent! It’s a great dish for guests when you’re not in a cake mood and you are savoury (like me) rather than sweet. Enjoy.