Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Red Dunes, finally!

When I think of the desert, I conjure up images from the movie
  The English Patient,
not Lawrence of Arabia.

A billowing scarf
White linen
a plane flying over undulating sands
Ralph Fiennes carrying his dying love in his arms...
Ralph Fiennes.

Ralph Fiennes

My pictures are a bit different.    But hey, it's my movie!

Did I mention Ralph Fiennes?

Welcome to Riyadh, finally!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014


This morning, as I was walking to work along the rosemary path, I made a startling discovery.
At first I was not alarmed. (Hyacinth - for those who know)
The gardeners were doing maintenance as usual, 
pruning and weeding.
I could smell the rosemary cuttings a mile away!
But then I noticed the ominous black bags...

They were not just pruning the rosemary.
They were CUTTING it into a box-shaped hedge!

Which is okay, I suppose, if you like that kind of contained, formal approach.

But the black bags!
Yes, they were full of the rosemary branches, twigs, cuttings.  
And they were going to be thrown away :(

I was appalled.
Can't somebody save it, and then eat it?
Why do you throw this loveliness away?????

It was very painful to watch.   I picked up a few stems and thought my heart would break.

Later the afternoon I took my camera for a walk to survey the damage.

The beautiful purple grasses that had sprung up amongst the rosemary, have been mowed down as well, forming a dense thicket in the undergrowth.

cut down to size.
get back in your box!
stay in line!

Some persist in blooming wherever they are, whatever the conditions.

Some don't.   Can't.

Then, a pleasant surprise!


I headed down to the roundabout (without heading for France, Richard!)  sorry, Im channeling Hyacinth Bucket tonight.

It smells good.   We will have lamb on Thursday.   It will taste even better.

 Rosemary saved!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Pancake Weather

In South Africa we make pancakes when it rains.
Directly translated, we bake pancakes.
These are not American pancakes, neither British nor French.
They are neither crumpets nor crepes.

They are pancakes.

This afternoon Riyadh had a brief trickle of rain.  It rains, you make pancakes.

You start off with the batter (a family recipe) which has thickened in the fridge for at least 3 or 4 hours.   You NEVER make the pancakes with freshly made batter.   It's simply too runny.   The gluten needs to develop so that the pancakes are soft and not chewy.

You take the cold, thickened batter out of the fridge, turn on the heat and get a heavy pan ready.   Stir the batter thoroughly and add a bit water if its too thick.    
Family tip:    add a teaspoon or two of sunflower oil to THE BATTER.    

While you are waiting for the pan to heat up really well, mix white sugar and ground cinnamon in a bowl or jar.   Get a large plate ready and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on the base of the plate.    When the pan is sizzling hot, add one ladle of batter to the pan, and swirl gently until a perfect pancake is formed.

The perfect pancake has a frilly lace edge with bubbles rising in the middle.  


The finished pancakes are stacked in the plate with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on each pancake.

The sign of a master:    the batter and the cinnamon sugar (nothing being measured beforehand) will be finished at the same time.

If you don't have any caramel treat in your grocery cupboard, cook condensed milk in its UNOPENED can in a saucepan of water for 2 hours.   

Add the finishing touches

Enjoy with coffee and listen to the rain on the roof.

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The Alchemy of Desire Tarun J Tejpal

The Language of Flowers Vanessa Diffenbaugh