26 August 2013

The Nudge

Why hello! 
It has been awhile, a long hot summer sort of while.
From conference talks (yes me!) regarding refugee integration in Malta to sewing projects like sword cases and Chinese calligraphy brush carriers! Exciting and busy times.. but it has also been a very hot summer and the ice cream making has been in FULL SWING, 
(had a goal of 11 flavours for the 11 weeks of summer ) this was reached his week!
So here goes, in no particular order, this summer's flavours 

Maltese honey and cinnamon
Fig (with a hint of cloves)
Maple and walnut
Dark chocolate and orange
Espresso with chocolate bits and toasted hazelnuts
Dark chocolate with raspberries
cardamon and date
Black sesame 
Green tea

I needed a little nudge, you know that kind that gets you moving again, 
time to get back to the computer and the blog (thank you Isabel!) so here I am...and here is the Ginger ice cream recipe which I MUST share as it is so easy and sooooo good! 

Ginger Ice Cream
peel and chop into big chunks 1/2 cup of fresh ginger root
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar

Directions: heat until almost simmering the milk, cream, chopped ginger and 1/2 cup of the sugar, meanwhile separate 4 egg yolks and whisk briskly, add in the the remaining 1/4 cup sugar just at the end. Ladle in VERY gradually the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking all the while, return the mixture to a pan on very low heat and stir continuously 7-10 min. until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, so as you can draw a line in it. Do not let it boil. Remove from heat, strain out the ginger and set the mixture in the fridge to cool for at least 3 hours before putting in an ice cream maker (churn for 20-25 min.).

Hope you have been enjoying your summer,
 I leave you with a recent picture of our youngest, 'Beppe' and his new word for this week- PIZZA! 

04 April 2013

Just looking

well and dreaming... 
but realistically it is not so long now till we out grow our present house. So lately I find myself peeking in at for sale listings probably more often than I should. We still have the hassle of selling our present house. 
Here have a look and tell me your mind doesn't dream a little too...

Not a bad place..it a village called Zejtun ad you should see the outdoor pool....

15 March 2013

Forays into Printing

Sometimes you just need a little push (at least I do anyway), and this month I got just that from my dear friend Melissa over at A Happy Stitch. Melissa invited me to take part in a hand printed fabric swap organised by Maze and Vale
Having never considered printing onto fabric before, 
it was just the little nudge I needed to give it a go.  So I joined and was happily surprised with how some of the prints came out. I also really enjoyed the process of linoleum cutting. Am actually now thinking of making a few hand printed linen skirts for the upcoming arts market next month. 

As it was a the long election weekend here in Malta and I had all four children plus an extra one with me. I decided to include them all in the stamp designing and was especially impressed with the images they came up with! I will however have to show them in a later blog post because I am off now to the post office, my four fabric squares will soon be on their way to new homes in New Zealand, Australia, the UK and the US. 

27 February 2013

Red Castle Walk and Octopus Pasta

There are times when I am so thankful that we are living here in Malta, 
and that I begin to realise that I have fallen under her spell, 
 officially charmed
 (I speak of Malta as she, I don't know why but it must be so). 

Her gentle magic 
has seeped into us 
more than I would have predicted 
or  known it could have. 

The first year living here, I found difficult, 
the many built up parts of the island and heavy traffic jams closed me in and I felt trapped. 
I longed for the calm quiet streets of England (where we had been living), 
for the small cosy cafes and familiar faces of dear friends. 

There is nothing quiet or calm about Malta 
but a friendly spirit there is and be they loud and seemingly sometimes harsh I have found the Maltese people to be very genuine and sincere. Once they know you, they are trusting and will go out of their way to help you. I have been tracked down at the butchers to be told that a towel has blown down from my clothes line on the roof. The old man who lives beside us spent an entire morning once helping my husband clean up a clogged up sewage drain (not a pretty sight) 
and insisted on nothing in return for his help. 
Everyone up the alley knows and greets each morning my littlest son, as we set off on our errands,
old men, ladies washing their front door stoop and young kids will shout from windows and doorways- 'BONGU GIUSEPPE' !!! 
You would never find that in England.

Then there is the Nature,  
you can find stunning nature to every side of the island and such a vibrant air here. 
It may sometimes be hidden (tucked away like the gardens in villages, hidden behind tall stone walls), but its there- you smell it and at times catch brief bright glimpses through opened doors. 
It takes some patience to get to know her but Malta is ever so beautiful and rich, 
rich with history, traditions and culture. Rich in Language, poetry and music.  
If you let it, it can draw you in and capture your heart. I am realising that it has mine. 

Something about our simple weekend picnic near the sea, walking along a high ridge, looking out to cliffs and sparkling water to either side, wildflowers and almond blossoms in front of us and the faint smell of fennel in the air, made me really appreciate this island we are living on.
 The children explored and collected wild flowers. 
Ate fresh bread and drew pictures. 
We returned home, windswept and satisfied.

Part 2
Once home 
 I set about making a Maltese traditional dish- Octopus pasta, 
(having observed my mother in law making it and taking careful notes) 
I tried it out myself. 
Here is her recipe. 

Simple Octopus Pasta 
1 Kilo Octopus (wash and remove the beak) 
1 onion chopped
2 Tbs tomato conserva (tomato paste)
8 Olives, chopped
2 Tbs capers
1/4 cup peas (optional) added at the very end
1 medium potato chopped into 1-2 cm pieces
1/2 cup red wine 
salt and pepper to taste

Step 1. After you rinse the Octopus remove the small beak underneath and chop it  into 1 inch pieces (best to do this while partly frozen). So if you get it fresh from a fish market freeze it overnight first. 

Step 2. Saute the octopus pieces in olive oil till they turn red - around 8 min.

Step 3. Remove the octopus and leave the juices, add the chopped onion to this and let cook till translucent.

Step 4. Add the olives, capers, conserva, and potato and a half cup to one cup of water, let simmer for 8 min or so and then add in the octopus pieces and the red wine, add in the peas if you choose to use them and walllaaaa your sauce is done! Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mostly the flavour comes from the octopus. (it is one of my favourite Maltese dishes)

Step 5. Serve on pasta with a grated hard cheese and fresh parsley.

19 February 2013

Some new music in the house

Hoorahhhh a new album from a much loved Seattle artist and it's not just a pleasure to listen to for the sake of my little(est) one but enjoyable for all in the house. 

but mixed into the album are also plenty that are not so aimed at children.


Sunday morning pancakes and our little Giuseppe

What does the photo have to do with the above mentioned cd? Not a thing, only that it's mellow morning sounds were filling the kitchen as I flipped pancakes and sipped coffee with the Mr. on a slow Sunday morning not long ago. 
Ohhh and a little new food discovery to share! 
a new pancake topping- lemon ricotta and sliced kiwi !
I know it sounds odd but it is very good, especially rolled into a crepe.
simple instructions
(blend 200 grams (around 1 cup) of ricotta with a tablespoon or so of powdered sugar and the juice of half a lemon, blend till creamy and serve up with tart kiwi slices or thinly sliced blood oranges- 
it is very light fresh and tasty- really. 

Simple (American style) Pancake Recipe 
As I am on the pancake side of things- here is a simple recipe for pancakes that we use- 
3 eggs
3 cups milk 
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
3 cups flour(blend how you like- half whole meal etc.) 
if you are not using self rising flour then add one and half tsp baking soda and one and a half tsp baking powder 
half tsp cinnamon
(optional) 1 Tbs of brown sugar
 separately mix the wet ingredients in one bowl and the and the dry ingredients in another-
 lastly add the wet to the dry and briefly whisk, important not to over mix
serves 4-5 people 

small note: if you like a lighter pancake you can add 2 Tbs lemon juice to 2 cups of the milk- let stand for 15 min (making butter milk) and use it in place of part of the milk. 

July Flame  by Laura Veirs
(A family favourite from a few summers ago)

14 February 2013

Maltese 'Karnival' Part 2

I couldn't resist sharing some photographs taken by my talented friend, Xavier Cornhil Wambergue. 
These photos are of the Carnival procession in Nadur, on the island of Gozo, Nadur is a small  hilltop village which has a particular reputation throughout Malta for its Carnival spirit. 

13 February 2013

Viva viva Karnival!

It is that time of year again, 
time for bright colours (bit heavy on the neon here), 
wings, cleavage, high heels, booming music, confetti, pralini 
and prinjolata (very sweet Carnival cake) ! 
Sadly the four day holiday weekend was largely overtaken by terrible weather- 
hail, pouring rain, huge dark clouds and lots of wind- 
was freeeezing! Apart from some hours on Monday- so out we went!! 
Sadly though I think many of the floats were damaged and the grand finale parade was cancelled. 

(photo from Nadur, Gozo) 
by Mario George Vella
care of 
where you can find out much more about the Carnival weekend and other events 
going on, on the island!

07 February 2013

Film Spotting

As the windy days of rain skip through its usual winter path here on the island,
one of my recent  pleasures is slipping out in the evenings and going to the cinema. 

Life of Pi 

I thought this was a beautiful film, and is a rare example of a film being on par with the book it is based on. It truly does justice to the pages of the book. Spectacular to see on the big screen, many a stunning scene to savour in the drawers of your  memory afterwards. Highly recommended. 


Not one I was very enthusiastic about beforehand,  and it must be said also that I am not a fan of Ben Affleck so it says a lot that I think both the film and his acting (and directing) were quite good.
 I liked the fact that although it is rather far fetched storyline it is based on a true story. A good film but not necessarily one you need to see on the big screen nor one that stays with you for very long afterwards, at least that was my experience. 

Les Miserable

GO go see this film...it is so worth watching on the big screen. I thought it was very well acted, well cast and the music was fantastic (yes even Russel Crow did a fair job in his role!) ...marvellous. I thought it was a very very good production.
It moved me to tears and I found myself humming the songs days after. 


I went to see this film last night and it is still sitting with me now, 
I thought it was beautiful and touching, traumatic and very sad but most of all it seems a very real depiction of the last days of a persons life (a person who dies of 'old age' ).  The very last days of life are often  not easy or pretty and you really see this but you also get to see this kind of beauty and depth of love between the couple.  It is a very good film that manages to say a great deal with out using many words. See it but be prepared, it does leave you contemplating the death of our partner, of yourself, of your parents and those near to you. At least that it how I felt afterwards. 
It also made me very appreciative of being so alive and relatively young. 

Next to see is Lincoln which I am so looking forward to!

27 January 2013

After some days of ominous dark clouds, howling winds and downpours of rain interspersed with hail, came some sun. So off to the countryside we went, packing a backpack with a blanket, the Sunday paper, a thermos of hot chocolate, metal mugs and some snacks. 

The children were all given the ok to 'bringsomething small with you if you really must' 

The Things they carried

Tano - eldest - age 8 : a book, a small self made diary complete with a pencil strapped to the cover and two paper air planes, also a small toy for the baby.

Magpie - second child- age 7 : toy bunny, seven small moshi monsters, a brush, a small wooden box containing a collection of over thirty glass marbles.

Desructo- third in line- age 5: a pencil case, one piece of paper (she is learning to write letters) and two metallic candy wrappers (it is unclear whether these came to the countryside with candy in them or not).

a small insight into their characters no?


Even if I was down with a cold it felt so good to sit in the sunshine amid the olive and pine trees. 

23 January 2013

(The park next to my parents house in Madison, Wisconsin)

And there were Christmas Markets and then Christmas travels across the big pond and new years and new jobs, new haircuts and new adventures that lay ahead. A certain small turned one....and... and... now it is time to get back to Capers and Olives, sorry to have been away for so long!

(The quiet back gardens of the president's palace, while we were at the orange festival last weekend)

A world away from the frozen midwest. As nice as it is to have all the green lushness and the flowering almond trees scenting the air, I do miss the snow.

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