Tag Archives: Figs

Whimsical Wednesday…with Carol…

Welcome it is that time of the week …I hope you all enjoyed Halloween?…

Yesterday the 5th of November was Guy Fawkes in the UK…he was the guy who in 1605  tried and failed to blow up the Houses of Parliament…The effigy we make to sit on top of our bonfires is a symbol of Guy Fawkes…

It will then be the start of the Christmas preparations…I always loved the preparation and the run-up to Christmas…The Christmas Carol’s, the pantomimes, the decorations and some of those are just awesome all added to that ambiance which is what I miss here…Christmas is not celebrated here…The big shopping centres, of course, have the tree and decorations and there it stops there is no atmosphere and Christmas joy which I remember… I try to recreate it at home and I am the only house with a tree and fairy lights here…

I do wonder though if I go back at Christmas would I feel the same joy I used to…?

Although pantomime is often seen as something quaint, something utterly British, its origins lie in warmer climes. It developed from the Italian street theatre of the Commedia dell’arte in the 16th Century, with comedic moments, stock characters and great physicality.

John Rich, actor-manager of the Lincoln’s Inn Theatre (opened 1714) and The Theatre Royal, Covent Garden (opened 1732), has been called the father of pantomime because he was the first to realise the potential of the Commedia characters.

What is your favourite panto? Do you have your tickets booked? I loved the panto as a kid and it is still part of English tradition…

Did you know it has been 18 years since the first Harry Potter movie was released…4th November 2001…Who would have guessed that The Philosophers Stone would be followed by so many sequels?…. Oops I got my movie and my book muddled but thanks to Tori who is an avid fan she very nicely corrected me…It’s been 18 years since the first Harry Potter movie was released. It’s been longer for the book version, which was released on June 26th, 1997. Sorry… Been a huge Harry Potter fan since 2000, when the publicity of the release of the 4th book brought it to my parents’ attention, and they got me a copy of the first book.

Going back a few more years to Nov 1996 saw the start of the phenomenon which was The Spice Girls…Love them or hate them they were a success and their debut album “Spice” sold 23 million copies…

After all these years they have evolved and are still news…For me, the best thing is David Beckham…A fine figure of a man…I unashamedly do think he has aged very well…Ahem…

David Beckham in Denver

David Beckham in Denver

Photo credit: ebatty on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Moving on quickly…

Food Waste…starvation…Homelessness always tweaks at my heartstrings…This time of year when the winds get cold and snow and frost prevail it always seems worse…But among all the sad stories there are the most heartwarming tales of the goodness which exists in some peoples’ hearts.

Yesterday I came across Stone Soup when I was reading the lovely Dolly’s blog a post by Dorothy on Stone Soup…I have never heard of stone soup…Dorothy also participates in

” The empty Bowl”…A lovely community project… Please pop over and have a look it is projects like this which give me hope and reassure me that people do care and have a heart but please remember we should care all year round…And please if you have any local community projects like this let me know and I will share…

Anyone for stone soup?…. I would love those stories…  I also love how the concept has evolved…

Fascinating…

Time for a story…S C Richmond…

The Charade…Chapter 10…by Carol Taylor…

71414cb886ccacb9a175dafd2b49776c--vintage-evening-gowns-vintage-gownsIt was getting late and the street lights had just come on. What had started out as an adventure to find a new dress was turning into a fruitless search.

   They were either too much money or dresses that she wouldn’t wear they were tacky and cheap.

The euphoria she has felt earlier had all but gone ….Shoulders slumped she started to make her way back to her room…That lonely room..Where the nightmares always came.

   Turning the corner she saw some twinkling lights come on and noticed a little shop…It lay back from the other shops which surrounded the markets stalls.

   She drew closer and saw a delightful little Christmas scene in the window someone had decorated it so beautifully,  everything twinkled and sparkled, she wondered who had been so artistic and clever, it caught her breathe, it was very lovely. The bell on the door tinkled and a little old man came out “Come in and look, my dear”

   “Oh, No thank you, I was just admiring your window it is beautiful but I am looking for a special dress”.

   “My dear I may have just the dress for you” On an impulse and he had such a kindly face she stepped inside …It was just like a wonderland..

Staring round in amazement…. So many pretty things…why had she not seen this shop before?

Her eyes were drawn to a beautiful pale blue dress….

“I see you looking at the blue dress my dear ..my grandson made it..he is very talented… Try it on. It looks like a perfect fit for you”. Taking the dress and putting it behind some curtains the old man held the door open.

   Putting on the dress just felt right it molded her body in all the right places, stepping outside to look in the mirror..she gasped was that really her. The young lady looking back at her was beautiful.

   “Just a ribbon for your hair is all you need. Who is the lucky man?”

   The girl twirled around and couldn’t believe her eyes..it was perfect and her necklace would be the finishing touch. Reaching into her bag she fastened the ribbon around her neck. Perfect.

   “How much… Is the dress?’ She held her breath waiting for the old man to speak. Please, please let me have enough.

When he told her she gasped “Are you sure… That is so little for a wonderful dress”

   “It looks like it was made for you my dear and the dress deserves a beautiful lady to show it off..My grandson would be so proud if he could see it on you”.

   “Is he not here?”

   “No, he is away on business buying more silk and satin”.

Paying for the dress the girl felt like a real lady for once, cinders would go to the ball.

   She heard a gasp; the old man was looking at her necklace with a look on his face which the girl couldn’t fathom. “ Where did you get that necklace?”

   “I have always had it… It’s all I have to remind me of my parents… Why are you looking at me like that?

The old man’s face took on a look of such sadness… “You have her eyes girl..Such beautiful eyes”

   “You know my mother?”

   “A long time ago my dear…”

T.B.C.

 

The first week in November is National Fig week…I love fresh figs…figs fresh and dried

Fig Facts:
  • Figs keep baked goods fresh by naturally holding in moisture
  • California grows one hundred percent of the nation’s dried figs.
  • Early Olympians consumed figs while training.
  • A half-cup of figs has as much calcium as a half cup of milk.
  • Figs, not apples, may have been grown in the Garden of Eden
  • Fig Newton cookies made their debut in 1892.

Did you know? Fig puree can replace fat/sugar in baked goods? Well neither did I until fairly recently a fig puree can be used as a sugar and fat substitution.

Just combine 8 ounces of fresh figs and 1/4 -1/3 cup of water in a blender; puree until smooth. If using dried figs, soak figs in water until softened before pureeing. Use as you would applesauce in baked recipes, as a substitution for both fat and sugar. Replace up to half the fat in a recipe with fig puree, and reduce or eliminate the sugar required.

Or use the puree as a spread over toast and fruits; or thin it out with more water and use as a liquid sweetener for coffee, drinks and in place of honey or maple syrup in your recipes….To read more about the humble fig here is a previous post…

I can’t finish without a tune...Art Garfunkel of Simon and Garfunkel fame was born on the 5th of November 1941…One of my favorites… Bridge over troubled Water…is a beautiful song and often used to express or represent a person, a friend or loved one…

The line “Sail on, silver girl” is often reputed to refer to a needle (meaning the song is about heroin) but it actually refers to Simon’s girlfriend (and later wife) Peggy Harper who found a few gray hairs and was upset. The lyric was meant as a joke – Simon calling her “Silver Girl” because of her hair.

That’s all from me for this week I hope you have enjoyed my trip down memory lane…xxx

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

The environment is also something I am passionate about and there are now regular columns on my blog this year. It is important that we are mindful of the world we live in…

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

More and more of my blogging friends have joined me on MeWe…A social media site which is fairly new and which promises much without the restrictions some other social media sites are choosing to impose on many of us…Join me if you will on  MeWe

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology: 

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Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a creative week ahead xx

The Culinary Alphabet…The Letter F…

Carol Cook!Culinary Alphabet F

Welcome once again to Carol Cook’s column and today in my culinary trawl we have the Letter F.

I am loving this series as I am discovering terms and names I didn’t know or didn’t think I knew so I hope you are too. You can find me once a month over @ Esme’s Salon

F for me was not as easy as some and not so many terms beginning with F although as I was writing I did think of some more it takes me a while sometimes…getting old…lol

Let’s kick off with the CULINARY ALPHABET…THIS WEEKS LETTER IS F

Falafel, a deep-fried ball, doughnut or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans or a combination of both. Falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern food, that most likely originated in Egypt. Usually served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread known as taboon; Falafel balls may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of an assortment of appetizers.

hummus- falafal 1649231_1280

Fenugreek Now I use this spice in my Indian cooking so that was easy. But for centuries, fenugreek has been used by many for its health benefits as fenugreek is not only nutritious but can provide us with numerous health benefits.

Five-spice powder is also another spice familiar to me and one which I use in my kitchen. Five-spice powder is a spice mixture of five or more spices which is used predominantly in Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine and to a lesser degree in Asian and Arabic cookery. If you can’t buy 5 spice powder then it easy to make.

Ingredients:

Fruity Friday…The humble Fig

The Fig…You can get it dried almost anywhere in the world and fresh and luscious from September through to autumn.

dried-2825_1920

There is nought like the taste of a fresh fig and dried they are different but sweet, with a chewy flesh and crunchy edible seeds.

Fig trees have no blossoms on their branches …The blossoms are inside the fig. Many tiny flowers which produce the crunchy little edible seeds that give figs their unique texture.

They are sweet with a chewy flesh, smooth skin and crunchy edible seeds.They are also one of the only fruits to ripen on the tree.

Did you know? Fig puree can replace fat/sugar in baked goods? Well neither did I until fairly recently a fig puree can be used as a sugar and fat substitution.

Just combine 8 ounces of fresh figs and 1/4 -1/3 cup of water in a blender; puree until smooth. If using dried figs, soak figs in water until softened before pureeing. Use as you would applesauce in baked recipes, as a substitution for both fat and sugar. Replace up to half the fat in a recipe with fig puree, and reduce or eliminate the sugar required.

Or use the puree as a spread over toast and fruits; or thin it out with more water and use as a liquid sweetener for coffee, drinks and in place of honey or maple syrup in your recipes.

The fig is also a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. It has Vitamin A, B1, and B2…. 3 figs have  5 gm of fibre..so if you are not careful you could if you eat too many figs end up with the “back door trots”. This is an old English saying just in case you were wondering.

In the Indian sub-continent, it is made into a soothing, calming salve which if applied by a topical application it can provide relief to Venereal Disease.  Although more research needs to be done to prove its effectiveness.

The Spaniards introduced figs to California in the early 16th century. The priests who lived in San Diego at the “Mission” originally planted the figs and the dark purple figs became known as Mission figs.

Native to the Middle East and western Asia the fig tree Ficus Carica is also a symbol of abundance, fertility and sweetness cultivated since ancient times it is mentioned many times in the bible and probably why many also believe that it was not apples in the garden of Eden but figs which tempted Adam and Eve. Now that is a thought.

figs-2662883_1920

Figs made their first commercial product appearance with the 1982 introduction of Fig Newtons cookies…I just love fig bars.

Did you know that eating one-half a cup of figs has as much calcium as drinking a half a cup of milk?

Figs also go wonderfully with blue cheese and wrapped in parma ham they are to die for. Just saying…

So all in all like The Fig lots of these herbs, fruits and vegetables which we take for granted or don’t think about even think of trying…and if you did you may even like them… Most have amazing healing properties and I think we should look at what we have growing naturally in our beautiful world instead of buying all these ready-made processed foods which are not even convenient most of the time and full of nasties…

Here endeth the sermon…

This fig sauce is made with dried figs and is lovely over duck breasts or chicken.

duck-breast-2729838_1920

Fig Sauce

  • 12 dried black figs with the stems trimmed off.
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh chicken stock
  • 2 sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 1 sprig rosemary although I will admit to adding a bit more…
  • Salt and pepper to Taste

Firstly in a small saucepan cook the black figs in the chicken stock for about 10 minutes until soft, remove from the stock and chop finely and return to the stock. Set to one side.

In a small pan melt the butter and add the finely chopped garlic and mushrooms cook for 30 secs don’t allow to burn as garlic it catches quite quickly. Add the brandy and simmer for 1 minute.Add rosemary sprig and fig stock and figs simmer for 3 minutes until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Just serve over your sliced duck breasts it is a lovely rich sauce and nice for that special occasion.

If fresh figs are in season then they are lovely served with the duck breast…

I hope you are enjoying Fruity Fridays don’t forget if you have a fruit you would like me to feature please send me a picture…

Previous weeks posts in case you missed them.

https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/fruity-friday-pomegranates/

https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/fruity-fridays-the-pineapple/

 

Christmas Recipes… Lighter Puddings

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Day 5 on the Christmas countdown and today I have some lighter puddings for you as I know some either don’t like or can’t eat a Christmas Pudding…

I always make a Fresh fruit salad and anything goes in whatever is in season and I have some lovely choice of some lovely  exotic fruits to choose from here but wherever you live check out your fruit section and I am sure you will find something exotic there and you only need one if it is a dragon fruit or something which can be expensive but they are quite big so only one would be required the only fruit I don’t use and not because I don’t like it but just because the texture isn’t right for a fruit salad is the banana but you could always make a lovely banan split and that would be a lovely alternative to a rich, Christmas pudding wouldn’t it?

The beauty of a fresh fruit salad is that you can make it as large or as small as you like one portion or ten. You can use any fruit that you have and it can different every time.

fruit-2305192_1920

The one I always make is very simple I use Oranges, Apples, Grapes, Pear, and section and slice them and add lemon/ lime juice to stop the fruit going brown.

Sometimes I  also add some freshly squeezed orange juice or other fruit juice.

This is now when it gets interesting as you can add a little freshly grated ginger, some crushed lemongrass even treat yourself to one of those exotic fruits you have seen in your local shop or farmers market just to liven it up, change it.

Maybe even a touch of chilli???

Some sesame seeds? Some poppy seeds?? Just sprinkled over the top of your serving???

If I use a soft fruit like melon,  mango, strawberries, peaches, apricots, watermelon or kiwi then I put those in about 15 mins before I serve the fruit salad. Otherwise, they can go too mushy and we like our fruit salad fresh and vibrant, nice and crisp.

And of course here I have access to plenty of fresh pineapples, Lychees and Dragon fruit are plentiful and in season here at the moment so into the mix they go…What is your favourite fruit salad mix???

To jazz it up a bit put your salad into a hollowed out pineapple skin… and make like a little boat…

pineapple-boat-575802_1280

You can use any combination of fruit that you like just make sure you use lemon/ lime

juice to stop the fruit from discolouring and keep in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

It can be served quite simply with fresh cream or clotted cream if you can get it…

Ice cream there are now so many flavours to choose from or make your own or add some chilli to the chocolate ice cream or as my hubby prefers just a good old fashioned custard.

Serve it with your porridge oats or other cereal with natural yoghurt… the possibilities are endless… Have fun when you make one and try different fruits.

Enjoy!

Banana Split

banana-split-2701128_1920

Now as you know I get bananas by the cartload here and as it’s Christmas then treat yourself just split a banana and create a culinary masterpiece… Ice cream of your choice and why not mix the flavours, some whipped cream or mascarpone and a sauce, chocolate, salted caramel or my favourite a lovely raspberry coulis… Maybe some little marshmallows or some pieces of meringue…Go wild and have fun!

Christmas comes but once a year!

How about a lovely whole baked apple…I remember my dear mummy making these and I used to love them… In fact, I haven’t had one for years…

apple-1883934_1920

Just stuff with some dried fruits, sultanas or chopped apricots maybe a little of the sweet mincemeat? Add some cinnamon or mixed spice… Drizzle with some maple syrup or golden syrup and bake until the apple is soft and the juices are running…A lovely light pudding after your Christmas meal…

Just some baked figs with some cheese also make a lovely lighter pudding so many dishes you can make..A pannacotta with fresh fruit?

What dessert do you make for after your Christmas meal?

I love creme brulee or fruit salad…I also love a small piece of Christmas pudding but normally save that for later when my lunch has gone down.

Until tomorrow for more Christmas recipes and ideas…xxx

 

 

Smorgasbord Health – Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor – Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds who would have thought just what health benefits that little seed can provide for us…Well…Sally has and it is all here in one post with recipes … A one-stop post for healthy food and good health information….I hope you enjoy x

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the series where I provide the nutritional health benefits for a food and Carol Taylor works all week in the kitchen to provide delicious recipes to include in your regular diet. I hope you will go over to her new blog which she has just started: http://myhealthyretirement.com/welcome-to-orienthailiving-my-first-post/ and discover more about her beautiful home in Thailand.

This week we are going to be featuring pumpkin seeds which are not only delicious but contain some very important nutrients that make this a snack that every man should eat once or twice a day.

When I was researching my men’s health book I came across some interesting statistics with regard to the very common problem of an enlarged prostate. In fact if you live to the age of 90 – 9 out of 10 men will have the condition!  Any man over the age of 50 who has a reduction…

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