Nominated for the Sunshine Blog Award!

Thank you to Lisa at fLVE for nominating me for the Sunshine Blog Award! Lisa’s blog is a wonderful blog about food, cooking and dining. Check it out!

In order to accept the Sunshine Blog Award, there are a few steps to complete:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Write a post about it.
3. Answer the questions that come with it.
4. Pass it along to 10 people and let them know they have received it.
5. Answer the following questions . . .

Favorite Color: I love blue: the color of the sea. But I enjoy wearing red and pink, although not at the same time!

Favorite Number: 9

Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink: I can’t go without green tea in the morning!

Facebook or Twitter: Facebook.

My Passion: Culture and traveling

Getting or Giving Presents: Both! It’s equally nice to give and receive gifts, in my opinion. 😀

Favorite Pattern: I love the patterns on Mediterranean tiles

Favorite Day of the Week: Saturday.

Favorite Flower: Roses – they are beautiful

Finally, I am nominating the following 10 blogs to receive this award:

Back Road Journal – I found this blog when I was searching for blogs about New England, specifically Maine. It’s one of my favorite blogs.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… – I love this blog because of Jessie Veeder’s beautiful writing and North Dakota photography. It makes me want to go live on a ranch and ride horses everyday!

Cartoons & Creative Writing – I found this blog when it was on the Freshly Pressed page and I really enjoy the posts. Lots of amusing cartoons!

101 Books – a blog written by a man who is undergoing the challenge of reading each one of Time Magazine’s 100 greatest novels, plus Ulysses. I like books and I also like blogs about books. If you’re the same, check out the link!

Seen Along the Trail – this is a photo blog by a woman named Carolyn (aka Skip) who lives in Ohio. Her blog charts her daily walks via the medium of photography. Lots of beautiful, peaceful photos of nature.

Mama’s Gotta Bake – I love cookery blogs with photos of things that look unbelievably mouth-wateringly good. This blog indulges my sweet tooth!

Frugal Feeding – another cookery blog. This one is fairly self-explanatory: delicious recipes which are low-cost to prepare.

The Maine Road – another lovely photo blog with gorgeous images of Maine throughout the year.

Canadian Cinephile – a well-written blog with lots of great movie reviews.

And last but not least, Oh Shine On – a cookery blog with delicious recipes!

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Blog challenge recipe #2: hummus

No-one really knows exactly where hummus originated from but it is a staple dish in many countries in the Middle East, including Israel. So far, I have had exactly one blog visitor from Israel so this is my blog challenge recipe #2! It is a really easy recipe and didn’t take me long to make. This is my own recipe and so I have included quite a lot of garlic because I love garlicky hummus. But if you would prefer not to have garlic breath for the next 24 hours after you have eaten a serving of the following, you can cut down the amount of garlic to 3 or 4 cloves! The smoked hot paprika is optional, although it adds a wonderful smoky, spiced flavor.

Hummus recipe

Ingredients

¾ cup/170 grams chickpeas (dried weight)
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp tahini
6 cloves garlic – crushed
A pinch of hot smoked paprika
Approx. 1 cup water (boiled, then cooled)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Soak the dried chickpeas overnight in cold water. The following day, drain and rinse them. Put them in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and then cook on a moderate heat for approx. 60 minutes or until they are soft.
2. When the chickpeas are cooked, drain them and rinse with cold water.
3. Mix all ingredients together and then blend until this mixture is thoroughly pureed: you don’t want lumpy, chewy hummus!
4. Sprinkle a little paprika on top and decorate with fresh herbs. Serve and enjoy!

Blog challenge recipe #1: Irish soda bread

If you read the post below this one you will know that I am working on a blog challenge: to cook or bake a recipe from each one of the countries which my blog visitors come from. Here is uimhir a haon (‘number one’ in Irish Gaelic) of my challenge recipes.

 

Soda bread

 

I used this recipe from http://www.food.com as a rough guide but I made some changes which I have given after the recipe (see below)

Irish rye soda bread (recipe below is reproduced from this source and no copyright infringement is intended)

  • 4 cups rye flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 cups milk

Directions:

  1. First, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5 (180C).
  2. Now, mix the first three ingredients, the dry stuff.
  3. Then, mix the next two ingredients into the flour mix, and stir quickly with a wooden spoon. Try not to over work the mixture – just combine it. Add more milk if it’s not working.
  4. Pop this into a lined 2lb loaf tin. Then, just before putting into the oven, throw some ice-cubes onto the bottom shelf of the oven to create a little steam. This helps make the loaf rise before the crust sets.
  5. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 45 – 50 minutes. The loaf should sound hollow when it’s tapped underneath. Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then finish cooling on a rack.
My alterations:
1. Instead of using baking powder, I used cream of tartar which is one of the traditional raising agents for soda bread, along with baking soda (bicarbonate of soda). And instead of using 4 tsps of baking soda, which is too much in my opinion, I cut the measure by half, so I used 2 tsps of baking soda and 2 tsps of cream of tartar.
2. I used 6 cups of flour because I wanted to make two small loaves. If you only use 4 cups of flour as the recipe states, I would recommend you to cut the quantity of milk because even when using 6 cups of flour and 2 cups of milk, I had to add some more flour as my mixture was too gloopy.
3. I rubbed a small amount of butter (approx. 50 grams) into the flour after step 2 of the recipe.
4. I glazed the top of each loaf by brushing it with a little milk before baking but this is optional.
5. Finally, my last alteration. Instead of using a loaf tin, I divided the mixture into two pieces and baked it on a baking tray after I shaped it into round loaves. I cut a cross into the top of each loaf. According to tradition, this is to let the devil out! According to food science, it allows the bread to better expand and rise in the oven. Whether you believe the former or the latter, I think it’s always best to cross the soda bread before baking.
If you wish, you can swap the rye flour for whole-wheat flour or for white flour (or a mixture of both). That would result in a lighter bread since the rye loaf turned out fairly dense and substantial. It’s your choice!