Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Routine Develops: First days of August

I have been waking up in the small hours of the morning and as a result falling asleep for an hour or so in the afternoon.

This morning was better with a 5am rising.  Sandra gets up at six and has her breakfast in two stages.  First grapefruit and yoghurt, then all the hair and dressing stuff, and finally the cooked breakfast.  My home made bacon is a bit salty but seems to be all right with eggs.

Yesterday morning I started making some yoghurt, as we only get fruit flavours here and we want some plain.  I brought a pot from California as my starter and used powdered milk as the only other option is UHT and it tastes horrid.  This morning I was delighted to find a pint of nicely set yoghurt sitting in the jug on our enclosed balcony (which I think must be about 100F). I am going to strain it as Sandra is wanting some Labneh to eat with her apricot jam on toast at breakfast.  I will have a go at making the jam next, but we have a couple of jars to be going on with.

I have been walking to restaurants near Sandra's office to meet her for lunch.  It is about 2.5km and with the temperature in the high nineties, and some wind, it is a hot and dusty journey.  I have done it a couple of times as around trip but also chickened out and called the company taxi service.

Today we met at O'Niel's Pub where they have a business lunch for about $9.  Today it was mushroom soup, which was very greasy chicken stock with some tasteless very finely chopped bits in it which I think must have been mushroom but could have been sawdust.  Sandra had none of hers but I managed half of mine.  The salad was chunks of tomato and cucumber, which was hardly exciting but quite edible.  The main course of braised lamb was largely bits of bone and grizzle in oil with potatoes.  It was hardly edible.

We passed on dessert of a slice of white sponge with cream on it.  This was a Irish Pub version of the Kazakh Business Lunch that we had two days ago (Russian salad, very greasy borscht, greasy braised chicken and potatoes, and then a big slab of sickly cake) and we ate just as little.  No wonder I have been starving most afternoons, I don't think I am businesslike enough for Business Lunches.  We will have to try another approach, but the shashlick (kebabs) at the Turkish restaurant, whilst good, are becoming a bit repetitive.

After lunch I went to Rahat market to buy chicken for dinner.  It is a lot better than it was at Christmas, and Sandra says it is much better than last year.  They actually have some good produce but it is not cheap.  I bought the chicken plus basil and coriander for the Thai dinner I was to cook for Sandra, Lena, Mary and Simonne-Marie.  

Two nights ago I made some vegetable soup using the turkey stock I froze at Christmas with chicken stock cubes.  I had added carrots, onions, some stringy celery, canned white beans and some of the green bean and tomato dish I left over from the Californian delivery.  I pepped it up with a large spoonful of black bean pepper sauce  The broth was good but the  vegetables were tasteless and fibrous.  I sieved the leftover soup and used the tasty broth as the basis of a Thai style soup.  I added a bit more pepper sauce, a few ginger slices, powdered cayenne, coconut milk, peeled deseeded tomatoes and some frozen mushrooms (which were better than the tinned alternative).  I thought Sandra had some frozen prawns but they were little shrimps, so they didn't make the cut.  Plenty of coriander and basil gave a good Thai flavour, and a squeeze of lemon (no limes) made up for missing lemon grass.  It went down quite well with the ladies.

We had my standard satay and salad as a main course and I pureed the last treasured mango from California with a banana and a dash of vodka (to inhibit hard freezing) and stirred it into some vanilla ice cream and refroze it in individual moulds.  I turned them out and we had it as dessert with slices of ripe kiwi fruit.  Simonne-Marie brought a lovely little sponge cake from the new French bakery, very good!

Sorry to spend so much time on food, but looking for it and cooking it has so far been my main pass-time!

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