Thursday, July 30, 2015

Zaizaf's Almond Cake via Five on Friday

Yesterday evening my husband and I were invited to dinner at our friends home.  It was a pleasant evening sitting outside and the food was great.  I wanted to take something for the "party" and I came up with the idea of making an almond cake using marzipan which was sitting in my frig from Ikea (haha, the marzipan is from Ikea, not the frig)...

A couple of months ago, I made Nigella's almond cake. But, it take like six eggs and the flavor wasn't that great.  So, I remembered that I used to make a cake using Solo almond paste.  I shuffled through one of my recipe files and I found the recipe; I hadn't made it since the 1980's I'm sure!  On another hand written sheet was a almond cake recipe from my dear friend Zaizaf. ( I have written about my friendship with her before in this past blog post. )

I'm always keen to try new things and I had just the right amount of ingredients to make Zaizaf's cake. Following are five photos showing my accomplishment.....

Here's my original handwritten recipe from way back when.....
(that's my my new "vintage" sugar canister from Turkey in the background)

I used my kugelhopf pan and it was just the right size for the cake....

After sitting for about 5 minutes, it came out of the pan beautifully.....

You can glaze this cake if you wish but I opted for a little powdered sugar topping.....

You're probably wondering, where is the recipe!  Here it is along with my instructions on how I made it:

1/2 cup Crisco (vegetable shortening)
1/2 cup sugar
1 package almond paste or marzipan (7 ounces)  (room temperature)
2 eggs - separated
1 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

 Grease and flour the baking pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Separate the eggs and beat the egg whites until they are stiff.  Put aside.  In a large mixing bowl combine crisco and sugar and mix until well blended.  Add in almond paste, in small pieces, until it is mixed together with the sugar mixture.  Add in two egg yolks, milk, vanilla and salt.  Gradually add in flour and baking powder until mixture is blended.  Fold in beaten egg whites by hand.

Pour cake mixture into prepared baking pan and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Let cool on a baking rack before unmolding cake.  Let cool before slicing.  Enjoy!

I said five photos and I just had to share this picture of Lilly with you.  I was going through some old photos and came across this one.  She was much younger then but isn't she the cutest sitting there like a little person?

I hope you have had a good week.  It's hot and a bit humid here in my part of the country.  We hope to get a few rain showers.  Enjoy your weekend!

my best to you,


I'm linking to the following parties:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Five on Friday"ness"

We received some glorious rain this past weekend.  It was so nice to sit outside under the clouds and enjoy the weather.  But, it has been a bit humid as a result (which is not normal for us here on the west coast).  Anyway, my garden looks refreshed but we are still in need of more much needed  moisture for our parched area.

Today I'm linking up with Amy at Love Made my Home for Five on Friday.   So, here is my take on this week's Five on Friday.  And, I'm also linking to:
Handmade Monday.... 
Yarn Fanatic Party......
Yarn Along...... 

*Please take a moment to stop by the above links to meet some new people and see some great craft ideas.

Awhile back I purchased one skein of Katia Jaipur mercerized cotton yarn.  I've made a couple of items, including this doily.  I like this thread as it has a little sheene to it but I had to cut the thread after doing the center medallion so that the green would start at the correct area.  It's kind of a no brain crochet project.  I'm about to start knitting a sweater for myself but I don't like having to do the measurements, swatch for gauge, etc....

If you like like the pattern, you can find it here. 

I follow quite a few blogs and I so enjoy reading them and learning new things.  Last year, while I was in Turkey, I was looking for a blanket pattern.   From my searching online, I discovered  A Creative Being hosted by Wink.  I always looked forward to her blog updates as they featured such beautiful patterns that she created. This past May, I almost joined in with a CAL she was hosting for a shawl.   It was with a sad heart that I heard about her demise due to depression.  I was in Turkey when I read this news, just a year since I had first discovered this very talented artist.

As a result, her Fat Bottom Bag inspired me to remake this bag I had created last year.  I know the colors are not as muted but Wink was such a talented fiber arts artist. This bag has been in my Etsy store but there were not takers.  I think I will relist it now.   May her memory be eternal.

My succulent garden is doing quite well with the drought conditions we are experiencing.  Here's a picture of one of them blooming.

(I had to take this photo again since the first one was not clear due to the humidity in the air)
I've always heard stories about the desert blooming.  I would love to see this one day.  Our deserts here in southern California really got a drenching this past weekend.  Luckily, no one was hurt in the flash floods that occurred about 100 miles east of my area.

I think this picture says it all....Lilly is always content as long as she's been fed! 

 She loves to sit in the outdoor sitting area....

You probably will think I'm a bit crazy, but I ordered a book written by my favorite TV personality, Venetia Stanley Smith.  She's a British woman* who immigrated to Japan 40 years ago and has adopted Japan as her country.  She's a very talented gardener and herbalist as well as being an accomplished artist.  This book is in Japanese (which I can't read of course) but the illustrations are all done by Venetia.  
Above are two of my watercolors taken from her drawings....
*Venetia's great great uncle was Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905. She spent her early childhood years at the family's ancestral home,  Kedleston Hall.

I hope you have enjoyed this little glimpse into my week.  Life is good here at Lilly my Cat.  I really have no complaints and I'm so blessed to have met such wonderful friends via this blog.  Until next time, have a wonderful weekend and my best to you.

take care,



Friday, July 17, 2015

Turkish Handicrafts

Hello my friends.  I hope you had a great week and that you enjoy your weekend plans.  It's going to be a bit humid here in southern California.  Hopefully we will get some rain showers this weekend...we will have to wait and see.  It is so dry out there due to our drought conditions.

I love handmade needlework items.  I have so many of them but they just call to me...Here's a glimpse of the items I picked up while I was in Alanya, Turkey. 

These are hand knitted socks.  I love the way they are constructed.  I bought from from a little, old Turkish lady who was selling a selection of these and also regular socks.  She had made them herself and I think they are so special.....

This table runner caught my eye and I just had to get it for my collection.  I think it's a type of crochet - maybe Clones lace?  If you know the proper name, please let me know.

This is a crocheted doily made with regular crochet thread but I thought the pattern was so beautiful  Maybe I can recreate it one day.....

Speaking of recreate, I crocheted this doily almost 40 years ago. I look at it now and I don't think I could do this type of work again.  The thread is so thin and it hurts by hands now to to this.  The joys of getting older......

I'll leave with you a photo of the beautiful lillies I bought from my local grocery store.  They were $5.00 and lasted one week!  I always love a bargain.

 Have a wonderful weekend and it's always a joy to hear from you.



Linking to the following parties:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Discovering the Turkish Riviera - Five on Friday

It seems that I have have been away too long from my beloved blog.   My family and I were in Turkey for three weeks.  It was my second visit to that wonderful country and this time we discovered a new area.

So, there are a couple of items on today's agenda.  First, I'm linking up with Amy at Love Made my Home for Five on Friday.   If you have the time, please drop over to this great link party.  And, I'm going to share some pictures of my visit to Alanya, Turkey.

We flew nonstop from LAX to Istanbul and then took a flight to Alanya.  It's a beautiful city situated on the southern coast of Turkey.  Here's a view of my son's home up on the mountain overlooking the sea....

They say that Alanya can get quite warm but it was much cooler up high....

 Our first sightseeing adventure was to see Alanya Castle. It sits high upon a peak overlooking the Mediterranean on three sides.  It was built in the 13th century.....

The view from the top was amazing.....

Here is a door in one of the castle walls...

If only the ruins would "talk".....such fascinating history

The castle was built over Roman and Byzantine fortifications.  Seeing this ruin of an Byzantine Orthodox church was amazingly heartwarming to me, being an Orthodox Christian.  I was surprised to see the dome is still intact.....

Here is a photo of the sign telling about the church.....
Another day we ventured to the east of the city into the mountains.  After a short drive, we arrived at Dim River  (Dim Çayı).  The scenery was breathtaking.  Being from Washington state, it reminded me of the beautiful Cascade Mountains....

Dim River is a very popular area for the local people.  There were numerous "pik nik" areas with restaurants and water parks.  We chose one and had a lovely Turkish lunch, including this amazing bread hot out of the oven....

I loved this display of Turkish pots outside the pik nik area....

And, they also offered traditional seating for those who wanted to relax and take in the amazing view...

The downtown city of Alanya is a tourist town.  They have lovely beaches but tons of stores selling knock off items that really didn't interest me.  But, I found a beautiful little garden area next to the beach club we went to.  I thought this trompe l'oeil was quite lovely....

Here's a very poor photo of one of the beach clubs.  The one we went to was free (including umbrella and lounge chairs) as long as we ate or drank.  It was very inexpensive and the beach/water is very nice....
We had never had a proper "Turkish Breakfast" before so this trip we went to the Tepe Mountain Restaurant.  It sits high up on the mountain and has a lovely view of the sea. The breakfast consisted of homemade breads, hot from the oven, numerous kinds of cheese, olives, pickles, potatoes, omelet, homemade preserves, candied figs and quince and much more....

We saw numerous goat herds during our stay in our home.  This beautiful creature was grazing on the side on the road on our way to the breakfast....

Alanya and the surrounding area is a beautiful place.  For years my family has gone to Egypt for vacations.  But unfortunately, it has gotten harder each time to visit due to many factors.  For us, Turkey has become our new family destination.  There is a significant foreign population in Alanya.  Home buying for foreigners is quite easy; hence the purchase of my son's home in the mountains.  The beaches are beautiful.  The downside is that parts of the city are too commercial but you can find many non tourist areas and attractions that are great.

Here are Five Facts that you may enjoy:

1.  Alanya is surrounded by the Taurus Mountains
2.  The city has a population of around 100,000+
3.  Over 30,000 homes in Alanya are owned by foreigners (Russians, Scandinavians and Germans make up the majority of foreign owners)
4.   The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira.  At the time of my visit is was approximately 2.67 TL to $
5.   Modern Turkey was founded by Mustafa Kemal in 1923.  He was later given the title of "Ataturk" meaning Father of the Turks.  His photo is still prominently displayed today. 

I hope you have enjoyed this little glimpse into  travel and history.  At a later time, I will share one more episode of my Turkey trip.  My best to each of you and I would love to hear from you if you have a chance to comment.  Enjoy your weekend!


Note:  I wasn't sure if I should share this but I will.  As I mentioned, the shops on Ataturk Blvd. in downtown Alanya are numerous.  They are selling knock off brands of all types of clothing, shoes, handbags, etc.  They usually have a little section of Turkish souvenir goods but the selection is very poor compared to the bazaars in Istanbul.  As soon as they see you, you are aksed "where are you from".  It becomes very annoying.  Needless to say, we were in one of the shops (they all look the same) and the shop keeper was pestering us to buy and of course asked us where were we from.  When we answered, California (America), his demeanor changed completely.  He started on a triad saying how America is trying to dominate the whole word, his father who worked on F-16 planes, told him all this, and on and on.  We were a bit shocked to say the least.  We didn't reply and at that point he told us to get out of his store as he didn't want any "dirty American money" and any (I won't say the word) loving people.  

If I wasn't in a foreign country, I would have spoken up.  First,  just because I'm an American doesn't mean I always agree with my country's politics.  Secondly, if he hates American money, so to speak, why is he selling knock off brands of AMERICAN designers?  Why is his shop full of Michael Kors, Nike, and Disney designs to name a few?   It really doesn't make any sense to me.

After googling this episode, I found that one of the shops actually had a sign outside stating that there was a group of people who are not welcome in their shop.  I find this appalling.  I later spoke to numerous Turkish people who said that we should have called the police and that this is not the norm.  It was the only incident we encountered during our stay in Turkey.  All the other people we met were very kind and welcoming to us.  

Linking With:

Create with Joy....

Bella Rose Antiques....

Oh My Heartsie Girl.....

Monday, June 29, 2015

June's Scavenger Hunt

June has passed by so fast and it's time again for the Scanvenger Hunt hosted by  Made with Love.  If you haven't checked out this fun blog, I suggest you drop by and maybe you too would like to join in.  

The letter J brings to mind two wonderful events; my wedding in 1975 and  the birth of my daughter in 1979, both of which occurred in the glorious month of June......... 

The Word Rust reminds me of the color orange. And, pumpkin fits right into that category .....  

For a festive drink, a White Russian is very Smooth . I now make it with coconut milk since I do not eat dairy .....

Imagination brings to mind my cat Lilly. I can imagine myself being her and having a life of luxury ....

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know my eclectic decorating style and nothing is more suited to my taste than this beautiful Classic style furniture. I would fill my whole house with this stuff if I could ......

(I have a smaller version of this set in dark wood)

Speaking of decorating, my daughter has excellent taste in designing any home decor. Here are some knobs that are Similiar in style. She used one set to decorate a chest of drawers for the nursery ...

Our family was in the beautiful city of San Juan, Puerto Rico, a few months ago. I captured this photo of these door entries, all Parallel to each other........

I love to knit, as my hands are never idle if I have a chance to sit down. Here's are my latest Socks . They're called Fork in the Road and the pattern can be found   here  on my Ravelry page .....

My daughter Heidi, loves to collect Coronation china from England. Here's a tiny glimpse of her extensive Mug collection .......  

Our latest travels in Turkey have been pleasant. The other day we walked into a shop and the owner presented each of us with an evil eye bead  charm ..... 

Our family home in Turkey is up on the mountain and overlooks the sea. Here's the Posts from the balcony ..... 

Whatever you do or wherever you are, I wish you peace and good wishes....

Thank you so much for stopping by today and visiting my blog.  It's always a joy to hear from you, too :)


Friday, June 19, 2015

Egyptian Hawowshi Recipe

It seems like it has been ages since I last wrote.  All is well here and I hope with you too.  On Sunday, I had guests over and I planned a simple dinner for them to eat by the pool.  I made Egyptian hawowshi.  It is a meat pie that is baked in the oven.  It a popular dish in Cairo.  So if you would like to make some, you are most welcome to follow along.

You will need (for four servings)

For filling:
1 pound of ground beef
1 medium onion, grated
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 T chopped parsley
Sliced onion (optional)
Red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp meat spices*
*I used some kibbe spices but you can use kabob spices

For dough:
2 cups flour
1/3 cup oil
1/2 tsp salt
Some black paper
Warm water
Blend the flour and salt in a bowl.  Pour the oil in a 1 cup measure and fill the cup to the brim with warm water.  Blend water/oil mixture into flour just until it holds together.  Add a little more water if needed.

The dough should resemble this.  Don't knead or overwork dough as it will become tough.

Divide dough into four balls.  (Picture above was from a double batch of dough).

Take one ball of dough and divide in half; one half will be the bottom crust and the other half will be the top crust.  Roll out each half on a floured surface until it's approximately 6"-7" in diameter.

Mix all ingredients for meat mixture and divide into four balls.

Place bottom half of dough on a nonstick lined baking sheet.  Press meat mixture onto bottom half leaving about 1" all around.  You can add a sliced onion to the top of the meat mixture and/or some red pepper flakes if you like a little heat.

Put the top half of the dough over the meat filled half and crimp the two halves together.  Make a design on the dough with a fork.

Bake in a preheated 365 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes or until browned.  You can brush the tops of the dough with butter half way through the baking time.

Remove from oven and serve.  The hawowshi shown above is served with tabboula salad and Egyptian koushari (a rice/lentil dish with garbanzo beans and macaroni).

The crust is nice and crispy and the filing is tasty.  I use lean ground beef as the extra lean makes it too dry.  The first time I ate hawowshi was years and years ago in Cairo.  It was at an outdoor cafe.  We just had finished eating at our table outside a large building when a lady on the balcony above decided to empty her wash bucket.  You can imagine the mess we barely missed....memories.  I can't recall what  part of the city this took place.

There's various ways to make this dish but this is my favorite.  Some people take store boughten  pita bread and open it and put the meat mixture in it and bake it.
For me the fun is making the homemade dough and eating it right away, hot from the oven.  I will share the recipe for koushari at another time.  Koushari is a popular fast food in Egypt.

I'm writing this up on a beautiful mountain and the air is so crisp and refreshing.  I'd love to hear from you if you have the time.  Until next time

My best wishes to everyone,