Posts Tagged ‘Cornwall’

This was Little One’s favourite for a very long time in England. I brought it home from Sainsbury’s in Truro one day, just to give it a try. It was gobbled up in a flash. For years I couldn’t pass Sainsbury’s without calling in, to get her Special Salad. In England it is called Moroccan Cous Cous Salad. It has heat from chilli oil, but coolness from feta cheese. A great combination.  

Once we moved to America, poor Little One had to go without, until I was able to reproduce it, as closely as possible.  

This toasted cous cous is from Israel, but is the same product. I found it in the Kosher aisle. 

Here is what I’ve come up with.

Israeli Couscous

Israeli Couscous


Little One’s Toasted Cous Cous Salad with Chilli Oil and Feta Cheese

1 packet of Isreali Toasted Cous Cous

1 tin of Chick Peas, (Garbanzo Beans), rinsed

1-2 bunches Green Onions, washed, trimmed, and finely chopped or Purple Salad Onions. We like a lot of fresh onion. 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Chilli Oil or Chilli Flakes

Fresh Lemon Juice

1 bunch Flat Leaf Parsley, washed, destemmed, and finely chopped

1 handful Mint, finely chopped

1 small block of Feta Cheese, cut into small cubes, not crumbled. Use more or less according to personal taste

Salt and Pepper 

Soak the cous cous in boiling water, cover, and let stand. It doesn’t need to be cooked. Add less water than recommended as you will want the cous cous to be a bit dry, as you will be adding lemon juice and oil later on.  

Once the water has been absorbed, and the cous cous has cooled, add the chick peas, 2 serving spoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, lemon juice to taste, onions, chopped parsley and mint, salt and pepper.


Drizzle a tiny bit of chilli oil, but go slowly, as it is very potent. Taste for seasoning. This salad absorbs quite a bit of oil and lemon juice, so don’t be afraid, be generous. 

Lastly, add the chopped feta, mixing carefully, so as not to break up the cheese too much.  

Let it stand to allow the flavours to develop, for at least half an hour.  

It is delicious either cold or at room temperature. 

Toasted Cous Cous Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

Toasted Cous Cous Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

I have vegetarian friends who don’t eat diary, so for dinner one night, I made the salad, leaving out the chilli oil and feta cheese, substituting pomegranate seeds.  It looked, and tasted beautiful and is a great, vegan alternative. 



This is another family favourite that doesn’t hang around for long. I ate mine with the golden beets that I brought home from the Farmers’ Market on Saturday. 

Delicious. Easy. Lovely for hot days, summer lunches, and picnics. 

Happy Memorial Day, 

Hug a Veteran, 



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Lunch boxes are a nuisance.  What my children want for lunch varies from day to day, week to week, month to, you get the idea.  It is difficult to come up with new ideas that are reasonably healthy. Things are complicated by the heat, here in the desert; cheese goes limp and oily, etc, etc. Plus, the heat makes them very picky. First Born will only carry a discreet, brown paper bag for her lunch.  Insulated lunch bags are unacceptably unfashionable for the modern day teenager.  Little One still carries a traditional, metal lunch box, covered in monkeys, precious as she has been using it for years. 

So, what to pack? I used to send salads, in small containers, but the girls prefer to eat their salads at home, straight from the fridge.  I can’t say I blame them. I usually manage to get them to eat a small sandwich of either chicken or ham, as well as, fruit, cucumber, carrots, and a few chips (crisps in the UK).  Sometimes I’ll throw in a cookie, if we have any in the house. Not very interesting, but adequate. 

I am always interested in what other people are eating, so when I see a lunch box coming out, I cannot help sneaking a little peak. 

Once, I was sitting in the waiting lounge of Newquay Airport, in Cornwall, when I saw a tall, handsome man eating a packed lunch. I couldn’t help myself, Dear Reader. The man was Sam Neil, one of my favourite actors. Cornwall is a popular location for making films so, it is not unusual to bump into certain well known people, who work, visit, or live there. Celebrity spotting is a popular hobby for some locals, and I used to think, that I was above that sort of thing.


I had to know what Mr Neil was eating. I found myself wondering, whose fair hand had packed lunch for him that day.  I can report that that his lunch box was a modest, tupperware like container, that he ate a sandwich with brown bread, filling unknown, and then, some green grapes.  You’re on the edge of your seat, I can tell. 

Our flight was called. We boarded the plane. Dear Reader, I couldn’t believe that I was given the seat next to Mr Neil.  I was so flustered and embarrassed, desperately hoping that he hadn’t noticed me watching him eat, only a few minutes before, that I banged my head on the overhead baggage compartment as I tried to sit down.  The planes that fly between Newquay and London are very small.  

Well, I thought that I couldn’t have been more embarrassed.  Mr. Neil was very polite, asking if I was okay, to which I managed to grunt some sort of reply.  I shudder to think what he must have been thinking.  The plane took off, and I was flying to London, in more ways than one, sitting next to Sam Neil.  He promptly fell asleep (or, at least, pretended to), and didn’t wake up until we landed, about an hour later.

Well, surely you can guess what happened next.  I was still so nervous, that, as I stood up, I banged my head, again, on the overhead baggage compartment. Did I mention that these are exceedingly small planes?  A rather concerned Mr. Neil looked at me, giving me the most disarmingly gorgeous and sympathetic smile, asking again, if  I was okay.

I was incapable of speech at that moment.

Then, he walked away.

I had a head ache for the rest of the day, but, somehow, I didn’t really mind. 

What’s in your lunchbox? 


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Today's Bouquet

Today's Bouquet

I thought these were a bit out of the ordinary.  

Hydrangea blossoms are not a common sight in the desert.  

They remind me of Cornwall, where they are everywhere.  

Don’t try to eat them though. 

Just for looking. 


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Tonight was family night.  

My brother and his lovely family came for dinner.  My little nephew ate early, had a strawberry puree pop, then amazed us all that his supper didn’t reappear after a bit of vigorous trampolining.  

I made a simple meal of strips of chicken breast, marinaded in lemon and garlic, seasoned potato wedges, served with garlic yogurt (recipe in post titled Garlic Yogurt), a green, leafy salad, and carrot salad.  My children love carrot salad, even Little One who refuses to eat plain, raw carrots. 

It’s very easy.  I usually make a big bowl, as it keeps for days and the children like it as a snack when they come home from school.


Carrot Salad with Orange Oil and Sesame Seeds

Carrot Salad with Orange Oil and Sesame Seeds


I use a food processor to grate the carrots; grating an entire bag of carrots by hand is definitely a bore. 

I have also discovered a lovely new thing, Orange infused Olive Oil.  It adds a flavour that works well with the carrots. I have used Queen Creek Olive Mill Blood Orange Olive Oil, a company located here in Arizona. Their website is queencreekolivemill.com . 

When I use traditional Extra Virgin Olive Oil, I usually use fresh Lemon Juice instead of Vinegar.  Using the Orange Oil and Lemon Juice is a bit over the top. 

I first discovered this salad, years ago, in a National Trust Restaurant at the Tudor Mansion Cotehele, in Cornwall.  They served it with fresh lemon, fresh thyme, and chopped apples.  It was very nice. I went home and made it straight away, before I forgot. 

Another variation I have found, is with fresh lemon and finely grated fresh ginger.  Also very nice. 

Sometimes I like it with a handful of sunflower seeds, when I want some extra crunch. 

Hope you feel inspired.   


Carrot Salad  (The One We Had Tonight)

1 large bag of Carrots, peeled and coarsely grated. 

2 Tablespoons of Blood Orange Olive Oil (more or less to taste)

Additional Extra Virgin Olive Oil (again, to taste)

2 Tablespoons of Mild Vinegar (I used Red Wine, but White Wine would work as well (you may need a bit more, according to your palate) 

1 bunch finely chopped Spring Onion

1 handful finely chopped flat leaf Parsley

1 handful Sesame Seeds

Salt and Pepper. 


Put the grated carrots into a large bowl.  Add the flavoured oil, then an equal amount of plain Olive Oil  Add 2 Tablespoons of  Vinegar, salt and pepper. Then taste and adjust the amount of oil, vinegar, and seasoning to your palate.  Then add the Onions, Parsley, and Sesame Seeds.  

Enjoy !

Nighty night, 


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One cannot go to Cornwall without encountering certain things.  

Beaches, seagulls, surfers in wetsuits, narrow country lanes with high hedgerows, abandoned tin mines, clotted cream, and the Cornish pasty.  

As an American, beaches, seagulls, and surfers I had seen before.  The one lane country lanes were difficult to get used to. Tin mine chimney stacks cast  romantic silhouettes on the Cornish landscape. Clotted cream may sound revolting, but, it isn’t.  It is hard to describe, but it is a creamy coloured, ridiculously rich, delicious, thick cream, eaten on scones with jam, or on tarts and cakes.  It is like a cross between mild, sweet butter, and thick cream. It is unique and thus, very special.  It an essential part of the traditional Cream Tea. The (clotted) cream goes on the scone with jam, not in the tea, by the way. I urge you to try it, with an open mind, should you ever get the chance.  But, please, don’t put it in your coffee either.  I’ve seen Americans do that, and it’s a little like dropping a pat of butter into your kahve.  Not nice. 

But, today I would like to talk about the Cornish Pasty.  The Pasty has been traditional fare of Cornish miners for centuries. I could go on and on about its history, but not now.  Suffice it to say, a pasty is a meat and vegetable pie in the shape of a semi circle. Poorly made ones should be thrown straight into the bin, but, good ones should be gobbled up quickly, before they get cold. They smell divine and taste very good, especially when the weather is misty, dull, and damp (which is more often than not in Cornwall). 

They are made with a short crust pastry, cut into a circle, filled with steak, onions, swede (rutabaga in the US), potato, and seasoning.  The pastry is then folded in half, crimped, and then baked in a slow oven until the contents and crust are throughly cooked.  They vary in size, from cocktail to very large. 

They are normally served in small, paper bags.  Where ever you go in Cornwall, you will see as many people walking along, eating a pasty out of a bag as people talking on cell phones.  They are really that popular.

My friend Janet’s mother makes pasties for her family once a week.  They are enormous, enough for two to three people, and are absolutely delicious. I felt privileged when she would send one to our family.  

When the children went back to Cornwall for their summer holidays last year, one wanted to eat a pasty with a friend on the Prince of Wales Pier, the other wanted to eat a pasty with a friend on the beach.  

That’s Cornwall. 

Recipe to follow. 

Thinking of you, 


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I suppose it is traditional to explain why one is doing what one is doing.  

I have blogged before.  It was a lovely experience.  I wrote about and photographed my life with and love of plants, my beautiful Cornish garden, and of the Garden Design Course at the Falmouth College of Art, in England. If you are curious, I am also known as The Hedonistic Plant Hunter, to be found at  http://thehedonisticplanthunter.blogspot.com/ . I love plants and gardens as much as I love the culture of food.  

But, I also have a family to raise.  With the move from small town England to the fast pace of Phoenix, I found that I had little time to write, let alone garden. 

Gardening is a different experience in the desert.  It is possible, of course; there are beautiful gardens here.  But it isn’t the joyful experience that I had had in Cornwall.  Nevertheless, my heart still does a little flip whenever I see a hummingbird and I do so love the saguaros and citrus trees that thrive here in valley.  The Desert Botanical Garden will always be a favourite haunt.  If you’ve never been, I urge you to go. It’s a very special, unique place.

I write every day, in various forms.  But, it is usually more dutiful than fulfilling, most often it is just boring. 

It is time, Dear Reader, to take time, to follow my bliss, to find my mojo, to write again about something I love.  


Thank you for reading. 

I hope that I keep your interest.

Myrtle x

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