Za’atar zing

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Za’atar is one of the great middle-eastern spice mixtures that I discovered when I was introduced to Barakah, my local Arabic foodie shop. So many things I found and still find there that I had not seen or tried before. Pomegranate Molasses, Halva, amazing Tahine sauces, all sorts of dried beans, mulberries, sour plums, lots of thick creamy yoghurt and feta’s. And then the spices, oh what a playground. Lemon Powder, Sumac, Baharat and of course Za’atar. All these exotic names ae spice blends. All with their own personality, perfect for their own type of dish.

Za’atar has got oregano, thyme, basil, sumac, salt and sesame seeds. Tonight I rolled the fresh local salmon fillets in it and added some lemon zest before grilling them. I served them on top of a salad with roasted tomatoes, avocado, lettuce, capsicum and Israeli Couscous. All topped with a creamy yoghurt sauce with dill and lemon juice.

The salmon fillets are amazing, and can easily be eaten just like that as they just melt. The za’atar does give it that extra middle eastern zing though!

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Whey what?

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Whey, what the heck is whey? I had no idea either, until I got my own cheese making kit earlier this year. When you make cheese out of milk, you end up with solids and liquid.The cheese are the solid bits, and the whey, well that’s all the liquid that’s leftover. There’s a lot of it and it feels a waste to throw it away. It still has lots of nutritious bits and pieces in it and since I have been brought up trying to not throw anything away that can be used, I looked for uses of whey. Apparently it’s great as a fertiliser for trees. My citrus trees therefore have enjoyed a bit of whey juice recently. We’ll see if they produce better next year! I also found out that whey is perfect as a base for making smoothies. After my last cheese making attempt I poured the whey into my mixer, added some pineapple, banana, coconut water and half a lemon and mixed it for a minute. It got lovely and fluffy, and tasted fantastic. Definitely a keeper!

What do you use whey for?

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Vegetarian weeks

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Vegetarian weeks started when my step daughter, who lives with us week-on week-off, decided she didn’t want to eat meat anymore out of respect for the animals. We had no problem with that. I was quite proud of her that she stood up for something she believed so strongly in. So for the last 2 and a bit years, we’ve been eating vegetarian week-on week -off. And we like it so much that even on the week-off we quite regularly ‘forget’ meat or fish and end up eating vegetarian. It’s just another way of looking at cooking really. It’s not harder or easier then cooking with meat or fish, just different. And there is so much choice. In the beginning we sometimes bought packets of vegetarian sausages or burgers, as that is how we thought about food, but these days, we make everything, just without any meat or fish. I have learned to use tofu, soft and firm, in lots of different ways. Rubbed with cumin, coriander and paprika and then grilled, so it;s crisp on the outside and soft in the middle is one of the best things I discovered so far. It really is just so good you would not want to swap it for a steak,

When we took her on overseas holiday for the first time, we were a bit worried. We shouldn’t have. Having to look for vegetarian options actually expanded our options, and we ended up in some fantastic restaurants, cafe’s, suburbs and markets we otherwise would never have gone to.

If our daughter would decide she was going to eat meat again, I’m pretty certain we would continue our vegetarian weeks. What do you think? Can you be part-time vegetarian?

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