Winter cheer

The Not Forgotten Association  ( Jingle Bells Rock drive-in entertainment and lunch at Southampton Airport was the highlight of this week.  It was covered by ITV local News.

We all sat in our socially-distanced cars with special speakers that blasted out the jollity of popular Christmas songs rendered by a stalwart and talented group of entertainers on the stage, battling the winter chill.  They had to be wildly determined and motivated as the only audience feedback was the hooting of car horns and waving of arms.  We and other veterans with health conditions and injuries from military service were welcomed with beakers of mulled wine (tea or coffee for the drivers) and fed a simple but delicious hog roast lunch.  Songs, dancing and hooting continued for a couple of hours, punctuated by silly games and a raffle.  The synchronised horn hooting to the “12 days of Christmas” was the fantastic finale.

As a blind person, the spectacle wasn’t so obvious but the sheer energy, enjoyment and happiness of the event was wonderful after nine months of hibernation.

For anyone else with little or no sight, there’s a possibility that a mobile phone and artificial intelligence could help you get around. See more on:

Meanwhile, I’ve been re-making this simple lamb tajine  It is fragrant with spices, is not too hot and reheats perfectly from the freezer.

2 medium onions peeled and diced.

1 tablespoon oil.

2 portions GGG*.

500 g lamb, diced.

1 teaspoon turmeric.

1 teaspoon ground cumin.

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

1 teaspoon smoked paprika.

1 rounded teaspoon harissa.

500cl water.

1 handful stoned dates, chopped.

7 fresh tomatoes, chopped.

1 rounded tablespoon almonds, ground.

2 chicken stock pots/cubes.

A good squeeze tomato paste.

1 medium tin chick peas (240 gram, drained.

1 orange – zest and juice.


Sauté the onions in the oil until softening then add the GGG.

Add the lamb to the pan and sauté.

Add the spices and sauté for a minute or two until their fragrance can be smelled.

Add all remaining ingredients (except the orange juice and zest) and bring the pan to a very gentle simmer.

Cover and continue to cook over a very low heat (over a heat diffuser, in a very low oven, in a slow-cooker) until the lamb is tender and the tajine is unctuous (at least 2 hours and sometimes 5-10 hours depending on how you are cooking it).

Add the orange zest and juice before serving with couscous.


*GGG is 4 parts fresh root ginger, 2 parts garlic and 1 part green (or red) chilli.  Peel and de-seed and roughly chop before whizzing in to a rough paste in a food processor.  A portion is one teaspoonful.  I freeze portions in an ice-cube tray and then store in a box in the freezer.  Excellent for all curries too.





Falafels from the Pharaohs.

You can watch me make them on YouTube or download the recipe from

Ideal party food with the tahini dip or a vegetarian lunch.

Penny watching Nuha’s demonstration of folding the softened Arabic bread around the falafels and colourful salad.A dish made for the Pharaohs as chickpeas and broad beans were grown on the fertile Nile delta – and the dried pulses could be used during winter when other food was scarce.    Christian Copts in Egypt eat falafels during Lent when they don’t eat meat for 6 weeks – the pulses provide their protein.

Falafel spice is a combination of coriander, all spice, cumin, caraway, crushed red Penny watching Nuha’s demonstration of folding the softened Arabic bread around the falafels and colourful salad.chilli and cloves so it can be made at home with a spice grinder.

If using dried chick peas, use half the weight and soak overnight before simmering in fresh water for about 20 minutes.

Frozen broad beans can be used – just par-cook in accordance with the instructions before cooling quickly in cold water and then shelling.

Can use different flavours in falafels e.g. add spinach, replace chick peas with sweet potatoes.

Once cooked, falafels can be re-heated later or frozen.  Allow to defrost and then place on oiled baking tray and re-heat in a hot oven for 5 minutes each side.

Arab bread uses Lebanese flour and is more like a pancake than pitta and can be frozen soon after buying.  One source is: Phone: 0208 8087111.


+44 (0)1329 841814

About 15 yellow falafels  each flecked with the green parsley set out on the plate so that they don’t stick together. A Finely shredded lettuce with thinly sliced cucumber and tomato plus slices of radish ready to add to the wraps. Our two cooks sitting in the conservatory enjoying their first tastes of the finished wraps – making the parcels means that they are easier to eat.





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