Is it weird that I didn’t notice that my fridge wasn’t working until a week after I got it? That, in fact, it had never worked… I was so happy to have one, and it was so lovely and shiny that I completely disregarded the fact that all my food was going off and that it wasn’t even vaguely cold in there. There’s a life lesson in that somewhere… or perhaps it’s just my usual life lesson. As a wise man that I met briefly at a party once told me (we had clearly got on to the meaning of life) “a lesson is repeated until it is learnt”. I guess that I need to learn to look a bit deeper.

Anyway, I still don’t have any furniture, and only a couple of plates, so I decided to have a few friends over for an indoor picnic last Friday. J and Anja came, as did Mariana and Coco/Kiki/Mimi (the kitten with many names), and we ate lots of mezze. I bought things like dips and crudites, because you’ve got to be realistic about time limitations and stress levels, and made three salads (slightly adapting some of them) from my bible (that’s Claudia Rodin’s Book of Middle Eastern Cooking), as well as the feta cheese and spinach pastries I often make when friends come round. The salads were chosen for their simplicity as well as their ingredients, because I only had about 40min to prepare everything




Lentil and tomato salad

2 tins of lentils, drained
1 large onion, chopped
4 tblsp olive oil
4 tomatoes, chopped
Small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon

Fry the onion in the oil for a couple of minutes,  before adding the tomatoes and parsley. Cook these all together for about 10min. Add the lentils and salt and pepper, as well as the lemon juice. Cook this until the juices have more-or-less evaporated, then pour into a serving bowl and leave to cool. Rodin’s recipe uses dried, brown lentils, vinegar instead of lemon juice, fewer tomatoes, and normal parsley. It is a small miracle that I am now adding any parsley at all as I have always hated it, but I have realized that it is, in fact, essential to Middle-Eastern cooking. And that flat leaf parsley actually tastes OK

Beetroot salad

500g cooked, peeled, diced beetroot
2tblsp lemon juice
2tblsp olive oil
300ml yoghurt
2tblsp flat leaf parsley
salt

Mix the lemon juice with the oil and yoghurt and beat well. Add the beetroot bits and half the parsley. Finally, pour into a serving dish and garnish with more parsley. This is a really pretty, pink salad

Cucumber and mint salad

Cucumber, diced or sliced
Fresh mint, chopped
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Salt

Rodin advices that you sprinkle the peeled cucumber with salt and let it drain for half an hour, however, I neither peeled it nor let it drain, and the salad still turned out tasty, so you can skip those bits out. Apart from that, you just pretty much combine all the ingredients in whatever quantities you choose

So that was my pretty lazy picnic dinner. I am loving staying in on Fridays at the moment, and that night I ended up kitten-sitting while her mum went out to party, which was even more amazing. It’s unbelievable how much joy and entertainment such a little creature can bring. I am desperate to get one, but feel like I need to wait until my life is a little more settled before I do. Otherwise, it’s not really fair on the cat