Thursday, July 16, 2015

eid sweets, Algerian style - M'khabez

I don't usually go all Algerian when it comes to Eid baking, or any baking for that matter, but I wanted to do one Algerian style sweet or cake along with other simpler non-Algerian ones. So today, I'm sharing a recipe for M'khabez. If you've ever had North African sweets, you've probably tried something like this and just not known what it's called (very much like myself, who had to ask friends before posting this!) It's basically a nut-filled, syrup-soaked pastry, a lot like the other Algerian sweet pictures I've shared in the past:

They can look quite intricate at times (and possibly intimidating) but if you like to get arty in the kitchen, you might like to try this! 

M'Khabez (makes approximately 30)

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
a few drops of lemon juice
300g flour
100g butter, melted and cooled
pinch of salt
orange blossom water
500g coursely ground almonds, peanuts or walnuts
300g icing sugar
white of one egg

Heat all of the ingredients. Dissolve the sugar and then simmer for about 45 minutes. It will thicken up. Allow the syrup to cool completely. Alternatively you can use a shop-bought syrup (Aseela) or Golden Syrup!

Combine the flour, butter and salt. Add small amounts of orange blossom water until it comes together to form a dough. You can supplement the orange blossom water with water or use water instead of it if it's not to your taste. 

Combine the ingredients to form a nutty filling that comes together to be loosely shaped.

The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to putting these little guys together. The main thing is to try and get the pastry rolled out fairly thinly. I'm fortunate enough to have a pasta machine and this works brilliantly for thin pastry like this. Otherwise, roll it out as evenly and thinly as you can to form sheets. I've sandwiched some filling between two sheets of pastry and cut out squares and I've done the same with balls of filling and cut out the circular ones. I've also rolled out "sausages" of filling, then rolled the pastry around it, sticking everything together with egg white and then cut them at an angle. There are other versions in the pictures above.

I coloured small amounts of the pastry and used some flower-shaped cutters to get some extra decoration in! 

Not the colours I was going for (teal and lime) ... but oh well! 

Bake the formed cakes in a pre-heated oven at 180ÂșC for about 20 minutes, or until they are ever so lightly golden. Dip in to the syrup, pushing them down and letting the syrup soak right in, as soon as they come out of the oven!

Bon appetite! Bil hana wash shifa! Enjoy! 
Share them with your friends and relatives with my Eid gift tags (a free download)

This post is part of a little blog potluck where we are sharing recipes! Check out Rubina's delicious foodie blog where she's posted her Eid treats and Honey and Dates has made Firni (a type of rice pudding).


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

saha (and some free Eid gift tags)

With the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan closing in, I wanted to stop by and wish you well, taqabbal Allahu minna wa minkum. It has been a busy month, a tiring one at times with various illnesses, alhamdulillah and heat, yes, a lot of heat. It has been a time for reflection, family lessons, drawing closer to the Creator and simple gratitude for all that we have ... even though we often complain!

Eid preparations are underway in my host country, homes are given a thorough clean-out and my favourite bit, Eid sweets are made! This year, I'm joining in with a combination of Algerian and non-Algerian sweets or biscuits and I'm hoping to share them here with you as part of a bloggy potluck in the next couple of days in sha Allah! How does that sound? Sharing Eid biscuits and cakes is a big deal here. An assortment is usually made and handed out to visitors, neighbours, family and friends who in turn bring along there collection of delights.

I decided to make some gift tags to go with mine and it got me thinking about greetings that are used here. Based on my observations, if there's one word to learn in Algeria, in the Algerian dialect, it's got to be "saha" or "sahait/sahaiti". Literally meaning "health" or said to wish someone good health, the word is used as a "hello", "thank you" and the usual "Eid mubarak" is replaced with "saha Aidkoum". Wherever you go in Ramadan, you hear people saying "saha ftourkoum", "ftour" being the meal at the time of breaking fast (ie. breakfast!). "Saha" is also said to people who are eating or drinking, or who have just taken a shower! And I'm sure there are a plethora of other uses for this little word that I just haven't caught on to yet! So, an Eid Mubarak (Blessed Eid) from me ... or Saha Aidkoum!
And those gift tags ... I'm sharing them too! Click below, download, print out, cut and attach them to your Eid gifts, Eid cakes or whatever you'd like to use them with.

FREE Download: Eid Gift Tags


Monday, April 20, 2015


There is a lot of ugliness in the world. And one might argue that as with beauty, everyone has a different opinion of what is truly ugly. But I think "ugly" is a strong word. Yes, tastes vary and I see that more so here, in Algeria where tastes in clothes, make-up, home decor, even cake designs are generally quite different to mine. I appreciate the work that goes in to a handmade clay pot, a hand-embroidered bedspread or an intricately decorated cake. Even if I find it a bit tacky and not pleasing to my eye, I could never say it's ugly. What is ugly though? Rudeness, oppression, exploitation, disrespect, arrogance. There is a lot of ugliness in the world.    

Here in Algeria, when you tell someone that they look nice or "shebba", they reply with "oyoonik shebbeen"or "your eyes are nice/beautiful" meaning: Your eyes are beautiful to have seen the beauty in me. With whatever ugliness there is around us, I think it's nice to seek out beauty in it, be it a situation, a relationship or an incident. Sometimes the beauty just springs up, as if from nowhere.

My "ugly", scrap yarn, crochet!
Are you seeing any beauty in the "ugly" around you?

This post is a part of the "Love Your Blog Challenge". Click on the image below to see posts by others that are participating.

A Playful Day


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

beginnings ...

... can be frightening! 

Stepping out in to the unknown. New challenges and adventures await. 

I question myself. Will it work? Do I have the energy and motivation to see it through to the end?

Those first steps are the hardest. Sometimes I crave the familiarity of people and things that are no longer in my life. Sometimes it's lonely and I need to know that I'm not alone. 

Beginnings can be difficult but I need to start. I need to give my graphic design work a push and I want to finally list some things in that Etsy shop of mine! 

Are you beginning things? Do you tend to look back at the experiences you've had or do you look ahead more towards your goals? 

This post is a part of the love your blog challenge. You can see posts by others that are taking part here.

A Playful Day


Monday, April 6, 2015

the one where I don't apologise for being away for so long

I've decided to join in with the love your blog challenge hosted by A Playful Day. I feel it should be a great way to ease back in to blogging. It might also motivate me to finally re-vamp this space (do bear with me as I tinker away a bit). Every Monday during the month of April there will be a prompt for us to blog about and a link to others that are participating. Why don't you join in too?

A Playful Day

Interactions and Community

Community has always played a very important role in my life and coming to Algeria has made it even more important. I need that balance of having my own space, dealing with my familial responsibilities, interacting with those around me locally, internationally and online.

I know I've blogged previously about how I was inspired by other bloggers to start crocheting (now, what seems like a lifetime ago!), to try out continental knitting and to get some graphic design experience under my belt. I now find myself at a point where I turn to particular crafts for particular needs and one of my needs is to be able to "geek out" about it. To just talk about knitting techniques on Ravelry groups, future crochet projects at our local yarny sessions and to just ogle at some artwork that a friend has spotted online. Blogging was always a great channel for this but then life happened, changes occurred and it seemed easier for online, social interaction to take place on sites such as facebook. But in writing this post I've found myself looking back at my blog and seeing it at as my creative journal too. I have missed this space. This space which is a relatively visual one yet has a splattering of my words and thoughts.  

I re-visit old projects in a bid to inspire those that are starting out on the crochet journey.
Having tasted full-on creative interaction online, I crave it in real life too. Which is why it was fairly easy for me to decide to work with Emma on Al Mubdiaat (The Creatives) as a local project here in Algiers; a kind of bricks and mortar version of perhaps? Circumstances have led to a little delay in getting this project up and running but I hope and pray that we can it going again very soon. There are so many creatives here and so much beautiful work that I would love to share as much as I can with you in upcoming posts in sha Allah. 

One of the things I aim to do these days, is to be more mindful in my day-to-day life, and that includes my creativity. I have to think about what I'm making and what I need and will I use it or will I sell it and will it sell and ... well there is a lot to think about! I don't want to dither around too much though. I need to take a leap with a few ideas I've been holding back on. 

At times it can get a little lonely, once the storm of family life calms down and you're left standing at the kitchen sink full of dishes wondering where your place is. Sometimes you need a hand to pull you up and get you moving again (like an invite to an online creative group!). The people that come in to your life at those times, probably don't even realise what an effect they have on you.

I LOVE receiving post! What about you?
At other times, winning giveaways and receiving swap gifts can bring the warmth of online interaction literally in to your home. A few weeks ago I was under the weather and as I scrolled down my facebook feed I suddenly whooped with joy as I found out I'd won a crochet pattern in a giveaway! Don't you just love that feeling?

I won a print of my favourite flower, painted by Anne of My Giant Strawberry

And she sent me these extras too! Aren't they beautiful?

My swap goodies all the way from Malaysia!

I enjoyed designing the art for this tote bag for my swap partner.

I remember Kirsty's My Creative Space and how it was a great source of creative interaction with others across the globe. This challenge can also be a way of sharing and forming connections.

a sneak peak at something I've been working on

I've always had a passion for creative work and I've always wanted to to do what I love. Interacting with others that are doing that is pushing me to get on with it too. Sharing our happy moments, our fears to do with taking the indie business leap, issues with branding and marketing and various other experiences and tips with others in the creative community all help a great deal. I love combining my graphic design work with crochet and a bunch of ideas go spinning through my head. But, I'll wait patiently until my latest swap partner receives her gift before I share one of my latest makes with you!

You can check in with others that are loving their blogs here!



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

let it snow

I live in a little seaside town, south of the Mediterranean. Most of this country is made up of desert. But if you head up in to the mountains at this time of year ... 

Yes, those mountains.

After a scenic drive ...

It's cold! 

Chrea (pronounced Shreea) is a town in the city of Blida, just west of Algiers and up, up, up in the mountains! 

It's gorgeous! Allahumma baarik! Imagine living in this, all tucked up in the snow.

We had snowball fights.

Then we got back in the car to have some soup and hot chocolate. 

Did I say it was cold?

Tikijda is another place to visit if you like snow, but this time, East of Algiers.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

a year

It's been that long ... Plus a bit more! In a new country, a new culture, a very different set-up, with a new little person in our family, for just over a year.  We left what we were familiar with. We left our friends and family and moved to a different set of friends and family. It has been an experience. There were some bumps along the way. Although it wasn't an unwelcome change for me, we've all had to adapt. And things like that take time. But for now, I'm happy to feel more settled. I've found some lovely new things. I've found some lovely familiar things too. The most surprising thing of all, is that I seem to be finding myself more and more. I guess that's how adventures go! 

We've had new experiences but we've also had picnic iftars by the sea just like we would have in Jeddah!

My parents visited Algiers. It was wonderful to have them here but I was so new here back then, I'd just had a baby AND my husband had to go back to Jeddah ... yes two days after I gave birth!

My aunt also came over in the summer. 

I'm pleased to be knitting and crocheting again. I want to knit and crochet ALL the things! Especially for my one-year old.

In fact, we were inspired by others, such as Ines, to start up our own little craft sessions! Need I mention that much tea and coffee is drunk and much cake is eaten at these weekly, knitty, hooky sessions? Lots of chatter is thrown in too! And one of the best things about having craft-y friends is that they make wonderful things for you (and your baby)!

It's extremely cold here these days. 

Summery days went on for quite a while but then December brought plenty of rain and the kind of weather that has you bundling up before heading out. Better still, you might want to just stay under the covers with hot drinks! Perfect weather for knitting up things to keep everyone warm. 

I've been wearing this cowl to death this winter. I received it in a swap and just LOVE it! 

And oh was I excited when I received it all the way from America and I got post from my family in Malaysia (goodies for baby)!

If you'd like to read more about life in Algiers, you might like to read this and this, where my friends blog all about their lives in this crazy, quirky, place!

I do hope you've all been well this past year and faring well during the winter (if it is indeed winter where you are)!


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