Thursday, September 11, 2008

Please update!

Just a request for anybody who links to this blog or who has the page bookmarked; please update to the new address which is

All posts and comments from this blog have been imported to Wordpress and I have been making regular new posts at the new address so please come and visit and bookmark!

Look forward to seeing you.

اهلاً و سهلاً و مرحباً بكم

Friday, August 22, 2008

I'm moving! Wordpress...

I've been wishing I'd made my blog over at Wordpress for a while now because I like some of the features that are not offered at Blogger including password protecting selected posts. I discovered today that it is possible to import all old posts and comments from Blogger over to Wordpress which I have now done. I've also added all my links to the blogroll there so please visit:

Fragility of this Life

Do you sometimes stop for a moment and consider the fragility of this life? That what Allah عز و جل gave so easily, He can take in the blinking of an eye? Our time in this life and the hour, no, even the minute of our death have already been written by Allah, عز و جل and yet we continue our lives procrastinating and leaving things for tomorrow or next week or next year when we have no knowledge about whether we will even be alive at those times.

Indeed we belong to Allah and to him is the (ultimate) return.

Every soul will taste of death. Then unto Us ye will be returned. (Qur'an 29:57)

Abdullah Ibn Umar used to say: "If you survive till the evening, do not expect to be alive in the morning, and if you survive till the morning, do not expect to be alive in the evening." (Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 425)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Preparation in Makkah for influx of pilgrims

Looks like there has been an enormous amount of preparation going on in Makkah for the large number of visitors expected during the holy month of Ramadan:

Makkah city braces for huge influx of pilgrims
Badea Abu Al-Naja , Arab News

MAKKAH: Municipal authorities have made all arrangements for the huge influx of pilgrims and visitors to holy city during Ramadan, Mayor of Makkah Osama Al-Bar announced yesterday.

He said the municipality has formulated a comprehensive plan for its work during the fasting month, including the intensification of the activities of the municipality’s branches, particularly in connection with cleanliness, environment observation and close monitoring the markets to check prices[...]

I wonder how it will be this year in the Haram area since I hear there is a lot of demolishing and extending going on... I wonder if chaos can be avoided.

Huge numbers of people flock to Makkah during Ramadan, particularly during the last 10 days since it was said by the Prophet Muhammad ( صلى الله عليه و سلم ) that the reward for an Umra performed during Ramadan is the same as the reward for a Hajj (although Hajj is still incumbent on those who perform Umra during Ramadan).

The Prophet said, "Perform 'Umra in the month ofRamadan, (as it is equivalent to Hajj or Hajj with me (in reward)." (Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 29,
Number 86)

Comfort food: Tomato soup

I always remember Heinz baked beans on toast and Heinz cream of tomato soup at lunchtimes when I was growing up so now they are a kind of comfort food for me. I love to overcook the beans so they become a little mushy and then pour the beans with their steaming orangey tomato sauce over a couple of slices of buttered toast and then... indulge! Or a tin of tomato soup heated until bubbly and then enjoyed with fresh hunks of bakery bread to dip in. Hardly haute cuisine but it really is comfort food!

I can't always find my Heinz tomato soup here in Saudi and besides I do prefer to make things from scratch these days and avoid all the hydrogenated fats and monosodium glutamate and other nasties that can be lurking in the food in the name of preservation or flavour enhancing.

I have an ill child at the moment who is not eating much but is craving mummy's tomato soup so today was the perfect day for a little soup making and bread baking. :)

Soups are so easy to make and are often overlooked despite all the nutritional benefit that can be found in them. Tomato soup of course would be a wonderful thing to make in Algeria right now with the fields overflowing with ruby red tomatoes bursting with flavour and the price is low.

The ingredients for a small batch of soup to serve 2 people:

  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (if you have fresh, it would be better chopped finely and added at the end of cooking)
  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • splash of balsamic vinegar
  • splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt as required
  • generous pinch of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • water - I used very little since tomatoes contain a high percentage of water... I think 500ml is enough but check the consistency and add to your preference

1. Chop the onion and garlic and saute in a tablespoon of olive oil along with the bayleaf and dry basil.

2. Meanwhile place the tomatoes into a pan of almost boiling water and leave for a couple of minutes. Drain the water and pluge the tomatoes into cold water. Remove the skins, deseed the tomatoes and then chop roughly.

3. When the onions have started to soften and become translucent add the tomatoes and salt. Leave on a low to medium heat, stirring every so often until the liquid from the tomatoes has almost dried up and then add the balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, sugar and a little water to make the mixture look soupy. Leave to simmer so all the flavours blend together.

4. Allow to cool a little before blitzing in the blender or liquidiser and return to a gentle heat. Taste to see if it needs a little more sugar to remove acidity or salt to season.

5. Just before serving pour in a little cream and swirl around. You can also sprinkle over a little freshly shaved Permesan just before serving and some chopped, fresh basil.