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Communicating sustainability in Saudi Arabia: A profile of AEON Strategy

WSB Admin 27/10/2019 0

What was the inspiration behind starting AEON Strategy?

The founders of AEON have always seen the value of sustainable practices and the importance of inclusivity and social equity in development. They understood the necessary synergy between policy and advocacy that is needed to push change and accelerate progress. Pursuing such a path lead them to complete their Master’s degrees in international affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. It was there – through cross-disciplinary coursework, and by working closely with faculty from the policy department and the earth science department – that they became inspired to pursue careers at the intersection of energy and environmental policy.

What are the company’s main focus areas?

AEON strategy is a sustainable development advisory firm. Based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, AEON is one of the first local firms that provides consultation and conducts studies on topics related to climate change and the future of energy. AEON’s services cover multiple topics related to sustainable development, working at the intersection of energy, environment, and socioeconomic progress. In parallel, AEON operates a non-for-profit research collective that is separately endowed. Centred within the sustainability ecosystem, AEON engages a wide network of contributors to its collective through multiple initiatives and activities to build on experiences and expertise and further inspire a community of collaboration and promote a deeper understanding of topics and the complexities that lie within it. Their lecture, workshop and discussion series as well as their collaborative effort “Saudi Sustainability Talks Series” aim to promote a deeper understanding of issues related to sustainable development and the complexities that lie within it. As propagators of knowledge, the collective also produces knowledge pieces ranging from accessible narratives on sustainability topics, to more in-depth studies. They are also launching an Artist in Residence program to further communicate sustainability through the humanities.

AEON Strategy’s Riyadh office

When did AEON Strategy begin?

The idea of forming their own company had been an ongoing discussion since their time at graduate school. When they moved back to Riyadh, each of the founders pursued a separate career. In late 2016 however, they decided that to achieve what they wanted to achieve, they needed to build their own model and sought organic growth by addressing niche markets. AEON strategy officially began its operations a year later.

Can you talk about some of the main projects you are working on in Saudi Arabia? Any projects in Riyadh?

For the moment all of the projects are in Riyadh, although AEON does leverage global partnerships; in the US, UK, and Europe. The founders have worked in both the residential and commercial sector to address energy efficiency needs, providing support and strategy guidance to local and international entities.

What is next for AEON?

Between the various programs under Vision 2030 and as Saudi prepares to take over the G20 Presidency for the year 2020, a lot of momentum is happening. AEON sees itself contributing to various efforts through its activities and engagements with various stakeholders, to pursue a shared national vision for prosperity and position the country at the forefront of advancement in development and sustained progress.

Can you share an overview of sustainability in the Kingdom?

Sustainability in Saudi Arabia is a burgeoning field. Thanks to an emphasis from the leadership in our government, every major corporation knows that it needs to have a strategy for sustainability. We are very encouraged by all the efforts being made in Saudi Arabia from the policy side since the Paris Agreement in 2015 and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals earlier that same year. There remains a lot of work to be done however, addressing knowledge gaps and capacity constraints are one of the main areas of focus.

Where can WSB Readers read about you (website, social media)

aeonstrategy.com, aeoncollective.org, saudisustainabilitytalks.com, @aeonstrategy (Twitter & Instagram)

Can you share some tips for leading a sustainable lifestyle in Riyadh?

The term sustainability is broad and covers multiple facets of a person’s life; ranging from managing one’s finances to repurposing personal items, using and reusing environmentally friendly materials for packing and storage. It could also refer to how one contributes back to society. The concept of sustainability is generally concerned with the economic, environmental and social aspects of our lives. It presents itself differently and can take multiple forms depending on circumstances and mean different things to different people. The aim in our belief is to be mindful of the impact of one’s activities and the choices they make, how a decision could impact one’s personal life, how would it affect society, and what impact would it have on future generations. From an ecological and environmental perspective, one could begin by adopting practices that are easy to sustain. Build on the surrounding infrastructure and ecosystem to enhance awareness around sustained practices to promote and push for a stronger culture of environmental stewardship.

Mashael Al Shalan and Noura Al Saud are the founding partners of AEON Strategy.

For more information, please contact admin@aeonstrategy.com or collaborate@aeoncollective.org

 

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The story of a green dream

WSB Admin 26/10/2019 0

By Muna Alamer

It is an idea that turned into a project that turned into a business that turned into a lifestyle. When we started the business 8 years ago and as students, we had no idea that we will go this far and as partners, we often talk about how this business turned us to be better people.

Naqaa Sustainability Solutions is a social enterprise that provides environmental sustainability solutions and consultations for businesses across the kingdom specially in the field of recycling. We are an all-women managerial team as we were 4 partners who started the business in 2011 with this one vision of introducing recycling in our university’s campus and that was in Dar Al-Hekma University in Jeddah. 8 years later and we are proud enough to walk into fine dining restaurants with our eco-friendly metal straws.

In a country where 15 million ton of solid waste is produced on a yearly basis, it was never easy to explain the importance of environmental sustainability practices. However, we think that now is the time. Every day we meet people who share their interest and go the extra mile to do their part to help to preserve the planet.

Today, we have more than 50 clients in different parts of the kingdom and we have planned and executed many green campaigns to launch and promote green practices for some of the clients. We couldn’t be happier than to see how Naqaa is contributing to Vison 2030 by ensuring a sustainable life in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Environmental sustainability matters have never been this urgent but the awareness has not been this high either. What we find motivating is when we receive a call from a passionate employee who is usually a lady asking us how she could sell our services to her management.  This lady would meet us and do the needed homework simply because she finds not recycling is too frustrating and someone must do something to start somewhere. We are witnessing the positive change not only because of the change in environmental regulations but also because more women are joining the Saudi workforce and slowly imposing values like care, values that are helping all of us to be better human beings.

Muna Alamer

Co founder in Naqaa Sustainability Solutions

www.naqaa.com.sa

Instagram: @naqaaSustain

Twitter: @naqaasusstain

 

 

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Finding the joy in RECYCLING those thoughts

WSB Admin 26/10/2019 0

By Lizzie Daniell

As I sit here in my little part of the glorious world, I think about my positive consciousness and what I can do to try and make a difference today. I often do this in my morning affirmations and daily meditations – helps give focus to my day.

First and foremost, what will bring joy and help us all carry that smile?  And what needs to be sorted today?

It is important to me to try to be mindful of how I think, as I know this will form the thoughts and actions as I move forward. I have learnt from my many wonderful years on this earth that this way of being creates a calmer environment and happier lifestyle for me and my family.  But is it easy to do?

Hmm…. Is it? Well, I have to say it is something I have been practising for some time now (and preaching to my family) but not always easy to achieve; especially if I am having a difficult time, feeling stressed or just down. During good times, it can be easy to be mindful and remember my mantra “thoughts create things”, but when one is not in that state of mind it takes effort and wanting to recycle those thoughts and turn them into a positive!

Is it possible to change actions of the past by recycling or changing how we think today? My answer is yes – I can only speak for myself, but I believe it works!

One example I often refer to concerned my beautiful daughter as a young teenager at boarding school – hope you don’t mind me sharing your story, darling? For some reason she occasionally erred on the negative side of life back then, often believing the following….  ‘This won’t work, no one will listen, it won’t be nice weather, it’s going to rain’ and so it went on. Bit of an Eeyore, from ‘Winnie the Pooh’! 

So when she heard at the end of a summer term that it had been decided to reorganise the dormitory arrangements, she panicked and assumed the worst.  

For many weeks of the holiday she spent the time saying ‘I don’t want this room’ and ‘I don’t want to share with this person’, until I said to her, “darling, instead of saying what you don’t want, let’s try and focus on what you do want” – change those words!” 

So for the remainder of the summer holidays, she tried to refocus her thoughts and think about what she did want when school started again in September – I kept my fingers crossed. And as if by magic it worked – she received what she had been asking for/thinking about, which was also a great reminder to me that it works.

I suppose negative/unhappy thoughts come in all shapes and sizes:

  • Dislike of oneself
  • Past experiences
  • Patterns
  • Pain
  • Frustration at other people
  • Or just anger at the world,

…and so the cycle goes on.

Unless we decide to retrain/recycle those thoughts, take some responsibility when required and learn to forgive, life will continue on the same path.

So, this is all well and good, but how can we try to look at making those changes?

I read a study once, that if you want to get rid of unwanted, negative – recycled – thoughts, try just ripping them up and tossing them in the bin. It was found that when people wrote down their thoughts on paper and then physically threw the paper away, they mentally discarded the issues as well.

I also wanted to share other methods that I use to help me remember my mantra – thoughts create things:

  • Forgive yourself or another person, to move on from the past and release yourself from negative emotions and thoughts;
  • Meditation has been used for thousands of years to clear and free the mind;
  • Exercise – if that’s your thing;
  • Spend time with people you love;
  • Say 20 times a day ‘I love and approve of myself’ and ‘today I choose me’;
  • Try to let go and release the past;
  • Be mindful;
  • Stop feeling guilty;
  • Smile, laugh and find the joy;
  • Watch a funny film;
  • Stop being a people pleaser and seeking approval from others – believe in your own intuition;
  • Just do it! For one day do something that scares you, step out of that comfort zone and see how it makes you feel;
  • Decide to recognise, honour and let go of toxic relationships;
  • Visualise yourself as the person you want to be;
  • Let go of those regrets – they serve no purpose now;
  • And finally,… practice ‘self love’ 😊

I would be honoured to know how you try to recycle your thoughts and do let me know if you have any other methods that help – it’s a continuous journey.

With so much joy and love, until next time xx

To be part of my community please view my website http://findingthejoy.info or if you would like to share your thoughts and experiences, please email me lizziefindingjoy@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

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News: Saudi Arabia plans new recycling facility to build up industry

WSB Admin 26/10/2019 0

Courtesy: Bloomberg News

Saudi Arabia plans to build the first recycling facility for construction debris in the capital, Riyadh, as it tries to overhaul a landfill-dominated waste-management industry.

The effort will be led by the Saudi Investment Recycling Company, a subsidiary of the government’s sovereign wealth fund. The first phase of construction is expected to start by the end of the year, the company told Bloomberg. It didn’t disclose the project’s cost or bid dates.

“The new waste-sorting and recycling facility is only the beginning of a series of similar facilities to be launched within the next three years, with a broader goal of recycling all kinds of waste, such as fertilizers, paper, plastic and metals,” Jeroen Vincent, the company’s chief executive, said in the statement.

More efficient waste management was one of the objectives of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s economic overhaul plan announced in 2016. The kingdom recycles no more than 10% of the 50 million tons of recyclable materials it produces each year, studies commissioned by the sovereign fund show.

The recycling company wants the new facility to recycle nearly half of the estimated 5 million tons of annual construction and demolition waste in the capital by 2035. The debris will be turned into materials for use in road construction and housing projects, including a 35,000-unit housing project, the company said.

The company also plans to set up a facility for managing, treating and sorting municipal waste. The Riyadh municipality is currently rolling out a pilot project to get residents to sort household waste into separate bins for organic and inorganic waste.

Read more about the Saudi Investment Recycling Company’s plans in the Saudi Gazette http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/573980

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One person can make a difference and everyone should try

WSB Admin 26/10/2019 0

By Amelia Obermayer, Age 12, Student at BISR

                                                                                                      I recycle these at school

Hello, my name is Amelia Obermayer.  I am 11 years old, 12 on 1st November.  I was born in Germany, which is an eco-friendly country. I grew up in Munich, at home we had 4 different bins, paper, plastic, glass and general food waste.  We were used to recycling and separating our rubbish.  Germany also has a system called “pfand” where you receive a small refund if you return your glass bottles to a special bottle bank inside of supermarkets.

I grew up watching David Attenborough documentaries and especially loved the Planet Earth series.  Sometime at the end of 2018, I saw a short clip of David Attenborough telling people in government positions that if we don’t do something about Climate Change, then the earth will be destroyed.  He said that everyone can help, young and old and that young people are doing the most.  He also said the best way to save the environment is to eat less meat.  So, in January of this year, I became a vegetarian because I wanted to help our environment.  I am very happy I made the decision and my family eats less meat and meat products as a result of my decisions.

                                                                                                      Items we use at home

I also help the environment by doing other small things.  Why not try introducing a couple of these into your home.

  1. Take reusable shopping bags with us when we go shopping.
  2. Refuse small plastic bags if the item can be carried.
  3. Don’t leave the tap running while brushing your teeth.
  4. Don’t take long showers.
  5. Wash the car only when it is dirty.
  6. Refuse plastic knives and forks, straws and extra containers.
  7. Try to recycle plastic containers and plates.
  8. Don’t buy many cheap items of clothing.
  9. Turn off the light when leaving the room.
  10. Try and reuse non-renewable items like plastic bottles

I reuse plastic such as restaurant and supermarket containers for school pack lunches and camp out snacks.  We have started to use non-plastic items such as wax wraps instead of plastic wrap and glass jars to replace plastic containers.  I recycle my homework models and boards to other projects.  I have made natural dishwasher pods to replace the chemical ones.

I try to be as eco-friendly as I can.   REUSE non-renewable items, RECYCLE household single-use items, REDUCE the number of plastic bags, bottles and other objects and REFUSE plastics bags, straws and containers.

Together we can make a change big and small, start today!

♯Takeyourseat

https://www.un.org/en/actnow/index.shtml

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything”

Albert Einstein

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Should we all become vegetarians? Is it okay to fly?

WSB Admin 26/10/2019 0

By Suhini, Al Nakhla Residential Resort

These are some of the concerns you see in social media today. All sensible people will agree that climate change is real, and the consequences of not acting will be devastating. But what we do not realize is that it starts with much simpler steps. Here are 5 things you can do to cut down your carbon footprint in your daily life:

  1. Every time you need to go to the grocery shop or restaurant near you, opt to walk rather than take your car or a cab.
  2. Carry your own cloth grocery bag. Keep it handy and always with you so you can say no to plastic bags.
  3. Keep some containers in your car. Every time you go out or want a takeaway, opt to give your own containers, rather than use plastic take away boxes or cardboard boxes.
  4. Get a flask. Coffee addict? Always keep a flask with you and say no to plastic takeaway cups.
  5. Whether you live in a house or an apartment, planting some greens indoors or outside is a quick and easy way to reduce your carbon footprint and refresh your air.

Meanwhile, Al Nakhla Residential Resort has embarked on a journey to minimize its environmental impact and carbon footprint by implementing innovative sustainable practices.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • A single recycled plastic bottle saves enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for 4 hours. It also creates 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than would be created when making a new bottle.
  • If we add the amount of solar energy that is absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, land and oceans every year, we end up with approximately 3,850,000 EJ (exajoules). 

    To put it in more understandable terms, this amount of energy is equivalent to:

    – 8 000 times the total energy consumption in the whole world.

    – About 40% of the energy that is required to heat the entire volume of water we have on Earth by 1°Celsius

Recycling & Waste Management

The waste reduction goal is to advance best practices and engage associates to reduce, re-use, donate and recycle waste from the resort and corporate facilities. Our waste management program has been designed to divert a wide variety of materials from landfills while seeking responsible, innovative solutions for handling non-recyclable items. Across Al Nakhla, we are committed to recycling commodities such as paper, food, construction material, glass, oil, metal, plastics and unique materials such as batteries, carpet, cork and electronics.

Solar Energy System

Al Nakhla’s solar panel installations were created to power different sections of the resort, offsetting the costs of all energy-intensive operations such as water heating over 20 outdoor pools at the resort. The management also has plans to install solar panels on each villa and apartment complex to help minimize electricity use.

For more information about Al Nakhla Residential Resort and how to be a responsible & sustainable resident in this Western Compound, visit their website on www.alnakhla.sa

 

 

 

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WSB Inspiring Woman: Ayla Dimitriadis – Ayla’s Vegan Kitchen

WSB Admin 26/10/2019 0

Tell us about yourself?

I’m half Greek and half Lebanese. I have a BA in hospitality management, however, I have always been passionate about cooking. Seven years ago, I decided to pursue cooking professionally.

What brought you to Riyadh?

I moved here when I was eight years old and have always thought of Riyadh as home. I was living in Dubai when I decided to change careers and came back to my parents to re-evaluate my next move. I was fortunate to find exciting opportunities and ended up staying in Riyadh.

How did you get inspired to start your vegan catering business? 

I was working in the kitchen at Nozomi To-Go/Catering when I began my transition to veganism. I was shocked at the lack of good healthy vegan options and I decided that I wanted to seize the opportunity, so that’s when I began Ayla’s Vegan Kitchen.

What do you do at your company? 

As head chef, I prepare the savoury items, make the menus, speak with customers and manage the accounts. My mother is the brains behind the pastry section. We are still a small company but plan to expand in the near future.

How do you provide an eco-friendly service through your catering company?

Veganism is not only about the food you eat, but also about being part of the solution for the environment. We have reusable bags for the vegetables and shopping that we do, which I think is an easy way to make a small contribution. We do not use any processed ingredients, this reduces the amount of packaged items we purchase. Our delivery containers are 90% plastic-free, and we don’t send cutlery unless requested. All of these approaches reduce our plastic use and waste. We also save all the cuttings from our fruits and vegetables to be used as compost. Unfortunately, we still struggle with recycling and would gladly take recommendations on where to do so.

Who are your main clients? Would you cater to businesses or individuals or both?

We have a large range of customers that we cater to, from individuals to cafes and other businesses. Our customers are not all vegan, we also have many people who like to eat a healthy vegan meal once in a while.

We try to cater to everyone!

What is a typical day like for you?

My day begins in the kitchen at 7 am where I prepare lunch meals for that day. Everything is always prepared fresh. The meals are sent out at 11:30 am.  I then continue to prepare for the other orders. Every day is different, I sometimes finish by 3 pm and other times I won’t get back home until much later in the evening.

What do you enjoy the most about your work?

I love being in the kitchen, I always have! But what I love even more, is being able to make people happy with my food. My mission is to create delicious healthy food that is not seen as “vegan” and so far so good! I will never tire from hearing “I can’t believe this is vegan”! Being able to create my own recipes and cook the food is its own reward.

What is the hardest part of your work?

The hours, as we are still a small operation, the majority of the work falls on me which means I’m on my feet all day.

How do you balance being a spouse and a working woman? 

Being a chef and working in the kitchen for so many hours during the day, means that many times my poor husband doesn’t get home-cooked food for dinner! But I’m very fortunate to have someone who supports me as much as he does.

I don’t currently have children but I do have a hoard of rescued pets at home that we love! When I know that I have a long day ahead of me, I try to get home during the day for an hour to walk and feed them all.

Tell us about your journey of finding a job in Riyadh.

When I decided that I wanted to work in a kitchen, it wasn’t that easy at first. I worked with a start-up BBQ company and a few other catering companies but the kitchen was still not an option for me at the time. When the food and beverage scene in Riyadh began changing, I was fortunate enough to be one of the first female chefs in the region, and Nozomi helped me get my foot in the door.

What advice would you give women considering starting their own business in the Kingdom?

In terms of starting their own business, my advice is to find a niche in the market and test out the demand before going full force! It’s important to make sure there is a demand for what you have before taking a huge risk.

Where can creative women go to network in Riyadh?

All WSB events are a fantastic way to do so!

Do you have a quote or motto that you live by?

Do what you love!!

Contact Information & Social Media

I can be contacted through instagram @aylaskitchen or by mobile on +966 502639822

 

 

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WSB Inspiring Woman: Sarah Bin Saeed – Blend Culinary Institute

WSB Admin 27/09/2019 0

Tell us about yourself? 

I spent several years as an Audiologist helping people improve their quality of life. But I was bitten by the “entrepreneurial bug” and was inspired to open Saudi Arabia’s first-ever Culinary Institute focused on delivering a fun, interactive experience for corporate teams, families, couples and groups of friends. 

What brought you to Riyadh? 
I’m a Saudi born and raised in Riyadh.
How did you get inspired to start Blend Culinary Institute? 
I wanted to create a culinary institute where gourmets, food lovers and cooking enthusiasts could have fun while learning the art of cooking from well-known, highly reputable Saudi and international chefs. And I love it! It’s great to see people blending the pleasures of cooking and being together, and I feel lucky to be a part of it!
What do you do at Blend Culinary Institute? 
I’m the owner of the culinary institute, but I work there as well doing a variety of things from organising classes, to helping clients during the show.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day is being a working mom with a busy schedule. The juggling. The feeling of always being pulled in different directions. But there’s also the good stuff, like my wonderful friendships with my team, the satisfaction I get from my career.

What do you enjoy the most about your work?

I’m a huge people person, and I love being part of fun valuable moments in Blend where you can see the results instantly in their dishes and on their faces.

What is the hardest part about your work?

Like any career it has its downside, whether it’s coping with tough clients, trying to manage your time effectively, dealing with self-doubt or the inevitable chore of taking care of the business side of things. In any job, there are varying unpleasant or difficult parts. How I deal with it is by keeping a positive attitude.

How do you balance being a mum/ a spouse and a working woman? 

I don’t. After many hours of self-reflection and conversations with friends and family,  I’ve found a recipe for success with life-work integration rather than work-life balance. For me, it’s not about striving for a perfect balancing act but rather integrating across all aspects of life so you can bring your whole self to everything you do. 

Tell us about your journey of finding a job in Riyadh.

As I mentioned previously, I used to be an audiologist. But I didn’t find myself much in the medical field. So, I decided to figure out what I like and started with organizing little classes and I found something new there.

What advice would you give women considering starting their own business/ OR seeking employment in the Kingdom?

Follow your passion, do your research on how to start this particular business, develop a full business plan, and most importantly consider your time management.

Where can creative women go to network in Riyadh?

Several places.

 

Do you have a quote or motto that you live by?

Nothing happens to you, it happens for you. So, don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.

 

Contact Information & Social Media

Website: www.blendculinary.com

Instagram: blend culinary

Snapchat: blend culinary

Twitter: blend culinary

Phone number: +966583676105

 

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Recipes: B like Bulgarian banitsa

WSB Admin 27/09/2019 0

By Rositsa Dorovska

Bulgarian cuisine has many signature meals. Most of them are typical for the whole Balkan region with local variations and specifics. When you have to opt for one speciality only, that should be the famous pastry – banitsa. Banitsa cannot be translated from Bulgarian, but it’s similar to the Turkish burek, another untranslatable delicacy. Thought, they both cannot be mistaken for each other.
In brief, Banitsa is a dough pie, stuffed with an egg and cheese mixture. It‘s a kind of symbol for Bulgaria from centuries. In the past, banitsa used to be completely homemade. From the dough, rolled manually by the hands of our grandmothers, through the eggs from homegrown chickens, with fresh homemade yoghurt and cheese.  Finally, the dish would be baked not in a modern oven, but in a furnace.
Nowadays it’s a rarity to find such banitsa makers, but the importance of the dish remains. Banitsa is food for sharing, with a special place on each table with or without occasion. Only during the fasts, some people avoid it, because of the dairy products ingredients it contains.
Preparation is very easy, as all of the ingredients could be found in your nearest grocery store, but if you can use organic products from small farms or producers, the taste will be different and you will support the sustainable economy, as well.

Ingredients for banitsa

Package of dough leaves – refrigerated

4 – 6 eggs

250-300 gr. Cheese ( usually cow cheese)

Two spoons of sunflower oil

50 gr yoghurt

Sparkling water

Melted butter

Preparation :

All of the products should be at room temperature

  1. 1. Whisk the eggs in a bowl, then add the cheese crumbled. Add the yoghurt and the sunflower oil. Finally, add a few drops of sparkling water and mix all together. Do not use the chopper, it‘s best mixed manually.

Preheat the oven

  1. 2. Use the dough sheets one by one.  Spread thoroughly the melted butter on the first sheet and add some quantity of the mixture. Now you can either roll the dough like a spiral or put it straight fon the tray. Continue with the other sheets left, as long as you have some mixture. It‘s better if you can keep a small amount of the mix for the final touch.
  2. 3. Bake for 40 minutes at 150 degrees. Usually depends on the oven.

When it‘s almost done, spread the mixture leftovers as a topping. If you‘ve run out of the mix already, you can put melted butter instead.

Let the ready banitsa ‘rest’, covered with a clean towel. Eat while it‘s warm. The best drink for accompaniment is ayryan. Similar to the labneh for drinking, ayryan is half yoghurt, half water, beaten and seasoned with a pinch of salt.

Enjoy the taste of Bulgaria.

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Recipes: Finding Joy with Yummy Scrummy Veggie recipes?

WSB Admin 25/09/2019 0

By Lizzie Daniell

With a new vegetarian in our family – with a somewhat healthy appetite – I’ve started to look outside my normal carnivore comfort recipes to try and create something yummy for him to enjoy when he comes to visit. I believe when he’s cooking for himself, rice is his stable diet. Surely I can do better than that….. let’s see!

Living in the Arab world for the last few years has opened up a huge repertoire of exquisite new taste and flavours which gives me so much joy. To me, food is about love, comfort, time with family/friends which brings about a feeling of happiness and joy! Doesn’t mean I’m a fantastic cook, but when you mix the above with an excellent recipe, amazing things can happen!

After enjoying a wonderful lunch with my daughter at Comptoir Libanais in London, I decided to turn my hands to some of their delicious recipes.

Great restaurant and cook books if you are interested @ https://www.comptoirlibanais.com.

What I noticed is that there are as many vegetarian recipes as there are for the carnivores amongst us. If you have time to lovingly prepare their dishes – magic can happen. And what a great way for me to show off to my son… “look I am capable of creating a veggie feast!”

So the recipes I want to share with you are some savoury favourites of mine. So get your shopping bags out, them aprons on and let’s see what happens…..

  • Moussaka with Tahini (moussaka bil tahina)
  • Courgette fritters
  • Spiced fried potatoes (batata harra)

A gorgeous mix of flavours eaten together – or munched individually.

Moussaka with Tahini (moussaka bil tahina)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 aubergines

2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing and drizzling

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

400g chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato paste

6 tomatoes, sliced

1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained

Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the tahini dressing

125g yoghurt

40g tahini

Couple of pinches of za’atar

Flat-leaf parsley, chopped

  1. Take one aubergine and chop into bite-size cubes, lay on a plate and cover with salt. Set aside for 15 mins to draw out all the bitter juices.
  2. Slice the other aubergine into rounds then salt and set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pan and sauté the onion for around 10-15 mins until its starting to soften and caramelise.
  4. Rinse the cubed aubergine and add to the pan with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Cook, stirring from time to time, for about 10 mins until the cubes have softened and turned golden.
  5. Stir in the garlic and cook in the heat of the pan for a couple of mins until you can smell the aroma. Pour in the tomatoes, and tomato purée and bring everything to a simmer. Cover and cook over the lowest heat for 15 mins.
  6. Rinse the salt off the remaining aubergine. Preheat the grill and oil a baking sheet. Brush the aubergines slices liberally with oil and grill until golden, turning halfway through. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6.
  7. Place a layer of the aubergine sauce in the bottom of an ovenproof dish, then cover this with the sliced tomatoes, chickpeas and finally the grilled aubergine. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil.
  8. Bake for 20 mins, until bubbling and golden on top.
  9. To make the dressing, stir together the yoghurt, tahini and za’atar to taste.
  10. Scatter the chopped parsley over the cooked moussaka and serve with the tahini dressing
  11. YUMMY

Courgette fritters

Makes at least 15

Ingredients:

5 courgettes, grated

1 tsp salt

2 onions, peeled and grated

2-3 tbsp olive oil

150g feta cheese

3 eggs, beaten

Small bunch of mint, leaves only, chopped into shreds

½ tsp baking powder

Plain flour, for the batter

Vegetable oil, for deep-frying

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Grate the courgettes, place in a bowl, then sprinkle on the salt and leave for 30 mins.
  2. Squeeze handfuls of grated courgettes until they release as much liquid as possible. Then place the dry courgettes to one side, discard the liquid and return the courgettes to the bowl.
  3. Peel and grate the onions. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat, then fry the onions until soft.
  4. Add the onions to the bowl of courgettes and stir well. Crumble in the feta and add beaten eggs.
  5. Add the mint and plenty of black pepper. Stir everything together, then add the baking powder and enough flour to make a soft batter (you can always adjust the consistency).
  6. Heat 2-3cm of vegetable oil in a deep, heavy-based saucepan.
  7. When the oil is hot enough, test the temperature with some of the batter. It should fry to a golden brown in 2 mins, so lower the heat and allow the oil to cool if it colours too quickly.
  8. Spoon rounded tablespoons of batter into the oil in batches and fry until golden.
  9. Drain on kitchen paper, test the first ones to check they are cooked in the middle, then keep warm in a low oven while you fry the remainder.
  10. Eat and enjoy!

Batata Hara (Spiced fried potatoes)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm dice

150ml olive or sunflower oil

3 garlic cloves, sliced

Salt to taste

A handful of coriander leaves

Juice of 1 lemon

For the spices (optional):

2 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp paprika

  1. Parboil the potatoes in boiling salted water for no more than 3 mins. Drain the potatoes, and heat the oil in a frying pan.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes (in batches if required) and fry until golden, adding the garlic about 2-3 mins before they’re ready so it cooks.
  3. Once the potatoes are crispy, drain the oil from the pan. Season the potatoes with salt. Then mix with the coriander, spoon on to a plate and squeeze the lemon juice over.
  4. If you want to add more spices, return the potatoes to the pan once you’ve drained the oil away, sprinkle the mixed spices over evenly, season and toss over a high heat for 1 min before serving with coriander and lemon.
  5. Divine!

Now let’s EAT!

I would love you to share with me some stories of your experiences with the love of food and where it made you feel joyous and warm – look forward to hearing from you. Until next time.

To be part of my community, please view my website http://findingthejoy.info or if you would like to share your foodie recipes, please email lizziefindingjoy@gmail.com

 

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