December just flew by!
I can’t believe it’s 2020 already.
I got to visit Oman and Jerusalem this month – both times to visit family.
We also got our belongings after nearly a year amongst other things.
This is what I got up to in December:
I tested the first batch of my homemade olives
I don’t want to toot my own trumpet but these olives ended up being amazing!
It’s great to be able to just take olives straight off our own trees and make them ourselves.
I ended up making around 6 large jars so we will have enough to last us until next olive season.
We visited my cousin and his family in Oman
My cousin Mansour and his family live in Muscat so we decided to visit them this month.
December is a perfect time to visit as the weather is still beautiful but it’s not boiling hot like it is in the summer.
We had around 90°F weather all week and it was a nice respite from Amman that had just turned into winter.
I have visited Oman numerous times for work but like most destinations now, this was the first time I was visiting as a tourist.
We stayed in this beautiful community called The Wave where they had boardwalks and restaurants.
It’s not very enjoyable to walk around Amman so it was a lovely change to meander along.
Mansour, his son and son-in-law took us fishing one late afternoon and we had a lot of fun!
The Gulf of Oman really is incredibly stunning.
We caught a few fish and cooked them when we returned home that evening, while we watched the new Scorsese film “The Irishman”.
I think it’s a good film but it’s an example of no checks on the director.
He was given free rein and it was reflected in the very long length of the film.
Overall, it was a wonderful week and I look forward to returning again to visit my cousin and his lovely family.
I was featured as a Chef on an Insider article
One of my main strategies for growing this blog has been to focus on gaining more media mentions.
So I was delighted when I featured as a Chef in this article from Insider.
My advice when ordering Chipotle was:
For Chef Tariq Nasir, blogger at ChefTariq.com, the ideal Chipotle burrito starts with barbacoa, white rice, and black beans. From there, Nasir adds fresh tomato salsa and guacamole.
And, of course, he said he always adds guacamole.
What do you order at Chipotle?
What tips would you give others?
We celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary
While we were in Oman, we celebrated our first year of marriage.
I surprised her by booking us a night at The Chedi, Muscat.
We relaxed by the pool and enjoyed the gardens during the day.
Then at night, we visited what is considered the most romantic restaurant in Oman.
It’s a beachfront restaurant based in the hotel called ‘The Beach Restaurant’.
We had a delicious evening full of good wine and even better food.
Our shipment finally arrived from the USA
After a very long wait, we finally received our shipment from the States this month.
It’s been a very frustrating process (including having our things inspected twice by US Customs, who charged us over $1,000 for the privilege).
But we finally had some long awaited things arrive that we’ve been desperately and eagerly waiting for.
All of my camera equipment was delivered so I have some better lenses that I’m excited to use for the next recipes I shoot.
I visited my family in Jerusalem
As always, going to Jerusalem is a bittersweet experience.
It’s a beautiful place with memories of growing up there and yet today it’s still under occupation which makes life for the Arab population difficult on a daily basis.
We stayed with my Aunt who lives there by herself.
She took us down to the Old City and we ate the best ka’ak in the world – Jerusalem ka’ak!
It was very much an eating focused trip.
As it was a week before Christmas, we took the opportunity to visit one of the holiest places in Christianity.
We visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was crazy crowded with tourists.
We upcycled some old furniture
One thing that arrived in our shipment was one of my favorite pieces of furniture – a country style sideboard.
I wanted to put it in our kitchen but we had this very big shelving unit there already.
We also needed somewhere to put our books so we decided to give this old piece of furniture a lease of life!
We sanded it down, filled in any gaps and gave it a new lick of paint.
I didn’t take a before photo but let’s just say, this piece has had quite a makeover!
We celebrated Christmas
This year, we hosted Christmas at our house.
My brother, sister-in-law and niece are living in Amman for a year so we had them around as well as other family and friends.
We cooked a traditional English style Christmas dinner, which went well until Harriet’s yorkshire puddings caught the oven on fire!
The oil didn’t catch in the tray under them and ignited on the gas flame below.
I quickly threw some baking soda on to extinguish the flames and all went back to normal (except now I was cooking in a very smokey kitchen).
It was lovely to spend time with family and friends, and take the time to appreciate the last year.
I showed a friend around the Amman foodie scene
A new friend Zoe visited Amman just after Christmas so I gave her a food tour of Amman!
Have you tried it?
She also came and had lunch one day so we made traditional maqluba, which is always a big hit!
We gave our kitchen a little update
As I mentioned above, we had this lovely piece of furniture delivered and I really wanted to include it in the kitchen.
We ended up taking a trip to IKEA and overhauling this little section of the kitchen.
We put up two of these shelves with the hanging hooks underneath, which I think has given it a real country kitchen look.
Overall, I’m really pleased with how it turned out.
It’s amazing what you can achieve with so little.