Monday, December 20, 2010

Crazy House Names 3

When I first saw the name above at first glance I thought I saw Asterix but when I looked again it was 'Asterisk'!!! Would you believe it?? Why would people pay to have their house named after a punctuation mark?

Hmmm makes me curious to know what goes inside this house.......

AAAh this must be one lucky man and boy, he must be proud of it too!!

Phew! They did it notwithstanding all the obstacles!

Finally I found where Bo Peep lives...but I won't tell you where!

A dyslexic homeowner maybe? Read it from right to left

Monday, November 22, 2010

Crazy Chocolate Cake

I'm writing this post in honour of my dear and loyal friend Vanessa. Although we've known each other since our kindergarten years I cannot say that we were the best of friends in our primary school years. Actually we were arch enemies! I think what really made me dislike her was because she spoke loudly all the time and to this day I dislike persons who need to voice their opinions loudly. There's nothing better than having a smooth talking person. On the other hand she disliked me because I had said something offensive about the boy she used to fancy. These complaints sound so silly now but that was our childhood. In the secondary years we somehow found out that we got on very well together. By that time Vanessa had mastered the art of speaking quitely and I could enjoy her company without any headaches. Today I'm posting a very old recipe - a recipe which Vanessa shared with me in our secondary years. We used to go crazy on this cake. I used to eat it all by myself. If I'm not mistaken I think it was my first try at baking.
This recipe of hers contains some unusual ingredients but it somehow makes a lovely cake.
Last Sunday I felt like trying it out again after having forgotten it for all these years and I've realised I still enjoy eating it. Here it is - don't expect a spongey chocolate cake. If you like chewy cakes - the maltese pudding style then, this is your cake. It has no eggs and no butter. It is also very easy to prepare.


3 cups flour
1 and 1/2 cup sugar
half a cup cocoa
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

1 and 1/2 cup water
2 tsp vinegar
3/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla

Then add the above ingredients to the dry ones until you've got a smooth brown paste. Bake in a moderate oven for about 45 minutes. So easy!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Alleys in Zabbar

More often than not, streets and alleys reflect the history of a particular place. These alleys can be still found in many old villages of Malta. Last summer while strolling through Main Street in Zabbar I got captivated by the number of enchanting alleys that could be found offshooting from it.
These alleys known as 'sqaqien' in Maltese are etched in Zabbar's village character. They are still throbbing with humanity and the houses in these alleys have remained untouched by touristic development. The narrow streets are haunting and enchanting, with some of the best quintessential Maltese architecture that one can see. Our ancestors designed these narrow winding alleys because they offered shade from the scorching summer sun. Today we're witnessing the decline of these historical alleys. High buildings are replacing the alleys that reflected the history of that place. As you can see in the photos below each alley has particular characteristics that distinguish it from other alleys...

'One sometimes encounters fine architecture discreetly hidden away, such as the one in Sqaq Berqi, an offshoot of Main Street.'

As I was leafing through a book about Zabbar the above quote caught my attention. What struck me is that 'the fine architecture' that the author is referring to happens to be an 18th century house which used to belong to my husband's grandparents. In the photo, on the right page of the book you can see the house in its heydey.

This is how it looks today. I had the occasion to explore this lovely old house which I'm sure has seen so many generations grow and dwell inside it. It has withstood the ravages of the two world wars. Indeed, it's a pity that now it's up for sale waiting for someone to give it its due attention.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Crispy Chicken Pieces

Hello friends time is flying so quickly - we will soon be celebrating Christmas. Although my life's very busy taking care of little Zack I still find time to cook something different each day. A few days ago I prepared these sizzling chicken breast pieces and thought of sharing my recipe with you. They're very easy and do not take long to prepare.


2 Chicken Breast pieces
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 tbsp porridge oats
4 tbsp breadcrumbs
3 tbsp Parmeggiano
4 tps flour
1 tbsp Cajun
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp oil
In a small dish or medium sized bowl, whisk eggs, black pepper and salt.

Cut the breast pieces into smaller bite size pieces.

In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients together. Place crumb mixture in a bag. In the meantime coat chicken, one piece at a time in the egg mixture. Next dip the chicken pieces in bag with crumbs and shake to coat.

Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat (adjust when needed). Place chicken pieces in frying pan.

These pieces can be baked if you prefer a healthier option.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Chinese Garden of Serenity

In the South of Malta, in the quiet village of Santa Lucija, there is this beautiful Chinese garden which unfortunately few people seem to know of. This morning I grabbed the opportunity to pay a visit to this garden, and together with little Zack, I spent a quiet morning soaking up the soothing ambience that envelops this garden. Inside this garden I was embraced by its exceptional beauty and serenity. The artistic architectures just took my breath away and I couldn't stop admiring the mosaic on the ground which had been painstakingly done by hand.

The specific design of this garden makes you go through a personal rebirth and you feel the stress of modern life slowly abandoning you. Here life, with all its challenges is symbolically represented as a winding corridor at the northern end of the garden. The bamboo shoots represent meditation on life. Sadly, the fountain at garden's entrance which should represent birth was undergoing maintenance. The garden’s courtyard with its fishpond, rock garden, and circular door takes you to a magical place where you cannot help but be at peace with yourself.

This garden was constructed in 1998 and built by a group of foreign Chinese workers. If I remember correctly it was a sort of twinning project which the council of Sta Lucija held with a city in the Republic of China.
I believe this Garden of Serenity provides the ideal environment to allow one's creativity to blossom. There are so many quiet places where one could sketch, write a story, or simply read a book. This garden really lives up to its name “Serenity”. You will love it there. Anyway, I'm taking the opportunity to share with you some of the photos that I took of the beautiful designs, shapes and architecture in this garden.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Little Zack's out!

Hey friends, I present to you the little dinosaur that I was carrying these past nine months. Here's Zack, born on the 16th of August at 4:20 pm. Thank God I've been blessed with a quiet baby. He's a little treasure. As you may have noticed my posts have slacked. Zack's keeping me very busy with his daily feeds and nappy changing. But I just count my blessings every day and enjoy this lovely miracle every moment of my life.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Gozitan Ftira (my way)

My ftira with all the ingredients except the potatoes

Whenever we go for a summer holiday to our sister island of Gozo we always make sure to order the scrumptious ftira (a round flat bread) from Tal-Maxokk Bakery. I know it's full of carbohydrates but I cannot help indulging in its exquisite flavours. This summer we had to give Gozo a miss since I'm reaching the end of my pregnancy. So to make up for it, last week, I decided to try making a 'gozitan' ftira of my own. I cheated a bit because I used a ready-made ftira but anyway the result was simply gorgeous. Here's my version:

First I divided the ftira in two halves and drizzled the bread with a good dollop of olive oil.

For the topping, I used:

Thinly sliced potatoes, as many as you need to cover the ftira base
Sliced red tomatoes, and / or sundried tomatoes
Sliced onion
sliced olives
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Rough Sea Salt
freshly ground black pepper,
sliced Maltese sausage (or tuna if you prefer a fishy flavour)
fresh basil leaves

I started by boiling two small potatoes for just 10 mins. In the meantime I lay the tomato slices on the bread. I added the sliced onion, capers, sliced olives, sliced maltese sausage and some fresh basil. I thinly sliced the potatoes as if I was going to prepare crips and lay the almost semi-transparent slices on the bread. Season with salt and pepper.

I drizzled some more olive oil on the toppings and baked for about 15 minutes until the potatoes turned golden and crunchy!

The end result: my ftira covered with thinly sliced potatoes (not baked)

Side note: Gozo bakeries cook the Ftira dough either closed or open. The closed Gozo ftira enclosed a filling and was intended to serve as a workman's lunch. Toppings and fillings usually have potatoes and /or cheeselets for example: cheeselets, eggs and grated cheese; potatoes, tomato, anchovies and olive; or ricotta topped with slices of potato; or sliced potato, Maltese Sausage, cheeselets and rosemary. Among many others!
And for all my foreign bloggy friends who have asked me about the ftira recipe I'm including a recipe which I found on the internet. To be honest with you, I haven't yet tried it out but will do so soon.
Ftira recipe
For the dough, 400g of plain white flour
100ml of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt/Water, as required
To make the dough, sieve the flour and put it into a food processor with the salt and the olive oil. Blend the mixture, slowly adding water until the dough forms into a ball. Put the dough into a plastic bag or bowl and chill it in the fridge for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 200 deg. C. Spread the dough as thinly as possible so that it is at least 5cm wider than the baking dish. Add the ingredients as above. Fold the edges of the dough inwards, drizzle some olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Fold the edges of the dough inwards, drizzle some more oil over the top and bake the ftira for 15 minutes, or until the dough is just starting to turn golden.
Apart from that I found out about a Maltese club in Uk which promotes Maltese food. It's called Maltese Culture Movement. I got to know that they can take orders for and supply the following at reasonable prices: galletti, gbejniet, ftira, pastizzi, imqaret,Kinnie, Cisk, Hopleaf, Blue Label. Any body interested can contact them at the above link.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Abandoned Hotel

What is it about abandoned buildings that’s so alluring? What causes us to be fascinated by the forgotten ruins of structures that once teemed with life? There is something so intriguing and mysterious and beautiful about abandoned and decaying old buildings. It may have something to do with the original purpose of those buildings. Homes and towns where families once lived are fascinating, but there’s something tragic and amazing about hospitals, churches, hotels and castles. These places were often the setting of life-changing experiences. When they’re abandoned and left to return to dust, we can’t help but imagine what used to take place within those walls.
The destruction of the inside makes the building strangely peaceful while reminding us that, without human intervention, our man-made structures are quickly taken down by nature and by time. The ex-Corynthia Jerma Palace Hotel in Marsascala is one such example. This four-star Hotel used to be Malta's most prestigious hotel in the south. It closed down in March 2007 after 25 years in operation, owned by Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company, which also owned the land, and operated by the Corinthia Group.
The forces of erosion have dilapidated the building. The hotel was built on a peninsula facing the raging Majjistral and Scirocco winds and the sea, the wind and nature reduced this once splendid hotel into a heap of ruins inhabited by a massive colony of rats, mice and other infected insects. Other areas have been burnt down.

Palm trees, yucca and bougainvillea plants still thrive despairingly in this once-desirable place. The empty pools echo the happy cries of children of ages gone by. Stray cats roam the abondoned verandah in search of some shade from the relentless sun. Teenagers lurk in the darkest corners. Lovers hide in discreet places. Drug users leave their syringes lying about and now it seems that illegal immigrants are squatting on the site. This is what's left of the only hotel in the Southern part of our island. Such a pity...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Last week I posted a game where you had to guess what the close up shots of the objects were. I thought it was going to be easy and that somehow someone would manage to guess all of them. Only one of you managed to guess almost all of them. DPC - You came closest. Well Done!!

Ok. So here are the results ..(I sound like a Eurovision Song representative)
Starting from left side
First picture: cross section of banana, Second Picture on the right: the dried remains of a prickly pear leaf (that was difficult!)
Second row: watermelon, Second picture: the skin of a pineapple
Third row: passion fruit which hasn't yet ripened, second picture: the head of garlic in a net
Fourth row: the skin of a melon, Second picture: the skin of a ripe banana.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Close up shots

In my previous post I mentioned that my husband has taken over my new camera. Well, in this post I'm attaching some pictures that he took in macro-mode (with the exception of the white thing ). They may not be the best shots but they're not that bad either. These are photos of everyday stuff - all of them natural stuff. Can you guess what they are?

Sunday, July 11, 2010


(Sunset over the island of Gozo)
( The back of Paradise Hotel at Cirkewwa)

These photos were taken two Sundays ago, after a one and a half hour trip driving with my husband towards the North searching for the best location to capture sunset. (Sadly, I haven't yet had much opportunity to experiment with my new camera. I get tired easily and breathless doing simple tasks. Walking long distances in search of capturing interesting photos is also temporarily out of the question. Husband, seems to have taken over my camera - photography has become his latest fad. )

At last, we stopped over the top of the cliffs overlooking Paradise Bay and waited for the sun to go down. However at one point I got this sudden urge to go the loo. (Ah!! pregnancy has made me befriend the loo more than I want to. Doctor insists that I drink a lot of water and having baby squashing my bladder doesn't help the situation. Now whenever I go out to run some errands I either have to abstain from drinking or else make sure of not taking long in running errands. At times I feel like an old lady on diuretics.) Anyway, I was telling you about this sudden urge - well, we were far away from any public restrooms so I had two options - either outside (which would have never been my option) or start looking for any restrooms at nearby hotel or the bar near the Cirkewwa harbour. Husband was too far away for me to call him so I had no choice but to leave him there and go in search of the closest loo.

All of a sudden I turned into F1 driver Mark Webber and sped down the bumpy road (making it all the worse for me) and headed for the bar. I pulled in the first parking place I found but forgot that I can no longer squeeze through narrow places...aaagh reversed and found another place..but again it was also a narrow slot...I was going to leave the car sitting in the middle of the parking area when I found this yellow slot exactly in front of the bar's door, at that point I was past caring for any lurking wardens and simply pulled in front of its drive way. Had the door been wider I think I would have driven it inside. I simply needed a loo. Luckily, I made it in time and boy never did I feel so relieved! I had gone inside the bar like a crazy whale and went out like a fresh watermelon on sticks.

When I returned back to the photosession location I took the opportunity to take three sunset photos (two of which are above).

Friday, July 2, 2010

St Thomas Bay in Marsascala

In the outskirts of Marsascala, one finds a large, natural inlet with small sandy banks and shallow water suitable for bathing. This is St Thomas Bay, known as 'Ir-Ramla' to the locals. St.Thomas Bay is on the outskirts of Marsascala. In fact it's very close to the village of Zejtun.

The bay is very large; however it only has a small sandy beach. Cliffs surround the majority of the bay. Its shallow waters and small sandy banks make the bay suitable for bathing especially for children. It is also popular with local holidaymakers. The bay is ideal for windsurfing. Now with the official opening of the new bypass Marsascala has become more accessible to all.

There are some cafes and snack-bars beside the bay. The bay is used also by many Maltese fishermen.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Luzzu

(Luzzu moored at Marsaxlokk)

Around 1000BC the Phoenicians decided to colonize Malta, bringing their Semitic language and culture, and becoming the direct male-line ancestors of about a half of the modern Maltese population. They used the islands as an outpost from which they expanded sea explorations and trade in the Mediterranean. They bequethed us the designs of their lovely coloured boats. Our Luzzu (pronounced loot-su in Maltese) like the Maltese cross is one of the symbols associated with Malta. The luzzu, painted in the traditional colours of red, blue and yellow, is a sturdy and reliable sea craft and can be put to sea in almost every kind of weather. Primarily, the luzzu is a fishing boat but it has other uses such as ferrying locals and tourists across the Grand Harbour.

(Luzzu on its way out at sea - taken at sunset)
When the sea is dead calm and it’s a clear and beautiful summer day, you may get the opportunity to catch a solitary luzzu out at sea – a soothing and breathtakingly beautiful sight that will make a perfect postcard moment. You can also catch a glimpse of these unique Maltese boats at Wied iz-Zurrieq, Marsascala, St Paul’s Bay and at many other seaside villages. They are indeed one of the main attractions in Marsaxlokk, which is Malta’s largest fishing village.

(One of the many luzzus berthed at Marsascala -taken at dawn)

This Maltese boat is a highly sturdy sea craft and is very much preferred by the local fishermen to other modern sea crafts. In the old days, it was much smaller and had sails. Nowadays, these boats are much larger and are powered by a diesel engine.

The colours of the boat are rarely ever changed, mainly out of superstition. So a fisherman will continue painting his boat in the same colours that his father and grandfather had used before him. Superstition plays an important role with these boats. All Maltese boats have the Eye of Osiris painted on them. The eye is believed to protect the fishermen from any harm when they’re at sea. On either side of the prow will be the carved and painted eye of Osiris: the Phoenicians' god of protection against evil: an example of ancient myth in modern times. The Maltese people are very superstitious and the eye is there to ward off the devil and to give protection to the small fishing boats.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Past and the Present


Here are 3 sets of photos, the past and the present. In the first one, one can see the Mellieha Parish church in the background. Now that I placed mine right under it I realised that I took the wrong angle of the church but it's definitely the same church.

The area beneath the church seems more or less the same.

Pretty Bay

I'm not sure which area of Pretty Bay this was but last summer I took one just for comparison.


I think this old photo, which was taken in 1885, was shot on the hill where the present church stands. I tried to take the same angle but couldn't since the church building is in the way. The last house on the right in the old photo can still be seen in my photo - it's the house behind the red kiosk.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oh! For a little bit of freedom

This is a photo I took of my parents' pet cat called Rusty. He is such an adorable cat. My sister heard his sad mewing outside when he was still a blind kitten, the size of a hamster, and when mum took him under her wing we fell head over heels in love with him. We took turns to feed him a small toy bottle full of milk and nursed him back to health until he grew into this lovely big cat that you see in this photo. He's got everything he can wish for, except, the liberty to roam the streets outside. Sometimes I feel sorry for him when he sits on the polysterene box which mum set up for him next to the main door so that he could at least smell the interesting air outside.

Whenever he tried to escape he always ended up scared to death under a stationary car, hissing like a crazy cat. So, no, he's not allowed outside. Once, I decided to take him out in our porch holding him like a baby but it happened to be a rainy day and as soon as a car whizzed by, the splashing sound of rain water scared Rusty and he regalled me with a deep scratch on my shoulder and back for he jumped down and went back inside. So much for kindness! At other times I allowed him to come up on the roof while I hung the clothes on the line but whenever our neighbour's pigeons happened to attract his attention he liked to make a disappearing act and God knows how many walls I had to jump to retrieve him back.

Now his latest fad is to watch the garden because some stray cats have found a way up the garden walls of our neighbours and they are enjoying their daily stroll on the garden walls. Poor Rusty is not enjoying himself much seeing other cats invading his territory and sometimes even sleeping in my parents' garden. It's as if they enjoy teasing our poor cat whose sole existence is destined to be inside.