Orbs, Entities and Egypt

Falafel

There was no specific reason why I wanted to go to Egypt....it was based on a feeling. I couldn't explain it but the pull was great. So I booked it. When people asked me what I would be doing out there...I didn't even know! I hadn't checked the itinerary!!

I was going with a few people I met on a retreat a year ago. In fact, I had thought it would be fun for us to hang out again, I just hadn't expected it to be here!

In the run-up to leaving our travel plans changed due to unrest in the area. But we were assured by our Bedouin guides that they had our safety at heart. I had to trust. And I did. But leaving your husband and children with even an element of uncertainty didn't sit well. But the feeling of growth and fulfilment far outweighed any fear.

I knew I had done the right thing on waking that first morning in Cairo. After 5 hours sleep, within arms reach of the Pyramids, I listened to Lou our group leader talk. She had been drawn to visit many places on her personal journey, based on a feeling. Tears silently fell from my eyes. I knew this was right. Like Autumn where life dies and awaits its rebirth, I knew I was going to be stripped back in order for me to grow.

The morning was spent visiting the Pyramids and venturing inside. On Saturday the 11th of the 11th we were inside the Great Pyramid at 11.11am! For those who love numerology...you'll enjoy that one!

What I hadn't realised was how quickly we would be heading to camp in the desert. That Saturday afternoon we were due to leave. And news to me ....we were camping for 3 nights, not 2! (I guess a quick read of the itinerary would have told me that!!)

Taking the bare minimum, we left and headed out into the darkness. Met half way by our guides, piled into 3 land cruisers and headed off in search of the desert! Now as you can imagine, a big part of the conversation was about the desert toilet facilities! Well, it's pretty simple... plenty of sand and space. Nuff said! But most of us were a little reticent at the prospect!

Arriving in the darkness it was difficult to see our home for the next few days, but with a roaring fire, and sheltered eating area, it felt comfortable. At this point, I felt that despite meeting the group less than 24hrs ago, we were really starting to bond as a tribe.

The next few days were spent visiting whale bones in the desert, and having quiet contemplation time alone with ourselves. Staring off precipices into vast open spaces, and swimming in beautiful lakes. Sitting together and sharing meal times; Gathering around the campfire, singing, drumming and drinking Bedouin whiskey (AKA super sweet tea!).

The nights around the fire were one of the most magical times. From the brightness of the day, it felt like the night time had no judgment and allowed you just to be. Losing ourselves in the flicker of the flames, finding our voices to the rhythm of the drums. Dancing to Bedouin music, under the watchful gaze of the stars. It seems that we were joined by more than just the millions of stars too, as a campfire photo showed up we were not alone!

In the quiet of the desert, you become super aware of the few things that are going on around you. The brightness and number of stars in the sky was totally mind-blowing. Lying on our backs you could notice the different constellations. It was here on the 2nd night that I noticed 2 orbs dancing in the sky.

In the pitch black of the night sky amidst the shining stars, these were different. As they randomly danced the do-si-do I couldn't keep my eyes off them. I'd never seen them the night before or indeed the night after. They were SO bright, bigger than the stars. I had never seen 1 let alone 2 orbs before! They gave me great comfort to see and made me feel connected to my two boys, especially as it was one of their birthdays......as if they were checking up on me to say hello.

Leaving the desert was tough for us all. We had all settled into camp life and bonded not only as a tribe but with our guides too. But we did one last thing....sandboarding! So as I jumped up to give it a go (and I am no boarder!) we went up the dunes. Figuring the more I thought about it the less chance there was I would do it... I jumped aboard.

As you can see from the video of our trip (Look right... before 2 minutes) I nailed it 3/4 of the way down. But I had neglected to ascertain one bit of info from our guide.....how do you stop?! As I reached the bottom and I started to spin around, my solution to break was to wipe out! And land on my head! That's definitely one way to stop! So my parting gift from the desert....momentarily took the wind out of my sails.

Heading back to Cairo was a shock to the system, least not because my body was dealing with effectively a whiplash injury! But lucky for us, we had 2 nights aboard a boat hotel on the Nile! In all the time I was in the desert, it hadn't bothered me that a couple of lake swims was the closest thing I got to washing. The sand didn't bother me one bit. It wasn't until I stood in the reception of this lovely hotel that I felt unclean and wanted a shower! And boy did it feel great when I did.

On our final day, we visited Saccara which is best known for its step pyramid, and vast ancient burial ground, and the Egyptian museum. The focus around death in Egypt was one I'd not contemplated before. Their beliefs of the soul returning to the body was the reason they placed a mask in the likeness of the persons face so it could return to the right body. The reason kings and gods were depicted with their hands on the heart is that they believe the heart to be paramount. And therefore was left in the body after to death.

This trip for me wasn't about acquiring facts about or memorising the details of Egyptian history. (I am no historian despite my interest!) What resonated with me deeply was the energy in these ancient times for the heart and the soul. The brain was inconsequential.....removed from the body after death but heart left in. For me, it was about opening my heart and awakening a part of me that maybe had been overridden by my head.

That feeling of joy, wonder, intrigue is still there in all of us. It's whether we allow these feelings to be covered as life's experiences make us protect our wounds. As we navigate less from our hearts and more from our heads, we work out how to not get hurt or feel that pain again. Adding layers of protection over the years can desensitise us to what life can feel like. If we allow ourselves to be open and to show our hearts.....we will get back to ourselves and feel so much more in return.

What I noticed on leaving Egypt and arriving back in the UK was the expectation of the western world. We are a society that works very much on external things and the money we need to earn to acquire things to 'get on' in life. What I loved about Egypt and in particular the desert was how there was nothing! No marketing. No feeling like you had to look or be a certain way. I had a sense of freedom I had not felt for many years to just be, and a connection to the stars I'd not had since the 90s rave scene!!

Back to reality, but at least on The Nile!
I realised that as a person I hadn't lost those intrinsic parts of me. They are in fact still there, but buried away under the responsibility and putting others first. My initial fears on coming home were that I would never get to feel this feeling and connection again. That 'normal life' would resume. I feared I would get to an age and reflect back and feel regret at what could have been. I guess that's why when people survive an accident or a serious illness they get a new lease of life to fulfil their hearts desires. They have another shot at living the life they want to lead and grasp it wholeheartedly.

So do we need to go through that to start living life today? My plan going forward is to bring in elements to my life that bring the joy of Egypt each day. Connect with my self to fulfil my own needs and nurture what needs nurturing. I know that my life and that of those around me will be richer from doing this. I hope you will find something for yourself too that will rekindle the fire inside your heart. Why wait. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Carpe Diem. Tempus Fugit.

Next week is a big week for The Fuss Free Foodie, as we celebrate our 1st birthday and launch the new website!!! Keep an eye on the FB page too as I will be posting about the Hairy Bikers episodes I feature in too! Much love Lisa x

Falafel

2 cans of chickpeas, drained
1 large onion roughly, chopped
4 tbsp parsley and coriander
2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp baking powder
8 tbsp plain flour

Put all the ingredients except for the last 2 in a blender and pulse until the mixture is a rough puree.
Add the baking powder and flour. Pulse gently and then place the mixture into a bowl.
Roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls.
Fill a frying pan with oil (about 1-1.5 inches deep) and heat to a medium-high temperature. Add half (or a third) of the balls carefully being careful not to splash oil on yourself or overfill the pan.
Cook the falafels until brown on one side, and then turn over. Remove from the pan, place on kitchen paper to drain. Fry the remain balls.
Serve the falafels with hummus and flatbreads. Enjoy!
Egypt ...The Movie!

15 year stew….

Chickpea and Chorizo Stew

I'd written my blog pre-amble a few days ago but as I went to bed last night, these words were wanting to be delivered with the urgency of a 3rd baby! Having made a conscious decision not to blog over the summer I did wonder how my first one back would go, but I needn't have.... it was just coming out!

It wasn't until having space in the last few days as the kids went back to school, that I noticed how the summer was very much about 'doing' rather than 'being'. I realised the importance of having time to myself, and how the cathartic nature of writing my blog keeps me consciously aware of how I feel.

In fact since starting The Fuss Free Foodie I've been lucky enough to meet some awesome new people who've guided me to watch new speakers of which a video I watched yesterday really struck a cord. I noticed how we swiftly move through lifes experiences and sometimes without a second thought once they've past. If life is a playground, wouldn't it be good sometimes to just stop and to get a sense which version you've been playing? Do the rules still work and is it still a fun game!?!

I reflected back yesterday on one of those old old relationships that ended fast, with no post match dissection and no time for orange segments, if you know what I mean!! I wondered if I hadn't properly closed that relationship programme down, was it still running in the background and maybe taking up valuable (subconscious) memory space?

So I dragged an old bag out of the loft with photos and bits in, lit a fire and started to sort through and see who this girl was from the early noughties. It was interesting to see as I looked at photos of Indian travels, book selling summers and clubbing days how I could get a sense of the person I was and how it aligned (or didn't!) with me now.

As I tossed photos onto the fire that no longer brought me joy I acknowledged the time I had spent maybe not always been connected to myself.... but sought others approval, connection and 'fitted in' to feel complete.

My time finished by retrieving a locket from the loft that I had surprisingly 'found' a few days prior and placed in a corner. It had both a picture of me and my ex in. This jewellery was gathering dust so I decided to take it to the pawn shop and do some good with the cash.

I knew I wanted to give some to a guy I always see selling the Big Issue, and before I even spoke, he said he was having a bad day. He said he wanted to go out (as he said it was his birthday, whether it was or wasn't it didn't matter) for a curry and to go to the cinema. Brilliant I said. I cleared my loft today and came to a little extra cash...please do that on me. And Happy birthday. I felt joy.

So yesterday I made peace with that girl and rather than focusing on why that game was lost but how it was played gave me a greater insight to where I am at right and I felt a lot lighter and more joyous for my actions! I'm OK with not knowing what the rest of the journey holds....but I hope you will stick with me as there are some fun things coming ahead...this is just the beginning!!

Remember to keep me in your feed keep loving and liking on Facebook and follow me more in pictures on Instagram or words on Twitter! With love Lisa x

Moroccan chickpea and chorizo stew

2 tbsps tom puree
1 large sweet potato, peeled and large dice
1 pepper
2-3 carrots, large dice
1 large onion, diced
4 cooking chorizo sausages, skin removed and sliced
2 cloves garlic
400g passata
2 tbsp Ras al hanout spice
(I use Barts Spices available in Waitrose and larger supermarkets)
300-350g veg stock
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Olive oil

1. Put a tablespoon of oil in a large pan and add the chorizo. Fry on a medium heat so that the oils come out and the chorizo browns.
2. Add the onion to the pan and coat in the oils, and cook for 8 minutes until soft, then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add the carrot, pepper and stir, then add the tomato puree and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add the chickpeas and sweet potatoes.
4. Add the ras al hanout, passata and stock and stir. The liquid should only just be up to where the veg sit. Simmer on a low to medium heat for 1 hr until the carrots and sweet potatoes are cooked through.
5. Serve on a bed of plain couscous....follow the start of my couscous salad video for perfect plain couscous!

Fuss Free Chachouka with Maneesh

Chachouka with Maneesh

Gardening to me is a metaphor for life and finally this week I starting growing something other than weeds on my allotment! I love how seasons bring new opportunities for starting afresh, witnessing growth and reaping what you sow.

Like the relationship with ourselves through life, over time, with effort and nurturing we can grow and thrive.  But starve ourselves of that time, space, energy and nurturing can hold us back. Happily, we can breath new life into our relationship with ourselves at any point and we can flourish and blossom in a new way that maybe we didn't contemplate before.

I feel like a different person to the one I was 6 months ago.  I reached a point of change as my youngest started school and this has created room for me to grow and evolve.  If you'd have told me then I'd be talking about food on local BBC radio back then, I would've been excited but a bit surprised! But that happened for the first time yesterday (Listen here!)

If we create a little space for ourselves, what will grow there in its place? If we nurture ourselves a little more, what will blossom?  It's exciting to think that at any stage in our lives, we can evolve a little more.  I used to think it was about learning more information and taking more courses.  I have since realised that actually, the answers that I require are already within me, I just need to take a little time, space to feel what the answer is and peel back the layers.

This recipe is for when you are not having so much space or time but want a fuss-free delicious meal!  It's a brilliant egg dish elevated to dinner status. It goes really well with a sourdough loaf or if time allows, why not try making this relatively quick flatbread called Maneesh with Za'atar spices.  I'll post a video next week how to make it for #realbreadweek. So remember to subscribe to my YouTube channel and each time I upload a new one you'll hear about it!

Thank you all of those who supported and listened to the broadcast the show this week...I was truly grateful and glad you were there to experience it with me! Lisa

Chachouka

Serves 2 for dinner

Preheat the oven to 180℃/Gas mark 4

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion, halved and finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 red pepper, cored, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, cored, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 1/2 tsp hot, smoked paprika
  • Pinch of saffron strands
  • 400g tin of plum tomatoes, chopped roughly
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a large, preferably ovenproof pan on a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and gently fry for a couple of minutes. Add the onions and fry gently for 8-10 minutes, until soft and golden.
  2. Add the garlic and peppers and continue to cook on a low heat for 20 minutes, stirring often until the peppers are soft and wilted.
  3. Add the paprika, crumble in the saffron and add the tin of tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  4. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary, if not using an oven proof pan, transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Make 4 hollows in the mixture and carefully break an egg into each one. Sprinkle each egg with salt and pepper. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the egg white, is set and the yolk is still runny. This recipe is from River Cottage Everyday