Archive for February, 2010

Local Cuisine 2

Friday, February 26th, 2010

It’s almost the end of February, and I’m glad I’ve finished one of the Good Housewife’s jobs – making the fruit syrup for the summer. Other (better) housewives make these syrups of almost anything sweet that comes along – oranges, mulberries, sour cherries and rose petals are some – but I only do lemons, and this is how: Take as many lemons as you\ have patience for, sugar, a plastic bowl, a grater and a juicer.Wash and dry the lemons. If they aren’t waxed a rinse will do, if waxed it’s up to you how keen you are, but don’t kill yourself.Separate out one third of the lemons and juice the rest, then carefully grate off as much of the zest as you easily can from the remaining lemons and put it into a separate bowl, ideally one with a lid if you happen to have one.Juice these lemons as well.Measure the total juice, then use some of it to soak the lemon zest, just make sure it is well covered. Put a lid on the zest and juice and store it in the fridge for now.Pour the rest of the juice into your plastic bowl and add sugar. The quantity is one and a half times sugar to juice, i.e. one jug of lemon needs one and a half jugs of sugar (remembering to count in the amount you took off for the zest).Put in a warm place and stir every time you pass it, the warmer the place, the quicker it will work, over a radiator or in a airing cupboard would be good.When all the sugar has dissolved, take the juice plus zest from the fridge and squeeze the oil from the zest. This is a lovely, aromatic job, and I always pour the mixture through a fine sieve and squeeze the residue dry once or twice.Take your lovely, lemony juice and swirl it into the finished syrup.Test by putting about two fingers of syrup into an ordinary water glass, filling with water and drinking. You can serve it as strong as you like, and ice is good.Put it into bottles.Store it in a cool place.

Local Cuisine

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Most people in that part of the area to the east of the Mediterranean think of Aleppo as the ‘foodie’ capital of the region. The cuisine is partly based on dishes that subsistance farmers have developed over hundreds, or even thousands, of years. These are almost always vegetarian, using things like lentils, wheat and the sort of beans that go into tins of baked beans, plus fresh vegetables and olive oil. A favourite of mine is Mjedera, where you take equal amounts of burghul and brown lentils, and as much onion as you can be bothered to chop. You soak the lentils, then rinse them and simmer them in a good-sized pan until they are cooked but still in their skins. After that, you rinse the burghul, add it to the lentils and cook the two together with a good sprinkling of salt – the burghul doesn’t take long. While this is going on you fry the onions in olive oil, and just before serving you pour the fried onions and the oil over the burghul and lentils and stir it in. It is good with natural yoghurt or with salad, depending on the time of the year. Eating this dish, you know you are part of a very ancient tradition, perhaps going back almost to the time when your ancestors first settled down and started planting fields instead of foraging and hunting.

The Spinning Mill – Chapter 1

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

The Spinning Mill – Chapter 1

Rug designer do not just make the rugs, we’re also yarn manufacturers and offer the carpet industry an array of wool and wool mix yarn counts.

First the wool is prepared. The processes of opening, cleaning and mixing or blending occur simultaneously. Opening refers to separating small clumps of fibres within a mass of fibres, cleaning to trash removal, and mixing or blending to combining fibres from different bales to achieve a homogeneous starting material. These functions are not completed, however during fibre preparation they continue during subsequent processes.

Aleppo – Chapter 3

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

The City of Aleppo is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and has been occupied from around 5000 BC. William Shakespeare makes reference to the city in his famous play “Macbeth”.
The City lies 379 metres above sea level on a small group of hills with the Quweq river running through its centre. The Citadel dominates the view from a partially artificial mound rising 50 metres above the city.
The Arabic name for Aleppo is Halab and ancient legend traces this name back to Halib the Arabic word for milk. According to legend the prophet Abraham milked his cow on the hills of the citadel and gave the milk to fellow travellers.
Aleppo traditionally flourished as a trading hub. Positioned on the famous Silk Road, the city served the routes coming from India and the Euphrates region and from Damascus to the south. The first European consulate – the Venetian – was established in Aleppo – a sign of the city’s commercial importance.
This trading route began to decline in importance when the Europeans began to use the cape route to India and later the route via the Suez Canal.

Aleppo – Chapter 2

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Aleppo’s most famous monument is the Citadel which dominates the skyline from partially man-made hill rising 50 meters above the main streets of the city centre. The present day construction dates back to the 13th century, although it was built on top of fortifications of many previous eras. With a garrison capable of housing 10,000 soldiers, a moat and a bridge it is considered one of the most spectacular fortresses of the Middle East and is a focal point for tourists. The surrounding area of the citadel has undergone extensive renovation in recent years to make it more attractive to tourists.

Aleppo the city our rugs are made – Chapter 1

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

When you think of the Orient the perfumes of Aleppo come to mind, reminding us of one of the oldest cities in the world with roots extending deep back into the history of the Samarians, Akadians, Ayyubids, Romans and Byzantines and finally the Islamic Arab civilisation which has had profound influens on the culture and fabric of Aleppo society.
The formidable Citadel, just 5 miles away from our factory, is situated on a steep hill in the centre of the old city, is a symbol of extraordinary human acheivement.In addition the wealth of mosques and churches, monastories, shools, khans and the old city itself are witness to the past greatness and prosperity of its people.


Friday, February 5th, 2010

All the modern rugs you see on line are hand tufted rugs, however the definition of tufting is a Pile consisting of tufts or loops formed by inserting a yarn into a previously prepared backing fabric.
The yarn forming the pile stands verticle to the base or ground. The pile is cut and the backing fabric is woven. Parallel rows of stitches can be seen on the back of tufted fabric. So a thin coating of of adhesive is applied to the back to hold the pile yarns in place. Once the rug is sheered and the adhesive is dried it’s ready to be sent to the customer.

Ladies and Coffee

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

A lot of the international names in coffee shops are now on the streets of Syrian towns. You can patronize Costa, Second Cup or several Italian shops, but forty years ago there were none that welcomed women. In those days, you went shopping, walked past coffee shops full of men, and went home. Ten years later there were one or two places in Damascus and Aleppo where ladies might ‘take coffee’, but the rest of Syria was shocked.When I was passing through the town of Homs about twenty years ago, with another woman, we really needed somewhere to sit down and something to drink. We walked round the shopping centre in a search for somewhere not exclusively male, and were eventually desperate enough to go into a cake shop and ask;”Where do ladies go in Homs when they want to drink coffee?” The answer came back, quick as a flash,”Home!”We left.