Chicken noodles and a football lost in a fire


Chicken sesame and honey noodles

This weekend we had husband’s boys to stay. I love my Saturday afternoons on these weeks, usually every other week. I love my other Saturday afternoons too, but for different reasons. On these weekends one of my favourite things is to do a big shop and cook all afternoon while husband is picking the boys up from the station and hanging with them in gadget shops and smoothie bars. I do often bake something too, boys never say no to a peanut butter biscuit or two. They are great to feed, because they are skinny as rakes and can down amazing amounts of food.  And two hours later they are hungry again. They are growing boys, although hopefully not for much longer, as they have both passed the 6 foot mark.

This time I wasn’t able to do that because I was working. It’s a very rare occasion that I work on  a Saturday. We had a patient open day, which was a great success. But I was knackered and it was 7 pm before I was home. Husband had offered to take all of us out for dinner, but I suggested I do something quick but nice for us at home.

A dish that the kids really liked when we visited my sister last summer was her chicken sesame stir-fry noodles. I have done it a few times after that to an appreciative audience. My sister’s version was amazing, I don’t think mine is quite as good somehow. She cooked hers outside on the patio in her huge gas wok which added to the ambiance and maybe also to the taste. We ate all of it. The onions and other veg in the dish caused no offence with the kids.

So I thought I’d do this because it's quite a quick dish (I’ve kissed the meat free week goodbye and will instead improve my ongoing ways by introducing one fully veggie day a week).

On the way home from work I popped in the supermarket to get some organic chicken and other stuff I was missing like two bottles of red wine.

Rosemary and garlic bread

Husband and kids were not at home yet when I came, so food was almost ready when they got in. With the noodles I made a simple salad and rosemary garlic bread. This bread is so good. I use this really nice Batard they have at the supermarket, it’s more tasty that a standard white baguette. I melt butter, press one garlic clove in the butter and add a tbsp of chopped rosemary. I then slice the bread leaving it intact at the bottom and then spoon the butter mix in between the slices. I wet a piece of grease proof paper under the tab, squeeze the extra water off and wrap the batard in it. Into the 200C oven for 15 min and it’s just perfect. You can use other herbs and spices as well.

We had a great dinner, there was very little left over, but just enough so I knew that everyone had been properly fed. My husband was telling us funny stories from his childhood. We never really know how much is true and how much he cooks up for entertainment purposes. He had a very simple childhood in the Dubai of the day - just sand, goats, chicken and palm-frond houses with fire pits on the floor for cooking. I think he may be exaggerating, but let's go with this, it sounds romantic. At least we know there were no high rises, no dancing fountains or indoor skiing slopes.

They had a small house in the Deira area. If you’ve ever visited the Dubai Heritage Village, that's what my husband says his childhood home was like. He told of his uncle, who had a motor bike and who wanted to get to the only cinema in the area, but kept getting stuck in the sand on the way because there were no proper roads.

And he told how his home burned down completely one fateful day. He was about nine years old and was outside looking after the goats (so cute!) with a friend (I hope it wasn't the girl who hit him in the head so that there is still a visible dent) when he saw his home on fire. His mum had been baking that lovely flatbread in the fire pit on the ground and somehow the fire escaped and two houses burned to the ground within minutes.

There was a fire engine somewhere in the area, but it kept getting stuck in the sand on the way and when it arrived the following morning there was nothing left of the houses.

Husband was very upset because tragically his most prized (and maybe only) possession, his football had been in the house. I think still today he got a bit upset thinking about it. Football gone! He’s always been a great football aficionado and at the time he was an enthusiastic admirer of Pele running around in the sand with his ball pretending he was Pele. Funny enough on the other side of the world at the same time my older brother, a huge Pele fan was running around on the grass with his ball, until neighour's Irish Setter Carlo ate it. Carlo also ate my sister's new red handbag and 28 pheasants from a near-by farmer's shed.
According to his own words my husband was a great footballer in his youth. I don’t quite see how that is possible. With all the wifely admiration I have for him, even I can see that he is probably the slowest runner in the world (I walk faster on the treadmill). But apparently he had a great "technique" (he says this with a French accent, I really don’t know why).

I was really shocked to find out that he had lost his home and asked how they coped and where they went to live. But he reminded me that those houses are not particularly complicated and don't take that long to build so a new one was up in a few days time. He doesn't remember if someone got him another ball but I hope they did.

Dubai heritage village in Deira, Dubai UAE
Dubai heritage village, notice the well-placed fire extinguisher

Chicken honey, soy and sesame noodles recipe (serves 4)

400g (8 nests) whole wheat noodles

700g chicken breast or thigh, skinless and boneless cut to strips or cubes
1 red or yellow pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 yellow onion
3 tbsp smoked sesame oil
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
Red pepper flakes
1-2 tbsp of lemon or lime juice
1/4 cup sesame seeds 

Cook noodles according to pack instructions until al dente, drain and run cold water over the noodles to stop them cooking further.

Heat oil in a wok or other big pan. Fry chopped onion for a few minutes, add minced garlic and fry for another minute, add sliced bell pepper, chicken strips, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, pepper flakes and lemon or lime juice. Fry until chicken is done. Add the noodles, make sure it’s heated through, add the sesame seeds, check taste, add soy, honey or sesame oil if necessary. 

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