As I am writing this post, today 17th February, 2008 my relatives in Cyprus are in church, commemorating my mother’s death, 12 years ago. She died on 23rd February, 1996 and the mnymosyno  (memorial) always take place on the Sunday which precedes the date of death.

This day is always very hard for me because I cannot be there with my other family and share our memories together, so when I saw Apples and Thymes hosting an event about mothers and grandmothers, I thought what a nice opportunity to make my own memorial and share it with my blog co-writers and friends.

My mother gave birth to seven children, one of which died shortly after birth and I am the youngest child, having seventeen years difference from my eldest sister. My mother gave birth to me at the age of 43 and I always remember her as an old lady, as she never dyed her hair and always wore black or dark coloured clothes, as it is a tradition to wear black after the death of beloved ones. Her parents had died and her only brother died when he was around twenty years old.  This is a tradition which is found in many other Mediterranean countries as well.


Apart from remembering my mother always in black, I mostly remember her suffering from her rheumatisms. She had a tough life raising six children and for four years she raised us alone as our father had imigrated to England to work. When we joined our father in England four years later, that’s when she got the rheumatisms as the climate was not good for her health, so after the doctor’s advice that she would keep getting worse,  we packed ONLY our clothes and returned back to Cyprus, to start a new life from scratch.    Unfortunately my other brothers and sister, stayed back in London to work.  

When my father was in England my eldest two sisters, who never left Cyprus, were already engaged to get married and were the only ones who did not go to England. My mother created a home business by turning one of the rooms in the house we lived into a small grocery shop and together with the money our father would send, she managed to build two houses, one for each sister contributing herself in labour force. She became one of the labourers, making cement and whatever other help was needed and in between she would cook and feed both the family and the workers, as well. My sisters managed to graduate high school so they were both working, one in the British Sovereign Base area and the other in the factory of Coca Cola and they also contributed to the expenses.

When my mother cooked she would cook only Cypriot traditional dishes, which of course after so many years of  cooking experience she knew by heart, so I never saw her use a cookbook nor did she write down her recipes anywhere. Only later on when my sisters got married and started creating new, “modern” recipes, when she liked them, then she would ask my sisters how to make them, so she learned a few more.

She never had a mixer in her life but I remember those days after we returned from England, when I was the only child staying with my parents, I would help her to whisk the butter and sugar by hand. Can you imaging that and yet the cake turned out fluffy and light as a feather!!! I used to say “Mum, is this okay, my hand hurts”, she would smile and say “Just a little bit more, honey, just a little bit more”. Again when she would roll out dough, she would always call me to help her and she would explain to me how to roll it out. Although she was in constant pain, I do not remember her ever complaining or ever not cooking with love and affection for all of us.

I don’t think that there is a person on earth that will not remember their mother with love. Whenever I remember her it’s not easy to hold my tears and I remember her a lot, especially with all the traditional food I cook and which I have learnt from her.  There are still a lot of her recipes I have never cooked before but my goal is to collect all her recipes, with the help of my sisters and leave them as a legacy to my own children.

I will share many of her recipes in the future but as today I do not have one of her recipes to share,  I have prepared something special with her favourite cheese: Halloumi. 

Cyprus is abundant with delicious fruit. From ancient years, they would dry them in the sun (pasta frouta) during the summer, to have them during winter. In my recipe, dried fruit are cooked in commandaria and epsima (grape molasses) until the syrup is reduced to a caramel consistency. Halloumi is not usually used in desserts as it is salty but it pairs perfectly with anything sweet.  The taste of the sweet fruit and caramelized peppery syrup with the salty halloumi is heaven.  Serve poached fruit with halloumi but also it is ideal to serve with ice cream,  Greek yoghurt or in other desserts.

Another way to use the poached fruit is by cutting it into smaller pieces in salads, especially with rocket.  Use some of the syrup to make vinaigrettes.

Halloumi and Caramelized Poached Dry Fruit

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices halloumi
  • 2 tbsp olive oi1

Marinating Ingredients:

  • 110 grams (3.88 oz) dried prunes
  • 130 grams (4.58 oz) dried apricots
  • 125 grams (4.40 oz) dried figs
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6- 7 cloves
  • 5 – 6 peppercorns (various colours)
  • 2 tbsp epsima (or honey)
  • 1½ cups Commandaria

Directions:

  1. Marinate the prunes, apricots and figs with Commandaria, epsima and spices for as many hours as you can but not less than one hour.
  2. Cook the fruit in a non-stick frying pan mixing for about 20 minutes until the wine is reduced to half amount.
  3. Heat the olive oil, in another non-stick frying pan and fry or grill the halloumi on both sides.
  4. Serve halloumi with poached fruit and syrup.


Update:

In December 2010, I self-published my cookbook with our Cypriot family recipes.

This and many more Cypriot recipes are included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste! which is now available on all Amazon stores.

Kopiaste

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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35 Comments on Halloumi and Caramelized Poached Dry Fruit for my mum

  1. Peter G says:

    Ivy, beautifully written and expressed with so much love…thank you for sharing such a personal aspect of your life….(and thank you for the recipe).

  2. Ivy says:

    Thanks, Peter for your kind words, I feel much better now that I have shared this with others.

  3. Cakelaw says:

    Ivy, This is a beautiful dish to go with a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing your story of your life with your Mum with us.

  4. african vanielje says:

    I am in tears. Your mother must have been an amazing woman. Imagine living in a house built by your mother’s hands. That is truly love made visible.

    Thank you for sharing this with us Ivy, and we look forward to many more stories.

  5. Ivy says:

    Here I go again (tears in my eyes). Thanks very much for giving me this opportunity to express my feelings.

  6. MARIA V says:

    my mother died 2 days before yours, from what i just read in your post. my parents’ deaths were both due unfortunately to cancer, which is a great burden to bear when you have children yourself. my mother didn’t live to see any of her grandchildren, and my father wasn’t in a position to enjoy them in his condition

  7. Ivy says:

    That’s sad to hear Maria. Did you also have the memorial today? My dad died 4 years before my mother but at least they were lucky to see their grandchildren.

  8. Rosie says:

    What a beautiful written post in memory of your mother Ivy. I have tears in my eyes and its very evident your love for you mother from your writing. Thank you for sharing this with us. My own mother died in 2000 so I can fully relate to this post.

    Rosie x

  9. Ivy says:

    Thanks Rosie for the kind words of support. I am sure that if you wrote something for your mother it would turn out the same.

  10. Bellini Valli says:

    It was evident from your story that your mom was loved by many. Your stories are a real tribute to her love for you all. I think you carry on her spirit in your own heart through her recipes and the love you have for your own family every day.Thank you for sharing. I have also nominated you for an award so check out my blog when you have a moment “sis”.

  11. Ivy says:

    Thanks “sis” for your kind words, I just came back from your blog and you have given me great joy after a day full of tears. Thanks you.

  12. Emiline says:

    Such nice memories of your mother. I wish you could be with your family at this time.

    I think this dish would please her. I would love to try halloumi.

  13. Elly says:

    Ivy, this is a beautiful story (and a beautiful dish!). Your mother sounds like a wonderful, amazing woman. It’s no wonder you think about her so much.

  14. Ivy says:

    Thanks Emiline and Elly for your kind words.

  15. The Passionate Palate says:

    Ivy, this is such a heart-warming post. Your mother sounds like a sweet, strong and amazing woman. We never, ever get over the death of our mothers, do we? I love the recipe and I only recently discovered haloumi! Your blog is wonderful.

  16. Ivy says:

    Thanks Jeni, you are right it’s difficult to get over it. Thanks for the kind words and for visiting.

  17. George says:

    As always I am the last to post a comment…. It was a moving story. I didn’t know she had another child that died. She still lives in our hearts… Take care.

  18. Pixie says:

    Aww Ivy, you have brought tears to my eyes. Your mum would be so proud of you, what a lovely tribute to her. And your words were so beautifully written. I am so touched by the closeness the two of you have shared. Part of my reason for starting my blog is to record my mother’s recipes, she doesn’t really follow cookbooks either and so it’s my way of recording them for years to come. Lots of love to you and family.

  19. Ivy says:

    Thanks baby.

  20. Núria says:

    You’ve moved me Ivy!!! What a hard life she had… and so many children… This was a Love Ode ♥ to your mom. Beautiful post.
    Thanks for sharing your memories and feelings.

  21. Ivy says:

    Thanks Nuria, hope your mum and everybody else’s mum will live for many years so that you will not need to write about it.

  22. Ivy says:

    Pixie, your comment just came up too. I don’t know why this is happening and I don’t get all the comments at the same time. I am glad your doing this, Pixie, this is their legacy to us. Cherish it.

  23. Julie says:

    That sounds wonderful, really nice post.

  24. Ivy says:

    Thank you Julie.

  25. Laurie Constantino says:

    Ivy, what a lovely post – and your mother was obviously a wonderful woman and had a profoundly positive effect on your life. May her memory be eternal.

  26. Passionate baker...& beyond says:

    Hi Ivy…how beautifully you wrote that. Truly a remarkable & touching tribute to your mother.Am glad you have such lovely memories; could almost see you as a little girl whipping the butter & sugar by hand! Lovely recipe too. Take care dear girl…

  27. Ivy says:

    Thanks Laurie for the comment.

  28. Ivy says:

    Thanks Deeba, so sweet of you.

  29. sharon says:

    Hi Ivy,
    How beautiful your post is about your mother.. I cannot keep back the tears while reading your story.. What a wonderful women she must have been.. Like mother like daughter.. when I met you Ivy.. I met a new friend.. one of pride, honesty, beauty and a wonderful heart.. Now that I have figured out how to get to your blog and how to leave a comment I will visit much more often,,, thanks Ivy for sharing your memeories of your mother with us… You really touched my heart… sharon

  30. Ivy says:

    My dearest Sharon,
    I am so glad you have visited and managed to leave a comment. Blogging makes us open our hearts and share things which would not have otherwise been said.

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  34. Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the
    pictures on this blog loading? I’m trying to
    figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any responses would be greatly appreciated.

  35. Jess and Brandon from Watch Me Wander says:

    Wow. Such a delicious recipe. It looks amazing. I can’t wait to try it. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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