There is no set recipe for this dish, it’s all down to how you like it.

Firstly let me explain something about gibanica (gib-an-it-sa). It isn’t eaten as a main course or a starter. It’s rarely eaten with anything else, although it seems some like it with a bit of sour cream. It’s normally served all by itself, either straight after the main course at a slava or other big sit-down meal; or  just with a coffee, followed by a piece of walnut torte or figs and yoghurt.

I didn’t like it as a child – or rather it didn’t like me -eggs and cheese didn’t agree with me. I make it now and then, when the mood takes me. And each one is different.

What you need:

1 large round enamel tevsija. You don’t have one? Then any good-size oven dish will do – a deep one.

1 packet of fresh Greek or Turkish filo pastry – but you will only need to use half the sheets.

Alternately make your own filo! Just a good plain flour, warm water and olive oil – plus patience and working by the feel of the dough. I used to make it with my mother and stretch it over the dining table.

Anyway, let’s carry on.

Pre-heat the oven to pretty hot.

Take a large bowl and in it crack 8 medium-size eggs

Whisk them and add a little salt.

Add approx 250g of butter or margarine or olive spread

Add 250g of cream cheese  low or full-fat

Grate approx 300g of a white crumbly cheese like wensleydale into the bowl

Add around 500ml of milk semi-skimmed or skimmed

Now gently break up the butter and cream cheese in the mixture,whilst stirring round the crumbly cheese and milk. What you should have is a lumpy mixture, not too runny. Taste it, it should be slightly salty.

Oil the base of your oven dish and take two sheets of filo. Place them in the bottom all scrunched up like a range of mountains with peaks. Ladle over some of the mixture.

Put on the next two sheets in the same manner and repeat the ladling. Eight sheets are usually enough. The last two go on top -all the mixture should underneath them.

Take a sheet of greaseproof paper and place on top. Sometimes I line the dish with paper as well.

Pop the gibanica in the oven for 30 minutes. It should rise. Take away the paper for the last 10 minutes to let it brown. The gibanica is normally done after 40 minutes -give it another five if you are not convinced.

I like my gibanica warm, some prefer it straight out of the oven, others stone-cold. Keep it in the fridge and it will last up to three days.

How much should you eat in one sitting? My advice is be sensible -it’s very filling even if you use all low-fat, skimmed-milk ingredients. I’m happy to have a piece for lunch followed by some fruit. A slice at breakfast? Yes, very decadent! It’s a great dish for guests when you’re not in a cake mood and you are savoury (like me) rather than sweet. Enjoy.

No Time To Work

I don’t know about your time, but mine is taken up more and more with projects,but not all work-related. In fact, they are becoming more about every day living, books, music, knitting, gardening, training and now the future education of my son.

The notion of getting a well-paid full-time job seems to have left me now, after living in the Highlands for 13 years, I’ve come to realise that possibly it’s not going to happen for me. Various factors come in to play here, not least because I have to take caring for others in to account, but also as someone who isn’t part of the cultural ‘norm’ here, it’s shall we say, a wee bit tricky. I’ve discussed this very problem with others who understand and empathise with my experience and the narrowness of culture as it has become in this region. By narrowness, I mean the lack of acceptance of diversity and just a very few individuals running the joint.

However, there are far more important things to be concerned with than small-minded people. There are of course, lots of people here who relish diversity, as I do and it’s with them that I can share my passion for life.

So why no time to work? Work has become pretty boring lately, I won’t go in to detail, because it is boring! I need stimulation on a daily basis and am inventing my own, with a hope that other folk will want to join in with me.

This is one project, the damned yard! I have renamed my back garden after Ivo Andric’s novel of the same name. I recommend reading it, it’s all about imagination and how it can save us from damnation. This garden is in desperate need of revitalising, part fruit orchard, part currant, some herbs and lots of sticky willie, ticks and ground elder – it’s ready for a re-vamp. I know what I want to happen in it -I want it to be a haven for bees and for it to give me lots of fruit. Perhaps even get involved with people of similar notions across the world. There is no need to be confined to locality these days.

Then there’s the writing thing, am just about to finish up the Scottish Book Trust Family Legend programme and it’s been a good experience. I still have three books to finish off and am inspired to do so by my fellow nanoers. One will be off to the publishing world this year, that is a guarantee. I have another idea, but it’s a kept secret until it comes to fruition. Excuse the pun, but growth seems to be the thing of 2011. Then there’s me – another project, but that’s another story. We plan on 2011 being a good year in terms of small successes, developments, good music and happiness-hopefully everything else will slot in to place.