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  • Writer's pictureMaximilian Sam

Welcome To The Stray Army

It's been a busy few weeks. There's part of me wishing we'd stop having bright ideas, as it always leads to far more work than expected. You'd think, by now, we'd have learned our lesson.

Hopefully, you'll have seen the biggest piece of news. We've launched our new merchandise shop with three exclusive designs across a vast range of products, from t-shirts to lunchboxes. To our surprise, the first sale happened within hours of the shop going live. A huge thanks to everyone at Spreadshirt who carry out all the hard work behind the scenes whilst we just come up with designs. they've been wonderful and the perfect partner in bringing the "Stray Army" brand to life.

There are plenty of products to choose from and more designs in the pipeline. We'll let you know every time a new range goes live. When you make a purchase, Spreadshirt handles everything, including taking card details, addresses, etc. We don't have any access to this information at any point. The full Terms & Conditions can be found here.

This leads us to a less obvious addition we've made. You can now sign up to subscribe to There's no cost, and it guarantees you'll be the first to hear all the news of cover reveals, new books, merchandise, and much more. There'll even be some free giveaways and special offers in the future, too. When you subscribe, we will keep your name and email address securely, but will never ask for bank or card details. All book and merchandise sales are handled by third-party providers, so we have no need for your financial details.

Setting up the subscription side of things was the hardest part of the entire process, and it was entirely our own fault. We were caught between creating a members' area or a subscription service. We wasted many days failing to create a members' area that would do justice to the "Stray Army" world we're trying to create. In the future there will almost certainly be a members' area offering exclusive content, but it's too soon to go down that route just yet. Instead, we'd rather you subscribed so we can share all our news and other things with you.

We also spotted another time-consuming issue. Suffice to say, how many shades of yellow are there? We've been through everything now to make sure the colours match and won't be making that mistake again. There's also been a lot of work on producing videos and other materials. it'll be nice to get back to writing books again.

Coming Soon

On that note, Maximilian Sam's next book will come out in the next few weeks. Titled "Stories From A Stray", it's a book for Mums and Dads this time. It contains a variety of short stories across different genres, including some true ones. Subscribers to the site will receive an email with the cover reveal and publication details, so it's well worth signing up. We can give you a flavour (you'll realise why that's the world's worst pun in a moment) of one of the short stories by sharing a recipe with you. there's another one in the book too. You guessed, there's a short story involving a chef!

A Free Recipe

Max currently lives in Turkiye where, except for spending time with his "Stray Army", his favourite pastime is his weekly food shop. The local markets are amazing. It's crazy how having access to fresh produce can change what we think of certain foodstuffs. He used to hate aubergines, now he's sharing a recipe for them with you.

aubergines and chillies on sale on a market stall
Fresh Aubergines

There are two different recipes for the filling. One is meat, the other vegetable. Everything is interchangeable, so making a vegan or other option is pretty simple. Also, use what you have in the kitchen. Dashing to the shop may not be the best idea if you have a similar substitute at hand.

Stuffed Aubergine - A common Turkish dish with my own take on it.


For the Aubergine:

2 Aubergines

Olive Oil


For a Meat Filling:

Vegetable Oil

Butter (lots of butter. I love butter.)

1x Onion (finely chopped)

2x Cloves Garlic (sliced)

2x Large Tomatoes (chopped) (you can use tinned, but why would you when you can use fresh?)

2 tbsp Tomato Paste

600g Minced Lamb (or Beef if you prefer. It'll probably work with minced Turkey too.)

2 tbsp Dried Oregano

2 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce (or Worcestershire Sauce. It's difficult to get here, so I use Soy.)

400g cheese that melts well under a grill (there's an amazing stringy cheese here that works really well, but something like cheddar is just as good.)

For a Vegetable Filling:

1/2 cup Vegetable Stock

1x Onion (finely chopped)

2x Cloves Garlic (sliced)

2 tbsp Dried Oregano

2 Large Tomatoes (chopped)

200g Mushrooms (sliced)

150g Courgette (diced)

150g Cauliflower Florets

Big handful of Spinach (torn)

100g Carrots (grated)

400g vegetarian cheese suitable for melting


To Cook The Aubergine:

Cut the aubergine in half, then cut down through the flesh, being careful not to pierce the skin (we'll need it later), in a zigzag pattern. Sprinkle over the salt and drizzle with olive oil. Place in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 40 minutes. This softens the flesh. When cooked, remove from the oven and scoop the flesh into a mixing bowl. Be careful not to pierce the skins.

Whilst the aubergine is in the oven we can make our filling.

To make a Meat Filling:

Add the oil to a large frying pan on a medium/high heat. Add a generous dollop of butter and melt. Add the finely chopped onions and sliced garlic. Cook for one minute before adding the dried oregano. turn the heat down to medium and cook until the onions have started to go translucent, but not brown. Add the tomato paste and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the mince and brown. When it's fully browned, add the chopped tomato and soy sauce. Don't add any salt, as soy is inherently salty anyway. Turn onto a low heat and allow the mince to cook through slowly for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want a quite dry filling so the melted butter, soy and tomato should give you enough moisture. If it's getting too dry, just add a little beef stock.

To make a Vegetable Filling:

Add the oil to a large frying pan on a medium/high heat. Add the finely chopped onions and sliced garlic. Cook for one minute before adding the dried oregano. Turn the heat down to medium and cook until the onions have started to go translucent, but not brown. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, courgette, carrots, and cauliflower florets and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of vegetable stock. Simmer for 10 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked through and the mixture has started to go sticky. Add the spinach, as this will take seconds to cook.

What's next?

When your choice of filling is cooked, put it in the mixing bowl with the aubergine and mix well. Place the aubergine skins on an oiled baking tray and fill each with the mixture. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and be generous with it. Place the filled aubergine skins under a hot grill until the cheese is melted. take out and sprinkle with finely chopped spring onions and a pinch or two of sumac.

Finally, sit back and enjoy.

That's us done for now. We're off to write more articles on Watford Football Club. Until next time.


MaxS and The Strays

PS. Don't forget to visit our merchandise shop and have a browse around.

PPS. Don't forget to subscribe to keep up with all the latest news.


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