Dinner feeling: I broke the ice! I cooked the first tajine of my life (with chicken, lemon and olives)

If you live in Romania or Transylvania a chicken, lemon and olive tajine might sound and be a bit too exotic for your taste. It is a great, flavored, incredible dish, but if you’re used to eat only the cabbage rolls with meat and rice, or if the most exotic dish you’ve ever tasted was cheese omelet or slănină (pork fat), then you might not like this dish.

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I’m not saying I’ve eaten all, or that I am used with the most exotic dishes in the world (oooh, I’m really far from that), but I have this open minded view over the food matters. I really think that if you want to know a nation’s heart, you must taste their food. You must sit with them on the same table and share their favorite soups, or main courses or desserts, together with their stories.

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That’s why, I’m trying as much as possible to educate my palate, to be able to enjoy some crazy tastes:). So, if you ask me, the world of taste is almost infinite and fascinating and I can’t wait to discover as much as possible of it.

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As you may know already, I got two great presents on my birthday. Two tajine cooking pots 🙂 I could not wait to use. I was dreaming about such a pot especially that I was aware they would open the door for an entire world of interesting tastes.

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The pots are great, really good quality from Emile Henry and I really don’t want to know how much they cost. I can’t say I could not imagine….Anyway, they are such a good quality pots, that you can use them everywhere: in the oven, on an open flame, on an electric stove (as ours) and even on hot kohl.

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So, in the spirit of a great experiment, I prepared, for our dinner today, the first tajine of my life and it came out great. We really, really loved it, even I’m sure my next tajines are going to be better and better 🙂 (yeah, I know I’m the Queen of Modesty)

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What I used:

*6 chicken drumsticks

*turmeric

*salt & pepper (they always go together as the day and the night :))

*garam masala

*ginger powder

*onion & garlic from our garden

*lemon rind

*2 spoons of olive oil

*1 tea spoon of honey

*olives (with stones)

*the tajine pot

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How I did it:

1. I sprinkled a large plateau with the salt, pepper, turmric, garam masala and ginger powder and mixed all the spices together.

2. Trundle the chicken in the spices until is well covered, then place it in the fridge for one our (I cheated, cause I let it in for just a half hour)

3. In the meantime chop the garlic and the onion and sautee them in a half spoon of olive oil. When they’re soft take them out and put them aside

4. Take the chicken our from the fridge and fry it well in the rest of your oil

5. Put the tajine vase on heat, add the chicken, the onion and garlic, the lemon rind, olives, the honey and some warm water. If you want more sauce add more water, but you don’t need too much to cook your great dish

6. Put the lid on and let it cook  slowly for about one hour, or more, on a very soft heat.

7. Serve it with plain basmati rice, or if you like it a bit salty add some salt.

 

Introducing a new cat to an old one. A not so difficult task

Let’s say you own a cat. A black, crazy and a bit aggressive male one. And let’s imagine that one day, when you were preparing to go for a show, a new tiny, cute, striped guy “falls” directly into your arms.

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Humans who know a bit about cats know that they are jealous creatures. Even animals, they resemble with people so much, especially that they can be really possessive, skeptical about new arrivals into the house (their house) and that you really can’t make them do what they don’t want to.

Ok…..So we had this new guy we had decided to keep especially to give a play partner to our older cat, Miaunel, who is beating all the cats around and who doesn’t tolerate any feline around.

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I was worried, of course, and we were thinking what to do and how to make the meeting as smooth as possible, especially that Norocel, the little one was so tiny and fragile that I could imagine Miaunel killing him with just one strike.

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So if you find yourself in this situation, follow these steps and your cats will become good friends or naughty brothers as ours

1. For the first 3-4 days keep the cats separate and try to spend as much time as possible with the new one. Show him you’re the one who’s going  to give him love and food. This way you’ll help him trust you.

2. When you feel and see the cat is not scared of you anymore, introduce him to the older cat. We kept Norocel in our arms when he first meet Miaunel to be sure Miaunel is not going to have a bad reaction

3. After 3 or 4 meetings like this let them eat together. This is how they’re going to relate each other with a nice experience like eating. Make sure to not yell at them and to not scare them

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4. Be always there, with your cats when they are together and if things are starting to heat and one of them gets irritated end the meeting

5. Let your cats eat together and when they feel comfortable in each other presence, let them stay together longer

6. Let them play but only under your supervision. Soon they will become good friends if they don’t beat each other

7. Be extra careful if the kitten is younger than 3 months.

Breakfast feeling: Fine herbs omelette (just because is an ordinary Wednesday)

I had this omelette in mind for a while, cause I was thinking I should use somehow in a creative and tasty way the fresh herbs we have all over our young garden.

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I love herbs and omelettes, especially those created with butter so there was this bug that bothered me. Cause when an idea comes into my mind and is related to anything edible or creative I really have to do it.  Cause if I don’t, the sleep runs away from me.

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So I did it today. This morning, actually, in a not so special day. But why should you wait for a really special day or anniversary to eat something fine or tasty or to make yourself or beloved ones a nice gift. My Wednesday gift for Laurentiu was this omelette. A fine one because of the herbs I used: marjoram, tarragon, peppermint and sage.

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What you need:

*fresh marjoram, tarragon, peppermint and sage, chopped and mixed together

*eggs (2 for Laurentiu, 1 for myself)

*butter and some olive oil (I use oil to prevent the butter from getting burned)

*brie cheese

*young (or old) garlic

*salt & pepper

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How to do it:

1. Chop the garlic and the herbs. Mix the herbs together, but keep the garlic aside.

2. Beat the eggs, add salt, pepper and the herbs

3. Heat the pan add the butter, olive oil (both in very small quantities) and add the garlic. Let it soften for 10 seconds and be careful not to burn it (it would become bitter)

4. Add the eggs, cook the omelette and when is almost ready add the cheese and put a  lid over the pan to help it melt

6. We ate it with toast bread and fresh radishes from our garden

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Not one, but two gorgeous birthday gifts (Tajine vases)

Tomorrow, on July 7 th is going to be my birthday. Because this year the 7 th  will be on a Monday, the day of the week not even the grass isn’t  growing, we kept the “party” on Saturday. I can’t say it was a party in the real sense of the word, cause there was not a big gather of people but the most valuable ones on earth, for me..

The party is not what I wanted to talk about, actually, but about the two of  the presents I got. They say that if you really wish for something, the Universe conspires to bring you what you wish for. Ah, and if you have around people who really love you, I may add.

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So, to unlock the mystery, I really, really wanted a tajine vase. I have no idea (yet) how to use it or what to cook in there, but I love  to learn and try new things, to explore new tastes.

Tajine vase  is almost as a small oven, used in northern Africa area, in Morocco, and you need only the ingredients a little water and fire to have a great clay oven for a really slow cooked food.

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My sister with her boyfriend and Laurentiu didn’t talk before, but they all knew how much I would love a tajine vase. So they bought me one, and I must say these are some of the most beautiful presents I got and I love them both so much…

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I can’t wait to explore the recipes of the moroccan cuisine and maybe, the transylvanian one created in those lovely, intriguing and interesting vases

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Don’t you like your garbage can? Hide it!

As stupid as it may sound, but around here (in the whole country) people don’t collect the garbage selectively. What means that? Well….We have one garbage can for all the waste, where we put together all the materials from bio waste, till plastic, glass, paper and metals. Stupid, right? And so wrong for the environment. But it seems the light starts to sparkle in the tunnel, cause starting next year things are going to change.

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Actually some modest signs can be seen already, cause people who live in individual houses are encouraged to separately put, in bags, the materials that can be recycled.

What I wanted to say is that we have one big garbage can we use for our garbage disposal and some plastic bags for the recycled stuff, and they were staying somewhere near the house, cause it was easier to be taken out, in the street, weekly. The big garbage can was staying not far from my eyes, actually and I hated it. No wonder why. I’ve never heard of a garbage can winning the Miss Universe contest, right? So I started to think on the solution. And, as long as I’m writing this post, I’ve found it.3

 

We used (Laurentiu, actually, cause he is the talented one in the family) the old pallets we had around the house from the constructing materials, to create a “home” for our garbage. He let space for the air to flow freely, to prevent the smell, he painted it in our house’s colors and added even a fix window frame, to make it more realistic. I’ve been thinking to add a flower box under the window and to plant flowers there, for a better look.

I must say I love what he did, especially that the “house” was placed in the back of our yard and you can see no garbage can around anymore.

The house doesn’t have a door – yet – but is going to….

 

 

Yay! Our Home is 1 Year Old. Before, After and in the process pictures

Happy Birthday to you Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear hooo – ouse Happy Birthday to yoooou!

Yes, starting  today, our tiny white house is one year old. I mean last year on this time we had our paper signed so we became the owners of a….terrible, terrible new home :)))). Yes, I’m laughing now, but this is exactly how I felt – really scared – when I knew this house is our. For real, real.

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As I wrote in one of my previous posts, we’ve never seen it as it was. Not before buying it but the reality hit us after we gave the money away. It hit me, at least, cause Laurentiu loved the house even when it was an ugly “Beast”.

They say, people make the place, and we tried to do our best in the past months. Today, after 12 months, I can say we are wiser, I think I would be able to take a new house from scratch :)))) just for fun and to use my experience, I know a lot about real estate, how a good house must look like and many things about constructions. The most important lesson we’ve learned is that nothing is impossible as long as you don’t give up, even everything around tells you you have not a single chance to succeed. What I also love is that we became a source of inspiration for some of the people who dream to have a house on their own.

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12 months ago we had a yard full with weeds and coops, and a house with no water, no electricity, with not a real bathroom or kitchen, with a bad roof and bad floors, with broken windows and no modern heat system. Today we have a tiny white house, with a big kitchen where I can create my recipes, with all the things we love and inspire us, two cats – Miaunel & Norocel – a small terrace with an eating spot, our own lawn, a flower garden and a vegetable one :).

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I know this is not much for some people, but for us is an entire world. I also know we still have a lot of work to do around, but there is not bigger pleasure than waking in the morning and drink the coffee outside, in the garden, while watching the cats play.

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Wondering what we did this year? Well:

*we washed the walls till the bricks, just to make them stronger and to make a new coating and the insulation

*we changed the roof completely and we removed the old chimneys

*we removed the old wood floors, just to make a concrete floor, then a new wooden one

*we created a new window hole and we replaced all the windows

*we transformed a former room in the kitchen and we opened the hallway

*we created a small bathroom in a part of the hallway

*we painted the walls, the furniture, the old wooden doors and we transformed one of them in a french door

*we bought some new kitchen furniture, light fixtures all over the house and outside

*we changed the couch, our old stove

*we changed all the plumbing, electric and water network, and we made a new sewerage

*this spring we replaced the old yard wall with a new one, we put down all the coops we had around and the garage, just to make more room for our garden.

We still have a lot to do but about our future plans I’m gonna tell you tomorrow.

For now, champagne to everyone!

PS With the pictures I started backwards, cause I posted some of the yard before, after and in the process photos.

The edible treasures from our tiny vegetable garden

No, there is nothing glamorous about vegetables. Usually they need sticks to not fall, their flowers look pretty ugly and the plants themselves are not good looking at all. You know already you’re not gonna say, “What a beautiful pea plant or cucumber!”, when you’ll see one, am I right?

I must say that from all the veggies, I like how onion blooms, the smell of tomatoes leaves and how the potato plant looks like when is young and green, even I’m aware is highly poisonous.

5(the blooming red onion we want to take the seeds from, the sour cherry tree with a charm – Medusa’s Eye – and a straw bird house)

Anyway, the vegetables don’t even have to be glamorous or beautiful at all. This is flowers’ job. The vegetables have another destiny: to bring flavor in our lives, to feed us and to keep us healthy. Today I’ve discovered another thing about veggies. They can make you happy (Not high. Happy!), because when I saw the potatoes, OUR potatoes I couldn’t eat anything else but french potatoes from our harvest. And they tasted divine. This was the moment I decided to show you some of our future harvest.

4(our chaotic, yet beautiful tiny vegetable garden)

There is another thing to say. If you expect to see a perfectly straight line, with no trace of weed, if you’re an order maniac, stop reading right now, cause our vegetable tiny, tiny garden is an artistic one, so a bit chaotic created under a sour cherry tree, with some weeds, but I must tell you this is perfectly organic. So all the vegetables it grows are very, very tasty. Sweet and tasty as I could feel it with our “spring” potatoes.

2we have here different kind of tomatoes. it is such a joy to see that one of them actually started to get red :). Are we talking here about an ashamed tomato?

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1the potatoes. aren’t they gorgeous? we ate them all in no time. fried, sprinkled with cheese (and thyme only for me)

3some cucumbers are tiny

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13here is just a part of our white onion. yes, this is tasty too and we have so many that we gave some of it to my sister.

11we planted 3 raspberry trees. 2 red ones and one yellow. some of them made some juicy fruits, but they are too young for a great “production”

 

Breakfast feeling: Eggs in bacon nest with Caprese salad

I know, you know, he/she knows, they know, we all know how important the breakfast is. Yes, of course we know that all we eat in the morning gives fuel to our body and energy for the most part of the day. There is an old, wise saying, I’m totally agree with: Eat like an emperor in the morning, like a king on lunch and like a poor man in the evening. 

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I know I’ve been writing a lot about food, lately, and even I wanted to show you how our garden looks like after two months, and to give you some news about our newest cat, Felix Norocel (Lucky Felix), I ended writing about….food, of course. About the breakfast we had today, actually.

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I had some mozzarella in the fridge and since the vegetable market is full with beautiful garden tomatoes, I thought a caprese salad might be great. And this was the perfect moment to use the Greek basil we have in our garden, anyway.

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But enough with talking and let’s create a great and flavored dish: eggs in bacon nest with Caprese salad.

THE EGGS:

You’ll need a muffin pan for this and a preheated oven on 200 Celsius degrees, eggs (I used 2 for each person), bacon, olive bread, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme (if you like cheese, grate some and sprinkle each egg with it before you put them in the oven).

With a cookie cutter make circles out of bread (since I like the not so perfect things, I used the knife to create not so round circles). Put one circle bread on each hole of the muffin pan and sprinkle with olive oil. Around the bread put slices of bacon, to create a “nest” like form. In the nest crack an egg and add salt, pepper and cheese on top of it. Do the same with each egg then put it in the oven until the eggs are going to have the consistence you like

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THE SALAD

I love fresh basil for the fresh and summery taste it gives to dishes and this is one of the main reasons I like caprese salad so much.

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You’ll need fresh basil leaves, mozzarella, tomato, olive oil, balsamic vinegar (I used lemon juice), salt and pepper.

Slice the cheese and tomato then, put them on the plate you’re gonna serve the salad, like this: tomato, cheese, tomato, cheese and so on. Sprinkle your salad with fresh basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice or vinegar and olive oil.

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and you’re ready

 

Dinner feeling: Layered polenta with chicken, vegetables and parmesan. All accomplished in the oven

When it comes to polenta, you can say with no fear of mistake that is one of our national food. I know, I know there is nothing glamorous about it. (I guess we are not as glamorous as we think we are :D). And how could it be glamorous, anyway? Polenta is just corn and when you taste it, you have just 2 options: to like it or to hate it.

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I guess I’m the exception on that matter, cause I’m somewhere in the middle, between Yes and No, because I’m not crazy about polenta, but I admit there are dishes that go PERFECTLY with it. And today I’m gonna tell you about the last one.

The secret about food and cooking is to explore the taste. Once you know perfectly how some of the base ingredients taste, then you can try to combine them. In all the forms you have in mind. It is like, with an open mind, as a painter, you’re trying and trying to find a new color. Or medicine for the soul. Sometimes the food can miraculously transform in the perfect way to heal a wounded heart, being able to bring happiness in other people’s eyes.

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For today, as you already guessed, polenta is going to be our main character and I warmly advice you to try this recipe cause you’re gonna love it, for sure (even you don’t like polenta very much, cause you have to like it just a little bit to really enjoy the dish). That’s my recipe and I’ve tried it before, but this time it came out great.

What you need

For Polenta:

*special corn flour for polenta

*salt

*water

*5 grams of butter or a 1/2spoon of olive oil (I used olive oil)

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How to do it

This is a very simple thing to do. Heat the water in a pot (if you put too much water your polenta will be huge) and add salt. Taste it (the saltier the water, the saltier polenta you’ll have). Add the butter or the oil. When it almost starts to boil add the corn flour while stirring. Is very important to stir if you don’t want to have lumps in your polenta. Lower the heat and let it boil stirring once in a while until is ready (in about 7 minutes)

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For the vegetable layers 🙂

*3 big green onions (use 2 medium onions if you don’t have the green ones)

*some chicken breast cut in cubes

*3 tomatoes

*3 peppers

*salt, pepper, a chilli (if you like it spicier)

*garlic (green or in cloves)

How to do it

1.Take the skin out from the tomatoes, then chop all the vegetables.

2.In a deep frying pan add a spoon of olive oil then add the chicken. Fry it on fast heat until is ready.

3. Add the onion, and let it soften a bit, for 2 minutes, then add the peppers. Heat them for 3 minutes

4. In the same composition add the garlic and the tomatoes and let the vegetables boil together until the flavors mix (for about 5 minutes on high heat)

5. When the tomato juice is reduced, add the salt, pepper. I put a pinch of thyme too. Taste it and if it’s perfect, turn off the fireNow it’s your dish’s time: In a oven pot make a base layer of your polenta, 1,5 cm thick. Sprinkle it with grated parmesan, then add a layer of your vegetable composition, then polenta again and parmesan. Close it with the vegetables sprinkled with grated parmesan.

6. Put it in the oven on 180 degrees until the cheese melts.

And you’ll have a yummmmmmmyyyyyy dish for your dinner 🙂