Create a flavored garden

No, no and no. You don’t need to have a garden to create a small green edible corner. No, you don’t need to be extremely patient to take care of your plants, no, you don’t need to spend a year taking care of them, but yes, you need a tiny green thumb to be sure you’re not gonna kill your herbs because you forget to wet them.

4(my beloved greek basil)

Since I’ve discovered my cooking skills and cooking passion, I understood that, in order to create a good and tasty dish, you need herbs. When it comes to herbs and spices, here in Transylvania, people don’t use them very often, but they still have some favorite green little treasures to flavor their food. Dill in green pea, with carrots and chicken stew, tarragon, they use especially in “ciorbe” (borsh as many know them) and we keep it over winter, in jars, filled with white vinegar. Another herb intensely used in Transylvanian space is thyme, and we put it into sarmale (our traditional meat, rice and cabbage rolls), in the fresh cabbage salad in all the dishes with cabbage if I think well, some other beloved herb being parsley, lovage and bay leaves we usually put in our tomato sweet sauces for meatballs.

1(the sage, a plant I’m not very used to, but I’m willing and learning to use. that’s why I planted it, anyway)

If you ask me, I don’t have any parsley or dill in our garden, cause I hate dill and Laurentiu hates dill and parsley, but I do have basil and Greek basil (a herb considered magic around here), winter thyme, lavender (I have in plan to make ice cream with), marjoram, sage and, yes, tarragon.

6(the winter thyme. I must say I like it, but I prefer the summer one)

The herbs are perfect when dried, but brilliant when they are fresh, that’s why, no matter how much space you have around the house, some window box, small pots in the kitchen counter, a balcony, a tiny, medium or big garden, don’t forget about them. Plant what you love and you’ll like your food more. I guarantee.

3(marjoram, another magical herb…Is magical, indeed, when you combine it with eggs and in a tomato sauce)

Dreamin’ about Crete…

I’ve always imagined Crete as a completely white island. Like a white spot forgotten in the middle of the blue, turquoise or green waters of…the Mediterranean Sea. Maybe because Crete, “Creta” in my language means chalk. A white island made of chalk lost somewhere between Aegean and Lybian Sea.
Today, watching the pictures, I understand I can’t be very wrong in my fantastic image about Crete. It is somehow white, with turquoise waters, with red and brown sand. And the olive trees… the white simple tiny houses (like our) resemble with the island in my mind….

crete1                                                                                           (via baccaraholidays)
I’ve always dreamed to live on an island…Circled by waters…In the middle of nowhere. And there is this strange feeling. Mediterranean Sea and Greece rise this huge fascination on me. I have no idea why, but the first time I felt the sweet air, and seen the dry herbs and grass, the old, old olive trees, my heart decided: “That’s a country, a place on earth, I could easily live on”. Yes, I could live there. And there is just another place on earth I feel drown to like this. French Polynesia. A nail of sand growing in the immense waters of the Pacific.
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                                                                                              (via TripAdvisor)
Lost…lost…lost on an island I don’t know, in the middle of waters. A fragile land that can disappear in a second. But it’s still there. Despite the cruelty of Time, Waters and Fate.

I have no idea how Crete Island smells. Or how are its flavors, but I know already I’m gonna love all the time we’re gonna spend there. 

Circled by waters…
In the middle of nowhere…

Kitchen tips: Beware of herbs :D

“Beware” is not the best word for what I have in mind in this post of mine, but it could be, cause, if you ask me, herbs are one of the most important aspects of a dish. They can be sour, salty, spicy, bitter, they have great flavors, have mythical roots (Ancient Greeks thought herbs are Afrodita’s elements) and most of the time they have medicinal properties. I am deeply in love with herbs and I’m working to improve my garden and collection with interesting and, why not, rare spices.

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As many of you know, some herbs are perfect for white meat, others for red sauces. Unfortunately some of them can be poisonous if you don’t use them in the best quantities. If you want to know more of these, here are some tips:

*lavender tea is perfect if you need to calm down or if you have a sleepless night. Use one tea spoon of lavender for a big tea cup
*lavender and chamomile flowers are great when they’re mixed in ice cream
*be careful with nutmeg, not to use too much cause it can be toxic for you.
*the nutmeg works great with potatoes
*wild garlic is one of the first beautiful greens that appear in spring season. When you’re going to pick it, be careful to not mistake it with lily-of-the-valley’s leaves. They look the same, but the last ones are highly poisonous
*when you cook white meat – fish or chicken – the perfect herbs for them are rosemary, oregano and marjoram. You can apply the “rule” also to white sauces

leom thyme
*thyme makes a perfect pair with eggs cooked in all their forms and also with beans
*home made mayo can win more flavor with tarragon (here, in Transylvania we love tarragon and we keep it in white vinegar over winter. We use it to sour our traditional borsch)
*red sauces made with tomatoes go great with basil, marjoram, sage and thyme because of their astringent touch
*red sauces made with wine go great with cloves and some cinnamon
*peppermint tea is perfect for a disturbed stomach
*saffron, the world’s most expensive spice, if eaten in big quantities can make you laugh a lot 🙂
*thyme works also good with chickpea
*in deserts, cinnamon goes well with apples, but also with peaches
*another flavored leave that might become poisonous is the bay leave. When you cook something don’t use more than two of them. They are highly flavored anyway

Breakfast feeling: Leftovers omelette

As an omelette (and frittata) “specialist” as Laurentiu calls me :), I must say you can create an omelette out of almost anything as long as you have a pan, eggs, olive oil or butter. What I mean is that you can practically add anything to your favorite breakfast omelette. Meat, chicken leftovers, mushrooms, herbs, garlic, pepper and all the vegetables, even corn or sauces.

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Searching through my phone, I’ve found some old omelette pictures I took in winter when I prepared comfort food for one of our cold mornings. Today, in our region is not cold anymore, nor warm, cause even officially we are in summer season, it’s raining and raining….and raining….

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We are fed of rain, but, I guess nobody’s fed of a good omelette anybody can make with chicken leftovers 🙂

What you need

*chicken leftovers

*eggs (I usually use one egg for my omelette and 2 for Laurentiu’s)

*2 garlic cloves (one for each omelette)

*1 spoon of olive oil

*brie cheese sliced (I love it so much, as all the cheeses, actually)

*salt, pepper, thyme and sweet (or hot) paprika

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How to do it

1. Cut the chicken and the garlic, beat the eggs with salt and pepper, add in a small hot pan  half of spoon of the olive oil.

2. Put the chicken in the pan, then the garlic (be careful not to burn it cause it would become bitter) and the eggs

3. When your eggs are almost an omelette, add the cheese and let it melt

4. Add the thyme and the paprika for more color

5. We ate our omelette with a simple salad made of aurugula sprinkled with some olive oil, lemon juice and parmesan.

 

 

 

Our gallery wall doesn’t like to follow rules

There are voices who say a gallery wall must have a theme, or at least a common element that tie all the object put in plain sight seeing, for the people who enter your home.

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Some months ago, sometime in winter we’ve decided to create our own wall and we wanted to recreate there, our story. We have chosen earrings, keys (no connection with anything, but the love we have for old things, with a story)…a poem, family pictures…

I had in mind for a while that we must work on our gallery wall so, last week we bought some interesting things we both fell in love with. I hate the rules and the rulers. I have a big problem with authority, so I can’t cope well with it. That’s why, our wall doesn’t follow the rules. We just put together the things we like, love and who inspire us, some old finds and the story is just in the beginning., cause we still have a lot of work to do there, to enrich our “art” gallery

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Wondering what’s up with the city here? Laurentiu’s friend came by this weekend and he’s creating these cute houses , made of clay. The nice thing is that the houses you see and the tower here are replicas after our real and beloved city.

Enjoy!

ps. I’m trying now to figure a way to hide the ugly nail from the glass teapot

 

 

Breakfast feeling: Mmmmmmmm…Eggs Benedict with Asparagus

Asparagus’ time is almost over. So we’re gonna start to miss it. Soon….Very soon. I like it so much that we ate 2,5 kilos in 2 days, but we still have some left, so I’m gonna transform it into a cream soup.

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We have some bad weather around here, and even Miaunel who loves to stay outside is in the house and is sleeping since early morning. Probably  he had some interesting and busy night. By the way, did I tell you we neutered him? Thank God. Even first we took the decision based on his future kittens with no parents or foster home, we soon started to feel we can’t live with him anymore because of the spraying. Now he is a great cat. Clean and who smells good. Our house and yard are the same. So I feel our Miaunel is back and his cuteness is even greater. We can’t love him more, I can say.

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I realized today I wrote lately only about food and garden. Almost nothing about the house. But they are my main interests right now. Especially that we spend a lot of time outdoor, so most of our days pass in the garden. Anyway, I’m not gonna change my habit now, right? so I’m gonna show you the 5 stars breakfast we had today.

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It was incredible tasty, especially that combines some of our beloved ingredients – eggs, homemade Hollandaise Sauce, cheese (grilled), toasted bread and asparagus. My advice is to save the recipe for a weekend gloomy day, cause you’ll need some time and patience to create it.

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Take your time, don’t panic and enjoy

What you need:

*asparagus (I used green and white)

*some cheese (grated, pecorino, or any cheese you like)

*eggs (I used 2 eggs for every person, and another  one for the sauce)

*a few drops of lime or lemon juice

*2 garlic cloves

*cold butter (about 30 grams)

*bread (one slice for each egg)

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How to do it

1. If you use white asparagus, you have to peel it, but the green one is perfect the way it is. Prepare it like here.

2. In the same water you boiled your asparagus, prepare the poached eggs like here

3. For the Hollandaise Sauce you’ll need one egg yolk, the butter, lime/lemon juice, salt, pepper and some water, all combined in a bain marie vase.

4. The problem here is with the egg. Be careful to not overcook it, cause if you’re not careful you’ll have an unwanted omelette. So in the bain marie put about 3 spoons of water, add the  egg yolk stir everything then start adding the butter cut in small cubes. Don’t put it all together, cause your sauce will not have the creamy consistence.

5. Don’t stop from the stirring , add some extra drops of water if the composition is too thick. Take the pan from the fire and add the lemon juice drop by drop (be careful to not make it too sour) the salt and pepper. You have to taste it (maybe several times) to make it perfect.

6. When your sauce is ready is bread’s  turn. In a hot frying pan add a small quantity of cheese and put right away the cheese over it. Turn the bread and “fry it” on the other side with no cheese.

7. When you’re ready with the bread, create the arrangement for the plate, by placing the bread on the bottom, then the asparagus, then the egg. Sprinkle the egg with salt and pepper and then with the Hollandaise Sauce.

It is just a bit complicated than usual, but I assure you your effort will be awarded with a gorgeous and glamorous taste.

 

 

 

“Ugly”, lovely and unique decorating objects

Some people might find them ugly. For me, they are very, very interesting. I’m not talking here about the white bird I’m gonna put somewhere in the garden, but about the sphere which is actually an oil lamp.

1

Today, before going to work, we’ve decided to stop for a minute in the old stuff store we bought already some of the things around the house. They don’t have very big things, but a lot of small interesting items. I must admit: I like a lot those places. They make me feel great and I have the feeling I landed in a magical land like Alladin’s cave.

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I loved the small oil lamp on the first sight and I’ve learned already I must buy the things I fall in love with cause if I don’t, they start to hunt me for years. So we bought it and it was really cheap for such an interesting mini lamp – 2,5 euros. The wrought iron is one of the things I like too and we bought two iron objects from OBI.

I like the one that look like angel’s wings and the open circle too and I’m gonna put them, both, on our gallery wall. I’ve just cleaned them and I’m looking forward to see them on the wall.

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Another object we bought today which is not in the picture, cause right now is soaked in the water to get clean, it’s a half tea pot made of glass.. You’re gonna love it if you like interesting and different things, so I’m gonna show it to you later, when is nice and clean. 

Tiny white romantic fence for the vegetable garden

One of the main reasons that made us buy a house with a plot was the vegetable garden. Laurentiu and I, we don’t like what our food became so we’re preoccupied on buying as clean fruits and vegetables as possible. We prefer the veggies  markets instead of supermarkets or hypermarkets and, even better, our own bio garden.

cocor after2

We followed the good advice “Don’t plant the vegetables you won’t eat “, so we have there only the vegetables we usually buy: radishes (they are almost eaten :D), a lot of green onion, a huge amount of tomatoes, some chilli peppers, bell peppers (not many), lettuce, chickpea and pea. We also had some old potatoes in our pantry and we planted them too, so in some weeks we’ll have new potatoes for our healthy meals.

cocor beforecocor after

The vegetables we have is not the reason I started this post, actually. The fence is. The tiny white, romantic fence we painted ourselves these days and that we used to define our small vegetable plot. I loved it the first time I saw it and I love it even more now, when is white and in its own place.

I have in mind to create a small sign, where to write: “The Bear’s Garden”. This is a very special garden, a fairy one (from the children books), where the vegetables taste better than regular ones, and where they grow pretty well.

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I also took the liberty to post some random pictures taken around our garden, with the blooming chives, some young climbing rose, a pretty sage plant and the “bird’s” bath put on the ground filled with fresh water every day and used not by birds (because is not high enough), but by bees and cats to drink in hot sunny days.

P.S . Yeah, I know the grass is tall. We’re gonna cut it one of these days.

Snack feeling: Strawberry & banana smoothie

I don’t like to waste food. Each time I throw some spoiled food I’m thinking that somewhere in this world there are children, women, men, old people who have nothing to eat, who didn’t eat anything in that day, or worse who die of starvation. That’s why, I feel really bad when our food gets spoiled, but, against our efforts, it still happens.

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This is the reason I’m trying to buy fresh ingredients, in small quantities, and we are not fond for once in a week shopping trips.

This strange feeling of future spoiled food came up in my heart 2 days ago, when we were in the vegetable and fruit market and  bought 2 kilos of strawberries. We both love them, and I don’t know what stopped us from taking 3 kilos. I even asked Laurentiu “Do you think we’re gonna eat them all?” and because he was sure we’ll make it we came home with a lot of the red and juicy fruits.

Today, after 2 days we are out of strawberries and this happened because we ate them like mad men. Eating them fresh was not the only use we gave them, cause yesterday, in a very hot day I used some of them in a strawberry – banana smoothie.

smoo2(I couldn’t resist the pink beauty and I tasted it a bit before I took this picture)

I didn’t have the inspiration to photograph the whole process (is a good thing the inspiration stroke when I saw the yummy result!)….but maybe because the drink is really fast to prepare (it was ready in less than 1 minute).

What you need

1 banana

yogurt (the quantity depends on the glass you have)

7 strawberries

1 coffee spoon of honey

a vertical blender

* in a hot day use the ingredients directly from the fridge, for a cooling effect

How to do it

Wash the strawberries (remove the green parts) and put them in the blender. Add the peeled banana cut in slices, the yogurt and honey. Blend them, put the smoothie in a tall glass and enjoy.