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)

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?

14some are red, but others still green

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

12but others make me wait impatiently to make some fresh, homemade tzatziki

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. 

1578

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.

1211

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.

1314

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

12

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.

534

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.

6151617

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.

3

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.

5

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)

12

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)

4

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 🙂

 

 

 

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.
crete2

                                                                                              (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…

Selfie :)

Yeah, I was born one month ago, but I know what “Selfie” means. And, because it’s a trend, I thought to myself: “Hey, I can try one Selfie too. Or maybe two”.

pufi1pufi2

There’s a new guy in town. He fell out of a linden tree :)

Miaunel, our black cat, loves to be our single “child”. He likes his food, his territory and he beats up almost any cat that comes around “his yard”. Officially, we have only Miaunel, even we feel pity for 2 other cats we use to feed once in a while, when they appear on our doorstep. But they are “wild”, don’t let us touch them, run like crazy only if we look at them, and don’t come around every day.

new3(we gave him a soft sock to play, to forget, a bit, about his mother)

Despite the love for his territory, Miaunel often feels bored and he comes and go every day, in search for fun. This is the reason we wanted to bring him a play mate. We thought a white cat would be nice, like Kusturica’s movie “White cat, black cat”, but the fate had something else in mind.

A funny thing happened yesterday evening. Laurentiu and I wanted to see a dance show and had in mind to take a walk to the event, and to forget about the car, because of the beautiful evening. This is how, not far from our street we heard a scared miawing. We looked closely and we discovered a grey striped kitten stuck in a tree. We took a chair from my father’s place and after some considerable efforts, aided by a juicy chicken bite, Laurentiu could get the little fellow out from the linden tree.

new2

He was so little, so tiny and so scared, thin and hungry that we HAD NO CHOICE but take him home. We fed him, cuddled him and let him sleep on a towel on the couch for the night. The funny thing is that, even he cried out for his mother in the evening, he was quiet over night and in the morning he was not so scared anymore and even played.

Miaunel didn’t meet him yet (cause the new little guy is a boy cat), we let the kitten get used to us first, for a few days, than we’ll introduce him to Miaunel. The new guy doesn’t have a name yet, either. We feel is a little too early for that, but, if everything goes well, he will soon have one.

new

I had in mind, maybe, to call him May, cause we are pretty sure he was born in the beginning of May and is about 1 month old.

 

 

Super easy: Make your own cream cheese with herbs

Summer is herb’s time and is a great idea for you to buy some seeds, to plant them in pots and to have then, fresh herbs to give savor to your dishes.

We made a trip in the vegetable market the other day and  we came home  with fresh quark cheese, tomatoes, peppers, local pecorino cheese and in season fruits…

24

In the matter of shopping, I like to buy local, and as clean fruits and veggies as possible. We do the same with eggs and cheese, but this is not a hard thing to do around here, cause we’re living in the “cheesiest” part of our country. The people here are famous for the way they make the cheese, so if you come around Sibiu area, don’t forget to taste the cheese. I’m sure you’re gonna love it.

15

We had today an easy going breakfast, outside, and it was perfect for this day, we call Rusalii, a very important ortodox holiday. Because of the easy going feeling I had since early morning when we woke up, I felt  like making a cream cheese with herbs, all natural, with a pinch of salt, olive oil and some black pepper (some people would use white pepper, but I like how black pepper look on the white “space” of the quark). Is easy to do, ready in no time, has a lot of flavor and has a cooling effect.

1098

What you need

*low fat quark

*1/2 spoon of olive oil

*a pinch of salt&pepper

*fresh herbs (I used sage, thyme, marjoram, mint and basil)

765

How to do it:

1. I made it in the container I bought the cheese, then I put the flavored cheese into a tiny coffee cup to make it more appealing.

2. Chop the herbs in small pieces and add them in the cheese together with the oil, salt and pepper. Ornate it with fine spring onion rings

 

Sunny breakfast with home baked focaccia

I really, really like to bake and especially to bake bread. I don’t even know why…Maybe because for my people bread has a central role in their lives and on family’s tables. There is something almost magical and mythical about bread and I remember my grand ma each time I feel freshly baked bread’s aroma.

108

I love to put my fingers into the warm and beautiful smelling dough and to knead it until is ready to grow…and grow…and grow….and to magically be transformed into a happy round bread.

Today I woke up together with the sun. I don’t know why and what made the sleep ran so fast and early from me and since it was too early, I thought I might bake some focaccia. You know, already, my passion for Mediterranean Sea and for the herbs the sea shores grow, so I have chosen focaccia especially because I felt happy to see the sun shining again after so many rainy days.

1314(this dough looks like a beautiful full moon, isn’t it?)

I like the rain, don’t get me wrong. As a person so close with nature and earth, I know we would all die if, one day, the rain would stop to fall. But lately there was too much of it. And nothing compares to a beautiful sunny day after almost 2 weeks of rain, isn’t it?

Our breakfast today was a celebration of the sun and earth, that’s why I prepared a sunny egg (one for each) sprinkled with thyme and parmesan, Mediterranean focaccia with rosemary, thyme and sun dried tomatoes, together with young green lettuce from our vegetable garden.

4213

Let’s talk first about focaccia, the main character of our today story. Before telling you what you need to prepare it, I’m gonna tell you that I didn’t use any measures. I usually make bread how I feel, I let the ingredients, the eye and my gut to guide me, but I will try to do my best to give you some measurements.

What you need

*about 500 grams of flour (make it more if you want a bigger quantity of dough)

*dry yeast (7 grams)

*1 teaspoon of salt

*1 spoon of olive oil

*1/2 spoon of dried oregano for the dough (you can add some dried basil too, if you like)

*about 250 ml of warm water

*a large bowl

*fresh rosemary and thyme, olive oil (and a pastry brush), some big salt for the “topping”

*you can put on top of your focaccia onion, tomatoes, cheese, anything you like

56711

How to do it

Once you have time (cause you’ll need a bit of time), the rest is a real and simple joy. So, let’s do it together!

1. In a large bowl add the flour, yeast, dried oregano (or other herbs) and salt and mix them with a spoon. Make a hole in the center and add the olive oil. Stir everything and add, then, the water little by little, stirring with the spoon. When the ingredients are tied a little, use your hand to create the dough. Your dough must be elastic, not sticky. If it happens, add flour until your dough gets out from your hand.

2. Move the dough on your working board and start to knead it for about 10 minutes. To find out if the dough is ready, transform it into a ball, put a finger in flour and press it a little on the dough. If it comes back, then is ready.

3. Put it back in the bowl, sprinkle it with flour, cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rest and grow in a warm place until it doubles its volume (for about 30 or 45 minutes)

4. When is ready, give it a punch to make the air bubbles get out, then make a ball out of it and stretch it with a rolling pin.

5. Put the flat dough in a tray and with the finger press the dough to create  dimples. Let it grow for about 15 minutes.

6. With the aid of the pastry brush grease your focaccia with olive oil, then add the herbs and salt, and put it in the preheated oven (on 180 degrees Celsius) for about 45 minutes.

7. After this time increase the heat on 200 degrees and let it there for another 10 or 15 minutes until is ready