Eureka! I’ve found out the third food on my Top5 foods/ingredients. Candied oranges! (#1 is chanterelles and #2 is lemon). I love them in cakes or cookies, I love them dipped in chocolate or dusted with powdered sugar, I love them straight. I’ve been making a lot of candied oranges recently, as it’s so easy - you just leave them simmering and do your chores or play with the baby - and then voila, you have a plate of adorable translucent all-natural candies. I’ve even frozen the excesses - I really should learn to make larger batches of foods and freeze them so that I wouldn’t have to panic about dinner every day.
This morning I realized I could add candied oranges to my oatmeal! I cut them in small pieces, mixed them with dried cranberries, and drizzled some maple syrup on top of all that. Mmmm! Those tangy and bitterish flavours of candied orange and cranberry pair perfectly with the slightly smoky aroma of dark maple syrup… in pleasant contrast to the creaminess of oatmeal! I’ve never enjoyed my bowl of oatmeal so much before, and I’m certainly going to repeat this tomorrow.
I’ve always loved long relaxed weekend mornings when I could sit back with a cup of tea and savour my breakfast. With a newborn around (and no more weekends for me), I reappraised the freedom of morning hours. The little one gets quite fussy during night and then sleeps deeply and serenely through the morning. Which gives me a chance to not only get done with the housework in the kitchen and bathroom, but also cook something simple for breakfast. These stuffed French toasts were inspired by a gorgeous Strawberry and Mascarpone French Toast recipe I’ve once seen online and cannot find any longer - I’ve googled for it today, but to no avail. If I ever find it (I should have it somewhere in my bookmarks), I will certainly add a link to it here. Anyway, I had a pack of “Creme Bonjour”, a cream cheese similar to Philadelphia in the fridge, plus some bananas (probably the only fruit I’m allowed to eat uncooked), so I thought I’d try to use these for some stuffed toasts, based on that recipe. And I loved the result! Cream cheese worked even better than mascarpone here, thanks to a hint of saltiness, which balanced out the perfumy sweetness of bananas. That was also very quick and easy to make. So, here is the recipe: Read the rest of this entry »
I’m so excited to finally tell you our very main news – our little daughter Ivanka is here! She is already 10 days old and very pretty :) And she inherited a good appetite from us :) We went home three days after her birth, and the first couple of days were as chaotic as any first-time parents’ first days probably are. I was afraid to accidentally hurt her, I didn’t know where to begin in the morning and how to survive at night time when the baby wouldn’t sleep properly (I guess she’s still mixing day and night). Gradually new activities were added, such as bathing and walking outside, and hey, seems like I learned to juggle all that! Unfortunately, what suffers the most is cooking – I haven’t cooked a decent dinner ever since she was born, but at least I’ve had some free time in the mornings when she was still sleeping so I could have my oats or rice in peace and quiet. Today the weather was so rainy and moody that we decided we’d just sleep by the open window instead of going outside, so I had the time to toast some rolled oats in a pan and make a parfait with some tart and juicy autumn fruit, simmered and cooled, and some plain yogurt. I’ve been told no raw fruit or vegetables, no raw (pasteurized) milk, no beans or cabbages etc, so I guess I’ll have to specialize in breastfeeding-safe recipes for a while.
I didn’t have any special cravings while I was pregnant, but now I have two strong ones – for oats and yogurt. I just can’t live without a bowl of plain yogurt with toasted rolled oats and plum jam in the morning – or just oatmeal with jam or butter… who would have thought I’d ever have oatmeal every other morning of my own free will?? The only annoying thing is that my pregnancy - now breastfeeding - was the reason why I had to start eating meat :( I know that a lot of vegetarians carry on with their diet also during pregnancy, but I was scared that the baby wouldn’t get all the essential proteins, so I had to start eating chicken or meat at least once a week. But, I’ll certainly return to my semi-vegetarian diet when I no longer breastfeed.
Life with a newborn is quite busy, but I’ll try to post some simple recipes every now and then. And now I’ve got to go because I hear her squeak quietly in her crib – just like a nestling or a mouse, so funny :)
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First of all, I would like to say huge thanks for all your nice comments on our First Anniversary post! As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve been on a small break from blogging – that’s because I’ve been living in another place where I had absolutely no free space to take photos. Now I’m back and trying to catch up on your updates. My mailbox is bursting with Foodbuzz newsletters and Twitter notifications… so much to read there! I’ve unsubscribed from about ten newsletters recently in order to clear out my mailboxes, but there are still a few I can’t live without!
The heat and sultriness are still here. I hardly know anyone who has air conditioning at home, summer has always been very mild in Latvia. Air conditioners are bad for the environment, after all. So, there are air conditioners in offices and public places like malls etc, but not in people’s homes. I had grand baking plans for this summer – really wanted to learn to make pizza from scratch, for example – but it’s absolutely unbearable to mess with the oven in this weather. I’ve been making tons of blackcurrant cordial instead. We drink it with ice sparkling water as a refreshing fizzy drink. Stano has been freezing cherry and blueberry ice popsicles and making berry and peach smoothies. Looks like his favourite kitchen appliance is hand blender – he always wants to turn all fruit and berries we get into purée, lol. So he is the master of smoothies in our kitchen.
Today, Mom and I decided to make Lazy Vareniki. These are called “lazy” because in contrast to classic Vareniki (which you might also know as Pierogi), cottage cheese is mixed directly into dough, which is shaped into small dumplings. They are much easier and quicker to make than standard Vareniki. Served with melted butter, sour cream, sprinkled with sugar or accompanied by jam, Lazy Vareniki make a very filling homey breakfast! I had some overripe apricots that I cut into quarters and cooked with sugar and ground cinnamon for some 15 minutes until they turned tender and translucent. I served our Lazy Vareniki with this fresh apricot jam. Mmmm!
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You should never reveal your talents or skills at work if you want to reserve some time for your hobbies. Your boss and colleagues will immediately find a way to apply them. I don’t belong to that type of people for whom career is synonym of happiness; I do my job for a living. That’s why I panic every time I get included in a new project, a working group or in a brainstorming team. I wish I had never said I could edit web pages or make banners. I wish I had never said I could use the computer. I wish I were tiny and invisible. But you cannot be invisible if you’re a press officer and it’s the pre-election period. You must be optimistic, fresh and bursting with energy and ideas. Which eventually brings me to a state of complete stupor, so when I come home from work, all I want is hide under my blanket, sleep, and dream about being invisible to co-workers. Over the last weeks, I’ve been eating frozen string beans and other type of meals you can prepare in 10-15 minutes. I haven’t even opened my last issue of Bon Appetit. I haven’t been checking Tastespotting and Foodgawker…
This is just a recipe for a simple cottage cheese cake my Mum makes. It’s good fresh from the oven or cooled, with crème fraiche or berry jam. One of its main advantages is that it’s very simple to make.
I’m thinking of making lemon&lime sorbet tomorrow – that’s the most complicated dish for me to handle at this time. Wish me luck.
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I’ve always loved burnt sugar. I love the simplicity and rusticity of those hard, translucent lollipops that you can make by chilling burnt sugar syrup; they’re golden-brown like amber and smooth like ice. We found this recipe of burnt sugar sauce in our old Rumanian cookbook (I’ve mentioned it before). I’m used to trusting their recipes, but the first attempt with the sauce resulted in a very runny, thin substance, so we had to considerably reduce the amount of water and milk. Also, I found out that the sauce needed to be cooled well before serving: it’s still too runny when warm. The sauce tasted of milky caramel with a hint of bitterness – that mild kind of bitterness that you find in, say, coffee.
I’ve always loved apples as well. Tart or honey-sweet, green or red, almost any kind, as long they are hard (can’t stand those mushy sorts) and as long as they smell like apples. Not like apple candy, apple shampoo or apple bubble gum, but like real, organic apples! The smell of fresh apples is charming and modest, it’s delicate like silk and melancholic like autumn; it’s one of Nature’s greatest, basic perfumes.
These pancakes are made with local apples that smell of rainy days, and kefir* – sour fermented milk drink. That’s why the pancakes are pleasantly sour-ish.
*If you cannot find kefir, try using buttermilk or a sour thin yogurt instead!
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