Ivanka has turned 6 months old! It feels like it was a week ago that we brought her home from the hospital, and yet it feels like she’s been here always. The first two and the most exhausting months have simply disappeared from my memory. I know there have been sleepless nights and tears and exhaustion, but I don’t really remember all that. As we all know, that’s how a woman’s brain is designed. It erases all negative memories connected to giving birth and raising a child.
Ivanka has changed so much from a tiny orange-skinned creature to a lively baby interested in everything. She wants to touch our books, drink our tea, taste our food, and of course her biggest dream is to play with the notebooks, mobile phones, and electric cords. The sports programme is prevailing at the moment: she is more interested in learning to crawl and trying to stand up than to learn pronouncing new sounds… what she does love though is to spit with a loud bubbling “ppp” sound - she can do that for hours… *sigh* hope she will make us happy with some more advanced sounds soon!
To celebrate Ivanka’s little anniversary, I made some cupcakes. Well, strictly speaking these were muffins topped with cream cheese and whipped cream and they were too large to be called cupcakes, but anyway. Cakes, mini cakes, large cupcakes, whatever - I am proud that I have managed to bake and decorate them:) They are not as neat and beautiful as what I’d like them to be, but I believe they’re quite okay for a busy Mom :) I’ve never been a perfectionist, after all.
I adapted the recipe for lemon muffins from here and topped them with cream cheese that I whipped with some maple syrup. I had baked these muffins before and I loved how well buttermilk and lemon paired, not to mention how fluffy the batter was thanks to the combination of acid and baking soda. For the other sort of cakes, I used the same proportions, incorporating some whole wheat flour, frozen sour cherries, cinnamon, and nutmeg. For some reason I love the combination of nutmeg and cherries. These muffins/cupcakes came out more moist and dense, with a pleasant homely flavour of whole wheat. I decorated them with cherry-flavoured whipped cream and coloured sugar hearts… I hope Ivanka liked them even though she couldn’t eat them! :)
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Lately, I’ve been swamped with work. You see, I’ve had no luck trying to find a professional programmer and web designer to redesign my Directory of Russian-speaking businesses in Europe for a reasonable price, and so I’m considering starting the redesign on my own. This sounds like a pretty crazy idea though, as I have tons of daily work with incoming registrations, news, and classifieds, which all need to be moderated and reviewed and promoted and so on. Of course I would never be able to carry on with my site but for my family who help me with the baby while Stano is at work. But even with all the help I receive from my relatives, I’m still hesitating about my ability to start a large redesign project. Motivating tips on balancing work and a baby are welcome! ;-)
I’ve been so snowed under with work that I absolutely forgot about Maslenitsa!! I only realized the festive week was nearly over when Mom invited us for a family dinner on the last day of Maslenitsa. So I didn’t even manage to make any Blinis this year! I was so upset. I only made some lemon curd following this recipe by Dansukker. This was my first time making lemon curd at home and I was surprised by how easy that was. I followed the recipe to the word, just incorporating some grated lemon zest for an even more vibrant flavour. I brought a jar of lemon curd to our family get-together and we spread it on the delish Tsar’s Blinis along with caviar, sour cream, and raspberry jam. And I’ve reserved a mini jar of the curd for myself - to stir into my vanilla ice-cream in the evening. Here, I also found some more fabulous ideas for using lemon curd in desserts.
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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.