Friday, June 8, 2018

The Lost and Found Art of Natural Cheesemaking

As a growing up child, I had often the experience to assist to some natural cheesemaking experiments, not always successful, but often leaving behind tasty simple food memories. In my memories, the process was doable within a couple of hours, easy, and the taste was always simple. All you needed was a fresh raw milk, that we had brought to us by some old farmer. At the time, I didn't know that practically, you can create at home every kind of possible chess, as long as you have some basic ingredients, maybe a cold space and first and foremost the raw milk. 
However, I prefer to browse the industrial/mass production choices available in any supermarket, including the lovely French cheeses, and that's all. I plan once in a while to do my own paneer or to recreate the easy ricotta-consistency of the childhood cheese, but that's mostly a plan. Very often I give up because of a long list of don'ts: no raw milk, no time, no experience, no other complex ingredients, no utensils. 
In the everyday denial, David Asher's book gave me a chance that one day, I will do my own cheese. I only have to think it as an art and maybe find an organic farm around Berlin from where I can get some raw milk. Based on his experience at his North American farm, natural cheesemaking is 'one whose ingredients are simple, whose culture derives naturally from milk, and which is practiced in conditions that are clean but not necessarily sterile, because the cultures are strong and diverse and the cheeses made well'. In fact, the raw milk offers a complex micro-diversity.
Besides outlining a philosophy and (re)creating a traditional cheesemaking tradition, the book has also a list of recipes and directions about creating different kinds of cheeses and explains extensively about the microbiological features of kefir - that can be also made at home. 
Although maybe it may take some time until you - and me too - would serve your guests your first home-made cheese, at list this book shows that it can be done and you - and me too - can do it. A book recommended if you are looking to make some little difference into your life. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

'Eat Cake Naked' and other Spicy Stories...

It's clearly acknowledged that food is an art, but if you have the right knowledge, every bit can turn into an art of deep sensual love too. Based on their experiences with spices and aphrodisiac ingredients, Amy Reiley and Delahna Flagg published at the end of this year a book sharing their recipes and combination of spices for bringing more excitment into the love life of couples. Amy Reiley, one of the authors, was kind enough to share some of her tips and inspiration in an exclusive interview for my readers. Enjoy!



- What was your inspiration for 'Eat Cake Naked'? How much did it take to develop the recipes?

I've written 4 books on aphrodisiacs and I wanted to do something different. Because dessert is my favorite part of any meal, that was an obvious choice! Developing the recipes was definitely tough for this because Delahna (my co-author) and I wanted desserts that were sensual and indulgent. The problem is, one of the key attributes of most aphrodisiac ingredients is that they're nutritionally dense or at least offer nutrition that benefits your sex life. So we had to find the right balance and sometimes it took a lot of trial, error and refining!
- What were the biggest challenges of writing this book, both in terms of writing and recipe testing?
The hardest part was walking the line between health and indulgence. Desserts--and any food that's being used to entice a lover--needs to have sensuality but for the recipes to deliver what we promise (a positive impact on your sex life) they had to be rich in nutrition, not in fat. It was really hard to strike a balance between making recipes that were nutritional powerhouses and ones that were a pleasure in the experience. We did not want to make a book of desserts that taste "healthy!"
- How did you discover your passion for this special kind of meals?
I have always been interested in the nutritional side of food. And I love folklore and mythology. In aphrodisiac foods, I found a niche of the food world that combines all three! My co-author, Delahna, came to work for me as an assistant. She fell in love with the science side of aphrodisiac and the idea that she could help people have more fulfilling love lives by simply eating better so she went back to school to study nutrition. This was our first time collaborating on a book.
- What are your perfect ingredients of a romantic spicy evening?
I always recommend tailoring the choice of ingredients to the person you're wooing. It's all a matter of taste. For example, for me, it would be oysters and Champagne but my husband hates both. If I planned an evening for the two of us around oysters, it would be disasterous. For this reason, I've created a whole library of legendary aphrodisiacs on EatSomethingSexy.com. This way, everyone can create the evening that is perfect for them: https://www.eatsomethingsexy.com/aphrodisiac-foods/
- Do you think eros is underrated nowadays, compared to the overexposed sexuality we face every day? How can food bring back the mystery of love and sensuality?
I think a dish or a meal can offer a wonderful opportunity to help a couple to be present in a moment and just enjoy each other. I like to create my recipes with layers of textures or temperatures to help heighten the sensuality and draw the attention of the diners into the present. There's also a simplicity to just shutting everything off and tuning into each other over the shared pleasure of a meal...or just dessert...that is refreshing and exciting.
- Do you have a favorite spice and why?
The spice I probably reach for most often is cinnamon. It's considered a warming spice and therefore aphrodisiac although we probably associate it more with comfort than sex. I have to say that after experimenting with 5 spice powder for the apple recipe in Eat Cake Naked that I'm really drawn to the powerful sensuality of this blend of five spices. I'll be playing with it more in the future!
- Do you plan writing a new recipes book?
Delahna and I plan on creating cookbooks to accompany the lists of the 10 Best Foods for Men  and 10 Best Foods for Women we created for EatSomethingSexy.com, the website for which we both write. This will be the first time I've written a gender-specific book on aphrodisiacs and I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Wrapping Up the Busy Month of May

The month of May was a really crazy month for the business, the very good kind of crazy. The more I am getting more and more into serious and work challenges of the real world, the more I am back to my unhealthy workaholic habits. Indeed, my account is pretty happy, but what about my health and my family relationships? Once upon a time I was really proud of my resilience and ambition, but right now, with the little demanding baby around and no one else to assume the parenting responsibilities, it looks like a little difficult. Not impossible though, although the first victim from my previously short-lived easy life were the healthy sleeping habits. Meaning, that I'm back to the 3-4 hours of sleep by night, and a roller-coaster of a life the rest of the day. 
Been there, done that, and old habits die hard, but however, I am trying my best to find the best way for a little balance - like spending the weekend out of the work assignments, taking some time from my work to cuddle the baby, prepare the food and answer his questions. However, is never enough being said of the challenges of a single mother with a small baby, whose father assumes no real responsibilities. There is not too much choice being left: on one side, there is the high probability of being bankrupt, poor and depressed; on the bright side, you (I) keep fighting for your rights and the best for your child. It is very hard and depression may be around the corner as well, but surrounded by friends, a good family therapist and using the intelligence and skills Gd gave you, you can do it. I am doing it every day, so you can do it too.
In addition to this, my dental surgery kept making me a lot of problems - especially in terms of eating challenges - and hopefully I can write more about it soon. 
Back to the business track and blogging plans, I expect June to be pretty intense as well in terms of working, but there is the 3-week holidays waiting for us at the end of it. I have lots of posts from the last months that I didn't have time to publish and edit yet, a couple of recipes I would love to try, and interesting cookbooks, and also some great parenting books too. My focus will be about how to improve my life quality standards and create some wellness and mindfulness islands in the sea of crazy work assignments and baby tantrums. 
That's all for now, it is Sunday and I'm free to spend some great time with my baby!

Why Watching Evil Wears Prada is Good for your Business Ego

As a woman with my own business ambitions and with quite a diverse and complex experience in the field of publishing industry - not fashion-related though - I've learned a lot from wathing last evening The Devil Wears Prada. In addition to being greatly played by Meryl Streep, this movie has a lot of good lessons learned about the power of luxury fashion, balancing relationships and success and the hardship of women in power, regardless the industry or social status.
Compared to the book, which I've read many many years ago, the movie seems to be more focused on the sensitive aspects of business women leadership, and I really loved this shift. The terrible editor-in-chief would have survive if not being so bitchy? She would have been still on the top, if not learned to fight like a lioness for her rights of being there? Being nice is really good for your business, especially if you are in the highly competitive fashion industry? Women are used to be seen on the catwalk, but when they are the decision-makers, they shall do anything but glowing nicely. 
This movie is also about relationships between women and coming to age, the moment when you have to grow up from the carefree college life to a world of challenges and painful decisions. Again, especially as a woman, it seems that you are still expected to not change too fast, if ever, to go the beaten path, and eventually accept modest relationships instead of independently creating your own version of success. You may be lonely there on the top, but it is your right to live the best version of yourself. 
This movie is a recommendation for both women looking their way to power or ready to get the fresh shock of the first jobs. It is not only about fashion, and not only about bitchy bosses, but it tells a bit about the condition of being a woman at work nowadays.  

Spicy Coconut Soup with Nutty Tofu

I have such a bad and toxic relationship with soups...I either don't like them so much or very successful in preparing them. However, for the healthy sake of the baby I am doing one once in a while - with the promise to do it more and better the next time. Also, given my big dental problems in the last weeks - that kept me mostly hungry and badly fed - I had to reconsider my options and challenge my cooking skills, by introducing new soups into the menu. Especially after trying the available ready-made options - vegan - on the market, that unfortunatelly I've found completely unattractive taste-wise.
For a long time I wanted to try some coconut soups and even kept for weeks a can of coconut milk but wasn't brave enough to open it and start adding ingredients. This Friday though, I was hungry enough to make that spectacular change. As usual in such cases, it worked out very well and I promise myself to try again at least every week. 
In this case of a very eclectic combination, my aim was to balance the oily coconut milk taste and the strong peanut tofu with some spicy accents, which may balance and diversify the flavor in a smoothly, not outrageously spicy way. Both Harissa and the chilli interacted pretty well with the scalions creating during boiling a new and exquisite spicy taste. As I was always very careful with Harissa, this time I realized how much I can actually use this spice in complementary combinations and I can't wait to experience more with it. 

Ingredients


400 ml. canned coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
100 gr. peanut tofu, cut into small cubes
2 medium-size scallions, cut into small rounds
1/4 teaspoon Harissa spice from Spice Kitchen UK
12 small champignons, halved
3 small bites of red chilli
7 leaves of coriander

Direction

Add the ingredients, one by one, and mix well every time. Heat at 100C and mix well once in a while. Wait until boiling for at least one minute.
Serve it hot!

Bon App├ętit!

Disclaimer: Harissa spices were offered by the Spice Kitchen UK as their brand ambassador, but the opinions are, as usual, my own.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Non-alcoholic Spicy Tomatoes and Aleppo Pepper Cocktail

Since I tried for the first time Aleppo Pepper, a spice I've heard so many good things about and which did not disappoint me at all, I was thinking how I can use this versatile pepper in a new combination. And it seems that my mind needed at least two months until I finally took a decision. What about a cold tomatoes spicy summer cocktail, now when the weather finally looks much friendlier than a couple of weeks ago?
The results were more than satisfying and with a very special spicy result. By adding Aleppo Pepper to your tomatoes you can create an unique juice, healthy and energizing with an unique taste. The preparation takes minutes and unless you want your drink a bit more cold, you can drink it immediately. Accompanied by a meal or just as a refreshment, this non-alcoholic cocktail brings exotic tastes and impressions into your life. For yourself, a party or for a tasty date.

Ingredients
25 small heart tomatoes, halved
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo Pepper from Spice Kitchen UK
1 pinch black pepper
1 full teaspoon brown sugar
300 ml. cold water

Directions
Add all the ingredients, one by one, into the blender and mix them at medium speed for 2 minutes. You can pour the juice into a straw first if you want to have a completely clean drink, but I personally preferred to keep the tomatoes skin as well. 
You can drink it within minutes after preparation or wait for at least half an hour until the drink stays in the freezer. Both cases are fine.
Before you take the first sip, be ready for an unique experience: elegant taste with unique spice traces, a beautiful colour and a genuine sweetness (the reason I wanted to avoid the white sugar and use the brown one; honey can also work).

Serves: 3
Preparation time: 10 minutes

Disclaimer: Spices offered by Spice Kitchen UK as their Brand Ambassador for review, but the opinions are, as usual, my own






Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Wrapping up March and April

The last two months were significantly more quiet in terms of blogging as usual. With the restrictions of the Pesach holidays and some personal and health - good - challenges, my writing activities were slightly limited in the last 60 days. And everything was fine on my side, not because I was taking a break from writing - this can hardly happen, anyway as all my activities and projects involve writing at a certain extent, even if it is only as a translation - but because I needed to settle down some important offline projects before keeping up with the usual blogging pace.
Of course that at least twice the day, I was checking my blog email considering if to apply or not for a sponsorship opportunity or for being more than worried that my readership will suffer as long as I am struggling to set up my own business, but good things are always happen to those who wait. Now, after two intensive months, I can openly declare that the good things are just about to happen. A lot of projects were done meanwhile, and many other topics are already written waiting only the right moment to push the button 'publish' for getting properly 'on air'. Some of them waited for at least 4 months, but it was a waiting fully worth, as I needed to have the right time to properly approach them. Plus, so many cooking books and inspirational books and parenting books that I can't wait to review, in addition of my own cookbook which is in the final stages of editing (more details soon).
Meanwhile, I am fully embracing the spring and its balm weather, the perfect inspirational time for both my writing and my personal development. 
As for my health challenges I've mentioned earlier, I'll be dedicated a full post of it in the next days. 
Because today, more than ever, I am fully BACK in the business...