Friday, February 23, 2018

Energy Smoothie at the End of a Busy Week

Winter still keep an eye around, with some snow flakes threatening my spring mood once in a while and temperatures below zero C, although the sun is shining generously. All I need at the end of a busy crazy week, besides an impressive amount of sleep hours and the dream of an exotic vacation, is a healthy smoothie. My latest creation was that re-boost that I needed for a happy ending of a crazy emotionally roller-coasting week. A lot of vitamins and fruits brought in a cute bottle kept in the fridge at least one hour before consumption.

2 medium-size bananas, cut into rounds
1 1/2 tablespoon shredded coconut
125 gr. blueberries
1 medium-size kiwi, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon honey or 1 full tablespoon brown sugar
200 ml. cold water. For more consistency you can use milk or dairy substitutes instead. 

Add all the ingredients in the blended and mix them at medium-speed for around one minute. Pour the content in the glass and leave it in the fridge for around one hour.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Tasty Lunch Inspiration: Wild Salmon with Couscous

After having a successful thuna steak experience a couple of days ago, I've got the taste of improving my experience in seasoning and cooking fish. This time, it was much easier, as I am familiar with the salmon, one of my favorite kinds of fish to prepare at least once the week. What I wanted to try this time was a match of flavors, between the main and the side dish. As I am in love with couscous, I tried to add a lot of extra flavors to it, while the fish I kept within relatively known limits.
It was a bit of elaborated work, but the results were satisfactory and very tasty. It is a meal for two, therefore the measurements were calculated accordingly.

The Fish Dish

250 gr. wild salmon skinless, frozen
5 cloves of garlic, medium-sized, cut into rounds
1 tablespoon lemon sauce
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon rose pepper

Warm the oven at 250C, at least 10 minutes before starting the cooking. Spread the garlic, the lemon sauce, the sea salt and the soy sauce, as well as the pepper, on both sides of the fish. The lemon is very important because it prevents the unpleasant taste usually associated with the deeply frozen fish.
Leave it in the oven for at least 30 minutes or until fully baked. I personally tried to turn it to every side at least every 10 minutes, to be sure that it's cooking well and deeply.

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

The Couscous Dish

I am recently back in love with couscous, a product which I used to cook abundantly a couple of years ago, including as a separate breakfast dish. Since then hopefully my skills evolved and I am nowadays able to create more sophisticated dishes based on this versatile ingredient. This one was relatively simple, but included a couple of different flavors


200 gr. peas and carrots from the can; cut the carrots into small rounds
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil
200 gr. couscous
200 ml. warm water


Heat the pan at 150C, at least 10 minutes before starting the cooking. Add the peas, carrots and estragon, the salt and the sesame oil and mix at 250C for around 10 minutes. Add the couscous and mix well for another couple of minutes. Add more salt and sesame oil. Pour the water and keep mixing for another 10 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Serve it warm with the fish.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Bon Appétit!

Finding Peace in the Middle of the Storm: Yoga for Beginners by Ntathu Allen

Busy all day long, cleaning the house and doing basic household management, figuring out how to cope with the small kid's tantrums, wandering when the teenage years of the big girl will end up, doing a lot of extra search for more freelance jobs, while keeping up with the challenging assingments. This is only a small part of my hectic single mom schedule. Going with the flow is the best you - and I too - can do, but although I am trying to maintain myself a very Zen, denial-like attitude, stress is hiding waiting an single moment of weakness to jump into my life and take hold of it. 
I personally didn't grow up surrounded by too much Oriental meditation and yoga - my mother z''l, wanted once in a while to practice it but never actually did it - but when things are coming up and up into your life, you want to consider every single recommendation that might make your life easier and bearable. When time is a precious currency, you need to try those methods that do not require too much of your time, and recently I've read and reviewed a book suggesting how to get rid of stress while keeping working in your cubicle.
Probably I needed to start differently, by a Yoga for beginners instead. The book with this name by Ntathu Allen is an excellent simple introduction to the easiest methods for relieving stress for busy parents and entrepreneurs. A book of 'take-away yoga' practice, helps to 're-capture the calm and tranquility' and reconnect with both your family and a healthy work life. If you don't remember exactly any experience of calm and tranquility - yes, I am guilty as charged - then you can at least make an effort to follow some of the exercises, which do not require more than a chair where to start practicing. Breathing is by far one of the most important part of the practice. 'Any time you feel stressed and overwhelmed during the day, turn your attention to your breath', which among others will bring 'oxygen to your braind and body'. Without oxygen not only the stress and headaches are torturing your life, but the risks of cerebral accidents and strokes are significantly increasing. And you don't want to deal with that, isn't it?
Some of the exercises can be done alone, in some cases you can also involve your child. Putting aside a couple of minutes every day for your wellbeing is a very healthy practice that it is not impossible to introduce into your routine. Wake up a bit early in the morning or stay into your room a bit late when everyone is (finally) asleep and you can notice how things are starting to get better and better. Meditation is key to finding the best way back to yourself and towards mindfulness and a life with a better spiritual direction. According to Ntathu Allen, the main benefits of meditation are strengthening the mind, effective breathing habits, forgive others and yourself, enhances intuition, positive and healthy thoughts, connection to humanity and joyfullness. 
The book is provided with useful illustrations serving as a practical guidance for the yoga exercises recommended, and with many examples encountered in the author's personal life and yoga practices. A book recommended to anyone that promise to her or himself that this year things will be different, much stress-free different.

Disclaimer: Book offered by the author in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

About a Different Kind of Pepper: Urfa Biber (Isot Pepper)

This is less a post about recipes and cooking ideas, but has as main character a very special kind of pepper: Urfa Biber or Isot Pepper. Part of my selection from the Spice Kitchen UK collection, with whom I've entered a partnership part of their Brand Ambassador program, I've received a couple of spices to test in the next weeks and months, starting with the very special Aleppo pepper.
The inspiration of Monday's lunch was something a bit different: a very black looking powder called Urfa Biber. Biber means pepper in Turkish, the country of origin of this special kind of pepper. Practically, it is part of the red pepper family, produced through a process of 'sweating': drying of the seeds during the day, followed by wrapping them tied during the day. Compared to other peppers, they are less spicy, with a warm note which creates a pleasant balance of flavors. 
I used it twice for my lunch: spread modestly on my fresh tomatoes, and as one pinch used for by very special barberry rice - 1 cup Jasmin rice, plus 25 gr. dried barberries (or Berberizen as they are called in German). The other part of the meal were Turkey cevapcici, brought to me by the kosher meat Of Tov company. Especially in the case of the rice, the urfa biber was a great balance to the mild sparkling taste of barberries, without pungency of any kind. Given that the day before I had a 25 km. hiking this meal was not only easy to prepare but also full of energy and fresh vitamins (barberries are rich in Vitamin C). 
As for the urfa biber, my short documentation indicates that it has a great variety of uses, among which: on roasted eggplants, fried eggs, but also brownies. Testing in process so keep an eye on my blog for updates.

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

Monday, February 19, 2018

Online Dating - Going Locally

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, but the opinions are, as usual, my own.

With Valentine's Day almost one week away, you had enough time to think about what your love life resolution for the next 12 months will be. Don't get me wrong. I will never start lecturing that only a life in two is worth living. Not at all. I haven't changed my mind claiming that, in fact, it some relationships and love stories are not meant to be, you better find the perfect ways to get the best of your life now, enjoying its perks as a perfectly happy single person. A physically or mentally abusing relationship, when you simply don't feel yourself and are hurt every single day is not worth living, only for the sake of the social conveniences claiming that any single person is a failure. 
However, life in two do have its own little pleasures, of sharing your meals and feeling with someone worth of your attention and your time. Love and intimacy are precious things that should be offered when the time has come for the right person into your life. 
But there are some people that feel perfectly fine on their own as there are people that cope hard with their loneliness. For those for whom Valentine's is not easy to survive with so much sparkles and hearts and its media branding completely on their own, it is about time to change something in your single life. With or without a relationship coach, you need to start by figuring up what you want from your love life in the next 12 months, just in time to not be single the next 14th of February. Deadlines when it comes to finding that unique person doesn't work well and can be very counter-productive, especially when under the pressure you can make a wrong choice, only because you wanted to check that box too. But you know what, if you are realistic enough with your business plans and don't want to build an empire in one month, must probably you will be wise enough not to dream too big about your love life either. After all, everything starts by knowing yourself, your potential and mindset.

Online dating can be an option

Now, that you got your objectives done, it is about time to start putting them into practice. Where you can find those single people is again a matter of what you are looking for in your life. It can be a Meetup group, or a social event for singles only, but it can also be done by getting busy with the activities you love the most. If you are into horseback riding, spending more time at your favorite club might bring you near some other potential half with the same hobby which is looking to find its match too. If you have a more traditional background, you can use a matchmaker whose input is based on feedback from people that know your potential match from real life and you skip a couple of stages that are quite time consuming when you meet randomly. 
Or, you can use a local online dating service. If you are new into it or reluctant about what you can expect, you can start by reading books and other online resources created by people that went there, done that. Learn about the etiquette and  why you can give it - or not - a try. There are so many options for any age and senior dating is no more a shame, but rather a normal way to start your love life, regardless the year you were born. 
Then, time to start getting to know your local online dating sites and apps, selecting what suits you the best and setting up your profile. You can use the same profile and photo too, and see what is going on and what the offer is. If you are for now more relaxed in terms of what you are looking for, adult dating sites can easily help you find likeminded individuals looking exactly for the same thing as you.
Although all the big online dating sites offer nowadays the chance to browse matches within your area, I personally will be very happy to use a specific online resource for my very specific local needs. The local-themed websites are very useful especially if you are new in a small little town or area and want to meet only people living there. Otherwise, in big capital cities, as you know, there is always plenty of fish. As I am living in Germany now, I can only envy the very organised British online dating initiatives, keeping in mind the needs of the local singles. It helps you to have a narrow but more successful focus. If you want checking the dating Buckinghamshire offer curious about Cornwall dating offers or fancy single men in Portsmouth, you have everything ready for you on your screen. Your love life can be only one click away.
Last but not least, after getting to know in writing your potential dates, you need to plan your first date. Carefully, in public spaces and being sure, as for now, to do not share too many private information, such as the home address, dare to meet him or her and see if you are meant to be. Spending too much time chatting online is not very productive, unless you are looking for a penpal, which is not what a dating site is for, anyway.
After each date, make a short evaluation and with a relaxed, drama-free attitude, see how things are going on and what can be done. Keep your sense of humour, your self-esteem and keep exploring life and its wonders. Everything is about the journey, not necessarily the destination, isn't it?

My Latest Skin Care Products Discoveries

I've been lately pretty busy trying new recipes and settling down a couple of new projects I am working on, plus my non-stop blogging about way too many topics. Somehow, I felt that I neglected a bit my usual skin care routine, and although I do have a couple of interesting products in my closet, I was rather either too lazy or too tired to start something new. The results were not satisfactory for my skin, therefore, the last week I finally went out of my bubble and got a couple of products to try. Yeah, even though I do have a whole shelf in my fridge only for my masks, it seems it is never enough so buying new ones sounded like the best thing to do.
My purchases were from ISANA, a brand that is usually fine both in terms of budget and quality therefore it haven't dramatically challenged my financial projections for the week. The results, in all three cases were good and at least for one product, I would love to keep using it for a longer time.
Here are my latest finds and a short review of their results on my skin.

1. ISANA Q10 Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream

I love to use repair products and creams in the night, because is the only time when my skin can really rest, staying under the same temperature for more than 3 hours, as during the day I am always very active and going out and back to the house is not always a great deal for my skin, especially when the temperature gap might be pretty big. I've started to use this cream a couple of days ago, and from the first use I felt how good it does to my skin. At first, there was a bit of stretching feeling, but early in the morning, my skin looked great, fresh and regenerated. It is already too early to assess all the positive things, as the recommendation is to use it for at least one month, which I will probably do. No allergic reactions, no fragrance, smooth texture. All I need to keep a product part of my usual skin care routine.

2. Sheet Bubble Mask

I love way too much the sheet masks, but I never tried before a bubble mask. Apparently I am quite late when it comes to trend updates, as they are quite a thing for a couple of time already. What those masks do have different from any other mask is that once you put the sheet on your face, a foam is creating little by little. This foam allows a deep cleaning of the pores, leaving your face deeply clean. Except the funny sound of the foam bubble, there is nothing else going on with this mask. I was relatively happy with the results and would love to try more such products.

3. Lips and Eyes mask

My lips suffer dearly during the winter and I always have to keep in mind to use extra lip balms. A mask that will actually kill all the unpleasant looking dried cells and give a more fresh look to the lips is always a good idea. Out of all the three products, I cannot say yet too much about this mask, though. It is easy to apply and didn't experience any negative effects, but I didn't see too much change either. It is recommended to use it a couple of times the week, which I am doing right now, so hopefully there will be more noticeable results to notice soon. However, it looks like a good idea, easy to carry on when on the road and easy to apply in between two, three busy assignments at home. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Ready for New Spicy Adventures. Avocado Toast with Aleppo Pepper, anyone?

When your mail box smells of fresh spices, you know that you just received something too good to be true! The multi-awarded Birmingham-based company Spice Kitchen UK selected my blog for their Brand Ambassador program and my selection of spices that I want to try for the next weeks and months was sent super fast, with a very responsive and friendly customer service that I rarely experienced, sending updates about the products I've selected and the stages of the delivery.

I've worked previously with this family run company, back in 2013, but since then they grew up and I - hopefully - got more experience in terms of both cooking and understanding flavors, so I am very excited about my next cooking adventures. Stay tunned for a lot of interesting recipes, original or adapted from my very rich collection of cookbooks.
Besides the hand-made spices, they also create award winning teas, which ranges from Earl Grey to Strawberries&Cream. Spice Kitchen UK is also involved in supporting several charities. It also concerned about the environment, as most of the packaging is recycled from other local businesses, in order to reduce the environmental impact and carbon footprint as much as possible.

My package included a very exquisite mix of spices, many of them in my kitchen for the first time: Baharat - a rich Middle Eastern spice mix combining black peppercorns, cadamom, cassia, cloves, coriander, cumin, nutmeg and paprika; Isot Pepper (Urfa Biber) - a dried Turkish pepper with a deep raisin, smokey flavour; Harissa - a fiery North African chill mix with dried red chilli, garlic, coriander, paprika and caraway; Star Anise; Berbere - one of the building blocks of Ethiopian cuisine, combining red chilli, garlic, coriander seeds, fenugreek, black peppercorns, cloves, paprika, onion powder, black cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and salt; Aleppo Pepper - dried chilli flakes wtih a hint of cherry-like fruitiness; Carom Seeds; Sumac; Za'atar - the first time when I will use for the regular cooking other za'atar than the usually one brought to me from Israel; Ras el Hanout - a traditional blend from Morocco, with lots of ingredients such as turmeric, paprika, salt, nutmeg, ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, sugar, all spice, chilli powder, star anise, cloves, rose petals; Fenugreek
And yes, my future in the kitchen sounds as amazing as it smells!
What I also liked a lot about the small packages was that there are hints about where to use them, for salads or meats, which is very helpful, especially for those who are wondering how to match them.

Initially I wanted to start my adventure the next week, but as I was in the middle of preparing the breakfast, I couldn't resist to not start already playing with my spices. I began by spreading a discrete pinch of Aleppo Pepper on my avocado toast. And from now on, there will be no other garnish to my avocado toast. 
The fruity, spicy flavor of the pepper - you need to use only a little bit - interacted perfectly with the crunchy texture of the bread and the fatness of the avocado. It makes it into a great balance, bringing it some fruity sparkling that stays with you for longer. 
A great choice and I am happy that I followed my creative mind for trying this combination. My first encounter with Aleppo Pepper, a spice that I wanted to try for such a long time, was also special and can't wait to give more substance to my foodie dreams. 

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

Easy, Skyr-based Scones

I've tried my hand on scones several times in the last blogging years, very often with tasty results. They are easy to prepare, always delicious and with a low chance of failure. All you need is a bit of imagination and some basic ingredients - like flour, baking powder and salt. The rest can be easily matched from the fridge or pantry.
Yesterday, I was thinking to have some of them again, because wanted to have some afternoon snacks and we were quite out of good treats.
You can have those scones with a cuppa or a big coffee mug, fill with jam - my latest love is a fig jam that I hope it will never finish - or add some extra cheese for some dairy taste. I was very happy to find an extra use of the Skyr Yogurt, an Iceland-made product which I instantly fell in love with a couple of years ago and would love to explore more in some next posts. Brought from Norway over thousand years ago, Skyr is officially classified as cheese. It has the consistency of the strained yogurt but with a much milder flavor.

500 gr. white flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon backing powder
300 ml. Skyr Yogurt
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds for the garnish

Heat the oven at 250C, at least 10 minutes before starting the baking. Mix the ingredients and let them interact with each other for at least 10 minutes. By hand, make small doughs and add them on a parchment covered tray. Bake it in the oven for around 20 minutes or until completely baked.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 25 minutes
Make it into 20 tasty little scones. To be eaten immediately!

Bon Appétit!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Product Review: Focus Supplements Caffeine and L-Theanine

For busy women, with a delicate balance between personal and professional life, winters can be hard. The cold takes a lot of energy and the never ending long dark days are very hard to cope with, especially more than three months when you can hardly see some rays of sun. When your kids are screaming for attention, the fresh pie is almost getting burned in the oven and you are messing up with deadlines, you know that you have to do something. Take a break, book a spa day or a weekend yoga retreat. If those options fail, at least you can consider do something to improve your focus.
Caffeine and L-Theanine by Focus Supplements is a British company producing dietary supplements. The product is delivered in a big black plastic bottle, without the safety for children closure, therefore you have to be careful to keep it far away from their curious reach. It contains 120 capsules, with a recommended serving size of 1-2 the day. The capsules are vegetarian, and contain L-Theanine (250 mg and Caffeine (100 mg.) plus Maltodextrin. The products are not suitable for persons under 18 years of age or pregnant women. The bottle should be kept in a cool dry area. According to the recommendation of the company: 'This supplement should be taken as part of a healthy lifestyle and not replace a balanced healthy diet'. 
I personally tested the capsules for a couple of days, when I was in the middle of a very busy and complicated work and family time. As I am actually trying to reduce the consume of caffeine at only one big cup in the morning, I tried to compensate the eventual need with those capsules. I always took them mid-day when I am usually craving for a second big cup of coffee. I kept being focused and in a very active mood and for me it was just enough. I didn't notice any allergic reactions, but as usual, if you really have some serious issues, it is preferably to ask a medical opinion before starting to use it.

Disclaimer: Product offered for review by Focus Supplements, but the opinions are, as usual, my own.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Easy Non Dairy Chocolate Cake

I don't remember when was the last time when I tried to make a perfect chocolate cake, but I know for sure that I wasn't so happy with the results. Somehow, I missed the right measurements for creating the perfect match of flavors between the sourness of the cocoa and the sweet balance. 
The last Friday, out of ideas for a dessert, I decided to take again the challenge hoping that, as in the case of writing, the more you try the better chance you have for a successful outcome. This creative recipe I created wasn't necessarily the perfect, but somehow, was much better than the previous ones and although a pinch of improvement is needed, I will rather use it as a base for further developments. 
It has the advantage of being moderately sweet, not so heavy and easy to match with either a lemonade or a hot tea. 

100 gr. vegetarian margarine for the pan
2 cups flour
15 gr. baking powder
1 pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup sunflower oil
3 tablespoon cocoa
1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
2 tablespoons dessicated coconut, for the garnish

Heat the oven at 150C, at least 10 minutes before starting the baking.
Add the flour, the backing powder, the salt, the vanilla sugar, white sugar and mix well. Add the oil and keep mixing. In a separate cup, add the cocoa and 2/3 cup of warm water and mix until the cocoa is dissolved. Add it to the main ingredients and keep mixing for another couple of minutes.
Pour the content in the pan and bake it at 100C. I realized that keeping a low temperature for baking helps at a great extent to a homogenous melt of the ingredients and also prevents upper burning. 
After is ready, let it to rest for another couple of minutes and garnish with the dessicated coconut.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 25 minutes

The cake is served! It is perfect if you are trying to accomodate a dessert for a big group of guests, or just if you want to have something sweet to munch for at least the whole weekend.

Bon Appétit!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Product Review: Warm Cookie Dough Shower Cream by Treaclemoon

Yes, you've read it right: Warm Cookie Dough Shower Cream. It is not a mistake and (this time) I will not share a recipe. This post is exclusively about a deliciously smelling shower cream, a limited edition created by Treaclemoon. This product is one of the many from a line which includes shower creams and gels with attractive names such as Apple Pie Hugs or Nutmeg Coffee Cake. If you are a foodie, like me, you would definitely love to keep your creative foodie mood while having a shower. After all, many of the good ideas are popping up our minds when we are lost in thoughts in the shower, isn't it?
A couple of years ago I had a little discussion with a colleague at work about those beauty products smelling as foods. 'Who wants to smell like an apple strudel?', she said, and at the moment I was almost convinced she was right. However, as usual when it comes to foods, it is a matter of recipe to create the finest, less smell-intrusive product. Although the Warm Cookie Dough Shower Cream do smell like a warm cookie in contact with water, on the skin it has a discrete mild fragrance, which rather reminds of shower creams than on a cookie. It is an aromated, vanilla scented smell which relaxes your senses and makes your skin feel good. I've tested the product every day for a couple of days already and haven't experienced any allergic reaction. 
Treaclemoon, which has in its German version, one of the most creative websites of a German company I ever seen, creates not only innovative mixtures, but also vegan and cruelty free products, an additional reason to have them if you are concerned about the environment and wants to surround yourself by brands with conscience. Their products, which are dermatologically tested and free of silicones or parabene, including the Warm Cookie Dough Shower are available in Germany in the Rossmann, dm, Müller and Budni.

Disclaimer: Products offered for review via the Rossmann Blogger Project, but the opinions are, as usual, my own

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Learning to Appreciate Turmeric Latte

Learning to understand new flavors and fragrances is always taking a long way, especially if you didn't grow up with it. Culturally, regardless of how diverse our background is, we always need an accomodation time to get used with certain tastes, especially when it comes to spices. In some cases, like it happened with the matcha latte for me, the love might be at first sight and on very long term.
Turmeric Latte or the golden milk is one of those drinks everyone was talking about the whole last year. Those into alternative medicine even attribute to the beautifully golden powder curative, strong immunity anti-inflammation qualities. I personally believe in the strength of real medicine, but as long as I am not sick, I can easily have some of those remedies, mostly for the sake of new tastes.
I wanted to have my first experience of turmeric latte - and of the taste of turmeric in general, but didn't know for sure how to start. At first, I didn't like the smell of it, and by using it for rice-based dishes, I realized that it needs a strong balance to avoid it original flavor. I had a couple of failed experiences until I've found at my local Rossmann drugstore a ready made German product - Lebe Pur, Kurkuma Lattte. It is relatively affordable and the 80 gr. of the paper bag can be used for more than 5 times. The usual ingredients added to the milk - turmeric, ginger, pepper and cinnamon - are already there. All you need is to add the sugar - white or brown, I prefer brown - or the honey. I used 1 full tablespoon of turmeric for one cup and a half of milk. I always used normal milk, but coconut milk is also recommended, although I personally don't have the experience of it. Add the full spoon of turmeric, plus some extra cinnamon powder if you really want more of it, and mix at small heat for a couple of minutes. Before it's starting to boil - which means within 20 minutes if your heat is very low - pour it into your cups or glasses and drink it hot. The more I drink the more I am getting used to, and right now I am thinking to have my own match. I bet that the fresh grated ginger will create a much fresher taste. 
Looking forward to more experiences in the world of spices....Coming on my blog soon, very soon...

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Thuna Steak with Sesame Oil and Soy Sauce

I never worked with thuna before, except the canned one, lazily added to a salad. I don't like that much either the texture or the taste therefore I rarely invested too many seconds thinking about it. Today though, I impulsively decided to try something new. So, it was thuna steak with sesame oil, soy sauce and some black sesame seeds garnish.

250 gr. frozen thuna. I don't like frozen meat or fish, but it was the only available option, therefore I had to wait a bit more until the two piece were completely defrosten
1 tablespoon of orange juice, spread over the thuna on both sides. It is always recommended when you cook fish, but especially for the frozen variant, as diminishes the unpleasant fish taste
1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of sweet soy sauce
1 tablespoon of black sesame seeds, for garnish


Heat the oven at 250C, at least 5 minutes before the fish is prepared in the pan. Spread the lemon juice on both sides, followed by the brown sugar, the soy sauce and the sesame oil. When in the oven, take care to turn on both sides every 10 minutes or so. 
After 30 minutes in the oven, take the thuna away and put it on a pan on the stove and fry it for another 15 minutes. You only need to add some couple of drops of sesame oil.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes.

Because of all the ingredients - especially the sweet soy sauce and the brown sugar - it tastes slightly sweet but in a very healthy discrete way. I served with country potato fries and some fresh tomatoes on the side. It was a very fulfilling and healthy lunch and hopefully, I am courageous enough to try again some thuna recipes soon.

Bon Appétit!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Becoming Brand Ambassador for Spice Kitchen!

Spices at the Grüne Woche, Berlin, 2018
I promised this year to be bold and successful, and for me it means also being surrounded, virtually or in my everyday real life, by positive highly motivated people. I always admire small creative companies writing their own story of success.
Spice Kitchen was one of my first collaborations as a foodie blogger, back in 2013. I was quite a beginner in the world of kitchen and tastes, but they entrusted me with a precious bag with their newly launched spices that I intensively learn how to use in my recipes. 
A couple of years back, they are a multi-awarded company, spreading their love for quality spices all over the world, with an over increasing catalogue of products created to accomodate even the most sophisticated tastes. It makes sense to be sucessful, when you 'put your heart and soul' and each and every one of the product you share. 
Besides the traditional collection of spices, they offer exquisite unique mix such as the complete set for mulled wine - especially if you are living in a cold country, it goes all round the year, believe my words, speculaas, or the rare - at least for the European kitchens - Sri Lankan curry powder, sumac and the precious safran. 
As a Brand Ambassador, I will try and test their spices in the next months, in recipes shared with you at least twice the month. For the beginning, I will have a great selection, which includes more or less known spices that I can't wait to feel and smell. I am humbled and honoured to be part of this project and can't wait to inspire other people, like me, the love of cooking and the boldness to try.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

White Cheese-Filled Pita Bread

Pita bread, simple or filled with cheese, sometimes even with plum jam, used to be an usual food in my childhood and since I started to do my own baking I tried more than once to prepare it, with results that were considerably better than my home-made foods as a child. As in January I haven't cooked or baked anything interesting - but stay tuned as a fantastic foodie news will come tomorrow - this afternoon I decided to use some ingredients available in the kitchen and get back to some serious baking. To be honest, it was also the pressure of not having any bread left so it was an emergency situation we were dealing with. 
But it was actually a great occasion to offer to my kiddo my childhood staple for the first time, while also enjoying some bites, although in a heavy oily ambiance. The good thing is that I survived the experience which also involved high-temperature frying without any serious burning incident, which was a great achievement. During my last Hanukkah preparations a big splash of hot oil landed on my left wrist and for more than a month my hand looked like just escaping a suicidal attempt. 
- for the dough
4 cups white flour
1 package dry yeast - the equivalent of 7 gr.
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- for the frying and filling
250 white cow cheese grated
250 ml. sunflower oil

Dissolve the yeast into 200 ml. warm water until it looks bubbling. Add the 3 cups of flour and the beaten eggs. Mix by hand or with a spatula. Let the dough to rest outside under a warm cover for around 1 hour. You can also keep it overnight in the fridge.

After one hour, take the dough out and split into 9 small pieces. Roll it by hand. Spread the white cheese in the middle and cover it with the dough. 
Meanwhile, heat the pan at 250C for 1-3 minutes. Add the oil and heat it for another 3 minutes. Add the pita shaped dough to the pan and eventually press it on in the middle with a stainless steel spatula. It helps to eliminate the air from the dough and create a compact pita ready to be fried. 
Serves: 9 cheese-filled pita.
Preparation time: 1 hour
Although you can eat it simply like that, moderately warm, eventually accompanied by an equally warm mint tea or a glass of cold Ginger Ale. If you are really hungry and want to combine as many ingredients as possible, you can also add: some fresh salmon, yellow cheese, a spread of cottage cheese, a boiled egg, hummus.
As a fresh healthy company, you can make a cucumber, tomatoes and avocado salad. Some tasty black olives are also a good idea. 
All being said, it seems like this week will have many foodie adventures in the making. For now, I can only be happy for bringing back childhood memories on my plate.

Bon Appétit!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Tracking down January

Freelancer life - not always a bed of roses
With a bold generous agenda set up in the last hours of 2017 ahead of me, both in my professional and personal life, I decided to keep an even stricter track of my goals, events and time management achievements and failures too. Tracking down... will hopefully be a regular presence on my blog, published on the first of every month and aimed at offering an overview of the previous month and some lessons learned. My hope is to be able to share inspiration with other people coping with the same issues or trying to improve their situation and find their own professional and personal path of life.

Blogging life

Blogging life was good in the last 31 days and promises to be even better, with a couple of sponsorships already done, and a couple of others in the making. I did maintain a permanent social media sharing and interaction, and things are growing up, although too slowly for my liking. The traffic is steady and, at least with BoiledWords, I am far beyond 100,000 views and growing which is a good thing after all. In terms of food experiences, I had only failures - including today therefore I am a bit behind with my recipe sharing. My waffle book and another two books that are almost done, but need a serious editing, were on hold, because...there is just no excuse for it anyway.
My bookish blog was by far the more active and more successful this month, with a couple of blog tours, interviews and new collaborations sealed for the next month at least.  
Interaction with other bloggers and influencers was a bit different for the better, but I am still not in the right place, I am trying at least. Not too hard, though. 
I finally learned how to make attractive Pinterest covers and I am really enjoying this newly creative tool. Better YouTube and SEO are next on my to-do-list. 
To be continued though, hopefully in a more steady direction, as I am not happy at all to swim over and over again in the same mud for a couple of months already, without any sparkle of change. I can probably keep doing what I am doing and being happy with it, but I am sure I can do even more.
Right now, I am reading Confident Digital Content by Adam Waters, and more such books are prepared for a crash learning course this weekend so maybe I can change something in the right direction. 


January started a bit slowly in terms of freelance work, but I had at least two projects to achieve per week in the last three weeks. 
In order to keep a good track of my income from freelancing, I was finally able to create an Excel which covers the income both from blogging and freelancing. The frustrating part is that there are projects done and paid later - if ever, and this could create at least for a while a serious financial disbalance. When you have bills to pay, you need to have a permanent flow of money happily jumping in your account and the aim is too really create this best case scenario. I am not even half through achieving it, though. 
In terms of the content of my freelance work, I did mostly translations, which I am doing for already a couple of years, but which is not my favorite professional domain. Editing and writing are always my no.1, with photography and online teaching coming next, but because too lenient to do some research and pitch my ideas, I keep doing it. 

Time management

Since my school years, I am very strict in terms of time management, tracking down obsessively my schedule and trying to be as busy as possible. With one single exception of a couple of days, I kept being very busy in January, with only a couple of days when I was really lagging behind. Those days paid high too, as there were supposed to be spent chasing blogging and freelancing opportunities. 
My aim for a couple of days is to get the best of each day and hour, and most of the time I am doing it, but once in a while I am too tired or really need a healthy procrastination hour before doing anything. And this time never comes back. 

Personal life

Personally, things were with ups and downs too. Maybe this is life, but I am sure some improvements can be done. Baby improved significantly his speaking abilities therefore I am more relieved and stress free when it comes to his development. An appointment by the pediatrician is in the cards the next week when I will get probably the best advice, as usual, about the next steps to be done.
Baby kept being my priority for the last days, with a lot of efforts being done towards securing a place for a kindergarten at least from September this year. Apparently, there is much easier to be accepted to Harvard than to find a place to a decent Berlin kindergarten and the struggle is real. 
I've spent also some great times with my friends having lunches out but reclaiming me time was sometimes almost impossible, so all I was able to do was to take some extra hour of sleep.
The relationship with people that I have to deal with, although they only create discomfort and tensions was smooth and I am finally able to ignore their negativity. As for the negativity of people that are actually close to me, this was very hard to deal with, and keeping them and their thoughts at bay was quite a hard, difficult and almost impossible mission. 
Some good modest things happened too, such as the fact that I was finally able to have a general dentist check-up and another general medical more awaited check-up. I also started to gather information about the best driving licence schools around me, which will finally pave the way for me being able to drive. 
I am also looking forward to learning new skills online, and registered for some free classes on Coursera, but I keep being distracted by other things going on around me and every evening ends up with me being unable to switch on to the learning. However, my German exercises went smoothly, with at least one hour of practice - which included also reading and writing - every day. 

Overview. What's next

To be very honest, I am 75% unhappy with the current situation, but in a very positive way which creates a healthy pressure to finally make those much awaited and well-deserved changes in my both personal and professional life. I know I can do more and I will definitely work hard towards it, with a better time management and better determination. 
Let's hope that February will bring it on more positive changes and improvement in everyone's life. I, personally, can't wait to let them happen and share them here.