Saturday, May 18, 2019

Spicy Spinach Sidedish

Spinach is one of my least favorite veggie. However, driven by the hope that one day will live a healthy life, I did my best to combine it in different recipes and sometimes I succeeded to create tasty recipes that suit my anti-spinach palate.
Like today, for instance, when I was courageous enough to combine it with a spice I am not using that often - if ever: carom (or ajwain, that I got courtesy of SpiceKitchen UK). A combination of caraway, cumin and fennel, it contains thyme and has a bitter taste (a mixture between anise and oregano). Therefore, I tried to combine it with other ingredients that may alleviate its sparkling: pistachios (salty, Turkish ones) and my beloved garlic, plus the olive oil used for frying. 
Overall, it went out pretty tasty. It's super fast to prepare and it makes it into a tasty sidedish for a main meat meal. For a vegetarian combination, you can add some freshly sliced tomatoes with cheese, or some freshly boiled potatoes.

- 2 generous tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 teaspoons carom seeds
- 4 big garlic cloves cut in rounds
- around 20 pistachios, halved
- 100 gr. baby spinach leaves, carefully cleaned

In a medium pan, heat the oil at 250C. Add the carom seeds and fry it for a couple of minutes until it starts sizzling. Add the garlic and keep mixing with the spices for another 2-3 minutes. Continue with the pistachio for another 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach in small batches while mixing. As the spinach is slowly frying, mix all the ingredients a couple of time.
Serve it fresh and lukewarm.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Bon Appétit!

About the Mental Health Awareness Month...

This is actually a post I had in my head for at least one year or even more. Especially during the summer months, there were so many news about people - some of them famous therefore in the news - that committed suicide, following years of deep depression. Reading about such famous cases was not unique knowledge to me. From a very early age, I had in my close family, people that suffered - and rarely did anything but suffering - from various mental health issues. My direct contact with mental health continued later in life when it happened to count friends and boyfriend coping with various issues, especially depression.
In most cases I knew, therapy and getting professional support was always considered the last resort (unless happy pills were provided). If ever. Some of the people I knew ended up committing suicide, or living an almost vegetative life with irregular outbursts of life at the beginning of the medication.
My post for Mental Health Awareness Month will have a different spin. Instead of focusing on the people suffering directly of the mental health problems, I will talk a bit more about those living the same life with the patients. 
How can you explain the frustration of a child whose mother cannot be able to react to his or her emotional needs because too depressed or heavy medicated and unable to do anything but sleep deep for days and hardly utter a word? How can you explain to your little child why his or her father is switching from deep sadness to unlimited enthusiasm for every single thing? What might the best reaction be when you need the help of your best friend and she is way too deep into her own anxieties to even notice that you are alive any more?
In most cases, as the persons suffering of depression do not disclose openly about their issues, the loving ones are unable to understand what is going on, if they are wrong and why, and especially what they can do to help. Because, help, continous help, love help, is what people going through heavy depressions, anxieties and mental health issues need. But because no one really tell you what it is all about, you end up either running away from your friends, partners and even parents, because you feel yourself isolated and unjustly targeted by the silence. 
Mental health problems are often covered in deep silence. Silence about what is going on, what can be done and why. Silence that often means shame because often, there is a cultural stigma associated with such a deep suffering. You - and most often people around you, including first grade relatives - are unhappy and frustrated and develop intolerance towards anything that has to do with being 'not normal'. You want to be surrounded by happy, emotionally healthy people, open, talkative and again, happy. This is how the society projects often the perfect, normal, socially-acceptable way of life.
Such an attitude might be normal too and no one shall be feel guilty for making choices. But if you really want to stay with someone that is going through mental hardship and help, you need to start by asking first and foremost the advice of a specialist. Why you, in the first place, should go to a therapist, instead of the person who really suffers yet refuses to start a treatment? Only a specialist can help you to deal with such cases, eventually by convincing your beloved one to start a therapy him or herself. You need to understand yourself first how you can be gentle and open your heart to the problems of the other person, understanding the pain and going over the suffering and, sometimes, the bad reactions and poisonous words, too.
This might not always work and for many of us, the weight of dealing with such issues is too heavy. It is human and the one who leaves should not be accused. Those who want to stay, need to know what to do to try improving the situation. Therefore, they need help, compassion and understanding. Love might not always save, but knowledge can save. Can save lives too.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Delicious Side-Dish with Okra, Rice-Shaped Noodles, Garlic, Tomatoes and Aleppo Pepper

Okra is such a versatile and not always easy to match vegetable, especially for people like me, who didn't grow up with. As many other food-related products, I've discovered okra relatively late, but through trials and errors, I've discovered my own dish combinations. 
But I haven't try anything new for a long time, maybe for too long. It is not always easy to find the fresh product - and I am not a supporter of frozen veggies anyway - and most of the shops selling it are located quite far away from me. Sometimes, I was simply not in the good mood for paying the full attention requested by preparing a recipe with an ingredient so unfamiliar to my usual eating habits. 
The wonder happened yesterday and I was not only happy to taste okra again, but also to scribble fast the main directions of a new recipe. 
You can use this as a side dish - a good company to a meaty meal - or if you want more consistency, to add some shredded yellow cheese to make it into an autonomous meal. It suits very well white fish.

It is easy to prepare - you only need 45 minutes - and delicious for the palate, as well as healthy.

200 gr. fresh okra, finelly cut in rondels
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, finelly cut
5 middle-sized tomatoes, finelly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo Pepper

100 gr. rice-shaped noodles. it goes very well with rice
2 tablespoon cooking oil

Directions for preparing the okra mix

Warm the oil in a pan at medium heat. When it start sizzling, add the okra and keep mixing in order to have them fried on both sides. After 5 minutes add the garlic and keep mixing. Sprinkle the salt and add the tomatoes. Mix well for another 5 minutes. When ready, add the Aleppo Pepper, mix well and put it on the side.

For the rice-shaped noodles

In a pot, add the oil and warm it for a couple of minutes. Add the rice noodle and mix it well with the oil. Pour water, at a ration of 2 cups of water for a cup of rice noodles. Mix it well and leave it boil for around 15 minutes.

When the noodles are ready, add the okra mixture and mix it well while heated at medium size temperature for another couple of minutes.

Now, it is ready to be served, either as an independent dish or as a side dish to meat or fish.

Serves: 3

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Bon Appétit!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

A Spicy Delicious Lamb Recipe

I am not posting so often meaty recipes, but lately, I've fall in love with lamb and its rich texture and tastes, therefore, it was a great experiment to test a couple of delicious spicy matches. As usual, the mixture between sweet and savory is one of my favorite combinations, therefore, expect a lot of unusual matches in this recipe. Unfortunatelly, for various - very serious reasons - I did not keep any picture of the ready meal...As for now, you should believe my genuine words.

450 gr. lamb
100 ml. lime juice
50 gr. grated ginger
150 ml. honey
2 tablespoon Ras el Hanout spices from Spice Kitchen UK, part of the Brand Ambassador Programme
50 ml. walnut oil
9 medium-sized walnut cloves
150 ml. red wine

Rub the lime and the ginger on both side of the meat. It will help to diminish the unpleasant lamb smell which is obvious especially when the meat was deeply frosten before being used. Rub the honey on both sides and the Ras el Hanout spices. 
In a pan, add the red wine, the walnut oil and the cloves.
Heat the oven at 250C.
Turn the meat on both sides every 45 minutes. If you want it throughout, it will last at least 2h30 until perfectly ready.
As lamb is a bit difficult kind of meat, you better eat it warm, shortly after preparing it. After heating and reheating for a couple of times, the meat will most likely have the texture of a plastic sponge (unfortunatelly).
As a side dish, roasted potatoes with rosmarin, plus a fresh tomatoes and cucumber salad will be a very good choice. A glass of red wine with an aromated fruity texture is the best match, with add-on to the wine-soaked meat.

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hrs.

Bon Appétit!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Two Busy Months...

The first two months of the year didn't bring too many news and inspiration for my lifestyle and foodie blog. Caught between the high-end priorities of building my business, learning how to deal with various bureaucratic and organisational challenges, while keeping working hard to my ongoing projects. Life and love caught up too, with more -or less - interesting dates, need of re-adjustment and reconsiderations, decisions, decisions and decisions again.
With two and half other blogs that require a lot of research, networking and social media maintenance, my hobby blog suffered considerably, with only two posts in the last 60 days. At a certain extent, it reflects the state of the things I am currently doing. I didn't try a new recipe in a long while - with eating out or a frugal lunch were part of my daily schedule. I've seen some interesting interior design and fashion projects, but my mind couldn't stay focused too much. My 'rest and relaxation programme' continued, with some very interesting classes that I've took for full weekends in the last weeks, mostly focused on non-conflict and inter-personal communication, but I was so fast caught back to my other realities that haven't considered (yet) to share my experiences on my blog. I haven't pursued too many collaborations and lifestyle projects because money was always coming from other parts and was relatively unhappy with the lack of reaction of many brands -unless I was overnight growing my audience at over 100,000 followers.
All being said, I am pretty well tough. I have a good focus and a long list and ideas and possible collaboration to be developped in the next months. I've happily find my voice as a writer and happily involved in some writing projects that will probably lead to another two new non-fiction books published. I'm glad to be part of various personal and professional support networks of women that are providing valuable insights. Every single day I am becoming a completely new person with a fresh, peaceful and emotionally involved perspective on love, life and relationships. 
Together with my little boy, I am able to understand the world differently, while learning every single moment what does it mean to be a parent, although only a single one. 
With a better time management and motivation, hopefully will be able to share more episodes from my daily journey of becoming every single day a better person, for myself and the people around me.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

About (Bad) Dating Experiences

Since last December, I decided to give a new chance to online dating. Not that in the last months I was not active searching from one of the ones and onlies - online - but my motivation was anyway quite low, the time for such entertainment limited and I still had - or thought so - a potential relationship in mind that happily didn't work at all in the end.
With a lot of positive energy and an open mindset, I not only intensively searched on one online dating site, but even open up a new one, on a very popular website. Breath deep, start swip left and left and left, and once in a while to the right. My friend with a couple of years of online dating apps experiences, told me that many men just swip right in the chance that at least once in a while they will get a match. Me, I swipped left: men with animals, or without pictures or with weird descriptions, or together with a child, or...or...or... (also the one who posted a picture of a bag of gummi bears as his profile suffered of the same fate).
Couple of them were matched. Some were actually not even based in my city, although it showed so. I don't want to enter into the reasons they did so, but were far beyond my dating interests. 
Apparently, while I was offline dating uniteresting and uninterested men, a new online dating trend was launched: Netflix dates. It's like men and women cannot bound over a cup of coffee or tea or whatever beverage, unless there is a movie to watch in the background. No better words that the movie's can describe a connection between people. First date by Netflix? Second date by Netflix? Thank you so much, but maybe you keep searching the right movie lover match. 
There are also the very direct people - I love being direct myself as well - who are openly asking you for an intimate relationship and even miss you so much although they never saw you - and there is a 100% probability will never see you. Maybe, after all, we are just a slightly advanced version of bonobos, who knows.
In between, there are people who are intensively writing for a couple of hours or days and then they disappear, the ones you meet and feel that it is nice to meet again, but actually they have some issues they don't want to share (and personally I am not interested to find out more about), those who are interested to built up only a little harem or to enrich their exotic experiences. 
However, there are also nice 'matches', with a relatively interesting and lively conversation, that do not make grammar mistakes and even can talk about more than some mediocre film series - which mean a book they've read or some interesting academic discussion. 
At least once a week I am longing to give up this experience, block and delete most of the people I've meet through my online dating apps and...And what? That's the question that actually keeps me involved as I don't find a clear answer to it. After all, I am back fighting since three months only and as in the case of job searching, the more you are searching and have a mindset open to finding work projects the higher the chances to find what you are looking for. As far as I know I am ready to any kind of business presentation and professional discussion, any time of the day or regardless how tired I am, but when it comes to dating, I can be pretty awkward and bored and lacking any motivation to sound and look interested and interesting at the same time. Therefore, I got the chance to learn something about relationships and how to win -or loose - some of them.
When I feel down and disappointed, I just breath deep, do some exercise and think that, after all, 'that's all for good'. 
Maybe it is about time to take things slowly, allow myself a bit of fun and keep searching. To be continued...

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Bijoux Bijoux - About Fashion, Jewelry, Chanel and Christian Dior

Kunstgewerbemuseum Kulturforum Berlin hosts until the 27th of January an exhibition dedicated to fashio, jewerly, mostly created by Christian Dior and Chanel. Bijoux Bjoux! is an interesting journey through the world of high-end fashion starting with the late 1920s onwards. Besides Chanel and Christian Dior, there are featured both fashion and jewelry works by Moschino, YSL or Swarovski. It covers two floors and displays a lot of interesting works that might interest not only the fashionistas, but also the recent times historians as well as people interested in design and fine arts in general.

Most of the objects exposed were offered to the public thanks to the generosity of Gisela Wigert, one of the most important German collectors of costume jewelry. Besides jewelry, beautiful outfits, made of fine fabrics looking out of a beautiful fairy tale are the perfect combination to admire and, if lucky enough, to reproduce in real life for a special occasion. For me, the pink dress looks just perfect for any season or special opportunity to shine out in the party world.

The jewelry has mostly influences from the 1960s, which is not my favorite fashion inspiration. Big pieces, colourful, overcharged, using different materials and with big - way too big design - are not the kind of things that I love to adorn myself. The conception and the ways in which all those pieces were brought together was, for sure, challenging.

Applying fine lines of jewelry on dresses and fashion outfits in general is always a great idea and the good taste rules are telling that this is just enough for going out, without additional jewelry added.

Oriental influences in jewelry represent a special chapter and I prefer them often to the relatively simple plain lines of the Western fashion. However, a complex piece of jewerly, usually the case of those inspired by non-European works of art, require a minimal, monocromous dress. 

The surprise of this exhibition was that this combination of wool and metal is not something new, but a trend that is coming back from - probably - end of the 1970s, beginning of the 1980s. Not my favorite kind of jewelry and earrings in general, but just to be a trend follower, I purchased one (blue) pair recently for myself too.

Some of the jewerly exposed are more fine and require a fine and complex expertise to create them.This bracelet, for instance, is one of my favorites, not only for the milky shades of the stones, but also for the delicate touch yet the heaviness of the materials.

The massive gablonz from the 1940s, reapearred in the 1970s and are once in a while used also nowadays. I personally prefer the very fine broches, with small - one type of - very precious stones. They are also not something to wear all day long, unless you have a certain age and/or a very high-end social/professional position. 

All my aunts used to wear broches, but not all of them were my taste. This precious flower caught my eye both for the combination of colour, design and stones.

Unique pieces of jewelry match different fashion outfits but a simple black dress matches everything. All round the day. All those 4 black dresses are so gorgeous...

And so are those colourful variants, made by Christian Dior, the last from right being back on the fashion catwalks as soon as the last year. I personally love more the yellow and the pink version, and all the glamorous glittering shoes too. 

The last section of the exhibition has more interesting pieces of jewerly, suited for my taste and made with attention to small details, using gorgeous precious stones.

And there are also some beautiful samples of pearl jewelry, at least some of them the perfect adornment for a special occasion or for Shabbat. 
Bijoux Bijoux! is a really must-see exhibition in Berlin this month, especially if you are into fashio and design and you are curious to understand current and past fashion trends.

Move More, Live Longer

An article published in the 10th of December edition of TIME magazine largely confirm my assumptions outlined in my article about How to have a homeworking healthy life experience. Based on various medical studies, it outlines that every single movement we do in our everyday life would significantly help to improve our health condition. 
However, it should not be anything big and impressive and overwhelmingly intensive. For instance, although you may not need to book a year-long - at least - gym membership, you can at least try to be as much as possible on the move. Like, parking your car a couple of steps away from your entrance will force you take a little bit of more steps. Refusing to take the elevator and walking on the stairs instead. Accepting the challenge of carrying on your groceries as a way to work your arms. Spend your weekends going dancing, which can help you burn up to 300 calories every half hour. Explore the outdoors through gardening, nature walks and bird-watching.
The studies are mostly aimed at the American public, in order to encourage them to move as 'every movement count'. Even things like standing on the subway or walking while you talk on the phone - been there, done that - rather than sitting down, can have an impact, according to Jacque Crockford, a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise, quoted in the TIME article (p.22, section WELLNESS). Such activities, known as 'non-exercise activity thermogenesis' - are associated with lower body weight, better over-all health and increased life span. In fact, the sum of every movement you are doing over the day will help you improve your overall health condition and open up new possibilities of improving both your health and increase your life-span. 
Personally, I am following accordingly such advices, with moving as much as I can either indoors or outdoors. From walking my son to the Kindergarten to taking a movement break from my office chair every half an hour when I am doing home office, carrying my grocery bags and walking at least for one full hour every day, I am trying to take every single opportunity to offer myself a better and healthier life. I am glad I am on the right path and my aim this year is to follow as much as possible such advices for a healthy life. Small steps also count when it comes to feeling and doing better.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Testing a New Fruit: Cherimoya

It's official: with the Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shevat (or the New Year of the Trees) - when it is customary to try a new, eventually exotic fruit - in less than a month, I am looking for interesting fruits to add to an amazing fruit salad I can't wait to share on the blog. Actually, I am open for even two salads, if my testing is going well. 
For a long time, I wanted to test and taste cherimoya, which is the star of this blog post, one from a longer series dedicated to exotic - at least for the Europeans - fruits.

Heart-shaped and as big as a middle-sized grapefruit, cherimoya is originally from Southern Ecuador and Northern Peru. Mark Twain, both a gourmet and a traveller around the world, called it 'deliciousness itself'. The skin and the seeds are not edible. Cutting it is not that easy, as the sking is pretty hard and may present resistance to a less sharper knife. Rich in Vitamin C and B, it has a lemon smell and a milky white pulp.  

My personal experience with this fruit was not outstanding. All the reviews and food stories I've read kept telling that it tastes as a combination between pineapple, raspberries and strawberries. No trace of it in my fruit. It tasted rather as a (very) green apple. For me, it looks like a great fit in a fruit salad with many very sweet fruits - such as bananas or mangoes, but individually, it did not present for me a special flavour that I would rather leave as the main element in a salad or cocktail in order to build around it with complimentary flavors. It might be that I've been unlucky and found a bad fruit and I would love to keep trying different fruits - eventually, from another country of origin - but until now, I may not consider cherimoya for any further involvement in my foodie plans. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

A Foodie Movie Recommendation: Chef's Table

Regardless if you are a foodie or not, Chef's Table that can be watched on Netflix in many installments, interviews famous chefs from around the world telling their stories of resilience, love for authenticity and often the struggle to maintain a cultural identity through preserving old recipes and techniques.
Famous food creators and chefs from restaurants all over the world that won not only more than once a Michelin star but also offered a completely different view on food are sharing their stories often in a very relaxed casual environment. But in most cases, their stories are nothing but casual.
The reports are made from restaurants from all over the world, the main feature followed being represented by the originality of the chef's story and his or her vision on food, very often based on the personal and family culinary experiences and traditions. Besides interesting life stories and inspiring business ideas, there are a lot of outstanding things to learn about restaurant management, new food techniques and the latest trends in terms of food preparation. The return to natural, organic ingredients is part of many of the chefs featured as well.
This comprehensive documentary is also a proof of a different mark of times: food and its preparation is becoming more and more part of the mainstream and featuring things happening behind the closed doors of the kitchen is part of the everyday media agenda. Also, featuring chefs - many of them women too - is also a relatively new trend. What I really appreciated and made me follow the stories with the highest interest was the human aspect of the stories, from the personal family struggles to the efforts of getting acknowledgement and spending nights and days passionately looking the right composition.
Chef's Table offers very inspiring and tasty visual experiences and would definitely make you consider seeing at least one of those restaurants during the travels around the world. It's make it a good start into the foodie year.    

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Why I Did NOT Set Goals for 2019

With all its many ups and downs, 2018 finally ended last night. In many respects, it brought me a lot of fascinating encounters and new good friends, a lot of knowledge about myself and my inner powers but also way too much stress, misunderstanding and worries-driven mind. 
Professionally, it was a very good year, with a lot of collaborations unfolding and many successful projects achieved. I was able to achieve a healthy financial stability, while expanding my contacts and working hard to achieve my goals. My debts diminished and I can finally look more optimistically into the future, thinking about new investments with a more relaxed outlook.
An important step forward towards achieving mental stability, was a lot of time spent thinking and discussing about what my real needs are, learning to be more proud about my own successes, about what I am and I become, but also taking it lightly on failures. Taking more care about my health was also important, with 3 full weeks spent in a relaxing resort, where I was able to practice a lot of sport, discuss with specialists about how to better balance life and work while coping with the challenges of single parenting. The most important part was to recognize the friends where they were and nurture the relationship with people that really matter.
However, things were not always as smoothly as I made them look like. It was a lot of stress and insecurities, way too many worries and false expectations and way too many disappointments. This heavy load leaded to a lot of sleepless nights or bad sleep nights, a lot of stress that leaded to allergies and weakened the immunity system therefore in the last weeks of the year I had to cope with a pretty bad flu that seems to be there to stay, as my end of the year counting of blessings were really not going too good.
Obviously, discovering yourself hurts sometimes and the path towards peace cannot happen without stumbling upon some hard rocks and this cannot be without results, some of them pretty hurtful. How else can you grow up otherwise?
Although I am a pretty careful planner and I love to set clear goals both personally and professionally, for this year I am more relaxed and less strict towards myself. Because my most important aim is to learn how to relax and enjoy life, how to be happy and at ease with myself, nurturing relationships and simply being myself. I don't want anything big or too high or amazing or outstanding. I want to be alive, and healthy, and fully enjoy every single moment of my short life. I want to be happy and content that my child is happy and content and strong enough to deal with everyday's life struggles. 
I want to dedicate a lot of time to people that really matter in my life and find a balance between my priorities, both in life and professional. I want to be surrounded by people that enjoy their life and see the best in people and their personal stories. I want to search for happiness, wherever it happens to be. 
Cheers to a new beginning and hopefully, in 12 months from now I will be able to share more positive interesting stories about my experience.