Friday, November 1, 2019

Cheesy Cornbread Muffins for a Snacky Weekend

Autumn is almost away and the days are getting darker and much, much colder - at least in the part of the world I am living. The body is getting tired and we need more often small energy snacks to keep up walking through the day.
For those longing for a power snack but afraid there is not enough time for baking it ourselves, I'm bringing you just another easy muffin recipe, made of cornflour, cheese - lots of it, milk and...many more easy ingredients. It's ready in less than one hour and fills your breakfast, dinner and lunch, plus the short snack breaks with a lot of healthy energy.

Ingredients
1 cup cornflour
15 gr. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 full tablespoon cooking oil
3 medium-sized eggs
2/3 cup milk, at the room temperature
11 pigeonheart tomatoes, cut in quarters
1 full cup shredded cheese


Directions
Heat the oven art 250C, at least 15 minutes before starting the baking. Add the ingredients, one by one, while whisking them well. Let the composition to rest for a couple of minutes, then pour it into 12 muffin papercups. 
Bake it for around 20 minutes or until ready. I've personally preferred them a bit crispy on the top, therefore I've kept it for almost 30 minutes. Your muffins are ready!


Serves: 12 crunchy tasty cornbread muffins
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 20-30 minutes

Bon Appétit!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Product Review: ISANA Automatic Face Cleaning Brush

One small kid, several jobs, several blogs, lots of things to do in just 24 days. My mother always used to say that regardless how busy you are, you should never neglect your face. You better wake up at 5am twice the week to have a mask than spend one month or more completely neglecting yourself. I was not necessarily a well-behaved kid, listening to what my mother say, but her face was always good looking, regardless the age and the life hardships and illnesses she went through. 
In her memory, I am trying to keep up with my self-care, beauty rituals, either by using a face mask - twice the week, or by trying to get some treatments - once in a while - or practicing some healthy beauty tips. Of course nothing compares to the professional knowledge of a beauty practician, but as for now, my investments are better done in other areas therefore I am doing a lot of things by myself, using beauticians' advices and family lessons.
Face cleansing is very important as it is the basis of a healthy skin. It eliminates those dead cells and add a healthy touch to your face. I religiously remove my makeup every day, but in the last year I feel that I need some more serious treatment, which includes deep peeling and a treatment to add more vitality to my skin.
Therefore, when once I've seen ISANA Face Cleaning Brush, I decided to go for it in a second. As it costs under 15$ -  with batteries included - it does not include a high investment risk. It comes in a box, with a small bag to keep the product between uses, with three different brushes: silicon, normal and smooth. The product is small so it does not take too much storage space. The instruction booklet is written in a couple of languages - among which Hungarian, Turkish, German and Polish, but - unfortunatelly - no English. 
I am using it for already one month and very happy with the result. My skin looks healthier and I feel less guilty for not taking time off for my beauty routine. I have a small beauty parlor in my home and I can happily live with that.
The normal and silicone brush applies to all types of skin, while the smooth one is recommended for special types. I have a normal type of skin and I happily and successfully used the three of them. It works. The normal brush is recommended for intensive cleaning, the smooth one for gentle cleaning, while the silicon is good for peeling and deep cleaning. 
You can use it in several ways. Either on a wet skin or after using special face cleaning products, applied either directly on the brush or on the face. 
The automatic system has two speeds and a cycle lasts around 60 seconds. Every minutes it stops automatically. I personally used it for maximum 3 cycles. More than that it might provoke iritation or hurt. I've used it through circular movements on the cheeks, forehead, nase and chin. A couple of seconds - less than 30 - for each of this side is enough. 
After you are done, you can apply your usual daily creams. 
The brushes should be cleaned following every use and dried with a clean cloth. You need to be careful to not use it close to the eyes and, as in the case of all such products, keep them away from children. 
It is very easy to use - practically I do it early in the morning, with one hand, while the other hand is busy preparing the coffee and the breakfast. It makes it a good beauty care product for the time when too busy for scheduling an appointment at the beauty salon.  

Easy Peasy Apple Muffins Recipe

Apples are one of the main ingredients of a successful Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) table. You can bake them, or just slice them and dip them in the honey, turn them into kugel or...do whatever you want with them. Everything is accepted because...it's Rosh Hashanah. 
This year, I was very comfy with not cooking non-stop for days - or even weeks. I wanted to make things as simple as possible and bring love and happiness to an otherwise traditional table, instead of tired faces. Because muffins are a very loved baking item in our household, I had the idea to have them with apples. You have tradition, and little cakes and an easy baking process and not too many ingredients. Eff it! Ready, steady go!

Ingredients

1 cup white flour
8 gr. baking powder
2/3 cup white sugar
10 gr. vanilla sugar
4 medium-sized apples, finelly shredded
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Directions

Heat the oven at 250C, preferably at least 10 minutes before starting the baking.
Add the ingredients, one by one and mix well to have a homogenous composition.
Pour the content into the muffin papers.
Bake them until ready.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 12

Bon Appétit!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Easy Tempura Meatballs Recipe


I am not a big expert in meatballs and practically only did it a couple of times. It has to do mostly with the aesthethical part of the process, when mysteriously, my almost perfectly rolled balls are breaking into small little pieces while in the boiling oil. If they are bigger, they end up looking like hamburgers with no clear resemblance with the ping pong little balls that are, according to my experienced friends, so easy to shape. It might be a matter of ingredients, experience and patience, and I am well aware that I have significant minuses.
Last week, I had a craving for homemade meatballs and as my cravings were bigger than my reluctance, they won over. But, as usual, although I followed a classical recipe, I added some special unique ingredients hoping that, if they don't look good at least they taste good.
The experience was not bad, in both in terms of taste and looks some improvements were made. The choice of ingredients was inspired and my table guests appreciated not only the effort, but also the final result. The choice of tempura flour instead of normal flour or crumbs was a neutral one, as it did not affected at all the taste and it succedeed to bind together all the ingredients as a smooth glue.
Therefore, I am happy to share the recipe and the inspiration.

Ingredients
400 gr. minced chicken meat
1 tablespoon salt - as usual, kosher salt is always recommended
1 tablespoon za'atar
1/4 onion, minced
1 cup tempura flour
3 small eggs, beaten
1 cup cooking oil -for cooking

Directions

In a pan, heat the oil at 250C, at least 15 minutes before starting the cooking.
In a bowl, mix all the ingredients, for a couple of minutes until you have an homogenous paste.
Start rollingsmall balls and let them to rest for a little while.
Add them in the boiling oil - not all of them at a time. It depends how wide is your pan, but I preferred to do only 4-5 at once. It leave more space for frying.
When ready, let the meatballs on a kitchen paper for draining the oil.
That's all!

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 25 medium-sized meatballs

Bon Appétit!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

'Burma Superstar'

Burmese cuisine is hard to find in Europe. Personally, altough considering myself both well-travelled and well-feed, with experience in various diverse kitchen from around the world, I can't remember one single Burmese restaurant. Otherwise, I would have know a little bit about this cuisine, before starting to read Burma Superstar.
Therefore, I've read this book as a non-fiction one, more than as an account about the menu served in Oakland's restaurant with the same name. A foodie fix in the area for decades, with affiliates inaugurated in other destinations across the USA, Burma Superstar mixes the gourmet inspiration with the basic ingredients of the meals - most of them street food - served in this part of the world.
A popular neighbourhood restaurant is able to reflect in its menu the culinary Asian melting pot. Which is a good news, especially for those aiming at reproducing those recipes at home, as you can easily find ingredients in the various Asian/Indian stores from across the world. You can easily find the spices and the sauces - oyster or Sriracha - the oils and the specific oils and the rice, the special spinach. The only thing I am not sure I can find is the laphet - the tea, used not only for the brewed drink, but usually in salads or as a dried snack. Something I might be interested to find and try out more about soon.
But besides the laphet, there are many more recipes to try, like various curries and salads, dish and dried lentils or samosas. The list of the ingredients is long and it might take a time until getting used to the flavors but adding them to the recipe is easier than expected. You only have to add them to the pan and learn how much time you need to mix them until you obtain a completely new taste out of all the diverse flavors. Beware, the Burmese cuisine is using generous amounts of oil.
The book introduces Burma/Myanmar not only as a food destination but also scatters various political and historical references - mostly Wikipedia style, neutral and not necessarily critical, but for someone finding out about this country it can be a steady beginning.
What I've found a bit under my usual visual standards was the photography, but when it comes to visual representations, everything at a great extent is relative. I love the kind of photography which completes and beautifies the writing and makes the wording attractive which was not the case here.
Personally, I would not hurry up to prepare any recipe at home until I will eventually have a taste of the professionally prepared one. For the sake of the authenticity, I need to figure out first how my personal creation should taste like. But I am so looking forward to it.

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

Banana (with) Bread for Breakfast

Nothing compares to be than starting the day with a heavy, delicious breakfast. During the week or in the weekend, I always appreciate a rich selection of ingredients and a very diverse range of treats. 
Breakfast is holy for me, and besides the coffee, I cannot properly start the day without a good taste of it. I remember how many summers ago, as I had a job that required to be in the office between 7.30 and 8.00, I was up as early as 5 am in order to prepare everything I needed for my breakfast. And people who know me in real life are pretty aware how much I appreciate the long morning sleep.
As I moved countries and new ingredients and products entered - or exited - my life, my breakfast list also changed. I added cereals, fruits, I reduced the amount of meat. When I travel and I enjoy the pleasure of a ready made breakfast, I might add even some spoons of pasta. Brunches are my favorites too, especially if they start at 9am and finish around 13.00. Yes, because I also love to have long breakfasts, for at least one hour, while I am reading my latest emails, planning the day, updating the news. This is my kind of meditation. 
As usual, I am always open to new ideas and inspiration. And as in the last months, I had to eat a lot of honey - more about this in a next post, maybe - I wanted to combine the honey with some other ingredients to produce even a higher sugar overload. 
I had a look in the fridge and in the pantry and decided for the following combination: slices of banana, a generos layer of honey and a spread of black sesame seeds on the top. The basis: toasted white bread.
The preparation takes maximum 10 minutes - if goes faster if you are not lazy and you are a fast person as me. It's full of energy and it also has an interesting combination of tastes - I particularly loved the balance brought by the black sesame. 
All I needed for a successful start into the day!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Body Shaming Comes in All Sizes

A couple of days ago, a lady with an impressive following on Instagram posted a picture of herself in bodysuit. In a couple of minutes, comments - very few really friendly - started to flow: she was accused that she is too slim, she might be a counter-example for teenagers changing their mind about self-acceptance, she might be anorexic and sick etc. 
The decision to show your body publicly is indeed very personal and always involves the risk of being the target of various comments, more or less laudatory. After all, regardless of your size and measurements, there will always be people that will not be happy with the way you look because in fact they are unhappy with their own personality, bodies and ways of being. 
Apparently, there is hard to make everyone happy and you - as a human being or a people included in the category of 'influencers' - cannot change this very human unhappy condition. My point is that even people who are very slim and underweight can be as often targeted as those fighting with a weight problem. I know this from my own experience. 
Although I have my own history of eating disorders - that I will maybe talk more about one day - there is also a genetic structure that I inherited. All the women in my family were slim and I am slim too. I do work with a nutritionist that advices me on a regular basis about what are the best foods and ingredients I need to have regularly on my diet. I do sports of all kinds and I according to my MD, I am perfectly fine. This is the most important thing: to be healthy and in a good shape, regardless of your weight. As long as your medical condition is fine, you don't have to worry and it is no one's business to check on you. But apparently, people rarely find serious hobbies to get themselves busy with, unless it concerns other people.
Another story, also collected from Instagram, was about a very big fashion and lifestyle influencer who dared to go out on the street without makeup. A lady commented to her daughter that without makeup, the influencer was not worth to look at. Just because someone does not look the way it shows in the beautiful glamorous pictures does disqualify that person as a human deem to walk the streets without being bothered by such comments? 
Probably, only more education and self-awareness can finally help people to accept the others the way they are, because they ended up not asking themselves to be more than they are.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

New Foot-Care Routines


We care about our face, about our hands and more visible part of our bodies, by using creams, masks and other massage and regular treatments. We want those part of our bodies to look fresh and shining and young. But what about those parts that we usually don't see but still are playing an important role in our everyday life, like feet? We keep them most of the time tied tight in socks or shoes and we rarely do anything for them unless there are asking for our attention. But, without feet, we rarelly can make it through the day and that deep sensation of tiredness after a very busy day affects the feet at a very big extent.
I am personally very much aware of the need to offer more care to my poor feet, especially as I am a regular fan of walking at least 10,000 steps the day and feeling over years the deep feeling of tired feet and the need to do more than simply stretch. A foot massage is such a blessing for my tired sore muscles and therefore, self-care for this part of the body is what I am looking for to improve this summer.



I started by checking some very simple, affordable products. First, a foot-mask by Rossmann. I am using every week more than 3 different masks for my face but never imagined that this could work for my feet too. Part of the Fuss Wohl line by Rossmann this product is the best recommendation to use at the end of a very exhausting day for your feet - which means it involved a lot of walking in very heavy shoes. It has sheabutter, aloe vera and macadamia oil which has an instant effect of hydration to dry tired feet. You can easily use them at house. The product is a funny yet practical idea: for each feet, you have a big plastic sock-designed mask that you have to keep it on your foot for at least 20 minutes. The pairs are designed for different shoe sizes. After using it, your feet look much smoothier and feels more relaxed.
The other product that I am using right now twice the day is a menthol cream, from the same Fuss Wohl line. Compared to the mask, it has a much stronger and instant effect. The strong concentration of menthol and mint oil ingredient is very refreshing and relaxes the muscles instantly. It gives that feeling that I often had after a very exhausting hike when I arrived to my destination and just hung out my feet on a chair and stop walking. A feeling of relief and perfect relaxation. I applied it in the morning, after shower and late in the evening, before going to sleep.
Both products are relatively affordable and for a medium-care they do very good, especially if you are healthy enough to do not need some additional treatment and medical care for your feet.


In addition to this feet-beauty care, I tried this weekend something completely new: walking barefoot in a forest for over one hour. I advocated previously on this blog about the healthy advantages of barefoot walking and this time I was able to practice it extensively in a specially designed area in the Beelitz-Heilstätten area near Berlin, Germany. The park is specially designed to walk barfoot and offers a couple of variants for each type of activities. For example, you can chose to do a lot of balancing activities - like walking on wood logs - or follow some other good-for-your-feet remedies, such as caking mood with your feet (which is certified as healthy but decided to skip this time).

Walking on pinecones, anyone?

Walking barefoot in a forest might involve a couple of risks, of cours: insects' bites or some little forest needles that can get stuck into your feet. What I've learned though was a completely different connection with nature. When I am walking wearing shoes -most of the time, obviously - I am less focused on where I put my feet and on the sensorial sensation of walking against new textures every time. It is a deep organic feeling of coping with new that I was happy to experience, that probably was a little part of what we are usually calling 'reconnect with nature feeling'. 
Hopefully, will involve even more foot-care practices into my daily self-care schedule. What I see coming up next is a throughoutly feet professional massage. Because my feet deserve even more care and attention.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

A Good Solution to Protect Your Eyes

Fact: I am spending more than 75% of my awake time with a device in the front of me. Either I read, edit photos, write, work or enjoy my time, a computer screen is an undeniable part of my everyday activity. 
Although I am trying to spend as much time as possible outdoors, when I travel, it might happen to check my phone for various personal and professional reasons,  or enjoy some quiet time while reading...on my Kindle. This is my life and I don't want to change nothing of it. Except, to offer myself a healthy environment which might involve some protection for my eyes, for instance.
I am wearing prescription glasses for over two decades and my lenses are usually suited for intensive computer use. However, I noticed lately that it is not enough and some extra protection is necessary.
Therefore, my curiosity of trying the horus X computer protection glasses.


Provided with a 40% filter and aimed to help not only to have a smoothier computer working experience, but also to improve the sleep quality, those computerglasses are delivered in a small etui that can be later easily carried in a small bag or just in a pocket. Besides the etui, a cleaning cloth is also part of the delivery. Each element of the package is delivered in a small plastic bag which might make a bit unhappy those trying hard to reduce the incidence of plastic into their life.


The order is delivered fast and did not raise any problems or red flags. The product has a 3-year money back guarantee. The design is unisex, simple, with a non-complicated frame - although find it a little bit too big for my taste. But after all, you are wearing it in the office and you remove it when outside, so a fashion statement is not necessary in this case. 


I used them for a couple of days in a row and there was no problem: no headache, no visual discomfort. My eyes feel more relaxed and less sore - an experience I had in the last months, especially after changing the prescription glasses. My sleep patterns didn't change though but this is not something which change overnight anyway. 
In general, a good experience with this product and it looks like a good solution to protect your eyes after intensive computer use.

Disclaimer: Product offered by the company but the opinions are, as usual, my own

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Happy Couples Need Therapy Too

I was recently chatting with a good friend of mine, and we reached the conclusion that nowadays people expect to meet someone, and automatically be happy as in those beautiful and colourful story boards many couples are sharing on Instagram. You meet him or her, there is a spark in the eyes, your hearts are beating heart at the same time, you feel in love and you stay in love ever after. It seems that's the only definition of love and relationships easily accepted and it is not working, it is not love.
A very simplistic way to see relationships, but which also explains why so many people nowadays prefer to stay single, keep browsing dating apps over and over again, years after years, hoping to see that spark in the eyes of someone whose picture was heavily photoshopped. After all, it is so easy to refuse the chance of a new start when you assume there will always be enough people hanging around online. Plus, when you have a heavy luggage of past relationships, staying around as much as you can because afraid of starting anew and eventually being hurt again is a more comfortable safe option.
I think everyone has his or her own way to react to heartbreak and heartache. Often, it is better to get better and clear with the past stories before starting a new one. Some can easily start again, some need time. Some will maybe never be the same after a serious break.
However, regardless of your choice, a relationship is not gonna work by itself, from the day 1 or not even from the day 1,000. If two people really want to be together, there is a lot of effort on both sides to overcome adversities, difficulties, different histories and cultural backgrounds. And even if things are really easy and there is not a complicated past between the two, assuming that things will come along well without too much effort is a lie.
Probably, for people in their early 20s, things are smoothly. You can trust easier, you have an open heart to share and you can really find love easier. But once you are going straight to your late 30s, things are becoming complicated because your life experience is different and it is good to be so. All you need, is to build the realistic expectations based on communication and the common interest of being together.
Personally, I think that regardless how much you are into a person and want to be together, every single step towards being fully part of a relationshio is terribly hard. Very hard, particularly if you are a very analytical person, always careful to details and observations and simple facts. Feelings are confusing, the mind is always prone to make projections and overthink, ending up being scared by the next step. 
Of course, easy is to say 'good bye' and give up because, who knows, maybe this relationship too will leave you heartbroken or it is just a new version of your old failed relationships. After all, isn't it easy to be alone, enjoy your own comfort and swipe right or left your dating apps. Or not thinking at all about relationships.
However, how rewarding it is - at least for some - the experience of getting to know another person. The beauty of sharing and caring about someone else. The goosebumps of seeing an answer for spending time together. 
It should not work out with everyone, but give a chance when it is worth it, while trying to understand that all the good things in life need work, a lot of work, and so are the relationships. 
When things are going hard and both of you are going through hard times, asking the help of a couple therapist might give both of you a new chance. Giving up is the easiest thing, but when you feel and know that this relationship is worth, don't leave it until all chances were played. A family therapist can help tremendously to build up trust and find the right ways to communicate, especially when people do have different cultural backgrounds and personal and emotional experiences. It will not gonna work out instantly, but when there is a will and you want to be together with the other person, stop fighting and shouting to each other and rather go together to an expert that can help you find peace. Relationships are a long and complicated journey, but how beautiful is to share your journey with someone you love and you know there is no one better than him or her. 
Love with someone is much more rewarding than being on your own. But be sure that you think and evaluate and fight for your relationship as much as you can. Couple therapy can save your future.  

Easy Homemade Tomato Sauce Recipe

Do you know that feeling, when you are really craving for something at an hour and a day of the week when the chances to find a shop open are minimal, especially when you want something a little bit different than the generous offer of your gas station next door? The one and only solution is to put your head at work, check the available foods in the kitchen and move on to the next level, which is: preparing the missing food you were dreaming for (maybe if you have been dreamt less it was still a slight chance to find that shop open, who knows?)
A couple of days ago, I wanted badly to have some pasta with red (tomato) sauce and although my house is never short of pasta options - at least 3 different sortiments at once - and so is the cheese, the only ingredient missing was the tomato sauce. Hunger can make you creative too, therefore, I had to move fast and smart to get the sauce of my life. Which, in the end, was a much better option than the Pomodoro sauce in the can - except the vivid red colour that I could not recreate myself.


Ingredients
6 medium-sized tomatoes
5 garlic cloves, medium-sized, chopped
50 gr. salty pistachio
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon za'atar (I will write in another post about my Syrian za'atar which is a wonder of a spice)

Directions
Bring to boil 1 liter of water with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the tomatoes and let them boil for around 20 minutes. Their peel will go out automatically, but anyway, after boiling be sure you remove it slowly.
Add in a blender the tomatoes, the garlic, the brown sugar, the olive oil, the pistachio and the za'atar. Blend it for 2-3 minutes at medium size.
Add it to the pasta when it is still warm. 
It tastes heavenly and I tried to control myself to not eat it before any pasta added. The pistachio mixes perfectly with the spices and the olive oil, and the sweetness of the tomatoes is amplified by the brown sugar. 
The conclusion is that from now on, I would rely as much as possible on my own red sauce and maybe will even improve and add new ingredients and spices.


Serves: 2

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Bon Appétit!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Delicious Eggplant Sandwich with French Cheese (and a Secret Spicy Ingredient)

I've said it once, will say it again and again: eggplants are such a challenging veggie to work and cook with. From the preparation until the matching, everything that has to do with it looks for me as a very challenging task. However, as in many challenges I have to deal with in my life, the answer is not to give up and to keep trying, experimenting and learning how to be a better cook, one recipe at a time.
I was not sure what exactly I want from this eggplant, therefore, I began in the classical way, by frying it on the open stove. It goes relatively fast, you only need to pay attention to turn the eggplant every couple of minutes, to burn equally on all sides.


Ingredients

1 medium-sized eggplant
4 cloves garlic, finelly chopped
3 tablespoon olive oil for the frying pan, plus 1 teaspoon for the finishing
50 gr. butter melted
1 tablespoon za'atar (I got from a Middle Eastern friend a big quantity of za'atar from Syria, which is like no other za'atar I ever had before and I am glad I can keep testing its qualities in different recipes)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
50 gr. Parmesan, as garnish



Directions

When the eggplant is cooked on all sides, peel it and mash it slowly.
Meanwhile, in a frying pan at 250C, add the olive oil, the garlic, melt the butter, add the za'atar. Mix it well for a couple of minutes. Add the eggplant and the lemon juice and keep mixing it for another couple of minutes.
Pour the content in a bowl, add some extra olive oil and mix slowly. Add
Prepare the toast and spread one layer of French cheese - actually any kind of soft cheese works, including Gorgonzola which is a bit spicy and hard but might interact perfectly with the eggplant - and a generous spread of eggplant.
The final result is a rich, fulfilling and also healthy meal which can be savoured as a part of the dinner. Recommended to be served warm, as it melts deliciously with the cheese.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 3

Monday, June 3, 2019

Papardelle with Dairy Chilli Sauce

With the holiday of Shavuos a couple of days ago, I decided to set up a couple of simple yet tasty ideas for the family table. After all, I graciously missed all the previous holidays in terms of sharing recipes at least one single time - before the High Holidays in autumn - to be on point. 
I am starting with an easy and fast - within 30 minutes - recipe, which combines healthy, simple and dairy ingredients. Plus, it has my beloved pasta in it, therefore I couldn't wait to test, taste it and live to write another tasty foodie story.


The type of pasta used are papardelle, a large, very broad flat, cut into a ribbon shaped pasta (in Italian, pappare means to gobble up). They require around 6-7 minutes of boiling. I prepared a one liter water with one teaspoon of salt. When the water starts to boil, I added the pasta and let it boil. For a portion of two persons, I used the equivalent of 100 gr. of papardelle.


The ingredient that gives the full spicy taste to the meal is chilli. I used 1/2 teaspoon of homemade, brought to me by my Turkish friend from her hometown in Trabzon. They are so strong, that even the smallest amount put your mouth on fire.


The sauce is the most important part of the meal, as its success - or failure - is crucial for setting the gourmet standards for your meal. It is very important that each ingredient is added one by one, mixing well and allowing the different tastes and flavours to melt.

For the sauce, I used the following ingredients
100 gr. butter
6 medium-sized garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon chilli
125 gr. sour cream - buttermilk can also be used alternativelly

Directions

Melt the butter in a pan at 250C. In a separate bowl, add the olive oil, the garlic, the chilli, the sour cream, the melted butter. Mix them until you have a homogenous creamy paste. 


Now, it is about time to put all the ingredient together and prepare your pasta plate.
Once the papardelle are ready and drained, add the sauce on a pan at 250C, and mix well, until all the sides of the pasta are covered. Put on the top 50gr. Peccorino hard cheese and mix for another couple of minutes.
Your delicious bowl of pasta is ready. Serve it warm, in the company of a lemonade or a glass of cold white wine.

Preparation time: 10 min.
Cooking time: 10 min.

Serves: 2

Bon Appétit!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

3 Lavash Wraps Ideas for the Summer

Having friends from all over the world is a blessing. Especially when it comes to eating, there are so many interesting foods to try recommended by experts which make foodie life more and more interesting and exciting. 
A couple of weeks, a friend originally from the Caucasus region introduced me shortly lavash. A soft unleavened flat bread with a very smooth texture it is made only of three ingredients: flour, water and salt. A basic food in Armenia - where is included in the UNESCO World Heritage - as well as in Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iran - it suits perfectly a picnic basket or a morning/evening/afternoon lazy snack. 

Given the minimal ingredients it is made of, it does not add anything to the ingredients it is filled with, but makes it into a great neutral background. It is strong enough to be hold more than 3 ingredients.
You can eat it fresh, at the room temperature or warmed in the toaster or the microwave. Usually, it is pretty resistance, with a life-span of around 60 days. 
In the three following combinations I've tried, I wanted to use a lot of fresh vegetables, but also some spreads. There are two cheese recipes and one non-dairy (parve). 
The preparation time is very short, and you can easily enjoy the diverse and fulfilling taste - plus the healthy ingredients, within minutes - between 10 and 20. I've purchased my Lavash bread from the LEDO Russian store in Berlin.


1. 

For this first filling of my Lavash bread, I've used a special spread, also an ethnic food: Ajvar. A favorite side-dish and spread in the Balkan area, it has as main ingredients red roasted pepper and oil, plus in some cases aubergines and garlic. I've purchased the Ajvar from the same LEDO Russian store, but most probably it can be found also in other bigger supermarket chains, such as EDEKA or REWE. I've spread generously Ajvar on the bread. I added two small slices of Edamer yellow cheese, another generous layer of cottage cheese. On the top, I've added a couple of slices of fresh tomatoes.
This wrap was very easy to make!


2. 


This second wrap has a higher percentage of calories, but also a good healthy balance.
The first layer was a generous spread of goat cheese. I added also:
- 2 slices of Edamer yellow cheese
- 1/2 of avocado, sliced
- 1 hard boiled egg, sliced
- couple of slices of fresh tomatoes

Roll it and get it ready!

3. 


After such a big load of cheese and the egg, I wanted this third and second wrap simpler and with fresher ingredients.
Therefore, I only added a generous spread of Ajvar, to which I smashed half avocado and added a couple of slices of tomatoes. 


It was such a great dinner idea! Easy to make, tasty and even healthy! The perfect treat for the summer, when the livin' is so so easy!

Bon Appétit!

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.


Ingredients
- 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

Directions:
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.

Ingredients
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.

Ingredients
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

Directions
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.