Saturday, December 29, 2018

My Skincare Routine for December

With a bit of more creative time on my sleeves and motivation, I was finally able this December to get back into my skincare routine, not only by using at least every week a new mask, but also with a regular, disciplined program that helped my skin to get back its natural glow and healthy aspect.
My investment was not significant - not for now, at least - and included skincare products available in the usual Rossmann and DM drugstore (less than 50 euro for all the products). They last more than a months therefore it is more than a great deal and you did it for your own beauty and health.

Twice the day, I am using the Garnier SkinActive: It has basically the same concentration of the face mask that I've used and reviewed a couple of years ago, but has a different consistency and the effects are instant. With a high concentration of the precious pomegranate, the antioxidant water-cream moisturizer offers within minutes the necessary hydration of the skin. I use it a couple of minutes after waking up and shortly after removing my make-up. After one day during which often my skin is exposed to various pollution factor and stress, this cream gives a healthy shining and makes me feel perfectly in my skin.
Another cream of the three that I am using three times the day is L'Oréal Anti-Wrinkles Expert. Recommended to be used in the morning and in the evening, it is suited for the 35+ women. The 50 ml. bottle is heavy, with a discrete smell and has a high concentration of collagen which brings back the dynamism and the skin elasticity. To be applied in the morning and in the evening, with circular moves helping to put into motion the blood circulation. 
Last but not least, my latest discovery is Nivea Hyaluron Cellular Filler. Used once the day, usually after the second cream is applied on the skin - with a break of around 10 minutes, to leave it work properly on the skin. Odorless and oily, it makes it also as a good makeup basis, but I would rather recommend to wait at least 30 minutes after applying. It helps to regenerate the cells and conferes to the skin not only shining, but also volume, as it efficiently counters the dead cells and the wrinkles. I am using it only once the day and it is enough. 
Overall, a very good daily experience, and only after 10 days, the concentrated effects of all those creams are pleasantly visible on my skin. 
As for the products I am using during the week, stay tunned for another post, hopefully soon!

My Asian Noodles Bowl

I wish I can call this bowl of noodles more specifically - like Japanese, or Chinese, or Singapore or Korean...- but unfortunatelly, I've built up everything with my European mind, by using a variety of ingredients that probably covers the entire Asian continent - while adding some flavors suited for the Western Europe palate as well.
As a big lover of Asian food, I always dreamed to build up my own bowl of noodles, using a variety of ingredients and creating that umami effect that calls you back over and over again. 
In setting up this bowl, I've used for the first time in my life lotus roots. I bought mine as frozen and sliced and therefore, boiled it before serving. Rich in nutrients and assigned health benefits such as reducing stress and improving blood circulation, it can be consumed either boiled - although a bit tasteless - deep or stir fried. Right now, I am trying it in various variants thus wait for a coming post fully dedicated to this versatile Asian food that can be so smoothly integrated into local recipes.

Ingredients
2 big slices of lotus roots halved
1 small egg boiled at 5 minutes
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon black sesame
3 shiitake mushrooms
1 portion of dried potato noodles
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon black sesame
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Directions
Boil the egg for 5 minutes and halve it. 
In a pan warmed at 250C, add the sesame oil, 1 tablespoon black sesame and the shiitake mushrooms. Fry them on all sides for around 10 minutes.
Add around 250 ml. hot water on the noodles and, if the case, add the seasoning.
Add to the bowl the lotus roots, the egg, the sesame seeds, the soy sauce and the shiitake. Mix it a couple of times.
Serve it warm.

Serves: 1

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Bon Appétit!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

4 Useful Tips for an Efficient Homeworking Experience

In the last 10 years, most of my working time was spent at home. Working from your home office, especially when you have children, allows you a certain flexibility and the possibility of being there - at least as a physical presence - but on the other hand it might be a frustrating experience. How many sunny spring and summer days - such a commodity in Germany - I've spent working non-stop, fighting hard with deadlines? How many weekends were a sacrifice on the altar of hard work - and not always enough money - waiting for some editor to announce me if the article sent couple of days ago is really fine? As I do operate on a different holidays schedule than most of the world, when other people are enjoying their vacation during the winter holidays time, I am always hard working and this might be difficult also when it comes to making a common program with a partner or friends as well.
However, I personally find this kind of work rewarding, as it gives me also the chance to work with a diversity of people and personalities, being involved in many different complex projects allowing me to use at their best my personal and professional skills.
For all those freelancers working from home that, like me, are sometimes having some hard time being stuck at home for such a long time, here are my 4 tips for a better working from home experience. Those tips I've tried more than once myself and found always an experience good enough to recommend it to my readers too.

1. Break your working time into short breaks 

The most important thing you have to have in mind as a freelancer is to be organised. As organised as possible. I usually have a tight schedule for the week, day and sometimes, even hour by hour. I set up my schedule at the beginning of the week - which, for me, starts on Sunday, sure that I can cover properly all the hourly rates of my projects. I do have separate Excel sheets for each of my projects, that I update instantly after receiving or finishing a work task. 
Being organised means also that I am trying to give myself some breaks between projects. Either you are using the Pomodoro technique or not, those breaks are very important for recharging, relaxing while getting ready for a new start.
I do not have a given amount of time put aside for the breaks, but usually it is around 5 minutes and 30 minutes. It might be enough to check your other emails, your WhatsApp, call a friend or just haev a coffee or prepare your lunch.

2. A little bit of sport movements every day

I am guilty for not spending enough time exercising, one of the many reasons being that I am simply out of time. I have to wake up early for work, finish the first batch around 8am when I have to prepare my son for the kindergarten and after that, continue with more work, business appointments or some house chores that I prefer to do it when I am on my own. After 15.00 o'clock, the rest of the day is spent again together with my son so no way to go out for one hour to practice. After all, my day is already packed with action therefore, why should I pay for some fitness studio?
However, I am terribly missing my gym time, especially after a couple of hours tied to my chair working in the front of the computer. 
As usual, I've found a solution that relatively makes me happy for the time being: using at least two of the work breaks for a bit of stretching, various movements and other practical physical exercises that might give you physical power to succeed through the rest of the busy day. As for now, I am looking to set up a couple of useful practices and tips, so watch this space a bit later for more tips and inspiration.

3. At least one hour of walking every day

Since breaking into smartphones, one of the few apps that I am checking every day - besides WhatsApp - is SamsungHealth, as it records automatically the number of steps that I set up as a goal every day. As for now, I am modestly aiming at 10,000 steps the day, but usually during the weekend and while on various trips, I am hiting much farther. As this number of steps can be easily achieved within one hour of walking, I am trying to use as much as possible my outdoors time for achieving this goal.
Regardless of the weather conditions and of how much work I have to do, one hour of walking relaxes me - especially when I walk in the middle of the nature or through a forest. 
Don't try to cheat. You cannot decide to stay one day at home while considering to spend 2 hours outdoors the next one. Every day counts and when once in a while - usually maximum twice the year - I am simply stuck at home and cannot enjoy the fresh air, I feel bad both physically and mentally. Moving means your body is put into motion and this motion compensate the extra energy vacuumed by the intellectual activity.
Obviously, you need both a healthy mind and a healthy body.

4. Don't neglect your social life

You might say: a busy single mother life, an active child, a lot of activities and business ideas to be developped, when can you meet other people than your potential business partners? Although I may feel overwhelmed and I am a bit neglecting my dating life, getting in touch with my friends and having a certain - although limited - social life is important for my overall success. It can be a playdate, or just a short coffee with a date, or a visit at an exhibition or at your local library. Connecting with people, getting familiar with something different than your line of work might be a relaxing yet inspiring experience. Catching up with friends might not always be possible in person, but using your break time for calling a friend to ask him or her how he or she feels, helping someone in need are healthy social life experiences that you should not ignore and give them a given place into your everyday life activities.

What about you, what are your tips for an efficient homeworking experience?

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Cauliflower Cheesy Nugets

Yesterday I've mentioned an useful book with ideas and explanations about healthy foods for children. Today, I couldn't wait to prepare one of the few recipes shared in the book, although, as usual, with a personal touch and by using my favorite ingredients: cauliflower cheesy nugets.

Ingredients

1 medium-size cauliflower, shredded TIP: It goes very easy and fast to shred floret by floret. 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic power - I would have preferred the fresh garlic, but the recipe indicated otherwise therefore I tried to keep it in line with it.
3 medium-size eggs, beaten
150 gr. yellow cheese shredded. The original recipe indicated Parmesan and it was definitely a much better and finer version
300 gr. matzo flour The original recipe indicated crumbs and regula flour but I love the hard texture of the matzo flour much better. 
1/2 cup oil or more for frying


Directions

Warm the oil in the pan at 250C least 10 minutes before starting the cooking. Add the ingredients, one by one, and mix well. It is very important to have them equally distributed as it allows a good, balanced taste. With wet hands, take some mixture and roll it by hand. Add it to the hot oil and turn it on the sides. Let it rest on some parchement paper to absorb the extra oil. 
I would personally add some more spices as well, and also even more cheese. As it is a meal a bit too oily than the average, I served it with some fresh slices of tomatoes. Some avocado is a good match as well.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 18 small cauliflower nugets

Cheesy Spicy Latkes

I've finally convinced myself to cook this Hanukkah, although in a completely diet-mood. However, once I ordered my first sufganyot from Benedict Berlin, I instantly switched to the holidays mood and succeeded to create even a new latkes recipe that I am happy to share it now. Although the holidays are long over, you can eat those latkes on other occasions too, as it makes it a good companion to regular meals all round the year. 


Ingredients
18 small potatoes peeled
2 small onions shredded
3 medium-size eggs beaten
1 cup matzo flour
1 cup shredded Emmentaler or yellow Cheddar shredded cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Ras El Hanout, from Spice Kitchen UK, received as their Brand Ambassador
1 big cup of oil for frying
1 small carrot to keep it in the frying pan in order to avoid the sticky burning of latkes (it is a traditional tip among Jewish food bloggers and it works)
5 tablespoons of plain yogurt for serving


Directions

Mix the potatoes with the spices, eggs, cheese and matzo flour until you have a compact mixture. Warm the oil in the pan at least 10 minutes before starting the cooking. Make by hand a small ball of latkes and add it to the frying pan. Turn it on both sides until perfectly cooked.
Put each latkes on both sides on a napkin in order to absorb the extra oil.
Serve it warm, accompanied with a fresh cold plain yogurt topping.

Preparation time
15 minutes

Cooking time
45-50 minutes

Serves: 15 small latkes

Bon Appétit!


Spicy Potato Waffles with Chicken

If you are following this blog, you might know that I am not only a big fan of waffles, but was brave enough to gather all my knowledge from the last one year and a half and share it in a book. However, as usually, once my book was ready, I felt like there are way too many recipes missing from the book and took the challenge to move forward with even more ideas - probably to be included in the book at a later date.
During the Hanukkah holidays, I tried besides the classical latkes, to experience something completely different - a good slice of potato waffles. Although the final result depends at a great extent of the machine you are using - in my case it was a kind of disappointment, as my relatively affordable one did not stand up the expectations - the taste is always top and it offers a very interesting experience in combination with meath.
Easy to make, unforgettable flavor and a very fulfilling meal. That's how I love my waffles!

Ingredients
6 big potatoes peeled
3 medium-size eggs beaten
1 cup matza flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 Ras El Hanout spices from Spice Kitchen UK, as their Brand Ambassador
1 generous cup of oil for frying

Directions
Mix the potatoes with the eggs, matza flour and spices, until you have a compact mix. Warm the waffle machine, while smearing generously oil on both sides. A pan spray that will avoid sticking is also recommended. Pour the quantity for one waffle in the machine and wait until the green button indicates it is ready.
Add the slices of chicken on the top and your lunch is ready!

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30-45 minutes, depending on the machine

Serves: 6

Bon Appétit!



With Christiane Amanpour about Sex&Love Around the World

During my years as a journalist, I've enviously followed Christiane Amanpour for her top reports from all over the world's turmoils and her incisive questionning of the international leaders. A couple of days back, I've discovered that the CNN award-winning journalist made at the beginning of this year an interesting documentary about Sex&Love Around the World, and as for the next 12 months I want - among others - to focus more on relationships, I watched it in one sit on Netflix.
Covering Japan, India, China, Ghana, Lebanon and Berlin, the 40-minutes episodes are directly inquiring about relationships and sexual habits - or in some cases, the complete lack of it - the new and old perceptions on intimacy and sexuality. The areas covered are relatively less known outside their world and I was completely surprise to discover through the CNN lenses a completely other image of Lebanon that I ever imagined - I portrayed it as a liberal oasis, but it looked even more than that, outlining the lack of inhibitions among the non-religious youth and their struggle to keep sane in a society of extremes. As I lived for one year in Japan, I am more or less familiar with the relative coldness/sexless life typical for the Japanese couples, while China is a completely new area that regardless how much I read and discover about, remains a big mystery. I personally been a bit disappointed by Berlin, as it rather focused on the weird, respectively the new challenges brought by new immigrants from conservative environments, and the touch of the political journalist was stronger than the lifestyle curiosity.
Despite some shorcomings, I've found fascinated the open minded perspective and the genuine curiosity of asking and answering about intimate questions, the ways in which new generations are questioning the traditional insensitive ways of approaching life, love and relationships of the previous generations. The lack of emotional communication within couples, the coldness and men-focused cultures are - hopefully - living their last decades, as a new type of sensitivity and gender identification and openness is starting to make history. The times have changed and so the people, and there are new sensitivities and human needs that are becoming important, as well as individuals more keen to express their needs and requests than before.
Although the certain cultural and historical perspectives, the cases featured do have an universal character and outline the universal need for love, intimacy and communication. An useful documentary to watch during this festive season because you might learn a lot about yourself and your own needs as well.

Friday, December 21, 2018

101 Healthiest Foods for Kids

'Never stop trying. Yout kids (and their health) are worth it'.
Sally Kuzemchak writes from the double position as a parent and nutritionist, introducing more or less known - like jicama, for example, foods (101, to be exact) that are recommended for children - but for adults too. The book consists of short presentations, accompanied by pictures and some pearls of wisdom based on scientific facts versus various common - and not necessarily reliable - information. 
Although personally I would have expected a little bit more recipes, preferably a bit complex too, the book is relatively easy to read, packed with important details about each food - veggies, fruits, grains and other foods such as eggs, honey or milk - and some simple photography. It covers a big range of issues, including various diseases, intolerances and allergies, as well as latest certified trends in the field of nutrition. Although it is basically aimed at parents by offering a variety of suggestions and information about a big list of foods, the information is equally useful for the adult preoccupied by a healthier lifestyle and menu. I liked that there are no exagerations and extreme opinions, pseudo-science and myths, but purely explanations, facts and once in a while a recipe too (at least one caught my eyes and would love to test it hopefully soon).

Rating: 4 stars
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Spicy Cauliflower with Black Sesame

Cauliflower is such an easy match for a variety of flavors, especially spices, allowing the culinary imagination to easily fly away. My experience - although limited - is that you rarely can get it wrong with cauliflower, such a versatile vegetable which keeps a good and healthy company to heavy meals. I've tried this recipe during the Hanukka holidays, when everything is filled with oil and was in desperate need of some healthy side dish. 


Ingredients
1 medium-sized cauliflower, with separated florets
1 teaspoon za'atar
1 teaspoon Berbere spices, received part of Spice Kitchen UK Brand Ambassador Program
1 teaspoon black sesame
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions
Warm the oven at 250C, at least 10 minutes before starting the baking. On a sheet pan, smear the florets with olive oil - preferably on both sides, then add the various spices and the salt, also on both sides. Let it bake while turning from a part to another every 10 minutes. When ready, add the black sesame and mix it a couple of times.

Cooking time
30 minutes

Preparation time
10 minutes

It makes it a good side dish for both meaty and diary menus. Especially for the latkes, it was my favorite companion. You can also serve it as an entrée, together with a fresh salad - cherry tomatoes with cucumber, with or without oil. The Berbere spices are giving to the meal such a heavy consistency that it changes completely the otherwise bland cauliflower flavor. 

Bon Appétit!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

THE Book about Waffles is Finally Here

 As I will - hopefully - write in a later book one day, I am pretty late in the field of food, with my first cooking and baking experiences done in my 30s. In the last few years I tried to improve my skills and learn as much as I can, either on my own or by taking various cooking classes.  
My academic background helped me to research extensively about spices, methods and directions and therefore I've reached a certain acceptable level that allowed me to prepare a full wedding catering menu a couple of years ago and even being paid for it (by some happy customers).
As my son grew up, finding those kids' friendly menus and after trying a lot of variants, we went stuck with the waffles. They are easy to make - as long as you have a machine, and the easiest one is doing its job properly - its ingredients can be combined in different ways and the results are always tasty. 
After over a year of trying, I ended up by collecting all the recipes and create a freshly baked book of recipes: Waffles All Day, Every Day
Waffles with a heavy jam topping is a great favorite of mine. And of my son too!

The book, the result of the work of my love - for waffles, but also for food and writing - will help the waffle lover in you to find the right recipe and ingredients for any occasions, from a friendly brunch to a relaxing breakfast on your own. The recipes are simple, without too many ingredients and with a preparation time of under 30 minutes. All you need to know about waffles - such as what machine to use, what toppings to add, how to prepare them - is in the book.

Ready to try some savory waffles recipes too?

I always love to take challenges, so in this book I tried besides the classical sweet variants, also a couple of savory recipes. And the results were...at least as delicious. So, as usual, when one challenge was accepted, the next one followed, with trying again something new: for instance, matching waffles recipes with various Jewish holidays. It worked again...
Once my recipes went through one or two testing stages, it was about time to collect them all and bring them together in a nice book of recipes that is ready to land on a Kindle next to your kitchen counter.
It took me a bit of time and effort and energy, but I am happy that my first foodie book ever is ready! Can't wait to see what my readers are thinking and tasting about!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Why You Need a Job Coaching (at least once in a while)

As a single mother with an active baby, who found herself in the middle of things without any clear idea how to handle them, but still went on against the mainstream(s), finding the right job and professional direction after two years of staying at home was not an easy task. Although I had 10+ years of experience, a lot of foreign languages in my pocket and an impressive list of professional and academic achievements, being strong enough and motivated enough to continue, once my boy started his kindergarten was a bit complicated.
I had the idea, I had the good health and also some basic resources, but how to continue my life normally, given the time and financial limitations I had to cope right now required a bit of professional help. Without a responsible father to provide us a basic help, things got rough some times. Finding different gigs and work assignments was more than a way to fill my time and put my brains at work, it had to do with survival and my obligation to offer to my son all the comfort and amenities needed for his age. I had hobby classes to pay, clothes and kindergarten fees, babysitter once in a while or various development games. Besides, I also had to pay rent, buy food, clothes and pay taxes and fees and insurances. Last but not least, I needed to maintain a certain level of sanity and go out with my friends once in a while. 
Plus, I had other plans too: building up my own business and communication boutique, keeping myself in good shape and continuing my travels and world adventures.
Job Coaching - a training which I booked for three months until the end of 2018 helped me tremendously not only to figure out my priorities, set up better professional aims and follow my plans consciously, but also to get in touch with other single mothers, their struggles and challenges. As all the trainig is taking place in German, it was also the welcomed linguistic challenge that I was waiting for, and in less than 2 months, my professional fluency improved. 
With so many people coming from so many completely different lawns of life, with the help of good coaches and inspiration, now I feel much closer to reach my potential. Although I am stubborn enough to keep believing that I will manage to follow both my business and academic plans - which at the moment are completely different, and will use all my resources I've built in the last years therefore not stay focused on one and only project - a better task management is very important to achieve what I have in mind. Changing my mindset and my attitude towards my own priorities and success in general requires time, but all those small exercises I am doing right now are helping me tremendously to see everything in a much clearer and even more glittering light.
This year - more about this in a next post - I understand how important is to build and find time for yourself. Create opportunities and challenge yourself to that 'me time' where you can just relax, close your eyes and enjoy your time, without being always under the pressure of taking care of other people's needs all the time. Being generous is a great character feature, but if you cannot do things first for yourself, sharing with others is a half-job. Also, if you are unhappy and not healthy in mind and body, how can you be a good caregiver to your children and loved ones?
Therefore, my advice to all those looking for a better direction, shift and encouragement: take the challenge, find the right job coach or job coaching program and work a bit your aims and dreams. With a little motivation and help, you can definitely get things on a much better track.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Tasty Story of the Mooncake

As a frequent visitor of the Asian supermarkets in my area - I am happy enough to have at a distance of less than one hour two gorgeous places where I realize I need a life and a little bit more to try and understand everything - in the last months I noticed some fancy square or round cakes, mostly packed in glamorous boxes. Labelled as 'mooncakes' and sold for an average of around 4 Euro the piece, those delicious cakes are part of the Asian Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations. 
A fix during the celebrations in mainland China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and all over the world where Asian communities are living, the mooncakes are usually filled with a lotus, red bean, jasmin, durian, green tea or peanut cream, and eaten in the company of a cup of tea, eventually while admiring the moon. Shared with friends and business partners, they are glazed with yolks from salted duck eggs on the top, usually with the name of the bakery they are produced stamped on the top. The average cake has around 10 cm. diameter and a 3-4 cm. high. As a meal, they are fulfilling enough for a couple of hours, the time spent outside under the moonlight. 
The mid-autumn festival is one of the most important Chinese festivals, celebrated late September, beginning of October, according to the Gregorian calender.  
I personally tried in the last weeks several variants of cakes, my favorite so far being the red beans. I loved the perfect match between the mild pastry flavor and the heavy consistency of the filling. 
Will I be ever able to prepare one? Wishful thinking, but until then I do my careful research getting the last bites of the left-over mooncakes from the time of the festival.  

Saturday, November 17, 2018

An Easy Nourishing Pumpkin Cream Soup

I am so bad with soups. I hardly have any favourite myself and I haven't cooked too many in my life. Time for a challenge! My plan is to make the next days and weeks, until mid-December, the latest, the days of soup, putting my imagination and modest cooking skills at work, while preparing at least once the week a nourishing soup for me and my lovely little family.
The first installment in the series, a nourishing pumpkin cream soup as you never ever tasted before (be aware, there are many spices involved - as usual).


Ingredients

- 1 medium sized pumpkin, without seeds, sliced into quarters
- 50 gr. unsalted cashews, turned into powder in the food processor
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 tableespoon Aleppo Pepper from Spice Kitchen UK, part of their Brand Ambassador Program
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 teasopoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

In one lukewarm liter of salty water at 250C, add the pumpkin and let it boil until very soft. When ready, add it to the food processor together with the ginger and turn it into purée at medium speed for at least 2 minutes. In a pan, add one by one the purée, the turmeric, the oil, salt, Aleppo Pepper, cashews and 1/3 cup water. Simmer slowly until boiling. Let it boil for another 5 minutes.


The taste of all this? Eclectic, nourishing and complex. The ginger brings some sparkle where the cashews and pumpkin and the olive oil are nourishing. The Aleppo Pepper and salt are the spicy balance that you need to lighten out, while the turmeric adds a special taste and colouring. I would bring some sesame salty crackers as a company, but maybe the next time, as this time, excitment was so great that I hardly had the patience to snap some pics for the blog.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

Serves: 2

Bon Appétit!

Monday, November 5, 2018

How to Build a Sustainable Home

One of my aims for this year was to improve the degree of sustainable living, but I mostly failed to my plans. My biggest concern, how to limit the consumption of plastic, hardly reached its aim, with a slight reduction of the average use of plastic in my household. However, I noticed that in fact I was doing some of the things right, like doing a regular decluttering, separating the garbage and investing smartly the money into reliable, ecologically-conscious pieces of furniture or clothing. 
Sustainable Home by Christine Liu takes every part of the house and recommends, for each and every room, solutions and recipes - not always food-related - aimed at creating a household with a higher awareness for the environment. Such an awareness means many things and the complexity of the book allows choices. Don't expect to achieve all the processes described overnight, but at least you can start somehow. For instance, by separating the garbage, adding more indoor plants to your home or even creating your own herb garden, repairing and/or repurposing clothes instead of just buying piles of unuseful outfits. The most complicated for me was the part about evaluating and eventually creating your own furniture, but with a bit of patience, this part of the plan can also work smoothly. 
At a certain extent and provided the limits of decency and moderation are maintained, Sustainable Home ofers tips and simple ideas for a different, less consumerist kind of life. It offers to the reader the option of picking up her or his own choices and adapting to his or her own household needs. I will not end up preparing my own toothpaste - except purely by curiosity for the challenge of doing it - or start creating my own furniture, but would prefer to make more balanced and realistic purchase decisions, based on my needs and not on the latest product trends (except books, obviously). 
Recommended if you are looking for a New Year's resolution or if you need more structure and aim in organising your medium or long-term decluttering plans.

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

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Baked Eggplant with Cheddar Cheese

My and eggplant...we have a very complicated story between us, but I keep doing it as much as I can, especially when my hungry imagination is ready to add some spices that may challenge my first (bad) impression about it. 
This time, I wanted to test my new Zwilling, a present from a dear friend, and decided that, among other things that I am planning to prepare, eggplant is the easiest, affordable one. Especially when some spices, courtesy of Spice Kitchen UK, part of their Brand Ambassador Program are added. The result was surprisingly tasty, rich in flavors and made it into a good side dish for a milky-/cheese-based meal. I will only add some fresh cucumber and tomato salad, for a touch of freshness and call it a good meal! 


Ingredients

- 1 medium-sized eggplant
- 3 cloves garlic, finelly minced
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Fenugreek
- 1/2 teaspoon Berbere which are a combination of many spices, such as red chilli, garlic, black peppercorns, cardamom, onion. It also has fenugreek, but I personally wanted a stronger presence of this spice, therefore I added it as a separate ingredient too.
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 slices of Cheddar Cheese - you can also use Edamer Cheese and any other hard cheese variant.


Directions

Roast the eggplant on the stove at 250C, turning it on all sides at least for 45 minutes. Peel it well, careful to clean all the black parts. Slice it and put it into the baking pan. Warm the oven at 250C, at least 10 minutes before starting the baking. Add the lemon zest, the salt, the spices, the garlic. Be sure that you turn the eggplant on both sides to smear the ingredients properly. Add the cheese on the top.
Bake it for around 45 minutes. 
Serve it warm. The spices and the lemon zest add a complex, sweet-sour taste and consistency to the eggplant. 

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: Roasting: 45 minutes. Baking: 45 minutes
Serves: 2

Bon Appétit!

Mozzarella Sandwich with a Special Guest Ingredient

Who doesn't fancy a good fat sandwich, as a post-training treat? Especially if you are longing for the an afternoon healthy yet consistent snack, finding the right combination of ingredients is a challenge I will always answer positively. Especially when it involves combining relatively unusual ingredients, such as fruits with cheese. What do you think, are you in?
I was inspired by the very talented Chanie from Busy in Brooklyn to dare to use the very complex persimmon fruit not only as part of a fruit salad, but also in a savory recipe. It was a right decision to do so.


Ingredients
- 1 fresh hamburger bun, halved
- 250 gr. Mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 2 tablespoons of fresh cheese or 2 tablespoon of goat cheese spread
- 1/2 avocado, sliced
- 1/2 persimmon fruit, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon of za'atar


Directions
Spread the goat cheese/fresh cheese on the bun. Add a slice of Mozarella, a slice of persimmon, another slice of Mozzarella, the za'atar, the avocado and the other half of the bun. Feel free to make your own combination, but I would keep the Mozzarella and the persimmon in. If you love goat cheese - I personally do - it adds a strong taste to the cheese combination, as it does the za'atar, otherwise you need to find some ingredient which balances the sweetness/neutrality of the taste. Persimmon is moderately sweet therefore it needs some smoothly contrast.
You can also add a slice of tomato, instead of avocado, for instance, or some coriander/parsley leaves. Maybe I just need to continue improving my sandwich preparation skills. It makes it into a great afternoon threat and it is a lot of tasty fun for hungry active children too.


To be served fresh, with a glass of mint lemonade.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2 hungry people

Bon Appétit!

Monday, October 29, 2018

My first Drops of Hemp Oil

Hemp oil and generally, hemp-based products, including for medical use, are a hype of the last years, both in the health- and the food-related realms. Despite the controversies, the trend is growing and more and more companies are offering various alternatives and products. 
The oils are usually obtained by pressing hemp seeds and are praised for their high contribution of essential fatty acids which are required for our bodies and are not produced by the body. A good concentration of such acids in the body is an important energy boost and may prevent both cancer and various genetic mutations. In addition, hemp oil also contains antioxidants, vitamins and is a good source of chlorophyll. 
Hemp oil, with a heavy nutty consistence, can be also used for salads and the preparation of various goods, including pasta (looking for some recipes that include hemp oil among the ingredients, by the way) and is also a recommended ingredient for many quality skincare products.

My experience with Simply Hemp

I personally wanted to try for a long time, and my choice was product made by Simply Hemp. For almost 30 EUR you get a small 500 mg. small bottle, with a pipette for spreading the small drops. According to the original description of the product, it is made of verified CO2, extracted hemp resin from selected organic fams in the subalpine EU region. With a very nutty and oily aspect and taste, it is administred in batches of 10 drops on the tongue, with maximum 30 drops recommended. It must be taken before eating. No artificial aromas, colours or preservatives. 
I personally taken it for a couple of days already and no contrary effects were noticed. No psychoactive effects either. Obviously, if you are allergic or have specific illnesses it is recommended to consult your physician prior to the administration. The bottle is very small and should be stored in a cool place.
Overall, it was a good investment, and as for now I was more than happy with the results. With the cold and dark season just around the corner, a couple of drops of wellness are more than welcomed. 

Disclaimer: The post contains affiliate links

Dating Advice - and Encouragement - for the Festive Season

Fill your life with beautiful things
When October is around the corner, you know that from now on, the air will start being filled with glitters, sparkles and invitations to celebrations, office parties and family gatherings. There is the Halloween, the holiday office parties, the various holiday celebrations typical for the winter like Xmas and Hanukka...Too many occasions to count, and so many opportunities to spend time with your loved ones, family and special someone. Time to share gifts and kisses unde the mistletoe. 
However, when you are single, you feel like it is the end of the world, and all what's up for you in the cards in the next 2 months, is a dark time spent on the couch surrounded by empty XXL pizza boxes and Netflix binge watching. Is this you? Do you think this is the only way you can spend those months full of hope and warmed hearts moments?
If yes, you are wrong, very wrong. To let your circumstances define you is not an act of self-love and self-awareness and keep complaining about your (single) situation will not help you move forward to a sunnier life experience.
In fact, this holiday season can be an opportunitiy to improve, challenge and eventually change your single statut. Feeding yourself and catching up your favorite series is a pleasant activity, but what about using this time for pampering yourself, going out to meet friends and potential dates. Book a flight and start discovering the world! You can, for instance, travel as far as Edinburgh, because there is always something new to see as for example the sparkling Hogmanay New Year's party, attended each year by thousand of people from all over the world. While there, take some time to check at least one Edinburgh dating site. Maybe on one of the many dating sites in edinburgh you will find someone to keep you company and, who knows, your New Year's Resolution might be to start a new chapter of your life in a completely new town? This can happen any time, regardless of your age. Many years ago, over 50s dating used to be completely underrated, but nowadays it is completely normal to not give up finding your other half at any age. 
Not too much in the mood for travel? Office parties can be a chance to meet new people or at least to connect with your work colleagues that you hardly had time to say 'hello' during the last 12 months. Family parties and gatherings are also a good opportunity to show to your family how much you care. You never know, maybe there are some single acquaintances around as well. 
In life, it is so important to dare and never give up your right to happiness. Life is short and not always pleasantly surprising, therefore, try to get the best of every moment. Smile more, be grateful and embrace life fully! The more you search the more you are getting closer to your real self and your dreams. After all, life is a beautiful adventure. 

Disclaimer: The post may contain affiliate links

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Couscous Salad with Ras-el-Hanout and 'Kofu'

When I don't travel in the Middle East, I am trying to bring the Middle East to my home - or to my plate, to be more precise. With my bag full of spices from Spice Kitchen UK, part of their Brand Ambassador Programme, I am bringing the rich world of flavour of the East to my West-Berlin kitchen. 
And there are many opportunities coming to my door, almost begging me to take them, prepare them and further share them with my readers. A couple of weeks ago, I've purchased from a local store Kofu, produced in Berlin, using the culinary wisdom of Israel. It is a special kind of tofu, using chickpeas flour. Available in different variants, including simple, mine was the falafel-one, which means that it has the usual spices used for the preparation of this special Oriental dish. I am generally very skeptical when it comes to the non-Asian attempts of producing tofu - I've tried way too much from the Bio sortiment and none was really satisfactory compared to the usual original results. Kofu seems to be a completely different story with an unique taste, not necessarily the usual soybean one, but healthy, smooth and adaptable enough to a variety of ingredients and dishes.
Another great discovery I had is that there is a before and after using Ras-el-Hanout in your couscous everything. This spice made of dozen of ingredients - among which cardamom, rose petals, paprika salt, ginger, coriander, cloves and turmeric, to mention only few of them - gives actually THE taste to the couscous. All the other occassions when you had this typical Moroccan dish are past and not a very glorious one. Ras-el-Hanout brings flavour, strength and unique memories to your plate. With every single bite of my couscous dish I felt like being back from a long - foodie - sleep. All the years when I only added salt, or only za'atar were a nightmare, as nothing compares to taste revelation of a couscous done right. Feel free to try by yourself and you will experience by yourself this unusual enthusiasm. 
The salad I prepared is easy, can be prepared in less than one hour and can be eaten both cold and warm, alone or in combination with meat - preferably chicken, in the summer as during the winter, as part of the lunch or the dinner menu. It suits the vegan or vegetarian, the healthy mother or child.


Ingredients
- 1 cup couscous
- 1/4 cup tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 medium-size eggs, beaten
- 10 small can champignons, halved
- 1/2 tablespoon Ras-el-Hanout spice
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/2 cup lemon zest
- 2 medium-size tomatoes, finelly cut
- 125 gr. Kofu Falafel-flavored tofu, cubed


Directions

In a medium-sized pan, add the oil, and let it fry, at least 10 minutes before starting to cook, at 250C. Add the couscous and eggs and 1 cup water and stir slowly. Add the Ras-el-Hanout and salt and lemon zest, and keep mixing every couple of minutes.
On another pan, slowly fry first the champignons and on another, the cubed Kofu. You can either fry them deep or just warm them a little bit. Once ready, add them to the bowl. 
In the bowl, add the couscous, the tomatoes and the other ingredients and mix them well.
Your healthy meal is ready!

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes

Serves: 3

Bon Appétit!



Nature Box Surprises - Your Hair Deserves More #BeautyPositivity

After the summer is gone and the cold time is coming, let's talk hair goals. Healthy, shining, perfectly beautiful hair goals. Did you even notice how better - or tired - you look when your hair shows it? I, personally, noticed the big difference between the two moments, which has to do with my own look and attitude. As I said more than once, this is why a woman wearing a good looking wig can win at least 10 years. Sometimes, more often than you think, your hair tells everything about you.
My hair look has ups and downs, especially after years of colouring and not too much awareness about the toxicity of some products included in the innocent bottle of shampoo. Stress, unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits, the city life pollution are other noticeable elements which harmed my hair and can harm yours too.
More love and care for my hear is my motto and I am trying to be true to my words as often as possible.
Therefore, when I was lucky enough to receive a full box of haircare products, part of the Rossmann Blogger programme, I realize that it is a good sign to focus more on the appearance and health of my hair. After a couple of weeks of intensive care, I can finally review the products generously offered.

#NatureBoxBeauty

The products included in the NATURE BOX by Henkel Beauty Care are available in the any store part of the Rossmann Drugstore network, but also in other chains throghout Germany, since the beginning of this October. They are sold in colourful bottles and also include a body care variant. 
The common features of all of them is that they are vegan, silicone- and parabene-free and based on cold pressed oil. You may ask - as I did once - what is the relevance of this technique as long as those products are - obviously - not edible? As you might know, during the heating process of the oil, not only the flavor, nutrivional value and colour of the oil is chaging, but also toxins are exposed. The cold oil method avoid such a risk, therefore your hair and body are not exposed to elements with a high risk of toxicity which may affect its original texture and health and eventually speed-up aging. 
The products are made of coconut, almond, apricot and avocado. The liquid is heavy, with a very discrete smell - my favorite kind of beauty and skincare products in general - which requires an intensive cleaning. A good occasion to intensively massage the skin of your head. It makes you really good, with a relaxing, soothing effect, especially after a very busy day. 
Each specific haircare product has different qualities: the avocado helps actively to repair and regenerate the splitted hair, apricot - a fruit whose advantages for the beauty industry I still have to discover - protects and nourishes the hair, giving it a shining appearance, the almond creates an elegant attractive volume, while the coconut brings an intensive, long-term fresh aspect.
All those results can be noticed after two consecutive use of the products. 
Applying them does not require a big amount of time. Often, 30 seconds of waiting for the conditioner to work are enough. Sometimes, you can apply them directly on the wet hair and wait for the hair to dry for the full effects.
The purchase prices in the drugstore are more than affordable, therefore, with an investment of 10-15 EUR. you can change your hair from your enemy to your main ally in courageously displaying your personality.
Verdict: The Nature Box products are becoming part of my regular hair care routine. After one week, my health recovered its original healthy aspect and volume. Although I complain often that I am mostly out of time, the high qualities and ingredients of both the shampoo and conditioner allow me to use them fast, with a minimal time investment for maximal results.

Disclaimer: The products were offered for free part of the Rossmann Blogger Programme, but the opinions are, as usual, my own.

What is Tamarind and How Can you Use it?

Pods of tamarind in my Berlin Asian store
The disadvantage of growing up not only in a house where food was the least priority - we had books, after all, lots of them - but also the traditional tastes were very simple - garlic was part of (almost) everything so it didn't count as a 'spice' and adding chilli or pepper to a dish was a great cooking achievement (did I say my mom actually never used salt in the kichen) - was that I had a very long way acknowledging basic spices and flavors. While some were debating about what kind of Oriental spices are suited for the lamb, I was slowly exploring various peppers and trying to understand how much salt I shall add to a soup to make it really tasty. 
As usual, I was able to use this relative disadvantage as an opportunity to better explore a flavor and therefore to set the basics for my own knowledge about foods and their hidden qualities that a good spice can perfectly outline. 
During my journey, besides the Middle Eastern flavors, I fell in love with Asian food. The combinations of exotic fruits, the freshness of vegetables and the sour-sweet variations are fascinating and probably correspond to by complex, curious personality. 
However, the more I am exploring the Asian stores, cookbooks and venues, the more I realize how much I still have to learn and test. Tamarind, is one of those products I am focused right now, that I am working hard to get to know.

Tamarind, the 'date' of India

A native fruit from Africa, particularly Sudan, but also growing in India, Pakistan or the tropical regions with a high popularity in South America and Mexico, tamarind has at the first sight the consistency of the date. The pulp inside the pod looks a bit like and biten raw it has a special sweet taste that justifies its name of 'date of India'. 
Unless you find them raw in their natural environment, it is usually found as pressed, the result of boiling the pulp, which has a nutty sweet taste. The young fruit has a completely different taste, sour, with a predominant acid note. It can be also dried and turned into a spice.
What you can do with tamarind: some hot chilli bonbons
The tamarind can be used in different cooking ways. Mostly for chutneys in India, in the Thai cuisine it is a constant ingredient for pad thai or seafood dishes, but also to add a sweet note to meats - especially lamb or duck which is so well suited for a variety of complex, complementary tastes. A very unusual discovery was a box full of bonbons made of a mixture of tamarind to which an explosive mixture of very hot chilli, salt and pepper was added. It simply exploded into your mouth and I strongly recommend to have it alone, at home, without sharing it with your kids. In my Asian store I also spotted a tamarind-based drink, which is a bit naturally sparkling. 
My challenge for the next weeks is to try at least one savory and one sweet dish using tamarind. As for now, I am looking for proper recipes and inspiration...A foodie story to be continued very soon.

Full in vitamins too

Tamarind has also a high concentration of nutrients, especially Magnesium and Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Vitamin B1, B2 and B3. If consummed long term, it may have some positive effects on the immunity system, but such issues are normally determined by the individual's health/medical condition. It is also said to have a good effect on heart health and circulation, anti-inflammatory effects and help improve digestion. 

Something (more) unusual about tamarind

As you may know already, I am pretty interested in keeping my old silver family treasures in a good shape, therefore I was pleasantly surprised to discover that due to its relatively high level of acidity, it can be also used as a metal polish. It is a chemical-free solution, easy and does not affect the metal, as it might happen when you use vinegar or baking soda. Spread the tamarind on the surface of the cooper or bronze object and massage it throughouthly. The stains will be removed fast and your kitchen ware or decorative objects will regain their original healthy shining.




Thursday, October 18, 2018

#Chill: From a 'human doing' to a 'human being'

It is a trend nowadays I was not aware of for a long time, according to which working should be rather limited to the 9 to 5, as the rest of the day should be dedicated to your hobbies, family, or just to chill. I was not aware of it while I was non-stop working and enjoying it many autumns ago. I was also not aware how unhappy I was apparently when my various working assignments kept me awake late in the night. I was enjoying it and I was getting good money and I didn't - and will not - feel guilty about it. Should I feel guilty for loving my work, being dedicated to my projects and doing what I always wanted to be? For being surrounded by people passionate about what they were doing? Did I ever felt 'burned out', a term I was aware it is a diagnosed only a couple of years ago?
Having a job you love, a social position, a healthy bank account are no reasons to feel guilty or bad about it. Life is about choices, another school of new psychology will teach you. I may reckon though that for some, an intensive life and work schedule is exhausting, overwhelming and burns out a lot. For those looking for the right balance, #Chill. Turn Off Your Job and Turn On Your Life may offer a good start and content to the medium- and long-term change process. It doesn't advice you to leave your job, start backpacking or moving into the woods living on plants, but to start little by little to see something else than work around you.
What it really appeals is that it has a very simple, realistic 12-month plan, followed by a 365-day schedule of assigned topics. It helps you to be less than perfect, more relaxed into your everyday life, more careful with the emotional needs and expectations of your family and friends, more open to ask for help and to collaborate with others in finishing your tasks. It also advices a better focus on yourself as 'when you take care of yourself first, you have more energy to invest in business and personal pursuits later on'.  
After all, it is not so bad to take a look to your needs, relax and put on hold your working life, at least a couple of hours the day. Have a good meal with your dear ones, a good sleep and be ready for a new day. As you don't have to apologize for loving your work, you also don't have to feel guilty for enjoying your #Chill time. 
#Chill. Turn Off Your Job and Turn On Your Life is a good and realistic guidance to those keen to change a bit their daily habits and eliminate as much as possible the daily toxic lifestyle. If you love hard work and challenges, you may accept this one.

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

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Spicy Sweet Potatoes with Onions and Zucchini

It started as an experiment: I was trying to match my heavily spicy hamburgers. Although an easy tomatoes and cucumber salad would have been enough, I was ready for some more spices. This time, added to my plate of veggies.


Ingredients
- 3 big sweet potatoes, peeled
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 1 big zucchini, cut into rounds
- 1 medim-size white onion, finelly chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Ras el-Hanout from Spice Kitchen UK, part of their Brand Ambassador Program
- 2 tablespoon cooking oil


Directions
Preheat the oven at 250C, at least 10 minutes before starting the baking. Add the baking paper to the pan. Add one by one the veggies, and mix them well. Sprinkle the oil, the salt, pepper and the spices. Let it cook until ready, turning the veggies on all sides every 20 minutes or so.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 1h30

I've personally found this mix as a great addition to my meaty plate, but it can also be served as an individual dish. The eclectic Ras el-Hanout - the crown of North African Spices, which includes at least 30 ingredients as diverse as cardamom, anise, ginger, turmeric and nutmeg - adds a complex taste to the dish. It balances the sweetness of the potatoes and diminishes the strong flavor of onions, with a sweet, mild note. Especially recommended to spices' lovers, but also to anyone looking to experiment rich, new flavors. 

Bon Appétit!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Wine Review: Chateneuf Rouge 2015 - Herzog Selection

Autumn always reminds me of childhood, but in a very colourful and aromated way. As my parents used to make their own - red - wine, starting with September, the whole family was involved in various stages of preparing the grapes to become the delicious drink that we were not - yet - allowed to taste. Wine, as that drink so highly praised in our household, was surrounded by so much mystery. Given us to taste only the early stage of fermentation, it made the adults so expectant and excited while impatiently waiting to have the first sip of the new selection. 
Times have changed, we sold the house with the vineyard and abandoned the old country, but wine remains a constant of my life. Always curious to try new tastes and often judgmental about the quality, I rarely have a week without having my classical (preferably) red wine glass on a Friday evening. 
However, I never got into wine reviews. One of the reason might be that because, like in the case of water, wine represents such a big part of me that I got used with it and I rarely mention it, because it's so obvious it is and always was there. Until today, when the wine I had was so good that I couldn't stop sharing my impressions. Writing (hopefully more and regularly) wine reviews is also part of a better connection with my own family and personal memories. 
Let's the wine show begin!

My companion for the evening was Chateneuf Rouge, a 2015 sweet red kosher (produced under Jewish supervision) wine, part of the Herzog Selection. 
Sold in a 750 ml. bottle, it has a 13% alcohol and is both kosher for Pesach and mevushal (which means the wine was boiled). It is a Bordeaux, with grapes with a relatively high level of tannin and a dark fruits and berry flavor. According to the specifications from the bottle, it combines Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignong and Merlot from the French South Western vineyards which 'allows the youthful character of sweet red wine to develop the complexity of the wines from this well known area'. 
Although I usually love red wines served at the room temperature, in this case I had it chilly, and it surprisingly outlined the fruity flavors. A semi-dry wines it has a sweet fruity finish, with a complex bouquet which makes it an easy match for spicy chicken - as I had yesterday evening - lamb but also lavish chocolate desserts. Generally, it offers a good balance to heavy meals.
It might be light at the first sip, but actually is strong and with a very well defined personality. After so many sweet - way too sweet wined - during the last month of Jewish holidays, the moderate sweetness and the berry fruits flavors of the Chateneuf Rouge 2015 made a noteworthy positive difference. You can use it for the Friday evening kiddush - prayer over wine - but also as a regular wine during the week meals. It is elegant, yet strong and unforgettable. It lets you know little by little, but once you are coming to terms together, it's hard to abandon it and you would love to have it in your bar for a long time. For me, it will also be remembered as the subject of my first ever wine review. And hopefully not the last one. 





Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Tarot of Cocktails...and a Milky Moon

'As the bearer of this book, you are most fortunate - there are many fine cocktails in your future'.
Who doesn't want to see a fine cocktail in his or her future? Summer or winter, autumn or spring, to celebrate or to mourn, a cocktail is a challenge for the palate and a great way to put your culinary imagination at work. As someone so much in love with the spices, I couldn't stop using them outside the usual savory or sweet edible recipes, and trying my hand on cocktails is the next stage of personal achievement. 
'Like a spread of tarot cards, a cocktail combines different components - each with a unique role to play, a flavor or texture to contribute - and that purpose changes depending on the combination and quantities of ingredients. The ritual involves certain instruments, careful measurements, an alchemy of ingredients, and an order of operations. There's a science to that, but there is magic in the mix, too'. 
Inspired by tarot cards, the 45 'Divine Drink Recipes' by Katy Seibel offers a lot of great tips and invites to unique flavors. For instance, mixing scotch and camomille tea or adding a touch to bell pepper juice to an alcoholic drink. What about mixing red beet and vodka? For me, it was an unique lesson in cocktails basics, starting with the tools, the precise measurements but also the acknowledging of some unique products such as fig butter or Cynar - an Italian liqueur made of artichokes. 
Accompanied by lavish photos, the recipes are relatively simple, if you have the right ingredients and spices. A great recommendation to anyone looking to try something new this autumn.
There are a couple of recipes I have on my list for coming posts, but as for now, my first cocktail achievement was The Milky Moon
It is described in the book: 'Calming and familiar with an air of the afar, this take on a classic milk punch draws influence from masala chai'.

Ingredients
2 ounces - around 50 gr. - whole milk. An alternative version is also fine, although I personally thing that almond milk or rice milk or any other kind of substitutes may change completely the final taste.
3 ounches - chai tea concentrate
1 1/2 ounces gold rum. I used a German brand, Nordbrand Nordhausen Goldbrand - Mild
pinch of ground cardamom
small pinch of salt
small pinch of ground black pepper

Garnish 
2 star anise from Spice Kitchen UK, received part of their Brand Ambassador Program   
An ice cube or two is also more than welcomed, especially if you plan to sip it in a summer evening.

Technique (mine, as I did not follow fully the directions described in the book)
Add the milk, rum and spices and shake them well. Let it rest for a couple of minutes and serve it in a glass, with the garnish and ice cube.

The result: although the taste of rum stays strong and dominates the drink, the milk and the spices are bringing more nuances and elegance to the drink. It is an unique flavor, which reveals sip by sip.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Disclaimer: The book was offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review