Natural Beauty

We have been working in the fields for the last several days. It is hard labor, but the beauty that surrounds us is so great that the load is lightened. As I sit on the back of the tractor, I gaze up at the blue sky and see planes on their way to somewhere. A hawk glides through the air and then pumps the massive span up and down. I hear the wings in the wind.

Not just this part of my day that is beautiful. I spend so much time with family working as a team. It is really a special opportunity, even if it doesn’t seem like it sometimes. 😉

My day starts getting the munchkin and I ready, gathering all we need for the village. Today there is some old food we can give to the dog, cat, and pigs. There are strips of bright-colored clothe I will tie around the seedlings we need to plant. color camouflage accounts for many left somewhere on the ground. A wasted of time and energy  after caring for them for a year in the nursery.

Our ride to the village has me in the back with the little one and hubby navigating the winding hilly roads. Munchkin likes to tell Daddy to go fast.

Our hound greats us happily as we get out of the car, and we go into the warmth of the wood stove to see what Baba has prepared. She is always crafting something so good. Kurpin Deda is one of my favorite treats.

It is milk, egg, and cheese drizzled over day old bakery bread and baked. She topped it with sesame seeds. YUM!

Munchkin finds her kitty, and Baba dotes on both of them. Here kitty gets to taste the yummy fresh pudding she has just made.

After some prep, the hubby and I make it to the field. Replanting trees and some large-scale pruning is in order. One large forest tree is blocking light from our growing seedlings, and we have to trim and remove the branches.

A pleasant surprise awaits us as we get to the field,  the clanging of sheep bells greets us and just over the hill I find a small flock of nervous sheep.

The call of the cuckoo bird and the sheep bells are the background music to the work. When we finish in one field, we move to another. I look on at the village from the back of the tractor.

 Well planned rows of sprigs turned trees are becoming brawny. Soon we will see the fruits of out labor.

As the sun wanes, we return to the house. I take off my mud caked boots and change out of the field warn clothes. Munchkin greets me with a smile and “MOMMY!”

We all sit down to a well planned feast. Salads, soup, fresh bread and lots of meat. All fresh from the farm.

Dobar dan y’all!

stock foto from last Christmas… I cheated.

Snow January 14

Snow has finally come to Knjazevac! Today we venture out for a walk. I am happy to share some fun pics.

Sometimes I see things here that are just out of the last century. or out of Norman Rockwell prints. I am in love with this sled. And I wonder if cool sleds like this are still found all over Europe? or is it just in my neck of the woods?

We have been inside for the majority of the last few days. On the first day of snow I reveled in the look of the snow with dove tracks.

We have been feeding the birds on our porch daily. Munchkin loves to watch them eat.

Like I said we went for a walk today.

Dressing munchkins for snow is a serious process! layers and keeping hold of them before they run away in between layers. Finding boots and gloves. Fun times!

The walk was nice, little M wanted to walk in only the fresh snow on the side walkway and dip her mittens in the snow. She chased birdies, and wanted to carried a lot.  I got a workout on top of the T25 I did in the AM.

The bakery with snow and icicles.

We came home and I realized we hadn’t eaten. I had leftovers from last night whilst baking a new cookie recipe.

Home made chicken tenders with home-made honey mustard. YUM and the most amazing cabbage salad.

And for dessert… Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies with walnuts.

I think I like them better than the regular Toll House recipe!

I think I will have to an Extra T25 workout today, I plan to eat a few more of these sweet morsels!

It has been a pretty good day! I hope you are having a good one too.  🙂

In case you are interested in the recipe for the cookies you can find it here.

The cabbage salad is my favorite salad and so easy to make. I often eat it as a late night snack. I don’t feel guilty at all.

The recipe for the Cabbage Salad is below.

Cut a head of cabbage into half and then a fourth. Then, slice it like bread into thin strips. Put that in a bowl and add a table-spoon of veg oil and a table-spoon of apple cider vinegar. then add about a teaspoon of salt and mix it up well. Add more if you think it needs it. You can eat it right away, or put it in the fridge for the cabbage to absorb the O&V. I like it best after about an hour of soaking. you can add diced garlic for a bit more flavor. Dr. Oz says the cider vinegar will boost metabolism. I think he is right from a bit of testing.

Happy Wednesday 🙂

Dobar dan y’all!

 

Let them eat Cake

This is really a yummy apple bread, but in Serbia, Bread isn’t sweet and this IS!

I realized a lot of expats like myself are at a loss when baking abroad, I was! It is always a good bit of trial and error. Even when you use someone’s tried and true recipes, if the ingredients aren’t the same. The end product most certainly will not be either.

I have found that using recipes that I have never tasted before are better for me. I have no expectations. For instance. I could make something that I know and love, only to be disappointed with the outcome of perfectly good tasting cake. But when it doesn’t taste like what I am used to. 😦 I am not happy.

Now, I go to allrecipes.com and find a recipe that uses products I have access to here in Serbia. Or sometimes I use Pinterest. This recipe was on Pinterest, via Eva Bakes blog. She makes it with an extra topping, you can check it all out here. The topping is extra work and lots of extra calories. No thanks! this is yummy enough! I use an extra cup or two of apples. But that is all I have done to modify the recipe.

With out further rambling, here is the recipe that I get loads of compliments on! It makes two 8 inch round cakes.

Apple Bread (Cake)

Preheat your oven to 350 F or 175 C

Lightly grease two 8″ cake pans

~5 or 6 cups Apples I used the ones from our apple grove. I don’t know the name. I peel, core, and chop them. I do this before preheating, greasing pans and such. Or I used some from the freezer. We had a lot of apples!!

~4 eggs no particular size. Whatever the chickens lay, I use!

~1 cup vegetable oil

~2 tsp vanilla

~2 tsp baking soda

~2 tsp salt

~2 tsp cinnamon

~3 cups flour

~2 cups sugar

1 or 2 cups walnuts optional. That would be even more yummy. I must try that next time!! I love a little g

Beat eggs till fluffy, add oil, baking soda, salt, cinnamon,and vanilla.  Beat thoroughly. In increments add the flour and sugar… Stirring adding stirring etc.

Add the apple pieces last and mix thoroughly. Then pour half the batter in one pan, half in the other. and bake for one hour. Probably one at a time, depending on the size of your oven.

Remove it from the oven when it feels firm to touch. It is best to let it cool a few minutes. Don’t wait too long or someone else will eat it all! This screams Autumn! sweet, moist, Nom Nom Nom!!

This is the wonderfully organic and yummy blessing of living here in Serbia!!

Enjoy!!

Dobar dan Y’all!

Foreigner Follies~ Adventures in Baking internationally, Serbian edition * Bonus brownie recipe that works in Serbia

I was reading one of my favorite and funny blogs, Expat Eye on Latvia about her cake making abilities. They turned out to be delicious of course. As I was leaving a comment on her hilarious prose I thought I would share the agony joy of cooking internationally. For me that of course is in Serbia.

The hubby and I had been craving brownies, but no such thing exists here, and I have only ever made them from a box mix. Let the adventure begin. I got the idea to look for a recipe in a peace corp cook book from an ex-peace corp guy.

Thank you Google Search for making that possible! I found one in just a couple of minutes.

That was the easy part.

Next began the mad scientist experiments. You think I kid… nope. You have a recipe, you think will give you a desired product, but what you don’t know is the ingredients are not standard all over the world. Who knew?

I made it once and found that the cocoa is weaker here, and it turned out more like a cake.  😦 SO I reduced it from two eggs to one and changed the 1/4 cup oil or butter to 1/2.

Still not right. With more tweaking I finally got something that we can enjoy, though not 100% like home.  YUM!

One thing that my fellow  gal pal blogger has taught me to do from now on is to cook with wine. I have heard of this concept .

I don’t believe I have ever tried it. Of course I have cooked with whine most recently, toddler at my feet arms up stretched and wanting to be held as I try to create a tasty treat. That is not as fun as you may think.

I try to focus without getting to angry and stare at the recipe  blankly as I think to myself… “Why wasn’t I on birth control?” Yep, just give me the worst mom of the year award or punishment right now.  It is no surprise to me!

With a little wine the little whiner may be less distracting. Then again, maybe not.

The brownie recipe I settled on is below:

I use English measurements…. but here is the untested  metric measurements as well… good luck with that! 😉

American Brownie Recipe

1 cup sugar ~ 250 ML

1 egg… no translation needed!! 🙂

1 teaspoon Baking Soda ~ 5 ml

1/4 cup oil  ~ 50 ml

1/4 butter or margarine 50 ml

2/3 cup flour~ 150 ml

1/4 teaspoon salt~ 1ml

1/2 cup cocoa~ 125 ml

Optional: 1 cup or 250 ml of chopped walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts. or Chocolate bar! YUMMY

1 bottle of wine your choice to drink as you cross your fingers and hope for the best!

Grease a small baking pan 8″x8″ or a small round cake pan. Preheat the oven for 350 F or 175 C. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until not gooey in the middle. They will be soft and yummy if this turned out well.

If they didn’t it is because’
A. You were using British English measurements instead of American English Measurements or European metric instead of Canadian. How is this even possible!! What the French Toast?

B. You drank too much wine and fouled it up.

C. Other ________________________________

Good luck with the Brownies. Enjoy the wine!

Walking on a dirt road

I walked home from working with the hubby on clearing a field. There was nothing left for me to do. He and papa had to finish the rest with the tractor. Joyfully, I was able to walk home in silence. I found myself surrounded by so much beauty that I had to stop and take some pics.

A field of sour cherries not long for the picking.

so much color framed with mountains and fruit baring fields.

Wheat and barley fields sway in the wind like waves in the ocean.

 

The dusty path brought my uncle and cousin by. Just another pleasant surprise.

Almost home enjoying the shade in the forest.

Check out the Woodpeckers nesting tree!

A nice long walk is always a good mental break. This fence marks the beginning of the village. And the end of my quiet walk home. Back to the munchkin.

Here is a song for the road… Though I am not a country music girl. this song minus the dumb wrap seems just about perfect.

 

Photography Friday~ Thessalonika

my first (not really) jumping pic

Thanks to my awesome travel buddy who thought of the idea!

She looks really graceful!

No time to day for writing much so here are some fun pics of the city.

The White Tower

Random folks family time in Aristotle Square

yummy Easter bread and other scrumptious baked treats.

The sign on the red canopy below says, “pop corn”.

One guy holding at least three lamb carcasses. Ya don’t see that everyday… well, I don’t.

One more pic for the road. Happy Weekend.

A beautiful Easter display with lots of eggs colored red. The most common color for eggs in this part of the world.

Hope to be writing again in a day or two. Busy time of year here.
Dobar Dan!

Happy Birthday Munchkin

this was just the tip of the iceberg!

This is a continuation of the Blog Yesterday that began the epic story of the Birthday party.

No babies drank any alcohol in the making of this photo

There was a ton of food to be had. The men wasted no time beginning to partake. The girls took their time but eventually caved. Thank God, because I wanted to eat and didn’t want to look like the pig I am. No time for that anyway. Little Munchkin duties call way to often for  a real binge to take place.

I can’t get over how cute these little piglet breads are!

I finally made a Ginger Bread Train for the Munchkin to enjoy looking at. She hasn’t got enough teeth yet to munch on the candy. Thank you, Nicole for sending it! It was a hit. Not something you see here in Serbia! Great gift!

The Ginger Bread Train

Just as I was about to snap the picture, the Munchkin reached for the train. She’s a quick one!

The traditional Birthday song was sang with a lit candle. I don’t know it yet, but give me time. Here is a link to the song on youtube.

The party moved from the kitchen to the living room and then to our bedroom. I missed the photo-op, but at one point a bunch of kids were jumping on our bed. I would call the party a success since the kids felt so at home.

The Big Cousin fishing of the bed with a jump rope and Munchkin looking for the fish.

I think everyone had a great time. I am super glad it is over, now I can sit back and relax a bit. Though today is the actual BDay, so I will light the candle again on top of a cupcake and sing Happy Birthday in English this time. And skype with family at home. 🙂

Tomorrow the festivities will be concluded with the last birthday hurrah. We will go to the village for a small family celebration. There is still that roasted piglet Papa wanted to bring to the party that needs to be eaten. I am not a fan, but it will be a good opportunity to get some fun cultural pics! The Munchkin’s first roasted pig will be about the same size as her! LOL

I can’t believe one year ago today I was in the hospital “enjoying” the effects of an epidural as I pushed the Munchkin out. If you are interested in that story you can click on the link below. The U.S. experience is far different from the Serbian one. And for those of you who think you cannot feel the contractions during an epidural, I could. I just didn’t have pain. No brainer there! Thank you Epidural! Hello Munchkin. 🙂 There are no gory pics. and I think it is a rather tame account if you are wondering.

http://lafemmet.blogspot.com/2012/03/millies-labor-and-birth.html

If you are curious what it is like to stay in a Hospital in the U.S. you can check out my blog post about that here:

http://lafemmet.blogspot.com/2012/03/american-hospital-stay.html

Thanks for stopping by.

Dobar Dan