No Bread Plates

Up on the left you can see my plate. My bread perched on the side of the plate. I just can let it sit on the table. This pic is from our Jan 6 Orthodox Christmas Eve dinner. Fish is common as it is a fasting day for Orthodox Christians. No Dairy or Meat.

Crumbs litter the table, bread sits on the naked tablecloth. I was a bit stunned by this at first, and I still try to perch my bread on the edge of the plate. It seems strange to me that it doesn’t have its own place to sit.

There is always a loaf of fresh backed bread at the bigger meal. It is sliced and everyone takes some as if it is a bit of daily communion. No one cares about the crumbs that scatter about.

The tablecloth is carefully removed and shaken outside after every meal. It makes the birds very happy. ¬†ūüôā

Srecan Uskros~ Happy Easter

I hope y’all have had an awesome Easter¬†like we have.

It started out with Munchkin’s first Easter hunt. I just set Eggs around the house and told her to look for them. The first thing she went for was in the toy box. It was our NFL American football. She calls it jaja or egg. Who can blame her. It is almost the same shape!

Then when she saw the real eggs, she went to town. She was so excited! I forgot how much fun Easter egg hunts were. Next year I must spread the fun around and make it a family and friends event!

We were off to the village right after. It was a gorgeous day to be in the village. This was the first day in 4 days it hadn’t rained. The green ¬†leave and grass were vibrant! The flowers hues were electric.

After some time with the family, a walk was in order. Our plan was to walk up to the Village cross.

Obviously, we eventually made it.

But we made several wonderful stops along the way. The first was to see Baba Ljubinka and her clan. That is always great. We chatted a bit and I got to take a pic of their eggs. They have such a different tradition for eggs here. It will never lose its coolness factor with me.

We rambled up the hill slowly. Every few feet I would have to pick up the Munchkin and carry her. Then she would walk again for a short while. We stumbled upon some grazing sheep, and chatted with the shepherdess.

We made it to the cross and the pavilion was empty.  The cross was beautifully adorned.

When we got home, Munchkin and I had some barn loft play time. She loves jumping around the barn, but is clearly unimpressed with the “selfie” concept.

Upstairs for a diaper change, playing loudly in the bedroom, and all of a sudden the Munchkin says, “deda spava.” Sure enough. I look around the corner and there he is sleeping of domestic wine. Natural Serbian Easter celebrating tradition.

Soon we were all around the table having the most wonderful food. Some of it was even extraordinarily beautiful.

Happy Easter Monday to you 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. ūüė¶ 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!

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!

The Munchkin turns One!

Last night, We had a wonderful group of close friends come to celebrate the first year of the munchkin’s life.

Blowing out the candles

Blowing out the candle

All three the January, February, and March 2012 babies got to play together. ¬† They are all walking now, and have less than 10 teeth between them. ūüėČ

Jan, Feb, March girls

Jan, Feb, March girls

 

We still have some more celebrating yet, but this was the big shebang! It is a tradition here to celebrate the First birthday before the actual date. But we chose Saturday, because most people don’t work, not for the sake of tradition.

There are lots of traditions here for the first birthday, mostly revolving around a child being Christened in the church. They baptize the child, and cut locks of hair from the child. Then when you return home from the church there are still more of they traditions to follow. The Kum (pronouned KOOM) or Best man from the wedding has to cut another lock of hair and maybe give a speech.

All the traditions are very nice. But this was stressful enough for me. I am glad we did not have to do all the regularly scheduled Serbian traditions on this day as well.

Trying to plan a birthday party when only one person in the house speaks both languages and the other two women try to understand each other it is a bit more hectic. Throw in some PMS and different cultural ideas and it can turn ugly. It didn’t though. It only got a little harried when The muz (husband) heard his father planned to bring a roasted suckling pig. (That was ¬†a jolt of Culture shock!) This was the day before the party and after all the food prep and planning had been done.

The only little piggies at the party. Yummy bread Piglets. With Pepper seeds for eyes and Rye for the nostrils.

The only little piggies at the party. Yummy bread piglets. With pepper seeds for eyes and Rye for the nostrils.

I will admit I was a bit miffed that mama was making my little one’s first cake. I had planned for the cup cakes I was making to be her cake. But that was lost on the mama and I was too tired of trying to explain. In the end it turned out better that way. The recipe I tried for the frosting was horrid. It was better to use her cake.

I did get lucky with the cup cakes frosting. At the last-minute there was some pudding left over that make a nice topping for the cup cakes.

International baking is much more difficult than one would imagine. The flour around the world is NOT the same. It tastes different so do some of the other ingredients. Making the finish product taste different from it does in your home country.

Our flour comes from our families fields. After the harvest, they take it to a mill where it is ground. It is not processed and bleached like the flour you buy at the store. You can imagine how that can change things.

The Munchkin is awake now. Must go carry on with the day. More about the party tomorrow.

Dobar Dan

 

Sveti Trifun 365-46

I posted yesterday about February 14th holidays. After I wrote the little blog, THE MUSIC BEGAN. I was in the middle of changing and dressing Little Miss when it started. I got so excited to go see what was going on I could wait to be finished with her and to dress myself.

A crowd of people enjoying free wine and rakija

A crowd of people enjoying free wine and rakija

Soon enough, good camera in hand I was on my way… Just outside there was a band playing traditional Serbian music.

A Grandma and he little grandbaby were up on the terrace above looking down on it all.

Grandma and grandbaby

Grandma and grandbaby

Waiters from the Cafe Pariz  were milling about the crowd with trays full of FREE wine and rakija. Almost immediately, I was offered some, after declining once and a brief conversation in Serbian,  he asked in English where I was from. Then offered me a little wine again. The second time was a charm. Wine in hand, I watched the show. Since I was already buzzed off of my Turkish coffee and no breakfast, the wine made me a little but more buzzed.

Traditional band

Traditional band

It was the cafe owner’s Slava. Sveti Trifun, pronounced Teefoon, is the patron saint of wine. There was a gorgeous loaf of bread in the shape of Grapes on a table with the traditional Slava set up.

Grape shaped bread

Grape shaped bread

I believe it got around that I was an American, for when the traditions started a man came over and told me where I should be watching so I could get good pictures. He was very nice, polite, and helpful. I am so glad he cared enough to show me.

First there was the lighting of the candle like we do for out slava. Then the owner went over to the grape vine and  cut a couple pieces off the grape vine.

Cutting the grape vine

Cutting the grape vine

Pouring the wine

Pouring the wine for a prosperous new season

Then the breaking of the bread with a friend.

Breaking the bread

Breaking the bread

I know they do this every year. I remember last time I was here for February 14th I could hear the music, but I was stuck in the apt in a cast. No going to check things out. I am so glad I can get out now.

Stray Dalmatian

Stray Dalmatian

There was a sweet Dalmatian lingering about waiting for some love in the form of food. He was so sweet but malnourished. I threw him some bread twice and saw some others do the same. I wish I could do so much more. I feel so bad for the many sweet strays here. They break my heart.

The gypsy lady caught taking her pic

The gypsy lady caught taking her pic

There was a lone gypsy lady there. I think she, along with many others were feeling good from the wine and rakija. After she saw me taking her picture, she really wanted to talk to me, but my Serbian or lack there of made it impossible for us to understand one another. There again, it could have been something how much she had to drink impairing her speech and my ability to understand. She was very persistent, so much some bystanders helped me to escape, twice!

Kolo Party

Kolo Party

She had a merry time. She danced as I would have liked to have and later joined the Kolo line. I had to get back up to the little one. But I got some pics of the dancing from the window.

The little one got to watch too.

Little Miss at the window

Little Miss at the window

The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker 365-33

Things here in Serbia are still quite simple. In a good way. I like that there are specialty shops for things. People specialize and make a living doing so.

The Butcher
There are a few butchers shops here in town. Some stores supermarkets here sell bits of meat like markets at home. but the Butchers sell the most.

I walk past to of the biggest butchers shops daily. I really like the looks of Mesara the best.

Mesara

Mesara

The word for meat is Meso. Mesara is like saying meat shop. I think the reason I like this shop the best is because it has a picture of a bull on the side of the building. But not just any bull. The icon for the Chicago Bulls.

SONY DSCThere is a huge dumpster nearby, and as always there are cats scavenging from it. (Like they do in all the dumpsters) I would like to think sometimes they get some scraps from this place.

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I don’t shop at the butchers. Everything is ordered first in Serbian.. not my strong suit. and second in grams or kilos. also not my strong suit. The muz buys all the meat. But mostly we just raise the chickens and pigs ourselves. We even butcher, clean and cook them up too.

The Baker

There are LOTS of bakeries here in town. My favorite is this one.

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The Cyrillic sign at the top says, Pekara, Beli Jorgovan
Or the White Lilac Bakery

I shop this one the most. Daily, fresh bread, kiflitsa, little pizzas, and lots of burek are made. Lots of other stuff too. I just can’t name it all literally.

This pic is from a bakery in Belgrade. They had a lot more stuff than my bakery does.

Bakeries here differ greatly from the few you find in the U.S. Most of the good are breads with cheese or meats. Sweets are not common at all. In fact I haven’t had even one that I recall. Sadly. I do so miss me some fresh glazed donuts!!

Bringing home the daily bread and a sleeping munchkin. (our reflection photo)

The Candlestick Maker

I haven’t really come across a shop that makes candles, but a whole lot of ¬†some bodies¬†must make them. Because they sell them at the pijats all the time. I took this picture today.

Church candles

The candles here are for lighting at the church or at graveyards. There are a bunch of different kinds and sizes. Some are used for slavas as well.

You can buy in bulk too. It will save you a trip.

For saying lots of prayers.

I always imagined that the candle the “candlestick”¬†maker was making were for ¬†lighting after dark. It is very enlightening living here. I love the antiquity here. Old rhymes come to life.