Saturday, November 26, 2011

To Autumn


"The spirits of the air live on the smells
                                            Of fruit; and joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.
"Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat;
Then rose, girded himself, and o'er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load."

-   William Blake, To Autumn

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Expecto Patronum



"A Patronus is a kind of positive force, and for the wizard who can conjure one, it works something like a shield, with the Dementor feeding on it, rather than him. In order for it to work, you need to think of a memory. Not just any memory, a veryhappy memory, a very powerful memory… Allow it to fill you up... lose yourself in it... then speak the incantation "Expecto Patronum"."

Remus Lupin says when he's teaching Harry Potter the Patronus Charm. 

"Make it a powerful memory, the happiest you can remember. Allow it to fill you up… Just remember, your Patronus can only protect you as long as you stay focused… Think of the happiest thing you can."

Harry Potter says while he's teaching the Patronus Charm to Dumbledore's Army.

Personally, I always feel more secure and more powerful when I remember the happiest childhood memories I have. Thank God, there are many,  and likewise I want Princess Milou to possess happy memories to muster in the future whenever she needs them. The happier she is, the more powerful she will become in the end. So, I had the idea of doing some tagging on the walls at home with the Expecto Patronum theme. It was originally Emir's idea to fill an empty perfume bottle with some gouache paint and water and shake it well so that he and Milou could get some home-made spray paint. When I suggested that we tag one of the walls in the corridor, they had already painted the Hogwarts Express on a wall in Milou's room. Anyway, we filled the bottle with different colours of gouache paints and I cut out letters in the charm 'Expecto Patronum' from some scrap paper. The rest was fun and creativity. Princess Milou and I used our both hands to cast the charm while Emir was spraying paint. We all loved it. We tagged those precious moments as a happy memory which would later shield Milou against troubles in life. 

Mushrooms love gloomy November days

It's happening once again. It's almost the end of November in Sarajevo and gloom is already round the corner. It's started to get dark at around 5 o'clock which makes me feel like I'm living in St Petersburg at times and people have been moved into cafés since the Sun began playing hide-and-seek. This means there's been a big change here in the availability of sunlight. We are getting less and less exposed to sunlight which might delay some clocks inside us. Perhaps there are many clocks in us working with solar cells and one of them displays our daily mood. I do not know. The only thing I am sure is getting more light may reset these clocks and make people smile around once again. Anyway, these lovely brown mushrooms just popped up in the garden or I noticed them only now because I've been having the blues lately. Whatever the reason is, they helped me a great deal distract from the lack of sunlight. They didn't need any sunlight to grow in some dark part of the garden and they were still beautiful. For the first time, I found some common brown mushrooms just beautiful. I fetched my camera and took some photos right away. I imagined myself walking through a thick forest of giant brown mushrooms and I felt so tiny that I thought I could survive with a little bit of sunshine until spring arrives.


        by Peggy at http://theblissfactory.blogspot.com/ 



Picking Mushrooms by Han-Wu Shen   

Monday, November 14, 2011

The first cooking workshop - "We're cooking!"

As members of the The Happy Little Cooks Club we had our first cooking workshop - "We're cooking!" Princess Milou who is only 20 months old and Mehmed who is 5 were the first two members of the club and so they attended this special workshop. What's on the menu? Pizza Margherita and chocolate muffins! It was fantastic! It was such a great experience for us all that we didn't want to end it! It was a tasty, fun and educational evening. Here goes the video I made using some of the photos we took.

video

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cinnamon Tea cakes



It is re
ally rare that I
 stick to a recipe to the letter. Every time I cook, I either add some ingredients to or remove some from the original recipe. Although I agree with those who claim that every ingredient in a recipe has a purpose, I can’t help creating my own recipes. I think this is just because there are some people who need cookbooks and recipes, and there are others who can really cook. You can count me in the latter, I guess. I wouldn't bake and simply leave out flour, though. That goes without saying.

Anyway, here is one of those rare recipes I always stick to. I happened to find it on the U.S. Cake Supply website. Perhaps I've always felt a bit intimated when it comes to baking cookies and that's why I did whatever this recipe directed me to do. Whatever the reason is, the cookies were awesome and I couldn't wait to take some photographs. 


Here goes the recipe: 
Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon , divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar , divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Makes: About 3 dozen cookies


Instructions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In small bowl, combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and salt. In large bowl, beat butter, 3/4 cup sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture; mix only until combined. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets, placing 2 inches apart.
Bake 8-10 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Remove to cooling grid; cool 5 minutes. Combine remaining 3/4 cup sugar with remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Roll warm cookies in sugar mixture; cool completely.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Milou the Chef

Hommade pizza by Milou the Chef 
Princess Milou loves watching Caillou and his adventures - eyes glued to the screen. These days her favourite episode is Caillou the Chef. No surprise: she might have found some resemblance to the things we do at home - the kitchen, the rolling pin, stirring, cooking, baking, decorating, etc.  

video

Well, after the episode, I felt really hungry and decided to make a pizza, but we didn't have any of the ingredients which are supposed to be a must for any pizza! The twins in the episode were right to insist it is their own pizza and so they should be free to add whatever they like when it comes to the ingredients. The important thing is the fun they have while they are making pizza and that was just we did. The list of the ingredients for a pizza is restricted only to the limits of your imagination after all. So, some whole wheat flour with some yeast, salt and lukewarm water did its job for the dough. Well, for the pizza toppings, we had only some tomato sauce, a little cow cheese from Travnik, Swiss chards from the garden, black olives from Turkey and Bosnian style smoked sausages and they all served well. One egg helped as the final touch. Have a look at our pizza! It turned into one of those pizzas favoured by many top blogs Food Buzz keeps promoting, didn't it? 



Milou didn't want an egg or smoked sausages on her own pizza :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Button Frame for 愛


Duran sent me this handmade 愛 for Princess Milou, just lovely and precious to us. I was wondering all that time how or what to frame it with and finally here it is. Milou and I grouped all the buttons in her grandma's old cookie box (for buttons only) and glued them on a piece of cardboard by a hot glue gun. After collecting enough buttons for the frame and sorting them by colour, it was quite easy to finish: 

  • Insert the picture or photograph in the frame before you start the project. 
  • Lay the frame down flat. Glue buttons onto the frame. 
  • Onto the back of the frame, glue a piece of strong thread on both ends to make a horizontal line and it would serve as some picture-hanging wireThat's it!

How to Beat Homesickness

The Oxford English Dictionary describes homesickness as a feeling one has when missing homeThat's true that I feel homesick at times. I feel homesick for my mother's cooking, for my father's suffocating questions about my hairstyle, for my brother's throwing his dirty socks behind the sofa or my sister's never-ending lectures on child care. I have a dear home here in Sarajevo, that's for sure, but I feel a little bad when I remember I'm away from my family.

When you feel homesick, the wikiHow suggests as the second step to beat it, you find an activity to do when you miss your family. So, whenever I feel homesick, I beat three eggs with 1 cup of sugar and make some chocolate cakes. It really helps me beat homesickness: First, it helps me from focusing on home too much. More importantly the smell of the newly baked chocolate cake usually distracts me from feeling bad and makes me remember old good memories. I always feel better in the end. 

Homesick
by Joshua Fialkov and Micah Farritor

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"I am a yummy robot!" said the cookie.

I always feel that I am blessed to have known Hatice and Selman who had their first son - Ahmed - almost three weeks ago. They live in New York and we are really sorry that we can't go and attend the baby shower. However, Milou and I wanted to make something special for Ahmed and decided to bake some salty sesame cookies for him. We know we can't send them to Brooklyn but we could send Hatice and Selman the photographs of this lovely robot instead, we thought. With the noodles as his joints and antenna, it's just lovely, isn't it? 


"Welcome Ahmed! We hope you will have fantastic days with your awesome parents!"

The recipe was quite easy but I hadn't baked salty cookies before. Perhaps that's the reason why I couldn't tell how my oven would react. They got a bit over browned in the end but they were crispy and tasty enough with a lot of sesame and mahlab in them.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Plum Jam Muffins


This is Just To Say
I have eaten 
the plums 
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving 
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold
William Carlos Williams

       I haven't eaten so much  plums all my life as I've eaten in Sarajevo for the last three years. Plums are everywhere here. There are plum trees in almost every garden and so it's not surprising to find them at very low prices in the grocery shops, street markets and supermarkets. They eat them both fresh and dried. Locals enjoy them as part of their daily diet all summer long.
      
      We also made some plum jam with dark chocolate and rum extract two weeks ago. It was Emir who had the idea and spent his whole afternoon in the garden boiling plums and stirring constantly to get in the end a dozen jars of fantastic jam. It's worth all his effort. Even Milou likes it particularly with fresh whole wheat bread. Well, here is a photograph of the jam before we added the chocolate and rum extract. I'd prefer it without rum extract but it was the first time Emir had made some jam and that's why he stuck to the recipe with rum extract which he found on the Internet.  

 Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk

Filling
Chocolate Plum jam

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 185 °C and lightly grease or line a muffin pan with paper liners. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add oil, milk beating well. Stir in vanilla. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture.
3. Divide batter among muffin cups. Fill the cups halfway with batter and use a spoon to make a shallow well in the center of each. Fill each well with a rounded teaspoon of jam and then cover the jam with more batter. Bake for 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean, there may be jam on it. Let cool in pan 10 minutes; transfer muffins to a rack to cool more.  

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Stuffed Peppers



When people have guests for dinner in Turkey, one of the basic dishes they cook is rice stuffed peppers which are usually served cold or at room temperature before or with the main dish . So it's usually placed on the dinner table as an appetizer. We cook them with no meat inside and vegetable oil only. However, people in Turkey also cook peppers stuffed with rice and minced meat and serve hot as the main dish. Well, my mother cooks peppers over medium heat and lets them cool and refrigerates them overnight, but away from the Mediterranean cuisine here in Sarajevo they only stuff peppers with rice and meat or in some rare cases with grated potatoes. Similarly, my mother-in-law cooks peppers stuffed with rice and meat in the oven, always. Her sons recognize them the moment they see the peppers with brown tops which is the proof the peppers were cooked in the oven in her style. Anyway, I decided to combine the two styles of cooking peppers with no meat and baking them in the oven.  I  added all the vegetables on hand to the common ingredients for a change. I stuffed the peppers and baked them in the oven until they got brown on the top. It worked well. There were unfortunately some ingredients missing such as currants and pine nuts which are special to stuffed peppers in Turkey but it had other new stuff inside so they were super tasty in the end. To have a better idea of Turkish rice stuffed peppers cooked with olive oil, please visit http://almostturkish.blogspot.com/2007/07/vegetarian-stuffed-peppers-zeytinyal.html and http://faygsm-thestuffoflife.blogspot.com/2011/06/turkish-stuffed-peppers.html. 


  • Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt, ground black and red pepper, cinnamon, oregano
  • 2 cup rice
  • bell peppers, seeds and ribs removed
  • carrots, peeled and grated
  • leeks, sliced


  • Directions
  • Preheat oven to 200 C degrees. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, salt, sugar, and other spices. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add carrots and leeks. Cook until all mixed about 5 minutes. Stir in rice and add 2 cups water. Cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Fill peppers with rice mixture. Arrange peppers in a baking dish just large enough to hold them. Add 1 cup water. Cover with aluminium foil, and bake until peppers are tender, 35 to 40 minutes.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Two Young Men on the Road

One of my friends from Turkey and his younger brother who easily broke away from life's commitments decided to hitch-hike across the Balkans starting from Ankara. Although they let me know earlier that they were about to arrive, I felt such a great sense of relief and joy only when I saw them safe and sound carrying heavily loaded backpacks here in Sarajevo. After having spent two busy days around the city, we joined them on their way to Croatia.

WW2 Museum in Jablanica
They were heading for the Rainbow Gathering which would take place somewhere close to Karlovac. We took Milou with us and it was the first time we'd travelled such a long way all together. I felt as if I was writing a story of our own road trip. Everything we had on the road was something to remember.

In Mostar
When you are on a road trip, you share everything and we shared everything we had on our way to Dubrovnik. It was an amazing feeling to do so. I particularly remember the moment when Ergin -the younger one of the two brothers- offered a handful of wild grapes and cranberries we'd picked from some trees by the River Neretva. That very moment got stuck somewhere in my memory to serve as the summary of our whole trip. 

Ergin sharing wild grapes with Milou
Soon at our next stop, we found ourselves in the middle of a get-together of famous artists and sculptors in Bosnia. It was a little bit weird, actually. Later in Dubrovnik, Milou was the center of attraction with her pigeon-feather headdress like a little Indian. Late in the afternoon there, the two brothers packed once again and took the first bus to Zagreb as they planned to attend the Rainbow Gathering 2011 somewhere there.

Milou with her pigeon-feather headdress in Dubrovnik

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Walnut Muffins


We were about to start an amazing journey from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik and these walnut muffins were fresh from the oven and ready to set off. 


Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 cup ground walnuts

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 185 °C and lightly grease or line a muffin pan with paper liners. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add oil, milk beating well. Stir in vanilla and ground walnuts. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture.
  3. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean, 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Let cool in pan 10 minutes; transfer muffins to a rack to cool more. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if you like.