Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Milou's Travels around the World


Milou is a little lucky princess. Have a look at her birthday gift: A story book written, illustrated and published by her super dad for only Her Highness. It tells Princess Milou's adventures with her best friend Köpiş across the world from Zimbabwe to the South Pole. Köpiş is the embodiment of Milou's favourite toy at home and it was a great idea to illustrate him as Milou's companion during all those far-away travels which makes it much easier for Milou to identify herself with the main character of the story. She also meets other animals in those regions and makes friends. It's just something great for a little princess who goes crazy and hugs animals whenever she sees them around. 


Only a couple of days ago, we were cycling around and stopped to say hello to two shepherds who had let their herd graze and Milou didn't hesitate to go embrace the first sheep she could caught although it was the first time she'd seen some. To my surprise, she was fearless enough and full of love towards animals to go pat the shepherds' two enormous dogs. She just walked up to them and touched the first wet nose she could reach. Well, she loves animals. 


Anyway, the book is stunning with all those different kinds of holiday ideas while showing Milou in a variety of local clothes. Illustrating the parents approving and encouraging such an idea - travelling around the world on her own and returning home safe and sound- is also highly motivating for the reader. What is more, a friend of mine requested Milou's super dad to prepare a new book for her own son with the same story but with a few details adapted to their own lifestyle. As far as it seems, I'll be helping him soon with new stories to illustrate for other children as their birthday gifts! I wanted to share these photographs with you quite some time ago but here the story goes now! 

Milou loves the book!

The front cover illustrates Milou and her best friend Köpiş

The name of the publishing company was invented by her super dad as well:
  Little Asia Library 

It's dad and mum waving goodbye!

The first destination is London, no doubt!

Then she goes on an eco-holiday in the Sahara Desert and perhaps spends some time with the Blue Men!
India is the next stop!
Milou, then, goes on a canoe safari on the River Zambezi!

She gallops on a mustang with Köpis running along.

Milou's on an emergency mission to the South Pole to take paracetamol to the penguins there! 
Returning home safe and sound with Köpiş!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Turkish Pogaca rolls (Spicy meat filled rolls)




For Turkish people, pogaca rolls and simit are what a cup of Joe is to the Western people which they buy at their favourite coffee shop on their way to work every morning. A typical Turkish breakfast is never complete without them. Whether you have time for a traditional Turkish breakfast or not, you always drop by the nearest bakery shop and  buy some pogaca rolls or simits. They are rich in fat and perhaps that's why super tasty and irresistible. Unfortunately, here in Bosnia, it is almost impossible to find typical Turkish pogaca rolls at bakery shops but thanks to my mom's recipe I'm always ready to bake some. To make them low-fat as much as possible, I adapted mom's recipe this time and used vegetable oil instead of butter/margarine and also added some whole grain flour. You can fill them with whatever ingredients you have on hand: minced with with onions, cheese and green vegetables, potatoes, olive paste, even with chocolate cream. They are soft and slightly sweet rolls. You can always vary the herbs/ spices for a different flavour.


   

Dough:
approx.500g plain flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons of salt
3 teaspoons of sugar
1 scant tablespoon of active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Filling:
300g minced beef
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Some vegetable oil
salt and black pepper
To glaze:
1 large egg yolk beaten 
sesame and black cummin seeds for sprinkling
Directions
                                                   
1. Heat the milk and water in a small saucepan till just warm. Dissolve yeast in this warm mixture with sugar and salt. Let stand until creamy looking about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable oil. Make sure all you've had the ingredients at room temperature.
2. In a large bowl add the flour to the yeast milk water mixture and knead for approx. 10 mins. Sprinkle with a little extra flour if it's too sticky. The dough should be quite soft so don't be tempted to add too much extra flour whilst kneading.
3. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a sheet. Allow to rise in a warm place for at least one hour (it should more than double in size).


4. While the dough is rising prepare the filling. Add a small drizzle of vegetable oil to a large frying pan.
5. Fry the onions and garlic over a low heat till soft.
6. Add the minced meat and fry till meat is cooked (it doesn't have to brown).
7. Sprinkle in the spices and fry for another minute or so.
8. Pour the mixture onto a large plate and allow to cool down.   
             
10. Once the dough has finished rising, punch down and knead gently for a minute or two then divide the mixture into balls.
11. Roll each ball out into a disc shape (approx. 3mm thick). Place the disc on your hand or the counter and fill with approx 1 heaped tbsp of the filling.
12. Draw the dough around the filling making sure that the filling is comletely encased in the dough.


13. Place seam side down on a baking parchment lined baking tray.
14. Once you've finished shaping all the rolls brush them with the glaze and sprinkle with the black cummin seeds or sesame.




15. Allow to rest for approx 15 minutes. In the meantime, heat the oven to approx. 200C.
16. Bake the rolls for 15-20 mins, till nice and golden.





17. Serve warm.

Swiss Chard Lasagne

      


Milou's super dad has just turned into a gardening freak. After work, he steps into the house, rushes into the bedroom, and in seconds he puts on one of his favourite t-shirts and transforms into a gardener, his alter-ego. I see him asking neighbours about seeds, compost, plants which like sun and plants which like shade,and many other things about gardening he's not sure enough. He's planted all kinds of seed he could find in the market place and every day he comes up with some new smart ideas and whenever I have a look at him through the window I find him having already set up a little greenhouse replika or an affordable drip irrigation in his tiny garden.



One of our neighbours a few days ago dropped by and gave me a bunch of Swiss chard which she's been growing in her tiny garden. She's been sharing with Milou's super dad seeds and advice for a while. It was breakfast time and I had olny four sheets of dried yufka/phyllo on hand. The idea just walked into my head: A replika of Swiss chard lasagne. I'd eaten up all the cheese in the fridge the day before so I couldn't sprinkle with parmesan or any other cheese over the chard layers and the top. It would have tasted super delicious then :) Anyway, even without cheese, it disappeared in minutes but I'd remembered to put one slice aside to be delivered to our friendly neighbour. It serves 6 by the way.


Ingredients:
1 bunch of Swiss chard
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
4 noodles of dried yufka/phyllo
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
2,5 cups milk (warm)

sesame and black cumin
salt and black pepper
Method:
Step 1: Sauce
Melt the butter in a pan over medium-low heat, add the flour and cook gently for 2-3 minutes whisking constantly (this will keep it from getting lumpy), until softened. Gradually stir in the milk. Bring to the boil, stirring, add salt, then simmer gently over a very low heat, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until thickened. The method is almost the same as the béchamel sauce but I didn't let it thicken as much as to cover the spoon as we do with the béchamel sauce because I used dried yufka/phyllo sheets here - all the store had on hand (you can use dried lasagne noodles). So the phyllo sheets get moist enough with this sauce.

Step 2: Prep the chard
De-rib the chard, wash well, and let the chard drain on a kitchen towel (or some paper towels) for a few minutes, so that there’s no excess water on the leaves. Coarsely chop the chard, and set aside.


 Step 3: Prep the filling
Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, and saute for a few minutes. Add the chard mix everything together and cook for five minutes, stirring, until almost tender. Add some salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  

Step 4: Assembling the lasagne
Place a layer of sauce in a lightly greased ovenproof dish followed by a layer of yufka/phyllo and spread some chard mixture over the yufka/phylloRepeat layering until all of the sauce, chard, and yufka/phyllo have been used up. Finish with sauce on top. Bake for  
    around 30 minutes or until the top is golden.


        

 


Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Slice of Spring

A Slice of Spring 

Princess Milou attended Majda's birthday party for the second time. We wanted to bake muffins for her but when the muffins rose and then fell flat in the center all together in harmony, and we immediately looked for another quick solution. I made a cocoa cake and prepared some chocolate sauce to top it with. We had bought some ground coconut in green colour and sugarpaste flowers and it was time we used them to create a garden of roses and other flowers on grass-like ground coconut. It was one of the easiest cake decorations we made but the cake was appealing to all the guest in the party in the end. They all liked it. It was quick enough too. Bake the cake, top it with chocolate sauce, sprinkle with ground coconut and place the flowers, that's it. Unfortunately, I was in such a rush that I could take only this photograph of the cake and called it 'a slice of spring'. 

Ingredients for Cocoa Cake
3 eggs
1,5 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt3 cups flour
butter for the cake pan

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Butter and lightly flour a 24 cm round cake pan. In a bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add milk and eggs, one at a time, beating until well incorporated. Beat in vanilla.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.
  4. Pour batter into the pan. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes before inverting cakes onto rack to cool completely.
  5. Make the buttercream: In mixing bowl, beat butter and marshmallow cream until fluffy. Beat in cocoa, chocolate, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water. If too thin, refrigerate about 5 minutes.
  6. Place one layer on platter. Spread top with 1 cup buttercream. Place second layer on top. Frost entire cake with remaining buttercream. 

    Ingredients for  Chocolate Sauce
    1/2 cup powdered chocolate
    2 tablespoons cocoa
    1cup milk 
    1 tablespoon all purpose flour
    1/2 tablespoon low fat butter
    3/4 cup granulated sugar

    Directions  for Chocolate Sauce

    In a small pan heat milk, flour, cocoa and sugar stirring constantly. Bring to the boil and continue to stir until all of the sugar has been dissolved.
    Add powdered chocolate and butter to the pan of milk, flour, cocoa and sugar and stir.
    Remove the pan from the heat and stir the sauce until the chocolate and butter have melted and all the ingredients have blended together.

    Whole Grain Muffins

    Drizzling with chocolate sauce served its purpose. 


    Some of my colleagues keep complaining about how difficult it is to find low fat mighty snacks around. They crave something at breaks and reach for the nearest bar of chocolate and crumple away the wrap in seconds with a sense of regret every time. Such an emotional reaction makes sense because they are still hungry after eating up a whole bar and besides they end up with a big number of unwanted calories at the end of the day. Since they are all well-aware of this fact, they immediately pick up the crumpled wrap back from the bin, straighten it well and use their microscopic vision to see the table at the back cover listing the fat and calories in the product and find out how many calories they've consumed. However, if they are careless enough to avoid adjusting the frequency and quantity of what they consume during the day, they just go to bed at night in contentment but seconds later they start to make an overall fitness plan to burn off those calories. Well, whether these reactions may sound familiar to you or not, many women need to find new or different low fat healthy foods they can enjoy as breakfast, for instance. So using all in the drawers and cupboards, I came up with these low fat spicy whole grain muffins. The smell and flavour of cinnamon ginger combination filled up the whole house and turned it into a home once again. Anyway, I took the muffins to my colleagues the next day and they all loved it. I accomplished a mini-goal and the last touch was drizzling with chocolate sauce to reward myself. 




       Ingredients
    • 1/2 cup butter, melted
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 cup low fat milk
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • ground cinnamon and ginger
    For the Chocolate Sauce
    1/2 cup powdered chocolate
    2 tablespoons cocoa
    1cup milk 
    1 tablespoon all purpose flour
    1/2 tablespoon low fat butter
    3/4 cup granulated sugar

    • Directions (Muffins)
      1. Preheat the oven to 190°C and lightly grease or line with paper baking cups 23/4-inch muffin cups. 
      2. In a large bowl, blend together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. 
      3. In a medium bowl, beat the egg, milk, butter and sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla extract.
      4. Combine the two mixtures, blending until the dry ingredients are moistened. 
      5. Fill the muffin cups about three-quarters full. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. 
      6. Cool completely on a wire rack. 

        Directions (Chocolate Sauce)

        In a small pan heat milk, flour, cocoa and sugar stirring constantly. Bring to the boil and continue to stir until all of the sugar has been dissolved.
        Add powdered chocolate (or chocolate chunks in small pieces) and butter to the pan of milk, flour, cocoa and sugar and stir.
        Remove the pan from the heat and stir the sauce until the chocolate and butter have melted and all the ingredients have blended together.
        Serve the chocolate sauce immediately while it is still warm.
            Tip: You can make the chocolate sauce and store it in a fridge.  If you have any muffins left over, individually wrap them, put them in freezer bags and freeze for up to three weeks. If you double wrap, you'll keep them from taking on the taste of other foods in the freezer.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    30th Birthday

    30th birthday gift

    I turned thirty, finally. I've been waiting for a long time to enter the age of thirty which I thought would give an end to the period of ongoing transition. Twenties was a long path of transition for me along which I'd been collecting pebbles. I collected a variety of different pebbles so that I would lay them for a new life structure on which I could build my own unique future. I thought the day I turned thirty I could just empty my pockets out and found it right there but even the path itself didn't come to an end on 10th April. Nothing happened. Nobody stopped me on the way and told me it was the time to let the pebbles go for the next period.  

    Expectation of such an illusion was so inspiring, though. I kept on reading, writing, translating, taking photographs, and doing a million of other things I'd expected to help me build something totally new and huge. Nothing new or huge showed up. It wasn't frustration that I felt. It was more like confusion when you got out of the bus at the wrong stop. You are familiar with the neighbourhood but you can't tell where to go for a few seconds. Then it dawns on you: The transition is still going on. There are more pebbles to collect.

    The problem is I'm not patient. I'm not patient enough to wait for another decade to see how the forties feel. I should preach myself not to rush. I am most welcomed to my thirties and I should just enjoy this part of the path right now. Spending too much time thinking about the next part would end up somewhere dark and depressing. "The dark is scary," as the owl who was afraid of the dark put it.

    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    A Strawberry Fairy


    Strawberry Fairy by Cicely Mary Barker

    Cicely Mary Barker was an English illustrator who painted flowers with innocent joyful fairy children. Clothing and character of each fairy represented the flora in each illustration. When I saw this little strawberry fairy card, the idea of dressing Milou up as a strawberry fairy for her birthday party just walked into my head. Well, designers of her costume obviously were not as meticulous as Barker with the details but Milou looked like a real strawberry fairy in the end. Here are some of the pictures I took. I just wanted to share them with Princess Milou's fans. Enjoy.




    This baby and toddler strawberry costume includes the red dress with ribbon straps and a green leafy collar, the matching leafy headband, and the white glittering wings. For further information about fairies don't forget to visit flowerfairies.com