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sreda, 01. junij 2016

Creamy vegan pea soup with fresh herbs

When I was a little girl, I didn't like peas. Well, I would eat fresh peas straight from a pod, but whenever they were cooked, I just hated them. Now I really like peas! They're a great way to add plant protein and fiber to your diet. And they're really cheap, they cook in no time, and you can always have them in your freezer, ready to cook a delicious, creamy, hearty and fresh soup, packed with protein and fiber.

I really like this vegan pea soup, and so does my husband. As for the kids, the votes are split. ;) The youngest one loves it, the older wouldn't even try it. If you're not a pea-hater, you'll probably like it, too! Especially with a swirl of organic sour cream or creme fraiche or vegan sour cream and maybe some homemade croutons ...

This soup is:
- vegan
- creamy
- protein-rich
- fiber-rich
- aromatic
- fresh
- easy to make
- quick!

Creamy vegan pea soup recipe

adapted from Ina Garten

serves 4-6

2 handfuls cashews
200 g/2 cups leeks
500 g/5 cups peas, fresh or frozen
1 tbsp olive oil
1 litre/4 cups vegetable soup
a few sprigs lemon balm
a sprig tarragon
lemon juice to taste (about a half lemon)
salt and pepper to taste
chives, to serve
sour cream, to serve

Dry toast the cashews in a skillet on low temperature. Set aside.

Chop the leeks and set aside. Heat olive oil in a pot. Add leeks and saute until leeks soften a bit (do not let them brown). Add peas, cashews and veggie soup. Let boil and cook for about 5 minutes or until peas soften.

Add fresh lemon balm and tarragon. Transfer the soup into the blender and blend into creamy deliciousness. Taste and add lemon juice to taste (be careful not to make it too tangy).

Swirl in some sour cream or creme fraiche, if using, and sprinkle some chopped chives on top. Serve with croutons - or as it is.

So, how do you like your peas? Do your kids eat them at all?;)

PS: come join me on my Facebook page! I'd love to hear from you. And if you're pleased with the way you made your pea soup look, tag me on Instagram!




sreda, 18. maj 2016

Gathering inspiration: Colorful window frames



Found this one on http://www.sfgirlbybay.com/2015/02/24/the-shutterbugs-brittany-ambridge/

The first time I saw a painted window frame (it was the brightest yellow), I fell in love with the idea. Since we have plastic frames in our kitchen and living room, we obviously can't do that there, but kids have wooden window frames in their room, and what better place to add color than kids room? I'm thinking raspberry red or pistachio green for their room, it would go great with their Cath Kidston wallpaper.  But I also really want to have a yellow window frame. Maybe in the toilet;)

Here I gathered some inspiration across the internet. It seems painting window frames in bold colors isn't as widespread as one would think. I mean, it' so lovely and cheery! But I managed to find some great inspirational photos. What do you think? Would you paint your window frames?   

Justina Blakeney's emerald window frame. http://www.thejungalow.com/2012/12/emerald.html


My favorite hideout. http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/a-new-look-for-painted-trim-anything-but-white-214867

http://www.soderbergagentur.com/interior-stylists/tina-hellberg/#stylisttinahellberg_blekingegatan6

http://www.remodelista.com/posts/10-ways-to-use-shocking-orange

http://70percentpure.be/2014/04/blogging-workshop-at-levis-ambiance-house.html

http://decoholic.org/2012/05/20/dreams-traditional-luxury-suites-in-greek-island-santorini/

Southern Americana



Clean Lines, Open Spaces
Boys room
Kitchen
Maine Cottage - Weinrich Residence
Loft shots

torek, 17. maj 2016

What we ate during our 2-week spending freeze


The past month was very hard for me. I was expecting royalty payment, so I was spending more than usual. But I ended up spending more money than I had on my bank account because they didn't pay me, and I behaved as if they did.

Thankfully, I stumbled upon the concept of spending freeze on Pinterest that very day (without even looking for it!). The idea is to stop all your spending except for absolute necessities, and even for those you have a set budget (very low). You cook from your pantry and cut any spending in other areas as well for a set amount of time (minimum of 2 weeks, maximum 1 month). I used to do something similar every time the money was tight, but it was never so well thought out.


It was a very poor timing for a spending freeze since our daughter's birthday was right in the middle of the spending freeze and my husband had to take a tractor driving test, which costs a lot. There's barely anything growing in the garden at this time of year, and the harvested and frozen produce is almost all gone. But I felt like we really had to jump into the spending freeze wagon. Since I decided on it on a whim, I didn't feel like we should force ourselves into enduring it for a whole month.

Our daughter's birthday turned out really well. I'm planning to write a post about planning a party on a budget, so stay tuned. It was a very low budget and low key party, but usually, this kind of parties turn out to be the most fun.


I didn't set a timeframe for our spending freeze, but I decided we should stick with it for  at least two weeks, which we did. It wasn't really hard. But right after the two-week mark, my family started to put pressure on me (my little one, F, wanted yogurt, the older one, L, wanted spaghetti, my husband was pretty upset one morning because there was no butter), so I decided we should call it a day. If I had been better prepared for this and planned every meal in advance (and especially snacks!), we could have probably lasted longer. Now I know how to better prepare for the next spending freeze (I have to figure out how to do it without defeating the purpose;)).

So, for breakfast, we usually eat homemade bread with butter and homemade jam, which is a very Slovenian breakfast, but we do occasionally have granola, millet kasha or pancakes. Lunch is the biggest meal in our household, and dinner can be anything from cereal with yogurt to a three-course meal. There's a lot of snacking since we have two little kids.


Breakfast

Homemade sourdough spelt bread, butter, and jam

Granola made with sugar (I had no maple syrup in the pantry ...)

Millet kasha with cinnamon, honey and fruit

Cottage cheese pancakes

French plum pie

Oat porridge with frozen raspberries and dark chocolate


Lunch/dinner


Pasta with asparagus and cream sauce

Mashed spinach with stinging nettle and mashed potatoes

Mushroom-potato soup, baked oatmeal

Homemade pizza

Couscous, fried tofu, tomato salad

Couscous salad with lentils, tomatoes, and feta cheese

Buckwheat-lentil patties, green salad

Buckwheat stir-fry with peas, leeks, and zucchini

Mock lasagna with homemade marinara and cottage cheese

Bean soup, millet patties with feta cheese

Pasta Aglio olio e peperoncino

Vegan shepherd's pie, Armenian walnut cake

Baked Potatoes and green salad, strawberries with mint sugar

Tofu burgers with homemade buns

Sauerkraut moussaka

Homemade gnocchi with marinara

Apple pie


Snacks

Grandma's cookies

Apples

Peanuts

Bananas

Nuts


So, here it is. What do you think? Have you tried going on a spending freeze? Would you?




torek, 03. maj 2016

The best baked oatmeal (with greek yoghurt!)



That's a bit daring, putting "the best" in the title about a simple baked oatmeal, huh? Well, I actually thnk tis IS the best oatmeal. And judging by reactions of my family when I served this I am not the only one.

I actually wanted to make regular amish baked oatmeal like this one or this one with homemade soy milk, but something went wrong in the process of making soymilk and it curdled. I found that out when I already prepared the oatmeal halfway, so I had to find a quick solution. And I thought of greek yoghurt sitting in my fridge minding its own business. Since oats and greek yoghurt pair well outside the oven, I thought: why not bake them?

This baked oatmeal is rich, dense, but also soft and bursting with flavour! I wanted to put cubed apples in it, but forgot (you can see from this recipe how disorganized I am - I'll have to work on that!), so I served it topped with grape jam I made last summer from our grapes. It was a match made in heaven! You could use raspberry or strawberry or any jam you like in place of grape jam. Or even some fruit compote or ice cream!



1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 cup greek yoghurt 

Preheat oven to 200 °C/400 °F. Grease a small ceramic or glass mold with butter.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.

In a large bow mix together the eggs and sugar with a fork, then add yoghurt and mix some more. 

Add the oats to the eggs mixture and stir to combine.

Pour the mixture into prepared casserole mold and put it in the preheated oven. Now set the temperature to 180 °C/350 °F and bake the oatmeal for 35 minutes.

Serve warm with fruit jam, fresh fruit or fruit compote.



  

ponedeljek, 02. maj 2016

5 romance writers for every taste

I always used to read a lot, usually switching back and forth between romance/crime novels and classic literature. Then there was serious literature about sociology and theory of literature, of course. But since I've become a mom, I can't read crime fiction to save my life! Just makes me sooo anxious to read about all the things that go wrong ... And I can't seem to muster any concentration to read anything serious after kids go to bed ... So I'm only reading romance novels right now. I know, I know! But they are just so comforting, and they fill me with hope and give me a positive outlook on life. And you need to know that as a literature student, I am very picky (for the life of me, I couldn't finish 50
Shades of Grey and I could barely make it through the Twilight saga), so you can trust me with your reading list;). So here are my favourite romance authors in no particular order.


The Addictive Novel Writer: Lisa Kleypas

When I first borrowed a book by Lisa Kleypas from the library, I was a bit selfconscious. I mean, there was a half naked lady on the cover, clearly speaking about the content to anyone on the bus who might see me reading it. I was a litearure student, shouldn't I be reading Proust and Dostoyevsky? Sure, and I was, but everybody needs a little bit of Lisa Kleypas sometimes. Her carachters are beautifully flawed, always believable and relatable, and also very varied. Some heroines are bold, others shy, every heroine has a different body type and they always have an interesting background. The same goes for the dashing heroes, except they are always very much alpha males. And we need that in fiction, don't we?

I love how she writes her novels in serials, so you get a glimpse of your beloved couple even after their fairytale wedding (here's a spoiler: all her books end in wedding of the couple! I hope that doesn't spoil your reading pleasure;)). Recently I finished reading The Hathaways series of regency romance novels and I began The Travises series right away - I'm about to finish the last book in this contemporary romance series, Brown-Eyed Girl wich takes place in Texas and it filled me with such wanderlust ... I want to go to Texas, now! And when I finish that one, I have to wait for the second book in her new series, The Ravenels (I read the first one before begining the Travises). She just keeps getting better and better! Oh, I have to warn you: there's some violence in her books, and a lot of graphic erotic scenes - but that's really a good thing in my book.

The Most Romantic Romance Writer: Nora Roberts

I can actually remember walking into a library and borrowing my first Nora Roberts book. It was a Born in Ice, the second in the series of three; the summary on the back of the book seemed promising albeit a little cheesy to my literature student self, but then I opened it a - bit sceptically - and was immediately immeresed in the world of Brianna Concannon. I fell in love with the story not knowing that it had two sisters, and when I discovered that it did, it was like Christmas morning. I loved the other two books just as much. I also really enjoyed In The Garden series. What I love about Nora Roberts' books is how her heroines have some bad things happen to them, sometimes like really bad, but then they emerge from them renewed and stronger, each one at her own pace, and they find love along the way. Oh, and another really nice thing: there's always a strong bond between women of different generations. It gives me hope there's always people in the world who want to help.


The Very Smart: Courtney Milan

I only recently discovered Courtney Milan and it was a very pleasant surprise. All her romance books are actually very smart, from what I hear, and that's really not hard to believe after reading The Duchess War. I am very much looking forward to reading more from her.


The Classic: Jane Austen

Well, Jane Austen. Need I say more? I watched the movies first and read her books later, and I still enjoyed them very, very much. For someone whose maternal language is not English, they are not as easy to read as forementioned books, but they are well worth the effort. When I was in University, I thought Jane Austen would be looked down upon, but then a Professor of Poetry once said that her books are so great because there's such a strong realism of emotion in them. And that is still my favourite way to tell why I value Jane Austen so greatly. I found my set od Jane Austen books at a suspiciously small price (I thought the price for the whole set was a price for just one book!), but this one looks breathtakingly beautiful - as it should.

The Playful: Julie Garwood

Beside contemporary romance novels and regency romance there's another subgenre I fancy: the highlander romance novels:) There's just this thing with fictional Scots ... They have clans, they have kilts, they fight a lot, drink a lot and love ... a lot. The first Hihlander romance novel I read was by Julie Garwood. It was very sexy albeit not very realistic (the heroine really enjoyed her first sex, for example) - but who needs realism, right? Soon after I read it I overheard two high achieving (somewhat nerdy, in a good way) high school girls talking about it. "If it is really like that then it must be really really nice," one said dreamily. "It" meant sex, I'm pretty sure. I couldn't help but smile. I just couldn't bring myself to tell them it's not like that the first time ... but it can get there. As much as I enjoy Julie Garwood, I can't read her books one after the other. But there's a whole lot of Highlander romance in the world and my love for it is renewed since I'm watching Outlander (I want to read the Outlander series too, but for now I enjoy watching it sooo much I don't need to read it yet;)).


So, what do you like to read? Who are your favourite (romance or other) writers and most loved books? Do tell, I'd like to expand my reading list! ;)

sobota, 30. april 2016

Vegan gluten free chocolate chip cookies


Sooo ... I'm back to my English site after a long long time. My writing is a bit rusty, but I hope you will forgive me and help me polish it - any grammar enthusiast around? I've been wanting to tell you about these vegan gluten free cookies for ages! I first found a recipe for a buckwheat cookie on a blog I really like, Food Loves Writing. While I like all ideas Shanna and her husband come up with (like their great book all about the amazing grain called Einkorn), these cookies stole my heart right away. I had too try them immediately! With a slight adaptation - I made them vegan. And they were a huge succes! I even included them in my cookbook (wich is written in slovene, in case you're curious;)).

So, what are they like? Soft, crumbly, but not too much. The combination of buckwheat and bananas is just heavenly in my opinion - and chocolate makes it even more irresistible. I first made these vegan gluten free chocolate chip cookies for a friend with celiac disease, but they are free from any weird additives you usually find in gluten free cookies, and are easy too make with what you have on hand. Well, maybe you don't have chia seeds in your pantry, in wich case you can substitute with just flaxseed. My husband is not very fond of chia seeds, but he loved these cookies: "I like them because they are tender and chocolatey, not because they have chia seeds in them!" 

So, let's get down to baking, shall we?



Vegan gluten free chocolate chip cookies

1 tsp ground flaxseed
1 tsp ground chia seeds
2 tbsp soy or other plant milk
1 ripe banana

1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/2 tsp powdered  vanilla or vanilla extract
50 g chopped dark chocolate (about 2 ounce)

In a small bowl, puree the banana with a fork, add ground chia and flaxseed and mix well. Set aside. 

In a  medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients except chocolate, then add melted coconut oil and the banana-seed mixture. Mix just enough to incorporate, then add the chopped chocolate. 

Put in the fridge for about half an hour.

Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F). Prepare a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper.

Shape the vegan gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough into balls, flatten a bit between your palms and put them on the cookie sheet so that they will enough space around them, because they tend to expand quite a bit.

Bake for 10 minutes. The cookies will be quite soft but don't panic! Let them cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes or so, then transfer them on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.  





ponedeljek, 04. maj 2015

Raw pine nut and berry cake


I made this cake a while ago for my fathers birthday. I wanted it to be raw because he likes raw food, and because it is so easy to make, even with a baby crawling around your legs the whole time. There really isn't any seasonal fruit yet in these parts so after scouting four (yes, four) stores I finally decided to go with imported berries, In the end they turned out lovely indeed!


Pine nuts add a completely new note to a well known cashew raw cheese cake. The taste of pine nuts blends so well with lemon zest and tangy berries. I don't want to brag, but I really want to share this one little comment about it: "this cake is so good you don't want to eat it, because then it's gone".


Raw cheese cake with pine nuts and berries

crust
1 cup almonds, ground
1/2 cup dates plus 1 dried fig, soaked overnight or at least a few hours 
pinch of salt

filling
1/2 pine nuts
1,5 cup cashews
juice of two lemons
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
5 tbs agave nectar (or more, to taste)
zest of one organic lemon
pinch real vanilla powder
water as needed

topping
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries
1 cup strawberries
agave nectar as needed

decorations
edible flowers such as violets, lavender, daisies, roses, etc.

If you're not blessed with a super high speed blender like I am not, it is best to gring each ingredient individually.

In a blender or a food processor grind almonds, transfer into a bowl and put aside, then turn soaked dates into paste using your blender or food processor. Add a pinch of salt and mix all the ingredients into dough-like ball. Lightly grease a cake pan with coconut oil,. then press your dough into it with damp hands. Store in the refrigerator.

Grind pine nuts and cashews in a coffee grinder, transfer them into a bowl and add lemon juice, agave nectar, coconut oil, vanilla and lemon zest. Mix well and spread the raw cashew and pine nuts cake filling onto the crust. Smooth it out with a damp spatula.

Put in the freezer for 15 minutes then transfer it into the fridge.

Right before serving, arrange berries on cake, sweeten a bit with a few drops of agave nectar if desired, and decorate with edible flowers.