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

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

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

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

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.

sobota, 04. maj 2013

Gifts for the New Mom

Today is the second day of my blog-detox week and I'm kinda struggling, much more than on Facebook-detox. I guess that must mean I'm addicted to other people's creativity ... and that I have no life of my own:) Since I can't read other blogs, I'm just going to write more on my own. There's a theme I wanted to write about for some time: gifts for a new mom/new family.

We visited our friends yesterday, a lovely couple with a six weeks old tiny bundle of joy. I was impressed by  tiny-ness of the little guy's feet. I just couldn't believe my Lila was ever that small:) I thought about what to bring as a present for the new family a lot, and ended up bringing them some cute little pajamas, bath-time animals and pacifiers for the little one and chocolate financiers for the parents. I wasn't completely satisfied with presents, but they seemed pleased enough.

So here's a list of presents for a new family that I thought of for future reference:

1. Food!

When you're a young parent, it isn't always easy to find the time or the energy to cook. Trust me, I know;) Bringing a home-cooked meal to a new family seems a perfect gift to me! There is a question, what foods to bring, though. I like to cook with a lot of spices and beans and cabbage, and these are all things that some breastfeeding moms prefer to avoid...

2. Jewelry

I got a tiny gold bracelet (along with a ton of cute stuff for my little girl) from my aunt when she first visited me and my little new family. Even later I learned that the family was supposed to give gold jewelry to a new mom (maybe just to the first time mom?). I liked the gesture a lot, even though the bracelet wasn't really my style. But I sooo love these!

To be honest though, I prefer earrings to bracelets. But it's almost impossible (even dangerous!) to wear dangly earrings when you are carrying a baby around. Maybe not when she's a newborn, but soon she will start grabbing those pretty little sparkly things. So stud-earrings are the obvious choice for moms.

3. Photos

Many new families decide to hire a professional photographer to take photos of their newborn. But some just forget to book the photographer (they are very busy people) or can't afford to, and you can step in here. You can of course gift them a voucher for a photo session with the local photographer, but if you have a camera yourself, you can snap a few photos of the newborn and the whole family, even if you're not a professional. Set the camera on black and white, shoot in natural light, edit photos with a free software (before Lightroom, I liked to use Picasa, but there's tons of others, just google it:)) and you'll probably end up with at least two photos you'll like. Have th best one printed on a canvas and you have a most unique present for the new mom (and dad, and grandma ...), like, ever.

What gifts do you like to bring to new moms? What would you like to receive?

četrtek, 02. maj 2013

A Facebook-free Week

My Facebook-free week is well over.

I couldn't say I was a lot more productive when I wasn't "allowed" to use Facebook, but I was at a loss what to do when I sat at the computer. I didn't really miss it though. And yes, I did cheat! And not just once ... That's probably the most interesting part of this little report:)

The cheating ... yea

The first day, I cheated unintentionally because I just couldn't get used to the idea of not using FB, so I kept refreshing it ... I think I did it four times!

Then the second time ... My sister just started a giveaway on her gorgeous blog she has with a friend, and she asked me to share it on FB ... I just couldn't say no to her, so I begged T. to post about the giveaway instead of me:) It was quite hard to persuade him, he asked me "What's the point of detox then?", but then he did it. Thank you, T.!

Sometime during this week T. found the amazingly funny Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and we just couldn't get enough of their Thrift Shop. And the next day I heard their wonderful and heartwarming song Same Love on the radio and I just had to share ... just had to. And guess what? Nobody even saw it or commented on it ... I'm just not a very feedback-y person, I guess.

Site Blocker

A friend of mine suggested I try a site blocker exstension, so I tried a Chrome Extension StayFocusd that blocked my gmail and Facebook after 10 minutes ... Well, 10 minutes of FB AND Gmail is very little. So I turned it off, since I need both for my (unpaid, for now;)) work. Oh, since my FB-free week is over, we can now connect through Facebook.

The Conclusion

The conclusion is, Facebook is not the core of my procrastination. Oh well. I didn't visit or phone my friends more, as was one of the hopes for this week. I guess one week is probably just not enough ... But! I did spend a lot of time outside and taking pictures. But this has more to do with beautiful weather than absence of Facebook, I am affraid. You can see I was experimenting with backlight photography just a little, and I found the use for the self-timer on my camera. I was inspired to "get in the picture" by this beautiful post. Not a very FB-related topic, huh.


Raw chocolate-vanilla parfait with berries

Raw parfait.

Parfait! It's the first time I made a parfait thinking about making a parfait. I wasn't very fond of fancy desserts, but this was actually pretty easy and the result is quite stunning. At leats for my untrained-in-fancy-ness eye.

I call it parfait even though this is nothing like the traditional parfait since it has zero sugar, gelatine or dairy.  Their gorgeous looks is all they have in common. These little jems are packed with fruit, the good fat and natural sweeteners such as dates and agave nectar. And they are also raw, wich means - enzymes! It's the perfect spring-to-summer dessert, light, refreshing and really pretty if I do say so myself:)

Raw chocolate-vanilla parfait with berries

Vanilla layer
3 handfuls cashews
2 tsp chia seeds
a pinch organic vanilla powder
3 tbsp agave nectar
water, as needed

Chocolate layer
a handfull dates, soaked in warm water for at least 2 hours
1 ripe avocado, peeled and stoned
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp (raw) cocoa
agave nectar, to taste

Strawberries, around 6 nice big ones, washed and chopped
agave nectar, a few drops
raspberries, around 15 pieces (just buy a small container), washed and patted dry

a couple of unsalted, raw pistacchios, chopped
cocoa nibs
bee pollen, a pinch or two (omit if you are vegan, of course)

To make the vanilla custard, grind the cashews in coffee grinder. Transfer the powdered cashews to a medium bowl, add chia seeds and vanilla and stir. Add agave nectar. Gradually add water until you get just the right consistency. Cover the bowl with a plate or lid (or cling film, if you must) and put in the refrigerator.

Prepare the chocolate layer: blend all ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor. Taste and add some agave nectar if desired. Refrigerate.

After about two hours of chilling, assemble the parfait.

Prepare three small jars. Divide chocolate custard into (imaginary) thirds and spoon each one in one of the jars. Top it with chopped strawberries, sweetened with a few drops agave nectar. Spoon one third vanilla custard into each jar and top with five raspberries.

Make it pretty with some chopped pistacchios, cocoa nibs and bee pollen. Serve immediately or chill for a few more hours.