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The winter has finally kicked in. The leaves have long been gone, the trees stand bare and the temperature keeps dropping steadily. The birds have started to immigrate to warmer climates and the snails appeared alongside with the very first raindrops.

Walking the dog everyday I have started to observe these little things that betray the coming and the passing of the seasons and for the first time in my life, a feeling of excitement envelopes my heart.

Its been a week though that I feel incredibly tired. The days come and go and all i want is to crawl in my bed, cuddle with the blankets and sleep. A pile of books on my nightstand is getting dusty.

Am I just tired? Or is it the winter blues?

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Oh the winter blues.. You know them, dont you?
They have this greyish blue hue, feel like a soft woolen scarf and have the taste of marshmellows roasting on the fireplace. The sound of a scratched billy holiday record thats been turned one too many times and the smell like vanilla and christmas cinamon cupcakes. Now and then you can hear a little bell or maybe just the rain ticking on your window. You must listen carefully cause soon, the snow will fall and will dumb with it the world in a silent white coat.
Knitting socks, reading books, making cranberry marmelade..waking up early, going to be early..trying to catch the few rays of sun.. waiting patiently for another spring..
I really like the winter blues..
If only I had more energy..

So today, i decided to indulge in a delicious lunch.
I chopped vegetables, rolled out dough, cut little circles and boil some tomato basil sauce.
Sprinkled the cheese on the little dough circles and added veggies. Sprinkled with herbs and garlic and baked for 15 min at 200oC..
Healthy mini pizzas with vegetables and goatcheese for an energy boost.
And the winter blues get slightly tinted with red..

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sweet popcorn party favor

Last weekend, mister and I, celebrated his birthday with a few close friends and relatives.
It wasn’t a big party with fancy lights and dj’s. It was a rather small gathering with heartfelt wishes and cozy corners where friends and family got together to wish my darling another happy year.

Mister has a “strong affinity with water”. In fact we both do. In one of our first dates we decided to go swimming in the middle of May in the Atlantic Ocean at around 3 am. It was freezing cold and I didnt manage to get past running my toe in the water but mister took a brave dive. The water attracts us. Its magical color, the light defracting on its surface. There is something poetic about it and when mister asked me to make a party invitation for him, naturally I suggested a nautical theme.

You see, mister is the little star of my life and nothing makes me happier than see him smile so I decided to pull together a few colorful treats according to our nautical theme to delight our guests and bring excitement to the otherwise rather dull standardized birthday buffet concept.

custom flags for party

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nautical theme party treats

So even though birthdays occur only once every 7 years, we decided to eat, drink and celebrate in a sweet nautical theme style.

Did you know?
Birthdays occur only once every 7 years since the date you were born on moves each year to the following day of the week. This means your annual celebration is actually for your birth date – not your birthday – and in truth your birth day (= the actual day you were born on) occurs only every 7 years!

Here is a free template for your own mini popcorn paper boxes. Just add your name and print out!

If I ask you what you ate yesterday, there is a 67% chance you will answer potatoes! It could be that you had a delicious baked potatoes with sausage or just chicken nuggets and fries, perhaps mashed potatoes and lambchops or was it salmon and boiled potatoes?

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Potatoes are the second most consumed food in the Western world, tailing diary products.
They consist of about 80% water and only 20% solid mater. Their solid mater is mostly starch with a few proteins.
Not bad right? What is more, potatoes are quite rich in vitamins (niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin C) and minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, sulfur).
No wonder potatoes make a hearty, solid meal satisfying our taste buds while providing our organism with necessary fuel for the coming winter!

Boiled, baked, fried, mashed..potatos can be prepared in a variety of ways. Yet, as they are the most popular sidedish to accompany our daily meals, I was running out of options and that is when I decided it was time for a makeover! Low in calories yet high in style, my potato make over suggests a fried treat with as many calories as its boiled equivalent! Who said potatoes cant be sexy?

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Did you know?

You could use potatoes in a lot of ways, besides eating them!
Potatoes contain a chemical called catecholase. Catecholase has the property of breaking down dyes. Next time you find yourself troubled by a stain on your clothes after dinner, cut half of a potatoe and use that to remove the stain.
And while you are at it, why not use the other half to polish your leather shoes?

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Mister is gone again for work..
At first, I always get excited to be left alone.. I play records, swirl around the floor barefeet and dance on my favourite songs, I go through my diaries, I read a book..
But today, there is nothing on tv, my murakami book is long finished and the vinyls just lay there with a thin layer of dust..
The house is quite and still..Yet the clock ticks and ticks..
Around seven, our regular dinner time I find myself ready to act upon the stillness..
I haven’t prepared anything considering I would be dining alone but I have an urge to gloriously enjoy my night..
A bath, a glass of wine and a light risotto with herbs and grilled mushrooms, sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan cheese..

Maybe its time to order a new book.. Any suggestions for a good midweek reading?


Did you know?
France was the leader in the formal cultivation of mushrooms in Europe. Some accounts say that Louis XIV was the first mushroom grower. He registered different caves near Paris and set them aside for a unique form of agriculture: the mushroom cultivation!
Shortly after, intrigued by how easy and economical the cultivation of mushrooms was, English gardeners took the idea of mushroom cultivation and introduced it to the UK.

This delicious risotto is so easy to make and yet so tasty!

Rich flavors of saffran and caramelised onions with freshly grated mizithra cheese and oregano add a twist to your traditional paella risotto and can accompany any dish as a side dish.

Its golden color comes from the saffran I used, a greek delicacy on its own.

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Did you know?
Saffran is being used in the mediterranean kitchen since 3000bC.

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Memories..
What is it that your recall of your summer holidays?
What is it that I recall of summer?

A mixture of sweet and bitter flavors, aromas of berries and figs and occasionally a butterfly hoovering above mid air.. A late morning, an early evening..there is no time and no space.. everything seems to melt, become fluid and stream towards the coolness of a shadow…

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Summer Lunches that turn into brunches bring early summer dinners in the sunlight breakfast room..
After a good breakfast that serves as a brunch and a few hours under an umbrella, reading your book while he goes in and out of the water, its time for the meal of the day. The opportunity to sit down and enjoy a summer dish with fresh seasonal ingredients and a glass of wine.

This summer, somehow this pasta dish became our favorite. It is perhaps the tomatoes..perhaps our first olive oil production in a few years or maybe its just that we really like slurfing our pasta.. I wouldnt know for sure. Yet there is something both simple and primitive in the way the ingredients are treated making a pasta sauce.. Something far from pretentious. Something simple, direct, honest and relaxed. So pasta it is.

But not any pasta! A good pasta!
A good pasta has to be filling. It’s sauce has to be aromatic. All ingredients have to be fresh. And the pasta has to be slurfed! Forget the spoon.. Just twirl some pasta around with your fork and approach the later to your palette.. Let the aromas reveal their intensity as you taste the ripe tomatoes, the salty bacon, the caramelised onions and the freshly grated parmesan cheese on the smooth al dente spaghetti pasta.. Close your eyes and try to identidy each and every flavor of the herbs that play happily with the heavier flavors of the garlic, the onions, the tomatoes and the olive oil..A glass of local wine chilled as it must, now and then bringing your palette to a sweet, melodic intermezzo… until the next bite..

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Did you know?

”Most restaurants (and hostesses) that feature pasta provide guests with a large spoon as well as the knife and fork. The fork is used to spear a few strands of spaghetti, the tips are placed against the spoon, which is held on its side, in the left hand, and the fork is twirled, wrapping the spaghetti around itself as it turns. If no spoon is provided, the tips of the fork may be rested against the curve of the plate.” ”The New Emily Post’s Etiquette,” Elizabeth L. Post, 1975 By CRAIG CLAIBORNE

“De re coquinaria”, or “On the subject of cooking” was the overall title of a Roman collection of recipes, APICIUS.
It is thought to have been written somewhere around the 4th or 5th century A.D. by a roman gourmet lover and was ment to be used in the kitchen! It was organised in 10 books, under 10 themes (fisherman, gourmet, many ingredients, gardener etc) It is a very useful text as it enables us to take a glimpse into the culinary habits of the ancient times for the people residing around the Mediterranean basin.

There are no tomatoe recipes, no pasta but there are a couple of what can be thought as a meatball recipe.
Apicus, mentions round meat patties, and lists their recipes in order of his preference. The best, says Apicius were made of peacock after which he enjoyed meatballs made of pheasant, then rabbit, then chicken and, last, suckling pig.

Of course at the older days, meat was a rare commodity reserved for the rich.
As such, every part of the animal and all kinds of meat were preserved and used.
But lets not forget that meatballs started loooong before the meat grinder was invented in 1829.
The meat would often have to have been cooked. The leftover were then easily shredded by hand, minced in any number of primitive ways, or pounded with a heavy object. They would be mixed with other ingredients and cooked.

During the Venetian golden years, meatballs were heavily spiced, as the trade with the Arabs brought spices and flavors of the East to Europe.

Easy as they are, they can be vary tasty and a nice appetizer or main dish for a warm summer dinner accompanied by a nice salad with a light vinegraitte.

So, I decided to bake some meatballs.

Since I had pre-prepared the mix (minced meat,finely chopped onion, bread crumbles and fresh mint leaves) the day before and let it in the fridge so that the aromas from the herbs would infuse the meat, the only thing left to do would be shaping the little balls, rolling them in flour and frying them!

Adding a bit of lemon and they were ready to serve!


tip!
In China, meatballs are morphed into fishballs, which can be a nice alternative for a lighter dinner or for our vegeterian friends!

Enjoy!
x Elleen