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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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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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Although not a vegan myself, I have a lot of friends who are!

Therefor, it has always been clear that I needed to master a cupcake recipe so as to be able to treat my friends to yum yum .

So here it is! My basic recipe.

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If you have a recipe of your own, please let me know! I love to test new recipes!

See you soon!

Today has been equally grey around here.
I’m going through paperwork listening to Gotye, “Somebody That I Used To Know” drinking a cup of tea and nibbling on a dry fig.

I always loved figs.
We had a big fig tree in the garden at the vacation house. Every August, around the time of my birthday the first figs would ripe. They would grow considerably in size their bright green skin slowly turning pale green and their firmness would give way to a certain softness.
Some of them would have honey dripping from them sparkling like gold under the midday summer sun..
You had to look carefully between the leaves and the branches to locate the figs that were ripe enough as not all the fruit would ripe at the same time.
Once located, the “target” fig would be plucked from the tree by gently grabbing it and twisting it around until the stem would release the fig from the branch.
If milk would come out of the stem then you knew the fig wasnt ripe enough. If not you knew, a delicious sweet fig was yours!

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This year, I introduced mister to the fig hunting routine. During our stay at the tiny village of Greece where the vacation house is, I taught him everything I know. And in return, mister offered his help, fig hunting and then sorting,drying out and preparing the surplus of figs gathered.

In the area, almost every household hunts for figs during August.
Wearing a big hat, holding a basket and a metal stick ending on a hook, called the fig hunting tool, men, women and children would wander around the forest edges and hunt for figs.

My grandmother used to say that the best figs to dry out are the ones that fall from the tree by themselves. They are sweet and already a bit dry and thus perfect for preserving them for the winter. Never the less, any fig can be dried and preserved as long as it is ripe enough to be eaten.

Once collected the figs have to be sliced in half and left open with the seeds exposed to the summer sun on a basket. The air needs to be able to circulate during the drying stage so if a basket is not available one could use chicken wire elevated on a wooden frame.

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After a few days, the figs have to be turned over so that their skin gets golden and dry on the outside as well. Once the figs are completely dried out, a “sterilising” process has to take place to ensure the figs wont get worms but will stay nice all winter long.
Traditionally, this is done by a boiling bath. Nowadays one can opt for freezing them for 10 days.

After that, the figs are ready to be stored and enjoyed for as long as 5 years!:)

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Did you know?
In Greek mythology, the god Apollo sends a crow to collect water from a stream for him. The crow sees a fig tree and tempted by the fruit sits under the thick shadow of the fig tree, waiting for the figs to ripe.. He knows that he is late and that his tardiness will be punished, so he gets a snake from the stream and collects the water. He presents Apollo with the water and uses the snake as an excuse. Apollo sees through the crow’s lie and throws the crow, goblet, and snake into the sky where they form the constellations Hydra, Crater, and Corvus.

And now that you know the story behind the Hydra, Crater and Corvus constellation, here is a handy link that shows you a glimse of the sky and helps you learn to identify the above mentioned groups of stars.
http://www.davidmalin.com/fujii/source/Crt.html

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