Rohac, Slovakia

 

Rohac, Slovakia

Tucked up in the north of Slovakia are the lesser known Zapadne Tatry, the western Tatras, where people still live in quaint wooden houses. The western Tatras are less commercial then their larger neighbours, the Velke (big) Tatry, which means less people on the trail.

We have some guests visiting from Canada and to show them a sample of Slovakia, we headed up north to hike Rohac (Rohach). The mountain is named after the rohac beetle, a large beetle with two large pincers, as the mountain has two peaks.

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The peak on the left is Rohac, with it’s two peaks. The peak on the right is Placliva, the crying one.

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Basil Lemon Walnut Cookies

These delicious raw cookies use basil, normally a savoury herb, to increase the complexity of these easy cookies. Lemon adds a touch of sunshine to a walnut and honey base.

Basil Lemon Walnut Cookies

I recently attempted to do GAPS. Attempted is the key word.

For those who don’t know what GAPS is, it’s a protocol to heal the gut. This does not affect only digestive issues (bloating, constipation, diarrhea), but helps improve other health issues as well. The acronym stands for Gut And Psychology Syndrome, as Dr. Campbell-McBride developed the program to help her autistic son.

The idea is that an impoverished digestive system can lead to a myriad of health problems because the food you eat actually becomes toxic to your body. The diet starves toxic pathogens in the gut by not eating disaccharides (like sugar, grains, potatoes, etc), heals the lining of the digestive tract with lots of bone broth (gelatin and lots of nutrients), and replaces the bad pathogens with good probiotics. As the gut heals, you slowly re-introduce foods back in, but it can take anywhere from six months to two years.

It’s pretty intensive, but I wanted to try for a number of reasons for our family, including dairy intolerance, bloating, ADHD, and a few other behavioural issues. (GAPS can also help heal allergies and food intolerances.)

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Basavel na plazi: Roma (Gypsy) Festival by Dive Maky

Cigansky Basavel: Roma (Gypsy) Festival

As a Canadian, when I used to think of gypsies (or more properly, Roma) I thought of colourful dresses, energetic music, and wood covered wagons. When I first heard Central Europeans speak about the Roma at college in the States, I was horrified, they seemed so racist. After being in Slovakia, I began to understand complications of the situation of the Roma in Central Europe.

The Roma  (or Romani, or Romany) originate from India and spread throughout Europe during the medieval ages. As nomadic people, they had various skills, like metalwork and carpentry, that they used to gain employment while camped on the outskirts of a town. The nomadic lifestyle was not so compatible with modern country borders, however. During Communism in Slovakia they were provided with housing and other needs, however, women were also subjected to coerced sterilization and the men lost the skills they traditionally had used for finding employment.

Roma are different from Slovaks in more ways than just skin colour. As groups, their behaviour is completely different; imagine packs of Italians in Germany. In public, Slovaks are reserved and somewhat cold (although not in private with friends). Gypsies, on the other hand, will have yelling matches in the town square. Roma have their own completely different language. They also have many children; some Slovaks are inclined to think it is a way to get more money from the government, but I’m inclined to wonder if it has to do with their traditional emphasis on and value of children and the tight knit extended family.

The Romany people have faced discrimination in various degrees throughout Europe since their arrival, and were a target of the Nazi regime. In Slovakia, at any time before 1989, I would attribute discrimination to simple racism. Since then, however, the problem is a little more complicated.

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Beef Tongue Spread (2 Recipes)

Last week I posted Simple Beef Tongue and promised a recipe for those wanting a less visual version of tongue. Here it is: beef tongue spread. Meat spreads, similar to liverwurst, are very popular in Slovakia. This can be used like tuna or salmon spread, and can go in sandwiches, on vegetables, or even be used as a dip.

Beef Tongue Spread (2 Recipes)

This weekend we went to a gypsy festival, where a local charity organized drama and music presentations of this ethnic minority. I’ll tell you more about later this week.

I came there to enjoy the music and take pictures for you all to see. I took some photos, but not nearly as many as I hoped. I choked.

I’m not good at taking photographs at events anyway. “Wait while I obscure your view, person behind me, of this very special moment so I can take a picture.” My preferred lens at events is a super telephoto, so that I can get a picture without anybody seeing me. But there was another reason.

See, there were a number of other people there with fancy schmancy cameras with mega lenses and I was embarrassed to take out my dinosaur camera and it’s itty bitty lens.  Read More

Zucchini Pizza Frittata

This frittata is layered with zucchini, or courgettes, along with pizza like tastes – tomato, basil, oregano, and garlic. This dish is one of two ways my kids will eat zucchini, and it’s so simple to throw together.

Zucchini Pizza Frittata

My brother-in-law and his family have been put through the wringer this past year, and it looks like they may be starting the journey all over again. Last year, just after Easter, their five year old youngest son was diagnosed with leukemia. He was in the hospital for six straight weeks before he could come home to visit, my sister in law coming home for a visit once a week. Thus began over a year of hospital stays, chemotherapy, low immune system, and a host of other concerns. My nephew lost weight, lost his hair, but retained water due to the cortisone. They just finished the third intensive block of chemo, and are currently down to weekly checkups.

Cancer puts a strain on the whole family. The worries, the fears. Dad and four other children had to learn to get by without mom holding the fort together. There’s an overarching cloud of concern, running through all aspects of life.
But recently their next youngest son, 12, has been exhibiting some health problems. A couple check ups showed something wasn’t quite right, but it could be this or it could be that. His mom worried about cancer, but what are the chances, right? Well, it looks like he does have cancer, in the lymph system. They are currently doing tests to determine exactly what it is and how to proceed.

Bobette, my sister in law, said that she has been sustained by prayers these last few days. They would appreciate any prayers you could offer for them.

It’s sadly ironic. They live in Austria, the country that hates nuclear power, where everything is available as organic. Gaming is in the foothills of the Alps with clean air and pure water. She avoids plastic and cooks real food. Neither parent smokes, the kids play outside. No cell phones allowed. Why, why two kids with cancer??

Which got me thinking about one of the arguments against universal health care in the States, basically, “I don’t want to have to pay for slobs who don’t take care of themselves.” In other words, why should I, who takes care of myself, pay for the health problems of those who smoke/drink/do drugs/eat unhealthy food/are promiscuous/don’t exercise/etc. Read More

Simple Beef Tongue

Eating beef tongue sounds gross, but once you get over the squeamishness, you’ll discover a cheap, tasty cut of meat that is ridiculously easy to prepare. I’ll let you know the secret to the best way of eating tongue too! 

Simple Beef Tongue

 

Cold sliced beef tongue with sandwich stuff.

Things were quiet here last week as I was gone on holiday. I thought I would be able to get a post up, but decided to relax and enjoy my family instead. We went to beautiful Gaming, Austria (I’ve written about it before) with some friends. Random photos will be forthcoming on my facebook page and instagram (user name: almostbananas).

Driving home, we watched an awe inspiring lightning storm. The whole sky lit up, bolts of pure energy piercing the night sky, and as we got closer to home we could see the silhouette of the hills with each flash.

As long as I am safely at home, I love thunder storms. It never ceases to amaze me that such a display of power can result from electrons jumping around (basically). I love the flashes of light, the thunder, the pounding rain. Here in Slovakia, it’s a welcome cooling to a hot, humid day.  Read More

Apricot Shortbread Crisp

Apricot Shortbread Crisp

What do you call baked fruit with an oat/flour/butter topping? Crisp? Crumble? Cobbler? I usually say crisp, though the usual oat and butter topping is more crumbly than crispy. A cobbler is more cakey, no?

Well, whatever you call it, I’ve got a new take that has become one of my favourites.

It’s easy. It’s fast. It’s delicious. It’s healthy. Can you ask for anything more in a recipe? It only has three, yes, three ingredients.  Read More

Bacon n’ Egg Salad with Probiotic Avocado Dressing

The classic combination of bacon and eggs combine to make a light summer meal salad. Topped off with an avocado dressing, it could be for breakfast or any other meal. The kids polished this off quickly!

Bacon n Eggs Chopped Salad with Probiotic Avocado Dressing

Is any woman, young or old, immune to a negative perception of their own body at some point? I exclude men, not because they don’t have issues with body image, but because I know little of their body-self relationship; not only have I not talked to many men about this subject, I’m inclined to think they speak less of it in general.

There is, of course, always the question of weight, but body image involves issues like uneven ears, large foreheads, or knobby knees. As a teenager I would have had nose surgery in a second, now the idea is abhorrent to me (although I am convinced it did grow before the rest of me).

But our views about ourselves are not always based on reality. For example, as a teen I always considered myself chubby, even though I was quite active in sports. I don’t really know if I was or not, to be honest, I haven’t looked at pictures from that age in an eon. I was rather laid back about it though and contented myself with dabbing fat off of pizza. Fortunately, I was never tempted to throw up or starve myself. After my first child, I could fit into a pair of shorts from high school and considered myself a skinny minny. Same size, different perspective.  Read More

Hermit Thrush Cabin, Valemount, BC, Canada

The pictures are from last year but, as this place is so dear to me, I thought I would share anyway.

Sheep Camp

In the country of Canada, in the province of British Columbia, in the Rocky Mountains, in a valley surrounded by three mountain ranges, there is a little town. Aptly named Valemount (valley in the mountains), this dot on the map is where I called home growing up.

On one of the mountains overlooking the town is my favourite place in the world. There are places in the world more grandiose (even in the immediate area), more jaw dropping, more glamorous. Nevertheless, this is a place of nostalgia and beauty that holds first place for me.

When I was a child, extended family had a sheep camp up in the alpine meadows. Every summer, the sheep were herded up to pasture on the wild mountain tops, braving crazy summer storms and grizzly bears. Two canvas tents made a summer home for the shepherd and we often came to stay.  Read More

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