Quick and Nourishing Japanese Soup

Quick Japanese Soup, gluten free

 

One of the disadvantages of being an ex-pat is that one’s comfort foods aren’t readily available. Ten years ago when I first came to Slovakia (has it been that long??) there wasn’t much in the way of Asian groceries. Now there are a number of Asian (mostly Korean) food stores in Bratislava.

I rarely get down to Bratislava, but we keep supplied with soy sauce, nori, and a few other tidbits.

Even just some soy sauce or tamari is enough to make this delicious soup. It’s even got bone goodness in it, without simmering bones forever. And the best part of the soup, besides the taste? It’s ready to eat by the time the water boils.

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Simple (and Best) Liver Pâté

This easy liver pâté is delicious, thanks to an unusual spice that does away with the liver taste. Even beef liver can be used for a nutritious spread, perfect for a snack or meal addition. 

Best Liver Pate

Most people love to hate liver. Texture, taste, smell, it is not one of the more appetizing foods. There are some edified people who love liver, but they are a special minority.

Even though I do not belong to the elect liver lovers, the nutritional profile keeps bringing me back to it. Being high in many B vitamins, especially B12, and vitamin A, liver also apparently improves energy levels, or at least improves endurance. In the 50’s an experiment with rats showed that rats who ate liver were able to swim anywhere from one to two hours (when the experiment ended) as opposed to an average of 13 minutes. (Yes, they let the rats sink, yes, it was inhumane but the information is still valid, no, I don’t have a source because it’s late but if you ask me I’ll dig it up). And we could all use a little more energy, no?

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(Cauliflower) Temaki: Fast and Easy Sushi Hand Rolls

 

Sushi, while delicious, can take a long time to make – not so great for a crowd or hungry family. Temaki, sushi hand rolls, is an easy and fast way to serve sushi. Temaki is especially suited to cauliflower sushi because they don’t need to hold themselves together, just roll up and eat!

Temaki: Easy Sushi for a Crowd

Slovak food is delicious but tends toward the heavy side: sausages, potatoes, various breads. It’s comfort food at it’s most cozy. (I recently started a Pinterest board of Slovak Food which is perfect as the weather cools, go join it now, or even better, just follow me on Pinterest!)

When I was pregnant with my first, I remember craving the Japanese comfort foods of my childhood, like miso soup, soba noodles, and sushi. I distinctly remember a night in January when all I wanted was watermelon and soba, but neither were to be found.

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Jarmok, Trnava, Slovakia

Jarmok, Trnava

Jarmok, pronounced yarmok, is a festival of the grape harvest season in Slovakia (at least, I think it is). While a few weeks ago we saw a dozinky, a celebration of the grain harvest, jarmok is a fair put on by the town. In Trnava, there are a number of sections: handmade crafts, everything for sale from clothes to kitchen gadgets, fair rides, food, medieval demonstrations, music.

meant to walk to the various parts of jarmok and take pictures for you all, but after wandering for 2.5 hrs at the handmade arts section, I had to run back home. I just enjoy marveling over objects of beauty, even though I don’t usually have money to buy them.

So, following are some of the pictures from the handmade section. I tried to choose photos of crafts unique to or common in Slovakia, with explanations. There was some lovely pottery, and you can see what I bought on my Instagram account.

Jarmok, Trnava
Trdelnik is a Slovak treat that waft sweet vapours through the fair; the smell alone is enough to ensure long line ups. Long strips of sweet dough are wrapped around a wooden cylinder and rotates as it bakes. It is then rolled in your choice of sugar and cinnamon, walnuts, and other toppings. Pulling on it causes the trdenik to unfurl and pieces are ripped off to eat.

Jarmok, Trnava
Just to make sure you always have a shot glass available, you can hang it around your neck.

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Janosikove Diery and Cicmany, Slovakia

Janosikove Diery

For the last installment of our trip, where we first went to the open air museum in Martin and then hiking in Rohace, we go now to Terchova and Cicmany.

Terchova is a small town in northern Slovakia known for being the hometown of the Robin Hood like legend, Juraj Janosik (pronounced Yuraye Yanoshik). Juraj, the Slavic equivalent of George, lived from 1688 to 1713. When he was 15 he fought with the Kuruc rebels against the Hapsburg reign but, after a battle lost by the Kuruc, he was recruited to join the Hapsburg ranks. As a prison guard, he helped a fellow Slovak escape and became the leader of a highwayman band.

Janosikove Diery

The men robbed rich merchants although apparently they were chivalrous robbers, not murders. Legend has it that they gave to the poor, like Robin Hood. A few years later he was captured and hung from the side on a hook to die.

Janosik became of symbol of fighting for the oppressed, a Slovak champion of freedom. He is celebrated in Slovak folklore, literature, and movies.

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Museum of Slovak Villages, Martin, Slovakia

Museum of Slovak Villages, Martin, SK

Last week I shared with you our hike in the Rohace mountains, on our way north we stopped in Martin at the Museum of Slovak Villages. It’s an open air museum that has brought traditional houses from around northern Slovakia and set them up in a beautiful little valley. The day we were there we happened to catch a harvest festival, complete with singing and dancing.

Museum of Slovak Villages, Martin, SK

First up are the houses themselves. Made of squared off logs, most of the houses were chinked with moss, which was then burned. Slovak houses are long and narrow, to accommodate the long and narrow land parcels. The roofs have deep eves, I always think of them as in the shape of a witch hat.

Museum of Slovak Villages, Martin, SK

As cute as the houses are, the windows are rather small, meaning the inside is rather dark. Most of the houses consisted of one room to live in, sometimes a separate kitchen, and a another small room, for keeping tools and food, etc. No having your own room here!

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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 taller neighbours, the Vysoky 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 similarly to 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 Ostry 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

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