GAPS

Fermented Ramsons Flower Buds

Fermented Ramson Flower Buds on Almost Bananas

I love spring in the area of Slovakia where I live, in the Malé Karpaty. The forest bursts into life, with bird song and greenery (post coming soon on the amazing flower explosion in spring).

Ramsons, or bear garlic, is a wild garlic related to the North American ramps. I haven’t actually tasted ramps, but I’ve heard that they are stronger than ramsons. They carpet the forest floor (like here), verdant and lush.  Click to continue reading

Slovak Roast Goose (or Duck)

Slovak Roast Goose (or Duck) at Almost Bananas

Roast goose and roast duck are common meals in the fall and winter in Slovakia. Through the fall, restaurants hang signs declaring “Husacie Hody!” or “Kačacie Hody!” – Goose Feast! Duck Feast! The word hody has connotations of fall or of an originally religious event of the feast of the local church.

Commonly served with roast goose or duck, or a goose-duck breed as my mother in law often does, is lokše, Slovak potato flatbread. Lokše is basically mashed potatoes with a little flour (including gluten-free flour, as the potatoes hold it together), rolled flat and cooked on a dry skillet. The lokše are then generously brushed with the fat from the goose or duck, although butter or lard can work as well. Click to continue reading

Medovniky or Perniky Spice Mix (simple and elaborate versions)

Spice mix for making Slovak medovniky or perniky, simple and elaborate versions - Almost BananasMedovniky (recipe) are Slovak spiced honey cookies eaten year round but made especially during Christmas and the winter season. Perniky are soft cookie ‘sandwiches’ with plum butter and uses the same spice mix as medovniky. Available to buy prepackaged in Slovakia, this spice mix is for those who don’t have medovniky spice mix in their store, or for those who just want to experiment and make their own.

One of the adjustments of moving to a new country is getting used to different packaging and availability of foods, including spice mixes. You would never find pumpkin spice mix in Slovakia, for example, even though all the spices are common here.

I’ll never forget the time I first made chilli here. It was within the first few months of coming to Slovakia and I bought a package of ‘chili’ and liberally dumped the contents into the pot. But it was pure chili pepper, not chilli powder like I assumed. It was a spicy mistake (although I think I realized my mistake before it was too late and managed to scoop out a good amount of the pepper).  Click to continue reading

How to Cook Brains: Slovak Mozgy

How to Eat Brains Slovak Mozgy

When at a Slovak zabijačka (za-bee-yach-ka), a family pig slaughtering, the first food to be cooked is lunch. Without fail, my mother in law makes mozgy, a dish containing the brains and spinal cord.

When planning to blog about zabijačka, I wanted to post exact recipes. This, however, was not possible due to a number of factors, like helping out and taking care of children, but most of all because nobody has any idea of how much of an ingredient they use. If I’m lucky, amounts are given in handfuls, sprinkles, and pours.

“Mami, how much onion did you put in?” I ask.

“Oh, I don’t know, until it looks good. However much the butcher says.” my mother in law answers.  Click to continue reading

Bone Broth Slovak Sunday Soup

 

Bone Broth Slovak Sunday Soup

This soup makes an appearance every Sunday at my mother in law’s, and now at my house. The clear broth is made with bones, but there is a secret to making sure that the broth stays clear and not cloudy! We call it Sunday soup, although in Slovak it doesn’t really have a name, just ‘soup.’ The broth warms the stomach, aids digestion for the meal to follow, and provides a host of nutrients. It also appears as the first course at weddings and any celebratory occasion when people eat together.   Click to continue reading

Chicken Paprikash

Quick and cozy, chicken paprikash is a dish commonly made in Slovakia, though originally from Hungry, of chicken cooked in a creamy paprika sauce and served over pasta of some sort. This version is dairy free or full of dairy, whichever you prefer!

Chicken Paprikash - Slovak comfort food

I love finding new dishes with old ingredients. Ingredients that are already part of my kitchen, that are easily available in any grocery store, but combined in a way that I haven’t used before.

For example, chicken paprikáš (pronounced paprikash). Like most dishes that feature sweet paprika, this dish originates in Hungry. Hungry had a major influence in Slovakia during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and naturally this carried over in the realm of food as well

I mean, who wants to turn down a dish of delicious?  Click to continue reading

Spice Cookies (AIP Paleo, GAPS) nut, grain and egg free

These spice cookies are perfect for dunking in tea (if you can’t dunk them in milk). These are very allergy friendly, without gluten, grains, dairy, nuts, or eggs.

AIP Paleo Spice Cookies

Eveyone knows there are 12 days of Christmas, but did you know that they start on Christmas day? Meaning that today is the 5th day of Christmas.

For me this works out well – I had a whole list of goodies I wanted to make gifts with and it didn’t get done before Christmas actually happened. I’ve been planning to make gingerbread houses as well, and, well, that hasn’t happened yet either.

But the good thing is that there are still 7 days of Christmas left. “Merry 10th day of Christmas…here is your Christmas gift. I’m not late, really.” Click to continue reading

Fermented Cabbage Stuffed Peppers

Fermented Cabbage Stuffed Peppers

If you’ve been around Almost Bananas for a while, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of fermented foods. All the probiotics are beneficial for your health in so many ways, confirmed by science. Fermenting preserves food, and tastes amazing while it’s making us healthier.

Fermenting food is kind of like having a running science experiment in your kitchen. Jars full of bubbling mixes, smells that we are no longer used to. Guests will wonder what on earth is going on in your kitchen.

Once upon a time these were normal foods. And now, we often have to accustom our taste buds to fermented foods, as many grow up without tasting them at all.

Here in Slovakia an old and common ferment is cabbage stuffed peppers. It’s warm enough here to grow peppers and this is a great way to preserve them for the winter. Click to continue reading

Toasted Vanilla Bean Powder

Toasted Vanilla Bean Powder

Vanilla is one of the most popular flavourings, and for good reason. Somehow it smells sensual, exotic, and elegant all at the same time. And the taste!

In Slovakia, where I live, vanilla extract is not available, but vanilla sugar. Most vanilla sugars are made using artificial flavourings and even the ones using real vanilla have miniscule amounts of vanilla in it. (If you happen to understand Czech, here’s an investigative video into the rip off of buying vanilla sugar.)

Sometimes I get sent a bottle of vanilla extract and I dole it out carefully, torn between increasing the heavenly taste and using up the bottle quickly.

It’s possible, of course, to make your own vanilla sugar or vanilla extract (or tincture?). The problem is that you have to plan and wait, while the vanilla bean steeps it’s goodness into the sugar or alcohol. I’m not very good at getting around to making it until I need it for a recipe, and then it’s too late and I don’t have time to wait. Click to continue reading

25+ Ways to Use Sauerkraut

25+ Ways to Use Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut seems to be all the rage in healthy food circles recently. Fermented sauerkraut is full of probiotic and other benefits, as opposed to the canned vinegar variety which might taste alright but does not have the same health impact.

It’s easy to get excited about eating sauerkraut, but then when sometimes I’m at loss as to what to actually do with it. Just put in on the table in a dish for a condiment?

Yes, you can do that, but there are so many more options! Below are over 25 ideas and recipes for using sauerkraut. Some of the recipes may need some adjusting to fit your idea of healthy. Click to continue reading

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