summer

Elderflower syrup

Elderflower syrup

There are three items that many Slovaks forage for, even if they aren’t the ‘in harmony with nature’ type of person: ramsons/bear garlic, mushrooms, and elderflowers.

Elderberry bushes with their characteristic large head of small white blossoms are a common sight throughout the western part of Slovakia in the spring, their strong scent filling the air. It’s common to see someone walking by with a basket, or even a huge bag.

What do Slovaks make with elderflowers? Elderflower syrup. I made this recipe with 2 litres of water, but most people make huge batches of 10 or more litres.

If you find the idea of fermenting elderflower wine or cordial intimidating, then this simple syrup is the recipe to try. Instead of juice concentrates, in Europe people buy syrups to make ‘juice’.  Click to continue reading

Cream of Zucchini Soup with Dill

Slovak Cream of Zuchinni Soup with Dill - Almost BananasThis super easy creamy soup is a delicious way to eat abundant zucchini, even for those who don’t like it!

I’m a terrible food blogger. I made this soup a while ago but didn’t write down how much of what I used (because I was going to remember, ha!) and then we went on holiday…and now it’s past dill season. But it will be dill season again, and you’ll have pinned this recipe to try then, right?

My mother in law makes this soup fairly often in the summer. Every year she claims she’s not going to plant as much zuchinni as last year, and every year she does.

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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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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. Click to continue reading

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.  Click to continue reading

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.  Click to continue reading

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.  Click to continue reading

Apricot Juice Syrup

Any fruit can be used to make this juice concentrate. Keep in the fridge and pull out to make an instant glass of cold apricot nectar  to drink on hot summer days.

Apricot Juice Syrup

It’s apricot season right now, trees are laden with orange spheres of tart flesh.  It’s rather decorative, orange set against green. When tree fruits are in season, however, they come in a deluge but are soon over, gone for another year.

When we had the first basket of apricots, my husband buried his face in them and inhaled. “Ah,” he sighed, “the smell of summer.” When he was a child, his family would pick boxes of apricots and take them to sell in a spa town.  Click to continue reading

Creamy Eggplant Chicken Zucchini Noodles (Dairy Free)

Eggplant, or aubergine, forms the creamy base for this dairy free pasta sauce but you’d never guess it! Paired with chicken and topped with zucchini noodles, or zoodles, this makes a filling and delicious meal.

Creamy Chicken Zucchini Noodle Sauce (Dairy Free)

Living with four children in an apartment, as is our current situation, is far from my ideal. I eagerly look forward to having a yard someday. There are, however, positives to most circumstances.

The other day I was in the kitchen and the shouts of children outside brought a smile to my face. It reminded me of the good ol’ days before technology, you know, the ones when kids walked barefoot to school uphill both ways after milking cows in the morning.  Click to continue reading

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