vegetarian

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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Cream of Lentil Soup with Prunes

Prunes are added to Christmas soups in Slovakia. They have a festive sweetness that melds well with the lentils and cream.

Cream of Lentil Soup with Prunes

As I mentioned in my post about how Slovaks celebrate Christmas, each area of Slovakia makes a different type of soup for Christmas. Some make a sauerkraut based soup, others split pea, and still others cream of lentil. What all the soups have in common is the festive addition of prunes.

When I first heard about prunes in soup, I was sceptical. Prunes? In Soup? Weird, I thought. But I’m game to try anything at least once, and so my first Christmas in Slovakia found me discovering a whole new way of eating a childhood food. 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

Nuts in Honey: a handmade gift

Nuts in Honey sweet Christmas gift

When do you start getting ready for Christmas?

In general, I start thinking about gifts in September but then do nothing until the last ten days beforehand. I want to make all sorts of cutesy crafts with the kids and get into that holiday spirit, but we’re lucky if we get some paper snowflakes cut out and taped to the window. I plan handmade gifts for everyone I know, and then end up with none.

This year, I’m going to get it all done in a timely manner. And trim my expectations to be a little more realistic.

Now, however, is a good time to start thinking about handmade gifts. If you feel intimidated by the idea, it can actually be quite simple They don’t have to be fancy, you don’t have to be crafty. Click to continue reading

Fermented Red Onion

 

Fermented Red Onions

 

As a ‘real foodie’, I have this idea that I should therefore like all real foods. I have a confession to make; I don’t like raw onions. Cooked onions are wonderful. In the winter, I go through kilos of onions in soups and stir fries. Caramelized onions, yummm. But raw? Nope. Only if they’ve been marinated for a very long time.

My oldest daughter, on the other hand, loves raw onions. She will voluntarily ask for raw onions on buttered (sourdough) bread, a very Slovak thing to eat. I gladly prepare it for her, because onions are healthy and all that. “Yumm, Mom, this is SO good! Have a bite.” Er…no thanks dear, I’ll let you enjoy it.

But then I came across the idea of Lactofermented Red Onions over at Delicious Obsessions and thought I’d try it.

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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

3 Ingredient AmazeBalls

3 Ingredient AmazeBalls

Sometimes accidents are happy.

I went into a bio shop (health food store) the other day looking for carob, which I happen to actually like. The package I bought was opaque and when I opened it at home I realized that the powder was much lighter than normal. It was only then that I noticed that on the package was written “raw carob”.

Most carob powder, made from the pod of the carob tree, is dark brown. Roasting the pod creates a strong, very distinct flavour. I like it, some hate it. Raw carob, on the other hand, is a light brown and has a much more subtle flavour.

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Cherry Mint Spritzer

 

Cherry Mint Spritzer

When I came to Europe, one difference that took me by surprise was the water. Europeans buy water more than I remember in North America, and there are so many options to choose from. Most people buy sparkling water, which I still haven’t really gotten used to. There are three types of water: no fizz, lightly fizzy, and regularly fizzy. Click to continue reading

Watermelon and Lemon Balm Sorbet

Watermelon Lemon Balm Sorbet

 

My sister Kazuko visited me in Slovakia a few years ago. It was hot and we bought a large watermelon for the kids to slurp on the balcony, juice dripping down their chins. She started to cut into it.

“It has seeds!” she exclaimed. “I haven’t seen seeds in a watermelon for ages!”

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