This week comes with no recipe of mine to share and as you are reading this post, we would be crossing the border into Belgium and making our way to Paris.
Yeah! Paris, baby! An impromptu one at that.
And this was only decided barely 2 weeks ago when an old mommy friend from our years in Bangkok announced that she and her tribe would be visiting back home. Her home being Paris.
For us, it would only be a hop of several borders away; with Spud and Squirt in tow…who, like us, are as excited to see their old friends whom they have not seen for several years since the moved to the Philippines!
Looks like we’ll be pigging on French food this weekend!
So, while we get that sorted out as I have no clue as to what we’ll be stuffing our faces with (Macarons are high on my list!), I thought that I’ll make this week a little special for you by featuring Balkan Cuisines instead.
More specifically, a home-cooking book on Balkan Comfort Food that features more than 50 recipes by Jas Brechtl.
If you are not already familiar with this multi-talented dynamite of a woman, mother and a Grandma of 2, Jas is a bit of a celebrity chef, a humanitarian, an avid photographer as well as the wonderful and humble creator behind All That’s Jas. I also found out through our behind the scene correspondences that she’s quite the OCD who loves to unpack suitcases!
A few months back, Jas gave me the honour to a copy of her e-book when she launched it on Amazon.
As I read each and every page of her book, I am fascinated by the plethora of recipes she has put together…recipes that ooze nostalgia of her childhood before her 6-year exile in Germany. She now lives in Indiana.
In each recipe, I can almost feel that sense of comfort in smells, taste and colours of childhood nostalgia filled with longing familiarity of the distant past…
….memories that keep a family together as they bond over profoundly unique traditional cuisines served at big weekend lunches.
…things that you grow up with, cognizant with deep impressions of flashbacks that were left behind yet never forgotten.
From all sorts of stews to stuffed veg to delightful desserts, Jas’s book is all about dusting off old recipes and preserving the art of creating dishes that many generations before her have enjoyed.
A Balkan at heart, Jas has now put all those memories into a precious compilation of culinary treasures with the mix of flavours from the Balkan Region (Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovania, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and European Turkey) for the next generation to relish.
A very traditional but versatile recipe made with phyllo and a mixture of cheeses and eggs. Jas told me she used to make her own phyllo dough, from scratch! How crazy is that?!
2. Chicken Paprikash
A classic yet colourful, flavourful and a heartwarming chicken dish beyond the Balkan region. In Jas’ words: flavours and colours that inspire happiness! I couldn’t agree more after having a go at this quick and easy to make dish (recipe to follow and will definitely be posted on one of my weekly Fabulous Friday Flavours!)
3. Potato and Beef Casserole – Musaka
A rich casserole of what a Moussaka is to Balkan and what a Lasagna is to Italy! Enough said.
4. Bread Panada – Popara
A satisfying dish of stale bread (say whaaaat!) showcasing the inventive use of leftovers to stretch a meal by Balkan grandmothers.
Before you click away, do pop by Jas’ blog over at All That’s Jas, and in case you are not sure where to start and/or not quite into recipes or food, I recommend you read That’s Why.
It was one of the most heartfelt, real-life story of humanity that I have ever read. And I promise you that you’ll never be sorry and that you likely leave the page a little choked-up. It was also through the interactions from the post where a friendship has since been forged halfway across the world.
To Jas, thank you so very much for the friendship, not to mention the privilege of receiving a copy of such an authentic e-book. In other words, I’m so very happy I got this treasure trove of recipes for free. Bwahahhahahhaah!
That was what I told my 6-year-old daughter the other evening when I put her to bed: I hope your teeth fall out.Out loud. In her face. Really meaning it.
Sounds bad, I know.
But no, I was not being mean. And no, I was not chiding her either. Hell NO! I did not say it in a harsh tone or wish for anything bad to befall on her. No mother would.
Instead, I said it gently. I cupped her face softly, pouting as I said it. It sounded bad enough and I was almost feeling bad that I had to say it at all. But I needed to tell her that I felt her grief.
After all, Spud got three loose teeth for more than 2 months now. And every other day, she would complain about how they wibble and wobble and not one of those teeth are loose enough to come off. They just sit there juggling like a flimsy fence on her gum.
Over the last few months, she’s been tolerating the wibble-wobble of her two front teeth and her lower incisor. The sometimes, she forgets that those pearlies are loose and would cause her the occasional pain when she enthusiastically bites off something hard.
We know how that felt like, right? Not the most comfortable feeling in the world!
In fact, I still have remnants of memories during that entire losing of teeth stage. I never liked it and I remember that each tooth loosened till they fell off was the most royal pain in the ass.
Of course, Spud would not hear of us nudging the following solutions:
tying a string to one tooth, attach it to the door, let her stand still and we’ll slam the door away or…
using a pair of pliers to pull her tooth away one by one; they all are already loose anyway or…
giving her an apple to bite on and only using her two front teeth …
Short of the 3 options laid out to her as above (insert evil laugh) which was met with a complete meltdown of “no-s” (insert a sheepish giggle), we told her that unfortunately, she just has to ride it out. For every single tooth. For the next few years.
Bummer, I know.
So feeling completely helpless as Spud was whiny-er about her teeth than most days, me telling her “I hope your teeth fall out” in the most empathetic tone possible before she went to bed, had seemed more than reasonable. You know, a mother’s prayer.
Not 10 minutes after tucking her into bed, I heard her screaming out for me from her bedroom. The problem was, I couldn’t move. I was in the midst of separating egg whites from the yolks at that time and I was stuck. With all the whites dripping all over my bare hands and me being extremely cautious not to break the yolks, I could not just abandon everything haphazardly to get to her.
Knowing it was nothing dire and that she was at least not screaming bloody murder, I took my time with the whites I was handling.
Meantime, I called out for Silver Bullet several times LOUDLY, who at that time was sitting on the couch and technically nearer to the stairs to get to Spud’s room. Only after the 5th shout of his name did I then realised that he had his sound-proof earphones on. He was blissfully oblivious to the mayhem of music outside his earphones. Right.
Still separating egg whites, I told Spud at the top of my voice (just so she would hear me) to come down to me. She was in front of me in mere seconds; Silver Bullet almost jumped out in annoyance with why-the-hell-are-you-out-of-bed when she darted past him and with such speed, I could have sworn she flew down the stairs!
She was panicky and then told me about her lower incisor which was getting extremely loose. It was looking like she was about to go into a meltdown. With the 3rd white in my hand, I calmly told her to sit right across me. I then encouraged her to continue fiddling her tooth away and went on to reassure her that we’ll stay by her side till her tooth is out.
Imagine this: Me separating egg whites, apron on and all, with my eyes on her as nonchalant as fuck; Silver Bullet hovering over her and there she was, with some tears in her eyes, hand in her mouth..awkwardly trying to wriggle out her tooth. Her eyes looking worried as hell.
Just like that, the tooth came out. A tiny speck of blood.An easy wiggle. And then the look of relief. THAT look of relief when you finally manage to poo after hours of constipating.
This time, the Tooth Fairy was feeling kind enough to leave her a couple of Euros when she was fast asleep. There was a note too!
She still, however, chooses to remain doubtful on the existence of the Tooth Fairy and leaning towards the notion that this is just her mother being atrociously annoying funny. (insert evil, evil laugh)
Like her other wobbly teeth, she prefers to sit on the fence about this fairy thing. Santa included. And if all else fails, at least there is now a small proof that the most powerful of prayers would have to be that of a mother’s! The other front tooth just came out 2 days later.
Barely a week away to October closing its curtains and I’ve concluded that a minimum of 20 published post for this month is now deemed impossible. I’d be lucky to hit 18!
Day after day after day since last week, I’ve been meaning to get some blogging done to fill in the gaps with something in between my scheduled Fabulous Flavours and Sunday Humour. after all, this is not supposed to be only a recipe and a humour blog and I aim to hit my monthly average of 20 posts this month.
And then, day after day after day, I get caught up in the ebb and flow of things. There are no such things as having a little time to breath. Or think. Let alone write. There.is.always.something. SOMETHING.
Sometimes, I’m on my feet for hours. At home. Who stands for hours at home?! It’s not like I have protruding haemorrhoid that I could not even sit down without my whoopie cushion.
By the time I tuck the kids in, do whatnots and roll myself on the couch, I’m too tired to reach out for my laptop. Too exhausted to think; yet I ponder and wonder what I do all day!
Which makes me then think: How do other bloggers manage to constantly push out a post? And really, just what the hell have I been doing all day in these past few months being a SAHM? After all, would I not have the time for other things especially time for myself since I don’t have to go to the office anymore?
Turns out, I don’t. Like I said, there.is.always.something. Heck. I can’t even steal a half hour nap. The chores and the “surprises” never end.
A typical day on my working days goes like this:
Wake up. Get the kids ready (sometimes Silver Bullet showers them if they happen to wake up early). Breakfast. Send Hurry them to school. Walk myself home. Make a pot of coffee to last me through the day. Turn on my laptop and start my work day with the occasional toilet breaks. No lunch break. Full-on focus till it’s time to fetch the kids from school 7 hours later. Pick up the monkeys kids. Sometimes a 20 minutes-detour for small groceries.
Get home with 1.5 hours left before dinner time. Chat/play/battle with the kids. Prepare their dinner. Give them their dinner no later than 5.30 p.m. Sometimes I cook for us while the kids eat, most times I sit along with them. Tell the muppets 1000x to eat their food. Then get them to clean up after their meals. Tell them 10x to clean up after their meals. Then get them to tidy up the mess they made with their toys. I start vacuuming as I remind them for the 500th time to clean up before threatening that all their toys will go to the bin by the count of 10. Usually, works by the count of 9. Then I herd them upstairs for a shower and a change of clothes to get them ready for bed. If it’s an unlucky day (like most days), the shower would flood and I would have to spend another 10 minutes on my knees cleaning the bathroom and the drainage. While the kids run amok.
Then it’s story time. They only get TV time on non-school days after their shower before their story time. I then spend about 10-15 minutes separately with each kid chatting with them about their day while lying next to them in their beds. Sometimes longer because I fell asleep. This is usually about the time Silver Bullet comes home. I’ve had my power nap.
Once the kids are settled up and IN bed, we have dinner. I usually continue for another 1-2 hour of work to make up for my 8 hour work day. After that, it would the chores: laundry, folding, ironing, dishes and household errands in no particular order. Other times, I try to apply for a job, bake, blog, insert-whatever-chores-including-cleaning cats’ puke on the bed, replying phone messages and emails. Or just some TV time with Silver Bullet.
Lights out tend to be waaaay after midnight these days. I blame it on Gilmore Girls. Or John Oliver.
On a typical non-working day:
Pretty much all of the above. The exception is me not logging in for work but that is currently being replaced with driving lessons and other work-related assignments. My time with the kids is stretched out longer as the imps are on half day; with some Fridays being a non-school day. (urgggh!) Most times, the little critters prefer to play outside for hours on end before dinner time. Convenient, but it drives me crazy to do that day after day and intermittently watching them from the front door. Besides, I do want to spend time with those imps too. Them playing outside all the time do zilch for bonding opportunity.
To maintain my sanity and maximise our bonding moments, I have bravely towed them along and ventured out to the next small-ish city by train. We shop a little and walk a lot. Just to kill a few hours of the day before we head home for dinner. The kids get spoiled – from ice-cream to hot chocolates, milkshakes and even Burger King (!). This Mama can be the most obliging! But, it’s getting a bit too chilly to bring them out for big walks these days. I’ll have to get creative soon.
Most times, we have dinner outside if Silver Bullet decides to pick us up on his way home. The rest of our routine after dinner is pretty much the same.
Don’t get me started on breaking up fights, screaming at disciplining the kids, trying to get myself heard when both of the kids are talking over each other for hours on end and then repeating myself one thousand times over. Along with one thousand other things to sort like insurances, mortgages, looking for a potential new place to live and then getting an avalanche of unexpected mishaps.
Just like that, the day is gone. Done! I have not even gone to being an active member of the community or any local mommy groups here in the Netherlands yet! Time really passes us by so quickly.
While I cannot wait for the day to end just so that I could park my ass on the sofa, I sometimes often wish for 5 more extra hours in a day to do other things I couldn’t do in the day. Like blogging. And reading. And I don’t mean skimming reading a Dutch newspaper or my driving theory book, mind you. I mean reading a proper, printed book. Kids’ bedtime stories not included.
Or better yet, doing jack-all; being bored out of my skull.
And, on days when the kids do behave well, I almost want to splurge the extra hours on them.
Funny that. Wait. Hold that thought.
In all fairness, despite the kids driving me crazy day in, day out, I have enjoyed being a SAHM tremendously. Spending all that precious time with Spud and Squirt these past few months has been amazing. My patience grew exponentially and our time together has brought us much closer. Every day I see the subtle changes in them. I watch them grow from under my nose. I’m always (almost!) there first when things happened.
It gives me a different perspective of life. It has been amazing and most rewarding.
Sure I moaned about how I felt my world has shrunk before but when it comes to special close bond I now have with the kids, I really wouldn’t trade it for the world! Plus, they know my look now. You know, that one, silent killer look that would (almost!) have their tails in between their legs. Hah!
Still. That don’t stop me from wondering wtf do I really do all day?! I mean, really? I think we should all get some sort of a degree or certification to justify the “things” we do all day without actually knowing what we do and somehow we get to be an expert in this, no?
So here’s my question: SAHM/SAHD or not, what do you do all day, and STILL be able to not only get some blogging time but replying to comments and reading other blogs?
More rotten over-riped bananas, another reason to get the flour, butter and baking trays out. Another reason to try out a new banana-something recipe. All in the name of advocating our well intended no-waste cause
Even after finding one or two banana bread recipes which I thought was great, my quest for the best banana bread recipe is never ending. With banana bread, there’s always some other recipes that seem a little different, begging to be made.
But! Let me park that for another Fabulous Friday Flavour post. For today, I’m going to go with a muffin recipe.
Only because the kids wanted the muffin version versus the bread version. What’s a mother supposed to do but dutifully obliged with this:
Not only had I obliged, I also decided to make it more interesting by adding a dash of speculaas powder – a mixture of spices using pepper, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger and nutmeg. Speculaas itself is a spiced shortcrust biscuit. They are traditionally thin, crunchy, caramelised, has a flat back but comes with a figure or image stamped on the front.
It’s a Dutch thing too but also consumed in Belgium and in the west and south of Germany.The taste is almost gingerbread-like although Silver Bullet would insist that it’s different. It’s not quite the same he says and he is very proud of the Speculaas he made with his grandfather’s secret recipe.
But this is not about speculaas biscuits either. At least not today.
Today my dear readers, we are going bananas with a touch of Dutch. It’s light, it’s fluffy and it’s moist. Taste and texture wise, I assure you it’s a winning recipe!
Fluffy Banana-Speculaas Muffin
Quick, light and fluffy banana-based muffin with a hint of speculaas flavour