September 14, 2014

Up and Down the French Alps



I often write about French food. 
How can anyone that loves food, not talk about French cooking?! 
All roads lead to Rome, but all culinary paths and trails lead to France, at least for me... 


Unfortunately, I have not been on that side of the Atlantic these days (as some of those more fortunate), but I started my closer relationship with the Alps a long time ago while spending some time in Switzerland and Italy. 

Having some of my family members visiting in the French Alps, more precisely the Rhône-Alpes area, was just the extra motivation and inspiration I needed to write about one of my favorite places. 



This region of France has some amazing scenery: lakes, rivers and mountains. 




The really friendly and easy going people add to the ambiance, making it so easy for one to experience so much here.

They have it all here: 


Grenoble gondola to Bastille


Big cities like Grenoble and Lyon, little Alpine villages 
and unique mysterious places like the monastery 
where the famous Chartreuse liqueur is made.





The food is fresh, wholesome, simple and pure, yet at the same time, complex enough to make the Rhones-Alps the second-most-starred region in the French Michelin food Guide. 




























You can enjoy the most simple and authentic dishes here, like a roasted pig on a stick or



 gastronomic masterpieces in the Lyonnais bouchons (traditional and authentic restaurants associated with Lyon) that offer "cochonnailles" (a pork speciality), quenelles (ground fish dumplings), cervelle de canut (fresh cheese with herbs ), 
praline tarts, 









and the Lyonnais Coussins
 (a dessert made of chocolate and blue marzipan).





Traditional Savoyard and Dauphinoise cooking consists of simple ingredients being used to make specialty dishes like: gratin (potato),


croziflette (pasta dish made with crozets, buckwheat pasta from Savoy),






tartiflette (made with potatoes and Reblochon cheese), diots (Savoyard sausages), and matafan aux pommes (a kind of apple tart).


The most famous Savoy cheeses are definitely: Reblochon, Beaufort and Tomme de Savoie and Ardèche and Drôme goat’s cheeses. 








Ordinary walk trough the Alps; peace and beauty

 There are numerous products marked as the AOC in the Rhône-Alpes, however the only meat worth of this label is Poultry from Bresse, with their white feathers, and blue feet.

Charcuteries from Lyon and sausages stuffed with truffle and/or pistachio etc.. 

Ardèche is renowned for its chestnuts. Another fruit that stands out in the Ardèche, as the chestnut, is the bilberry

For many years, the Tricastin and southern Drôme have been the biggest producers of truffles (85 % of the whole harvest in France), way ahead of other regions that claim to be top truffle producers.  From the month of December, truffle markets can be found throughout the Drôme. 






Montélimar has famous Nougat de Montélimar ! This is a speciality from the Drôme, a sweet, hard paste made from honey, sugar, almonds, egg whites, vanilla and pistachios. Nougat is one of the 13 traditional desserts at Christmas that I mentioned in my earlier post about traditions in Provence for Christmas.
Pogne, a plump brioche flavoured with orange water and a speciality of Valence, was originally made only once a year at Easter.  Now it’s eaten year round. 
 Stuffed with pralines, it is called the brioche of Saint Genix.  
Pralus, the cake and chocolate maker from Roanne, became famous for inventing the Praluline, a delicious praline brioche that is now exported throughout the world.



Walnuts from Grenoble are one of the region’s first AOC products and walnut oil is becoming increasingly popular, just like the Saint Marcellin, a creamy cheese that is made in the Isère.

In the Chartreuse mountains, the Abbey’s monks guard the secret recipe of green and yellow Chartreuse liqueur and elixir, made in the cellars at Voiron.



Obviously, Beaujolais wines are particularly known in this region, but along Rhone, there is so much more to write about. I don’t have enough space to write about all that so I will focus mostly on this region's delicious and authentic food recipes.






Some food specialties to enjoy in the Rhônes-Alpes:

Rosette de Lyon : French Salami
Noix de Grenoble : Nuts
Volailles de Bresse : poultry
Fruits : apricots, peach, cherry...
Fondue Savoyarde: melted cheese on bread
Tartiflette:  Reblochon cheese, with bacon, potatoes and salad in pot
Raclette: Cheese with potatoes, ham, salami and Italian coppa
Gratin Dauphinois: Potatoes with cream.
Ravioles de Romans : Cheese pasta.
Caillette: specialities of local meat.
Soupe a l’Oseille : soup with herbs
Gratin de Crozet : special kind of pasta gratin
Quenelles de Lyon: Knedles (dumplings) with local fish in sauce 
Andouillettes: speciality of local meat
Perches au vin : fish with wine
Lièvre à la royale : jack-rabbit in sauce


Cheeses:
Tomme de Savoie
(Tomme de Chartreuse is one of them)
Beaufort
Abondance
Reblochon: used to cook the famous «Tartiflette »
Bleu de Sassenage : blue cheese
St Marcelin
Picodon d’Ardèche : goat cheese

Ordinary local gathering cannot go without big selection of authentic local cheeses

Sweet specialities:

Crème de marrons
Marrons glacés


Nougat de Montélimar 
Gâteau de Savoie : cake
Tarte aux Myrtille : blueberry tart
Bugnes : fritters
Pogne : local brioche with pralines
Papillotes : filled chocolate



Recipes from this region:


September 11, 2014

Transforming men scarf into a Dress in 4 easy steps

Or How to make summer dress from long scarf in two hours.

I just got this idea...
When I went around some sales last week, Zara store had some interesting long men scarf for six bucks. I just call them interesting since I'm not sure what men would wear these bright and huge shawls. But they looked pretty tempting to me since they were so cheep and good. I usually dig trough thrift stores to get some cheep materials for my crafts and they are sometimes new sometimes not, but I just couldn't miss this opportunity! I had in mind that I could do something with it, and since it was long, the dress first came to mind. My daughter was excited too, she knew that this combination of colors looks best on her.
Well, she was completely right!

FROM THE SCARF SHOWN AT THE RIGHT CORNER TO THE DRESS

So, Tuesday night was little bit longer for me..
But she was so happy in the morning when she found out the final product. I took her measurements and draw the sketch in the evening, and we agreed on length and shape. So I started from there. Only concern was, would it be easy to put it on, since I didn't want to cut any openings for zipper etc..
It supposed to be easy, few steps dress, as I explained to her when we got the fabric (I mean scarf). I wanted in some way to prove that you can really easily convert scarf to dress.
So here is my result:

So from this:
 to this
In few steps

For the steps how was made, look up at my craft blog.

August 12, 2014

Cooking with beer

Last week was an International Beer Day. 



I started to love beer late in my life. In my twenties, beer was too bitter for my taste and I really disliked it.
I think that I started to love beer when I tried some locally crafted, here in Vancouver. I was almost shocked when I found out that beer doesn't have to be bitter, and can actually have very pleasant aroma and  be very refreshing on these hot summer days. Some of the breweries in Vancouver are just factories of beer, but some of them became more like a hip spots with a variety of handcrafted beers, where you can actually taste variety of beers before filling your authentic store crafted bottles to take home or enjoy your beer right there at the brewery. 
Main Street has today more than few good breweries and beside the beer, atmosphere and ambient, is something worth checking out. Some of them also serve some original snacks that nicely pair with a beer. Beer is probably one of the oldest drinks on earth that humans created, as it was derived from the oldest food - grains. I learned there that beer is brewed mainly from malted barley, hops, yeast and water although other sources of fermentable carbohydrate (eg. maize, wheat ..) and other natural ingredients may be added to create different styles and flavours. Today, we can choose from over 100 different styles of beer covering every imaginable flavour. This includes pilsners, pale ales, porters, stouts, barley wines etc.. Lager is probably world's most popular beer and its style varies from the pale gold of a classic Czech Pilsener, through yellow to the deep golden color of the German and Belgian beers. Ales are fruitier and fuller in flavour than lagers due to a higher fermentation temperature and colour can be pale to to the jet black like Guinness.
In some places and cultures, like Czech, Irish or German, beer is part of lifestyle and cultures, like a gastronomy.
Cooking with beer can also bring some extra flavor in your meals. I tried to check what's cooking around the world with beer and was quite surprised with creativity. I was cooking with beer before, but sweets are something new for me.

If you have some extra beer in your fridge, here are some ideas how to use it in your cooking.

Some of the recipes are adopted and modified from the Guinness page.




Lager soup

1 blond roux (3 tbsp butter and 3 tbsp flour)
2 cups of beer
1 handful of sugar
2 or 3 deciliter cream


slices toasted bread

1 pinch ground cinnamon
Egg yolks
Salt and pepper






This soup is a classic dish of students in German universities. Make a roux with flour and butter in a hot pot: melt the butter in hot pan on a stove and add flour, mix shortly, then pour in the beer. Season with salt, pepper and a handful of sugar. Boil and whisk for few minutes, add 2 or 3 dl of cream. You can whip the egg yolks and add into boiling soup as well. Serve with slices of toasted bread. Pinch of cinnamon can be added into this soup at the end. 



July 23, 2014

Hand woven crop-top

Summer collection 2014



With hot days and finally some nice weather in Vancouver, we could enjoy light clothes as well. As I had that in mind, my latest project was sleeveless short top, or something that could be called crop-top.


It goes very well with my recently woven bag.
Along with my summer dress woven previously on my four shaft loom..



This all together adds up to my summer handwoven "couture" collection..
Hmm, what could be next on my loom..?

July 22, 2014

How does it feel….

Now I seem so proud 
about having to be scrounging for my next meal….

The number of family members in my household, interested not only in eating but also in creating meals and cooking, has significantly increased in the last few years. As they say, the apple really doesn't fall far from the tree.
It's a fact: the female part of the family starts to show an affinity and passion for creation - which is reflected through food - early on. The remaining male member have only one passion - tasting and giving -sometimes- overly (hmm..) honest food critiques.

So it's becoming really crowded these days in my already tiny kitchen, but it's really an amazing feeling to sit and wait for the dinner to be served to me in my home.

Few selfies to mark uncovering of the surprise dinner, ladies night in!


It's memorable day so I wanted to mark it in my blog.
Baked stuffed potato - tonight's entrée

Minestrone - tonight's appetizer.















So as Bob Dylan asks "How does it feel.."
It feels great!

One of my young chefs was already a guest on my blog with her list of amazing quick recipes.


Now it's the youngest one's turn. And she has really got some great recepies too.
See it for yourself!


Mila's chocolate pretzels





June 24, 2014

Food World Cup - Group D

More recipes to enjoy from this World Cup. 

This time, since today is an important day for Group D, let's see who is going home..along with England, to enjoy their beautiful dishes. Obviously not Costa Rica, since it is first in a group but it will be decided between Italy and Uruguay.


My favorite here is, currently the best in this group - Costa Rica, with an amazing soup. But I offer you to taste others as well, while I enjoy today's matches.


Olla de Carne - Costa Rican Beef Soup


This is an absolutely delicious Costa Rican staple dish,that used to be served at every evening meal. You will find it on the menu at many "sodas" (small diners) and "restaurantes". It is a stew-like soup with large chunks of beef and vegetables. The broth isn't as thick as the broth found in a typical American stew.

June 12, 2014

Food World Cup 2014 - Group A

With the World Cup on, who wouldn't be excited and inspired with all that is going on there!
As a huge football and food lover, I thought that beside watching games, it would be quite fun to get close and personal with authentic food all these nations are loving at their homes. 
 So here is my first group, in order as they play on World Cup. 
It might not be like that on the soccer field, but my definite winner here is Cameroon with one so exotic and unusual dish – Ndole. 
Judge for yourself! And enjoy watching games with some great food with it! 
Next group is coming soon!
Group A
Cameroon

Ndolé (Bitter-leaf casserole)


Ndolé is the vegetable dish of Cameroon. The dish consists of a stew of nuts, ndoleh (bitter leaves popular in West Africa), and fish or ground beef.


May 25, 2014

Raw, raw ...

Raw food recipes


In the 21st century, food techniques have become so broad and some of the preparation methods so extravagant that they don't even resemble simple regular cooking methods anymore. For instance, Molecular Gastronomy - in other words, experimental food science - is pretty incomprehensible and almost not possible to perform in a regular household. However, while so much was modernizing, some culinary arts were going back to almost prehistoric times. As pollution and and nutrition became closely related and the intake of nutrients minimized in the last fifty years, a new concept emerged - raw food. 
The raw food diet started in newest chapter of history. In the 19th century it was used as a way of healing illnesses, like cholera in USA, but was soon accepted after that as a legitimate healing and recovering treatment in Swizerland

As oppose to trying to explain the entire history of this diet, I will try to give you variety of recipes to try and prove to some of skeptics out there that this food preparation can also produce very tasty and flavorful food. Most of the people today have the opinion that what is healthy cannot taste good. I think that this "brainwashing" is just a product of the fast-paced life, which is lived today, as well as a product of people being "chained" to big fast food-chain corporations, which have succeeded in their goal of selling more by using artificial additives  in their food preparation.



I was inspired to look into the raw food realm by one of my coworkers, a young girl, that made some great desserts this way, so I started to explore more...
Whether you just want a change, or if you need to do it for your health, I have picked up some ideas from my friend Leanna, the web, and books. Here are my choices:

TIP: As you start preparing raw food meals, you’ll soon realize that ingredients are just a guide and approximate, and that your major conductor should be your own taste buds.



TOOLS:In Raw food preparation, it's useful but not mandatory to have these few preparatory tools: Spiralizer and Dehydrator, and of course food processor. But don't worry if you don't have them, spiralizer can be easily replaced by regular grater, dehydrator with ordinary oven and food processor with blender or even coffee grinder to grind all those nuts and seeds.




Have fun and enjoy your healthy, light raw meals!




PRIMI
Raw Pasta Primavera:

Pasta described here consists of veggie noodles and uncooked blended sauce made of tomatoes, spinach or similar. For the noodles you can use any type of long vegetables like zucchini, squash, even   
Zucchini - 2 medium-sized, possibly spiralized or grated into strips like linguine