Happy Halloween!

Continuing the autumn tradition, both me and my ‘this year’ Jack-O-lantern, wish you all a spooktacular Halloween, full of treats and no tricks!

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Homemade Fall Wreath

It’s that beautiful time of the year, once again! Mother Nature is changing into her colorful clothes!

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. – Albert Camus

Because autumn always inspires me, I wanted to celebrate it in a special way, and what better way than by decorating the house with a gorgeous wreath made out of leaves. Amazing what a jog through the forest can do to my creativity level 🙂

What you will need:

  • Flexible twigs
  • Short straight sticks
  • Leaves both on twigs and individual
  • Acorns
  • Pine cones
  • Thin string – I used a black string
  • Short fabric strip, for a ribbon; / a ribbon.

Instructions – Step by step:

Fall Wreath step by step

  1. I started by using the two flexible twigs to create a circle, as a base for the wreath.
  2. Next, I started adding the green leaves to the circle, using string where needed, in order to fix them in place.
  3. The red leaves were added next, giving the wreath some color.
  4. I used string to fix the cones and the acorns to the circle. Using acorns which still have a bit of tail left, makes the job go much smoother.
  5. The short straight sticks went all around the circle, framing the leaves.
  6. And last but not least, I used the fabric strip to make a ribbon for the wreath. You can go for whatever color you like, I used what I had around the house.
  7. Last step is to find a door, fix the wreath, step back and admire it 🙂 Job well done!

Autumn Wreath

In case you decide to make your own, please consider using only twigs, leaves, acorns and cones which you already find on the ground. I believe it’s much better to recycle what the trees don’t need anymore, rather than to hurt the plants for our entertainment.

I hope you enjoyed it, and you found the instructions useful. Happy Fall!


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Making Homemade Sushi

I absolutely love healthy food, and sushi is definitely my number one favorite. Dating back to the second century, sushi was originally used as a way to preserve the food.The fish was placed in rice, to ferment, which allowed people to keep the fish edible for a longer period of time. Later, the rice would be thrown away and the fish eaten. Clever or what?

Since then, sushi went through a lot of changes, and evolved from a very simple to a very elaborate meal, going from being served at food stalls to being served at some of the best restaurants around the world.

I believe every dish tastes even better when you make it at home, with a lot of love, so last year, I’ve decided to give it a first try. And it worked beautifully, so I want to share my first experience of making homemade sushi.

I know it might seem hard to make, for a beginner, but practice makes perfect, so you can try as many times as you want, until you’re happy with the results. Actually, I was surprised to see my rolls look pretty decent on the first try (beginner’s luck I guess).

What I love most about sushi is probably the preparation process. It teaches you patience in order to turn your food into a piece of art. Maybe this is why I like it this much 🙂 Besides, the longer you wait, the better it taste, so in the end, it’s worth it!

Maki rolls

Ingredients (for 4 rolls):

  • sushi mat
  • 1 cup sushi rice (short-grain rice)
  • rice vinegar
  • 4 nori sheets
  • cream cheese
  • 1 pack smoked salmon
  • 1 avocado, halved, stoned, peeled, sliced intro long strips
  • one carrot sliced into thin long strips
  • one egg for an omelette
  • soy sauce
  • wasabi paste
  • pickled ginger
  • sesame seeds


Preparation:

sushi_instructions1. Cook the rice with vinegar – after boiling it should have a sticky texture – then divide it into 4 equal portions.

2. Cut the salmon and omelette into 1 cm wide strips. Peel the avocado, half it, then cut it into long strips.

3. Put the sushi mat on a cutting board with the slats running horizontally. Place the first nori sheet, shiny-side down, on the mat.

4. Spread the first rice portion evenly, on the nori sheet, leaving a 2 cm wide border along the edge furthest away from you.

5. Place the salmon, egg and / or avocado strips on the rice, 1 cm away from the border closest to you. You can add wasabi, in case you want to make your rolls spicy, cream cheese, ginger.

image_16. Holding the filling in place, roll the mat over to enclose the rice and filling.

7. Repeat with the remaining ingredients for the other 3 nori rolls.

8. Use a sharp knife to slice the sushi rolls into 1.5 cm thick slices.

Excited to see the first rolls look edible, in spite of being told it’s not nice to do this at the table, I’ve decided to play with the food, and see what else I can achieve. Let’s just say the results were delicious 🙂

Inside Out Rolls

Next, I made an inside out roll, for which I turned the nori rice side down, facing the mat, and added the filling directly on the nori, closing it using the mat, and coating the rice roll with sesame seeds. You can see how they turned out like, after slicing the rolls, in the last picture of the post.

Sesame Seeds Maki Rolls 

I absolutely love the sesame seeds sushi, so I had to try making some of these, as well.

I usually leave these for last, as the mat gets dirty and sticky, so you can’t use it anymore for the nori rolls.

sseedssushiHere’s how you make them:

1. Place the sesame seeds on the mat, for the entire length of a roll, twice the size of a sushi roll, in width.

2. With your fingers, place the rice carefully on the sesame seeds, until you cover them completely.

3. Place the filling ingredients, in the middle of the roll.

4. Use the rolling mat and bring the two ends together.

5. Use a sharp knife to slice the sushi rolls into 1.5 cm thick slices.

Nigiri

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These are tricky, because you have to get your hands dirty 🙂 No other way to do them, but they are definitely worth it!

Here’s how I make them:

1. Take one spoon of rice, and shape it in your hand, until it looks like in this picture.

2. Use the egg, salmon strips and add them on top of the nigiri.

3. You can cut 1 cm long strips of nori, and wrap the middle nigiri with them, so it holds the filling into place. Remember to add water to the nori first, become cutting the strips, so it becomes soft, otherwise it will break.

4. Voila! 🙂

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I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and you will find the tips and tricks useful, for when you decide to make it at home. Bon appetit!

Mărțișor – Spring Traditions in Romania

Yes, the first official day of spring, is finally on its way, and in Romania we celebrate the beginning of the new season, in a special way, so I’ve decided to share a few thoughts on the local customs, as I’m pretty sure not everyone heard of them.

 Mărțișor is what we call the Romanian holiday (taking place on March 1st), symbolizing the first day of Spring; the diminutive of marț (Martie for March in Romanian), which means little March.

The custom is believed to have Daco-Thracian origins, dating back 8,000 years! As during the Roman Empire times New Year’s Eve was celebrated on March 1, this day symbolized a new beginning. March (‘Martius’) was named in honor of the god Mars, the god of war but also agriculture, suggesting the rebirth of nature, huge celebrations taking place to mark the new start of the year.

Mărțișor is also the name of a talisman, tied to a red and white string, offered by men to women, on the 1st day of Spring. The old custom of giving is still alive, and it is believed that the one who wears the string and token will be strong and healthy in the year to come. Women wear it pinned to their clothes, until the last day of March, when they tie the string to the branches of a tree, moment when you have to make a wish, and if the tree blossoms, your wish will come true. Now, you can cheat a little bit by picking a fruit-tree, as they are well known for their beautiful spring blossoms, but ….shhht! 😉

The string used to be originally called the Year’s Rope, as a link between winter and spring. The colors are a reminder of the light and darkness, warmth and coldness, life and death, present during the changing season. The Dacians (Romanians’ ancestors) believed these amulets brought fertility, beauty and even prevented sunburns. According to them, mărțișor’s a symbol of war, blood but and also women’s passion.

In the past, the tokens were homemade and the string was created from black and white wool, which later was changed for the very well known red and white. Nowadays, as every other holiday, mărțișor was also turned in a commercial paradise for shop owners, who sell cheap looking mass-production tokens. However, local workshops try to keep the tradition, by selling handmade painted ones, made out of wood or clay. That’s what I call keeping tradition alive 🙂

artstudiomartisorcrAs far as I’m concerned, no gift is better than one you make with your own hands, and you give from your heart. No one knows better than you do, the recipient of the gift, so who better to design it, if not yourself?

Considering this, can you think of a better way to celebrate 1st of March, other than going to a creative workshop and design your own talismans? This year I’ve decided to do just that, and play with some clay and colors. And I must say, it was such a fun experience, which I’m looking forward to experience again, soon!

I’m sure there are better looking talismans out there, but none are made with so much love like mine are 🙂 Besides, buying locally, helps the artists and workshops make a living, which brings the handmade gifts to the number 1 – to buy gift, in my book.

Spring is probably my favorite season of the year. I love the return to life of nature, the gentle sun rays, the spring flowers, the not too cold – not too warm days, and the entire atmosphere overall.

I hope you enjoyed the virtual trip through 8,000 years of history and the Romanian traditions for 1st of March. I wish you all a lovely spring and best wishes for the new season to come!

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Holiday Wishes!

With Christmas just around the corner, both me and Lisa want to send you all, warm wishes for a wonderful holiday season, and lots of love.

Before starting the celebration, please make sure you check off all the items from the holiday to do list (I made a few corrections where needed):

Holiday To Do List:

  1. Buy Be Presents
  2. Wrap Gifts Someone In a Hug
  3. Send Gifts Peace
  4. Shop for Donate Food
  5. Make Cookies Love
  6. Be the See Lights

lisaxmas

Merry Christmas everyone!

Broccoli Christmas Tree

With the holiday season approaching fast, I’d like to share with you my favorite type of Christmas Tree. Building one myself feel much more rewarding, and besides, it’s edible!

What you need

1 broccoli flower head

1 large carrot

1 yellow bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

toothpicks

knife

Instructions

1. Take the carrot and place it on a plate or cutting board.

2. Starting with the largest broccoli heads, place them on the carrot, starting at the base and work your way up, securing them with toothpicks.

3. Cut the bottom of the yellow bell pepper and using a knife, shape a beautiful star. Using a toothpick, place the star on the top of the carrot.

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4. Cut the red bell pepper in half, and then into thin slices. Use the slices as the Christmas Tree’s tinsel.

5. Using the remainder bell peppers, cut them into small pieces, and decorate the rest of tree.

6. Sit back and enjoy 🙂

DSC_3482 Even if it doesn’t look perfect, I think it’s pretty good for a first try. My guests definitely enjoyed it. What do you guys think?