Thursday, 19 January 2017

Homage to my Beloved Mother

The other day I invited a few Italian colleagues and friends for a brunch, Romanian style.

I woke up at 6:30 Am to make the dough for the bread and dried fruits rolls because both had to rise twice before baking them.

While doing that, my thoughts went to my mother from whom I learned to cook and bake from a very early age.

She used to cook the most delicious soups in the whole world, bake the most fragrant sweets cheese pies in this entire universe, and I used to think I will never be able to make any of that. I seriously believed she was a sort of witch or something.

I wrote a few phrases about her in my short eBook, published on Amazon. Those who managed to read it, know about it. Anyhow, there is going to be a lot more about her and my father in my integral autobiography, which will be published in hard copy in the next few months.

My mother will turn 82 shortly, same as my father. She seldom cooks nowadays as she hasn't been very well in the last 10 years.



Born in 1935 when Romania was a Kingdom under the reign of Carol II (from the dynasty of the House of Hohenzollern), she worked for rich people on their land from an early age until her parents became relatively wealthy.

My mother also lived and survived the atrocities and the hunger of the World War II, to be catapulted in completely opposite types of political games.

From 1947 to 1970 the country underwent several changes of names and rulers. From Kingdom to Socialism, from Socialism to Popularism, and from there to Communism; back and forward into an absolute chaos. Many individuals fought for the supreme power and no mass media to let people know what was happening, however, life moved on.

During this turmoiled period, my parents (born in the same year and village) met, fall in love, and got married in October of 1953.

One day, my parents powerless witnessed at how all their land disappeared in an intricate and absurd system called Collectivisation.

None of my parents remembers exactly which year that abomination took place for them (the Collectivisation was made in stages), but my mother suddenly turned into a slave on her own land. My father was "luckier" because he had a job in the city.

In 1967, when Nicolae Ceausescu became the President of Romania, new rules were imposed and many things changed again. At first, was just confusion, then Ceausescu started to "dream big" for the country. He did it all on his own, whatever he commanded was law (obviously) and people paid a huge price, some with their lives.

Between 1954 and 1977, my mother became pregnant 12 times. Minus a miscarriage and a sibling (a boy) who passed away when he was just 6 months old, she still managed to raise 10 children.

During all these years, pregnancy or not, my mother was forced to work the land for the state every single day in which the weather permitted. That explains the abortion.

She wasn't allowed to stay home, not even in the last days of the pregnancy. She could have brought us into this world while seeding potatoes, weeding corn, harvesting hemp or beetroots. However, the Universe was "good" to her and didn't let that happen.

My first siblings (2 sisters) were born at home, with the assistance of a midwife, and the rest of us had "the luxury" of a Maternity house in the village.

In 1956 my father was conscripted into national military service for three years. My young mother remained home with two babies (one had 6 months and the other 1 and 7 months of life) to raise on her own in a tiny house made from dried mud.

The stories she's told me from that period tore my heart apart. Every single time she speaks about her life, I can't hold back my tears.

She was scared of lightening and when was about to rain, she used to take her two little girls in her arms, sit in a corner of the room, and cry her heart out from terror.

One New Year's Eve, she barricaded herself and the little daughters in the only room they had, terrified that a drunk person could get in and hurt them. "Outside was so much joy, children were singing traditional songs, the bells were ringing... and we three were whipping in despair, longing for your father to come home... Then someone started to heavily knock on the door, but I was too afraid to open. The person spoke: 'Maria (Mary), I know you're in there, I can hear you breathing, please open the door.' It was my brother-in-law and I still didn't want to show my face, he could have been inebriated. I couldn't take that risk. But he insisted promising that will knock the door down if I didn't unlock it. So I did, against my will. He wasn't drunk and invited me to go to the next house where another brother-in-law had a gathering. I said I can't go with two babies and bother everyone. I was holding one child - the youngest - at my chest, and the oldest by one hand so he bent and grabbed the oldest in his arms and run away. I had no other choice than following him. My heart was heavy and I had no desire of celebrating. Inside the house was a warm atmosphere and everybody was listening to Radio Deutsche Welle (Free Europe). It was utterly prohibited listening to such transmissions, so we carefully locked the doors after us. Mihai (Michael), the former king, was giving his annual speech from exile. He was always clear and concise, with a nice calm voice that touched your heart in profundity. I still remember some of his words: 'Don't lose hope, my people, we will soon be reunited.' And we all started to cry as we were groping in the dark."

It was a different world, you see, which only a few remember.
As I said, I might not be lived a war, but when I listen to my parents' real tales, a storm of conflicts assails me. I can feel their pain and fear, the regrets of broken dreams, the tiredness, the complete desolation and helplessness, and I cry with them on wounds that never healed and scars that will forever hurt.

So, I want to thank you, MOTHER, for everything... You did what you could with what you had. Your memories might fade away in your mind, but I am putting them on paper so they will live eternally.



Thank you for teaching me (even if sometimes indirectly) to cook and bake, to sew and weave, to be elegant and gracious, to be a sensible person so I could be able to take care of myself in a different era which, in some way, is still the same.

It is for you - and my father - that I am fighting now. May the Universe be on my side. <3

If you appreciate it, don't hesitate to like, share, comment, or join me on Facebook, on the other blogs I own: Carpe Diem De gustibus non est disputandumPovestea Isabellei, and on LinkedIn.
Thank you for your visit. See you soon, amazing human being.


In case you love reading, please have a look at my eBook (the first fragment of my autobiography), and write a review if you have two minutes. You will be helping me to help my parents.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Potatoes and smoked pork soup


This recipe is a variant of this one Broccoli, beetroot and potatoes
It's perfect when you have a cold/flu, or you are ill. It's also indicated when you are on a diet.
Gluten free and absolutely delicious. You need to try it. You will love it. I promise.
Drop me a line if you need any help or have questions. I cook since I was a child, and I used to not like soups, now I adore them. There is nothing more tasty and colourful. 
All my friends enjoy it extremely. For good reasons. 

Please, be sensible with the quantities and if you don't have an ingredient, add something else. Be creative.



Degree of difficulty: low-medium (depending on your cooking skills)
Preparation time: 25-30 minutes 
Servings: 3 - 4 

Ingredients
  • 3  medium size potatoes. White, red, mixed. Maybe not sweet potatoes. They taste weird... to me.
  • 1 yellow onion. Or red, white, shallots
  • 1 medium size carrot

  • 1 green pepper. Or red or yellow
  • 200 g smoked pork. If you don't have smoked, you can add unsmoked. The flavour will change dramatically. Anyway, you can add smoked bacon or any type of meat you prefer: chicken, beef, duck
  • 2 tablespoons oil. Olive oil is my favourite, but you can use whatever you have and like
  • 200 ml tomato juice

  • 3 -4 cups (200 ml one = 1 l) of water - depending on how liquid (thick) you want to have it. I would suggest you add first 2 cups, then wait to see if it's how you like it, then add others
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme or savoury (English?) or a few leaves if it's fresh. Personally, I wouldn't make any soup without thyme. It's my favourite herb ever and I am emotionally attached to it. If you decide not to add it, the taste will change a lot, but it will still be very tasty.

  • Optional fresh parsley, just a few leaves, to ornate and give more colours and flavour to your soup
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (depending on your taste)
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon of paprika (chilli)

Method of preparation
  • Prepare a pot or saucepan of the size you desire/have, add the oil
  • Wash the meat and chop it into 2-3 cm cubes. Put it in the saucepan over all the vegetables (onion, peppers, and carrots). Leave 5 minutes at medium heat, stirring from time to time
  • Mince the onion and put it in the pot on top of the pork, leave it for 2 minutes, very slow cook
  • Wash and clean the carrots, use a greater or cut it into small cubes (3 ml, less than 1 cm)
  • Dice the pepper, add them (the carrots too) over the onion to cook for 1 minute, weak fire
  • Wash the potatoes, chop them (1 cm diameter or as you wish)
  • Pour  the hot water, add the diced potatoes, cover, and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes
  • Put salt and tomato juice - leave 2-3 minutes, then the minced parsley, check the taste; add more salt and paprika if you desire, plus the minced fresh parsley. Ready.
  • Serve it hot with toast, fresh garlic bread, croutons, any type of bread. It's absolutely delicious.


Mentions



  • Every ingredient could be replaced with whatever you like. This statement is valid for any of my recipes unless stated otherwise. If you don't like peppers, don't add any.
  • I added some cabbage on this one. But I always add or take ingredients to this recipe. Sometimes I add peas, chickpeas, lentils, and so on. The sky is the limit.
  • Please don't eliminate the onion, that's what gives it a special flavour. 
  • Do your best to add thyme, I am sure you'll like it.
  • If you cook for more people, double the quantities, and vice-versa. 

  • For a vegan, vegetarian version, just eliminate the meat/pork. The taste will change, for sure, but it will still be delicious. I have tried and I was delighted.  I'll put the recipe soon.


If you appreciate it, don't hesitate to like, share, comment, or join me on Facebook, on the other blogs I own: Carpe Diem De gustibus non est disputandumPovestea Isabellei, and on LinkedIn.
Thank you for your visit. See you soon, amazing human being.

In case you love reading, please have a look at my eBook, and write a review if you have two minutes. It will mean the world to me.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy 2017! May all your dreams come true!


My dear readers,

2016 wasn't a great year for many people I care about. For many months I watched them struggle, cry and curse the day in which they were born. It broke my heart because I knew exactly how were they feeling. I wished I was able to take their pain away, but I don't have this power.
I prayed and hoped they will come out alive, possible in one peace. Some of them made it and are out of danger, but there are others who still have many battles to fight.

In this last day of this not so happy year, my thoughts go to the people who many times feel and are tempted to give up: I have witnessed many miracles in this Universe, I beg you, please, don't let go. You can do it! I believe in you.


I have my battles, you have yours.
Nobody is alone, don't pull the curtains, light a candle instead, watch its dancing flames on the wall and dream. Because "If you can dream it, you can do it!" (Walt Disney). It's hard, but Never give up.

The bellow image is the what I see every time I am in my room (except the white writing which I added it using a program).
These are my resolutions, how many do you have?


It looks childish and ridiculous, right? I couldn't agree more, but it gives me strength and determination when the vicissitudes of life make me forget that I CAN DO IT!

I wish a FABULOUS 2017! May all your dreams come true.


I can't thank you enough for all your support. I will pray for every each of you this night. 
God bless!

In case you love reading, please, have a look at my first eBook (a fragment of my communist childhood) and write a review if you have two minutes. It will mean the world to me.

If you appreciated, don't hesitate to like, share, comment, or join me on Facebook, on the other blogs I own: Carpe Diem De gustibus non est disputandumPovestea Isabellei, and on LinkedIn.
Thank you for your visit. See you soon, amazing human being.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Oranges at Christmas is live!


When people asked me what will I do on Christmas day, I said I will be home alone, once again.
Same as last year, they felt sorry for me. Which meant they care and I was grateful.
When I tried to explain why I needed to be alone, nobody really understood.
I have to work on my future and this holiday is what I dreamed about for the last two months. I cannot postpone the pursuing of my dream any longer. It is now or never.

On Thursday, and Friday I have worked for more than 42 hours on one of my short stories which I have submitted for publication on Amazon Kindle. No, I didn't write it in two days, I only gathered some new material, added the last bits, modified and corrected all the errors I was able to find and prepared it for publication. I read it five times to make sure it is written in decent English. I couldn't find them all.

The eBook was supposed to be published in 72 hours, but it was live in less than 6. Here is the link.
I am absolutely in tears from emotion. It's an amazing story, please focus on that and not on my raw English.

I am utterly aware of the fact that I wasn't ready, but I will never be ready, so I took my chances and I am proud of myself. 

On Friday night I went to bed at 7 in the morning, which was actually Saturday morning, only after I managed to submit my story, and clicked on publish. But I couldn't sleep for more than 40 minutes. I was too excited and I wanted to keep working on my other stories.
Most of the people I spoke with about my intention, remained silent or said I should wait until my English will improve. But for me, it's a matter of life and death to get published before the end of this year. At any cost, no matter the consequences.

I did what I could to the best of my present abilities. It was exhausting and I hope I won't get only critics. I deserve better.

Now I am working on two of my other stories which I am planning on self-publishing (on paper) in the next two months.
I don't have any spare minute, as I said, it is NOW, or NEVER!

However, I wanted to celebrate Christmas so I cooked some traditional food from my country: cabbage wraps (sarmale), and polenta. I planned on baking bread and sweets, but it is too much for me. I will do it for the New Year's Eve.

The atmosphere in the house is festive. I have a small Christmas tree, lights, fake snow, candles, carols, a fireplace video, oranges...


But I don't have my family, my siblings, the real Christmas tree, the fire in the stove, the natural snow. I could have gone home, but even so, wouldn't have been the same. We are adults now, we stopped believing in Santa Claus, we don't find snow so amazing as when we were children. It is freezing outside as it's freezing inside our souls. The cookies don't taste like the best cookies in the whole world. The vicissitudes of life made us bitter and anxious. The magic is gone.
I only have my memories from a communist regime. An atheist regime which didn't consider Christmas at all. There were no special programmes on TV, nobody was allowed to mention the birth of Jesus, Santa Claus was called Father Frost. He came to schools and kindergartens and gave us a pen, a notebook and maybe a few candies. And we were always so happy and grateful.

We didn't care that the communist regime decided to cut the power light every day or to stop the running water. My family was happy to have a bath in a movable bathtub. It was enough for everyone because they didn't know better. But was it really that way? Somewhere deep down in my heart, I was dreaming about having a hot shower every day in a beautiful bathroom.

During that time chocolate, toys, oranges were almost impossible to find. But my parents and older siblings did their best to find all this stuff somewhere far away from my village. They went to the cities around and stayed in various queues for hours to buy a few oranges and chocolate. Some shops would only sell you one chocolate at the time and maybe half of the kilogram of oranges. People fought for bread, milk, meat, and every essential aliment for surviving. There were no fancy shampoos, no face creams, no shower gels, just hard soaps which we thought were a gift of the Gods.
It was difficult to find a gift for Christmas, so difficult that you might think I am lying.

During my childhood, I have never, ever seen any toys in the village shelf shops, that's why I have always been so amazed when Santa Claus, THE real one, managed to bring us what we've asked for. Toys we've seen on TV or read in books about.

My mother told me that she used to go twenty kilometres on foot to find these toys. Why on foot? Because when it snowed a lot, we were cut off from the world. She's told me that the snow was so high that very step she took, made her sunk into the snow so she had to stop and helped the leg to come out with her hands. It was difficult and many people would have never done it. My mother did.
If you're asking yourself why did they wait until the last minute, well, they had no other choice. The toys were sold in the city shops, two weeks before Christmas. And most of the time were already sold before seeing the shelf. Relatives, friends, friends of friends paid large amounts of money for specific toys. People like my mother, who didn't know any shop assistant, had to go from a shop to another,  and pray God to find some toys, any toys for that matter.

One year, when I was maybe two years old, my mother asked me what I would I like Santa to bring me. I don't know where I have seen a red telephone in my life, but that was what I wanted. I am referring to the old phones like this one.


And Santa brought me that exact phone, a toy, of course. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was a miracle. A dream come true.
How did he know mother? Where did he find it?” I was in tears from happiness and I drove my mother crazy for months and months with it. I made it rang over and over and over again. Poor mother. Until it got broken and stopped ringing. I was devastated. I am sure my mother was relieved. Finally, some peace.

The next year my mother asked again what do I want and I said a red telephone. I was crazy about it. And Santa brought me the red phone again. Unbelievable!

And the year my older siblings who were living away brought oranges to my mother was absolutely magic. The youngest of us have never seen them before and had no idea of what they were. I am not sure my mother knew either. And when she peeled one of the colourful fruits, the house filled with the most wonderful smell in the whole universe.

Since then, every time I smell a peeled orange my mind goes back to that Christmas evening during one of the worst communist regimes that ever existed in Europe. I cannot stop crying when I think how difficult my parents' life has been. The dictators were swimming in countless delicatessen and my parents, who worked night and day, had to stay in a queue for hours to buy a toy or a chocolate to their children. Luckily, we were farmers, we had everything we needed and even more, except for toys and chocolate.

Nowadays, Christmas doesn't make me feel the same. I prefer to celebrate it alone and go back into my sweetest and priceless memories when I was with my family until I will make my own.

This is a small fragment of the autobiography that will soon become public.

I want to express my profound gratitude to those who kept encouraging me to write, despite my poor English skills. You have saved a lost soul.
May the Gods you believe in, bless you and your dearest ones forever. 

If you want to read my book, please purchase it from here. And if you feel particularly good this Christmas, please spend some minutes to leave a review on the book's page. I know it's a lot to ask, but I can't express in words how much would mean to me. 

I am absolutely exhausted, I slept 4 hours in 3 days.

I wish you all a Happy Christmas with loads of oranges and chocolates.  

Ps. If you're having trouble downloading the eBook on iOS just place your order via Safari rather than the Amazon app. A friend of mine had encountered this. 


You can find me on Facebook, and on the other blogs I own: Carpe Diem De gustibus non est disputandumPovestea Isabellei, and on LinkedIn.
Thank you for your visit. See you soon, amazing human being.


Friday, 16 December 2016

Fasting for 3 days resets the immunity system


Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a nutritionist and I am not telling anyone to do the following.

Have you ever heard of the fact that fasting is good for your health?

Research had shown that fasting for 3 days can regenerate the entire immune system.
Especially indicated for people who had chemotherapy.

How does it work? 
"When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged." -from www.telegraph.co.uk/.

It's not 100% certain and the opinions vary from a specialist to another. 
Nutritionists sustain that is not good for the body, doctors say it can't be bad. 

To be honest, when I heard that it could be good against aging, I didn't listen to anyone else and I went for it. My brother told me about it and I am grateful.  
I've done it twice in two months and I had no side effects, however, the cycles should happen every 6 months, don't do it so often like me. 

You need to know that I really love eating and I am not fond of drinking water or any sort of liquid except coffee and whiskey. :D
Then, I don't like diets at all and I am very bad with them.

If you know me, you know that I am in great shape despite the love of food. 
You might think I am lucky. It is not being lucky, I walk/run to work and back (50 minutes + 50 every day) and I balance my food. I don't eat biscuits, candies, or processed food. I don't put sugar in my coffee, I don't drink juices of any kind.
I wrote an article about it, read it if you want. 
I do eat everything I want, though: chips, crisps, pasta, bread, chocolate (mostly Raffaello), etc. But as I said, I balance everything.
If I eat Raffaello or crisps I don't have dinner. Not sure how to explain that. Chocolate is very caloric, if you eat 100 grams it means that everything you eat after that, will be transformed into fat. 
If you have biscuits for tea, you should have just a salad in the evening. That's balancing. 
You got it right? I can assure you that is not difficult to do. 

However, let me tell you what happened and how I felt during these fasting cycles. 
First of all, I lost no more than 1.5 kg, which was very annoying, I hoped for more.
However, I aimed for a new immunity system which is infinitely more important than weight. 

Secondly, it's been very easy. I prepared myself psychologically for two days. 

The week I've done it for the first time, my body was fighting against some sort of infection. I had a very high fever with chills and unbearable headache for more than 4 days. It was my holiday so I didn't miss a day of work. 
I don't know what was wrong with my body and I don't care, because I am very well now. Doctors are not people I like to see.
I started fasting on Friday morning when I still feeling very poorly. The headache was absolutely dreadful. I didn't want to take any pain killer without food in my stomach, so I endured it for the whole day. I drank 2 liters of plain water and that was all.

Image from Dreamstime

On Friday morning, the headache was gone completely, same with the fever and the chills. 
I didn't feel very hungry, I don't know why, so it was fairly easy. 
I even went out on Saturday night and smelled/saw food everywhere, I was tempted because I really love eating, however, I didn't give up. 
On Monday morning I woke up at 5 Am and had a coffee and 2 biscuits. I love coffee, but I am not fond of biscuits. They tasted amazing anyhow.  

The second cycle of 3 days I started on Wednesday afternoon and finished on Saturday evening (last week). It was a little more difficult, I felt quite hungry from the very first day, but I didn't give in. And once again, on Thursday morning I woke up at 4 Am with a terrible headache. Curious how I don't normally have headaches.
Anyhow, I couldn't drink water for more than half of the day because I felt very sick and threw up twice. It was clear that my body was fighting against something again, and I am sure this fasting cycle helped a lot.
My health is fundamental for me, so I didn't give up. I am actually very proud of myself as I realised I could do anything if I have a clear purpose and goal.
I used to despise any sort of diet, I used to think I could never fast for more than a day, I used to think that water is worse than poison, and here I am today feeling happy when I am hungry because I know that it is actually good for your health. 

3 days of fasting, makes you appreciate the food even more than before. 

I feel absolutely amazing and I will be doing another cycle in March maybe. I'll see. I am thinking February, but it is advisable to have 1 cycle every 6 months.

If you are thinking of fasting, speak with your nutritionist or doctor before. And try not to be alone during this time, especially if you feel dizzy when you're hungry.

Don't do it to lose weight, it is not a great idea. You might lose 1 or 2 kilograms, but you'll put them back very soon if you don't balance your calories.
Don't cook and avoid smelling or seeing food. I know it's difficult, but anyone can do it.
Personally, I had a box of Raffaello close to me and I didn't give in until my 72 hours of fasting were gone. 74 actually. My God, they were delicious! And the bread is ambrosial. Just as I dreamed about.


What I came to understand after this experience, is that you can fast and diet for as long as you want if you really want it. It's all in your power. Mindset. 
Ask yourself how important is for you to fast or diet, if you give up, it means it is not that important.

Please, if you appreciated, don't hesitate to like, share, comment, or join me on Facebook, on the other blogs I own: Carpe Diem De gustibus non est disputandumPovestea Isabellei, and on LinkedIn.
Thank you for your visit. See you soon, amazing human being.