Sunday, August 26, 2012

Plum Strudel

I somehow find myself in the habit of making desserts on Sunday mornings that later on in the day travel with me to various social gatherings. I like this state of affairs because I love baking but I hate throwing food and I don't eat that many sweets that this would fare well if I baked just for us at home. As an added bonus I get lots of practice in this craft and that is what I love the most.

So today I opened the fridge and there were some perfectly ripe plums waiting for me there.

I cleaned the plums (there was about 300 g pitted plums), diced them and added a pinch of salt, two tbsp vanilla sugar, 4 tbsp fine crushed oat flakes and 1 tsp cinnamon. I mixed it all together and set aside.

I rolled out three sheets of store-bought filo pastry, brushed them with 1 tsp olive oil each and sprinkled them with 1 tbsp water each and then rolled one third of prepared plum filling in each sheet and arranged them into lightly oiled ovenproof glass dish.

It looked like this before baking:

And then I put it into preheated oven on 180°C for 20 minutes and 5 minutes more I turned on the oven fan so it will get more golden on top (total 25 minutes with fan, I suspect it would be about 30 minutes total without fan) and now it looks like this:

When it was out of the oven I sprayed it with a little more water and wrapped it tightly in aluminum foil so the steam from the plums will soften the strudel.

At noon it will travel with me to friend's place for lunch and I plan to serve it plain, dusted with some confectioners sugar, but it would also go well with scoop of vanilla ice cream per portion.

Have a lovely Sunday!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Praying Mantis

In my new home I especially like the fact that I can sleep and sit by opened window and that there is so much nature and so many interesting creatures so close by.

Few days ago we had a visitor; wonderful, 15 cm long (plus tentacles) praying mantis in prime condition, green and well hydrated, bright-eyed and responsive. I took lots of pictures and have looked her over well without damaging her and in the end I have showed her out.

She flew magnificently and watching her fly I remembered when I first played Fallout 2. There were swarms of mantis there in the beggining of the game, when I was still weak and my weapons pitiful. It is nice to have so precise memories even though it took an arm and a leg to force myself to store data differently, so not to succumb to rosy retrospection. I still remember silent despair and constant re-loading. Sense of urgency with heartbeat drumbeats in my ears.

Sometimes I wake up in the dark of night and wish for magical simplicity of resolving issues with spiked knuckles or pickpocketed porn magazine. In the morning wishes wane and all that is left is sweet soothing warmth of intimately knowing one's self.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


In the eve before Assumption day mother calls and asks if I will join them for lunch tomorrow ("as you are spending far too much time alone in that apartment"). I say I will think about it and we say our goodbyes.

I bring a cake.

We make the table together, I cut tomatoes as she puts down plates and father finishes mashed potatoes. Everything smells great and is piping hot. We sit down to eat.

During soup I make my announcement:

"In this time since we last saw each other I managed to get back together with I."

Father smirks happily into his plate, knowing that only I will notice his grin.

Mother puts down the spoon, lets out giant sigh of relief and says:

"I'm glad."

Usually, she knows better than to ask anything personal about my life. In usual circumstances I would never have her appraise my business. It's always just sour grapes with her. But this is important to me and I do not want silences, omissions and lies cloud how much this is important to me. So I volunteer the information.

But her reaction surprises and startles me:

"What do you mean: "I'm glad."?!

"I'm glad. I don't like you being alone. It is nice to have someone to talk to and share your life with."

"You're a real parent.", I say, half in wonder; moved and surprised.

She says: "I am. I want you to be happy."

We continue to eat in silence, munchin' away happily from our plates.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Argies @KSET 01Aug2012

I went to see Argies play at KSET on Wednesday. I did not listen to them before but I was intrigued with the description of their music as "combat street rock" and I did my homework going through their stuff on youtube and investigating online so I was prepared. I also wanted to get a taste of what Monteparadisians were gonna get this year, to satiate my newly discovered desire to plan endeavor of going to a festival next year.

When I came to KSET, around nine-ish, an hour later than KSET homepage prophesied for door to be open (to my wild disbelief), club was still not open, and after it opened there was not any live music until about hour and 20 later. I see the wisdom (or should I say profit) in getting the people clubbed and spending money hours before gig they paid to see but it ticks me off beastly nevertheless. Oh well, cest la vie. Very hot vie also, because KSET was melting down from accumulated heat, and no cold beverage in the world could put a dent on that heat.

First I got to see No More Idols...

... and they were very, very dissapointed by low turnout but once they started to play they were great. Added bonus was that familiar crowd made NMI play very playfully and unrestricted, like they were alone, somewhere on a practice session, communicating with friends. I felt bad at one point not being so familiar with the scene as blondie there (far left on the photo there) sang one song with NMI and I could not place him. Blondie surely belongs to another band becouse he without doubt has mad performing skillz and I'm sure this will all be revealed in due time.

40-ish minutes later, Argies climbed the stage - and they were a different class altogether.

They started with a few chords from London Calling, just to get our attention and they continued on to play fiery mix of their own songs and covers - I forgot half of them but I remember we heard Nicaragua Sandinista, I fought the law, La Bamba, Psychokiller, Guantanemera. They were beautifully set up and I can't remember I ever heard drums in KSET being set up so explosive and loud but it worked wonderfully, not overpowering other instruments and giving whole performance one nice old-school big-space sound.

One other thing I noticed is how they are very clean, exquisitely well prepared warderobe-wise (wearing clothes that look great on stage and also can go through all daily errands including travel and high-end dinners), sensibly chosen shoes and it all looked deliberate and planned ahead. I liked that very much as I keep good dress code and travel-packing at very high regard. Last but not least, their bass player is so damn hot he deserves richly to be spoken of separately from on-stage performance.

I also decided to include one more photo, 'cause Argies were such good sports and they let the stage to be overtaken by home team a bit more:

We all had a good laugh and it was great, great night out.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Green Bean Stew

Green beans are in season and I'm enjoying the fact I can now make light and quick stews having new place with great kitchen and all. This is one incredibly simple yet satisfying dish and I'm posting this quick recipe here to remember to use it many, many more times.

Serves 3-4:

small pack of fresh green beans (cca 300 grams)
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, cleaned and cut to smaller chunks
2 potatoes, diced
1 tsp ground sweet paprika
1 tsp salt
pinch black pepper
small sausages, frankfurters or wieners

Fry onion in small skillet on medium temperature until it is translucent, add paprika and stir until it is nice and fragnant. Add carrots and green beans and enough water to cover. Cook half-covered on medium flame for 10 minues. Add diced potatoes. Turn heat on low, add salt and cook for 10 minutes. Add sausages of your choice (whole or cut into smaller chunks) and cook for 10 minutes more. Taste. Adjust seasonings. This quick stew tastes great both hot and cooled down (if chosen sausages aren't too fatty) , keeps well in the fridge for two-three days.