31 August 2011

Some beauties about town

The hibiscus are in full bloom right now, and you can see them in all sorts of colours in just about every nook and cranny in Zagreb.
Here is a gorgeous deep coral coloured rose.  This picture was taken at that magic time just before it gets dark, when the light does something ethereal with the flowers.

And a beautifully fragrant gardenia, just because.  Ah, bliss!

23 August 2011

Hot hot hot

We are having a heat wave.  The kind of heatwave that melts the sidewalks and makes the outside feel like the inside of a hot waffle iron.  Pretty normal for this time of year.  In just a few weeks we will all be complaining about the chill in the air, so I'm going to enjoy the heat while I can.

Here's my advice for the busloads of tourists taking walking tours in this heat:

1.  get a huge serving of ice-cream (multiple flavours is recommended)
2.  find a bench under a tree
3.  sit on the bench and eat ice-cream until it is gone
4.  repeat steps 1-3 as often as necessary

Enjoy the last few days of summer vacation!

19 August 2011

Baby Olives

The olives are growing nicely all over the country, and should be ready for harvest around November.  I took some pictures of olives when they were just wee little babies back in June, and I thought I'd post the pictures now.  These are slightly bigger than a Tic Tac!

I'll be sure to post some updated pictures of the mature fruits later in the year.

15 August 2011


The city is empty.  August is the month when pretty much everyone in Croatia goes on vacation.  So Zagreb is quiet.   Parking is really easy to find.  And the few people out on the hot streets are more than likely locals like me, who love the city in the middle of August.

But I'm hardly lounging around.  It is harvest season, and I've been busy loading up on veggies to preserve for the coming winter.  It might be 33C outside, but inside there's work to be done.  Over the last few days,  I cleaned and packed 20kg (44lbs) of dried beans.  In order to make sure the beans were absolutely gluten-free, I had one of the local farmers dry the beans for me on the stalk, then pick the beans with the pods intact.  And I shelled all 20kg of them by hand.  It took me 2 days in our little kitchen, but I did it!  I got 13kg of dried beans out of the whole thing, and that will be more than enough to keep us going through winter and to the end of next spring too.

And that's not all.  I also trimmed, sliced, roasted, vacuum-packed and froze 25kg (55lbs) of fresh eggplant.   It took 2 days from start to finish.  And I've got another 20kg coming tomorrow, so I'll be busy busy busy.  In addition, I've got 25kg of tomatoes to prepare and freeze.  And I'm planning on roasting and freezing 10-15kg of sweet red pepper.

The hazelnuts should also be ready in a couple of weeks, so I'm clearing a space in my pantry for 30kg.  Those can wait in my cupboard for a couple of months to dry out.  Then I'll crack each one, roast in a hot oven, and grind into hazelnut-butter goodness. 

I'm hoping to get my hands on 30-40kg of fresh locally grown chestnuts this year.  I haven't found a local source yet...but I'm looking.  I'm willing to come out and harvest the little beauties myself if I have to...and will take them with the prickly shells still intact.  My plan is to peel, roast, dry out, then grind the chestnuts into flour so I can make a host of gluten-free goodies with them.

There are so many things I want to grow and harvest and preserve and cook and eat.  I can't wait!

14 August 2011

Peka time!

I've heard about peka.  I've seen pictures of peka.  I've had peka described to me.  But for the first time in my entire life, I was able to enjoy peka this summer.

Peka refers to food that is slowly baked in a cast iron pan that is covered with a cast iron lid, and then covered in hot coals.  The cast iron pan and lid is also referred to as a peka. 

Without going into great detail, it is important to get fresh meat or fish, freshly peeled potatoes, some onions, maybe a carrot or two, and a bit of salt.  And arrange it all in the lower part of the pan.

Here, I've cut up one whole chicken, and added a tiny bit of salt and oil, and some fresh rosemary. Then added potatoes.  Then covered it with the cast iron lid (which weighs a ton).  And then placed the whole thing in the outdoor bbq area (known as the rostilj here in Croatia), and covered it with hot coals.  Then baked it for about 90 minutes.

Forgot to mention I also added some onion and garlic.

Really does weight about a ton.

Wood coals have been in the making for about 90 minutes.  This ain't exactly fast food.

Yep.  Looks done to me.

Wow.  The meat somehow comes out roasted and crispy on the outside, but tender and juicy on the inside.  And then there's the potato-alchemy that happens.  They come out golden and crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. 

The chicken worked out great.  So did the goat, lamb and pork ribs that we tried on different days.  I haven't had the chance to try octopus in there...but you'll be the first to know when it happens.

Hope y'all are having a fantastic dinner tonight!  I know I am :-)

07 August 2011

Louise & Mickey..where are you?

I don't usually do this, but I'm going to use this bit of space on my blog to try and find my friends Mickey & Louise who I seem to have lost.  If you are out there, send me a message so we can reconnect.  The e-mail address I have (the telus.net one) does not work anymore :-(

All is well on my end of things.  Hope the same is true for y'all....