Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Lemon 'Gugelhupf'

Wishing you a very happy New year with this light lemon 'gugelhupf', or as we wrongly call it in Croatia 'kuglof'! No fancy ingredients but lots of lemon flavour.


2 lemons (zest and juice)
2 eggs
150 g sugar
70 ml oil
120 ml yogurt
60 ml milk
360 g flour
100 g coconut chips (tiny)
1 sachet baking powder
1 sachet vanilla sugar
some raisins

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, coconut chips, raisins, lemon zest and vanilla sugar in one bowl. Use another bowl to mix eggs, sugar, milk, yogurt, lemon juice and oil. Add liquid mixture to the dry one and mix it all well.
Grease a 'gugelhupf' mold and dust it thoroughly with flour. Pour in the mixture and even the top. bake on 200°C about 40 minutes. 

Thaks DannyDado for the recipe.

Frosty Morning

Monday, 26 December 2011

Where is the Real Winter?

Some of my home Christmas decor.

Well, there was no white Christmas this year. At least not in my part of Croatia. Where are those winters when we had to dig a tunnel through the snow to get out of the house? It was more like the end of the winter days; sunny, 6°C and the first snowdrops coming out of the ground.
We, who live in the world temperate zone are accustomed to seasonal changes. But, somehow, there is no 'real' winter anymore. I miss snow. Not only because that wonderful winter atmosphere but because it is an important natural protection from frost and cold in the garden. In Spring, melting snow brings moisture to the ground and now we have to pray for some rain.

I made a round in my garden. I fought my neighbor's chickens again! They ate all of my winter lettuce! Thanks god they cannot reach these beautiful curled kale 'heads'. I hate to fight with people, but these chickens are really too much! And, my neighbor doesn't seem to do anything about my complains.
Kale keeps very well. I really admire the lovely bluish-black colour of kale 'Black Tuscany'. Both, the blue and the curly one are beautiful decoration in the vegetable garden.

'Black Tuscany'

'Dwarf Curled'


I have a new book to read: Permaculture - A beginner's Guide by Graham Burnett. I am really interested in it cause I like working with nature.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

To all my e-friends and followers, to Blotanical gardeners, to all who have been visiting my blogs and leaving kind comments, wishing you a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
May your gardens bloom!

Love, Vesna 

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Baking the Cookies

Baking biscuits is in order.

For the past few days I have been baking Christmas biscuits. Usually, I make up to 15 different kinds of biscuits for Christmas. About half of them are truffles and rolls made of fine ingredients that need no baking. And, of course, there are all that cookies traditionally made in Croatia in this particular time of year.
I know that many people living in the big cities simply buy all the biscuits they need. It is certainly practical but nothing tastes so good as home made food. And, nothing beats that flavors and smells of cinnamon, rum, almonds, coconut and roasted hazelnuts spreading round the kitchen.
Why am I making such a lot of biscuits? Firstly, I enjoy baking them. Traditionally, my brother's family is at my home for Christmas and I just love to serve a wide range of biscuits. Secondly, I need them as a gift. After all, when we step into New year and are all fed up with all that food we make, I put them into deep freezer. They may be kept so for several months.
One of the traditional Croatian Christmas biscuits are:
Pepper biscuits

A wooden mold with carved motives is used to make prints on the rolled dough. If you don't have one, simply cut the biscuits with biscuits tin cutters. As for the ingredients, you will need: 500 g flour, 250 g ground walnuts, 200 g sugar, 2 eggs, 2 - 3 tablespoons of honey, 15 dag lard, 1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper and 1 teaspoon of mixed spices (cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg etc.). Make a dough using all the ingredients. Let it cool into fridge for half an hour. Roll the dough thinly and press the mold to make the 'prints'. Cut the biscuits and bake on 200°C until golden. If you wish, coat the biscuits in powdered sugar.

If you need something easy and quick to make, you can make these
Fig balls.

You will need: 250 g dried figs, 1 orange - juice and zest, 120 g ground walnuts or hazelnuts, 100 g sugar. I pass the figs through meat grinder, but you can use any kitchen machine to chop them up. Add orange zest, walnuts and sugar and mix it all well adding the orange juice until you get an even, pretty thick mixture. Remember, you need to be able to make a firm balls out of it. Roll every ball into sugar and let them dry for a day or two. Keep them into a tin box. I usually serve them into paper cups.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas Table Decor

The Christmas tree made of natural materials decorated the room.

As I have promised, the report from the sixth exhibition of Christmas tables is here! This year golden and copper colors prevailed. All the tables are set in an elegant fashion. Only my friend Marina and I have set this red and white children table.

The picture is worth a thousand words so, enjoy the gallery of the best tables.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Children's Christmas Table

Want some ideas for the children's table? My friend Marina and I have just finished the table for this year's 'Christmas Table' exhibition. The opening is today in the evening.  As always, there will be up to 15 festive tables set for the Christmas dinner. This table of ours represents The Home for the Children and Youths - Lipik . Here, there are some photographs of it. More about the whole event - tomorrow.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Forcing the Bulbs

Forcing the bulbs is not a novelty. And also, it is not a hard thing to do. This Hyacinths and Cyclamen flowers of mine bring me joy and light these dark winter days. 
Usually, the forced bulbs are discarded after flowering but, if you take a good care of them they can survive several seasons. The thing is bulbs get pretty exhausted by forcing and need lots of nutrients to regain strength. 

If you like to have bulbs flowering in winter you have to start early in October. Use first class bulbs for forcing. Early cultivars are better choice. You can force almost everything - daffodils, hyacinths, scilla, muscari, tulips, crocuses...
There is a general rule for all of them - moist soil and good drainage. Use the mixture of potting soil, vermiculite and peat moss to plant them. Hyacinth may be grown only in water in the special forcing vases.
You can plant several bulbs into one pot without letting them touch. Fill in the potting mixture leaving the 'noses' exposed and water well.
Now we need to simulate normal growing conditions for bulb so, the pot should be placed in a dark, cold place. It may be placed into refrigerator too. 
Forcing usually takes twelve weeks by which the roots and shoots form. When you notice them, transfer the pot into bright, cold room. You can make paper cones to cover the shoots to elongate them. Feed the bulbs regularly until they form flower buds.

Cyclamen flower stems just started to form.

 Once they start to open place in the room or on the windowsill but not in direct sunlight. Small bulbs are too exhausted to keep them after flowering but you can keep the larger ones e.g. daffodils or hyacinths. Don't cut the  leaves and stems when they start yellowing. Let them die naturally. Keep the pots in a cold place until late summer or early autumn when you can plant them into garden. They will regain strength and flower again next year.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Let it Snow, Let it Snow,Let it Snow...

Red twigs of Cornus alba 'Sibirica' are covered with snow.

Whoa! It 's been snowing! The garden is cowered with snow, but it won't last, I am afraid. The ground is not cold enough to hold it and the snow is very wet. No wonder, days before today we had Spring temperatures. This cold front came over night and turned the rain into snow. Anyway, I am overwhelmed with joy -  white winters became rarity and I really miss it. Would it be the white Christmas? I hope so.

The park early in the morning; yes it was sunny for a while!

In the garden...

Bird feeders are covered with snow too.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Adorable Blog Reward

It has been some time since the blogger Nelly got me this award and asked to answer a few questions. Thank you, Nelly. She takes beautiful photographs and writes about her life style.

And, here there are the answers to the questions:

1. Where do you get inspiration from when naming the posts on your blog?
I must admit, I find it sometimes rather difficult to give a title to my post. Usually, it holds to the theme of the post. 

2. Describe yourself in four words.
Stubborn, full of energy, creative and outgoing.

3. Your famous saying?
It's not over until it's over.

There is lots of adorable blogs but, am I forwarding this award to Mark  and Alistair. Fellows, if you like, you can do the same as I did, answer the questions and forward them to your favorite blog. Thanks.