When you are feeling down and out, even a play of solitaire on your computer is too much effort, it is raining outside, it is time for my late mothers’ advice :
“GO AND BAKE COOKIES”
Your house will be filled with the lovely smell of butter and sugar, so you could sell your house immediately, even if you don’t want to. As a result everybody will love you and especially your dog.
It is simple, fast and clears your heart and soul and pleases the palpate.
Here is the basic recipe for baking cookies:
3 parts of flour 2 parts of butter 1 ½ part of sugar a coffee spoon of baking soda a teaspoon of salt zest of half a lemon
The butter should be at room temperature. Cut it into small pieces. Put the flour in a strainer, shake it and mix it with all ingredients. First with a fork and then with your bare hands. If you have a ball which loosens from the bowl, put it to rest for half an hour.
Put baking paper on a baking sheet and preheat it on 180 C.(I have an old fashioned electrical oven).
Roll little balls of a little less than 2 cm (0,75 inches), press it on the mouse of your hand and shape the margins a little bit. In this way you don’t get equally formed cookies, but you don’t mess up your kitchen with rolling it out on a floury place and sticking out with glasses or even use the horrible kitchen utensils you can buy for your good money, which are horrible to use and awful to clean.
Put the cookies on the baking paper. Turn the oven at 170 and bake them for 15 minutes. Do check regularly. Let them cool down and eat. No need to store them as they will be eaten immediately, but if you have to, put them in a jar and hide it in a safe place.
All kinds of ingredients you can mix with the base. Like ginger as much as it is to your taste, cinnamon and white ground pepper, ground coconut – this needs to be as much as the sugar part- and cocoa (about 2 coffee spoons).
Don’t use honey instead of sugar, at least not for health purposes as all the good things of honey get evaporated with temperatures above 40 C (so also in your tea!). Only the sweetness remains which tastes less sweet than any kind of sugar.
The annual market
October 15 is the date of the annual market in Halmeag, which we call târg. Probably you don’t see this kind of markets anymore in Europe, but in Romania you still can. If you have piglets for sale or cabbages, the rigging of a horse or just want to have a good time and talk with other locals, the annual market is the right place to be. Preferably you go there with your own cart and horse and park the cart in a field. In Halmeag we have two markets, one on April 15 and one on October 15. Especially the one in October is nice because the weather can be great, 20 degrees, blue skies and a lovely view over the Fagarasian mountains. If you want to do it properly, you go to the bar of the village in the afternoon and get drunk with the villagers while their herd of sheep is waiting to go home.
Spring is but a brief moment in time in Romania. You’re not yet recovered from the long winter or temperature rises till 12 or 16 degrees celsius. That situation lasts only one week and then summer begins with temperatures above 20 degrees. We hope summer will be fertile this year; last year it didn’t rain for five months and everything was dry, including the grass for the horses.
So, time for a spring-recipe! In Western Europe Easter is already long gone, but in Romania they celebrate orthodox Easter, which is celebrated at the beginning of May. Many Romanians fast in the weeks before Easter and then they don’t eat meat. They call it ‘post’. Recently we visited some Romanian friends and we ate a lovely vegetarian dish. Zucchini, which they call Dovlecei. Tök is the Hungarian variety, which I grow in our garden. Zucchini and Tök are both a Cucurbita, which I think is a nice name for a cat or dog (like ‘my little pumpkin’).
Well, here’s the recipe for zucchini in frak.
Use as much zucchini as you think you need for your company. When you use a medium size of zucchini (10-14 cm) you certainly need one per person. Whisk 2 big eggs per 3 zucchini with some drops of water, salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of flower and whisk some more. See if you like the thickness of the batter and add some more flower when you think is needed.
Cut the stalk of the zucchini and cut them in slices of 0,75 – 1 cm.
Poor a good amount of olive-oil or sunflower oil a a frying pan and heat the oil, but don’t make it so hot is will damp. Prepare a plate with sifted flower and pull the slices through the batter and then through the flower. Do it quickly. Fry the zucchini in the oil until they golden brown. Taste if they are well done enough for you and adjust the frying time if needed.
Serve the zucchini warm with some parsley or garden cress. It is nice with bread or fried potatoes, fresh tomatoes and – what else – spring onions!
Just ten minutes walking away from Merlelor, you will find an old and beautiful Lutheran Church that’s been built on the local cemetery in the second half of the Eleventh century. For as well the in and the outside, you might be able to notice the transition from a Romanesque to a more Gothic style in architecture and design.
Together with Bertina, I walked up to the cemetery, which is situated around the Church. This graveyard is an important monument that presents the historical line of Halmeag families through generations. Something unusual is centered in between the stones; it is a marbled bust of Empress Elisabeth from Austria, better known as Sisi. It reminds us to the fact that Halmeag and the Transylvanian region belonged, until about two centuries ago, to the Austro-Hungarian Empire led by Franz Joseph I.
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