the Life and Times of Warrior Woman

blonde recluse. nihilarian pronk.

Archive for July 2012

un-recipe: the pesto that wasn’t.

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Ever have a day when you go to the kitchen with full intention of preparing three hundred tasty dishes for the next week – only to come out with three failures by the end of the day?  Even when you’ve followed the recipe precisely?  Or cooked a tried and true, old, from-the-archives recipe?

That’s kind of what happened to me yesterday.

I wouldn’t call these things that I cooked complete disasters (they were all liked and eaten, interestingly), but they were definitely not something I expected to turn out.

Fresh basil is usually very pricy here.  At times it would go for nearly $10 per bunch.  So when I spotted one for about a dollar, I grabbed it. 

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I knew you could make pesto from it, and I’ve always wanted to make pesto.  This is the recipe that I’ve wanted to follow.  I lacked pine nuts or walnuts, but I had this bright idea to substitute them either with chestnuts or almonds. 

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There they are.  A nice generic 200g pack of almonds.  Usually very pricy too, but my father scored three bags in a discount store.

Olive oil is even pricier than basil here, so I went for regular sunflower.  And I didn’t want to add cheese immediately, because I wanted this sauce to keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

Already not very pesto-like, is it?

I set out to milling (or is it grinding?) nuts.  See, I don’t have a food processor.  Food processors are for sissies.  Instead, I have this.

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This, is a manual nut grinder.  Sort of like meat grinder, only for nuts.  I inherited this from my grandmother.

Now, in an ideal world, it’s supposed to be secured to the edge of the table.  Unfortunately, our family’s kitchen table, nor countertops, are compatible with it.  So I had to hold that thing, make sure nuts were not spilling out, spin the handle, and catch ground almonds in a bowl, all at the same time.  I think I gained about two pounds of muscle on my arms from that.  Not too sure, though.

So I ground nuts.

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About one handful.  They’re pretty coarse, but when they’re mixed with other ingredients, it’s perfectly fine.

I tore basil leaves from the bunch.

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This is where the recipe calls for food processor again.  I decided to use a blender instead.  I have two.  One immersion-type, one regular.

Guess which one I went for first.

Yep.

For the record, immersion blenders are bad for pureeing herbs.

So I scraped nearly unchopped basil leaves from blades and bowl, and put it all into my regular blender.

Pulsed a bit.

Added oil.

Pulsed a bit more, added salt, three good pinches, and pressed garlic.

Added more oil, pulsed a bit more, added nuts, pulsed.

Nope.

I didn’t like it.  Nor its taste, nor its consistency, nor quantity.

So I added a tin of peeled tomatoes to it.  Pulsed some more.

Et voila!

It became a very tasty, very spicy sauce all of a sudden.

Its only downside?

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Its colour.  Yeah, yeah, it looks like very runny poop.  But don’t let it stop you!  You can use it as pizza sauce if all else fails, or with meat.  I caught my mum just spooning it and eating it with bread.

Ingredients:

  • one bunch basil
  • five cloves garlic, pressed
  • contents of one tin of peeled tomatoes
  • vegetable oil, I’d say about… 5 T
  • salt, about three good pinches
  • ground almonds, maybe 1/3 cup

Method:

Put everything in a food processor or blender.  Run until smooth.  Don’t forget to pause as per manufacturer’s instructions.

Today is its third day in the fridge, and it’s still good.  Some separation during storage is okay, just mix it with a spoon before using.

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You know how they say.  Don’t judge the sauce by its colour.

… No, I know, they don’t really say that. 

Whatever.

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Written by Alexandra

30 July 2012 at 2:09 pm

recipe: semolina lemon cake.

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I picked this recipe from a cooking magazine focussed on recipes for losing weight.  And although the amount of sugar puts weight-losing qualities to question, this is still a great and simple recipe for a five o’clock dessert.

You’ll need:

  • 100 g semolina
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch vanilla sugar
  • 100 g sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • Optional: berries, nuts, and cocoa (can be quick, like Nesquick), for decoration

Method:

Juice the lemon.  I used an antique (well, anything older than 52 years old is considered antique by law where I live) citrus juicer I inherited from my grandmother.  Who inherited it from her mother.

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This thing deserves a better picture.  Maybe when there’s decent light.

Anyway, so you juice the lemon.

Mix the juice with semolina flour and half the sugar.  It should be a bit crumbly, but also paste-like.

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In a separate bowl, beat egg and remaining sugar, and vanilla sugar.  It should be a touch foamy.

Pour egg mixture to semolina mixture.  Mix together.

Pour into a baking dish.  Since the amount of batter is pretty small and I don’t have a small dish, I used silicone cupcake forms.  It only filled five of them.  It doesn’t raise much, if at all, so you can make them pretty full.

Bake for 30 minutes at 150C.

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And since it’s my life’s goal to win a kitschy food decoration competition, this is what I did to mine after taking them out of the oven.

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I haven’t actually tried them yet (just made them less than two hours ago), but they smell amazing, and the batter was tasty (though very, very sweet.  Maybe next time I’ll lower the amount of sugar).

I’ll try to veganise them next week.  Since it’s semolina-based, leavening shouldn’t be an issue.

[Note:  Nesquick is not sponsoring this post.  Nestle has never heard of me.  If they were to hear about me, they wouldn’t like me, because I generally avoid Nestle products.  It’s just that Nesquick was the first thing to come to mind when I thought of quick cocoa mixes.  Darn corporations and their endless money.]

[Note 2: I used Brumi. … They’re not sponsoring this post either.]

Written by Alexandra

28 July 2012 at 8:16 pm

grinders and grief.

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How long does grieving last?  I have a nudge that it lasts as long as the grieving person is able to retain memory of the person gone.

I needed a coffee grinder today, for a recipe disaster that I will share later.  I took it from the top shelf and removed the lid.  There it was.  The last tiny teaspoon of coffee my grandmother ever ground.  She loved coffee, and she was great at tassology.  Her heart was weak, so she would only allow herself one small cup of instant coffee with milk in the morning, and maybe a tiny-tiny cup of Turkish-style coffee, on those days where she’d opt for tea in the morning.

I smiled at my discovery and immediately added this small teaspoon of grounds to coffee pot, followed by a couple more spoons and water.  I made three cups of coffee (one very weak) to share with mother and brother.

The least I could do in remembrance of my grandmother.  She was a great woman, and I love her very much.

coffee grinder edit

Written by Alexandra

28 July 2012 at 7:16 pm

the old adage.

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I started this blog because that’s what I do.  I start blogs.  I’ve been blogging since 1999 (it wasn’t called that way then).  My attempts to make money from it failed so far.  My attempts to keep a regularly updated personal blog failed as well.  I’d like to explain why, but I think if I knew, I would’ve corrected the mistake by now.

I like writing.  It’s an outlet, always have been.  I like blogging.  I like sharing, even though after all these years I still haven’t found that balance between sharing and oversharing.

I like writing about many things.  Sometimes I’m afraid that these things are too many to fit into one singular blogs.  But when I try to open separate, so-called ‘niche’ blogs, none of them get updated ever.  Yet when it’s thrown into one blog altogether, it’s kind of a mess.

And I guess it’s a reflection of me.  I am a mess.  I would perhaps get into the details, but where I live it’s 2 am, and I’ve been up since 7 or 8 the day before, and I have to stay up for another 1.5 hours or so, to give my mother her medicines.  I’ve just finished the last episode of GCB, so writing is pretty much the only thing left to do.  Besides my endless list of house tasks and, of course, praying.

It’s been hard to pray lately.  I’m hardly managing Our Father, Hail Mary, the Prayer of the Publican.  On a good day I manage Seraphim of Sarov’s prayer rule.  I’ve read two kathismas during the last three days.  I try.  But lately the only prayer falling from my lips is “God, help me”.  Lord, have mercy.  I’ve given up on my morning and evening prayer rules.

I pray.  But it’s mostly in a form of questions and thoughts.

One of the reasons I started writing this blog was to find answers to my own questions.  Answers that are not easily to be found, either via reading, or my own writing, or talking with more knowledgeable people, with elders, with veteran members of my Church (in a big, universal way).

I am an Orthodox Christian.  Orthodoxy, by its name in English, suggests conservative outlook.  And it’s correct.  Orthodox Christianity is conservative.  And I try to adhere, and in many ways I do.  And in some ways I agree.

Yes, that’s right.  In some.  But not in all.

Let me just say that I’m not about to jump boats and choose a different path of salvation.  Which, by the way, Orthodox Christianity accepts.  Yes, the Orthodox (like any other denomination, I suppose) believe that our Church’s way is the most complete, the most wholesome way of praising the Lord.  But they do not deny salvation to other denominations.  God is One.

So I am not denying the fact that I’m Orthodox.  There’s no denying it.  I’ve ‘toyed’ with other spiritualties for quite a while, both Christian and not.  For a while I’ve even considered myself atheist, though that was kind of silly.  I usually ended every day of that period with looking at the ceiling, thinking, “Nah, God, I don’t think I believe in You.  You do not exist.”

So, I am Orthodox.

But how do I find a balance?

Because I am also a feminist. 

(Ladies, before you start with your spiels about the idiocy of feminism, kindly remind yourselves that you can (in many countries) a) wear trousers; b) vote; c) work outside home; d) drive; e) get a divorce; f) have a choice. That’s what feminism is about, not who opens the door for whom.)

And even though the Bible says that I can consider fields and buy them (essentially, be a businesswoman), let’s just say that it’s preferable for a Godly woman to be a wife and a mother.

And I am not a wife and a mother.  I am not saying I will never be one, but right now the chances of this are slim.  Does that make me less of a woman?  Unfortunately, many of my confession will believe that yes, it does make me less of a woman.

I believe in the separation of church and state.  I don’t think I’m qualified to write about this, at least not in clever words.  But even though ‘one nation under God’ might sound alluring… It really isn’t.  Because there are a lot of nations inside any one country.  And, God help me, there can be a lot of gods.  We may believe in Saviour, but we cannot – and must not – deny that there’s such a thing as religious freedom.

And I’m a gay rights supporter.  Frankly, I don’t think there should even be a separation of rights.  We’re all humans, and in the heart of all true religions lies one thing – love.  Love as understanding, love as humanitarianism.

And before one bashes another person for their choices (which, I suppose, is not the most appropriate word), one should remember that God loves us all.  That Church accepts us all.

And I believe that God created this planet and all that dwells on it.  But it would be a bit odd for an educated person to deny science, evolution, and the fact that we’re made from the same elements the stars and planets are made out of.

Should I go on?  With my list of confusions?  I guess not.

So how do I find a balance between my religion and my secular beliefs?  How can I write about more serious topics (like the aforementioned gay rights), if most of the time I fail at answering the easier questions.  Like, if I ask my brother to go to the farmer’s market, does that mean that I’m serving him badly?  Do I fall even further behind in becoming a Proverbs 31 woman?

And what do we focus on most, in Proverbs 31?  Is it ‘double clothes’ and ‘beauty’, or is it ‘eager hands’ and industry?

And did you know that Proverbs 31 as a topic is much more popular and discussed between members of the Protestant confessions, than between Orthodox women?  I am yet unsure why, but it’s a fact.

And did you know, Orthodox have a different way of Bible study than Protestant confessions.  I am sure there are a lot of parallels (I mean, we’re studying the Bible, you know), but in general I am not supposed to read Protestant Bible studies.  They give interpretations which are different from those of Orthodoxy.  Same.  But different.

Complicated, isn’t it?

So I am back to my question of balance.  No matter what topic I start with (is it better to spend 15 minutes applying make-up, or should I read a chapter of Genesis instead?  Am I vain in thinking about my clothes, or will my stylish look reflect better on the image on my faith?  Do I spend half an hour cooking a separate ‘fast-approved’ meal for myself, or do I spend that half an hour with my family and eat what’s been cooked by mother instead, even if it’ll be chicken on Wednesday?  Should I abstain from reading anything that’s not God’s word during Lent, or may I allow myself a classic novel?) – there goes the question of balancing.

Is it better to read Our Father with all my heart, or should I stand for 30 minutes, reading out morning rule whilst thinking about my chores list?

Where does repentance end and self-flagellation start?

Where is the fine line between being a warrior in Christ and a mercenary?

How can I carry the Word to others, if I myself am so confused?

Not in Faith.  But in its forms of expression.

I ought to pray for Lord to give me a better understanding.  But recent events in my life taught me to pray for mercy first. 

Anything else might be too much for me to handle at the moment.

Written by Alexandra

28 July 2012 at 12:27 am

recipe: quick potato pancake.

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Quick and very satisfying, this is a variation on a traditional Belorussian dish known as draniki.

You’ll need:

  • 2 large or 3 medium potatoes
  • 2-3 eggs (I used 2)
  • oil for frying

Method:

  1. Peel potatoes and grate them into a bowl.
  2. Beat eggs into the potatoes.  Mix thoroughly.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.  The original recipe doesn’t call for it, but I added a pinch of salt and pepper anyway.
  4. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium fire.
  5. Pour potato & egg mixture.
  6. Fry for 10-15 minutes, flip.  (Note:  If you have trouble flipping, you should probably let it cook a bit longer.)
  7. Fry on the other side for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Serve hot, plain or with sour cream.  Can be kept in the fridge and eaten as left-overs for next day.  Better reheat!

I’d say it feeds two kids, or one adult.

I sincerely wanted to take a picture of the entire thing, but brother stole it from under my nose.

Written by Alexandra

25 July 2012 at 12:30 pm

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Written by Alexandra

22 July 2012 at 11:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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Milk & Honey

By: Fr. Roman Braga the Confessor.

Christ is not just some nice guy. He is God and God is within you. God is in our consciousness, in our heart, in our minds – not something material you see outside of yourself. You find God in yourself. You descend in your personality. We are eternal, we never die, the body is going to the cemetery but the consciousness, the person is continually living. So when you descend into yourself, your consciousness is infinite. And this infinity is the temple of the living God. St. Paul says many times you are the temple of the living God because God lives within you. You find God when you know yourself, when you know who you are. If you neglect that, “I don’t have time to think about myself” you will never find God because God is not something material, you do not find…

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Written by Alexandra

22 July 2012 at 10:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized