December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

New Year's Eve I remember most are those which were most unusual.
First one I remember was 15 years ago, backstage at National Theatre in Warsaw. First was the concert, then private visit at backstage and marvellous office rooms.
Another one was over 20 years ago, in Szczecin, when with friends we have decided to go to the forest, have some burned sausages and some drinks - nothing really fancy.
The other one was spent at home with friends - we decided to have pyjama-party. We all had our hair done, make-up and jewellery on, but we were still in pyjamas.

Break through today! Do something unusual to remember that night forever.

I wish all of my readers, that 2010 will be better than 2009, that your garden will thrive like never before and your life will bring new opportunities.

Whether you live in Australia, Holland or United States, I wish you Happy New Year!

December 29, 2009

Mums that still blossom in winter -15C // 4F

Can you believe it? Even I couldn't believe my eyes. Damn cold and this yellow, cheering flowers are up and maybe not so happy, but still alive.
If you don't know mums flowers (Chrysanthemum) - this is perennial in the Asteraceae family.
They are usually either garden hardy or exhibition - so, I understand this is the very garden hardy mums cheering us up.

Welcome them in the garden for winter joy and an insect repellent effect throughout the year.

You may see beatiful white muums in the conservatory pictured by me at the beginning of December.

December 28, 2009

Fresh parsley growing on the windowsill

Fresh parlsey will be grown enough soon. One week ago during Christmas cooking I found 3 old parsley roots in the fridge. It was clear 'cook or compost' choice. I have chosen the third one - stick it to the soil and see what happens.
Now you see what happens just 7 days later - fresh parsley on the way...

December 20, 2009

Authentic Pierogi Recipe - Polish Christmas Cooking

I dedicate this pierogi recipe to my twitter friends, who inspired me to make this post, after they have learned yesterday what I am going to cook today. Pierogies are very tasty especially homemade. Basically the dough is the same, you can make different stuffing: sour cabbage with mushrooms, potato-white cheese-onion (called here in Poland God knows why - Russian pierogi) or different fruit-sweet versions (strawberry and blueberry are my favourites).
There is one special kind that traditionally is made in Poland for Christmas - this is sour cabbage pierogi. They are served at Christmas Eve dinner since few centuries. Dough is the same, stuffing is special.
Recommended further reading Polish Classic Recipes (Classics Series)

Recipe for 3-4 hungry persons - approx. 30-40 pierogies (depends on size)
1/2 kg of sour cabbage
10 dag of dried wild mushrooms
1 cup of water
salt, pepper or hot capsicum

Stuffing preparation:
Chop sour cabbage to small 1 cm long pieces, add salt, pepper or capsicum and cook it for 20 minutes.
In separate pot cook water and mushrooms  for 20 mintutes. After it cools down chop finely the mushrooms and add them to cabbage together with the water they were cooked in. Mix and cook 20 minutes more.

If you don't have wild mushrooms, you may use regular mushrooms, however the taste will differ.

Dough ingredients:
4 cups flour plus some extra for kneading and rolling dough
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups of milk
1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of salt for cooking
butter and onions for sauteing

This dough pierogi recipe is very special and comes from my mother. Possibly you will not find it in the books, but it works really great when you need to make sure your pierogi dough is strong enough and soft enough at the same time. It doesn't require any additional cream, butter or anything else.
Mixing boiling milk with flour, makes the dough soft enough, easy to seal and strong to prevent falling apart while boiling. 

Mix salt with flour, add boiling milk and work the dough until is smooth (7-8 minutes). Be careful at the beginning - it may be very hot in some places.
You need to work fast. The colder the dough gets, the more difficult it will be to roll it.

Roll the dough on a floured board or countertop until 1/8" thick.

Cut the circles with cookie cutter. Or any cup will do. 

I have chosen the biggest cup - for lazy big pierogies.

Add the teaspoon of stuffing, which you prepared earlier.

Put the sides together...

And seal the edges.

You may add some pattern to decorate and strenghten the seal.

Voila! they are almost ready!

Add salt to water and boil it. Add some oil to make pierogies oily after cooking, so they don't stick together.
Add pierogi only to boiling water, not earlier. This prevents falling apart.

It looks like this after you place them in the pot. Move them very gently, so they don't stick to the bottom.
Cover the pot and wait until the water starts to boil again.

When pierogies are floating on the top, turn off the flame, cover the pot and keep them like this for 5 minutes.
After that they are ready.
Before serving you may add on top:
fried, finely chopped onion.
We serve it with fried onion for Christmas.

Bon Appetite!
Recommended further reading Polish Classic Recipes (Classics Series)

December 19, 2009

Winter gardens worth to bother?

Winter gardens can truly cheer us up when everything around is dull or even covered white with snow.
If you are still reluctant whether winter gardens are worth to bother, have a look at the pictures below and let me know what you think.

Do you remember great garden tour we had at the sloping garden?

Pictures of this airy light and beautiful winter garden were taken in December when everything was already dull and brown, short before snow appeared. By the way do you know that snow is like sex?