Friday Finds

Another month has passed, Saturday’s April already! We reserve tomorrow for jokes and harmless pranks: April Fools’ Day. Did you know this lighthearted tradition originates from Hilaria, the Roman festival devoted to general rejoicing? I can’t really trick you from here, but I hope these will make you smile:

“Sometimes it takes me all day to get nothing done”

useless as g in lasagna

“Controlling my mouth is not the real problem, it’s my face…”

eye rolls

“When a woman says do whatever you want, do NOT do whatever you want!”

fine funny

“People who say I’m hard to shop for clearly don’t know where to buy wine”

raisins wine funny

“Nothing is more discouraging than unappreciated sarcasm”

sarcasm

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

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Say Bye to the Cereal Box with Homemade Granola

homemade banana granola

They say in America everything is bigger and better. Surely not everything, but this certainly holds when it comes to the world’s most popular breakfast foods: I’m talking about the granola vs muesli debate. Both are simple, filling, and (more or less) full of good stuff, but there are differences.

Granola, invented in Dansville, NY by Dr. James Caleb Jackson is a sweetened, baked cereal consisting of oats, nuts, seeds, often including mix-ins such as dried fruit or chocolate. Some kind of fat is also added to achieve the crumbly texture.

Muesli on the other hand, introduced by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner, is neither baked nor sweetened, and not that crunchy either.

As a European I feel inclined to say how I enjoy the pure flavor of muesli, how much I appreciate the distinctness and the way oats, nuts and seeds complement one another, but I’ll cut the bullshit right there. Let’s face it: granola is just more delicious. That’s it, I’m sorry Max!

The perked-up version is more popular state-side and humble muesli on this side of the pond. We therefore don’t have such an impressive selection of baked cereals in our supermarkets here. And what we do have is quite expensive for what it is.

My old favorite comes in a big cardboard box with a small plastic bag inside containing just a handful of the simply too sweet stuff bind together with a not specified type of vegetable oil (how reassuring). A 100 g serving contains about 60 g carbohydrates and over 12 g fat. Wow. I still eye that fucker on the store shelf sometimes, but my body just deserves better.

Luckily, making the crunchy clusters at home couldn’t be easier! Replacing the processed, packaged kind is great not only because from now on it’s in your control what goes into your brekkie bowl (I loathe thee, raisin!). It doesn’t have to have a shitload of sugar and fat either!

(I was about to add reducing your ecological footprint too, but had to revise my opinion as the ingredients you’re about to use also come packaged. Bummer.)

homemade banana granola

Checked out many recipes and made a few batches until I found what works best for us. Granola is not an exact science, you have to tweak the ingredients to suit your taste, but that’s the beauty of it: having your own, special edition.

I wanted mine to be free of processed sugar, so I use bananas and a little honey instead to sweaten. Also decided to cut down on fat and substitute it with a healthier alternative: extra virgin olive oil, one of the richest in polyunsaturated fatty acids (a.k.a the good guys).

I use the same seed mix in my granola that I bake into my breads: equal parts sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, lint seeds and pumpkin seeds. As for the nuts, almonds and walnuts are our favorite, but hazelnuts and pecans are also a great choice. For mix-ins, I prefer spices. OK, sometimes I give in and add dark chocolate chips too. 🙂

This amount, kept in a glass jar, lasts for about a week in our house. I like to eat it with low-fat natural yogurt and berries that are a bit sour (just.love.blackcurrant.) while Husband is not that hard-core as he likes to put it, and prefers milk and banana slices drizzled with pure maple syrup.

homemade banana granola

See how a healthier, homemade granola is such a no-brainer:

Banana Granola

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A healthy take on store-bought cereals

Ingredients

3 cups rolled oats (half fine, half coarse)

1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

½ cup almonds, whole or sliced

¼ cup seed mix (sesame, lint, sunflower, pumpkin)

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp allspice

a handful of dark chocolate chips (optional)

2 ripe bananas, mashed

2 tbsp runny honey

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F, line baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. In two separate bowls, mix wet and dry ingredients except chocolate (if using).
  3. Combine wet & dry ingredients well to coat evenly.
  4. Spread mixture on baking tray in a thin layer.
  5. Bake for 30 min or until dark golden.
  6. Allow to cool, than crumble.
  7. Mix in chocolate chips, transfer granola to a glass jar or other airtight container.

How do you do breakfast cereal? I’d love to see some ideas so I can switch things up a bit from time to time.

Love,

Fruzsi

Friday Finds

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.

― Charles Dickens

White tulips via Momo Living:

white tulips

Have purpose:

bob goff quote

Silver candleholders by Lilla Majken:

silver candleholders

Vintage brass dish rack from Dreamy Whites:

brass dish rack

Grain sack pillowcases by Melanie of My Rustic Farmhouse:

grain sack pillowcase

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

An Unorthodox Tiramisu

tiramisu

a.k.a Operation Salvage

I couldn’t master the strength for a full-blown spring cleaning yet but I did review my pantry last weekend, checking for close to or a little over their best before date items. I found (among a few other things) a package of lady fingers. Hm.

The following boozy and indulgent treat was our farewell to cold season. Be prepared for a tear in the fabric of averageness though! This tiramisu turned out to be the best* I’ve ever made, (*not my words, before you think I’m trying to paint myself in glowing colors) so good actually that I crossed out all the other tiramisus from my recipe collection. I won’t be needing them.

Before we even begin: if you are a true-born Italian and/or a die-hard dogmatic, you’ll probably find the recipe featured in this post not strictly… appropriate. Don’t get me wrong, tradition is important to me but this time I tried to strike a balance between principle and pragmatism.

I’ll tell you in advance that compared to the classic, this version is lacking – horribile dictu! – both eggs and marsala.

One thing to know about my relationship to eggs: I couldn’t care less about the expiry date written on them. OK, I can feel that’s a bit strong so let me explain.

Eggs don’t automatically go bad after a certain time. Understand that the freshness of an egg does not singularly determine its edibility. I’m looking at you, water testers! While there is science behind the method (egg shells are porous – over time air makes its way in causing older eggs to be buoyant), but it’s just that: establishing that they are not that fresh any more. Please don’t toss them just yet, they are not necessarily bad!

If you’re not sure whether your eggs are ok to use – even when they’re not yet beyond the date indicated on the carton – you have to crack them open, preferably one by one in a separate bowl. Believe me when I say you’ll notice if an egg is spoiled due to funny colors and an even funnier smell. Nothing suspicious? Great, you may carry on.

That’s my rule of thumb when eggs are going to be properly cooked. To support my theory, here’s what my grandmother told me: Back in the day come fall, surplus eggs were put away in the granary for the winter when hens were laying less to none. Stored this way, they lasted as long as Easter, still fit for consuming (for making delicate sponge cakes even!).

Raw eggs are a completely different matter however as food poisoning is no joke. Not even a tiramisu is worth the gamble with  Salmonella and E. coli. Just imagine being responsible for the dessert that sent your guests down a road paved with diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, fever and abdominal cramps, even ending up hospitalized due to dehydration in more severe cases. I’d say that would be a textbook example of transferring yourself from likeable to loathsome.

tiramisu

Taking the above into consideration, I always use whipped cream as substitute for eggs when making tiramisu.

That said, the case with marsala is much less complex: I just don’t keep it at home. I have orahovac though, a dark, sweet, nutty-flavored liqueur made with green walnuts, popular throughout the Balkans. It’s the secret ingredient in some of  the most well-received desserts I make and goes with coffee like a dream. If you travel to this region, try to get your hands on it (or look for nocino in Italy, it’s basically the same thing).

What else goes with coffee so well? Irish cream (Happy Belated St. Patrick’s Day!). I also had an open bottle with just a few sips left, so in the mixture it went too. Not at all dominant, but adds yet more complexity to the flavor.

I have experienced a big revelation too. I was sure I’d messed up when I absent-mindedly poured the cream into the bowl already containing the mascarpone, without whipping it first. Well, as it turns out you can whip the two together beautifully so I’ll never bother with careful folding (and washing an extra bowl) again.

There you have a story of working with what I have.

Unorthodox Tiramisu

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A safer and savvy take on the classic Italian dessert. Serves 8.

Ingredients

200 g lady fingers

150 ml fresh coffee espresso

2 tbsp orahovac (or other liqueur of your choosing)

250 g mascarpone

600 ml whipping cream

50 ml Irish cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp sugar

unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

Directions

  1. Brew coffee, let cool to room temperature and mix with the liqueur in a shallow bowl.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whip irish cream, mascarpone, sugar and cold cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, set aside.
  3. Dip half the biscuits in the liquid for a few seconds each side (until soaked but not collapsing), arrange in a single layer to the bottom of a 20 cm / 8″ serving dish.
  4. Spread half the cream evenly over lady fingers.
  5. Dip remaining biscuits, arrange over layer of cream.
  6. Transfer remaining cream to a piping bag with a wide nozzle, decorate top layer of the dessert.
  7. Chill overnight, or at least 3 hours. Dust with cocoa powder before serving. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

Do you have a system for tracking the expiry dates of products in your pantry? Also, are you taking the dates indicated seriously, or you open and check if they are still good before getting rid of them? Let me know!

Friday Finds

It’s here! Have you checked out IKEA’s new summer collection yet? I picked my favorites for you today. Absolutely love the textures and colors, can’t wait to get my hands on these beauties. Warmer days, we are ready for you!

SOMMAR 2017 basket, handmade from seagrass:

ikea sommar 2017 basket

SOMMAR 2017 bedspread, woven from a natural cotton fabric:

ikea sommar 2017 bedspread

SOMMAR 2017 beverage dispenser for all the cold drinks ahead:

ikea sommar 2017 beverage dispenser

SOMMAR 2017 picnic blanket, practical and machine washable:

ikea sommar 2017 picnic blanket

SOMMAR 2017 side plate, with a lively light-grey glaze:

ikea sommar 2017 plate

Happy Weekend!

Fruzsi

All images © IKEA

On Decluttering, Hygge and Happiness

cup with hearts

It may sound strange, but I feel like the new year has just begun. To me, it’s not NYE that really marks the end of last year and the start of a new one: I wake up on January 1st and tend to be quite melancholic. Everything looks and feels the same as it did the day before, it’s still winter and it would be for at least a good two months longer.

(Not that I have anything particular against winter; every season could and should be enjoyed no matter which climate zone the place you call home happens to be in.)

But only around this time of the year do I actually start feeling resurrection: when the sun begins to set a little later, its rays are slowly gaining back their strength, birds are singing again and nature is awakening. Everything is fresh and new, a carte blanche.

I hope I’m making some sense here! 🙂

Spring has finally begun showing her lovely face to us here in Central Europe and on this much-anticipated occasion, I’ve decided no recipes today. Here’s what I have in store for you instead: elements of happiness. Oh, yeah!

I’m sure you guys are familiar with the international bestsellers The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo and The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking. These books are definitely the talk of the town these days.

I think we’ll all agree I’ve picked some pretty hot topics to discuss in today’s post as those catchphrases in the title are #trending like crazy for some time now. Everyone’s sharing an opinion on these two subjects, so I had to see for myself what the buzz was all about.

I’ll be frank with you, I did feel the need for regular wardrobe purges before I was advised to do so and I’m beginning to think I should’ve been born in Denmark, as I was always naturally drawn towards things with a high hygge-factor (is there anyone not obsessed with cinnamon buns and throw blankets anyway?).

Finding nothing really groundbreaking in either one of these books, I still enjoyed reading and will probably refer back to them multiple times. Like anything else in life, you have to pick and choose the elements that work for you and your situation.

Admittedly though, my longing for a fireplace reached all-new levels and I also have a newfound sense of minimalism concerning my whole life, not just the underwear drawer.

Because even if you already know/do/have experienced some (or most) things listed in these volumes, it’s nice to put a name to a feeling that’s hard to describe (that would be hygge) and to have a system handy for keeping your spaces tidy (the KonMari Method).

As an introvert, the idea of a well-organized home, coziness and slow living is very appealing to me anyway. But could saying goodbye to pilling sweaters and lighting a bunch of candles really be the key to happiness (in the including but not limited to sense)? I kinda think so!

Let me elaborate.

As Benjamin Franklin put it: ‘Happiness consists more in the small conveniences of pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life’.

In my mind, his words translate to appreciating the now, savoring the moment and being grateful for simple pleasures as key factors in the pursuit of overall wellbeing. And you can only do so when you have order and predictability in your life.

So here we are at my bottom line: it’s important to dream big, have focus and work towards your goals, wether it’s having more time, money or whatever it is you think would make you a happier person.

But the content you feel in those silent moments when you are snuggled up cozy in your favorite spot at an orderly, functional home with a good book and a steaming cup of hot chocolate is what real happiness looks like on an everyday basis.

It’s in the small things. Remind yourself of that!

Love,

Fruzsi

Have you read these cult books, or are you familiar with their concept? How do you feel about them? Are you planning to incorporate some aspects to your lives on any level? I’d love to know!

 *Disclaimer: Reviews or any other refernce made to publications on My Chest of Wonders represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship, commissions or gifts.*

“Cup with hearts inside” photo by valeria_aksakova / Freepik

Friday Finds

I figure if a girl wants to be a legend, she should go ahead and be one.

– Martha Jane Canary

A little belated, but wishing you Happy International Women’s Day !

Spring feelings (Photo: Sara Medina Lind, styling: Jenny Martinsson of Hemtrender):

spring feelings

Gentle and kind:

no one has ever become poor by giving

Sleek and white (Photo: Tina Fussell via 100 Layer Cake-let):

white peonies

In the windowsill (Snowdrops photo: Suvi Kesalainen):

snowdrops

Wrapped up (by Caroline of Burkatron):

wrapped bouquet

Happy Weekend!

Fruzsi

Dutch Baby, the New Star of Our Weekends

dutch baby in skillet

I might be a little late to the bandwagon with this one as one Manca’s Cafe of Seattle already owned the trademark for the Dutch Baby in 1942 and it is said to actually derive from German pancakes, so you probably won’t find anything revolutionary below.

Still, this hybrid of a beauty (hello, crepes, pancakes and popovers!) is new to our breakfast routine. First, because when we say pancakes in Hungary what we mean is the thin, French crêpe filled with apricot jam or sweet cottage cheese. And also because pancakes are considered dessert or eaten as second course after a hearty soup.

I took my chances despite all the rules – going against tradition and making dessert for breakfast. I’m telling you, Dutch Babies are on demand ever since! And as my country is becoming more acquainted with brunching, I’m sure we will soon see them popping up (literally!) everywhere.

I don’t think pancakes need much explaining to anyone. All versions of this pastry are prepared from eggs, milk, flour, sugar and salt, leavened or unleavened. And while I like and regularly make most of the variations, dutch babies are particularly awesome because it’s not necessary to prepare several pieces from the batter: one skillet, one pouring, and you’re set.

BTW, skillets. I bought a cast iron skillet and not used it for years. Nowadays, it’s out constantly. I found the idea of seasoning too much of a hassle first, but once I got the hang of it, this lasting piece become one of the trustiest items in my kitchen (read this short how-to if you need some clarifying on the subject).

dutch baby slice

Anyway. Here’s a few Dutch Baby tricks I’ve learnt:

Don’t start with preheating your oven. Make the batter, and then switch the heat on. In the cca. 15 minutes the temperature reaches ‘hot’, the flour will have time to start absorbing the liquid. The result is a softer, tender texture and crunchy edges.

To help your pancake puff up nice and high, use a smaller skillet (like a 9″ or 10″). Although any oven-safe pan (even a pie dish!) will do, cast iron is best without a doubt. Using a hot pan also helps increase the puff, so warm the skillet along with the oven.

This one is from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings: using your blender to make the batter. A few pulses and the ingredients are mixed smoothly with no lumps, much better than me and my whisk would ever be able to. The washing-up is the same, so you decide!

Dutch Babies can be pretty versatile too. Enrich the batter with caramelised fruits like apples or pears (when adding fruits, remember to arrange them over the bottom of the pan first, pouring the batter over top: this way the add-ons won’t weigh your Baby down). Cocoa powder and spices also work wonders. Think cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice.

I’ll add the recipe, just in case you lived under a rock like I did don’t happen to have one. This batch serves the two of you. If you have more mouths to feed, offer slices along with other breakfast favorites. Recipe can be scaled up.

Dutch Baby Pancake

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A spectacular skillet pancake guaranteed to wow.

Ingredients

4 eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole milk

pinch of salt

1 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp butter

Directions

  1. Measure ingredients except butter into your blender and pulse to mix well, about 2×10 sec.
  2. While batter is resting, preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F, along with the skillet.
  3. Carefully take skillet out and toss in butter, swirl to cover sides as well (watch out for sputters)
  4. Pour batter in skillet, transfer to hot oven immediately.
  5. Bake until puffed up and golden, about 15-20 min. Serve hot.

Do you make Dutch Babies often? What do you prefer eating them with? Melted butter? Drizzled with honey? Maple syrup? Jam? Fresh fruits? Or simply dusted with powdered sugar?

I just love squatting in front of the oven to watch as it puffs.

Love,

Fruzsi

Friday Finds

And so by degrees the winter wore away… and the chill, bitter, windy, early spring came round.

– Anthony Trollope

Spring neutrals (photo by Tjaša via Flickr):

spring neutrals

Wise words:

beau taplin quote

Spring in the kitchen (photo by Vibeke of Vibeke Design):

farmhouse kitchen

Never not candles (via Pinterest):

candles and mercury glass

Spring upgrades (Affogato al Caffè by Lisa of Very Eatalian):

affogato

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi