Florence a city I have yet to visit but is on the top of my list ever since I read Inferno by Dan Brown. It’s been a year since I read it and it still haunts me almost every day… and please don’t go and watch the movie, please just read the flipping book… I love Tom Hanks just as much as the next girl, but Inferno… naaaah not his best work. Sorry people! Too bad because the story had so much potential to be one of the most influential movies of all time.
About Florence,… Florence brought forth so incredibly influential historical figures that it seemed strange to me not to choose Florence as one of the 4 areas I am discussing in Italy. Italian icons like Leonardo Davinci, Dante, The Medici family (who ruled over Florence for 200 years!), Botticelli, Donatello just to name a few… The height of Florence was during the Renaissance, actually, Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance!
Things you didn’t know about Florence:
- Between 1865 and 1870 Florence was made capital of the newly united kingdom of Italy.
- It was Hitler himself who rescued The Ponte Vecchio of Florence from being destroyed during the World War II. He thought it was beautiful…
- Florence was the birthplace of pavement! In 1339 so before Rome, Venice, the first paved streets have been invented.
- Stendhal Syndrome has been born in Florence and acquired the name of Florence It is the state of mind when someone becomes lightheaded or dizzy because of the outstanding art. As strange as it sounds it is really true.
- Florence is the birthplace of the Italian language. The famous Florentine – Dante Alighieri is said to create the standard Italian language that the whole country speaks nowadays.
Guinea has a very tough history! They’ve gone through many struggles over the centuries. Nonetheless they are a very brave nation. During their struggle for independence one of their slogans was: “We prefer poverty in liberty to riches in slavery!” and who can blame them. Freedom is one of the most important basic human rights! But when the French let them have their independence they immediately cut off all financial and physical support which let to a disastrous fall into poverty. After gaining independence from France, Guinea turned to the Sovjet Union for support. The first president introduced a socialist government. Thousands of people were killed or tortured during this time. Today, the country is trying to become a democracy, but the process is not easy. At this moment there is still no light on the horizon for Guinea. The most recent disaster was the Ebola virus which wiped out a chunk of Guinea’s the population.
- Guinea was a part of the Mali empire between the 13th and the 15th century.
- Guinea was the first country gaining independence from the French on October 2nd 1958
- The literacy rate of Guinea is very low.
- Guinea has a rich musical tradition like other West African countries.
For Guinea I made an African snack called puf puffs. You can compare them with beignets only there is onion in them which strongly seems to work perfectly!!!!
Ingredients: 2 cup of all-purpose flour,, 1 and ½ cup of warm water, 1 tbsp of dry yeast, ½ cup of sugar, 1 tsp of salt, ½ tsp of vanilla extract, 1 tbsp of finely grated onion (optional)
- Dissolve the yeast in the water and pour on the flour. Mix it really well .
- Add the sugar, salt, vanilla extract and onion. Cover with a napkin and let it rise for at least 2 hours
- Heat the oil and use your hand or a spoon to drop the mixture in the oil, fry until each side is brown.
- Tips: To get the puff puff right make sure that the batter is not too thick nor too thin. And the also the temperature of the oil is important. The oil should be hot enough but not too hot.
This week another isolated archipelago, The Faroe Islands. They are autonomous islands under the protection of Denmark. They are not part of the European Union and they speak their own language. A lot of Faroese would like to be independent. Half of the Faroese population lives in the capital Torshavn. The problem with the Faroe islands is that the young people all go to college in Denmark, most of them stay there. Despite being so far away from the rest of the world, the music, art and culture scene in the Faroe Islands is booming! They have a lot of music festivals.
Things you didn’t know about the Faroe Islands:
- Soccer is really popular the 1 in 20 men is semi soccer pro! The country’s football team won their first competitive match against Austria in September 1990, which prompted a massive Faroese party.
- The Faroe Islands are one of very few countries in Europe to have no McDonalds. You can, however, find a Burger King, in Torshavn if you’re in need of fast food.
- There are three traffic lights on the Faroe Islands. All are in the capital Torshavn and are very close to each other.
- The weather in the islands changes so quickly and frequently that a well-known Faroese saying is ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes’.
- The Faroese drink in sheebeens, known as key clubs – set up in secret when alcohol was banned on the islands. These dens were so popular they stayed open when prohibition ended. There is an Irish pub called, imaginatively, ‘Irish Pub’. It is said to serve the best beer on the islands.
Wash and cut the washed rhubarb into fine slices. Cut about 1/2 inch cubes.
In a large pot add the rhubarb, water, sugar and a stick of cinnamon. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce heat, put the lid on the pot and cook the mixture for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the rhubarb because you want the rhubarb tender but not mushy.
Next, combine the cornstarch with 1/4 water in a small bowl. This will be used to thicken the rhubarb porridge
After the rhubarb has cooked for 5 minutes, turn off the stove. Remove the cinnamon stick out of the rhubarb mixture.
Add and stir in the corn starch mixture. Add a little at a time and the rhubarb mixture will start to thicken.
Taste to see if it is sweet enough. If not, stir in a little more sugar.
Pour into a heatproof glass bowl to cool down. Sprinkle sugar to prevent a skin from forming. Cover and chill in the refrigerator.
Once ready to serve ladle into bowls and garnish with either milk or cream. Enjoy!
Estonia I had no feeling at all when I heard Estonia before researching it this week. For 50 years Estonia has been suppressed by the Sovjet Union. Estonia has a history of been suppressed by a lot of countries like Denmark, Russia and Scandinavia. Luckily the city of Tallin remained untouched in it’s medieval glory and is now put on the Unesco list. In 1991 Estonia finally became independent again, despite the suppression they managed to stick to their own culture. After the liberation of Estonia a lot of Russians stayed behind, in hope of a better future, since the economy in Russia was breaking down. Even now 40% of the population of Tallin consists of Russians. Together with Lithuania and Latvia they are called the Baltic States. Estonia is the smallest of Baltic states with only just over 1,5 million inhabitants.
Things you didn’t know about Estonia
- The Estonians are one of the most tech savvy nations on earth, for instance you can pay everything by phone and they invented Skype!
- Zero tolerance policy for drunk driving. The sale of take away alcoholic beverages in shops is prohibited after 10pm. After this time alcohol can only be purchased and consumed on the premises of restaurants and bars.
- Remember as a kid you used to try and swing over the bars and it never worked? That because the design of our swings. In Estonia however swings are designed differently. . Essentially they built a better frame, designed solely for the purpose of going all the way over the bars—and doing so is basically the entire point of the sport. It is extreme, insane, and incredibly cool. It’s called Kiiking
- Every single year, several European countries get together for a rather strange sport, called “wife-carrying.” The sport sounds pretty odd, and it is exactly as odd as it sounds. The idea is that the male contestants actually carry their wives or girlfriends, and try to get the best time possible on the course
I think this is one of the best things I have baked ever! Delicious and it looks spectucular! Like a pro made it! I made the filling extra rich because I was so enthusiastic.
Ingredients filling: chocolate covered pecan nuts (or chocolate chips and nuts), marzipan, cinnamon, sugar, butter (measurements of the filling is very personal! But I put in a lot!)
You start by preparing the dough. Put all the ingredients for the dough in a large bowl and knead until you have a soft compact cough. Make a ball and allow to rise for 1 hour in a warm dry place. After 1 hour it should have doubled in size. Tear up the marzipan by hand until you have tiny crumbs and sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to give a rectangular shape as regular as possible and scatter over the marzipan crumbs and the rest of your filling! Roll up de dough so it looks like a giant Swiss roll. Slice open in two your roll but leave one end whole. Twist the rolls around each other and then close the ends together. So you have a nice circle. Brush a little egg yolk on your beautiful creation and put in a preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
El Salvador, a small Central-American country squeezed in between: Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica. Glimpses of tropical paradise, national parks as you want them to be just astonishing untouched nature, colonial splendor astride pristine volcanic lakes, searing colors and a fierce creative vision sit quietly in the shadows of an indomitable local pride.That’s what El Salvador is all about. A place not many people go but when they do they can’t shut up about it until they convinced you to go there aswell Here you’ll find a stunning coastline with world-class waves, a cultural capital famed for its nightlifex and small-town charm by the plaza-load. Things you didn’t know about El Salvador
- The smallest country in Central America and the only one without a Caribbean coastline.
- El Salvador is the only Central American country that has no visible population of African descent. This is in part due to laws established during colonial and modern times prohibiting entrance to the country of people of African descent. (So far for super racist laws!)
- It is known as the “Land of the Volcanoes” because of the more than 20 volcanoes in the territory. Two of them are currently active.
- Salvadorans are known as “guanacos.”
- El Salvador went to war with Honduras after a soccer match; which was later known as the “Soccer War”.
Well pupasas they are a great tasty snack my only objection would be that they are quite heavy Ingredients the beans: 3⁄4 cup red beans (cooked), 1⁄8 small onion, 1⁄8 cup corn oil, 1⁄4 tablespoon salt, 1⁄4 cup water (I use cooking liquid from the beans)
Ingredients cheese: 3⁄4 lb mozzarella cheese(shredded), 1⁄8 green bell pepper (diced), 1 chile
Ingredients Masa: 1 cup masa corn flour (I use maseca brand), 1⁄2 cup warm water
- Heat the corn oil in a large soup pan on medium high heat. Once the oil is heated fry the onion until golden brown.
- While the onions are cooking, place half of the beans and 1/2 cup of the reserved bean liquid in a blender and blend for 1 minute.
- Once the onion is golden in color, about 4 minutes take the onion out with a slotted spoon.
- Carefully stir the beans from the blender into the hot oil. Turn your heat down to medium low.
- Next add the onion and the rest of the beans and reserved 1/2 cup cooking liquid into the blender and liquefy for a minute. Add the beans to the rest of the mixture that is already cooking.
- Carefully stir the beans until no oil appears in the beans, about 3 minutes. Cook on medium stirring about every 5 minutes until the beans have darkened about 3 shades and are the consistency of refried beans in a can.
- Place the shredded mozzarella, lorocco, and bell pepper in a food processor and process until the bell peppers and lorocco are chopped into tiny pieces and fully incorporated into the cheese.
- Next, place the cheese mixture into a plastic bowl and warm the mix in the microwave for no more than 20 seconds.
- Next — and yes this sounds gross, squeeze the cheese mixture with your hands until it becomes like a soft putty consistency.
- Set the cheese aside and get ready for the masa.
- Place the masa mix and water in a bowl and stir until fully mixed. The masa should be very sticky but should form an easy ball when rolled. If not, add water until it is sticky but easy to work with.
- Next, Place an egg size ball of masa in your hand (it helps to place a tiny bit of oil on your hands before doing this) and press the masa out in one hand to represent a small plate the size of your palm.
- Place about a tablespoon of cheese down onto the masa, then a tsp of beans. Pull the sides of the masa up around the beans and cheese and roll it into a ball. Next, flatten it a tiny bit with your palms to form a thick disc. Pat the disc turning it between your hands about 6 times to flatten it more but to keep it in a round shape.
- The pupusa should be a little less than 1/2 inch thick.
- Place the pupusa on a large oiled non stick surface and cook on medium high until each side is golden brown, around 3 minutes on each side.
WELCOME D!!! My first country with a D! Of all the countries in the world, I think Denmark is the one with a culture most similar to my own. Just like the dutch they are known to be very openminded, direct, both of us prefer going by bike everywhere, tolerant. And just like the Dutch they will never say no to a good party! A lot of people are confused with the difference between Dutch and Danish. Let me clear that up for you. The Danish are from Denmark and the Dutch are from the Netherlands not Holland (Holland is just a small part of the Netherlands). What are the Danish know for: Vikings, Legoland (definitely worth visiting I went there as a kid and it is still one of my favorite amusement parks of all time), the Little Mermaid. Pretty awesome stuff.
Here are some things you probably didn’t know about Denmark:
- ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ are Not in the Danish Vocabulary
- Three out of four of the band’s members of AQUA are Danish (AQUA had a huge hit in the ninties with Barbie Girl.
- The best restaurant in the world is a Danish restaurant called “Noma” and the kitchen is run by a Danish chef called René Redzepi.
- The Danish pay 50-60% in tax and they don’t mind. That’s because they get free healthcare, free good schools -through universities and even education abroad, unemployment security, 1-year-paid maternity leave.
- The Danish are very innovative . Denmark is as famous for its toy building bricks (LEGO was created in Denmark) as it is for its real life buildings (Danish architects have built everything from the world renowned Sydney Opera House to the iconic Great Belt Bridge) but there are plenty of other famous inventions to add to Denmark’s vast portfolio. The loudspeaker, the battery and more recently, Skype, were all created on Danish soil.
So you might have seen on snapchat that I made tried to photograph or film every single. I am going to use snapchat more I promise. My snapchatname is: margootjevg. So start following me!
This is a great lunch recipe! I baked my own bread because it has a very particular taste. The caraway seeds really make it something special. The shrimp salad is as Scandinavian as it gets probably because of the dill and tarragon 2 herbs I love.
Ingredients Shrimpsalad: 3/4 cups creme fraiche or sour cream, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard. 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (remove seeds from dressing), 3 Tbsp fresh tarragon leaves a nddill leaves, finely chopped (plus extra for garnish), 1/2 tsp salt, Freshly ground black pepper, to taste, small pre-cooked shrimps in brine, drained weight 180g, 100g cucumber, deseeded and finely diced
- In a bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and mix well.
- Finely dice the deseeded cucumber and add it to the dressing. Stir until evenly distributed.
- Drain the shrimps and rinse them in a colander under cold water. Shake off the excess water and quickly dab them with a kitchen towel so that they are not too wet.
- Toss the shrimps into the dressing until they are evenly coated.
- Refrigerate and serve cold on a piece of lightly toasted bread or some lettuce leaves. Garnish with tarragon or dill leaves, if desired.
Ingredients Surbrød: 1 tbsp bread yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 200 ml buttermilk or yoghurt, 400 ml warm water (about 95F), 2 tbsp honey (or malt syrup), 2 tbsp coarse salt, 1 tbsp cracked caraway seed, 300 g rye flour, 700 g unbleached wheat flour
- Dissolve the yeast in about 150ml of the warm water and about 1 tsp sugar. Let sit until yeast is very frothy.
- Combine yeast mixture and other ingredients, then knead until the dough is elastic and no longer sticky.
- Place dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size – 1 to 2 hours.
- Punch dough down and form into two oval loafs and place on large cookie tray covered with parchment paper. You can also use a bread form if you prefer your bread with straight edges.
- Score the top of each loaf with diagonal cuts from a sharp knife. This helps with rising.
- Dust the top of each loaf with flour, cover with plastic wrap and allow bread to rise for about 2 hours.
- Preheat over to 225C and bake bread for about 25-35 minutes, until the bread is done.
- Cool thoroughly before serving.
So Wednesday I was home and my parents were working from home so my mom decided to make me and my dad something special for lunch. Normally we would just get a cup of instant noodels of a slice of bread with Nutella. We are not really the kind of people that go big on lunch. Although our weekend family breakfasts are legendary, complete with danish, fresh squeezed orange juice and home made chicken salad ! In fact our weekend breakfasts are so extensive that we usually skip lunch during the weekends. But Wednesday was special since my dad had been traveling a lot over the past few weeks and my brother got home early from school.
Since my mom is a magician with leftovers, she just grabbed whatever leftovers were in fridge and made us a delicious and incredibly tasty sandwich! This sandwich could be served in a restaurant or a deli! I swear it’s that good!
Ingredients: roasted red pepper in slices, slices of aubergine grilled in a pan with a little oil, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper
Ingredients for the guacamole: avocado, lemon juice, a little bit of mayonaise, knoflook, half a chili, little bit of olive oil
Instructions on who to roast red peppers can be found right here:
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C
- Toast a slice of bread and drizzle it with a little olive oil.
- Start wit a laying a slice of aubergine on the toast.
- Next up is a slice of roasted red pepper.
- And last but certainly not least a slice of cheddar cheese.
- Put in the over for about 5 minutes until the cheese is nice and melted
- In the meanwhile blits up the guacamole in the mixer.
- Grind a little bit of pepper on the toast.
- You ready to go! serve with the guacamole on the side!