Give-me-that-recipe apple muffins

IMAG2579_1It’s weekend and I am home with my little one. Our usual routine has started by waking up at 6.30, having breakfast, cleaning up the after breakfast mess, changing into some clean clothes, me trying to do some stretches (appreciated by the little one and the cat. and by appreciated I mean, getting on top of me whenever they can)  and then Seppe really wants to help me with things. That is when I decided that we are going to make these uber-delicious apple muffins. The result for this recipe  is always great and you will want to make them again.

To make 24 muffins you’ll need

  • muffin pan
  • muffin paper liners
  • oven
  • 250g flour
  • 200g white sugar (if you want them to be less sweet, use brown sugar)
  • 115g melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3g baking powder and salt
  • 2g baking soda
  • a pinch of cinnamon (max 2g i’d say)
  • a bit of vanilla extract
  • 4 sweet apples, peeled, cored and grated (grating is important to have the muffins moist and equally distributed).
If you have a little helper, task of preparing the muffin pan(s) is for them!

If you have a little helper, task of preparing the muffin pan(s) is for them!

Proceed

  1. Prepare all the ingredients, line the muffin pan with the paper liners, heat the oven to 190 degrees C.
  2. In a medium bowl mix together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
  3. In a larger bowl mix together sugar, butter and eggs until smooth.
  4. Combine ingredients from both bowls, then add vanilla and apples.
  5. Distribute the mixture in the muffin pan (I use the ice-cream scoop, really good for keeping it clean and having the same measurement for each muffin) and in the oven it goes.
  6. After 20 minutes it should be ready. To check if that’s true, put a toothpick in the middle of a muffin. If it comes out clean, it’s ready.
  7. I know this step is not easy but you will need to rest the muffins for 5-10 minutes before eating. But after that: enjoy and share with your friends!

Latvian rye bread truffle

IMAG2179There are so many recipes out there that I have tried yet never have I gone back to the roots with desserts. Latvian rye bread truffle is one of the most popular desserts that I don’t think I have ever tried but as I recently came into a possession of a rye-bread, I thought it is time to change that.

For those of you who are dessert savvy, probably your result will be much more like a truffle, but, hey, this is my first attempt and in the end it is the taste that counts a bit more than the appearance. And it did score well with the Belgian family on the taste side, so a better presentation is left for the next time 🙂

What would you need if you’d ever like to make this (for 4 people). N.B. amount of ingredients is approximative, I just added, tasted and added more if needed.

  • rye-bread (I used 7 slices)
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • a dash of vanilla
  • a dash of cinnamon
  • 10 tbsp of frozen fruit
  • 200ml double cream
  • 2tbsp white sugar
  • 4 tbsp powder sugar

Making-of

  1. Put the rye-bread in a food processor and grind it to a breadcrumb consistency. then toast it on a pan with brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until crunchy (taste the deliciousness from time to time and add some more ingredients if necessary). Put aside and let it cool
  2. Whip the cream with powder sugar
  3. Put the frozen fruit in a pan together with white sugar and heat until a bit of liquid starts coming out (approx 5min)
  4. Now, the real truffle specialists would make several layers: bread, berries, whipped cream, i just did 1 of each (I know, I know, I shouldn’t probably be calling it a truffle) and topped it off with some more of those breadcrumbs
  5. Leave the dessert in a fridge for at least 3 hours (so it can soak up all the juice) before serving.

I was surprised that the result turned out so familiar in a sort. The taste reminded me a bit of tiramisu. But then again, no… it tasted like Latvia.

Why am I proud of being a Latvian?

meitenju profilsAdmitting it or not but we all love when the name of our country pops up on a list with a positive connotation. Suddenly we are all reminded and remember why we are proud of who we are and that’s a good thing, right?? Not always though..

Over last couple of days and article has been shared and shared and shared by the online Latvian community about the fact that Latvian women are among the most beautiful in the world (well, actually the blogger who made the list said they are THE MOST beautiful in the world). And as flattering as it is I find it a shame that I have never seen the same lever of sharing of other good facts about Latvia. So, here are my reasons why I am proud to be a Latvian.

Latvians keep their traditions alive

We have enormous amount of traditions that have kept us together as a nation for centuries, that have let us survive and keep our identities. For example, every year we celebrate Midsummer. A magical experience of everyone making flower crowns, bonfires blaze all over the country, people jump across those fires, sing and have Midsummer cheese and beer.

Obviously, the spectacularity of this is best seen in Latvia, but I love that Latvians keep this tradition alive abroad with perseverance year after year.

Midsummer bonfire. Photo credit: Janitors

Midsummer bonfire. Photo credit: Janitors

Another tradition that always seems a bit exotic to many and is kept alive in Latvia, is a series of obstacles newly weds have to get through before they are considered to be married. Latvian weddings usually take 2 days with series of activities taking places throughout the whole period. The experience for the newly weds might be annoying on some level, but loads of these challenges have deeply rooted meaning. More on Latvian wedding and some other traditions you can find here.

Latvia has the most amazing wilderness nature

Fog in the countryside. Photo credits: zigurdszakis

Fog in the countryside. Photo credits: zigurdszakis

Being a small country with a small amount of people living in it has given Latvia an advantage of having huge spaces of wild nature. For Latvians it’s very calming to be in the nature. Latvians go berry and mushroom picking, our best way to relax is to be in a meadow not far from a lake or river, or to have a walk on (or next to) the frozen sea in the winter.

Latvians have one of the most amazing festival in the world

We have been described as the nation who sings. And dances. I think it comes from very deep within. Sort of a survival technique through different “masters” we’ve had leading us to a “better life” throughout the times.. Singing and dancing is an outlet, it’s our identity.

Even now when we are an independent nation, once in 4 years we continue to honor this part of our identity and have our national song and dance festival. Latvians from all over the world are flying back to take part in it either as dancers/singers or as spectators. In any case, being there will make you shiver from the monumentalism of the moment

Latvians love to make things with their hands

Pottery making is one of the many crafts Latvians are fond of.

Pottery making is one of the many crafts Latvians are fond of.

Craftsmanship in Latvia is something that has been valued throughout the centuries and even though it was “downgraded” during the soviet times, now the time has come again when things made by hand, with love, are highly appreciated.

Below are some links for some items/presents made with love but a trip to Latvia will let you have the best choice possible. Especially if you manage to go to one of the craftsmanship markets that are very popular during the warm months.

Latvians use nature for healing

No, don’t think that we are against the modern medicine. It’s just that in Latvia healing is something that is very close to our hearts. I remember my Grandma teaching me which plant to use to stop bleeding, which plants are the best to dry for teas and which are the poisonous ones.

Chamomile is one of the flowers Latvians would save for their winter tea. Photo credit:  Pere Tubert Juhé

Chamomile is one of the flowers Latvians would save for their winter tea. Photo credit: Pere Tubert Juhé

We pick our berries, plants, flowers, we dry them, pickle them, make them in jams. Whatever you can imagine that associates to you with rural and natural living, Latvians would be doing and loving it. During winter our biggest recipe to fight colds and flue is to make a tea from the plants that have been gathered during the summer. Almost in every household you’ll find plenty of tea supplies to carry one’s family throughout the winter.

Latvians do have fun

There are all kinds of Latvians: serious, fun, easy going, complicated, smart, musical etc but if you’d have to give the general description of the nation, you wouldn’t think of it as the most funny nation in the world. But is that true? See these 2 unusual contests that Latvians are having. Just for fun 🙂

Scything Contest

Wife carrying contest

Eco love for your baby

IMG_2949In this day most of us live in an urban environment. Not because we HAVE to but because society has chosen to grow that direction and we have gone with it as the most obvious choice. I do notice that the opposite trend is starting to kick in: people are slowly trying to be closer to nature again, having more natural and organic things in the house and more natural food in the belly. All this is an important factor for us but even more important when it comes to our babies and children.

It is true that eco/organic produce more often is more expensive than the regular one. It is an appealing argument why often we choose to go for that other option. However don’t we indulge then in the quantity of the items? (look, look, it’s only 3 eur, let’s get 3 tshirts instead of 1). I know I have fallen in that trap several times. One too many even.

And after being trapped, I quite regularly have this wave of cleaning closets out, giving clothes that I don’t ware to charity and getting rid of household stuff that hasn’t been used for a year or so… Now I want to try a different approach. Less is more. From the beginning: get fewer items that are better in quality and makes ME feel better (like buying organic clothes for my little one).

So, here it is: a tiny research for some ecological shops online. Hope they’ll be helpful to you as well.

Clothing

Toys

+Other items (bedding, toiletries etc)