Obsessed with sour taste

Although winter wasn’t strong this year, we expect another wave of frosty weather next week. My body is already exhausted from endless wait for spring and more and more often calls for sour taste.

On the scale of tastes I usually prefer the bitter one. Sweet probably occupies the second place. Salty is in the middle, sometimes alternating with the sweet. But spicy and sour are definitely in the end of my selection with the only exception. When spring slowly awakes from winter sleep, I am obsessed with sour taste. I need to add some acidity to every meal and it doesn’t matter if it’s sweet or salty.

At this time, sour taste helps me to overcome the last winter days, it keeps me enough alive. What coffee makes for mind in the morning, the sour does for body before spring definitely comes.

Now, the opportunity to really use what I’ve done before came.

Rosehip chips are simple, tasty and sour enough to keep you from eating so much of them. Actually, I made them by accident. I originally wanted to make jam, but I harvested more fruits than I had sugar. So I cooked and mashed the rosehips without sugar, pushed through the sieve, placed a thin layer on a sheet and dried in oven at low temperature. Efficiency isn’t high, but I don’t like to waste the harvest.

Except of lemon, what do you imagine under sour taste? Yes, vinegar!

Perhaps some or most of you have tried to make homemade apple vinegar. It’s nothing complicated as soon as you have apples, big jar and patience.

Based on the same technology, I made also other kinds of vinegar – from the hawthorn berries and from elderberries. And I must say – I love both of them!

Homemade vinegars are great as they are, or you can add some herbs to extend their taste and flavor.

I have three types of apple vinegar – with common wormwood (Artemisia vulgaris), rosemary and onion skins. They are great fresh or cooked, for eat or hair rising.

The hawthorn vinegar is a kind of medicine as well, having a tonic effect for heart and blood pressure. I divided the final amount into three parts – pure hawthorn, with sage and with speedwell (Veronica officinalis), which also helps to keep heart and veins in healthy condition.

But the elderberry vinegar, it’s a treasure! I love even to watch it! It looks like a good red wine or magical elixir. I feel the taste in every cell of my body, awaking me for life. I put it into porridge in the morning, into the soup at noon and into legumes in the evening. As I said, I’m really obsessed!

I’m going to make bigger amount this year, especially after I used the elderberry vinegar instead of lemon juice into the herbal candies. I mixed it with cloves, cinnamon and star anis and it became a heaven in the mouth! They were gone before I took a photo, so you have to imagine or make it yourself 😀

What kind of sour ingredients do you like? I would appreciate more inspiration for my actual obsession. Thanks in advance!

With love, Ivana

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Herbal candy, homemade

Several weeks ago I got a sudden idea to make herbal candies even though I’d never tried it before. But it cannot be so difficult, right? Sugar, herbs, water and probably few drops of lemon juice.

First time, I was obsessed with violets. No matter it was after midnight, I found a small amount of dried flowers from last spring remaining and this was a great opportunity to use them.

I made a strong tea from violets, which got after adding lemon juice a beautiful pink-purple color. I mixed it with large amount of sugar, cooked to thicken with constant stirring and poured into a silicone mold. They were yummy!

Before I could eat them, a friend came and complained about troubles with vocal cords – tension and too much mucus that needed to be released. So I offered her my new candies because I assumed that violets’ healing effects could complete their mission. I was right and happy when she confirmed that the candies did their job perfectly.

Then I made other batches – chamomile, elderflower, elderberry, pine, lavender – and always came somebody whom I gave most of them. I am still learning how to get the best consistency, but I don’t have complains about taste yet.

I feel like Columbus when he discovered America, even though it existed long before he arrived.

Today, I prepared a small batch from sage and wild thyme. Maybe tomorrow someone comes with cold or flu.

Do you have an experience with homemade herbal candy?

With love, Ivana

Frozen Snowdrops

Unlike other parts of the world we have a mild winter this year. In my place I have seen snow rarely, but I live at the altitude of 250 meters above sea level (about 800 feet), so this is the last place in the country where the snow arrives.

Until last week there was almost no frost, and my body was slowly preparing for spring. The same signals I saw in nature, among others a great number of beautiful snowdrops.

I love and admire these hardy flowers that pop up their white heads even under snow when their time comes. Year after year they assure us that darkness of the winter ends and sunny hope of spring starts soon.

I felt so happy to see the snowdrops a week ago, and I didn’t pay enough attention to weather forecast that reported strong frost. Unfortunately, meteorologists were right and the frost destroyed the living splendor.

Snowdrops are still in the place, white and green on colors, but you somehow know that there is a dry emptiness inside instead of juicy enthusiasm. I wondered how many of us did the same. Meeting crisis and still looking healthy, even though grief, regret or sadness are eating our soul.

And like the frozen snowdrops we need time to recover. A year could be just right.

With love, Ivana

Playing with the Elements, Part 4 – Earth

Earth is the result of all previous elements. It is a solid mass with internal structure and growing potential. Even if it’s cold on the surface, there is always a hot core inside. Like the planet and its hot magma.

Meeting rules, discipline and responsibility usually means meeting the cold surface of the Earth. We don’t like them, trying to get fruits of results even without them. Or we tend to take too much discipline and responsibility, trying to improve what is natural. In the first case, you see the effort to jump directly into the hot core without protective suit and suitable skills, while in the second case you see the effort to wear too thick protection that prevents access to heat. And the most important lesson of the Earth element is to learn how to balance it.

Growth belongs to the Earth for sure. Depending on the project, the growth can be microscopic or giant. Viability of the Earth is measured by growth not by the result in absolute value. So don’t be hungry for too much, the healthy growth must be reasonable.

The first and necessary condition for the growth is the roots. We easily understand if we talk about plants. But talking about the roots of us, we need to consider our own history on personal, family and/ or national level. Before we change anything, we need to accept our origins without hesitation. Then our roots are healthy and we can get a bigger harvest with less effort.

Harvest is the golden point of the Earth element. And it doesn’t matter if you want to harvest grain, money, children or houses. Always you need to follow specific rules and invest each of previous elements. And because we are all unique, there is no exact recipe how to proceed and how much to add. We have to try and learn from our own mistakes.

Talking about the harvest, there is another important lesson. Do not eat the whole crop and always save a part of it as a seed. Taking care about seeds is the promise of future harvest. And that’s why the protection of women and children is important.

So, how the element cycle works? First, we need a flame of interest and feed it with wood and oxygen, and later build a shelter for it.  Oxygen means Air and Air means thinking, moving and socializing. At this stage, we feed the original interest with information, share it with other people and flexibly adjust it. The warning point – don’t lose the origin because of too many influences. If you decide to give up, return and find another flame of interest. But be sure it is your flame and no one else.

Once you have your own flame with enough oxygen, let it bubble into the water. Water means emotions, dreams, intuition and time. Don’t hurry, let your heart and inner voice comment and slowly adjust. Don’t forget that water is lazy and quiet. You cannot listen while loudly thinking. Water often speaks through images or music, so don’t expect the same language like from the mind. Be alone with your project for a while. Let it sit and be sure on the level of water before you continue.

Then recheck that your original flame of interest is still alive, keep feeding it by appropriate amount of oxygen, and keep honesty of your emotions about it.

Pour this blend to the potential of your roots, and with regular work and patience you should harvest enough. Most of the harvest is for eating and living, you deserve to celebrate the success. Never skip the celebration! And part of the harvest is the wood and shelter for another flame of your interest. It is the seed for future.

And this is how the cycle works. Once you understand the steps and the order of them, you can apply it to anything in your life.

I would appreciate your questions or comments.

With love,

Ivana

In case you missed Playing with the Elements, Part 3 – WaterPlaying with the Elements, Part 2 – AirPlaying with the Elements, Part 1 – Fire