Archive for June, 2008

Rhubarb Crumble

Posted: June 28, 2008 in Sweets
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I remember rhubarb being a very rare plant in Romania. My grandmother used to have one and my mom was trying to transplant some every year, but it just seemed not working, so I always lived with the impression that this plant is so fussy and rare that I won’t have it grown in my garden never ever. Ha, ha, life is so beautiful, it teaches me that rules that apply at a certain point do not always apply.

 Cristina gave me a rhubarb plant which is waiting its new home on my terrace, growing like crazy. Yes, growing like there’s no tomorrow. I’m so happy I’ll have my own rhubarb plant !!!

It’s been more than 2 weeks that I bought a bunch of rhubarb and I let it throne in the fridge until today. Anne’s recipe was so inspiring and I finally decided to make the rhubarb crumble. My daughter is having a piece right now.

It’s the easiest recipe ever, preheating the oven took more than preparing the recipe from A to Z. Here how it looked before serving.


This year was our fourth vacation in Cuba and the first me and my sister planned and really went together, with our families, of course. It was fun, because we tried another resort. For now, this is the third one. And you know what, they all have their own personality, depending very much on the management and people that are working in it. So far, I would still go for The Grand Playa Turquesa, where we had the inspiration to go twice, but things changed dramatically with our last visit and we’ve decided to go back to Las Brisas in October.

Temperatures were beautiful and first thing we used to do every morning after the shower was to put the sunblock spray on. I am not a big fan and the fact that I would have to wear something sticky on my skin doesn’t attract me at all, so didn’t use it much on me. Kids are used to it and for them I am more afraid than I am for myself. My sister, though, who never had a sun burn in her life, she got burnt this time. She had 3rd degree burns on her back, exactly where the spray was applied. Painful and painful… I stopped using the spray and will most probably go with the lotion from now on even for kids.

Nights in the resort are nice. There was a show every evening and the entertainers are real professionals. They gave me the chance to entertain, too. With the help from a cuban dancer I won 2nd prize in the dance contest. The night after the dancing contest my sister was invited to participate in the Miss Las Brisas contest. She won the third prize, my beautiful sister. We both made it to top 3. Nice memories.

Our first generation kids and our husbands spent a lot of time together. Lucky them. They left us the beauty of taking care of our second generation kids that can be pretty annoying sometimes. Anyway, more than the first generation. At some point we decided to bring them to the daycare. It took us a few days to really go and try to deposit them there. They were happy to go, we were happy to leave them there, everybody was happy with the idea but the caregiver. She was not in the mood for taking care of our kids and gave us a lecture about the resort’s law that says that only kids 4 years old and plus are allowed. That was very bad news. We were ready to tip her big time, but she was made it sound and clear that we had no other choice but leave.

Montréal, Trudeau Airport, June 8th, 2008 – Customs  A young lady, around 25-28 years old is welcoming us with : “It’s disgusting. ( I was wondering if she was talking to us, reffering to what?) The temps outside, it’s disgusting.” I felt relieved, she was talking about the 33 degrees Celcius that Montréal got for 2 days. Yep, after complainig 8 months a year that winter has no end, she was talking to me about the 33 with + liike if they were there for 8 months now and will never go away. And I was coming from +33, I was enjoying the same temps in Montreal, too.

Hasta la vista Holguin! See you back in October!

Lovage / Leustean

Posted: June 14, 2008 in Appetisers
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Lovage is a wonderful, very old herb with properties perfect for today’s healthy lifestyles. Its unique flavor, which is a combination of strong celery flavour with a hint of anise, lends a wonderful flavor to soups, stews, stocks, salads, meat, potato and tomato dishes. You can use it much like you would celery or parsley, but with a lighter hand since it does have a stronger flavor. It is also used as a natural salt substitute, and is said to be an aphrodisiac – hence the name. And every part of the plant – leaves, stems, roots and seed – is edible!

Fortunately for us, Lovage is not a small, delicate plant. It will grow to about 6′ – 0 feet tall in 5 years, so you want to have a nice roomy corner of the garden set aside for it. Due to its statuesque size and solid green leaves, it looks great as a backdrop in the perennial flower garden, and is indeed often used for that purpose. It can also be grown in a large pot, or tub on the balcony. And in a couple of years, you never need to buy celery or parsley again – other than for celery sticks with Chez Whiz.

Here then are in the why and wherefores of how to grow and use Lovage.

So, one plant is enough for a family. It can take partial shade and does better in soil that is fairly fertile and not too dry. If you have a longer growing season, simply direct seed it outside. Hereabouts, start seeds indoors about 6 weeks ahead for transplanting, or buy a plant from a garden centre. Germination takes about ten to twelve days. Lovage seeds need to be fairly fresh, and to make sure you get one good plant, sow at least 4 seeds in a pot. When you move the plant to the garden keep it well watered for the first couple weeks, and feed with a natural fertilizer. The first year you won’t see it’s full growth – it will only reach about 2 feet – but you can begin to harvest at 1′ – 0 tall. Cut stems from the outside, leaving the center intact, and chop up to use in recipes.

Lovage is a perennial which dies back to the ground in winter, and regrows in spring. To keep you in Lovage over the winter, you can dry or freeze the leaves – the latter preserves the flavour – and dry the stems and grind them as needed.

Lovage seeds can also be used. They have a sweeter flavor than the leaves and can be used much like celery seed. A large seed stalk will form in early summer. Allow the seed to ripen until they begin to turn brown, then cut the stalk and dry the seeds. If you do not want to harvest seeds cut the stalk right away; this encourages more leaf growth. If you leave it be, the plant will reseed in your garden.

After several seasons dig up your Lovage in the spring and divide the root, or find and transplant new self-sown seedlings. You can preserve or use the root by washing it, and cutting it into small pieces. Dry the pieces on a screen and store away from light. Or, you can give the root to a fellow gardener to plant and grow their own Lovage plant. A gift that will be much appreciated. The Lovage plant will do much better after division.

Lovage is best used fresh, but you can freeze the leaves and stems. Blanch a handful of leaves in boiling water VERY quickly then quickly throw into a bowl of ice water for a couple of minutes. Drain, place in plastic freezer bags and freeze. The frozen Lovage can be minced and used in cooked dishes.

Add a teaspoon of fresh minced Lovage to your chicken soup during the last 15 or 20 minutes of cooking. You can also add it to hot or chilled vegetable, meat, potato or tomato soups. Add one to two tablespoons of minced fresh Lovage to your meatloaf recipes. Harvest Lovage seeds to use whole or ground in cakes, meats, biscuits, breads, sauces, cheeses, salad dressings, or pickles. Add fresh leavest to your favorite potato salad or coleslaw too.