Post 23: Birthday & Holiday Fever! 99 to go!

 

Kat wakes up and doodles about life:

 

Yes, my friend literally had to text me today to find out if I am alive as I have not been in touch for like a week! On Sunday whilst I was at work doing my last shift I got a text message from my potential student (and his girlfriend) that they cannot make the introduction session later on that afternoon. To be honest I was relieved as I had pretty enough already and was even glad to make it home on my bike.

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Day 85: Merry Christmas n.1- in Czech style!!! 7 days to go!

Kat doodles about life:

Merry Christmas to me and everybody else, who officially celebrates today! If everything goes the way it should, as some of the plans have already changed, I should be attending another party tomorrow and I am having another dinner on Thursday, so that is why I am calling today’s post n.1! Mince pies are in the oven, whisky ready for tomorrow, fish is defrosting and potato salad is cooling in the fridge. And since I have promised the recipe, here it is.

Czech traditional potato salad ( for Christmas dinner and other occasions)

Ingredients:

potatoes, 1-2 onions, 3-4 carrots, 1-2 parsnips, 4 eggs, jar of gherkins, tin of garden peas, mayo, tartare sauce, mustard, salt, pepper, for decoration: red pepper, cloves, 2 boiled eggs. curly parsley

Instructions:

Simply said it is a bowl of potatoes and bowl of the other vegetables all together, all cut into small cubes. What you have to do is slowly boil pot of larger potatoes in the skin, then cool them in water, peel and cut into the cube shapes. In another pot boil peeled whole carrots, do the same with  parsnips (or today I used turnips, because parsnips sold out for some reason), and eggs, cool down in water and cut into cubes again. Tip the boiled cubed vegetables into a bowl together with finely chopped onion, peas and gherkins. With gherkins I normally use about two to three large ones, but it all depends on the size of a jar. They give the salad extra edge, so I feel you can never go wrong with too many. Plus I eat few as I cook along, so it is good to be prepared. Make sure you only use the whole ones, not the sliced ones, as the taste is fairly different. With the condiments I use one teaspoons of English mustard, 2 teaspoons of mayo, 2 teaspoons of tartare sauce is just about fine. I hardly eat any of these sauces nowadays, but for the salad it is just about the right amount. When you finish making the salad, see if it needs more pepper, salt, perhaps caraway seeds, we do add them to boiling potatoes too. You may need to add extra few gherkins or boiled eggs depends on the taste to bring it together. What you do is mix it well together and leave it in the fridge over night to get all the flavours mixed together and cool to get that firm crunchy feel. Before serving, taste it again to see if it needs any extra of the used ingredients.

There are different variations of potato salad depending on each family. Some people add an apple, some add “kabanos”, which is a type of sausage, similar type to German Frankfurters sausages you can find in Lidl. I keep mine vegetarian, just to make it simple for everybody. Back home we also use local mustard, not the English one I use here, and Hellman’s tartare sauce, which for some reason you cannot buy in the UK.

When it comes to serving I cut the side of the red pepper (where is the stalk), so I get that circle and put it into the middle of a fancy bowl to present it nicely. I slice the rest into strips to decorate the edges. You can boil two to three eggs, cut them in half and put in between the red peppers along the edge. My mum always used to use cloves to create smiley faces on the eggs, so I do exactly the same. Feel free to use some curly parsley  to finish the salad bowl of.

The traditional Czech Christmas dinner would be pea or fish soup, potato salad and breaded carp (or other fish) or special circled sausage. If you search for “vinna klobasa”, you will know what I mean. Our family always ate lot of fish during the year, so we would eat anything from eels, trouts to pikes on Christmas Day, not just the carp. You salt the fish, dip it in flour, eggs and then breadcrumbs, leave to chill and deep fry.

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After Christmas dinner when you go up to Christmas tree, once the baby Jesus has been round with presents, how exciting, you have sung the Christmas songs and you are just about ready to watch the Christmas fairy tale on tv, you can nibble on little sweet desserts. We call it “cukrovi”. They say if you are a good housewife, there should be about twelve different kinds made. I reckon whoever came up with that, must have been a man, as he had no idea how long these take to make. In practice it means that about a month before Christmas what you do as a child with your mum, auntie and grandma, you bake and decorate all these little sweet cakes and are forced to glue trays and trays of them with jam, cover in chocolate, decorate with nuts or whatever else needs to be done. By the time they are ready for Christmas time, everyone is so sick of them, so when I turn up from the UK for holidays at home, I am happily open to accept them from anyone, who had enough. Twice I was holding afternoon tea with tasting session of mince pies and the British pudding for my friends and it was rather wonderful. My mother was very happy, she no longer had to bake as everyone brought box of cukrovi with them! To see what I mean, just search for “cukrovi” and I am sure there will be plenty of translated recipes. I personally stick to the minces pies and Christmas pudding, my British favourites, if I am staying over here like this year.

After the fairy tale you would go to the church for midnight mass (even you do not really believe, it is a tradition). Everyone pops out for a bit for that little fresh winter walk or any pub, which is open. Since I come from a small town, it is really nice as meet lot of your friends out and about and have that little catch up. We celebrate Christmas Day also by eating lentil soup for lunch, or any non-meaty dish and to make you stay away from any temptations as a child, we say if you do not eat, you will see a gold pig. One year I took it too seriously as a child and around four pm I fainted. That was the end of a golden pig fable for me and mum never allowed me to try again.

On the day you can also melt lead and dip it into the water. Depending on the shape of which comes out, you can predict future. Other old fashioned traditions are cutting apples into half or sending little candles stuck in walnut shells around in your bathroom sink. To keep the fortune at home, you keep few scale of the carp you have purchased from big buckets, which appear on streets just before Christmas, and put them under your dinner plate. After you put it into wallet with your change. It is suppose to bring luck and make the money stay with you or bring them to you.

So here it is, this is how Czechs celebrate Christmas Day on 24th December. Here is a picture of my dinner and hopefully tomorrow I will get to decorate the salad properly in style, when I go and celebrate with my British friends. For now I wish you all the best, everyone have fantastic time and I am back soon. With love Kat xx

P.S. Look what present Baby Jesus brought me! Isn’t it wonderful?! Perhaps Santa will bring a car tomorrow. 😀

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My Little Garden.

Kat gets arty/green fingered and doodles about life:

I grew up half the time in the city, half the time in the country.  As a child I was forced to help gardening. I hated it. As a teenager I have grown to like it. Now I love it. It is beautiful experience to see something developing from a seed you put in a pot in March and in August it will turn into something you can eat. Here are my favourite shots from last year and this year so far. Enjoy.

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