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do not worry about what you will eat or what you will wear

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Brasov, Romania

Our clothes are wearing out a bit. We’ve been living in the same two long-sleeved tops, two short-sleeved tops, two long pants and two short pants for over a year now. Handwashing gets things really clean, but it is also much harder on clothes than a fancy-schmancy washing machine (which I have missed far less than I anticipated – probably due in large part to the fact that the older five children wash all of their own clothes and Rob seems to squish the rest around the sink. He’s my hero!)
Romania is full of second-hand clothes stores, which in turn are full of reasonable clothes at more-than-reasonable prices. And so I’ve picked up a few pieces. If we had more time to sift through and try things on, we could get even more, but I’ve spent almost the whole day in front of the computer screen, tidying up the blog.
I realised I was waaaay behind on our Room With A View pictures. Not any more. If you really have nothing better to do and want to have a look at the 153 different places we have slept in so far, you can do so RIGHT HERE. Or if you’d like to see just a small selection from a hilltribe hut to a beachside spot, you can CLICK HERE.
While I was at it, I updated the DRESSED TRADITIONALLY page. It is about as sparse as our own wardrobes. We had a vision of taking lots of traditional dress pictures, but it just didn’t happen. I think we got a bit caught up with food pics! If you don’t mind slobber all over your keyboard, I’ve added lots and lots and lots of pictures to the NOURISHMENT TRADITIONS page. Warning: if you are on dialup, you’ll need to go and bake your bread for a whole week and pickle some gherkins while the page loads.

Exciting note for the sock-knitters, who follow this blog.
We brought along a few pairs of shop-socks and a pile of handknit socks.
Guess which ones have worn the best – by a looooong way. We don’t have one pair of shop socks without a hole (the last pair surrendered on our walk on Saturday). Only one pair of handknit socks has got a hole – and that was not made with proper sock wool. So there ya go. Keep on knitting.

PS It’s one month ’til Christmas!


Monday, November 16th, 2009

Brasov, Romania

New apartment.
New neighbourhood.
New market.
New prices (surprisingly more like Germany than Poland)

Leo and Lili organised an apartment for us to rent for our month here. We said we only needed a small one, but this was an impossibility. No-one was willing to rent a small apartment to someone with eight kids. So we have ended up in a very spacious two-storey, two-bathroom sprawling mansion!! Just the entrance hall alone is bigger than the living space in both our motorhomes put together! Then there’s another hallway (even larger) upstairs, not to mention three double bedrooms, a kitchen bigger than we have at home, an ENORMOUS lounge and dining area and a balcony.
To call it two-storey is perhaps a little misleading. We have two floors, but they are both within the context of a six-storey building – up near the top. The rest of the block is occupied by offices, which are a hive of activity during the day, but quiet at night. There’s a 24hour security man and a view across a busy main road (bus stop right at the door) to apartment blocks.

Right on our street are small supermarkets, kiosks, pizzeria, petrol station, hair dresser (who also does manicures, pedicures and something we don’t understand), travel agent, light shop, second-hand clothing store (there are five of these within ten minutes’ walk in one direction), and, of course, a gazillion apartments.
One block over is a big supermarket – no, let me rephrase that. It is not big by French Carrefour standards, neither is it big by even Kiwi standards, but it is bigger than the more frequent little mini-markets. There is also The Market. A huge high-roofed affair, it has small shops around the outside – butcher, baker, cheese-ery, random-goods-store, and in the middle are rows of high wooden tables. Mostly fresh fruit and vegetables are displayed on these, but there are also hand-hacked wooden spoons, baskets, a great stack of dark grey dinner-plates and other miscellaneous items. There are four shining milk dispensers – bring your own bottle and go home with fresh raw milk!

Generally speaking the produce lacks the finesse of the Polish market – most probably because far less of it is imported. There ARE grapes and bananas, but not pineapples or avocadoes or mangoes. In contrast, there is plenty of horseradish, bunches of dried herbs, jars of pickled everything – in fact there are metre-high tubs of pickled gherkins and whole pickled cabbages – and there are parsnips, beetroot, carrots, potatoes, turnips, garlic, beans. Soup will definitely be on the menu. In fact, it already has been. Our favourite pumpkin soup has turned all the tastier with the addition of Eastern European sausage and sweet peppers. YUMMO.


The bread is delish. It’s reminiscent of South Italian semolina bread – crunchy crust, doughy inside, fairly solid. White, but not fluffy. It comes in big loaves – two kilos worth, but you just buy as much as you want. There are other breads too (brown, plaited, plain fluffy white, batons, rolls), but this big round loaf seems to be the main bread of choice. It’s certainly become our favourite.
Our sweets-ectasy of Krakow, was always going to be hard to replicate. It would be difficult to do in New Zealand, and we get the feeling it will be impossible here. The Romanian range of cakes seems to be more closely related to that in Bulgaria than Poland. In the shops, that is. At Lili’s apartment we had a divine pumpkin cake, and tomorrow we’ll make  scrumptious cinnamon and apple rolls at our place – but, thankfully, we will be spared the temptation of putting on weight here!

New Recipes.

1/2 C warm water
1 packet yeast (about 1t, I guess)

1/2C scalded milk
1/3C butter
1/4C sugar
1t salt
1 egg
   Add in that order, allowing the butter to melt before adding egg

2C flour
   Add to milk mixture and mix until smooth
   Then add yeast mixture

1 1/2-2C flour
   Add a little at a time, until not too sticky
   Set aside in a warm place (yay for radiators!) until doubled in size (~1 1/2 hours)
   Roll out into a large rectangle
   Cover with any of the following:
      butter, sugar (brown is nice, but we could only buy white), cinnamon, grated
      apple, chopped nuts (it’s walnut season here), chocolate chips (we didn’t!)
   Roll up tightly from the long edge and slice into as many pieces as you’d like
   (maybe about a dozen)
   Place spirals in a greased oven dish and set aside to rise for another half hour

Ours rose so much that there was no room to pour over the syrup and we just had to add it when serving, but if there is space in your dish, it’s really yummy to pour over a syrup made with 1/4C sugar and 1C water – goes nice-n-gooey.
Bake for 30 minutes, probably at 180*C, but we had a temperamental gas oven!


And LILI’S PUMPKIN CAKE (note 1C=150ml)
4 eggs
2C sugar
   Beat together

2C milk
1 packet vanilla
zest from one lemon, grated
2C oil

1T baking soda
pinch of salt
   Add until the dough is no longer pourable, but not too thick
   In a greased oven dish, spread out half the dough

~1kg fresh pumpkin, grated
1C sugar
   Combine and spread over top of dough

1t cinnamon
~1C chopped nuts
   Sprinkle over and top with remaining dough
   Bake at 200*C for one hour
For a big oven dish, use six eggs and change the cups to 200ml!!!

Take about a kilo of chillies, chop them up and pack them into (probably four) jars.
Heat 1/2l vinegar, 1/2l water, 2T sugar, 2T salt, 1t peppercorns and 4 bay leaves. Pour over the chillies and seal the jars.
Cover with a towel and blankets for 24 hours (really, truly)

We added these to the soup Lili served the day we arrived.
She thought it hilarious that Rob then also added them to his layered potatoes.
Lili offered more with his coffee. This time he declined.
But we did eat more the following morning on eggs.

boys need daddies

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009
Krakow, Poland Look how nippy it was this morning:

And last night it was –11*C in Brasov, where we are soon headed, so everyone is hoping the forecast snow will be a biggie! Anyway, I digress, ... [Continue reading this entry]

down nostalgia lane

Saturday, October 31st, 2009
Krakow, Poland From ulica Batorego we used to walk to the Stary Kleparz (the old market you’ve seen in previous posts). This time we are staying virtually at the market and we walked back to Batorego, home to the second ... [Continue reading this entry]

“What do you write about on a day like today when we did nothing mum?” asked Kboy12

Thursday, October 29th, 2009
Krakow, Poland Well, my dear boy, speak for yourself! YOU may have done nothing, but someone went to the market this morning to buy our food for the day. So I could write about the things I saw, the conversations I ... [Continue reading this entry]

bike, bus and braying donkey

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009
Biser, Bulgaria (and a trip to Haskovo for Rob and Kboy12) by Rach....and Rob writes, too What do you do when two of the boys take a van for the day and you really don’t know how long they are going ... [Continue reading this entry]

Branching out from Biser…and Back

Sunday, October 4th, 2009
Biser, Bulgaria Lunch in Harmanli, the only town we have been in so far where you have to drive up a no exit street right in front of the police station to get to the restaurant! Staple mixtures of tomatoes, white ... [Continue reading this entry]

Biser emBraces

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009
Biser, Bulgaria We’ve been here a week and haven’t even walked through the village. Unheard of for us! But in some ways it didn’t matter where we were right now – just had to be off Schengen territory and preferably ... [Continue reading this entry]

bedlam, bones and a blowout

Friday, October 2nd, 2009
Biser, Bulgaria What a crazy afternoon!

At midday we had an appointment with the editor/photographer/storywriter from the local rag (who we met yesterday whilst nibbling at pizzas in Harmanli), and at the same time the camp owner (who lives in ... [Continue reading this entry]

bulgaria begs…..those unasked questions

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009
Biser, Bulgaria We have heard murmurings of questions people want to ask, but can’t bring themselves to. So we thought we’d just tell you. If we miss anything, do feel free to ask us outright – we are very hard ... [Continue reading this entry]