The main reason why my last post is from July (geee!) is that I found myself thinking about writing and then concluding that I would only repeat what I wrote last year at about same time. So I was kinda waiting for some excitement to happen that I would be happy to report about.
But then, even as the said excitement happened in the form of meeting someone who bakes bread, lives about 10 minutes away from Pruga, is French (well, almost, not sure if Belgium French counts 🙂 and was interested in baking bread for Pruga (!) – I did not write. Go figure!
So, I am making for it up now. Luckily I did take the picture of the first batch (with my phone, at night, so not really showing it off in the best way). Believe me that the bread is great – we and our last few guests enjoyed it very much. I am sure he would have a very happy customer base here in Zagreb. There are about zillion bread bakeries in Zagreb and maybe one or two makes so so bread. Mostly it is spongy, airy, tasteless nothings. I ventured into making my own a few times, and it was great, and not even hard, especially with the famous no-knead one – however, I still find myself too lazy.
On the other hand, I did make a point of spending this winter in perfecting pizza dough so I am fully ready for next season in which we plan to fire the bread oven more than twice (which is how many times we did it this year). First time, our wonderful, adventurous guests decided they can do it. We couldn’t really point them in the right direction – just gave them vague instructions and some wood. There was a lot of smoke (from damp wood mostly) and while pizza made it in and out of the oven – it wasn’t as great as we were hoping for. Heat that wasn’t high enough (ie damp wood) was probably the main culprit.
We did it once more when we organised a party for our neighbours – this time Tone made the fire, and neighbours donated dry wood – and the result was spectacular. (Note to myself – find a way of taking pictures at night that can be used at this blog.) We baked meat and potatoes rather than pizza and was yummy. Most importantly, we watched the process, and I think we now know how much wood is needed (one heaping full wheelbarrow) and how long it needs to burn for (until the inside of the oven is fully covered with fine white ash, at least for two hours). This was late-ish in the season and as the rain never really stopped, we didn’t repeat the experience. Unfortunately.
But as the next year the weather will be perfect for firing wood fired ovens, we plan lots of pizza parties for all interested parties. And the dough I have perfected already. Made it three times now and it was great every time. Here is the recipe. You can see I am the fan of the no-knead method. It really works with no modifications – I follow the steps exactly. And I looove this guy’s voice and manner – heheee. I will make quite a few more this winter to test all different types of yeast and flour so I really get the proper feel for it. Yay!
In other news – there were no news. Life in general is cyclical of course. And living in the countryside you get extra special confirmation of that. In the spring you sow, in the summer and autumn you reap what you sow. Unless rain and bugs didn’t destroy it. In which case you buy (non-organic) from your neighbour. And then another spring (hopefully) comes…
The rain meant that even our tiny wood had serious mushroom yield. I walked around the village one day with the basket asking everybody to confirm which ones are edible. I got many different answers and in the end threw away even chanterelles for which I was certain are not only edible, but very nice indeed. Still, the picture in nice.
I see now that most of these photos are sunny. That is because I felt like taking photos only when there was even a hope of a sun ray.
Most of September was spent making jams and canning. I made wild blackberry (superb!) and dogwood (my favourite but sometimes acquired taste as it is rather tart regardless of quantity of sugar) jams. Complete pain in the butt to extract the pulp away from the seeds and I only got two or three tiny jars of each. (Rosehip is the third one along the same line of extreme difficulty in making – as you have to wait for the first frost ideally to pick the rosehip, I miss the ones from our wood as we are in Zagreb already by then. Maybe one year… ) Still, will definitely do it all again next year. Even if only for my own winter breakfast pleasure. Bread, butter and jam is perfect breakfast for me (not nutritionally of course). If only I can figure out the way for the Frenchman to teleport that bread from Istria to Zagreb!
This is the end result of all the September 2014 work. Includes ajvar and tomato sauce of course. With tomatoes, peppers and aubergines sourced from green market in Rijeka as it was impossible to find them in Istria – rainy summer meant no crops or extortionate prices.
As for our exploring Istria – always feel we haven’t even scratched the surface yet. Still, we finally took our dusty bikes to Parenzana one beautiful October weekend. We cycled through tunnels and over viaducts and finally saw wonderful Završje!
So, now slowly gathering inspiration for next year’s small improvements to Pruga experience.
And feeling sorry for MjuMju who is still desperately meowing in front of our flat entrance door, begging to be let out. Those city pigeons, seen from afar and from behind the window, really do her head in. Sorry MjuMju – no great outdoors until next April!