One of those good and tasty autumn days in Istria

12 Oct

Good people have time.
– Duško Radović

On a day like this, the above quote pops up in my mind a lot. If I try to persist being in a hurry, everything starts to work against me. What I learned to do is to hear the very first signal and stop pushing myself. Pushing would only make me nervous, I wouldn’t get anything done, anyway, my day would be ruined.

So I said to myself: “Relax and allow the beauty of life to touch you. Let go off all the worries. That’s what life is all about on a day like this.”

Days like this are worth living for. That’s when I am able to really look around and let immense gratitude flood me. I am alive! Life is amazing! Not because something changed on the outside, but because my eyes suddenly changed and became capable of seeing this.

Thank you David for the watermelon, wild leek and quinces, thank you Jure for the pumpkin, thank you mom for carrots, mangold and parsley, thank you Lovro for mint and lemon balm, thank you nature for everything!

Thank you David for the watermelon, wild leek and quinces, thank you Jure for the pumpkin, thank you mom for carrots, mangold and parsley, thank you Lovro for mint and lemon balm, thank you nature for everything!

In the morning I went for a meeting to discuss future plans for Network for Revival of Istria. For more than half an hour we weren’t productive. We talked and talked … mostly about various methods how to preserve olives. Ah … At first I was a bit nervous, but then I relaxed and reminded myself: “Hey, it is one of those days, remember?”

Take it   e a s y

On the way home I stopped at a Smoke bush, which was, mysteriously enough, still covered with fluffy growth — from which it derives the name. This fluffy stuff is my favourite natural bathroom tissue. I picked quite a lot – I’ll have exquisitely enjoyable ass-wiping for at least a week or two!

When I came back to Pomjan I went to collect old bricks for the stove that we’re building at Hrvoji. David wasn’t home. But his mother walked out from the house to greet me and we talked for half an hour or more. She explained where she was born, how she grew up, how their farm had many cows and pigs, how her father got his first job, how he hunted partridges and pheasants so they always ate well. Simple but well. The best was hard bread with freshly skimmed cream and a little sugar on top, she said. For a long time she spoke how grateful she is to my mother for helping her recover after pelvic fracture, encouraging her, giving her strength. Our conversation went on and on …

Just as I was about to leave, David came. He was hungry and wanted to eat first, so we agreed we would load the bricks a few hours later. I only picked a few jujubes for a quick snack and pulled from the ground some wild leeks as I often do when I come for a visit. They don’t eat wild leek. I love it!

I went home to cook lunch. It was 2 p.m. and since I haven’t eaten anything yet on that day my first thought was: “Let’s make something quick.”

But this wasn’t a day for such a meal. It was a day to appreciate every little thing and take time for it. So I changed my mind and started to peal and cut quinces for chutney. This will take time … And I haven’t made quince chutney for years!

Quince chutney and rice

I melted some butter and roasted one cinnamon stick, 8 cloves, 5 cardamom pods, 1 bay leaf, 1 tablespoon of finely cut ginger root. I had a big bowl of quinces ready so I transferred them into the pot and cooked them for 30 minutes or so, stirring at just right intervals to allow for browning at the bottom and to avoid burning. After 20 minutes I added 150-200 g of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of turmeric and stirred well. In the end, just before I turned off the heat, I added a full tablespoon of finely shredded lemon balm and mint leaves.

In a small pot I dry roasted 100 g of basmati rice over low heat – for approximately 10 minutes while stirring often. Then I added water and a pinch of salt, brought the rice to the boil and let it cook for 15 minutes – without stirring! Then I let it rest for 5 more minutes.
03_MealTh


Sauteed
 vegetables

In the second pot I sauteed vegetables.

I finely cut a few leaves of Istrian cabbage (I have to mention that I picked the veggies in the garden just before I started cooking 😛 ) and had them ready close to the pot. Then I fried spices in 2 tablespoons of hot ghee – first 1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds (until it stopped popping), then 1 teaspoon of curry leaves. I added the cabbage and let it saute for about 3 minutes, then I added finely cut leeks, and 10 minutes later carrots, cut to thin rings. A bit later I added 3 leaves of mangold, finely cut, too. Oh, and some more spices, yes! ¼ teaspoon black pepper, a tiny bit of chilli, some fenugreek leaves and 200 g of sour cream. 7-8 minutes later I turned off the heat, added 50 grams of fine organic Gouda cheese and 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley. I stirred and let the dish rest for another 3 minutes for the tastes to blend and settle.

Fine, fine cutting

I have to explain why I keep saying “finely cut”. It is not only because I cut the veggies to very small bits. It is also because I first sharpened the knife really well. So cutting was poetry!

I used a sharpening stone which I made in the summer from a stone I found on the beach … that day was also one of those lazy days. I squatted naked right at the sea rubbing the stone against another stone like a stone-age man until the stone was the shape I wanted. It took me a long time … but it was worth it!

02_SharpeningStoneTh

This was actually the first time that I used my own handmade sharpening stone. Until today I never took time to do it. I was happy to see how well it worked! I also learned a lesson: take more time for good stuff more often.

Now back to the meal …

Because it was one of those days I finished by roasting 2 poppadoms. Then I served the food nicely on a plate, tossed some shining yellow rocket flowers on top, poured some olive oil over rice and walked to a sunny spot nearby.

Sun-eating, not sun-bathing

I took off my clothes and sat down on the ground. The temperature was about 15ºC, but in the sun I could see droplets of sweat appearing on my chest and belly.

And what a sight in front of me! Such a delicious looking meal!

04_NakedMealTh

I ate slowly and relished every single morsel. The combination of tastes was superb – the emotional intensity of spices and vegetables combining with the melancholic depth of sour-cream and cheese, mellowed down with bland seriousness of rice. Quince chutney added some sweet n sour high-pitched notes, the poppadom percussion was crunching and wrapping all other tastes in rhythm.

Looking to my right I noticed some stalks of grass and picked them to clean my teeth. That’s what I use instead of dental floss. As I did this I leaned back and enjoyed the fulfilling sensation in my entire body.
05_GrassTh

It’s all about goodness and gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful force if you only allow it to gain momentum. Whenever I do something good, I give birth to gratitude in the recipient of my goodness. Gratitude spawns more goodness, goodness enhances gratitude. Etc. etc.

Humanity is a network of goodness and gratitude. Community is made of little acts of giving and receiving that make love possible.

And none of this is possible without time.

My mother could help David’s mother, because she took time. I made David a favor and he made a favor for me, because we took time to. Whenever you do good, you do it because you are able to take time to do it.

A huge blunder of our modern civilization is that we squander time so lightly.

So today I took time to digest not only the fabulous meal, but also the goodness and gratitude that made this day so special because I decided to take time and be there for others and for myself. I took time to write down my impressions and realizations, and I took time to share it with good people that took time to read it.

So let me write these worlds in letters of gold:

GoodPeopleHaveTimeTh2

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One Response to “One of those good and tasty autumn days in Istria”

  1. cicorm October 12, 2015 at 9:24 pm #

    Thank you for sharing, Nara! It is true that we need to make a little time each day to reflect on and act with gratitude!

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