Wednesday, 20 April 2011

"The person we love needs space in order to be happy. In a flower arrangement, each flower needs space around it in order to radiate its true beauty. A person is like a flower. Without space within and around her, she cannot be happy.  [...] When the person we love is happy, happiness comes back to us right away. We give to her, but we are giving to ourselves at the same time."

Thich Nhat Hanh, "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching"

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Tzatziki, radish and alfalfa sprouts

Since the weather has been very hot in the last few days I have completely changed my eating habits. I go for fresh, raw and crunchy vegetables served with my favourite Mediterranean dips, like hummus or tzatziki. Add focaccia or piadina or carasau bread and you have it: my ten-minute-ready recipe for my home-alone lunch meal...

Easy. Tasty. 

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

cucumber: 1 cup (1 cucumber approximately) - peeled
Greek yoghurt: 1 cup ( 300 gr. approximately)
garlic: 1 small clove - finely minced
extra virgin olive oil: 2 tablespoons
apple vinegar: 1 tablespoon (or 1 tbls lemon juice)
salt: ½ tablespoon
alfalfa sprouts: 1/2 cup – washed and drained
radish: 5 small - sliced

Grate or finely chop the cucumber. Toss with salt in a colander, and let drain for 20 minutes. Squeeze the cucumber between paper towels to absorb the excess moisture.
Combine yoghurt, extra virgin olive oil, apple vinegar (or lemon juice), garlic and salt. Add cucumber and stir well. Keep covered in the fridge for at least one hour to combine flavours.

Scoop two or three spoonfuls of tzatziki in each serving bowl (or large glass), then alternate radish slices with tzatziki and top with alfalfa sprouts.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

"You have a right to the performance of action alone, its fruits are never within your control. Do not perform action with an eye to its fruits, nor let there be any attachment to the non-performance of action."

The Bhagavad Gītā

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Homemade alfalfa sprouts

Here it comes. The blooming season. Bright sunny days and fantastic summer weather have at last awakened nature after this long winter sleep.

I am lucky enough to live close to chestnut and wattle woods and capture this delightful moment of the year, when green sprouts and white buds paint the wood with sparkling colours.

Back in the kitchen, I managed to re-create this 'nature-blooming-in-a-bottle' effect by growing homemade alfalfa sprouts. Not only it is a surprisingly easy and pleasant activity (highly recommended for children, though M. was not very interested I have to confess) but also rewarding: alfalfa sprouts are the richest and most nutritious sprouts. They contain a complete range of vitamins and minerals as well as high quantity of proteins, so grow your own sprouts and you'll have super natural and nutritious salads every day!

alfalfa sprouts seeds

glass jar

Always use orgainc seeds packaged for sprouting and do not choose seeds meant for planting (they are often treated with chemical pesticides, etc. etc.).
For a small-sized jar (250-400 ml), put one tablespoon and a half of small seeds in the sprouting jar. I used very small jars so I put approx. 2 teaspoon each. Cover top of jar with muslin cloth and fix with a rubber band. Rinse the seeds with water, drain and refill. Let the seeds soak 8-12 hours.

Rinse 2 to 3 times per day for 3 to 4 days, by turning the jar upside down on the kitchen sink.
After 3 or 4 days the sprouts should be filling up the jar.
I have to tell that I expose the sprouting jars to indirect sunlight, even though it is not suggested (almost forbidden!). Most sprouts will be fine if they get indirect natural light though, there is no need to keep them dark. For more practical ingormation and tips, visit here

When the sprouts are ready  rinse them with cold water to remove hul.

Sprouts will keep for about a week in the refrigerator if you rinse them once every day or two.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

"Foolish people believe that happiness is the result of the external world and so they pursue that. You see, there is no chance of happiness if control is in the hands of others. If we invest all our hopes in achieving peace of mind and happiness in the external world, we will be under the control of the external world. We will be pulled this way and that, running to join this club, or running to buy that product. We spend so much money. And then we have to work the rest of the year to earn the money to be able to continually run this way and that. Finally, we die, exhausted, still unsatisfied."

Thubten Gyatso, "Transforming Problems into the Dharma Path" 

Friday, 1 April 2011

Homemade raw vegetable stock

Last friday I went to our local market and came back home packed with vegetables and food.
On Monday, Maddalena, our 2-yr-old girl, got sick and I had to rearrange my working schedule and daily routines completely. Moreover M. showed lost her appetite and refused any sort of food (fruit juice and milk excluded) and I had no time to cook a proper meal in days.
Still I had to use the vegetables in some way... then the idea of homemade vegetable stock popped into my mind and I found myself in the kitchen, washing and chopping carrots, celery, leeks...
I have to thank a friend of mine for handing this recipe out to me - together with a tiny jar of stock she made with homegrown vegetables. Since then I got completely addicted ...I also like the fact that it's a good way to 'recycle' vegetables you may have discarded from other recipes or homemade juice leftovers.

I have recently found the same recipe on 101 cookbooks website, where you'll find more useful suggestions.


carrots: 200 gr
celery: 200 gr
onion:200 gr
tomato:200 gr
garlic: 1 clove
persil: 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley
sage: 1 sprig
marjoram, or basil: 1 sprig
salt: 270 gr fine grain sea salt

Wash carefully and roughly chop the vegetables and fine herbs. Peel the garlic clove and onion then chop.
Place some of the vegetables and garlic clove in a food processor and pulse several times.They will collapse and leave room for other ingredients to be added in the the bowl. Add some more vegetables and pulse again. Repeat this process several times until you'll get a smooth vegetable puree. Then add the herbs. You may need to scoop some of the chopped vegetables on top of the herbs, so that the herbs get chopped too. Finally add salt and mix well.

You'll get a salty concentrated paste that you can keep in small (250 gr) glass jars or ice cube trays (if you need to freeze them), according to your needs. Remember to use only one teaspoon of stock every 250 ml (1 cup) of water/liquid, since it is very very salty!

You can choose your own vegetables for this stock recipe but remember to weigh the vegetables and herbs first, and add salt in this proportion: 1/3 of salt of the total vegetable weight.

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