Saturday, November 27, 2010

My favourite tea recipes

When I was a child, my mother and I always used to drink tea together. We spent so much time drinking tea and chatting to each other! Tea is a big part of culture in Russia, where I come from. Most of the year the weather is cold, so it's more than just a tradition that when you get home you have a big hot cuppa..... Nostalgic. Summer time is perfect for refreshing cold herbal tea's or fruit tea's.

I have collected a few of my favourite recipes from my childhood.
The ones which my grandma and my mum used to make.
Here they are. Some of them are very easy and quite common, but they are still my favourite, so I have decided to include them as well.

Winter lemon tea

For this one you'll need to brew black tea in a pot. You'll also need a sliced lemon and sugar or honey.
When tea is ready, pour it into cups, add 1-2 slices of lemon and sugar or honey to your taste to each cup.
Stir the tea, and watch it change its colour... smells delicious!

Apple tea

For a medium tea pot of black or green tea, cut up 1 apple and add apple pieces to the pot. Cover up with a lid and leave for 2 minutes. Add sugar or honey if desired. Ready to enjoy!

Strawberry tea

Perfect in summer, when strawberries are fresh and sweet. 
Brew your favourite black tea in a pot. Pick a few strawberries (about 5-7 small ones, or 2-3 big ones per cup, small berries are usually sweeter than big ones, and also strawberries turn sweeter if the weather is sunny!) 
Put the strawberries into cups, mush them with a fork, add 1-2 tea spoons of sugar per a cup, and mix well. Pour tea on top of strawberries and stir gently.

Summer time special

In summer, we used to spend time in our family holiday house, where we had a garden with lots of herbs and different berries. My mum often used to make this tea, I remember helping her to pick the ingredients for this.
But this tea would be a bit difficult to make, if you're living in the city. Here in Australia it's hard to find some of the ingredients, but if you're lucky you might be able to find all the leaves you need!

For this tea you'll need to pick:
a few strawberry leaves
a few blackcurrant leaves
a few mint leaves
a few leaves of sea-buckthorns bush
a few raspberry leaves
* plus a bit extra, if you like you can add a few springs of lemon balm!

You'll need to pick more smaller size leaves and less bigger size ones.
Put all of them in a large pot and pour hot boiling water on top. Cover with the lid and let the tea brew for about 5-10 minutes or longer, if you like the tea to be stronger.
You can wait until the tea cools down, if you like it cold.
Perfect in summer!

Hypericum (St. John's wort) tea

All you need for this one is stems of St. John's wort (leaves and flowers all together). Brew as usual black tea.
Tastes delicious, we used to drink this tea instead of black. Goes well with honey.

Mint tea

I love fresh mint tea. Easy to make, you just need a few stems of mint or spearmint and hot water. Light and refreshing!
* To add a little extra flavour, you can drop 2-4 lime leaves to the pot, this makes it even more refreshing.

Orange and cinnamon tea

You'll need 1 sliced up orange, ground cinnamon, honey or sugar and a freshly brewed black tea.
Put 1 slice of orange into a cup, add 1/3 of tea spoon of ground cinnamon and a tea spoon of honey or sugar. Pour hot tea on top.
This tea goes especially well in winter.

I love to experiment with my tea and I always look forward to experience new recipes!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Stay Fit During the Holidays with 10 Easy Exercises

I have received a request to feature an article about an exercise program on my blog. This is the first time I have been asked to publish anything on my blog, so it's very exciting for me. The article is written by Jessica Costello. And I'd like to thank her for choosing my blog to feature  the article! I have found this article very interesting and the exercise program itself is easy to take on. You're sure going to enjoy doing it! So, please, take you time and have a little read!

And here is a couple of words about Jessica.
Jessica is a writer with the outreach team at Gym Source. In addition to writing, she is also a personal trainer, working mainly with new moms looking to get fit after having their baby. Her specialties are fitness, and nutrition, and toning.

Jessica's article

Stay Fit During the Holidays with 10 Easy Exercises

Question: What's the best form of exercise?
Answer: The one you'll actually do!

As long as your fitness program: 
   A. Raises your heart rate
   B. Has a strength training component
   C. And is done at least thirty minutes a day five days a week – you'll experience significant health benefits.

Variety is the spice of life; it keeps you motivated and works better for your body by working different muscle groups. You don't need to go to a gym and use fitness equipment. In fact, here are ten simple, yet effective exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home that can help prevent putting on holiday weight:

1. Take a Hike/Stroll
It's also simple, low-impact and easy on the joints – just put on a comfortable pair of shoes, step outside and walk at a fairly brisk pace around your neighborhood. It's a great way to clear the head and improve your mood – it may be cold, but will give you an opportunity to enjoy all the lights and decorations for the holiday season.

2. Jump!
Act like your kids on Christmas morning! Jump up and down, or do some jumping jacks. They're a great way to get the heart pumping and the limbs loosened up. 15-20 repetitions with a minute or two of rest between sets for thirty minutes should be sufficient.  This will increase endurance and work on toning your thighs. 

3. "Drop and Give Me 20, Soldier!"
Push-ups confer all the same strength-training benefits of bench presses with barbells – without the risk of handling heavy weights and need for a "spotter." You can adjust the intensity by elevating your feet.  Push-ups do more than work your arms, they are a total body workout.
4. Lift That Leg
This provides a strength training workout for the thighs and adductors (muscles that attach the upper leg to the hip). If you can't manage leg lifts with a straight leg, bend the knee.

5. Washboard Abs?
You may not get "ripped" by doing crunches, but you'll definitely work your ab muscles – and this will award real benefits to your back as well, and you will see an improvement in toning your abs.

6. You Can Keep Running In Place...
...and you should. This is an exercise you can do while watching TV, making the "boob tube" actually good for something. You can also do it while stringing popcorn on the string for the tree.

7. The Squatters...
No, we don't mean settling land that isn't yours – it's what you do every time you sit in and get up from a chair. Just do it several times until you "feel the burn...", and

8. Household Weight Equipment
Cans of food, milk and water jugs, sacks of flour – you'd be amazed at how much weight training equipment is just sitting in your pantry or refrigerator. (Who knew your could actually lose weight with using your holiday baking ingredients?)

9. Roll Up The Carpet
The latest craze is dancing off the weight, but not all of us can get to the classes when they are offered and the videos cost more than Christmas.  Instead roll up the carpet, and crack up the tunes, whether it's Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas" or whatever is on the radio, dancing will increase your aerobic hear rate, and help with endurance training.

10. Steppin' Up
Finally, you don't have to buy a bench step and sign up for a step class to do step. Chances are you've got a step or two around your home. So while those cookies are in the oven, run the stairs a few times.  The timers will make great intervals and keep you fit while baking!

The fact of the matter is, that all of these are not difficult, and do not require patience, or a long drawn out explanation.  They are simple and they WORK.  So maybe you aren't getting fit on treadmills, or ellipticals, but the end result is the same and you will have a lot of extra cash to go and spend it on holiday gifts, or a treat for yourself!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Trust in the Lord

Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
        Never rely on what you think you know.
Remember the Lord in everything you do, and
        He will show you the right way.


Internat Cafe Devotions is hosting a once a week event called Word Filled Wednesday, to read more about it and to see the others partisipants you can by following the link:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Blueberry and ricotta chocolate cake (Low-fat)

 Excellent choice of dessert if you don't want to feel to guilty! 
Delicious chocolate cake which is also low fat. You can also make this cake with frozen raspberries or any other your favourite berries.

3/4 cup (165g) reduced-fat ricotta cheese
2 cups self-raising flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup caster sugar
100g fat reduced margarine, melted
1 cup hot water
1 cup frozen blueberries
For the blueberry sauce:
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a round cake tin with baking paper or lightly grease it.
Sift flour and cocoa into a bowl. Add sugar, margarine, water and ricotta. Mix well. Gently fold through blueberries. Pour mixture into the tin. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand in pan for 5 minutes. Turn onto the wire rack to cool.
Make blueberry sauce: Combine sugar and 2 tablespoons cold water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until syrup thickens slightly. Add blueberries. Remove from the heat and set aside for 15 minutes.
Cut cake into wedges, place on plates, pour the blueberry sauce over the cake and serve.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I will praise You, Lord!

I will praise You, Lord, with all my heart; 
I will tell of all the wonderful things 
        You have done. 
I will sing with joy because of You.
        I will sing praise to You, 
Almighty God.

PSALMS 9:1-2

Since it’s inception, the purpose of Word filled Wednesday is to share God’s word through photo, or graphic image combined with a verse from the Bible.
Internet Cafe Devotions is hosting a once a week event called Word Filled Wednesday, to read more about it and to see the others participants you can by following the link:
Internet Cafe Devotions

God Bless!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thinking about Moscow...

* * *
Yes! It"s settled! Now and for ever
I have left my dear old plain.
And the winged leaves of poplars will never
Ring and rustle above me again.

Our house will sag in my absence,
And my dog died a long time ago.
Me, I"m fated to die with compassions
In the crooked streets of Moscow, I know.

I admire this city of elm-trees
With decrepit buildings and homes.
Golden somnolent Asian entities
Are reposing on temple domes.

When the moonlight at night, dissipated,
Shines... like hell in the dark sky of blue!
I walk down the alley, dejected,
To the pub for a drink, maybe, two.

It"s a sinister den, harsh and roaring,
But in spite of it, all through the night
I read poems for girls that go whoring
And carouse with thieves with delight.

Now I speak but my words are quite pointless,
And the beat of my heart is fast:
"Just like you, I am totally worthless,
And I cannot re-enter the past".
Our house will sag in my absence.
And my dog died a long time ago.
Me, I"m fated to die with compassions
In the crooked streets of Moscow, I know.

Sergei Yesenin, transleted from Russian by Alex Vagapov

* * *
Да! Теперь решено. Без возврата
Я покинул родные поля.
Уж не будут листвою крылатой-
Надо мною звенеть тополя.

Низкий дом без меня ссутулится,
Старый пес мой давно исдох.
На московских изогнутых улицах
Умереть, знать, судил мне бог.

Я люблю этот город вязевый,
Пусть обрюзг он и пусть одрях.
Золотая дремотная Азия
Опочила на куполах.

А когда ночью светит месяц,
Когда светит... черт знает как!
Я иду, головою свесясь,
Переулком в знакомый кабак.

Шум и гам в этом логове жутком,
Но всю ночь напролет, до зари,
Я читаю стихи проституткам
И с бандитами жарю спирт.

Сердце бьется все чаще и чаще,
И уж я говорю невпопад:
Я такой же, как вы, пропащий,
Мне теперь не уйти назад.

Низкий дом без меня ссутулится,
Старый пес мой давно издох.
На московских изогнутых улицах
Умереть, знать, судил мне бог.

Сергей Есенин

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thinking about Moscow...

It has been awhile since I have visited Moscow. It's not easy sometimes to be far away from the place where you were born in.

It's nostalgic...
There are so many things I think about when I remember my Moscow, so many great memories. I love my Moscow, and those years I have spent there in this beautiful city!

Recently, I've been reading poetry of one Russian poet - Sergei Yesenin (Сергей Есенин). He is one of my favourite poets, he lived and wrote his works during the "Silver age" of Russian literature which was the beginning of 1900's.
He was a most talented, popular and loved poet.
Here is one of his poems.

Sergei Yesenin

     *  *  *
I have left my endeared   home,
Getting out of my Russia of blue.
    Little grove by the pond will warm
    My old mother"s sorrow anew.
    Like a golden croaker the moon
    Lies prostrate on the water tranquil.
    Grizzly hair, like apple-tree bloom,
    In my father"s beard will spill.
    I will not come back readily, and
   Singing blizzard will ring on and on.
   Maples guard my blue Russian land,
   Standing there, one-legged, all alone.
   And I know that it"s joyous for those
   Who"ve been kissing the rain of the leaves.
   For the maple and I, we both
   Are alike, in the head, that is.

    Translated from Russian by Alec Vagapov

          *  *  *

Я покинул родимый дом,
Голубую оставил Русь.
В три звезды березняк над прудом
Теплит матери старой грусть.
Золотою лягушкой луна
Распласталась на тихой воде.
Словно яблонный цвет, седина
У отца пролилась в бороде.
Я не скоро, не скоро вернусь!
Долго петь и звенеть пурге.
Стережет голубую Русь
Старый клен на одной ноге,
И я знаю, есть радость в нем
Тем, кто листьев целует дождь,
Оттого, что тот старый клен
Головой на меня похож.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Jamie Oliver's "Incredible Roasted Shoulder of Lamb"

Perfect for the family lunch or dinner. I have cooked this recipe a few times now and every times it turns out delicious!


1 (2 kg) shoulder of lamb
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh rosemary
1 bulb garlic, unpeeled, broken into cloves
For the mint sauce:
1 tablespoon plain flour
2 cups good-quality hot chicken or vegetable stock
1 large bunch fresh mint, leaves picked
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
* the original recipe had 2 heaped tablespoons drained, chopped capers in it, but I don't use them here


The lamb:
Preheat your oven to full whack, (250C degree).
Slash the fat side of the lamb all over with a sharp knife. Lay half the sprigs of rosemary and half the garlic cloves on the bottom of a high-sided roasting pan, rub the lamb all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place it in the pan on top of the rosemary and garlic, and put the rest of the rosemary and garlic on top of the lamb. Tightly cover the tray with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Turn the oven down immediately to 325 degrees F and cook for 4 hours - it's done if you can pull the meat apart easily with 2 forks.

The sauce:
Remove the lamb from the oven and place it on a chopping board. Cover it with foil, then a kitchen towel, and leave it to rest. Pour away most of the fat from the roasting pan. Put the pan on the stove top over medium heat and mix in the flour. Add the stock, stirring and scraping all the sticky goodness off the bottom of the pan. You won't need gallons of gravy, just a couple of flavorsome spoonfuls for each serving.
* Here you need to add the capers if you wish.
Reduce the heat after and simmer for a few more minutes.
Finely chop the mint and add it to the sauce with the red wine vinegar at the last minute then pour into a pitcher.
Serve with greens and some boiled, smashed or roasted veggies.
Absolutely delish!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Our amazing nature!...

"We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
...we borrow it from our Children"
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Open the door, get outside and start walking! Nature is so beautiful!
It surrounds us every day, where ever we go. But it is so easy to take it for granted, not to notice what is around us. How often do you lift your eyes up and look at the sky and notice how beautiful it is?
And it is beautiful, always, no matter what, it is always different, and it can be hard to take your eyes off it, once you've noticed it!

It's quite remarkable, or should I say a bit embarrassing, we have lived in our town for nearly a year now, and only last weekend we have discovered a new (for us) amazingly beautiful walk way.
It goes down the local river, and leads towards park land.
The park looks almost wild, filled with astonishing breath taking sounds, birds, animals, which are freely swimming in the water or flying in the sky. Ducks and geese come up to you, in hopes do get a bit of bread, turtles poking their heads from the muddy water of the river. Horses eating the fresh grass further in the field, wild turkeys running by right near you. And all of this is happening so not far away from where we live! Just half an hour walk, and you are in the native wild bush land of Australia!

We don't always notice it, but it is here! God's hand created our Earth, and God is calling for us, no matter where we are and what we are doing. And it is not hard to hear him, you just need to listen.
Get outdoors in the nature, take a deep breath of fresh air and look around.....