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A letter from Istanbul – Walking towards Taksim

Zanzana  translates here from Italian a letter she received from her dearest friend H., where you can read about the last hours of demonstrations in Istanbul. Zanzana thanks H. a lot, for the letter and the pictures, and wishes to her beloved Turkey the best future possible.
Dear Zanzana,
how are you?
The situation in Turkey is very confused: for the first time in my life, I went to a demonstration. I am now writing from the ferryboat, the one connecting Asia with Europe. I don’t know what the European press is saying about us.
Everything started at Gezi Park. The government wanted to build a mall in the park. Some young environmentalists started to sleep there in their tents, with families and children, in order to protect the park. They were sleeping there, and they were reading books during the day. On Thursday evening, also my friends went there. That night, everybody was sleeeping when the police started to shoot tear gas and pepper spray on innocent people.
On Friday evening, we were coming back from a friend’s wedding, and we accompanied some friends back home. The wedding was on the Asian side of the city. Our friends live in that part of the city.
We saw some people walking in the streets, wearing Turkish flags, clapping and singing; women were beating pots with spoons, out on the balconies, protesting against what was happening.
I realized that we were not the only ones to be sick of Erdogan.
The Asian side of Istanbul (Kadıkoy) is ruled by the Republican Party (CHP), founded by Ataturk. As you know, Kadıkoy is a residential area: in Kadıkoy it is not easy to see someone protesting. You don’t have bombs in Kadıkoy. There are no extraordinary things happening there.
Kadıkoy is always moden and secular. The day after we knew that everybody, on the Asian side, went out at two o’clock am, and walked towards the European side, to Gezi Park, crossing the Bosphorus bridge while walking.
Protesters crossing the bridge

Protesters crossing the bridge

On Saturday morning we opened the newspapers. We read Hurriyet on the Ipad. On weekends we buy Haberturk as well, a secular newspaper. Haberturk’s owner is Ferit Sahenk, and he owns also Garanti Bank, TV channels like Haberturk, NTV, magazines like Vogue and GQ Turkey, many restaurants like Zuma and many others. He is a kind person, young and modern.
On Haberturk there were no news about the demonstrations. A small picture and two lines. Nothing on TV. Everybody is afraid of Erdogan. Ferit Sahenk, who will buy the metro Umraniye-Cekmekoy, does not make any opposition to the government because of his economic interests, but people are not aware of this.
People were becoming more and more nervous. Mass medias were ignoring what was happening in the streets.
On Saturday, at lunch time. we met with our friends and went to Kadıkoy. Ferryboats were traveling for free, you could just jump in. Everybody wwas bringing flags and gas masks. You can not imagine how much crowded it was. Old  and youg people, children, women, some people with big flower pots, someone else with flags. Everybody together. Our husbands left from Kadıkoy pier and went to Besiktas. We said goodbye as they were leaving for the war. The ferryboats were filling in, and everybody was saying goodbye, singing and weaving flags.
Ferryboat Kadikoy-Besiktas

Ferryboat Kadikoy-Besiktas

Around 3 pm our husbands informed us that police had left Gezi Park and stopped attacking the protesters. At that point, we also took the ferryboat and went to Besiktas. We walked until Kabatas. Then we reached Taksim down from Kazancı. Taksim was celebrating. Young people from other cities, famous artists like the actor  Halit Ergenç, VIPs, everybody were drinking beer in the streets, singing.
For the first time in my life I had that feeling of unity, of brotherhood. Everybody forgot their personal problems and were togetherbecause of this social problem. I am not sure to express that in the right way, but I feel really moved while I am writing.
Towards Taksim

Towards Taksim

From that day, all the normal people are trying to reach Taksim.
In Besiktas, near İnonu stadium or in Kabatas there were clashes with the police. Some people are trying to exploit the confusion in order to promote political parties ot other groups, damaging the public spaces, bus stops,  advertising posters.
Abdullah Gül, the President ot Turkey, as well as Istanbul major, are trying to calm everybody, while the Prime Minister Erdogan remains stuck on his positions, he is so stubborn and keeps on saying “We will build a mall in Gezi Park, and a mosque as well”, he says like that.
People get more angry, and keep on walking towards Taksim.
Now in Gezi Park (yesterday N. was there with her friends) people hang swings between the trees. Some of them play drums, read books, play ball.
The most beutiful hotels around the park, like The Marmara and Divan, opened their doors to everybody. People can use the toilet and have a rest in the hall.
There is an atmosphere of mutual help, union, brotherhood. 
We hope and prey for everything to be over soon, and for Erdogan leaving his duties.
I forgot to write you something very important.
A week before these facts, Erdogan has banned the sale of alcohol after 10 pm, as well as drinking alcohol in parks or just outside, even at concerts.
In Caddebostan, on the seaside, we were used to organize picnics and normally we were drinking beers or other alcoholic beverages. He started to interfere in our lifes. He wants to force women to have three children. Last week, when I read that news I was shocked, like most of the population. We were all afraid perhaps, waiting silent for those things that perhaps are going to happen.
Gezi Park was the turning point.
I hope you will not find too many mistakes, and you will like this letter.
I am curious to know how the Turkish situation is seen from Europe. 
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Updates from a Late Vegetable Garden

CyclingforRekko

As Zanzana mentioned in a previous post, she is trying to work as much as possible in her rented Vegetable Garden.

The last weekend the weather made the miracle, so she could work on it both on Saturday and Sunday, and her beloved one was also in the mood for that. She is showing you here some pictures of the neverending preparation of the ground, this is the reason why she has defined her vegetable garden ‘Late’. The Vegetable Gardens’ area was quite busy this time, lots of children and old people, really you could not imagine how many prospective Urban Farmers you can find in Milan!

On the right side, there is a much more professional area where Zanzana and A. decided to dig deep in order to prepare the ground and eliminate the stones. This method is mentioned also in John Seymour‘s book, but…

View original post 313 more words

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At the Vegetable Garden in a Tough Spring

CyclingforRekko

In this short post, Zanzana tells you about her latest adventures with her Vegetable Garden.

As you can read here, Zanzana has rented a vegetable garden at the beginning of this year. She was on a waiting list since more than one year and, eventually, she took this fatal decision. This is a passion she recently discovered: for many many years she just wanted to travel, to learn new things, to have a career, to live forever in a city, while now she dreams about digging in the vegetable garden during her long hours at the Survival Compromise. She anyway feels very proud to have started a new life as urban farmer, even if she has less and less time to committ to this activity, having recently changed her Survival Compromise for a much more demanding one.

The Vegetable Garden itself is quite big, 85 squared…

View original post 393 more words

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When your Blog brings you an Invitation as an Author

As you all know, Zanzana is a beginner blogger and also a very inconstant one. As she wrote once to a blogging friend, she is a hungry, but very slow writer. Moreover, she does not like to write about negative things, so it becomes quite difficult for her to write something when she is busy or in a difficult moment.

Some days ago, she found a very nice message in her inbox: it was an invitation to write as an author on the Blog CyclingforRekko which she follows since its opening. She was very happy to find that, and it was totally unexpected, so she accepted immediately, and exchanged some emails with Matteo Noris, the author of this blog. Unfortunately she did not have so much time to honour the invitation until now, but she hopes to do better in the future. Zanzana and Matteo started to read each other when she published her version of Focaccia di Recco recipe: Matteo comes originally from that area, so she hopes not to have done too many mistakes 🙂

CyclingforRekko deals with Matteo‘s decision to cycle from Manchester, the city where he lives and studies, to Recco (Genova), the town he originally comes from; he will do this alone, in May-June 2013, in order to support and fund the activities of Rekko, a non-profit organization, founded by Matteo’s gradfather, which has completed many projects in Africa and in  Guatemala, where the association is still currently working. The blog, mostly in English, includes many news on Matteo’s projects, on the activities in Guatemala, and it is also open to the discussion on many subjects and to the contribuition of different authors.

Matteo's trip from Manchester to Recco

Matteo’s trip from Manchester to Recco

Zanzana is eventually very proud of the invitation she has received, even if she is not sure about which subjects might be more useful for that blog; at the same time, she is very happy as she feels that her writings can contribute to a very nice project, making the world a little better and forgetting for a little the long hours spent at the Survival Compromise, where we work just for the profit of a few people.

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Iceland on a Saddle

It was not sure you were going to make it. It was very windy, it was raining, they were going to cancel. Soon you found yourself at the farm, trying the deep orange rain resistant riding center clothes: no horsewoman could get lost while wearing them. Heida hums and helps you, despite you did not ask her for, to wear yours. She is much more fit than you, being at least twice your age. You steal a pair of gloves from a shapeless heap, you are very lucky and they are luxury ones. We will be more than twenty, for sure they are not going to cancel today. The horses have their breakfast, people as you if you can ride. With false modesty, you say you are “intermediate” and they give you Kleihthur, or at least this is what you think is his name in Icelandic. As soon as you start riding him, you feel his blood, later on you will discover he does not like the gallop.

Horses at Breakfast

Horses at Breakfast

You are waiting outside while everybody get on saddle, the wind is piercing your ear and the rain, mixed with snow, feels like a storm of frozen dust. You leave and you stay behind, leaving the place next to the guide to the beginners, but your horse can not stand that. You go forward and you can see what happens: stirrups lost, reins without hold, pictures taken while the horse is trotting. You admire Iceland, the country where you can go for a horse riding excursions on the first time you see such an animal, where horses casually run on ice, avoiding holes and stones as big as your backpack. This reminds you of Diablo, who can trip over his own feet at Monza Park.

You go and something you did not expect happens: horses start a race. They have a lot of fun, very close to each other with the beginners unable to keep them, trying to get over the first of the line, who discards right and left in order to keep them behind, like a small herd. It is soon the break, you get down and take some pictures of Kleihthur, but, when you turn, you discover that the rainbow is double in Iceland, and takes the whole sky.

Icelandic Rainbow

Icelandic Rainbow

They divide you in two groups, fast against slow ones. You are in the fast group, and eventually you can go. Kleihthur goes as fast as possible with trot and tolt, but hardly starts galloping. He listens to you, but sometimes he prefers thinking about it, watching what the group does. You trust him, as all the other Icelandic creatures like him that you met, five-gaited, able to take away the heaviest parts of your thoughts, scattering them in the wind.

Kleihthur

Kleihthur

You are soon back, the rain has stopped but it is still very windy. You take some more pictures of him, you can not avoid it. You help to take him inside, them go for lunch. You chat with some other young women, much more on holiday than you. There is vegetable soup in the menu, you eat it together with a lot of garlic bread, covered with butter: you always have to look the most hungry one. There are generous quantities of coffe, as always; you can drink liters of it, as you feel nicely sleepy, because of the sunlight, which does not come before 9 am.

The afternoon riders are soon there; also two gooddesses are there, accompanied by a very strange guy. This time they gave you a ‘faster’ creature, they say, compared with Kleihthur. Ruby seems to be his name, probably related to his colour, as we are not talking about a mare. In fact, he is very lively, and the race starts immediately, but you can keep him easily. This time you are in a smaller group, you can go much faster and you stop for a break over a small waterfall.

Ruby

They divide you again, and you are with the fast ones; this time it is just the three of you, included the guide, you really run like crazy, you feel like flying while the wind tries to push you behind. You cross the river another time, and you feel like you listen to Heraclitus, “No man ever steps in the same river twice”. You don’t know what time is, you start thinking about plan for escaping with the creature before the group is back, but the orange uniform makes you easily detectable.

You reach the farm at a very fast gallop, and you start again with too much photos; you greet some other friends as well, they did not work today. Some of them know you are taking pictures and go away, some other ones are curious and get closer, hoping that a carrot will come out from the camera. You have fun watching them in the paddock, teasing each other all the time; you think this kind of life makes their character stronger, compared with our horses, used to live alone, inside for many hours, with their shady mood.

Indiana Jones with other friends

Thori accompanies you to the city, together with the last ones. He is almost in the same age as your father, and he somehow reminds you of him. He hums like his wife, and explains what there was around Reykjavik when he was a child, before that restaurant was open. For some reasons, he was often travelling to Italy, now he found a completely different country. You find yourself thinking about someone seeming happy, after a whole life of work, still going on, among horses, then you discover that he graduated. Just in your country they say there is no point to study, that if you study you will never find a job.

You are not able to explain how light you feel. You are sure that also thoughts are material, sometimes in a toxic way. You can not understand how your sweet hairy friends could rescue you from all the stuff you were taking with you. You wanted to be generous in the same way with them, making them feel good, but you don’t know how. You always find that equines can be amazingly generous.

You can find all the pictures of this day here

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When your Blog brings you Gifts

Today Zanzana came back from the Survival Compromise and found a gift: an envelop, coming from the US, containing “Graffiti of Uprisings”, by the young blogger, journalist and activst Hani Na’im, about the graphic representations of Arab Springs through street art.

Graffiti of Uprisings, Zanzana's Copy

Graffiti of Uprisings, Zanzana’s Copy

This is the second gift received thanks to this blog, the first is described here. For sure Zanzana is not making money with that, but she receives valuable gifts 🙂 This one is due to Octavia Nasrs generosity: Zanzana has translated into Italian two articles by this journalist, “Maryam: un nome, due storie – prima parte” “Il 2012 Anno della Donna Araba?” , and she had the impression she liked this. One day our friend Octavia mentioned on her Facebook page that she had three copies of the book for her most committed readers: Zanzana bravely took the initiative, and wrote her that she would have liked to receive a copy. Octavia replied that the book was in Arabic and Zanzana reminded her that this would not have been a problem! After a couple of weeks, the book arrived, Zanzana is really surprised and mostly grateful to Octavia Nasr for this. For sure we will talk again about this book and its author, for the time being you can find some information here.  Zanzana now enjoys reading a book in Arabic, with a dedication for her, which does not happen so often in Milan. It is true that we can have access to anything online, order a book in any language and receive it at home, but there is a difference with having a walk in a bookshop in Beirut or in Damascus. Zanzana wonders if the bookshop in Damascus, close to Hotel Semiramis, where she was going quite often, is still open: unfortunately, she does not remember its name.

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Instead of your colleagues, you will see Diablo

Imagine to be an average employee, medium-low level, medium-high responsibilities, lowest income. Imagine you live in a wonderful country, devastated by its inhabitants, in the grip of an exhausting, as well as Kafkian, political campaign. Imagine that, at the Survival Compromise, you listen to much more nonsense than before, with the complicity of the economic crisis. It is much more difficult for you to keep in that parallel dimension, a physical and mental one, that you have hardly built for yourself to be able to digest reality.

Imagine you take the Iron Horse on an empty morning. With no reason, as the road is completely free, a Chines tries to suicide under your bicycle randomly crossing Corso Buenos Aires, but you say “No”. Imagine that today, if you look up, even in Milan you can see Damascus sky. Imagine that, just outside the city, your can feel also a sweet air, announcing the spring, the same you were feeling in that city which is now suffering so much.

Imagine that you arrive at the riding centre and you find your reservation under the name “Abate”. You laugh, but anyway you have your place for the horse riding session in the Park. You will go out with Diablo, after so much time you did not meet him, Miguel will follow you and Elita will come first, the wind will make you cry while you watch Lambro river, full of water but not so much. At the moment of the canter, Diablo will be full of life, very different from the first time you met him, overloaded with work and summer heat. You will also discover some unattended manure, that you already wishing to steal for the Vegetable Garden. For sure this is the most valuable material you have found for the whole week.

Imagine that C., after the walk, will leave you a little with Diablo, while he takes Elita back. C. tries to be as quick as possible, because he knows you have to go back by bicycle and he thinks you are in a hurry, and he does not knows you are waiting for that moment since two weeks. Finally you can stroke the horse, tell hime some things that he finds boring as he is thinking about the small green meadow that he was not allowed to munch, you can relax with the herbivore and read in his eyes all the generosity of someone who keeps on carrying you on the back, when he could easily refuse it because of his dimentions and strength.

Diablo

Diablo

Imagine that you will go to buy milk, after that. You will have the impression all the population under ten years old from Milan, Monza and Brianza has gathered in the Park. You don’t mind, but you have to learn something very important from those children: next week the farm friends will be much more important for you than god, the virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit and all the other shady characters who manage the destiny of the the Survival Compromise.

Imagine that a horse kissed a sheep. No, it is not about the last pseudo-debauched nove, even if this scene would fit very well into something like that. Imagine that you could not take a picture of that moment, as you were already trying to find a balance on your bike, looking at the disappointment on the horse face, after the kiss.

Friends

Friends

Imagine that, on your way back, the wind will be on your favor. Your legs will go easily, no matter how many kilometers you have already done or the hour spent riding. Imagine you will forget the stupid sloping chair which damages your legs, but you can not realize it while you are sitting on that for hours at the Survival Compromise, so that you can immediately complain, but just when you get home, in the evening.

Imagine you will reach home fast, and you will eat nice things you have already planned. Imagine you will relax surrounded by love and support, and you will bake some small rye baguettes, they would have been nice also with mullets, yesterday night. Imagine that everything you will listen to will not undermine you, that for one day the heavy domestic accounting does not exist, that the anger, thinking about all the young people left without any perspectives, will not invade you.

Imagine that tomorrow, looking out of the window, you will see the Iron Horse that accompanied you in this trip. When you will raise your head, instead of your colleagues you will see Diablo.

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Heretical Pizzoccheri

Tonight Zanzana has prepared a light version of Pizzoccheri. You can call it “Heretical” because of the type of flour she has used. Zanzana really likes this kind of pasta, originally coming from Valtellina, a mountain region in Northern Western Italy, as it is a kind of simple, frugal food, prepared with unique ingredients, like buckwheat flour or Casera, a typical cheese in Valtellina. When she eats it, she feels she travels in the time, when people did not have so many things at their disposal, but still they could prepare very special things to eat.

The quantity Zanzana has prepared could feed 3-4 persons, but she and her husband made it disappear completely 🙂

Ingredients

200 gr durum wheat flour (normally you would use 00 or other types of white flour, but durum wheat makes them more tasty, but this flour is more common in Sothern Italian recipes than in Northern ones);

100 gr buckwheat flour (you can modify the quantities, but the proportion 2/3 flour-1/3 buckwheat flour should work);

1/2 cup warm water;

a little salt;

1 bunch of Ligurian chard, or spinach;

150 gr Valtellina Casera cheese (better if it is a little seasoned);

butter;

pepper, nutmeg.

Mix all the ingredients with a little water, adding more water or flour if needed. Be careful, because it is not so easy to knead with buckwheat flour, as this is not a cereal, so you will need a little patience. Work a little on it, untile you make a ball, then let it rest for a while. Wash the chard and make it boil in a large pot ; if you want, you can alsoboil some potatoes, but Zanzana did not.

Take the mixture you have prepared, roll it with a rolling pin until it measures around 2mm thick, then cut it in strips, around 1×3 cms.

Cutting Pizzoccheri into strips

Cutting Pizzoccheri into strips

These are your Pizzoccheri ready to be boiled. You can also prepare them the day before, but be careful about how you store them, as they will try to stick to each other 🙂

Pizzoccheri almost ready

Pizzoccheri almost ready

When the chard is cooked, add salt and Pizzoccheri directly into the water, and make them cook for 5-7 minutes; prepare a pan with some butter, then add Pizzoccheri, chard and Casera and make them cook 3 more minutes, grating your mix of pepper and nutmeg directly on them.

Pizzoccheri just before the attack

Pizzoccheri just before the attack

Now Zanzana would need her blogging friends to help her with the wine choice…in any case, buon appetito! 🙂

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Focaccia di Recco can save you from the Reality

Focaccia di Recco

Focaccia di Recco

Zanzana was lucky to spend a very long holiday for Christmas. It was nice, full of people and things to do, with an undetermined number of hours passed in the kitchen and even a successful fight with homemade Mayonaise, with Zanzana’s motto “Il riposo è morte – rest is death” perfectly realized.

Now everything is over, and Zanzana had to be back to the Reality. Just before that, she tried to make her return softer with one of her favourite dishes, and now she is relaxing by describing it to her 25 readers: Focaccia di Recco. This is a flat, unleavened kind of Focaccia with cheese, from Recco, a small town close to Genova, in Liguria. You can find hundreds of recipes and videos for it online, and find your favorite way to prepare it, but this is also protected now by a specific association, controlling the way it is prepared and sold in the region where it comes from, as many local specialties in Italy. Zanzana adores Liguria, its nature between mountains and see and its food, which in her opinion represents the wilderness and harshness of the environment in that region. Pesto sauce, another Zanzana’s favourite, comes from here!

Around Sestri Levante, Liguria, July 2012

Around Sestri Levante, Liguria, July 2012

Zanzana likes it a lot also because it represents the kind of food she loves to prepare, to eat and to spread around: very simple, clean, basic food prepared from scratch, with raw materials but in many cases with special, unique ingredients, coming from a very specific region which they represent. With the time, Zanzana finds more and more difficult to buy industrial products and even to eat things that she can not prepare herself. She is guided by this saying, even if she does not remember where she found it: “Try not to buy anything which would not be recognized as food by your great grandmother”. Imagine how many things you have to avoid in a supermarket!

Ingredients

400 gr. “0” Flour

350 gr. Stracchino

4 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil

a little salt

1 cup warm water

Stracchino and dough waiting to be used

Stracchino and dough waiting to be used

Mix all the ingredients together, except for the cheese, then let the mixture sleep covered for at least one hour. In the meanwhile, prepare your Stracchino cheese, which you will put inside the Focaccia. This is a fresh, cow milk cheese, with a slightly sour and salty taste. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, until it reaches 1-2mm thickness, and divide it in 4 parts (you will get 2 focacce with the quantities I have mentioned). This is a part requiring a little skills to make a very thin dough: Zanzana advises you to get inspired by this video, for example. The website Viva La Focaccia is a great one for many types of baked items, and also has many pages in English. Put the first piece obtained in the baking tin, and add many small Stracchino pieces on it. Cover it with another piece of dough and make some small holes on it, close it along the edges, adding extra virgin olive oil before putting it in the oven warmed at 220 C Celsius (or more, if your oven allows it).

Focaccia just before being cooked

Focaccia just before being cooked

Cook for 10-15 minutes, and add salt and a little more oil before eating it. Zanzana normally turns off the oven after 10-15 minutes, then leaves the Focaccia under the electric grill, so it becomes more tanned 🙂 If you go to Recco or around there in Liguria, don’t forget to try this focaccia, but be prepared, as the one you will find will have much more cheese and oil on it than the version I am suggesting you. It is also very probable the dough will be thinner. After one whole day of Reality, Zanzana is still dreaming about it! In fact, Zanzana and her husband have eaten both the Focacce produced yesterday 🙂

Focaccia  n.1

Focaccia n.1

Focaccia n. 2

Focaccia n. 2

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The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Just before Christmas, Zanzana has received some nice Christmas gifts: one of them was The Very Inspiring Blogger Award! Zanzana was delighted with it, and really hopes she can inspire anyone!

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

She got it from Francesca, a friend from Flora’s Table. This is a really professional blog, with the aim  to communicate and spread traditional Italian and American culinary traditions at their best. The authors are Francesca and Stefano, Italians living in the US, focused respectively on the Italian cooking and wines, and their friend Nicole,in charge with the American food traditions. Zanzana especially likes the motto of this blog: “Because We are Cooks, not Chefs!” She thinks it can give you the flavour of the posts you will read, especially in our time, where we can find self-appointed chefs at every corner…

The rules for this award are the following:

Display the award logo on your blog;

Link back to the person who nominated you;

State 7 things about yourself;

Nominate other bloggers for this award and link to them (Zanzana believes they should be 7 as well);

Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

Seven things about myself

1. Zanzana feels the thirties will be her best lifetime;

2. Zanzana is a lazy but hungry writer;

3. Zanzana discovered much more things about herself in the last year than in her whole life;

4. Zanzana misses a life in the nature;

5. Zanzana struggles to conquer her everyday share of happyness;

6. Zanzana does not like to put things in order;

7. Zanzaza does not care a lot about the crisis.

Zanzana’s nominees are here below, with no particular order. This time, she has added also some Italian blogging friends to the list, hoping they will like it, even if she knows they are not too much into Awards issues 🙂

1. Jeanette of Global Grazers;

2. Violet of Violet Gallery;

3. Viivihoo of National Treasure;

4. Yliharma of Minimal Italy;

5. Elisabetta of The Spots Hunter;

6. Viaggioleggero di Viaggioleggero;

7. Unarosaverde of Unarosaverde.

Happy New Awards to everybody!

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Sunday Panini with Olive Oil – Panini all'Olio

Pane all'Olio - Sunday Bread with Olive Oil

Pane all’Olio – Sunday Bread with Olive Oil

Today Zanzana has baked some bread with extra-virgin olive oil. This reminds her when she was studying at university and working in a rotisserie on afternoons and weekends. She was preparing bread with L., the owner, on Sundays, in the early morning, as the store was not receiving bread on that day as during the week. To be honest, L. was making bread and Zanzana was helping, but she has probably understood some basics and anyway found the whole process quite fascinating.

She has prepared this kind of bread also for Christmas lunch, when her family visited her. The result was quite good, even if Zanzana normally prefers to bake more rustic, crispy kinds of bread, as you can read here, while this is a soft one.

Christmas Bread with Olive Oil

Christmas Bread with Olive Oil

She got her inspiration here; this is the recipe she has used today:

1 Kg Flour, divided as follows: 50% Manitoba or “0” Flour, 40% “00” Flour, 10% wholemeal Flour;

200 gr. sourdough (this was quite strong and ready for making bread, as Zanzana used it a lot in the last days, otherwise you have to refresh it the day before);

Water as much as needed, 2 cups more or less;

100 gr. Extra Virgin Olive Oil;

1 teaspoon of honey;

1 teaspoon of salt.

Melt the sourdough in warm water, add honey and flour, add salt, knead everything for 15 minutes, adding water until an elastic dough is done. Let the dough grow for 15 hours, knead again and give bread the shape you prefer. As you can see, small rounded panini or “maggiolini”, long rolled panini, are the best for this type of bread. You can leave them grow for another hour, then put them in the oven at 180 degrees, after having sprinkled them with a little olive oil and flour. They can cook for 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven, but be careful as they don’t have to get out too tanned!

Happy New Year and Buon Appetito!

Panini all'Olio in the Kitchen

Panini all’Olio in the Kitchen

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All I want for Christmas is Green

Zanzana wrote about her dream for a Vegetable Garden here. There was a deadline for taking a decision, so she went to see the place.

Urban Vegetable Gardens under Snow

Urban Vegetable Gardens under Snow

The association Angoli di Terra has its Vegetable Gardens in the Southern part of Milan, around 4 kms from Zanzana’s home. That day Milan was covered with snow, so it was not easy to reach the place by bicycle.

She met at the entrance the person in charge of everything, Claudio, who, after introducing each other, asked her: “Who is going to dig?” Probably Zanzana’s aspect did not suggest him the idea of physical force, but she made him notice that she arrived there by bicycle after we got 20 cms snow the day before. He looked reassured, so Zanzana received all the indications in order to go and see the currently free slots. There were other people as well there, as the free slots were 4 in total. She walked down the small hill you can see in the picture until her candidate vegetable garden, n. 27, which you can admire here below.

Candidate Vegetable Garden

Candidate Vegetable Garden

As you can see, it is quite big! She entered inside and checked the cupboard, that can be used for chairs or gardening tools. In fact she was not sure, as she liked also another slot, but eventually preferred this, a corner one (she followed also the advice of a gardener, in the age of her father more or less, who accompanied her on the way).

She went back to the entrance, and this was really the most complicated moment: she did not know at all what to do. First she sent an mms with the vegetable garden picture to a friend and colleague who unexpectedly said one day at the Survival Compromise: “I want to work in a Vegetable Garden!” Zanzana has now a solution ready for her! 🙂 Of course the answer to the mms was something like: “This will be a vegetable garden, now it looks like a snowy field“. Then she discussed a little more with Claudio, explaining her fears and her lack of experience. He said this can quickly become a big passion, but it still requires committment, and he added Zanzana will not be able to go every weekeend to the beach, during summer (she is not in fact, but he could not know). He wisely suggested her to manage things step by step, and to try growing a few things first, avoiding to plan for a forest. He also mentioned it will be necessary to take clear agreements with friends and relatives for the work to do, as Zanzana mentioned the fact there might be someone helping her. Zanzana eventually phoned home before deciding, and she found a great support this time, so she said yes, and agreed to send the contract on the next Monday.

The Calendar of Vegetable Gardening

The Calendar of Vegetable Gardening

Now Zanzana is wating to meet again Claudio and the new gardeners like her, in order to get the keys of the gate and the basic information to start working. She is still very afraid of her decisions, but she also feels very calm somehow. She is making in her mind the list of the vegetables and other plants she would like to grow; she is surfing the web 20 hours a day in order to discover the most updated digging techniques; she went to a garden center close to her home, in order to understand how much money she will need in order to buy the first basic tools, but she did not dare to ask the people there; she is checking, month by month, what she would be supposed to do in the vegetable garden…

Zanzana feels very happy when she thinks that she eventually decided to do that. We surely spend too much time talking and complaining, while it would be much better to try new ways, when we feel that we need it. Zanzana knows the work to do is a big point: she does not want to leave this responsibility on someone else (nobody would take it anyway), but she will for sure need help. She also knows quite some people who would have time to do that and who would feel better, committing some time to gardening and growing vegetables. She is planning to ask, but she is also preparing not to feel deceived, in case she receives a refusal.

Getting some Help for the Vegetable Garden

Getting some Help for the Vegetable Garden

Getting her vegetable garden is for sure the biggest change, and probably biggest Christmas gift, Zanzana received this year: now beside the challenge to manage it, she hopes to make of it something useful for everybody!

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Ten Things To Do Before the World Ends

Mayan Calendar

Mayan Calendar

Now that all the noise about the 2012 Phenomenon has eventually come to an end, Zanzana wants to play a game inspired by that event.

The premise is the deep respect Zanzana feels towards Maya and all the other great native American civilizations, which we  contributed to destroy with weapons but most of all with stupid diseases, such as flu, as these people were not able to resist viruses brought by the colonizers. Moreover, Mayas did not make any mistake in their forecasts, we just gave a wrong interpretation on their calendar system, and we built a trending topic from that.

Anyway, the game Zanzana wants to propose works like that: draw a list of the ten things you would really like to do before the world ends. This game has just one simple rule: the verb “To have” is forbidden, you can not use it. You have to make a list with the things you would like to do, or describing the inner conditions you would like to reach, the person you would like to become. Zanzana found this very useful to understand a little bit more about herself, which is always very complicated. More than this, she feels more and more that having things, the ownership of things, and every day more things, is not going to make us happy.

Here comes Zanzana’s list, she hopes you will like the game!

Ten Things Zanzana would like To Do before the World Ends:

1. See the people around her Happy

2. Learn Portuguese, Albanian, Turkish

3. Prepare a good Mayonaise

4. Grow her Own Vegetables

5. Live Far from the City

6. Take care of a Horse more often than twice per Month

7. Learn Sewing

8. Feel always Free to express her Opinions and Feelings

9. Being Able to accept Advice

10. See her Country becoming less individualist and more united.

Even if she is not allowed to add an eleventh thing, she would be glad to read your thoughts!

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Unexpected Visit to Leonardo da Vinci

Zanzana recently received a really unexpected gift. Unarosaverde, a blogging friend, booked a ticket for Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper in Milan, but eventually could not come, neither her friends; Zanzana had the chance to go in her place, and enjoyed this occasion a lot. Zanzana is very grateful to unarosaverde, and really hopes to see her soon in Milan.

Zanzana went to see the painting when she was in high school: the restoration was not complete yet, and the system was much less complicated, as you just had to wait for a couple of hours with 2000 Japanese, while now you have to book in advance, as groups of just 25 people are allowed to be inside for 15 minutes slots, not to damage the masterpiece.

The Last Supper (1494-1498) is a mural painting, located in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria Delle Grazie, Milan. Leonardo realized it using the “a secco” technique, in order to provide much more details, but this caused the painting to be ruined already in the first years after the realization, not to say that also its history was very complicated. In any case, the last restoration was as much as possible effective and really allows you to admire the painting.

Zanzana had a very peaceful feeling arriving at the church very early in the morning, as you can see from the pictures; it is not common to see Milan without so much traffic and confusion. When she entered the refectory, with the rest of the group, she took a seat and went through the painting details, as you can identify all the people represented: Leonardo wanted to fix the moment when Jesus revealed to the apostles that one of them was going to betray him, and you can see the reaction in their face expressions and gestures. After the visit she also appreciated a lot the church architecture, which is attributed to Donato Bramante, and had a walk in the cloister.

Zanzana was very happy to bring with her on that day, at the Survival Compromise, the nice feelings and the pride you experience when you enjoy a masterpiece located in your country, and the fact that we have to learn a lot from other people’s generosity.


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When you Dream of a Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden

Zanzana would like to have a vegetable garden, in order to grow her own vegetables. People say she is only growing illusions, as she never touched a hoe, and she would not be able to dig for more than 5 minutes. She insists, and always tries to get something to do in the garden when she goes to her husband’s family house in Albania. In those occasions, she has to limit herself though, since her mother-in law immediately starts to work with her, after taking care alone of the whole house and men living inside that, and Zanzana does not want that.

Zanzana looked first for a plot to buy, but you have to know that this can be as expensive as gold in Italy. Anyway, Zanzana does not even own a home or a car, so wise people would not advise her to buy an empty field. Then she started to look for possibilities to rent a vegetable garden in the city or very close to it: something small for the time being, just to learn a little. She found different associations working on that, like this or this one, and learned that urban agriculture is a growing trend.

Zanzana does not think she will be able to produce all the vegetables and fruits she eats: for that, she would probably need a hectare, in two or three different Italian regions. She just likes a lot the idea to produce what you need, to work for yourself and not for someone else, to make at least a part of the things you use in your life, and avoid buying them, to get free from the obligation to always buy items. However, she does not have any idea about countryside life, so this is a big question mark.

Growing your Own Vegetables

Growing your Own Vegetables

Yesterday she found a message in her ‘official’ mailbox (not zanzanaglob@gmail.com). She is on a waiting list for renting a vegetable garden 4 kms from her home since one year and a half, and she reached now the 6th position. She was expecting this message at the beginning of 2013, not so early! But some lots are free now, and the candidates for vegetable gardens have to decide if they want to sign a contract within next Saturday. O My God! The vegetable garden is now very close to her, and Zanzana feels that she can not reach it. The lot is bigger, better equipped but also more expensive than expected, and there is the possibility to wait until January to see if it is possible to get any of the smaller lots, but the waiting list is long! And then she did not study enough growing vegetable science! 🙂

Zanzana really does not know want to do. She realizes also that, when you want something, but this is something new and unknown for you, you miss the courage to get it. Anyway, she planned not to decide immediately, to ask around if anybody might help her with the work, and may be to go on Saturday morning to visit the place. She feels so happy anyway, that this is happening! 🙂

Vegetable Gardens, Milan

Vegetable Gardens, Milan

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Zanzana and the Liebster Award

Liebster Blog Image

Liebster Blog Image

Zanzana has discovered she was nominated for the Liebster Blog Award! Thanks to our friend Samantha, from food flavor fascination, a very interesting blog where you can find many recipes, combining different tastes and culinary traditions. This was a really unexpected pleasure, which we really hope our young blog to deserve. Zanzana also believes this can be a nice occasion to meet new bloggers and to get in contact with them.

Liebster Award Rules and Requirements

1. Post eleven facts about yourself.
2. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you and create eleven questions for people you’ve nominated.
3. Choose eleven people (with fewer than 200 followers) to give this award to and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. Remember, no tag backs.

Eleven things about Zanzana

1. Zanzana is proudly Italian

2. Zanzana really loves to learn other languages

3. Zanzana could not survive without her bycicle

4. Zanzana discovered cooking as one of the best forms of creativity

5. Zanzana’s favourite animal is the horse

6. Zanzana learned to love working with her hands

7. Zanzana would like to relocate in the countryside

8. Zanzana really misses the time spent in Damascus

9. Zanzana would like to learn sewing

10. Zanzana learned how to swim at 30

11. Zanzana is a beginner housewife.

Zanzana answers questions

  1. What’s your favorite TV show? Well, difficult question as I don’t watch so much TV. At the moment, I would say Crozza nel Paese delle Meraviglie, an Italian Satyrical Show.
  2. Do you have a special talent? I am a quick reader and learner.
  3. Where would you go for a dream vacation? To Brasil.
  4. Who is your hero? Gino Strada, from the Italian medical association Emergency.
  5. What is your ultimate burger? Any sort at RetroBurger, Cagliari, Sardinia
  6. What is your dream job? At the moment, Horse Farmer…
  7. Do you have any pets? No, unfortunately no.
  8. What was/is your favorite subject in school? Literature and Languages.
  9. If you could go back in time, what era would you go to and why? Italian Renaissance, for its cultural charme.
  10. What is your favorite dish? Pasta al pesto!
  11. What’s one thing you love about yourself? I do not take myself too seriously.

Questions for the nominees

1. How would you define yourself?

2. Which languages do you speak?

3. What is your favourite mean of transportation?

4. What do you feel when you cook?

5. What is your favourite animal?

6. What do you normally read?

7. Where would you like to live?

8. Is there a city you feel you really belong to?

9. Do you grow any vegetables at home?

10. How would you define Fashion?

11. What would be your first wish for your letter to Santa Claus?

And here you can find Zanzana’s nominees! (in alphabetical order)

Airstream Family

Flora’s table

Homemade With Mess

Life Among Horses

Life’s Unexpected Blessings

Midnight Visitor

Mule Diaries

Ponies at Home

The Iceland Experience

The Nature View

The Search for My Missing Happyness

Keep in Touch!

liebster