That time I stole a (food styling) treasure

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I was in Italy and I was walking to the car when I saw this basket filled with little tins. My instinct immediately told me to take it and run for my life, but I didn’t. I asked my mum if it had been there for a long time. She said it had been weeks, that it was our neighbors’, and she said that I probably could take it since it was just laying there and taking rust (and if mum gives the permission it’s not stealing anymore, right?). I was like “Mum, I cannot just take it, it’s not mine!”. But the thought of this amazing pice of food styling art kept following me.

I don’t know my parents’ new neighbors, but I have heard there are very nice people. I could have asked them. But I didn’t. The day before leaving I couldn’t stand leaving without it, so I took it. Naughty, naughty Juliette. Shame on me!

If you are reading this dear neighbors,
I am sorry, I will give it back, I am happy I was able to use it for these photos.
Also, your little tins travelled across Europe to come to the Netherlands, aren’t you proud?
I hope you’re not mad at me,
truly yours,
a guilty soul.

Pan Focaccia

As you probably understand fro the name, Pan focaccia is a more breadths focaccia. It’s a little less oily than a focaccia and you can stuff it or eat it on the side of your main dish. I highly suggest stracchino on it, but you might not know what it is, since I have never seen this delicious cheese outside Italy.

500 g flour, preferably “00”
7 g dry yeast
300 ml lukewarm water
100 ml tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin oil to sprinkle on top
a pinch of salt
a pinch of sugar

In a big bowl mix flour, salt, sugar and dry yeast. Add olive oil and slowly add lukewarm water while mixing.
Add water until a soft dough is formed. When you touch it it shouldn’t be wet and if you press a little it should be elastic and spring back.
Let rise for about 1 hour, until the dough has doubled its size.
Preheat the oven at 170 C.
On a baking tray pour a little olive oil to avoid the Pan focaccia sticking.
Put the dough in the middle of the tray and with your finger tips spread it out until it reaches the corners and sides. You can make the sides a little thicker and in the center you should press more to form some dips.
Sprinkle the remaining oil on the dough, the oil will mainly go in the dips.
Put in the oven for about 30-40 minutes depending on the size of your tray (I made mini pan focacce) and oven, until your pan focaccia is golden.

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Homemade granola #2

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Bowls, I love them. I am always reminded of the episode of How I Met your Mother in which Ted says “Anything sounds weird if you say it a hundred times..bowl..bowl..bowl…..bowl..” when I say “bowl”.

At work (I work in the nicest shop in town, click here to get an idea of what I mean by that) we constantly get new stuff for the shop and every time we unpack new things it feels like Christmas. Even though we don’t get to keep anything unless we buy it, it’s such a happy feeling when you unpack something new and you see it’s really cool, cute or just really handy. It also usually means I am going to buy it at the end of my shift anyway.

The same thing happened when we unpacked these bowls. They come in six different pastel colors, all very very pretty and matching the textiles that we sell (and that I have at home). You probably know what that meant: that day I went home with four new bowls.

This morning I made a new batch of granola and it turned out pretty good so here is the recipe, if we can call it so.

Homemade Granola #2

2 cups rolled oats
2 tablespoons flax seeds
1 tablespoon grated coconut
1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds
a handful walnuts
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Preheat the oven at 160 C.
Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan (if it is not already molten).
In a bowl mix together all ingredients.
Put a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray and pour the granola on it.
Put in the oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Stir every now and then.
Store in a airtight container.

I ate this granola over soy yoghurt, with fresh raspberries that reminded me of picking them barefoot in my parents’ garden in the summer and more walnuts. Perfect breakfast.
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Nature in the city

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It has been a hectic couple of weeks; how have you been?

At the beginning of the week I felt a little caged by the city, my toes itched, which means I wanted to basically take my bag and leave for an unknown place, travel, meet people, see new places, but also, I needed air. I took my bike and first drove through the lovely city I live in, but it was not enough, I needed to be alone, completely alone. With the camera in my hand I biked just outside the city where I usually go for a run, but of course, because it was Easter monday it was pretty crowded. Then I remembered a place R. and I went to about two years ago, when we had just moved to the Netherlands.

I walked into the wood and I was surprised by seeing a blanket of white flowers between the trunks of the trees. I felt releaved immediately. I don’t know what it is, sort of an addiction to nature or so.. I walked for an hour in this sort of little park than no one except for me seems to have discovered. There were a myriad of birds singing, then it started raining, but I was covered by the leaves. I stayed for a while: listening to the birds, smelling the wet soil and being alone for a moment.

I went back home completely refreshed. The weight I felt on my shoulders in the morning had dissolved.

Easter brunch table

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My mum just told me she is going to paint eggs with my nephew. I am so jealous! I want to paint eggs too, and I want to search the eggs in the garden!
I also know I am going to spend Easter on my own. But that doesn’t scare me too much. Roberto and I are professionals at celebrating holidays on other days. It’s a tradition!

Maybe I will be painting eggs, surely I will have chocolate eggs (actually, I already had a myriad this week), and whenever we will have a day off together, we will have our Easter brunch. The table will probably look like I styled it here. Soft colors, some flowers and Mr irreplaceable: coffee. I might also make this pretty healthy, cheesecake-reminding, breakfast/dessert.

To make this Raw Breakfast Cheesecake: Mix together dates and walnuts until crumbly and moldable. In a bowl, mix natural soft cheese (low-fat, high-fat, vegan,.. whatever you like) with coconut sugar or honey. Put some dates dough in a glass or bowl and press. Be generous, it will add a lot of flavor and texture to the dish. Pout the soft cheese on top and sprinkle with chocolate flakes.

What will your Easter brunch table look like? Will you add lots of fresh color or use a light and soft palette?
I wish you all a happy Easter in advance!!

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Photography vs Living the Moment

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How many times did I hear people complain about photography, saying you don’t get to “live” the moment, and that you live through the lens instead?

I have been thinking about that a lot, and I think I might have found my vision on this issue.

On the one hand I agree; at a concert, in a theatre, and at a dinner or a night out with friends, I feel like the camera is not needed. Sure, you want to “capture the moment” to have it with you forever, but if your unconscious self will consider that moment worth to be remembered, it will stay forever, like burned in your memories. I myself love to take a photo with my phone when I am with friends, but I don’t like to overdo it, that’s it. At that moment living in that exact moment is far more important.

On the other hand however, I disagree. Since I was about eight years old, when I took my first photos, of a cow and of a friend, I can see the world from a different perspective. When I am with my camera, I see more things, I see more details that I would otherwise have overlooked. With my camera I experiment and I see, through that lens I see lines, textures and patterns I would never have noticed if I weren’t a “photographer”. That’s what I like about photographing landscapes, and in a way food as well. I live the moment through the lens, I discover things and wander through those textures and patterns. That’s basically why I will never put down my camera (except for an angry looking security guy telling me cameras are not allowed).

What are your thoughts about photography killing the moment?

(here are a few more photos I took in Italy)

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A shaky video and some thoughts

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In the middle of the wood I sit down on a stone that looks like a throne. From here I can see the town I was raised in; few houses on the top of a hill, not many people living in them and not much happening around. I walk in the opposite direction, deep into the woods while butterflies fly away as I walk the small path. Birds and crickets are telling us it’s August. A tiny spider walks up my leg and threads a web to reach the nearest grass blade.
I lay down and listen. It’s like watching the stars: the longer you watch, the more stars you see; and I hear more birds, more insects flying around, a cat and a dog fighting far away, cows on the top of the mountain.. and I realize how different being alone and being lonely are. Growing up I used to hate this place because I was feeling lonely, now I treasure every moment spent here because I am not lonely anymore, I am just alone. Nothing makes me feel less lonely than being surrounded by nature. (Thoughts on Nature – August 2013)

The foodie is back!

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In the exact moment I was writing that I have not been much of a foodie lately in my previous post, I felt the urge to bake.
So weird, I reminded myself by writing about it, that baking relaxes me, and I needed it. Immediately I opened my cupboard doors: there wasn’t much that would bring me far from some basic cookies,and I really wanted to make something not too unhealthy. Fortunately, I had some quinoa left, so I made my signature granola, the recipe of which you will find here. This time I added flax and sesame seeds, and instead of the cinnamon I used speculaas spices.

The morning after I made the most spectacular breakfast: a parfait of yogurt, blueberries, mixed nuts, raisins and my homemade granola. Sooo good!

Parfait Breakfast
Parfait Breakfast
Parfait

Mi piace #3

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“Mi piace” means “I like” in Italian. This is a series in which I will show you and link to photos, songs, videos and articles I liked the past week. I am constantly inspired by so many things that there will be no shortage. Often I am inspired by things that happen to me in everyday life, so be prepared to read stories of what happened to me this or that time..

Hi guys!

I am realizing that I haven’t been posting much about food lately, and Roberto hasn’t yet shared a recipe either. I don’t really plan my posts, and I haven’t been feeling “foodie” lately, I just go with whatever I feel like posting. This blog still needs to reflect me, right?.. so that’s why. Roberto, on the other hand, has been very involved with food lately. With this I mean he has been working crazy, and with crazy I mean insane, hours. We literally have seen each other 2 hours max since I came back from Italy 5 days ago (and we live in the same house!). So that was a little off topic, but it needed to be said.

What did I like these past days? 

I have been listening to Ben Howard non stop, his music is a mix between melancholic and reassuring, and it works relaxing for me. If I had to choose three songs, right now I’d choose Oats in the Water, Depth over Distance and Burgh Island.

When I was in Italy I watched the movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close with my parents; It is an adaptation of the homonymous novel by Johnatan Safran Foer which I read a few years back; the movie is so good, and I am glad the adaptation hasn’t disappointed me at all. Have those of you who have seen the movie enjoyed it as much as well?

I like airports, especially Schiphol, Amsterdam’s airport. Yeah weird to insert that in here.. but hey I like it! You see people of so many nationalities, everyone is so different, yet so similar, waiting for their loved ones, being excited to leave, etc.

A few weeks back I mentioned that I like FunForLouis’ videos. There’s a few other channels I really enjoy watching: one of them is Ben Brown‘s; he is currently in Costa Rica and I love seeing all the places he visits.

This banana bread. OMG, I made it on a lazy night when I was craving cake, chocolate, sweets of any sorts..and it was de-li-cious!

Last, but surely not least, my favorite of favorites this week: Steller.
Steller is an App that has just been released and is already conquering the blogging world. It’s a new way of blogging, namely through your phone, because.. that what everyone uses now!
I will not go into detail, because explaining how it works is harder than actually using it. As the name of the App suggests, it allows you to tell stories, stories of exploring, stories of awesome adventures, and stories of sunday night in baking chocolate chip cookies. It is very user-friendly and I just love the clean structure, the dreamy feel and all the exploring and traveling the users of the app do! =)

Here are a few examples of the stories I shared so far (click on the links to see the stories)

Italia – Back Home
A simple life
Leiden – the Netherlands

So, I am going to work on some photos now.. Happy Sunday!

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Back from Italy

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Hi everyone,

I am back from Italy! The week there flew by, just as I expected. Although the weather was as bad as it could be, rain and snow almost every day, I had a great time. I spent a lot of time with my parents, I had a little road trip on my own to Turin to meet up with two friends from university. I had the best time with them, the kind of good times when you don’t even get the chance to take a picture together because you are too busy having fun.

I have been posting photos every day on Instragram (see below); that was the easiest way too keep you updated about my little adventure.

I will share more photos of the week later on, I am so tired now my eyes are closing without my brain telling them to.

I cannot wait to travel more soon!
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Going Home

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Guys, I can’t believe I am flying to Italy tomorrow. I will wake up around 3 am, catch a train to the airport and around 8.30 am I will be in Nice, France. My dad is so nice to drive all the way there to pick me up. I am so excited!!

This has been the longest time I have been away from home, 8 months in total and I just wanna be there, breathe that fresh air and listen to the wind blowing through the valley and the cows going back to the stables. Ahhh, I feel a bit like Heidi now :)

Anyways, I haven’t packed my suitcase yet, so I’d better get going! See you in ten days!

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