Vegetarian


We’re not likely to do much today as it will be so hot but this evening we will meet up with the former ‘county inspector of history’ who had and has a high regard for Petronela as a teacher and has now become a friend. She wanted to meet in an excellent restaurant “to eat fish”; we agreed to the location but will settle for an icecream or sweet of some kind. As I said on my Facebook ‘diary’ yesterday, I did nothing of note so it seemed a good idea to write another post on grumpytyke after about a week here in Iași.

A picture of some small carp in a bowl, prepared for cooking

Small carp

Today many Romanians will eat fish. A high proportion of the Romanian population are practising Orthodox Christians so follow rules of ‘post’ (ie , fast) laid down by the church and today is a day on which they can eat fish but not meat.

Post (fast) in Orthodox Romania

When I first came to Romania I lived for six months with a Romanian family and although something different would have been cooked for me I preferred to go along with whatever they were eating so became used to not eating meat on Wednesdays and Fridays and for longer periods at certain times of the year (eg pre Easter, and now). As it seemed a good idea, for health reasons, not to eat meat for a couple of days a week, and for longer periods a couple of times a year or so, I’ve followed this ever since and having a ‘schedule’ makes it easier though I don’t do it for religious reasons. In fact, according to the rules of  ‘post’ it’s not a matter of not eating meat but of not eating animal products, so ‘vegan’. We don’t do this; we often eat eggs, cheese etc on ‘post’ days but sometimes ‘vegan’ meals, eg a kind of ‘baked beans’, ‘borș cu fasole’ – bean borsch, or ‘tocănița cu cartofi’ – potato stew, which are three favourites of mine.

Pește, fish

There’s not a day each week when it’s ‘allowed’ to eat fish but in periods of post there are days where eating fish is allowed and today is such a day. So, as Petronela’s mother follows post pretty strictly today we have fish on the menu. However, because most Romanians (at least in this part of the country) will eat fish today it was difficult to acquire it unless you’re an angler. So Petronela’s father stood in a queue for 1.1/2 hours in the market yesterday to buy the preferred fish – carp.

The carp bought yesterday are extraordinarily small (see picture). I’m more used to them weighing several kg but none larger were available.

(As an aside, I was amused when UK anglers were horrified when east europeans expected to eat the carp they caught. Equally, the east Europeans  were perplexed by UK anglers putting back the carp and other fish they caught; it seemed a pointless activity).

In the UK we usually eat fish on Tuesdays. There’s no link with the church in that, it comes from my ‘honorary grandmother’ in the Bucovina, but that’s another story. Again, having a schedule ensures we eat fish at least once a week.

Mujedei (garlic ‘sauce’)

Obligatory with fried carp is a raw garlic sauce, ‘mujedei’ (pron mooj-day’). This can be simple crushed garlic with water, with sunflower oil, with milk, with a combination of the latter two, or other variations. I prefer it simple with oil, particularly as carp, like tuna, is more like a beef steak with little fat.

To accompany the carp we’ll have ‘mămăliga’ – a kind of cornmeal hash similar to ‘polenta’ but far better if made with the cornmeal from the countryside here; I think this is because a proportion of ‘tăriță’ (chaff) is left in it and probably also because it it is grown on the smallholders’ lots so truly ‘organic’ – a ridiculous term but you know what I mean. (Big Romanian food producers or Western invaders have invented a new one, applied to many packaged, branded foods which, of course, have preservatives, etc: ‘Bio’ is now plastered over packets of such products – more crap!)

Crap

Crap in Romanian is, of course, carp in English, a source of great amusement to Petronela’s students in the UK and to my fishmonger in Leeds Kirkgate market where I buy it, particularly for New Year when it is a traditional Romanian dish. His come from France so not as good as those from Romania, but OK.

WordPress app “beautiful new editor”

I’ve always ignored the WordPress suggestions to use the “improved” editor or the WordPress app. They have always been crap (in the English sense) compared to the traditional desktop version so I use that on both the Macbook and the iPad (as now). Most recently there was a notification that the app had a “beautiful new editor” (or was it “lovely”?) so I had a quick look.

Again complete crap!

In my experience, apps are almost always rubbish compared with the desktop versions, including Facebook, with the exception of Messenger which works very well. The Twitter app is also good. Of course many of the small specialised apps, for which there is no desktop equivalent, are very good. An example is a thermometer app which I’m using to report temperatures on my daily Facebook ‘diary’ – Dusty2Romania.

If the day ever comes when WordPress withdraw the traditional editor interface, as they once threatened to do but relented after a scream of protest from long-term bloggers, I will look for another platform or cease blogging altogether.

Why so many developers insist on fixing things which ‘ain’t broke’ I don’t know; maybe they have scores of programmers sitting around with nothing to do.

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Just about recovered from our marathon trip to, in and back from Romania. I have yet to do the final post on the Facebook group in which I kept an (almost) daily diary and when that is done I’ll do a summary post here with some pictures. In the meantime here’s a quick vegetarian meal which turned out to be really tasty.

Vegetarian cottage pie – sort of

The 'pie' after cooking

No recipe. Just the idea as there are just two of us but we do like fairly large portions so make it to suit yourself.

Slice, 1/4in thick, a quantity of mushrooms. Saute them in small quantities on high heat (I use olive oil as I like the taste). As each batch is done sprinkle some dried tarragon on and a grind of black pepper.

Return all the sauteed mushrooms to the pan on a medium heat and add a chopped small onion, then sift over a quantity of flour while turning the mixture over. Add a good measure of dark soya sauce and then vegetable stock (or water and a veg stock cube or two), stirring all the time until there is a good thick sauce. Ensure you have enough sauce for pouring. Leave aside.

Slice some medium sized potatoes 1/4in thick (don’t peel them), enough to make two layers in the dish you use. I’ve gone over to Albert  Bartlett’s Red Rooster potatoes; they really are good. Put the potato slices in salted boiling  water and simmer till they can just be pierced with a knife point.

Spoon the mushroom mixture into a oven dish with enough sauce just to cover.  Thinly slice some cloves of garlic and arrange them on top of the mushroom mixture.

The 'pie' ready for the oven

Arrange potato slices in a layer on top. Brush with melted butter (I just cut a stick of butter and rub it on each potato slice). Give a grind of black pepper then arrange another layer of potato slices on top. Again butter the potato slices then grate some cheese on top (I used parmesan). Finally sprinkle on some paprika, just for colour.

Bake in a hot oven (I favour 200deg C) until nicely browned on top.

Plated with Savoy cabbage and runner beans

I served it with Savoy cabbage (love it) and runner beans, steamed for 15 mins. Pour the reserved hot sauce over the vegetables.

Not ‘pretty’ but filling and … Very Tasty!

I haven’t written anything ‘foodie’ for a while, in fact I haven’t written much at all on this blog for a while as with good weather recently I found myself out and about with a camera and making time to put the results on grumpytykepix. But knocking together a meal with what was in the fridge last night, I thought it might be worth a post.

Steamed mixed vegetables in a tomato and lentil base, with plain rice

Steamed mixed vegetables in a tomato and lentil base, with plain rice

I’ve always enjoyed creating a meal with whatever happens to be around, using up all the bits and pieces left over from other recipes. I particularly like doing it for a vegetarian dish as without a bit of thought these can so often be rather boring. I got used to eating vegetarian (or more correctly vegan) on Wednesdays and Fridays when living in Romania, as usually on these days Romanian followers of the Orthodox Christian faith keep fast and so do not eat animal products. I don’t keep it now for any religious reason but I’ve found it advantageous to interrupt the meat a couple of days a week. (more…)