Friday, 28 February 2014

Hungarian Cheesecake

Hungarian Cheesecake
This recipe is a bit of an enigma – a DELICIOUS enigma!
I found it while poking around in a Russian cooking blog, and even with Google Translate’s quirky services, it was so different and so unusual, I just had to give it a try. It’s quite unlike anything I’ve ever come across before, and seems to be that rare thing – a unique recipe (at least with this title), for I have been unable to find any variation of it at all, and I’ve searched in several languages!
Amusingly, for all this talk of the unusual and unique, it’s name describes exactly what it is.
It’s a cake.
Made with cheese.
It’s a cheese cake.
But unlike the more usual crust-topped-with-rich-soft-cheese, it’s a cake-texture-tempered-with-curd-cheese-with-condensed-milk-soured-cream-topping cake. And it tastes AWESOME!
The differences don’t end there either – instead of mixing the cake batter together, and pouring into the pan, the cake is made by building up alternate layers of wet and dry ingredients, and then baked in a slow oven for an hour. Finally it is topped with a sweet cream and condensed milk topping, sharpened with lemon juice.
So what does it taste like? Like a cheese cake, to be honest. The ‘cake’ is like a firm sponge or madeira cake, but the sweetness and texture is tempered by the curd cheese layers to produce a crumbly, cakey mouthful that bizarrely (in a good way!) also tastes like cheesecake. It’s not an overly sweet cake, and I like that. I also love the fierce mix in the topping of the extremely sweet condensed milk and the sharp lemon juice *drools* My mouth is watering just at the thought – yum!
You can buy curd cheese in the supermarket, or it’s very easy to make yourself using vegetarian rennet and whole milk. For this recipe the curd needs to be dry and crumbly, so however you obtain your curd cheese, drain it well in a piece of muslin and then press it with a weight for at least an hour to squeeze out the moisture.
I’d love to know more about this recipe, so if anyone can fill me in, please do leave a comment below.

Hungarian Cheesecake

Wet Ingredients
500g drained curd cheese
2 large eggs
200g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
Dry Ingredients
190g plain flour
100g unsalted butter
1.5tsp baking powder
200g sweetened condensed milk
60ml creme fraiche or sour cream
zest and juice of 1 lemon[1]
  • Preheat the oven to  170°C 150°C Fan
  • Grease and line the bottom and sides of a 20cm loose-bottom or spring-form tin with baking parchment.
  • Break up the drained curd by blitzing quickly in a food processor fitting with the cutting blade, until they resemble breadcrumbs.
  • Whisk together the sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and frothy.
  • Stir in the curd cheese. Set aside.
  • Blitz the dry ingredients together in a food processor to crumbs.
  • Scatter a layer (2-3tbs) of the dry ingredients in the bottom of the prepared tin.
  • Spread a layer of the wet ingredients mixture. This will be quite tricky, because the crumbs will cling to the moisture, but persevere. It doesn’t matter if it’s not completely smooth and even.
  • Repeat until both mixtures have been used up. Finish with the crumb mixture.
  • Bake for about an hour, turning the tin around after 30 minutes to ensure even baking.
  • While the cake is baking, mix the topping by whisking all the ingredients together. It will become quite thick.
  • Test the cake for done-ness at 50 minutes, by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the centre of the cake. If it emerges free from liquid, then the cake is cooked.
  • Remove the cooked cake from the oven and pour the topping over whilst it’s hot. Spread evenly.
  • Return the cake to the oven and switch off the heat. Leave it inside the cooling oven for 15 minutes to ‘set’ the topping.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and set aside to cool thoroughly.
  • Serve as is, or with a dollop of whipped cream.
[1] Or lime. Or Seville Orange. Whatever takes your fancy.

Your life

Pastitsio (Baked Greek Lasagna with Meat Sauce and Béchamel)

Base Ingredients

  • 350g (12 ounces) macaroni for Pastitsio (you can substitute penne or ziti)
  • 110g feta cheese (4 ounces)
  • 2 eggs

For the meat sauce

  • 700g lean minced beef (25 ounces)
  • 2 medium sized red onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 400g canned plum tomatoes (14 ounces)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • a glass of red wine
  • a bay leaf
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the béchamel

  • 100g flour (3.5 ounces)
  • 100g butter (3.5 ounces)
  • 900ml milk (3 and 3/4 cups)
  • 2 eggs yolks
  • 100g Parmigiano-Reggiano or Kefalotyri (3.5 ounces)
  • a pinch of nutmeg


  1. Prepare the meat sauce for the pastitsio. Heat a large pan to medium -high heat and add 2 tbsp of olive oil; stir in the chopped onions and sauté, until softened and slightly colored. Stir in the garlic, tomato puree and the beef mince, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and sauté. Pour in the red wine and wait to evaporate. Add the tinned tomatoes, the sugar, a pinch of cinnamon, 1 bay leaf and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes, until most of the juices have evaporated.
  2. Prepare the béchamel sauce for the pastitsio. Use a large pan to melt some butter over low-medium heat. Add the flour whisking continuously to make a paste. Add warmed milk in a steady stream; keep whisking in order to prevent your sauce from getting lumpy. If the sauce still needs to thicken, boil over low heat while continuing to stir. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the egg yolks, salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and the grated cheese. Whisk quickly, in order to prevent the eggs from turning an omelette!
  3. Cook the pasta 2-3 minutes less than the package instructions, so that they don’t get mushy after turning out of the oven later. Drain the pasta; stir in the eggs, the feta cheese (smashed with a fork) and mix lightly with a spatula.
  4. Stir 1/4 of the bechamel sauce into the meat sauce.
  5. Assemble the pastitsio. Butter the bottom and sides of a pan (approx.20×30 cm) and layer the pasta; pour in the meat sauce and even out. Top the pastitsio with the bechamel sauce; smooth out with a spatula.
  6. Sprinkle with some grated cheese and bake in a preheated oven at 180-200C for about 40 minutes, until crust turns a light golden brown. Let the pastitsio cool down for a while before serving.

3 Simple Rituals for the End of the Month.

Via on Feb 28, 2014


We have lots of traditions for ending the year and ushering in the new one, but what about the end of each month?

Today is the last day of February and this weekend is the new moon as well as the end of Mercury Retrograde—and in the Buddhist tradition, the beginning of the new year. It is the end of a cycle, and though it would be easy enough just to go about our business like it’s any other day, there is something wonderful about letting ourselves tune into these cycles and allowing them to affect us.
As we get ready to usher in the new month, a few things to close out the old:
1. Get rid of your trash.
Take clothing donations over to Goodwill. Take out your trash and recycling if it’s been hanging around. Give the floors a good scrubbing. Get rid of those leftovers in the fridge you’ve been avoiding. And it’s a great time to look at any mental clutter too. Undone tasks that are making you crazy? Emails you need to answer? Decisions you need to make? Take care of them so you can start fresh with the new month.
2. Set your focus and intentions for the new month.
Take a Post-it, jot down your word for March and put it on your mirror. Spend some time with your journal and write out all of what you hope to include more of in the next month. Intention isn’t everything. We need to take steps toward what we want and make every day choices that align with our goals. But without an intention, we aren’t heading anywhere.
3. Treat your beautiful temple of a body to a good scrubbing too.
All the dust we clean up in our homes? Most of it is dead skin. During the winter when our skin is subjected to alternating extremes of heat and cold, it’s important to exfoliate all that “dust” away. Dry brushing and massage help to impact the lymph system as well.  I dry brush daily, but once a week or so I like to follow it up with a nice, long sugar or salt scrub in the shower too.
A simple way to go:
Take a quarter cup of olive oil, a half-cup of finely ground sea salt and a few drops of an essential oil (Sweet Orange is great for this) and mix it together. Once your skin is wet, scrub to your heart’s content (avoiding anywhere delicate) and rinse off. Your skin will thank you!
Then, once you’ve given everything a clean sweep and set your intention for the new month, follow it up with a physical practice to cleanse and open up too. Incorporate more twists into your yoga practice or do some moon salutations (Chandra Namaskar).
Or if nothing else, have yourself a no pants dance party in the kitchen and just shake it out!

Jane Austen v Emily Brontë: who's the queen of English literature?

Author Kate Mosse and academic John Mullan debated the relative merits of the 19th-century pioneer novelists. So who won?
Emily Bronte and Jane Austen
Picking favourites … Emily Brontë and Jane Austen. Photograph: Stock/Montage/Getty Images
Jane Austen v Emily Brontë, an Intelligence Squared debate, was also John Mullan v Kate Mosse, but for much of it the professor and the novelist seemed too well mannered, too eager to eschew negativity. Only Mosse was ready to make an occasional hostile point, broadly echoing Emily's sister Charlotte's famous verdict on Austen's work ("a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden" where Charlotte wanted "open country – fresh air"; an accurate portrait of "a commonplace face" where she wanted "a bright vivid physiognomy"), though tellingly not quoting it – too unsisterly? – as she complained of the limitations of the worlds of Emma and Pride and Prejudice.
Explaining his reluctance to be critical at the outset ("I love Wuthering Heights, and slightly love Kate too"), Mullan headed off Charlotte's other accusation – "the Passions are perfectly unknown to her" – by using scenes from Persuasion and Emma, performed by actors, to show that Austen "does do feeling". The somewhat defensive note of this argument disappeared as Mullan went on to extol Austen's brilliance and "wonderful sentences", pointed to the opening scene of Pride and Prejudice to suggest she was "the greatest writer of dialogue in English literature". He went on to call her pioneering use of free indirect style "the most important invention in the history of the novel".
If there was a barbed element in this celebration it was subtle and aimed primarily at Austen deniers. Like Mosse, Mullan recalled, he had found Austen "trivial" and "all about getting married" as a teenager, but lost this silly prejudice when around 26 – you have to be grownup, in other words, to "get her" (so only teenagers, or those hanging on to their teenageriness, the audience were led to infer, preferred Wuthering Heights). Yes, they were "courtship novels", he conceded with a hint of donnish impatience, but this was just the "frame" and to condemn them for that was as callow as dismissing Shakespeare's comedies for being comedies.
Mosse also deployed acted scenes deftly – Dominic West fans were given a tantalising glimpse of his Heathcliff – as she insisted she had been right, at 17, to feel that there must be "more" to fiction than "the pursuit of marriage", and that Wuthering Heights was a multilayered demonstration of what else it could be: not only a love story but a social novel incorporating "all types of people", a tale of ghosts and past and present, a "pantheistic" work linking us to the rest of nature and asking "what it means to be human".
Central to the Women's prize (formerly the Orange prize) co-founder's case was the book's liberation of both sexes – men "allowed to have feelings", women not reduced to husband-hunters. By being more "ambitious", Mosse concluded, Brontë "changed what it was possible for women to write, for women and men to be, and for men to write". She turned out to have won the argument on the night, though not quite the vote. An audience poll at the end narrowly elected Austen as queen of English literature (51% to Brontë's 47%), but as the pre-debate split had been 55% to 24% with 21% don't knows, all the swing vote had gone to Brontë.

Walking library

Talacre Beach

Not the best photo in the world but Talacre Beach today with Troy.  It was lovely!

Which books will never be on your shelves?

The missing pieces of a reading life can sometimes reveal more about literary taste than the books we choose to display
A set of crowded bookshelves
Filling in the gaps … a set of crowded bookshelves. Photograph: RayArt Graphics / Alamy/Alamy
There's a particular pleasure to be had in browsing someone else's bookshelves – the smile of recognition when you spot a much-loved novel, the mild bemusement in finding an enthusiasm for an author you can't stand, the warm glow of discovering a taste in books that resembles your own. Gazing at the shelves of a new acquaintance, flicking through an old friend's stack of paperbacks, we feel a little closer, a little more connected. As Alan Bennett says, a person's bookshelf is as particular as their clothing, a personality "stamped on a library just as a shoe is shaped by the foot". But what about the books that aren't there?
Sherlock Holmes famously solved the case of the missing racehorse Silver Blaze by noticing the "curious incident" of the dog that did absolutely nothing in the night-time, reasoning that the absence of a bark proved the horse's midnight visitor was "someone whom the dog knew well". Sometimes the books we choose not to read, the books we can't bear to finish, reveal our literary taste more powerfully than an armful of the ones we keep on our shelves.
Here's Jessa Crispin, explaining why she's no fan of Anna Kavan's Who Are You?, a 1963 novel she summarises as:
"Girl is in a bad marriage. He abuses her, rapes her. She stays. People try to help her. She stays. He is a bully and brute and has no personality other than Abusive Man. She is small and weak and helpless and men heroically want to save her but she can't be bothered to save herself. She also has no personality other than Wet Puddle.

"God, why is this an interesting story to tell? And why do we tell it over and over again? Which is not to say it doesn't happen, God knows I know that it happens. But without any psychological insight, without any momentum, without any interest in even writing a character, why tell that story again?"
It's not only boring, Crispin says, but poisonous. These "passive girls" who can't change their lives, who make excuses and "make their homes inside their trauma" are her "enemy". Crispin doesn't even want to talk about this book. "No! Let's rip the book into pieces and toss them out the window, let's not give [these passive characters] another moment's thought."
Crispin's copy of Who Are You? somehow managed to survive her reading of it, but this violent reaction to a bloodless heroine strongly reminded me of reading Madame Bovary many years ago and wishing she could just get a grip. She loves Léon, she loves Rodolphe, she dreams of running away from Charles, she gets bored, she hankers after embroidered collars and Algerian scarves and slips into financial disaster without ever looking it in the face. I couldn't stand it. Clearly the opportunities for changing your life in the ways Crispin suggests were very different for women in 19th-century provincial France, but I just couldn't see why Emma Bovary couldn't see what was going on.
I can't remember now if it was after despairing of that novel that I gave up on Anna Karenina – another missing piece in my literary collection. I couldn't make it past part two. But the books we never complete, the books we're never even going to pick up, are shadows of our reading lives which throw them into definition. Our literary identities are fragile vessels, surrounded by the vast sea of the unread. Every time we walk into a bookshop, every time we browse the library shelves, we leave behind many more books than we could ever pick up. With hundreds of thousands of new titles published each year, our tastes are sometimes defined as much by the books we'll never get around to reading as bythose we proudly display.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Re-Wilding

Posted: 26 Feb 2014 05:26 PM PST
An offering to this night…..

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision is gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the darkDarkness
where the world has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.
David Whyte

The post The Dismemberment Journals: Part II appeared first on The Re-Wilding.

~ Happy Birthday, Victor Hugo ~

This is a book-lined passageway in Hugo's Hauteville House in Guernsey, the stairs lead to a lookout.

Photo via ~

More photos of Hauteville House ~

For further images see -

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

13 True Quotes on Happiness

Via on Feb 25, 2014
“Happiness is like a butterfly; The more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
All images: Media Library, Imgur. Above image, This Wild Idea. For a well-loved follow on Instagram: @thiswildidea (my hound rescue will be jealous, he only has a hashtag: #redfordlewis )
dalai lama quote qotd
 Relephant bonus:

The Dalai Lama’s Guide to Happiness

“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance and in inverse proportion to my expectations.” ~ Michael J Fox
‘Saruman believes it takes great power to hold back great evil. I have found quite the opposite. I find it takes the small things, expressions of love and happiness.’ ~ Gandalf the Grey, The Hobbit

happiness thankful thanksgiving
“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.” – James Oppenheim
“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer
Happiness is not a destination.
“We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.” ~ President Obama 
“No man chooses evil because it’s evil. He only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.” ~ Mary Wollstonecraft
rita hayworth happy bicycle
“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk
“Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.” ~ Aldous Huxley
@waylonlewis on Instagram
Everybody seeks happiness! Not me, though! That’s the difference between me and the rest of the world. Happiness isn’t good enough for me! I demand euphoria! ~ Calvin & Hobbes
Happy people do not demand a lot from the world because their happiness proceeds from a place deeper than the world can touch. ~ Alan Cohen
pema chodron quote
“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” ~ Kurt Vonnegut
“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” ~ Albert Einstein

He is Just My Dog

He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds;
my other ears that hear above the winds.
He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea.
He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being;
by the way he rests against my leg;
by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile;
by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him
(I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along
to care for me).

When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive.
When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile.
When I am happy, he is joy unbounded.
When I am a fool, he ignores it.
When I succeed, he brags.

Without him, I am only another man. With him, I am all-powerful.
He is loyalty itself. He has taught me the meaning of devotion.
With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace.
He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant.
His head on my knee can heal my human hurts.
His presence by my side is protection against my fears
of dark and unknown things.

He has promised to wait for me… whenever… wherever, in case I need him. And I expect I will – as I always have.
He is just my dog.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


When she takes what's hers,
And she demands your attention,
Push down hard on her hips,
And thrust fast with affection,
Be hard but be fair,
Lick each and every finger first,
Drip and dive if you have to,
Feed, satisfy, quench her thirst.

By Bob George ©
Life & Poetry 2014