Happy Martisor!

A lovely celebration in Moldova and Romania that celebrates March 1st, and the coming of spring.
Gifts of small tokens of affection, most often red and white, are a fun part of a holiday that has its roots in the ancient past.

Happy Martisor!

Red and White Martisor dolls
Martisor dolls that I made for my husband.
(image by The Global Reader)

Book for Moldova, country #7: Playing the Moldovans at Tennis by Tony Hawks

Another non-review book review!

I live in a part of the US that is so-respectfully referred to as “flyover country”.  We are left to drift along in the fog of the national consciousness, taking form only when needed as a stereotype. We are sturdy, honest hard-working “real” Americans who have no fashion sense and eat nothing but mayonnaise, except when we go fancy at Applebee’s. And everyone lives on farms and knows an Amish person. Our cities are on fire all of the time due to a toxic mixture of poisonous rivers and horrible racism that exists only in Cincinnati and no other place in America.

Right.

Clichés like this make me a bit sensitive, especially when the verdict is being rendered by someone from an imperial city. Places like London, New York, Toyko – they have a huge amount of good press already built in; if you live there, you get a lot of credit with very little effort. The further your home territory is off the beaten path, the less people know what to think about it; unless things are shiny and pretty and fun at first glance, your town has an uphill climb. And some places just get more grief than others – they are usually the ones who need it the least, and deserve it even less.

With that chip solidly on shoulder, I approached my book of choice about Moldova a little cautiously…written by a English comedian about his travels through a struggling, post-Iron Curtain country, there seemed a good chance of it being mean-spirited. But my worries were unfounded; this was a openhearted story, told with fondness and love.

And look…it’s a movie now!

Moldovan Chicken Soup

Um, yeah. Moldovan Chicken Soup (or Zeama) is THE BEST THING EVER.

And so totally easy. I keep saying this about many of the things I’ve cooked so far for this blog, but I will be making this recipe all of the time. Trust me – it’s a winner.

All ingredients for this meal were purchased at Findlay Market.

Both recipes in this post are adapted from PapaBuna.com.

Traditional Chicken Noodle Soup – ZEAMA

The original recipe calls for fresh, handmade noodles.
I used angel hair pasta from Ohio City Pasta (Findlay Market location)you can find a recipe for homemade noodles under the Miscellaneous category on  Papabuna.com.

Fresh herbs are essential here. I’m sure you would end up with a tasty soup if you use dried, but it would be a significantly different thing…

Ingredients:

  • 1 smaller whole chicken (about 3lb), cut up
  • about 12 cups (3 quarts) water
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • carrot
  • 1/2 big fresh tomato
  • about 2 cups homemade egg noodles
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped medium celery stalk (reserve celery leaves, if any)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill weed
  • 3-4 small branches fresh thyme

Instructions:

  1. Saute the onion and carrots until soft in a dutch oven or deep stock pot. Add the chicken and water then bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low heat  and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour (will depend on chicken). Skim any froth.
  2. Add salt, black pepper, tomato and celery.
  3. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the egg noodles and lemon juice.
  4. Continue cooking on medium-low for about 5 more minutes.
  5. Add the fresh herbs (including celery leaves, if any).
  6. Cover, remove from heat. Let stand for at least 30 minutes to let flavors blend.

Serving Suggestion:

Moldovans usually serve Zeama with a traditional corn bread called Mamaliga. My first attempt was a complete failure, but I’ll try again one of these days with this recipe

Zeama
(image by Todd Farmer)

Moist Cherry Nut Bread

I’m allergic to walnuts and pecans, which is a total annoyance. Some recipes don’t do well with substitutions, but fortunately this one handles change nicely. I used almonds; walnuts are in the original recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • eggs, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups chopped almonds
  • 1 21oz. can cherry pie filling (drained)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-2 tablespoons vinegar
  • powdered sugar to sprinkle on top

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 baking pan.
  3. Place milk in a large bowl. Slowly add flour a little at a time, mixing on low.
  4. Add sugar and mix together well.
  5. Add beaten eggs, oil, almonds and cherries.
  6. Place baking soda in a regular tablespoon and spread.
  7. Slowly pour vinegar on top of baking soda, a little at a time, mixing every now and then, until baking soda stops reacting.
  8. Pour over the rest of ingredients and mix. Pour into prepared baking pan.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until golden brown. This is moist, so the toothpick test might not be a great guide.
  10. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm or cold.


Cherry Cake
(image by Todd Farmer)

Transdniestr

I am a terrible blogger. I’ve had a hell of a day and honestly cannot string more than a few sentences together…
Therefore, I’ll go with one of my slacker-type posts and let a professional journalist explain Transnistria (or Transdniestr, if you prefer).

Transdniestr
(image from Bogdangiusca at the English language Wikipedia , from Wikimedia Commons)