Small bacon rolls in grandma's style

It's Christmas time. And my grandma has a tradition to make special Christmas rolls every year. In the last years when I was in Latvia I used to help her. Although this year I am not at home (again), I still decided to make these wonderful Christmas rolls. As everybody here in Michael's family seemed to enjoy them, I decided to share the recipe also with all of you.

There are three different recipes as we always make three different rolls - bacon rolls, small sweet rolls with poppy seeds and small sweet rolls with cumin seeds.

- Flour
- Fresh yeast
- Milk
- Eggs
- Butter
- Sugar
- Bacon
- Pepper
- Onion
- Sugar
- Poppy seeds
- Cumin seeds

Take one piece of fresh yeast and mix it in approximately one glass warm (not hot) milk and a bit of flour. Leave for some minutes to let it ferment.
Mix it with 500-600 grams of flour and one egg. Knead it with your hands for at least 10 minutes, preferably more, so it gets a nice shape and doesn't stick to your fingers anymore.
Then leave it in a warm place (I left it near the radiators) for a couple of hours. After that take it out, knead a few minutes more and leave it at the same place again for some time (I left it for an hour).
Once the dough is ready, divide it in three parts, one of them bigger than two others.

Small sweet rolls with poppy seeds
Take the first small piece of the dough and roll it with a rolling pin until it is flat enough and has a circle shape.
Then melt some butter in a pan. Spread the melted butter on all flat dough.
Take the sugar and spread it on the top of the melted butter as well. How much? As much as you feel like and how sweet rolls do you want.
Take the poppy seeds and spread them on the top as well. Make sure you put enough of them, do not be shy!
When it's done, cut them like you would cut a cake - in triangles.
Roll each triangle from the outside to inside, so starting with the longer part to the middle of the circle. It will create a nice shape of the roll.
Place all triangles on a pan with a baking paper. Do not forget to cover each roll with a bit of egg!
Now it's time to bake them :) I baked around 10-15 minutes in 170-200 degrees, but it all depends on you. They need to be a bit soft and not too crunchy after taking them out of the oven.

Small sweet rolls with cumin seeds
Take the second small piece of dough and repeat the same procedure as above, just, of course, use cumin seeds instead of poppy seeds this time. :)

Bacon rolls
Cut bacon and half an onion in small, small pieces. Add black pepper (in the worst case also white one works) and mix all together. You must be able to smell the pepper, just do not exaggarate the amount of it!
Take the last remaining piece - the biggest one. Again it needs to be rolled, just it is not so important in what shape do you roll the dough.
Once it is rolled, take a big glass and make circles in the dough with it - like you would do with gingerbread.
On each circle you put half a teaspoon of the bacon-onion-pepper mixture. Then roll it with your fingers and close the circle in a shape of a half moon.
Spread the egg on the top of it and again bake the same as both sweet rolls above.

You can eat them both warm and cold! Hope you will enjoy and say thanks to my grandma!


I' bitīt matos un citi latviešu teicieni

Nezinu, ko jūs domājat par mūsu mīļo dzimto valodu, bet mani vienmēr sajūsmina ārzemnieku domas par latviešu valodu. Tie jaunieši no ārzemēm, kas ir kādu laiku pavadījuši Latvijā vai kuriem citādu iemeslu dēļ ir bijusi vēlme iemācīties latviešu valodu, ir unikāls veids, kā latviešiem pašiem uzzināt vairāk par savu valodu.

Divi man zināmi jaunieši - brazīliete un vācietis. Abi savā starpā pazīstami nav, arī viņu latviešu valodas zināšanas ir atšķirīgas. Neraugoties uz to, abi man savā laikā ir teikuši, ka visas latviešu dziesmas (ne tikai tautasdziesmas) ir par dzīvniekiem un dabu. No sākuma apstulbu, bet, ja tā padomā, taisnība vien ir... Piemēram, kurā gan citā valodā būtu dziesma par runci, kas tika iestādīts puķu dobē?!

Ar to vēl viss nebeidzas. Mans draugs tagad cenšas iemācīties latviešu valodu un pagaidām ir apguvis vissvarīgākās frāzes un vārdus latviešu valodā. Bez parastajiem iepazīšanās teikumiem un vārdiem minami arī tādi kā " I' bitīt matos!", "Prātiņ, nāc mājās!", '"Čukča", "Pats par sevi saprotams" (tas esot jocīgs tāpēc, ka garš), "Rīma", "Aizver žaunas", "Mīļumiņš" un citus. Tie viņu regulāri sajūsmina, bet par to, ka mūsu valodā nav nopietnu lamu vārdu, tika stāstīts gandrīz visiem pēc kārtas vairāku nedēļu garumā.

Nu skaista un daudzveidīga ir mūsu valoda!


Master thesis

Ok, it is official - I am having a small break (hopefully just for a few minutes) from my master thesis and amazingly interesting (yeah, right) data analysis to write another blog post.

As quite a few of you might know, these days I am busy with finishing my master thesis "The development of tourism skills with the aid of non-formal education in Latvia, the Netherlands and Ukraine" for the Vidzeme University College, which I hope to graduate in February.

I have two weeks around 30 pages to write left. Impossible? Normally no, but how about the case when it's Christmas, I want to see new places every day and I am doing a road trip to Poznan and back? But no other choice, I can't postpone anything to even later date.

And as even more of you might wonder what are the thesis about, I will briefly explain. It has quite a lot to do with AEGEE and other student NGOs :) Through different questions I am trying to figure out what kind of tourism skills people from different organisations and different fields have learnt. Although from a first sight it might seem that there is not so much connection, it is not true because actually almost every youth NGO can develop any other additional skills you have no idea about unless you are being asked.

I will keep you updated about the conclusions of my thesis once they are written! Wish me luck!


In love with the Netherlands

I never notice the moment I fall in love – it just comes and, bump, it’s just in my mind, without thinking about it. It simply announces, “You have fallen in love, now enjoy it!” It was exactly the same the day I fell in love with this amazing country called the Netherlands.

Regardless, whether I love or I hate, I do it from the bottom of my heart, and forever. I fell in love with sangria the first time I tried it and have never tired of it. I don’t even remember how it started, but I’m also a huge fan of liquorices - Finnish and Dutch sweet candies, which all other nations hate. Every time somebody mentions London or Malta, I feel like they are talking about my home and it deeply touches me, making me want to continue those conversations forever. I could goon…

The love story between me, and the Netherlands, is a similar one. I don’t know when it started, but I know that after a few weeks of living here, one day I woke up and suddenly realized I really love this country! Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate it before, I was just exploring my first days and weeks here, before making any judgments, apart from complaining about different food and unpredictable weather (we, Latvians, always like to complain). But from that date, the moment I realized how much I like living here, the feeling inside me grew stronger and stronger.

People. A lot of foreigners don’t like Dutch people, and yet, I really enjoy being with, and around them, all the time. Maybe it’s because of the similar characters we have, maybe it’s because I have just met the best examples of this nation, or maybe it’s the “rose-colored glasses.” The result is the same – they are talkative, they are friendly, they keep their promises, they are fun, and I like them. They might complain (as do we, Latvians), they might love saving money (so do we), and they might be very direct (we just appreciate it), but what others see as a difficult mix, is for me, the perfect combination! Furthermore, the Netherlands is one of the most international countries in Europe I have seen – full of expats, immigrants and people who are just looking for ‘their’ place in the world, so spending free time amongst people from all over the world is a part of everyday life, which isn’t the case back home in Latvia.

Country. It’s wonderful, amazing, adventurous, diverse and simply incredible. There are not enough words to express how much I love the landscapes of the countryside, the old houses in Dutch towns, the canals both in and out of the cities, the seaside where the wind blows right into your face and you feel like it’s a magical place to be. There really aren’t enough words to describe my state of mind when I travel from one place to another within this small, no, tiny, country, and still get surprised every five meters.

I will always remember two particular places, which were unexpected surprises and are now considered as some of my favorites – Zaanse Schans and Hoorn: both very different, but both, incredibly beautiful. Traveling in Zaanse Schans, you feel like you have stepped into a fairytale from more than 100 years ago, and are walking in a dream where elves and fairies could appear in front of you at any minute. Hoorn, charms you with a rough sailor’s breeze, while slowly being taken over by yachts full of youngsters and dogs (apparently every yacht must have its own dog), but just a few steps back into the town, you find houses dating back to the 17th century, and earlier - even a digital camera, with gigabytes of memory, wouldn’t be enough to capture all of the beauty they hide.

Atmosphere. All Dutch cities, particularly the capital Amsterdam, have a special relaxing atmosphere or ambience, which calms you down, stops you from running from point A to point B, and doesn’t just invite, but, demands, that you take it slowly. My first days here passed as in a dream, not because of the beauty around me, but because I didn’t truly take in anything, and was just running around trying to put the feelings together as if they were part of some kind of technical device. That’s not the right way to enjoy the Netherlands. No, you need to lose yourself in small streets and wander around aimlessly. You need to get out of the tourist places and find a local pub, where only Dutch is spoken, yet the waiter is more than willing to serve you in English. You need to forget about using city transport, and get a bike – it’s simply not possible to discover and understand the beauty of the Netherlands without it! A bike is not merely a means of transportation; it’s a way of living; it’s a thing to admire and take care of. Only then, slowly starting to notice the secret places, parts of cities tourist guidebooks don’t write so much about, and which you probably will never find for a second time, you start to feel why it’s such special place to be in. Green trees interchange with colorful houses, cows in the countryside turn into windmills and canals, and old ladies on the street stop you, letting you know that your shoes are in need of repair, and the next shoemaker is just around the corner.

I am falling in love with this country, more and more, with every second I spend here, every minute I breathe the Dutch air, and every day I discover something new. This love came to me without thinking about it, without expecting something spectacular and special, and I am so grateful for the day I chose to step into this adventure.

This article was written for a magazine in the summer of 2009, however, it was never published.

P.S. Sorry for no captions under the pictures, I couldn't figure out how to do it without looking stupid!


Kā es nopirku "koolraap"...

Tas gadījās jau pirms divām nedēļām un daži no lasītājiem gan jau zina šo stāstu, bet pietiekami komisks, lai būtu grēks šo prieku laupīt arī citiem.

Man ļoti garšo dārzeņi – laikam tāpēc, ka laukos pavadīts tik daudz laika. Burkāni, kāposti, kartupeļi, tomāti, gurķi, zirņi... Dodiet tik to visu, ēdīšu tā, ka nemetās!

Un jau kopš bērna kājas pašā topā ir kolrābji. Jau Rīgā tos neizdevās atrast un bieži iegādāties, laikam šis prieks ir tikai lauciniekiem.

Lai nu kā, vienu dienu vietējā lielveikalā nopirku to, kas nīderlandiski saucas "koolraap". Kā jums šķiet, kas tas ir? Kolrābis? Jā, man arī tā šķita.

Sataisīju, apēdu. Smaržoja tāpat kā parasti, izskatījās bik citādāk, bet nu varbūt cita šķirne.

Tajā pašā vakarā gribēju apskatīties Wikipedia, kā ir kolrābis angliski, jo neviens no apkārtējiem nezināja – lai gan šķiet, ka visās valodās šis vārds ir ļoti līdzīgs. Izrādās, esmu nopirkusi nevis kolrābi, bet gan... kāli!

Laucinieki varbūt smiesies, bet nekad iepriekš kāli nebiju pirkusi, tikai ēdusi, tāpēc nezināju, kāds tas izskatās...

Un jūs jautāsiet, kā nīderlandiski ir kolrābis, ja "koolraap" ir kālis? Kolrābis savukārt ir "koolrabi". Baigā atšķirība, ne?

Turpināšu meklēt, kur var dabūt īsto kolrābi. Baigi gribas. Runā, ka kādā ekoveikalā esot. Būs jāpaskatās.

P.S. Bildes no Google!

Let's start again!

OK, I changed my mind. I will start writing in this blog again.

About what? Check on the left, you will see and understand. Hopefully. I have already some thoughts in my mind, just not tonight. Need to focus on cooking, packing and writing my master thesis. Maybe tomorrow or late tonight.

Just wanted to say "Hi" to all of you who will start reading it!

Please, mind - I will not write in Dutch, German or any other language you want. Sorry, ik spreek niet so goed in Nederlands & mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut auch. Just Latvian or English, choose yourself or simply follow and read.

P.S. And yes, I will change the background image. Just need to turn on my laptop. Be patient! :)