HOMEMADE VEGETA (MIXED SPICES)

Vegeta is one of the most famous products in the area and even worldwide. It is a product made in Croatia and it's the most common supplement of any meal. Vegeta is a condiment mostly consisted of salt and dried vegetables. The one thing that really bothers me in Vegeta is the additive they add called Mononatriumglutaminate, which is used to improve flavor. This additive is considered bad for your health, especially for children, so it's better to avoid it. That's why I use other types of condiments similar to Vegeta which don't contain Mononatriumglutaminate. But the best thing is to prepare homemade mix of spices, right?
How to prepare homemade Vegeta? Just follow the instructions. You can increase or decrease the amount of used ingredients according to your taste.
 

Ingredients:
  • 700 g carrots
  • 350 g parsnip
  • 2 large celery roots
  • 2 larger leeks
  • 2 larger onions
  • 5-6 pieces garlic
  • a handful of parsley
  • 1/2 tbs turmeric
  • 1/2 tbs curry
  • 1/2 tbs black pepper
  • 1-2 tbs corn flour
  • 1-2 tbs sugar
  • Himalayan salt as much as the dried vegetables weight
Preparation:
  1. First wash fresh vegetables, then chop in a blender. First chop carrots, then parsnip and so on. Don't chop vegetables in too small pieces. We'll blend them again in the end after drying.
  2. Put chopped vegetables on a paper or sheets and leave on warm and sunny place to dry. Or you can dry vegetables in an oven with turned fan at 50 C degrees and you'll need several hours for complete drying. Don't forget to stir occasionally. I suggest you to prepare this mixture in summer, so you can use the sun. Vegetables will be dried in one day. 
  3. Well-dried vegetables blend a little in a blender and add spices: turmeric, curry, black pepper, corn flour, sugar and Himalayan salt in the amount of 100% of the total weight of the dried vegetables. You can add less salt depending your taste.
  4. Enjoy this natural homemade Vegeta, I'm sure you'll love it!

KUTLESH STAR (VERGINA SUN) - THE SYMBOL OF MACEDONIANS

The Star of Kutlesh

The Kutlesh star is the name of the symbol of the Macedonians. It is a 16-pointed sun and a century-old symbol of the Macedonian people, country and culture. In 1977, in the village of Kutlesh (Greek name Vergina) in the Aegean part of Macedonia (today in Greece), it was unearthed in an archaeological site and by the name of the village Kutlesh, today it is called the Kutlesh star or Vergina star.


In the grave where the Kutlesh star was discovered, was found a golden plate with engraved sun. Today the found plaque is stored in the museum in Kutlesh, Aegean Macedonia. The star was used during the Kingdom of Macedonia and in the Republic of Macedonia's flag from 1991 to 1995, when the flag was changed violently with the present Macedonian flag. Today's Macedonian national flag is an abbreviated stylized version of the Kutlesh Star, with eight edges instead of sixteen.

Interpretation of the symbol
The significance of the symbol is not completely clarified today. In the archaeological circles, there are several assumptions as to whether the symbol was an official symbol of the Kingdom of Macedonia, whether it was merely a symbol of the military or simply represented an ornamental landmark. It is thought that Macedonian king Phillip II had this symbol on his shield.


Use of the symbol

The symbol has always been used to mark and highlight the Macedonian identity. Over the centuries, the Macedonian people always used the symbol in their daily lives and activities. The significance of the symbol for the Macedonian people is also witnessed by a large number of icons in which 16 stars are drawn or in a more simplified version - an eight-pointed star.

Today's use
Today, the symbol is used by almost all Macedonian associations in the diaspora, the Macedonian municipality of Pustec in Albania, numerous organizations in Macedonia and was the state flag of Macedonia from 1991 to 1995.



On the other hand, Greece artificially embraces it as their symbol by the fact that Belomorsk Macedonia as a province has the same flag, but with a blue background.
"The sun from Kutlesh is not a Greek symbol, except that it is accidentally found in today's Greek territory."

MANCHESTER UNITED VS REAL MADRID TONIGHT IN MACEDONIA

UEFA Super Cup 2017 - Real Madrid vs. Manchester United, Tuesday, 08 August 2017 8:45PM

Today, Macedonia is the center of the world football. Manchester United and Real Madrid will meet today at the National Telekom Arena in Skopje for the Super Cup final. This is one of the greatest sports events that were ever held in Macedonia. The 2 greatest football teams in the world have never met in the Super Cup, they have met 10 times in the European Champion Clubs' Cup/UEFA Champions League; Real Madrid have the advantage in the teams' previous meetings, with four wins, four draws and two losses.

Redeveloped from the old Gradski Stadion, the National Arena Filip II Macedonian was recently renamed in Telekom Arena.
There are 33,460 seats for fans at the stadium, which was redeveloped in 2009.

Five matches in the 2010 European women's Under 19 Championship were played at the stadium, including the final where France beat England 2-1. A group game between Spain and Macedonia in the tournament, which Spain won 6-0, attracted 8,000 people which is still a record attendance for the competition.





MACEDONIAN CAVIAR (WITH EGGPLANTS, TOMATOES AND PEPPERS)

Any true Macedonian will agree that these 6 vegetables - eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions and garlic are the real Macedonian benchmark and are one of the best in the world. That's why we add each one of these (except the cucumbers) in almost every dish we prepare, they give special taste to everything we cook. We use them fresh, baked, fried, preserved, frozen, you name it!
Now I'll present you a recipe that is combined exactly with this vegetables. You can eat this caviar as a spread, as an appetizer, as makalo, combined with cheese and bread or as an addition to the main dish.


Ingredients:

  • 3 eggplants
  • 2 larger tomatoes
  • 5-6 red or green peppers (I prefer red if available)
  • 1 head onions
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • salt to taste
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons hot oil
Preparation:
  1. Wash and clean from seeds eggplants and peppers and bake on a hotplate (or in oven at 200 C degrees) until softened. After baking, put in a plastic bag and leave to cool, then peel.
  2. Put tomatoes shortly in a boiling water, then immediately put in cold water and peel.
  3. Clean onions and garlic.
  4. Put eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic in a blender, add salt and blend till you get the desired roughness. I prefer a little rougher structure, so I blend just a bit.
  5. Put mixture in a deep plate or an earthenware and pour over the hot oil.
  6. Leave to cool then serve.

PERFECT MUFFINS WITH SPINACH

I always liked muffins, I love their shape and  their simplicity. To prepare good muffins, you just need a muffin pan which will turn the simplest recipe into beauty. I have to mention that usually it's the same recipe for preparing simple sweet cake, or salty cake, or babka cake as for muffins, the only difference is the shape. Here I'll present you a simple, yet delicious recipe for salty muffins which always turn out great!
muffins


Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 200 ml yogurt
  • 180 ml cooking oil
  • 1 sachet of baking powder (10 g)
  • pinch of salt
  • 18 flat tbs flour
  • hard cheese or cottage cheese (as much as desired)
  • spinach or other greens (as much as desired)
Preparation:
  1. Beat eggs with a mixer and add a pinch of salt. Then, gradually add oil and yogurt and keep on mixing at low speed.
  2. Then add the flour, spoon by spoon and add the baking powder. Keep on mixing at low speed or use a wooden spoon.
  3. In the end, add crushed cheese and chopped spinach. Check if the mixture is salty enough.
  4. Pour mixture into muffin pan filling the holes by 2/3rds, don't fill them till top. Don't forget to previously coat the pan holes with oil or butter or to coat with baking paper. 
  5. Sprinkle sesame seeds or sunflower seeds on top.
  6. Bake at 200 C degrees for 30 minutes.
  7. Leave to cool, then remove from the pan.  
     

FAST PIE WITH SPINACH MADE OF PUFF PASTRY (FOR BEGINNERS)

Puff pastry is something I don't buy or use often and I have to say that I bought the first one only as an experiment and to prove myself that I can also prepare zelnik with ready dough in no time without kneading. It happened one afternoon on my way home from work, I was exhausted and I just remembered I had fresh spinach at home from our garden in Bukovo that I needed to use somehow and I have already promised my little girl the previous day that I'll knead a pie. I was in no condition to make mess in my kitchen and to knead on 40 C degrees outside, so I went to the market and bought 500 g of frozen puff pastry and 200 g of cottage cheese. Both costed about 2 dollars (that's here in Macedonia). 

So, I went home and while I was changing clothes and washing my hands, I left the pastry to unfreeze. I put it in a microwave which I rarely use to defrost faster. In a meantime, I chopped my spinach, I don't know how much I've put (put as much as you want), I added 2 eggs and the cottage cheese (add salt if needed).
Then, I sprinkled a little flour on my working table and put my puff pastry on. I cut it in 2 same sized pieces and set one piece a side. I stretched  the first part with a rolling pin to fit my baking pan. I didn't make it in perfect circled shape, I just stretched it to cover the pan. I put the ready layer in the baking pan, added the filling and repeated the same procedure with the other half of my puff pastry (don't forget to sprinkle flour again and sprinkle some more on the top of the pastry to avoid sticking to the rolling pin). I put the second part on top, made some wrinkles and put the baking pan in preheated oven to bake at 220 Celsius degrees. It was ready in 20-25 minutes. I didn't add any oil to the baking pan since the puff pastry contains several layers of butter. It was one of the best pies I've ever made and I didn't put much effort in it.

Ingredients:
  • 500 g frozen puff pastry
  • 200 g cottage cheese
  • spinach or other greens  
    Puff pastry

SPRITZER (ШПРИЦЕР)

Spritzer is a very popular alcohol beverage in Macedonia. Originally, spritzer (шприцер) is an alcoholic drink (cocktail) obtained exclusively with a mixture of white wine and sodium water from a "siphon" (a bottle filled with water under pressure with the addition of carbon dioxide).

Probably the name was derived from the German word for sprinkling (German spritzen). The spritzer originated in Germany at the beginning of the 19th century when the first soda water was made in the town of Seltzer. Sodium water is a pure water without minerals and salts with added carbon dioxide and it is the best for mixing with wine.

In Macedonia, it is assumed that spritzer was brought by rich merchants and it became an inevitable part of every celebration.

The essential difference between Macedonian spritzer and the original one is in the composition of mineral carbonated water that contains a lot of minerals and salts, which is said that significantly impairs the quality of the mixture.

Preparation:
Pour half a glass of white or rose wine and fill the other half with soda-water. Since soda water comes under a lot of pressure (sprinkles) it breaks down the wine and builds a solution of wine and soda water whose carbon oxides together with alcohol enhance the organoleptic experience.

Here in Macedonia we have also invented other 2 types of spritzer which we call "summer" and "winter" spritzer.
Summer spritzer is mostly prepared in summer as a lighter variation and it is consisted of 1/3rd if wine and 2/3rds soda water, while winter spritzer is mostly drank in winter and it is consisted of 2/3rds of wine and 1/3rd of soda water.


WATERMELON AND WHITE CHEESE - PERFECT SUMMER COMBINATION

One of the best foods in summer is the watermelon. Watermelon is the best way to refresh yourself during tropical heat. I always ate watermelon the way it was - just a watermelon. One day when I was a kid, I saw my grandmother eating a piece of watermelon combined with white cheese. "No way you're eating sweet and salty at the same time, gross" - I said. She laughed and tried to convince me that it tastes great, but I didn't believe her at the time. Sometimes she added a warm bread to the combination. I'll never forget the way she ate watermelon and cheese - with a great pleasure. 
Years after my grandma passed away, I sat one day to eat watermelon. I don't know how it came to me to take a piece of white cheese too. I've been skeptical that I'll like it, but I was very surprised to find out one of the best magical tastes happening in my mouth. I was thrilled. From that day on, I always combine watermelon with white cheese.
So, if you're being skeptical as I was, I advice you to not hesitate and try this perfect summer combination. You'll thank me later :)

There's no recipe for this combination, just slice your watermelon and combine it with white cheese (I believe it's called feta outside Macedonia).
Enjoy!

PROSPHORON (SACRAMENTAL BREAD)

Prosphoron is a yeast bread in a circular shape which is used in the service of the liturgy of the Orthodox Church. Prosphoron, along with wine, is a gift from the church to God. These gifts during the Liturgy are exalted to God and later as consecrated are given to people. Prosphoron is made with prayer. During the making of prosphoron, one should pray to Jesus with the prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy", because the Holy Liturgy becomes the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Prosphoron is consisted of 3 ingredients: flour with yeast representing the soul, water represents Baptism and salt represents the teaching of the Lord to His disciples: "You are the salt of the Earth."

Ingredients:
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cube fresh yeast
  • seal
Preparation:
  1. Dissolve the yeast in ½ cup lukewarm water,same way as in preparation of plain bread.
  2. Put flour in a bowl and add salt. Mix it thoroughly with flour and add the dissolved yeast. Slowly pour the remaining water, then knead the dough well until strong enough.
  3. Divide dough in 10 balls (for 5 prosphorons). Take 2 balls, stretch them a bit and press with your palm, then glue both disks.
  4. Put seal in flour, shake well and press it in the prosphoron. Carefully pull it out.
  5. Leave to rise in a warm place until double the size of the dough, then bake at about 200 C degrees for about an hour.
  6. Once you're done, wash dishes you used with a sponge only for that purpose.

Note:
Yeast should be warm in all stages of preparation of prosphoron;

Before baking, put a little flour at the bottom of the baking pan ;

Before we bring prosphoron in the church, wallow in a separate clean cloth;

TODAY IS SPASOVDEN - ASCENSION

Today, 25th of May is Ascension - Spasovden. Names that celebrate this day are: Spase, Aspasija, Spaska etc.
Ascension Day, or the Feast of Christ's ascension to heaven is the fortieth day of the Resurrection. Lord appeared to his disciples every day during the 40 days after his resurrection, telling them about the kingdom of God.

And he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to await the descent of the Holy Spirit, then he brought his disciples to Bethany, blessed them and ascended to heaven.

While disciples were looking at the cloud that hid their Lord in front of their eyes, the Angels announced that the same Jesus who was ascending to heaven, will come again in the same manner as they have seen him ascend. This holiday is called Ascension Day because in the day of Christ's ascension, his work of salvation was completed.

GLAGOLITZA - THE FIRST SLAVIC ALPHABET

In 862, the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius created the Glagolitza - the first Slavic alphabet, which served as a script for Old Slavonic language. The Glagolitza is a system of graphs. It was consisted of 41 (later 38) letters that accurately reflect the sound characteristics of the Old Macedonian language. The name Glagolitza comes from the word "glagol", which means "verb". Since "verb" means "to speak," the Glagolitza is poetically called "the letters that speak".
Glagolitza (small letters present the Cyrillic alphabet)

Cyrillic alphabet is derived from the older Glagolitic alphabet, including some ligatures. The script is named in honor of the two Byzantine brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius, who created the Glagolitic alphabet earlier on. Modern scholars believe that Cyrillic was developed and formalized by early disciples of Cyril and Methodius, Kliment and Naum who transformed and simplified the new and varied Glagolitic alphabet. It is composed of 31 letters.
The Cyrillic Alphabet, based on the Glagolitza, is still used in various Slavonic languages. About 10% of the countries in the world write in Cyrillic. The Cyrillic alphabet is the third official alphabet of the EU after the Latin alphabet and the Greek alphabet.

20 MOST IMPORTANT RULES IN CHRONO DIET

The chrono diet is becoming more and more popular and becomes a way of life like vegetarianism and veganism. This diet can help you a lot if you want to reduce your weight. Chrono diet is not a diet, so it is not settled in the list of diets. This diet is designed to change your attitude towards food from one side, but on the other hand helps very effectively in reducing the excess weight.

Chrono nutrition is based on that what you eat is not the most important, but it is important when you eat and how you combine your food. These are the three main principles of chrono diet:
  • beware of what you eat
  • beware at what time you eat
  • be careful how you combine foods
  1. The day doesn't begin with coffee! The coffee must not be drank before breakfast. If you're used to drink coffee before breakfast, be sure to replace it with hot tea or fresh lemonade. Coffee is allowed 2 times a day, one after breakfast and another after lunch. It's forbidden to add milk, sugar, cream and any other sweeteners and additives to coffee. 
  2. Breakfast is the most important meal, have breakfast before 9 am! 
  3. There need to have 5 hours between meals, which means that if breakfast is at 9 am, lunch should be at 14 and dinner at 19 o'clock. 
  4.  It is permitted to eat absolutely anything between meals. Importing foods in the body when it is not the right time causes the secretion of certain hormones. All this influences the accumulation of adipose tissue and fat. 
  5. Sugar is forbidden! All forms of sweeteners are banned: white, brown sugar, honey, fructose, etc.. In restrictive period it is not allowed entering any desserts, in the form of food, not even in the form of beverages (soft drinks and juices with sugar are also banned). 
  6. In restricted period the fruit is also prohibited because it contains sugar (fructose)!
  7. Milk and yogurt are also prohibited because they contain milk sugar - lactose! 
  8. Dairy products are permitted only for breakfast three times a week. You can eat: kefir, yogurt, sour cream and lean young cheeses. Old and hard cheeses are not allowed. Also golden rule is that you should never combine two types of dairy products in one meal! 
  9. Alcohol is forbidden! Alcohol contains a lot of unnecessary and empty calories. It is allowed only a glass of red wine occasionally! 
  10. White flour is not used! Permitted: corn flour, buckwheat, oats, barley and rye. 
  11. Bread and pasta from permitted flour can be only eaten for breakfast. Lunch and dinner are without pasta and without bread! 
  12. It is necessary to drink 2 liters of water daily. You can drink lemonade without sugar and herbal teas unlimited. Mineral water is allowed, but mostly two cups a day. Liquid in not entered half an hour before and half an hour after a meal!
  13. Meals can be prepared on lard and butter. Sunflower and other refined oils are banned! Margarine is also prohibited! Cold pressed oils are allowed, but they must not be exposed to high temperature and cook with them, so use them only in salad! 
  14. It is allowed to eat cereals from whole grain. 
  15. Meat products are permitted only for breakfast. It is best to eat some that are sure to be made of meat: homemade sausages, bacon, prosciutto etc. Be careful with these products, many of them contain a lot of preservatives and additives. Do not choose cheap options! 
  16. Eggs are allowed. You can eat whole egg for breakfast, but other meals only whites. The eggs are never mixed with dairy products! 
  17. The meat is permitted and desirable. It is best to consume it combined with fresh salad. You can't  combine two kinds of meat in one meal! 
  18. Starchy vegetables are prohibited! Avoid: beans, potatoes, peas, lentils and rice. Other vegetables are allowed. It is the best to eat vegetables fresh! 
  19. Vinegar is not used as a spice! Instead of vinegar, season salad with freshly squeezed lemon juice! Vegeta and such similar spice blends that contain hidden sugar are also forbidden! All other spices are allowed!
  20. The amount of food you eat per meal is not limited, eat to be satiated until the next meal. You should not skip meals, nor should drastically decrease them. You mustn't be hungry between meals because it can make you reach for some snacks and sweets.
You can read the original article written in Macedonian here

ABOUT MACEDONIA

Macedonia is a country located in the region of Vardar Macedonia, in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. The country is one of the republics of the former Yugoslavia, which declared independence in 1991. Macedonia occupies about 38% of the total area of Macedonia region. Geographically, the country borders Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania. The relief of the country is mainly mountainous. Although it's a continental country, it has more than 50 lakes and sixteen mountains higher than 2,000 meters.
Macedonia is a sovereign, independent, democratic and social state. The capital is Skopje, with a population of 506,926 people (estimation for 2004). Other major cities are Bitola, Kumanovo, Prilep, Tetovo, Ohrid, Veles, Stip, Kocani, Gostivar and Strumica. Macedonia has a total of 25,713 square kilometers in which live around 2,114,550 inhabitants (estimate for 2009), of which the majority are Macedonians. The official language is the Macedonian language and the official currency is the Macedonian denar.In 1993, Macedonia became a member of the United Nations, but because of the name dispute that the country is having with Greece, the application is made under the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Macedonia is a member of the Council of Europe. Since December 2005, Macedonia is also a candidate to join the European Union and has applied to join NATO too.
st.jovan kaneo
Church St.Jovan-Kaneo in Ohrid

Antic Macedonia


Archaeological finds show that on the area of ​​Macedonia, existed civilization since the period between 9000 BC and 3500 BC . The first Macedonian Kingdom appeared during the IX century BC, and there is a doubt about who was the first Macedonian king - Karan (who is considered the mythical ancestor of Argead Dynasty) or Perdika I (first historical king of the Kingdom of Macedonia) .
Approximately from the V century BC, the Kingdom of Macedonia becomes a significant political and economic player in the region. Philip II of Macedonia, after obedience of Illyrians and Thracians, also managed to conquer Greece too. His son, Alexander III of Macedonia is one of the most important figures in world history. He first broke the internal resistance in the extended Macedonian Kingdom, and later has destroyed the vast Persian Empire and extended the Macedonian state on three continents - Europe, Asia and Africa, extending on the Balkans and Asia Minor, Middle East, Egypt and India, and thus was created the Macedonian Empire. After his death, this huge empire, due to disagreements of his generals about who will be his successor, has divided in 3 parts: the Seleucids kingdom, the Kingdom of Ptolemais and the Kingdom of Antigonids. Conquests of Alexander III of Macedonia are essential for the initiation of the Hellenistic period in world history.
The penetration of the Roman Republic to east, leads to the so-called Macedonian-Roman wars in which Macedonian kingdom driven by the Dynasty of Antigonids, fully falls under Roman rule, and the last Macedonian king Perseus is taken as a slave in Rome. It became a Roman province as part of the Roman Empire and was divided into 2 parts - Macedonia Prima and Macedonia Salutaris. The territory of today's Republic of Macedonia was divided between the provinces Macedonia Salutaris and Moesia Prima. After the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD on Eastern and Western Roman Empire, Macedonia becomes part of the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium.

Philip II
Monument of Philip II in Bitola

Moving of the Slavs
In VI and VII century in the Balkans and Macedonia came the Slavs, reaching south to Thessaly, even to the Peloponnese. They mixed with the locals, mostly ancient Macedonians, then Greeks, Illyrians and Thracians. On Macedonian territory, which then was under Byzantine jurisdiction, Macedonian Slavs were organized in half-country formations - Macedonian Sclavinians. Sclavinians took many attacks against Byzantium and against established Byzantine cities.
In 837., Macedonia begins to fall under the authority of the Bulgarian state, so until the middle of the IX century, most of Macedonia came under Bulgarian rule, and the other part was included within the Byzantine Empire. In the IX century, also begins the religious-educational activity of the Solun brothers Cyril and Methodius, consisted of more missions for Christianization of the Slavs, but also in they layed the foundations of the Slavic alphabet, beginning with the creation of the Slavic alphabet - the Glagolitic alphabet, in 855. Their disciples Clement and Naum, will continue their work and at the end of the IX century, will create the Ohrid Literary School and Preslav Literary School, which made Ohrid to soon became one of the most religious-educational and cultural center of the Balkans, the cradle of Slavic literacy.

St.Cyril
Monument of St.Cyril in Skopje

In the X century, Macedonia will be hit by the Bogomil movement and learning, first created in Veles-Prilep area, as an echo of the submissive feudal church-economic system. It soon spread not only in Macedonia, but also throughout Europe.
With the upcoming uprisings in Macedonia in the second half of X century, in 969 year against Bulgaria and in 976 against the Byzantine Empire, was created Macedonian medieval feudal state, also known as King Samuel's Kingdom. Macedonian medieval feudal state existed until 1018, when was conquered by the Byzantine armies. In the 13th and 14th century, the Byzantine control of Macedonia was interrupted by periods of Serbian and Bulgarian rule.
By the end of the XIV century, Macedonia was completely conquered by the Ottomans, bringing its economic and social system to destroy, and also its further social and cultural development was significantly slowed down. In 1767,the Sultan overturned Ohrid Archbishopric.

Strengthening the national language

From the XIV century in Macedonia the influence of the Serbian version of Old Church Slavonic begins to strengthen. The reason for it was joining the Macedonian lands to then Serbian state. That influence relates mainly to spelling. In addition, in the literary monuments of that time are visible traces of modern living Macedonian speeches.
At the time of the Ottoman Empire, literacy is experiencing a decline. Its language is further away from the Old Slavic basis, because in the living vernacular were already accumulated more significant changes. Besides church liturgical books, in which was more taken into consideration the oldest written Slavic tradition, appear more such texts used for reading a wider circle of people or represent inscriptions for practical use.
In the XVI century, books are printed in Serbia and Venice. In the XII century, came large quantities of church books printed in Russia in Russian-Slavic language.

National awakening

During the Ottoman rule, the position of Macedonians and the creation of a Macedonian state was very hard. Several movements whose goals were the creation of an autonomous Macedonia, which covers the entire region of Macedonia, started to appear in the late XIX century, and the oldest of them is the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. In 1905 it was renamed in Internal Macedonian - Odrin Revolutionary Organization, and after the World War II, organization was divided into Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO) and Internal Thracian Revolutionary Organization. Most members still were Macedonians. In 1903 IMRO (VMRO) organized the Ilinden Uprising against the Ottomans, who after some initial successes, including the establishment of the Krusevo Republic was defeated with great human losses. The uprising and the formation of the Krusevo Republic later will greatly affect to the creation of today's Republic.

Macedonian flag
Macedonian flag

Municipalities in Macedonia

Municipalities in Macedonia are administrative units of the first order. In August 2004, the Republic of Macedonia was reorganized into 84 municipalities; 10 of them are the City of Skopje, a separate unit of local government and capital of the state.
Almost all municipalities are unchanged or only assimilated from the previous 123 municipalities established in September 1996; others were attached to each other and their boundaries changed. Prior to this, the local authority has been organized into 34 administrative units at different levels.
By number of population, the largest municipality in the Republic of Macedonia is Kumanovo municipality with 105,484 inhabitants, and the smallest municipality is Vranestica with 1322 inhabitants.


Location

Macedonia has an area of ​​25,713 km2 and landlocked. Republic of Macedonia to east is bordering Bulgaria, to the north Serbia, on the west Albania and south with Greece. The length of the state border is 766 km.
The significance of the geographical position of the Republic of Macedonia as a central Balkan state bordering with four countries, different in their economic potential and development, is that they are addressed to mutual trade and complementariness of their economies, exactly through the territory of the Republic of Macedonia.

Mountain Baba
Mountain Baba

Relief

Macedonia is a country that is enclosed within its borders and is landlocked. It is geographically defined by a valley which forms the largest river in its territory - Vardar, which is bordered by several mountain ranges. Generally the land is uneven and located between the Shar Mountains and Osogovo that border the valley of the river Vardar. The three largest natural lakes in the country are Ohrid, Prespa and Dojran lake. They lie on the southern border, and are divided between the borders with Albania and Greece. Lake Ohrid is considered one of the oldest lakes and biotopes in the world. The region is seismically active and many crashes have occurred in the past.

lake Ohrid
Lake Ohrid


Religion in Macedonia (2002)

Eastern Orthodoxy (64.8%)
Islam (33.3%)
Catholicism (0.4%)
Others/None (1.5%)

In the Republic of Macedonia, the most common religion is Orthodox Christianity, practiced by most of the ethnic Macedonians. The vast majority of the Orthodox Christians in the country belong to the Macedonian Orthodox Church, which declared autocephaly from the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1967.

Muslims are the second-largest religious group with almost one-third of the population adhering to Islam, mainly from the country's Albanian and Turkish minorities. There are also many other religious groups in Macedonia, including Catholicism, Protestantism, and Judaism.
monastery
Monastery St.Jovan Bigorski



BITOLA - THE CITY OF CONSULS (PART 1)

Bitola - a town in southwestern Macedonia, administrative, cultural, economic, industrial, and educational center for that part of the country. The city is known as the city of consuls, because there were consular missions of the European countries at the time of the Ottoman Empire, where together with Solun (Thessaloniki), Bitola was the most important place in the European part of the empire. Today, many of the consular offices in the country are located here. Bitola is the second largest city in Macedonia according to the number of inhabitants. During Yugoslavia, Bitola was one of the cultural centers in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, as well as in Yugoslavia. Father of the Turkish nation, Kemal Atatürk, attended officer school in Bitola. Some of his works are kept in the National Museum.
photo by Gordana Adzieva
View of Magnolia Square with the monument of Philip II of Macedonia - the founder of Bitola and the famous clock tower in the background, photo by Gordana Adzieva-Mihajlovska
Etymology

Throughout history, depending on the rulers, Bitola had many names. According to Adrian Room, the Slavic name for the city, Bitola, comes from the word Monastery (Old Slavonic Obitѣlь) and this term today is used in Croatian language (Obitelj), which during the Middle Ages was used to name a community of monks, a family or monastery. Bitola was named after the many monasteries that were in town and in the surrounding area, and some of them still exist today. Over time, the voice O was disposed in the pronunciation of the word "Obitel" and the name of the city becomes Bitola. Greeks called the city Monastir (Greek: Μοναστήρι). Bitola is the present official name of the city, but also the oldest title, judging by Bitola plate from 1015 on which the city is mentioned, as well as according to many generals of the Emperor Samuel, and passengers at the time. Arab traveler Abu Abdallah Muhammad al-Idrisi in the XII century wrote: "It takes two days to travel east to reach the Ahrida (Ohrid) and Butyl (Bitola). Butyl is unusual and beautiful city. "
There are tales that on the right bank of the river Dragor were 41 churches and the same number of mills for maintaining the churches. Also on the left bank of the Dragor there were 29 churches with 29 mills. During the holidays at this time, people from the villages of Bitola area gathered in those churches where they performed their religious rites. Since the land on which was located the city of Bitola was then covered with numerous monasteries, the city was named Monastery.
River Dragor
River Dragor

 According to the written records of Marco Cepenkov Bitola was named after some rich man named Toljo, who had his fortress near the village Bukovo. At the time when the Turks came to conquer this part of Macedonia, they called him saying "Bi Toljo, Bi Toljo" which according to Marko Cepenkov is where the current name of the city of Bitola comes from.

During Ottoman rule, the city was called Monastery, which Turks and Albanians adopted from the Greeks. After the Balkan Wars in 1913, the city falls under Serb occupation and again receives the old name Bitola.

History

Many important events in Macedonian and Balkan history took place in Bitola. The city was built, rebuilt, damaged and re-built and upgraded since its first settlement in the Late Bronze Age. Then in the Hellenistic period and the Roman Empire, until the Byzantine time, had the status of a town with a high degree of civilization.
Bitola korzo
Shirok Sokak (famous promenade in Bitola)



Traditionally the strong commercial center, is known as the city of consuls because at one point during the Ottoman Empire, Bitola had even twenty consulates from various European countries. In the same period, the city had many schools, among others, the military academy, which attended the famous Turkish reformer Kemal Ataturk. At the end of the XIX century, Bitola was so powerful city, that its population constantly grew and exceeded the population of Belgrade. The city was crowded with factories and photographic shops and the interesting part is that despite Singer in Bitola, even at that time there was a factory for sweets in Bitola. Bitola recorded the first photos and movies thanks to the brothers Manaki. It was the golden age of the city. Unfortunately, during the Balkan wars, many battles were driven around the city and in the city itself, so, many physical evidences were burned or were completely destroyed. The architecture was recovered, especially in the last fifteen years, and evidence of everything that happened are the stories from the elders who remember well what happened.



To be continued...

RAKIJA - CONNECTING PEOPLE (HOW IT'S MADE)

Home production of brandy (rakija) is a tradition in Macedonia. In order to receive high quality grape and fruit brandy, producers should be very careful with the technology and manufacturing process.

boiling rakija
Rakija - connecting people
Thе process of fermenting the grapes (cleared from vine stems and leaves) lasts at least 60 days in warmer days, while later in the autumn, that process lasts longer. Now, when the grapes would "lie" at the bottom of the barrel, means that they are fermented. According to the old master, in recent times, rather than wait for weeks, wine yeast was added that made the grapes ferment faster and all bacteria were destroyed. Yet most important of all is if the grapes have sugar; if there is sugar, there will be more brandy, and therefore the wine cellars don't purchase grapes with more sugar because it is not so good for making wine.
When the process of boiling is finished and grape becomes komina, the cauldron for making brandy is set. The complete equipment for making brandy is consisted of a copper pot and pot that differs from the barrel for having no lid, and it must constantly have cold water inside so by cooling, condensation can be turned into liquid alcohol. Both containers are connected with a pipe where the condensed liquid from the one container is transferred to the other container filled with cold water.
set for rakija
Set for making rakija

To obtain a quality brandy, follow these important rules:

1. Fruits from the fruit trees and grapes should be harvested at full maturity and shoudn't be rotten.
2. Containers where blended grapes or fruits are put should be wooden or plastic for food purposes. We should not use plastic containers that are used for storage and transmission of technical materials such as plastics which affect human health.
3. Before use, containers should be well cleaned, wooden pots are cleaned with hot water and wooden soda and plastic containers are cleaned with appropriate detergent and rinsed well. Very good cleaning of the tank is achieved with a solution of salt in quantities of 100 to 200 g with 200-400 ml vinegar. Use a cloth soaked in this solution and rub the whole inner surface of the tank and inside of the pipe.
4. After grinding the grape or fruit pulp, should be added vinobran 5-10 grams per 100 kg mash and it should be pressed with wooden or plastic grid on which is placed a stone, so the pulp would be held completely submerged during the whole process. The containers are filled to 80% of the volume, so there won't happen any leakage during the tumultuous part of boiling.
5. Wooden containers are covered with wooden cover on which we put a nylon and wrap the container's opening and nylon is stretched (wired with a binding cord made of rubber). Plastic containers should be covered with their original covers.
6. To obtain a quality brandy, grapes and liquid aren't boiled together, but just fruit liquid. Cauldrons are filled with fruit liquid to 90% of the volume of the tank, and the rest is filled with water. The container where the fruit remains are, is filled with water with the same amount as we previously eastward fluid or wine. Water stands for 2-4 days and then the cauldrons are filled with the liquid of 95% by volume and is brewed brandy. So, working with liquids only, with the first boiled liquid we extract 80-90% of alcohol from the mashed fruit and with the second - the rest to 100%.

rakija

HOLY 40 MARTYRS ON KRKARDASH, BITOLA - MARCH 21ST

Holy 40 Martyrs Church is located on Krkardash in Bitola in the area called Smilevski Bair. It was built 150 years ago, on the same place of the former monastery "St. Athanasius". Day of the church is every first day of spring, 21th of March.

holy 40 martyrs


Krkardash or Krkkardash is legendary region in northern Montmartre (Bair), where unequal struggle occurred between Macedonians and the Turkish army. When the Turkish army had conquered Bitola, the monks of the monastery gave fierce resistance fighting with cross in one hand and knife in other.
According to legends of Marco Cepenkov, there was a small fortress, in a possession of the feudal owner Toljo, which Turks closed during their conquest of Bitola. There, the entire Macedonian population fought back the Turkish army. All defenders of the fortress have fallen in bloody battle. Due to the strong and heroic defense, Turks named that region Krkkardash, which means 40 brothers. Today on this place are the Church "St. 40 Martyrs" and "St. Archangel Michael".
holy martyrs

On October 29, 2012 with a large national gathering in Bitola, the Macedonian Orthodox Church canonized the holy 40 martyrs with solemn liturgy held in the Church of the Holy Great Martyr Demetrius.
40 white doves flied as a sign of their elevation for those who suffered for the Christian faith and sacrificed their lives during the conquest of Bitola by the Ottomans in 1385.

In honor of these 40 monks was built the Monastery "40 Machenici".

Each year on this day, in the evening hours, all citizens of Bitola visit this place and light a candle in a memory of 40 martyrs. People go there and on 22nd of March from morning until the afternoon.

VANJA LAZAROVA-MACEDONIAN FOLK LEGEND

Yesterday, on 12th of March 2017, died Vanja Lazarova, a synonym of the Macedonian folk song
 The velvet voice of one of the most talented Macedonian performers of folk music - Vanja Lazarova went silent. The 86-year old Vanja left the world, leaving behind a wealth of unforgettable musical interpretations that bring us tears.

She was born on 27th of April 1930 in the village Stracin, Kratovo. Vanja Lazarova tirelessly conquered the world with her divine voice. She had even performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and her voice have been honored by Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Macedonian folk and ethno music would never been what they are without the voice of Vanja Lazarova. She worked in the opera at the National Theatre and was a member of the "Ensemble".

She was also the first Macedonian singer who recorded sheets for record companies Philips and Poligram.
She had a special contribution in her cooperation with the Macedonian band "Anastasia" when creating the music for the film "Before the Rain" by Milcho Manchevski. Her vocal is particularly amenable to the ethno synthesis.
Macedonia is grateful for all the legacy she has left to us and to the world and we will always appreciate every song she sang with her hearht. We will always tremble while listening to her "So maki sum se rodila".

Rest in peace legend!

8TH OF MARCH-INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

8th of March is the day that marks the women's struggle for economic, political and social equality with men.
The idea for a special day dedicated to women originates in the early 20th century, and it specifically was insisted by the socialist movement.

The first Women's Day is marked on February 28, 1909 in the United States at the initiative of the Socialist Party of America.
In 1910, under the auspices of the Second International in Copenhagen is held the First International Conference on Women where it was decided to celebrate the International Women's Day, but without specific date being set. The following year, on March 19, 1911, the feast was first celebrated by more than a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
On March 8th, 1913, women across Europe held peace rallies.
After the victory of the Bolsheviks in Russia and on the initiative of Alexandra Kollontai, for the first time March 8th was declared a national holiday. Soviet Russia was the first country which marked March 8th in red letters on the calendar in 1917 and it became a public non working holiday in 1965.
Today traditionally male purchases flowers to female and wishes her a happy feast.
In Macedonia, every woman celebrates 8th of March, feeling special on this day. Women gather in restaurants enjoying great food and giving presents to each other. Small presents are also given to female teachers, mothers and grandmothers.

MARTENITSA FOR HAPPINESS AND HEALTH (MARTINKA)

The tradition continues, as every year, with the first day of March, many of the citizens put martenitsa on their hands or on the lapels. They believe that wearing martenitsa until 22 March will bring happiness in their lives.
Martenitsa (martinka) is a small ornament that our parents, aunts or grandmothers tied on our hands and are worn from March 1st until the end of the month, and according to other beliefs, martenitsa is tied on 14th of March. Martenitsa is an ornament made of hemp in red and white color. They are the symbol of Baba Marta (Grandma March), known to us as a harbinger of spring.
martinki


This tradition is also observed in neighboring Bulgaria (martenitsa) and Romania (martisor). Martenitsa, or red and white, symbolize the desire for good health and also announces coming of spring. According to some beliefs, the red color symbolizes blood and the white symbolizes purity, to another they symbolize life and death, then good and evil, and joy and sorrow in the life of one man.

One of the customs says that Martinka is received as a gift and that it is never bought for yourself, but it should be given to your loved ones and friends. It can be worn attached to the wardrobe or tied around the arm or neck. There are many beliefs about its removal, one being that when the first tree flourishes, martinka should be unchained and attach to it or when first common martin is seen, it should be removed from hand and placed under the first white stone, while in Bulgaria it is removed when they see the first stork and they hung it on a tree and make a wish.

There are many variants of this tradition and the symbol of Martenitsa. We do our best to preserve this tradition, which gives joy to many, especially to children. Symbol of new life, conception, fertility and, above all, a new spring. Colors that symbolize purity and harmony in life and the lives of loved ones.

Welcome to Baba Marta, and you, don't forget to give away at least one martenitsa.

FORGIVE AND BE FORGIVEN - TODAY IS PROCHKA

Today Orthodox believers celebrate the feast of Forgiveness or Forgiveness Sunday, known as Prochka or Veliki Pokladi, which belongs to the greatest Christian holidays, right after Christmas and Easter according to some.

With Prochka begins the long Easter fasting period filled with many customs and beliefs, with many disclaimers and hopes to welcome Christ's resurrection (Easter), for communion and identification with the Savior Jesus Christ.

Prochka (Forgiveness Sunday) is carried with rich customs such as forgiveness, then special ritual with eggs called 'amkanje', sacred bonfires, rich table, life divination, cleansing against pests and so on.
Amkanje is a custom held on the evening of Prochka, when the family would gather at home. The custom is practiced so that the unpeeled boiled egg is attached with hemp thread and hang on a wand or a rolling pin. Then children sit at the table and knelt on their knees, and an adult brings the egg closer to the mouth of each child and the child shouts "am, am" and attempts to catch the egg with his mouth.

The custom of forgiveness starts from the Christian conception of aiding and forgiveness between people. It is believed that on this day heaven and earth forgive each other, so people should do that too.
And people ask for forgiveness from one another for their mistakes. Usually younger ask for forgiveness from the older, children from parents, baptized from their best man, and friends, relatives, neighbors are also forgiven.

Today Orthodox Christians celebrate the feast of Forgiveness, when people with raisins, orange or an apple forgive each others sins and wish health, happiness and love with shaking hands.

Younger three times bows before the elder and says: "Forgive me!" To which elder one responds: "You are forgiven from me and the Lord,"or just: "You are forgiven."

The Monday after Prochka is called Clean Monday and from then, long Easter fasting begins. On this day we clean the house with particular attention to wash dishes.

TRADITIONAL KUKUREC IN SAUCE

Kukurec is a traditional dish which is usually prepared for Easter. It is prepared from knitted lamb chitterlings and tripe cut into strips. It is considered as one of the best lamb specialties in our country. Preparation is easy, just follow the procedure. The most important part is cleaning the of intestines, they have to be 100% clean.


Ingredients:


  • 1 braid of lamb intestines
  • 2 -3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper in grains
  • pinch of salt
For the sauce:

  • 3-4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tbs bukovska pepper (chilly or sweet)
  • 1 tbs Vegeta
  • 1-2 tbs of dried mint
  • some ground black pepper
  • 5-6 cloves of chopped fresh garlic
  • water, oil, salt
Preparation:
  1. Put cleaned intestines in water and put on fire to boil. When it starts to boil, pour the water. Repeat the procedure again. In the third water add salt, black pepper and bay leaves, add the intestines and leave to boil for several minutes. Kukurec is cooked when it can be easily stabbed with a fork.
  2. Put cooked kukurec in an earthenware and pour with oil.
  3. For sauce: mix flour, black pepper, Bukovska pepper, Vegeta, mint and garlic in a bowl. Add cold water and mix until unite. The mixture should not be too thick.
  4. Add this mixture to kukurec. Then add liquid in which it was cooked. Pour liquid just to almost cover kukurec. Stir to avoid lumps.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 220 C degrees for about 1 hour, until liquid evaporates and kukurec gets fine flushed color. While baking, flip kukurec on the other side so both sides are baked well.
  6. Serve cut in into pieces and covered with the sauce. Combine with Macedonian wine and enjoy.
  7. Note: This kukurec was prepared with intestines and lamb krezla, I could't find a translation or the word 'krezla' in English, though it can be made without krezla of course.

PASHA MEATBALL (PASHA KJOFTE)

This dish is old, Macedonian, our grandmothers prepared it. It's possible it has Turkish roots, because the word 'Pasha' or 'Paşa' represents a higher rank in the Ottoman Empire political and military system, typically granted to governors, generals, dignitaries and others. However, Macedonia was under Ottoman Empire for 5 centuries and many recipes are inherited from the Turkish cuisine. This dish is consisted of small meatballs in a special soup prepared from flour which we call 'kasha'.


Ingredients:

For the meatballs:
  • 500 g minced beef
  • 50 g rice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 grated onion
  • finely chopped parsley
  • ground black pepper
  • ¼ tbs salt
For kasha (soup):
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • oil
  • 1,5 liters of water 
  • 2-3 tbs tomato puree
  • 1 large carrot
  • 5-6 pieces of garlic
  • mixed spices (vegeta), black pepper, parsley, bay leaf
Preparation:
  1. First boil rice until half cooked.
  2. Mix minced meat with onions. Add dried spices, black pepper, salt and parsley and add cooked rice. Mix well everything, then form balls with a size of a ping-pong ball.
  3. Fry meatballs in hot oil.
  4. When done, remove meatballs from the pot and align on a kitchen paper.
  5. In the same pot, add carrots to fry a bit, then add the flour to fry just a little to change color.
  6. Then pour water and add chopped garlic, black pepper, mixed dried spices to taste, bay leaf and tomato puree and return meat balls in the pot. Leave to simmer quietly until rice in balls is fully cooked (about 10-15 minutes).
  7. Serve warm.

14TH OF FEBRUARY-THE DAY OF ST.TRYPHON

Every year on February 14th, Orthodox Christians celebrate St. Trifun (holy Tryphon, Trifon). It is believed that St. Trifon is a keeper of the vineyards and inns, and also of marital love and fidelity.
On February 14th, winemakers go to the vineyards for the first time in the new calendar year and begin to cut vines, and it is believed that St. Trifon on his day sticks a torch in the ground and the snow begins to melt. Many believe that spring begins on this day and that nature and love among people wake up. If rain falls on the feast of St. Trifon, plum will have a good harvest.
People relate different customs and stories to this holiday. Snow can still surprise you, but it is considered a symbol of prosperity.

Legend says that St. Tryphon was born in the village Kampsadi in Phrygia and lived in the third century. His parents were poor, and since he was a child he kept geese of wealthy locals for a piece of bread. A legend, however, says that he had healing powers since childhood and the Roman Emperor Gordian, whose daughter Gordijana was mentally ill, learned about  his abilities and none of the doctors could help her. In such a situation, the legend tells that once the evil spirit spoke from her and that no one could expel him except Tryphon. But, the king didn't know which Trifon is the healer so he ordered to bring all man named Trifon and try to cure his daughter. After some time, Phrygia king's army found the small and modest boy Tryphon and took him to the emperor in Rome. Poor boy will instantly heal the girl, and the king will richly reward him, but the boy on his return to home gave away all the gifts to the poor. When he returned to his village, he continued to live as before, to keep geese. When the new king Dakij heard about his powers, as a great opponent of Christianity, he orders to close the boy in a cell and to expose him to great torture. But Tryphon shall bear all tortures until he was stabbed with a sword. He was only 18 years old.
According to another version, St. Tryphon was tied to a horse and dragged on rocks and thorns, and died before the act of execution.

St. Tryphon is being celebrated in the Orthodox world for centuries. He is being honored by many guilds, primarily bartenders and winemakers and growers because he is a protector of wine and vine. It is said that on this day, good innkeepers give free wine to guests.

EASY AND FAST BABKA CAKE

I love babka cake, I like its shape and usually the cake is very tasty. I know this recipe since my mom prepared it in a pan. When I was a kid, babka molds didn't existed, so we baked it in a regular pan. I've tried different recipes for preparing babka cake and many times it turned out badly. Sometimes it bakes only on the sides and stays unbaked in the middle, sometimes it overlaps the mold and makes mess in my oven, I hate that. This recipe is the best, cake turns out just the way it should be, evenly baked and fills the mold perfectly.

Ingredients:
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 tablespoons sugar
  • 200 ml milk
  • 100 ml oil
  • 15 tablespoons flour
  • 1 sachet baking powder
  • 50 g grated chocolate for cooking
  • a handful of crushed nuts

Preparation:
  1. Beat eggs and sugar.
  2. Add milk, oil and gradually add flour and baking powder.
  3. Add walnuts and grated cooking chocolate and mix.
  4. Coat the mold for babka with butter and pour the mixture.
  5. Bake in preheated oven at 200 C degrees around half an hour. Check with toothpick if it's ready.
  6. Leave to cool, then remove from the mold and cut in pieces. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar before cutting.