OPINCI - TRADITIONAL LEATHER MACEDONIAN SANDALS

Since the time when man was created, he had to cover his body. For cold protection, nudity and so on. The most suitable and most accessible to man was the leather and the fur from wild animals. Later, when a man crossed from a tribe into another community, he increased and changed his needs. With the evolution, besides covering the body, man also needed foot protection. He decided again to use leather to protect his feet. This is how the history of opinci begins.

More recently, the appearance of machines and factories has almost replaced the human hand. Begins the process of making opinci from rubber. At the beginning, making opinci was first a craft that was highly represented, and today it almost doesn't exist.

There are many types of opinci: Macedonian, Serbian, Croatian, Turkish, Bulgarian and Greek. They all have their own distinctive character and are made differently. But the common thing among these types of opinci is the basis: the leather.

The lower part should be from a cow's leather, a pig, a donkey, and it's best to be from roe deer because it is the most resistant. And the upper part of the shoes is made from the leather of a goat or lamb, and the most suitable is from a dog because it is the most elastic one, while the leather from the sheep is snapping easily.

The process of making Macedonian opinci lasts for several days (depending on the season).
First, is cut a piece of calf or cow leather that is already tanned. Then, it is put in water to become wet. The time of how long the skin will stay in water depends on the thickness of the leather itself, which, in turn, depends on the tanning.

"If the leather is thicker and harder then it must be watered for an extended period of time. And that depends on the tanning."
One pair of opinci can't be imagined if they don't go through that process of watering.

To produce a pair of opinci, the leather and the water are necessary.

When the process of watering is completed, the size of the shoes will be determined and during all the time, the shoe is on a mold. With the help of this mold, the shape is determined. When the shape is determined, one piece of leather is sewn on the back, one strap in the middle and two more straps on the front. When the sewing process is completed, the opinci are carried on drying and don't depart from the mold fort two to three days depending on the daytime temperature.


"If it's winter then it's cooler and the drying process lasts longer. But when it comes to summer time then this same process can end in less than twenty-four hours. Because drying must be natural without any aids."

Until 50 years ago, opinci were usually worn in rural areas of the Balkan countries. Nowadays, they are only used in folk costume, for folkloric dance ensembles, festivals, feast days or other cultural events.



TASTY ROASTED SOFT PORK WITH POTATOES

Meat baking has always been a challenge to me, and the first time I roasted meat, it turned out hard as a stone :) Now I know how to bake soft meat that will melt in the mouth. The meat should be baked with some water and for a longer time, even hours. It's better if the meat is slightly greasy. I also used to prepare meat and potatoes separately, which is of course mistreating and I have another dirty pan to wash. For this recipe you will need about 1 kg of pork or more and a few larger potatoes. I put a few carrots here, but definitely it will not be happen again because whole carrots seem to evaporate.


Ingredients:
  • 1-1.5 kg pork (with some fat on)
  • 1 kg of potatoes
  • spices: salt, vegeta, black pepper, bukovec, oregano
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • oil
  • one cup of water
Preparation:
  1. Cut the meat into pieces, add vegeta or salt and soak the pieces with oil and mustard.
  2. Place the meat in a baking pan throughout all the pan and add one cup of water and cover the pan with foil. Put to bake in a heated oven at 250 C degrees. 
  3. After half an hour, flip the meat and place it in one half of the pan, and in the other half add the chopped potatoes. Add salt, black pepper, bukovec, oregano or other spices as desired on the potatoes, add oil and again, return the pan in the oven to bake together under aluminium foil. 
  4. Allow to bake for about 1 hour and check if the meat is roasted on both sides. If it is already baked, leave the foil only over the meat, and remove the foil from the potatoes to get them a beautiful roasted color and to become crust. If the meat needs more baking, remove all the foil and bake together for another 20 minutes (still, the time depends on many factors, so you're the one who needs to specify it).

CHRISTMAS HONEY COOKIES (MELOMAKARONA)

These are the best mouth melting cookies I've tried in my life. I first tried them at my Macedonian relatives who live in Lerin in Greece and immediately asked for the recipe. They make these cookies for Christmas and call them "Christmas cookies". I can make them and eat them in any time during the year, no problem, they smell and taste so good, the mixed aroma of cinnamon, honey and orange in your mouth will melt your senses. The preparation is easy, no mess in the kitchen-that's my motto.


Ingredients:
  • 500 g flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of oil
  • Half a cup of orange juice
  • half a cup of cognac
  • 1 baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • crushed walnuts
Sherbet (syrup)
  • 3 cups of water
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey 
*1 cup is 250 ml

Preparation:
  1. First prepare the syrup. Boil water with sugar until it thickens a bit and add the honey. Let it cool down.
  2. Mix dough from all the ingredients using a mixer and form cookies in the desired form. You can use molds too. 
  3. Put to bake on a paper lined pan for about 30 minutes at 180 C degrees and after they are baked, while still hot, they are poured with the cold syrup, left for 1 minute and placed in another container.
  4. Sprinkle with crashed walnuts in the end.

LEAN SARMA WITH SOUR CABBAGE AND RICE

This sarma is ideal to prepare in fasting period when we eat lean food or for Orthodox feasts when lean food is served (like the feast of Sveti Nikola). The method of preparation of this sarma is the same as sarma with minced meat and rice, it's a little easier since we don't prepare the meat. Also, this sarma is better for your stomach and for digestion. I suggest you to make your sarma pieces smaller, they look cuter and prepare better.

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 heads of sour cabbage
  • 250-300 g rice
  • 300 ml oil
  • Vegeta, salt, black pepper and red pepper to taste
Preparation:
  1. As I've mentioned before, it's the best when sarma is made a day earlier. 
  2. Cut cabbage leaves into desired size.
  3. Prepare filling: Wash and rinse rice. Add Vegeta, salt, black and red pepper and add oil to cover the rice.
  4. Put from this filling in the middle of the leaf, close the leaf from both sides and roll. Place prepared pieces of sarma in an oil coated larger pot covered with 2-3 cabbage leaves (we put leaves on the bottom to avoid burning of sarma). Add black and red pepper and oil in between rows and when you finish, sprinkle red pepper on top and add add oil. As you can see, this sarma requires more oil.
  5. Pour warm water about 3-4 cm above sarma and leave to cook at low temperature for about 2 hours. Check if it needs more water.
  6. In the end, warm up a little oil and add a 1 tbs of red pepper, fry shortly and pour in the pan over sarma. Leave to cook for several more minutes.

ST.NICHOLAS - WINTER (SVETI NIKOLA, 19 DECEMBER)

Many families consider St. Nicholas as their home patron and celebrate this day with a great attention. Although, the day of his demise on December 19th is more celebrated and known as St. Nicholas - Winter, great attention is also given to the date of transfer of the relics of St. Nicholas of Myra in Bari on May 22, a holiday known as St. Nicholas - Summer.

St. Nicholas or St. Nicholas the wonder-worker, Archbishop of Myra is considered the patron of the seas. Christian ships usually keep an icon of the saint and all ships stop wherever they are located the day of celebration St.Nicholas, they throw the anchor into the sea, sailors would pray and celebrate all day and will continue sailing the next day. The iconic St Nicholas is represented with his bishop robe.

St. Nicholas was born in, Patara, Lycia, Minor Asia, about the year 270, the only child of his parents Theophanes and Nina. At his baptism he was named Nikola, which means "winner". As a child, he approached with great enthusiasm to study the Scripture.
His spiritual life acquired through his uncle who was also a cleric, so he became a monk in the monastery New Zion. After the death of his parents, Nicholas sold the entire property and divided the profit among the poor. While he was a priest in his own village, he became known for his charitable deeds.

At the time of Emperor Diocletian and Maximilian, when the Christian population was persecuted, tortured and imprisoned, that same thing happened to him. With the coming to power of Constantine I, the persecution of Christians stopped and they received and equal place in the Roman Empire at the same time. He attended the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, where he advocated for the introduction of the holy trinity. Due to great anger, he attacked the Alexandrian priest Arius. After this, he was accused of heresy, he was banished from the council and was denied further attendance at meetings. According to Christian tradition, St. Nicholas was approved at the church meetings again because of the appearance of God among selected bishops saying that they have committed a great injustice.

While he was alive, people considered him a saint and called upon to help the sick, the afflicted and infirm. Christians believe that he helped everyone and that great light glowed from his face.When he got very old, he became ill and died on 6 December 343.

The cult of St. Nicholas has been known since the 6th century and the oldest biography of him comes from the 9th century. He was considered the protector of the entire population around the world are therefore he's highly appreciated not only from Orthodox, but also from Catholics. For the same reasons, even Turks adored him in the past and called him Neol Baba (meaning great father).

The St. Nicholas is the patron of the city of Prilep, according to the decision of the municipality of Prilep.
Also Sveti Nikole celebrate their city holiday on this day too.


LASAGNA WITH MINCED MEAT

Do you know who first inspired me to make lasagna? Garfield! I watched Garfield since I was a kid and I always wondered what is that tasty rectangle thing he eats with appetite. And I started watching the new episodes again with my kids. So, I first made lasagna about 6 years ago. I ate so much for 3 days in a row that I felt like Garfield :) Lazy, happy and fat :) So, this is my tried recipe and it's great. I admit it takes a little more time to prepare it and some extra dishes, but that's lasagna, there's no easy way to do this. This dish serves 8 people. And I also have to admit that even though this is an Italian food, we Macedonians (as the rest of the world) enjoy Italian food and eat it a lot. I can even say that the number of pizzerias that serve pizza and pasta is almost the same as the number of restaurants all over the country.
 
Ingredients:
  • 500 g lasagna pack
Minced meat:
  • 600 g minced meat
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 500 g of tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry parsley
  • 1 small teaspoon of salt
  • little black pepper
  • cooking oil
Bechamel sauce:
  • 60 g butter
  • 2 tbs of flour
  • 1 liter of milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • a little black pepper
  • a pinch of minced nutmeg
Other:
  • 500 g grated cheese
Preparation:
  1. Minced meat: Fry the finely chopped onion on a little cooking oil. Leave to fry slightly and add the minced meat. Add spices and fry the meat until it changes color. Then, add the tomato paste, stir and leave to simmer for ten minutes with closed lid. Remove the bay leaf when done.
  2. Bechamel sauce: Melt the butter in a pot and add the flour. Stir well with a wire and leave to fry a bit. Pour the milk carefully and stir constantly, season it and let it boil. Reduce the fire and leave for ten minutes until it thickens. Mix from time to time so that the milk does not burn and the flour doesn't settle at the bottom.
  3. Boil water in a larger pot and gradually put 4-5 pieces of lasagna to soften. Do not put all the lasagne at once, for it will stick.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220 ° C. Coat the casserole with a little oil for cooking. 
  5. Put a row of lasagna layers in the dish, pour bechamel sauce over, put the minced meat, add grated cheese and place another layer of lasagne again. Repeat the procedure four to five times (depending on how much space you have in the baking tray). When you finish the last layer, place the remaining bechamel sauce on top and sprinkle with grated cheese. 
  6. Bake this prepared lasagna in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the cheese changes color. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes, then serve it.

RICE IN A PAN (my recipe)

I prepare rice this way since I've known about myself. My mom prepared rice this way (and still does), so I inherited the recipe and I never change it. Though I've tried other recipes too, I always turn back to this one. It's fast, tasty and simple. I used to prepare it with half chopped onion at first, I would've fried the onion first, than add the rice, but I don't add onion for some time now and it's still delicious. I basically like to add onions to every dish I prepare, but sometimes I just wanna avoid the smell of fried onions.


Ingredients:
  • 1 cup rice
  • 3,5 cups warm water
  • 1 chicken cube for soup
  • frozen mixed vegetables (green peas, corn, carrots)
  • 1 flat tbs Vegeta
  • oil 
  • black pepper, oregano, dried parsley 
*1 cup is 250 ml


Preparation:

  1. Add oil in a baking pan and put it on the stove to warm up. Add the rice and fry it for 5-6 minutes at medium heat. Stir constantly to avoid burning.
    When rice starts to change color, add the water and increase the temperature.
  2. Add the frozen vegetables.
  3. When water starts to boil, add the chicken cube and Vegeta. Leave to cook for several minutes and stir occasionally. Add the spices.
  4. Put to bake in a preheated oven at 250 C degrees.
  5. It needs about 20-30 minutes to bake, I never look on the clock. The whole water should be absorbed and t should form just a tiny crust on top. 
  6. After baking, cover it with aluminum foil for several minutes.
  7. Serve rice with any kind of meat, fish, chicken, pork, veal...it goes excellent with everything.

TOP 11 SUPERSTITIONS IN MACEDONIA

Do you believe in superstitions? I personally don't, I prefer mind over irrationality, but still, I know many people, including close people who are superstitious and that seems to be a very common thing among Macedonians.
Superstitions are as old as the very faith, known by old times, sometimes are more strongly expressed and sometimes less, strongly depending on people's faith, religion, education, intelligence, environment, experience etc.
Superstitions are the legacy of every civilizations and are inherited by the following generations. It was once believed that superstition could be rooted out with the spread of education. But these have continued to linger with the generations.


Whether you are superstitious or not, check this top 11 superstitions in Macedonia. I'm sure many of you are already familiar with some of them.

1. Do not throw away bread crumbs from the table sheet in the evening. The old say that crumbs can feed the bad forces which can enter the house.

2. If you leave the table uncleaned after dinner, again, you will invoke bad forces.

3. Don't leave your handbag on the floor, you won't keep any money! If the money is on the ground, they will soon be gone.

4. When a man dies, all the mirrors in the house need to be covered, because if you look at the dead man on the mirror, he will become a vampire (for God's sake).

5. If you are visiting someone, it's not nice to leave at home about midnight, because at midnight bad fairies come out. Leave before or after midnight, but not in the period of 5 minutes before or after 00:00. Got it?

6. If a dog is howling for a long time, it indicates the death of someone in the environment.

7. One of the most famous superstitions that we all know since we were kids is that, if someone breaks a mirror, a bad luck will follow him for 7 years. Why 7 years? Because the man that first created the mirror needed seven years to make it.

8. If you have accidentally poured a drink, then someone else from "the other world" was thirsty or needed a drink.

9. If your eye trembles, ask someone which eye is trembling, if he guesses, nothing bad will happen. If not, oh well...

10. Don't open an umbrella at home, it brings bad luck.

11. And the most famous superstition, if a black cat cuts your road, that brings accident. That's why you should go back and take another road instead.

6 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT TURKISH COFFEE

Drinking coffee is a daily ritual for most of us. Coffee lovers like me, don't start the day without this "magical" potion. Even now when I'm writing this article, I have my cup of morning Turkish coffee next to me. Turkish coffee is more tradition than a drink, it's the most favorite coffee for all Macedonians and it is known for its specific way of preparation and traditional serving. Women here love to gossip with a cup of Turkish coffee.

These are the 6 facts you may not have known about Turkish coffee:



1. Turkish coffee doesn't come from Turkey

The first evidence of drinking coffee probably comes from Yemen from the 5th century. From there, it spreads to Cairo and Mecca. In 1640, some of the famous chroniclers from the Ottoman period say that the first cafeteria was opened in Constantinople. The name derives from the Arabic word "qahwah". The meaning of coffee in Turkish culture is reflected in the word "breakfast", in Turkish - "kahvalti", literally translated means "before coffee".

2. The quality is in the foam (kaymak) on the top

If you want to know if you have a well-made Turkish coffee, you will need to look at the foam on the top of the cup. This type of coffee is characterized by a soft and velvety foam. Thanks to the foam, coffee remains hot for a long time.


3. Water is served with the coffee

Turkish coffee is usually served with a small glass of water. Have you ever wondered why this is so? Drinking water in advance will help you sense the true taste of coffee, while after consuming coffee it will help rinse your mouth from unfiltered remains.

4. The lokum makes the entire ritual better

It's all about the complete feeling: the shape of the cup, the color of the coffee and the piece of lokum on the tray make the picture complete when it comes to Turkish coffee. The locum adds the bliss to the bitter taste of Turkish coffee - which is especially important for those who choose to drink a cup of coffee without sugar. Or, as they say in Turkey, "we eat sweet, so we can talk sweet."

5. The mother-in-law role

Did you know that in Turkey, your future mother-in-law will judge you based on how you prepared your coffee and the way you served it. In fact, in many families it is also the first test of the new bride, she prepares the coffee for her mother-in-law and then comes a grade, so try to avoid the embarrassment and gossip in public.

6. Turkish coffee is under UNESCO protection

Turkish coffee is listed on UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage. The decision was taken at the 8th session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee held in 2013 in the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku.

Enjoy your coffee!

You can read the original text in Macedonian here

DELICIOUS MUFFINS WITH PUMPKIN AND CINNAMON

Feel the autumn with these delicious muffins with baked pumpkin. Fill your home with the smell of sweet, soft and delicious aromas of cinnamon, these irresistible muffins will quickly "fly" from the plates. What I like about this recipe is its simplicity, I don't like complicated recipes that require lots of time and make mess in the kitchen. Here I didn't even use a mixer. I got around 20 muffins.
 
Ingredients:
  • 2 larger pieces of mashed baked pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup oil
  • 50 ml milk
  • 1 ½ cup flour
  •  ¾ cup of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  •  pinch of salt
  • 1 sachet vanilla sugar
  • minced cloves,  nutmeg (optional)      

 
 Preparation:   

  1. Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, soda, baking powder, vanilla sugar, salt and add some minced cloves or nutmeg if desired. Mix everything together to get a fine compact mixture. 

  2. Put the mashed baked pumpkin in a bowl, add the eggs, oil, milk and mix everything with a fork.
  3. Preheat oven at 250 C degrees.
  4. Take your muffin pan and oil the holes. Pour from the mixture using a spoon and fill the holes a little more than half.
  5. Put to bake and reduce the heat to 180 C degrees. Bake for around 20 minutes. Check if the muffins are ready with a toothpick. 
  6. After baking, if there's still some mixture left, repeat the procedure. I used the same pan, I didn't even clean it. I just filled half of the holes and I poured water in the rest of the holes to avoid burning.
  7. That's eat, enjoy the most delicious muffins.
  

ARCHANGEL MICHAEL

Orthodox believers celebrate the great feast Archangel Michael on Tuesday, November 21st.
Archangel Michael is the leader of the heavenly armies and always appeared in the places where the Mother of God appeared, thus representing heavenly strength and protection of the earth.

In Greek, "arch" means chief, first, and "angelos" means messenger, angel. According to the church legends, the angel Michael first battled against the wicked spirits and on behalf of the church interpretations, that signifies "the one who is like God".
There are many folk beliefs about this angel: they say that he visits the sick and if he stops at their feet - it's not good, and if he's at the head - the sick will heal.
It is said that at this time Archangel wanders around the world dressed as a beggar to scoff the unbelievers and help those in distress, so on his day, you should not send away the poor and beggars from your door, because perhaps one of those beggars is Archangel Michael.
Archangel Michael, according to the beliefs, is a "living saint."A popular belief says that according to the weather conditions on this day, it can be determined what the year will be like. It is said: what the weather would be like on the Arangelovden, such will be during the whole winter and spring.

Today's day is a house feast of many Macedonian families.

DJIMIRINKI (CRACKLINGS) - BALKAN PORK SPECIALTY

Have you ever tried djimirinki (cracklings)? Djimirinki (also known as chvarci) are made from finely chopped pieces of pork bacon that melts in a larger fire pot. They are a kind of pork 'crisps', with fat thermally extracted from the lard.
During the preparation, the fat is removed from the bacon, and the pieces of meat are left to fry and dry.
It is recommended to eat them warm combined with red wine.


Ingredients:

  • 5 kg bacon
  • 1 liter water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
Preparation:

  1. Wash the bacon well with water to remove any blood.
  2. Cut bacon into cubes with size 2 x 2 cm. Place the cubes in a deeper pot and add about 1 liter of water so about 3/4 of the pieces of bacon would be immersed.
  3. Put the pot on a strong fire until the water starts to boil and stir occasionally to avoid burning. When water starts to boil, lower the temperature and continue to boil at moderate temperatures again with occasional stirring. During this time the liquid will first become blurry (emulsion from grease and water), and then it will be become clear and it will turn into a fat which you'll later use instead of cooking oil.
  4. After about 2-3 hours when the liquid becomes clear, drain the fat in another pot. Continue to fry the cracklings in the same pot until they get a nice golden-brown color. Remember to stir constantly so they don't burn.
  5. When the cracklings get their color, again remove the fat and continue to fry them for 10 more minutes.
  6. After frying, squeeze them again to drain as much ointment as possible.
  7. Transfer the squeezed djimirinki into a separate dish and add the salt and mix well. Serve them hot.

Enjoy!

GREEN PEAS STEW WITH MINCED MEAT

This is one of the most eaten stews in Macedonia, the green peas stew. The following recipe is a variation of the basic recipe since I added minced meat here and it turned out delicious! I asked myself why haven't I done it this way before! I used frozen beans and the only reason for choosing frozen beans is that I'm just too lazy to buy them fresh and clean each legume one by one (anyone who has cleaned green beans before knows what I'm talking about). The following recipe is enough for 2 adults and 2 children under 8. You can prepare double dosage if needed. Let's see the recipe:
 


Ingredients:

  •     500 g frozen green peas
  •     150 g minced meat
  •     150 ml tomato sauce
  •     1/2 chopped onion
  •     parsley
  •     mixed spices Vegeta, oil, red pepper

Preparation:

  1. Fry onion in a little oil, then add the minced meat. Fry in the pot where you'll prepare the stew and until meat changes color.
  2. Add the peas and stir.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon red pepper and 1 flat tbs Vegeta. Add water to cover the peas and add a little more if you think the stew is too thick. Add the tomato sauce in the end.
  4. Leave to cook at a low temperature for about 1 hour. 
  5. Add parsley in the end and check if the peas are cooked well.
  6. If desired, you can add chopped carrot, potato and pepper. If you add these vegetables, do that in the beginning when you add the peas in the pot. 

Enjoy!

BUCHTELN - BAKED DONUTS WITH JAM

I first heard about this recipe from my aunt who's Macedonian, but lives in Croatia for a long time. She made these baked donuts (as we call them) one morning while everyone was asleep. I was a kid back then. You can't imagine the smell that came out from the kitchen and woke up all of us. Amazing smell of sweet and baked. The pan was gone in 10 minutes.
These are basically donuts filled with jam and are best eaten while warm.


Ingredients:

Yeast preparation:

  • 100 ml warm milk
  • 1/2 fresh yeast
  • 1 large spoon sugar
  • a little flour 
For the dough:
  • 1/2 kg flour 
  • 100 g sugar
  • 100 g *melted butter
  • 150-200 ml warm milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 sachet vanilla sugar
  • a little lemon crust
  • a pinch of salt
Preparation:

  1. Add sugar, yeast and flour into the warm milk. Let it rise.
  2. Warm up the milk. Heat the butter to melt slightly. Add beaten egg to the warm milk and stir. 
  3. Place the flour in a larger bowl, add sugar, salt, lemon crust, vanilla sugar, raised yeast, milk with egg and dissolved butter.
  4. Mix with the mixer until you get a ball that separates from the walls of the bowl.
    Cover the dough with a clean cloth and let it rise on a warm place until it doubles the volume.
  5. When it is doubled, knead it a little and form a larger crust. Cut the crust in 16 pieces and add a spoon of jam or nutella in the middle of each piece. Then close it again in a form of a ball and place in the pan (size 32) aligned with baking paper (add a little oil on the baking paper) with the damp part placed at the bottom.
    Leave them to rise again in the heat.
  6. Before baking, coat donuts with melted butter and sprinkle some sugar on top, so they'll turn crusty after baking.
  7. Put the risen donuts in a cold oven that you turn on at 160°C to bake for 30 minutes, depending on your oven or until they get a beautiful golden color.
  8. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top after baking.

SALEP - AN ELIXIR OF LOVE

Salep is a drink that can be rarely found in our cafes. It is a great drink especially when the weather is cold, so I often prepare it at home during winter time.
Salep is a greenish, perennial medicinal herb from the orchid family, which became popular in the Middle Ages with the arrival of the Arabs in Europe.
It contains about 50% mucus, composed of sugar mannose and glucose, 30% starch, 10% sucrose and 10% water. Its main properties are: antitusive, emollient and aphrodisiacal. It is prepared with warm milk or water.
The mucus covers the airways in the form of a film, protects and relieves inflammation and removes cough. It is therefore very effective in bronchitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, tracheitis, colds and flu.


It is recommended as a pleasant drink that can be consumed indefinitely. It is often seasoned with ginger or cinnamon. Relaxes and increases sexual power in both men and women. So other than enjoying the taste, it can also increase your sexual desire.

The old recipe for preparing salep is simple:


  • mix 300 ml of milk
  • with 1 tbsp salep
  • and 2 tablespoons of sugar to prepare two cups of salep and bring to boil with continuous stirring. When the ingredients are thickened, the drink is ready.

It is poured in the cups and sprinkled with Cinnamon. The wonderful enchanting taste with aromatic aromatherapy given from the preparation of the salep only complements the effects.

With its nutritional and curative properties, it is also recommended as an excellent sports drink most often after strenuous bodily activity during winter periods when it efficiently complements the glycogen storage.

Salep is a great choice for our winter menu.

WARM WINE (GREENO VINO) - PERFECT DRINK FOR COLD DAYS

Warm wine is usually made from red wine combined with spices and it's served hot. This traditional beverage is most commonly consumed in winter.
The warm wine (known to us and as boiled wine) is a great drink to warm up and to cheer up in cold autumn and winter days. The aroma that spices give is characteristic and tempting, so you can hardly resist it and not drink another slug.
It is usually prepared from red wine that is spiced with sticks of cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, orange and / or lemon, and for even better taste, sugar and honey are added. Some add and a little black pepper. Warm wine is always served warm.
There are many different recipes and methods for preparing warm wine. Some people first heat the wine, then add the spices. Others first put the sugar and spices into a small amount of water and after they have been trampled together for several minutes, they add the wine.
Below is my way of preparing warm wine and you can customize it according your taste. Measures are for 1 person.



Ingredients:
  • 1 cup red wine 200-250 ml (regular wine, you don't need an expensive one)
  • 1/4 orange or 1/2 tangerine
  • a little cinnamon
  • 4 cloves
  • a little grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp sugar (or more, I don't like it too sweet)
Preparation:
  1. Pour the wine in a pot and put it at low heat.
  2. Add the unpeeled orange or tangerine that was previously stabbed with cloves, add cinnamon and the nutmeg. You can drain a little juice from the remaining orange or tangerine.
  3. When the wine is warmed, add the sugar and stir to melt.
  4. Don't let the wine boil! If white steam appears, lower the temperature and continue to mix.
  5. Wine can be heated for 10 minutes or longer for up to 20-30 minutes at low heat. I don't want to wait and therefore I choose the faster variant.
  6. In the end, drain the wine and it's ready for serving.
  7. Serve hot in glasses or cups previously poured with warm water (glasses are warmed to avoid cracking). Decorate with orange and stick of cinnamon for a stronger aroma or as desired.
Enjoy it with good company :)

RAKIA - CURING PEOPLE

Given the high percentage of alcohol in rakia, one should be careful with its consumption, but a small amount of rakia will quickly cure certain health problems. According to folk beliefs, rakia can help in these conditions.


Pain in the stomach - if you have been eating severe foods that cause you pain in the stomach, half small cup of grape rakia will immediately calm the pain.

Toothache - hold a sip of rakia for about ten seconds on the painful tooth and repeat it several times, it will help reduce the toothache.

Sore throat - if you have sore throat that is caused by a bacterial infection, rakia with a few drops of propolis will successfully disinfect the throat.

Back pain - lightly rub a little bit of brandy on the painful and stiff back and the pain and stiffness disappear.

Stiff neck - just like on the back, the stiff neck can also be treated the same way.

Bad circulation - our grandparents after waking up in the morning, took a glass of rakia for better blood circulation in the body during the day.

An urological problem - parsley rakia is a great ally in the fight against bacterial urinary tract infections.

We strongly advice you to see a doctor if your condition isn't improving. Drinking rakia should be taken seriously and we suggest drinking it only if necessary or in small amounts as a cure.

IN THE COTTON CANDY WORLD - BACK TO CHILDHOOD

Every child and even adults eat candy cotton. Candy cotton can be found in Bitola's city park, or at some fairs and events when the weather is warm.
Do you remember the last time you ate it? For most of us, this sweet pleasure has remained in the distant past, obscured by the many sweet things that brought the new time.
Children worship it because it looks impressive, like a cloud, and adults because they themselves sometimes want to return to the time when they were children.
Return your childhood and those moments when small and simple things were quite enough for happiness. The cotton candy that now comes in all possible colors may be the most common thing you will eat, but at the same time, it is also the funniest way to enjoy the moment.

When I was a kid, cotton candy was available for only one day a year during a local fair. I remember how I dreamt about that day coming. I still remember the orange small house where the candy man was preparing the pink cotton wool. Those were ones of the most happiest moments in my childhood.

Years passed by until I tried a cotton candy again couple of years ago. I felt I was a little girl again. Now I buy it to my kids and I tell them the story about the little orange house and the candy men that was selling candy wool once a year.
Eating candy cotton is usual on the first day of spring at the church on Krkardash
Cotton candy is usually prepared in special machines for this purpose, and recently you can prepare it in your own home thanks to small appliances where you put sugar and food color and prepare it somehow. I personally wouldn't dare to try preparing it at home. I prefer going back to the place my grandma used to buy me a cotton candy, even if I must wait for a whole year to get it :)

3 INGREDIENTS GIANT LAZY BAKED CREPE

This giant crepe has been hit on facebook cooking groups lately and the recipe has been shared rapidly among friends. I found the recipe at my dear friends on the fb group "Macedonian mums in Perth and all over the world". We all shared how our  crepe turned out, and what filling we put inside. Some of us like it salty and combine it with ham, cheese, some like it sweet and combine it with pudding or jam or cocoa creme, with honey, nuts, you name it! I combined it with cocoa cream, banana and crashed nuts, rolled it and put whipped cream on top and chocolate topping. It was gone in 1 minute.
You'll literally need 5 minutes to prepare the mixture and 10-15 minutes to bake it.


Ingredients:
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 tbs flour
  • 300 ml milk
 Preparations:
  1. First, heat the oven at maximum and put inside the largest square pan that usually comes with the oven, previously coated with margarine or oil spreaded everywhere, even on the sides.
  2. Beat eggs well with a wire.
  3. Add the milk.
  4. Add the flour spoon by spoon and mix everything until smooth.
  5. Pour the mixture in the heated pan and put to bake at 200 C degrees for about 15 minutes or until it changes color. While baking, it should become swollen as in pictures.