Sunday, November 30, 2014


Yesterday we hiked the path between the villages of Bistritza and Simeonovo on Vitosha. It's part of the low level round of Vitosha - very easy and pleasant walk, with almost imperceptible climbs and descents. The weather was perfect for hiking - 7-8 C, sunny through clouds. The forecasts were right - if we were to hike this weekend, it had to be on Saturday, as today is already colder and rainy, with snow fall expected at the  beginning of next week. Despite the late start (we had to wait for Gaby to come back from her Saturday club in Math Linguistics), we managed to keep very good pace and make the hike to Simeonovo lakes and back (about 10 km by my rough estimate) for four hours with 40 min rest and picnic at the lakes.

The landscape is typical for this part of the mountain and the path in many ways looks like the other paths of the low level round we've already walked - Zeleznitza - Bistritza and Simeonovo - Dragalevtzi - Boyana: alternating patches of coniferous and deciduous trees, clearings here and there, plenty of rivers and smaller brooks, moss covered stones and moraines.

 Crossing a brook

 A natural sofa

Collecting samples of three varieties of moss with sporangia for Gaby's Biology club

Fallen leaves, caught in the branches of a pine tree

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Artisan Bread

I was inspired for today's bread by the recipe and the story in Cook with a smile blog and while browsing through other Bulgarian blogs on Artisan bread it sort of amazed and amused me how similar all of our memories related to this delicious bread are. In my local shop in town I remember that only two types of fabric made bread were sold - bread from white wheat and from whole wheat flour. But in the village of my grandparents there was a local bakery that still baked hand-made artisan bread - with crispy crust and soft inside, that was so-o delicious. I remember waiting in line for the bread to be taken out of the oven. I remember the smell that made our mouths water in anticipation and eating almost half a loaf of still hot bread together with my cousin before getting back to my granny's :)))
Nowadays shops are full with an abundance of all kinds of bread and there are plenty of local bakeries that actually make better bread than me, but that delicious smell in the kitchen and that feeling that this bread came out of my hands - nothing can replace that. So I continue to bake ...

The recipe for Artisan bread is very simple, mine is sort of a compilation of several recipes and instructions I read on the net:

  • 400 g white flour
  • 300 g warm water
  • 1 tsp Himalayan salt
  • 5 g instant dry yeast 

Mix the ingredients in a bowl with a spoon, you'll get quite moist and sticky dough. Cover the bowl with stretch-foil and leave in a warm place for 12 to 18 hours to rise and ripen. I made the dough about 6 PM yesterday evening and started making the bread this morning at about 10 AM - so that's some 16 hours for rising. This is how the dough looked in the morning - all bubbly and sticky. I took it out of the bowl and lightly kneaded it with plenty of flour to form it into a ball. Then I placed the ball in a slightly greased heat-proof glass pot, covered it and left it to rise again for about an hour.

When the dough had doubled its volume, I covered it with flour and made four cuts for the steam. My cuts turned to be too shallow, they should be at least 5-6 mm deep.

While the dough was rising, I turned the oven on at 230C for 20 min to preheat it. Then I placed the pot and a bowl of water at the bottom of the oven. I baked the bread covered for 45 min and additional 15 min after removing the lid, to get the hard crispy crust Artisan bread is known for.

And here it is - my deliciously smelling well baked loaf of bread.

I left it cool on a rack for 10 min. This bread is not cut with a knife - you just break pieces of warm bread,  cover it with butter and mixed spices, add some white cheese, bite into it and enjoy the moment :)

Having tasted it, hubby stated that I needn't bother with other recipes - I could simply stick to this one and he would be completely happy :) But I'm still on the learning curve of baking, still curious to try new things, so I've already picked my next recipe - a round bread with hard yellow cheese ;)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cocoa Biscuits with Almond Core

Easy and unexpectedly super delicious cocoa biscuits I baked today.
Based on a recipe in Eva Toneva's blog:

  • 125 g butter
  • 100 g powdered sugar (the original said 50 g, seemed too little, however mine are a bit on the very sweet side, 75 g could be the golden mean)
  • 120 g corn farina
  • 40 g wheat flour
  • 25 g cocoa powder
  • 50 g roasted almonds

Beat the butter into a cream, add the dry ingredients and mix into soft dough.

Divide the dough in half and spread into two wicks, about an inch in diameter. Cut each dough wick into into 16 -18 pieces, put an almond into the middle of the piece and roll in a ball.

Place the balls on a tin, covered with baking paper and bake in a preheated oven at 180 C for 15 min.

While hot, the biscuits are too soft, but when they cool, they harden and keep form. Spread them with powdered sugar and enjoy with your morning coffee.

These biscuits are easy and quick to make and surprisingly delicious - they are crunchy, yet they melt in the mouth with a sweet cocoa taste, and the almond is the perfect finish to the bite.

However be aware - while munching my fourth little delight I made a quick mental calculation, that almost had me choking - every single biscuit is about 70 kcal, so ... consume moderately :))))

And a quick update on my husbands cardigan (The color is off, as usual - it's dark burgundy-brown, not bright red!, but my camera is obviously color-blind. Huge disappointment, Olympus!) The good news - I'm totally in love with the cable pattern I came up with after much swatching and drawing. The bad news - despite all that swatching and calculating, the front is too narrow and I had to start all over again. The risk with large gauge - I'm only 4 stitches off in my calculations, but 4 stitches equal an inch and two fronts mean two inches less width - a whole size down and hubby wants the cardigan wide enough.
I mean, I saw this coming after I finished the first diamond, but I thought I would compensate with the button bands. I suppose I just wasn't ready to face the truth - if I wanted this to work right, I had to start over. So, I continued doggedly until last night, when I reached the underarms, basted the front and the back and tried it on hubby - too narrow and to compensate I had to make the button-bands ridiculously wide. Well, all that was left to do was to swallow my disappointment and cast anew :((

Friday, November 21, 2014

Celtic Knot Mini Dog Sweater

I've written down another sweater for my friend's mini dog. I like knitting for this loveable dog so much - easy knitting and instant gratification. I hope you'll enjoy my new pattern as much as I did!

Pattern: Celtic Knot Mini Dog Sweater
Yarn: Alize Lanagold Classic 80g, 200 m or any other worsted weight yarn
Needle: 4 mm (US 6)
Time to knit: two days
The pattern if FREE and DOWNLOADABLE and includes a chart and row by row instructions.

I also took plenty of pictures during the process to clarify the pattern. The pdf includes row by row instructions and the chart, and here's the short version of the pattern in pictures:

Cast on 54 sts, leaving a 50 cm tail for mattress stitch. Work 17 rows in 2x2 rib, starting and finishing with 2 purl stitches.

Заплетете 54 бр, като оставите около 50 см конец за зашиване. Плетете 17 реда ластик 2х2, като започнете и завършите с две опакови бримки.

On row 18 (WS) add 10 new stitches to the central part for the Celtic Knot Chart:
p16, k1, kfb, pfb, p1, k2, p2, kfb, kfb, pfb, pfb, kfb, kfb, p2, k2, p1, pfb, kfb, k1, p16

На ред 18 от схемата добавете 10 бримки към схемата: 
16о, 1л, 1л отпред и отзад (добавя една бримка), 1о отпред и отзад, 1о, 2л, 2о, 1л отпред и отзад, 1л отпред и отзад, 1о отпред и отзад, 1о отпред и отзад, 1л отпред и отзад, 1л отпред и отзад,2о, 2л, 1о, 1о отпред и отзад, 1л отпред и отзад, 1л, 16о

If you follow the increases as written, you should get this configuration of stitches on the right side of your knitting, which will allow the knit and purl stitches from the rib to flow uninterrupted into the Celtic knot chart:

Ако спазите добавянето на бримки както е описано, опаковите и лицевите от ластика преминават плавно и без прекъсване в схемата на келтския възел:

Work in chart for 18 more rows, a total of 36 rows:

Плетете още 18 реда по схемата, общо 36 реда:

On row 37 split the knitting into three sections for the front leg openings: a small stockinette st section of only 7 stitches, worked for 13 rows:

На ред 37 плетката се разделя на три части за отворите за предните крака: отдясно се плете малка секция, която се свива до 7 лицеви бримки, общо 13 реда:

Instead of cutting the yarn, you can slip stitch it with a crochet hook along the edge of the leg opening to bring it to the beginning of the middle section:

Вместо да срязвате конеца, можете да го спуснете със залепени бримки до началото на средната секция:

Then work the middle section for 13 rows:

Плетете по схемата средната секция нови 13 реда:

And the last stockinette st section of 7 stitches. On row 50 the three sections are knit together again, adding the decreased stitches:

След това плетете отделно и последната секция от 7 бримки. На ред 50 трите секции се събират заедно, като на 49 и 50 ред се добавят свитите бримки:

From row 50 to row 68 the sweater is knit as one section over 64 stitches. On row 69 begin the decreases, which form the hind part of the sweater.

От ред 50 до ред 68 пуловерът отново се плете като едно цяло от 64 бримки. От ред 69 започвате да свивате за оформяне на задната част на пуловера.

On Row 92 the ten additional stitches of the Celtic Knot chart are decreased and the chart is transformed back to 2x2 rib. Only 22 stitches are left on the needle:

На ред 92 допълнителните 10 бримки в схемата на келтския възел се свиват и схемата се прелива обратно в ластик 2х2. На куката остават само 22 бримки:

The two edges of the sweater are sewn together (I prefer mattress stitch) to form a tube:

Двата края на плетивото се зашиват и оформят тръба:

Then the rib around the hind legs is knit in the round, picking 27 stitches along the left and 27 stitches along the right edge of the curve for a total of 22 + 27 + 27 = 76 stitches of 2x2 rib. Knit the rib for 10 rounds and cast off rib-wise.

В задния край на тръбата се плете ластик 2х2 в кръг. Извадете по 27 бримки от двете страни на плетката и заедно с 22 бримки на куката плетете общо 76 бримки ластик за 10 реда. Закрийте всички бримки еластично - опаковите опаково и лицевите лицево.

Pick up 28 stitches around the leg opening and knit 2x2 rib for 10 rows. Cast off rib-wise.

Извадете 28 бримки около  отвора за крака и плетете ластик 2х2 за 10 реда. Закрийте бримките еластично.

Repeat with the second leg opening:

Повторете и за втория крак:

And you have a fancy little dog sweater :) The circumference of the sweater is 32 cm and the total length from rib to rib is 40 cm.

Обиколката на пуловера е 32 см, а цялата дължина от ластик до ластик е 40 см.