Medicine Cabinet Salad (MCS)

My ‘lawn’, which is actually part of a virgin wildflower meadow, is crammed full of medicinal plants and herbs, so by eating my way through the lawn over the spring and summer, I should be bursting with health.

Today I had my first MCS – mostly salad things from the shop (celery, butter lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese and toasted sesame seeds, with a squeeze of lime juice) but the final thawing of snow and a return to seasonal temperatures gave me a handful of chickweed to add to the much less nutritious commercial stuff.

Here’s a link to more information about chickweed‘s incredible list of nutrients and properties. No wonder chicks love it (and they do!). We’ll be competing for it…

Chickweed in my vegetable garden

The spinach bed is crammed with chickweed, which makes a tasty and highly nutritious salad…

Mixed salad in a bowl

My lunch – salad with sesame, feta… and chickweed fresh from the garden

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Happy May Day!

After a wet, foggy weekend, 1st May is mild, still and dry, the sun trying to break through the hazy cloud and everyone about their Spring business.

How’s your Monday?

New book about Magura

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My new book, Fericita in Transilvania: drumul din Liverpool in Carpati, will be published by Editura All in mid-November. All about my life in Magura – how and why I came here, and why I’ve stayed – the book tells the story of why an English woman left a world-famous city for a remote mountain village in Romania.

Follow the book blog to find out about the book launch, events, signings, talks, offers, competitions and more.

If you’re searching for the right Christmas present, this might be the solution…

 

 

 

Cherry-picking in a thunderstorm

My brave chum Sergiu up an aluminium ladder at the top of my sour-cherry tree, just beneath some power lines… Picking the heavy crop of fruit (visine) for jam and cherry brandy. Not-my-dog Papi is guarding the ladder against the chickens, while Gabriela and I watch from a safe distance. The thunder was cracking overhead, although the lightning didn’t seem to get closer than Moieciu. But you never know with mountain storms, and I was waiting for Sergiu to fly off the ladder, his hair smoking…

Visine, visinata, thunderstorm, furtuna, fulger

Sergiu braving the lightning to pick cherries

Spring has very definitely sprung

We’ve just had Easter here, and this week the usual greetings of ‘hello’, good morning’ etc have given way to the exchange “Cristos a înviat” (Christ has risen) to which the response is ‘Adeverat a înviat”  (truly he is risen).

The cherry blossom is over, and the apple blossom is fully out; dandelions carpet the new spring grass meadows, and violets hide under new yarrow leaves.

Spring lamb, Magura Transylvania, Romania, mountains, Carpathians, Easter

A Magura lamb in clover

Some of the lambs have disappeared, becoming Paschal feasts on Sunday morning after the long Lent fast. The village flock of sheep has gone up to the high pastures for the summer, and the cows will go this week, leaving the village meadows uneaten to become sweet nutrient-rich hay for the long winter.

Thunderstorms threaten after warm mornings – Magura temperatures reached an unusual 30°C on 1st May, normally what you’d expect in July and August. But the air is so fresh that the heat doesn’t sap your energy, and it’s easy to sleep through the cool nights.

Don’t wait for summer – now is my favourite time of year in Magura, and perfect for walking in the brilliant green beech forests.

Tell us!

 The village of Magura in the Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania, RomaniaWhat do you love about Magura? Tell us!

Were you born here? Do you live here now? Do you spend time here but live elsewhere?

Have you visited this year?

Tell us… in Romanian, in English, in German, in your language. (If you’ve got any good photos, let us know and I’ll give you an email address to send them.)

Do you know good people, good places to stay, good cooks, things to do, presents to buy, places to go? Tell us, please – we can add links and info here.

If you know Magura well, tell readers a bit about the place from your point of view. What you hope the village will be like in 10 years’ time, what you think the village needs most, your best stories about life here…

Vegetarians, look away now

In a mountain village, 1,000 metres up, the animals are truly free-range, allowed to wander through hectares of wildflower meadows, kept inside only in the worst of the harsh winter. Most of the sheep and cattle are taken up to the high-altitude pastures for the summer, so the wildflower meadows in the villages can grow and blossom before being scythed for hay to keep the animals through the winter. The barns are mucked out through the winter, and the manure spread on the meadows in spring –  a simple, sustainable way of farming that maintains diversity and natural health in soil, plant, animal and human.

Yesterday my neighbours slaughtered their heifer, partly because the calf hasn’t thrived and grown as well as she should have because of this summer’s drought; the lack of rainfall has also meant that there has been no second hay-making in September – the wildflower meadows never regrew after the midsummer cut and the winter hay is about half its normal volume. Lots of smallholders are having to slaughter animals because there isn’t the hay to keep them through the winter.

So Martica (born on a Tuesday) went on a Saturday, but swiftly, without fuss, in the pasture where she had spent her life. The slaughter and butchering was done by the family without intervention of transporters, processors, stress or fear.

The sad fact is that the EU is trying its best to destroy this healthy, sustainable, low-impact farming system, and now that Romania is a member, this will happen very quickly unless the EU is persuaded otherwise. Slow Food, if you’re listening, maybe you have some ideas…