June 29, 2010

Weekend at the Lake

Posted in Children, Family, Food, Friendships, Holidays, Home, Weather tagged , , , , at 6:39 am by Liliana

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan

We spent a few days at our cottage near Lake Michigan.

Between our guests from Alaska and Chicago and our own extended family, there were fifteen occupants. Half of us were children.

Every room was put to good use. Branka and Joe took the back bedroom. Sasha and Sam claimed the tiny front room. Tom and Sharon slept on an air mattress in the little side porch. Next to them, in the middle walk-through room, slept the two boys, Nate and Julian.

In the upstairs loft, we had a crowd: Jeff and I on the bed, Nicky and Nena on the floor.

And then the tent. Laurie brought a big, sturdy tent, and she and the two little girls (Katie and Monica) slept outside. The huge rain storm did not scare these ladies away.

The children spent hours filling balloons with water and popping them on the side of the house. They climbed the play structures in the little park down the street. Sam and Nate played soccer and basketball, at the same time. They buried each other in the sand, and we had to make them come out of the lake. No one wanted to stop bobbing in the huge waves that came after the storm.

The adults walked on the beach, sat talking on the front porch, drank Turkish coffee out of dainty porcelain cups. Branka made soups, corn bread and puppy seed and walnut strudel. Sharon and Tom made a Mexican themed dinner one night. Jeff barbecued a feast on Saturday night.

Since it was also Nena’s birthday, Branka bought a huge Dairy Cream ice cream cake. It was not just the little kids who asked for seconds! As the storm raged outside and we cooled ourselves with melting vanilla, chocolate and cookie dough flavors, Laurie asked what the adults would do differently if they had another chance at being twenty two.

Most had a similar wish – slow down the time and spend it enjoying each others presence. And so we did.


February 17, 2010

Dinner with Friends

Posted in Children, Family, Food, Friendships, Good people, Health, Recipes, Serbia tagged , , , at 8:08 am by Liliana

Dinner with friends

Dinner with friends

A few nights ago, we had dinner with old friends. Between the nine of us, three generations were represented. It was one of those magical evenings when no one was  in a hurry or longing to be somewhere else. The fire was burning in the fireplace, Ella was singing on the CD player, appetizers and wine glasses set out. We sampled home-made hummus and pita bread, had a glass of wine or mineral water, and caught up on the news of the past few weeks.

When we sat down to eat, everything about the table made us want to sit and linger for a long time. The dishes made me think of Tuscany. The menu took me to Serbia and the memory of my mother. I haven’t had home-made, stuffed grape leaves since my mother died six years ago, and the pungent flavor brought joy and memories of childhood. There was also chicken with mushroom sauce, grilled vegetables and wild rice. And for dessert, a wonderful orange cake; people kept having seconds, and not a crumb was left over.

After dinner, we sat in a circle in the living room, had coffee and talked. Conversation meandered between the economy, job losses, the state of the world. My niece will be starting college next year and we wondered about the future of education and various options for young people. Our conversation was earnest and serious, but no one was anxious. When we left to go home later that night, the winter seemed to have lost some of its bite.

Dairy-free orange cake

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ c. brown sugar
  • 2/3 c. oil (corn, canola, or similar)
  • 2 large oranges (for zest and juice)
  • ½ t baking powder
  • ½ t baking soda
  • 1 ½ cup flour

Preheat oven to 375 and grease a springform pan.

Beat eggs and sugars until light. Add oil. Add zest of the two oranges and then squeeze them (you need 2/3 cup orange juice, so you might need to add a bit) and combine well. Add the dry ingredients and combine well.

Pour into springform pan and bake for about 40-45 minutes, until cake tests dry in the middle.

When cooled, unmold and top with the glaze:

  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 T orange juice

Stir together until smooth and dribble over cake with a spoon.