29 March 2011

Strange but true. Honest.

Do you know what Croatians call the "@" symbol?  In English, it is referred to as the 'at' sign.  So we'd give our e-mail address as:  myname AT something.com.  Well, around here, they don't call it the 'at' sign.  Nope.  If you ask someone for their e-mail address, here's what you'd get:

myname MONKEY SIGN something.com.

I didn't believe this at first because I thought people were just trying to pull my leg due to my obvious foreignality (I just made up that word).  But apparently it is true that they call the @ symbol, the MONKEY SIGN and I'm told it's because the symbol looks like a monkey.

Now I've been described as a pretty creative person, but I can't make out the monkey.  Maybe a whale eye, a sort of snail, a squished bagel or a strange donut.  But the monkey remains illusive for me.  I'm guessing it'll all become clear to me once I get a handle on some more grammar (?)

It is definitely more fun to speak e-mail addresses out loud using the monkey sign.  Try saying your e-mail address out loud right now using the monkey sign. 

Tell me that didn't make you grin from ear-to-ear :-)

23 March 2011

Granny Square Blanket: Done.

I finished my granny-square blanket a few months ago, but forgot to post the picture.  In case anyone is interested, I used a J-crochet hook.  Final blanket measures about 1.5x1 metres, and contains 24 squares.

Nice and warm.  And washes easily in the washing machine!

Front View

Back View

16 March 2011

Homemade Nut Butters---- YUM!

I fully intended to provide a picture of the lovely golden hazelnut butter I made yesterday.  I had the camera sitting in the kitchen.  I put the nut butter into a nice white bowl so it would photograph beautifully.  But then I took a tiny taste.  Then another.  Then another.  And, well, pretty soon it was all gone.  All that was left was the bowl.  And I licked that clean, so there really wasn't anything left to photograph. 

I don't make nut butters often because it is a long process, and I usually eat the entire thing in one sitting.  So I make it as a treat.  Around these parts, nut trees grow all over the place.  Hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts grow in places like parking lots, parks, backyards.  So getting fresh picked nuts is quite easy. 

Making nut butters is simple.  Roast the nuts.  Cool.  Blend in a blender until smooth (I like mine kinda crunchy).  Add a bit of oil to make it blend smoothly.  I like mine plain, but you can add some vanilla or honey or sugar.  That's it.

The biggest nuisance for me is cracking the nuts.  I've got a nutcracker that cracks exactly one nut at a time.  It takes me two hours to crack one kilo of nuts.  After separating the shells from the nut-meat, I end up with half a kilo of shelled nuts.  Half a kilo of nuts will make about half a litre of nut butter.  That isn't a lot.

I only made 200 grams of hazelnut butter yesterday.  So I don't feel too horrible about eating the whole thing in one sitting.  But I wish I had more...so I could take a picture.

07 March 2011

Croatian Saffron anyone?

I watched a show on television last night about saffron.  Saffron is the world's most expensive spice at about 3000-5000 euro per kilo.  It is made up from the three thread-like stigmas found in the middle of the purple crocus flower.  It takes something like 225,000 stigmas to make a kilo of saffron.  Each flower must be hand-picked, and each stigma must be gently pulled out of the delicate flower by hand.  Lots and lots of work.  But worth it.

I'm writing about it here, because they grow saffron in parts of India, Greece, Morocco and Iran.  But it is also grown in Spain, and interestingly in Sardinia and the Abruzzo part of Italy.  This last part is very interesting to me because there are many parts of Croatia that would be well suited for saffron cultivation, and yet I don't think it is being done here.  Of course I'll check this out, but as far as I know it isn't being done.  Maybe I'm naive about this stuff, but it seems like an awesome cash crop that could probably be grown nicely on many of the Croatian islands, and pretty much anywhere along the coastal regions.

I've never actually tasted saffron in my entire life.  I'm planning on trying some soon to see what all the hoopla is about!