A Very Romanian Christmas

Viviana's Kitchen

Merry Christmas from my family to yours! Wishing you all a wonderful day full of love, laughter, mimosas, and delicious food.

Yesterday, I spent the vast majority of the day baking pastries for Christmas and I used my own website for a couple recipes. However, I noticed that I somehow never shared the recipe I use for Romanian cozonaci, which are sweet egg bread pastries filled with either poppyseed filling or a walnut and rum-soaked white raisin mixture.

They’re traditional in Romania for holidays like Christmas and Easter, but they’re not exclusive to the holidays.

Here is a link to the recipe I used, and for those of you too lazy to hop to another webpage, a break down below:

Romanian Cozonac

INGREDIENTS (for the dough)

1.5 cups lukewarm water
1.5 Tbsp granulated yeast
1.5 Tbsp salt
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
1.5 cups (3 sticks) melted unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
7.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water)

DIRECTIONS (for the dough)

  • Mix yeast with a tablespoon of water, then mix with salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter with the 1.5 cups of water in a large bowl.
  • Mix in the flour but do not knead. I used a stand mixer here.
  • Once everything is incorporated, cover and let stand for 2 hours to grow.
  • After two hours, prep your work center with some flour (or oil) and knead the dough, then divide into 4.
  • Rollerpin it out into a large sheet and spread poppyseed filling or half of your walnut mixture, and then roll up and form into whichever shape you’re baking.
  • Bake dough in whatever form (loaf, brioche, cozonac) in the preheated oven at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes (until golden brown) with the rack in the middle position.

INGREDIENTS (for the walnut filling)

200 g walnuts, finely ground
100 g brown sugar
2 egg whites
3 Tbsp cacao
1/3 cup rum or brandy
1 cup white raisins to be plumped in the liquour

DIRECTIONS (for the walnut filling)

  • Plump raisins in rum for at least one hour – I do it over night to maximum flavor.
  • Beat egg whites to soft peaks
  • Add sugar, beat.
  • Add cocoa, beat.
  • Add walnuts and the rum-soaked raisins and mix.

Enjoy!


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Poppy Fields and Memories

Floral & Nature

IT. HAS. BEEN. A. WHILE.

Have I been keeping up with the r/WeeklyPhotos 52 week challenge?

No. Because I suck. And I barely have time to do extracurricular activities outside of my work/gym, in truth. However, I am determined to catch up, so stayed tuned.

In order to balance out my schedule, I took the day off from the gym today and I had some time to shoot flowers around the house. Our gigantic rose bush is in bloom right now, but tonight I’m going to share my favorite photo of the poppies in our front garden.

My earliest memories of poppies hark back to summers in the country side of Romania. Our next door neighbors’ backyard was FILLED with poppies and toward the end of summer, their youngest daughter Maria and I would pick the dried pods and eat poppy seeds like they were candy.

I recall everyone telling me not to eat too much because it would make me fall asleep. But while Maria did pass the fuck out, I would be totally energized. They have the same effect to this day. These poppies, however, are nothing like the tennis ball sized beasts that grew as tall as my 5 year old self.

They’re gorgeous nonetheless, so please enjoy and come back for more photos soon! It’s flower season!

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Behind the Scenes: DIY Backdrops & Self Portraits

Portraits

Last week, my bff Maria and I were discussing various photography aids like lighting kits and backdrops and she was all “but ‘x’ is so cheap!” and I was like “yeah, but still $$$”. Mind you, this was a day after I had gotten my hair done so it was fresh which clearly begs for new FB profile pics to be taken and as you all probably know by now, I prefer working with natural light.

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Anyway, I didn’t feel like dropping $100+ on a backdrop/lighting kit, so I decided to run across the street to Target and got myself a home rolling rack. I also stopped by Lowe’s and picked up metal clamps to hold stuff I drape over the rolling rack sturdily in place.

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My mom became a test subject + used the Foldio’s lighting to help with low lighting post-sunset.

 

I’d gone to Haberman Fabrics the previous week, so I had some nice cream fabric with a shiny finish sitting around in my room and I went and grabbed my clear Christmas lights from storage and created a simple and fun backdrop by draping the xmas lights around the rolling rack and then covering it with the fabric.

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Follow me on Instagram for more pics like this! @lovelikeangels

I opened my blinds and drapes to allow the maximum available light I could get through my North-facing bedroom window to come in as the sun was beginning to set and ultimately had to tweak my manual settings to high ISO and low f-stops. I was surprised at how little grain came through given that the settings were so stretched, but that full on window light really helped, even if it was dimming quickly.

Anyway, I got some pretty awesome end products, so check it out.

P.S. I made those earrings you can kinda see poking out. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re interested in your own pair!

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How am I single?

Split Ends

Portraits

I searched my archives tonight looking for something good to post because I felt photographically frustrated today while trying to make some new content.

I ran across an old selfie photoshoot I did last year around February and decided I’d utilize my new Wacom tablet and re-edit one of the pictures. I just tweaked some minor stuff, fixed some blemishes, used a different Photoshop action. I like the final product.

I’m weeping inside at the split ends you can see in this picture though. My hair has really come a long way in almost 2 years – THANK GOD. Also, I feel like I may have shared this photo previously. In a set. Because it’s saved as a set as well. Oh well. Double dose it is.

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Plum Dumplings & Other Kitchen Adventures

Viviana's Kitchen

First thing’s first: my feet hurt like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve been standing and walking all day long in non-supportive flip flops while cooking. My back’s also killing me a bit – signs of getting old??

Anyway, my parents have been down in Atlanta this weekend at a wedding, and this is the first time ever that my brother and I have been left alone for a prolonged period of time in the house. Since I don’t work Sundays, and I didn’t feel like spending my morning at the gym (though I should have!) AAAAND my creativity is currently shot in the art department, I threw myself into cooking. And drinking Blake’s Hard Cider, YOLO.

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I was not expecting a pleasant pinky-peach color.

It started out with deciding I was going to make Romanian plum dumplings (galueste cu prune). It’s a fairly easy recipe, and I found a recipe I liked. Since it begins by boiling potatoes, I did that – but I didn’t boil them well enough. Ensue frustration and annoyance at my impatience.

I was going to throw them away and feel guilty, but then I made a snap decision to save them and make a casserole/cheese melt thing. SUPER easy: I took the mildly boiled potatoes, chopped up 2 onions and 3 carrots, topped off with seasoned salt, paprika & garlic powder, feta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and then laid Muenster and Colby Jack cheese slices on top cause I didn’t have shredded cheddar and couldn’t go grab some (had other stuff cooking!). Baked this at 385 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes. It turned out really good, but I think the potatoes could’ve used more salt.

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The finished project.

Meanwhile, I had to boil another batch of potatoes. This time it went great. I was able ice bath the skins off and then mash them with a handheld mixer (+ 1 egg, + 50g butter) and then add in the flour (375g) and kneed the dough along. Afterwards, I cut up 5 plums into 12 pieces each, which ended up being excessive and made my third dish of the night, spiced plums. plums

I rolled out the dough and cup it up into palm sized sections, stuffed a piece of plum in along with 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar + cinnamon + cloves + cardamom, and pinched each shut and rolled them around until they were circular. Then came the boiling bath – I had to do it in two batches cause they were so big and so many.

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While they were boiling, I fried some plain breadcrumbs and EVOO in a pan and moved it to a big bowl. After the dumplings were done boiling, I strained them and then stuck them in the breadcrumbs and rolled them around. VOILA!

I ate 5. #noregrets

I ate 5. #noregrets

Oh, and the spiced plums? Super easy. Spray oiled a small baking dish, dumped the rest of the plums in there and topped them off with the remaining sugar + spice (and everything nice) mixture, sprayed with oil, and then baked for about 25-30 minutes at 350 F. The sugar mixture became kind of like a spiced glaze. So good.

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Oh, and all of these pictures were taken with my Samsung Galaxy Note 5. I was too lazy to mess with my Nikon today – partly because my fingers were sticky with dough and other ingredients for 6 hours straight. But I will say that I’m REALLY enjoying this phone’s camera and I’m so glad I decided to go with it rather than my initial intention of the Galaxy s6. The camera really sold me in store, and it excels IRL too.

Don’t forget to check out my Instagram @lovelikeangels, Society6 @lovelikeangels and Etsy @lovelikeangels