There’s been a lot of girl power stuff going around these days and I was really inspired by the whole ” —– like a girl,” movement.
My whole life it always seemed like such a negative to be a girl. “You throw like a girl,” “you cry like a girl,” “you play like a girl.” Like what does that even mean? I was always one to play as hard, throw as far and run as fast as most boys in my school days and yet it was always the worst insult when someone said ” you *blank* like a girl.”
Well you know what? I’m taking it back and making it a positive! Damn right I *blank* like a girl, because girls are unstoppable now.
This is why when komfibaby approached me about making a custom shirt for Basia, it didn’t take long for me to decide on “Climb Like Basia.” It doesn’t mean she has to become a climber someday or even like climbing, but hopefully it will inspire those that doing things “like a girl,” is actually the best compliment.
Not only that, but I requested that her name be spelled in American Sign Language (ASL), because deaf culture needs more credit!
I hope that at the minimum it sparks conversation and intrigue to learn what those letters spell and at the best open the world to climbing as well as ASL!
Many people have asked me if I knew American Sign Language (ASL) before Basia was born and they often ask me how I know so much. The answer is I started learning the same time my baby did. Continue reading →
Besides climbing, one of the main reasons why I love to travel, is so that I can experience the world through my palate. This is also why I take pride in being able to recreate a lot of dishes by taste alone. Play by Ear? I Cook By Palate
One of the things I fell in love with, when I was visiting Adams birthplace, Warsaw, Poland, I was introduced by Ciocia (Auntie) to noszki.
Noszki is a savory seasoned jelly filled with tender pork and typically peas and carrots. Like most cultural dishes there’s many variations including, using shredded turkey, boiled egg, and grzyby (mushrooms).
When I am creating traditional dishes I try to emulate the origianl recipe as much as I can. For those that know me, when I travel you’ll often find me asking about the local staple dish and then tirelessly ordering and eating the same thing in various places.
I do this because it gives me a better idea what the staple dish tastes like. From this form of surveying I dedeuce the ingredients that are common in these dishes and try my best to make my own version applying the secret methods of preparation that I have learned over the years.
The first time I had noszki it was in a prepackaged process form, and I didn’t really care for the flavor or texture. However I knew that this was a widely eaten dish and I endeavored to try it again… and again and again.
The second time I tasted this dish was at a 50’s style milk bar diner where you were able to experience the whole Milk Bar charm. Piece of bread roughly cut and carelessly buttered the. slapped onto a plate and place in front of you. A misshapen overturned bowl of noszki offset on a plate garnished by a smirk from your server.
This was the most amazing noszki ever. A squirt of fresh lemon and a dash of Maggie sauce and my taste buds were exploding. The gelatin was delicate and melted in your mouth and the meat was perfectly spiced with bay leaves and peppercorn with a hint of nutmeg.
From that point on every noszki I tried was delicious. Though not comparable to the milk bar I suddenly understood what it could and should be like.
I find that in most cases. Until I try a very delicious version of a dish, I can’t quite grasp what it should be like. Perhaps it’s the contrast from a terrible rendition to a exquisite one, that allows me to finally crate a palatal spectrum. That’s definitely it, because from here I can imagine all the things in between!
To those that love to eat and those willing to try things, here’s my recipe for noszki.
(And to new readers, when I give recipes I typically only provide the method and the ingredients. This is because I practice cooking to taste so I find giving exact measurements makes it difficult to create the best outcome. )
“Cooking is an experience of the senses, one must learn to listen, taste, and feel in order to understand what the outcome should be.” – M.S
– Pork Hock / Feet
– Fresh Parsley
– marjarom /savoury/ thyme/ oregano (I didn’t have marjoram so I substituted with the other three, using very little oregano)
– bay leaves
1. Place pork in a pot with just enough water to cover. Add fresh carrots, parsley, celery, onions and garlic. (Leave the whole) Add bay leaves, salt, peppercorn, nutmeg, and marjoram. Boil on medium, until meat falls off the bone. (The longer the better, I boiled mine for about 4hrs) *Add water as needed.
2. Strain the broth through cheese cloth/ fine strainer and return broth to pot.
3. Let meat and vegetables cool enough to dice. Return to pot.
4. Add more water if needed just enough to cover the ingredients. Add more fresh chopped garlic and extra spices to desired flavour. Should taste like a nice stew.
5. Add roughly 1/2tbsp of gelatin per 1c of liquid. Bring to a boil.
5. Remove from heat and pour into moulds!
6. Chill overnight and serve with fresh lemon juice and Maggie sauce on toasted Ozery Morning Rounds!
Please let me know how it goes and feel free to share your photos on Facebook or Instagram with #MelbasKitchen
10April 2016 I’ve been seeing this symbol all over Warszawa.
At first I thought it was a tag, a signature maybe some random logo of a local graffiti artist or propaganda.
Today while wandering Old Town Warszawa, I learned something powerful, in regards to that symbol.
It stands for the Warsaw Uprising.
Adam explained to me that during WW11 when the Germans had occupied Poland an underground army formed to retake Poland. WP was used throughout the resistance to bring hope and was a symbol that strengthened the Polish people.
This was literally an underground army because they used the sewer systems to communicate and disrupt German occupations.
The other highly interesting thing Adam taught me, was that the Warsaw Uprising consisted of mainly youth (most likely between the ages of 11- 17). The ones that were too young to fight in the war or the ones left behind because they were not deemed as a threat to the German installations.
It was through these youth insurgents that after a 63 day struggle, beginning on aug 1, 1944 the liberation of the city of Warsaw was achieved.
So when I see this sign around now, I know it’s more than just a tag or some kind of brand – it’s a symbol and reminded to all, of the bravery and cost of freedom.
My regular instructor’ name is Mateusz. He’s 26 years old, originally from South Poland and is currently studying Polish philology (the study of the history of Polish language.)
Pierwszy (First), when learning Polish from an English speaking background, one must unlearn a lot of the English phonetic tendencies. For myself I found the most effective way of doing this is to establish a strong understanding of the Polish alphabet and pronunciation of word clusters.
For instance “w” in polish is pronounced with a “v” sound. Eg. Violet = Wiolet.
That is one of the easier transitions to understand.
However, if you wish to proceed with learning the Polish language, you’ll begin to learn that sz, dz, and rz sound a lot like j in “raj” and that there’s a difference between z, ż, and ź. Even though to my anglicized ear… They pretty much all sound the same. Let’s not even get into cz, c and cy!
All is not lost and like learning how to tune an instrument it will come over time. Luckily for me having a background in intonations from Cantonese and playing guitar it’s a little bit easier for me. A little. Trochę.
We began with a recap of what Wioletta covered with me in the first one hour lesson last Friday. Piątek. I think Mateusz was surprised by my ability pronounce and retain the Polish language, even though to me I sometimes feel like I sound like I’m butchering a cat. Kot.
By the end of the lesson, even though to my Polish family it didn’t seem like I learned a lot, I feel as though I have a much better understanding of concepts and articulation. Ultimately my goal is to eventually become fluent and have full comprehension, versus simply just regurgitating phrases and participating in basic conversation.
One of my passions when traveling is learning about as many aspects to the countries culture. This includes languages and cuisine.
Before I met Adam my knowledge of Polish cooking was pretty much limited to pierogi, kiełbasa , cabbage rolls And borscht. In the last few years I’ve learned a couple more dishes from his mother.
Today I’m going to show you one of the classic breakfast dishes of the polish people.
Stuffed eggs! Jajka Faszerowane.
This is one of Adams favourite ways to prepare eggs and if made right you will experience a fresh, tangy, crispy and eggy delight.
As mentioned in my previous recipes like those who play by ear, I cook by palate. Meaning I don’t actually have exact measurements of ingredients but rather I rely on my senses to recreate dishes and I challenge you to do the same!
I also practice in efficiency and practicality so my recipes are written in the way that, whatever takes the longest is done first. It may seem I jump around a bit but read it first to avoid confusion and all will be clear!
Equal portions of :
Fresh chives (or green onions)
The secret to crispy Jajka Faszerowane is to ensure you have soft-medium boiled eggs. You want a little bit of the yolk to still be soft so that when you mix the stuffing it will stick together as it cooks.
1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and then add your room temperature eggs. Set a timer for 7-8 minutes. (Factors that can affect this time; elevation, humidity, “room temperature” whatever that means).
While the eggs are boiling it’s time to prepare the stuffing.
2. Finely chop the dill and chives. I usually bundle both these together and chop it all at once. Place in a medium mixing bowl.
3. Add salt and pepper and a healthy splash of lemon juice. Mix well.
*** 4. Once the timer goes off remove the eggs from heat and pour out the water and rinse with cold water to arrest the cooking process.
5. Using a sharp knife cut the eggs IN THE SHELL, in half, lengthwise. We’ll be using the shell to hold the shape of the filling.
6. Gently scoop out the egg, without breaking the shells and put the boiled eggs in the mixing bowl with the dill and chive mixture. Set aside the empty half shells for now.
7. Mash the eggs well with the dill and chive mix. Taste to see how you like the balance of salt to pepper to lemon. Should be a little tangy but not sour.
8. Once you’ve happily and thoroughly mashed the eggs, gently fill and pack the stuffing back into the shells.
9. Heat a medium sized frying pan on low- medium with enough butter to lightly coat the entire pan.
10. Place the stuffed eggs on the frying pan with the shell up and filling down.
11. Cook the filling until golden brown (10-15min).
12. Serve with a touch of mayonnaise and mustard. (Don’t eat the shells !)
I hope you enjoy this little bit of Poland and please let me know what you think!
Whenever I travel, one of the first things I make a habit of doing, is to find a journal.
The trick is to not just pick any old lined notebook but find one that will remind you of the place you’ve been.
In this case. I found Batman. Written on the cover of this particular journal are these words.
“Zawsze bądź sobą, chyba… Ze możesz być Batmanem!”
“Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman!”
Those that know me best, know I strongly pursue the mantra of being true to oneself. Those who know me better, know I also look to Batman for major decision making.
Needless to say I think I found the perfect travel journal for this trip!
I’m a very meticulous person and I think if the world ever came to an end (besides saving all my friends and family) I would most likely end up as the historian.
I always log my entries by date, time and location. I’ll usually even include a calendar that summarizes the daily activities in case I don’t have time to write and wish to recall what events occurred that day.
I’m not much of a scrap booker but I take the time to keep ticket stubs, plane tickets and business cards and staple them chronologically in my journals.
It may seem a little overboard but it really doesn’t take much time. Plus, years down the road it’s often rewarding to look back and be able to reminisce pretty accurately all the things I experienced.
My journals are by no means “pretty,” or visually appealing but they carry a lot of energy. On more than one occasion I’ve had people be drawn to my journals and comment on their richness just by merely being in proximity. (I attribute some of this to my tendency to also spill food and random things onto my journals so they really engage multiple senses …) You can “taste” the experience … Literally.
My Warsaw Batman journal, so far has recipes, foods I’ve eaten, places I’ve been and things I’ve done and want to do.
I believe it’s important to track – not only in your travels but in your life – where you are now, where you were and where you want to be. It keeps you accountable for your progress as a human and serves as a way of inspiring yourself to get off your butt and do something. Or maybe serves as a way of reminding yourself that you are worthwhile and have grown and should be content with your own achievements.
Day 2 April 6,2016
Good morning Warsaw! Okay it’s not exactly morning, more like early afternoon. Today is day 2 of experiencing Poland with me as a Noob!
I had a hard time adjusting to the jet lag especially since I’m still getting over a chest infection.
I found some homemade perogies in the freezer at around 2am and found myself drinking NesQuick and reading Harry Pottery and the Deathly Hollows until 6am.
Adams grandfathers condo is quaint, and history and memories seem to seep from the walls. The building itself was probably erected sometime around the Second World War and even the key is reminiscent of time that seems unreal.
Our goal today is to get Adam a Polish account set up and acquire a Polish ID. Since he was born in Warsaw and immigrated to Canada at 6 years old, Adam is Polish citizen.
Our main reason for coming to Poland is to deal with some family business. Being an opportunist I also see this as a chance to improve my Polish and broaden my understanding of the Polish culture. While we have family stuff to do, I’ve also made it my priority to enroll into daily Polish language lessons.
Luckily for me, on our way out to run errands today I saw a Lingwista sign and inquired to Adam about whether we should check it out and see if they teach Polish.
Funny thing, and I’m noticing that it’s something particular to my situation, but for the second time since I started pursuing the Polish language, that I have heard the response “this is unusual because we don’t get people asking to learn polish. Usually it’s Polish people wanting to learn English.”
My Polish tutor in Calgary said the same thing and had to ask me to twice to make sure she understood that it was Polish that I actually wanted to learn.
Here we are now. Waiting for Adam to get his ID and I’m taking this time to write.
Tomorrow – jutro (you-tro) (if all goes well with the Polish school) I begin my Polish lessons.
Do widzenia. Goodbye
For the next few posts I’ll be bringing you all to Poland! Join me in a crash course on what it’s like to experience Poland as a Canadian traveling with my partner, a native Polaki.
We arrived late last night in Warsaw. There’s an 8 hour difference from Calgary, so for all you Albertans it’s 6pm where you are and 2pm where I am, the next day. Needless to say, I’m tired.
We were greeted by Adams ciocia (Aunt) pronounced “Cho-Cha” in English phonetics, and his cousin Piotr (Peter). They gave us a quick driving tour of downtown Warsaw showing us the main historical structures and landmarks. Adam was following along marvelously with the details and descriptions, I on the other hand was having a little bit of difficulty.
You see everyone only speaks Polish.
I’ve mostly travelled in Spanish speaking, Asian speaking and English speaking countries and this is the first time I’ve been to a country that was Slavic based in language.
Trust me it’s culture shock. From being used to reading things in French or Spanish with Latin based words, it’s always been easy to derived roots and meanings.
Now I’m faced with something completely foreign altogether exciting and intimidating. Now I really understand how scary it is for people to travel when they only speak English.
Even so I am not completely unprepared, over the last couple years I’ve taken the initiative to take a few polish tutoring lessons and sought out resources to aid my learnings. I have a coarse grasp of the alphabet and pronounciation and I understand some words and nouns.
We ended the evening at Adams grandfathers condo close to the downtown core of Warsaw. His grandfather moved to Canada last year but this is where we will be staying during our month long visit.
Ciocia and Piotr remind me of my family. They had a basket of food and wine and beer ready for us because they knew we’d be hungry after our many hours of travel. We toasted a sweet red wine and I stuffed my face with cold cuts and rye bread as the dialogue continued around me.
When I first arrived I was intently watching facial reactions and trying to Matrix my way into understanding the language but by now I was exhausted and no longer able to concentrate on trying to translate.