I Made Noszki! A Polish Delicacy 

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

Ingredients

– Pork Hock / Feet 

– Gelatin 

– Fresh Parsley

– Carrots

– Celery

– Onion

– peppercorn 

– salt

– garlic

– marjarom /savoury/ thyme/ oregano (I didn’t have marjoram so I substituted with the other three, using very little oregano) 

– bay leaves 

– nutmeg

Method

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 

The Road to 12a – Part 1.

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Villia Maria, Colombia

The last couple years I’ve been saying “This is it. This is the year I start climbing 12a.”

Yet one thing after another kept getting in the way of my climbing goals. Work, time, travel, excuses and excuses. It really mainly came down to not being able to balance work, life and finances to allow for enough climbing time.

2015 was a completed write off due to the Woods Canada Dream Job gig. Which was amazing of course, but I spent maybe 15 days total, climbing that year.

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Travel Photo Challenge 10/10 West Coast Trail,BC

I was nominated by Liberate Wings to post one travel photo a day for the next 10 days. This was the final photo in this series, but due to a high volume of readers showing interest in this oldie but goodies, I might have to toss in a post now and then!

West Coast Trail, BC circa 2006.


This photo I hold very dear because it marked a point in my life where I finally embraced who I always was.

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Adventures with AdamsMom: Episode 2 “Lake Louise jest bardzo piękny!”

A Week In Calgary with A Polish Mom.


The same day we hiked Johnston Canyon and Pilot Pond, we decided to also check out Lake Louise. Since AdamsMom only had one week to visit us, we obviously wanted to take her out on as many epic adventures as possible.

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Warsaw Community Bikes 

  
In the last few years, I’ve been noticing more and more of these little community bikes around North America.  Warsaw, Poland was my first time actually engaging with this system, so if you are unfamiliar with them, we can figure them out together! 

(Watch our mini video here)

These community bikes, essentially appear in many major cities. Some of you may have heard of Next Bike which is something similar to Warsaw’s version of Veturilo. These are a series of locked bikes located all around Warsaw (typically found at major intersections or commuter hubs). 

  
You’ll notice a pay machine and a row of hefty cruiser bikes all the same style with a front handle bar basket and some colorful ad on the rear wheel, each with their own unique number. 

To be able to ride these bikes you need to take a few moments to register online at  Veturilo. With a phone number and a quick settlement of a registration fee/ membership of 10 złoty (roughly $3.40 CA) you will receive a PIN number that is your passcode and your phone number is your user ID. 

Off we go. After we registered using a nearby McDonald’s free wifi , Adam and I found the closest Veturilo bike rack and put our new ID and passcode to the test.

  
1. Enter your phone number (user ID) 

2. Enter your pin.

3. Enter the unique number of an available bike.

4. Take a photo of the bike lock combination that’s provided to you. (If you choose to use the lock that’s on the bike.)

5. Take your bike and go forth into the world! 

It was so easy and so worth it! The other cool thing is that the first 20minutes of cycling is free so you can just find another bike rack, return the bike and sign out another bike and continue on your way! 

Only thing is we wonder if it’s 20 minutes/ day that is free or 20 minutes per use. However even if it’s 20 minutes of free cycling a day it’s still only 8 złoty for the next hour.  

Curiouser and Curiouser.

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. 

W Szkole! 

To school! For the next two weeks I’ll be incorporating 15 hours of intensive Polish language lessons into our trip with Po Polsku – Polish for Professionals

  
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. 

Cooking in Poland! Jajka Faszerowane. (Stuffed eggs)

Day 4 April 8 

  
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! 

Ingredients

Equal portions of :

Fresh dill

Fresh chives (or green onions) 

Many Eggs
Salt

Pepper

Fresh lemon

Much Butter 

  

Method:

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! 

Być Batmanem!

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.