The last 2,5 months was really busy and eventful, since I wrote the last post on the blog before the summer holiday. At that time we had to face the fact that our old Swabian house urgently needs a full renovation, after we had a burst pipe and the problem seemed to be bigger than we expected. We knew neither what it coming next nor how long it is gonna take but we quickly started packing our staff into boxes. In a couple of days we moved out of our house, set up our temporary station in my mother’s guest room and put our furniture and boxes into two garages. We took the first step but the question was: what is next?
Basically a breakdown. I had to face that the sense of home and the little house has much greater significance in my life than I thought. Our house offered me stories, inspired me and gave me space to create visual and written content about our life through my glasses. The village community embraced me and I could finally feel what I didn’t feel before: the sense of belonging somewhere.
I travelled around the world to find my home and it happened to me exactly that T. S. Eliot wrote in his poem “Little Gidding”:
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
I returned to the place where I started my journey and I realised that this is the place I was always looking for. As the workers start to break the basement of the house, put down some walls and it looks less and less a home, I have the feeling that the basement of my complete life is shaking.
I do what I have to do: managing the tasks around the renovation which seem sometimes so huge and difficult that I have the impression I cannot cope with them. We agree with Áron that my job is more flexible so I will be in charge of the process but he will do his best to help and support me. I set up my workplace at my mother’s dining table and take my dog, Beeper to any office I need to go. Sometimes secretly but it happens also that the officer offers her water and her colleague takes her for a walk while we get stuck in the paperwork.
Than suddenly unexpected miracles happen. In the middle of the construction season we find people to help us: plumber, electrician, heating engineer and general builder, many of them helped to build my parent’s house 25 years ago so we know that our house will be in good hands.
“We will sort it out somehow Judit, don’t worry”- they say.
We still need the key person, the architect. After several phone calls with tired, exhausted and not really enthusiastic professionals I call Mária, who I got to know at the Taste of Memories Picnic in June. I remembered she used to work at an architect’s office. She talks with some people and after a few hours she calls me back with the news that a colleague accepted our project. And Mr. G. appears in our life.
Mr. G. is neither impatient nor tired and has some experience: let’s say 50 years. He reminds me of my grandfather who- according to my grandma’s tales- was able to create anything with his hands that he imagined. Well, Mr. G. is not only as calm as my grandfather used to be. He sits down with us under the nut tree, we look at the house and discuss the project and he gets ready with the first draft in the afternoon. Not at the computer, he draws it with his hands. “You know, if there is a new job, I get so excited that I cannot stop myself until I find the solution”- he says. He is over 70 years old.
Throughout the following days, weeks and months the plan is shaping, developing and is getting polished until the final version. The house will be extended, renovated but remains what it originally was: a little Swabian house with its simplicity and cosiness. We transform its disadvantages into benefits; the summer kitchen will become a spacious kitchen, we will be able to enjoy southern sun from our living room and will have enough space for guests. We won’t be cold in winter, our washing machine won’t freeze and plugs won’t sparkle.
We learn how to be patient, how to accept: a magic wand that builds houses doesn’t exist, paperwork is a pain but necessary and everything has its own time. We can choose to force things – most probably without any results- or to align ourselves with the pace of life. We decide to choose the second one. Our method is to celebrate any little step, and every time we get depressed we remind ourselves that we have a home, even if we have to wait for it.
If we are at the house it seems nothing has happened. We have to pick the carrots, collect nuts and rake leaves. Even if your life turns upside-down, nature does his job on time, as always.
My friend, Kata told me recently that “ cook from what you have” and it is so true in my case, both literally and figuratively speaking. Slowly my Taste of Memories studio is getting ready: István paints the walls, I paint window frames and floor, Áron carries furniture up the stairs with his friend and we set up a small kitchen as well. I rub carrots and put apples into crates in order to storage them for later culinary creations. I followed the “cook from what you have” principle when I created the recipe of this carrot soup. It is based on a recipe written by József Dobos C. from his Hungarian-French cookbook which was published in 1881. However I made some changes: I sautéd bacon instead of ham, added some sour apples and ginger to it, and cream because for me it is the one that makes a cream soup really creamy.
I serve the soup with ham-filled crescents which recipe I found in another cookbook written by Anna Tutsek, published in 1913. For the second time I refrigerated the dough for overnight instead of an hour, and I find it is get much more puffed that way. Also I tried to fill the crescents with cheese instead of ham, and I liked it as well. My grandmother helped me to explain how to fold the dough “as usually” as the author described a century ago.
Sometimes our circumstances can change so quickly and drastically that we can easily become like a mad compass. We are turning and turning around looking for our own track. We really needed some time to reorientate ourselves. 80-90 years ago, when our house was built, people of the village collected and carried stones to make it possible. Now we got a chance to preserve this heritage for another at least 100 years. For some people it is just walls. For us it is an inexhaustible source of stories and memories. And of course, tastes as well.
Carrot cream soup
(For 4 person)
1 yellow onion
80 g mangalitsa pork bacon
1000 g carrot
600 g Golden Delicious apples
2 teaspoon sugar
4 pinch of grounded ginger
salt and freshly ground pepper
800 ml vegetable or meat stock
200 ml cream
Chop onion, peel and slice carrots and apples. Dice bacon and sauté in a pan until it gets a light color and releases fat. Sauté onion, add carrots and stirring occasionally lightly caramelise them. Add a little bit of stock, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add apples and remaining stock, season with ginger, salt and pepper and cook until carrot is tender. Using an immerse blender blend the soup, strain it through a fine sieve, add cream and bring it to boil again. Serve it with the crescents.
140 g cold butter
210 g plain flour
1 teaspoon +1 pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sour cream
150 g smoked ham
Mix 1 teaspoon of salt and flour. Grate butter or cut it into small pieces and mix with the flour properly until it forms small crumbles. Keep an egg for brushing and add the other one to the flour alongside with the sour cream. Knead the dough until it gets smooth and flexible. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it out to a 3 mm thin rectangular shape. Following my grandmother’s instructions starting from above fold the dough until the middle than fold over the bottom part. Do the same starting from the left to the right. Basically you should fold it to one third from above to the bottom and from left to the right. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour or better overnight. Beat the other egg with the pinch of salt. Using a 7 cm diameter round cookie cutter (since I didn’t have any at hand, I used a glass instead) cut circles place the thinly sliced bacon in the middle, roll them up, brush with the egg and bake at 200 °C for 15-20 minutes.