BITOLA - THE CITY OF CONSULS (PART 1)

Bitola - a town in southwestern Macedonia, administrative, cultural, economic, industrial, and educational center for that part of the country. The city is known as the city of consuls, because there were consular missions of the European countries at the time of the Ottoman Empire, where together with Solun (Thessaloniki), Bitola was the most important place in the European part of the empire. Today, many of the consular offices in the country are located here. Bitola is the second largest city in Macedonia according to the number of inhabitants. During Yugoslavia, Bitola was one of the cultural centers in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, as well as in Yugoslavia. Father of the Turkish nation, Kemal Atatürk, attended officer school in Bitola. Some of his works are kept in the National Museum.
View of Magnolia Square with the monument of Philip II of Macedonia - the founder of Bitola and the famous clock tower in the background, photo by Gordana Adzieva-Mihajlovska
Etymology

Throughout history, depending on the rulers, Bitola had many names. According to Adrian Room, the Slavic name for the city, Bitola, comes from the word Monastery (Old Slavonic Obitѣlь) and this term today is used in Croatian language (Obitelj), which during the Middle Ages was used to name a community of monks, a family or monastery. Bitola was named after the many monasteries that were in town and in the surrounding area, and some of them still exist today. Over time, the voice O was disposed in the pronunciation of the word "Obitel" and the name of the city becomes Bitola. Greeks called the city Monastir (Greek: Μοναστήρι). Bitola is the present official name of the city, but also the oldest title, judging by Bitola plate from 1015 on which the city is mentioned, as well as according to many generals of the Emperor Samuel, and passengers at the time. Arab traveler Abu Abdallah Muhammad al-Idrisi in the XII century wrote: "It takes two days to travel east to reach the Ahrida (Ohrid) and Butyl (Bitola). Butyl is unusual and beautiful city. "
There are tales that on the right bank of the river Dragor were 41 churches and the same number of mills for maintaining the churches. Also on the left bank of the Dragor there were 29 churches with 29 mills. During the holidays at this time, people from the villages of Bitola area gathered in those churches where they performed their religious rites. Since the land on which was located the city of Bitola was then covered with numerous monasteries, the city was named Monastery.
River Dragor

 According to the written records of Marco Cepenkov Bitola was named after some rich man named Toljo, who had his fortress near the village Bukovo. At the time when the Turks came to conquer this part of Macedonia, they called him saying "Bi Toljo, Bi Toljo" which according to Marko Cepenkov is where the current name of the city of Bitola comes from.

During Ottoman rule, the city was called Monastery, which Turks and Albanians adopted from the Greeks. After the Balkan Wars in 1913, the city falls under Serb occupation and again receives the old name Bitola.

History

Many important events in Macedonian and Balkan history took place in Bitola. The city was built, rebuilt, damaged and re-built and upgraded since its first settlement in the Late Bronze Age. Then in the Hellenistic period and the Roman Empire, until the Byzantine time, had the status of a town with a high degree of civilization.
Shirok Sokak (famous promenade in Bitola)

Traditionally the strong commercial center, is known as the city of consuls because at one point during the Ottoman Empire, Bitola had even twenty consulates from various European countries. In the same period, the city had many schools, among others, the military academy, which attended the famous Turkish reformer Kemal Ataturk. At the end of the XIX century, Bitola was so powerful city, that its population constantly grew and exceeded the population of Belgrade. The city was crowded with factories and photographic shops and the interesting part is that despite Singer in Bitola, even at that time there was a factory for sweets in Bitola. Bitola recorded the first photos and movies thanks to the brothers Manaki. It was the golden age of the city. Unfortunately, during the Balkan wars, many battles were driven around the city and in the city itself, so, many physical evidences were burned or were completely destroyed. The architecture was recovered, especially in the last fifteen years, and evidence of everything that happened are the stories from the elders who remember well what happened.

To be continued...






RAKIJA - CONNECTING PEOPLE (HOW IT'S MADE)

Home production of brandy (rakija) is a tradition in Macedonia. In order to receive high quality grape and fruit brandy, producers should be very careful with the technology and manufacturing process.

Rakija - connecting people
Thе process of fermenting the grapes (cleared from vine stems and leaves) lasts at least 60 days in warmer days, while later in the autumn, that process lasts longer. Now, when the grapes would "lie" at the bottom of the barrel, means that they are fermented. According to the old master, in recent times, rather than wait for weeks, wine yeast was added that made the grapes ferment faster and all bacteria were destroyed. Yet most important of all is if the grapes have sugar; if there is sugar, there will be more brandy, and therefore the wine cellars don't purchase grapes with more sugar because it is not so good for making wine.
When the process of boiling is finished and grape becomes komina, the cauldron for making brandy is set. The complete equipment for making brandy is consisted of a copper pot and pot that differs from the barrel for having no lid, and it must constantly have cold water inside so by cooling, condensation can be turned into liquid alcohol. Both containers are connected with a pipe where the condensed liquid from the one container is transferred to the other container filled with cold water.
Set for making rakija

To obtain a quality brandy, follow these important rules:

1. Fruits from the fruit trees and grapes should be harvested at full maturity and shoudn't be rotten.
2. Containers where blended grapes or fruits are put should be wooden or plastic for food purposes. We should not use plastic containers that are used for storage and transmission of technical materials such as plastics which affect human health.
3. Before use, containers should be well cleaned, wooden pots are cleaned with hot water and wooden soda and plastic containers are cleaned with appropriate detergent and rinsed well. Very good cleaning of the tank is achieved with a solution of salt in quantities of 100 to 200 g with 200-400 ml vinegar. Use a cloth soaked in this solution and rub the whole inner surface of the tank and inside of the pipe.
4. After grinding the grape or fruit pulp, should be added vinobran 5-10 grams per 100 kg mash and it should be pressed with wooden or plastic grid on which is placed a stone, so the pulp would be held completely submerged during the whole process. The containers are filled to 80% of the volume, so there won't happen any leakage during the tumultuous part of boiling.
5. Wooden containers are covered with wooden cover on which we put a nylon and wrap the container's opening and nylon is stretched (wired with a binding cord made of rubber). Plastic containers should be covered with their original covers.
6. To obtain a quality brandy, grapes and liquid aren't boiled together, but just fruit liquid. Cauldrons are filled with fruit liquid to 90% of the volume of the tank, and the rest is filled with water. The container where the fruit remains are, is filled with water with the same amount as we previously eastward fluid or wine. Water stands for 2-4 days and then the cauldrons are filled with the liquid of 95% by volume and is brewed brandy. So, working with liquids only, with the first boiled liquid we extract 80-90% of alcohol from the mashed fruit and with the second - the rest to 100%.


HOLY 40 MARTYRS ON KRKARDASH, BITOLA - MARCH 21ST

Holy 40 Martyrs Church is located on Krkardash in Bitola in the area called Smilevski Bair. It was built 150 years ago, on the same place of the former monastery "St. Athanasius". Day of the church is every first day of spring, 21th of March.



Krkardash or Krkkardash is legendary region in northern Montmartre (Bair), where unequal struggle occurred between Macedonians and the Turkish army. When the Turkish army had conquered Bitola, the monks of the monastery gave fierce resistance fighting with cross in one hand and knife in other.
According to legends of Marco Cepenkov, there was a small fortress, in a possession of the feudal owner Toljo, which Turks closed during their conquest of Bitola. There, the entire Macedonian population fought back the Turkish army. All defenders of the fortress have fallen in bloody battle. Due to the strong and heroic defense, Turks named that region Krkkardash, which means 40 brothers. Today on this place are the Church "St. 40 Martyrs" and "St. Archangel Michael".

On October 29, 2012 with a large national gathering in Bitola, the Macedonian Orthodox Church canonized the holy 40 martyrs with solemn liturgy held in the Church of the Holy Great Martyr Demetrius.
40 white doves flied as a sign of their elevation for those who suffered for the Christian faith and sacrificed their lives during the conquest of Bitola by the Ottomans in 1385.

In honor of these 40 monks was built the Monastery "40 Machenici".

Each year on this day, in the evening hours, all citizens of Bitola visit this place and light a candle in a memory of 40 martyrs. People go there and on 22nd of March from morning until the afternoon.

VANJA LAZAROVA-MACEDONIAN FOLK LEGEND

Yesterday, on 12th of March 2017, died Vanja Lazarova, a synonym of the Macedonian folk song
 The velvet voice of one of the most talented Macedonian performers of folk music - Vanja Lazarova went silent. The 86-year old Vanja left the world, leaving behind a wealth of unforgettable musical interpretations that bring us tears.

She was born on 27th of April 1930 in the village Stracin, Kratovo. Vanja Lazarova tirelessly conquered the world with her divine voice. She had even performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and her voice have been honored by Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Macedonian folk and ethno music would never been what they are without the voice of Vanja Lazarova. She worked in the opera at the National Theatre and was a member of the "Ensemble".

She was also the first Macedonian singer who recorded sheets for record companies Philips and Poligram.
She had a special contribution in her cooperation with the Macedonian band "Anastasia" when creating the music for the film "Before the Rain" by Milcho Manchevski. Her vocal is particularly amenable to the ethno synthesis.
Macedonia is grateful for all the legacy she has left to us and to the world and we will always appreciate every song she sang with her hearht. We will always tremble while listening to her "So maki sum se rodila".

Rest in peace legend!

8TH OF MARCH-INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

8th of March is the day that marks the women's struggle for economic, political and social equality with men.
The idea for a special day dedicated to women originates in the early 20th century, and it specifically was insisted by the socialist movement.

The first Women's Day is marked on February 28, 1909 in the United States at the initiative of the Socialist Party of America.
In 1910, under the auspices of the Second International in Copenhagen is held the First International Conference on Women where it was decided to celebrate the International Women's Day, but without specific date being set. The following year, on March 19, 1911, the feast was first celebrated by more than a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
On March 8th, 1913, women across Europe held peace rallies.
After the victory of the Bolsheviks in Russia and on the initiative of Alexandra Kollontai, for the first time March 8th was declared a national holiday. Soviet Russia was the first country which marked March 8th in red letters on the calendar in 1917 and it became a public non working holiday in 1965.
Today traditionally male purchases flowers to female and wishes her a happy feast.
In Macedonia, every woman celebrates 8th of March, feeling special on this day. Women gather in restaurants enjoying great food and giving presents to each other. Small presents are also given to female teachers, mothers and grandmothers.

MARTENITSA FOR HAPPINESS AND HEALTH (MARTINKA)

The tradition continues, as every year, with the first day of March, many of the citizens put martenitsa on their hands or on the lapels. They believe that wearing martenitsa until 22 March will bring happiness in their lives.
Martenitsa (martinka) is a small ornament that our parents, aunts or grandmothers tied on our hands and are worn from March 1st until the end of the month, and according to other beliefs, martenitsa is tied on 14th of March. Martenitsa is an ornament made of hemp in red and white color. They are the symbol of Baba Marta (Grandma March), known to us as a harbinger of spring.
martinki


This tradition is also observed in neighboring Bulgaria (martenitsa) and Romania (martisor). Martenitsa, or red and white, symbolize the desire for good health and also announces coming of spring. According to some beliefs, the red color symbolizes blood and the white symbolizes purity, to another they symbolize life and death, then good and evil, and joy and sorrow in the life of one man.

One of the customs says that Martinka is received as a gift and that it is never bought for yourself, but it should be given to your loved ones and friends. It can be worn attached to the wardrobe or tied around the arm or neck. There are many beliefs about its removal, one being that when the first tree flourishes, martinka should be unchained and attach to it or when first common martin is seen, it should be removed from hand and placed under the first white stone, while in Bulgaria it is removed when they see the first stork and they hung it on a tree and make a wish.

There are many variants of this tradition and the symbol of Martenitsa. We do our best to preserve this tradition, which gives joy to many, especially to children. Symbol of new life, conception, fertility and, above all, a new spring. Colors that symbolize purity and harmony in life and the lives of loved ones.

Welcome to Baba Marta, and you, don't forget to give away at least one martenitsa.

FORGIVE AND BE FORGIVEN - TODAY IS PROCHKA

Today Orthodox believers celebrate the feast of Forgiveness or Forgiveness Sunday, known as Prochka or Veliki Pokladi, which belongs to the greatest Christian holidays, right after Christmas and Easter according to some.

With Prochka begins the long Easter fasting period filled with many customs and beliefs, with many disclaimers and hopes to welcome Christ's resurrection (Easter), for communion and identification with the Savior Jesus Christ.

Prochka (Forgiveness Sunday) is carried with rich customs such as forgiveness, then special ritual with eggs called 'amkanje', sacred bonfires, rich table, life divination, cleansing against pests and so on.
Amkanje is a custom held on the evening of Prochka, when the family would gather at home. The custom is practiced so that the unpeeled boiled egg is attached with hemp thread and hang on a wand or a rolling pin. Then children sit at the table and knelt on their knees, and an adult brings the egg closer to the mouth of each child and the child shouts "am, am" and attempts to catch the egg with his mouth.

The custom of forgiveness starts from the Christian conception of aiding and forgiveness between people. It is believed that on this day heaven and earth forgive each other, so people should do that too.
And people ask for forgiveness from one another for their mistakes. Usually younger ask for forgiveness from the older, children from parents, baptized from their best man, and friends, relatives, neighbors are also forgiven.

Today Orthodox Christians celebrate the feast of Forgiveness, when people with raisins, orange or an apple forgive each others sins and wish health, happiness and love with shaking hands.

Younger three times bows before the elder and says: "Forgive me!" To which elder one responds: "You are forgiven from me and the Lord,"or just: "You are forgiven."

The Monday after Prochka is called Clean Monday and from then, long Easter fasting begins. On this day we clean the house with particular attention to wash dishes.

TRADITIONAL KUKUREC IN SAUCE

Kukurec is a traditional dish which is usually prepared for Easter. It is prepared from knitted lamb chitterlings and tripe cut into strips. It is considered as one of the best lamb specialties in our country. Preparation is easy, just follow the procedure. The most important part is cleaning the of intestines, they have to be 100% clean.


Ingredients:


  • 1 braid of lamb intestines
  • 2 -3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper in grains
  • pinch of salt
For the sauce:

  • 3-4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tbs bukovska pepper (chilly or sweet)
  • 1 tbs Vegeta
  • 1-2 tbs of dried mint
  • some ground black pepper
  • 5-6 cloves of chopped fresh garlic
  • water, oil, salt
Preparation:
  1. Put cleaned intestines in water and put on fire to boil. When it starts to boil, pour the water. Repeat the procedure again. In the third water add salt, black pepper and bay leaves, add the intestines and leave to boil for several minutes. Kukurec is cooked when it can be easily stabbed with a fork.
  2. Put cooked kukurec in an earthenware and pour with oil.
  3. For sauce: mix flour, black pepper, Bukovska pepper, Vegeta, mint and garlic in a bowl. Add cold water and mix until unite. The mixture should not be too thick.
  4. Add this mixture to kukurec. Then add liquid in which it was cooked. Pour liquid just to almost cover kukurec. Stir to avoid lumps.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 220 C degrees for about 1 hour, until liquid evaporates and kukurec gets fine flushed color. While baking, flip kukurec on the other side so both sides are baked well.
  6. Serve cut in into pieces and covered with the sauce. Combine with Macedonian wine and enjoy.
  7. Note: This kukurec was prepared with intestines and lamb krezla, I could't find a translation or the word 'krezla' in English, though it can be made without krezla of course.

PASHA MEATBALL (PASHA KJOFTE)

This dish is old, Macedonian, our grandmothers prepared it. It's possible it has Turkish roots, because the word 'Pasha' or 'Paşa' represents a higher rank in the Ottoman Empire political and military system, typically granted to governors, generals, dignitaries and others. However, Macedonia was under Ottoman Empire for 5 centuries and many recipes are inherited from the Turkish cuisine. This dish is consisted of small meatballs in a special soup prepared from flour which we call 'kasha'.


Ingredients:

For the meatballs:
  • 500 g minced beef
  • 50 g rice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 grated onion
  • finely chopped parsley
  • ground black pepper
  • ¼ tbs salt
For kasha (soup):
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • oil
  • 1,5 liters of water 
  • 2-3 tbs tomato puree
  • 1 large carrot
  • 5-6 pieces of garlic
  • mixed spices (vegeta), black pepper, parsley, bay leaf
Preparation:
  1. First boil rice until half cooked.
  2. Mix minced meat with onions. Add dried spices, black pepper, salt and parsley and add cooked rice. Mix well everything, then form balls with a size of a ping-pong ball.
  3. Fry meatballs in hot oil.
  4. When done, remove meatballs from the pot and align on a kitchen paper.
  5. In the same pot, add carrots to fry a bit, then add the flour to fry just a little to change color.
  6. Then pour water and add chopped garlic, black pepper, mixed dried spices to taste, bay leaf and tomato puree and return meat balls in the pot. Leave to simmer quietly until rice in balls is fully cooked (about 10-15 minutes).
  7. Serve warm.

14TH OF FEBRUARY-THE DAY OF ST.TRYPHON

Every year on February 14th, Orthodox Christians celebrate St. Trifun (holy Tryphon, Trifon). It is believed that St. Trifon is a keeper of the vineyards and inns, and also of marital love and fidelity.
On February 14th, winemakers go to the vineyards for the first time in the new calendar year and begin to cut vines, and it is believed that St. Trifon on his day sticks a torch in the ground and the snow begins to melt. Many believe that spring begins on this day and that nature and love among people wake up. If rain falls on the feast of St. Trifon, plum will have a good harvest.
People relate different customs and stories to this holiday. Snow can still surprise you, but it is considered a symbol of prosperity.

Legend says that St. Tryphon was born in the village Kampsadi in Phrygia and lived in the third century. His parents were poor, and since he was a child he kept geese of wealthy locals for a piece of bread. A legend, however, says that he had healing powers since childhood and the Roman Emperor Gordian, whose daughter Gordijana was mentally ill, learned about  his abilities and none of the doctors could help her. In such a situation, the legend tells that once the evil spirit spoke from her and that no one could expel him except Tryphon. But, the king didn't know which Trifon is the healer so he ordered to bring all man named Trifon and try to cure his daughter. After some time, Phrygia king's army found the small and modest boy Tryphon and took him to the emperor in Rome. Poor boy will instantly heal the girl, and the king will richly reward him, but the boy on his return to home gave away all the gifts to the poor. When he returned to his village, he continued to live as before, to keep geese. When the new king Dakij heard about his powers, as a great opponent of Christianity, he orders to close the boy in a cell and to expose him to great torture. But Tryphon shall bear all tortures until he was stabbed with a sword. He was only 18 years old.
According to another version, St. Tryphon was tied to a horse and dragged on rocks and thorns, and died before the act of execution.

St. Tryphon is being celebrated in the Orthodox world for centuries. He is being honored by many guilds, primarily bartenders and winemakers and growers because he is a protector of wine and vine. It is said that on this day, good innkeepers give free wine to guests.

EASY AND FAST BABKA CAKE

I love babka cake, I like its shape and usually the cake is very tasty. I know this recipe since my mom prepared it in a pan. When I was a kid, babka molds didn't existed, so we baked it in a regular pan. I've tried different recipes for preparing babka cake and many times it turned out badly. Sometimes it bakes only on the sides and stays unbaked in the middle, sometimes it overlaps the mold and makes mess in my oven, I hate that. This recipe is the best, cake turns out just the way it should be, evenly baked and fills the mold perfectly.

Ingredients:
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 tablespoons sugar
  • 200 ml milk
  • 100 ml oil
  • 15 tablespoons flour
  • 1 sachet baking powder
  • 50 g grated chocolate for cooking
  • a handful of crushed nuts

Preparation:
  1. Beat eggs and sugar.
  2. Add milk, oil and gradually add flour and baking powder.
  3. Add walnuts and grated cooking chocolate and mix.
  4. Coat the mold for babka with butter and pour the mixture.
  5. Bake in preheated oven at 200 C degrees around half an hour. Check with toothpick if it's ready.
  6. Leave to cool, then remove from the mold and cut in pieces. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar before cutting.

MACEDONIAN MAZNIK

Maznik is a traditional Macedonian swirl pastry, made of thin kneaded dough, filled with white cheese, spinach, leeks or minced meat and then rolled in a swirl form. It's very popular, like zelnik or burek. Homemade maznik is the best, you can't buy that good maznik in a store. This is one of the easiest maznik recipes, try it and impress your family or friends. It's not that hard to make it as you think, believe me.
maznik


Ingredients:
  • 700 g flour 
  • about 250 ml lukewarm water
  • about 200 ml of oil
  • pinch of salt
  • filling optional (spinach, cheese, minced meat, leeks, sauerkraut)
Preparation:
  1. Place flour in a bowl and add salt and water.
  2. Knead soft dough and add water if necessary until dough is soft. Leave to rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Form 6-8 balls from the dough, then make small disks from each (diameter 15 cm) by pressing dough with your hands, then cover them with oil. Leave to rest for about 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer disks to work on the middle of a table cloth, and roll out as much as greater crust as you can. Then gradually start pulling the edges of the sheet until you get a thin crust. Remove edges of the crust (you'll use them later). Sprinkle crust with oil and apply the prepared filling. Bend crusts in a roll form. Then bend in a swirl form and put in a oil coated circular baking pan.
  5. Sprinkle some oil and water on top before baking.
  6. Bake at 250 C degrees for 20-25 minutes until maznik gets a beautiful golden/red color.
  7. After baking, cover pie with wet kitchen towel, then serve. Serve with fermented milk.
  8. Make small balls from the thick ends of the remaining dough, coat with oil and leave to rest for half an hour. Stretch each ball the size of a hotplate and bake directly on the hotplate. Make tacos, they are delicious.



DELICIOUS TEA BISCUITS WITH GINGER AND CINNAMON

This is a recipe for delicious crunchy tea biscuits which are easy to make and even easier to eat, you have to try the recipe, they are very tasty. After baking, your home will smell wonderful, even the next day. I love the smell of baked cookies mixed with cinnamon. I baked these yesterday and when I got up this morning, my home smelled like in my granny's kitchen :)
tea biscuits


Ingredients:
  • 200 g butter softened at room temperature or lard
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 g sugar
  • 350 g flour (you can put half wholewheat flour)
  • 1-2 tsp ginger in powder
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 sachet baking powder
Preparation:
  1. Beat eggs with sugar and add the butter.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients, mix with a mixer, then knead the dough by hand shortly to unite. Put it in a nylon bag and let rest in refrigerator for half an hour. 
  3. Divide the dough into 8 or more parts, size doesn't matter. Roll out a crust with a thickness of 5 mm from each piece and make forms. The dough is divided into more parts because it is impossible to roll out crust from the whole dough with the same thickness. The remaining dough which remains from removing the forms is kneaded again.
  4. Line up cookies in a pan coated with baking paper.
  5. Bake in preheated oven at 200 to 220 Celsius degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. If your dough is thinner, the baking time is shorter.
  6. After baking, when cool, sprinkle cookies with powdered sugar or decorate as desired, I never add anything later because they are delicious as they are.
  7. Keep covered in a box, I have a tin box that I only keep for such cookies.
Enjoy!

CANDIED APPLES - A TASTE FROM CHILDHOOD

A dessert that will bring you back memories from your childhood. Candied apples or as we called them shekjerni jabolka (sugar apples) were my favorite dessert when I was a kid and I had the privilege to eat one only on holidays or when circus came to town, when they were available for sell. We ate them, our parents ate them and now our kids love them. Here's how to make them at home.
candied apples


Ingredients: 
  • 10 small apples 
  • 1 kg of sugar 
  • 10 sticks 20 cm long 
  • 1 sachet red color for food
 Preparation:
  1. Wash apples well, I suggest you use organic apples if available. Remove handles and insert a stick in the middle of the apple.
  2. Put sugar in a pot and caramelize it until it gets pale yellow color. Be careful not to burn it. Add red color, stir and remove from fire. 
  3. Immediately dip and roll each apple in the prepared caramel and place on a baking paper. 
  4. Leave to cool and to harden well.
  5. Enjoy the taste of childhood!

SPINACH WITH EGGS IN A POT

This is one of my favorite dishes. Easy, fast and healthy, ready in 30 minutes. I prepare it once a week and my family loves it! For 4 adult people, I suggest you put 1 kg of spinach, given amounts are enough for 2 adults and 2 smaller children.
spinach in pot

Ingredients:
  • 500-600 g spinach-cleaned and chopped
  • 3 handfuls of rice 
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • salt or vegeta
  • 1 flat tbs of red ground pepper
  • oil
  • 3-4 eggs
  • 2 glasses of warm water
Preparation:
  1. Warm some oil in a pot and add spinach, close the lid and fry for 2-3 minutes. Spinach will flatten.
  2. Add rice, carrots, red pepper, 1/2 tbs vegeta or salt (around 1 flat tsp) and stir.
  3. Pour hot water, stir and leave to cook on a low temperature.
  4. If necessary, add more water.While cooking, stir spinach 2-3 times so the rice won't fall at the bottom. Spinach should be thick with a little liquid in the end (as in pic).
  5. Before the end, add the eggs on top and leave to cook for 5 more minutes with closed lid.
  6. Serve warm with sour cream or fermented milk.
Enjoy!

EASY DELICIOUS HOMEMADE WAFERS (MY MOM'S RECIPE)

This is my favorite homemade wafers recipe. My mom has been preparing wafers this way for ages. When I was a kid, I was in charge in applying the filling, I enjoyed doing that. These wafers are the best eaten the next day, when they stick well. I used blender/chopper for crushing the nuts and the biscuits. The best part is that you won't make lots of mess in your kitchen, they are easy to prepare, don't require baking and the best part is that they are delicious! I usually cut one row and eat it, I can't eat just a piece or two :)
homemade wafers


Ingredients:
  • 500 ml water
  • 500 g sugar
  • 50-100 g of cooking chocolate
  • 250 g of butter (or margarine)
  • 100-150 g of crushed walnuts
  • 250 g of crushed biscuits
  • 1 packing wafers
Preparation:
  1. Put water and sugar to boil in a pot on a low heat for around 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from fire and add butter and leave to melt. Then add chocolate and stir until it melts.
  3. Add nuts and biscuits and mix well.
  4. When the mixture cools, take one wafer, add filling all over, then place other wafer and continue until you spent all filling and wafers. Cover with kitchen towel and put a heavier object on top to stick more easily. Leave overnight. Cut as desired and place pieces in a plastic container with a lid.


VODICI - THE DAY ST.JOHN BAPTIZED JESUS

Vodici or Bogojavljenie or Theophany, is the day on which according to Christian tradition, Sveti Jovan Krstitel (St. John the Baptist) baptized Jesus Christ in the Jordan River.
Vodici is celebrated two days. The first day January 19th is also called Male Vodici and the second on 20th January, Gathering of St. John the Baptist also called Female Vodici.
vodici

Traditionally today in Macedonia in almost all settlements, priests throw a ritual cross into a larger water - river, lake or pool, and people jump into the water and try to catch the cross. It is thought that on that day all waters are baptized and that the one who will catch the cross will have luck the next year.

This ritual symbolizes the entering of Christ in the River Jordan. In biblical Palestine, in Jordan, was heard the voice of the Holy Prophet John the Baptist, who called people to repent for their sins and receive baptism. He baptized people of Jerusalem and all Judea. The Lord Jesus Christ came to John at the Jordan waters. He recognized the greatness of Christ's divine nature and therefore he was saying, "Behold the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world upon Himself". He baptized Christ in the River Jordan.

Once baptized, he came out of the river, heavens opened and the Spirit of God as a dove in bodily form descended upon Him. Voice from heaven spoke, "This is My beloved Son!" The voice of the Father is referred to His Son, but because of him, he is calling all people of the world to become the sons and daughters of God.

With this holiday is given the meaning of baptism as one of the most sacred secrets of Christianity. Baptism means spiritual birth, the start of human life in faith. Therefore the godfather is considered the spiritual parent of the baptized and closest relative. With this holiday end not only the twelve unbaptized days, but also ends the festivities cycle that is associated with Badnik, Christmas, New Year (Vasilitsa) and so on.

TODAY IS VODOKRST (EVE OF THEOPHANY or BLESSING THE WATERS)

Today, 18th of January, is a strict post - Orhodox Christians in Macedonia and worldwide are celebrating Vodokrst (the Eve of Theophany) and tomorrow are Vodici (Theophany).
vodokrst
The holiday is known under the names Vodokrshtenie and Vodokrst or Vodopost (fasting with water), as the day of strict fasting, where one is only fasting with water.

On January 18th is celebrated the feast Vodici or Blessing of Waters. The Holy Church praises the strength and power of the Cross.

Baptism of water is performed and the power of the Holy Spirit receives healing powers. The feast was established in a memory of former rituals that were performed on that day when
people who accepted Christianity were baptized .

A day before the great Christian holiday - Vodici (Theophany), an
Theophany ceremony is performed on the feast called Vodokrst - Blessing of Waters.

TONIGHT IS ORTHODOX NEW YEAR AND TOMORROW IS VASILICA

According to the Julian calendar, Orthodox Christians will welcome the Orthodox New Year tonight (also known as old new year), which begins tomorrow on Vasilica (Vassilitsa).
Many Macedonian families celebrate Vasilica as a home feast, and those who bear the name of Sveti Vasilij Velik (St. Basil the Great), celebrate their name day. Similar to Badnik (the Christmas Eve), family dinner table also includes breaking bread with a coin which is divided to family members. It is believed that the one who gets the coin, will have happy and prosperous year.
On the occasion of the 3 Christian holidays: Orthodox New Year, the Feast of the Lord Circumcision and St. Basil the Great day, tomorrow in the temples of the Macedonian Orthodox Church will be served sacred liturgy of St. Basil.
St. Basil the Great is one of the three largest religious teachers of the fourth century. He was born in Cappadocia and finished school in Athens. He was a great Christian philosopher, and became famous as a bishop and defender of the purity of Orthodox teachings. St. Basil the Great passed away on January 14 in the year 379.
vasilitsa

Church says that the only justifiable tradition is that the bread with coin (or maznik with coin) is always prepared on Vasilica and it is linked to life story of St. Basil the Great. There is one event which tells that when a king who wanted to destroy the city was coming, St. Basil asked people to give some money (coins) to bribe the king in some way, to not hurt people. But, the king died and didn't come to the city, so Basil the Great confronted the dilemma of how to return wealth to the people. And not everyone gave the same amount. He ordered the city bakeries to knead bread in ovens and to put coins inside. Then bread was divided among people. And God's miracle happened and everyone was returned exactly the same amount of coins as they gave. Because of this dedication, we commemorate each Vasilica by placing a coin in the bread. We remember the miracle that God made through the holy Basil.
Besides the Macedonian Orthodox Church, according to the Julian calendar, religious holidays also celebrate the Russian and Serbian Church and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the monks of Mount Athos. Unlike them, the Greek, Bulgarian, Romanian, Ukrainian and Georgian Orthodox Church follow the Gregorian calendar and celebrate Vasilica on 1st of January.

BEANS WITH RIBS

I like beans, but I like beans more when combined with some meat. I love the smell that dried ribs give to the stew, it's like a whole different meat. I've been waiting for this post for some while, it's ideal for snowy and cold weather.
beans with ribs


Ingredients:
(For 4-6 people)

  • 500 g of beans (tetovsko gravche)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 larger carrot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 600 g of dry, fleshy, ribs
  • 70 ml of oil
  • 2 flat tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon red ground pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf


Preparation:

  1. First clean beans from damaged grains, pour with hot water and leave to stand for 30 or more minutes. 
  2. Then, spill water and add a new lukewarm water and put beans on the stove to cook on low fire. Add washed ribs, black pepper and bay leaf.
  3. In a meanwhile, fry a bit finely chopped onion with finely chopped carrot and when softened, add to the beans. Check if beans need more water. Cooking time is around 1 hour or more, depends on how old are the beans.
  4. When beans soften and are almost ready, put some oil in the same pan where you cooked onions, when oil starts to warm up, add flour by constantly stirring, add grated garlic, red ground pepper, mix  all well and add to the beans. Add salt to taste (be aware that ribs contain salt) and leave to cook for 20 more minutes on a very low heat.
  5. Before serving sprinkle with some fresh parsley leaves.
Enjoy!

SNICKERS CAKE-DESSERT FOR EVERY TASTE

Snickers is one of the most popular timeless chocolates. There are various modifications of this well-known taste of peanuts, caramel and chocolate, customized for home preparation. This is a great recipe for a delicious Snickers cake. You'll need to prepare 2 fillings for this cake.snickers cake


Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 10 egg whites
  • 15 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 10 tablespoons crushed peanuts

For the filling with peanuts:

  • 1 l milk
  • 300 g sugar
  • 3 tablespoons starch (for densifying)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 bag of caramel pudding
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 250 g butter (or margarine)
  • 200 g of milk powder
  • 250-300 g of crushed peanuts

For chocolate filling

  • 5 egg whites
  • 15 egg yolks
  • 300 g sugar
  • 100 g cooking chocolate
  • 250 g butter (or margarine)

Preparation:

Dough

  1. Beat egg whites and add the sugar and vinegar and mix it all together until mixture turns into a solid foam. 
  2. Then add in the flour and ground peanuts and stir gently with a spoon to merge.
  3. Pour mixture in a pan lined with baking paper and place in a preheated oven at 200 C degrees. Check if it's ready with a toothpick. Leave to cool then divide dough in 3 equal stripes.

Filling with peanuts


  1. Caramelize 300 g of sugar in a pot placed on the fire, by constantly stirring. Be careful not to burn sugar.
  2. Then add 800 ml of milk, leave on low heat and boil until caramel is melted.
  3. During this time, mixl starch, flour, sugar and caramel pudding in 200 ml milk, and add this to boiling caramel with milk. Boil it as pudding and leave to cool.
  4. Mix butter with milk in powder until foamy. Add this mixture to the cooled pudding.
  5. Finally, add the crushed, roasted, unsalted peanuts and mix well all together with a mixer.

Chocolate filling

  1. Beat 5 egg whites with 300 g sugar and add 15 egg yolks and leave to cook a while on a steam. 
  2. Add the chocolate in the end. 
  3. Allow to cool, then add previously mixed butter.

Making the cake

  1. Apply a layer of filling with peanuts on first crust, then apply the chocolate filling.  
  2. Repeat the procedure with the second crust.
  3. When you align the 3rd crust, first apply the chocolate filling all over the cake, then finish with caramel filing only on top of the 3rd crust.
  4. Decorate as desired, with chocolate, ground peanuts, cream...

VILLAGE PAN WITH WILD BOAR MEAT (SELSKA TAVA SO DIVO MESO)

Meat from wild animals is a real pleasure for gastronomic gourmets. Due to its specific nutritional value, everybody can eat it - both children and the elderly, and its main feature is that it is low in fat and rich in proteins. Because this meat is harder than meat from domestic animals, it needs a little different preparation and its preparation takes a little more time. But the final product is really worth the effort.
village pan

Ingredients:
  • 1,5 kg wild meat
  • 1,5 kg chopped onion
  • 1 tbs Vegeta
  • 5-6 dried peppers
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 tbs red pepper
  • 300 ml white wine
 Preparation:
  1. First,cut meat into small pieces, put in cold water, add a glass of wine vinegar and a clove onion cut into pieces and let stand overnight. The meat is ready for use the next day when it is softened and whitened by the previous procedure.
  2. Then the next day, put meat to boil for 2 hours. During boiling, the water should be changed 2-3 times.
  3. Once you cook the meat, heat oil in a big pot and pour chopped onion to fry and to soften a little. Add meat, chopped dried peppers, Vegeta (spice), black pepper, a little red pepper, bay leaf and mix. Frying takes about 30 minutes.
  4. After that the entire mixture is poured into an earthenware pan, add white wine and place in oven to bake for about 1 hour at 220 C degrees. I like it when it forms crust on top, if you want it crust less, then bake covered with aluminum foil and uncover before the end of baking.
  5. Enjoy this great Macedonian specialty.

ORTHODOX CHRISTMAS (BOZIK) - 7TH OF JANUARY

Today is a great day for all Orthodox Christians. Today we celebrate Christmas, which is considered one of the greatest Christian holidays, because on this day is celebrated the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ. How important is this day for humanity is seen in that this day is taken as a key date, the cornerstone for computing of time, so we have the old and the new era, meaning time before and after the birth of Jesus Christ.

Christmas is hailed with the words "Christ is born", to which is replied "Trully he is born." Happy name day of Hristo, Hristina, Bozin, Bozhana, Risto, Ristan, Cristina, Krsta ...

orthodox christmas


This holiday is also called the mother of many holidays because if we had not this holiday, meaning, if Jesus Christ wasn't born, there wouldn't happen his baptism, would not existed the Epiphany, nor Crucifixion and Resurrection, Ascension - Veligden, Pentecost, Transfiguration etc.

Today, Macedonian people with a lot of attention celebrate Christmas, the day of Christ's birth. Christmas is a day of the family, dedicated to close ones and it is the most joyful Christian holiday. On this day, Christians go to the church, light candles and give great respect to Christ and his work. A solemn liturgy is held in temples in the early morning.
As Christ was born in a cave near Bethlehem, warmed and illuminated by his parents, it is preferable to create that atmosphere in the home of every believer. With full table of delicious food and the obligatory presence of lamb and red wine, relatives show mutual love and faith, and love and trust to God's son Jesus Christ.

Today, forty days of fasting end.

History
Gospel texts testify that the Roman Emperor Augustus issued an order to conduct a census of people in whole empire. Each had to be registered in the city of their grandfathers. Palestine was then part of the Roman Empire which is why the righteous Joseph and the Virgin Mary of Nazareth went to Bethlehem to enroll in this city, because both were of David's genus.

When they arrived in Bethlehem, there was no room in the inns and houses for them, because the town had many people come for the census. Some good people wanting to help, headed them in a cave near the city where shepherds sheltered their flocks in storms. Bright light filled the cave and surrounding hills in the night, then the Virgin Mary gave birth to her firstborn son, wrapped him and put him in a manger. Bright light has frightened shepherds with their flocks which slept in the open on the surrounding hills, but immediately the angel of the Lord comforted them by calling them the good news:

"Do not be afraid! Here, I'm telling you a great joy which will be to all people: because today is born in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord."

Pastors immediately rushed to the cave where they found Mary and Joseph, with God-child, made a bow, and then spread the news of the birth of the Savior.

Immediately after that, arrived and the three wise men from the East who were guided from the unusual bright star in the sky and led them to the cave before moving in front of them when they moved and stood in place where they rested.

The birth of Jesus Christ was not known in the first three centuries, and this holiday wasn't celebrated then. The reason for this is the Christian view of life in times of slave society. At the request when to celebrate this day, the Holy Christian Church decided to take the date when in the pre-Christian era was celebrated the day of the new Sun which was on December 25th in the Gregorian or January 7th in the Julian calendar.

BADNIK (CHRISTMAS EVE) - 6TH OF JANUARY

Christmas Eve - a precursor of Christ's birth
badnik


Orthodox Christian believers today celebrate Christmas Eve, the day before the big Christmas holiday. According to the Julian calendar, each year Christmas Eve is on January 6th, and Christmas on January 7th - wonderful days when families expect and celebrate the news of Christ's birth in harmony.

On Christmas Eve, from the very morning the voice of children koledari is heard in every house, that with carols for health and prosperity symbolize the voice of angels for the birth of Jesus Christ. The hosts give chestnuts, walnuts, apples, pears, to preserve this beautiful tradition which is passed from generation to generation.
Children koledari

Macedonians celebrate these major holidays  with great respect, when everyone needs to forget the bad and to give  the opportunity to kindness. Even the unhappiest and the poorest people should put a smile on their faces. At least for the moment, everyone should learn to forgive and to open his heart to others.

Badnik (Christmas Eve)
Badnik is a holiday for the family. On this day people stay at their homes with their families. According to tradition, the whole family gathers around the dinner badnik table in the evening, which should be festive and rich, but lean. Christmas Eve marks the end of the 40-day Christmas fast. Housewives prepare baked beans, lean sarma, pitulici, potatoes and fruit and put on the table to be wealthier.

Customs may vary depending on the place, but almost every table has pogacha (bread), bread popularly called kravajche, in which is put a coin. Bread is divided to family members and one piece is left for God and one of the house. It is believed that the one who finds the coin will have health, happiness and success in the coming year.

Badnik table

After dinner, the food is not moved from the table, because it is believed that the Lord would come at night to feed. Others leave the food because they believe that will come the spirits of those who are no longer with us.

Christmas Eve is a night of peace, joy and unity when people greet the birth of Christ.

Today every Orthodox family decorate their homes with Christmas Eve branches (from oak) which symbolizes the expected news about the birth of Jesus Christ, and when the great Christmas holiday comes, people greet with the words "Christ is born - really born."
Badnik branches from oak

KOLEDE - NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS EVE

Today, 5th of January is Kolede, the day before Badnik (Christmas Eve).
Traditionally on the eve of Kolede are held folk gatherings with burning fires in neighborhoods and streets in every city in Macedonia.
kolede


However in the early morning on 6th of January, children called koledarchinja will announce the birth of Christ.
Macedonian people honor these holidays with a lot of attention. Christmas is God's holiday celebrated to commemorate the birth of Lord Jesus Christ. This holiday is the mother of all other religious holidays, since the birth of Christ is considered the beginning of a new era.

Today Orthodox Christians in Macedonia are gathered to burn Christmas Eve fire, which according to Orthodox beliefs, is a messenger of Jesus' birth. People are gathering tonight in the neighborhoods where they live, they light a fire, dance, eat, drink and enjoy traditional Macedonian songs.
This tradition, which is a part of the Orthodox tradition, symbolizes good luck, prosperity and health for families, and is thought to be several centuries old. According to folk beliefs, the fire removes evil and represents a messenger for a new life.

Pagan custom?

The priests are divided in opinions about lighting fires and general merriment. Some of them appeal to abandon the celebration of Kolede with big fires in public places, with parties where people are drinking alcohol, eating a lot of meat and listen to loud music, because this tradition is a pagan practice and is not in the spirit of Christmas Eve, when we need to show modesty and restraint, and fasted Badnik dinner as a hint of the great Christian feast, which should unite the family, and midnight Christmas liturgy must not be replaced with the neighborhood fires and the cult of warm brandy. But others argue that there is nothing pagan in this act of celebration. Different views of priests confused citizens, but people still light a fire on this day every year.