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Thursday, 16 January 2014

An unexpected lunch.

I am in the middle of making a large batch of decorated shortbread biscuits for Jordan and Venka's 50th anniversary bash. I started early as I will be needing icing for the biscuits and icing sugar here is coarse, so doesn't make icing as we know it so needed time to find a solution. Made a batch of roll-out icing from a recipe with good reviews on the internet, but it hasn't worked due to the sugar. Grrrrrrrrr. What a waste. So off we went to find some more, bought two lots, one branded and one packed into plastic bags by the shop. But the same problem. So it looks as if I am going to have to use the very expensive modelling sugar paste I brought with me and hope it works. I can make royal icing as well, and we have made a load of flowers from some paste left over from Christmas. Pics next time.

On return I was busy weighing out when the door bell went and Baba Danka from across the road was there at the gate. Although she knows I don't speak the language, she gabbled away so I had to call Dave for assistance. The dogs were running around and the door was open, but we were taken over to Baba Danka's house and there was lunch all laid out. Dave had seen Danka a few days ago and for all he knows they might have arranged this, so here we were, the dogs waiting for our return, the woodburner and electric oven happily warming the village via the open door, and Baba Danka chattering away about who knows what. Anyway, the rakia was poured and we tucked in to pickled cauliflower and peppers. Danka carefully explained how they were prepared, but no idea of amounts. Then there was banitsa (cheese and egg pie) a huge piece. Dave was telling Danka how nice the wine she gave us at Christmas was, so then out came a bottle for him to drink with his banitsa. Thinking of the biscuits I declined, and was given some day-glo orange pop instead. Then after the banitsa was a sachet of 3in1 nescafe...more sugary drink. The things we do eh, I detest sweet drinks of any kind. The 'kettle' was a bit alarming. Water was put into a small coffe pan like the ones used in Greece, but then a kettle element with a plug attached was put in and plugged in to the socket! I have said before that a lot of the villagers are very poor by our standards, and the house supported this. But they are so generous and will give you whatever they can. As we left I was presented with a pair of knitted slippers which are the norm here. I had worn a pair of sandals with no socks, so when I shed the sandals on entering the house I was bare foot, only because I had no idea we were going over. I think Dave might have invited Danka over for coffee tomorrow......

 Although being very bent and suffering from arthritis, she still keeps up the garden (and wanted reassurance that we had planted our garlic and onions) and a good flock of chickens with cockerel, a couple of sheep and a mangy dog with no name attached to a pile of stones called home. Although we had difficulty understanding each other we had a lovely time and I had to drag a very wobbly Dave away so Danka could have her afternoon kip...she had mentioned it a couple of times!

The dogs were pleased to see us, the house was full of mud from their feet, and I hope they hadn't been bothering the neighbours as it seems they have had the sheep killed and the bits are decorating the garden. Too much for a dog to ignore! The carcase seems to be chopped up with an axe rather than butchered in the conventional British way.

Dave insisted on doing a bit more work on the chicken house though I argues this was not a good idea with a skin full! We had been out for the wood yesterday, the people there are incredibly helpful and friendly. We bought some good stout timber for the door farame for the new chicken house and a load of batons for tomato stakes. The language can be a bit difficult when it comes to counting and amounts still, but the muck on the side of the car was useful as a 'chalk board'! Much to the timber merchant's amusement.

 We had been to the market but were too early and a lot of the stalls had been just setting up, so rather than be too early at the wood yard we called in at the river to see if there was anything interesting there. It was still -4 and misty but we did see heron and what looked like a stork fly over. There was a mad jay amusing himself with acrobatics in a tree. We parked up in our usual spot but apart from the jay following us there was nothing doing....then a madman appeared in the water! I couldn't believe it, it was minus 4. I stayed in the car.

On the way back to the road a great white egret flew over so we stopped for a photo, but only had my little camera and it couldn't cope with the mist and distance. Still we managed a fuzzy shot. On the way home there was a huge flock of fieldfares who of course didn't hang about to have their portraits taken, another fuzzy pic!

Dave has had to change the switch on the water heater in our shower room. He is not happy with electrical work, and was disconcerted when he couldn't get a switch the right shape. But he is learning he can do anything he wants to if he puts his mind to it. So a new square switch which works.
We had our first al fresco meal the other day, to the melodious sound of three cockerels trying to outdo each other, and watched over by two starving dogs. We had cheese and onion pie and salads, washed down with local plonk. We are enjoying the weather while we can as one official weather site had warned that a full Bulgarian winter is on it's way.
There won't be many of these on the road if the weather turns. You actually miss them when they are not around.


  1. There's a madman in the water alright. Not because it's -4 but because he's still wearing his glasses!

    1. Haha, he can't see much without them!

  2. If you have a blender, you can make powdered icing sugar by simply blending regular white sugar until you get the dust-like quality. That's how industry makes it, just in huge batches.

    1. Thanks Gloria. I have tried that and it's OK for everyday stuff, but it is basically the same as I can buy here. I didn't realise that UK icing sugar was so different but they don't go in for icing much here. It's difficult to explain really, but if you use it for water icing it looks OK initially but then goes translucent. The icing I have made is awful, explanation later.

      Thanks for the interest.

  3. I just found your blog via Ilona and find it fascinating. I am busy reading your archives. Next I am going to read about Bulgaria as I know next to nothing. It seems like a very friendlly place. Good luck to you on this adventure. I will be following.
    Oh, guess I could tell you about me. I am married, 65 and live in Renton, Washington, USA. Very near Seattle, if you know where that is.
    My best,

    1. Thanks for your lovely comments Tana, and welcome to the mad house. We knew nothing about Bolgaria either when we first started looking for options when we decided life was too short to be miserable in work. We have no regrets (a few worries) this is a stunning country and we feel as if we have been given a gigantic hug by our village.

      I hope you enjoy my ramblings and I hope to hear from you again.

      Sara (and Dave)