Disclaimer: All the pretty printed gift tags, stickers and postcard (plus an unpictured apron I can’t wait to show you) have kindly been offered by Zazzle. If you need any sort of high quality printed accessory —from personal cards to stationary and design— make sure to check them out. They ship over Europe and the US. They have also printed a high quality calendar of my photos that I give away on my instagram.
I. Letting go of the unhealthful and regeneration
The holidays are (almost) over. We’re in 2016 (Isn’t this number a little too large?!). I hope you have had some relax and resting time, maybe with some loved ones, maybe away from them, maybe on your own. I hope you have not been absorbed by the rush of shopping and the stress of having everything ready and everyone satisfied. Because let’s face it; despite the joy, the lights and the jingles, the holidays can be very stressing. So one can ironically be glad, that “we’ve made it through this year too”.
But this isn’t how it should feel. These holidays should be about enjoying ourselves, and our friends and family. Often it happens that we spend too much; we spend too much money, we buy too many gifts, we cook we too much food and we eat and drink way more than being full (to the point that we feel physically bad, and that could even make us feel worse about ourselves), too much chocolate, too many drinks.
I think this is the problem. The excess. The unnecessary. Please don’t think that I am against the spirit of the generosity and abundance of the holidays. But I do believe that more than often, these holidays leave us exhausted and dried out rather than refreshed, because we don’t drive our spending resources (money, energy, love, time) in the healthy direction. We need to let the energy flow, recycle and regenerate itself. We need to connect, first to ourselves, and then to others. And let go, of things, food, and interactions that are neither satisfying nor healthy for us.
I think this is my resolution for the new year (it just occurred to me!); letting go of the unhealthy and unnecessary and letting it all flow. 2016 is already a year of great changes for me that I await with enthusiasm and some fear to be honest. Some of these changes have already begun. I am moving; moving out, to be precise. And I hope I can let go and be let go of soon, for everybody’s health’s sake.
II. Reusing Christmas Candy and Chocolate
In Italy, the holidays have an epic end: La Befana or the Epiphany. The holiday of January 6th is celebrated slightly differently here than other Christian countries. La Befana, is basically a good witch who rides a broom stick, and brings candies to good children and coal to naughty ones. (Yes, a little traumatic as an image, but it’s just folklore).
The Christmas stocking is used for La Befana in Italy and it should be filled with candies and chocolates of all forms. Here we come back to the original point; the supermarkets filled with all sorts and colors of stockings, filled with industrial, big corporate chocolate, and we shop and shop, again. I am sure there should be many left chocolate and candies from Christmas in most of our homes. Why not give those as a gift? Why not reuse them and create something new? Don’t store things thinking one day you might need them. That one day is today, and if you don’t need them, give them to someone who does. Make a gift. Liberate yourself. It’ll make you feel better and it’d be a good start for the post-holidays detox/diet.
I made these Persianised chocolate truffles with may leftover chocolate bars. Here I feature the white ones with roses, cardamom, coconut and dash of black pepper. I have made some more with milk chocolate, whisky and orange zest and another one with dark chocolate, cinnamon and cayanne pepper. They are all in little boxes now ready to be gifted. Actually, they’d make great Christmas edible gifts too.
Reusing chocolate is actually quite easy. One of my favorite recipes is this crunchy chocolate bark with dry fruit by Valeria that is just perfect in taste and feel.
These truffles are super easy to make. The basic recipe is simmering 100ml of cream with a nub of butter for 250g of chocolate. Get creative and add your favorite flavors; spices, seeds, dry fruit, cookies (for the outer crunch). Plus it’s quite fun and easy to prepare chocolate truffles and kids will love getting their hands dirty with all this chocolate too.
- 250g good quality white chocolate
- 100g cream
- 1/2 tbsp butter (or coconut oil)
- 1/2 rose water
- 1 tsp ground cardamom seeds
- 1/2 tsp salt
- A dash of black pepper, freshly grounded
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp dry rose petals
- 3 tbsp shredded coconut
- powdered sugar for dusting your hands
- Chop the chocolate well and put in a large bowl.
- In a small pan, bring the cream to simmer and add the butter.
- Add rose water, cardamom, salt and black pepper.
- Before the liquid boils add it to the chocolate and mix well until the chocolate is melted.
- If the chocolate doesn't melt, microwave the mixture for 20 seconds. Or heat the bowl on bain marie.
- When all is mixed well let cool and fridge for at least 2 hours.
- Take the bowl out and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
- Shred the rose petals (in a food processor if needed) and mix with the coconut in a small bowl.
- Dust your hands with powdered sugar, use a teaspoon to take pieces of the chocolate. Roll it in your hands to shape a ball.
- Roll the chocolate ball in the mix of rose petals and coconut and put on a plate.
- Repeat these steps until you finish the mixture.
Coming from Iran, she mostly develops her recipes by combining the aromas of the middle east with the flavors of the Mediterranean, specially Italy, where she has found her second home.