Friday, December 31, 2010

Monsterous Pressure

Pic for the 'Hybrid Monster' series organized by Sezin Gaga Menekshe Rajandran
Does it seem like I am trying to make up for lost time? I am. Just like driving in the car when I have no way of recording my genius ideas, last minute get ups (beating the New Year clock strike Twelve comes to mind) are the best creative motivation for me.
I can think of everything I ever wanted to say and do and write it down in 5 minutes or less. Pressure. It's my creative monster deep in the womb cave. Comes out only when the fire is hot.
But really, I would like to tame that and just be one of those lovely people that have a time frame and not too absurd aversion to actually sitting down and putting it 'down on paper' as it were. Goal number 642.

Oh, and then there is the ocean of memories and stories that simply flow out of me when I am ironing.


Goal number 643. Talk into a microphone while ironing shirts and socks.

Scrumptious Pies

I bake these for the Thanksgiving holidays.. The Pumpkin Ricotta and the Cranberry Orange Pies are from recipes that I used at La Dolce Vita Bakery, when we owned that spot down in Florida in the 90's. Tried and true. Pasta Frolla crust.  Usually I kind of skim over a few Italian desert blog posts that I find on the internet if I forget my own recipe (the doddling that comes with fear of imperfection).
I go to Saveur or some similar reputable magazine to get an idea of how to proceed with an appropriate filling for the occasion (seasonal, holiday, gift). A lot of intuition goes into my baking and cooking and I know a lot of people that bake and cook will cringe. But no one ever left my table muttering under their breath so....
The third pie with Pear & Almond was delightful. It was my first attempt at the Victory Pie recipe which I found through Twitter from someone who follows Anger Burger and here is the recipe . I can tell you it was an absolute hit and fantastically delicious. Follow exactly as stated.

My Caravan

and then more 

Lots of fantastical lights at the Museum of Outdoor Arts in Littleton. A lot of the set up looks like Seussville miracles
The Red Burning Tree was the final encounter

Black Crows

The first snow this year. And within an hour, fifteen or twenty black crows came to sit in the neighbors tree, the one that hides our view of the Lake in the summer. 
Gawk Gawk they made that crow noise, which is more of a scare than a song.
We are superstitious sprites & witches grown up in the heart of the Bavarian Forest, weaned on Grimms Fairytales. So the first thing that naturally came to mind was il malocchio!
Bad luck!
The portent of someone dying. Who could it be, what does it mean?. I showed mum the beautiful scene and instantly she said 'what will happen?'. The absurdity struck me but I still went out and shooed them away, right after I took some photo's. 
You never know.


New Year

For the New Year: Looking back in gratitude for the love & patience I have received from my family & friends throughout the year & commit to listen a bit closer to every minute, hour & day I am with them. Commit to truly feel the heartbeat of love, to encourage free thinking & creativity even in the smallest of details. Engage more,  feel the life around me, act on the impulse of reaching out.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

An Ideal Afternoon 'pauza'

via starerazglednice BiH

Night Skye

Dear Santa. Again.

Dear Darling Santa,
You seem to have misplaced my letter. I'll remind you what my wishes were.
I had wished, in case you didn't read it at all -  that I could eat all those Christmasy things I love without fear of getting fat - especially since I am working on bringing to fruition one of the wishes contained in my daughters Santa Letter, sent to you in confidence, which specifically asks you to make me stop smoking.(I see how complicated this can get for your, Dear Bearded One)

As much as I would like to fulfill this cute little request and make you look good, Dear Pot Bellied One - I'm afraid that I don't know what to do with the extra 85 pounds I put on in the last week, gorging on those Sape cookies, Bosnian pita pans and moms' glorious ham that I have never enjoyed until this year - the year I stopped smoking for Christmas.

Smugly, I stopped smoking, might I add, knowing full well that I would be the envy of all the other women in my neighborhood who did not have a direct connection to you. Knowing full well, with your reputation to uphold you would do what I bloody well asked in the letter.

I'm just saying that the not smoking thing is not working as well as I had hoped - as each day it seems I begin to resemble you (in girth at least) more and more.

It's not making us look good, dude, in front of the Girl. Her wish was 'mom stop smoking'. My wish was don't make me fat if I do. Let's move on it, huh?

Anima Animus

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Making Pita

I liked this little story about a Bosnian woman who lives in Twin Falls and makes pita with tepsije that her mom gave her before she left for the states. Also, My Conscious Eating has a nice post about how to make pita, with recipe included. I'm like the woman in Twin Falls - I go by eye, not by cup measurements.

Baka's Christmas Cookies - Sape (Paws)

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For years I've been making  “medvjeđe šape” for the Christmas holidays (Bozic in the Serbo Croatian language). Sometimes I also make them on other holiday occasions in the winter. The recipe I have from my grandmother is the following:
2 c Nuts, 2 c Crisco or Butter, 3 c Flour (you might need to add a bit more), 1 c Sugar, 2 eggs and 1/8 tsp Baking Powder. Mix, put in special tins, bake at 375 till brown (10-15) Take out of tins while still hot and dip in powdered sugar

My Baka  used Crisco, which in later years, finding my own way through the kitchen, I always found odd.  Once I did a bit of investigating I figured it out.
When the sisters married the Americans, they brought Crisco home along with the Folgers and the Smirnoff.  Baka used to call the 'mast' (fat) she used in the cookies 'kokos fett'.  My life long I could never figure out what she used- what could  'kokos fett' actually be? Sounded like coconut (kokos in Pidgin Bosnian/German) but I never remember seeing any coconut butter or coconut oil in the kitchen.
The big mystery was solved when exploring the possibilities with my mother as to what type of fat she might have used, I remembered that it was preternaturally white.
That's how we figured out it must have been Crisco.
Last year I made them half with Crisco and half with Butter. Crisco was easy to work with, but the taste was definitely compromised. It still tasted good - but that weird aftertaste of Crisco was really strong. So, I prefer to use Butter. I am going to assume that Baka used Crisco because my mom brought home  a new, cool,  American food that no one had ever seen  before.In that little Alpine kaf, we were definitely the glamorous and Bohemian off Broadway set.  In the day Crisco was probably pure awesomeness.


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Friday, December 24, 2010

Dear Santa

Dear Santa, It's hard to keep my Ukranian/South Slavic/Italian predispositzione to indulgence in fat, fat and meat with fat quiet around the holidays. BUT. I'll promise to stop smoking for the New Year IF you let me eat as MUCH Sarma with sour cream  or Kajmak, cured slab bacon with Rye bread
  via and grandmother's Sape cookies
 made with walnuts and butter - as my little loving heart desires - 
without (here is the catch)
making me fat.

 Your good little girl,
PS - please say yes, as everyone here is bugging me to quit with the dreaded/beloved stinky cigarettes, even though I  already banned myself to the porch years ago. Something to do with dying.

PINK SARIS | Women Make Movies | Trailer

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Third Man

The Third Man

Tito Tito Tito

Oh, brilliant pics from Milomir Kovacevic, called Strasni - that I found through the Vebahood website. Pictures of Tito's photographs that obviously everyone had in their kitchens, living rooms, where ever. Pictures of pictures, lost and humiliated during the war.
I had one myself - a picture of Tito that I hung on the wall when the Bosnian and I had our short lived enterprise together. Tito with a monocle and a bullet hole through his cheek. I was so proud of myself for putting him up. Americans, you know. The Bosnian was beside himself, what would people say? But with that one shred of humor that he did have, he finally capitulated and decided that he had come up with the idea in the first place.
The cult of Tito still going strong. I particularly love this one , the gypsy woman smoking a cigarette carrying a bag and a pic of the old man under her arm, like a loaf of bread. Tito is bread.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Problem of Language

I have been reading about Mile Stojic the Bosnian poet and essayist, and found this article, 'The Dictionary Demons', which he wrote, to be very interesting. I am always intrigued about  language and how language evolves.  Mr. Stojic, who's other work I have not yet read, seems worth following.

While reading this article by  Stojic a reoccurring issue I have with people who I have met through social networking came up for me, once more. I considered involvement with a certain group on a creative project that I find fascinating all the more because it touches on personal and relative history, ornamentation, historic art and the feminine, all subjects which I study & write about.  I can't commit though.  The existing group is proud of their intense rigidity regarding what they consider 'the language problem' in the former Yugoslavia.

Seems really fanatic to me - I am sad that I will have to miss out on what could have been a cool collaboration because of this mental fascism which, is more than common in Bosnia today.

Many Bosnian Croats and  Bosnian Serbs point out that their original language (culture) has been repressed by Muslim culture. They intend to correct it  by rejecting 'Bosnian' and adhere to their original language.  The point is to eradicate any possible connection to the Turkification of the 'Serbo-Croat' language.

I find this ironic, not only because Bosnians (by this I mean anyone from Bosnia, independent of religion) had in the past prided themselves for tolerance and  'multi-cultural' history.  More, Serbo-Croatian, is a pluricentric language, and has been the standard since the beginning of the 19th century. Everyone speaks the 'same' language, and comprehends the 'other' without any problem.

It makes me shake my head. I guess that it is easier to hate than to collaborate. To divide rather than share. Though I understand that emotions are tense after the war it is unfortunate that the next generation learns to separate rather than heal. Again.

Good luck, kahvu drinkning, halva & cevap eating language purists. Any other names or words you might come up with will sound dumb to more than some and keep the fascism alive. I guess that is the point.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Ok, on to other things besides coffee. {I think we have established what will go on in that section of the blog. I drink coffee, my Bosnian heritage comes out of the closet, I have connections and insight from years of experience. And. I take pictures of coffee cups because they have symbols in them that are either
a) fun for gossip sessions amongst bored housewives who are looking for divertissment
b) an important social integration 'game' used to process subconscious stirrings in the mind, body and soul that need a healthy outlet and loving interpretation by supportive staff/friends/family
c) a way for clairvoyants to interpret their visions.}
Anyway you look at it, it is a theme in this blog that I hadn't really planned pardon our mess while we figure out where we are going with the remainder of this instinctive rune that has turned up.

For the rest, not to be too politiky or anything, but Richard Holebrook died yesterday and his last words were 'got to get out of Afghanistan'. Nice exit Richard, thanks ...from the guy who brought us The Dayton Peace Accord (sic) and we all know how that's working out NYT. None the less, fierce man, great big personality, obviously incredibly intelligent and well endowed (you know, mentally). Observing him bend the will of others around the world will be missed.


What do you imagine when you see these symbols?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Coffee Rituals

I have thousands of pictures - images and stories  played out in coffee cups.
Often as I look over the pictures I see the symbols but sometimes the subconscious synergy that was present at the moment of understanding is no longer and I'm left with just grounds. Looking over the pictures makes me realize that this ritual of drinking coffee- and drinking together - is what we take away as our heritage. We carry it in our suitcases far away - a pound of coffee, a pound of sugar, a dzezva.  It is rooted deep in the fabric, the socialization of generations of Bosnians, sitting around a table and drinking small vessels filled with sludgey coffee. We all carry the memory, irregardless of what area we come from or what we call ourselves.  I like introducing this ritual  to others who don't know it. I look at it like throwing a pebble into a clear and still lake. Moving things around. I like to get people talking & using their imagination.

When I think of coffee I see a typical Bosnian family: hospitable, likable, with deep roots of tradition that often conflict with the image presented. In the coffee rituals I hear tales, bons mots intertwined with laughter, smoke, mirth & hints of bitter chocolate.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Drinking Rituals

I drink Bosnian/Turkish coffee every day at 6am, often at 11:30 and then at 4:30 with the Queen when I get home. Sometimes I drink coffee in between, if I visit my Bosnian friends or if I happen to be home and not working and friends come over. Most of them are not American. I wish they were though, Americans are much more fascinated with the coffee and the story telling than people who do this coffee drinking all the time and have it in their blood. Which is to say, almost all Bosnians and including my family aunties, all of grandmother's neighbors, my gaggle of Slavic/Middle Eastern/Greek friends in town, the friends I've made in the refugee and immigrant community. We all drink Bosnian/Turkish coffee and have (seemingly) meaningful conversation while we do, smoke a lot of cigarettes and then we turn over our cups and tell the stories that we see appear out of the coffee grounds. We read each others because reading your own doesn't seem to work as well, the imagination runs dry. (even though we all try).

I've taken cup pictures for years and so I thought it would be an interesting subject for a 'Weekly Photo' here on the blog.

When I was fourteen, I moved to Italy with my family. I started drinking coffee at sixteen I suppose, the same time I started drinking wine. Living in Italy, espresso was de rigueur for years. Bosnian coffee in Bosnia, but that was the exception and I hardly ever went there because who wanted to go to Bosnia when you could go to Paris, Ibiza and Rio? I had not found my Bosnia passion yet and it was long before the shock of the war pulled me in deeper.

Then, right after Dayton when the refugees started streaming in from the camps and the broken hamlets, the ruined cities and the bloodied Drina -  I drank coffee in each and every home every day that I visited in my capacities as a case manager at a Resettlement Agency. Often twice.Often from morning till midnight. I became a Bosnian coffee addict. Long after, around 2003, my friend M from Sarajevo, who is deaf and a whiz at reading cups inspired me to do more with what she was teaching me during our afternoon coffee cup readings. Her old husband gave me 'secret information', typed up on an old typewriter they found somewhere and handed it to me with a grave stare, like he was giving me the holy grail. And indeed, maybe he did.
I started trusting myself, noticing interesting pictures, recognizable symbols and I began my documentation. T

The Princess & the Unicorn

Coffee & Photo = Art

 I've been using my Blackberry phone camera exclusively now for 2 years and I have some pretty amazing photographs.  I don't pretend to be a 'professional photographer'- but I know a good little Blackberry really does a great job, is accurate, the lighting is phenomenal ( mostly I love the way  it makes me look ultra  fabulous, erasing hints of wrinkles and uneven planes on my face...) but of course, MORE importantly!!!  it gets a good shot right and the results are pretty detailed, in comparison what I see from friends' IPhones or what  ever else there is out there.

With my other blogs, I always thought to create a 'Photo a Day' section, but being a Pisces I could never decide what the theme would be. Like you know, people have '365 Days of Food' or 'A Photo a Day of Kate & Sue @Yoga Practice'. For days now I am still undecided - so just now I thought I would go with gut instinct and post a photo everyday weekly of a pretty little ritual that I have been doing everyday for years anyway....taking pictures of of Coffee Grounds! In the bottom of my cup! I know, huh!?
Sometimes your creativity is just staring you in the face, blending in with the scenery, begging to be recognized. And suddenly, you're on it! (to be continued..)

Saturday, December 11, 2010


In late August my SilvanaMondo blog was suspended, kidnapped, cancelled ...again. Third time. I have an eye for detail, tis true, but not for tech detail, like updates, calendars, directions on the back of boxes or spy ware. Anyone's guess on what exactly happened is as good as the next, I'm not taking it personally. There is a lesson there, somewhere.  The elusive 'perfect blog' is... elusive.
In the meantime... SMondo, (until I get my SilvanaMondo name back) is where I will bring back my translations of what is interesting to me, in the worlds that make up culture, politics, food and travel.
I document everything with my Blackberry exclusively.  Lots of pics of me, of course & the dear ones. Here we go.
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