My grandfather had not only had two grandchildren (me and my sister). When he died he left numerous plants behind him. His plants were his love. The fig on the sunny side of the house had its name, the watermelons were gently petted daily and the 100 plum trees were his faithful army. When you actively take part in the whole growing process of a plant, it changes your perception of food (and life). Food is not a temporary fashion (I know, I repeat myself), but the endless process of energy flowing. Consuming food is not only the process of chewing and drinking, but the process of sowing, watering, caring, harvesting, cooking, chewing and digesting. My parents continued my grandfather’s tradition, so they mostly spend their time in the garden. This time I joined my mother early in the morning and we put some life into the earth. While working, we already imagined the summer and harvesting, cooking, pickling…
The house where my grandfather was born is my home too. It is not just a place where I spent my summer holidays – I actually used to spend every single day here with him. My grandfather was my best friend. We were inseparable. When he died last year, my childhood died with him. But I feel his spirit in every plant he left behind. This is why I love to spend time in this garden. This is the place where I am the closest to him.
My family spends the six warm months of the year mostly outdoor. Years ago we installed a small outdoor kitchen on the veranda. It’s a pure luxury. Normally, we pick the veggies from the garden and prepare them directly, only few meters away from it, on this veranda. In May the garden babies are still too small, so I bought some vegetables at the market and made a lunch for my sister and my friends. For dessert I made a typical Bosnian pastry- hurmasice. It is a recipe that comes from Turkish tradition. It is VERY sweet. But I made it healthy. I did it! And it was DELICIOUS! Every woman in Bosnia has her personal recipe for hurmasice. Some of them prepare it with walnuts, some with plenty of sugar, some with oil, some with butter, etc. My hurmasice pastries were neither too sweet, nor too juicy or too nutty. No! They were soft and light. I replaced the regular sugar with Sucanat (It is essentially pure dried sugar cane juice) and the butter with non-aromatic coconut oil. I added pure vanilla and coconut flakes.
And ask my mother. She was jealous! Few months ago I tried to make „healthy hurmasice“ in Berlin. My mother was very sceptical. She doubtfully observed me, while I was replacing the butter with ghee and the white flour with chestnut flour. Then she made me pour a huge amount of syrup over the hurmasice. At the end my healthy hurmasice was a disaster- it was a lump too sweet and too wet to enjoy. This time I changed the recipe again and poured as much syrup as I wanted. Ask my mother! It IS possible!
Ingredients (makes 10 hurmasice):
100 g coconut flakes
75 g spelt flour (or whole grain white flour)
80 g coconut oil at room temperature
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 egg yolk
1 Tsp sucanat
1 Tsp baking powder
1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
2. Put the coconut oil in a medium mixing bowl. Add Sucanat and stir with a fork until you have a smooth paste.
3. Add the coconut flakes and eggs and stir until combined.
4. Add the lemon juice and the flour. Massage the dough with your hands until it’s neither too hard, nor too soft. If so, add more flour.
5. Form the hurmasice with your hand. They should be oval. Slightly press every hurmasice against the sharp side of a grater to get a nice pattern on the surface.
6. Cover the backing sheet (it should be at least 3 cm deep) with the coconut oil and sprinkle some flour over it. Place the hurmasice pastries on the baking sheet and bake them until they become golden, around 10- 15 min. Hurmasice must be soft when they are done, so don’t overbake them.
500 ml water
1 lemon, sliced into 1 cm wide slices
1 vanilla pod
1 cup sucanat
1. While the hurmasice pastries are in the oven, place all ingredients in a smaller pot and bring to boil.
2. Cook the syrup for about 15 min, just until the ingredients are well combined.
1. When the pastries are done, remove the baking sheet from the oven and slowly pour the syrup over them.
2. Cover the baking sheet with aluminium foil and make a very small hole on it,to let the excessive moisture evaporate through it.
3. Let the hurmasice pastries cool at room temperature and then place them in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving them.