In the kitchen: pickled garlic

Today I searched on the Internet how to preserve garlic so that it can remain tasty and can be used as an ingredient in recipes. I stumbled upon a blog dedicated entirely to garlic and read about the various preserving techniques. I already excluded freezing, because garlic becomes mushy, so I decided to experiment with preserving. Another search led me to a recipe from Barefeet in the kitchen, that looked simple and bombproof – and funny too! The video that shows an alternative way of peeling garlic proved both funny and effective, I welcome you to test that method yourself 🙂

Here is my jar of pickled garlic:

Pickled garlic

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Savory muffins

Today I prepared cheese and onion muffins for a small party:

Savory muffins

The recipe comes from the Just Bento Cookbook written by Makiko Itoh, who put together a great selection of ideas for bento boxes and picnics. I report here the variation of her recipe “Edamame and Cheese Muffins”.

Ingredients for 12 muffins:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk (160 ml) – I used soy milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (60 ml)
  • 2 cups flour (250 g) – I mixed white flour with chickpea and all-grain flours
  • baking powder (1 tablespoon or the quantity suggested on the package)
  • salt
  • extra ingredients: 2 spring onions, sliced and sautéed; Parmesan cheese; marjoram

Preheat the oven at 180°C.

Beat the eggs in a small bowl until foamy. Add milk and oil, and mix well.

Add flour, baking powder and salt in small amounts. If the batter becomes too thick, add some more milk. Incorporate the sautéed onions and grated Parmesan cheese, and spices at will. I went for marjoram but you can pick parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, nutmeg, sweet paprica, or combinations of them 🙂

Fill the (optionally non-stick) muffin cups up to half their capacity with batter. Bake for 20-25 mins, or until the crust is golden and crispy, and the centre is well cooked (suggestion: pick a test muffin with a toothpick -it is cooked when the toothpick comes out dry. Another test requires to gently tap a muffin with a wooden spoon – it is cooked when the sound is hollow).

In the meanwhile, spring is finally come in Berlin as well, and cherry trees stand clad with flowers – beautiful even at night:

Cherry blossoms at night

On playing at concerts

I am wondering what is happening to me in this last year, as I have helplessy seen myself becoming less and less involved in performing publicly with my orchestra.

I have many years experience with concerts and I lost quite early the panic right before walking on stage, and the stress on stage; until recently I enjoyed playing for the audience, let people feel the emotions of a given piece of music together with us and possibly the soul of the author.

A couple years ago something changed – something broke, I could say. I felt that my most enjoyable moments happened at the rehearsals, usually around the last one, then the concert felt like an unnecessary burden. Getting dressed, preparing everything to look good and be able to move silently on stage looked like acting, bad acting.

I talked about that with my drums teacher and he described how he feels instead. I could clearly understand how he feels the responsibility of playing well at concerts, how concerts are the necessary final step of a long preparation. But something in me is disillusioned. Even at concerts that I attend as part of the audience, the magic is gone. Still, I feel the musicians closer than before; I feel I am on stage too and we are not part of the show, because we are part of the backstage. I fell in the backstage and can’t (won’t?) get back to the limelight.

I don’t know if I will be happy to play at concerts again; I don’t really care now. What is important at the moment is that I understand what is the most important thing for me instead, get it to perfection and move on. It is maybe the attention to movement (see all posts about that!), the timeless practice of a small quirk, finding the sparkles of joy in other musicians’ concerts. For example, I totally love how relaxed and focused are the players of Combattimento Consort of Amsterdam, while playing Bach’s Christmas Oratorium:

Starting from the conductor, I see so much enthusiasm, closeness, confidence, flow, fun. There is even a moment when the conductor lets the string quartet play on their own, and simply listens to them. This is definitely how I would like to feel on stage.