Bran muffins

The amount of cooking and baking I do here is pitiful. really.
I am not starving, just people give me food enough times a week to be substantially sustained.
But sometimes I get in the mood for something that people don't eat much here. Last Saturday I was in the mood for bran muffins. So I looked up the word for bran - tărâță.
"Do you have tărâță?" I asked my counterpart.
she chuckled. "Of course. We feed it to the cows."

I asked a couple different people where I could buy it and someone finally asked me, "Why don't you ask any of your neighbors that have cows."
So I did. "Of course you can have some tărâță. They told me, eying me suspiciously for wanting their cow's food. What for? A cake? Hm."
Granted, the tărâță you feed your cows isn't exactly the tărâță you eat in bran flakes. I painstakingly picked out the wheat grains that had gotten through the crushing process whole and mixed up my mom's recipe for bran muffins.
In the kitchen Gabi was curious about the recipe, Mamitza tried to give me directions for making some other type of Romanian recipe that uses tărâță, and Cipri was shocked that I would use tărâță for baking.
They turned out golden-bottomed, and bran-textured, with the occasional oat grain.

Gabi, the politically correct one, didn't say they were amazing, nor that they were horrible.
Ciprian, the one who says what he thinks, told me that when I get married and make these, my husband will tell me that they are delicious, but to never make them again.
Marin, my neighbor who I got the tărâță from took one bite and told me it tastes like the black bread everyone ate during communism as he ate two more muffins with gusto.


The easter marathon

Last Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, I had an Easter marathon of traditions and food.
At 12:30 Sunday morning, I went to the church with my host family to circle the church three times and then went back to bed.

At 10 minutes to 4, 2 hours after getting into bed, my alarm woke me up to go back to church for the blessing of the baskets.

Then I had breakfast with the sleepy-eyed Cozmatchi family at 5:30 that morning.

Slept. slept. slept. Hiked up a nearby hill, played pingpong. slept some more.

At 10 monday morning, day 2 of Easter, some friends of mine took me and Alicia, a visiting volunteer, to a string of monastaries and Daniil Sihastru the hermit's cave. He gave advice to Stefan Cel Mare, Moldova's warrior ruler who fought back the Turks from overruning Europe in the 15th century.

Monday night, in a rain storm, me, Alicia and some friends went to a traditional dance night at a nearby village. Jaunty green alpine hats are sexy.

We arrived home at 3something Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday, we visited Voroneti Monastery, known for its blue colors that retained their hue for 600 years.

Tuesday night I saw Alicia off on the night train and walked back home in a light sprinkle.
Easter is a fantastic, if rough holiday.