Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Croatia - Under the Croation Sun

It’s rare to find a place these days that has a timeless quality about it, especially one that has cruise ships pulling into its coastal isles. As the country tries to preserve its authenticity tourists scramble in to see Croatia’s cozy rustic villages, Roman ruins, medieval cities and gorgeous beaches. One can island hop to one of the 1185 islands and then stroll through art galleries in the capital of Zagreb where the architecture speaks volumes about its socialist and Yugoslavian past.

Despite the fact that it’s had a rough history I think it would be the perfect setting for the next chick flick. It could be called “Under the Croatian Sun.” Of course it’s a spin-off from the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun” but, I swear, from my perspective, it looks like Croatia has all the beauty and romance of Tuscany. Maybe. I’ll have to go there to make sure.

Croatia night was also Kevin’s birthday. Normally I would have cooked Kevin’s favorite meal of – do I dare say it? – Sloppy Joes and French fries. Well, not this time, not when I have a deadline! It could have been worse. It could have been Botswana night! Actually, what I made wasn’t a far stretch from what he likes. I made a sausage and potato casserole. I cooked the sausage and potatoes with bacon, garlic, parsley and other seasonings. I topped it with sour cream.

Croatian cuisine varies from region to region but there is something for everyone. While it still holds firm to its Eastern European roots its reminiscent of the many cultures that have influenced the country throughout history. On the coast you will feast on Italian-style dishes and on the mainland you’ll experience the flavors of Hungary, Austria and Turkey. But whatever the region they love fresh seasonal ingredients.

There are days when I wish that I could hop on a plane, without a care in the world, and travel to somewhere like Croatia. The day of the Croatian meal I went to parent/teacher conferences, picked up Kevin’s birthday cake, hung up decorations, cooked dinner and tended to John and Julia and their friends who were running through my house. When Kevin got home from work I made a big effort to make him feel special. I placed his presents on the dinning table next to his dinner plate while the kids and I lit the candles on his cake and sang Happy Birthday.

After dinner we went to see the movie “The Blind Side.” It was a good family movie about hope, perseverance and working hard to achieve your dream. I liked the movie but I think I would rather have seen “Under the Croatian Sun.”

In the theater I sat back and relaxed for a couple hours. When we got home I was on the computer again deciding what to cook next. I won’t be seeing Dalmatia’s coastal isles anytime soon or any signs of timelessness.

Sausage and Potato Casserole

4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
250 g spicy sausage, sliced
2 oz smoked bacon, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 TBSP vegetable seasoning (I used Italian seasoning)
Bay leaf
Parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
4 cups water
Sour ream (optional)

Heat vegetable oil in a pan and sauté the bacon, onion and sausage. Sprinkle with paprika add potatoes, vegetable seasoning, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Dust with four, stir well and add water. Boil gently until the potatoes have softened. Add chopped parsley and garlic. Bring to a boil then serve. Top it with a little sour cream.

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