Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Moringa Oleifera , my edible bonsai - first salad with moringa leaves

Miracle TreeMoringa Oleifera, Mallungay, Ben, Drumstick Tree fresh leavesToday I made my first salad with fresh moringa leaves. My young Moringa / Malunggay / Sajina / Murungai seedlings, which are sitting in a corner of my house with full light, was growing very quickly and some of them became bigger than 50 cm, so I pinch the terminal growing tip ~10 cm from the top. Secondary branches began appearing on the main stem since one week ago and hope to grow vigorously in next weeks. Maybe soon my Moringa trees will become bushy and will begin to look like a little bonsai tree.
Moringa Oleifera, Mallungay, Ben, Drumstick Tree small plant
I added Moringa leaves in mixed veggies salad with red lettuce, sprouts, tomatoes, mild baby pepper, sunflower seeds, green onion, dill and olive oil. The taste of leaves - similar to spinach but somehow different.  I like their spicy taste and horseradish flavor.

People tend to eat the same foods they grew up with, resisting new foods and dishes, but are hundreds of unique foods available in other corners of world that would add to the diversity of our diet.  How I  am curious by nature, I like to discover other ethnic foods and enjoy totally a variety taste of dishes from different cultures. 
Moringa Oleifera, Mallungay, Ben, Drumstick Tree small treeMORINGA (Malunggay Philippines)I already learned about the great nutrition of Moringa leaves last months (BTW, until this winter I have never heard about this tree) Now I have my own Moringa plants but I need to learn how to use them. I browsed many cook books on the internet and  I found many interesting recipes and how it is used in India, Mexic, Mauritius, Thailand, Philippines and other Asian and African countries.  Many of these  give details about how people from tropical countries used in cooking flowers from Moringa trees and I am very curious about their delicious taste. But I need to wait more weeks until I will taste their flowers...
Grow, moringa tree, grow quickly!

Have a Happy Birthday, Canada!

Canada Day (Rookie Read-About Holidays) July 1   -   the birth of Canada as a Nation.
This day means fireworks, growing crowd on the streets and the year's biggest national party with parades, concerts, carnivals and festivals. Canada's national flag is widely displayed and a lot of people paint their faces in Canada's national colors: red and white.

Canada consists now in  10 provinces and 3 territories, but The British North Americas Act created the Dominion of Canada as a federation of 4 provinces in7 Days CANADA July 1, 1867.  British Columbia entered in Canadian federation in 1871. Since 1869, in 1 July,  in every city has been organized by municipal governments a range of events, often outdoors, with a patriotic mood and on the streets "O, Canada!" lyrics can be heard :

"O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee."

Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven DwarfsI want to do something special for this event! Right now we finished our new mini-gardens especially for this event. We realized two scenes inspired by the fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm "Snow White". We build the dwarfs house with the Canadian Flag waving at the entrance. We used the huntsman with boar for first mini-garden, and for the second one: the house built by us and miniature dwarfs who was famous since 1937 from Disney's movie "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" .

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Read-Aloud Storybook"Once upon a time, long, long time ago, a king and a queen ruled over a distant land and the people of the realm adored they. Soon the queen gave birth to a baby girl who had skin white as snow, lips red as blood and hair black as ebony".... is the beginning of  "The Story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarf" - one of stories that brighten and charmed days of my childhood.
"The queen died and the step mother of Snow White into a jealous rage because the Snow White is fairer then her, ordered her huntsman to take Snow White in the woods to be killed and to return with her heart as proof"

Hunting scene from  Snow White Story in miniature gardenHunting scene from  Snow White Story in miniature garden
I liked the kind  heart of huntsman who ignored the cruel queen's order to kill Snow White in the wood . "He told her to run away and brought the step queen the heart of a wild boar."

Hunting scene from Snow White Story in miniature garden

"Snow White was now alone in the great forest and she didn't know what to do. She was afraid by the whisper of trees
Rocks and thorns from minigardenRocks from minigarden

and ran over sharp stones and through thorns and in the evening she saw a little and strange house."

Small Canadian houseDwarfs house from miniature garden

Even the house was very small and untidy inside, was the place where lived seven dwarfs who mined for gold in the mountains.

"In the evening when they returned home from the mountains, Snow White told them her story and the dwarfs decided to live happily together in their house."

Dwarfs house with Canadian flag from miniature gardenDwarfs house from Snow White Story

Why I chose this story?  I  love this tale and the Disney's movie because is funny, scary, entertaining and reaffirms the real possibility of a "Happy Ending".  What's amazing is that this movie was the first animated movie ever and has never been equalled.

Have a Happy Birthday, Canada!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Memories from my native country - Danube Gorge

Romania - Danube Gorge and Mraconia Monastery

These days was very hot here in Vancouver, and it makes me think of extremely hot summer days from my native country, Romania.
National Geographic Traveler: Romania
I will blog about some reasons that make me to miss my charming native places full of history where I spent many years of life.

Romania (Country Guide) It is an area of wild and somehow mystical beauty situated on the "Old Continent", between the Lower Danube Valley and the Balkan foothills, between Carpathians Mountains and Black Sea, on Zamolxis land. The people who lived on this blessed land had Dacian-Roman origins. Herodotus called them "the fairest and most courageous of men" because they believed in the immortality of the soul and were not afraid to die.

Romania: An Illustrated History (Illustrated Histories)My heritage arises from ancestral times and combines The Dacian-Thracian spirituality with the amazing Roman culture. Carved stone tools and cave paintings evidenced that people inhabited Romanian land since the Paleolithic. In 3.000 B.C.  the Thracian tribes of Indo-European origin, occupied the actual Romanian territory. The Greeks called them Getae, and the Romans - Dacians.

Between 82 - 44 B.C. , Dacian king Burebista created a powerful  Dacian kingdom. After his death, the Dacian kingdom was split into five smaller states.  Between 87-106 A.D., the king of Dacia Decebalus “The Brave” reunited the core of Dacia  and was fighting three wars against the Roman Empire.  Between 101-106 A.D. Romans conquered and colonized Dacia, making it "Dacia Trajana", province of the Roman Empire, for almost 150 years, and the Dacians "adopted" the conqueror's language ... or maybe not.

Danube Gorge - Head of Decebal, Dacian King - Romanian - Serbian border

I not intend to tell now the entire history of Romanian people, but I wish to tell you about  the Mraconia Bay, situated near Orsova, within Dubova commune area, where after 2000 years, Decebal and Trajan stand again symbolically face to face.

The Danube River was immortalized by Johann Strauss in his famous "The Blue Danube", is the Europe's second longest river which surges through most of Central Europe, starting in Germany's Black Forest and flowing into the Black Sea.

On the Romanian side of the Danube River's, I admired last summer  a monumental sculpture of over 55 m high representing the head of the Dacian king Decebal. 

Professor Josif Constantin Dragan was the person who initiated and financed this tallest sculpture in stone from Europe, which was carved between 1994-2004.

Danube River - Tabula Traiana - Romanian / Serbian Border

On the other side of the Danube river`s banks, on the Serbian side, lies the “Tabula  Traiana”, a Roman memorial plaque 4 meters in width and 1.75 meters in height, commemorating the completion of Roman  Emperor Trajan's military road.

Danube Gorge - Great Cazan / Cazanele Mari - Clisura DunariiThere is the place where Lusius, a Roman Leader crossed the Danube when invaded Dacia in 101.

The Danube Gorge/ Clisura Dunarii lies between Romania in the north and Serbia in the south,  and separates the southern Carpathian Mountains from the northwestern foothills of the Balkan Mountains. 
Danube River - Great Kazan Gorge/ Cazanele Mari - Clisura Dunarii

The Great Kazan Gorge/ Cazanele Mari is the most spectacular, where the river narrows to 150 m above and reaches a depth of up to 53 m. The gorge itself  is a deep one with mountains on either side of the gorge towering at the time, with a stunning rocky panorama. The lush green landscape with cover the cliffs make the gorges look wild romantic.

Danube River - Little Kazan Gorge and Mracunia Monastery/ Cazanele Mici si Manastirea Mraconia - Clisura Dunarii
On the Little Kazan  Gorge/ Cazanele Mici of the Danube has built an orthodox monastery named Mraconia (dark water).
Over the years the monastery has been known under different names: the Monastery of the Danube Valley, the monastery of the Mracuna valley, the monastery of Ogradena-Veche, the monastery of Orsova .

Danube River - Orsova Valey Romania / Valea Orsovei pe Dunare
The Great and Small Kazan Gorges/ Cazanele Mari si Mici (kazan means boiler), which ends with the last section, the Orsova Valley, have a  length of 19 km. On this route the grounds are beautiful and serene, and I think that this is the most lovely section along the Danube River.

Danube River - Orsova Valey / Valea Orsovei pe Dunare

I explored those wonderful  places last year when I took a Danube cruise around the section of Orsova - Mraconia Monastery and back to Orsova. The magic of the steep cliffs towering beside me made my trip a memorable experience of my life. In this trip I remembered how lucky are the people of these dreaming lands and I recovered a part of my ancestors history.

The Danube River is one of the most international river on the planet - it runs across or forms a part of the borders of : Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine. The beauty of Danube Gorge had inspired many poets and Herodotus called Danube River " The Greatest of  all Rivers".
I miss The Danube Valley ...

Romania Travel Map
If you don't have one already, buy a map first thing when you arrive at a destination or click picture to buy Romanian Travel Map now.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The foraging bees

 In sunny days, and I have to admit that here in Vancouver are very few, I like to drink my coffee in the garden and to spend time admiring the honey bees gathering pollen.

Bee in Drusaim flower

Scented Pelargoniums in full bloom attracted many insects to my scented garden. They come and collect nectar and pollen from flowers. Is it very fascinating watching honey bees how are coming and foraging with patience for tiny pollen grains which are collected in their pollen baskets. Perhaps when return to their hive, the bees store the sweet food in the honeycomb for later use, when preparing for overwinter

Bee in Scented Pelargonium Citrosa flower
Bee in Scented Pelargonium Lady Plymouth flower

While watching them, in my mind are clinging few lines of one poem from old wonder-story "Alice in Wonderland":

" How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!"

Bee in Scented Pelargonium /Geranium Atomic Snowflake flower

I like the initiative of scientists, beekeepers and politicians who join their forces to promote beekeeping in city. (Vancouver Sun article:)
Vancouver is moving ahead with plans to make the city greener by installing beehives on the roof of city hall. 
Building Beehives: A Handbook for Creating Communities That Generate Returns
The apiarists also have beehives all over the city, including on top of the Vancouver Convention Centre, at the University of B.C., Science World and VanDusen Botanical Garden.

The benefits of having bees, others than natural pollinators of crops? For me  Honey and Propolis had important health benefits, because can be used as a remedy for cough, colds, loss of appetite and energy, skin and hair. Beeswax is used for candles and together with honey and propolis are used for many natural personal care products.
Letters from the Hive: An Intimate History of Bees, Honey, and Humankind

How can these beings have so many energy? Not only for me looks impressive that the bees can fly while having such big bodies and thin wings . Plus... they can carry those huge pollen bags (90% of their weight?).

The Buzz about Bees: Biology of a Superorganism

The foraging honey bees from my garden  accept me around them while they are at work. Sometimes, they noticed my presence beside them, and start to fly around maybe wandering what goes in my mind.

Can they gather up my secrets thoughts which are buzzing as well, waiting to be said?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lost in the Woods

Lost in the Woods: The MovieLost In The Woods: A Photographic Fantasy
Since childhood, I liked to walk through forests and I often felt that I am "Lost in the wood".
Every moment spent in the middle of forest has contributed to my understanding of wildlife. I admired those who have recounted their adventures in books or movies and let you to become part of their life experience.

I "lose myself" in the woods, when I need to put in order my thoughts and "recharge my batteries" with energy.

Hobbit in forest in minigarden
One inherited proverb says that "people are brothers with the forest" and all of us can live in harmony with the forest.
My grandparents taught me many secrets about what you can do when you're single or not in the forest. They had made me not afraid and  not lose my head even in difficult situations.

The worst thing that can happen... maybe you will find one hobbit who cooks something in front of his shelter? OK, just kidding... but even in this case you can turn difficult situation in your favor, and who knows... The Good Fairy and The Elf with their jovial faces will change your fate, or will give you some good advices to improve your destiny?

Is nice and easy to walk through meadows and trees, but sometime difficulties arise when you expect the least: find back your camping place or when you need to cook your food. It's forbidden to light fire into the forest - everybody knows this, but if you are very carefully and is your only source of heat ...
Minigarden with forest

that's it...  you can try it...

 Rain in minigarden forest
Fog in forest in miniature gardenbut  be prepared to contain the fire even  if is wet or  foggy weather.

Ok, now ... how can I get out of here !? !

 View from Minigarden's Tree
Rocks in forest

You can  use  your  GPS device (BTW, my grandparents didn't know to handle it) or if you forgot to take it in your backpack,  you could climb the highest tree to look around ...

or check if any marks was left by other "pioneers" before you ...

Table in the forest

Guess that I dreamed enough...  I'm waiting for my holiday with its warm days when I may walk on long trails, go and camp in the woods. Until then - I left myself carrying the dreams during and I made this  miniature garden / trayscape.

Minigarden / Miniature Garden / Saikei


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