Hungarian (or Polish) Lecso

Use up fresh summer veggies Hungarian Polish Lecso Recipe

It’s summertime. Not my favorite part of the year, I’m much more of a fall type of girl, however, I can’t deny the availability of fresh produce at the grocery stores at decent prices. I enjoy summer for that reason. Everything is fresh, looks delicious, and tastes so much better than any other time of the year.

Living in New England, I have a lot of friends who grow their own veggies. They have so much of it, that they often don’t know what to do with. That’s where I come in, happily accepting everyone’s overage.

We tried growing our own, however, after many attempts, we found that we just don’t have enough sun in our yard. We have a rather big wooded hill behind our home. We’ve even tried growing beets – apparently with low sun requirements, and they were barely 1 inch in diameter, after sitting 6 months in the soil (rather than the suggested 60 days).

With all the wealth of available zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, etc. I wanted to share a recipe that takes care of the problem of what to do with all the veggies. Please know that there’s no “official” recipe for this. However many of a certain vegetable you have, you can use for it. The same goes for spices, add as much as you need of whatever spice you like.

The dish is called “lecso”. It’s officially a Hungarian dish but the Polish have successfully made (and probably changed it) for generations. All you need is one pot, one cutting board, and one knife. I’m giving you some suggested amounts, but it’s a low stress recipe. Add as much or as little as you want.

Hungarian/Polish Lecso:

  • 1 lb of smoked kielbasa, sausage, or wurst
  • 2 large onions
  • 3 peppers (any color or kind)
  • 3 zucchinis or squash
  • 1 eggplant (not part of the original recipe but works well here, if you have it)
  • 4 ripe tomatoes
  • tomato paste – to taste
  • salt, pepper, paprika, garlic – to taste
  • oil – to get started

The ease of this recipe comes from the fact that you chop and add the ingredients in the order in which they need time to cook, while everything is cooking. All you need is a rough dice chop for all veggies.

Set up a large pot on the stove, with medium heat. Add some oil to the pot and start adding diced kielbasa (or any other smoked sausage). Let it brown and, in the meantime, dice the onions and add them to the pot. As that cooks, start working on the peppers. Dice and add. Then continue with eggplant and zucchinis. Finally add the tomatoes. Let everything cook until tender.

Add tomato paste, salt, pepper, and paprika, to taste. You’re aiming for a bit of zing from the paste and enough flavor from other spices.

Use up fresh summer veggies Hungarian Polish Lecso Recipe

This dish is served warm with a nice slice of hearty wheat or rye bread (and butter!). It actually tastes better the next day, when all the flavors got to blend overnight. So it’s a good one to cook for a few days. You can freeze it or can it. If you decide to put it in jars, make it without the meat and just add some browned kielbasa when you’re ready to eat.

I can’t say it enough – it’s a very forgiving recipe. I usually don’t do any measuring at all! Hope you’ll try it out! If so, let me know how it went!!

 

Journey Back to Minimalism

Journey Back to Minimalism

For a while now I have been longing to simplify my life. Since I became a mama, it’s been increasingly difficult for me to stay on top of my household chores. Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from a hoarder, far from “overwhelmed with clutter”. I’m run the average household. I have a 3-bedroom, 1200 sq ft house. But this house has been in a far from perfect state lately.

Here’s my story. I came to this country with one suitcase! My entire life packed in one 22 kg (50 lbs) or less piece of luggage. I moved in with a friend of mine and her family. I didn’t need my own dishes, my own vacuum cleaner, my own washer to do laundry.

Cleaning my first ever car! It was a 12 year old Dodge Spirit.
2004 – Cleaning my first ever car! It was a 12 year old Dodge Spirit. This baby fit all my belongings during the first move.

After a few months, it was time to move on, before I overstayed my welcome. I was far from being able to afford my own apartment, so I moved into a situation where I was renting one bedroom and sharing a bathroom and kitchen with others.To move from my friend to the one-bedroom situation, I managed to pack all my belongings into my sedan sized car and it only took one trip to move. My life didn’t fit into one suitcase anymore but it still wasn’t much.

At that time I worked three jobs to save for grad school. As an immigrant, I didn’t qualify for financial aid, student loans, and I actually had to pay out-of-state tuition. Every penny I earned had to be saved. I couldn’t afford buying anything for myself but I was lucky enough to work with fabulous people. When they found out I was on my own, I received boxes filled with items they didn’t use anymore. I got plates, cups, curtains, even a painting to hang on my wall! I was so thankful for everything!

After about a year, living with many other people was becoming overwhelming. Too many cooks spoiling the broth! And literally, too many cooks, not enough cleaners. If you know what I mean. Lol. My then boyfriend and I decided to move out. Our friend’s brother was renting a small house and needed tenants. Here we were! It felt amazing! To move into that house, we rented a small U-Haul and packed it with all our stuff. Both our belongings fit into one trip to the new place.

The problem was that now we had to furnish two bedrooms and a tiny living room. I joined a Freecycle group and managed to acquire needed items. I shopped Salvation Army for furniture and visited many yard sales. This was also the time that I graduated from grad school and finally got a job outside of waitressing and cleaning cars for living! After a while it became possible for us to buy a house!

Moving truck is ready to go
2008 – Our moving truck is ready to go. Three trips later we were in our own home!

To move into our house – the one we still own – we again rented a U-Haul and did three trips to move. Here we are, 9 years from that moment. I still own the painting that was hanging on my wall way back 🙂 If you asked me to move today, I would need to start packing weeks in advance. Life just happened in those 9 years.

I reached a point where I long for those simpler days. Between working two jobs, paying bills, running errands, and taking care of tons of other things, the last thing I want to do is stress over my house. And there are days where i feel like I can’t keep up with it all.

Coffee table
2012 – My friend’s wedding flowers on my coffee table. I was still able to keep it all together then 🙂

I need to reduce the amount of things I own. I need to simplify to enjoy my life and my family rather than spend time organizing and cleaning. Are you at the same point in life? Did you maybe complete a similar journey? I hope that I’ll manage to accomplish my goal. I need to get there. For my own sake and for my entire family!

Free printable – Weekly Meal Planner

Raise your hand if you ever stood in front of the fridge after a long day and wondered what in the world you will make for dinner! Me! Me!

The above statement is the story of most of my evenings. Sadly. Making dinner decisions is tough. Especially when I know you don’t care what I’ll eat but my husband is somewhat picky and my baby is extremely picky. And I certainly don’t want to cook three separate meals.

I’ve tried meal planning before with little follow through. It’s like this New Year’s resolution that dies after a week or two. I know that it would be so much easier to have a plan. But why is it so hard to do?

I’m hoping that pretty planner pages will motivate me to be better at meal planning this time around. I printed myself a bunch of those, just to make sure I don’t have an excuse of having to run out of printed pages 😉

Modern Weekly Meal Planner – Free planner printable

Modern Weekly Meal Planner - free planner printable

Contemporary Weekly Meal Planner – Free planner printable

Contemporary Weekly Meal Planner Free Planner Printable

So, if your home looks like the Gades’, please print out multiples of your preferred design. No excuses. We can do this!

Free Printable – Grocery Shopping List

The Gades have survived a weekend without any technology! I came home Friday night to downed power lines! A tree limb fell, wiping down everything in its path – an electric pole, power lines, phone line, and the TV cable. Needles to say, you don’t know how dependent you are on technological advances until they are gone. 😦

Having power back on (Thank you utility workers!), I created grocery shopping list printables. I hope they will be just as helpful for you, as they are for me.

Modern theme, Grocery Shopping List

Contemporary theme, Grocery Shopping List

I have been working on improving my budgeting skills and grocery shopping is the perfect area to start with. I know that if I plan my purchases better, I won’t end up wasting food, and money. It truly bothers me that I’m not as organized as I should be in this area. Here’s to a new start!!!

Free Printable – Password Keeper

If I had a penny every time my beloved husband can’t remember his password… Now, let me also add, if I had a penny every time I forgot mine for… you name it. It doesn’t help when you’re trying to make your passwords different for security reasons, or when some websites want special characters while others don’t accept them, etc. You know the rest of this story, I’m sure you have written part of it yourself.

About a year ago I started writing my passwords down on paper. I know there are lots of apps out there that do the same job. But I’m not really sure I want all this info in one online place that can be hacked. I’ve always saved my passwords on paper.

Here’s a little helper that will remember your passwords in a cute fashion.

Modern theme – Password Keeper

Modern theme - Password Keeper, free printable

Contemporary theme – Password Keeper

Modern theme - Password Keeper, free printable

Hope they keep the sanity in your household. They sure help in the Gades’ home! Lol.

 

Free Printable – Weekly To Do’s Planner

How many times did I forget to pay a bill on time? More often that I would like to admit. And, let’s be honest, a minimum $30 late payment fee hurts badly!!! Since having Baby C, I’m struggling to keep up with my “to do” list. I used to be able to just remember things (yay for a good working memory) but that skill has disappeared since I became a mama.

With the realization that I can no longer afford to rely on my “I won’t forget this” skill, I’m sharing with your my Weekly To Do Planner pages.

Free printable – Modern theme – Weekly To Dos Planner

M Weekly To Dos Pic

Free printable – Contemporary theme – Weekly To Dos Planner

C Weekly To Dos Pic

I’m hoping they will help me stay more focused on my weekly chores. Let me know what you think about them. And again, feel free to request any printables you’d like to see in the future.

Free Printable Budget Helpers

We have survived another tax season! Phew! Every year, I’m filled with anxiety, sadness, anger, and lots of other emotions evolving taxes. Reason for it is that I do our taxes on my own. I tried paying for the service before but the professionally done “return” (yes, it drives me crazy when it’s called a return and I have to pay) was the same as the one I did on my own. So, saving a lot of money, I continue to do it by myself.

One reason for me hating the tax season is the fact that I’m rarely very organized throughout the year. It’s not that I have piles of paper all over the house, but God forbid they ask for some specific numbers, personal information, etc. I have to scramble to find proper info.

Hence, the decision was made to get organized with my paperwork. There are lots and lots of beautiful printables available for free. Pinterest is a great spot to find them. But I figured that if I build some on my own, they will be just what I needed. And why not share them? Maybe they’ll help you stay organized, too!

I decided to start with budgeting. I’m really not good at tracking the various expenses we have at our house. If you ever asked me about how much money we spend monthly on, say, groceries I wouldn’t know. So, here they are.

Modern – Yearly Bill Payment Tracker

Modern – Monthly Expenses Journal

Contemporary – Yearly Bill Tracker

Contemporary – Monthly Expenses Journal

 

You’ll have a choice of two designs: one more on the modern side – with mid-century modern inspired colors and graphics. The other – more contemporary, with beachy, dreamy, and light theme.

I will use both those templates together. One will carry me through the year, the other will be printed monthly. You can carry the totals from the monthly expenses page onto the yearly tracker to see one “year at a glance” total expenses in a two-way table. One, by the month, the other, by the category. I left plenty of room for your own personal expenses, so that you can customize the templates.

I hope you’ll enjoy them and find them useful. If you’d like, leave a comment. Did you like them? What would you change? What other printables would you want to request? I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback!

Beautify your ivy

ivy plant hoop trelis cirle
Enter a caption

A few years ago, I spent $3.99 on a 4 inch pot of ivy. Why? I like ivy.

I let it grow. About two years ago, it outgrew its pot, so I moved it to a new one. However, as time passed, my ivy became unruly. I wanted to build a trellis for it because it started to drive me crazy that it just looked like a big mess!

ivy plant trelis circle hoop

Here’s what I did. I got a hoop and four additional pieces of wire. Using electrical tape, I taped the wire onto the hoop, making “legs” that I could stick into the soil of my ivy.

From there, it was just all about twisting the ivy onto the hoop. I love the end result! I think it’s a lot cleaner and nicer. It didn’t take much time at all. I think my $3.99 investment is going to live happily in the Gades’ house for years to come.

train ivy hoop shape trelis

Celebrating Multicultural Easter

easter polish mexican american traditions

Holidays at the Gades tend to be a little different than in most American homes. Having a blended Polish-Mexican-American family means following traditions from three separate cultures. It’s very important for us to teach Baby C our cultures. So, here’s what the Gades do for Easter!

In the Mexican tradition, Palm Sunday is extremely important. Everyone attends church services, and brings home the beautiful palms. If you have ever seen them, you’ll fall in love with what they can braid those palms into! My husband always proudly showcases his skills of making crosses – they are his specialty.

In the Polish tradition, Holy Saturday is a special day. While keeping a strict fasting diet all day, we go to church for a food blessing. We prepare intricately decorated food baskets that usually include eggs, kielbasa/ham, horseradish relish, salt, and bread. Our church prepared a hand-out this year about this tradition. Part of it reads:

food basket easter polish kielbasa lamb

Growing up, my family never used wine and we still don’t drink it at the Gades home, so I never bring any to get it blesses. The custom says that you can’t throw away anything that’s blessed. I made the crochet doilies a few years ago and continue to use them yearly. We eat all the blessed foods for Easter breakfast. Along with a nice root salad.

polish easter basket

In the American tradition, you have to have an Easter dinner, with ham and potatoes. So, that’s exactly what we do with our American Mom (a dearest friend who fulfills the role of a Mom and Nana here for us). This year she has outdone herself preparing a delicious meal of ham, decadent scalloped potatoes, carrots, and asparagus! And yes, the leftovers tasted just as good as the dinner itself.

We also prepared a little Easter egg hunt for Baby C. She enjoyed it thoroughly until she found a bubbles bottle and a baby doll. Then, all she wanted to do it blow bubbles while cuddling her new baby :). We had to collect the rest of the eggs ourselves :). In our two other cultures, there’s no presents for Easter. It’s more about the religion and the resurrection of Christ. We never even had a bunny associated with Easter until the “western culture” came over in the 90’s. The symbol for Easter has always been the lamb.

 

In Poland, Monday is also a national holiday day. It’s the “Wet Monday” or, as we call it, the “Smigus Dyngus”. It’s a day when all the young eligible bachelors would dump onto all the maidens buckets of water. This transformed into today’s everyone getting wet – maiden or not. If you decide to get out of the house that day, be prepared to get wet. I remember my grandma who would always get up early in the morning, grab some water, and wake us up by wetting our feet and faces! Lol. I sort of miss this tradition here. Especially since we don’t even get the day off! It’s business as usual.

I enjoy Easter. There’s no long preparations, as there are with Christmas. It’s sort of a peaceful and relaxing holiday to have. And an important religious event to celebrate!