I'm curled up in a blanket on the couch with a cup of coffee to my left and a snoring Popsi to my right. Roni and I both have our own rituals that we take very seriously on weekday mornings. While Roni likes turning on the news and sipping her coffee on the couch, I prefer reading the news on my laptop. I start my day browsing sports news in Romanian (God, I miss soccer) and then move on to reddit to checkout what's happening in the world, or to my blog to work on my next post.
I was browsing through my drafts to see which recipe to post and I came across these farmers cheese dumplings or túrógombóc, as we call them in Hungary, that I made with my mom and niece. I then realize that it's been already over a month since my visit to Hungary and Romania. It's scary how fast time flies. It seems like it was yesterday that I was hanging out with my family, eating a bunch of good food and going to Balaton with my niece, sister and mom.
Every time I go home and meet up with old friends we start talking about how things are in the US and how my life changed ever since I moved across the pond. It's usually a great conversation as I am usually asked about things that I almost never think about. It is not easy to explain the differences between Europe and the U.S. especially to my friends who have never been here before. Of course they follow me on social media, but the problem is that I'm not that active on Facebook. Most of my posts are about food or travel, and just a few about my everyday life. Fortunately, Roni is tagging me in her posts, so people get an idea of what is it like for me to live here.
Whenever I'm in Hungary, the most frequent question I'm being asked is what I like the most about living in the U.S. and what I miss the most about living in Europe. The first one is not a hard question to answer, the second one the other hand is a little more difficult. Apart from the standard "I miss my family and friends"- which holds true by the way- there is more that I miss about Europe. I had to think about it for a while, but once I did, a lot of things came to my mind. Small things that may seem insignificant at first, yet still, once they aren't present in you life anymore you realize how important they were.
Amongst the things that I miss the most about Europe are the mornings and their dynamic. I realized this while I was in Debrecen. I was still jet lagged so I woke up earlier than usual and decided to take a walk to the neighborhood market for breakfast. It was 7am and the sun was already up, yet still the streets were almost empty. Think of it as the moment when you wake up. You're in bed, you slowly open your eyes and, unless you're some hard-core boot-camper, you start stretching and getting to your senses. That's how morning are in Europe- so peaceful, so slow.
There were only a handful of people on the streets walking towards the tram or bus station. No cars at all, just a few bicycles. Everyone was silent. All you could hear are the birds chirping. As I walked by the houses, I saw people with morning hair opening their windows and letting the fresh air wake them up. It was a bit chilly and even though I was wearing a t-shirt, I didn’t feel cold. I smelled fresh coffee. I looked to my right and I saw a young couple, still in their pajamas, sitting in silence on their apartment's balcony and sipping coffee almost in slow motion. They weren’t talking, just enjoying that moment of silence.
As I walked further down the street, I got closer to the market. I saw more and more people. I saw the early birds, the elderly. Some of them trudged, some of them slowly rode their bicycles. I thought, "I rarely see elderly people on the streets in Austin. Where are they? What happened to them? I miss them." Soon enough the dynamic changed. More and more cars made their way on the streets, the bicycles started moving faster and more people waited at the bus stops. The day had started!
BREADED SWEET FARMERS CHEESE DUMPLINGS (TÚRÓGOMBÓC)
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Inactive time: 1 hour
- 2 lbs farmers cheese
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 5 TBS sugar
- 6-inch vanilla bean pod (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
- 1/2 fresh lemon, zested
- 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
- 3 eggs, pasture raised
- 10 TBS semolina
- 2 TBS butter
- 3 cups bread crumbs
- 1 TBS salt
- 3 TBS sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
- In a medium mixing bowl combine farmers cheese, salt, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, raisins, eggs and semolina. Using a wooden spoon stir well until all the ingredients are combined. Cover with a plastic wrap and place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least an hour. This will allow the semolina to absorb the moisture which will soften it.
- In the meantime, add butter to a deep skillet. Heat butter on medium-high flame until the it melts. Add breadcrumbs to the skillet and toast until they become golden brown. Once brown, set the skillet aside.
- Fill a large saucepan or pot half way through with water. Add one tablespoon of salt to the water and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Wet your hands, grab a small handful of the cheese mixture and form golf ball sized dumplings. Place the dumplings (túrógombóc) into the boiling water and repeat until you've used all the remaining mixture. Once the dumplings are done they will float to the surface, after about 5 minutes. Using a sieve or a slotted spoon scoop them out and gently shake them to get off the excess water.
- Transfer dumplings to the breadcrumb skillet. Mix well until all the dumplings are well coated with breadcrumbs.
- In a small cup mix the remaining sugar with the cinnamon. Sprinkle sugar cinnamon mixture over dumplings before serving.