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The home, and anything around it, is pretty special to me. During communism in elementary school we were taught how to use basic tools and build utilitarian and  decorative items with simple techniques. In addition, my mother was very handy around the house and got me involved with her projects as she found me capable, competent and easy to work with. I learned with her how to wallpaper at age 10, and built the weekend house along her side. Furthermore, I was involved with art  from a very early age and looking over my mother’s shoulders was exposed to sewing and using the sewing machine (though she did not allow me to use it). As an  

adult, I implemented all my childhood experiences and added some extra layers along the way. I often like to brag that I have a more impressive power-tool collection  than most men, -and I use it frequently for my home renovating and furniture building projects.  

I always drew home plans (learned from Mom, though, dad was the actual architect/ engineer). Mother’s first sentence, each time she visited a person for the first  time in their home: Can I take a look at your room layouts? She was fantastic designing homes, and built her own weekend house (from recycled materials mainly  when she demolished her mother’s old home a few hundred miles away. Not sure if I look at it as embracing her mother’s memory thus she has it surrounding her, or  as utter destruction of that memory when not a single element remained where a house used to stand). (Either option is possible. If someone had a reason to be mad  at their parents, it was her. I never understood why she didn’t just cut ties with them. Parents have duties toward a child before they can demand any reciprocity. I do  not get tied down by such superficial guilt trips. Reciprocity trumps all else for me…. My overdeveloped sense of “justice” with all its twistedness would not allow me  to appease any undeserving person.) 

But, back to home projects….To really try one’s wings, one has to be out of the parents’ nest. I have started with my renovating projects once I got my own place. 

My Home is my sanctuary, my “Zen place”. As a renter, I rather forewent my deposit than not have my home the way I wanted it to be. My home is my cocoon of safe  zone. I have renovated to some degree every single one of my residences. Nothing colossal of an investment, but more for the aesthetics and make it seem less like a  personality stripped bare wall rental. Accent walls make a huge difference, be it paneling, paint color, wallpaper, wall to wall and floor to ceiling library. Adding my  own light fixtures/ chandeliers, and of course, window treatment can warm up a place a ton. I even refinished some cabinets that had seen better days (but a simple  knob/pull switch can make a nice difference) and retiled some really grungy looking places (nothing extravagant, but clean and fresh looking; as bleach cleaning will  only take you so far). 

And adding a flower garden, and later organic vegie gardens when rented the farmhouse.
Farm House Dining Room set up for party/ buffet.

My husband further encouraged my endeavors by purchasing our homes at deep discounts that were in need of repair and some vision. 

Our very first home we purchased was with an FHA 203(k) mortgage. Not even our Realtor was familiar with these options at the time, but after my introduction, he was offering as a great solution to many of his clients afterwards. 203k mortgages have their own share of procedural caveats, but it is brilliant way to maximize investment returns without the need of an initial upfront out-of-pocket expenses. At negotiations (especially true with first time homebuyers), Buyer cares more about upfront cost, while Seller cares more about total purchase price, thus closing cost shifting is a great tool to offset these hurdles while offering a more competitive bid.

First home was a typical row home built during the 1930s, with a small stretch of garden in the back and a detached garage behind it. Our current home sits on about an acre. Home sizes were about the same. We moved for the school district as the private school I paid for 4 years was a major let down and I just had enough of empty promises. It takes me a while to make a decision but once I do, I move at the speed and intensity of lightning. I figured if I add the tuition to my mortgage payment, I can afford the best district in our state. I could not be happier with the outcome on all fronts. Bringing my husband on board with my “spontaneous” decision wasn’t too difficult. The numbers must speak for themselves. I knew if it does not make financial sense he won’t budge. And math I can do. Kids are happy, hubby is happy, I’m happy.

Our current home was a HUD purchase of a house that was empty for 3 years. We did a walkthrough of the property and I made a thorough checklist what needed fixing, before the house was livable. (← House-shopping, and selling our home during Covid!) Due to asset tie-up, project also had to be completed on a tight deadline so we did not have to carry two mortgages simultaneously. I excel charted out this one like my life depended on it.: Budget, timeline, estimates, market fluctuation, the works; and came up with an offer amount. Our realtor told me: Anna, you cannot negotiate with the feds. My reply: Watch me!

I submitted what needed fixing with pictures as evidence for each item. Added a google reference what it would cost to fix every single line item, and provided a link for each in the chart. (Market analysis of homes that sold in property’s zip code with similar attributes.) Then I did a price fluctuation study based on how long feds had the home on the market, how frequently they dropped the price by what percentage, and forecasted when their next price decrease would be scheduled based on such data. Deducted the estimated budget that the house needed and submitted my offer based on that. And reminded them, they got lucky with a mild winter, but if next winter hit an unheated house with trees falling all over, they can expect major destruction not only to this property but also possible lawsuits from a neighboring property, due to damage caused by those trees. They rejected my offer and asked for full price offer. I do not bluff, I walked. (I don’t get my emotions run wild with money decisions.) But obviously folks read my offer with care and made it trickle through their chain of command, as the price was officially dropped to my offer price two weeks later, at which point we reconnected and reached an agreement. (House was in condition no regular homeowner would venture into and being a HUD home, no investors were allowed in at that juncture.) Majority of my budget upfront went for the “non-sexy” stuff, same as at our first home. Here: home needed tree issues to be taken care of, new boiler as previous one flooded out a few times, new water heater, electric meter unification, totally gut kitchen, new windows, power-washing algae growing on house, painting and repairing walls, and most importantly: get water issues in basement taken care of (stairs rotted out and collapsed from water damage, frogs swimming in flooded basement). I do not cut corners when it comes to the hidden items that actually provide the comfort and safety of the home. I take the same approach as Bauhaus folks. Function will dictate form. Basics must be addressed before the “makeup” is thrown on.

We also decided not to go with the 203k this time around as extensiveness of work was more involved and I wished to remain in charge of the project and its progress, thus acting as the general contractor, which 203k would have not allowed. We decided to do a two-stage approach to make sure we’re not stretched too thin financially. I have submitted my workplan for my husband to approve (he is brilliant with money), and went item by item in order of urgency.

Here are some before and after pix of our first and then our present home. I hope you can tell without me pinpointing which is before and after. (I also have some pictures of furniture pieces mixed in that I made …or toys/ and baby items.)


Playing around what furniture piece we had, could go where. (It was only after we bought home I found old blueprints in basement. Amazingly those did not flood out as they were behind top stair. That entire staircase rotted out from water damage and collapsed under a heavier set guy. – I built new stairs.)

I gutted the kitchen, designed and built the new one. I had expanded kitchens before. This was the first time I actually took one out. (Magenta area) Yellow= Living room Orange= Tv room/library/family room (As a rule of thumb, I do not put TVs in bedrooms. “Forces” family to hang out with each other more, and fosters better sleep habits.)

LEFT: Designing kitchen window wall.: Playing around with hood shape (which I also built, but “cheated” by using premade panels from attached to Ikea wall-hanging system and a gutted Ikea wall-cabinet using its side panels for extractor hood attachment and above described as cover. In essence, a 3-sided box inside another 3-sided box, hanging from same wall railing. I made doors open up thus if ever the extractor hood needs servicing it is easy access. (Extractor= w motion sensor /heavy grid/ @amazon)

RIGHT: I laminated kitchen plans, added interior organizational neon stickers (for planning phase). Each plan was taped to corresponding wall, and each cabinet was marked out on wall with pencil markings and on floor with masking tape, to minimize install errors. (Laser leveler is a lifesaver!!)

For the electric and plumbing I hired tradesmen. Not that I could not do it, but I am just one person and some work needs licensed professionals, per our city code.

Crown molding still had to be put up when I took this picture, but starting to come together as envisioned. (Island Chairs: I initially wanted backless stools, but hubby said till kids get older let’s have deeper ones with backs, for safety. As I said, I do listen to good reasoning! I got these secondhand and recovered them with royal blue velvet.

Original kitchen was very chippy-choppy. I like clean lines and coherent look. I hung deep cabinets in fridge area and shallow ones around coffee station area to make a seamless transition. Tile work matches the one behind stove that I installed on the opposite wall. (I will also match my wine cellar tiling to these.) I hate clutter on counters and need lots of counter space and storage. I think this maximized my footprint the best way. Cabinets I took all the way to ceiling. (I was going to do it in our old row home as well, but overinvesting is not a good idea if not in proper zip code.)

All my appliances I bought online. I wish they had white fridges. Not fan of stainless, but this was biggest capacity without sticker shock. (I still need to install my vent cover between fridge and cabinet). I wanted a door-in-a-door fridge, integrated dishwasher with 3 racks, and backless stove with griddle. (I use griddle for breakfast non-stop.) We switched house over to gas: heating/hot water and of course, cooking. Upgraded heater to a 2 stage, and AC upped to a 4ton smart system. (Hired folks for HVAC! Well beyond my capabilities.)

I installed Ikea cabinets throughout, using for door and drawer fronts as I hated Ikea‘s selection. (I love Ikea’s wall-hanging system and interior organizational options, soft drawer/door closure push door to open options (for trash bin cabinets super handy!! ← when hands are full push with knee, and voila, you have a third hand!) Granite counters that mimic marble so I can put baking sheet without issues (quartz can scorch; marble too fussy upkeep; soapstone too soft, and concrete too many variables as issues).

Microwave is for RVs but due to its compact size I could use a built in in the “shallow” ends to free up needed space for pantry items. Every single item what goes where was carefully thought out to be under my hands when I work in the kitchen… or keep hubby/kids out of my way. Hence we have a “cooking isle” where I am busy and “spectator isle” where one can sit to watch/be a little helper/ eat/ be served/get food/and even make coffee without being in each other’s way. How dishes/utensils are arranged are also dictated by same principle. Trashcans and recycling accessible from dining/kitchen and patio/deck areas easily for same reason.

TV Room/Library

Kid’s bath

Antique rescue

The scarry does not scare me!

This is still under way (granted, in way better condition already!), but it’s going to be wine cellar, my office, sewing room, storage, laundry and utilities. (Should I post interim pix??) I have been in this basement when water was up to my thighs. Massive investment in French drains, sump pump (with battery backup), outside trenches, and utilities were a considerable portion of my budget allocation. Also got generator hookup, as we found out the hard way one X-mas morning that we lose power frequently here due to trees in our neighborhood. (Price of picturesque settings.) But there is always a solution!  

Projects from college (Boston)

Cute story (or embarrassing?): Second semester in my freshman year I went for my first class of “Anatomy and figure drawing”. I was ready to enter the classroom to get situated, only to find a naked man standing in the middle of the room with students sitting around with their drawing pads and art supplies. Not sure what was faster, me turning red or me shutting the door closed in my own face to collect my thoughts. Pull yourself together, Anna! I did get acclimated to the subject matter fast enough and phased me none later on, but the first encounter was a bit of a shock. These drawings are homework assignments (copies of anatomical drawings from other artists), thus do not picture folks that I actually observed in the flesh.

Designs from Boston:

The dress that I asked Nina to model. My roommate (from Nantucket) came to my rescue and was happy to be my model. My classmates sabotaged me on this dress a bit. I originally designed this as a hundred fisheye darts waist dress. They complained to my teacher to stop me, as we did not learn about fisheye darts yet. (Like adding one shape next to the other is difficult to figure out! Plus, it was for draping class, you need not know anything, except manipulating fabric.) As the end result, the waist looks like a corset. No worries, my dress still got selected, while theirs did not (though still not pleased with teacher interfering with my artistic freedoms). (I also covered the shoes with same fabric for proper match.)

Another design of mine that got into the show in freshman year (tailoring/ patternmaking class). (I spent a small fortune on that lace, but it was worth every penny!)

My actual model “Aby” for this ensemble for the fashion show. She had the prettiest red curly hair (She worked at the coffee shop by the T, near my college.) Show me a pretty girl, I’ll chat her up to recruit! She was perfect for this ensemble.
I’m wearing shirt from my school design, and a red velvet skirt I made.
My peacock dress: Sophomore year design, had to depart Boston before show/ design selection. One of my favorite gown designs by far. Teacher said, each fabric is as tacky as they come yet together they are magic.) Model was from Russia and studied optometry at our school.
Couple pix I was able to dig up of wedding gowns I made for clients.

The ladies who inspired me and my style from a very early age.:
These sort of pix/movies made me want to smoke “when I grow up”. (I said this when I was 11.) My mother very wisely told me, no need to wait, do it now! That was the last time I touched a cigarette. (other than taking it out of people’s hands/ mouth to extinguish it when they smoked in prohibited areas… like in front of me on the dance floor! – I always asked first, and if they didn’t comply, I remedied the situation. -No, I was never beaten up. A smile or a kiss on the cheek and saying “thank you for not smoking” solved any misunderstanding.)
Lana Turner
Vionnet bias-cut dress for flawless figures only!
Ginger Rogers (My husband teases me about my B&W movies)
Needs no introduction! (Born in the year of the Tiger!)
The lady who made me conflicted if I shall become a red head! But honestly, blondes do have more fun. At least get way more attention! What you do with the attention is up to you.

A human body is fascinating! I have this “competition” with my husband when we go to large public events. Who can find the prettiest woman. I like to win ! Some women may get mad if their man looks at other pretty females. I point the pretty ones out. I can critique brutally too. Chris used to call me the “Shredder”, claiming I can find fault with a Victoria Secret model…and I did…and he said after that that’s all he could see. The flaws… My view: Get over it. Nobody is perfect, and that’s a beautiful thing as well. Half of the “looks” game is how you carry yourself, anyway.

Jean Harlow (SOOOO “That’s me when I grow up!”)


Hungarians and love of food are inseparable. I am no different. (After all, this is how we all have been raised.) It must taste good, or we won’t eat it. Find pleasures even in tormented times and maintain our culture. What better way than food?
Due to our traditions and economics, every kid learns how to cook and participates in all chores around the house from an early age. By the time you leave the nest, you better know how to run your own household, cooking included, or you just simply won’t make it.
My paternal grandmother gave birth to 14 children, – 10 of whom made it past childhood-, as a result, family meals were a great and grand event. As a kid, this was something that always awed me. Imagine a Thanksgiving feast every Sunday (and the stress and hard work that goes with it). The Hungarian main meal of the day is: Lunch. And Sunday lunch takes the cake…. literally! We have 3 courses normally for a Sunday lunch (and dessert is in indispensable finishing course).
1.) We start with a soup. (It was never really my thing, but now I do see the rationale for it, health-wise.)
2.) Then we have a main course, which will be normally some form of beef/ pork/chicken or seldom fish and a starchy side dish, or occasionally a creamed vegie (fozelek) and with heavier meals: a salad (as a side dish, not as an appetizer!! And it will be acidic to help with digestion!! Not for adding calories.)
3.) And of course, desserts! And boy, do we have the best desserts, ever!!! (The French and Austrians come close, but I take a Hungarian dessert any day over any other…though I may be biased…- or not…?)
I have listed many items that come to mind when thinking of traditional Hungarian food staples. (I learned from my husband that quite a few are actually in the Jewish diaspora as well.)

Hungarian food /Jewish food:
Lekvaros taska (Hamantaschen- jam)
Grizgomboc leves (matzo ball soup)
Fonott kalacs (challah bread)
Makos sutemeny (Hamantaschen- poppy seed)
Majpastetom (chopped liver)
Csalamade (mixed pickled vegies)

Halaszle (Spicy fish soup- cooked on open fire traditionally- Looks very similar to Korean one seen in Boys Over Flowers.)
Gulyas leves (Beef stew/ soup- cooked on open fire traditionally)
Bab gulyas (bean soup with smoked pork chunks)
Porkolt (beef ragu – most foreigners confuse this as “gulyas”, but two different things)
Galuska/nokedli (side dish of homemade noodles- goes with porkolt/ paprikas csirke) Paprikas Csirke (chicken in paprika sauce)
Vadas (Aged Venison stew with juniper berries- served with bread noodles) Koromporkolt (Pork feet/ knockles stew. Apparently, big in Asia too)
Pacalt (Stomach stew…I know, sounds gross but it tastes awesome if you’re OK with its texture)

Milanoi Makaroni .

(Pasta with tomato based meat sauce) Paprikas krumpli (potatoes and sausage chunks in paprika sauce) Krumplis teszta (potato pasta in paprika sauce)
Kaposztas teszta (pasta with sauteed cabbage; 2 versions: one is salty/spicy the other is sweet…or can
combine the two, which is how I like it.)
Turos csusza (homemade pasta with curds, sour cream and bacon bits) Sajtos teszta (Mac and cheese the Hungarian way)
Makos/ dios teszta (Pasta with poppy seed or walnuts- both are sweet dishes) Makos Guba (poppy seed on bread noodles…very loosely similar to bread pudding?) Prezlis Teszta (coated pasta with jam and powdered sugar)
Derelye (coated stuffed pasta/dough with jam filling)
Szilvas Gomboc (coated potato doughball filled with plum in cinnamon) Turo Gomboc (coated cream-cheese doughball)
Toltott Zsemle (sweet cheese stuffed rolls)
Rakott krumpli (layered potato casserole with sausage) Fasirt (breaded meatloaf patty)
Rantott csirke (Breaded chicken) Rantott hus (Wiener Schnitzel)
Sult csirke (Rotisserie chicken) Toltott kaposzta (Stuffed cabbage) Toltott paprika (Stuffed peppers) Brassoi (pork roast and potatoes) Rizses hus (Rice and beef) Tarhonya (Couscous)
Fozelekek (Bab, borso, sargarepa, zoldbab, spenot, kelkaposzta) [creamed vegies] Gyumolcs leves (fruit soup- served cold in summertime)
Rantott gomba + tartar martas (breaded mushroom with tartar sauce) Petrezselymes krumpli (potato with parsley)
Rizi-bizi (rice and peas) Nudli (potatoe noodles) (Not Lunch items):
Hurka (rice sausage)
Veres Hurka (blood sausage/ “black pudding” in UK) Kolbasz (smoked sausage)
Langos (fried dough pizza) Lecso (Hungarian omelette)
Nyars (open fire fatback shish kabob/ Hungarian camping BLT) Sonka Tekercs (ham roll- snack)
Kaszino Tojas (coated deviled eggs)
Francia salata (similar to Amish potato salad but more vegies)


This recipe kept me on my toes. (French Macarons…not to be confused with Jewish Macaroons!!)
Lesson: do not try to make it on humid days!!

@19; First week in USA. I could not eat anything, as everything just tasted plain weird, then it dawned on me: We have a kitchen! I can make anything from scratch to minimize the strange flavors. (I know…took me long enough…Better later than never.) Let’s cook!

Palacsinta [=crepes] ( cocoa; cinnamon; jam; sweet cream- cheese; Nutella, pudding); “Gundel” [vanilla cream filling with homemade chocolate sauce and walnuts garnish]; “Bugaci” [apricot jam from Kecskemet with apricot brandy (Palinka) from Kecskemet; flambeed] ; “Hortobagyi” [with meat filling]

Zserbo (layered walnut/apricot jam cookies)

Madartej (ile flottante)

Maglyarakas (bread-pudding with fluff top and apple layer) Aranygaluska (walnut coated dough coins with vanilla sauce) Gesztenye Pure (chestnut pure and whip cream)

Somloi Galuska (3 cakes topped with 3 sauces vanilla, chocolate, walnuts with raisin and citrus zest) Rigo Jancsi (whipped chocolate cake cube)

Dobos Torta (7-layer chocolate cake with hard caramel topping) Oroszkrem Torta (light as air cream cake)

Farsangi Fank (Hungarian donut- eaten at Farshang- celebration/ masquerade festival @ end of winter) Kepviselo Fank (cream puffs- mega sized)

Kremes / Francia Kremes (Mille Feuille/ Napoleon cake) Meggyes Habos (Sour cherry, fluff cake)

Csoki Torta (Chocolate cake) Punch Torta (Pink Rum cake)

Retes [strudel] (Apple, cherry, poppy seed, cream cheese; spicy cabbage ß not sweet) Kurtos Kalacs (open fire/amber baked dough-tube coated with various sweets)

Kokusz Tekercs (no bake- coconut/ chocolate roll) Kokusz Golyo (no bake- chocolate/ coconut balls) Linzer (sugar cookie sandwich with jam)

Mandulamag (I ate these once only, but it was so memorable… I still crave these! ) [Pistachio cream in chocolate cookie shell]

HoKifli (crescent shape walnut sugar cookies dipped in chocolate)

Gesztenyes Kifli (crescent shape sugar cookies with chestnut cream filling dipped in chocolate) Makos/ Dios Bejgli (Walnut/ poppyseed roll; X-mas ones: in a wreath shape)

Csokis Rizskok (Hungarian rice pudding with melted chocolate top)

Breakfast Pastries: (mostly puff pastry based baked goods; I also LOVE the French breakfast pastries known as Viennoiseries (the “Vienna stuff”). No surprise there, as Marie Antoinette from the Habsburg House of Austria married into France’s royal court and brought with her, her native breakfast goodies. By this time Austria and Hungary were in a monarchy together… Not sure who gave it whom, Austria to Hungary or the other way around, but the shared culinary joy is noted.)

Kakos Csiga (cocoa roll) Fahejas Csiga (cinnamon roll)

Turos Batyu (sweet cream cheese bun)

Lekvaros Taska (also known Jewish food; jam triangles) Makos Patko (poppy seed crescent)

Dios Patko (walnut crescent) Kuglof (German- Gugelhupf) Brios (French – Brioche)

Drum roll….A food item that is known all around the globe, but we have our own variant; on top of which, the national celebration for our founding king is tied to this “sacred” food item: BREAD.

If you’re ever in Hungary in the summertime (or close to it): You must try our ice cream!!! [Fagyi] Ice cream is its own religion back home. It is not for nothing that we practically have an ice cream shop on every second corner. Have seen the myriad of coffee shops in Seattle? We run circles around them and outnumber them with ice cream shops! But, it’s about quality not quantity, and we win on that front too. I had a similarly good experience in USA in New York at Bruno’s (in the village), all other ice creams just taste like sugary cream without a punch of flavor.

There are some great dishes that I tried for the first time in USA. First to begin with, USA has a huge variety of ethnic cuisines available that I would not have been exposed to otherwise. In addition, there are some staple food items that were first introduced to me in USA (such as seafood items. Hungary being landlocked.)

Other cultures’ cuisines on my regular repertoire that I make:

Madeleines, Macaroons, Macarons, Banana Muffins, Chocolate chip cookies, Lava cake with Raspberries; Crab cakes, Meat Loaf with baked mac-and-cheese; Sweat and Sour chicken, Philly roll/ Cali roll; Pizza

As far as US restaurants I had great experience worth mentioning: In New Orleans -must try Three Sisters, and jambalaya from the market vendors; in Oregon by the last waterfall at Columbia Gorge: the soup and bread! -The smell of the woodburning fireplace permeating the restaurant;- intoxicating. I also have not been to a bad Indian joint. I love to try international gastronomies. Love middle eastern (we tried some really good ones in Paris with Hubby; I have friends from Iran, Pakistan and Singapore who introduced me to food items that otherwise I would not have been exposed to. I love every single one of them.)

Again…if food is not tasty, why bother putting it into your mouth? (You will never catch me with fat free or sugar free items. It’s such a letdown and waste of calories. “Load it up with flavor without making it unbalanced. On that note, if I crave something, I give in right away. Why torture myself when nothing else will do?

Some pix I took of my creations over the years:

Dobostorta (I made this a “few” times so I have different pix.)

Somloi Galuska
Cream Puffs/ Kepviselo Fank
Linzer fruit cups with almond cream
For Hubby – Chocolate cake with marzipan roses (with my specialty: light as air chocolate frosting/ cream)
For my firstborn- Chocolate cake with marzipan roses
Another Birthday cake or two for my kids. (Birthdays and X-mas are pretty special in our family, – It’s my mission to make sure of it!)
Raspberry cake with white chocolate “Hello Kitty” and marzipan roses.
I opted to coat each cake layer with a super thin layer of melted dark chocolate between the creams (to create moisture barrier so cake does not get soggy from the cream fillings being absorbed, and it added such a nice extra dimension. Now it’s my new “trick” for most cakes.

Oroszkrem Torta (“Russian Cream Cake”)
“Blueberry cake”, per request. Marcipan figurine. (edible decor)

Another way to use a martini glass! ●   Ice cream sunday the Hungarian way. (we add chopped fruits, like straberries, raspberries, peaches, pineapples,…or even fruitcoctail chunks) Plus whipcream , syrup, and cherry on top. My perouline stick was “stolen” by one of my kids before I could take the picture; – that’s my kids for you. I assume I used to be the same way when I was a kid, so I just smile at their mischiefs….after all, it’s the best part of family life.: sharing your life’s little pleasures with your loved ones.)

Last memory with Hubby’s paternal grandmother (ß Irish lady, who shared my name and loved me dearly, and vice versa) We made this cake together. I was her assistant, as it was her recipe and design she used to make for all her grandkids when they were little, including for Hubby.)
Quiche Lorain
Egg soufflé for Breakfast (with bacon
and spinach..
Before our kids arrived, cooking just for the two of us. (I also hosted TG for large parties, friends or family… of course with a much larger set-up for those. My china sets are pretty extensive. All those UNESCO program cultural lessons coming handy. (Impeccable table manners was a must!) No ikebana arragements today, but always set up with breadplate and glass on proper sides and never confuse my desert fork with a fish fork.

Gulyas Leves : Step-by-Step

(It’s a soup! Not a stew. The stew is called porkolt which has no vegies in there but has noodles/“nokedli”.)

Traditional Gulyas is made in “bogracs” (Hunagrian caudron) on open fire. Yes, even city folks will know how to build a fire and make this meal properly!

You will need these items: Paprika, salt, red wine (Bull’s Blood prefered), 1 onion cubed, 1 spoon of bacon grease (or oil), beef (ribeye or something with decent marbling) / carrots/ potatoes in even amount, hot peppers, salt, water (and optional tomato), bread for serving and optional sour cream if can’t take the heat from the peppers.

(Serves 4-6 people)
Chop up vegies and beef as shown above.
Build fire and set up bogracs (or heat similar size heavy pan on your stove….)
Add grease/oil and onions. Saute till “glassy”.
Add a ton of paprika (1/4 to 1/3 of a cup) Mix with onions. Add beef cubes right away and mix well.
Allow beef to simmer to let out its juices and the paprika doing its magic of browning the meat.

Browning of meat cannot be rushed. Meat must get markings on bogracs/pan. (To this point this is how many Hungarian recipes will start: sauted onions with paprika and brown the meat/chicken/fish/etc chunks/ pieces. Add water and salt and boil.)

Add half a bottle of red wine to meat then add all vegies, hot pepper and salt.
Add water till all vegies/ meat is covered. Boil for ½ hour.

Comment from youtube:

Wine: The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2021, one of the world’s most prestigious wine competitions was held in Luxemburg this year. Out of about seven and a half thousand samples the highest score in the red wine overall category was received by the Cassiopeia Merlot 2015 from Jammertal Wine Estate Villány. This great red won the Grand Gold Medal Revelation Red Wine Award The relevance of this worldwide success is that no other international wine competition of similar prestige had ever been awarded a Hungarian red wine the highest score among her peers in such an open category. The value and the magnitude of the competition is shown by the fact that medals have been distributed among 672 French, 507 Spanish, 389 Italian and 335 Portuguese wines, but the highest score went to a Hungarian Merlot! –

Tea: Not sure how it happened but I am somewhat of a tea snob, and turned my husband and kids into tea enthusiasts too. My favorite teas are: Tazo- Fruit Passion; Mighty Leaf- chamomile citrus (with sugar and lemon) and African Nectar (with honey and cream); Twinings- Lady Grey; Celestial- Peach; Ahmad- English Tea No1; Windsor Gardens -Raspberry are always stacked… along with20-30 other ones. One Christmas I was asked what to get me as a gift. I told everyone to get me the prettiest teacup with saucer they can find. I don’t care if it was a yard sale 25 cent item or auctioned from Christie’s. Family loved my idea so much, I had folks sending me teacups from across the USA, and even my bosses’ secretary got me a set. Each time I drink my tea I think of the person who gave it to me.

My grandmother had a big china cabinet {“kredenc”] in her kitchen (similar to the one pictured above). Raising 10 kids, not one of the mugs matched with the other and there were a ton in there. I remember as a kid I loved pushing the stool (“hokedli”) next to it to climb up and carefully evaluate my options which would make the hot cocoa most enjoyable that particular morning.

Palinka: I had a selection of Hungarian brandies at home that I put to the test when I had some Russian/ Moldovan guests, showing off how vodka is like water to them…. OK, let’s see how you fare with Hungarian brandy (“Palinka”). -Same reaction as my husband trying my level of “spicy”. (Mom runs circles around me with level of heat. One time she had an entire German soccer club cheering her on at a restaurant when she sent her food back that it wasn’t spicy enough, after she challenged the chef. So, chef sent a reply in a “special dish” to test if she can take it, and told his German guests about the ”crazy lady over there”. …Please! She showed them how the Hungarian women can be. She got a standing ovation after she finished her entire plate. (And added more hot peppers to her taste.) As an acknowledgement, proprietor offered her a complimentary tasting from his special reserved Palinka collection, which mom ended up buying a few bottles of…that she gifted me a couple bottles of, and I offered to above mentioned guests upon my return to the USA. Buckle up boys! -It was funny!