Sunday, June 28, 2009

A REAL honey-bee farm!

Vecmamma's (our grandmother's) neighbours in the garden have a number of bee-hives in their garden and are actively involved in honey-bee farming. Mom told us that they used to do this ever since she can remember. She told us about her earliest childhood memories of running around in the garden barefoot and stepping on a bee, which stung her foot.

Neighbouring lady was kind enough to pose for a picture of her honey-bee farming equipment. She is wearing a hat with broad edges, from which hangs down a net, covering her entire head from back and front. When she goes to check the bees, she has to wear long and heavy clothing, so that the bees don't get any place for reaching her skin and stinging her. In this photo, she is not wearing gloves, which also is part of her 'equipment'.

The bees of our neighbours live in these wodden bee-hives. The top of the wodden box can be removed, so that the bee-farmers can check the situation of the honey inside the bee-hive. Bees come out from their house through a little slot-type of opening right at the top of the little 'slide' attached to the bee-hive. The active working part of the day for the bees is during bright sunlight. You cannot see them running in the mornings and in the evenings. Bees are very hard-wroking insects! They spend all day flying from flower to flower and never get tired! In Latvian, there is even an expression, which people say, if somebody is working hard: "You are hard-working like a bee!"

We were lucky to observe from the distance, how our neighbours were checking the honey in the bee-hives to see, if it is 'ripe' enough for taking out. How do they know, if the honey is ripe? It turns out that the bees seal the honey-combs, when they are full of honey. In the below pictures, you can see that they have removed the tops of the bee-hives and are lifting out from the inside there wodden frames, in which bees build their honey-combs. Bees are not very happy about the intruders, of course, so the bee-farmers have with them a device, which produces smoke, for scaring away the bees, if necessary. If you look closely enough, you will see this black device attached to the side of the bee-hive and some smoke coming out of it.

Our vecmamma is always among the first to taste the first honey of the year! This time, we had the chance to taste it with her. It was so thick and so very delicious! We just kept putting our little spoons under the flowing honey again and again!

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: "And the lord inspired the bee, saying: Take your habitations in the mountains and in the trees and in what they erect. Then, eat of all fruits and follow the ways of your Lord made easy (for you)'. There comes forth from their bellies a drink of varying colour wherein is healing for men. Verily in this is indeed a sign for people who think." (16:68-69)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Picnic in vecmamma's garden

Yesterday evening, we had a great picnic in vecmamma's (grandmother's) garden. The greatest thing about it was that we ourselves could help in preparing the barbecue: cut the wood, make fire, bake chicken and, of course, enjoy the food.

First of all, Ralfs uncle found suitable for burning pieces of wood and we cut them into smaller pieces, so that they can fit in the barbecue box. Uzair was happy to try out his hand at cutting wood by a REAL ax and, believe it or not, he was doing just great! The ax was sharp and the wood pieces dry - so the cutting was a piece of cake.

We placed the wood into the box and then Ralfs uncle lit the fire with the help of some newspapers. The dry wood caught on fire so very fast!

We had to wait for a while for the wood to turn into coals and the fire go low in the box, because only then we can put the meat for cooking. If the flames are high, the meat would not cook - it would burn. The heat of the coals and some little fire on the downside are prefect for cooking juicy barbecue!

When the coals were ready, we put on our chicken for cooking. Vecmamma and mom had marinated it a couple days ago in a traditional Latvian marinade: onions, garlic, bay leaf, black pepper, salt, sugar, water and vinegar. As you can see, the white chicken turned into perfect and crispy barbecue! The mouth-watering fragrance of the cooking process is whole another story.

What can be better than sitting amidst plum, cherry and apple trees and munching away on a crispy piece of barbecue!

The dying-out fire also got its share of the feast - some chicken bones. :)

Our first rainbow in Latvia this year

It wasn't even a couple weeks yet, since we arrived to Latvia, that Allah (swt) blessed us with the opportunity to see our first rainbow. Unlike in Karachi, rainbows are quite usual here. The recipe for a rainbow is very simple indeed - all you need is some dark rain clouds on one side of the sky and some bright sunshine on the other side. And... as you can see in the pictures, the rainbow is 'ready to see'.

This time, Allah (swt) gave us a special treat of two rainbows (although sometimes it is possible to see here even three at the same time). If you look at the pictures carefully, you will see that a little above the the actual bright rainbow, there is a reflection of it in the sky. That's how we get the two rainbows - the real one plus the reflection.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

We baked our very own pizzas!

Mom brought home from shop a packet of pizza dough mix, and we looked in the kitchen, how she added water and oil to it, mixing all the ingredients into a thoroughly kneeded dough. After letting the dough sit for ten minutes, mom rolled it out on the table, shapping two pizzas - one for each of us to decorate.

First, mom spread paste of tomatoes over the rolled out pizza dough. Then, it was our turn to start decorating. Shredded cheese went on first.
After cheese, we continued with sliced tomatoes and rings of bell-peppers.

For garnishing, mom dusted some black pepper powder and we helped her to roll up a bit the edges of the pizza, so that the topping doesn't slide off, as the cheese melts in the oven.
It took only twenty minutes to cook, but who in the world can wait that much long anyway??? Finally, hot and bubbly, pizzas came out of the oven, Alhamdulillah! :)
Why don't you also have a slice with us?