Simple cooking in a complicated world

About + Follow Me

I grew up in a traditional European family. The kind of family that swear by big Sunday lunches.  Big Sunday lunches that always begin with soup. Whatever follows the soup varies from Sunday to Sunday; but in our house it wasn’t Sunday unless you had soup!  Beginning a big meal with a spoon is just an example of one of the culinary customs we observed and one, among many traditions that has shaped my relationship with food today.

Let me paint a picture for you. My parents make their own sauerkraut in gigantic barrels in their basement . In the winter, my dad makes sausages, cures his own ham (šunka) and bacon (špek) and makes his own wine in the fall.  My mom makes her own soup noodles, because you will never find noodles as thin as my mother’s in a grocery store. They make jam, pickle beets, hot peppers, cucumbers, anything that comes out of their garden. They roast peppers and can tomatoes.  The list goes on and on.

Sunday afternoon visits to my grandparents was another tradition that has stuck with me all these years.  It just wasn’t Sunday unless we visited Baka and Deda. There we would play with our cousins, tell Baka about our week at school and watch TV with Deda.  My fondest memories of those visits were the treats Baka and Deda prepared.  Strudel (štrudle), crépes (palačinke) filled with jam or cheese, walnut and poppy-seed rolls (štruce) and my favourite, fresh, homemade doughnuts (krofne) filled with plum jam.  Thus, life was good growing up and the food even better.  Then life hits you.  You become an adult.  You’re suddenly forced into the real world.  A world that is like a blank canvas where you are the artist and you get to choose how your landscape will evolve.

Almost five years ago I moved out and began painting my own future.  I went to school, got a job and got married.  It’s been two and a half years of blissful marriage and fun in the kitchen.  During these two and a half years I’ve realized two important things.  One, I am a cooking fanatic; and two the traditions my parents and grandparents instilled in me are more important than ever.  I’ve taken on the role of a wife and hopefully one day a mother and realized that I want to give my own family the love, warmth, good food and sense of belonging that I felt as a child.

Traditional European cooking, peasant cooking, the type of cooking that our grandmother’s took so much pride in, is becoming a dying art form.  In the hustle and bustle of modern-day life we’re losing touch with a lifestyle that is healthy, sustainable, economical and above all, one that tastes sooooo good!  But it’s also a lot more than that.  It’s about sharing it with the people you care about.  Feeling a sense of pride in what you’re putting out on the table and fostering a positive relationship with food that centres on family and making traditions.

So maybe you’re looking for a simpler way to cook, or perhaps you’re scouring the internet for a gnocchi recipe like your Nona use to make, or maybe you’re in need of an idea for dinner tonight.  Whatever the reason I’m thrilled you came for a visit.  So without further ado, my name is Ana and welcome to The Suburban Peasant.  I hope you enjoy your stay!

January 2012

30 Responses to “About + Follow Me”

  1. diana

    You are doing a great job Ana! The recipes look delicious (will try and let you know )! Your stories along with your pics and recipes go hand in hand and it makes it all very entertaining! Good work! Diana

    Reply
  2. Suzana

    Ana…I’m officially addicted to your blog. Ok, it helps that I’m home on mat leave and have time to look for recipes but so far I love your recipes. I’m gonna try the spinach and feta phylo tomorrow. Thanks!

    Reply
  3. Sara

    Ana, just discovered your blog (I just joined the food matters project). Out of curiosity, are you Czech? I recognize a lot of those foods you are talking about…Your blog is beautiful by the way!

    Reply
    • Ana

      Hi Sara! Thanks for checking me out and welcome to Food Matters! No I`m not Czech, I`m Croatian. But you`re right about the food. Czech and Croatian cuisine can be very similar. Thanks for the lovely comment!

      Reply
      • Sara

        Aha! Well, they say Czech and Croatian are very similar. I’ve studied both languages (used to live in Prague; also have some Croatian etc. ancestry) but I guess I got confused!

      • Ana

        You’re right Sara. Funny that you mention that because my grandmother’s ancestry is Czech and she grew up speaking it at home as a child in Croatia.

  4. Joanna

    Hey Ana! I loved your Easter blog! Our cultures are very similar :) Keep up the good work!!

    Reply
  5. Gina Merritt (Pavletic/Paravic)

    Hi, Ana – Interesting site! My grandparents came to the US about 90 years ago from a village near Rijeka called Krasica. Every Easter we make the Easter bread and braided dolls, though the name our family calls them is pagaci for the bread and ya-nukes for the dolls. Would love to see all of your recipes, but for some reason when I mouse over your recipe list it disappears after “The Croatian Kitchen.”

    Reply
    • Ana

      Thanks Gina! It’s so great that your family still keeps the same traditions. I find those connections are so important. That’s strange you can’t see all the recipes. I did some inspecting and everything looks fine on my end. You can also scroll through the recipes by using the arrows to the left of the icons (pictures) on the homepage. I hope that helps. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  6. Louise Warner-MacDougall

    Hi Ana,this is Louise from the Backroad cafe,I just read your currant blog referring to your grandmother.She is such a treasure,I love when she brings samples of what she has cooked.She is a great cook and loves her grandchildren.I often ask her how she makes things and then try them at home.I love the zucchini,potato and cabbage dish she makes also.I remember bringing some of her linen from the old country to the weaver`s group I belonged and telling them her story.
    Anyways it brought tears to my eyes when I read what you wrote about your grandmother,how lucky you are.Looking forward to reading more,Louise

    Reply
    • Ana

      Hi Louise! Thank you so much for your lovely comment. You described her perfectly – she is a treasure! It’s wonderful hearing about how she’s appreciated by others outside of her family. I know how much she values her co-workers at Backroad as well. I’m glad you found me and hope you’ll keep coming back : )

      Reply
  7. LT

    Hey Ana, my cousin sent me a link to your blog, and it’s fantastic – great work. I love all the lace tablecloths etc. I also blog, and I am only half Croatian, but I’d love to share my blog with you, http://feedingtimeblog.com/

    Reply
    • Ana

      Thank you – I’m so glad you came to visit! Just checked your blog out and I can’t wait to try your buttermilk pancakes. I don’t know why, but I never thought of putting vanilla into the batter – so simple, but it must make all the difference in the world!

      Reply
  8. Mary Ann Klander-Martin

    Hi Ana, Just checked out your blog and all I can say is it is “amazing”! My mom and I were amazed with your cakes. The detail is incredible. We can see you having your own TV show in the very near future. Keep up the great work Ana!!!

    Reply
    • Ana

      Thanks so much Mary Ann! I don’t know if I have it for a a TV show, I’d just be happy if I could take this blog to the next level. The encouragement is much appreciated!

      Reply
  9. Georgia

    Hi Ana
    I’m a fairly new blogger myself (www.garden-to-kitchen.net) and I’ve just come across your blog and thoroughly enjoyed reading about your heritage and recipes. I too come from a Croatian background and have come to realize in my adult life how important it is to keep up family and ancestor traditions and pass these onto our children so they are not forgotten.
    In the last few years we have moved to a property with a couple of acres and started our own vegetable and orchard gardens, as I wanted to provide my family with beautiful organic homegrown wholesome food. Just like my father & mother used to, I now grow my own chickens and ducks, preserve as much of the excess fruit and vegetables and have just started experimenting making my own sausages and bacon. I must say that organic free range chicken makes the best soup (juha) to have with homemade soup noodles.
    My family loves the traditional Croatian meals and cakes that I prepare (as my children tell me “it tastes way better than your typical Aussie food). But I also love experimenting and introducing new recipes from around the world to my family.
    In the last 10 months I’ve had to adapt a dairy & gluten free diet to control my rheumatoid arthritis flare ups, so I have really missed baking my Croatian cakes & biscuits. The biggest challenge I have now is to try and convert some of these recipes in time for Christmas, as it just would not be the same not being able to have these at this special time of the year.
    Keep the good work up Ana

    Reply
    • Ana

      If I only had half an acre, scratch that, a regular size backyard, instead of my teency weency suburban plot I would be sooooo happy! Just enough to allow for a small garden, would be perfect! Needless to say I am a little envious of you and your organic fruit, veg and chickens. Your lifestyle sounds wonderful and thanks for sharing it with us through your blog; which I might add is great! Thanks for the lovely comment!

      Reply
  10. Yooza

    Hi Anna, you’ve got a great family food tradition!
    My mom and grandma doesn’t really cook so I have very little memory of their cooking and that is why I started to learn how to cook. Simply to be one of those grandmas that has their own little recipes that can be passed down to the next generation (I know it’s weird hearing something like this from a 20 y.o girl who’s still very far from even having a family. hahaha. I’m an old soul).

    Will be following your lovely blog form now on. Cheers!

    Reply
    • Ana

      Thta’s a fantastic reason to start cooking – any rerason really is a good reason to start cooking. Someone who is already thinking of their grandchildren even before having their own children will be a great grandmother one day!

      Reply
  11. Christina M.

    Dobar dan, Ana! I am so excited I found your blog! I was looking for krofne recipes and found your site. While reading your background/bio, I thought you were writing about me and my family. Nice to virtually meet you. I too moved out (over 13 years ago) and no longer enjoy the daily meals of my mom but have started cooking them on my own. Never tried making my own krofne but after finding your recipe, I think I will. (Because you know, my mom doesn’t have an “official” recipe – it’s a little of this, a little of that. :) )

    Reply
    • Ana

      Hi Christina, so glad you found me too and I’m happy you found something you can relate to here. Try the krofne recipe, it’s great and keep those culinary traditions alive!

      Reply
  12. Luke

    Hi Ana,

    I stumbled across your blog when looking for a traditional Croatian strudel recipe for my mom, and was thoroughly surprised at all of the recipes that remind me of my Baba’s cooking. It is great to see that some people still value the cultural traditions of our families.

    So now the million dollar question……Do you have any unmarried sisters? :-)

    Luke

    Reply
  13. Kim (Skrinjorich) Bousquet

    Hi Ana,

    I stumbled across your recipes and blog just now as I’m sick as a dog and made some chicken soup, just like my dad and aunt, and my grandmother did before them. I, like so many Croatians, grew up with soup filling up the winter Sunday air, paired with the joyous melodies of polka music. I’m really looking forward to browsing your recipes and recalling all of my childhood memories that are tied to the food of my heritage. Sretan Bozic Ana!

    Reply

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