Mar 012013
 

 

Fresh California Orange Juice from bibberche.com

I am standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes. A coffee maker is gurgling just to the right, and a few feet behind me there is a skillet with onions and potatoes cut in small cubes, destined to become a diner-worthy accompaniment to the eggs and toast. It’s cold in our small 70s kitchen that could have easily come from an Updike Rabbit novel, but all the smells that surround me scream comfort and warmth. The grass in the front yard sways in the rhythm with the wind that blows from the west, bringing along the briny smell of the ocean that manages to break in through the open door.

We don’t have a dishwasher and I should feel dismayed and frustrated as this is the first time that I have to do without that luxury since I arrived on the American soil more than twenty years ago; but I don’t feel burdened: there is a beautiful rose bud that opened this morning monopolizing my view and competing with an idyllic scene featuring several small boys milling around, chasing one another along the sidewalk.

My dad soaking some California sunshine underneath the orange tree

We might be experiencing the record-low temperatures for Southern California for the first time, but my nose being cold on most mornings is the small price to pay for the eternal and uninterrupted blue that greets me when I open my eyes and inevitably makes me smile. A jasmine bush hugs one side of the garage door and its sweet fragrance reaches me through my bedroom window as I try to silence the alarm clock.

Yes, life is hectic and I still need at least five or six extra hours a day to accomplish everything. But even with the constant adrenaline rush I manage to take in all the beauty and serenity around me and acknowledge how grateful I am that my girls and I are living on this particular street, in this bungallow decorated by many wooden artifacts from Papua New Guinea, Thailand, and Japan, with this wonderful woman who is old enough to be my mother, but young enough to be my soul sister, a confidante and a friend. I cannot wait to tuck my girls in their bunk beds, pour myself a glass of wine and sit on the edge of her bed for our regular nightly chit-chat.

As I wave to the neighbors and greet the mailman, I feel as if I truly belonged to this street with its undulating tall palm trees, luscious yards, and red-tiled roofs. Every day is like a present, unexpected, but eagerly awaited and greatly appreciated.

California sunset from bibberche.com

There are several large plastic bowls resting on the brown-and-yellow-tiled kitchen floor filled to the capacity with oranges my dad picked from the tree in the back yard. Freshly squeezed orange juice is on the menu this morning; and many mornings to come. I feel as if I were living a dream as the sweet, sticky liquid runs down my fingers and the smell of fresh citrus envelops me. It might not sound grand or imposing, but a glass filled with the juice that came from the fruit in our back yard makes me tremendously happy to be alive right now, in this beautiful part of the world that I can finally call home.

Fresh California Orange Juice from bibberche.com

Dec 302010
 

It was already dark when Husband picked me and the girls up at the Cleveland International Airport after our summer vacation in Serbia, and drove us to our new house in the western suburb of Strongsville. There was a hint of autumn chill in the late August night. The kids were tired and drowsy, cranky and hungry, but maniacally excited as we pulled into the driveway. He unlocked the burgundy-colored front door and turned all the lights on. We walked into the foyer gingerly, as if trespassing, gaining courage as we recognized the furniture.

Sensing the commotion, our cats, Macey and Dixie, appeared silently from the basement and the Beasties rolled on the carpet with them, squealing with joy. The future College Kritter ran up the winding staircase and claimed one of the four bedrooms. I walked around the boxes in the living room, touching the wall-papered walls until I reached the kitchen. I opened every empty cabinet, caressed the yards of counter space, peered into the oven, and stood mesmerized in the entrance of the walk-in pantry. The French doors lead me to the huge deck overlooking the yard, sloping towards the lake shimmering under the late summer moon.

There was a real wood fireplace in the family room, and the wet bar decorated in a very cheesy 80s style. I circled around and around, opening doors, still caught in a surreal this is not happening to me moment. By that time all three of the girls were running up and down the stairs, screeching and jumping, energized by the excitement of our new home. I crumbled in Husband’s arms, unable to speak, and I cried for a long, long time, not from exhaustion, but from unimaginable happiness. That night we all slept together, snaked around each other, holding hands and linking arms, comforted by the warmth of our bodies.

The next morning we went exploring, accompanied by the soulful cooing of the mourning doves and assertive splashing of the Canadian geese who ruled the little lake. There was a sour cherry tree off the deck stairs, and lily-of-the-valley covered the incline underneath the deck leading to the walk-out basement door. There was a big patch of mint along one side of the house and violets at the bases of the canadian maple trees. There were decorative bushes and trees, lazy susans and chrysanthemum, rose bushes and wisteria. In those days just before school started, I spent a lot of time on Google, trying to find out what treasures we had growing in the yard.

We settled in and felt the house opening to us, welcoming us, becoming ours. I lined the deck with plants and flowers and threw the seeds into a patch right next to the stairs. We bought a charcoal grill and a big table with an umbrella. Father came and pulled the tall weeds that flanked the fences towards our neighbors, turned up the clayish dirt, and prepared a square area for the garden. I exchanged small talk with the nice elderly black couple whose yard I thoroughly admired, and kept on trying to elicit a “Good Morning!” from the two reticent people to the south.

One evening a man showed up at our door with his kindergartener in tow, welcoming us to the neighborhood and inviting us to the clam bake at the community center, just around the corner from our house. We started going to the parties, meeting the neighbors whose children knew ours, playing games and watching movies with them, trying to get ourselves firmly rooted in the area. We walked every morning, taking different routes, learning the names of the streets surrounding ours, and meeting the people walking their dogs, jogging, or working in their gardens.

I made crepes and took them across the lawn to the neighbors on the other side, knowing only their black lab and their son’s red truck. Food speaks a thousand languages, and we became friends, sharing wine on our deck, or cocktails huddled around the fire pit on their patio. I got Kay into gardening, and she dragged me out to garage sales. I showed her how to make home-made hummus and guacamole, and baked chocolate chip cookies for her son Sam, after he plowed our driveway. She took the Older Beastie shopping for her birthday and treated her to her first salon hair-cut.

They invited us to their annual Christmas bash, and it took more then five minutes to walk in heels from our house to theirs, daring the icy sidewalks and avoiding the snow-covered lawn, grabbing the Husband’s arm and holding the still steaming loaf of bread filled with melted cheese, trying not to drop it. We shook off the snowflakes sticking to our coats, and joined the crowd congregating around the chocolate fountain and a martini bar. The whole house was decorated with several sparkling Christmas trees. We met people from the neighborhood. We connected. We started to feel a sense of belonging. And our new house became our home.

Warmed up by the spirit of holidays and new friends, I decided to send home-made presents to several families that welcomed us into the neighborhood. On Christmas Eve, Husband and I drove around, depositing the bags at their thresholds unobtrusively. Nestled in the tissue paper were all the necessary ingredients for making mulled wine: a bottle of Argentine Malbec, an orange, and a tulle sachet containing several small cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and a star anise. Tucked aside was a card with the warmest holiday wishes and the recipe, inviting them to battle the icy Ohio winter with this warm and spicy beverage.

Several years have rolled by. We have lost our beautiful house in Ohio and moved to California. Our neighbors back east are battling the snow storms, shoveling the driveways, and scraping ice off their windshields. It is another holiday season, and even though there is no snow on our patio, we make mulled wine. When the  aroma of cinnamon and orange warmed up in barely simmering fruity red wine spreads through our tiny kitchen, we remember all the friends we left behind and wish them another year full of happiness and joy.

MULLED WINE

Ingredients:

  • 750ml red fruity wine, like Zinfandel or Argentine Malbec
  • 3-4 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 orange, peeled, cut in slices
  • 3-4 whole cloves
  • 1 star anise (optional)

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a stainless steel pot and heat to boil on high. Turn the temperature to low and simmer, covered, 20-30 minutes. Serve in glasses with a piece of cinnamon and a piece of orange peel.

Natashya, this one goes to your Cocktail Puppy blog event!

Nov 072010
 

Once we were past the age of uttering two repetitive syllables as means of conversation, our parents bestowed upon us a Maleficent-like gift: the burden of trust. We were never forbidden anything and had to be mature enough to make our own decisions. A lot of days had to pass by before we knew for sure that Mother could not see from the back of her head. Oh, we tried to conceal the evidence of our misdeeds, using every ounce of intelligence we possessed. We lied with dead-pan faces. We employed the imagination and creativity for which our teachers praised us daily, and which worked like a charm with our friends. But Mother obviously had an eye (or two) of Sauron’s.

She knew when I swiped a stick of gum from our local small grocery store. She knew when my sister and I went to the river to swim without an adult to accompany us. She knew when my sister lit her first cigarette at the age of twelve. She knew exactly how many pens my sister and brother took from Father’s huge pile, even though he never noticed (and why he was so hard to part with them we could never understand; the ink inevitably dried out, and they became useless before he could get to them all).

Getting caught in a lie meant losing her trust (and in turn Father’s, because she had never hidden from him anything we did, no matter how small and insignificant). And losing her trust was the worst punishment you could imagine. Father would thunder and roar, wave his arms around and point his index finger into our faces. He would send us to stand in a corner when we were little, and ground us for two years when we were teenagers, only to forget everything after couple of hours and some warm hugs from his “I-will-never-do-this-again-for-the-rest-of-my-life-I-promise” repentant children. Not so with Mother. Her sentences were final, with no right to appeal. We knew better than to try to sway her by being more loving, or offering to do extra chores. No way. She saw through our transparent intentions and she never forgave us for them. We had to honor her verdict without audible complaining. Period.

It follows every rule of logic that they kept nothing under lock and key. The only exceptions were Father’s hunting rifles kept immaculately cleaned and unloaded in a small cabinet in the den, and his stun gun, locked in the first drawer of his desk (it was hard to get a licence to carry arms in Yugoslavia, even for a stun gun, but Father was a Commander-in-Reserve  of the field hospital, and the gun was officially issued and legal).

We had access to anything: cash, jewelry, medications, documents, alcohol, and Father’s medical encyclopedia, considered soft-porn by his offspring at the tender age of seven or eight. We knew we were not supposed to dig through their things, but leafing through the glossy pages of his books was too much of a temptation. Few young souls would be able to resist the combination of gruesome, bloody, degenerate, malformed, infected, and very rarely mildly arousing drawings – after all, they were in full color!

We mostly left their stuff alone (I say “mostly”, thinking in averages: while I had no curiosity about them at all, my sister could not wait for the door to click closed after they left, her feet running to rummage through old photographs, Father’s love letters from college, and Mother’s sketches). The off-white credenza with double glass doors hugged the corner of the formal blue dining room, and housed at least thirty different kinds of booze. And I am not including several bottles of beer we always had on hand, dozens of bottles of wine in the cellar, and numerous varieties of “Å¡ljivovica” (Serbian plum brandy) nestling on the pantry floor, to Mother’s eternal chagrin.

As a doctor, Father rarely returned from the hospital without a bottle of fine liqueur, or a pack of foreign cigarettes. He had a reputation as an appreciative consumer of the finer vices. His patients rewarded his diligence, diagnostic acuity, and friendly (but stern when needed) rapport with these gifts encased in shiny colorful boxes that we coveted so intensely that, for a couple of years, we built a most unusual “mural” in our upstairs living room which consisted of hundreds of boxes in different sizes (to this day, Father insists on saving the boxes as a habit, even though his Santa days are past perfect tense, and we have no interest in covering our walls with skeletons of cigarettes smoked and perfume evaporated).

Our relationship with alcohol was one of indifference. We knew it was there. We could have a half glass of wine at dinner once we turned twelve, but chose not to imbibe, except for the New Year’s Eve toast and Deda-Ljubo’s slava*. I was especially prone to stage fright and at times behaved like the frog from that Warner Brothers cartoon (yes, that one). Before leaving the house and facing my demons, I would accept a thimbleful of Mother’s home-made cherry brandy, and while the sweet, thick liquid would slide down my throat, I would gather the courage to endure another school dance, or read aloud my award-winning essay in front of the whole class (shudder). We were perfect hosts-in-training, offering patients waiting to talk to Father a refreshment, usually consisting of something 80 proof, served neat, as was the custom (in those days, if you asked for anything “on the rocks”, you might be granted a puny, half-way melted piece of ice, dug up from a defrosting freezer and presented with the utmost contempt).

We handled the alcohol with expertise. It did not scare us. It did not intimidate us. It did not tempt us. It just was. Until one night when we decided to experiment with cocktails. It was the Fall of 1979, and we just moved to the new house. I was a high school freshman, my sister was in seventh grade, and my brother in fifth. Our Aunt Boba moved in with us from out of town to attend the University (do not ask me to explain Serbian blood ties, too complicated). Our parents were gone for the evening, and we had the run of the house. It was a weekend night and all of us were free of obligations and full of energy. For years we were ogling a book of cocktails issued by Pepsi, imagining the miracles that would occur if you add a little bit of this, and a little more of that. After all, who did not want to join the Pepsi generation? I do not remember who was the genius behind the unanimously accepted mixology lesson, but pretty soon the four of us went about gathering the ingredients, glassware, measuring vessels, lemons, and the one solitary tray of ice that made ice balls.

Campari? Check, second shelf, back row. Dark rum? Check, second shelf, front row. Whiskey? No problem – we just had to choose between Johnny Red, Johnny Black, Chivas, Ballantine, Black&White, and some unpronounceable Anglo-Saxon brand (I chose Black&White as it had the cutest little schnauzers on the label. Thank God I did not pick the unpronounceable single malt scotch. I would not be writing this for sure). Orange liqueur? Hmmm, how about “Mandarinetto”?  Angostura bitters? No clue, but there was a bottle of wormwood liqueur we knew was really bitter because it was doled out in minuscule doses as a remedy for stomach-ache. We leafed through the booklet with frenzy, coming up with the most interesting and vile concoctions imaginable. As the experiment progressed, we became louder. Our giggles were contagious and our cheeks flushed with excitement and adventure. We mixed everything, getting bolder by the second, boosted by liquid valor. It did not take long for the words to become slurred, or for the eyelids to get heavy.

By the time our parents returned home, the sink was full of sticky glasses, the kitchen table piled with bar accessories, and the four of us were sprawled all over the living room, some on the couches, some on the floor. All they heard was heavy breathing, snoring and moaning.

The next morning Reveille sounded promptly at eight, the product of Mother’s special brand of  instructional sadism. We could not lift our heads off the cushions. The cursed bell hanging on the stairs rang on and on, until we could not ignore it anymore. We groaned and sighed loudly stumbling upstairs in a weary procession, not able to keep our eyes open. We could not recall the previous night. We could not stop our heads from exploding with rhythmic pounding. We snarled at one another, wishing for the impossible: the soft comfort of a dark room.

Mother did not mention our adventurous experimentation with drunkenness. She greeted us cheerfully, served us breakfast and coffee, and delegated the chores for the usual Saturday morning clean-up. No rest for us. No empathy. No aspirin. And no grumbling allowed. The lesson learned: suffer the consequences. She did not need to punish us. We could not decide what was worse: climbing the ladder to clean the windows with your head spinning, running the vacuum cleaner on full blast, dusting the crystal glasses and delicate figurines with your shaking hands, or caramelizing the onions in bacon grease while your stomach was doing back flips.

For a long time we could not drink Pepsi (Coke was acceptable, although not a preferred choice). And we circled in a wide arc around the liquer cabinet. But in time we healed and made our peace with alcohol. We respect its power and acknowledge the consequences of indulging with stoical endurance. When we meet, we laugh about the “Pepsi” night, letting the time soften the pain of pounding headaches and the quivering of young hands. And we raise our glasses to Mother, the only person I know that is truly allergic to alcohol, who managed to teach us a lesson without punishment.

*Each Serbian family celebrates its saint-protector. These holidays are remnants of the old Slavic pagan religion that continued in Christianity.

There is a group of very dear bloggers who are celebrating Giada De Laurentiis  and her recipes. For this week the emphasis was on Giada’s international recipes. I chose a cocktail. For more recipes for Out of Italy head to I Heart Cooking Clubs.

Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies has started a Cocktail Puppy event, where we are encouraged to submit our best recipes for potent potables. This is my contribution.

HIBISCUS TEA WITH CITRUS AND VODKA (FoodTV, Giada De Laurentiis)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups (2 ounces) dried hibiscus flowers or dried rose petals*
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 cup vodka chilled
  • 1 cup ice

*Can be found at specialty Latin markets

Directions:

In a medium saucepan combine the water, hibiscus flowers, and sugar over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Allow the mixture to cool for 25 minutes. Add the lemon juice, lime juice, and vodka.

Place the ice in a tall pitcher. Strain the hibiscus tea into the pitcher and discard the flowers. Refrigerate until ready to use.

NOTES: I thought the beverage was a bit too sweet, but Husband liked it just fine (he is from Georgia, so I forgive him). Would be the best served after the meal, not as an aperitif.

Oct 122010
 

Today was not a good day. I knew it when the phone rang the night before, right when we were finishing our dinner of grilled ribeye steaks, mashed potatoes, and mushroom and leek gravy. I knew it as I climbed into the car to go to work. I knew it when I met my manager’s eyes just before she averted them. I waited for more then an hour to talk to her, feeling like a pariah sitting in a booth, trying to calm a wildly beating heart. In my mind I was counting the bills left in the partly torn envelope hiding in my underwear drawer trying to calculate my family’s financial existence. The uncertainty and a million question marks lead me through a series of film noir scenarios until paranoia finally overwhelmed me. I dissected every hour of the previous several days at work, trying in vain to come up with a thread that would lead me to illumination. I analyzed my actions to the finest details hoping to find a reason for getting the cold shoulder.

In the end it was anticlimactic in its shallowness, but incredibly hurtful in its effect. My destiny was undergoing an unpredicted and undesirable change, and I could not do anything about it. I suffered the consequences of an uncommitted act. I was punished without  reason. Even though my arguments were valid and my voice rang true, I banged my head hard against the corporate wall and elicited nothing but a shoulder shrug. There had to be an investigation, and in the meantime my working conditions changed so much that my earnings, meager to start with, would dwindle by seventy percent.

The rest of the working day passed in a haze with intervals of sobbing interchanged by determinations and the pledge to keep on and elevate myself above the stench of the injustice and pettyness. I spent a lot of time in the bathroom, trying to prevent splotchiness and avoid the not so goth effect of the mascara running down my cheeks joined with the tears. I faked a thousand smiles. I flirted with the octogenarians who assured me that I was the best and well deserving of a raise. I ran on pure spite, with nostrils flaring in anger one second, and gasping for air the next, completely overtaken by despair.

I could not wait to leave. A colleague went to make me an espresso, but I bolted as soon as I saw the “W” on the grill of the silver car approaching the parking lot. I vented for several minutes until we reached the apartment complex we call home, and then I broke down, completely, without reserve, unaware of the curious glances and questioning stares of the neighbors. I sobbed uncontrollably, crushed by the helplessness of the situation, feeling that I have betrayed my family somehow, by not being everything I could be.

The last thing I wanted was the Beasties to see me swollen from crying, eyes red, cheeks burning red from salty tears. They emerged like shadows from their room, wrapped their lithe bodies around me, hugged me really tight and kissed me a thousand times. We stood there, in a clinch, unable to move, afraid to break the tie, with me quietly sobbing and them whispering that everything would be all right.

I usually leave work at Crown Valley Parkway until I return the next day. As soon as I walk through the doors I discard my Cinderella clothes, take a shower to get the last remnant of the work off, and start living my real life, the life of creative energy, flowing sentences, imaginative dinners, and evocative conversation. I live a double life and it suits me well. I know that one of these days I will wake up smiling, knowing that I could continue and be the Princess for the eternity, that the golden carriage will never again turn to pumpkin.

But today nothing could pull me away from the tide of negativity encroaching into my sacred family life from that plain building off I-5. The stuffed grape leaves I prepared yesterday and simmered for a couple of hours put forth a burst of flavors, deeply Mediterranean, lemony, minty, and exotic. But my eyes were glazed, my throat constricted, my words on the verge of another crying spurt. I felt like I was betraying my family by not standing proud and walking out with my head held high and my integrity intact. But I do not have that luxury. I need to work. I need to stay there and fight like a lioness for my brood. And I hate every moment of it…

At work I am invisible at best, snubbed by botox-ridden housewives, patronized by laptop toting businessmen, and shuffled whimsically by the GED-wielding managers. I turn on my most sincere No. 6 smile and I face them all, invincible and proud, confident and at peace with myself. I perform my menial duties in a floating manner, hovering above, detached in mind, as if watching an old neo-realistic Italian flick.

I left the dinner table and assumed my favorite position on the love-seat, with my beloved laptop in my lap (!) The Beasties cleared the table and washed the dishes, Husband put the finishing touches on his edit for a Pepperdine professor’s paper, and I tried to catch up with my e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and Google reader. I was temporarily lost in an article when the older Beastie plopped a navy blue cup and saucer in front of me, claiming that was the tea that was going to drag me up to the surface. And then she added: “If you like it, I will make tea for you every day”.

As if I did not cry enough today already, I could not help it. I cried, but this time the tears were sweet, bourne out of love and tenderness. As the fragrant steam was filling my lungs, I promised myself that I would dig in, endure, fight, and come out victorious just to show my girls what needed to be done.

ANYA’S GET-ME-OUT-OF-THE-DUMPS-TAKE-ME-AWAY-FROM-IT-ALL TEA

The mixture of rosehips, hibiscus, yerba mate, herbs from Mount Kopaonik in Serbia, honey from the Serbian meadows and a squeeze of lemon our friend picked up recently screams comfort to me. Offered in my navy blue cup, with a serving of warm hugs, makes my heart sing.

I am submitting this post to Hearth and Soul event, hosted by Girlichef, among the others.

May 302010
 

My Serbian neighbor and friend for many years, Dragana, moved away today, for good.

They had moved to California from Ohio in 2005, and we stayed behind. Our frequent telephone conversations consisted mostly of her trying to explain how wrong we were to cling to ice and snow, when we can have the land of eternal sunshine. She talked avocados, citrus, pomegranates, cheap produce at a local Persian store. Her Lorelei song was very seductive.  Things happened, our lives changed drastically, and all of a sudden, a move anywhere became a focal point. Why not the land of eternal sunshine? And who does not love avocados?

Of course, several other reasons contributed to chosing California, but we arrived, on the last day of August 2008, which was Husband’s birthday, exhausted and weary, completely broke and desperate, to share a big pot of Serbian beans and warm bread with Dragana and her family.

They had secured an empty apartment next door to them for us. We had nothing when we moved in, our household kept safe in storage back in Ohio. They gave us furniture, refrigerator, and blow-up beds on which to sleep. They shared their food every day with us, until the first paychecks appeared.

I remember one occasion in September when we needed to pay $40.00 for the older Beastie’s field trips to come – it was as big as a million at the time. Dragana gave us the two $20.00 bills as if she picked them from her young lemon tree on the patio.

With time we managed to get on our feet. And we settled into a comfortable routine. She would usually yell “Hey, friend/sister, put some coffee on!” while coming home from work or store. I would yell back a greeting, without bothering to leave my chair in front of the computer. Or she would just come over, sweep our patio and yell “Coffee is ready! What are you waiting for?”

The coffee had to be just right, not, as she called it “the Serbian swill” I like, but hard-core Arabic blend purchased at our local Persian store. We would settle on her patio, or mine, drink coffee and gossip, reminisce,  give advice to one another, and laugh

In the neighborhood she was known as Mom. All the little Mexican kids called her that. She fed them, hugged them, kept them warm, all in her brusque, intimidatting and to-the-point way. The food from her kitchen went out anywhere a hungry mouth existed, platters of food– but if you did not remember to return the platter, your ass was fried!

Since the day she told me they were moving, I felt as if an elephant was sitting on my chest. Yes, we’ll see each other at work Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and any other day for coffee. And, yes, their new place is only 3 miles away from us – in American distances  a spit away. But I will miss her presence. I will miss her reliability. I will miss her generosity and her commanding way of running a day. I will miss having at least a couple of her plates and bowls on the kitchen counter, full of samples from her daily menu, and I will miss the opportunity to fill those same plates and bowls with something I made and return them to her (I think they throw you in jail in Serbia if you return a plate empty – squeaky clean is not enough.)

We had our last Turkish coffee together today. She walked away in long strides, as usual, toting behind a vacuum cleaner and an armfull of cleaning supllies, with her visiting Serbian mother in tow. She waved goodbye, I waved back, as if it were just another day. I went back to the house, and I cried. I cried for our friendship, I cried for all the goodness of this woman, I cried for  all the memories.

And for Dragana, I post a very simple, but essential “recipe” for making  Turkish coffee, Serbian way.

arabic coffee, dzezva and "cuturica" (chu-tu-ri-tza), serbian flask, contaning slivovitza, many times a necessary accompaniment to coffee

You need a Turkish coffee pot, aka dzezva. Measure up the right amount of water, using smallish cups which will hold the coffee. If taking coffee with sugar, add it now so it dissolves (I omit the sugar, but Dragana likes hers just a little sweet). Leave the dzezva on high heat until the water boils. Take off the heat and measure 1 teaspoon of very, very, very finely ground coffee per cup  into the pot. Stir well and return to the stove. When the foam on top starts rising, remove from heat, and spoon a bit of foam into each cup (skipping Dragana’s, she does not like the foam).  Pour some coffee into the cups, little by little, going around, so that consistency is equal in all. Find a comfortable spot on the couch, and share a cup of Turkish with a friend. And remember, sip and enjoy, and do not drink the dregs on the bottom, no matter how emotional this post makes you!

a cup of Joe (or should it be Jovan, if it is Serbian?)