I am absolutely delighted to be featuring Magali Pès Schmid as the Pig Of The Month for November.
Magali is one of my favourite readers, and has become my fond “virtual friend” through countless emails and facebook messages over the last year. I want to extend a special “thankyou” to Lori, her host sister, who found my blog through some friends in Springfield, MO, where I used to live, and connected us.
Magali works as a freelance translator and editor, and is one of the most intelligent, funny, and alluring people I know. If she is not translating and subtitling a documentary film on Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, or attending film festivals in Europe, she is making trips to Marrakech to stock up on the bright and fragrant spices! Her passion for fine food and travel exceeds my own, which is really saying something!
Her natural flare for flavours and penchant for “figuring it out” continues to motivate and inspire me. An extraordinary “self taught” cook, I am constantly amazed and humbled by the many delectable creations she sends me: mouth watering healthy recipes, and gorgeous photos of her garden and food. I salivate over her adventures with Alessia, collecting dandelions in the garden to make "dandelion water and dandelion jelly; making gourmet home made cheeses; licking out their baking bowls with excited anticipation; or her hilarious tales of serving up experimental dishes to her “healthy skeptic” hubby! All of these heart-warming stories are accompanied with “warm hugs from Switzerland”. Check out her delicious recipe for gluten free vegan Montecado cookies. That is the gorgeous Alessia eyeing them in the background! She told me to, “change, adapt, and adopt"! So I have used coconut palm sugar and coconut oil in her recipe. These cookies are TO DIE FOR!
Another thing that captured my heart about this lovely lady is her gentle good humour, and her loving embrace of the heart of my blog. After writing to me the first time saying “I am new to this piggy journey” she adopted my piggy language with all of the commitment of a proud parent and the spirit of an artist, always creating her own “piggisms” such as, “Hi hi giggle grunt* and “I hope your birthday was to grunt for”, and many other that have made me smile.
I keep begging her to start a blog. If ANYONE should be blogging it is HER! But alas, she remains a quiet private achiever, preferring to share her scrumptious creations with select family and friends. “Lucky people” is all I can say about that! Perhaps that will change with some gentle piggy pressure. Hint Hint!
Take it away my friend. I just adore you!
Magali Pès Schmid
Dear piggy friends,
I grew up in a family with Italian/Greek/Spanish roots where my mom cooked two hot meals every day, including starters, main dish, cheese platter, fruit and dessert. Sundays were special, of course, and always involved the making of a yummy cake….and licking the bowl. *slurp* I watched, mostly, for my mom always said that I took too long and wasn’t much of help… So I started trying my hand at cooking only when I went my own way to the university in Aix-en-Provence. I never liked eating in canteens, so I quickly started cooking both lunches and dinners, first for myself, then pretty soon for an array of friends and family, hosting dinner soirées and theme parties as well as home-made Christmas dinners involving drinks and dishes inspired from my travels.
I still have strong memories of a delectable melon fresh sherbet from my first time in Italy at the fond age of 12; Polverones / Montecao in Spain; blinis and fish egg with a strong black tea at 5 a.m. in Moscow; mutton and mint samsa baked in a stone oven buried in the ground in Samarkand; the sweet and powerful scent of cinnamon rolls baking in the oven during my exchange year in Kansas City, Missouri; nalesniki z serem in a Mlecny Bar in Krakow; mercimek corba in Anatolia; lontong banana leaf rice in Jakarta; amazing grilled sea food in Maputo; and pasteis de nata in Lisbon. Then other more “exotic” experiences… I had fried lungs in the streets of Ladakh; wonton soup squatted on a curb in Hong-Kong; boiled dog in China (though I have to admit that I didn’t know it was dog at the time); crocodile stew in Australia; grilled hearts and livers on the sticks in the “Churrasquerias” of Brazil; frog’s legs too, of course, as a typical French girl is supposed to! In fact, the only “food” I ever turned down was live grasshoppers sold as nibbles in an open market in Shanghai! So, yeah, you could say I am a pretty open-stomached kinda girl.
In my mid-twenties, I started making home-made yogurt, then I started making my own cheese from scratch: from books and research. Needless to say, the first tries were not always optimal! But I succeeded in creating two new varieties that are a great success in our house and among friends!
A few years later, my parents told me that my grand-mother (a strong-willed woman who had 18 kids but whom I didn’t know as much as I wished, for she died when I was only a child) owned a couple of ewes and made her own cheese! And no one had learned how to make cheese from her when she was alive! Other times, other needs, other interests.
In my late twenties, I had some sort of a shock when I realized: we all knew where to buy zucchinis, but couldn’t tell the difference between the male and the female Summer squash flowers; we knew how much a bunch of asparagus cost, but had no idea how it grew!
So one day, I decided to go to an asparagus farm and asked the owner if I could spend one day on the farm to watch, learn, and help with the harvesting/plucking. For free. The farmer was kind of shocked at first, but after a while, when he saw how eager I was and dedicated to my task, he couldn’t stop teaching me all kinds of things: how you plant and tilt the bulb; how you mix sand and soil; how high you mount the pile a little bit more each year so that the asparagus grow a little bit taller each year; how to pluck the asparagus without hurting the bulb; and the reasons why you carefully burn the twigs at the end of the season to be sure and get rid of a special mean worm located in the center of the stem, main nuisance for the asparaguses.
I was thrilled. And I guess he was too. For at the end of the day, he gave me a dozen free-range eggs from his hens, three bunches of asparagus, and two ox-heart heirloom tomato plants for my balcony.
When my husband and I finally settled in a house with a proper garden, we decided to plant heirloom, endemic, forgotten orchard trees and shrubs instead of building a fence around our property. That’s when I discovered Saskatoon berries, Black Chokeberries, Sorbus aucuparia, Cornelian Cherry, Danziger Kant Apple, Josephine von Mecheln Pear and many more... and tried to learn what to do with them – how to cook them and use them in our everyday life. This year I also started learning more about wild edibles we can pluck from our garden and the prairies and forest near our house. I find it fascinating!
Once, humans knew what to pluck, what to eat, what herb to use as cures, etc. We have forgotten so much about it, and we have fallen so far away from nature and its pace, that I found it was my duty almost, maybe one purpose in this life, to learn back all of this knowledge.
I've pretty much been an “eat-all and meat lover” all my life – until the birth of my daughter Alessia (now 3) and my breast feeding experience. At the clinic, I'd been given at least 2 yogurts per meal, so between 6 to 8 serves of yoghurt a day! When I got home and found almost no time to feed myself between Alessia's 8 breast-feedings 24/7, I bought yogurts by the kilo, and ate almost nothing but bananas and dairy! I started feeling bloated and moody, and I suffered violent headaches. Of course, I thought it was all because I was sleep-deprived, tired, and was eating poorly. Even though Alessia's birth was as smooth as can be (5 hours between my waters breaking and Alessia's first cry), it was an extremely stressful period: I handed the translation of a 500+ pages novel just 2 days before giving birth; and we moved from our apartment in Basel to our unfinished newly built house in the countryside 5 days after Alessia's birth. And it was our first child so we knew nothing!
I don't remember exactly when I decided to try a couple of weeks without dairy. Maybe while arranging our cooking books in our new kitchen, and stumbling upon Sandra Cabot's books a friend in Australia had sent to me. But I do remember that it didn't take me two weeks to realize I had become lactose intolerant. Thinking back, I’m pretty sure I've been lactose intolerant for a long time, maybe for 15 years, suffering from headaches and migraines, bloating and such.
My husband and I enjoy each other's company. A lot. We share fantastic moments and love each other fondly. But we are very different on many levels, and our metabolism is one of them! I've been trying to find the "perfect" diet for my family, so that I don't have to cook 3 different meals: one for me, who loves grains and pulses; one for my husband, whose body just rejects lentils and nuts but thrives on meat and dairy; and finally, one for our fast growing 3 yr-old.
I'm originally from a little town called La Ciotat on the French Riviera, and I was an AFS exchange student in Kansas City, MO just over 20 years ago, where I had a wonderful time in High School and with my adopted American family. When my sweet "American sister", Lori, who now lives and works in Springfield, MO told me about Tess and sent me the link to her website, I felt like I had found a gold mine! I was excited as can be to try her recipes, and put my man to the test eheh. That evening, I made Tess’s scrumptious pumpkin and red lentil soup, her delicious "creamy cauliflower millet mash" and the delectable "damp lemon and almond cake" (using oil instead of butter, honey instead of agave syrup, spelt and buckwheat instead of the “so-hard-to-find-here” rice flour). When we sat at the family table and enjoyed our meal, I put my man to the test and asked him, “What were the ingredients?” He could name some, but was wrong on most of them, and couldn't believe how delicious it all tasted, considering this was "very healthy food"! And Alessia loved every bit of it!
So here’s to you Tess, one of my inspirations for better food and better health! *tchin-tchin*
Now, I don’t have a recipe blog. I guess Facebook is some sort of a blog for me, where I post pictures of what we grow in our garden and what I make with it. Eventually, I would like to issue a cookbook with my favorite recipes and photos in four languages (French, English, German and Italian), a bit like the TeNeues Guides. But I have no idea how to go about publishing a book: who to contact and how to make it happen! The goal would be to share quick and easy recipes (20 minutes max for a meal) and maybe also have four sections/menu ideas according to the seasons. (I started a chart in that direction when my daughter started eating solid food, but there is always room for improvement!) You think you can help? Any input would be greatly appreciated :)
Hope you enjoy the Montecaos as much as we do in this house!
In healthy joyful piggilicious friendship,
Piggy Of The Month is a great part of the Healthy Blender Recipes community where we feature the inspiring story of a healthy piggy who has changed their life with the power of whole foods, or a gorgeous pig who is passionate about healthy living and cooking with natural ingredients.
Each piggy of the month will share his or her story and their favourite easy healthy recipe.