After I moved back from Spain in September we met an old friend who is breeding Hungarian grey cattle on hectares of beautiful fields not far from our village. He was pleased to welcome me home and he was especially happy that we moved so close to them. “ Do you want a calf as a present?”- he asked us quite unexpectedly. We took it as a joke, we all started to laugh and said goodbye. Later when we go to the car Áron said quietly: “ Actually I was really thinking about that calf for a couple of minutes.” I was staring at him. “ Do you know how big they are going to be? Have you thought about…hm….I mean…cleaning? – I asked cautiously. He started the engine and smiled. “Ok, ok, but it really must be so cute”
We have agreed that although we chose countryside living, we are not going to have any animals. (except our dog, of course) Sometimes we get a little bit uncertain in that. I feel sympathy for chickens, Áron for calves. Anyway we need to be rational. Especially because Ani and her family are our neighbours.
In the morning I just go over and do some shopping: I buy fresh milk, creamy “tejföl” (sour creme), fresh cheese which is very similar to mozzarella, cottage cheese and fresh eggs. Fortunately Ani and her family weren’t afraid of the hard work and getting up at 5 am. every morning. For them it is worth to do because they know exactly what they eat and now they have more than they need so they are able to sell some of their products. On their farm everything is about freedom: cows are grazing freely on the huge field behind the house, chickens can walk around in the garden to get some greens as well. One day we look around the stalls. When I enter some beautiful brown eyes are looking back at me: a 2 weeks-old calf standing next to her mother and Ani tells me that those other young ones at the corner are twins. I wonder what would happen if Ani and her family would stay in bed one day and wouldn’ feed the animals at 5.30 am. She looks at me surprised. “They wouldn’t let us sleeping! They would shout like mad! Horses would kick the stall’s wall. When we go to a party, we come home at 5 am, we have a cup of coffee and go! We are already used to it “ If there is leftover from milk, she prepares “aludttej” as we used to do it when i was a child. It is drink basically similar to yoghurt or kefir. You let the fresh milk in room temperature for a couple of days so it will be naturally fermented. Best served cold it is both refreshing and very healthy. I see the glazed terracotta jugs in which she prepares aludttej and I realize that i have the same from my grandmother’s heritage that my father gave me for Christmas. Ani explains how to prepare them and how to remove cream from the top of the jugs after one day. I am holding the bag full of their products as I had treasure in my hand. I am so thankful to them that they are preserving a very important knowledge of nature and therefore looking after us as well.
We agree when I pass by next time. There will be enough eggs, because hens started to put more eggs….they feel spring coming. So this is countryside whether forecast.
I walk home and try to put the eggs into the fridge but these eggs are too big to be able to close the dedicated container. I take one, add some cottage cheese, flour and semolina. I form little balls and put them into hot water then roll them in bread crumbs. “Túrógombóc” is ready. It is not like recently whenever I used ingredients from a supermarket. It is like in my childhood. Soft, with creamy “tejföl” on the top. A delicious meal that we used to have for dinner or as a dessert.
I take a look at the old jug on the top of the shelves which came home to my grandmother’s village after 60 years. I am sure it will be used from now on, and not for decoration.
Túrógombóc/Cottage cheese dumplings
250 g cottage cheese (find more information about this dairy product here ), 1 egg, 50 g semolina, 1 tbsp. flour , 2 heaped tsp salt, butter, sweet fine breadcrumbs, sour cream, confectioner’s sugar
Mix the cottage cheese with the egg, semolina and flour and let it rest for 10 minutes. Put water in a pot and bring it to boil then add the salt. Wet your hands and form balls from the dough and drop them into the water. After they came up to the surface cook them for further 5 minutes. Meanwhile melt some butter in a pan, add breadcrumbs and stir until golden brown. Take the dumplings out of water with a sieve and roll them into breadcrumbs. Mix the sour cream with some sugar (according to your taste) and pour it over the dumplings.