A Lithuanian woman who moved to Spain created a restaurant for her family back home

A woman from Vilnius who moved to the Alicante region with her husband and two daughters five years ago said she is grateful for Spain, which changed her family’s lifestyle and dietary tradition.

“In Lithuania, we live intensively – walking, hurrying to work, studying children and clubs, we sit at the public table only on weekends.

I am grateful to Spain for the fact that food is very important here and the meal hours are strictly observed. We have the opportunity to sit at the dinner table with the whole family almost every day. It is very important for me,” said Inga, author of the blog “Mamos restoranas”.

– How did you end up in Spain? – I asked I. Švelnienė.

– As long as I can remember, I have been constantly suffering from respiratory diseases since childhood. As a result, some doctors recommend climate change.

My husband and I always joke that we will move to Spain when we retire. But we moved before we got him. We do this after a serious and complicated illness, because we know: we have to live now.

Spain proved suitable because of its health-promoting Mediterranean climate. It was definitely not an easy decision as we were moving to a country where the language was not spoken.

We have talked a lot with our daughters, who are eight and ten years old at the time, about whether they are ready to try to live in another country and start attending Spanish school.

We decided that this would be the adventure of a lifetime and went for a whole school year. When they finished, we realized that we really like a lot of sun, warm weather and fresh vegetables and fruits all year round, and I forgot about respiratory diseases. This September, it will be five years since we lived in Spain, in the Alicante region.

– Has living in Spain changed your approach to cuisine?

– After moving to Spain, I really started producing more. Although my mother and grandmother always cook a lot, I myself do not feel happy in the kitchen. After my daughters were born, I did more than necessary. But little by little I realized that I no longer had the right to eat any time, anything, any food – so began my friendship with food production.

Since coming to Spain, I have taken care of breakfast, lunch, lunch and dinner.

– How did the “Mom’s Restaurant” blog come about and why did you name it like that? Maybe you dream of working in a restaurant?

– This name is easy to come up with. If my children sometimes take me to lunch, I always joke that today we will have lunch at mom’s restaurant.

I first created an Instagram account to keep my family’s favorite recipes in one place, secretly hoping that my daughters would also enjoy cooking when the recipes were presented in a more accessible format.

Later, I decided it was time to blog, because it was easier to find recipes. And this summer, Mom’s Restaurant finally appeared on Facebook and TikTok. Maybe next time I will publish a book of recipes.

I will admit that I never dreamed of working in a restaurant, especially in the kitchen, where there is often chaos and high speed. My husband and I lived in London for a year and a half, had to work in a cafe there, so I saw the kitchen from the inside.

For me, cooking at home is now not only a necessity to feel good, but also a meditation.

– Who are the visitors and reviewers of your home restaurant? Do you have a most popular dish?

– Of course, it’s the first family. All innovations and experiments are evaluated by critical teenage girls and their peers. Chicken legs baked in the oven with honey and mustard is a dish that is always suitable and liked by everyone. The bride’s friends who come usually ask for caramel popcorn.

I am constantly looking for healthier alternatives, I try to include sugar and wheat flour in my diet, but it is not easy to please everyone’s taste. After sharing delicious recipes, I often receive messages from followers that the dessert is not sweet enough. Therefore, I always remind myself that I am sweet in moderation.

The most popular breakfast in our family over the years has been overnight oats, flavored with flax seeds, Spanish sage seeds and nut cream, called overnight oats. Lately we have discovered and really like chopped oats.

For lunch, I usually make something from turkey, chicken or fish, and serve it with salad and brown or wild rice, Bolivian pigeon seeds, wheat pasta or potatoes.

For dinner, I usually prepare a salad, cook soup, bake an omelette in the oven.

– Which dish is the most popular in your family – Lithuanian or Spanish?

– Our home kitchen is dominated by world cuisine – a wonderful variety. Most of us follow seasonal principles. I’m looking for ideas with seasonal vegetables and adapting them to my family’s taste.

Spanish cuisine definitely has a lot of influence on the dishes. We have more vegetables, lentils, beans and seafood in our diet.

Of course, sometimes I also cook traditional Lithuanian dishes, because my children really miss the dishes that their grandmother used to cook for them.

– How has living in Spain changed your eating habits? What’s new in your kitchen? Are you missing any products?

– When I lived in Spain, life became slower, nutrition was easier, we ate fresher vegetables and fish throughout the year, and I also started using a lot of spices.

We live intensively in Lithuania – walking, rushing to work, study and groups of children, we sit at the common table only on weekends.

I am grateful for Spain where food is very important here and meal times are strictly observed. From 2 to 3 pm, all of Spain has lunch. Most companies and small shops have lunch breaks that last from an hour to three hours. The children’s class ends around 2:00 p.m., so we have a chance to sit at the dinner table almost every day. It is very important to me.

As many expats from other European countries live in Spain, there are also some Lithuanian, Polish, Ukrainian and Bulgarian shops. Lithuanian buckwheat, black frozen bread, cottage cheese, herring or various sweets can be bought there.

After moving to Spain, a variety of black bread, herring, and pickled cucumbers in the summer have disappeared most. Only one type of German black bread can be found in Spanish shops. Since we really missed Lithuanian bread, I started baking at home.

The choice of fish in Spain is always huge, but sometimes we miss the herring. Kefir and cottage cheese are also available in Spanish chain stores, only cottage cheese has a lighter taste because it is made from a mixture of sheep, goat and cow’s milk. And the grainy cottage cheese is just fantastic.

– Should you serve Lithuanian cuisine to Spaniards? What was their reaction?

– I have considered the Spaniards for cold borscht. Everyone joked that the color was suspicious, but it tasted really good.

True, black bread and smoked products did not impress friends – they found the taste exotic.

– Where do you get ideas when you have to cook every day?

– I look for ideas everywhere: on the Internet, in recipe books, restaurant menus. The more I cook, the easier it is to combine products and create new recipes.

Quite often, the idea comes to mind, then the recipe comes together, which remains to be implemented.

Beet leaf soup (chard).

For 4 servings you will need:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • 5 large beetroot leaves
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 liter of broth

Fry finely chopped onions in a little oil or butter.

Add garlic and chopped carrots, fry for a few minutes. If the liquid is low, add a teaspoon or two of water or broth.

Cut the potatoes into pieces about 1 cm in size.

Wash and cut beetroot leaves (only leaves without stems can be added).

Pour the stock into the pot and add all the ingredients.

Cook for about 20 minutes.

Other eggs go well with this soup, and quail eggs look great too.

Cayenne pepper is also very good here.

Toast with peas and cottage cheese

You will need:

  • Favorite black bread
  • some fresh or frozen peas
  • sundried tomato pesto
  • cloves of garlic
  • Cottage cheese
  • chives
  • hot pepper flakes

Bake bread.

Mash the fresh peas with a fork. If you have frozen peas, cover with boiling water and leave for a few minutes. Remove and mash with a fork. Squeeze the clove of garlic and mix it with the peas.

Spread the pesto on the bread, then add the mashed peas, cottage cheese, sprinkle with chives and hot pepper flakes.

If you don’t like or don’t have garlic, the toast is just as delicious without it.

“Shepherd” cake with lentils

For 4-6 servings you will need:

  • 1.5 cups of gray lentils (green or brown).
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 200 g of mashed tomatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 500 ml stock (maybe more)
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika powder
  • 5-6 mushrooms
  • 0.5 teaspoon of smoked paprika powder
  • 0.5 tsp garam masala (optional)
  • 0.5 teaspoon of oregano
  • 500 g of potatoes
  • 500 g of cauliflower
  • 50 g butter or olive oil
  • salt to taste

Wash the lenses, cover them with water and leave them to swell overnight or at least for a few hours.

Fry finely chopped onions in a few spoons of oil in a pan (about 8 minutes), adding a pinch of salt. Add the chopped garlic cloves, fry for a few minutes. Add diced carrots and celery. Add the chopped tomatoes. Season with spices.

Clean the mushrooms, cut them into cubes and fry them separately. Then put it in the pot. Add the lentils to the stew. Mix. Pour the stock to cover everything by about 0.5-1 cm. Leave to simmer in an uncovered pan for 20 minutes. Taste for salt.

Peel the potatoes, cut into cubes. Separate the cauliflower into larger florets. Place potatoes and cauliflower in a pot, cover with water, add salt, bring to a boil and leave to cook for about 10-15 minutes. The potatoes should be soft enough to pierce easily with a fork. Drain the water. Put the butter on the potatoes and cauliflower and mash.

If the pan cannot be placed in the oven, place the lentil stew in a baking dish. Spoon the mashed potatoes over the dry lentils. Sprinkle with oil and put in the oven heated to 180 degrees, bake for 20 minutes.

Sweet and crispy

For 20 small candies you will need:

  • 2 wheat rice crackers
  • 4 small soft dates
  • 4 teaspoons of crunchy peanut flour
  • 100 g of dark chocolate
  • teaspoon of coconut oil

First, flour the rice with a food processor, then grind it together with the dates and the crunchy nut cream until smooth. The mass should not be loose, but sticky.

Small candy shapes. Place on a plate on baking paper and leave in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Melt chocolate in a steam bath or microwave, mix with coconut oil.

Drizzle or sprinkle the candy over the chocolate, holding it on a fork so that the excess chocolate drips off.

Place on baking paper and leave in the freezer until the chocolate hardens.

Store candy in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

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