Quirky stuff on Brač: car door as garden gates?

Reason #142: car parts don’t get thrown away, they get up-cycled

That’s someone’s garden…

IMG-20140308-01162

And that’s a car door…

IMG-20140308-01163

Is it supposed to be the garden door? Does it lock? Can you roll up the window? These are all valid questions we need answers to.

Diocletian: “Come back to Rome, are you crazy?!”

Reason #135: living on Brač makes you feel like a Roman emperor

The legend has it that after Diocletian retired from being a very successful Roman emperor and moved into his palace in Split, Rome was in trouble and so they asked him to come back and run the place again. To this Diocletian supposedly told them: “If you could see the raštika* growing in my Palace garden, you wouldn’t be asking me this.”

That pretty much sums up how I feel when someone calls to ask when I’m coming back to Zagreb. Without the part where anyone there needs me to run the place, though :D

The view of raštika from my Palace in Selca:

IMG-20140513-02382
As mentioned before, the credit for anything growing in our garden goes to my amazing Aunt Nada.

*raštika is collard greens in English. More on this yummy plant in this post: Planting your own multi-vitamin (raštika).

Japanese mock-orange tree ::: Smell this series, part I

Reason #133: this Japanese pretends to be an orange and smells wonderfully

I’ve decided to introduce a new category to this blog – “Smell this! series”. I’ve read that technology experts predict we will soon be able to convey scent through computers.

This post is for those reading in the year 2024. Go ahead, scratch and sniff your screen! ;)

IMG-20140512-02379

You barely notice these trees during the winter, but once they start blooming you realize – they’re everywhere!

Pittosporum tobira is a tree native to Japan and it’s also called Japanese mock-orange. The scent is similar to that of an orange tree, but I would say it’s even stronger.

IMG-20140512-02380

Although I love it and would gladly hug one all day, I can imagine that, as with all powerful fragrances, not everyone does and that they can’t wait for the season to be over.

Limestone oases

Reason #132: get yourself a sinkhole and plant a crop

IMG-20140506-02209

Deserts have their oases and karst topography has sinkholes where fertile soil is found. Soil is otherwise scarce on Brač, as it’s mostly made of limestone.

If your land plot has one, you’re lucky because you don’t have to dig up too many rocks to find soil. And the soil found in sinkholes is usually very fertile, too.

To give you a bigger picture, a large part of Croatia is made up of karst topography. The most notable area is Plitvice Lakes, a National park that’s on the UNESCO Heritage listing for this particular reason.

Roses are red… and yellow and white and pink and…

Reason #129: grow a garden full of beautiful flowers

With this wonderful Mediterranean climate on Brač there’s lots of warm and sunny days all year round and that means anyone can grow just about any plants and flowers they want.

Disclaimer: my anything-but-green thumbs are not in any way responsible for this garden. Aunt Nada is the wizard behind this magic. I just get to wake up to it every morning. That’s a pretty rosy deal, as far as I’m concerned.

No thyme for Scarborough Fair

Reason #127: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme

Hiking or cycling on Brač in April and May you feel like you’re in flower heaven. Colors and smells are fantastic. Sage and rosemary are practically everywhere you look. And with parsley in your garden, you know what that means… you can’t help but hum Scarborough Fair as you go ;)

IMG-20140506-02186
Sage in the wild

IMG-20140506-02190
Growing out of a rock

IMG-20140506-02214
Sage planted to decorate public spaces 

IMG-20140127-00924

IMG-20140222-01038
Rosemary. This was taken back in February when it was in bloom.

IMG-20140505-02151
Parsley in our garden

Now all we’re missing is some thyme. Obviously we can’t show up at the Scarborough Fair until we have all four. The guidebook tells us it’s definitely here somewhere, so off I go:

IMG-20140507-02222

————————–

Scarborough Fair by Simon & Garfunkel

Guidebook to 103 wild plants on Brač

Reason #126: now you can use a guidebook to find all the amazing plants in the wild

Dalmatia is bursting with amazing flora, tons of plants, flowers and herbs. Islands, such as Brač, are especially rich and relatively untouched ecosystems.

Now there’s a fantastic pocket guidebook available to us nouveau-locals and visitors. “Vodič za šetnju prirodom – 103 samonikle biljke otoka Brača” (Hiker’s guidebook – 103 wild plants of Brač)

IMG-20140507-02224

internet-ponuda-biljke

Kudos to the authors Tija Mlinac and Marisa Škaljac. Here they are promoting the book at the public library in Selca:

samoniklo_promocija

plants
Photos courtesy of knjižnica Hrvatski sastanak 1888, Selca

You can buy the guidebook at public libraries on Brač, or online: Purchase info @ super affordable 50kn

Mišanca – edible wild greens

Reason 113: you can pick your own wild greens and cook a healthy, yummy meal

This particular reason for living on Brač would probably make my top ten on any given day. What you need here is a plastic bag (Konzum, Tommy, Kerum, Studenac… any of these will do ;)), a handy knife, knowing where to look and which plants are edible. The latter two I’m not good at yet, so for now I just go with Aunt Nada and follow her lead. IMG-20140226-01074 Once you’ve got a bag full, you can go home and clean it before cooking. IMG-20140226-01075 Cooking is simple. Just boil the water, add some salt and don’t cook for too long. You can also add potatoes, and if you don’t have a lot of mišanca, add any other greens you can buy or grow, such as blitva (chard). Blitva and potatoes will also soften the otherwise strong flavor of concentrated mišanca, if that’s prefereable. IMG-20140223-01049

Some of the plants that go into mišanca: žutinica, kostrič, radič, divlji luk, koromač, martaduha.

There is a guidebook on Brač wild plants which can help you identify the mišanca plants. Read about the guidebook here.

Don’t let the snails fool you

Reason#107: snails are not as cute and innocent as they would have you think

We’ve had a few April showers last few days and that means the snails will come out.

I always thought they looked funny and cute.

IMG-20140409-01499

IMG-20140409-01503

But they are not as innocent as they appear. As a city girl until recently I was totally clueless, but now that I have my precious greens growing in the garden I know full well that snails are evil. Yes, evil. They feast on my beautiful greens and leave ugly holes in the leaves. Bad snails!

Wild asparagus

Reason #80: here on Brač you can find wild asparagus – super healthy and yummy

If you have good eyesight, that is. They’re notoriously difficult to spot.

IMG-20140306-01129

As you can see (hopefully), they’re much thinner than their domesticated counterparts.

IMG-20140306-01128

Don’t overcook them, there’s no need. You could even eat them raw, especially if you don’t find enough of them for a decent sized meal.

Season with just olive oil and vinegar. Serve with a hard boiled egg and enjoy!

IMG-20140309-01198

 

And here’s a very short video about “the hunt” :)

Mmmm… smells lovely, and costs nothing

Reason #73: in springtime you can pick flowers in the wild and your house will smell great

Did everyone else already know this but me? That freesias smell great!

IMG-20140303-01084
Don’t know if you can tell, but the cat is very pleased with the freesias, too.

The great thing about it is that you pick these flowers in the wild, meaning you’ve had a nice walk outdoors and they were for free (which we, Bračani, really like :)).

Also in the wild: daffodils, hyacinths…

IMG-20140306-01130
There’s wild asparagus in that bunch, too. Not for smelling, for eating :)

…. and cyclamen.

IMG-20140306-01119

And tons more. Just come on over to Brač in early spring if you like flowers and hiking.

Planting your own multi-vitamin (raštika)

Reason #68: it’s easy to plant collard greens and they’re super nutritious

Collard greens, or raštika and kupus, as it’s known here, is all the rage among health freaks out there. And it just happens to be the most basic veg over here, next to blitva.

So, I decided to plant some of my own. With the help of my aunt Nada, who’s  basically my Mr. Miyagi for all the Brački skillz.

IMG-20140226-01076First you get some seedlings from teta Antica (above).

IMG-20140226-01077Then you take a motika, eng. hoe (the tool, not the other kind), and you dig a deep, narrow hole.

Plant the seedlings and water them. Make sure the soil doesn’t go dry until they take.

IMG-20140226-01078I will report back on them over the summer.

To all the Selčanke

Reason 67: the women of Selca

Here’s a bouquet of wild flowers for all the ladies of Selca on this International Women’s Day.

IMG-20140306-01133

To all the moms, grandmas, sisters, daughters, aunts . To all the married ones, single, widowed and divorced ones. To stay-at-home moms, to entrepreneurs and other working women. You cook and clean and bake and take care of everyone. To the wonderful nuns who take care of our grandmas at the old persons’ home . To our doctor and nurses. To the waitresses in our cafes. To the teachers and the staff at the elementary school. To our hairdressers. To the women working at the općina, tourist board, pharmacy, supermarket… to all of them. You are wonderful! :)

And did you think today would go by without a party? No way, check this out:IMG-20140304-01097Poster inviting us to a Woman’s Day party at Ružmarin (restaurant in Selca). There’ll be live music by Trio Brač and lots of food and drinks, of course. 

I was told there’s going to be old-fashioned ballroom dancing, so that’s exciting. But I was also told you need a date for one of these things, so I’ll have to give it a miss. Maybe next year :)

UPDATE: the ball was cancelled and later I found out that there was a strip show in Povlja. A strip show, with an actual stripper. A male stripper…. and I missed it!!!

IMG-20140310-01204
Poster advertising a Women’s Day show with live music from Duo No Stress, plus a male stripper. The poster is stuck to a bus stop in Novo Selo. 

Beans ❤ Bay leaf

Reason #19: pick some bay leaves and de-gas your beans

Bay leaf is very common here on Brač. Beans and lentils are also a common food here. You might already know this, but if you put the two together you’re gas free!

IMG-20140118-00906 (1024x738)

Pick the leaves. Leave them in the open to dry (spread on a shelf in the pantry, for example). Put one or two in the pot when you cook your beans. That’s it!

On Brač you can either grow your own, pick them in the wild, or get them from a neighbor’s bush. Just make sure that, like with anything, the neighbor is ok with this ;).

IMG-20140118-00905 (767x1024)