Creativity Hungary

Winter Reset

I retain the soil connection: the transition from a cyclist to something totally different might have gone slow but spectaculair. I have come to feel like a little piranha in a warm pond full with lilies blossoming.

I know most people who read this are not interested in vegetables and the thing is, I wasn’t so much either a couple of years ago. Same when I met a Dutch cyclist in Pakistan, I was not interested the slightest bit (a few years prior that I cycled 50.000 kilometers). May I try to inspire you once more, and promised, the next time with a touring story.

When I attended art academy one of my teachers that painted larger-than-life billboards said: ‘Choose a subject you like and tell yourself that you can do it. Simply start and when you get at the challenging part, you are able to get it done.’ I loved his view. A well-set, calm man with a neat dark beard who knew what he was talking about and I followed up his advice, to this day. Truly, self confidence can be taught and I learned it well.

Growing own food taken a bit further with preserving in order to prepare exotics such as harissa. Because the traveler wants to be fed with food from around the world (coming from my own patch of soil).

I will grow my own food.

The winter, when you have embraced the self-sustainable lifestyle, is a welcome puddle of calm where you reap the fruits of a long season that existed of much hard work. Stored vegetables, roots in earth cellars, pickled fruits in glasses and dried fruit and herbs on the shelves.

Winter is the time for extending the learning curve. A table filled with papers scribbled on, garden plans, self made charts and photo copies of manuals. Sometimes the possibilities are immense and in learning new proceedings (be it knitting, sourdough bread baking or Hungarian language) there is always this depth you can loose yourself in (except Hungarian language). The good thing however is that once a new is tackled (gardening, growing, composting) it feels liberating and I can move on to the next.

Sourdough bread is subject to change by different temperatures. This makes practising hard but even a not so perfect sourdough bread taste better than a shop bought bread.

The feeling of realizing that a lot has been done, actions that once seemed so daunting, are now being done with ease, confidence and love, is a big bold feeling (this was certainly the case with putting the garden in place). Yet, they always are attached to a preliminary feeling of frustration and wasting time, followed by joy and self-assurance.

All I am doing is focusing on food. Is that not over-reactional? But is food also not one of the main sustainers of life? Without overthinking, food is as good as you want it to be and I seem to be outfitted with the opinion that the more varieties I grow the better I can eat (and luckily I can eat a lot).

Gnocchi made from topinambur (unearthed from the earth cellar that I digged). Fantastic taste, less great after effect on the intestines.

The bombastic feelings of reaching a pass above 4000 meter with an overloaded bicycle. The swelled self because of ongoing hardship and banning of comfort. The proud mind of being a visible freedom fighter, having stepped out of the iron hug of society. The fact that you thrive on minimalism, keeping warm at a fire and cool under a tarp. It are these simple enjoyments that seem to take little effort and bring big feelings. A forest your friendly labyrinth and a desert your brilliant husband. Nature had become your shower, your food, your blood, the world your heartbeat.

Now I look at 100 square meter and some questionable big fields in the back, a greenhouse and a kitchen growing smaller by the day. Wood supply grows and is being chopped. Foraging becomes successful (though stomachs might turn upset). Kittens grow up, make me joyous but also die. Once you are setted in your new mold, you thrive. Only when you have embraced the new challenge, got good at it, you can feel content and fortunate.

It is true, the grandiose emotions sprouting from subtle feelings that burst into bigger than the imagination can hold are no more. My eyes can not reach that zenith by some overlapping hills. Even would I be plonked onto the Kala Patthar and glimpse the Everest again, I would still not be able to enjoy as I did the first time. Simply because I have a home, a place to enjoy the source of life. Now it is the care I can give to my beloved husband and to be a team together in natural living that sparks me.

To go to pouch Sawn Tree Trunk € 37

It seems impossible for me to detach long from home as the circulation likes to be worked by (my) hands. I have now become part of a tiny aspects that life offers too. It might seem futile but keeping the compost going, the greenhouse full, the ground covered, the worms happy, the soil fluffy and nutritious, my husband merry and myself challenged, is a feeling of teamwork, commitment and logistics. Indeed, as high a maintenance as a cycling lifestyle.

This cat made a huge change: from a timid stray with signs of being abused, now given food and trustful, she shows her very own funny character (with less pleasant seriously digging up the garden).

To go to pouch Llama € 35

Now it is the transformation that yields wonder and keeps me bouncing like an elastic band. The sapling that once was becomes the best possible dish in my recipe-books. A dish perhaps not immediately my husband’s choice but one that he comes to love and for me one that has been shaped by many cultures and much appetite. No more sugared tomato paste and tinned tuna fish (the staple food of a cyclist) but mostly Yotam Ottolenghi robbing me of my time now.

Our cat is a free range one and so are all her suitors. As it is the nature of a female, she decides which one will be the maker of her off spring (or, in her case, all of them).

A Brussel sprout salad fully homegrown. The amount of time that goes in preparing food from the garden is most evident in the plucking and cleaning of the vegeatbles and nuts.

Winter does not want me to get out, camp and kickbike, feel the simplicity of no home. My mind wants not to detach, believing it wants to cook, bake, knit, sew, learn, plow, transplant, water, hoe and oversee with a proud, swelling heart what the soil is willing to give back. The same happens on a creative level, a piece of fabric that started out as colorless form shapes itself into a natural dyed piece. The slow creation of soil, hands and mind is not always so much valued but, mostly, here lays contentment.

One of the good things of gardening is that the desire for more is justified and okay. For us no fake veggies covered in spray and bypassing the supermarket ‘healthy’ section is a remarkable superb feeling.

The winter, its quietness dropping down on the garden as whispering drops. The start of new life is so captivating, seeds that simply desire to see the light, feel the warmth not known to them as long as they are a seed. Now eager to get life, to become, to grow tall, starting off in a cold greenhouse. To water them is to be truly fascinating.

Once the sun peeks through the embracing clouds, pushing them aside and opens a big blue sky then the brain wants only one thing: cultivating. And cultivating is what happens. Though a little tour is what equally attracts me, just a little one, long enough to fulfill my desire, short enough to keep the itching hands at bay. However, I can not promise even myself that I can tear myself loose from my garden…

Once the sun brings warmth the feeling of wanting to cultivate is as big as it was to cycle the world. The realization to be able to eat the best possible food by working the soil has me working as (n)ever before. It seems miraculously a circuit of life.

Although I am creative, not so in cooking: I can not come up with anything very spectaculair. But as my recipe book states: ‘Anyone who can read, can cook’. Thanks to books I can even transform parsnips I’d forgotten to harvest into something very delicious.

On a full moon evening a greenhouse bursting with little ones, soon traveling to the big outside garden world and onto our plates.

Work not only the soil, but benefit from what is already there. In my first year I emphasized (too) much on wild foods and less on setting up my garden properly. That has changed but a little wildcrafting I keep going (I learned that you need only very little to last for a year).


Sumac is beautiful and it took me time to figure out you can actually eat it.


Elder is a treasure from nature. Do aggravate your workload in summer.


I tried goldenrod infused in oil and honey, dried as a tea and in corn bread.


I substitute the expensive maple syrup for nettle syrup in recipes.


Carob is superfood. John the baptist knew this, now I do too.


I use dandelion roots to mix with coffee and lupine as another sort of ‘coffee’.

By Cindy

Years of traveling brought me many different insights, philosophies and countries I needed to be (over 90 in total). I lived in Pakistan, went over 15 times to India and when I stopped cycling the world, that was after 50.000 kilometer through 45 countries, I met Geo. Together we now try to be more self-sustainable, grow our own food and live off-grid. I now juggle with the logistics of being an old-fashioned housewife, cook and creative artist loving the outdoors. The pouches I create are for sale on

21 replies on “Winter Reset”

It truly is a wonder, how things grow and flourish and what can be done with it. My husband and I so often, like daily, wonder about the willingness of the vegetables.

Of course, it does not come without MUCH work. But it gains MUCH PLEASURE and SATISFACTION too.

Thank you for your compliment. Greetings Cindy


Another great post Cindy. You are turning your environment into art, both as a traveler and as a farmer. In your eyes the most trivial things become jewels. Keep shooting and writing 🙂 Warm hugs from France.

Liked by 1 person

Yes Yves, I am thinking of writing you already for a few weeks but each time it is 10.00 AM, I shoot into action. Pretty much when we cycled, my times are set still the same.

Thank you for your compliment. I indeed see beauty everywhere and upon seeing the winter photos I thought, it’s nice to collect them in a blog, otherwise I won’t look at them anymore.

Write you soon.
Hug back!


Yes, Yves from Lyon. Drop me a line whenever you have time. I stopped farming a few weeks ago and I am about to resume my nomadic lifestyle 🙂 Keep safe !

Liked by 1 person

Lol no I’m not a cook! I am pretty hopeless! But I love to try and I am reading and trying new recipes to improve! I just love your good photos because it’s simple, honest, good food. I’m trying to make more “slow food” myself, everything from scratch! Your post was inspiring! Big hugs to you x

Liked by 1 person

Well, that makes two hopeless cooks! I can SO recommend you Ottolenghi books. I must say his cookbooks uses a lot of herbs, spices and unusual (that is; old fashioned) vegetables. All these herbs make for an expensive meal but I grow everything myself and so it’s the best of both worlds for me: delicious food I can not find anywhere else.

You can of course plant only the herbs in pots.

He even has a large South American inspired repertoire (for your husband, if I remember correctly he’s Peruvian?)

Big hug back and I’m really glad that I could inspire you.


Yes i have watches Ottolenghi on tv! I should get his books and give his recipes a go. I hope one day in the future to have a bit of land where I too could grow my veggies! For now its little herbs in pots for me! Xxx

Liked by 1 person

Nice photos Cindy! I think you need to create a post showing your most favorite dishes with the recipes listed. I am saying this because your food photos look yummy enough that I want to bite my computer screen, hahaha. 🙂 :- )

Liked by 1 person

Hi Anna, I am glad that you liked my post but I am not going to make a post about my most favorite dishes. For that I direct you to Ottolenghi, it’s all his 😉

I try to inspire you to see beauty, in food and living naturally. I’m basically just very upbeat about what can be achieved with growing your own vegetables. And that the transition from a cyclist to a home-bounded can be still adventurous 🙂

So, instead, you might want to find yourself some Ottolenghi recipes and eat them for real!

Greetings Cindy


But I get you, Anna: the food photos are looking fantastic, really to drool over. It’s no wonder that I cook every day like this, it’s just toooooo gooood!


Don't just stop here, I appreciate your thoughts too : )

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