Photo an Hour: A Lazy Lockdown Saturday

I always mean to do these things but usually miss them. So yesterday morning when I looked at twitter and saw Bev post a photo around 10am, I went, “hey, why not today?”

True to form though, I started a few minutes later and pretty much continued that way all day. It was a very cold and foggy day here in Franconia, and neither a walk nor a trip to the supermarket sounded terribly appealing, so it was a pretty quiet day at home.

Just after 10 and I was drinking tea in bed. Tea or coffee in bed and the New York Times crossword is my standard weekend start mode these days. At 11, I was up (briefly) for a tea refill and to check in on Marry while she supervised bird activity out the front window.

12pm and time for some yoga. My arm looks incredibly weird here, but slightly less awkward than trying to take a picture while actually doing the yoga? Finished with yoga, I was forced to take a breakfast break and catch up on my habit chart in the ol’ bullet journal because BV snaked my shower slot around 1pm.

Finally showered at 2, and got “ready” for the day. Though if you’re not really going anywhere, what are you really ready for? Anyway. I recently got this new facial cream with some points I’d saved up. It’s a bit thicker than what I’m used to, so I don’t think I’ll be using it every day but I think it’ll be great this winter when it gets so dry in here. 3pm and it was off to the kitchen to do some dishes (what else?) and refresh my sourdough starter.

Dishes finished, I was off to the living room at 4pm to figure out how to mess up the kitchen again. We had a few late zucchini from the garden that were starting to get weird, which meant I had the chance to test out a new recipe from Flavour. Marry was unimpressed as usual. My 5pm photo was even later than the others because I spent a good 30 minutes struggling to get the fire lit. I suspect the kid who delivers our adverts on the weekends (aka a giant pile of fire-starting paper) has been skipping our house. So lately it’s been a lot of struggling to get it going with strictly the pressed wood and cardboard. And ca. 52 matches per attempt.

Dinner prep/kitchen destruction underway at 6pm. Though all things considered, this recipe was pretty easy on the dish front. One cutting board, one knife, a wooden spoon, one pan, a bowl and spoon for the sauce. Plus, the simple sautéed zucchini with a harissa sauce was very tasty.

Possibly too tasty as I was too busy eating and watching a movie to catch the 7 or 8pm photos. We watched ‘Die Kleine Hexe,’ which is a classic children’s book, and had been one of BV’s favorites. I didn’t know the story, but thought it was a cute movie.

After the movie, BV retreated back to the office to continue cleaning and sorting. He’s still in the process of changing his name on everything/trying to figure out what he’s missed so far. I was still in the living room at 9, watching more nonsense on Netflix and continuing to work on this ridiculous cat coloring book that my sister brought me from Korea a few years ago.

10pm was time for an evening cup of after-dinner tea while Marry enjoyed her fire which had finally gotten the room heated up. At 11 I was contemplating going to bed, but got distracted flipping through the latest issue of Panorama, the German Alpine Club magazine. This article about a hiking trail that goes all the way across Slovenia especially caught my eye. We were there in September and I already can’t wait to get back!

I finally headed for bed around 12, but got slightly distracted for a few minutes trying to figure out if I remembered what was happening when I left off reading this book on our vacation. Nope, no clue, so I will be starting this one over. And that was it for a very quiet and cold November Saturday. The kitchen is already a mess again though, go figure.

22/52

50 Recipe Challenge: Part 5/5

~41. Roasted Garlic & Sweet Potato Polenta

I was eager for more polenta after the success and ease of the mushroom recipe, but this was was not as good. The sweet potato flavor was very mild, it was somewhat fiddly to do, and would benefit from pumping up the amount of garlic. By a lot (at least in this house).

~42. Rosinenschnecken (my recap post)

~43. Creamy Garlic Mushrooms

A fast and easy recipe, if not terribly exciting. An okay side dish though.

~44. Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

I cannot believe I made these and ate them without a single picture. They were ridiculously good though, so I shall be making them again. The recipe calls for pumpkin puree, either canned or homemade, and my roasted Hokkaido I had in reserve did the job perfectly.

~45. Skillet Brownie with Chocolate Ganache

Look at that shine! Another hard YES, YES you should make this. I was slightly short on bitter chocolate, but had a bar of chili chocolate laying around so threw that in. The chili gave it a great little kick, plus the crunch of sea salt on top was to die for. The only flaw to this recipe was that since it’s a skillet brownie, it tied up my favorite and most-used pan for a day or two until I could get all of it out and onto another dish. Other than that, I cannot recommend it enough.

~46. Sausage Gravy

Sometimes Twitter is super useful. Like, when you ask for suggestions on what to make for your BV when he wants biscuits but doesn’t feel like Cauliflower Chowder to go with them. Thanks to the lovely Regensbloggers, who suggested that I give these two recipes a go. Definite winners (as were their biscuits, which I tried another day).

~47. Homemade Sausage Patties

Per the directions above, we just used this for the gravy rather than patties. But if I get a breakfast sausage craving, I’m going for it.

~48. Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette

I don’t know when galettes became such a big thing, but I have pinned several of them lately. It’s possible that I just started noticing them after the lovely Cafe d’Azur in Nürnberg closed, meaning that I no longer could get a galette whenever the mood struck me. However, their galettes were more along the lines of a savory crepe, not a rustic tart like this one. Either way, I’m glad I’m no longer intimidated by crusts and pastries, because I’m never going back to not making my own galettes. Make this, and toss in some crushed garlic with the squash while it’s roasting. Win.

~49. German Pumpkin Soup

If a Sausage Has Two tells you to make something, you make it. End of story.

~50. Biberle (from Classic German Baking, recap to come)

These tiny gems were part of our annual Christmas cookie baking extravaganza this year and have been so popular that they will be going into the yearly rotation. A full Amateur Hour Baking: Plätzchen Edition will be coming soon…

 

Which brings us to the end. Almost. A few more new Plätzchen were tested out this year, so like I said, there will be a recap to come.

I’m quite pleased that I did make it to 50+ new recipes tested out. I’m debating if I want to try to do the same thing next year… since it seems that every day I come across at least one new recipe that sounds interesting or like something worth trying.

Meat is still a definite weak spot for me, and if you read through all 50 entries, you may have noticed it was a lot more vegetarian and baking-focused. I’m not a huge meat eater in general so I never feel confident that I’m doing something correctly, or that it tastes how it “should” taste. If I don’t think pork roast tastes good generally, how can I know if it’s right? Riddle me that.

So next year’s project is still TBD. I was lucky enough to receive Samin Nosrat’s gorgeous Salt Fat Acid Heat for Christmas this year, so I daresay that will give me some ideas as I make my way through it over the coming days.

And you? What was your favorite new food this year? 

50 Recipe Challenge: Part 4/5

Post-dating because I’m dumb at scheduling things sometimes…

~31. Spicy Peanut Stew with Ginger and Tomato

You can see a picture of this one in the ‘Brötchen’ post below. Stews are not the most photogenic things in the world, but it was fairly tasty. We would amp up the ginger on the next attempt,, but other than that the main flaw of this stew was that it made approximately one million dishes dirty. But lots of leftovers!

~32. Garlic Naan

Further comments on this one also in the Brötchen post…

~33. Brötchen (my recap post)

~34. Franzbrötchen (my recap post)

Nothing makes you feel more like a culinary genius than making something like this semi-successfully.

~35. “I Want Chocolate Cake” Cake

We didn’t have any buttermilk so I subbed in red wine per the suggestions in the recipe. I had a bit of trouble melting the chocolate so my frosting was a bit on the grainy side, but I was fairly okay with it. This was exactly the sort of ‘eat your feelings’ recipe that paired well with the news cycle of horrors back in September (don’t the Kavanaugh hearings seems like a thousand years ago?). If only.

~36. Linzertorte (my recap post)

Thought about making this one again for Christmas but as of now I think we’re sticking to Plätzchen and Glühwein for dessert with BV’s parents come here on the 24th. That’s enough… I hope.

~37. Oven Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms and Thyme

Oven polenta makes life so much easier, and this mushroom and herb combo is a piece of cake. I also tossed in some oregano and rosemary that we had in the fridge and that was a great choice.

~38. Coconut Butternut Squash Soup

Skipped the recommended topping and was also slightly short on squash so threw in a few carrots instead. Not the most exciting soup in the world but fast and easy on a weeknight.

~39. Bremer Kürbisbrot (my recap post)

~40. Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad

The problem with a tahini dressing is that it tan and gloopy and makes this look much less appetizing than it is. A tad more color would help, but I skipped the red onions that the recipe calls for because raw red onions (and raw green onions) are my nemeses and they ruin everything. The first time I made this I threw in some shallots for color, and that worked well, but sadly I was out this time.

 

Next week, the final ten!

50 Recipe Challenge: Part 3/5

~21. Bruschetta

Leading off today’s list with one of the easiest things in the world that is incredibly delicious and I’m only slightly resentful that it took me until age 34 to bother making. Fresh, homemade bruschetta for life! And don’t skip on toasting the baguette in butter beforehand…

~22. Peaches & Tomatoes with Burrata

Speaking of fresh and easy, this was also a great choice. My only regret is that I don’t have a picture of it for this post, and that peaches are out of season so I can’t recreate it just yet.

~23. Crab Cakes with Tomatillo Mayo

Ah yes, the crab cake debacle of 2018. Before that though, I couldn’t find any tomatillos so instead used a mix of roasted green tomatoes and poblano peppers for that sauce. That was all well and good, because the crab was a bigger problem. I was struck with a craving for crab cakes on a random day off, and all I could find at our local Edeka was the mostly-fake fish sakami sticks, and tiny packages of crawfish. They did taste vaguely of crab/fish, but they weren’t ideal.

For the second attempt, I managed to find some canned crab for a slightly absurd  price of €8/tiny can in the fancy Karstadt food section. It was super wet and goopy, but with a bit of draining and a lot more of the bread crumbs/other cake filling, they were a better choice. I’m hoping that the cheaper cans that were recently sourced at our new Asian food store will improve my next round of cake improvisation!

~24. Watermelon Feta Mint Salad

Fast and easy. That is all.

~25. Peach Brie Strudel (my recap post)

~26. Flammkuchen Elsässer Art

This recipe has been one of the better things to happen to me this year. (Shout out to Christie!) It’s so much easier than I thought it was to bring a bit of the Alsace to our own kitchen, and I can’t even count how often we’ve made it. Usually I’ve stuck to the bacon and onion variety, but this picture was from a day when we went with bacon (as I still had some in the fridge),  plus mushrooms and Gruyere. Highly recommendable.

~27. Spiced Chickpeas with Crispy Pita, Yogurt & Brown Butter

You want to make this. That’s my advice to anyone reading this. And when the recipe says it serves four, believe it. That means that even though you want to eat more, and (in our case), will eat more of it very quickly, you will feel like you need someone to roll you around the house afterwards. It is FILLING. And so, so, good.

~28. Garlic Soup

I made this tonight, specifically because I get home late on Mondays, it only takes about 30 minutes to make, we had all the ingredients (besides the Vinschgauer bread) and I was short on pictures for this post. You are welcome.

~29. Apfel-Marzipan Kuchen (my recap post)

~30. Knerken (my recap post)

In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I may take another whack at those crab cakes later this week… check back and see if I add another picture!

Next week… 31-40!

50 Recipe Challenge: Part 2/5

Who’s hungry? I’m guessing nobody (at least nobody in Germany) because the Christmas markets are officially open over here which means that all of us are slowly but steadily turning our innards into grilled meats, bits of candied fruit from Lebkuchen, while our blood transforms into Glühwein. 

Things get out of hand this time of year. But if you’re looking to cook something, maybe numbers 11-20 will stoke your imagination…

~11. Zwiebelkuchen (my recap post)

~12. Rüblitorte (my recap post)

~13. Israeli Couscous Salad

I couldn’t find Israeli couscous anywhere, and that was after I learned that it was even a thing. Yeah… never heard of it before I made this recipe. I wound up substituting orzo and this was a great quick and easy salad. Also, it makes a ton!

~14. Coconut Chickpea Curry

Another super fast and easy recipe, great on a weeknight when you want something warm! Also it paired well with an Icelandic beer.

~15. Loaded Nachos

I don’t know how the nacho train got started, but once it started it got slightly out of hand. Instead of chili beans, I opted for black beans, and stuck to just cheddar cheese because God knows Monterey Jack does not exist in Germany. It’s perfect with football, but unless you’ve got a full party coming over, be smarter than us and cut the recipe in half! Or a quarter. Or risk food coma.

~16. Orzo Pasta Salad

We made this (again with the orzo, this time as directed) a few times for summer grill parties. I really liked it, especially after pumping up all the seasonings in the dressing.

~17. Lauchtorte (my recap post)

~18. Puddingkuchen mit Rhabarber & Himbeeren

After making multiple Rhabarberkuchen from Classic German Baking*, I switched it up after seeing someone mention this cake on twitter. I made it twice, with less rhubarb and strawberries on the first bake and raspberries on the second. BV looooves rhubarb, but preferred the standard rhubarb cake, sans pudding. We both liked this one but it was a touch too sweet for his taste.

~19. Greek Feta Spinach Burgers

I don’t eat lamb so we stuck to ground beef here. Additionally we used only about a third of what the recipe calls for and it was still a ton of meat/burger for only two people. They were okay but more trouble than I’d want on a regular basis.

~20. Crazy Good Quick Garlic Noodles

As the name says, these were crazy good and quick. Perfect for a weeknight after subbing out shallots for green onions because green onions ruin everything. That’s a fact.

 

Anyone else feeling like nachos? And stay tuned for 21-30 next week! 

*Didn’t post about those as it was one of the few recipes that I had tried out before this year.

 

50 Recipe Challenge: Part 1/5

Mmmmm, South Tyrolian cheese plate…

This photo has literally nothing to do with this post, but I couldn’t lead this off with a picture of cauliflower. Granted, this South Tyrolian cheese plate isn’t the most colorful thing I’ve ever seen, but it was very tasty.

Long-time readers may remember that the whole “Amateur Hour Baking” project got started as part of a larger project to cook 50 new recipes this year. While I opted to only write about the German baking-related recipes, I am happy to report that I’m currently sitting at 49 new recipes tried.

At least, I think it’s that many. To be honest, I may have forgotten to note one down in my list and already be at 50, but either way, I’m certain I’ll get there.

While not all of these recipes were what you might call challenging (looking at you, Watermelon/Feta/Mint Salad), I thought people might be interested in what I wound up making. Thus, for the last five weeks of this year, I’ll share the relevant links in groups of ten. I’ll include quick photos if I’ve got them, with quick notes on substitutions, etc. Ein Guten! 

~1. Sicilian Roasted Cauliflower and Black Olive Gratin

I’m one of those weirdos who loves cauliflower. BV, not so much. Much as I love it, next time I’d roast the veggies in the oven first with spices instead of blanching them. Also, more garlic, more pepper, more olives, more everything.

~2. Butternut Squash Goat Cheese Pasta

I realized a step or two into this that I was actually supposed to make noodles out of my squash and since I don’t have a spiralizer (or whatever the hell those things are called), I just cubed up the squash to mix with the pasta and went for it. It’s squash and cheese, nothing wrong there.

~3. 5 Minute Restaurant Salsa

Since I can only find jalepeno peppers here when I’m not actually looking for them, I didn’t find any fresh. This was a simple and decent salsa with the poblanos, cayennes, and jarred jalapenos that I could get hold of.

~4. 5-Ingredient Black Bean Soup

Super fast and easy, served with the salsa above. Can’t go wrong.

~5. Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte

The first amateur hour baking project I did, which I never wrote about. Perhaps over the Christmas holidays I’ll revisit it and do a then/now comparison?

~6. Poblano Pepper Cream Pasta

This was one of the few recipes I tried this year that there’s no way I would bother with again. It was too fussy, and the consistency of the nuts was too odd for me.

~7. Lemony Pasta with Chickpeas and Parsley 

We pumped this up with more lemon, more sardines (who’s going to use only part of a container of sardines?), and more spinach than it called for. Good choices.

~8. Dark Chocolate Cherry Cake (my recap post)

~9. Lemon Spice Visiting Cake

I loved this cake. It came together pretty fast, didn’t make too much or too little, and had a great lemon flavor. I made it a few times, and it made a decent breakfast cake when we took it with us on our snowshoeing trip.

~10. Russisches Zupfkuchen (my recap post)

 

Stay tuned for 11-20 next week…

 

And are we hungry yet? 

31-Day Challenge 2018: Day 21

I write the most when…

this one is easy. I write the most when I’m experiencing some sort of emotional turmoil. I kept a journal all through high school, anxiously scribbling in the wee hours of the morning because I was basically an insomniac for those years. That also meant that I was unable to get up in the morning, causing my poor friend Angie to spend entirely too long sitting in her car in our driveway waiting for me on a daily basis.

I’ve written off and on over the years, again, usually when I’m trying to work out some sort of life decision, relationship problem, whatever it may be. And I think that’s why I struggle with this challenge.

It is my choice to do this. I enjoy writing. I want to do more of it. But I have a terrible time writing about myself, beyond the posts about travels or baking adventures, or whatever is going on in Germany these days.

At this point I’ve been here for nearly seven years. I’m used to most of the oddities of German life, so the weird stuff I see on a daily basis doesn’t really inspire me to sit down at the keyboard. I like writing about our travels, and I think my family appreciates the pictures, if no one else. I enjoy reliving it too, and I consider those post to be a good record of our adventures together. Some day when BV and I are old and gray, we can look back at them this way.

But when everything is normal and everything is good? I got nothing. Apparently emotional turmoil is my impetus to write and being in a functional relationship is not exactly conducive to that. Shit.

We are currently having a small disagreement, but my thinking that every pair of functional sandals that BV picks out is ugly, is not exactly tumultuous. So what to do? Pick more fights about footwear? Or find more inspiration in the daily. Help me, please! What should I talk about… send help… and snacks…

*****

Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, which will possibly now extend into June to compensate for the vacation gap, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

Weekend Photo Challenge!

Some days my commute is more… colorful than others.

I’ve seen this ad a few times over the last few weeks, and I thought it was perfect fodder for a photo challenge. So if you, lovely reader, think that you are a marketing genius, please leave a comment telling me what exactly is being advertised here!

Subtle.

The answer will be revealed on Monday, no prize unless you’re counting bragging rights and virtual high fives. 😉

With that, I’m off to enjoy the sun… happy weekend all!