01 August 2010

New Design!!

Hello loyal readers!

As many of you know, I've been working on the new design of the site on my domain, in preparation for switching permanently from Blogger hosting to a self-hosted website.

Basically, for the non-bloggers/non-tech savvy people out there (I counted myself among you until I decided to go for this change), by moving permanently to http://www.blissfullyunrefined.com I am able to exersize MUCH more control over my site's design, as well as offering some exciting new sections to my site!

So please update your subscriptions and bookmarks from the Blogspot address you are currently reading to my new address:

http://www.blissfullyunrefined.com

27 July 2010

German Product Spotlight: 5,0 Original Pils



Beer. Synonymous with Germany, right? Or more specifically, good beer. Now, I am a wine drinker normally (and it's ridiculously cheap here - about 3 Euro for a good bottle; that's less than $4 US), but you know what they say... when in Rome er, Germany...

The spotlight today is on Germany's very own 5,0 Original. The 5,o Orginal brand comes in 4 varieties: Pils, Weizen, Export, and Lemon (actually labelled 2,5 - I'll explain, don't worry).

I haven't tried the Weizen or the Export (I don't even know what "Export" means), so this spotlight will focus only on the Pils and the Lemon.


22 July 2010

Gonsenheim's WeinPark - Defining Local Food


Do you ever have one of those days when you really just DON'T want to cook?

A few nights ago, my husband and I had each had a very trying day.  We had both spent the ENTIRE day fighting with our respective computers - both of us on damn computer code (which I, at least, totally don't understand). Lo and behold, the hubs gets home at like, 8:45 or something. Now, I don't know why - maybe because they like a true work/life balance here - most small local restaurants close at 10 PM on weeknights. Being a Tuesday, we look at the clock and realize that since it's now after 9 PM, the restaurant I wanted to go to (a 10 minute walk away) would close shortly. No food in the house - everything is closing, and I was in a hunger-induced state of hyper-cranky.

A True Definition of Local Food

Then, we remember the WeinPark, a small Weinstube we had found a few weeks back. We had the place's business card, saw it was open to 11 PM (yay!) and hurried on down.

Let me pause here for a second to share the main reason I wanted to go back to this particular restaurant. In a conversation with Philip (the server at the restaurant) on our first visit, we discovered he is not only a food and wine enthusiast, but a hunter as well. In fact, the meat in the Wildschwein Goulash on the menu that last time was... acquired on his last hunting trip. How cool is that?

Clearly, we had to return! And this second trip we were not disappointed. This time, we got to peruse the regular menu. It includes a variety of German food:  several versions of Flammkuchen - including one with Koren kimchee, very un-German - as well as several local specialties like Spundekäs', Handkäse mit "Musik" ("mit Musik" means with onions... no, Musik is not a German slang for onions, just their effect on the human digestive tract... think it through), etc. There is even a full list of authentic Korean specialties. Needless to say, quite an eclectic mix.

Sure, I'm Game

What caught my eye however was one particular dish: "Reh- oder Wildschwein Carpaccio" which is either Venison or Wild pig Carpaccio. Unfortunately, I was unable to confirm if it was Philip's latest hunt before ordering since Mrs. Park (the owner/proprietress of the establishment) took our order. You see, when my husband ordered what he wanted, she answered him in such rapid German - and with a Korean accent - and I lost the nerve to ask; I just kind of grunted "die carpaccio" and pointed at the menu (my German kind of stinks...). I really was not sure what the exchange between Mrs. Park and my hubs was all about - all I know is he answered her with "Ja, ich probiere" ("Yes, I'll try").

So Philip brings out our food, sets it on the table, and says "I have something to say about your meal before you start" (yes, in English!). He goes on to explain to me "Your meal - I shot that." So now I am EXCITED! I had no idea what animal it even was (I later asked - it was from a deer he shot last month!). Thinly sliced raw venison, drizzled with really amazing olive oil, some fresh grated Parmesan and fresh cracked black pepper, garnished with pine nuts (yum!) and some chunks of fresh pineapple (not sure how authentically Mediterranean THAT is...) - let me tell you, I was in absolute heaven! I think by now, if you've read through my posts, you'll realize I am a huge fan and advocate of local sustainable food - you don't really get much closer to my food ideals than this meal. And Philip is so excited about the food he serves that it's hard not to get excited with him.

A Personal Touch

Now add to this wonderful experience the fact that Mrs. Park made my husband something off-menu.  As it turns out, when he tried to order one of the Korean specialties on the menu, she was apparently explaining that everything on that page must be ordered a day in advance. As Philip later told us (while handing us a copy of the Korean Specialties), all of those dishes need a good day's notice to be made properly. So it turns out what Mrs. Park did was make the hubs something Korean-style completely off the cuff - Given how delicious his meal was, we are DEFINATELY going back for the real thing later!

Side note: Philip  also went on to point out that WeinPark is amazingly the ONLY Weinstube in Gonsenheim (a rarity in this area where you can find Weinstuben everywhere) and it's owned by a Korean woman! A very unique place indeed.

So if you're ever in Mainz, take the #50 or #51 tram from the Hauptbahhof to Gonsenheim's WeinPark - you will not be disappointed!


WeinPark

Breite Straße 65

55124 Mainz

Open Sunday & Tuesday through Friday 6PM to 11PM

Telephone: 06131-90 70 777 Call ahead for their Korean specialties, or to inquire about any specials featuring Philip's latest hunt.

Korean Menu:

  

19 July 2010

German Festivals: Johannisnacht



OK, it's been almost a month since Johannisnacht, but I couldn't let these posts slip away from me. I consider it my responsibility to share my experiences out here with those less fortunate. After all, not everyone gets to travel (and people who do, well, if you're like me, you like to have some idea of what these festivals are like so you know what to expect). Plus, my family probably reads my blog on occasion, and they need to know I'm getting away from the computer now and then!

A Little History


There are three big festivals here in Mainz: Fastnacht (a.k.a. Carnival/Mardi Gras, etc) in February, the Weinmarkt in August (huge wine festival), and Johannisnacht in June. Johannisnacht is a Mainzer celebration (i.e. it's celebrated here in lovely Mainz, Germany) to honor their prodigal son, Johannis Gutenberg. You may have heard of him; he invented the world's first moveable-type printing press, revolutionizing the way we produce and distribute books and periodicals, and basically making it possible to bring reading material to the masses (as opposed to a few rich scholars).




Basically, it's a huge folk festival, with entertainment, sights, and lots of German street food - inevitably my favorite part. I realized about halfway through processing my photos of this awesome party that it was WAY too much for one post. So today, I'm going to focus on the food (since it's my favorite part).

My Decadent Obsession


I love fairs and festivals. My hometown, Sterling MA, has a great town fair every September. From the time I was 13 and all through college, I never missed it. It helps that my parents' house is less than a half mile from the "airport" where they've held it for the past decade. I even managed to come back for the fair after living in NC for a year. Sadly, I have missed the fair for the past couple of years. If you don't count all of the ribbon-bearing local competition (I'm the proud holder of the 2nd place ribbon for my chocolate chip cookies the last year I entered - I beat my mom, just had to throw that out there). Boy do I miss the food! Most importantly, I miss the apple crisp and chesesteak. Ohhhh....

Living in NC, I had the pleasure of eating my way through the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh for the past 2 Autumns. NC fair food is a whole different beast: grilled corn on the cob, turkey legs, deep-fried Coca Cola (don't ask - just understand it's delicious), frozen chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick, deep-fried Snickers, deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried cheeseburgers - you name it, you can probably find it fried, hot apple cider, the list is ginormous.

So now I'm in Mainz. I was lucky enough to come over a period of time that includes every major (and minor) festival outside of the Christmas Markets that take over every town for the month of December. Johannisfest is a big one.

The Foods


One of the best street foods they offer out here: crepes. OK, I'll admit, they are French in origin, but I'm only about an hour and a half's drive from the French border, and they're delicious, so whatever. Germans are obsessed with the things. The favorite filling? Nutella, pretty much across the board. A friend of mine goes nuts over Nutella and fresh strawberries in hers; I think if she were offered a job where she was paid ONLY in strawberry-Nutella crepes, she'd leap at the chance.

They offer a ridiculous amount of combinations: sweet, savory, you name it. I tend to gravitate toward savory fillings like tomato and cheese, or very simple fillings, like a drizzle of Amaretto (SO delicious - great light Summer snack).




But no, that day,  we chose to mix it up a bit. We (yeah, the hubs makes me share) went with a very German filling: Nutella (for obvious reasons) and Eierlikör - a German spirit similar to eggnog, but without the spices, and with the booze built in. It's absolutely wonderful on ice cream, or in crepes with Nutella! ;)

If you've never seen a crepe in the works (and amazingly, before living here, I hadn't!) here's how it works:





First the crepe-maker... person ladles some batter onto a special crepe pan, and spread it out with a dowel-like device. After about 30 seconds, they run a spatula or other flat device under the crepe to loosen it, and flip it, allowing the other side to cook. Then, they add the fillings (as you can see, they drizzle a healthy amount of Nutella first, then follow it up with the Eierlikör, straight from the bottle).




Next, they fold two opposite sides in, score the ends, and fold in the ends, making a nice little rectangular packet of thin, eggy pancake encasing whatever fillings you've choosen.



Ta-Da!




Yeah, that's my hubby. Doesn't he look happy with that crepe in his hand?


Some other very German offerings:


Ham on a spit... (sadly, we didn't make it to this stand for an actual meal)




Chocolate-dipped chilis - funny considering the German palette tends to shy away from anything too spicy. Missed out on this too; I took a picture to remind myself to go back, and still forgot...




Craving something a little lighter? How about a fish sandwich from Kapt'n Seyer?





This one we DID try - they were basically making something akin to a German Flammkuchen, or flatbread pizza (only sans tomato sauce). The menu:




Don't let the menu fool you. This particular stand was popular enough to have a perpetual line for their Dinnelen. Essentially, you would get into line, pay, and receive a number. Once a tray of various Dinnelen was finished (yeah, they were actually using that wood-burning oven you see above - no backup, that's it), you would be called up by number to choose form whatever the people ahead of you DIDN'T want.

We ended up with a potato-onion one (honestly, that was my second choice, so I was pretty happy), and it was worth the wait. The bread was crispy, and slightly charred from the wood-burning oven, the potatoes were a little on the al-dente side, but once you get to the cream cheese-garlic spread underneath, everything gets very OK very quickly!

Some other foods I didn't manage to get a picture of (I was hesitant to take out my Nikon in the BIG crowds later in the weekend):

  • 1/2 meter bratwurst (not bad for 3 Euro, they even gave us an extra roll at no charge so the hubs and I could share, even though we DID ask to BUY it)
  • Champignons - Yeah, another French-inspired fair food, they caramelize mushrooms (sometimes with onions) and serve them hot with garlic sauce, similar to tzatziki.
  • Bratkartoffeln - similar to homefries; thin slices of potatoes cooked on a huge griddle with bacon and onions.
  • Asian noodle stands - complete with take-out box
  • The "Kaffeehaus" serving homemade cake slices for ridiculously cheap - also ridiculously tasty! Brought the hubs a slice since he was working night shift the last day of the festival and missed the fireworks.
  • "American" treats - don't ask me how they come up with this stuff. "American" donuts in flavors like Tiramisu, and Choco-cherry.  Easily our favorite: "California style" ice cream. One friend of ours put it best when she said "Yeah, because everyone knows California is famous for their ice cream!"

The Drinks


Of course, verious foods are common to any festival, be it in Texas, Massachusetts, or here in Mainz. The main thing that stand out to me here is the propensity of alcoholic beverages offered across the festival. Now, to be frank, there isn't really an "open container" law here anyway - unless you're walking down the street with a bottle of liquor. You can walk around drinking a beer anywhere you feel like. You can bring a flask to a club. They're really very open about the whole thing here.

This extends to fairs and festivals. Beer booths, wine booths, cocktails, you name it. The best part is it's not overpriced! Seriously, you'll pay about the same for a glass of wine as you will for a bottle of Coke out here. But the wine is all peddled by local wineries, which is like a dream come true for me. It pairs my love of the fair experience with my love of wine and all things local. I'm a big believer that we should focus more on locally made products versus big-business junk you can find anywhere. It's better economically, and allows you to truly immerse yourself in local culture.


This was only one plaza filled with Mainzer Wintzer (Mainz Vintners). Our favorite drink of this festival though?



The Sommerwind

Here's what you need:


2 parts sparkling white wine
1 part fresh-squeezed blood orange juice

Here's what you do:


OK, it's a glorified Mimosa (but oh my god, SO much better). Simply fill a glass 2/3 of the way with your sparkling wine (here the wine of choice is a dry Riesling Sekt), then top off with your juice. Well-chilled it's easily the most refreshing drink I've had, like, ever.



Next time, I'll cover the attractions that made this such a great festival (including explaining the first photo in this post). Stay tuned!

15 July 2010

German Products Spotlight: The "Wunderbar"

So, I'm trying out a new feature on the site. I figure I have a few months left in Germany, I should spotlight some of the products that you find here (and that I'll miss once I go back home!!).

That being said, I picked this one up purely for the hilarity of it. Everyone, this is the Wunderbar:



Yes, they have a candy bar here with probably the best pun-inspired name ever. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

"a peanut butter caramel experience"


Ok, it might just be me, but shouldn't a German candy bar wrapper be written in, oh I don't know, GERMAN?

Oh wait, THAT explains it...



Yes, the Wunderbar is made in Canada. I was so excited when I saw it in the store; to get home and realize everything on the label is in English first, and it's not even made here... I'm sorry, but we in North America don't do Cadbury justice (I've had Cadbury in the UK - no friggin comparison). So disappointing...

Well, after the initial disappointment, I thought it was still funny enough to post about (clearly), and I couldn't let a wondrous combination of chocolate, caramel, peanut butter and crispy rice go to waste, now could I?

So let's open this sucker up



My first thought? It looks surprisingly like a Twix. A little bigger, but quite Twix-like all the same. Being the scientifically minded person I am (and knowing that I needed to save half for the hubs), I bisected it cleanly in half for a closer inspection of the strata (fancy speak for "I cut that sh** in half to see the pretty layers of sweety goodness")



Notice the three distinct layers of this luscious treat. You have a crunchy, peanutty filling coated in smooth sticky caramel, all lovingly draped in North America's finest chocolate. Truly Wunderbar!

Don't believe me?



See? If it's in a diagram, especially one with arrows, you know it has to be good!

Well, it looks tasty enough, but you never know until you try.

Mmm.......


Final Verdict?

OK, all joking aside, this is a sad excuse for an "authentic" German treat. There's really nothing German about it. In fact, it's nothing more than a clever ruse concocted by North American businessmen to make poor homesick expats (like myself) feel comfortable in the big scary world of Not-North-America.

I'll be honest, I fell for it - I was taken in by the novelty of the Wunderbar like a true gullible American traveller before coming to my senses to realize it's about as German as Pommes Frites (hugely popular). I don't honestly think I've seen a single German person buying candy bars at the store, or walking around with one. I haven't seen the wrappers in the trash (or on the ground - they keep the streets fairly clean here in Mainz). Truth is, candy bars as we know them were invented by the British, and "perfected" by Americans. So far, the only really good bar chocolate is found in Switzerland.

OK, so we've established the astounding non-Germanness of the Wunderbar. Setting that aside and just looking at this product as a candy bar, it's a pretty good one. The caramel is soft and smooth; it's not so sticky that it adheres your teeth together, and not so overpowering that all you taste is sweet sugar. The filling is pretty good: soft and a little crumbly, with crisped rice mixed in, giving it a light and interesting texture. The choclate is what you would expect from any American candy bar. All in all, it's basically taken the flavors of a Baby Ruth, and made them easier on your teeth.

In the end, it gets a "0" for authenticity, but a "7" overall for taste. Not bad, but not really Wunderbar.

14 July 2010

Daring Cooks Challenge: Nut Butters!

The Challenge:


"The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online."

At first glance, making nut butters don't seem like much of a challenge. Put nuts in a food processor, and blend them. Done. OK.

Second part of this month's challenge: use said nut butter in a savory recipe. Again, doesn't seem difficult. For my first challenge with the Daring Cooks, I was more than a little let down. I mean, Chicken Saté (a savory nut butter application) isn't exceptionally uncommon; most people I know have had it. Although some of the provided recipes looked delicious, and I was really looking forward to trying out a cashew-butter version of peanut (or sesame) noodles, I felt like this one was going to be a breeze.

Holy crap, was I wrong.

12 July 2010

Under Construction

Hey there loyal readers!

As some of you have undoubtedly noticed, I am working on a new design for the site. Basically, I have decided to go self hosted for a project related to this blog, and self-hosting was just the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize a lot of the specifics required for making the switch (live and learn). Namely, I had to make some internal changes to nameservers and a whole bunch of computer mumbo jumbo that has rendered my direct URL kind of useless until I go live with my new design. I had been told I could continue to route traffic here to my Blogger blog while I worked on the redesign in the background, but that proved... complicated; international tech support, what can I say? When you outsource your customer service to another (non-native-English-speaking) country, things are going to get lost in translation - literally.

So for now, I will be continuing to work on my redesign over at my usual URL, but will continue to post here. I hope to have the redesign ready to launch within another week, but I'll make sure to keep you updated! Until then, just continue here, http://blissfullyunrefined.blogspot.com for current content!

For today, please enjoy this photo from the Hochheim Weinfest (going on now!)

Wine's Baby Picture

08 July 2010

Recipe: Basic Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

The time has finally come! Since it's taken 3 previous posts to get here, without further ado, I present my recipe for....

Basic Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

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Servings: 4 Prep Time: 5 min Cook Time: 10 min

Here's what you need:
  • 3 TB butter 
  • 3 TB flour 
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups milk (whole is best) 
  • 5-6 ounces of grated cheese(s) of your choice (to keep it traditional, I use one part gouda, one part muenster, 1 part sharp cheddar, appx. 1/2 cup each) 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp nice, sharp mustard 
  • 1 lb pasta 
  • Optional: diced tomatoes

Here's what you do:
  • Boil your water for your pasta, salt, and start the pasta cooking. Make your cheese sauce while your pasta is cooking (they should be finished about the same time) - drain and set aside when done, keeping warm if necessary. Note, this recipe does not go into the oven, so you want your pasta to be fully cooked. 
  • Assemble your Mornay Sauce: 
    • Make a roux with the butter and flour. Cook until just lightly golden and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. 
    • Gradually whisk your milk into the roux, and cook until thickened completely, 3-4 minutes 
    • Add your cheese about 1/2 cup at a time, whisking until melted fully and incorporated, about 4-5 minutes. Once you've added all of your cheese, add the mustard if using, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed 
  • Add your hot pasta to the cheese sauce, and stir to coat. Garnish with chopped tomatoes if you'd like.
  • That's it. Eat it and enjoy! 




And so ends my Mac and Cheese Series. I hope you enjoyed it. Please, feel free to get creative with the blank canvas I've supplied here. If you want to get really crazy, feel free to try some of the following combinations:

-Fajita Mac: Add a little chili powder and lime zest to your Béchamel, then add your cheeses (Cheddar-Jack, Muenster, Gouda, cream cheese) and a TB or two of sour cream. You can then stir in sauteed onions, pepper, and fajita steak/chicken (great use of leftovers). Feel free to add a little beer as well.

-Swiss Fondue Mac: Add in a pinch of nutmeg and a splash of dry white wine to your Béchamel before incorporating your cheeses(Gruyère, Fontina, Emmenthaler). You can even add some sauteed veggies to complete the Fondue experience. (I've started looking to The Melting Pot for cheese combos)

-Crazy Awesome Mac: Right after adding your milk, throw in pinches of cinnamon or nutmeg, garlic powder, and yellow curry powder, along with about 2 tsp fresh thyme, and about 1 tsp of sambal (or hot sauce of your choice). Allow the herbs and spices to infuse into the milk, then add your cheese (Edamer and Muenster). Meanwhile, caramelize one small onion in a skillet; add about 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes until they break open and start to caramelize. Add 1 minced clove of garlic, and cook 1 more minute. Stir the onion-tomato mixture into your cheese sauce along with 2-4 fl oz of ale, then add your pasta. Freaking awesome, let me tell you.




And in case you missed it, the rest of the Mac & Cheese series that led up to this exciting finale:


Part III: Cheesy Choices & Mornay

07 July 2010

Wordless Wednesday: 7 June


Mainzer Johannisnacht

Fresh Cold-Coconut for a Euro ... the Ferris Wheel, and ...Well, I'm honestly not really sure...

06 July 2010

Mac & Cheese Pt. III: Cheesy Choices & Mornay

Who doesn't love cheese? Ok, anyone with allergies, please don't answer - you'll skew my data!

We're up to Part III of my Stovetop Mac & Cheese Series - so close, you can almost taste it? ...ok, bad pun, I'll admit! We've gone over the bases upon which our cheesy sauce will be built: the roux, and how to use it to create a classic French Béchamel Sauce. I'll be wrapping up the sauce discussion shortly, but before you can finish your cheese sauce, you first have to make a crucial decision: "What kind of cheese?"

Most people will automatically jump straight to Cheddar. Not so fast! While Cheddar is, indeed, delicious (for me, the sharper the better!), the cheese world has so many options, why limit yourself? You need at least 3-4 cheeses to make a truly stellar and earth-shattering Mac and Cheese. But how do you know what to choose?

In my humble opinion, you need to carefully weigh two considerations: taste and texture. Some cheeses are great  melters, and add a creaminess that makes your tongue very happy indeed, but don't really lend a huge cheesy punch. Other cheese are flavor powerhouses, but can get gritty or add a funky texture to your noodles.

05 July 2010

Kitchen Basics: Intro to Mother Sauces & Béchamel

"A well made sauce will make even an elephant or a grandfather palatable." -Grimod de la Reynière

I'm not so sure about that, but leave it to a Frenchman to come up with a great quote about sauce. The French worship sauce. And boy, can they make some good ones. There are five basic sauces in classical French cuisine, often called the Mother sauces due to being the most common and simple bases to most French sauces. The first 3 of the 5 sauces share a common makeup: your roux, and a liquid. The first four sauces listed were identified by Antoine Carême, and good ol' number five was later added by Escoffier.




Here are your 5 "grandes sauces" as they call them in French:

1. Béchamel or White Sauce: So called because it consists of milk thickened with a white roux (one that has just had the raw flour flavor cooked out, but hasn't gotten any color). This forms the base of Mornay - i.e. cheese - sauce (hm, wonder where I'm going with this one), 
2. Velouté or Blonde Sauce: So called because it consists of a "white" stock - poultry, etc - thickened with a blonde roux (one that's gotten a hint of color, blonde, easy enough to figure out). Ever had Chicken Supreme? Or gravy on your Thanksgiving turkey? That was a Velouté based sauce my friend.
3. Espagnole or Brown Sauce: So called because it consists of a "brown" stock - think red meat, beef, veal, etc. - thickened with a brown roux (one that's been cooked to a nice deep brown color - really, the naming isn't rocket science). Demi-glace and Madeira Sauce are common derivatives. 

Also included are:

4. Hollandaise or Emulsion Sauces: also includes Mayonnaise. These are sauces that involve (you guessed it) an emulsion, usually involving fat and egg yolks. 
5. Tomate or Tomato Sauce: Although not necessarily French at first glance, it's still a good, basic sauce. You can thank Escoffier for tomato sauce's addition to the list.

Although these are all very important sauces in their own right, today we are going to focus on the first 3, with notes specifically for Béchamel Sauce, as Part II of my Stovetop Macaroni & Cheese series. (The process is basically identical for the Velouté and Espagnole Sauces, so there you go).




02 July 2010

Kitchen Basics: Making a Roux

I have some quick net access today, so I am going to begin my promised series on Mac & Cheese.

There are three major components to a great stovetop macaroni and cheese: the béchamel sauce, the cheese, and the pasta.

We'll address the béchamel as a whole in my next post. Today, I'll cover the first (and in my opinion, most important) step to making this sauce: the roux.

30 June 2010

Update

Hey everyone!

I had a quick minute to get online, and post a quick update to the blog. I'm so sorry I haven't posted anything of substance lately, but trust me, some great stuff is in the works! I'm working on a top-secret new project that I hope will be a fun (and different) addition to the site). 

As it stands, I'm having some personal and family related issues that need to be taken care of, but I'll hopefully be able to at least get a few quick photos up. 

Things to look forward to:
-a series on making mac and cheese
-a series on Johannisnacht, our local festival celebrating Johannis Gutenberg
-lots of fun photos
-my top-secret project

I'll be checking in soon, and again, apologies for the delays. I should be back up and running at full speed in a week. 

-Shea.

28 June 2010

Where I'll be the next week

Over the next week or so, you may notice a lack of posts. Don't be alarmed, I just won't have internet at home for a week or so. 

I plan to try and get some posts out this week and next, but that will require trekking to the hubby's office, which is normally pretty convenient, except this week, he's got a big project going on. As such, my access to the interwebs will be limited. I am planning to try and get out my planned posts as usual, however, circumstances may end up outside my control. 

As it is, this will be a golden opportunity to break my dependence on the internet, and branch out a bit! (Yeah, sure).

I just wanted to let you all know what was going on. Stay tuned for a series on homemade stovetop mac and cheese, and a recounting of this weekend's Johannisnacht - a celebration of Mainz's prodigal son, Johannis Gutenberg (yeah, that guy with the printing press). German street food, attractions, a public showing of a World Cup match, and some serious entertainment await! I can tell you, my feet are sore, my belly is full (and tonight is the firewroks show, so it's not over yet!)

25 June 2010

The Problem with Hollandaise (and a great hack)

Breaking Benjamin... I mean Hollandaise

Hollandaise is notoriously tricky - ask anyone. The preparation is classic, and there are a lot of rules to making it. Professional chefs around the world tout the classic method of making this sauce: the double boiler method. This is how I was taught to make Hollandaise in college (big shout out to my instructor, Linda Kinney, but by no means is this a direct quote):

"Reduce vinegar (or lemon juice) with a few peppercorns in a double boiler over low simmering water. Remove the peppercorns and add in your egg yolks. Whisk like mad until they double in volume, but be careful not to over heat and scramble your yolks. Then remove your bowl, put it on a towel wrapped in a circle to insulate the bowl and keep it steady while you whisk like mad again as you pour hot melted butter into your yolks. Make sure there are no open windows or drafts, because this will break your sauce."

And break it did. My cooking partner and I totally forgot to close the window (mostly because I thought that the warning was crap), and our sauce... well, it went to that great Sauce Pot in the sky. Alas. The fun part was, since we had time left in class, we got to start all over again, only this time, we had to get it right.

24 June 2010

Recipe: German Spargel Dinner

So, yesterday I posted a picture of my (likely) last taste of German white asparagus. Forget the green stuff; in Deutschland, white is the king of vegetables. Unfortunately, the season is relatively short. Here in Mainz, it officially ends with the coming of Johannesfest. I'm not exaggerating; after this weekend, there will be no more available asparagus until next spring. The fields are abandoned and remaining crops will be allowed free reign to grow into whatever asparagus grows into when we stop picking it.

I'm excited about the upcoming festival (one of the big 3 they have out here) but I'm sad to think that the coming of the Festival marks the end of Spargel season.

There are virtually innumerable ways to prepare this veggie, but I chose to stick with a classic, traditional dish that graces menus across the country between May and June. Although many restaurants will attempt new, bold ways of preparing Weißspargel, you can always find the classic preparation as well, namely steamed or boiled asparagus with a side of Salzkartoffeln, basically boiled potatoes. It's usually served with lemon, melted butter, or the incredibly decadent Hollandaise sauce. Most restaurants also offer the option of adding a side of protein in some form (the sign from this restaurant offers ham, salmon filet, or a veal steak). This preparation is really all about the Spargel.

23 June 2010

Wordless Wednesday: 23 June


Traditional German Spargel Dinner

To commemorate the end of the spargel season here in Germany:

Seasonal, fresh german white asparagus (Weiß Spargel), dressed with homemade Hollandaise, accompanied by simple boiled potatoes (Salzkartoffeln) and smoked salmon (Raucherlachs). Recipes to come tomorrow.

21 June 2010

Recipe: Tropical Teriyaki Mini-Burger


What's in a name?

One constant I see online whenever anyone mentions the infamous "slider" is an instant outcry for a name change. Usually from people from NJ. Or anyone who has ever eaten at White Castle.

I had an inkling I knew what they meant when they said things like "Calling them sliders is so gross, can we come up with something new?" however I wanted to confirm my suspicions. Lo and behold, one of the common explanations for the origin of the term "slider" is definitely on the unappetizing side. Most of the stories I've read do agree on one common aspect of these petite beef patties: they're greasy. The grease allows them to slide. Where they are sliding to, from, or through is the point of contention. Some people claim the term was coined by the US Navy; some claim it was White Castle (which is what I've always heard).

18 June 2010

The Fat Acceptance Movement: A Dangerous Precedence?

This week, I read about a woman in NJ named Donna Simpson, a 600+ pound woman whose fantasy is to reach 1000 pounds. Ms. Simpson recently applied to the Guinness Book of World Records to be listed as the world's heaviest birth mother; three years ago, she gave birth to her daughter, with the help of a 30-person medical team called in to help with her high-risk C-section. Now she's gearing up to attempt to become the world's most massive mom. She admits she has tried to lose weight in the past, but ultimately came to the conclusion “It's a struggle for me to be thin, and I've said if it's such a struggle it must not be natural, so I refuse to do the battle anymore." Amazingly, her 150-pound husband is encouraging her in this endeavor.

One of the stories about Ms. Simpson stood out to me in particular, from CBS.com, advising that Ms. Simpson has become an outspoken advocate of the Fat Acceptance movement. I had never heard of this movement before, so I decided to look into it.

17 June 2010

Under the weather...

Hello loyal readers!

As you might have noticed, I haven't posted much this week. I've been a little under the weather, and this morning woke up with a pretty bad toothache/earache (not really sure which specifically is aching, since a problem in one can cause the other...). Anyway, I am working diligently on a post that I think will be pretty interesting - the Fat Acceptance movement, and its implications. It's all about equality and like-mindedness for fat individuals (I'm not being un-PC by saying "fat" by the way; according to those in the movement, they prefer "fat" to "overweight" or "obese"), and acceptance of oneself.

I will examine the basics tenets of this grassroots movement, and compare the pros and cons of such a movement. I hope you'll check back (I am aiming to have this post up tomorrow). Although I don't intend to offer a judgment one way or the other, I will examine the benefits and dangers to such a movement.

Talk to you soon!

-Shea

16 June 2010

14 June 2010

A Nutrient Rich Breakfast - Plus Chocolate!

When trying to eat healthy, sometimes looks can be deceiving. Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut. I believe that any breakfast, however bad its reputation, and however nutritionally vacant it might look can actually hold some value. Fact is, I like to eat, and I'm not going to deprive myself of something delicious just because general wisdom says it's "bad." (Read through this blog long enough, and you'll pick up my overall disdain of general "wisdom.").

Some things do need a makeover however.

That being said, this was my healthy breakfast last Sunday:



(What you can see: pancakes with a homemade strawberry sauce. What you can't see: between each layer is a thin slathering of Nutella spread.)

You may be thinking, pancakes and chocolate? How can this possibly be healthy?!

11 June 2010

Strawberries Two Ways

I have yet another incurable food addiction.



When I was a kid, we would visit my grandparents in Bordentown, NJ. My grandfather, as you may recall, had a huge garden down there (his retirement garden in West Virgina is even bigger, which really makes no sense, since the rest of the family is still in NJ). My fondest childhood memory was going during strawberry season. My cousins and I would go out and pick our own strawberries: gorgeous, plump, juicy red berries that were lucky if they even made it inside to my Nan, who would cut them for us, stick them in a tall glass with a little sprinkle of sugar (not that they needed it).

Really, can you beat a memory like that? Name me one childhood memory you have that is more wholesome and lovely. :)

Well, today I went to the farmer's market, like I do almost every Friday afternoon. I was smarter today than usual. Instead of being instantly drawn to the first fragrant strawberry stand, I looked around for the best deal, and best fruit. I managed to find them at a stand buried behind most of the produce stands. Hidden within meat trucks and honey stands was the best deal I had seen yet, and absolutely the best berries in the market. Three schale for 5 euro (that comes to about 1.5 kilos, roughly 5 pounds of strawberries). Being that it's only the hubs and myself, this may seem like overkill, but trust me, it's not. I have plans.

I'm going to share 2 of my favorite ways to eat this lovely little berry.

10 June 2010

What to do with leftover coffee

Leftover coffee - a hellish concept really. Now, I know you probably don't ever have coffee leftover in your pot in the morning, but let's assume, for argument's sake, that it does occasionally happen. For instance, you get a couple of boxes of coffee from Starbucks for your buddies at work, and somehow manage to be the only coffee drinker in the room. It's not really healthy to drink 20+ cups yourself in a day, so if you don't figure something out soon, all that precious bean juice will just go to waste!

The idea of just pouring it down the drain seems ghastly, and frankly, should be punished with thumbscrews, or some equally heinous Medieval torture device befitting a crime of this magnitude. In order to keep all your limbs intact, here's a list of ways to use up that box o' joe.

09 June 2010

Coffee: Busting myths all over the place



Coffee - the world's second most loved liquid (after water), and yet so misunderstood. For years, human kind has been plagued by myth and speculation alike, giving rise to the idea that coffee, while delicious, is ultimately bad for you.

Well, as you may have guessed, I decided it was high time to find out the truth behind the legend. General "wisdom" says red meat, carbs, and coconut oil are all a step away from killing you, but that's not necessarily true, so maybe they're wrong about coffee too.

07 June 2010

DIY Press Pot Coffee

Some days, it's just hard to get going. Mondays are especially challenging.



Just 5 more minutes, Mom!


When you're having a rough morning, there's only one thing you can do to get the gears running (OK, there's usually only one thing I can do - hopefully you're stronger than me!). Yes folks, I am here to introduce one of my very closest friends, one who stuck with me through the hard times, kept my head up and un-fogged through college, and got me through my wedding given the very small amount of sleep I had the night before.

Coffee.

Ahhhh, a steaming hot cup of the dark brew is enough to make even a sad dreary day brighter. That first sip is like a choir of angels singing Hallelujah to your morning. This is why moving to a kitchen with counterspace that is literally a mere 6" by 18" was not so much a challenge as a punishment: no space for a coffee pot!

06 June 2010

A Day in the Life: Diary of a Foodie

Living Abroad - A Foodie Day in Mainz


 Living in Germany has really given me the opportunity to embrace food in a way I haven't before. And it allows for some great Saturday adventures. The Farmer's Market here in Mainz is unbelievable. It runs Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, year-long. I usually go shopping on Tuesday or Friday, because Saturday is like a whole different beast. Throngs of people crowd stands piled with fresh local and imported produce. Delicious smells waft over the crowd, lending to more of a carnival atmosphere than a mere farmer's market.

Saturday is my favorite.

Not for shopping, but just for the experience. In fact, forget shopping at the Mainz Farmer's Market on Saturday; you're lucky if you can get yourself through the crowd, let alone yourself weighed down with bags and baskets of plump delicate strawberries, and a cup of freshly pressed juice. You'd be lucky to get out of there alive, let alone clean and unblemished. I love it.

04 June 2010

This Week's Links: June 4

It has been one crazy week out here! Between the hub's birthday and some other issues, I've barely touched the computer all week. As such, I don't really have any links to share.

BUT! That doesn't mean I've got nothing for you! If you look above, you'll see a new tab: Blogs I Love

These are some of my favorite site from the past month of exploration. Check them out; they've got some great recipes, witty commentary, and absolutely drool-worthy photography. If you want me to check out your website, feel free to comment below.

PLEASE NOTE: Normally I will not tolerate blatant self-advertisement on my site, however, feel free to take this opportunity to share your stuff. I'm always looking for something new to read. Just make sure to include the reason why you think I will enjoy your site; simply post a link and it will be deleted. Please, make an effort!

03 June 2010

New web address!!

As you may (or may not) have noticed, in celebration of my one month-aversary, I have decided to purchase my own domain. 

Please update your bookmarks to: http://www.blissfullyunrefined.com

I will likely be working on some changes over the next few days, so please forgive me if my posts aren't  as frequent as they have been. I should begin posting as usual within the next few days.

Thanks, everyone, for your support. I truly appreciate each of the visitors I get. You guys are what make this site worthwhile.  Feel free to email or leave a comment with any requests or suggestions on what you'd like to see in the future.

02 June 2010

Wordless Wednesday: 2 June

I know it's probably cheating for "Wordless Wednesday" lol

From our local 500 year old brauhaus/restaurant. Translation anyone?

31 May 2010

HHDD: Avocado Cheesecake Pots


I have to admit it, right at the get-go: before I took on this challenge, I had never heard of Donna Hay.

Whoo, it feels good to get that off my chest!

For those of you who are like me, here's the rundown: she's basically Australia's Martha Stewart. No joke, go to her website; it's like a cross between Martha's and Bon Appetit. Each month, a host chooses a Donna Hay recipe for everyone to try (or tweak) and write a post about. The host then compiles the posts, and opens it to a  vote. I love a challenge, and this month's recipe sounded especially delicious, easy, and very open to interpretation.

(If you're curious about the rules of this challenge, the facilitator, Chez Us, has posted them on their website, including a list of past challenges!)

This month's challenge is hosted by Mardi of eat.live.travel.write. whose winning entry last month got her rights to host this month's event. A lady after my own heart, she picked one of my favorite desserts on the planet: cheesecake. Donna Hay's Blackberry Cheesecake Pots, to be precise, a smooth, creamy no-bake version just perfect for people like me (i.e. those without an oven...).

Of course, I always need to be different. I can't remember the last time I followed a recipe as written; it's an affliction, I'll admit. So I decided (as is allowed by the rules) that I would instead come up with my own interpretation of this recipe. The greatest thing about cheesecake is it lends itself to so many flavors.

Recipe: Grown-up Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

I originally made this compote for the Hay, Hay, It's Donna Day cheesecake pots, but I liked it so much, I thought it deserved its own page. You can put this on pancakes/waffles/french toast, in a PB&J sandwich, or top a cheesecake. 

30 May 2010

Silent Sunday: 30 May

Silent Sunday Photo: This is my cat Sylvester (he's not a morning person).

This may not seem like a food-related photo, but anyone who has a cat (or two, like me) knows that it's next to impossible to separate your cat from your food.

29 May 2010

Recipe: Chicken Paprikash (or Csirke Paprikás)

I've been promising this recipe for awhile now. I know I keep talking about Chicken Paprikash, and how wonderfully satisfying it is, well, now you can see for yourself! This is such a simple recipe: 5 major ingredients, throw 'em in the crockpot before work, and when you come home, you'll have dinner on the table in 20 minutes!

28 May 2010

This Week's Links: May 28

This week's list of smart people, and interesting ideas:



I consider myself a reasonably intelligent, well informed foodie. Imagine my surprise when I went to KitchenButterfly and discovered an ingredient I had never heard of before. I mean, this has the potential to make for one seriously interesting episode of Iron Chef: America. What is it? Black Garlic. So it has nothing to do with the theme this week, but I had to share, it's just too cool. I'm planning to order some soon; I'll let you know how it goes!

Black & White - All you need to know about garlic



For the food photographers out there, I found this great post from Camera Kitchen. I'll warn you now, if you're a DSLR user (like me) this probably won't help you too much, but for those of you using a point-and-click, here's an ingenious way to get some great first-person action shots. 

MacGyver It / Exhibit B



In keeping with the week's theme, I wanted to post something comparing the different flours on the market. But Cooking For Engineers beat me to the punch. This is an informative article, all about the different types of American flours (found out that AP is not a type of flour in Germany... still learning about flour labeling here...)




Like I keep saying, with sugar, there is no "healthy" alternative. So if you're going to treat yourself, go big or go home! Naomi at Baker's Royale has really hit a home run with this one. I thought her Crème Brûlée Cupcakes were genius... this is a whole different level of insanity! (I mean that with the sincerest awe and respect).



Have an interesting recipe or idea? E-mail me (link top right) and maybe you'll be featured on my links page! All emails will be answered. And as always, feel free to comment on this, or any other post.

27 May 2010

Recipe: Smoked Salmon & Leek Cream Sauce

I must give credit where credit is due. This recipe was inspired largely by a dinner at a friend's house, where I was pleasantly (and deliciously) surprised at how few ingredients can go into a dish with such huge flavor. So, clearly, this dish is great for entertaining, or just a quiet romantic evening with someone special.

Social Dangers of Being a Foodie

Being a foodie can be dangerous.

We are by nature inquisitive and analytical, and we're always looking for an idea or recipe to take and make our own. We look at food in restaurants and think "How can I re-create this at home?" We consider what we would change, how we can make things better.

This can be hard to shut off when you are, say, invited to a friend's home for dinner. Dining at someone's home is very different from dining in a restaurant. In a restaurant, you are allowed to be critical, maybe not openly to the chef, but you can go online, and pick the dish apart on your next post, without any real fear of retribution. By putting out a dish, and making you pay for it, the chef thereby opens their dish up to criticism, and interpretation.

25 May 2010

Daily Update: 25 May

Daily Musings:

Today is all about creativity. Letting go of all the "important" stuff, and allowing yourself to just relax, and get creative can be freeing. So when you're feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath, and let yourself take a creative risk. It doesn't have to be big, you could just change up an ingredient in tonight's dinner, or come up with a game to play with your kids when you get home. The important thing is to take a break from the pressure and stress of every day life, and just do something fun and freeing!

Foods: 

Breakfast - Today, the hubs got to be in charge of breakfast, so we had nice, healthy parfaits: plain whole milk yogurt mixed with some mashed banana and müsli, yum!

Lunch - We made a big mistake today. We went to the grocery store hungry. If I could give you only one healthy eating tip, it would be to never go to the store hungry! Because then you end up grabbing a couple of slices of mushroom and ham pizza from the bakery... On the up side, it was only one slice a piece, and we haven't had pizza in probably a month! Given that fact, I really don't feel bad about it; you've got to let yourself go now and then!

Dinner - Cut up some lovely fresh veggies (zucchini, summer squash, and onions), sauteed with a little olive and peanut oil, a little garlic and a few tablespoons of basil pesto... it's one great sauce to put over spinach ricotta tortelloni! And my night was complete with my first round batch of Donna Hay inspired cheesecake pots for my Hay Hay, It's Donna Day submission. I have a few more ideas to try out though - I'll keep you informed!

Activity:

...Well, everyone has an off day. I did run yesterday, giving me delightfully sore quads today, until I walked it out on the way to the store. Ok, that sounds like activity, but the store is probably 1/5 of a mile from my apartment building, and we walked slow (since it was so nice out!).

Table Sugar versus “Raw” Sugar: Some Surprising Facts

I started out this post intending to outline some various natural sweeteners on the market today. Then I started reading about conventional and raw sugars out there, and found out some interesting stuff.

Why do people usually choose raw sugar? Same reason you choose anything unrefined, I suppose. It's less, well...  refined, which usually indicates a more healthful product (after all, that premise applies to rice, flour, oils...). So imagine my surprise when I realized that the stuff being marketed as "raw" is actually quite refined. And that the difference between the level of pure sucrose in conventional table sugar versus so-called raw sugar is as little as 2%.

The Science Behind Sweet

Enter: The Villain

So, recent history would paint sugar as the big-bad ugly of our times. Carbohydrates are the enemy, not fat! Well, that's what they say. I, however, would tend to disagree. I think Dr. Atkins was a quack (sorry, that's just how I feel). Seriously, anybody that tells me I should cut out all carbohydrates (and advises against eating fruit) is a quack in my book. Just like most other natural nutrients, carbohydrates have a time and place where they are appropriate.

Luckily, most of the world has caught on, and realized carbs are not the enemy. Just like with fats, we've discovered that it's the refining and isolation of specific compounds that causes the most problems (trans-fats, anyone?). What has me baffled, though, is sweeteners. In all honesty, the concept of sweetening is entirely man-made. So how do we determine what's "good" or "bad" in this case?

24 May 2010

Daily Update: 24 May

Foods: 

Breakfast - We got a late start today (the hubs worked 3rd shift), so I started my day with some coffee, and a nice jog. Once the hubs awoke, I made a lovely brunch sandwich. Fresh soft campagnolo bread from the farmer's market, lightly toasted and spread with mashed avocado. Add to that some juicy red roma tomatoes, a little fresh mozzarella, and finally, thyme soft scrambled eggs, and I call that a great Brunch!

Dinner - This was a bit of an experimental day. When I went to the FM on friday, I bought some bratwursts, like one does in Germany. Phil (my hubs!) had said he wanted something German, so I got some wursts - some jalapeno bratwurst! I cooked them up slowly alongside some caramelizing onions, and served them with some amazing German spicy mustard (there really is nothing like German mustard!), some bread, and leftover rice.Tasty, but horribly monochromatic, and therefore, not really photo-worthy!

Activity:

Went for a run!! Today was one of the hottest days we've seen in Germany (topping out around 80F), and I took advantage of the gorgeous sun to explore some parts of my neighborhood I haven't yet seen. Got a little lost, but it's all good!

This Week's Theme: Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates, probably the most controversial of all the macronutrients. Eat them, don't eat them?... Avoid corn syrup, well, it's OK in moderation... Dr. Atkins, South Beach, is there any real merit?... Who can you trust?!

We'll explore all these ideas, and much more. But I have a bit of an ulterior motive for this week's theme...

The truth is, I have a secret. I. Love. Cake.

My name is Shea, and I am a cake addict... whoo, I feel so much better!

23 May 2010

What would you like?

So I've been at this a few weeks now, and I was wondering what you'd like to read about. What is something you'd like to know more about? I've covered organics, and the first of the 3 macronutrients, fat (carbs and proteins to come).

But what do you want to read about? Here are some topics I'd love to share with you:
  • Coffee
  • Wine
  • How foods compliment one another (historically, and nutritionally)
  • Indigenous and ethnic cuisines
  • Something else?
Feel free to comment here, or drop me an email using the link on the right!

I look forward to hearing from you!

Daily Update: 23 May

Daily Musings:

It was so incredibly gorgeous out today. I really haven't been thinking of much in the way of substantial musings, all I did was enjoy the beautiful weather. On a day like today, that's all you can do: go out and enjoy the sunshine. Take a walk, and just be content. :)

Foods:

Breakfast - The hubs worked the night shift, so I just threw together something simple, nutritious, and most importantly, quiet! Well, besides having to wash the dishes to make coffee (I love him, and wanted to let him sleep, but nothing was going to come between me and my coffee - no machine, french press). So, coffee made, I threw together a satisfying parfait of whole milk plain yogurt, mashed banana, and müsli (granola). It was oddly similar to a banana pudding, with great contrast in textures.

Lunch - Once my hubby finally woke up, we had a light lunch, since we were meeting his boss for dinner. A simple salad with some ham and cheese bits, finished with a balsamic dressing. Simple, balanced, and very tasty.

Dinner - I love Indian food. I can't think of another ethnic cuisine that constantly satisfies me without making me feel like I've pigged out. I don't know what it is, but Indian food always puts me in a good mood. Add to that a glass of an Indian dry red wine (I didn't even know they did that), and it was a very successful evening indeed!

Activity:

We were good today, and walked downtown to meet the boss for dinner. And then we walked back. I love when the weather's nice, because then I don't even want to think about taking the bus. Two miles each way, and even a leisurely stroll gives you some good calorie-burning.

Benefits of Full Fat Dairy

For years we've seen advertising from the milk and dairy industry to increase our dairy consumption to help us lose weight. The problem I see is that most of the articles and studies in support of this claim recommend low-fat or even fat-free milk.

Across the board, people claim that skim milk is the best option because it's significantly lower in fat and calories than whole, and still offers the same benefits (vitamins, minerals, etc) as whole, without all those pesky, weight-increasing calories. It seems the world has gotten stuck in calorie counting, and has forgotten that our diets, and our bodies, are SO much more complex than that!

22 May 2010

Daily Update: 22 May

Daily Musings:

No incredibly deep thoughts today. It was a gorgeous day out, and the hubs and I took thr train to a little town north of where we live called Oberwesel, where they were having their biannual Mittelaltermarkt ("Middle Ages Market"). Good food, good wine, and good company... it doesn't really get much better!

Foods:

Breakfast - We got up kinda of early, since we had plans, and I made my favorite go-to breakfast, soft-cooked eggs and toast. I'm trying out a different method than my usual way, care of Kenji Lopez-Alt, one of my new favorite bloggers, on Serious Eats.    ...So far, my eggs have over-cooked both times I've tried Kenji's way, but I blame that more on my lack of a kitchen thermometer than the method itself :) Either way, it's a fabulous breakfast.

Lunch - After walking around the MAM for awhile, I found the perfect lunch for a warm early-summer day: freash, homemade smoked local trout, served cold on rustic country bread and lettuce, topped with an herb-yogurt sauce. The hubs went for a fresh venison burger, which they smothered in an onion-mushroom- honey mustard concoction that I could have happily bathed in it was so god!

Walked around some more, got a small sweet treat, a baumkuchen ("tree-cake"). Lovely, light thin layers of cake, and just enough to satisfy a sweet tooth. (Since I was focusing so hard on not getting food all over m y camera - no plates/forks you see - I didn't manage to get a photo, which is a shame, since they had a baumkuchen at the table that was almost a meter high.

We continued on, got some wine, watched some people play with fire, and then headed home.

Dinner - After such a long day, we just kept it simple: pasta with some refrigerator leftovers: tomato sauce, some leeks, a little fresh mozzarealla, and a little bit of local Italian bread with my homemade butter.

Activity:

Clearly, walking around a market for a few hours constitutes as activity (and quite a fun activity at that!).

84HA2DEZRJMD

21 May 2010

Daily Update: 21 May

Daily Musings:

Music really makes everything better! Turn on some music, and things get easier -- like cleaning my bathroom. :) Remember that music and food are a lot alike: they both require a little talent and a little vision to make something truly great, something that can bring together people from all walks, to enjoy such simple pleasures of life.

So turn on some great tunes, make some dinner, open a bottle of wine, and have a great weekend!

Foods:

Breakfast - Since I knew I was going to walk to the Farmer's Market in town today, I grabbed my favorite quick breakfast from my local store last night: schokobrötchen. It's like a cross between a roll and a chocolate croissant, but softer and not so heavy on the butter. Really great for quick energy for my nice long walk (and a nice treat for a Friday morning!)

Lunch - I decided to grab a little something at the FM for lunch as I went to wait for my bus. I always pick the worst time of day, and end up siting there for a half hour waiting, so I thought ahead today! Because I had chocolate for breakfast, I stopped a fresh-pressed juice stand. Mango, pineapple, orange and guava; they call it their "Vitamin PowerDrink." I call it tasty. Inevitably, this is the one day I get to the bus stop about 2 minutes before the bus, and had to chug my juice; what a shame.

Dinner - Made the hubby's favorite: salmon. Poached it in a combo of water, fresh orange and lemon juice, some white wine and thyme. A little bit of local produce (sauteed white asparagus, zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes), and a lovely homemade orange-lemon-thyme scented basmati rice pilaf. Top it all with an orange-sekt beurre blanc... Oh yeah!

Finished things off with a little mashed avocado; drizzled the buttermilk from my butter-making escapade, and a little sugar; a surprisingly good experiment. The buttermilk is basically the sweetest milk you've ever tasted... NOTHING like the "buttermilk" you buy in the supermarket.

(Unfortunately, the beurre blanc didn't set quite the way I'd hoped, and my plating was a disaster, so no photos to speak of. But it tasted good!)

Activity:

As stated above, I walked to the farmer's market. We're talking about 2.5 to 3 miles, walking briskly, because I can't help it when I've got peppy music playing!

84HA2DEZRJMD

This week's links

For anyone looking for a fun (and tasty!) challenge, check out eat. live. travel. write. for Hay Hay, It's Donna Day! Sounds like a fun challenge, stay tuned for my entry for Blackberry Cheesecake pots. A no-bake dessert, wonderful! 



We like to complain about the American food producing system, but sometimes seeing how another country handles food can put some things in perspective (of course, what goes on behind the scenes in each country is still quite a mystery). Check out this list of 16 interesting items sold in Chinese WalMarts.



As much as I hate getting out and running, or doing squats, or push-ups (until I start, then it feels so good! ...except for the push-ups), it's a necessary evil. I have finally disovered yoga I like, too! I guess the third time is the charm (since I usually don't care for yoga) but this podcast from YogAmazing is pretty awesome. AA recent episode is specifically for beginners, and the podcast is free, so no excuses!!



One of the most concise sites about cooking oils I've found - thanks Whole Foods! Please remember, though, that the majority of seed oils (canola, grapeseed, corn, etc) are highly refined, and use solvent extraction. I recommend sticking to unrefined oils, and specifically olive, coconut, and avocado.



I know sometimes my posts can come across kind of serious (I've got a sense of humor - which I'm striving to let out, but I do take food issues seriously). This is too funny NOT to share! A store in Texas is being required to get a food permit to sell edible underwear! I love it. 



For your viewing pleasure (recipe to come)

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