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?
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