Sunday, September 30, 2007


So mein Freund ran the Berlin Marathon last weekend, which meant we were on official carbo-load status. Beet risotto and roasted winter squash make for the prettiest carbo-loading, don't you think?
Prettier than the fact that I had to miss the end of the marathon to make Sunday dinner for the Hollywoods who insisted on having Chinese chicken salad. As if I am a walking, international PF Chang's. Anyway, there are an awful lot of uber greasy "Asian" noodles in this town, but not so many cans of fried noodles....and I seriously, SERIOUSLY draw the line at canned mandarin oranges. Anyway, I just didn't ask any questions and made my version (though I've never made it before), which entailed romaine, shredded cabbage and carrots, green onions, avocado, asparagus, chicken breast, sesame seeds and toasted slivered almonds all tossed with a simple "Asian" vinaigrette. Of course I had to make an entirely different meal for the Kinder (because children clearly do not eat salad and couldn't possibly just eat the non-lettuce parts) which they didn't even eat because they had a snack about 7 minutes before dinner as they always do so I got to witness yet another fight about how children who don't eat dinner don't get dessert. (All of this drama took place in the shadow of a towering and glorious chocolate-glazed marble chiffon cake. And, to make matters worse, they were really late coming home for dinner, which meant my poor marathon-running Freund was all weak and protein-deprived by the time I got home. Stuffed pork chops (because I couldn't find veal chops?) solved that particular dilemma so all is now more or less right in the world...until I have to go back on Tuesday....SIGH.

p.s. You can see mein Freund running off here -- that's his hand waving in the middle of the shot!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rettet dieses Mädchen!

Ok, I am swallowing my pride and posting this frightening photo here as the official launch of my public health campaign to get window screens in Germany. They don't even have a word for screens in Deutsch (I kid you not) so this is going to be a big job, but the madness has got to stop. This is the third mosquito bite on my eye this summer (technically it's fall now, but.....) and I really think another one will do lasting damage to my vision/face/mental health/all of the above. I had to go to German class like this and inspired an entire vocab lesson: mosquito, bite, insect, freak of nature, etc. Then I had to work for Hollywoods and Mrs. Hollywood about had a nervous breakdown, sure that I was going to infect her little brats with some eye-puffing ailment. Not to mention (!) that I was literally almost hit by a car on my way to class because I was puffy and out of it. Anyway, as I've said before, it's not like I'm lobbying for every German to have their own iPhone, but screens are a simple, effective means of keeping me from looking like a stroke victim/experiencing a severe allergic reaction/got punched. This is no laughing matter....Germany has got to get on the screen train.

The Land of Müsli

In response to the last comment....I have made granola here, a bunch of times. Actually, before I relocated to the Vaterland, I made granola in the Motherland (with dried cranberries and pecans for that American touch) and sent it to mein Freund for his birthday (making it fairly expenive granola). It's true that Deutschland is awash in granola. It's also true that they call it Müsli here (I think the difference is that Müsli isn't usually toasted, but don't quote me on that one). Müsli is generally better and cheaper here than at home, but I just like mine better ... it's crunchier and doesn't have any added wierdness. Mein Freund's brother came over once when I was making a batch of Müsli and thought it was about the strangest thing he had ever seen (though I'm not sure if reveals more about me or him?). Anway, I'm certainly not above the ocassional bowl of purchased Müsli with bits of dark chocolate...when you mix this stuff with hazelnut yogurt....yum; it's dessert. I wish I could share my granola/Müsli recipe with you (as requested), but I don't have one. I just buy oats (though lately, I'm into this mix of grains), throw in some coconut (the frozen kind is best, but I can't find that here, so I just use regular shredded. I think Goya sells it in the US?) and chopped nuts or seeds and then drizzle honey over it. I usually wait until I'm using the oven for something else to toast it, but it seems happier if it's a hotter oven. I try to remember to stir it. Occasionally I add dried fruit after it's cool, but usually not. Very frequently I get distracted and burn it (all my previous and current roommates can attest to this charming tendency) and then have to pick off the top layer. Anyway, the making is a very flexible process in my book and it never turns out quite the same. I made a stellar batch earlier this year when my grandfather's neighbor passed through town, took me out to a very nice lunch, and gave me some Arizona pistachios, which I used along with Turkish apricots.... memorable Müsli. While I'm not picky or pingelig as some might say, about the making, I am about the eating (though only my own eating; in this unusual case, I really won't judge you for how you eat yours). I have a very strong preference for yogurt over milk with my Musli and I don't like a lot of yogurt -- I strive for just moister than a pastey consistency. I'm also fond (now) of Quark and fresh ricotta...I sometimes add it to ice cream (especially here as Germany seems to be a 100% smooth ice cream nation (except for the imported Ben & Jerry's). And there you have it: my thoughts on Musli (aka granola).

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ein Tag von Mahlzeits...

It's been a short while since I had anything to say... I guess we are in that end of summer lull (except that summer forgot to visit Berlin this year). Anyway, I still don't really have anything of great import to share, but so as to keep the ball rolling.... you get to read (and see!) what I ate yesterday:

FRUSTRUCK:Honey-Bulgar Bread with Apricot Jelly. I made the bread to use up the last bit of bulgar after an uber batch of Tabouleh and stuffed tomatoes didn't quite make it all go away (as you might imagine, you can get it in serious bulk for not so many Euros at the Turkish Market). Alas, I was too lazy to go and get whole whate flour, so it is a little doughy, but still good. The apricot jelly is lovely and came from mein Freund's childhood friend, Swen (an oddly common name here; pronounced "Sven" of course. Swen can stay because he recognizes the greatness of DC United) who got it from the taxi driver he uses (regularly) when he goes to Munich on business. She is apparently quite generous/prolific and his jelly supply is a little out of control. If I were really adapting to the German way, there would be an inch of butter on my bread under the jelly. Or under my nutella because they are that kind of crazy here.

SNACKZEIT: Got to keep up my energy for the first day of Deutschkurs (German class) -- banana. Though really, I should have gotten alphabet cookies, which parents traditionally buy for their Kinder for the first day of school. Plus my pseudo Nalgeen bottle, which to my amusement, Europeans find quite bizarre/suspicious and they are sure no matter what I tell them that there must be something special about my water or why would I carry it around in a blue bottle. Seriously though, the Europeans in these parts refuse to drink perfectly good tap water and drink an oddly large amount of apple juice. Anyway, hydration is key.

MITAGSESSEN: Leftover whole wheat spaghetti (that the Hollywoods had someone bring them from home, but wouldn't eat because it tastes too healthy) with creamed leeks (except I used quark instead of cream because I had quark and not cream) with basil. Personally, I didn't think it tasted too healthy, but then they would never eat creamed leeks. Would have been extra good with toasted walnuts, but somehow those didn't make it home from the store.

ABENDESSEN; Sausages cooked with apples and apple juice (I can't drink apple juice the way these people can, but it was left here at our BBQ and I have to use it up somehow), potatoes, and balsamic radiccio. This was quite pretty, too bad I forgot to take a picutre. NACHTISCH: Followed by leftover baked peaches with hazelnut cookie crumbs and vanilla ice cream. Not so good because the peaches weren't good to start with. I find the fruit situation quite frustrating....alas.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hamburg Babyrundgang 2007

So, we survived the Hamburg Baby tour (cute for the most part, not as August Gloop as many German kiddies, all speak German less well than me)....and even managed to squeeze in an early-morning visit to the Fischmarkt (not just fish). You're supposed to go out in the incredibly tacky area called the Reeperbahn (German's New Orleans French Quarter but with a lot more opportunities to see naked girls) and stay out until 5 am when the market opens...wander down and there you can continue to drink and eat Fischbrotchen (little fish (usually herring) sandwiches) and Currywurst, etc. This might be the cool thing to do and might have been possible if I hadn't had to speak German all day (to the babies' parents), which really takes it out of me. By 1 AM I was exhausted. As luck would have it, mein Freund has very nice god-parents who live in a very nice apartment right on the Elbe River right next to the market. So we could crawl out of bed and head down. It's an interesting mix of extremely drunk people and people actually trying to buy food for the week. In terms of quality, it's no match for Union Square (sigh), but I did buy corn (I have been meaning to note that I was too quick to proclaim the lack of corn in Germany -- it was just too early in the season) and we had it for dinner last night, German-style with grilled Bratwursts and Kohlrabi slaw.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Zu Besuch

Life in Berlin rolls along. The big excitement of late was a visit from Sam, jetsetter that she is. It was a short visit and I had to work for a few hours on Sunday, but we tried to pack in as much fun as possible. We finally had our summer bbq, though the weather refused (yet again) to cooperate and so we had to move it inside. (Because the Germans love to bbq so (little-known fact), many of the parks here have areas where you are allowed to bring your mini IKEA grill (Berlin is 99% IKEA). Anyway, we grilled on the balcony (and by" we" I mean "he") and people were shivering in their wool "end-of-German-summer" coats. On the upside, there's literally nowhere to buy ice here so outdoor bbqs feature warm beer, which I just can't support. Anyway, a good time was had by all and we were actually joined by an acquaintance/friend we knew in Barcelona, which made me feel all worldly and cool. I made a gorgeous plum tart with hazelnut frangipane, but as is my way, neglected to take a picture.

Other activities included a German breakfast (somewhat lacking in the meat and cheese dept. albeit) auf dem Balkon, highly successful flea market wanderings, randem wanderings resulting from my inability to read a guidebook (sorry, Sam), Kaffee und Kuchen (Egg Cream-Poppy Seed Torte!), and because Sam is my Beer Friend (or rather I tried to be her Beer Friend back in our Barcelona days when there were a lot of holes to fill...(sidenote: she was also bestowed with the title of Sommelier for el Camino de Santiago 2006, a job she carried out beyond all expectations)), a visit to my favorite brewery mit Restaurant.

This weekend we are off to Hamburg (the last trip to Hamburg was cancelled) to visit a bunch of babies (3 baby-related visits in 8 hours have already been scheduled!), say that they are cute and give them presents. Alas, I think all the babies will take up the time that I might otherwise use to eat eel soup and a wierd/gross but typical salad including pears, green beans, and bacon and other Hamburg delicacies. Schade......