Archive for November, 2012

WIAW - Peas and Crayons

Most of my newer readers (hi!) probably won’t know that my husband is originally from Korea. His cultural roots definitely have influenced the way we live. Things like taking off your outdoor shoes before entering our apartment, or buying rice in a 20 lbs bag were new to me at the beginning, but over the years I have become used to it.

Very often we make traditional Korean dishes, or meat-free, less spicy versions of them for me, if necessary. So my usual diet is a mix of German or Bavarian classics, typical healthy living blogger stuff, and modified Korean meals.

Last Sunday was a good example of what that looks like:

Breakfast Sandwiches

My usual breakfast. But wait, what is that? On Saturday I had made one of my favorite seasonal treats, apple bread! This is my version of the infamous fruit cake, and a must-bake every winter. This loaf turned out great, very juicy and pleasantly sweet from all the fruit. I’ll try to post the recipe as soon as I can find the time.

Black Lentil Salad

For lunch I mixed up a very random salad. Unfortunately, I was all out of salad greens, so I chopped up all the vegetables I could find. And I mixed in some black lentils. They are also called Beluga lentils around here, like the caviar. They do look a little bit like caviar, but taste much better, in my opinion.

Tofu Jigae

Dinner was one of my husband’s favorite dishes, tofu jigae! That’s a spicy, hearty stew, which usually contains beef, pork, or seafood, a lot of hot pepper paste, and tofu. Think of it as a fiery, thick miso soup. Of course I always skip the meat and add in lots of vegetables instead. I also reduce the amount of hot pepper paste. In the top right corner you can see the husband’s pot, which is a lot closer to the original. We served it with rice, white for him, brown for me.

Apple Bread

During the day, I snacked on more apple bread and a few cherry chocolates. I think I could eat like that every day.

Have you ever tried Korean food? How did you like it?

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Now that Thanksgiving is already over, it’s time to think about Christmas, right? Actually, I didn’t celebrate T-Day, as it is not a real holiday here in Germany. But as December is just around the corner, I’m already wondering what cookies I’m going to make this year.

Baking Christmas cookies has a very long tradition in my family. I remember fondly how I used to craft those delicious tiny treats with my mother or grandma when I was a little girl. There’s just no way I’d miss out on that!

I have a tried and approved assortment of family favorites, but this year I want to venture out and try to veganize them. Yikes!

I’ll let you know how my experiments turn out, of course. Until then, here are some non-vegan cookie recipes that I’ve posted on this blog in the past:

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint Cookies

Vanilla Cookies (Vanillekipferl-Taler)

Vanilla Cookies

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons

Fruity Chocolate Crossies

Fruity Chocolate Crossies

Spiced Linzer Cookies

Spiced Linzer Cookies

Have you already started making Christmas cookies?

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WIAW - Peas and Crayons

My husband has been on several business trips lately, mostly to Eastern European countries. As he knows me all too well, he always brings home some sweet regional specialities for me. Last week he travel through Poland, the Czech Republic, and Austria. He returned rather late on Friday night, so we started to devour his sweet presents on Saturday.

Breakfast Sandwiches

But first, let’s talk about breakfast. Same same. Whole grain bread with either veggie spread and cucumber slices, or peanut butter and apple butter. Never gets old.

Potato cauliflower soup

At lunchtime, I was too lazy to cook. The husband wasn’t hungry, so I grabbed some leftover potato cauliflower soup from the freezer. I topped my bowl with sliced green onions, mixed seeds, and garden cress. I know it’s not pretty, but it was very tasty and filling.

Austrian apple pie

A little later I couldn’t resist the call of the piece of cake that my husband got in Austria. It was some kind of apple pie with a creamy filling, topped with soft meringue (beaten egg whites). Oh my goodness! It was soft, sweet, fluffy, and simply amazing! Definitely one of the best desserts ever! Those Austrians know how to bake cakes that rock your socks off. I showed some restraint, though, and only took a few bites before giving the rest to my husband.

Movie theater chips

On a whim, we decided to go out and watch a movie. The husband insisted on watching Cloud Atlas, while I was a little doubtful. I was so wrong! That movie is awesome, go see it now! I was craving something salty, so we shared a small batch of tortilla chips with salsa. You only live once!

Veggie pizza

It was already quite late (it’s a long movie!), and we were getting a little hungry, so we spontaneously decided to go to a restaurant right around the corner from the movie theater. I ordered a cheese-less pizza, mixed antipasti, which I put on top of the pizza, and a small side salad. The pizza was really good, thin and crunchy, just how I like it.


On Sunday we finally attacked the chocolate: Mozartkugeln from Austria on the left, and a huge chocolate covered Polish wafer tart on the right. Chocolate overload! Thankfully, my husband helped me eat all of that. It was just ridiculous.

I guess my Fall habits haven’t been that healthy lately. I’m totally sugared out now, and severely reducing my chocolate intake. And I need to talk to my husband about moderation.

What was the last movie you watched?

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I quit the gym!

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with gyms. In the past few years I’ve tried, joined, and quit a few ones. None of them could convince me to stay.

About two years ago I joined my current gym. I had just started running and mostly wanted access to their treadmills, so I could still run during the harsh, long German winters. As our financial situation has always been quite ‘unpredictable’, I chose the cheapest gym I could find, which cost about $30 per month. Most other gyms in my area cost up to $90 per month, so I thought it was a pretty good deal, and signed a standard 24 months contract.

That gym is very close to my work place, but a 30 minute drive from my house, so I only went there during the week after leaving my office. At first I liked working out there. It was warm, dry, and safe.

Gym fitness

(Source – not my actual gym!)

But after a few months, some things started to bug me. Like the fact that you have to pay extra for a shower. Or that there are no trainers that care about you. Or that the treadmill TVs have no sound, no remote control, and are often not working at all. Or that there are no fitness classes. Or that it’s crowded with huge muscle heads and skinny Barbie dolls. Or that there is no AC, so the temperatures are unbearable during the summer months.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. I didn’t enjoy going to the gym anymore. I hate wasting money on something that I don’t like, even if it’s just a relatively small amount. So I decided to end my contract, which was actually quite easy. My membership ends in January, so I still have the opportunity to go a few more times if I really want to. And I probably will. I’m still paying the fees, after all!

But there are other activities that I enjoy a lot more! My tiny village has an adult education facility (Volkshochschule in German), which offers a decent variety of fitness classes. I didn’t like the yoga class I took two years ago, but I totally love their Zumba and Pilates classes! As you pay for each class individually, the costs quickly add up, but I’ve decided that they are worth it.

I also still love workout videos, either online or on DVDs. My favorite fitness channel on YouTube is Blogilates. I highly recommend it! Those workouts are actually quite challenging!

Workout DVDs and weights

And guess what, my husband has started running! He’s always been a very fit guy, but running was never his thing, and he prefered biking and weight training. But a few months ago he picked up running, and is now constantly asking me to run with him.

I’m also considering getting a bike trainer, as a Christmas present for myself, so that I can stay in shape for our outdoor bike rides on sunny summer Sundays.

See, you don’t really need a gym to workout! That said, I might change my mind again one day, and join another gym. But next time I’ll be way more selective, and make sure I’ll find one that I really, really love.

What’s your opinion on gyms? Love them or hate them?

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WIAW - Peas and Crayons

Sundays are usually lazy days in our house. We do all the errand running and grocery shopping on Saturday, because almost everything is closed on Sunday. As my husband and I are both working full-time jobs, we really enjoy a lazy day on the couch.

Last Sunday, I was also too lazy to cook any fancy meals, but by adding just few little things, you can even turn the most boring food into something nice.

Breakfast sandwiches

For breakfast I had the usual open-faced sandwiches. I topped three half slices with fresh cucumber, for extra juicy crunch. The last piece of bread was smeared with peanut butter and apple butter. Great combo!

Vegan tofu stew

Lunch was just some leftover vegan jigae (Korean tofu stew) with brown rice. To make my bowl look a little more interesting, I added some black soy beans (kongjaban), chopped green onions, and a sprinkle of roasted sesame seeds. A little less ugly.

Uh, I think I owe you a few recipes? #foodbloggerfail

Berry Cherry Compote

I had been craving Rote Gruetze, a traditional German dessert made of berries, for quite a while. I know, berry season is already over, so I used frozen berries and cherries from a jar. And I spiced it up with vanilla and cinnamon. The resulting berry cherry compote was fantastic! After taking that photo, I added a scoop of plain soy yoghurt. My cravings were satisfied, and I still have lots of leftovers to enjoy during the next few days.

Potatoes and brussel sprouts

After seeing roasted brussel sprouts all over the blog sphere, I just had to have them myself. I added a pinch of nutmeg to the sprouts, which gave them a little extra flavor punch. I also pan-fried some potatoes and tofu, and topped it all with ketchup. The secret ingredient in my fried potatoes: caraway seeds! Seriously, you must try that.

What are your favorite little things to ‘spice up’ your food?

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Last weekend, my husband’s son G was staying with us. He is turning 17 in a few weeks, and is quite a typical teen boy. Luckily, he’s not a picky eater at all, he just needs huge portions. We can handle that.

So, here’s what we ate on Saturday.

Toast for breakfast

Whenever we have guests over, we do a buffet-style breakfast. It’s simpler than it sounds. Everyone throws a slice of toast or bread into the toaster, and adds his/her toppings of choice at the table. Tofurky and pb&j for me, cream cheese and pepperoni for the teen boy.

Lunch salad

The husband had prepared a huge pot of beef broth the day before, which he used to make noodle soup for lunch. It looked a little gross to me, so you’re getting a picture of my salad instead. It contained lamb’s lettuce, arugula, orange filets, carrots, mixed seeds, and garden cress. And I had a small bowl of rice for extra carb power.

Clementine with face

My afternoon snack was a leftover Halloween clementine. Isn’t it cute! And it was also delicious. I need to buy more!

Vegan pizza

Dinner was an all-time favorite: homemade pizza! I made the dough myself, and it was quite a success. All you need is some elbow grease and patience. The men usually add sea food to their pizza, but this time they were happy with a pile of mozzarella. My version was topped with a ton of vegetables and some fresh arugula.

Curry tofu with fries

Bonus picture! This was Sunday’s lunch: homemade oven fries, curry ketchup sauce, tofu for me, and sausages for the men.

Have you ever heard of currywurst? It’s a very popular snack food in Germany, a little like hot dogs in the US. I personally prefer tofu, of course.

What was your favorite food as a teen?

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Foodie Penpals

Guess what? It’s Foodie Penpals reveal day! Okay, that was actually yesterday, but I was busy hanging out with some of my favorite ladies. Well, better late than never, right?

October Foodie Penpals - Box

This time I got a package from Alice, who lives in Denmark. I’ve never been in that country before, and know very little about it, so I asked her to include some typically Danish things. And boy, did she deliver.

October Foodie Penpals - Rye Bread

The package contained a very dark rye bread (very intense flavor, reminded me of pumpernickel), a tiny bottle of aquavit, which is still waiting for the right occasion, and a caramel-filled chocolate bar. Needless to say, I loved the chocolate bar. It was gone in a flash.

October Foodie Penpals - Cookies

But the highlight of the package was a batch of homemade cookies. They are called Napoleon’s Hats (Napoleons hatte), and are a traditional butter cookie, filled with marzipan, and formed into a hat-like shape. They were amazing! I love all things marzipan, and was also happy to find that those cookies weren’t overly sweet.

It gets even better, Alice was so nice to include her recipe! They will definitely be added to my Christmas cookie repertoire.

Thank you so much, Alice, for sending me such a beautiful and thoughtful package!

My other Foodie Penpal in October was Anna from Manchester, who has a blog of her own, called Manchester Foodies. Check it out to read about the package I sent to her.

Want to join the fun? If you are from the U.S. or Canada check out The Lean Green Bean for more info. There’s also a European version organized by Carol Anne from This Is Rock Salt.

What’s your favorite kind of cookie?

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