Mercimek Çorbasi

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Sorry, sorry, I know I promised a total crochet post on the finished Dotty Blanket, but it seems I needed to get this out of my system first. But it’s coming, and soon. I may actually have a bit more time to write on my hands for a little while, which feels odd because I’ve been so busy over the last 9 months. But I’m (almost) done with the crafts books now, only some more proofing required, yay! The English version of the gorgeous embroidery book is available already, go check it out, it is wonderful, easy to understand and unexpectedly cool :-)!

But back to the subject matter. Living in this city, you can’t really help picking up some Turkish; migrant families have enriched Berlin’s cultural and culinary landscape for decades, and we enjoy the fresh produce in Turkish markets, the energetic salvos of people chatting in their native tongue in the streets, the huge, happy families picnicking at the park, not to mention the many excellent street food vendors that are so hard to pass by without grabbing a quick döner kebab, lahmaçun or fresh, minty bulgur salad, dinner at home be damned.

I first had mercimek çorbasi, the iconic lentil soup (for that’s what it is you’re seeing in that picture) shortly after moving here in 2000. There used to be a very good Turkish restaurant right on Hackescher Markt that supplied all sorts of comfort food to the media and advertising crowd (sorely needed because of our psychopath of a CCO… that dude was the only person who ever made me have stress dreams about work, ’nuff said).

The soup is made of red lentils and veggies, boiled down and pureed. It’s a staple, and as my Istanbul-savvy friend M. tells me, it is also an effective remedy for when you’ve had too much raki in one of the many bars there, if eaten late at night. We usually have it for dinner on miserable, cold days, and my brood insist on a pile of buttered garlic toast on the side for dipping. Usually, you add a dash of cream, but I’ve found that it’s actually better with coconut milk, so you’re getting the vegan version in this write-up today. Here goes:

Mercimek Çorbasi

250 g red lentils

2 shallots, chopped

1 piece of leek (white portion if possible), chopped

3 carrots, chopped

1 parsley root, chopped

2 celery sticks, chopped

Handful of parsley stems

2-3 cm piece of ginger root, chopped

3 TBSP tomato paste

Salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, pinch of sugar

1 can coconut milk

Vegetable broth to taste

Cooking oil

Lemon wedges to serve

Peel and chop the veggies as you see fit and heat a bit of cooking oil in a large saucepan. Put the veggies in and gently stew for a bit, until shallots look translucent but aren’t brown. Add hot water and lentils. No salt though! As you know, we always add salt only _after_ the lentils are tender, for otherwise we might wait forever for that to happen. Same goes for the broth.

Let stew at medium heat, and only after you’ve bitten into a lentil to see whether they’re done, add your spices, broth and tomato paste. Discard the parsley stems. You could leave them in and puree with the rest, but you’ll get a prettier color with no green ingredients in there. Puree the mixture, add more water if necessary, as well as coconut milk, and season to taste. I like the soup to be thick, but not too solid, others prefer a puree-like consistency – ultimately, it’s up to you how much liquid you add. It should be a nourishing bowl of yellowish-orange, slurpy happiness. Squeeze a lemon wedge over the soup before eating, dip in a piece of bread, or your spoon, and enjoy!

As a sidebar only, here’s a couple of things I made after I was done with my daughter’s blanket:IMG_5563.JPGA slouchy knit hipster hat for my birthday girl A. in California, modeled by yours truly, threads not darned yet when the picture was taken. A. had very specific ideas for – well, just about everything concerning that hat! Yarn (acrylic, no wool, ‚cos it’s scratchy), shape (slouchy), color (periwinkle), pattern (stockinette with a rib cuff) … I so hope she’ll be happy with it. I enjoyed wearing it, and it sure wasn’t scratchy but soft and cozy.

Also, check out what I’ve been experimenting with for a couple days now – these are crochet frisbees. You wouldn’t believe they actually fly that well, but they do! I can personally attest to their functionality – we played with the first prototypes over the weekend, and they’re great! 🙂 They sell them (more professionally looking models than mine, but I’m just starting out!) at the coolest toy store I know, Flying Colors on Eisenacher, and I happen to know the lady who makes them, who was good enough to send me some pics. Of course, I’m always on the lookout for new crafts things to make for the school fairs, and this is one very cool idea right there!

So I tinkered with the crocheting in the round and the increases a bit, and in the end I even wrote down how it’s done. In case you’d like to try your hand at it, here’s what I did:

Cool Crochet Frisbees

Using a #5 crochet hook and appropriate yarn, crochet 7 SC into a magic ring and pull tight.

1st round: 2 SC into each stitch, always stitching into the back loop only so the fabric stays nice and flat.

2nd round: SC into every stitch in the round.

Use a marker – even I got confused without it and I’m usually not a great friend of markers at all as I find them cumbersome. Also, start each round with a chain stitch – it helps you find your start of round should you for some reason misplace the marker. It happens!

3rd round: Repeat *1 SC, 2SC into next stitch* all around.

4th round: SC into every stitch in the round.

Repeat 3rd and 4th rounds until you’re happy with the size. It could be that you’ll have to do *2 SC, 2 SC into next stitch* the last couple rounds so the edge doesn’t curl or make waves (you really need it to be solid, even and flat for this one), or, as it happened when I was doing the spiral pattern, do no increases at all in the last few rounds. I’m assuming it depends on how tight your crochet is, and on the type of yarn you use. You’ll get there!

Decrease round: SC into every second stitch all around.

Do two more rounds of SC into every stitch, bind off and darn your threads in carefully. These babies need to be able to withstand both the laws of physics and grabby little people’s hands.

I love that you can actually use these frisbees indoors also, without being too worried about the Ming vase (not that I have any), or giving someone a black eye with it.

Leaving this post today with a few uplifting spring pics – I say we earned this spring, don’t you think???

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Ba-ba-ba-Banana

Everybody already has a recipe for banana bread, I’m sure, and if you don’t, there’s always Jamie Oliver or Martha Stewart or Cynthia Barcomi to look to. I started experimenting with banana bread using Jamie Oliver’s recipe, in fact. He uses a lot of honey, and the overall experience is kind of sticky, and too solid for my personal taste.  With absolutely no disrespect to any of the paragons of modern cooking, I feel the compulsion to share with you these fluffy, moist and wholesome banana buns today. There’s next to no sugar involved – all of 2 TBSP is all the dough needed. I did use 10 fresh dates (my new favorite sugar source), which I pureed with the bananas. You see, it’s like this: My daughter claims to detest dates, so I thought it might be wise if she wasn’t even aware she was eating any. Seems to have worked, too, she and her sweet friend wolfed down 2 apiece after school ;-). Wanna give these babies a shot? Here’s how you go about that.

Boombastic Banana Buns

4 overripe bananas

10 fresh dates (or more to taste, pitted)

2 eggs

100 g butter, melted

1 glass of milk, warm

1 TSP sea salt

1/2 p vanilla sugar

Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon (it was just there, you know how that goes)

1 p dry yeast

500 g spelt flour

Potato flour, maybe a large handful

2 TBSP sugar

Some spelt semolina (or flour, which I was out of, hence the semolina which added some nice crunch, though)

Warm milk and melt butter in it while you’re at it. With a stick blender, puree dates and bananas. Add vanilla, eggs and the liquid butter and milk. Add salt, sugar, flours and yeast. Grate the lemon zest and squeeze. Knead the dough until ingredients have blended well. The dough will be somewhat sticky, but that shouldn’t faze you, as you’re going to use a muffin tray later on so you don’t need the dough to hold its shape.

Set aside to rise. I left it to its devices for approx. 2 hours.

After, I preheated the oven to 160 °C and buttered my muffin tray. With a large TBSP, I scooped out portions of the dough and set them in the tray.

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The coarse stuff you see is a bit of semolina – I was out of spelt flour and felt the surface needed a little dusting of, well something that wasn’t wheat flour, as I gave that up for lent. Joking, I’m joking. I’ve not gone all Catholic on you all of a sudden. But I am taking a break from wheat, in the (maybe futile) hope this will make my belly fat magically disappear. We’ll see. It’s a long-term experiment.

A word on potato flour while I’m discussing unusual ingredients. The other day, when searching for a recipe for one of my favorite Arabic indulgences (and there are many), Oum Ali, a creamy-bread-pudding-raised-to-the-max, I stumbled across a charming food blog. It’s called Cleobuttera, and the Cairo-based blogger lady is fabulous, in an almost anarchistic calories-be-damned way. Maybe she’s very young, maybe she has an enviable metabolism, or maybe she just doesn’t care. Either way, in the recipe linked above, she explains all about the use of potato flour, so I’ll just let her do the talking. She makes a valid case, and I’ve been substituting a portion of regular (or as the case may be, spelt) flour with the fine white powder ever since I read that post. I’ve also bought Za’atar ;-). Yum. Not on banana buns, though. Duh.

I put the tray in the oven and baked it for approx. 30 minutes. Mine is a gas oven, so yours may need other times – just watch the buns like a hawk after 20 minutes. They should look like this when they come out:
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Whether you eat them with butter, cream-cheese, jams, honey or Nutella is entirely up to you. I had mine with apple slices, which was all I needed this greyish cold end of winter afternoon.

Work-wise, I’ve submitted my piece of the Story of Food – a book as huge as it sounds; I translated about 250 pages in a matter of weeks, phew … After what felt like a full day of exhaling, I started on my next book project, a very cool modern embroidery book by crafts artist Kristin Morgan whom you can also find on Instagram as marigoldandmars. Such pretty, creative hoops :-).

Because of my recent work overload, my own crafts projects needed to take a backseat for a while. But I picked up speed again after submitting the manuscript a week ago. Here’s what happened:

Pair of new hand-knit socks for my little squirrel.

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A bright little mandala for my friend A. who turned 50 and will hopefully enjoy seeing it when taking luxurious sips of outrageously expensive Sencha green tea from her pale green Japanese cup ;-).

And I have begun the process of assembling the Dotty Blanket, finally, check it out:

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So many Granny Squares, OMG … one day I’ll have to work out how many hours of happy crochet went into that blanket. It’s seriously the most time-consuming project I’ve ever worked on. But I have a feeling it’ll be worth it once I’m done.

Punching out today with a few ice skating pics I took last Saturday – check out the magic, misty early spring sunlight, and my two hobby figure skaters:

Enjoy the sunshine while you can … and do let me know how your banana buns turned out!

What’s on Your Mind?

This is how my template greets me when I log onto wordpress, which is genius, because it’s about as certain to get me talking as the well-tried therapist’s opening question ‚How are you today?‘. It’s a common topos in Science Fiction for the cyber intelligence to ask human beings this question, and as everyone knows who is online more that out in RL, it does the job nicely.

But this is me, actually asking you, dear stitch readers, because I really want to know how you guys are doing and what you’re up to. I hope you rang in the new year with (a) loved one(s), and I wish you all the best for a happy and fulfilling year to come. Despite the highly dubious situation of world politics, I have a good feeling about 2018. I’m not going to brood too much about that, and just enjoy the serenity while it lasts :-).

After a comparatively quiet Christmas, which we spent among our little nuclear family of four (five, if you’re counting the cat, sorry Fritzchen). We didn’t even squabble this time, let alone have any epic fights. Tree was lovely, we didn’t make a big fuss about cooking, and we didn’t celebrate my husband’s 50th birthday _at all_ – because he didn’t feel like it. I did meet his cake request, however, albeit with some trepidation. Therefore I am proud to report I now have a new notch in my baking belt, check it out:
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As you can see, it’s a meringue pie (of the lemon variety), and may I say it was as good as it looked – not always the case when I bake, but you obviously don’t know that because I wouldn’t be showing any shitty looking cakes here, duh.

I also made a couple really really nice salads. IMG_4621Lamb’s lettuce with red beets, radishes, green onions, quail’s eggs and goat cream cheese, dressed with a classical vinaigrette. I made that one twice because we loved it so much :-).

IMG_4671Romaine with green onions, orange fillets, fresh dates, roasted pine nuts and blue cheese, dressed with an orange juice based vinaigrette (guess you could call it an orangette ;-). I made it for New Year’s, with my Egyptian bestie Princess N. in mind.

On the crafts front, I have been sooo busy. I did some knitting for a few people before and over the holidays – notably, these lace knit wrist warmers for my mother in law:

They’re in the knitting book I’m currently working on, a whole book about mittens and gloves and, obviously, wrist warmers, and I simply couldn’t resist wanting to recreate their intricate beauty. I just happened to have a gorgeous skein of baby alpaca/silk/cashmere blend that seemed perfect, and I combined it with a thin off-white merino sock yarn to give it a bit more stability.

I’m not gonna lie, these beauties were a challenge to make indeed. Initially, after a few false starts (my brain had some trouble comprehending the chart) it went relatively smoothly. The first mitten hardly gave me any trouble. But then I didn’t immediately move on to the second – big mistake, as it turned out, because my lizard brain or muscle memory or whichever part of the system must have gotten instant amnesia. I needed to rip up the second one three(!) times, which sucked big time. Had I had any other gift option, I would have thrown in the towel… But with way more stamina and persistence than I usually have, I managed to finish them, and my MIL seems really happy with them. She appreciates my making the effort (as she should, she used to teach crafts in elementary school so she def. knows the drill).

I also made socks, socks and some more socks. Everybody seems to want hand-knit socks this winter, and obviously I always say yes. Here’s the models of the last couple weeks:

Upper left went to my favorite girl in Reykjavík, upper right went to my godson here in town, the wildly colored pattern was obviously for my tiny-footed baby girl, and the elegant purple ones went to my worthy Assistant Children’s Birthday Bash Manager C. for her birthday.

Right now, I’m working on a pair for my son who needs them for the ice skating rink (his home away from home during the winter season). They’re made of a very nice hand-spun and hand-dyed grey sock yarn from my favorite local wool shop, as were the other plain-colored ones.IMG_4730.JPGOne of the wonderful, thoughtful, colorful Christmas gifts I got from my dear friend A. in Frankfurt was this crafts sleeve, complete with notebooks, a pretty ballpoint pen and some really cool utensils – sort of like a Knitter’s Leatherman, you probably know the multi-purpose pocket tool gadgets that my son can’t live without, and this is similarly amazing. IMG_4707So, I don’t know about you people, but in my neck of the woods, we’re experiencing this Exceptionally Dark Winter. I can’t even remember having ever gotten this few hours of sunlight in all the 50 winters I’ve been around. It feels like a small ice age, and I’m hating every day that goes by without my much needed lux fix. Despite that, I’ve made the resolution to take a walk every day this year, come rain or shine, and so far, I’ve been good about it. Some days like today, it was actually a treat, for we did get to see the sun.

Checking out now with some pics I took on January 1st by the lake. Sometimes all you need to get lucky is to have a camera on you and randomly press the release button :-).

Wishing you a great start into a happy New Year 2018!

An Advent Post

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See this little fellow? At the Waldorf school, it’s called a snowflake, and they’re one of our staples that sell like hotcakes at the annual Winter Fayre ;-). We made a new batch this last fall, and now they’re all gone!

Luckily, they’re really easy to make: crochet a little white cap, hot-glue it to the top of a wooden pearl, hot-glue a white feather in the bottom, attach a white thread to the cap, and you’re done. I enjoy these simple crafts things, Lord knows I’m not good at many of them, but these I can actually handle. Aren’t they beautiful?

So, how are you coping with the pre-Christmas madness? This year, it took some doing to get me in the mood. I went through the motions: IMG_4458

Made an advent wreath …

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… filled the kids‘ advent calendar with sweets in time before December 1st …

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… baked the first batch of cookies (not even for our own benefit but for the elementary school’s bazaar) …

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… attended the annual decorating of the Christmas tree at the little park next to the elementary school.

But it wasn’t until the night before St. Nick’s day that I was actually beginning to feel festive. So we have this tradition on December 5th. We shine our shoes and set out a little savory snack (we figure the poor guy must be sick and tired of chocolates and cookies, so we give him pickles, cheese cubes and a glass of wine, or a little sandwich and a glass of milk, and this year he got Granny’s homemade cheese biscuits, cocktail tomatoes and some Scotch ;-)). In the morning, the plate is usually cleared, everyone’s shoes are filled with goodies, and he always leaves a note for the kids.

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Usually, after stuffing the shoes, I have little trouble sitting down and writing in the stern but benign tone of voice ‚he‘ always uses. But truthfully, it took the whole glass of whisky to get me there this year… In the end, feeling a bit buzzed and a lot tired, I was basically channeling my own exhaustion mixed with my great love for the kids. I’d say it was the most authentic letter ‚he‘ ever left (saying the kids were one of the sweetest brother and sister ‚he‘ knew, and to not forget to practice their grammar ;-), and confessing ‚he‘ was almost ready to call it a night … And what do you know, all of a sudden, my Christmas Spirit was back, good as new.

Recent events at the elementary school made a bit of a dent in my good mood – actually that’s a whole other post on human rights – but I’m determined to keep the ugly stuff out and preserve my little bubble of happy wintry pre-holiday things.

Last weekend, I started our annual Christmas Cookie Extravaganza by making melt-in-mouth Almond Hearts, the basic recipe for which was stolen from Berlinmittemom’s blog. I recommend that blog for reading about all things urban, stylish, responsible moms with a bit of extra time on their hands might be interested in. Ana Luz is a talented, professional writer – and recipes are actually one of the least frequent occurrences on her blog.

Anyway, I appropriated that recipe a couple years ago, and I’ve been experimenting a bit with it ever since. I’ve added freshly grated nutmeg one year (very nice), two teaspoons of powdered ginger (very British), I’ve loaded the dough with vanilla (classic), and added grated orange or lemon zest (dangerously yummy). It’s a very adaptable recipe! This year, I just added my usual pinch of Fleur de Sel, and lathered the cookies with a bright red, orange juice flavored icing. img_4517.jpg

Other strategies for counteracting the gloomy grey skies out there: I light lots of candles. I cook lots of soups. I make the kids hot chocolate after school. I drink pot after pot of hot tea. And I play music, not while I work, because it messes up my concentration, but in the late afternoons and at night. Listen to this piece and feel thankful with me that there’s people in the world capable of producing such pure beauty:

Parce Mihi Domine by Jan Garbarek & the Hilliard Ensemble from the album Officium

Happy last weeks before Christmas, everyone!

The Reuben Pizza, a Happy Coincidence

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In the kitchen (as in life in general), happy accidents can bring about the best results. So back when I still ate bacon (regular pork bacon, ham, streaky rashers, call them what you like), I would sometimes make sauerkraut quiche. I’m usually not fond of sauerkraut, to put it mildly. I know it contains a ton of vitamins and saved many a sailor from scurvy, but I just don’t love it, with one notable exception I first ate in New York City a few light years ago: The Reuben Sandwich. A Reuben is usually served on rye and contains Pastrami, Sauerkraut and melted cheese, which may sound like an odd combination at first, but I find it, for some reason, absolutely irresistible.

But back to that quiche. This was before we had kids, and as both children will touch neither quiche nor sauerkraut with a ten foot pole, I’ve basically stopped making it, because duh. And then for some reason I was reminded of it when grocery shopping last Saturday, and on an impulse I bought some sauerkraut, grabbed some smoked turkey breast (my go-to bacon substitute) and a carton of eggs. I was going to make that quiche for my husband.

As I looked up the short crust for quiches, it came back to me that I used to not make a short crust but rather a robust yeast dough for this particular recipe, and then I thought of the veggie quiche with the rye crust I made in the summer, and then I was reminded of the Tarte Flambée my fabulous friend M. made for us 2 weeks ago, remembered that even my picky daughter hat eaten it because she got her own slices topped like a pizza Margherita – and it sort of all came together in my creative cook-y brain. I was going to try and make a sauerkraut pizza, on a rye dough, and make my daughter her own,  Margherita style.

That’s how it went, and I made a yeast dough of: approx. 300 g rye flour, 200 g wheat flour, water, 1 p yeast, 1 1/2 Tbsp salt, 2 Tsp sugar and a generous slosh of olive oil. Then I set about prepping my sauerkraut. I hadn’t bought a lot, maybe 250 g, figuring it was only my husband and me who were going to eat it.

So first, I sliced a shallot and 200 g smoked turkey breast. I put 1 Tbsp dried caraway seeds in cooking oil and roasted them gently for a minute, then added the shallots and turkey breast strips, and finally the sauerkraut, some salt, sugar and black pepper. I let it stew/roast, adding water every once in a while so it didn’t burn. After an hour or so I turned off the heat and waited for my pizza dough to rise.

In the meantime, I added 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, 200 g cream cheese and just a dash of whipping cream to the sauerkraut, as well as a bit of salt and pepper, and grated a large handful of Swiss cheese.

Then I rolled out the dough really really thinly, maybe 2,5 mm. I laid it on a baking sheet and spread the sauerkraut mix on top in a thin layer, topped it off with the grated Swiss and put it in the oven, baking it for about 15 minutes.

I got the pizzas out when the crust was light brown and the cheese melted – and the rest was history. My boy took one bite of my sauerkraut slice and immediately abandoned his salami and marinara sauce pizza in favor of the more exotic variety … a very happy accidental recipe indeed. How about you? Any awesome coincidences in your kitchen lately…? Let’s hear about them.

Signing off today with a few happy pics from today’s birthday bash my daughter threw her friends – check out our latest piñata, yo.

Party Food

Last Saturday I threw my friends a party, and as per usual, I did most of the cooking myself, because I can. Buffet style made the most sense, because a number of friends were contributing food. I was pleased with the spread, and soon enough everybody was happily munching their way through salads, dips, wraps and meat or Falafel balls; a number of people asked me for recipes, so I thought I’d write up a couple things.

Minty Meat Balls

IMG_1914To me, meatballs are such a generic, unremarkable thing that I was kind of surprised to be even asked about them. Some use lamb, some use a pork and beef mix; the batch I made last Friday was from a beef and lamb mix. They turn out best, I think, if you add to the ground meat: minced shallots, garlic, eggs, mustard, tomato paste, very finely chopped fresh mint and parsley, oregano, cinnamon, cumin, salt, pepper and bit of sugar. Making meatballs is a truly tedious task, and I had to put the radio on and even enlist my teenager’s help for an hour when he came home from school. There must have been about 400 meatballs all in all, so I was busy for a solid 2 hours; I can tell you we won’t be having them again any time soon, though. I’m over meatballs for now … But people really enjoyed them. So – I hope you will too.

Seasonal Fall Pesto

IMG_3964IMG_1900.JPGPesto is always only as good as its ingredients. The fresher the herbs, the better your Parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic and pine nuts, the better your Pesto will be. I added some arugula, parsley and mint to the mix, some sunflower seeds and Turkish hazelnuts, and I didn’t use a lot of garlic but plenty of olive oil. It turned out nice! (Basil is obviously the basis, but you knew that, right.) Puree with a blender, season with salt, pepper, dash of sugar. And you’re done!

Sweet and Spicy Cilantro Dip

IMG_3965This is a light, summery sauce I sometimes make when we grill, and it works as a salsa dip too. For the party, it was designed as a dip for the meatballs and/or Falafel.

Sauté in olive oil but don’t let brown 2 minced shallots, add a can of tomatoes, a couple tablespoons tomato paste, some minced lemon peel, a bunch of chopped cilantro, tablespoon of chili flakes, salt and quite a bit of sugar. Stew for a while, add spices to taste, and – a thing I would not ordinarily do to a tomato sauce – puree. It’s good hot and cold.

Happy Accident Vegan Pasta Salad

A pasta salad is a pasta salad is a pasta salad, you say? Not this time it wasn’t! I had been thinking of my picky little eater when making it, but instead, it mostly ended up on my vegan friend C.’s plate, because I had accidentally not added any Parmesan cheese:-), and what a good thing! Obviously, we’re conditioned to always eat Parmesan cheese with pasta, unless it’s a dish with seafood or fish (Spaghetti Vongole with grated cheese? No way!). But it was so good with the roasted pine nuts that I didn’t even miss the cheese, which is probably why I forgot to add any. There’s no picture, but you can probably imagine what it looked like anyway. Ingredients were: Small pasta, olive oil, bit of garlic, 1 tomato, blanched, peeled, seeded and cubed, roasted pine nuts, fresh basil, salt and pepper, all mixed together in a bowl.

Pretty Big Lemon Pound Cake

img_1575A word on creaming butter. I may be carrying owls to Athens, and you may roll your eyes at me and think DUH!!! as you read this. To me, it’s a big deal, for I remembered something very important this past weekend. I know that my dad always used to say ‚when you think you’re done beating, continue for another 10 minutes‘. He was referring to egg whites, I think, but it makes even more of a difference when creaming butter. Lemon pound cake may not be the most exceptional thing in the world, but then again, when made with love and patience, it can be a melt-in-your-mouth-tender piece of buttery, lemony indulgence. I had enlisted my youngest cake lover’s help for making the batter. She’s an enthusiastic baker, much as she finds cooking boring, and I made her cream the butter and sugar. Then a friend called, and (quoting, as I always do, my dad), I had asked my daughter to continue with her task for a couple more minutes. Then I walked away from the noise of the electric mixer to talk to my friend, forgetting everything that was going on in the kitchen over our conversation. When I came back, my poor kid was still creaming the butter, and I have to say it was really spectacularly fluffy! It made for such a wonderfully light and tender cake that I’m going to keep in mind that some things do take as long as they take, especially when it comes to baking.

We dug out my gran’s old copper pudding mold, which always makes for such pretty cakes, with its whorls and ridges – and it was a really really nice center piece for the buffet table! For the batter, I used 500 g butter, 350 g sugar, 100 g ground almonds, 400 g flour, 1 1/2 p vanilla, generous pinch of salt, lotsalotsa grated lemon peel, 6 eggs and 1 p baking soda. We carefully buttered the mold and dusted it with flour before spooning in the batter, and baked it in a 180 °C oven for like 1 1/2 hours, I swear it took forever because it was so huge.

And that’s all I have to say today, stitch readers and food lovers :-). I’m signing off with a picture of the crochet project I started by the beach in France – a baby blanket for the latest addition to the family, young J. in A. May he have a sweet, snuggly time with it.

Take care everyone, and if you’d be so kind and let me know how you made the following dishes, that would be dope:

the hokkaido pumpkin thing

the veggie quiche

the gingered carrots

and (in my daughter’s name)

the raspberry dessert 🙂

Thank you!

Lunch, Anyone?

I’ve written about that vicious cycle before (so much work – imminent starvation – translating cookbook); I swear I’ve gained half of my excess weight because of my specializing in that particular genre. Doesn’t bode well for the future, does it???

Trepidation of impending obesity aside, here’s what I whipped up today after wandering into the kitchen in search of food. For lack of a better term (for it took all of 20 minutes to make, and stews, in my mind, usually take hours and hours of, um, stewing) I’m calling it

No-Fuss Chickpea and Tomato Stew

IMG_2736As you can see, I topped it with Feta cheese and some fresh basil. I thought it looked very pretty, and it was also very good. Here’s how I made it.

1 shallot, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 TB olive oil

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 can chickpeas

Salt & pepper to taste

Pinch of sugar

1 handful fresh basil and oregano, chopped

Gently sauté the vegetables and herbs until the shallots are translucent but not brown, add tomatoes and season the sauce to your liking. Let stew for a few minutes, then add the drained chickpeas and let them heat in the hot sauce for a bit. Chop or crumble your Feta cheese, pour stew in a bowl, top with crumbled or cubed cheese and a bit of fresh basil (mainly for the looks, sauce is yummy just as it is), grab a spoon and eat :-). Quick & easy, as lunch should be, in my opinion.

Dropping out of Blogland again for now with a quick wave and a few pics of last week’s ninja crocheting – I made my first (and probably last, you’ll know why when you see it!) amigurumi for my sweet niece M.’s birthday, as well as a colorful mandala as a bright little personal addition to the white peonies I gave to my wonderful friend M. for her birthday.

It has to be noted, that while I managed the mandala by myself, the unicorn was only finished on schedule because my rock star of a son took care of the finishing and assembling. That boy can sew – soooo much better than I, and unlike me, he’s patient enough to do it, bless him.

Have a great week, everyone :-).