Time Is Fleeting

An old friend posted a video of clouds passing overhead on his IG yesterday, asking ‚when was the last time you just watched clouds passing by?‘ in the hashtag. Funnily enough, this was precisely what I had been doing myself before I took my phone to check my IG. He lives on the East Coast in the States, I’m in Europe – and there we were, doing the exact same thing, and even the skies looked similar – partly cloudy ;-).IMG_E6670Not having enough time for xyz is a common pet peeve. We all complain about not getting around to accomplishing this or that, or about days being too short, or about having too little quality time with our loved ones. Our days are organized in ways that leave little room for improvisation – work, school, afternoon activities, exercise, chores, appointments … all these Regular Must Dos sometimes make it hard to find room for just about anything that doesn’t have a timeline.

As a person who works from home, my life is blessed in terms of my not having to run somewhere everyday for work. I love that, even if it sometimes means I have to hop when a client says frog, no matter if I’m on vacation or not. It just sort of fell into place this way over the years, and it works out well for everyone – even though my teenager would appreciate more alone time sometimes. On the other hand, he also appreciates me proofing his school assignments, a handy thing if you’re as dyslexic as he is.

And now I have, like, a dog, to quote Detective Rosa Diaz from Brooklyn 99. Regular bathroom breaks, even if they’re not scheduled, do need to happen, and one long walk per day is a must to keep him (and myself) happy and balanced. What this inevitably cuts into is my crafts time. My husband who is both a smart dude and a planner pointed this out in advance, not that I was paying a lot of attention. Before Charlie moved in, I was concerned with things like ‚will he even be happy with us‘, ‚will he be able to cope with city life‘, and ‚how the heck will he and our old kitty get along‘.

Having a cat as a pet, you can pretty much pick up your crafts project whenever you’re done with work and have no other, child-related obligations. With a dog, this is obviously not the case. Walking the pup takes up 2 hours, every day. I do try to get my friends to go with me, so I get to see them even if I don’t go out at night much, and Charlie thankfully doesn’t mind my chatting to someone while he’s off the leash doing his thing. But time for crafts has become scarce, and this is why I only have a measly half of a sock to show – which I made when watching movies at night when the dog was tired enough to simply sleep, without needing me to play, or cuddle.img_1174.jpgThis was yesterday morning when I thought it would be a good time to continue knitting sweet A.’s pair of birthday socks. It wasn’t really happening until later at night when watching a few episodes of Elementary. This is how far I’ve gotten over 1 week:img_1182.jpgSo not a lot of crafts, more walking, less watching the clouds – but all in all, life isn’t so bad.

And since dog or not, we do need to eat, here’s my version of hummus. It’s a mix of my lovely princess N.’s tahini recipe and the hummus tahini I got to know and love in Greece, in another lifetime.

Hummus My Way

1 can chickpeas

2–3 TBSP tahin paste

1/2 clove garlic

Salt to taste

1/2 tsp cumin

Generous squeeze of lemon

6 TBSP olive oil

2 TBSP water

Yogurt to taste

Puree the chickpeas with the garlic and the olive oil to a consistency of your liking – mine turned out a bit on the chunkier side, because ancient stick blender, sigh. Add tahin, salt, lemon juice and cumin to taste. Stir thoroughly to make a smooth paste. If you’d like the mixture to be creamier, add a bit of water and/or yogurt. You could put some chili or pepper, but I actually prefer hummus to have its natural, nutty flavor rather than being spicy.

Enjoy with bread, veggie sticks, crackers or on a sandwich.

Thank you for reading, and have a productive day :-).

Werbeanzeigen

Ten Foods for Growing-ups at Our House

img_3438.jpgMy children are – among other things – the light of my life, the apple of my eye, my heart of hearts … and I know few things better than seeing them tuck into something I made, and knowing they think I’m a master chef or at the very least the best cook they know. As sweet as that is, it’s of course not true. But I try, and I’d say I am a decent cook, and I also know that I can whip up meals for children in my sleep, no problem.

When I first began to cook, I learned from my dad, and after I lost him way too early at 15, I taught myself. I ate my way through many European countries, North America,  Egypt, Brazil and Thailand (don’t even want to do the math of how much money I spent in restaurants in my life). I read cookbooks, studied them, really, and I have absorbed information on technique, methods, food stuffs and recipes for 4 decades, putting theory into practice every day since I moved out at 17.

It has been a gradual process for me that got me to the point of refusing to put up with bad food. It’s such an unnecessary waste of calories, and seeing how most of us could stand to lose a few, shouldn’t eating actually be pleasurable, and healthy too? I’m not even talking about (very occasional) cravings for a Big Mac, or a Falafel sandwich, or a Terrible Taco. It’s the convenience junk many people eat at their house when they think they’re cooking I’m more concerned about. You may believe you’re preparing a meal when instead all you do is re-heat the flavor-enhancer-laden gunk Monsanto or Kraft Foods want consumers to believe is actually nutritious. It’s bad, it makes us fat and it doesn’t even keep us happy.

Forgive my rant, this is actually not what I wanted to write about  :-). Got sidetracked. What I did want to do is enumerate a few recipes I love but my brood do not. Yes, there most certainly are foods like that. And on occasion, I cook them, too. Let me show you.

First and foremost: polenta! I grew up on it in the Balkans, and I’ve never stopped loving it. In this picture, I topped it with baby artichokes dressed with a bit of garlic, lemon and arugula. IMG_1630Second of all: Risotto! For whatever reason the kids don’t like it (probably good for husband’s and my waistline), because we both do, a lot. Below, as you can see, it’s topped with green asparagus.IMG_3546Third, oddly, ratatouille. They will eat tomato sauce, they will eat peppers (zucchini not so much), but for some reason they will not touch this wonderful celebration of summery vegetables.IMG_2411Fourth, sadly, they won’t have anything to do with pumpkins. This was a dish I threw together for my son’s veggie ex girlfriend – a ginger and rosemary flavored cream sauce with cubed hokkaido and its summery cousin, courgettes. S. loved it, as did I, but my kids did not :-/.IMG_0265The next one, fifth, is a fifty-fifty miss. Son detests it, daughter enjoys it – lemon and garlic chicken thighs and vegetables baked in the oven. IMG_0508.JPGThe sixth again unites the disdain of the youngsters: Leeks Quiche – husband and I think it’s wonderful, kids won’t even look at it. Leeks, ew! Quiche, how could you!IMG_1838The seventh is for me only, because there’s no love from the others at our house for the Tortilla Española.IMG_1481Eighth, Arabic fish in cumin flavored tomato sauce, with a handful of capers and bay leaf. It’s heavy on the garlic and absolutely yummy – thank you, habibati N., for sharing.

Okay, ninth is a broccoli or cauliflower casserole, gratinéed with a Bèchamel sauce and strong cheese. Lovely, but hated with a passion by the next generation.IMG_9368Tenth, astonishingly enough, is home made apple sauce. It’s what I have when the kiddos eat rice pudding ;-). The plate you see below contains both, but that’s just for show.IMG_0724.JPGTastes change over the years – this is a status quo of a 17 year old’s and a ten years old’s least favorites. It may not be valid in the future.

Should anybody be interested in recipes for any of the above, please ask. This week is a good one for writing just for fun, so best take advantage of that.

And enjoy your food, whatever it is you will be cooking today. Of course, I’m also interested to know what that is. Let me know!

 

Food for Very Hot Days

Hi stitch readers, nice of you to drop in despite the infrequent installments over the last few weeks. Sorry but sometimes RL gets in the way of the online business, I’m sure you can relate. I was busy with work, the typical last weeks of school madness and the slings and arrows of getting into the groove of life with a dog (who is adored by everyone except our old lady cat :-(().IMG_0465.jpg

IMG_5985All in all, taking care of the pup has been much less of an adjustment than I would have thought, and I’ve adapted to my new routine with ease. Walking a dog is as good a purpose for leaving the house as I can think of, and probably really healthy for me to boot, because we all know how most types of exercise bore me. I’ve found out that both pup and I prefer walking in the forest rather than at the park, so most mornings that’s where we go after the kids leave the house at 8.IMG_6629So, summer break. Some years this means nothing to do for a couple weeks other than catering to the youngsters and driving them to this beach or that. Other years it simply means working in a different place (as of last week, the country cottage). This year being one of the latter, I never really stop working unless it’s the weekend, and sometimes not even then. But what with the heatwave we’re experiencing, it sure is pleasant to be out here, with the lake a mere 5 minutes away.IMG_0547Eating when it’s well in the 30s (Celsius) is a challenge because unlike some, I’m unable to survive on ice-cream alone. You can’t really not eat, because despite the heat you get hungry. And even though for some odd reason watermelon makes me really full, that is also not exactly satisfying when what your body really wants is something savory.

So today, my son requested a chilled tomato soup. That was, as it turns out, a genius idea, for this awesomeness is how it turned out:IMG_E0692It would probably have benefited from a handful of croutons, but really who can be bothered when it’s 37 °C?! Not me. You want to make this? Here’s how.

Tremendous Tomato and Basil Soup, Chilled

1 shallot

1 green onion, the white bulb portion

1 fat clove of garlic

1 handful of parsley

2 handfuls of basil

5 sprigs of thyme

1 vegetable broth cube

2 cans tomatoes

1/2 l tomato juice

1 large carrot, sliced

4 TBSP olive oil

1 slice of lemon

salt, pepper and sugar to taste

1/2 tsp chili flakes

1 bay leaf

1 small jar capers in brine

Peel and chop the vegetables and herbs, stalks and all. Heat the olive oil and sauté your chopped vegetables and herbs. Pour in some water and add the broth. Add sugar, salt and pepper, as well as the slice of lemon. Bring to a boil. Add the canned tomatoes and cook for 30 minutes with a closed lid so the flavors can combine.

Take off the heat and remove the bay leaf and the lemon slice. Puree with a stick blender. Then (sorry, but you’ll have to, or it won’t have the elegant, silky quality we’re aiming for) pass through a sieve. You may have to do this in batches. Discard the coarse stuff. Add to the strained soup the tomato juice, chili flakes and capers, along with their brine – it adds to the tartness of the soup. Check your seasoning.

Chill the soup thoroughly. If you’re impatient and/or very hungry like we were today, you might as well freeze it – the flavor won’t suffer, I promise.

Garnish with a basil leaf or two. Add to your heart’s desire: mozzarella, Parmesan shavings, feta cheese, goat cream cheese, a dollop of crème fraîche, or croutons. And enjoy :-).

After taking an evening walk with the pup, we were all sweaty and exhausted (it was still 36 °C), and after a shower, I had both a craving and an idea. Peach milkshakes, I thought. We did have a bunch of fresh peaches, and an orange, as well as some frozen pieces of mango, and some vanilla ice cream. The stick blender did its job. It was really, really yummy, and just what I needed after the insane heat of the day.img_0696.jpgThis is how we made our concoction:

Peachy Milkshakes

4 peaches or nectarines (or more to taste)

1 orange, squeezed

4 TBSP frozen mango

4 scoops vanilla ice cream

1/2 lemon, squeezed

1 TBSP brown sugar

1 cup milk

Puree all ingredients with a blender, add some water if the shake is too thick for your taste, and drink up!

And finally, since it was the weekend, and my wayward son came back after 2 days of partying in the city, I also made these, feeling way more like a stay-at-home-mom than I would like:IMG_0679I’m well aware I’ve written up cinnamon buns before, but it’s only recently that I thought of making them look like a bunch of roses from the top – all you really need to do it set them in a round baking dish, next to each other, and voilà, you have this very pretty piece of baking on your hands. The recipe is the same as here. Only they look a lot prettier like this, aaand they don’t dry out as they might do if baked as individual rolls. If they even last long enough to, teehee. This batch was gone after a day :-), and there was only three of us!

So, have a most excellent summer, everyone. I may or may not be back soon with more food stuff. Translating really good recipes is always an inspiration ;-).IMG_0550

Calling Buckwheat

IMG_9845I first ate these in France – la belle Bretagne to be exact – where this type of really thin Crêpe-type pancakes go by the name of galettes. I loved the nutty flavor the buckwheat gives them but never really tried to make them myself. However, since having forgone wheat, I’m always intrigued to find substitute grains, and one day I just felt like experimenting.

Now the downside of buckwheat is that it doesn’t contain gluten (duh, you say) and therefore, you need other ingredients to make the batter hold its desired shape in the frying pan. To accommodate that, I use both buckwheat and spelt, and I use more eggs than I normally would, which works really nicely.

This impressive stack up there was made over the Easter break, for 4 children and 4 adults who returned from an afternoon of canoeing. I went a little over the top with the measurements, but the leftover 10 or so were just as good the next day, so no complaints.

Perfect Buckwheat Pancakes

750 ml milk

3 eggs

200 g buckwheat flour

200 g spelt flour

1 TSP salt

4 TBSP sugar

Vegetable oil for frying

Mix the eggs and milk, add sugar and salt, then whisk in the flours. I find that the buckwheat soaks up a lot more fluids than regular flour, so it could be that you may have to add more – I use tap water, spoonful by careful spoonful. You use too much, you need to add more flour, and that can ultimately lead to way too much batter (see above). Anyway. The consistency you’re aiming for is quite thin, somewhere between Crêpe batter and regular good old German Pfannkuchen batter. If that means nothing to you, you want it to be the consistency of a slightly thawed, intensely slurpable milkshake ;-).

A flexible spatula is an asset for these – and a decent, not too heavy, flat frying pan is key. As you can see, I used two different pans so the whole process wouldn’t take me all afternoon. One of them was a proper Crêpes pan (top right), unfortunately, not mine, but I can definitely see the appeal. (Not a fan of buying each and every kitchen gadget I see, normally I’m all for down-scaling rather than amassing clutter, unlike others in this house, naming no names. But that pan I like.)

So you pour a very small dash of oil into the pan, heat it (but not to smoking point), ladle in your batter and swivel the pan so your batter forms a thin, even layer on the bottom of the pan. Once the batter starts to curl away from the edges (I think this takes about 1 minute, but you’ll just have to see what your batter and your stove and the frying pan you’re using are doing). Turn the pancake over and fry from the other side, half the time. Repeat until you’ve used up all the batter.

Eat with: Jam, Nutella, grated Parmesan, smoked salmon and cream cheese, salad, stir-fried vegetables, tomato sauce, mozzarella Caprese, pesto sauce and cheese, asparagus, ham, cream of spinach and Gorgonzola, lemon juice and sugar or apple sauce … there’s literally nothing these don’t taste absolutely awesome with, as the batter is neither overly sweet nor too salty.

The last few weeks were more eventful than you’d expect from a sleepy two weeks of no school in the country. We had astonishingly gorgeous weather and enjoyed the magic early spring light, bees buzzing and orchard trees blooming. There were lazy afternoons in the hammock, walks through the millions of shades of green in the forest, cooking, baking and playing board games, grilling and toenail painting. I finished up a book on craft beer brewing, and started on another cookbook – Italian cuisine by a prestigious London restaurant owner. We had a wonderful couple days over Easter, hosting my girl J. and her husband who are about to become new parents – effectively making me and my husband great-aunt and great-uncle :-))). We’re very happy for them, and they seem in a really good place, the right mixture of chill and excitement, and humor – the most important quality of all when it comes to parenthood, in my opinion.

Welp, and finally, from the looks of it, I’m about to become a dog owner – meet my new buddy Charlie, who’ll be moving in end of the week:

IMG_9771He’s the little fellow I wrote about in one of my last posts. It took his current owners a while to make up their minds, but in the end we met up after Easter, and that was that. I’m alternating between freaking the f… out and being over the moon :-). IMG_9870Here’s an old picture that may be an indication for the origin of my love for Dachshunds. These were my parents in 1967, my mom beaming, proud of her new baby, and my dad grinning and holding their dog. Teehee. Early childhood conditioning all the way …

I hope he’ll be happy with us. I hope my kitty won’t lose her shit. I hope I’ll be patient and chill enough even if things go a little sideways. I hope for so many things – please help and send good vibes, my friends.

There was not a lot of time for stitches these past two weeks, but there was some. This is part of my contribution to the upcoming summer fayre at my son’s Waldorf school: Potholders in nice, summery colors :-). img_9872.jpgI’m feeling a bit nostalgic this time around, as it’ll be one of the last events I’ll be responsible for, probably. My daughter may not go to the same school, probably. Also, I have a dog to think of now. Won’t be able to put in the time like I used to, probably.

So, from this mental place of being unsure about just about everything, I’m wishing you all a pleasant start into the week, and some of that serenity we can see in this picture:IMG_9742

Loaf My Way

There seems to be some interest in my bread recipe, thank you for asking. It’s as simple as it gets: 3 types of grains, yeast, salt & sugar, water, the end.

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See the interesting shape that bread has? That happened because I don’t knead, so there’s a lot of air bubbles in the dough, and it rose to this weird mountain-top shape in the oven. I know we’re always taught the exact opposite when it comes to yeast dough, as in knead, knead, knead. After reading a recipe for no-knead artisan bread online, however, that called for min. 9 hours of rising and explicitly advised against kneading, I just kind of stopped doing it. And what do you know, it works really well, even with just 1 hour of rising and nothing crazy like overnight.

My bread baking career started out in the country. Contrary to what you might think, they mostly have supermarket chains and the affiliated bakeries there, and very little in the way of quaint village bakeries like you may know from France.  Anyway, I never loved the bread you can buy there to begin with, and when I quit eating wheat last year, and couldn’t get spelt flour bread, I had to get creative. Adding oats and millet seeds happened one day when I didn’t have enough flour. Now, I’m pretty much making the same type every time, because everybody enjoys it.

Crusty Spelt, Oats and Millet Bread

500 g spelt flour

100 g oats

50 g millet seeds

1 P dry yeast

2 TBSP salt

1 TBSP sugar

0,5 l warm water

Using a spatula, combine ingredients to make a smooth, moist dough. Dust with some extra flour and cover with a clean cloth. Set aside in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 160 °C. Oil a bread pan, dust it with flour, scrape the risen dough (which should have doubled in size) into the bread pan and put it in the oven.

After 30 minutes, turn down the heat a bit and bake for another 20 or so. Any minute now :-)! The bread should be a pleasant, light brown color and it should sound a bit hollow when you rap on it with your knuckles.

Take out the bread and let cool until it comes out of the bread pan. Let cool completely before you slice it.

The last weeks I’ve been quiet, because I was working and micromanaging my kids – joking, I’m joking. I’m really not that bad. Or so I hope. It’s just hard for them, keeping track with all the stuff they need to remember, and since I’m the one with the iCal, I remind them. For it has been proven empirically, over and over again, that they’ll forget to see their orthodontist, or their standing weekly French tutoring session, or homework, or hockey practice. And the appointments keep piling up.)

Also, I have a confession to make… I may have met someone online. He’s very young, and he has the most gorgeous eyes you can imagine. I haven’t met him in RL yet, but I will, soon. He lives close to where our cottage is. I’m not yet fully committed, but he’s very, very intriguing. His name is Charlie, and … he’s a Dachshund :-)). Teehee, did you actually for a second there think I was going to post on my blog about a secret online affair? If so, that’s hilarious. Nah, I’m just thinking about getting a dog, for the first time in my life, and the thought makes me happier than I’ve been in a long time. There’s a lot to be said about realizing what we really wish for, isn’t there? I mean, even if Charlie won’t end up coming to live with us (another family have expressed interest, before us, so we’re only second choice), finding him and truly giving this serious thought made me realize it’s what I want. And that’s something, right?

This weekend, I’m hoping to make some more progress on the Stripy Sweater. Here’s how far I’ve gotten, and I’m looking forward to finishing it soon. Thanks to my math genius friend P., the raglan went easily enough, and hate it as I might, it was smart to actually count stitches and do the math with this delicate yarn. I may have gotten the sleeve right at the first go, so I have reason to be pleased ;-).

I’m also looking forward to more of this:

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Magic early spring evening light in Brandenburg at its best. Have a lovely spring weekend, everyone.

Let Them Eat Waffles

I would have thought everyone has their own favorite waffle recipe. Some may use store-bought mixes, others have their handed down for generations way to do it. Some swear by buttermilk, others use yeast instead of baking soda, and I have heard of people who separate eggs and fold in the stiff egg-whites into the batter.

I grew up in a completely waffle-free household. Maybe my parents weren’t keen, maybe waffles have no tradition in Romania, I don’t even know. It is fair to say waffles are, for me, an acquired taste. I can’t pinpoint exactly when I started noticing waffles were a thing, but I do remember they became somewhat of a tradition when I met my husband who first introduced me to the concept of homemade baked goods (also not something that happened on the regular at our house when I was a child).

One secret ingredient I use for my waffles is grated orange zest, which adds a fruity zing, and the other is some sort of ground nuts, which gives them a bit of crunchiness. I’ve made and served these waffles, to great success, at countless kindergarten parties, birthdays, school bazaars – and just this past weekend, at the hockey club, too.

I had signed up for waffles, as I always feel better behind a counter doing something useful than just standing around and making small talk (I wrote about this recently). So I was on waffle duty, and of course I had brought my own batter. 2 hours later I was told I absolutely needed to make those waffles again, like, for all occasions to come. It would seem the way to hockey people’s hearts is, just like to other people’s, through their stomachs.

IMG_8933

Waffles for a Crowd

8 eggs

250g butter

0,5 – 0,75 l milk

250 g sugar

1 p vanilla sugar

Zest of 2 oranges, grated

3 tbsp cinnamon

pinch of cardamon

2 pinches of salt

2 p baking soda

Flour (I used spelt), min 500 g, 1 kg if you have it. I needed to improvise as I’d run out, and used

300 g potato flour instead, as well as

200 g ground almonds (hazelnuts work beautifully, too)

All ingredients should have room temperature for smooth mixing and results.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add grated orange peel, salt, vanilla, cinnamon and cardamon. Beat in eggs one by one. Add 0,5 l of the milk. More may be needed after you put in the flour. First, add the almonds. Then, add the flour and beat until you’re happy with the consistency (a little thicker than (US) pancake batter, smooth and creamy).

You may add more milk and flour as you go, as needed. The 8 eggs can certainly accommodate more, and you want this recipe to feed the masses.

Add the baking soda at the very end and vigorously beat for another minute before letting the batter sit for a bit.

Fire up the waffle iron and pour in as much of the batter as needed (depends on the size you have.) For mine, pretty much the regular German round-shaped waffle iron with heart-shaped sections, I pour in 1/2 ladle.

Top with powdered sugar to taste. (This is why the batter itself isn’t very sweet. Kids always want powdered sugar, and this way they don’t overdose right away.)

Go nuts with the toppings – not for a finger food occasion, but if you’re making them for a sitting down to eat setting, you can serve them with whipped cream, fresh berries, jams or warm cinnamon cherries, sprinkles, Nutella … anything sweet that makes you happy is allowed. And now, go spread some sweetness ;-).

As for crafts, it is as I feared with the stripy sweater. Good news is that I’m happy with the new design (left side). Bad news is I get to unravel the first attempt (right side), as neither the proportions nor the width of the stripes please me, so it needs to go. I already vented about frogging mohair yarn, but I can’t not do it because I need all the yellow yarn I have. Sigh.

But: I’m really pleased with how it’s coming together. I’m aiming for a sort of a Swinging Sixties vintage look. Bless those who are able to just put what they have in mind into practice at their first attempt. I am not one of them, that’s for sure!

Have a happy week, everyone!

Knit, Frog, Repeat

IMG_9193Have any of you ever unraveled mohair yarn? It’s a b…, let me tell you. It had to be done, though, because I was dead set to use up yarn from my yarn stash, and there was this random back piece I had knitted ages ago, that had the most hideous armholes you can imagine, also it was ribbed and frankly I don’t even remember what the heck I had in mind when I made it. It needed to go.

Slow progress doesn’t begin to describe the frustrating hours that followed, and had it not been for the fact I got to re-watch Moana with my little squirrel while I was frogging, I might have thrown out the whole thing. First world problem you say? How exactly is my recycling yarn not sustainable? It’s the very definition of being mindful with my stuff, and _not_ toss anything I’m tired of right away.

IMG_9334After I was done unraveling, getting started on my stripy sweater was my reward. So I did, and in the meantime, I have figured out, with the help of my lovely mathematician friend P., the raglan sleeve, and finished the front piece:

IMG_9333.JPGMy daughter named it the bee sweater – and she has a point, it’s exactly what it looks like. Unfortunately, the longer I look at it, the more I feel I got the proportions wrong, sigh. It needs to be less wide, and the rib at the bottom needs to be longer. If it weren’t for the rib, I could live with the sweater being a little baggy. But that rib needs a few more centimeters, and if I pick up the stitches at the bottom, you’d see it. I’ll either have to live with imperfection or buckle down and unravel once again – not sure what I’ll do yet.

Knitting aside, I had a busy beginning of the year. I translated a cookbook, which was fun and lovely. I helped a bit with my son’s school workload.

And, with somewhat mixed feelings, I just submitted the translation of a mediocre romance novel that the author tried, imho, to stuff way too many things into (love story, middle agers, teenagers, murder mystery, genre picture and gender). She’s also introducing too many characters, she has a knack for using weird metaphors, and the love scenes seem a bit generic, carefully scripted to tick off the usual tropes. Kiss, check. Hand job, check. Oral, check. Full-on penetrative, check. True love happening somewhere along the line.

I know that the art of romance writing is to make every story that meanders from meet-cute across some sort of conflict towards the happily ever after captivating, and I’m sure it can’t be easy for writers to stay away from the clichés. That said, I can name a good many examples (not to bore you, but I really could ;-)) for stories that pull this off, excelling at it even. Let’s just say that this wasn’t one of them. As a translator, you can only do so much – if the story sucks in the first place, it will suck after translation, and try as you might, you can’t really help that. I won’t be getting a lot of favorable mentions for this one, that’s for sure.

Moving on, I next get to translate a few chapters of a book on micro-brewery. Not that I even like beer, but what I’ve read of the book so far sounds fun. Also I’m dipping a careful toe into copywriting again; an old client whom I have a lot of respect and affection for asked me, so how could I say no? It’ll be a change of pace, and that is a good thing, always.

It’s almost mid March now, and we’ve had a few spring days already. Of course, in our neck of the woods, this means nothing. Temperatures dropped again, we’ve had a doozy of a storm over the weekend, and it even snowed a little last Sunday. But the days are getting longer, and being on the third floor, we do get our share of sunlight. IMG_9189.jpgThis was the other morning when we were getting ready for school. A good way to start the day – I find myself being highly susceptible to lux as I get older.

To top off this post, I’d like to mention a recipe I’ve been honing for a few years – it’s a classic cheesecake, which may sound a bit boring, but I assure you, it’s anything but. If things go well, this is what happens when I make it:

IMG_9098.JPGIt’s a creamy, fluffy heap of gorgeousness with a hint of vanilla and distinct lemon flavor – think of a soufflé rather than of your regular American cheesecake (no disrespect to the spectacular New York cheesecakes I’ve had, but this is just more my bag).

In my baking book, the caption literally says: This is a cake you get proposed for. I only discovered this way after I’d gotten married, so I can’t confirm or deny. What I can tell you is that my son has been asked for his mom’s cheesecake recipe :-), so high praise from the teenage front.

Cheesecake for Champions

For the crust

50 g sugar

100 g butter

150 g flour

1 yolk

pinch of salt

Make a shortcrust, wrap in foil and put in the freezer for 30 minutes to rest (if you’re not in a rush, you can put it in the fridge for 1 hour or longer). Take out and carefully roll out the dough to 3-4 mm thickness. Place in a spring-form pan lined with baking parchment and bake for a few minutes. Whether you want the crust to come up to the sides is up to you. If you want to be anal about this (I’m not), place a second piece of parchment on top of the dough, add a handful of dried beans or peas and bake in the oven at 160 °C for 15 minutes. Let cool for a bit and start on the filling in the meantime.

For the filling

500 g full fat Quark (could be substituted with cream cheese, but you should add 1 egg white if you do, as it’s heavier than our German variety)

150 g sugar

1 p vanilla sugar

2 lemons, peel grated

1 tbsp flour

1 tbsp cornstarch

7 eggs, separated in yolks and egg whites

50 g sugar

pinch of salt

Place Quark, 150 g sugar, lemon peel, vanilla, flour and cornstarch, egg yolks and salt in a large bowl, and I mean large. With an electric mixer, beat to a smooth paste. Carefully clean the whisks before moving on to beating the egg whites with a pinch of salt and 50 g sugar very, very stiff. Then place on top of the Quark mixture and gingerly fold in with a spatula. You don’t want any more air bubbles to escape than is absolutely inevitable, so please be gentle.

Spoon the mixture onto the cooled crust and immediately place the cake in the oven for about 40 minutes. Do not open the oven as your soufflé-like cake may collapse if you do.

Serve warm. If you want to be really fancy, serve with fruit puree – strawberry, raspberry, or mango.

It should make an impression.