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!

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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 :-).

A Domestic Post

I love our apartment. It’s spacious, with large windows and just the right mix of slightly shabby bohemian turn of last century chic and modern amenities. The children get their own rooms, we can each be by ourselves whenever we choose to be, and there’s still enough room to converge for a meal, a movie or a game. But despite all that space, my favorite few square meters over the few precious months of warm weather we get in this climate are our two (!) balconies. One faces East and the other West, so we get both morning and afternoon sun.

IMG_2599The above is the kitchen balcony we share with our neighbors next door. They rarely take advantage of it, because they’re not home a lot, but I always use it for growing herbs. As of last summer, I’ve been proud owner of this fabulous urban gardening contraption, but it’s only recently that I’ve actually begun using it in its designated capacity. It’s a euro-pallet we found in the street, and my son took it home, painted it, lined it with plastic foil and made me this planter for my herb plants for my birthday last year. I’m having a lot of fun with it.

Last week I made a quiche from a random assortment of bits and pieces found in my vegetable drawer (leeks, zucchini, fennel, carrots and a leftover boiled potato), pimped with an unusual combination of herbs I had at my fingertips thanks to that planter (tarragon, mint and thyme – in bloom). Because I’m still trying to substitute as much wheat as I can, I used 2/3rds rye flour for the crust, which added a nice nutty flavor. I topped it with a few slices of goat cheese and thyme flowers …

IMG_2593IMG_2602… and look how pretty it turned out. It was very good, too.

I will tell you how I made this, but be warned: it’s not a lightweight, and that’s just how it is. Shortcrust needs butter (or in some recipes that are not mine, even lard), so if you’re counting calories, you’d better count in some time on the treadmill too ;-).

Veggie Quiche on a Rye Crust

The crust is pretty straightforward – flour, cold butter, 2 yolks, some salt. Some ice water if needed. Quickly make a smooth dough, chill for 1 hour, roll out and bake. Let cool for a bit. Then add the sauteed veggies, pour on the eggs-and-cream mix, and bake until puffed up and lightly browned.

You will need

200 g rye flour

100 g wheat flour

1/2-1 TSP salt

150 g chilled butter (sorry!)

2 egg yolks

2 TBSP ice water if needed to make dough smoother

Quickly knead the ingredients to make a firm, smooth dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

In the meantime, get out a large skillet and sauté in olive oil:

1 leek, the white portion, cut into 1/2 cm rings

3 green onions, cut into rings

2 carrots, cut into thin slices

1/2 bulb of fennel, chopped

1 small zucchini, chopped

1 leftover boiled potato (but only because I had it, the quiche certainly doesn’t need any additional carbs!)

1 TSP thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

1 TSP fresh tarragon, chopped

A few careful leaves of mint to taste, chopped

(The above is what I used. You can, depending on the season, on what looks good that day and your personal preference, use any vegetable and/or herb that strikes your fancy – bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, chard, cabbage, or I suppose even kale, asparagus, beans, green peas, onions, eggplant, okra, squash, mushrooms and seeded and juiced tomatoes …)

Cut up the veggies and cook them with the herbs at medium heat for a few minutes. Season to taste, then let cool in the skillet until you’re ready to fill your quiche.

After 1 hour in the refrigerator, take out the dough and with a rolling pin, quickly roll out a 3-4 mm thick crust. Butter a baking dish and dust with flour. Line it with the dough evenly. You’ll probably have to do some patchworking here and there, because the dough might tear as you transfer it to the baking dish, but don’t worry, it’s not going to show after you bake the crust. Next, pierce the crust with a fork every few centimeters, preheat the oven to 160 °C and bake until the dough sets – 20 minutes should be enough. Let cool for a while.

For the topping, you will need

4 eggs

200 ml whipping cream

Salt and pepper

1 goat cheese log, cut into 5 mm thick slices

Fresh thyme flowers, one for each slice of cheese

Now beat 4 eggs into 200 ml whipping cream and add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the vegetables to the crust and spread evenly. Place as many slices of cheese as you like on the vegetables and top each slice with a thyme flower. Pour the egg mixture in the pan and bake for about 30 minutes at 150 °C, until the surface puffs and browns lightly. Serve with a large bowl of salad so you have a chance to have some non-fattening food with that indulgence :-).

We had a week off from school, two days of which were spent on the Autobahn No. 9. Car travel is always hell for my back, but good for crafts projects when I’m not driving. Here’s what happened on that front:

Originally, this was planned as an addition to my ‚give that couch some color‘ quest, but then my daughter pointed out how very well the color scheme matched that of her room, so … I’ll have to come up with another design for the couch, another time.

Right now, I’m grappling with my first amigurumi crochet project – very exciting, and so much more counting stitches than I’m usually comfortable with, but it’s for a good cause, so I’ll just have to cope ;-)). My sweet niece M.’s birthday is coming up, and I’m making her a unicorn, check it out:

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To come full circle with the domestic topics (notice how I didn’t mention work even once 😉 ?) let’s have a look at the first green peas my husband grew in his vegetable patch, proudly presented by our own little Sweet pea:

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Signing off today with a piece of interior decoration I saw in my mother in law’s guest bathroom:

IMG_2535For those who don’t know any German, it says: Sometimes it’s just better to blame others. It made me laugh out loud, because it’s so to the point for everyone who was, like me, brought up to be a ‚Good Girl‘. Not sure how well that worked out, but I do know that I’m still working on ditching some of that early childhood imprinting :-).

Have a great month of June, everyone!

Favorite Summer Things

Yesterday, we did something we hadn’t done in years. It used to be one of my favorite pastimes when my daughter was little: a lazy afternoon at the park, and a picnic dinner.

It felt nostalgic to think back to those carefree days with no school, no homework or piano practice and nothing more important to do than watch the toddlers play in the sandbox and change a diaper every once in a while. My daughter’s sweetest cutie-pie of a girl friend’s lovely mom and I were sprawled on the lawn – she as a former dancer way more graceful than I, no doubt, chatting and munching on carrot sticks. It was fabulous.

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The weather was like you can see above, and below you can see our mishmash eats.

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There were hard-boiled eggs, salami sticks, a slab of cheese, a lentils and chard salad, a quickly thrown together pasta salad, some cream cheese and crackers, olives, cherry tomatoes, bread and butter, carrot sticks and a few slightly stale leftover chocolate and almond muffins for the young. Not a bad turnout, and a good way to get rid of leftovers and slightly mismatched foods that had just about outstayed their welcome in the fridge.

We had a nice 2 hours out in the sun, and I soaked up the rays like I rarely can once we’ve passed the 20s and entered the 30s. Usually, over the summer, my place is in the shade, under a hat, in some not too heavy long-sleeve garment. I just love the spring and the fall more than the heat, despite the outdoor swimming that I, illogically, love too.

In other news, I’m happy to report that the Three Weeks Without My Boy are drawing to a close. In fact, we’ll go get him Saturday – a prospect that has me feeling like Christmas came a bit early this year, with some Thanksgiving and a couple birthdays thrown in. As suspected, the world didn’t end while he was gone, and I wasn’t crying myself to sleep every night, nor did I stop enjoying life. It helped that, after a few days of absolute radio silence, we did get the odd What’s App and a few pics even – look, aren’t the goats pretty?

IMG_2409In terms of crafts, I started on yet another cushion – a simple Granny Square gradually getting bigger. I’m using up a few leftover sock yarns from the past few months for this.
IMG_2422The color combo is a bit random, probably due to the fact that I grabbed the first four yarn balls I could find when I rushed out the door late for picking up my daughter, and then challenged myself to make something pretty out of the colors anyway. I’m pleased at how it’s turning out, though. For the back, I’m leaning toward either the baby blue or the mint green, whatever will seem more promising in a few rounds.

And since my friend and picnic partner from yesterday M. was curious about the lentil salad, here’s how I made it:

Spontaneous Lentil Salad

2 handfuls black Beluga lentils, boiled

1 green onion, finely chopped

1 tomato, seeded and cut up in 1,5 x 1,5 cm pieces

1 handful cilantro, chopped

500 g baby chard leaves

Olive oil

White Balsamic vinegar

Pinch of sugar

Salt & pepper to taste

As I was in a rush, all I basically did was throw everything in a salad bowl and add the condiments and spices without much decorum or fussing with the dressing. I suppose everything kind of mixed nicely when I was walking over to the park.

And since I never took a picture of that salad, I’d like to throw in a cake, with pics.

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This is before it went into the oven. The cake is based on a recipe I got from Ms M., the wonderful midwife who helped me ease into motherhood when my son was born 15 years ago.

I hadn’t made this for years, and was reminded of it only recently when I was supposed to bring a cake to a school thing, and had neither time nor energy for a grocery run, but needed to work with what I had. So I took stock and what I found sort of triggered the memory of this buttery, fluffy indulgence topped with almond slivers, sugar and melted butter. (Who watches calories when they’ve recently delivered a baby, right?)

The one I made 2 weeks ago did go a bit easier on the butter, and unlike in the original recipe that doesn’t involve fruit, I topped 2/3rds of the cake with sliced apples. I also substituted most of the wheat flour with coconut flakes, and used Stevia sugar because I was out of the regular kind (it happens!). But it turned out nice anyway ;-), and everyone at the parents‘ meet enjoyed it. That’s why, today, I made it again: because I could, and also because it was Children’s Day.

Here’s how I went about it:

Children’s Day Cake

100 g coconut flakes

100 g sugar

Pinch of salt

Zest of 1,5 lemons

100 g plain yogurt

Juice of 1/2 lemon

3 eggs

150 g softened butter

50 g flour, possibly a bit more

1/2 p baking soda

1 p vanilla sugar

A dash of milk if needed

50 g sliced almonds (or coconut slivers)

4 TB sugar

2 large Boskoop or other tartish apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

50 g butter, melted

Cream the softened butter, sugar, salt and vanilla sugar. Add the eggs, yogurt, lemon zest, coconut flakes and flour. Add lemon juice to taste. Let sit for a while so the coconut flakes can absorb some of the moisture; should the batter seem too dry to you, add a bit of milk. If it seems to moist, add more flour.

Just before baking, stir in the baking soda.

Butter a baking sheet and dust with flour. Spread the batter evenly, about 1 cm high. At this point, you can either go all the way and just sprinkle almonds (or coconut slivers) and sugar on the batter, and generously drizzle melted butter on top.

Or you can top the batter with apple slices and just sprinkle a wee bit of sugar and a few drops of melted butter on to caramelize. Bake at 160 °C for about 30 minutes or until a light, golden brown.IMG_2471That’s what it looked like when it came out of the oven…

img_2472.jpg… and that was 20 minutes later, I’m not lying. I’d say the cake turned out pretty good ;-). In fact, I’d recommend you go for the coconut slivers instead of the almonds if you do want to try this recipe, they’re far superior.

In Berlin, we get a week off from school next week – a short break that needs to last us until summer break, so I’ll feed the kids lots of fresh fruit and let them sleep in and relax – although there is some renovating I’d like them to help with at the cottage. Maybe I can bribe them.

Enjoy the early summer, be glad it’s not 40 in the shade yet, and look forward to the first strawberries from the region – I just bought some yesterday and there’s just nothing quite like them :-).

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