Tuesday, December 25, 2012

X-Mas Food @ My Home

We started celebrating Christmas on the evening of the 24th December with a dinner. We had some stuff my mom made, which are traditional and practiced in the family since generations. But I made as well some Israeli hummus, that delicious carrots antipasti, an Arabic salad with couscous and some Boston baked beans. It was like some of the food of my birthday party repeated but I loved the menu so much that I decided to serve it to my folks. During the day I made the Milan cake, which is a fast one and it disappeared until today. 25th December - we were eating all the stuff from yesterday and my mom was baking the goose. I mean all meat eaters should love the smell but I can not find any place in this enormous house which would be free of the smell of a baked goose. And by all my love to my vegetarians views, I am not going to sit in the attic or basement during the holidays - that's goose-smell-free ;). So tomorrow I will enjoy my veggie stuff and the family a Christmas goose (Weihnachtsgans), potato dumplings and cabbage.

Anyway. We were enjoying the time together, watching some TV, sorting old photographs and documents - some of them were more than 100 years old. Documents of my grand grand parents, their photos, documents of my grandparents, some other stuff from before the WWII etc pp. That was the smell of the generations, of my roots, of our personal family history. And it's the history of a past country, of a Germany which does not exist anymore. It's unbelievable how much I know the history of my own family which I can follow back for generations, even having old documents, photos... I really enjoyed the time and the work we did while sorting.

We also had a lot of fun after my mom burned down our Advent wreath... I was baking the cake, my dad was surfing on the Internet upstairs and once my mom started shouting: "guys, come one here, FAST". My father was faster than me and the only thing I saw was him running with a burning wreath to the front door. The positive out of the little fire on our couch table was: the smell of the goose was covered by the smell of a burning spruce. The comment of my mom: "huh, it's smelling like in the church" - and that was the point we all started laughing. The advent wreath is back on the table but looks, how to say it, quite bashed-up ;) And the people walking on the street had some fun as well after seeing my father with a burning and smoking wreath standing near to the front door... Yes, it's never boring in my family and that's what I love about my folks.

I made a quark-apple-cake for tomorrow the 26th. My cousin and my nephew are coming for lunch and for coffee. So I thought it would be a nice idea to make something sweet. It was funny when I tried to take a photo of the inner of the oven - hem hem, the oven's door's like a mirror so I finally opened it for a while to take a pic. I wanted to make some chocolate cookies today but I left it for tomorrow - Alicia, from Culinary Bliss tried a recipe and sent it to me today.

What else? Our cat Pushkin, I mean the cat of my parents is too cute! I had to take some photos of him because he was my helper in the kitchen in the last two days. He was just sitting on the chair or elsewhere and watching - that's what cats can do the best. Pushkin is now exactly 16 months old and he is turning more and more to a real British Shorthair (Wikipedia). He's even more cute in reality than on the pictures. It is said, that BSH turn mature after they are 2 years old. It seems to be true - he's more and more like he "should" be. But he's still such a teddy you would love to cuddle all the time. I am not too in animals. I do love them but I also enjoy the kind of distance (no pets in my bed or at the table) but Pushkin is so cute that I my heart melts every time I see those big eyes! Sorry for the bad quality of the photos I took them with my mobile phone. Merry Christmas and Frohe Weihnachten!

Boston Baked Beans

The fastest cake ever - Milan Cake and me trying to take a photo through a mirror-door of the oven...

Some carrots antipasti and Pushkin

My kitchen helper - Pushkin


While I was cutting the tomatoes for the salad a bird was eating bird food outside the window

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Elderberry Wine & X-Mas Fever

Thursday evening was a lovely time which I spend with my friend and drinking: Elderberry Wine. I've never tried it before but it was very tasty. It had a little sour taste but was exactly my taste. My friend told me, the wine was a home-made one, from an organic farmer who makes stuff like that. WOW! I think I'll buy some for myself. Now talking about wine, I think it could be a nice idea to start a small wine corner here. I do love wine and I enjoy it during the meals or using it for cooking. So I had the idea to describe some of the most popular wines here, every time I'll buy a new bottle. I'll be the "tester". So take a look on the pictures. Sorry for the bad quality, but they were taken with my phone and the build in camera is not the best one.

Home made, organic and GMO free elderberry wine

And now a small update about X-Mas. First of all I went home to visit my parents and our animals: our dog and our cats. One of them is living in the apartment, the others live in the cellar and outside in the garden. That's so great. No neighbours, a big house, a lot of space and a BIG KITCHEN!!! Despite the fact we're running into the Christmas celebration in two days - and we start celebrating on 24th with a dinner, and the 26th is as well a day free of work, I made a menu for me and my family for the next days. My mom will prepare some of the traditional dishes - which are for sure not vegetarian, and some of the vegetarian traditional stuff (like cabbage or salad) and I will as well do some extra dishes which an be eaten by everyone. We went for a huge shopping today and I bought everything I wanted. Almost everything - but I'll buy the last 3 things on Monday morning. In my next update I'll let you know what I cooked. Tomorrow I am starting with some antipasti, the brownies and hummus.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Finally: The Party & Food

Finally the day of my birthday came and I had friends invited for dinner, drinks and a game evening. As I wrote it was the first time since ten years that I was giving a birthday party and I really enjoyed it. I'd like to say thank you to my guests as well to everyone who thought about me and sent me SMS, e-mails, birthday cards or gave me calls. It was nice of you.

Because I didn't want to spend MY DAY in the kitchen, I started cooking the evening before. A lot of dished had the need to stay for one day to get the real taste. The only thing I made on my birthday was the cake which I bake in the morning. It took me about two hours to cook everything. It was a very well organized time. It's not easy to make so many dishes for so many people in my small kitchen and I had to do the cleaning up during I was preparing the food. But it worked well and I am used to be organized because I'm always helping my mom with preparations for parties she gives and she always has between 10 and 20 persons one evening. It's amazing how well organized she is. She makes everything before and never stays away from the guests for longer than five minutes - only to bring the new dishes to the table. And because I am always helping her, I know how to do it the proper way. This time I'd like to say a special thanks to Z. for the small help between the main dish, the coffee and the last dish with the plates, the dishwasher and cutlery. And thanks to all the guests -  I think you enjoyed the evening as I did, especially we finished partying at 3 am. Now I can imagine you'd like to know what I cooked - a lot of antipasti, and two warm dishes. So here comes the list:
  • Boston Baked Beans (cold)
  • Israeli Hummus (cold)
  • Vegetables-Quark-Dip (cold) - my own creation
  • Italian carrots antipasti (cold)
  • Oriental bulgur tabbouleh salad (cold) as side dish or salad
  • French ratatouille (warm)
  • Foccacia and baguette bread
  • Feta-Spinach-Quiche (warm), in the late evening as additional dish - no pics, sorry
  • Apples-Quark-Cake and Tart Napoleon (thank you Tatjana for that great gift!)
  • Not to mention the wines, sparkling wine, and other drinks - we stayed at wine the whole evening
As you can see I went very international. Starting in Boston through Europe and finishing somewhere in the Levant. Even three days later I am eating the rests out of the fridge which smells like one big garlic! I think I am going to deep freeze the hummus because I am not able to finish it tomorrow. In the evening I finished eating the ratatouille, all the cakes and the baked beans but I still have hummus, the carrots antipasti, the quark-vegetables dip and some tabbouleh left. Could anybody please help me eating all that stuff? ;) 

I also got my cast iron pans which were my own birthday present to me - I got rid of the Teflon pans and switched to cast iron. We will see if I'll still like them in a month... The cooking was not the problem for me but the decision how to position the table in that horrible small living room to get all the people at one table. Sorry Mr. S., who is my neighbour downstairs for the noises at 1 am, when I was "driving" for nearly one hour with the table through the whole room. Finally I found a solution and redecorate the living room - a small change which I kept after the party. Sometimes also a small change makes you feel better and the flat looks better. But now enjoy the pictures of the food, the preparation process, the mess in my kitchen and everything around the day I wrote about. Now I am a big boy, if not to say: a 25+++ ;) man.

The preparation; my new cast iron pans and the main dish after we already drunk the sparkling wine
Israeli Hummus

The dips, the tabbouleh, tee and cofee

Cooking of the ratatouille - I used white wine this time
The table, some of the dishes in the fridge the evening before, a LOT to drink and some kitchen mess
The cakes - tart Napoleon by Tatjana (thank you so much!) and my apples-quark-cake
While making the apples-quark-cake
I'm trying to "defend" my piece of the yummy tart Napoleon, the game (Mind Master?) later, some of the food and the main dish

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Cookies

A few days ago Ivonne sent me some pictures of the baking battle she made together with Jimmy. They were baking Christmas cookies. I am jealous! The cookies look so professional and well done! I have no time for baking cookies and I want some! It seems I have to wait the two weeks until I am visiting my parents over the holidays. Yeah...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

HIMYM, Potato Wedges 2, Vegetables Casserole & Birthdays

I can not understand it, that we people have to eat everyday. And I can not understand how comes that I am hungry all the time keeping my weight since years ;) In the past days I cooked some dishes which took me just a few minutes to prepare. I love casseroles. It's easy to make, you can take everything you have at home and some cheese topping and the oven do the job. On Thursday I had some Alsatian Tarte Flambee. I took no pictures because after C. made the tart it disappeared in only a couple of minutes. But we finally watched the last five episodes of How I Met Your Mother in English and made a small English-tandem using English for the most of the evening instead of German. I think we made progress with the language! So thanks for the nice evening. 

Today we went for some shopping to Sprendlingen-Dreieich and imagine what? I bought 24 wine and sparkling wine glasses. It had to be bought. I'm giving a birthday party in a few days - the first one since I stopped celebrating my birthdays 10 years ago. And I invited a couple of friends and I had not enough of usable wine glasses! The dish washer killed them all over the years. So I threw away all the old and replaced them with the new ones. Yes, my birthday... It's a topic for itself but I am not going to discuss it here. I think it's nice to start celebrating it again and because of all the friends and nice people it will be a pleasure to cook for so much people. I'll be a very busy guy that day. My flat is big for a single person but not big enough to invite more than 8 people if I want everyone to have a place at the table. So I split the celebrating into a city-celebration and a home-celebration. First of all I am meeting with some friends in the city at noon to visit a museum and go for a coffee. Later I am running home to drink some coffee and eat some cake with my granny (her question and biggest problem today was: CHRIS! What kind of cake are you baking???). God knows how many birthdays I will celebrate with her. I appreciate the time we're spending together - especially now after I got the message that my father's mom passed away on Friday. This are moments I stop for a while and start thinking about the circle of life. We should be prepared to die from the very moment we were born but when it comes, we're never ready.

I still did not decide what to cook and bake for my birthday party at home I am having in the evening but I am sure I will have some ideas in the next two days. BUT I bought wine (a lot of wine) and some sparkling wine. I am sure we will have a nice evening. Tatjana and Sebastian offered to prepare some games so I am very thankful for that. Since two days I am cleaning the flat and making some decorations for the party. The afternoon sun today was shining into my flat and I LOVED it. It was the first time since two weeks we had some sun. As you can see it started snowing, so I really have the feeling my birthday and Christmas are coming soon soon.

I made some vegetarian casserole yesterday, using bread at the bottom and covering it with vegetables, tomatoes and cheese and using yogurt instead of tomato-sauce. Today I made some potato wedges before we left for shopping.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Creme Napoleon

I must confess, I would like to try this delicious creme Napoleon torte. It's one of Tatjana's cakes made out of puff pastry with creme, chocolate and strawberries.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Potato Hash Browns

Something like 7 weeks ago I tried this potato hash browns at Tatjana and Seb. They were so tasty that I had to re-cook them. The only thing you need are potatoes which have to be cut very small, cayenne pepper (the end of a knife), some salt, oil (about 1 tablespoon for 2 lbs/1 kg potatoes), some herbs (basil, oregano), fresh pepper and maybe if you like some dried bell pepper. After you peel and cut the potatoes, mix the other ingredients in a bowl and bake it in the oven at about 200°C/390°F for 45-50 minutes. Short before the Kartoffelecken are ready you can add some cheese on the top and leave it for a while in the oven until the cheese melts. That's all! Try it with tzatziki or yogurt or as an add to other dishes. For sure it's lighter and healthier than French fries in deep oil. Enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pasta Casserole 2

Do you remember my Out of My Mind Pasta & Quark Casserole? I tried something similar this time. I discovered that quark is a great ingredient for casseroles which makes them not so dry and juicy. There's everything the body needs in this casserole: proteins (quark/cheese), vegetables etc. The ingredients were:
  • 1 package (750 g / 1 1/2 lb) frozen Mexican mix vegetables
  • 11 oz (300 g) fusilli pasta
  • 1 package (250 g / 1/2 oz) of quark
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • fresh garlic
  • some roasted onions
  • soy sauce
  • fresh pepper
  • 1 mozzarella
  • some cheese
  • 1 tomato
  • herbs (basil, oregano) 
  • cayenne pepper (the end of a knife)
  1. Put the vegetables mix into a pan, add some water (just 2-3 tbsp), some soy sauce. Close the lid of the pan and stew it for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  2. In the meantime cook the pasta just short before the point it is al dente.
  3. Mix the vegetables + pasta + quark + crushed tomatoes + onions + garlic + cayenne pepper in a bowl.
  4. Butter a casserole and put the mixture inside
  5. Cut the mozzarella + tomato + cheese. Put it on the top of the casserole.
  6. Add extra herbs and pepper.
  7. Bake it for about 20 minutes in a hot oven (200°C / 390°F) until the tomato gets soft and the cheese melts.

Greek Evening at Ivonne and Jimmy's

Last week Ivonne and Jimmy sent me some pictures from the Greek evening they made. I must confess the meal looks so yummy! They had: Dolme with Tzatziki, filled tomatoes and filled eggplants and fish with tomato-sauce. I wished I could have joined the meal!

Filled tomatoes, dolme with tzatziki, eggplants and fish with tomato-sauce.

Muffins and Cinnamon Buns by Tatjana

As promised I am publishing new stuff from the "friends' food project". It's highest time to present Tatjana's muffins and cinnamon buns we call Zimtschnecken in German (cinnamon snails). The dough was made with fresh yeast and later served with a fruit punch. I had the luck to try the Zimtschnecken - they were VERY delicious!

From left: Vanilla, Bilberries, Chocolate, Chili-Chocolate

Cinnamon buns on yeast dough

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Guys Evening with Jason Bourne - Sandwiches, an Advent Wreath & Sauerkraut

It's been nearly a month since the last blog update. Today I got an e-mail from my friend where she wrote "PS: Schreib bitte endlich an Deinem Blog weiter, ich kann keine clarified butter mehr sehen!!! ;)" [PS: Please continue writing on your blog because I can not see the clarified butter anymore!!! ;)"]. Yes that's true! Nor can I!!! It was a month full of surprises and my life rocked my world. 1000% adrenalin. How can I tell a lot of long stories short? Maybe I'll try to concentrate them. 
  • I never thought my future will come so soon and unexpected - I'm trying something new next month. To be honest it started before I thought it could be possible.
  • I closed a chapter of my old life, saying something I wanted to say for months and had no chance.
  • I hope some other future stuff will clarify in the next time too.
  • I asked her out for a date. I didn't want to go like a bull at a gate even if I felt so! It took me two days of thinking about the pros and contras but finally I thought: come on, you're a man, it's now or never. I never laughed so much about this situation afterwards than I did lately. It was the best thing that happened to me in the year of 2012. Sometimes we just have to be brave. So had I. And I am proud of it.
  • My short trip abroad was really short - after 40 hours I was helter-skelter sitting in a plane back home because my granny got pneumonia. I never payed so much for a plane ticket I bought in only 30 minutes after I got the message to come back home and two hours before I took off. Thank you to all my friends who supported me during and after that shock.
  • Traditionally like every year the mechanics "broke" my gas boiler and I had to call for them for a second time (as every year).
  • I'm thinking about the menu for my birthday party. It's the first time since 10 years I am going to celebrate my birthday again!
  • The Sauerkraut I made a few weeks ago is AMAZING!!!
That's about my excuses for being so still in the last time, but after I was working day by day on all my stuff I was only thinking and dreaming about my huge bed where I can fall asleep. Now I'm going to start publishing regularly. I have too much food I would like to share with you - mine and my friends food. That e-mail was like an ass-kick and mobilized me to start with this post.

A week ago we had a guys evening with the Bourne Trilogy. Two of my friends came over and we watched the movies, ate sandwiches I made (one portion was baked in the oven) and drunk wine. A lot of wine as I remember. I think we said good bye something at 5 am.

Today we have the first Sunday of the Advent season and I HAD TO decorate my flat for Christmas. Yes, it was an order of my mother who sent me a Advent wreath and table-cloth. The Advent wreath (Wikipedia) is one of those so German traditions I know from my home and childhood. It reminds me how much we kept this tradition alive at home. Every Sunday in the Advent season we burn a new candle. We burn the candles during our meals during the weeks and it's so heart touchy because there are not a lot of traditions I personally keep and the Advent wreath is one of those I will never give up. So my dearest MOM: here are the pictures, not that you think I am trying to skip X-Mas. I love it and when it comes: I DO HATE IT. So, it's the same procedure as every year ;)

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