Sunday, January 27, 2013

Old Fashioned Pound Cake

While I was surfing last week on the Internet and Facebook - Click here to check my Facebook-Page - I found an interesting and fast recipe for a pound cake. I thought it might be a nice idea to try something new (not always my Milan cake), just a coffee cake maybe for lunch at the office or for my granny or just for fun. I had a very busy week and at its end I was on the best way in getting a cold. Yes, I was getting but I had luck and did not. I jumped into my bed at the very first symptoms and today, after two days I spent in bed, I am luckily the good old guy. And I am bored because I had to cancel a date with a friend today. I thought it might be better to stay at home for one day more. 

After I read a lot, watched a lot of TV, had lunch with granny, I thought the idea with baking a cake will be the right thing for the early and very rainy evening. I started short before the sunset and before the blue hour started - Mixing the cake I could see people walking with umbrellas on the street. Yes... the rain is back. Temperatures around +5°C and rain... Except Tuesday I know I will have a very hard week - it's an exception but I am prepared for my monster week ;)

You'll find the recipe for the Old Fashioned Pound Cake by clicking here. Because I am a fan of kitchen scales, I converted the amount of flour - it's 9 oz flour (270g) and two sticks of butter (great! I had to check what two US sticks of butter are!) are exactly 230 g butter (+/- 8 oz). Finally I made the cake and imagine what (a friendly wink to a blogger friend!) I didn't burn the cake. I tend to burn cakes sometimes but I learned that the best thing for baking in old gas ovens are baking pans made of glass. Since I use them: no burned cakes anymore.

And here's a lovely song by Samira Dadashi "Vienna's Calling Me". I can't get the lyrics and the sound out of my head in the last days. I know I left my heart in Vienna so that's normal, that I still have Vienna on my mind. And talking about Vienna - what do you thing how great that cake would fit with Viennese Melange coffee...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Vegetables Casserole & Bratkartoffeln

This time a short picture update of some stuff I made since my last update. First of all I made some Bratkartoffeln, some baked potatoes you cook first, keep cool down, peel and later bake in a pan with some salt, pepper, garlic. As you can see I was using my new cast iron skillet that's going to bake everytime better and better.

My second dish was a fast casserole with bread I wanted to use. I could make it the lasagna style but I run out of lasagna plates and because feeling sick in the last two days, I am not leaving my flat. I used deep frozen vegetables and I made some tomato sauce with garlic. To the vegetables which I stewed for 10 minute sin a pan, I added herbs, garlic and a package of cottage cheese. I put the casserole for 20 minutes to the oven. Both dishes were delicious. The other good news are: even I feel a little bit dizzy and narcotized because of the medicine I take, I feel much better than yesterday when I spent the whole day in the bed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winter Wonderland

Dear Readers! Have you ever tried self-made ice? I haven't. I was always too afraid of salmonellae in eggs that I always tried to avoid it. And I am not an ice lover. But what brought me to this idea? The weather! 

The first thing I saw when I got up was a white blanket of snow that covered the World outside my windows. After the rain yesterday and temperatures around 0°C/32°F I thought it might be glaze ice today. But no! It was snowing during the night. As I said I am not in ice (and snow is somehow ice...) but there was something magic about it. My great mood of the last weeks keeps me smiling and I smiled seeing that snow outside! Really! It's not very common that we have snow here. We're here under the influence of the maritime climate with warm (sometimes hot) Summers and not too cold winters with a lot of rain and fog and temperatures around 5°C/41°F. Only sometimes the continental climate from over Russia influences our weather - like last year when we were "blessed" with temperatures of -20°C/-4°F for a couple of weeks. That was the time I thought I'm gonna die. Not used to such temperatures - it was the real horror! 

But this year we have the typical winter back and since yesterday even some snow. Because of the snow I did not had the feeling that's cold! While waiting for my bus on my way to work, I watched the people, the cars, the traffic and the world around me. It was so beautiful. White and so bright! I do not have to mention that the last time I saw some sun was about 3 weeks ago and the days were cloudy and foggy and today: brightness came over us. That great feeling was worth that little snow which killed nearly the whole public traffic in Frankfurt for hours. Trams, the underground and the suburban railways were delayed or were cancelled and in the evening I saw on TV all those people on Germany's biggest airport, just a few miles from my home, sleeping on camp beds waiting until their cancelled planes will bring them far away from that traffic chaos. And everything because of some rain yesterday and some snow. Amazing! No, the most amazing was an Intercity-Express (that white super fast trains) passing my overground metro station - the pantograph caused flashes and a magic cloud of snow the train blew away covered us all waiting on the station. That was amazing!

Coming home at 5, I was walking through a park. Imagine a frozen lake, and a snow blanket on the trees, paths and benches. In my head I started singing "Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland". It was so great that I took some pictures with my mobile I would like to share with you - they look dark, but it was getting dark already. And since 1 minute, we're writing the 22nd of January and the official sun set for here is exactly 5 pm. I was waiting for that moment since Christmas! The days are longer - every day one minute and since today it'll get really dark at half past five ;). I'm wondering what's happening with me this year! No winter depression, great mood, a healthy portion of optimism, great plans for the next months and and and and. How I missed that feeling a year ago... So that's what we call a good wink from the destiny? I must confess: I enjoy it. Thank you!

And even if that's an off-topic, I'd like to report from my kitchen, that I was trying to make some ajvar yesterday. Trying because the bell pepper looked so tasty that I gave up finishing it and used it for my dinner and lunch today. But I'll come back to Ajvar, a great recipe Jay (who I met after a looong time again) gave me a couple of weeks ago. Maybe on Friday. During the week I have not a lot of time for experiments - I'm cooking healthy but fast and easy dishes out of my great collection I have in my head and I am as well working hard on my final legal thesis I have to finish until March. Someone's interested in it's topic? It's about legal problems in the Middle Eastern family law systems - with a special focus on Bioethics and in-vitro fertilization. Boring for you - SUPER INTERESTING to me ;). So I can't report any other kitchen experiments at this moment, I HAVE NO TIME.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Delicious Pancakes

I love pancakes! And I am always open to try a new recipe. Do you remember my post about the most awful pancakes ever? NO? Here's the link. I decided to give the recipe a second try because I knew what the problem last time was. They were too salty. So I modified the recipe - used two eggs instead of one and left the part with the salt completely. And Imagine what? They pancakes were AMAZING! It was also the time I decided to bake them in my new cast iron skillets. After the first experiments a month ago I was ready to throw them out of my kitchen window and go back to the Teflon non-stick ones (and that would mean buying new ones after I gave away the old - except one). And yes, this time, after a couple of times I used the skillets they worked more than fine. I was surprised! I discovered that it makes more sense to use the smaller one and cover it fully with the dough instead baking smaller ones in a big skillet. And I really used very small butter, even if the first picture shows something different. But it was the first desperate try. I know that someone is going to kill me when she will read in my blog that I preferred to stay the evening at home baking pancakes instead going to the pictures. For my excuse my friend: it was my day off and it's cold outside! And because I am going to post the recipe I am sure I will be forgiven and we will catch up the coming weekend. The pancakes are so fluffy and delicious... Here's the recipe:
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • one vanilla sugar or some vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  1. Mix the eggs + milk + sugar for a while
  2. Add the other ingredients, mix it for a while.
  3. Leave it for 10 minutes and bake.
I enjoyed my pancakes with French marmalade and a glass of delicious Merlot. Today I took some pancakes for lunch to the office and some which were left I will deep freeze.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Grandmother's Cookery Notebook

As I promised, here's my post about the cookery notebook of my grandmother. My grandma was born in 1915 and died nearly 29 years ago. That's one of the reasons that I don't remember her anymore. What's left are pictures and stories my mother tells me about her. I've already mentioned that I was organizing old photos during my stay at home in the Christmas time. I found a lot of old documents as well - documents who are 70-80-90 years old. Some marriage certificates of my great-grandparents, my grandparents and so on. 

I also found a small notebook which I discovered was the cookery notebook of my grandmother (that's the one, whose parents had a bakery and pastry shop). It was amazing because it was written with a pencil and must be something from the late 1930s. How do I know it? There were some private notes from that time so I can say for sure my grandmother was writing in between 1935-1946. Is that not amazing? A piece of the own family heritage in a small notebook. After I read the notebook I found out that there are about 5 or six recipes for dishes and about 60 recipes for different cakes. So maybe I should call it the bakery notebook? Is there such a word in English? My grandmother wrote her recipes in the Kurrentschrift (Wikipedia) which was the style of handwriting Germans used opposite to the printed Fraktur (Wikipedia) alphabet. Both alphabets were used in Germany until the early 1940s after the Nazis introduced the Latin alphabet (Antigua) for regular use in German and banned the old style. But the handwriting survived much longer than its' printed equivalent. Sometimes I can still see it in the hand writing of some older people here. People of my age are not able to read the Kurrentschrift anymore without any training. It's like learning a new alphabet. 

After a I turned teenager I learned how to read and write the Kurrent. I already was able to read the old printed alphabet because it was something I grew up with and we own a lot of old books which survived the War and the past generations and are printed in Fraktur. So my first experiences with the Fraktur I made when I was a kid reading or trying to read some of the old books we had at home. Later I made progress and now after reading a lot of books and documents printed in Fraktur it makes no difference to me anymore which style they are printed. Maybe I am a little bit faster reading the regular Latin alphabet but it's only a little bit. My first experiences with Kurrent were some old documents and notes I saw at the age of 12 I think. Later I wanted to be able to read and write it so I asked my aunt to teach me the old alphabet. Now I am thankful for that gift because I am able to read the cookery notebook of my grandmother. I don't have to mention that it's always harder to read someones hand writing - and so I must confess because of the own style in writing every writer has I am not always very fast in reading my grandmother's Kurrent. Sometimes I read a whole site without problems and sometimes I have to stop at a single word for a while to decode it. It's funny how times change - not to mention my mom, it's only one generation behind and how different we think, write and live now. But it's a big part of my own and our common German heritage as well and I can't wait to re-bake some of my grandmother's recipes. I am glad that I finally scanned the whole notebook to have it as a single PDF-document on my computer. So take a look on the pictures and let me know how you're going in decoding the recipes and ingredients.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy New Year 2013

I spent the Christmas time with my parents and since a few days I am back in my flat. During the last three weeks I cooked some dishes which recipes you can find on my blog so I am not going to repeat myself. I enjoyed the time at home and I did dome work which I usually have no time for. I've already written about sorting old family photos. At the end I was not able to finish the job because there is still a big shoe box full of pictures but 6 albums I bought for this reason - are done. I found the old cookery notebook of my grandmother with her own recipes which might be more than 70 years old. I scanned it and my next post will write more about it.

This year we had no snow - it was warm and sunny! Check the shadows on the photos from our garden - it's the sun. I must confess I did not miss the cold and the snow, I loved the weather. It was incredible to watch the news on TV and seeing how much the USA suffered because of the weather when we were enjoying sun...

Christmas is a Christian holiday and because we are Christians we're celebrating it every year since I only can remember. We enjoy a dinner at the evening of the 24th December with some traditional dishes (you can see it on the photo) and it's one of the few times in the year we're just sitting together and doing absolutely nothing. Usually I am starting hating the holidays from day number two, but this time it was different! I was really sad that the holidays were over! It was peaceful, we met with friends and family and WE ATE ;) I also found an old Bible at home which I totally forgot we had. It's from the 1920's.

The New Year's eve we spent at home. My cousin and my nephew joined us and we had a lovely time. The fireworks at midnight were nice and we all enjoyed it going out to the street wishing our neighbours and family - which also lives close to my parents, a good year 2013. It's kind of a tradition that we neighbours meet for a while at the street after midnight. 

I can't stop posting pictures of Pushkin - he is too cute. Take a look:

I also hat the possibility to visit my cousin for a couple of times during the evenings at the weekends. We usually met after 10 PM, drinking coffee, tea or wine and talking for a couple of hours. During one evening we finally finished the bottle of the delicious Slovak herbs liqueur called Demänovka, my cousin brought from her trip to Slovakia and we were always drinking during my visits at home in the past year. It was funny because of the fact that it was a special edition with real gold inside. It was so incredible that I am drinking gold, that I had to take some pictures of it with my mobile.

I also spent some time with my nephew under the week when my cousin was working. I don't know how to call the kid of a cousin? Am I an uncle? Is he my nephew? Because of the family constellation I just call him my nephew and he calls me uncle. In a couple of years I will tell him to call me by my name skipping the uncle part but I think it's important that children at a special age know the difference between the adults and them, that they learn some respect and did not call you by name in the very young age. And I am sure the little guy got the point. He is a great boy, 7 years old and very smart. There was one situation I was surprised about how smart and mature he is. He asked me a question while we were driving home in the car: "Uncle Chris, are you happy or sad about leaving to Frankfurt on Sunday? - You know, a little bit sad because I like spending time with all of you and a little bit happy, because I've my life there. What about you? Are you happy or sad that I am leaving? - The same here, I'm a little bit happy because you won't ask me such difficult words in English anymore and a little bit sad because I would like to learn from you the languages you know". That's an answer I truly did not expect from a seven years old boy. I should mention that my nephew started visiting the primary school a couple of months ago and from the very first school year, children learn two foreign languages. So I was trying to speak with him in English, trying to motivate him, asking him some questions or some words. And every time he saw me, he always started asking me question what my name is or where do I live, in English. And we tried to make a small language tandem. Sometimes he sung some songs he learned at school and I asked him if he understands everything - if not, I was trying to explain him the meaning of the songs and motivating him to sing it again asking some questions later. I must say, my cousin is really blessed with having such a smart son. 

I hope you had the same great Christmas-New Year's Time I had and we all will have a good and blessed year 2013 - that's what I wish to myself and all of us. Next post will be about my grandmother's cookery notebook. So come back soon!

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