Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lemon Chicken and Rice

With a hint of lemon this recipe is good for a day when you want a simple home-cooked dinner with no big bells or whistles.

For three to four serving:

1/2 kg chicken breasts cut into strips
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, sliced thinly or in small squares
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbs butter or oil
1 Tbs cornstarch
About 420 ml chicken broth
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice (we used double this because we love lemon)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups uncooked instant rice
1 cup frozen peas (broccoli would be good too)
1/4 cup parsley (fresh is best), we used much less and used dried parsley

Over medium heat, warm the oil and cook the chicken strips, onion, carrot and garlic. It will take about five minutes until the chicken is lightly browned.

Once the chicken is browned, add the corn starch, chicken broth, lemon juice, salt and rice. Bright to a boil, then reduce the heat and add the peas and parsley. Cover and simmer for at least 10 minutes or until the rice is tender. We did not use special instant rice so ours took closer to 15 minutes.

Serve as a meal on its own or with salad

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: Toilets/Toiletten

American (

Oh toilets! An important part of everyday life in any culture. The USA and Germany are very similar when it comes to bathrooms. There are no holes to go in, instead even public toilets are on average rather clean, toilet paper can be found everywhere, and white porcelain is the most common. However, there are a few differences that we want to point out.

German (

1) Flushing: In this case we both have to agree that German wins the flushing game. Every German toilet has two buttons to push when it comes time to flush. One is small (for going number one as we say in the USA) and one is large (for going number two :) ). It does not matter if the buttons are above the toilet or on the toilet itself. This is very rare to find in the USA. Instead, the US uses a handle to flush (not found in Germany) and the same amount of water is used no matter if you go number one or number two. The German system makes sense and is definitely environmentally friendly.

Toilette Frau (
2) Paying to go potty: Here is an area in which the USA beats Germany hands down. In Germany, public restrooms charge anywhere from 20 cents to one euro to go to the bathroom. This is usually not the case in restaurants but she has experienced having to pay to go even when she had eaten at the restaurant. At rest stops it is common to have some type of gate where you must deposit your money to get through. Other bathrooms have a person sitting outside ready to take your money. Most places (such as in malls, train stations, and public toilets in cities) consider this money a "tip" for the person working in the bathroom but it is frowned upon to walk by without giving at least something. There are even some bathrooms where a dish for the money is out but no one is there to take the money. It amazes her that most people still pay and no one seems to take the money just sitting there.

In the USA, being able to use a toilet for free is considered a basic right. This is why she is so shocked that in Germany you are supposed to pay. He has taught her that many times you can walk by and are not forced to pay but it still makes her feel uncomfortable. What do you do when you have no small coins? Ask for change from a 50 euro bill? What if you do not have any money on you but really need to go? It all seems like too much to ponder for just going to the bathroom.

3) Peeing standing up: She thought it was a joke the first time she saw a sign telling boys to pee sitting down in Germany. Really?? Isn't being able to stand one of the benefits of being male? There does seem to be a large percentage of Germans (usually through the persuasion and nagging of women) who sit to tinkle. This is completely unheard of in the USA and I think men in America would start a movement against women if anyone suggested that they need to sit. There is not anything really else to add to this strangeness, other than he wants to point out that he thinks it is crazy and he does not take part :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Moist Apple Muffins with Nuts

We are always trying out new muffin recipes. We were pretty happy with how our latest one turned out...

250 g cut apples (~ 2 apples)
100 g butter (~ 1/2 cup)
125 g sugar (a little more than 1/2 cup)
2 eggs
8 g baking powder (~ 2 tsp)
2 TL (tsp) cinnamon (we used about 3 and still not super strong)
100 g walnuts, or other type (chopped)

Cut your apples and preheat the oven to 180 C (355 F)
This recipe is very easy. Just melt the butter mix all
the ingredients together minus the apples and nuts.

Once everything is well mixed add the apple pieces and nuts and mix lightly.

Pour into muffin cups and cook about 20 minutes. We forgot ours were in the oven and cooked them 26 minutes. The tops were a bit darker than normal but really good!

Leave plain or top with powdered sugar or chocolate.

  He says this is for dessert. She says that muffins are also for breakfast!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: Gas

This Monday Mix-Up is a little reminder of how some things really are cheaper in the USA, even though Americans love to complain (her included!). GAS!

In Germany gas is sold by the liter not the gallon (3.79 liters in one US gallon). This makes the gas look really cheap, but then once you start adding it up you realize that it is anything but cheap, it costs and it costs A LOT!

We bought gas yesterday and it was 1.62 euros/liter. We did a little calculating and this is what we realized. At the price (which continuously rise) you pay 6.13 euros a gallon. Sounds expensive, but then you have to do the conversion of Euros to dollars to realize just how expensive it is.
Gas Prices Germany
Gas prices Germany

At the current conversion rates, this comes out to $7.83/gallon. Much higher than anywhere you would look in the USA.

Using google, we found that the average price for gas in the USA is $3.68/gallon (according to the Boston Globe today). That means that it costs roughly 2.88 euros/gallon or 0.76 euros/liter.

Not as bad as you thought America, not bad at all.

For you Germans out there all we can say is we are sorry and we feel your pain - we are in the same boat.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Vegetable Tian

This is a very easy side dish and a great way to make your vegetables a bit more interesting.

Serves 3-4 people (you can add or take away vegetables to make the serving fit you)

2 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 potatoes, sliced (no need to peel) -ours were tiny so we used lots
1 zucchini 
3 large tomatoes
Other vegetables of choice - we used some red bell pepper and mushrooms. Yellow squash also is very common.
salt and pepper
dried thyme
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 190 C (375 F)

Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent. Toward the end of cooking the onions add the garlic.

During this time you can slice all of your vegetables. Keep the slices (especially the potatoes) rather thin.

When the onions and finished remove from heat and spread on the bottom of an oven safe pan.

Layer the vegetables in the oven-safe pan over the onions. You should place the vegetables standing up (so each is sticking up). Alternate different types of vegetables. This is best done in a round dish because the spiral look is very pretty but since we did not have a good dish we used  a rectangle.

Only do one layer of vegetables so once you run out of space you are finished.

Season with salt, pepper and thyme (depending on your taste preference). Drizzle the other tablesppoon of olive oil and cover with aluminum foil (you will use the cheese later).

Cook for 35 minutes, uncover and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top and bake uncovered for another 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. For some reason ours took about 1 1/2 hours total.


This recipe was adapted from For the Love of Cooking

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Easy Fried Rice

This fried rice is very easy but tastes just like the stuff you get when you eat out. We served it with our Best Sweet and Sour Chicken Ever.

3 cups cooked fried rice (It is best if it is leftover rice or at least one day old.)
3 Tbs oil
1 cup (total) peas and carrots (frozen/thawed or fresh work. We used fresh carrots and frozen peas)
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 eggs (we only used one and it was still great)
1/4 cup soy sauce

Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the peas, carrots, onion and garlic.Our carrots were fresh but our peas were still frozen so it made the cooking time turn out equal for both of them to get soft.

Stir fry until soft. Then reduce the heat to medium low and push all the vegetables to one side of the pan. Scramble the egg and add it to the pan, pushing it around while it cooks. When it is finished, mix the egg together with the vegetables.


Add the rice and soy sauce, mix together well and cook until everything is heated through.

This recipe was adapted from Life as a Lofthouse

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: Duvets

Bed. A place where you spend a good amount of your day (ok, night really, but you get the idea). We don't have any deep insights on the beds in the USA and Germany. Really they are basically the same thing. Rectangle, comfy (if you are lucky), and otherwise pretty dull. The part that gets us talking is what goes on the bed...the blankets, or in Germany the duvet(s).

Single duvet on an American bed (
She grew up using a duvet on her bed so it was nothing new when she moved to Germany. Duvets are quite common in the USA but definitely not as common as they are in Germany. Americans have stuck by the traditional bed making method which includes a fitted sheet, a regular sheet (perhaps it has a fancy name but we do not know it) and layers of blankets.  This combination is more time consuming to make each morning but is great for bedrooms that constantly vary in temperature because you can throw the blankets on and off as you sleep.

She has not yet seen this method in Germany and instead has only seen the fitted sheet with a duvet (even in hotels). This is great for mornings when all you have to do is throw the duvet over the bed and it is "made." Duvets are not as great as blankets for changing temperatures but the one leg out from under the cover method works quite well.

Anyways, that was a lot of talking just to get to the strange part (to both of us)...the number of duvets on the bed.
Duvets in a German hotel (

In Germany, each person gets their own duvet which means when there are two people in bed (and we assume this is the maximum number typically for a bed ; ) ) there are two duvets. She found this crazy and completely unromantic when she first moved to Germany. Two separate duvets on the bed? Why not just sleep in separate beds? He, on the other hand, finds the American method of one large duvet for two people just as crazy. Why would you want to spend the night fighting over who gets more blanket he wants to know!?

After time both in the USA (with a single duvet) and in Germany (with two duvets) we have come to see the benefit of both methods. He admits that sharing a duvet is not as bad as it seems and there is enough space for both people. She has grown fond of having her own duvet she can tuck around her when cold and not worry about taking too much blanket. Also, having your own duvet means that when you are hot you can use the stick two legs out methods, impossible when sharing a duvet.

For now we use two duvets on our bed. Why these differences exist we have no idea but that is what cultural understanding is all and sleeping with understanding :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Best Sweet and Sour Chicken Ever

This sweet and sour chicken is amazing. You will not find a better recipe anywhere (seriously, you think you have a better one let us know and we will try it). The chicken is soft, full of flavor, and just all around perfect. The recipe might be time consuming but it is worth it.

We only made one-third of this recipe but here is the full version:

3-4 boneless chicken breasts
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup oil
salt and pepper

Sweet and sour sauce:
3/4 cup sugar
4 Tbs ketchup
1/2 cup vinegar
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp garlic salt (we just used garlic and salt, haha)

Preheat the oven to 165 C (325 F)

Use two shallow bowls. Place the cornstarch in one and the eggs in the other.

Cut the chicken into cubes. Season with salt and pepper and dip into the cornstarch.

Move the cornstarch-covered chicken cubes into the egg and cover. Make sure you do this order!(cornstarch then egg, not egg then cornstarch)

During this you can heat your oil on the stove. Brown the chicken (make sure to put it in only after the oil is hot) and then remove from the pan and place in an oven-safe dish. The chicken does not need to be cooked through, only browned. It will be going into the oven for another hour.

Whisk all of the ingredients for the sweet and sour sauce together. Pour over the chicken and bake for one hour. During this one hour you need to turn the chicken every 15 minutes (time-consuming we know but worth it!)

When it is finished you have pure deliciousness. We served our sweet and sour chicken with homemade fried rice. Recipe coming soon!

This recipe was adapted from Life as a Lofthouse

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Southern Honey Cornbread

There are few things as tasty as a slab of cornbread, toasted with some butter and honey. Sadly, cornbread is not too easy to come by, even in many parts of the USA. To get the real cornbread experience you have to go to the South where they are the masters of all types of comfort foods. Since taking a trip to the South every time she has a cornbread craving, this cornbread recipe fills the  void.

For six muffins:

1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/2 Tbs baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/8 cup honey

Preheat the oven to 400 F (205 C).

Whisk together the milk, eggs, butter and honey. We did not have whole milk (we only drink 1%) so we added 1 Tbs of creme fraiche we had leftover from another recipe. It seemed to work just fine. You can also add heavy cream or extra butter. There are many websites online that have solutions for substituting ingredients.For example, The Old Farmer's Almanac.

Add all of the rest of the ingredients (cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt).

Pour into muffin cups (to almost the top).

Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Ours took about 17 minutes.

We ate ours with Hot! Beef Chili for dinner and then had the leftovers toasted for breakfast.

This recipe is adapted from The Neelys