Thursday, January 31, 2013

Homemade Pasta (Fettuccine)

We have a new toy. A pasta maker!

Homemade pasta is much easier than anyone believes (her mother has been telling her that for ages but she never believed it until now). Also, the time spent making the pasta is actually saved in the cooking. Fresh pasta only needs to be boiled for about two minutes in comparison to store-bought pasta which takes ten to fifteen minutes.

The first time we used our pasta maker we made fettuccine, but any noodle shape can be used with this simple recipe.

Pasta for two:

250 g flour
2 Eggs
A little water if needed

For the best result, use white four, eggs that are at room temperature, and NO SALT!

All you have to do is mix the eggs and flour together. The work the dough with your hands and add a small amount of water if really needed. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour.

Once everything is kneaded together, you can use the pasta machine to make the noodle of your choice.

Once the pasta is made, make sure to keep the pieces apart. Do this by either laying it out flat or using something like clothes hangers to hang it up. You can also buy expensive pasta hangers but that seems useless to us. If some does stick together do not worry too much. Once in boiling water the pieces often separate.

We ate our pasta right away but you can keep it for a good amount of time...we just are not exactly sure how that all works yet :)

Enjoy homemade pasta and you will be tempted never to go back to the store-bought stuff. In the future we hope to try other pasta types, such as ravioli stuffed with cheese and meats.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant

This week started out with a lot of work. We had a project kick-off meeting with about 100 people in a stadium which we rented in Aachen. This kick-off had to be organized and looked after, which in turn, had a lot of influence on what I ate this week.

On Monday, we worked about 18 hours which resulted in a massive Chinese take-out food session. We ordered 5 bags of crab crisps, 4 x 6 Spring rolls, 1 Salad :), 1 buddhist meal, 1 x noodles with egg and veggies, 3 x chicken sticks, 1 x chicken with orange sauce, 2 x duck and veggies, and 4 x coke... well considering the fact that we were only 7 people, this was slightly too much ;).

On Tuesday, I went with my colleagues to a canteen that was close by and served a kind of potato bake. Unfortunately, not really tasty due to the huge amount of cheesy oil within the dish.

The first day of our project kick-off meeting was on Wednesday. This meant that we had a massive buffet, twice a day, which we could eat from. Here I decided to get "Fleischkäse," mashed potato, Sauerkraut and some healthy broccoli pieces.

At the buffet on Thursday, I decided to get some of a salmon noodle dish which turned out really tasty. I think we should try to make this ourselves soon. The green stuff on the plate was unfortunately to me not very tasty. I think it contained, beside the spinach, some  blue moldy cheese, which offended my taste buds :P.... No, seriously I really don't like blue mold cheese haha.

The kick off was finished on Thursday and due to the fact that we had already completed a 40 hour week by Tuesday night, Friday was got to be a home office day. Here I was of course  influenced by my lovely lady's addiction of tomato mozzarella (see post). Always tasty and convenient.

On Saturday, we went to the shopping mall MyZeil in Frankfurt and had a Chinese buffet. For 9,80 you would not think to get high quality, but, I have to say it was really worth the money. We were able to choose what we realy liked and had even the opportunity to get his favorite cake "Bienenstich."

On Sunday, we were invited to a brunch which was held in a little cafe in Frankfurt. We ate a mix of English and French breakfast while chatting with people from all over the world.

Mix-Up Monday: Depoits (Flaschenpfand)
In our last Mix-Up Monday we talked a little bit about how both the USA and Germany put a deposit on certain types of containers. This entry is going to expand on the topic.

Germany is very serious about their deposits, and we actually find that to be a good thing. Depending on what type of bottle you buy, the deposit might be 8 cents, 10 cents, 15 cents, or 25 cents. Typically, beer bottles are 8 cents while thick plastic bottles (filled with juice or soda) are 25 cents. Plastic crates also have a deposit on them, 1.50 euros. When you bring back the bottles and the crate you get all of your money back. It does not matter if you go to a different store than where it was purchased at, as long as they sell the same product.

Unlike the USA, it does not matter where you are in Germany the deposit is always the same. In the USA, different states may have different deposit amounts, often 5 cents in some states and 10 cents in others. If you plan well, you can take you bottles and cans across state lines and make some money ;)
Returning your bottles is very easy in Germany. Every grocery store accepts the bottles and cases. Often there is a machine that takes the bottles and spits out the receipt. Other times you give it to the clerk who counts the bottles and writes a receipt for you to get your money back. We actually find it a bit fun.Even if we know that we paid for these bottles during a past visit, it still feels like "found money." Who doesn't like found money?!?

Many states in the US make it much harder to return bottles for deposits. Often you have to take them to a special location for bottle returns and the regular stores do not accept them. She actually has never returned a bottle in California because it is so out of the way to do so. On the other hand, New York accepts bottles, like Germany, at most stores. Like many things in the USA, the process varies with where you live. This is definitely something the USA needs to work on!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Her Addiction: Tomato Mozzarella

He let is slip in his in his last Tuesday Tales entry. She is completely and utterly addicted to tomato mozzarella. She could eat it every single day, and often does, until he makes her change it up a bit.

This might not be the fancy Italian restaurant version, but after months of eating tons of tomato mozzarella, she knows what she likes. Try it, and then make the changes you need to find your own perfect version.

For one (enough to fill you up for lunch or dinner):

2 tomatoes (if they are tiny use three)
1/3 - 1/2 of a mozzarella ball*
oil, balsamic, basil, oregano, tomato salt, garlic seasoning
 2-3 rolls for dipping

* We use cheap mozzarella made from cow's milk. A large ball of this (enough to make tomato mozzarella two to three times) is only 45 cents in Germany. Sometimes she uses the low fat version of this. It is not nearly as good but when she eats this all the time it is much healthier. Last week we went to a market hall here in Frankfurt and bought real buffalo mozzarella. It was very expensive and we felt that the quality did not make up for the price. Since we do not use expensive oil or balsamic, why waste expensive cheese?

If you use rolls that you have to bake like we do, start them in the oven before you start on the tomato mozzarella part.

Slice your tomatoes and lay them out on a plate. Add the cheese on top. She used to slice the cheese and lay it out all pretty like a restaurant would, but to save time and because it tastes better (says both of us) now we just crumble the cheese over the tomatoes. 

Season with mozzarella-tomato salt (an amazing seasoning here in Germany and hopefully in the USA.) If you do not have this you will need to play around with what tastes good to you. A lot of people like fresh pepper but she does not. She also uses a little dried oregano, basil, and garlic seasoning.

Add oil and balsamic. We have used nice oils and vinegar from Italy and we have used the cheapest stuff at the store. Yes, there is a difference but since she eats this so often she is very used to, and likes, the cheap stuff. (We know, all you foodies out there are rolling your eyes!)

She used to measure the oil and balsamic but now she does it by feel. About two seconds of pouring for the oil and almost four seconds for the balsamic make the perfect mixture for her, with enough leftover to dip the rolls into.

Sometimes we have fresh basil (like this time when she took pictures) and put that on top. Although full leaves look prettier, the taste is stronger if you rip them into small pieces.

Serve with fresh warm bread and enjoy. Yum yum yum, soooooo good :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant

Week three! Wow – time flies! Hope you enjoyed your weekend and were able to put nasty Monday behind you. Here it is, the daily food of a consultant already in week three.
Monday was minted by the lovely Burger King at night… after a long working day we decided to get some unhealthy food which was for me a menu containing a long chicken sandwich, a salad and some mineral water. Well, at least I didn’t order a so called extra large menu with a diet coke :). I wanted to take a picture of the unhealthy food but then decided to save you from the unhealthy fast food image… - It does not look that nice in reality anyway.
Next picture contains my typical breakfast. Yes, exactly! It is totally the opposite of Monday night at Burger King. This is my very healthy fruit salad which accompanies me every morning after waking up at 6:40. I still want to show you what I had for „real“ food at night, so here is a second picture from Tuesday. We went to a Croatian restaurant and I ordered a „Grillteller“ with many types of meat together with some potatoes and vegetables. This was actually really tasty and, beside my favourite pizza place, the best food I've had in Frechen up until now.
On Wednesday, we went to an Italian place on the border to Cologne. I chose a small Rumpsteak with „bratkartoffeln“ and mushrooms. This was accompanied by a Weizenbier (wheat beer), not a typical Köllsch drink.

On Thursday, I went to my favorite pizza place in Frechen. It is run by the owner who is a very nice old guy who is constantly singing and in a good mood – I hope I will be this happy when I am old haha.. The pizza place is called Bella Italia – If you ever drive through Frechen – this is the best place to go for Italian food. I had this time a prosciutto, Parmesan and arugula pizza.
Friday was driving home day. We had green beans with chicken and potatoes. The recipe – as usual when we cook ourselves – will be soon in our blog.
Saturday was kind of a weird day regarding food. We planned to go out for some Udon soup at the local Chinese/Thai/Japanese place – but due to changed opening times after New Year's Eve it was closed. Instead we wandered around and looked for some tasty food and came across a Greek stand which sells spreads made of aubergine (eggplant), paprika (bell pepper) and sheep cheese. Accompanied with a pita bread we were able to have the first part of the meal. We  also made a small tomato mozzarella salad (she is crazy about it and eats it everyday anyways :P) and some easy ready made tomato soup out of a pack. Even though we don’t like ready made food – there is just no cheaper way of making tomato soup in Germany.
On Sunday we made some homemade made soup. I gathered lots of leftover ingredients from our fridge (mushrooms, onions, potatoes, carrots, hot peppers) and combined it to make a spicy vegetable soup. Together with two sandwiches, it was the perfect lazy Sunday lunch.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mix-Up Monday: The Nitty Gritty of Garbage

It's our 200th entry! Wowee! We are getting down and dirty for this entry and talking about garbage.

Just spend a few days in Germany and you will become overwhelmed by the extremely complex trash system this country has.

Although rather complicated, the trash system in Germany makes a lot of sense once you get used to it. It is also the same everywhere in Germany, meaning you don't have to learn something new every time you move. In the USA, the system changes depending on where you live, meaning although it is less complicated overall (she says!) you have to figure out how the garbage system works where you are at the moment.

There are six basic categories garbage can fall into in Germany. Yes, you read that correctly, SIX!

Biodegradable [green bin]:  All leftover food falls into this category. In Germany, it does not seem to matter how fatty or what type of biodegradable food goes into the bio bin. In the USA, she was taught to not put fatty items into the bio bin because they did not compost as well. Plain paper towels and stuff from the garden (sticks, twigs, leaves) can also go into this bin.

Plastics and such [yellow]: This bin (in many German states, bag) is always yellow which allows it to stand out as being the place for plastics. All wrappings from products (from food, clothing, office supplies, etc.) can go into this bin. Plastic bottle caps, milk cartons, and even tin cans can also go into this bin.

Paper [blue]: Paper is pretty self explanatory. All paper and cardboard goes into this bin.

Bottles with deposit: Although the USA chargers a deposit on most cans and bottles purchased, few Americans go through the effort of returning them to get their money back. In Germany, returning bottles is the norm and stores are set up to make this process relatively painless. More about this in a future Mix-Up Monday.

Glass recycling (
Glass without a deposit: Glass bottles and containers that do not have a deposit must be kept and recycled at one of the recycling areas found throughout towns. These then must be separated by color (brown, green, or white), turning Germany's six category garbage system into an eight category system :) Of course, like all things in Germany, there are rules about when you can recycle your glass (for example, never on a Sunday!!!).

Other [black]: Everything that does not fit into one of these categories goes into the "Rest" bin.  If you are following the garbage rules correctly, this pile is quite small.

~There are two more categories but since they are not used on a daily basis we did not count them. Dangerous materials (e.g., paint, oil) and large items (e.g., mattresses, sofas, chairs) are each picked up once or twice a year. This brings the count up to TEN categories, and actually ELEVEN if you live somewhere that does garden scraps (branches, leaves, etc. separately!~

People truly follow this system in Germany. Train stations and other public areas have special trash cans with the correct number of spaces for people to separate their trash. Only tiny trashcans on the street and in trains and trams seem to have one bin for everything. Individual homes are motivated to follow this system because you pay each time your trash is picked up (meaning you want to reduce the amount of "other" trash you have) and because the garbage men will actually check your trash time to time and not take it if it is sorted wrong (and no one wants their trash sitting around an extra two weeks!). Beyond these reasons, this system is just part of the norm here in Germany and even people living in large apartment complexes where trash is not done by family, seem to strictly adhere to the sorting rules.

So, after that short explanation do you think you got the system down? Test yourself!

Where would the garbage go when you have for dinner a coke with spaghetti and a canned sauce?

Got it?

Bio: Leftover food (if any)
Yellow bin (plastics): Bag from the spaghetti
Glass (with deposit): Coke bottle
Glass (without deposit): Sauce jar (white glass pile!)

That is a ridiculously simple meal and you have already used four different bins!

Although trash in the USA is overall more "simple" since it varies depending on where you live it is not as easy to explain. She grew up first with separate bins for paper, glass, cans (like tin), yard trash (greens), general trash and food scraps (not fatty) for compost (by choice not because of city laws). After time, the recycling (paper, glass, and cans) could all be put in one bin while the yard trash was in another, and everything else was in a third one (although again her family chose to separate food for composting). She has also visited areas where almost no separation takes place and garbage seems to just be garbage.

When it comes to garbage, Germany knows what it is doing. It is easy to laugh about the many categories and how complicated only Germany can make garbage. But, in the end it makes sense, is good for the environment, and teaches children from a young age to take the time to separate their garbage and to pay attention to what they use. Something the USA definitely needs to learn!

Comic: Recycle Corner
Sign on left: Please sort trash
Bubble: Mmm...banana peel. B for banana or E for leftover food?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Extreme Garlic Sauce (Knoblauchsoßen)


This recipe is a favorite of his family. It makes a great dip when serving bread or as a side to fondue. We warn you though, it is extreme. We recommend that you do not serve this sauce unless everyone plans on eating at least some or if you have any important meetings the next day! Nothing brings a family together quite like stinky garlic breath :)

Because this is a family recipe we are never very exact. The general recipe goes like this:

Equal amounts of Schmand (a heavy sour cream) and plain yogurt
As much garlic as you would like (at least three cloves)
Salt and pepper to taste (we also added other herbs like oregano and basil)

For example, we used 200g Schmand, 200g yogurt, 10 cloves of garlic, and seasoning.

Finely dice the garlic, mix everything together and season. We used a hand mixer to get the garlic really tiny and mixed in.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Simple Banana Bread

Have some bananas that have gone black and squishy? Make banana bread!

That's what we did last week when we had two bananas that just did not look appealing anymore.

We only had two bananas so we halved this recipe, but here is the full one:

4 bananas
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C)

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, vanilla, and bananas. Use a spoon or fork to crush the bananas into the batter.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the the mixture and combine well.

Pour into a greased and floured bread pan.

Bake for 60 minutes (ours took 45 minutes because using half of the recipe made the bread thinner)

Enjoy plain or with butter or honey. Tasty as leftovers either as is or toasted.

This recipe was adapted from Ikadlec

Have even more old bananas? We also recommend making our Amazing Banana Crunch Muffins.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant

Hello to week 2 of Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant. I hope you are eager already to see what I had this week and how my week went while working on site at the clients office. It is snowing right now and we are kind of stuck to the very few restaurants around us.
On Monday, we went to a place called Ratskeller which is basically a very (very very) basic restaurant led by the owners (I guess). Cologne optimist at its finest :) which is also reflected in the food. If you ever end up in Frechen go there and have a look at the nicely prepared food which was just seconds ago still frozen. I guess the owner never learned really to cook - so he makes some potato croquettes, puts meat into a pan and drowns it in white sauce which I can't identify. Well, the food was paid by my boss so I guess I should not complain ;).
Next was Tuesday - Taiwanese takeout. Very good food and plenty to eat. I had some spicy chicken which I don't remember the name of. Nice part was that the hotel ordered it for us and prepared a really nice looking festive table... Well the food still came in boxes and we were too lazy to use the plates.
On Wednesday, I had some noodle salad from the bakery around the corner. It is basically cooked noodles with a joghurt/mayonnaise sauce and vegetables. Together with a roll a very decent lunch.

Thursday, I had a tuna sandwich and a Nussecke. A Nussecke is very tasty sweet piece made of nuts, chocolate and unhealthy ingredients. Just the right thing after a long meeting day.
This week I was lucky and was able to drive home to Frankfurt on Thursday night. This meant we were able to cook at home on Friday. We cooked some noodles with a special sauce. Hopefully, not to let the future blog entry be spoiled by now...
On Saturday, we had a lazy morning, followed by a short visit on the Kleinmarkthalle in Frankfurt. We got some very tasty Baklava. Pretty expensive but really worth it. I think we should try to make this ourselves.
Finally, on Sunday we made some lasagne, salad with joghurt lemon dressing and self-made garlic bread.
I hope you enjoy your week, too. Don't work too much and enjoy your good food :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mix-Up Monday: Proverbs
This past week they saying "Cross your fingers" has come up a lot, except it was usually in German meaning that what really was being said was, "Press your thumbs" (Daumen drücken!).

This made us think about the various proverbs that have similar meanings in German and English but use different examples. It is especially funny when one of us tries to get our point across by directly translating what we know into the other language -- case in point -- He said, "Psh! She can lick my butt" (a too exact translation from German to English for the English saying, "She can kiss my butt." She is still laughing over that one!
Here are some other examples:

English:  to bite the bullet
German: in den sauren Apfel beiβen (to bite the sour apple)

English: to kill two birds with one stone 
German: zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe schlagen (hit two flies with one swatter)

English: to be as old as the hills 
German: einen langen Bart haben (have a long beard)

English: strong as an ox
German: stark wie ein Bär (strong as a bear)

English: have the fox guard the hen house (asking for trouble) 
German: den Bock zum Gärtner machen (make the goat the gardener)

English: make a mountain out of a molehill 
German: aus einer Mücke einen Elefanten machen (make an elephant out of a gnat)

English: to put one's foot in one's mouth 
German: ins Fettnäpfchen treten (to step into the grease bowl)

English: I'm not going to lose any sleep over it 
German: Ich lass mir keine grauen Haare darüber wachsen (I won't let any gray hairs grow over it)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Massive Number of Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

This was one of those projects that started out as a great idea and turned into chaos...but it did turn out!

As a community service activity for work, he had to bring breakfast for over 50 school children one Friday back in November. (Yes, it has taken this long to get over the drama of the butter and dough being everywhere to be able to write about it :) )

She thought it would be brilliant to make cinnamon rolls. What child does not love gooey fresh cinnamon rolls? He was not arriving home from his business trip until late Thursday night, meaning she was on her own to make dozens of rolls.

Because this was for a work event, she thought she would test out the recipe. She divided the recipe (normally makes 50 rolls) in half and got going.

First problem - she killed the yeast (or now she is thinking perhaps her yeast was not "active" dry yeast...)

She kept the dough but also started she had made an entire batch for just testing!

This test batch ended up making over 75 cinnamon rolls - small rolls - but still many many more than she could eat.

The second batch of rolls were better than the first but she was not fully satisfied.She started again, hoping to make ones good enough to serve.

In the end she ended up with over 75 decent, but not great cinnamon rolls. Some did not rise, some did, but all tasted amazing (and the kids ate them up in a heartbeat!) The kitchen was a total disaster area, melted butter, flour, and cinnamon were all over her and the floor.

We are posting this recipe because we believe if you are careful and do not kill the yeast (note to self: Get a thermometer!) these can turn into amazing cinnamon rolls (just read the reviews!) and even if they don't look beautiful (like hers) they still taste great:

40-50 rolls (more if small):


1 quart milk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 packages dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
9 cups flour
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1 scant tsp baking soda
1 Tbs salt

2 cups butter, melted
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup ground cinnamon


8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbs milk


Heat the milk, oil and sugar over medium. Remove from the heat once it is about to boil and let it cool to warm (really wait!). Add the yeast and let sit or at least one minute to make sure the yeast is alive.

Add 8 cups of flour, stir until just combined and then set aside in a warm place (cover with a clean towel) for one hour.

After the hour is up, add the baking powder, soda, salt, and remaining 1 cup of flour. Mix.

~You can now use the dough right away or keep it in the fridge for up to three days. You may want to chill the dough for about an hour to make it easier to roll out.~

To assemble the rolls:

Split the dough in two. Keep the half you are not using in the fridge while working with the other half.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a large rectangle (about 30 by 10 inches). The dough should be very thin.


Pour one cup of melted butter onto the dough and spread evenly. Mix the cinnamon and sugar and use one half of the mixture on the dough. Again spread evenly (this makes a mess, beware!). You want it to be gooey!

Roll the dough (longways) and pinch the seam together. Cut the roll into 1/2 inch slices. Place a small amount of melted butter on a foil-lined baking sheet. Lay the rolls on the sheet.

Let sit (covered) on the counter for at least 20 minutes before baking. During this time you can roll the second half of the dough and preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).

Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Do not let them get overly brown.

While the rolls are cooking you can prepare the icing. 

Icing: (this was not from the recipe listed below, instead she used a different/easier icing)

Just mix everything listed under icing (cream cheese, butter, vanilla, powdered sugar, and milk) until smooth.

Spread over the rolls while they are still warm (makes it easier!)

The cinnamon roll recipe is from Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman on Food Network), the icing is from

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant

A new year started and he got a new job with a consulting company traveling around in Germany and Europe.

Consulting? What does this mean for a food blog? Well, he has to travel a lot, sleep in "fancy" hotels and eat tasty, weird or sometimes horrible food from lots of different places. Further, adventures connected to the food acquisition every day might be worth some comments and will hopefully entertain you in the future.
Look forward to stories about eating the best "Woscht" in town in Berlin (slang for sausage) , drinking a "Kölsch" (beer) in Cologne or just have some "Käsespätzle" in Stuttgart (see our blog).
Everyday will bring new food sights and interesting thoughts (if good or bad will be the surprise). Be entertained, interested and follow us. He will upload his daily food weekly and let you know how it was.

On Tuesday our friends were over to celebrate the new year and we had some very tasty Single Malt Scotch Whisky from 1972. Well, I did not pay the bottle (thankfully) and so it was a very good replacement for a meal on New Year's (very early) night/morning. We also had lots of Raclette (traditional German New Year's Eve meal) but due to the reason that it was not 2013 yet, I am not allowed to use it :P
On the next picture below you can see a good old German "Eintopf". Basically everything you find in a kitchen (potato, carrots, onions and herbs) mixed together and cooked. Together with a Bockwurst a pretty decent meal at the customer's canteen I work for right now (for about 3 € really mjummy).
Next is a so-called potato pizza. At first I did not expect this but it tasted really great. We went to a Best Western hotel and enclosed was a potato restaurant only serving food with potato ingredients. So tada: potato with vegetables, crusty cheese and mushrooms a delicious but also pretty pricy dinner for a fancy made potatoe.
The following day was a long work day. I wanted some chinese food but, because I am in a hotel outside of Cologne right now, the Chinese food took about an hour to get to me. Well the salad was disappointing (iceberg lettuce - there is a reason why Jamie Oliver shoots iceberg lettuce! - its just water in a harder form...)  but the stir fry was really good. I ordered the Wan Tans only to get over the magical border of 15 Euros (you had to order that much, otherwise they would not deliver so far out of Cologne).
The next two meals were selfmade. We made some typical American breakfast for dinner (11 o'clock on a Sunday night ;) and the noodles will be in the blog soon as a recipe. :). Lets see what the coming week brings. More food from weird places with even more entertaining background stories, I hope :).

Mix-Up Monday: Define Your "Bubble"

Personal Space - USA (
Personal space is the natural amount of space between people when talking or standing in a group. Often times people will talk about their "bubble" or the space around them they need to feel comfortable. Each person is unique in how much space they need. Distance also depends on who the person is being spoken to/standing with (stranger, friend, lover) and what culture the person is from. On average, researchers say that people from crowded Eastern countries (e.g., Japan, China) feel more comfortable standing close to each other than people from more open-spaced Western cultures (e.g., USA, Australia).

Although Germany and the USA are both similar culturally Western countries, there is sometimes a noticeable difference between people's acceptable amount of personal space (or bubble size).

In everyday life, Germans and Americans seem to like the same amount of personal space. Some researchers say that Germans in business relations actually like about six inches more between them than Americans. She would argue that she has experienced the opposite, especially if in an educational setting with teachers or professors. She used to be bothered by how close people stood while talking to her when she first came to Germany, but now she does not really notice it. Perhaps that is because of where she is living now, she has gotten used to it, or really there is no big difference in spacing preferences.

We think everyone has had that awkward conversation with someone who stands too close. It typically goes something like this:

Person 1: Takes one step back
Person 2: Takes one step forward
Person 1 Takes two steps back
Person 2: Takes two steps forward
Person 1: Takes one step back and hits the wall - oh crap.
Person 2: Takes one step forward
Of course there is nothing wrong with being either person in this conversation (although if someone is trying to run away from you try to keep yourself from stepping closer!). The thing is people do not even realize what they are doing. They have been culturally trained that conversations should be done from a certain distance, a distance that might feel too close to the other person.

There is, however, one giant expectation to the similarities between Germans and Americans when it comes to person space. LINES!

Anyone who enjoys their personal space will notice the lack of if when standing in line in Germany. People stand extremely close to each other and often times their arms will be right up against your back. To her it feels like they are trying to push her to go faster, even though she is standing in line and has nowhere to go. She has never done it (although she has been very tempted to!) but she has heard of other Americans who tell the person behind them to go ahead because they cannot take someone right on their back. It really can drive you crazy!

She doesn't know if she will ever get used to it. One thing is for sure. She will make sure he is not a close line stander next time we are in the USA :). 

~He just wants to point out that he is not a crazy German who stands on top of others in line and that it drives him crazy too!~

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Creamy Avacado Pasta Sauce

She is a true California girl when it comes to avocados. She is a firm believer that they can be eaten for any meal and in any form. He does not share this love for avocados, so when she found this recipe she thought it was best to try it when he was away. She only made a single serving, but listed below is the full original recipe.

Used dried parsley and still came out tasty
Serves 2-3:

Spaghetti or pasta of choice
1 avocado
1/2 lemon
2 Tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 bunch parsley (or other herb of choice)
Salt and pepper

Cook the pasta according to directions. It is really up to you how much each person can eat.

While the pasta cooks, place the garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice into a food processor (or use a hand mixer). Blend until smooth. Add the pitted (and peeled) avocado, herbs, and salt. Blend again until smooth.

When the pasta is finished, drain and place in a bowl. Add the sauce and mix so pasta is completely covered. Garnish with salt, pepper, and lemon zest.

Serve immediately - because of the avocado, this recipe is not good for reheating.

This recipe was taken from That's So Michelle

Friday, January 4, 2013

Puffed Apple Pancake

First the name of this recipe caught our attention, then the fact that it was submitted by someone from her home town. We didn't like the ratio of batter to apples so listed below is our version of the recipe listed on epicurious.

1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup flour
2 Tbs butter
2 apples (peeled, cored, and thinly sliced)
1 1/2 Tbs brown sugar
Powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).

Whisk the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the flour and continue to whisk until smooth.

Place the butter in a baking dish (we used a 13 x 9 inch one) and place it in the oven. Let bake until the butter melts. Remove from the oven, lay the apples out in the dish and return to the oven. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the apples begin to soften and the butter begins to brown along the edges.

Once again remove the dish from the oven. Pour the batter over the apples and sprinkle the brown sugar on top. Place back in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Serve warm with powdered sugar over the top. We ate this for a breakfast/brunch but it would also work as a snack or dessert.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Chicken Bites: Chick-Fil-A Style

Chick-Fil-A is a fast food restaurant found throughout the USA. Neither of us have ever had their chicken bites, but we have had a chicken sandwich from there and can say that this recipe perfects the taste that is so unique to Chick-Fil-A. Don't let the ingredients scare you off. These chicken bites are juicy, flavorful, and addictive!

Two servings:

2 large chicken breasts
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup pickle juice (Better believe it!!!)
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
2 Tbs powdered sugar (!!!yes, we know. Whaaat?!?!)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup oil for frying

Whisk the egg, milk, and pickle juice together. Pour into a bowl or bag.

Cut the chicken breasts into small bite size pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the egg mixture. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
~We refrigerated ours for 1 1/2 hours and it was great. We are not big believers that longer is always seems to us that after 30-45 minutes nothing comes from longer marinating times, but maybe we are just impatient...~

Once you're ready to continue, combine the flour, powdered sugar, salt, and pepper in a large ziplock bag. Remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the bag. Shake so that the chicken is coated completely.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. If you want, you can make this chicken in two batches. If you choose to do this, heat up only half of the oil the first time.

Once the oil is hot, cook the chicken for about 3-4 minutes on each side. The chicken should be a nice golden brown and cooked through before it is removed and placed on a paper towel-lined plate.

Serve with your choice of sides. We went for mashed potatoes and green beans. We bet french fries would also be tasty.

We got this recipe from Iowa Girl Eats who suggests making a honey mustard dipping sauce to serve as a side. We made our own type of honey mustard by mixing mayonnaise, mustard, garlic salt, and pepper.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Mix-Up Monday: New Years

Sorry! We got so wrapped up with New Year's celebrations yesterday we forgot to post.

We welcomed the new year in on the bank of the Main river, right in the heart of Frankfurt. Germany takes New Year's Eve seriously, and although the excitement for the new year is the same in the USA and Germany, how people celebrate is very different from anything she experienced growing up.

Germany loves fireworks. For the three days before New Year's Eve, fireworks are sold in supermarkets and other stores. People buy, buy, buy. Fireworks, in this sense, include everything from small poppers and sparklers to larger rockets that fly into the night and burst, just like in a professional firework show.

Where she grew up in California, fireworks were banned. This is certainly not true for the entire USA, but for everywhere she has lived. Cities often put on their own professional shows (or people head to larger cities like SF to watch the fireworks there), but individuals cannot purchase or use fireworks. The town directly next to her town did allow the selling/use of fireworks, but compared to the fireworks sold in the Germany, these were quite small.

This year the sky above the river Main was lit up, just like the sky over all German towns on New Year's Eve. The first fireworks were set off more than an hour before midnight and the rockets continued, numbering hundreds at once at midnight, until almost one in the morning. We joined the fun with our own celebrations (meter-long sparklers for the girls and rockets for the guys).

Unfortunately, we were too busy celebrating to get any good pictures. Here is a picture right from where we were last night taken by Andreas Arnold for the Frankfurter Rundschau.  

Andreas Arnold - Frankfurter Rundschau

We hope you enjoyed welcoming the new year in from wherever in the world you were and we wish you a very happy and prosperous 2013!