Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant

I was able to receive homemade food more than four times this week :)  Monday night started me off in Frechen with a salad, yogurt, shrimp and a poppy seed roll. Tuesday, was noddle and goulash day which was triple the amount needed but pretty tasty. On Wednesday, I only captured my fruit salad because we had Subway in the afternoon an I decided to take a pictures of the healthier one :). For the first time since November, I was able to take the train home on Wednesday night, which is why I got to eat so much homemade stuff this week.
On Thursday I felt like some real meat so I made myself a Rumpsteak with a tasty salad. On Friday, I received a salad (the unhealthy type) - nachos mixed with hot peppers, ground beef in sauce, corn and sour cream. We were in a rush on Saturday so I made my favorite  Aglio Olio pasta with a little spin to it. This time we ate it with king prawns, garlic and a baguette. Reward for my cooking all weekend was received on Sunday when she made American chocolate chip banana pancakes with bacon  and served them to me with some fresh coffee in bed *mmmmh*

Enjoy your week! Eat well!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mix-Up Monday: German Cars

This Monday mix-up was inspired but a theme at tonight’s pub quiz. Yes, she is a weekly pub quiz goer, but that is an entirely different topic.

The theme for the photo round tonight was car brands. Americans, in comparison to Germans, have absolutely no respect for their cars. We know, we know, someone out there is saying noooo, I love my car, I wax it, I take care of it, I know everything about it, and I am American! There may be a few people like that in the USA, but in general, Germans love their cars like no one else in the world.

The pride for German-built cars is clear. – Mercedes, Audi, BMW, they have the luxury brands that are enough out of reach to be special but not so out of reach that they are not. But hold on, that is not true. THEY ARE NOT OUT OF REACH!
Americans, it turns out, have a giant misconception when it comes to German cars. She never knew this until she asked him why so many Mercedes and Audis in Germany are ugly (yes, she did say ugly, deal with it). She could not believe that these luxury brands had such ugly looking family cars. It turns out, America does not import the low models of these luxury brands. What she grew up seeing were the highest of the models, not the everyday family cars. The reason that there are so many luxury German car brands on the road is because they are really not that impossible to buy if you have the option to buy the low class models.

Obviously, German cars are known around the world as being great because they are, but they just aren’t all that Americans are led to believe. To her, they are still just cars…

She can go on about this and the love Germans have for their cars...including a German song that talks about how German men treat their cars better than their wives, but it is almost midnight and she is tried and needs to get this posted!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Creme Fraiche and Lemon Pasta with Smoked Salmon

Sometimes you are just lucky and have everything you need for a delicious meal right at home. This was one of those times. We had everything...well, almost everything, we needed for this light and tasty dish. We substituted lox for the salmon because it was a Sunday and no stores were open to get the real stuff.

For two:

Penne (or other pasta shape) - how much you will eat
1 Tbs olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced (we used onions)
1/3 cup creme fraiche
1/4 tsp fresh lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1 4 ounce package of smoked salmon (we used lox)
Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)
8-10 baby tomatoes, halved 
2-3 handfuls of rucola 

Cook your pasta according to the directions.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a pan over medium high. Add the shallots (or onions) and cook until tender. This may take up to eight minutes.

Turn off the heat or turn it down very low and add the pasta (drained obviously ;) ) to the pan. Add the creme fraiche, lemon zest, and salt. Also add the lemon juice and salmon lox).

After everything is nicely coated, add the rucola and tomatoes. Stir until everything is coated and the rucola has wilted a bit.

That's it! Very easy, very fresh tasting, and very tasty.

This recipe was adapted from Whole Foods Market -  we basically did our own thing and used this as inspiration.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant

This week started out with a classic meal from the local Chinese place here in Frechen. I had some spicy chicken with veggies. Not very exciting I know, but as you can tell, we are very limited with what there is to eat here.
On Tuesday I tried pita bread with some paprika and tomato cream together with two pieces of baklava. I was very excited about the baklava because the owner of the shop where I bought the food was just about to close the store. Normally he would have sold me the sweet starting from 2.50 EUR but due to my late night bargaining skills I was able to get it down to only 1 EUR. :) (This is basically impossible to do in Germany which is why it is such a big deal and so impressive :) )
On Wednesday I went and got something (at least for me) very special. I was able to get a sausage roll! This reminded me on my time in Worcester, England while working for a thermochemical company. The local canteen there had always sausage rolls and these where my daily target. Due to the popularity of the sausage rolls in this company, I was always very excited when I got hold of one. Here in Cologne it was just smiling at me and I was able to just buy it without defending it from my former collegues.
Thursday was Valentine's day. I drove home to her and invited her to a Uighur Restaurant (Yes, we had no idea what it was at first either until we looked it up on Wikipedia). Here we had some delicious Lagman noodles and Benschir. The Langman noodles are handmade there and apparently the only ones available in Germany. The other meal we got are steamed dumblings filled similar to the Maultaschen we made with the difference that these have their origin in Northern China, Mongolia, and the Altay Mountains. However if you want to try it, visit the Taklamakan in Frankfurt, the only Uighur restaurant in Germany. :)
On Friday we went out with a lot of friends to Sachsenhausen and had to eat quick and easy. Our result was Spaghetti Bolognese which paved the way into our very entertaining evening.
This time I don't have a nice enough picture for Sunday due to the fact that we had more than 10 friends over for a Playstation and Wii afternoon. At the same time we were making crepes on a real crepe machine and the pictures only ended up on real cameras. Maybe one picture will find its way into the blog :).
Instead of posting the Sunday crepe picture, I choose to post our lox roll with tomato salad and chips. A very good finish for this very entertaining week.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mix-Up Monday: 24 Hour Clocks

Germany, unlike the USA, uses the 24 hour clock. Instead of saying something will take place at 7:00 pm, they say 19:00. Although not completely foreign to her because of situations in movies and television when the US military uses the 24 hour system, this still took time for her to get used to. More than once she has had to add the correct number to 12 to figure out what time it was, or has looked at a train time of 16:00 and automatically thought the train was coming at 6:00 pm instead of 4:00 pm.

Now she can use the 24 hour system without much thought and has started to recognize the benefits of it.

- You never question if someone means in the morning or at night. For example, in the USA saying, "I'll call you at 7:00" can make you question (of course depending on the context) if the person will be calling you in the morning or night. Using the 24 hour system, you know if the person means 7:00 or 19:00.
- You never accidentally set your alarm clock 12 hours off. If you want to wake up at 7:00 in the morning you will never accidentally set your alarm to 7:00 pm in Germany. You don't have to rely on that tiny AM/PM button to make sure you won't over sleep.
- You get the fun of seeing the clock say 00:00. Midnight and nothing at the same time. She finds it strange every time it happens!
- You get to confuse people in Germany if you feel so inclined. A large number of people haven't been taught the difference between AM and PM. Annoyed and want to feel superior? Slip it into the conversation and see if you can get them mixed up (evil we know ;) ).
- You still get to use the 12 hour system if you want, so why not use both? Plenty of people in Germany say see you at 8:00 or talk to you at 10:00 because the context tells the time. You are not stuck using the 24 hour system unless you want to (and as long as you are not looking at what is on TV, when trains come, and when restaurants are open).
Using the 24 hour clock...just another small difference between the USA and Germany.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Homemade Maultaschen: Completely from Scratch!

Two weeks ago when she was feeling horrible and sick he promised to make something tasty for dinner while she sat on the couch watching TV and feeling miserable for herself. Something tasty indeed! Two hours (give or take) and a lot of work later, homemade maultaschen showed up on her plate. She still felt sick, but her tummy was much happier after that.

We only made half of the recipe we used (the entire recipe listed here) and still had waaaay too much. We froze many of the maultaschen and she ate some as leftovers in the days after he made them. In total, we would say this makes about eight servings (depending what else you eat as a side) or four meals for two people.

Some people make maultaschen but do not do it all from scratch (i.e., they buy dough). He went all out and made the dough and the filling. If you are interested in the history of maultaschen or learning more about how you can cook them, check out our earlier blog entry here.

375 g flour
3 eggs
a little salt and water

1 roll (day old is best)
125 g spinach
25 g speck (basically bacon or ham in small pieces)
1/2 onion, diced
250 g ground beef *
250 g veal *
2 eggs
salt, pepper, nutmeg, marjoram
1/2 egg (only the white) - optional

* We didn't want to buy veal / not easy to find near us, so we used 1/2 the typical German ground beef / ground pork mix and 1/2 pure ground beef.


First make the dough. Mix the egg and flour. Add a little salt and enough water that the dough comes together but is not sticky. Roll it out so that is is quite thin (both in thickness and in width) and long. He found it easier to do a little at the time instead of trying to roll out one long piece of dough.

Anytime during this you can cook the filling. Mix the spinach, meat, speck and onion. Mix well so it because a soft mixtures that sticks together. Add the roll (cut into small pieces) and eggs. Season well.

She actually did get off the couch to help him make the actual maultaschen. We each had our own style. You can decide what is best.

His way: 

Put a spoonful of the meat mixture on a square of dough. 


Add a second square to make a small pocket. You can either use something like a empanada press or make it by hand. 


He wanted his to look more like traditional maultaschen so he made every pocket by hand. 


He used a fork to seal the side and then cut off the excess dough to make it look like proper maultaschen. 

If your dough is not sticking properly, use egg white around the edges.

Her way:


She used the entire long piece of dough, put spoonfuls of meat slightly apart up to halfway point. 


She then folded over the dough and cut in between the meat pouches. After that, she followed his way of using a fork and cutting off the edges. 


Once the pockets are made cook them for 15 minutes in boiling salt water. 

You can then eat the maultaschen like that, add them to soup, or cut them in slices and fry them. If you want a big meal, cook them with eggs like we did in our other blog entry.

Lots of work but much much much tastier than the store bought version. Also, if you use a press you save a ton of time and you can also make a lot at one time and freeze them to eat later without much effort. 

This recipe was adapted from chefkoch.de user Judith.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant

Time flies when you are having fun...or just when you work a lot :)! Hello to week number six of daily consultant food. I was in a different hotel this week due to the Karneval season here in Cologne. Every hotel was booked out and I had the opportunity to experience some Karneval influenced food. It was supermarket day on Monday for my dinner. I bought some salad with a dressing and two rolls. Also included were some raw prawns and a wrap which I didn't eat in the end due to it being too much food (gotta watch what I eat now that almost every meal is out). I think my eyes were a little bigger than my stomach.
Tuesday was our team dinner in the Croatian restaurant I talked about in past posts. When you are in a tiny town you end up visiting the only decent restaurants over and over and over again. I had a prawn cocktail and a rump steak which did not fit into the picture. A very enjoyable dinner and even paid for by my boss (adding to the enjoyment ;).
Wednesday was sandwich day. In addition to my sandwich I also bought a so called Kreppel. This is a small cake with sugar icing and is very unhealthy. I think one could compare it to donuts :).
Thursday was another eating out from the supermarket day. I bought some Baklava which is a sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry made of chopped nuts and honey or syrup. I think this would be a good try to make ourselves..
Friday was homecoming day this week. I decided, due to the crazy Karneval crowds to eat some unhealthy Currywurst with Pommes (fries) at the main train station in Cologne while listening to original Cologne Karneval music and watching the crazy dressed up and drunken crowds.
On Saturday I made a Swabian dish (famous in the area I come from). It is called Schupfnudeln with Sauerkraut and a very instant and fast made meal if one wants to go out shopping and running around. The Sauerkraut was exactly the right thing for the freezing weather here in Frankfurt. You can find this recipe in one of our old blog posts here.
On Sunday I made (notice how I had to do all the cooking this weekend!?!) some Pfannkuchen (really just the German word for crepes). But, instead filling it traditionally with Nutella, Bananas or cinnamon and sugar, we made a filling of ground beef, mushrooms, onions and tomato sauce. A salad on the side was just the right thing to go with it. Like the Schupfnudeln, this is a recipe we have blogged about in the past. You can find it by clicking here.

Unfortunately this week was not as interesting for food as some, but sometimes you just need a break from the fancy stuff and eat simple things from the supermarket or old familiar recipes. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mix-Up Monday: House Shoes

Some people have house shoes for guests (www.delaishop.info)

When you go to a house in Germany the odds are you will be asked to take off your shoes. Additionally, you may be given house shoes (slippers) to wear while you are visiting.

Removing your shoes when visiting someone at home is not unheard of in the USA but often it depends on what culture the person most closely associates with. Even when asked to take off her shoes in the USA, she has definitely never been offered house shoes. It makes sense though. Take off your shoes and your feet may be cold...why not wear house shoes?

His well worn house shoes

We do not have house shoes to give guests but we do have our own for when we are home and our feet get cold. His are serious house shoes, hers are more for fun :)
Her very fluffy house shoes

One thing is for sure, make sure your socks match (and are clean) before visiting anyone in Germany at home!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Fish Stick Sandwich

We had a craving for fish sticks (yes we know, but it just happens sometimes!) but didn't feel like making any sides like mashed potatoes. Instead, he put together very quick and delicious fish stick sandwiches. The part that took the longest was baking the fish sticks.

What you need:

Small rolls
Fish sticks
Tomato, sliced
Cucumber, sliced
lettuce or rucola
Tarter sauce
Lemon juice (fresh!)
Parsley, maybe a little salt and pepper

You don't have to be amazing in the kitchen to make this (so no excuses!)

Bake the fish sticks according to the directions. We use self-bake rolls so we baked those at the same time.

Then cover the bread with tarter sauce, season with parsley (and salt and pepper if you would like).

Add the slices of cucumber, tomato, rucola (or lettuce), and of course the fish sticks.

Squeeze a lemon over the fish, place the top of the roll on top, and skewer (or else it will all fall apart).

Simple but a nice change from regular sandwiches. Yum :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tuesday Tales: Daily Food of a Consultant

This week started out with an experiment: How to "cook" a tomato mozzarella dish in your hotel room without a kitchen.
No knife or even the ingredients? I did not care, I wanted some tomato mozzarella. Girlfiends addiction is growing on me. So I bought all the ingredients at the local Penny market (where nothing is a penny but it is cheap) and asked the hotel to provide me with a knife and a plate.
The result turned out to be pretty yummy and together with a roll this was my very decent and not to expensive dinner.

On Tuesday we decided to go to a nearby canteen in a furniture store. Beside watching lots of retirees "hunting" for their food we were also able to receive a good meal for lunch.
I decided to take some food from the vegetable buffet and got some potatoes to go with it. 

Wednesday night we went back to the Croatian restaurant I talked about last week. I ordered a very not Croatian meal,  a Rumpsteak with mushrooms which was very awesome. We decided immediately to make this restaurant our choice for the team dinner the next week. 
Thursday was homecoming day this week :) - my lovely lady surprised me with a very typical lazy --but awesome -- dish: homemade nachos with hot ground beef sauce and sour cream. Mjuuuummmmy!

After work on Friday I came home so hungry that I had to make myself a very easy and fast sandwich. I took a "Wiener W├╝rstchen" put it on a toast and inhaled it :). 

On Saturday we were invited to a friends dinner and buffet party which included a lot of fun and good conversation. Here I got myself some meatballs, a super extraordinary "I want the recipe" tofu stir fry, salad, Tzatiki and pita bread.

Sunday was a lot of work regarding food. Because she was sick and deserved some good food, I decided to make some Swabian Maultaschen from scratch. Here is the delicious result and the recipe will soon follow here.

Mix-Up Monday: What Time is it?

Such a simple obvious difference between the USA and Germany, yet something that comes up and causes problems time and time again. The time difference between the USA and Germany is quite large, nine hours from the Western USA and six hours from the Eastern USA (we won't even get into Alaska and Hawaii). Although not an everyday annoyance, we really notice the difference when special events take place in the USA, for example the Super Bowl last night. The kick-off did not take place until after midnight in Germany, making it impossible for us to watch and still survive Monday at work. This is especially frustrating in years, like this one, when the teams hold some personal interest for us - where she grew up versus where she went to university. In three weeks we will face the same problem again when trying to watch the Oscars...and yes, of course we can record them and what them later but everyone knows that is not the same.


These examples are rare, but that does not mean that the rest of the year we are not affected by the large time difference. Just trying to call home can involve major planning because you need to find a time that fits both you and the person you are trying to call. This can be almost impossible during the work week.

We know we have little to complain about when a nine hour time change is one of the biggest annoyances we face, but it would still be nice if the USA would plan big events for Saturday not Sunday nights :)