Virtual Coffee Date

It’s been a while so some catching up on each other’s lives seems in order. And what better way to do so than over a cup of coffee – or tea in my case?. So if we were having  coffee, tea or any beverage you prefer, I’d tell you that …

The end of summer always brings up lots of feelings for me.  While the sunshine and warmth of mid-summer days brightens my mood and lightens my thoughts, the shorter and colder the days get, the more melancholia sweeps in. Resentment about chances passed and not taken because there always seemed to be so much left of summer – until there suddenly isn’t anymore. Longing for a move, a different job. Melancholy, thinking about summers past when this was the time of the year school or later on university were about to start again. A time of change and the excitement it brings along – something I’m craving in my own life, too.

Monday felt like the first day of autumn and I wasn’t neither a fan nor prepared when I headed for work, dresses decidedly summery. Oh summer, please come back and stay with us for at least a few more weeks. Will you, please?

Tea_Cafe Gleichklang

After taking a sip because I don’t like my tea to cool down too much, I’d also tell you …

That we celebrated my dad’s birthday with pretty much the whole family the other weekend  [i.e. 10th through 12th of August]. It was a big gathering and really nice celebration despite the weather literally raining heavily on my dad’s parade. Nothing that would have dampened our overall mood, though. The family spent the whole weekend together and friends joined for the ‘official’ celebration – concert (one of my relatives is a jazz singer), dinner, dancing – at one of my parents’ favourite restaurants. Given this isn’t the most accomodating place for vegetarians, I, I wasn’t expecting much from the buffet. involved eating the most amazing vegan lentil ratatouille that I’m set on recreating. So good. No pictures because I apparently got so lost in a conversation I didn’t even think about it.

Speaking of my dad’s birthday weekend, I’d also tell you that …

I may or may not have changed my opinion on cheesecake [I wasn’t a fan prior to this]. I think this actually was my first time ever baking cheesecake, at least the American kind [German cheesecake is made from Quark rather than cream cheese and I’ve always found it too dry this way]. Using Amy’s recipe for Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cheesecake Bars,  I had my first encounter with this classic. While I couldn’t try a slice of the finished cake – no eggs for me – I sampled my fair amount of the filling before adding the egg and if that alone is any indicator of the finished products taste: so good! I quadrupled  the recipe with just a few changes:

  • Using lower-fat instead of non-fat cream cheese [we don’t do the fatfree thing in this family ;)]
  • a good tablespoon less sugar
  • a whole egg because it’d have been wasteful to use just the whites [white for the crust, yolk for the filling]
  • And it turned out beautifully.

Mmh. It was a hit with my whole family and my colleagues – I brought a few leftover pieces to work – despite it being a ‘healthier’ option. We have a winner here and I’m keen on trying to find a good sub for the egg here because I want to have my [cheese]cake and eat it, too. If you have any ideas – Aquafaba? Flax eggs? More cornstarch in the filling? – let me know in the comments. Egg-free cheesecake has to happen.

If we were having coffee, I’d also tell you …

that I bought a new cake pan. This is an accomplishment both for the fact I spent money on myself without much contemplation and for the fact it’s my first 8 × 8 inch pan. Now this might not sound exciting or special to you but we simply do not use these size pans around here. Try finding one of them in stores – or spare yourself the frustration and order it online. Now I just need to decide on the first recipe to bake in my shiny new pan. Anybody else finding those ‘first time’ uses weirdly … exciting?

If we were having coffee, I’’d …

Tell you that I harvested the first kabocha of the season in my mum’s vegetable patch on the weekend. Yet also that it’ll also have been one of the last. For some unknown reason, my mum’s kabocha plants – she’s been sweet enough to grow them for me for years now – are dying prematurely, leaving just a handful of mature squashes. It’s particularly sad as kabocha is very hard, at times impossible to find in stores over here.

Homegrown kabocha squash

And then – or actually as the very first thing; we had this conversation in reverse order – I’d ask you how -you- are. How you really are. Because I deeply believe that a true friendship is built on sharing the good and the bad in life with each other. No need to pretend there was sunshine where you currently feel clouds hanging over your head. So: How are you?

Joining Amanda in letting the thoughts dance today.

Happiness-inducing today: Reading out in the sunshine after work – it’s colder but not yet too cold for this.

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What would you tell me if we were having [insert beverage of choice] today?

Coffee or tea? Which kind/flavour?

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Food Talk Wednesday #7

Would you like me to talk about my dismay if the fact some parts of Germany are getting a first greeting of snow today? No? Me, neither [and luckily, the part of the country I live in isn’t affected yet]. Rather, let’s talk about something we all like: food. Missing last week’s link-up due to those unfortunate conditions I had no control over I’m happy to join Jenn’s weekly party.

Letting go of control is also an issue present in my food choices lately. I’m trying to keep recovery posts to a minimum as I don’t want it to be the focus of my blog. Life is so much more than just recovery or even food – What I ate Wednesday and Vegan Wednesday obviously being the exceptions. Yet: it’s something I’m working on and talking about food in an honest way to me requires admitting what I’m still working on. But let’s jump into [some of] the food I ate on Monday right away.


Food Talk Wednesay_logo

In case you were wondering: yes, kabocha is still my go-to breakfast [nd also still using my preferred method of preparation]. Though I will admit eating my way through several sub-par ones lessened my cravings and had me back on the oatmeal train for a few days. But looking at yesterday it was my first meal of the day once more. The harvest is dwindling steadily, though … Send help, please! And by help I mean kabocha!

Kabocha_homegrown_breakfast

After rushing around for the first half of the day, lunch time came all of a sudden and was where I decided to let go of control and [try to] trust my intuition again. For those who don’t know: Spätzle are a – usually homemade – German kind of pasta. I recently found a package of fresh vegan ones at an organic supermarket and knew this was my chance for a challenge. No nutrtional information on the package was what scared me.I’ve  gotten better at eating out but trying new foods at home is still more difficult.

Traditionally served with fried onions and lots of cheese [Käsespätzle], I went with my go-to vegan cheese sauce and some greenery as well as the obvious chickpeas here. The serving looks small but I had more than pictured [honesty, remember :)?]. A very real photo, too, as you’ll notice the sauce spillage – it happens.

Spätzle_lunch_vegan pumpkin cheese sauce

For some reasons, I follow pretty much every of my savoury meals wth a bite of something sweet and peanut butter. Because what is following below is of the [far] more decadent variety I will only show the more nutrious part of my snacks here. Also because I ego through apples and peanut butter at a speed others find seriously impressive. No such thing as too much of those,  am I right?!

apple_peanut butter_snack

Usually, What I ate Wednesdays show only my own meals and snacks. But I hope you’ll excuse the exception for some bragging a picture of my brother’s belated birthday* cake. Much to my dismay, he didn’t specify which kind of cake he wanted leaving me to  my own indecisiveness. Luckily, I could make up my mind as I was up for experimentation and had been wanting to try this vegan Coconut Caramel Tarte [for all Germans: from La Veganista backt and found here] for some time already. Only I wasn’t entirely pleased with the caramel’s outcome – especially given how long I had to babysit it while cooking. Because  I’m a fan of honestyI will be here, too: no, I didn’t eat a piece of this. However, this is not for fear of sugar. If you’ve seen past WIAWs you’ll know  my sweet tooth. The past years of recovery have taught me about my taste preferences and cake doesn’t entice me anymore. Which isn’t to say I didn’t try the caramel or taste-tested  the chocolate ;).

Kokoskaramell-Tarte_La Veganista_coconut caramel cake

… and that’s a wrap. Or piece of cake. Either way, this was my little chat about food – not snow! – for today and why not use the bad weather to peek at what everybody else has been eating?!

See you again tomorrow!

 

Happiness-inducing today: Going to the movies with an old acquaintance and being positively surprised by the movie itself.

Stay in touch!

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How is the kabocha situation in your part of the world? Germany really needs to give more appreciation [as in: appearance in stores] to this wonderful squash.

What was the last cake you baked?

Tell me your favourite meal from this week so far!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Talk Wednesday #6: Out and about

Even in cold autumn you can still take a deep dive into the sea … a sea of fog, that is. This was my reality when leaving the house this morning and riding my bike to my volunteering place. Fog adds that almost unreal and mysterical touch to an ordinary [and cold] day,

From fog to food now, though. Because talking there might be a time to talk about the weather [or not] but it’s definitely not on Wednesdays in the blog world. Wednesday are for peeking at others’ food through What I ate WednesdayA slightly special What I ate Wednesday for me as you’ll find out in a second.

Food Talk Wednesay_logo

On the road … again. While I actually had only one appointment [that turned out to take less than an hour. ..] I spent the majority of Monday out and about again. On one hand, I actually like it as it means seing other places and taking a short break from the daily grind. On the other hand, it was cold-ish, I was sleepy and anxious about aforementioned appointment. What else this meant was I had to take all my food to go again. Hello, Tupper life! here’s what I tupperedmunched on.

Kabocha_breakfast_Tupper

No surprises for breakfast aside from the different background and fancy dish. Oh and possibly the …. that cooked, then cooled kabocha is quite delicious. As a fond warm food eater I was pleasantly surprised by this and will have it this way again.

Just like our mums taught us [and every blogger knows] road- or better yet train-tripping requires snacks. I’d actually bought these a while ago already but they haven’t made an appearance on here yet. Chili peas. The ingredient list could be better but they fed my cravings for salty-spicy nicely and sometimes that’s all that matters.

Veggie Crunch chili peas_snack

Okay, this is not what my lunch looked like yesterday. But when opening my Tupper after carrying this around for hours one look was enough to know I would definitely not take a picture. Unless I’d wanted to run ina contest for ugliest food picture of the year.Trust me you’d thank me for choosing to post this older picture of the dish rather than the actual state it was in when I ate it  … It was this red pepper cream sauce, only this time covering wheatberries, chickpeas and mushrooms.

Red pepper cream sauce_5

There were times when I used traveling as a chance to restrict but no longer. It’s one of those moments that show me how far I’ve come from my past. It’s a long road to travel down still but I’m on my way. Taking my own food – even full meals rather than just snacks – with me might seem like I was scared. Yet when traveling alone I use it as a means of saving money and I actually don’t enjoy eating out by myself. If I’m with others I will happily explore the local restaurants .

Lindt Chili_bars

If you’ve been reading for a while you’ll know my fondness of a certain brand of chocolate. Shockingly, I was disloyal after discovering a new favourite and neglected the old. I was going weeks without even a longing for Lindt but it’s back in action now. There’s even a slight chance I’ll be able to get my hands on thiselusive flavour not available in Germany. For now, chili and I are reunited. I ended up eating half a bar – I’d clearly missed it more than I thought.
What you shouldn’t miss is the opportunity to peek into others’ days of food so

Happiness-inducing today: Volunteering and lending an ear to somebody. Being able to help others in simple ways is one of the best ways of fostering our own happiness.

 

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Tell me …
a) what kinds of food do you pack when you’re out and about all day?
b) your current favourite bar of chocolate?
c) Something that made you happy today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Talk Wednesday #5

It’s the season! Shorter days, colder [but luckily not yet much darker] mornings – Autumn/Fall is fading in faster than we know it. In fact, you’ll all be aware today marks the meteorological start of the season. What I do know for sure is that I appreciate the gifts its bearing: – especially all. the.winter squash/pumkin.[ <- is there any difference?? Enlighten me!] Something that will be there during all the seasons, making us [bloggers] feel at home? What I ate Wednesday. Upon finishing this post, I actually noticed I’m coming full circle here as I wrote a similar post  last year. Would you have noticed? Thanks to Jenn for hosting the first What I ate Wednesday of the season!

Food Talk Wednesay_logo

Colour me orange – because that’s what my skin will look like in a few weeks. Self-tanning breakfast? Absolutely. I just can’t get enough … Kabocha. And … peanut butter. While our harvest – my mum’s been growing kabocha for me for the past ~ six years – isn’t overly huge it tastes all the better. Luckily, a certain grocery store has started carrying kabocha [though apparently just for a few weeks], too, so I’m stocking up while I can. Now onto a highly debated topic: the best way to prepare kabocha. It breaks my little squash-adoring heart to see people roast [and at worst: peel!] this wonderful vegetable. Trust me: simply steaming kabocha – no salt, no spices – creates the most amazing taste experience. If your squash happens to be perfectly ripe, that is. I’ve had some mediocre ones that I unwillingly had to use up until moving on to better ones. But no kabocha shall be wasted.

Breakfast_kabocha

Lunch contributed to my pumpkin tanning as it featured an all-time favourite: vegan pumpkin cheese sauce. This plate of sautéed cauliflower and wheat berries turned into a crave-worthy dish when adding the sauce. It’s so good I wanted to eat it by the spoonful [and I may or may not have …]. Despite its appearance I assure you I didn’t have Shrek in mind while preparing this.

kabocha_vegan cheese sauce_wheatberries_chickpeas

None of my days is complete without snacks. Actually, rumor has it they make up the largest part of my intake. Oops? What can I say: I’m a snacker, no, grazer. Yet it’s impossible to capture every morsel that enters my mouth so I just captured a seasonal one for you: raspberries. Yellow raspberries at that because they are even better than regular ones. I’m trying to claim dibs on these but some days I have to share.Which I guess is only fair since my mum grows them 😉 … Yellow raspberries_fruit

On another snack note I was successful in scoring a few reduced cups of Fage – and even my favourite flavour. Now I’m just a little worried the store is about to discontinue selling them but: live in the moment. Meaning I’m enjoying the ones I have and then see what will happen. Plus: it’s just food. Delicious but in the end just food.

Fage_Greek yoghurt_jam_blueberry

Once more no dinner picture … A few years ago, I had a full-blown obsession with pumpkin oat bran – more self-tanning power 😉 – but have been too lazy to prepare my own pumpkin puree in a long while. No canned pumpkin available in stores over here means I’m stuck with my usual oat creation for dinner – and I can’t say I was complaining. Cocoa banana oat bran with almond butter and a sprinkle of sea salt perfectly fits the bill for autumnal [or any season, really] comfort food. No picture because hi, carbs after dark [read: no, I don’t mind what time I eat which macronutrient. But pictures taken after sunset don’ turn out pretty anymore this time of the year. We can’t have everything [read: squash, colourful leaves and good lighting] at once. If you’re curious to see how everybody else has been ringing in fall, hop over to the What I ate Wednesday shenagigans!

Happy first Wednesday of Fall!

Happiness-inducing today: Noticing my mental arithmetic skills aren’t as bad as I’d assumed. Tutoring helps!

 

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What is your favourite way to prepare kabocha? Please do me a favour and don’t insist on roasting it but give a gentle steaming a try just once. Like I said: if you picked a perfectly ripe/starchy one you won’t regret it!

Tell me your current go-to breakfast! How often do you change it up?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Talk Wednesday #4

A little birdy told me it had been a while since I last talked about food on here. It also told me that I risked losing my label as a foodie. So what’s a girl to do? Better safe than sorry so how about we talk about … .food today?  It’s common knowledge among bloggers that writing an intro is the hardest part of a post so how about we get started right away? Thanks again to Jenn for hosting What I ate Wednesday!

Food Talk Wednesay_logo

Usually I’d keep the best for last but because breakfast yesterday was [one of] my favourite food[s] in the world I’ll spill the beans right away: it’s kabocha season! Granted, not actually. But our garden has allowed me to have a first taste of autumn’s best produce while stores aren’t carrying squash regularly yet. I know some of you are lucky to have kabocha available all year round but for me it’s a few months only. A few long-awaited months. Or this year sadly just weeks because stores around here won’t carry this very kind of squash at all so I’m limited to the ~ seven kabocha babies in the yard.

Anyway, I figure I’d go best by living in the moment and enjoying kabocha to the fullest while I can. No problem because it tates so.incredibly.amazing.

kabocha_pot

Sometimes, the best dishes grace your plate when you improvise [or can’t follow your own recipes]. Case in point: the zucchini overload in our garden and lack of cauliflower combined led to me turning my Cauliflower Chickpea Curry into a, well, Zucchini Curry.  With kidney beans because I had an open can of those. So yes, totally overthrowing my recipe but keeping the spices. The result? Delicious. And obviously more afforable using our own produce. Just wait for it: by the end of summer I’ll either be fed up with squash or sadly resert back to those at the store.

Zucchini Kidney Bean Curry

No day is complete without some …? Chocolate, right. I’ve been surprising myself with a changed taste preference here. After my recent purchase I haven’t been fancying my old favourite at all anymore. Dare I say it tastes … odd to me? Well, I guess they say tastes change as we grow up. As of yet I’d asumed this was only true in terms of more nutritious foods [can you believe I wouldn’t touch a tomato as a child and now can’t get enough of our homegrown ones?] but why not include chocolate? It’s from a bean so basically a vegetable/legume after all 😉 .

Mint chocolate

Because we’ve reached the sweet ending of this post I bid you goodbye and see you again tomorrow!

Happiness-inducing today: Meeting an old acquaintance and his cute dog and having a nice chat.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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How have your taste preferences changed in the past?

What’s your current go-to breakfast? How often do you change it up?

Tell me your favourite flavour combination: Chocolate and _______________?

 

 

 

 

 

The little things that make life better.

I’m a firm believer that waiting for the big and bold happenings to make us happy is an almost surefire guarantee to keep us unhappy. Oh, the irony. If we only ever hang around wondering why we didn’t win the lottery or why that guy has yet to notice us we miss out on many occasions to smile. How this all relates to What I ate Wednesday? Well, the way I see it food shouldn’t be the only thing making us happy but if it’s one of them that’s pretty good in my book.

wiaw fall into good habits button

The little thing at breakfast: perfect setting and food. Kabocha that has that irresistible flaky-dry texture, the right balance of sweet- and starchiness. My favourite tea from one of my new favourite mugs. A side of brain food [to any Germans: Das Kreuz mit den Worten in Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin is my love-hate brain food of choice. So difficult. So addictive.]

Kabocha_breakfast

If you’re less quirky than me/haven’t jumped on the squash-for-breakfast train yet [why not???] this could be the perfect bowl of oatmeal. And maybe a side of sudoku or a cross-word puzzle. Yes, I’m a granny there but I can’t go without these.

I might be the very last one to figure out how to break the soup-for-lunch-at-work spell but I bought my first set of microwave dishes on a whim the other day. There’s no looking back. This is my personal lunch revolution. Even with my self-proclaimed soup lady status I can’t pretend I was too happy slurping them anymore after a few weeks. These wonderful dishes have allowed me to bring casseroles of all kinds to work and actually make me look forward to lunch time. Okay, I did before, too, but the perspective of hearty polenta-topped chili is much more alluring than a less chew-able stew. The dish below is an adapted version of my Polenta Chili Bake.

polenta chili_microwave bowl

This week’s snack number one: Crack. Pure, high-quality crack. The kind that you can only keep in your apartment at the most immense safety measures. We’re talking hidden in the back of your pantry, consumed only with closed blinds so the neighbours won’t see you. Okay, to lift the fog and back up a little: I won Meghan’s giveaway for some homemade granola straight from her kitchen recently a while ago forever ago. The reason I only received it right now is not the fault of everybody’s favourite Cleveland blogger [trying to remember if I know any other Cleveland bloggers who might get angry reading this …]. I asked Meghan to hold off shipping the granola until I had moved into my new apartment. Because first I had to try eat up some of the cereal, granola, what-not-all I’d been hoarding pre-move and then settle into the new place.

Granola_1

After a few bites I can safely tell you I will definitely not enter another granola giveaway at Meghan’s. Because I clearly hated this one. Kidding. The reason I [pretend] I won’t is because somebody else deserves to be treated to this deliciousness. It is SO ridiculously good – crack, remember? – that I refused to let my mum who was visiting the day I picked it up pack some as a snack for the road trip back home.

To be fair, though, I offered her some before which she enjoyed.  But a whole container as a snack? No way. Another fun bit I should add is my mum had a handful from the jar – by the way: how pretty did Meghan pack this up?? – and thought it was trail mix. That’s what Meghan meant when she called her nut: oat ratio high. And she was sweet enough to customize it for me nixing the walnuts and using a mix of cashews, almonds and peanuts. So so good. Oh, I mentioned that before?!

Granola_Meghan_2

For anybody who doesn’t live in Meghan’s immediate neighbourhood, is too impatient to wait for another giveaway or simply needs this granola in their lives – trust me you all do! – here’s the recipe. It’s vegan, too, for anybody stopping by from Vegan Wednesday. I hope sharing recipes for crack isn’t criminal.  If you don’t hear from me again I might have gottten arrested and in that case I hope you’ll send me granola care packages.

That’s it from me for today’s food inspiration but you might not even read this anymore as you’re already in your kitchen baking granola …

Happy Wednesday!

 

 

Happiness-inducing today: Finding that some essentials I needed to pick up at the store were on offer. Nothing like a good deal, right?!

 

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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What are some little things that make your life better?

Are you a crack granola addict, too? What’s your favourite recipe?