Monday, 28 November 2011

1st Advent and I Wanna Say Thanks ...

The Americans celebrate Thanks Giving to give thanks.  The Germans on the other hand started the coming of Christmas four sundays counting down to Christmas Day by lighting a candle each week starting yesterday evening.  A lot of houses here have started decorating their homes with Christmas decorations, some putting up their fake trees.  I was told our neighbours in Holland frawn upon decorations before Sinterklaas which happen to fall on December 6 - coinceding with Nikolaustag in Germany but over here, its okay and no one really cares.  We have started our fair share of preparations.  It started two weeks ago when I went hunting for good bottles of bubbles and wine.  I got pretty lucky there so I can´t wait to share them when the occassion comes.  We spent our first Advent last night quietly in the livingroom.  The day before was a rather intensive day - we wanted to do some shopping in Enschede and to take a breather but believe it or not, I did most of my shopping at the comfort of our home end of the day.  But above all the hustle of preparation, I think its time for reflection and to share.  My father in law gave us a scare again two nights ago.  His breathing got inconsistent again and I remembered praying in my heart for him to pull thru as we stand around his bedside.  Yesterday morning, I spent some time chatting with him, although I was not sure if he understood me 100%.  He does give me a questioning look whenever I call him Papa.  It is not very easy for an alzheimer patient to join the dots.  Why is this asian looking lady with dark hair calling him papa.  Sometimes I would re-introduce myself but most of the time, I am just too afraid to confuse him further.  Last night, I brought a musical box down to him.  He loved it and that made me felt like I have connected myself to him somehow. It is unfortunate I never get a chance to get to know him when he was healthy, but I guess I have to give thanks that he is with us today and we are able to connect in small small ways as now.  I am also thankful he is not in pain like many whom suffers from other illnesses and above all, it is partly due to his hardwork and diligence that we are living a comfortable live right now.  No worries over house or car morgage, no worries over bills, healthcare etc ...

I also thought of my parents.  They are well and keeping themselves busy by surrounding themselves with their grandchildren duties. 

Today, I had a long chat with my sister back home ... she is well but has been having some health issues lately. As her sister, I of course felt sadden that I am not by her side to give her moral support but only thru words and encouragement via a long distance call.  It is true life has its ups and down, and same goes to her but I do hope she hears me sometimes.  That, one have to love herself first before loving anyone else. True especially when she is a mother of 3.  I also told her to stop thinking about what she plan to do and just do it.  We have been talking for a while and the topic seems to be running in a circle.  She is a tough nut there but I guess, it is easier said than done.  It is also during our conversation that I reflected on my own short comings.  But above all, I told her to have faith and say thanks for all the wonderful things that is going on in her life ...

Sunday, 20 November 2011

French Soft Cheeses & Prosciutto Platter Breakfast ...

Hub was away for work since two Saturdays ago and finally came home last night after what felt like ages.  Unlike the previous times where it felt even longer, I got myself into a routine fairly quickly and got down to settling a few outstanding issues such as getting my resident permit renewed, changing my driving school (to resit for my practical exam again) and also got myself a new hairstyle! I also painted while he was gone.  In the evening around 5pm, I religiously poured myself a glass of red wine while being surrounded by scented candles all over the house.  With some light music playing at the background, it surely is theuraphatic and a good way to pamper onself when my man is not around. 

Hubby woke up to the smell of omelette slowly being cooked with slices of french cheese smacked within this morning.  Coffee as usual does what it does best - releasing its wake me up aroma which soon got hubby up to his feet again. Poor him.  He had been working non-stop for the past 13 days.  So this evening, I did what I felt was best ... pamper him with his favourite dinner meal followed by letting him have the TV controller to channel hop.  He likes to unwind like that and I am perfectly fine with it as long as my man gets to recharge.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Rotkappchen, Lambruscos, Bordeux and European Fingerfood Stammtisch Evening

Once a year, the group I belong too (Stammtisch) would hold a yearly meeting to discuss what we plan to do next year.  It was held at our place last Friday with a European Finger Food potluck theme.  Each of us were assigned a European country so that we get to try a few variety.

To kick off, and upmost important in any German parties/gathering ... lots and lots of drinks.  These were just part of it in addition to those in the chiller.  Sekt is inevitable.  The girls love Rotkappchen in either Mild, Rose or Halb Trocken so we stocked that up a bit just the night before.  Lambrusco is a lovely wine to pair with fingerfood too so I picked up a few bottles. 

Silvia was assigned Greece fingerfood so this was what she brought over.  Grilled tomatoes with goats cheese stuffing.  Love it!

Ilka volunteered to bring something from Italy so here´s to her version of Caprese and Grilled Mushroom in Balsamic Sauce. Another winning dish.

Arianne was keen to bring something Austrian.  I had the impression that Austrian food is similiar to German so I was kinda surprise fish was instore.  The Austrians apparently eats quite a bit of fish due to the amount of rivers flowing thru their country.  This is spinach pancake roll with salmon and cream within.  Seasoning was kept to minimum so one can taste the yummy smoke salmon within.  Nice.

Sandra whom is dating a guy from Holland now could not escape our request of bringing something Hollandish.  Bitterballen was her chosen fingerfood but too bad, I had to give this a skip since I can´t take beef.

Andrea was happy to settle for something spanish, and boy, did she vow us with her bacon wrap with dates and hazelnut within.  Addictive to the last bite, it is one of those fingerfood thats not just easy to prepare, its delicious too.  Love the saltiness, fattiness, sweetness and nuttiness of the whole combination ...

Three other dishes went missing in my camera and they are my Salmon Quiche, Tanja´s Chocolate Mousse and Silke´s Swedish Berry Dessert.  I manage to snap Sandra´s Hollandish dessert though ... 

After dinner, we were given a handmade package with info of our upcoming Christmas Trip!  Ilka and Sandra are both superb organiser so I am really looking forward to this getaway! We were also given a pre-prepared gift box each.  The box was already prefilled with one of our name and with that, this is who we´re buying our presents for.  Lovely idea eh.  Just have to make sure its not our own name inside the box.

Christmas is still many weeks away but preparing early is always good!

Monday, 7 November 2011

First Saffron Harvest and Autumn Foliage in our Garden

Its beautiful out there now.

Minus the daily chore of raking dried leaves, autumn is possible my second favourite season of the year after spring. 

What a change considering Autumn was my favourite season before moving here.  Then, I did not know that Autumn can get uncomfortable wet.

But this Autumn has been lovely.  The temperature has not only been mild, it has been relatively dry and has not been as gloomy as previous years.

After chatting with a friend over the topic of roses, I went downstairs today to tend to my new babies.  My flower bulbs and seeds inventory has been insanely huge.  So much so, I had to leave some out.  I also bought 4 new rose plants in addition to 1 which was a gift.  My friend (lets call her DH France) told me the best way to keep the roses warm during winter is to cover them with these dried leaves.

I did exactly that to DH Hamburg´s Maria Theresia rose gift.

Also to Henri Matisse.

Blanket of dried leaves covering my babies ...

And Palais Biron which I recently checked had doubled its price.

My babies will be warmer tonight.

Notice the tiny red strand amongst the autumn leaves?  Yup, those are my newly acquired Saffron Krokus.

This petals are already dried up so I got the saffron thread plucked out and placed into a nice glass jar.  I wonder how long more shall I wait to be able to cook a nice paella dish with saffron harvested from my garden?  I can´t wait!

I also harvested the last batch of Mexican chillies.  It wil be for tonight´s dinner!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Project Study Room

November is the month where a lot of Germans do up their home in preparation of festive season next month.  You can see every tom, dick and harry scrubbing their porch or lawn, cleaning windows (it has been a wonderful autumn with little rain btw), changing their summer plants to winter ones, drills going on here and there, machinaries and equipment in action and naturally, the pick up vans from East Europe is here again to pick up whatever you wanna throw out.  We were at Ikea couple of days ago with no intention to buy anything.  Hah! Since when one comes out empty handed from Ikea?  So here I am typing from our new study room set. We got ourselfs 3 sets of racking system and 2 study tables.  There´s a lot to be done still but I reckon we have all the time to do it up till December.

Tasting Barolo 2007 ...

Our home is quite well stocked with drinks of all kind, including wine except for a good red wine.  Our regular riesling is wonderful, the best I´ve tasted but I do wish for a good red to accompany a stronger meal at times.  We didn´t know what to expect when we picked a bottle of Barolo up two nights ago but we knew THIS is it the moment we corked the bottle open.  Lovely rose note lingering around with gorgeous red hues ... I´m glad hubby agreed its a great bottle so we´re gonna stock a dozen or more up soon ... :-)

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Indian Dhal Curry with Cheats Naan aka Storebought Focaccia!

I tried reviving back routine to follow my daily meal planning but somehow, only suceeding halfway.  The plan was fairly ambitious actually.  Dhal was in the menu, partly because we´ve just bought a hugeee sack of potatoes seeing its in season, fresh and dirt cheap.  I wanted to make somekind of indian bread after being inspired lately by Reza, the Prince of Spice which is being aired right now in Food Network.  The Dhal was marvelous and I did it without any recipe book! I was so amazed with myself and to elavate that feeling further, hubby went to toast up a few more slices of bread for second helping! Wow! This dhal recipe is a keeper ... so to keep it safe, I will just scribble the recipe here quickly incase I need to redo them again.

- I first heat some oil in a medium size pot, add in about a teaspoon of aniseed and cumin seed. They started popping immediate, and burned a bit but I continued with ...
- Adding in 2 large chopped onion, 1/2 chopped carrots (fr large size carrots) and 4-5 chopped medium size potatoes. 
- I also added in 1 teaspoon of Garam Masala, Tumeric, Madras and Garlic Powder.  Sautee till its fragrant.
- Pour in 2 cups of water, 1 cup of chickpeas, season with 1 chicken cube, salt and pepper and let it cook for 30 minutes. Done.

Dinner @ Hermann´s Höhe

My lost my cooking mojo since last week so I had either been doing repeats of what I´ve cooked before, or resorting to eating out lately.  Some eat out were fairly simple affair in either local imbis (snack point) or cafe but one of the night, we decided to give a restaurant dining a try.

This time round, we chose Hermann´s Höhe.  Höhe literarilly meant high, referring to the location where this restaurant is located which is on a hilly part of the area where we live.  Food was fairly good, homely German fair but portion was kept to decent and not too scary.  Whenever I dine in a German restaurant,  I like to order pork because I find their pork dishes tasting the best as compared to other meat or seafood dishes.  As you can see here, the pork cutlet is still pinkish in the centre and looked succulent!  I was first a bit squimish about it BUT was reminded again of the programmes I saw on TV.  Many years ago, we have been told that pork temperature had to reach a minimum of 180C but now, food scientist says its good at 160C!

Hub has a pork fillet dish too, but prepared on a grill.  We are in Germany after all so pork it is!!!