Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas Eve at Home (Round One)

Christmas celebration here is a quiet affair and is usually spent with family and close ones.  This year is no exception but with an exception of doing it three times over the course of three days.  One does not do much except simple food preparation, limited cleaning and lots of eating and catching up - and honestly, it ain´t an easy thing to do!  lol

Mama bought a very festive looking cake for us three to enjoy.   I initially offered to make a cake but last minute got them cancelled.  The cakes/torten available here are delicious and comes in so many variety and flavour.  So why bother ... lol

Hey, thats our Christmas Tree!  It is not a white christmas (again) this year so I´m glad I´d decided to bring fake snow into the livingroom lol ...

Mama love her Piper Heidsick so we had them over two days because we simply can´t handle the `fine`bubbles lol

Mama splashed on us again on gifts like every other year.  It is something I am still trying to get use too.  Thanks mum!

Me and hubby made an agreement prior to the gift exchange.  We agreed that we would not spent more than xxx amount and will limit to only 1 gift per person.  I got him one as agreed, but he got me three gifts!

A lovely perfume, a warm blanket for sofa time and a porcelain set from Villeroy & Boch.  Thank you loukung - muaksss!  You really don´t have too!

Hubby in return got a new toy from me :-)

I have been keeping myself awake by drinking lots of coffee.  To add life and to reminiscience back on what I drank in Hamburg last weekend, I added in Cointreau.  Its DELICIOUSSS ....

Hubby made his prep of Swiss Fondue since afternoon.  It is his showtime on Christmas Eve, followed by mine on Christmas Day then Mama´s turn tomorrow when his son and girlfriend arrives from Dortmund.  lol ...

We really do work really well together and in systematic manner hehehe and that takes the stress away in a way which I feel is important during such lovely festive occassion :-)

Here too, I want to wish all of you a belated Merry Christmas wish!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Adventcalendar of the Day : High Tea Lou Poh Style

I had totally forgotten about getting hubby a small gift from Hamburg last week to be filled into his 23rd day Advent Calendar filler! Bummer.  So what I did was sneaked out of bed this morning and wrote him a simple meal before he wakes up to open them.  He´s been crazy over this Gangnam song lately dunno why. And I though, hmm why not just play along with the title lol ...

I didn´t want to do dinner because we´ve been having lots of yummy dinner as of late.  Due to last night´s event at colleague´s place, he was still fast asleep at 11.30am so I figured high tea session sounds ideal ...

But the main reason was ... we´ve got ourself a new coffee machine!  What else goes well with freshly brewed coffee if not some afternoon delight?  I made a small batch of English Scones, German Spice Nuts and Apple Pie with Christmas Spices in it.

My Latte Machiatto with our new machine.  It frothes very well as you can see and with the new Lavazza beans freshly grounded just for this cup, HEAVENLY! :-D

Tomorrow´s `the`day where we´ll have a simple family dinner at my inlaws.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

My Secret Santa Knows ...

I bought a new jewellery box a few weeks ago.  Not a single person knew about it of course - except for hubby since its just a jewellery box.  But I remembered wishing for necklaces to fill in the void in my box.  I had some but I was looking for something fine and detail and not chunky as the ones I owed.  They say be careful what you wish for, for it might come true.

And it did come true last weekend.  I love it.  Thank you secret santa!  How did my secret santa know?  Scary.

A few days ago, I spent sometime sending out last minute Christmas Cards.  I hope they arrive on time.  Some were for friends living in German and some in Europe.  In Germany, the postal stamp price worked in such a way that if the size of the card is anything but xxx size, its considered xxx price which is almost 3 times more.  This size as you see here cost me 1.45 euro stamp fee.  Unbelievable expensive if you ask me.  I´ve learned my lesson so what I did the following evening was go get some standard size cards to be used for next Christmas.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

This Is How We Decorate Our Cookies

Take a guess who did which.  It was an advent activity idea I found online and though it would be so cool for me and hub to embark on.  With creative juices flowing wild ... here´s some of my favourite :-)

Burned Cookie. com on bottom right ... hehe, the earlier batch which did not make it to the decorating table but hubby insisted of decorating one!

Told ya hubby´s looking forward to our Alps trip soon :-) He literarily translated them onto the cookie.

This cookie is dedicated to my sister - a Chanel brand freak hehe and who was having a bad day at the other side of the world.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Lebkuchen Cookie Baking while Snowing

Today is second advent of the month.  It is lovely here at the moment with white snow covering almost any surface it can lay itself on.

Another candle to be litted next Sunday and then comes Christmas soon after.  I´m keeping myself busy with daily chores and prep work for Christmas, year end holiday and also our trip to Malaysia for Chinese New Year. All happening within the month of December till February so all kinds of emotions are going through me right now.  The happy kind - so its good.

And yes, I baked again ... this time, the traditional lebkuchen taste which Germany is so famous for but in a form of cookie.  I actually dumped in the whole packet of premixed Lebkuchen spice from the store and worried it would be too much but it ended up just nice.  Phew.  But next, I ought to show you how we decorated our cookies! We did it just a while ago and it surely is a fun acitivty for advent Sunday.

How´s your Sunday so far?

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Christmas Crafting ...

Since joining pinterest, I´ve been so inspired to craft.  The ideas shared by the millions of pinterest users has been amazing to say the least.  Apart from links from websites, some bloggers also jumped onto the bandwagon to promote snapshots of their work too!  I´m one of the lazy ones shying away from linking my photos there and prefer to steal ideas instead.  Hehe.  And here´s two ideas I found interesting and got our hands dirty recently ... :-)

The first is doing up letter blocks to form words.  Hubby did most of the work actually. Buying the material and sawing it.  I gave hubby the template and then later got them simply painted with acrylic paint.  The `O´is bought from store.  When I first saw this idea in Pinterest, I thot how cool!  It would be great to have the words in German but Weihnachten is simply too long! hehe. So N-O-E-L will do :-)

The other thing we did last night was making Snowglobe.  Actually, this inspiration was meant to be for my class activity and while researching for it one night, hubby came in and pointed out he´d love to make one too! Oh yes, he is a big KID in a way :-) So off I went, assembled some materials and whatever scrap I could find and we did this just last night over bottles of yummy beer and background christmasy music to entertain us.  If you´re inspired like I did, do note that Glycerin liquid is optional.  I bought a bottle from pharmacy here and you know what? Normal distilled water will do the trick too depending how heavy the glitter you intend to use is.  I would suggest you to test the glitter out first in a bottle, simply shake it and see how fast it falls down.  If it falls fast, then you probably need Glycerin to thicken the water.

Tonight, my advent calendar says Lets go to StattAlm for clubbing :-) Hubby is surely in the mood.

I hope you are too!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Homemade Dresdener Stollen

Stollen to Germans is like Pannetone to the Italians or Fruit Cake to the English.  It is sweet, it contains dried fruits and fruit peels and it needs time for the flavour to come through before enjoying them.  There´s all sorts of varieties of stollen being sold here in Germany for past 1 month.  From corner bakery shop, speciality stores, local supermarkets to discounter store, one can pick them up easily and cost as little as 3 Euro - and trust me, the taste is all equally good.  But special occassion calls for special projects - especially so when there´s a prize involved (thanks DH France for dangling the carrot! hehe .. ), having said that, it is fairly easy to make at home albeit time consuming.  You do need a kitchen machine to do this though unless yoú are a fan of kneading heavy bread dough continously for 6 minutes minimum .. err, no thank you! So here´s my Dresden style stollen, minus marzipan filling and almond flour - another 4 more days to go before tasting them ... :-)

Friday, 30 November 2012

Raclette Dinner, the Swiss Way ...

We went shopping in Kassel last weekend as mentioned earlier and this was what we got - a Raclette set.  We were attracted to it as it is small enough to fit on our casual dining table and yet, sturdy enough that it will not break easily.  Winter´s also here so a change in heavier diet is called for.

I was told we could use this Raclette machine in so many ways.  To grill steaks, vegetables or even make pancakes with the raclette mould underneath!  Well, I will experiment on that later but first, it has to be the traditional way we remembered them when we first tried them in Switzerland and South East France.  The cheese used is heavier than usual, and I love it.  In Switzerland, raclette is a humble, simple meal meant to be enjoyed by close family and friends and consist mainly of the cheese, potatoes, ham, gurkins and pickled onions.  Raclette means to scrap and here, it is to scrap off the melted cheese onto the plate.  The activity itself is a slow process so its lovely sharing it with someone close over a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Bad Karlshafen along Fairytale Route, Germany

We had such a blast last weekend that I am left with little energy to do anything else on Monday.  We started off with some shopping in Kassel.  I found the Rouge Matte Chanel lipstick I have been wanting to pick up but OPI nailpolish is no where to be found even in such a big city like Kassel???  I wanted to try on a lacey dress I spotted in Zara but the queue was amazingly long.  The WMF store and some fine china store whom I wanted to check out a couple of stuff were so packed too.  A lot of people have started Christmas shopping it seems, well better be early than later where one has to beat the crowd I´d say!  Talking about economy crisis in Europe, it surely isn´t so in Germany! 

Our friend J and his girlfriend Nina took us to a gorgeous Columbian restaurant in Kassel.  She tried making reservation early but was told its fully booked.  When we arrived, they apparently set aside 3 tables for walk in guest. Good that we arrived very early because soon after, the crowd started pilling up and service went a bit downhill.  The food was fine and the ambience and settings were lovely, which high ceilings and all, nicely done up.  I had a pot of seasonal mussels serve Columbian way which is with tomato sauce and a dessert I can´t recall its name.  We drank of course and afterwhich, J took us for a spin in his new Audi.  The only sober one whom stepped on the pedal and the rest feeling tipsy, I swore I nearly dozed off behind the wheels even at 180km per hour.  I didn´t know the new Audi has such impressive interior and systems built in.  Thats it, I am an Audi convert! 

The next morning, our planned breakfast eventually turned into lunch.  After two hours, we were on the road again but hubby was still in holiday mood :-)  He wanted to see a nearby town Bad Karlshafen seeing Furstenberg´s Store Outlet is close on Sunday.  Hubby wanted to pick up something for his mum as gifts for Christmas but I guess, we have to make do with something else then.  They, Furstenberg company makes very beautiful, high end porcelain that I would love to start collecting.  But it is something I have to think about not just in terms of how much will it cost for a minimum 6 person service set but also where am I going to display them ...

And so ... after some discussion, we´re going to embark on some serious livingroom refurbishment coming February. Excitement one after another :-D

Friday, 23 November 2012

It´s the start of gift giving season ...

Its an easy peasy occassion when it comes to giving gifts where I came from.  In most cases, the default gift can be in form of cash and all is well.  In Germany, it is a different ballgame altogether.  Thoughts go into it, hence challenging yourself constantly how well you know the person you´re giving the gift too.  Tomorrow, we will be visiting a couple friend in another part of Germany.  Prior to this, we would defaultly bring a bouquet of flower, some chocolates and sometimes a nice tin of gourmet biscuit.  But I was told the madame of the house is on diet so, no chocolate and no biscuit please! lol.  During their last visit to our place, I noticed something.  They both loveeee red wine. So off I went this morning to go pick up our favourite type of red.  The famous Barolo which the Italians loves drinking above anything else but it is something that can´t be drink regularly because a bottle of good Barolo can set you back quite a bit of $$$.  I paired them with Truffle laced hard cheese, also from Pietmont area in Italy.  Festive air is here so I´ve packed a white Amarylis along.

Its weekend so have a lovely weekend everyone!

Apple Cinammon Roll

Christmas mood is in the air! And so as my mood for cooking and baking.  Sorry for the long dissapearance. I didn´t realize my new job would consume me so much, not so much my time but very much what I plan to incorporate in and plan the best I could day in day out.  It has been great.  Teaching kids is no easy task, especially so with German kids around the age of 8-10, they do have quite a character I tell you.  But that is the challenge.  At the moment, things have stabilised a bit and they are spotting a huge smile the moment the enter the class.  Its a sense of fulfillment which I´ve only come to hear from parents or teachers in the past but now, experiencing it is altogether a different matter.  Anyway, gotta run again ... but before that, I am leaving you with a picture of Apple Cinammon Roll I baked two days ago.  It is the same recipe as The Joy of Baking as I was told but being a friend of DH France, I followed her version here to the T, almost.  Its a delish recipe so, I will be attempting them again with more filling variation.

Have a nice weekend everyone!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Zeit zum Apfelmus Kochen

Jeden Tag hören wir unsere Äpfel aus dem Baum in unserem Garten abfallen.  Die Blätter sind jetz gelb  damit die Äpfel nicht mehr halten kann.  Es ist eine sehr alte Baum.  Meine Schwiegermutter sagt, dass es mehr als 50 Jahre alt ist - älter als mein Mann dafur, wir bekommen eine Menge Äpfeln vom Baum jedes Jahr.  Am Anfang, würde ich Apfelkuchen jede Woche Backen aber jetz, liebe Ich gerne einfach Apfelmus kochen.  Es ist nicht nur lecker, ich finde es praktischer zum stornieren.

Monday, 22 October 2012

St. Pierre Tomato with Maille Moutarde a l'Ancienne au Bourgogne Chardonnay

While in Paris a few weeks ago, I picked up a very rare bottle of Maille Dijon mustard from their flagship store.  It was sold by weight and in old jars like how they did when they first started their business in 1747.  It came in two selection which I can´t remember what the other one was but the one I took was with Chardonnay. Oh yes, anything with alcohol is good with me :-)  Seeing it got a bit warmer here last week, I finally harvested the few french tomatoes leftover from our greenhouse.  The tomatoes are exquisite.  Sweet, firm, fleshy and tasted flavourful and not watery and light like some.  I love it.  I think I´m gonna hunt down the seed again to be reseeded end of this winter.  As for the mustard, it is sourish due to the chardonay added in. I wouldn´t have liked it as much on its own but eaten with the lovely tomatoes, it went really well.

Kochen mit Staub En Cocotte : Bratwürstbier Topf mit Puy Lentils, Mohren & Kartofel

I am so amazed with our cast iron pot that I am seriously considering changing our Fissler pan to a Staub cast iron one.  The flavour cooked inside this pot is simply outstanding and the more I use the pot, the more I am liking the inner coating because it is getting more and more non-stick.  This meal was cooked about two weeks ago but I could still remember every single flavour of each ingredient inside. I particularly love the texture of Puy Lentils too, solid and mouthful even after hours of cooking, something which other lentils can´t do so that was a good surprise.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Bitterballen & Appelgebak @ 't Nieuwe Kafe, Amsterdam

The plan was to bring a dear friend and her mum sighsee a bit in Amsterdam,  but it just won´t stop rizzling. With the miserable weather in the way, we headed straight into a surprisingly huge cafe located at the Dam. Something Dutch for them to taste of course, to snack in between before we adjourne back to the border to call it a weekend.

It was great meeting you H.C! Can´t wait to see you again in few months time!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Serrano Ham Platter & Chicken Curry Soup in Koper Cafe, Zandvoort

Looks can be deceiving. We chose a simple looking bistro located at Kerkplein and expected something mediocre to warm our tummies. It had been rizzling since we arrived.  By any choice, I would have chosen a lovely portion of fried fish by the beach for lunch but my last experience there proven to be a lesson learned.  Not so fresh and expensive. I think I can get way better at our town. So here´s our lunch at Zandvoort on Saturday, an impromptu trip we made in the morning after breakfast, quickly went up to, got ourself a lovely, lovely room 1 minute walk away from the beach and we could not be happier.  The next day was the exciting part, but that will be in another post! Stay tune!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Schweinshaxe, Knödel & Deutsche Sekt (Sparkling Wine) im München/Munich

How are you my dear readers? I hope you are all doing well and looking forward to this weekend! As for me, I am down with horrible, horrible cold with heavy chesty cough on top of the fact that I fell from the staircase a week ago - which left me in pain basically but I am thankful I am being taken care well by beloved hubby :-) The thing about getting sick is this, you have plenty of time to do whatever you wish - cook and bake but my sense of smell and taste is gone. And so, I have been keeping things light, soupy and warm - to also coincide with the rainy and cold weather here. My new pot has been put to good use. I use them every single day, sometimes even more than once which is good. Just yesterday, I made myself a big pot of ABC soup (basically it is a chinese style soup but consisting of western ingredients thrown in such as potatoes, onions, tomatoes and carrots), and in the evening, I made another batch of DH France´s Pork and Pear Stew.

So anyway, anyway, we are in holiday planning time again.  Ideally, we would like to be somewhere every year during year end or Silvester as how the locals call it.  It is nice to be home too, but we felt like being away.  A few places cross our mind with London on top of his list (he really, really do loveeeee London) and as for me, I will be thrilled if we can secure any form of reasonably priced accomodation in St. Anton or Lech am Arlberg which is located at the Austrian Alps.  Imagine celebrating New Year in Alps surrounded by white snow and learn how to ski?!  But as it is, I was told that that area is so famous amongst the german speaking countries that one has to book one year in advance!  I´ve loaded past Silvester video celebration of this place before, am totally awed by it so I cannot imagine what its like being there LIVE. 

Will see how it goes, and oh ... we´ve also secured our flight tickets  back to Kuala Lumpur - my beloved home city, in February so that´s double woohoo!

Before I derail further, here´s some pictures I´ve taken when I was in Munich with my sister.  She wanted to try something very local so here it is, the famous Pork Knuckles and Knodel BUT honestly, I think German restaurants in Asia can do it better.  I know, I know ... it is strange that I am saying this but its true.  As much as the pork is very flavourful, I thought the locals here could learn a thing or two on how to make the skin crispier and edible and with that, asians do know how to handle skin well.

Here´s a one pot dish my sister shared with her daughter.  For 6-8 Euro per plate, one gets a lovely table and the restaurant located right behind Marienplatz - a famous tourist spot, I´d say it is not too bad getting a good, warm, generous portion meal even in expensive city like Munich.  How can one compare to eating a cold baguette in Paris´s touristy area?

The apartment we checked into in Munich is fabulous.  It is located in a wonderful part of city centre, right next to the famous Elbe river and has the most amazing amount of space one can imagine wihtout paying a bomb. The apartment owner is an interior decorator so you can imagine our delight when we walk in.  It was also lovely to be greeted with glasses of bubbles the moment we checked in.  This is what I call good service even for a B&B category accomodation.

Perhaps we should return to Munich for Silvester.  It really is a lovely city.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Upside Down Cake with our garden´s apples!

It is apple day in day out here.  Every alternate day, I´ll try do something with the apples that fell off from our 60 year old tree.  Somewhere last week,  I bake an apple upside down cake with 3-4 apples.  How I wish I could use more apples but it would probably be too mushy for consumption.  Yesterday was Apple Crumble Cake baking session, a recipe from DH France and it proved to be as delicious as it looks.  I have not baked my annual Dutch Apple Cake yet but I reckon it would be real soon.  As I am typing now, a pot of 8-10 apples are being turned into Apple Mash in the Staub pot.  them.  It is nice to know that apples can also be enjoyed with potatoes like how the locals do here - so there you go, today´s dinner plan solved.  So, ideas ideas ideas ... any ideas anyone on what else to do with apples?

Monday, 8 October 2012

My Black and Almost 12 inch Toy, THE Staub ...

I hope my title did not raise too much eyebrow :-)

But as it if, it really is black and almost 12 inch long or wide, depending which angle one looks at.  Haha. So yeah, here´s my long awaited Staub, the famous Cast Iron Pot I have been longing for is now sitting pretty on my stove.  What a wonderful sigh!  That very night I received them, I put them straight to good use with DH France´s excellent Pork & Pear recipe.  It got thumbs up not just from hubby and myself, but also from our visiting friend Jürgen and Nina ... it was sooo good.  The meat was soooo tender soft and flavourful, we knew we made the right choice the moment the smell swift through our kitchen midway stewing them.  I´ve always knew that Germany has excellent quality pork but never have I smelled such wonderful pork aroma after all these years of cooking them before!  I am planning to test out few recipes this week.  I do have some concerns though.  As much as Staub is famous for their lid which retains moisture - known as self basting system which also locks in the flavour - what happens if I wanna bake a bread in them?  The famous No-Knead-Bread works really well in a cast iron pot and I´m dying to try them.  I am happy to know that the black enamel interior will become more and more non-stick after prolong using and better still, no stain will appear over time unlike the famous Le Creuset which has a white interior coating - BUT, we shall see.  Hubby was also telling me it is a no-no to use washing liquid on it and don´t even think of putting it in the dishwasher, but the attached instruction says no problem at all.  So yes, time will tell and we shall how good is this Staub.  The other thing I am happy with is, the coating material are resistance to scratches.  Perfect for a klux like me :-)

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Pre-Mooncake Festival Gathering with Malaysian in Europe Friends, 2012

The girls came over to our place two weekends ago.  To get drunk so to speak hahahaha but the alcohol we poured into us just does not seem to work its charm.  Strange.  But there´s plenty of food as usual.  Perhaps we should have kept our stomach empty! :-D
Here´s what we ate.  Imagine all these food spread for less than 8 hours gathering!
This is lunch ... I made Malay Chicken Rice and Hainanese White Chicken.  The kids were served Savoury Cake  and Chicken Nuggets while the adults tugged into taste of home. Hehe.  With a dash of super spicy, super hot chilli sauce brought all the way from Almere.
One of the girls even made these!  It dissapeared as quickly as a tornado storm hit and went to say the least.  I have no idea how it taste like but I bet it is yummy.
Alcohol were applenty as I´ve mentioned.  Here´s PIMMS, a very yummy cocktail made from PIMMS (a liquor from England) then mixed with 7UP, lemon slices, mint leaves and cucumber.  Delicious to the last drop.  A few of us finished it to the last drop wondering when the kick will set it. lol
Sangria was also served.
There were several breaks inbetween to catch our breathe, to loosen our belt a little or exercise our much needed limp instead of just jaw action ... we came back to more food!

One of the girl purposely got her husband to pick up a cake all the way at the border of Germany after disaster strike on the one she baked.    

She picked up more than one. 

One of the girl´s hubby got some mooncake as gifts from Hong Kong if I´m not mistaken and decided to share them with us.  There´s also mooncake purposely brought back from Malaysia.  Then there´s also the self made biscuit which this special occassion is so famous for. It reminded me so much of my childhood, eating them one after another while lighting candles all over the house with both my brother and sister. The biscuit seen here is super yummy. Thanks DH Drachten!

My original plan was to bake another Entremet but time was not on my side. I bought these Donauwelle instead.

DH Dracten came bearing another goodie on this special occassion and that´s Teochew Mooncake and Shanghai Mooncake.  What´s mooncake celebration without proper mooncake isn´t it and what´s more, its homemade all the way in Europe.  Its very good. 

Part 2 to be continued ...

Monday, 1 October 2012

2013 Spring Flower Bed Preparation

It is time of the year again to put on the thinking cap on what we wanna enjoy next spring.  How I wish the bulbs would just sprout out on its own year after year without shrinking its size so yes, there is quite a bit of work to do this time of the year.  Roses had to be trimmed back soon.  Some bulbs which was left unattended has to be digged out unless you don´t mind the possibility of surprises.  But of course, some prefer to plant perennials to lessen the job but to me, what is spring without spring bulbs!

I went a bit overboard this year :-)  Here´s what I bought ...

Plus 100 tulip bulb in assorted colour not featured here.

And something for autumn which I am already stocking up.  I know :-)  The Weihnachtsnarzissen is to be planted now in containers for it to bloom in Winter.  Amazing find I must say in addition to my discovery over Christrose which blooms when it gets really, really cold.

It has been raining quite a lot lately.  Some of our Dahlias are still blooming, so as Maria Theresia rose.  The ones I added to bring in more colour are the Heides (purple ones) and Stiefmutterchen (front row, colourful).  I am not sure how long it will stay but it better not be too long because I need to get the spring bulbs on this bed really soon!

Our apple tree is bearing lots of apples again. Lovely.

And some other autumn plants we have on our balcony.

Its cold and the sky is getting gloomier by the day but I´m glad there are some colours one can bring into our life.