Posts Tagged ‘Food’
She’s 19 months as I write this but we had a doctor’s appointment just in time for her 18th month birthday so here’s her stats:
12.1 kg (~26.7 lbs.)
87.1 cms (34.3 inches)
I’ve officially been in Europe too long – I know my the family’s weights in kilograms, the weather in Celsius, and all children’s clothing is based on height in centimeters, so I know these too.
Spring/summer finally sprang into being in March and April was so beautiful overall. A complete 180 degree change from February which was non-stop gray. Little A loves to play in the backyard with her tricycle, on the swing, and with whatever else catches her fancy… rocks, her watering can, frisbee, balls. She points out every airplane or helicopter that flies overhead. First she hears it, then she looks, then she shows me or D.
So lately we spend most afternoons outside, and most weeknights too, when we get back from the day mother’s. Our apartment has quite a few children and I often invite them into our part of the yard to do the activity du jour. Today it was finger paint. One boy who is almost 3 came over and I was trying very hard to keep his fingers off his pants…
Little A still loves tomatoes and most other vegetables. She also like chicken (preferably dark meat if given the option), and lasagna, and ketchup. For dessert she likes strawberries and raspberries and yogurt. And she rarely says no to at least a bite of something chocolatey.
She talks in her own little language, and says about 5 intelligible words consistently. The bottle of milk she gets in the morning and at night is called “Bah”. She generally likes going to bed for naps and at night – she’s tired, we can completely understand and appreciate this.
One of our favorite dinners around here is salmon pasta, which is a recipe from D’s sister with a few modifications. There are no exact measurements but it’s a forgiving recipe – just trust your gut.
- Olive oil
- White wine (optional)
- Mushrooms (lots!)
- Onion or shallots
- One leek, chopped
- Whipping or heavy cream
- Vegetable or chicken stock
- Pasta of your choice
- Turn oven on at 375F. In a baking dish, and olive oil and salmon. Add some lemon juice, white wine (optional). salt, pepper and any type of seasoning you like (i.e. dill or maybe fennel).
- Bake in oven for about 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness. Do not overcook and the salmon can actually still be a little uncooked in the middle as it will sit for a while. Cover with foil when out of oven (it will keep cooking).
- Meanwhile, put the water to boil for the pasta.
- In a frying pan, put some olive oil and butter.
- When melted, add one chopped shallot (or 1/4 of an onion) and cook 2-3 minutes. Do not let brown.
- Add the mushrooms (I like a combination of crimini, white and shitake) and cook until water has evaporated from the mushrooms. Season with salt, pepper and something like thyme, tarragon or oregano (at your choice!).
- Add about 1 cup of stock and bring to a boil. Add chopped leek. Let boil for 2 minutes.
- Add cream. The amount is really up to you, taste the sauce multiple times to adjust. You are going to want to let the sauce thickens – maybe 5 minutes.
- Once satisfied with the thickness, cut the salmon is bite size pieces and add to the warm sauce. Mix well and serve over pasta.
I always end up eating more nuts at Christmas time than at any other time of year. What about you?
Holiday foods with nuts, off the top of my head:
- inside cookies, breads, candies
- outside pastries and cheese logs
- top of salads and jellos (if you are my grandmother)
Just last week a friend gave me a bag of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. Wowsa, were these were good. They were spicy, with a hint of cinnamon and coriander; they tasted like Christmas.
It’s a fatty time of year but it’s also a yummy one. And nut fat is supposedly better fat.
When we went away for our last trip, we brought our standard car snacks with us: dried cashews, dried almonds, granola bars. My boyfriend’s mother had some tasty spiced mixed nuts and crackers too. At some point during our snacking we had a discussion about the content of nuts and were questioning which had the most fat.
Tonight I did some checks online, nutrition facts per 100g:
Isn’t it interesting that almonds taste less fatty than cashews but actually contain more? I kinda always knew pecans were higher, they just taste more slippery. Walnuts are also on the higher end, but they are really perfect in banana bread. Mmmm.
I’ve been trying different recipes for a while now, the internet is a lovely place to go recipe ahunting isn’t it?
Lots have been good, but we reached new highs in pancake-y goodness on Sunday.
Here is the recipe, called Old Fashioned Pancakes, with with minor alterations:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon butter butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add milk, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth.
- Pour or scoop the batter in pan or griddle. Brown on both sides and serve hot.
One thing I read somewhere, and that I’ve started doing, is to put the pancakes into a warm (not hot) oven. This is especially good if you want to eat together, as opposed to eating each pancake as it comes off the griddle.
About a month ago now, we had a Friday off and decided to take a long weekend and meet up with a friend visiting France.
While we were there we decided to do a Beaujolais wine tour since we were so close by and it happened to be harvest time. The tour lasts all day; we got picked up at the auberge at 9 a.m.
We drove from Lyon north into the Beaujolais region. Our guide said there are about 2000 separate vineyards in the area.
Beaujolais is most famous for the Beaujolais Noveau Day, which is every year on the third Thursday in November. Basically it’s a publicity party serving that year’s newly harvested grapes in a newly made wine. The wine is not high-quality and not meant to last long, up to one year, and seems mostly to be a good excuse for a party.
Regular Beaujolais wine has much higher quality and lasts in the bottle for years (depending on the variety).
Here, the vines are kept short, between knee and waist height. One winemaker told us this is to keep both the quantity of the grapes per vine lower and also to minimize the amount of sap, both factors contributing to the quality of the grape.
We were here the first weekend in October, and the big harvest had been the week before. This region still uses people to harvest instead of machinery. They hire temporary labor for about 2 weeks to gather the harvest. The vineyard pays around 60 Euro/day and include meals and a party at the end. In this photo you can see the temporary camp that was set-up and used by the grape-pickers:
Our first wine tasting was at Domaine Chasselay. Claire told us all about her family’s wine business. Her vineyard has been getting lots of press lately because they are growing the grapes organically. Nice!
Father and son at work:
We got a chance to see the grapes in the chambers. In these, the red color from the grape’s skin will turn the wine red.
Barrels and barrels:
Claire showed us where the bottling is done after the wine has aged for the appropriate amount of time:
We got to try the wine and also, as a special treat, we got to try the fresh grape juice, both red and white. I was really surprised by the juice. The white tasted exactly like grapes, without the skin or pulp, and the red grape juice tasted like raisins a bit. Nothing I’ve ever bought in a store tasted like either, both were sweet and delicious. The wine was great too, we bought two bottles.
After lunch and a few scenic stops, we stopped at the second vineyard, makers of the Domaine de Milhomme.
Here they were busy at work too, the harvest just behind them but still much work ahead. After the wine has sat in the chambers long enough, the grapes are pressed for the juice in a machine that looks like this:
The owner here let us try some of the fermenting wine, it’s called paradise wine.
Trying the paradise wine. It was opaque and bubbly.
After the paradise wine, we walked in the vineyards. There were still grapes here so of course we tasted some too.
It’s a common practice to plant a rose bush at the end of each grape vine row. The rose bushes are susceptible to the same diseases as the grape vines and serve as early warning.
Another tasting. This vineyard has been around for 120 years. They had some very nice wine here.
And more purchases:
For the most part my wine education has only involved learning what varieties that I liked and didn’t like. According to many sources, Beaujolais is a great wine for new red wine drinkers because it is usually more fruity and contains less tannins than other red wines. I’ve always preferred red wines and I liked the Beaujolais.
The tour turned out not to be a snobby affair at all. The wine making process, in this area at least, is very earthy, and the people were friendly – that makes me happy. I’m thinking I should find a book about French wine and it’s history.
This morning as we rode our bikes to work, D and I were discussing what we would and would not miss about our stay here in Germany. We both agreed we will miss our apartment. Inevitably, we came upon the subject of the company’s cafeteria which has been a bit of a sore subject. The cafe isn’t terrible but it sometimes serves terrible food; when you badge in, in the morning, you have the option between one meal choice or a salad. There are no microwaves or refrigerators anywhere in the offices so bringing your lunch becomes quite limited too.
This is all a big negative as far as I’m concerned.
Add on top of that the German obsession with pork products, especially sausages, and you sometimes have some very unhappy out-of-towners. This is especially evident from the complaints from our Montreal coworkers when they visit the cafeteria on a bad food day. (We used to complain more too but you sorta get tired after a while).
So yes, this morning I said “I won’t be missing the cafeteria, that’s for sure.” D was feeling forgiving, he replied “at least we have a cafeteria in the building.” Yes, I suppose we are lucky for that. Bad food is better than no food, usually.
Coincidentally, I came across an article talking about the typical German day at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Stuttgart, Germany. I found it interesting that the top lunch menu choices there are eerily similar to our cafeteria’s most popular dishes. As the article states, “defying every fashion trend and nutrition debate,” here are the favorites:
- Currywurst (hot dog covered in ketchup mixed with curry spices, with fries)
- Schnitzel (with fries)
- Cordon bleu
- Thick lentils with belly of pork
- Sausage and spätzle
I actually like spätzle pasta, but I detest the pork belly. Go figure.
Where I left off in the last post, we’d spent the day walking around Budapest. The next morning we met up at the bus after breakfast for a travel day, departing Hungary and arriving Poland. You know, the days where you don’t do much, eat and sleep (if possible) while getting from point A to B.
A few notes on the European breakfast:
Of course it depends on the hotel, but generally hotels charge for breakfast. Rarely here have I found the complimentary breakfasts that are popular (though often unimpressive) in the USA. Our breakfasts on this tour were part of the package so I don’t know how much they cost, but when we travel for work in France and Germany, it’s between 15 and 20 Euro.
Again, big variability, but generally there are the following items at a breakfast buffet:
- Fresh bread, think sliced French baguette, croissants and/or danishes
- Eggs, scrambled or hard-boiled
- Sausages, sometimes bacon
- Cold cuts – ham, turkey, hard salami
- Sliced cheeses to go with the cold cuts
- Fruit juices, rarely fresh tasting (miss the US for this)
- Coffee machine coffee – Europe is big on the machine brewed cappuccinos and lattes, some are excellent; some the opposite
- Fresh fruit
Right, so after breakfast we loaded up on the bus and set off towards Slovakia, where we had lunch (and a break for the bus driver), then traveled north again into Poland. On almost every leg of our trip we saw fields like this out the window:
The yellow flower fields (which look like big yellow geometric shapes from the air) are rapeseed or canola plants, grown for the animal feed, canola oil (obviously) and biodiesel. <– courtesy of wikipedia.
A few photos from the center square in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia: