Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Vegan Experiment - Day 2

Day two of my vegan experiment is over. I feel pretty good, so far. Still no withdrawal symptoms.
I cannot say that I feel like re-born or something. But things are normal.

I started the day with a vanilla soy milk breakfast. Yeah, that's correct. Since I have it at home, I had to give it another try. I actually like vanilla soy milk. Just not in drip-coffee...

I made a shake that I have made before and which already is almost vegan.
You mix a banana with 200-250g of yoghurt and vanilla soy milk (200-300ml). It tastes delicious! Of course, this time I used soy yoghurt. The result was not as good as with normal yoghurt. But still good. Also, I don't know if I'm being too harsh about this. I wonder if I would taste a difference with this drink at all if I didn't know it was with soy yoghurt instead of with the nomral one. A good side-effect was, that after drinking the shake, I didn't taste the soymilk in my coffee anymore.

Improvement, wohoo!

For lunch I had pretty much the same as the day before. Avocado-tomato bagel with roasted pine nuts.
Only that I added some vegan cheddar cheese to it. The cheese itself isn't that impressive. In combination with other things, for example on a sandwich, it's fine and adds a tiny little bit of sort-of cheese flavor and texture to it. Even though it's much more crumbly than normal cheddar.

I went for this oatmeal-chocolate-energy bar
as dessert, which wasn't that bad either.
At least it tasted like what it was -
oatmeal with a hint of dairy-free chocolate.
And it totally satisfied my needs and got rid
of the sugar craving!

 After work I bought a bunch of vegetables, potatoes, sweet potato, leek, purple carrots, turnip, red peppers, red onion, pumpkin and garlic. I chopped everything up into bite-szed pieces, added a pieces of apple, rosemary, cinnamon and nutmeg and seasoned it with salt, pepper, sugar and balsamico.
I threw everything into a greased (olive oil) baking pan and cooked it in the oven for about 30-35 minutes at 180°C. I sprinkled some of the vegan cheese over one part of the vegetable mix.
Unfortunately the cheese didn't melt.

Everything still tasted pretty good.
Probably because I cooked instead
of eating another one of these shitty
ready-made vegan meat substitutes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Vegan Experiment - Day1

It's day one of my vegan experiment. 
For all of you who haven't heard about it, yet: 
!!!For about a week I will try to only eat vegan food!!!
Given the fact that meat&chocolate is my favorite food, this means quite a challenge to me. 
I can totally imagine not eating meat for a week. Really, that's fine with me. 
The worst is to not consume dairy products such as butter, cheese, milk or yoghurt 
and food that contains egg. Chocolate usually contains milk, as well, at least the chocolate I like.
So this is going to be a tough call for me.

The reason why I'm doing it is first of all to challenge myself.
But I also want to find out more about the vegan diet and if it is really that hard to be a vegan. 

Let's be honest, I actually struggle with these kind of movements.
Not because I think it's bullshit to only live of "salad and grains".
What I dislike are militant activists who insist of convincing me of their healthier, better lifestyle while constantly rubbing "I'm better and smarter than you and you don't have a clue" under my nose.
I think we all know that the conditions in slaughterhouses are dire. This really is no news to me.
But I love to eat. Indulging in good food makes me happy and is a major part of my life.
I love to try stuff and to have choices, and yes, I love eating meat, cheese, eggs & co
(at least as much as I like to pet animals), and at this point I cannot imagine not eating those things anymore...

...oh well, for the next few days I guess I have to, if I want to fulfill my mission.
I will try to experience the whole spectrum. Therefore I will try some of the meat substitutes, as well as cooking and baking at home and eating at restaurants and cafés.

Will Julia turn into a vegan activist herself? Will she feel better than ever? Or maybe worse?
Will she turn into a bad-tempered monster?

We'll find out soon...

So here is the first day!

Breakfast started for me with a fruit smoothie (only fruits!) and vanilla-soy coffee, which I think is pretty disgusting. I'll try to get used to it...maybe skip the vanilla soy milk and use plain soy milk instead.

Later this day I had a pumkinseed bagel with sliced avocado, cherry tomatoes, roasted pine nuts and balsamico date essence. And no surprise: this was expectingly good.

Thumbs up for bagel with avocado and tomatoes!

After that I tried a bit of the soy vanilla, that stuff really isn't very pleasing. 
It's not really bad. But there is something - some weird flavour that makes me cringe. 
I don't know if I can eat this again.

But hey, the bagel was good!
(It was actually a hommage to Harriett and Aimee, 
the lovely non-militant vegan/vegetarian ladies of The Bright Young Twins)

Dinner was quite a disappointment. I had these breadcrumbed and fried mushroom cutlets that were DISGUSTING! Far too salty and the flavor was unbearable.



 As for dessert I had a little chocolate cupcake with peanut butter icing. It was moist and soft but
far too sweet (and I usually cannot get enough sugar) and there was this weird soy flavor again.
It did not satisfy my needs at all.
The whole thing lacked the richness that you would find in cream and eggs.

Looks are deceiving: this wasn't good, at all.
To sum up the first day:
I didn't really have any withdrawal symptons.
But all of the ready-made food tasted really unpleasant.
The food I prepared myself with fresh bread and vegetables on the other hand (the bagel) was delicious. So I guess, I'll try to cook more myself.
 I can tell you that, it will definitely cheaper.
for only a few tiny things (that pretty much all didn't taste good) I spent 23€.
That's ridiculous. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pasta with mushroom-whisky sauce ON FIRE!

The mushroom season is in full bloom, 
and I still haven't posted our favorite mushroom recipe of all time, yet. 
But this is about to change... 

Forest in Schorfheide/Barnim near Berlin - photo by Beau Lark

Wil and I came up with the idea to this recipe cause we wanted to do something different than just mushroom risotto. So we decided to make pasta with a delicious self-created mushroom sauce you cannot go wrong with. The top-components for cooking mushrooms are definitely rosemary, onions, pepper and (smoked wooly pig-)bacon, and guess what: you can find all of these in this wonderful dish! Plus cream, whisky (WHISKY!) and balsamico-date essence. 

Me and the Steinpilz (Porcini) - photo by Beau Lark

Our harvest: Chanterelles, Porcini, Slippery Jack and Bay Boletes

We picked the mushrooms ourselves (I even found a pretty neat looking porcini!), and took tomatoes and rosemary from our little vegetable garden. The wooly pig bacon was from a small local market and the balsamico-date essence was a gift my best friend Kirsten gave to me a while ago.

Cooking at Anna and Beau's - photo by Beau Lark

What you need for a maximum of 4 people:

500g pasta (fussili, penne...)
400-500g mushrooms (about 2 cups, or a small basket, e.g. chanterelles and/or porcinis)
200g-250g bacon cubes/bits (for example from happy wooly pigs...the smokier the better!)
200g cream
3-4 twigs of rosemary, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
(a handful cherry tomatos, halved)
3-4cl whisky (same as with the bacon: the smokier the better e.g. a nice Bourbon)
1 Tbsp balsamico-date essence
4 Tbsp parmesan, freshly grated 

Ceaning and cutting the mushrooms - photo by Beau Lark

Clean the mushrooms by brushing them gently to remove the dirt. Do not wash them! Otherwise they'll lose their aroma. If too big cut the mushrooms into slices or smaller pieces. 

Wil cutting wooly pig bacon - photo by Beau Lark

Fry the bacon in a pan until crisp, remove from pan and set aside. 
Sautee the onions and garlic in the remaining bacon fat until translucent and golden. 
 Add the bacon, mushrooms sautee all-together for a minute or two on medium heat. 

Right before the fire action - photo by Beau Lark

Turn up to maxium heat, add the whisky and carefully 
with a lighter or long match set the whisky on fire. 
Flambé until the fire goes off (after about a minute or so). 

Rosemary and tomatoes - photo by Beau Lark

Add cherry tomatoes and rosemary, let the sauce simmer for another two minutes. 
Add the cream and the balsamico-date essence. 
Let it reduce for a few minutes. 
In the meantime cook the  pasta in boiling water with salt until al dente 
(9-12 minutes, depending on what the packaging says). 
Season the sauce with pepper and salt, if required 
(careful, the bacon and parmesan are already salty).
Dish up the pasta and pour the mushroom whisky cream sauce over it. 
Sprinkle with parmesan. 



  • If you don not have balsamico-date essence, you can use a  plain balsamico essence or balsamico vinegar mixed with maple syrup, honey or brown sugar, instead. 
  • This sauce is also good with a nice piece of meat (deer or beef). 
  • I tried to write down the measurements as exact as possible, which isn't that easy, cause you can pretty much vary everything. Add more or less rosemary, garlic or balsamico-date essence, use more pasta, less mushrooms...whatever you want. It is really hard to ruin this one! 

Bon apetit.

Special thanks to Beau Lark for taking all these wonderful pictures I didn't take...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Homemade Nutella

Everyone who knows me, also knows that my chocolate-obsession
is rooted in a life long addiction to nutella.
Living in the GDR as a child, my Dad would sometimes buy forbidden products
from the capitalistic West as a special treat.
I learned at a very young age that Nutella has to be seen as a reward and special gift
for living in a communist prison.
And so my chocolate/nougat-obsession began...

I'm pretty picky about Nutella substitutes and plagiarism and never found an alternative chocolate spread that gets even close to the original.
That's why I was pretty sceptical about making Nutella style chocolate spread myself.
But the fact of doing it myself was pretty exciting,
even though it didn't turn out to be exactly like Nutella in the end.
This doesn't mean it was bad.
Just different...
I will definitely try making it again some time and vary a bit with the ingredients.

As it was my first time I pretty much followed the instructions and did it like this:


200g of hazelnuts 

until golden brown (don't burn them!)
Mix them in a blender until they turn to hazelnut butter. Be patient this will take a while!
It will look like nothing is happening but if you keep going  all of a sudden the mass will turn creamy and buttery!
In the meantime melt 

250g dark chocolate 

in a hot water bath, by putting the chocolate in a small saucepan/bowl that is sitting/swimming in a bigger bowl with hot simmering (not boiling!) water.
When the chocolate is melted add one  

can of sweetened condensed milk

Stir until even. I scraped out 

1 vanilla bean 
and added that to the chocolate mix, as well. Pour in the hazelnut butter and combine everything. You may wanna  

add some  hot milk (about 125ml, but you'll see how much you need),

as well, in order to liquify the spread and make it smoother and creamier.
Pour everything in a

preserving jar 

and let cool down to room temperature.


PS: I found the original recipe here.
Next time I will use a some milk cocolate, as well, and more hazelnuts.
I also will roast the hazelnuts longer.
I was just scared to burn them...But they could have spent a little longer in the pan.
Maybe some roasted almonds, as well.
Oh, and I will probably add some vanilla extract.
It's more intense than the vanilla bean which I can hardly taste...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Health Day!

Fall is approaching and with the constant change from warm and humid to cold and dry and back to warm and humid, Wil and I have been feeling quite a bit under the weather lately.
Our diet also hasn't been the lightest and healthiest, either. 
Therefore we decided to add a little bit unbearable lightness to our being (oh, how I hate this book!) and eat more fruits and veggies.
So my Sunday started with herbal tea and grapefruits, sprinkled with a tiny bit of sugar and cinnamon and ended with a refreshing cucumber salad. 
All I did was cutting the cucumber in really thin slices, adding some sherry vinegar, hibiscus salt, dried dill from our garden, olive oil and again, a tiny little bit of sugar.

Wil brought me the grapefruit to bed! It is sunday after all...

the little red things are from the hibiscus salt..dried hibiscus...
What you don't see is the giant bowl of pasta I ate for lunch. 
But that was totally reasonable!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Königsberger Klopse or meatballs in white sauce with capers...

Königsberger Klopse is a Prussian specialty and one of Berlin's national dishes. 
It's meatballs served in a creamy white sauce with capers and usually potatoes on the side, 
and every kid loves them. Except for the capers, maybe. 
But kids can just pick them out of the sauce. I did that, too when I was little.  

Anyway not only being a Berliner, but also having some Prussian blood running through my veins, 
I decided to  introduce my non-German friends to this wonderful meal of my and a lot of German's childhood.
There is some "rules" about how to make proper Königsberger Klopse, though. 
One would think it's adding simply adding capers. 
No, that's far too easy! Let's just take this for granted. 
The rules I'm talking about are a little more subtle and not that obvious at first sight.
I have to admit I never really made Königsberger Klopse myself and do not even know if I have ever eaten the original version. I don't even think there is THE original version to it. But two things seem to be quite important: The original is made with ground veil and anchovy
I think no one I know, including my parents or grandparents, ever made them with ground veil. 
I'm not sure of they added anchovy, either. 
Since I cannot afford a baby these days I decided to stick with what I'm familiar with when making meatballs, which is a mix of ground beef and pork. 
I was curious about adding anchovy to the ground meat mass, though. 
Therefore I decided to at least try this.
And hell, were they delicious!
You really won't taste anything fishy. 
I don't think I would like that.
We still have plenty of leftovers for tomorrow, as well...

Here's what you need for the meatballs:

500-600g mix of gound beef and pork, or the gourmet version: ground veil
2-2.5 anchovy filets
1.5 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 onion finely copped
1 tbsp butter
1 stale bun
1 tsp mustard
one egg

For the sauce:

600ml of beef broth
2 bay leaves
3 black peppercorns
1 tbsp lemon juice
2Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp butter
200g cream
3 Tbsp of capers (small, pickled with pickle juice...)

Starting with the meatballs, you soak the stale bun in water until soft and fully soaked, 
then press out the surplus water.
In a pan melt butter and sauté the finely chopped onion until translucent. 
Finely chop the anchovy filets. 
In a bowl mix ground meat, anchovy filets, soaked bun, egg, mustard, lemon juice, onion, salt and pepper and knead everything with your hands until even.
 Form golf ball sized meatballs from the mix.

meatballs simmering in beef broth with bay leaves, lemon juice and pepper corns

In a wide saucepan heat up the beef broth and add lemon juice, bay leaves and peppercorns.
Carefully place the meatballs in the saucepan. 
The broth should not boil. Otherwise the meatballs might fall apart. 
Cover with a lid and let simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove the meatballs from the broth and toss the bay leaves.
In a separate pan melt butter. Stir in the flour. 
It will be all crumbly and might look weird. 
But everything is ok. That's how you make a roux!
Now slowly whisk in the broth. 
Don't pour in everything at once and stir really well after every step, 
so lumps dissolve and the sauce gets even.
Add the cream and let the sauce boil slightly for another 10 minutes.
Now add the capers and their pickle juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
The sauce should be creamy and thicker. But if you think it's still too thick, mix more broth or water in it.
Add the meatballs to the caper sauce and heat everything up, in case you need to reheat the meatballs.

Serve with potatoes!

PS: You have to add capers.
Otherwise it won't taste as good.
They and the juice add a very unique flavour and nice acidity to the sauce.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Third Wave and Stumptown’s Coffee

My latest blogpost for White Line Hotels about Stumptown Coffee Roasters and 
the Third Wave of coffee is online!

Thanks to Andrew Schmuely (the self-confessed coffee nerd) for explaining this new world to me!

read the full article here!