Samstag, Dezember 31, 2011

Happy New Year

This year has rushed so fast by -I cannot believe it already is the last day of the year.
In Swabia, we love our bakeries and varieties of bread, rolls and cakes. And the days before New Year is the season  when bakeries sell something really traditional : Neujahrsbrezeln.  They look somewhat like gigantic Brezels but they taste completely different to normal brezels and have no salt on it.
The dough is a yeast dough  similar to the one for Hefezopf and is slightly sweet, not salty and you can enjoy it with some butter. In the old days every family made their own Neujahrsbrezeln, but nowadays people buy it a their bakery or if they are "Reingeschmeckte" (people not born in Swabia) they often don't even know about this custom  For me the smell and taste of Neujahrsbrezeln is a taste of my childhood.
Today I remember how I loved making New Year's Brezels with my Mum so I decided to have a go at making some with my little princess. I have to admit that I am not on friendly terms regarding yeast dough as it seems to have a mind on its own and never looks like I want it to look and I am always afraid it might turn out really dry .
Actually it was really easy and plaiting the New Year's Brezel was fun. We started in the middle and I did one side and Little Princess did the other side.
Even though it doesn't look perfect at all we were really proud of our first Neujahrsbrezeln . My Neujahrsbrezel actually is a bit on the small side because I don't want to eat the same Brezel for days(like we had  to in our childhood) so I only used 500 gram of flour instead of a whole kilo and went for three little ones instead of just one gigantic one.
So with the sweet smell of childhood baking wafting through our flat I am wishing you a Happy New Year-may it bring you peace and happiness and lots of culinary adventures.

Sonntag, Dezember 25, 2011

Best Christmas gift ever

This year I  got the best Christmas gift ever. Some days ago a huge blue parcel with stars arrived from this years Nekobento Secret Santa. I had been waiting for that parcel for days. So there it was sitting on my table. what a big parcel what might be in it? And isn't that already such a pretty parcel from the outside-oh I wonder what wonders it might hold on the inside. No,it can't be-it was  like the parcel was  whispering, no more like shouting to me "open me at once, open me, come on open me". Days passed and day by day we kept coming back behold the beauty of that parcel.
Just when we couldn't possibly wait any longer Christmas arrived and you should have seen us rushing  to that parcel. I was so anxious: will I like it?Will there be nice card or letter? Will it be wrapped with tissue paper or with gift paper? Has everything arrived safe or is it all broken?
So when all the rush and excitement had cooled down there we were standing right in front of the parcel and suddenly I was anxious to make the first step and open it. Would I like it?
Oh, my God it turned out to be the best Christmas gift and parcel I ever got. My secret Santa fryda has gone out of her way to pack zillions of cute nice individually wrapped tiny parcels and to nice cards as well. We were "oh" and "ahh" the whole time because one was better than the other and we couldn't believe how lucky we were.Thank you so much fryda, it is the best Christmas gift I ever got and I really appreciate all the love and time that has gone into it. I don't know how she did it, but she got me just the most amazing parcel with lots of homemade stuff:

I never have tried Matcha before, but was really keen on it so fryda made me some Matcha truffles-don't they lool gorgous? I just love that colour. But there was even more Matcha for me: a homemade Matcha cookie baking mix along with a card with a detailed recipe, some Matcha powder to taste, seeds for Shiso and Mitsuba (as I love gardening and cannot get fresh Shiso or Mitsuba here), Anko(always wanted to try that), homemade peanut curry furikake( we got two jars but we already munched away on of them-absolutely delicious, I need to get that recipe and make some more), Scottish biscuits and English tea as I am so homesick for England and enjoy a good cup of tea and as I am absolutely crazy about chestnuts fryda made me some chestnut cream. But one of the first things we opened was the surprise parcel for my Little One: fyrda got her the ultimate Xmas gift: her very own first bento box. You should have seen her face. The happiest little princess ever. she is so proud to finally have a bento box as well.
So by now you certainly agree: I have got the best Secret Santa ever. Thanks fryda so much.
And go check out her lovely blog

Donnerstag, Dezember 15, 2011

Post from Casabento

Actually I still have countless pictures of bento gear I got during the last two years that  I want to share with you. But I think I will start with the most recent one. As I have never ordered from Casa&Bento before  I was a bit anxious how it would work out. It worked out all fine, everything was neatly packed.
Here are some sneak views of the parcel. I will post some more detailed photos after Xmas as the parcel also contained a Xmas gift for Little Princess and a gift item for this year's Secret Santa at nekobento. So I still have to keep some things secret.

Busy weeks running up to Xmas

 November and December have been passing so fast, I don't know where all the time has gone. I have been so busy at uni and at work that I have resorted to cooking large quantities of food and freezing them.
When I am stressed and tired and cold nothing works better magic than heating up some home cooked soup.
This autumn and winter I have gone through some soup crazes: first it was pumpkin and carrot soup, than some hearty potato soup and for the two last weeks I have been crazy about chestnut soup.
The picture of the Xmas cookies above actually dates from November. I have been so busy this month that I outsourced all the other Xmas cookie baking to my sister. She and Little Princess have become some Xmas cookies baking champions- and I get to enjoy the Xmas cookies without any stress.
Actually, I was wondering what your favourite dish is for the cold season? And have you incorporated winter dishes and winter vegetables such as parsnips, cabbage, chestnuts,...into your bento? I am still looking for some inspiration on how to do that.

Cupcake dream in pink

So back in November I was the lucky winner of A76's Giveaway and I still haven't shown you what actually was in that parcel. And A76 even added two extras for my little princess. Little princess and me where overwhelmed, so much pink and girly stuff. A big thanks to A 76.

Mittwoch, November 09, 2011

cold November days and cupecake giveaway

So what is inside?

Up to today we had a wondeful warm golden autumn.But today November showed its true clours: a foggy and grey day and so chilly that I regretted not wearing any gloves. So it hasn't been a particulary great day. But something cheered me up anyway. I am the locky winner of A76's Cupcake Giveaway. Normally I am not the lucky type and never win anything. But this time I did. Yeah! A big thanks to the generous A76. She is so generous thaton her own birthday instead of getting gifts she  had this great giveaway for her followers.
The giveaway prizes look really pretty on her blog and me and my little princess have been anxiously waiting the last cpuple of days for the parcel to arrive. And guess what, just when I wanted to leave to pick up my little one the post guy came and brought a tiny parcel. It was already getting dark so the picture isn't really good. My little princess went Laterne laufen today and strictly told me not to open the parcel till tomorrow.
I am not good at waiting, especially as A76 told me that she added some small extras when for Little Princess. So I guess you have to be patient like me and wait till tomorrow for pics from what was inside the parcel.
So whar was inside? Find out here:

Samstag, November 05, 2011

Comfort food: pumpkin soup with ginger

I just love pumpkins. And when it is cold and miserable outside and I had a stressful week I crave comfort food. And what is better than a bowl of steaming warm soup.
My week was hectic, my little one wasill and I haven't been for groceries yet. So it's a typical let's improvise with what we got- and 'please, I need some comfort food' day.
When I opened the fridge there was half a butternut pumpkin from my garden, loads of carrots and some garlic bread. So I opted for one of my favourites in this time of the year pumpkin soup with ginger.I usually just use pumpkin without adding carrots,but as we had loads of carrots I just changed it. That is what I love about this soup- it is very versatile.When it is grey and cold outside this soup makes me feel warm and cosy.

You need :
pumpkin ( I love Butternut or Hokkaido for soups)
onion cut in small dices
garlic sliced
fresh ginger peeled and grated
some olive oil
organic vegetable broth
double cream

If you are not using a Hokkaido cut the pumpkin into quarters, cut off the skin and use a table spoon to remove the pumpkin  seeds. Cup the pumpkin into small chunks.

Gently brown the onion and garlic in a saucepan. Add the pumpkin, water, vegetable broth, salt and grated gingr and cover with a lid.

When the pumpkin  is done puree it with a  blender.Add the cream and season according to taste.

What makes this soup so special  and warming is the ginger without it it would be just like any other pumpkin soup-so use some good fresh one and not the powdered one.
And then there is the  little extra you add right at the end. I personally love adding just a drop of Orange Flower Water, be careful not too add too much as it is very strong in flavour. In summer I love adding  some basil pesto instead and in winter I love adding  pumpkin seed oil instead. You even could add some orange juice . This soup always makes me smile no matter how busy my day has been. Perfect for cold foogy November days.

Sonntag, August 21, 2011

Sommerwichteln-Update: Secret Santa gifts finally revealed

As everyone has got their Secret Santa gifts I can reveal what I got for Nini:
My favourite box from Bento&Co-I love its traditional and elegant style, some bamboo picks and mix of blueberry and leaf picks, some matching red and black silcone cups for the box, Furikake, a purple silicone cup and a sakura cutter and finally some seeds for Chinese Chives and Oriental Greens.Nini had said that she likes traditional bento and not kawaii stuff, that she loves purple and from her blog I know that she loves growing edible flowers in her litle garden for her bentos.
It was so much fun being a Secret Santa, spying what she might like and getting the gifts for her.
I was so nervous whether she would like her Secret Santa gifts-but I can be relieved-she blogged about it and already has used her new box.
You can check out her report and some pics of  my Secret Santa on her blog Secret Santa for Nini .

Montag, August 15, 2011

Sommerwichteln-Summer Secret Santa Part II

I was so excited waiting for my Summer Santa parcel to arrive.We started posting our parcels on Monday and guess what on Tuesday mine was already there!  I was really lucky to be the first one to get my Secret Summer  parcel. My Secret Santa Leiya and the Deutsche Post were really fast.
Hmmm, it was really light and when I shook I heard things falling from one side to the other. I couldn't wait and opened it and there was a lot of kitchen towel paper.

But finally I retrieved my gifts and a small note from my Secret Santa Leiya:

I have been wanting to have some cooking chopsticks for ages. And Lea and me munched the Almond Chocolade Pepero straight away.

Freitag, Juli 08, 2011

Bento #02: Beginnings beginnings

You might wonder at the title. It is not that I am entirely new to bentos. By now I have accumulated quite a bit of bento treasures. But so far I have been lacking  the discipline to make time for taking pictures and uploading them instead of hurrying  off to uni or munching away the bento straightaway.
I just love the colours of bento cups. And the cute sauce cups and food picks the vibrant colour of my  pink Circle bento box or the elegance and quality of my Oyju box. Even though I don't get to prepare bentos as often yet as I would like to, just looking at my treasures all carefully laid out on a extra self I cannot help but smile and feel a maternal like affection for my bento stuff. It is crazy isn't it?  You might want to come along watching how my bento gear obsession grows even worse :-) And maybe you will follow me as I make my first steps in the great world of bento, moving away from the last minute left over noodle bentos to an exciting world of new flavours and textures.

Bento #01: Lazy leftovers

This isn't really my first ever bento, but one the first ones I took a picture of.
So here is a typical last minute leftovers bento. I used left over pasta to make a quick improvised Mediterranean  pasta salad with red and yellow cherry tomatoes, mini mozzerella, basil  and fried yellow courgettes from my garden.
I just love those yellow courgettes, their bright yellow for me just epitomises summer. This summer once again I am experiencing a true courgette harvest flood. One of my favourite recipes for courgettes is to make courgette "Pfannkuchen". They are somewhat more substantial than the light French crepes using more egg but without  any baking soda that American pancakes do. They look really pretty when you use lots of grated green courgette, a generous amount of herbs de Provence and some fresh basil adding it withto the dough. Next time I make them I will take a picture for you. Plus they really taste good  eaten cold straight out of the bento box.
As there is no end of courgettes in sight do you have an creative idea how to use courgettes for bentos?