Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Sqash goes well with cranberries

I had a bit of butternut squash left in the fridge and today I used up in this nice and spicy tagine:


The recipe was taken from the BBC Good Food webpage (pumpkin, cranberry & red onion tagine) with minor adjustments. As I said, I used butternut squash instead of pumpkin and agave syrup instead of honey. I also didn't have harissa paste in the house, so I used some red Thai curry paste :)
A very yummy result.
The BBC webpage really has a nice collection of recipes, well worth browsing through them on a rainy day. You might for example want to look through their vegan Christmas recipes :)
 It's a pity they do not publish the BBC Vegetarian Food magazine anymore. I absolutely adored that magazine :) but then the online option is not bad either.

Birthday Joys

Yesterday I had a day full of surprises. The kids planned the day for me, and it started nicely with a pumpkin pie (slightly deformed, since their pie shell was way to big for their pie), full of spices and love. C and L made their first pumpkin pie ever, and without any tools for baking this must have been a really difficult enterprise. But they managed to make a nice smiling face on top of it :D
I really liked the filling which was rich in spices and had even a chocolatly touch :) and who judges by looks, certainly not me.


Then we headed towards Frankfurt and went straight to the Old Opera House.

Here you can see some Christmas decoration in front of the Opera:

and this is the building itself:

I then had the pleasure of being treated to a piano concerto by four students of Lev Natochenny. The just 17 year old Nuron Mukumiy was outstanding. I hope I will have the chance to hear him again.
The small Mozart hall was quite plain, but the grand piano was beautiful :)

After the concert we had dinner at a vegetarian Indian restaurant and I received the next sweet surprise. P and B donned their apron and made some vegan Simon's-cat cookies for me :D
Thank you all for preparing such a wonderful day! I utterly enjoyed it :D

Monday, November 25, 2013

Savoury Sweet Potato Pie

The first snowflakes officially herald the advent of oven-baked food in our home, like this sweet potato pie:

The recipe is based on one which I posted here a while ago as potato-mash quiche. This time I used a 1-2 shortcrust pastry (1 part non-hydrogenated margarine, 2 parts flour and of course some salt, turmeric and ice-water) and the filling base consisted of half sweet potatoes and half floury normal potatoes. The added vegetables were golden ball turnips, carrots and pointed cabbage. Add some chili flakes for extra spice and enjoy :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christmas time is drawing close

Today the garden nursery Huben in Ladenburg, not far from our home, held a pre-Advent event. Mainly to sell their wreaths and other deco for the Christmas tides. We didn't expect the crowd that was there, they had to set up people to control the parking and their even was a doorman who made people wait at the entrance of the glasshouse where the main exhibition was held. Thus, long queues were waiting patiently in front of it.

For the children there was a roundabout and some, unimpressed by all the people, sheep wagging their tails at us.

Outside you could have a look at their ponds, morbid and beautiful with fallen leaves, instead of rustling on the soil, now rotting slowly on top of the pool floor.

They also have a Zen garden which was quite nice, albeit a bit too much of an Asian mix :)

One of the most visited sites were of course the mulled wine and 'Bratwurst' (sausage) stands. Obviously the favourite Advent food for Germans.

At some point we fled the crowded nursery and headed for a more quiet place, the Roman villa in Hirschberg:
This is the little byway to the little temple they had on their estate:

It got quite late or rather it is getting dark quite early, anyway, on our way back we saw the first public Christmas decoration in Schriesheim. It's not even the first Sunday of Advent! Still, it had a nice and cozy ambiance :) and gave, together with some tapas in our Kaffeehaus, a nice finishing touch to the day :D

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween 2013

What better to read on Hallow's Eve than a story about the dead or rather the dead who came to life again. Yes, I'm talking about Frankenstein. But not Mary Shelley's novel is what I read, but the play based on her novel and adapted for the stage: Nick Dear's Frankenstein (2011).

I saw the play at the National Theatre in London in 2011 - no, not with Benedict Cumberbatch, he was ill that day, but with an equally superb cast. That's when I bought the book and really enjoyed it. So I read it again (a mere 80 pages, perfect for this special evening). Maybe you want to read it for next year's Halloween. And, just maybe the National Theatre will have their DVD released by then, by all means watch that, too :)


Monday, October 28, 2013

Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

Sometimes the horizon seems a bit hazy

Lake District, England

and at other times your path seems crystal clear

Dubai, UAE
I'm reaching out to new horizons
... and am back blogging :D

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Christmas Market in Karlsruhe

Some impressions from the Christmas Market in Karlsruhe (Christkindlesmarkt):

The ice rink:

The big Christmas windmill near the shopping centre:

Christmas stars:

Loads of people drinking mulled wine:

And my friend T brought me a birthday gift: vegan cookies and look closely at that cookie cutter! Yup it's a camel :))

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Exhibition in Frankfurt: Queens of the Merovingians

Last week I was in Frankfurt to see the Exhibition about the Queens of the Merovingians. To not bore you too much, I will put information about the exhibition on my archaeology blog here.

The museum itself is quite nicely placed in the old Carmelite cloister and lapidarium. An additional extension from the 1980s adds space for administrational and functional areas.
I didn't have time to explore Frankfurt in depth but what I saw from walking from the train station to the museum was not exactly overwhelming; even the cathedral was very plain and unimpressive.
This is the Ratskeller, a restaurant within the 'Römer' (name for the city hall):
Frankfurt cathedral, reconstructed in the 1950s after it had been almost completely been destroyed during WWII:
The most precious relic of the cathedral is the  skullcap of the apostle Bartholomew. The Bartholomew relief by Hans Mettel from 1957 on the northern wall of the cathedral probably depicts the flayed apostle:
A stained glass window in the cathedral:

A Gothic tomb slab, now set into the wall of the cathedral, showing the mayor of Frankfurt, John of Holzhausen († 1393) and his wife Guda Goldsteyn († 1371):


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Funny ads for the exhibition ‘World of the Celts’ in Stuttgart

The state museum of archaeology in Stuttgart is showing a special exhibition ‘The World of the Celts‘. You can go and see it until 17th of February next year.
On this occasion they published some funny videos. Although the Celtic warriors appear a tad too barbaric, the videos are quite some eye-catchers :)

Noch bis zum 17.02.2013 ist in Stuttgart die Ausstellung ‘Die Welt der Kelten” zu sehen.

Dazu wurden vom Landesmuseum einige witzige Videos gedreht. Auch wenn die armen keltischen Krieger dabei ein bißchen zu barbarisch abgeschnitten haben, ein Hingucker ist es allemal :)

Monday, November 05, 2012

Squash Ragout with potato-dumplings

After yesterdays ukiyo-e exhibition we were quite hungry and it was time to feed the lions (well only two of them, but they were hungry for three).

I had planned to test a recipe from a German so-called vegetarian magazine 'Vegetarisch Fit' (they publicise Parmesan which, in Europe is never ever vegetarian and other non-vegetarian cheeses - dumb people in the editorial department, I guess), but it contained so much half raw egg yolks (and raisins, imagine: raisins! I hate raisins!) that all I used were the main ingredients, i.e. squash, oyster mushrooms, and green onions.

Here is my recipe including a mobile cam pic (I know hideous, isn't it):

Squash Ragout with potato-dumplings
serves 3 persons


for the ragout

600 g squash (I used half butternut and half Hokkaido squash)
200 g oyster mushrooms
1 bunch green onions
2 cloves of garlic
2 sprigs rosemary
olive oil
400 ml vegetable broth
2 tablespoons grainy mustard (whole-grain mustard)
100 ml soy creme
salt, pepper, paprika

for the dumplings

potato dough, half&half (either store-bought or self made)

What to do

for the dumplings:

Prepare the dumplings according to your package or the according recipe in a large pot of boiling and salted water. Once they appear on the surface they are ready (ca. 20 min). If your timing was perfect add them to the ragout instantly, otherwise keep them warm in the oven till your ragout is finished.

for the ragout:

  • Peel and cut the squash into cubes (about 2-3 cm)
  • Clean the oyster mushrooms, remove tough stems and cut them about  three times across
  • Clean and wash the green onions and cut into large pieces.
  • Mince garlic and rosemary needles.
  • Heat the oil in a large pan and fry garlic and rosemary (smells lovely, doesn't it?)
  • Add the prepared vegetables and sauté for a couple of minutes.
  • Then add the vegetable broth, season with salt, pepper, and paprika and let simmer for about 15minutes.
  • Add the grainy mustard and soy creme, and check your seasoning.
  • Add the prepared dumplings and sprinkle with parsley.

'Early Ukiyo-e Masters' in the Völkerkundemuseum in Heidelberg

'Early Ukiyo-e Master' is an exhibition still running at the Völkerkunde Museum (ethnology museum) in Heidelberg. Since it was raining all day I thought it would be a nice alternative program for a sunday afternoon.
Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints; the name means 'pictures of the floating world'. A sixteen-foot long scroll from 868 AD is believed to be the oldest dated woodblock printing still in existence. The British Museum currently houses the scroll which was discovered in the early 20th century.
The exhibition in Heidelberg started with some early monochromatic woodblock prints from the first half of the 17th century. Unfortunately photography wasn't allowed and the ukiyo-e of the Heidelberg Collection are nowhere to find in the world wide web, some non-Heidelberg prints will have to do.
The first is an early monochromatic print (sumizuri-e) from an anonymous artist, c. 1625

They soon began to add paint by hand (benizuri-e):

Young girl as a komuso amid chrysanthemums, early 18th century
(c) British Museum (1924,0514,0.1)

And from here it was only a small step to make the first multiple-block print with a different colour for each block (nishiki-e), using three to four colours. The first full colour print was made by Suzuki Harunobu in 1765.

Autumn Moon at Ishiyama, 1854
(c) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (49.1226)

There were also beautiful prints of Kabuki actors like Ichikawa Ebizou II. Here is a benzuri-e similar to the one in the exhibition:

Kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizô II as Kagekiyo by Torii Kiyomasu II (benizuri-e, 1752)
(c) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (47.231)

Equally beautiful and obviously more precious (because they were behind glass) were some urushi-e which have nothing to do with urushi lacquer. In an urushi-e the ink was thickened with glue to embolden the image:

Okumura Toshinobu, 'Young Lovers by Mount Fuji', About 1720
wikipedia 'urushi-e'

By now you are probably as hungry as we were; so we went home and had a delicious squash ragout :)
To end a fine day we watched a movie, called 'Aftershock'.

It was filmed after a novel with the same title, written by Zhang Ling, a Chinese expat living in Canada and tells the story of the great earthquake in Tangshan in 1976. It did not so much concentrate on the earthquake itself than rather how it affected a family, ripped apart and suffering from the post-traumatic experiences they had to go through. Very touching stories. When If I can read actual Chinese, I will read this book for sure :))

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Today was kind of a strange day. We are living in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg (now can you pronounce this one *grin*), in a part that borders to another state of Germany. And today I had a holiday and M, who works only 20 km away (but in Hesse) had to go to work. No holiday and no free time for him. Bad for him but good for me :)
So I used my time to tend to my slipped disc (basically meaning, I slept long), made a brownie cake for M's birthday and also this wonderfully rich and smoky butternut squash soup which I will gladly share with you, since, although it might look like an ordinary sqash soup, is far from it.

And since it is nearly week-end, it is also time for souper sundays, my favourite food event. It is hosted by Deb from Kahakai Kitchen directly from paradise (i.e. Hawaii - that alone would make it my favourite event, but there are also lots of yummy soups and salads). Although I only infrequently pop in, (after all I'm not a food blog) you should seriously go and have a look at the round-ups. Lots of new ideas (not only) for soups. With winter coming, lots of hot soups are needed to survive the cold :)


Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

These are the ingredients you will need (the olive oil escaped the photo):

750 g butternut squash
fresh rosmary
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
1 litre vegetable stock
5 carrots
1 starchy potato
olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt, freshly ground pepper
soy creme
What do do:
Half the squash, peel, and scoop out seeds. Cut in slices and put on a baking tray with the rosmary needles and splash with olive oil. Bake for about 20 min at 180°C until the squash turns brownish at the corners.
Meanwhile sauté the chopped onion and minced garlic in some olive oil. When onions become translucent add diced potato and diced carrots as well as the smoky paprika. Let everything sweat for a while; then add the veggie stock and let simmer for about 10 min. Add the roasted butternut squash and simmer for a further 10 minutes. When everything is softened, turn off heat, add the soy creme and blend the soup in your blender or with the help of an immersion blender.
Serve with some some herbs and ideally with some croutons (forgot them though).
Tip: If you don't like it thick and creamy you might need to add some more veggie broth or some plant milk
I left it thick and creamy and served it with some spinach-and-blue-cheese filo pastries from an old BBC recipe (BBC Vegetarian Good Food magazine, November 1999).
It's got a nice filling with spinach, onions, garlic, oregano, dried apricots, and roasted pine nuts. Originally blue cheese was added, but I just left it out. You might add crumbled tofu with some spritz of lemon juice to make it more substantial.

After wrapping it in vegan filo pastry, I 'egg-washed' it with soy creme and sprinkled some sesame seeds on top of it. I'm not good at making nice parcels though; M said they look like unhappy fish :(
in any case ... a tasty unhappy fish :)


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Ray Bradbury's own oil painting of the Halloween Tree
source: from this webpage

Will be spending the evening reading Ray Bradbury's 'The Halloween Tree'!
Nice for archaeologists, since the children go on timetravel (from Ancient Egypt to the Medieval times) to find their mate who vanished on All Hallows' Eve :)


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Abu Dhabi - In the Desert

In the afternoon we went on a desert safari. Our tourguide was a bit grumpy and hardly talked at all; mostly just bellowing orders like: 'camel. 5 minutes. photos'
So this was the 5-minute-camel:

We then had some 'dune bashing' in other words you drive the dunes up and down and get car sick:

However, they didn't succed in getting us car sick enough; we were still able to admire the beauty of the desert:

Then Mr Grumpy dropped us off at a campsite: 'camel ride first' and left to do what Arabic men do in the desert (God Allah knows what). The camel ride was not what I would call a camel ride. It rather was a circus ride: ride your camel around a pole in a circle of 3 m in diameter.
The rest of the day was much more relaxed. My friend T got a henna tattoo:

We also had a nice decent Arabic dinner (although they didn't manage to get the barbecue going - not really a bother for a vegetarian though):
And we also had a Russian girl for belly dancing: