Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Flower power

Things around here have been gloomy, very gloomy.  I'm usually one to try to keep my head up and I believe in the power of positive thinking, but, goodness gracious, has it been gray and depressing around here.  Spring feels like it's a million miles away and I just want it to hurry up and get here already! 

Okay, okay...enough of my complaining.  On to cheerier things...

To combat my heavy case of the winter blues, I have been surrounding myself with flowers and plants, preferably ones in happy colors, like the bright red roses above.  This poppy-red is my favorite color right now, so when I found these roses at the grocery store for just 3.99, I scooped them up immediately.  I've put them on my coffee table, my bedside table and in the bathroom.  I am hoping that seeing them a thousand times a day will counteract the dark clouds that just won't seem to go away.  

The other pretty plants here include cream tulips, a pretty bouquet from my love and herbs that we are growing in the windowsill of our kitchen.  I hope they brighten your mood, too!  

Happy Hump Day!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Food on Friday: Ginger, lime and honey tea

I'm a sucker for a good cup of tea.  More so than coffee, tea is my comfort drink of choice.  I like coffee, but I like it in a very specific way (in a large mug, in my pajamas on a lazy Sunday) and find that just about any other time I drink it, it is more for the caffeine boost than for the enjoyment of it.

But tea...warm, soothing and versatile tea is comfort to my soul just about any time of any day.  In the morning, you can have it black and strong.  In the afternoon, you can get a little pick me up--one that won't keep you up until 2 am--with a little jasmine green.  Take the herbal route in the evening to put you to sleep and throw a nice fruit flavored tea in there from time to time.

My current favorite (read: obsession) is ginger, lime and honey tea.  I first tried this freshly made from a cafe here in Nuremberg.  While ginger and lemon is a very common (and a bit boring) combination, lime and ginger don't show up together quite so often.  The lime is a fantastic (and a bit sweeter, fresher) compliment to the ginger.  Adding just a bit of honey balances the two intense flavors.



Fresh ginger
Fresh lime


Fill a sauce pan with about 1/2 a liter of water.  Slice 1 1/2 inches of fresh ginger and put in pan.  Bring water to a boil then turn down to low.  Let simmer for 10-20 minutes (depending on how strong you like your ginger taste to be).  Taste it after 10 minutes, then every few minutes after until you reach your desired strength.

Add the juice of about a 1/4 of a lime.  I always add a little at a time and taste it along the way.  You want the lime to enhance the taste of the ginger, not cover it up.  Add honey a teaspoon at a time until you reach desired sweetness.


TIP:  I think this would also made a delicious cold tea.  I plan on making it two ways over the summer.  First, I will serve it as is, but chilled.  Second, I will make a concentrate of it (using the same ingredients but less water), chill it and then top it off with sparkling water for a refreshing and healthy "soda."


I hope you have a fantastic weekend!  It will be cooooold here, so I will be needing a lot of this warming tea.  Have fun and I hope you stay a bit warmer than we are here!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Artwork update: bedroom

Yesterday was my day off, so I spent most of the day tearing the bedroom apart, hammering into the walls, and creating pieces of art to hang on my walls.  

The typographical piece, I made myself using a song lyric that always makes me think of Peter.  I found the ballet poster on Pinterest and printed it and painted the colorful 'modern' piece above the center of the bed.  I also printed the flowers off the internet.  Cheap and easy art.  

I am not 100% satisfied with the artwork on the right side of the bed, however.  I hung and rehung (and hammered about 60 different holes in the wall--shh...don't tell Peter) but can't seem to get it just right with what we already have.  I plan on stopping by the thrift store today or tomorrow to find some more frames or maybe even some pretty artwork.  One thing I do love is the print in the black frame.  The frame is too big for it, so I will need a new one, but the print is from our summer house in Michigan.  It is a vintage print of the lake where we stay every summer (and my favorite place in the world).  It totally makes me happy to see it every day! 

What do you think?  Any advice for the right side?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Food on Friday: Joy the Baker's Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Scones

A few weekends ago on a cold and gloomy Sunday morning, I got out of bed early--and by early, I mean 9:30--put on my coziest sweater and mixed the dough for these amazing scones.  

As soon as I had finished cracking eggs, measuring salt and baking soda and kneading, I ran back upstairs to warm my toesies under the covers and cuddle until they were golden brown. 

Normally, we have four standard weekend breakfasts: 

1. scrambled eggs (always with red bell pepper, onion, garlic and feta)

2. french toast (with syrup for him and powdered sugar for me)

3. pancakes (blueberry)  

4. German breakfast (cheese, salami, jams, rolls and a perfectly soft boiled egg)

We always take our time and use the hour or two to chat and slow down after a stressful work week. But, the rotating four just sounded a little boring this time.   When I saw these Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Skillet Scones on Joy the Baker's blog, I knew these were going to get us out of the breakfast rut. 

And boy did they.  Coming out of the oven, these scones were possibly the most beautiful dish of food I have ever seen.  I didn't even want to eat them they were so perfectly brown and delightfully textured, with speckles of freshly cracked pepper dotting the top.  Believe me when I say they tasted as good as they looked and were dense and exploding with flavor. We slathered ours in butter (because butter makes everything better) and accompanied them with a soft boiled egg.  

It was the perfect Sunday morning--the kind of Sunday morning for flickering candle light, listening to Ray LaMontagne and wrapping your cold hands around a giant mug of coffee to warm them.  We sat at the table for a long time, eating buttered pieces of scone and talking about everything and nothing at the same time.  And, suddenly, all the coldness was gone and only scones and love remained.  

Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Skillet Scones
by Joy the Baker

(I didn't use a skillet because we don't have one.  I used a pie plate instead and it worked great!)

makes 8 servings

adapted from Simply Recipes

4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (
*500-530 grams)
1 tablespoon sugar (*15 grams)
1 teaspoon salt (
*6 grams)
1 teaspoon baking soda (
*5 grams)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes (
*56 grams)
1 large egg, beaten
1 3/4 cup buttermilk, cold (
*414 ml)
1 cup coarsely chopped roasted red peppers* (I used store bought peppers instead of making my own)
heaping 1/2 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

*If you’re starting with fresh red bell pepper, it will need to be roasted and toasted first.  Turn a gas stovetop burner on to medium heat.  Place the entire pepper directly over the flame and allow to rest there until blackened and charred.  Use a pair of tongs to flip the pepper so that it can be browned on all sides.  Remove from the flame, cut in half (removing the top and seeds) and use a sharp knife to gently peel away the charred skin.  You can leave a bit of the charred skin in tact for a rustic look and taste.  Coarsely chop the pepper and set aside.
Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Grease a large (9 or 10-inch) cast iron skillet with either olive oil or vegetable shortening and set aside.  Alternately you can use a greased round cake pan if your don’t have a cast iron skillet.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
Add the cold butter and, using your fingers, quickly break the butter down into the dry ingredients.  Some bits of butter will be the size of small peas, others the size of oat flakes.
In a small bowl, beat together egg and buttermilk.
Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir with a wooden spoon, working to moisten every bit of flour with the buttermilk mixture.  Before the mixture is entirely incorporated, add red pepper, feta cheese, and basil.  Dump mixture out onto a clean work surface and gently knead together.  If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour.  The dough should be moist but still shaggy.  Gather into a 1 1/2-inch thick about 8-inch round.  The dough will be shaggy, that’s better than over-kneading the dough.
Transfer dough to prepared pan.  Use a serrated knife to mark an inch deep X into the dough.  Brush generously with buttermilk and top with cracked black peppercorns.  Place in the oven and allow to bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the top is a deep golden color and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  If you’re using a regular cake pan instead of cast iron, check the scones after 30 minutes.

Let bread rest in the pan for 10 minutes before removing.  Serve warm.  This bread is best served straight from the oven or warm.  It is best the day it is made.

* Metric units are approximate.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Project 111

# 37 - Hauptbahnhof

# 37 - Hauptbahnhof

# 37 - Hauptbahnhof
# 37 - Hauptbahnhof

At the beginning of the year, my friend Nicole and I made a resolution to get to know our city a little bit better.  She received a book for Christmas about 111 things to see in Nuremberg and, feeling like there were still huge parts of the city yet to be discovered, we decided to see all 111 of them in 2013.  We're calling it Project 111 and we are about 8 things in.  We haven't done much so far, but boy are we committed.  (I even went out last night 'on a school night' to meet Nicole at the museum!  What a big deal for me!)

Over the next few months, I will periodically be posting our progress and updating you on the things we have seen and done so far.  Next up on our list? The Zeitungs-Café!

# 56 - Kunstautomat Sterngasse
# 56 - Kunstautomat Sterngasse

# 74 - Offene Kirche St. Klara

Not on the list, but certainly a fun thing to see here!

# 74 - Offene Kirche St. Klara

# 74 - Offene Kirche St. Klara

# 62 - Lorenzkirche

# 110 - Wunschring am Schönen Brunnen

Friday, February 1, 2013

Food on Friday: Carrot cupcakes with maple-cream cheese frosting

Peter had his birthday this week and I, being the phenomenal girlfriend that I am, made these cupcakes for him.  I chose carrot because it is one of my favorite types of cake (and is really hard to find here in Germany) and made this particular recipe because of the maple frosting and great reviews.  Peter is obsessed with maple syrup and so I figured he would love these and he certainly did.  Even some of the guys at work thought they were fantastic!  

This is a really great carrot cake recipe.  These were incredibly moist and carroty, without being too sweet (I used less sugar than the original recipe called for) and I loved the fresh ginger in them.  The only problem I had with the frosting was that mine was a little too runny and didn't give me a pretty whipped finish on my cupcakes.  It tasted fantastic, though, and Peter said it was the best frosting I had ever made.  

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted slightly from Bon Appétit, September 1999 (via Epicurious)


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (I like the woodsy taste this gives baked good, but you can use all canola oil instead if you prefer)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups grated peeled carrots
  • 2/3 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup rasins or sultanas 
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger


  • 10 ounces cream cheese (such as Philadelphia), room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup


Preheat oven to 350°F. 

For a cake: 
Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans. Line bottom of pans with waxed paper. Butter and flour paper; tap out excess flour. 

For cupcakes: 
Place paper liners in a muffin tin.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and ginger. Divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake 40 minutes for two cakes and about 30-35 minutes for cupcakes, until tester inserted into center comes out clean.  (I kept a close eye on my cupcakes since the recipe was for cakes.) Cool in pans 15 minutes.  Ice. 

For the icing:
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat at low speed until well blended. Beat in maple syrup. Chill until just firm enough to spread, 30 minutes.