Sunday, August 23, 2015

European money is interesting!

When I was growing up in Germany, I loved collecting coins from nearby countries that we visited, such as French Francs, Italian Lira, etc. The “Euro” replaced Deutsche Marks and many other European  currencies, but there are still unique bills and coins to be found! The Euro and the US Dollar are not exactly 1:1, but  fairly close. Some of the coins have unique reverse sides with distinguishing information from countries within the European Union. 

Our first trip outside of Euro-currency countries was to the Czech Republic. This $100 Koruna note is worth about $4. The coins are interesting and beautiful! It was slightly challenging to do the mental math for conversion; 25 Koruna are about $1, and the silverware set that Jeff admired was $4,000 (there were so many zeros on the price tag in Korunas I thought it was a bar code number). OK, no new silverware for us today!

Our next trip to Switzerland introduced us to colorful Swiss Francs and pretty coins. The Swiss Franc, the Euro, and the USD, are not that far apart in value, though they are not exactly equivalent. We had to buy a windshield sticker upon entering Switzerland, instead of paying a toll every so many miles on highways, but the roads we travelled on were very well maintained!
Just for you, we will continue to travel, collect interesting coins, and post here!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Cold Cucumber Soup

The first time I had gazpacho (cold vegetable soup) in Spain, I was amazed by the amount of garlic in it! I typically feel too lazy to chop up so many fresh vegetables for home-made gazpacho, but I enjoy ordering cold soups in restaurants- especially cold fruit soups.

I’ve been on a cucumber kick since moving to Germany, especially since cold sliced cucumber salad is readily available in several grocery stores. It’s been so hot recently, and as we are missing our former air-conditioned home, I’ve been thinking of cold foods to have for dinner. This recipe is modified from the many-ingredient version in “New Basics Cookbook”.
Guess where? A German chocolate bar to the first person to comment on this location.
Peel one large cucumber or several smaller cucumbers, and cut into 1 inch slices. Place in a blender along with 2 cups plain low-fat yogurt and 1 cup chicken stock. If you like garlic, I encourage you to run one clove of raw garlic through a garlic press before blending! Our new German blender is excellent, but doesn’t pulverize things like our Vitamix (in storage) did. My mouthful of garlic alerts you to not put a whole raw clove into your blender! A few twists of pepper before blending is also welcome, to taste. Next time I will make every effort to roast a head of garlic and use one clove of roasted garlic in this soup. Chill and serve (2 bowls worth).
In an update to this brownie cheesecake cupcake recipe, I planned to make it again today, but discovered that I had previously purchased a large (“family size”) box of brownies for a 9x13 pan. I decided to go ahead with the recipe in a 9x13 pan, and wanted to let you know how it worked out. The original recipe for a round springform pan called for 2 packages of cream cheese. I had hand-written (years ago!), that a thin layer of cheesecake was fine with 2 packages, but if you want a thick layer of cheesecake over the brownies, increase the recipe proportionately to 3 packages of cream cheese. I stuck with 2 this time. I sprinkled mini chocolate chips on top of the cheesecake but did not melt and stir them because the layer of raw cheesecake batter was fairly thin and the brownies had not completely baked through. Next time I will stir the mini chocolate chips (without melting them) into the batter, because sprinkled on top, many stuck to the knife when I was cutting the brownies. Modifications to previous recipe with larger pan:

Increase baking time to 20 minutes for the brownies, and 20 minutes more for the cheesecake.