Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ceilings of Europe

Rest assured, the ceilings in the cute German house we are renting are standard/boring white popcorn (no photo). But ceilings from days of yore are a sight to behold! This is a café in Vienna- really!!! The one where I had a lemon tart.
One of the smaller rooms of the Belvedere Palace in Vienna:
The large room in the same Palace:
Next up = St. Petersburg, Russia! The “Swan Lake” ballet theater:
Museum of Russian Art:
Church on Spilled Blood (please note, these are ALL mosaics, made of bazillions of tiny chips of stone):
Dublin, Ireland- the “Riverdance” theater:
Whew, that's all for today!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Off the beaten path in France: Metz

Metz is 1.5 hours west of Kaiserslautern, and is worth the drive to see a walkable, historic French town. We drove in a small German car and were still nervous in the underground parking garage…and the small van ahead of us backed out of the tiny opening to the garage! But we fit in ok (barely), and escaped unscathed at the end.
The Cathedral is beautiful, including some modern stained glass windows and art work. There are plenty of restaurants and café’s ready with lots of delicious bread, dairy, and meat. We didn’t buy any clothes or shoes, but couldn’t resist chocolates (for gifts, of course!), and a natural health store had an amazing array of teas and oils.
The farmer’s market ended before 2pm, but the indoor vendors sold a wonderful assortment of cheeses, fish, home-made pasta, and more. We were greeted at the river walk by friendly swans, and ended the day on a sunny note.
Driving back to K-town, we used a restroom break as an excuse to stop at the Cora grocery store right at the border in Forbach, France, before Germany. The bathrooms were just passable, but the rest of the store was fabulous. I’ve never seen such an assortment of yogurts, and the free samples of pizza that were handed out were the best pizza ever (haven’t been to Italy since we moved here last year). The fruits and veggies need to be weighed before the cash register- the clerk shook her head that they cannot be weighed and paid for at the same time. The chestnut (maron) yogurt in a jar was outstanding and worth a return trip to Cora!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Vegetarian Lasagna (crock pot optional)

I tried some new ingredients and techniques, and two people asked for the recipe! I made one in a crock pot and put the exact same ingredients into a traditional baking dish. The only difference was I boiled the noodles for the regular 9x13 baking dish, but I put the noodles into the crock pot raw.
Cut off the top ¼ inch of a head of garlic, and place it on a piece of foil. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil onto the garlic, and fold up the edges of the foil around it. Gently squeeze the edges of the foil to seal loosely. Just stop reading here if you need exact details about quantities, because you are not going to get any. Put the foil-wrapped garlic into the oven with the veggies.
Chop up 2 zucchini, 2 summer squash (yellow crookneck), 6 or so tomatoes and one eggplant. I cut the squash in half length-wise, and then made about 1 inch slices. I cut the eggplant in half length-wise, then cut 4 or 5 slices in both directions, resulting in rectangular cubes. Place in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle rosemary, salt and pepper on top. Stir gently, then bake for about 30 minutes. I’m not sure about the exact temperature- my German oven was set to about 180. In the US, I would have set it to 350. I did take the dish out once to stir the veggies.
I had leeks on hand from our farm share, and sautéed them fairly finely chopped in olive oil and butter. I like them well done, so let them brown a bit. Add as many chopped mushrooms as you’d like. I cut up 200g, which was the package size I picked up in the store. Let the mushrooms soften, then commit a kitchen crime (?) by adding 2 cans of tomato paste, 2 envelopes of spaghetti sauce mix, and the amount of water called for on the envelope of sauce mix. Let it simmer for a few minutes, then add the roasted veggies to the sauce. You could keep the veggies separate from the sauce if you wanted to.
see note below

Squeeze out four or so large cloves of roasted garlic and smush them around in a bowl with a spatula until it is in a lumpy paste. Place a large container of part-skim ricotta cheese into the garlic bowl, and blend the cheese and the garlic. Next time I will probably use 6 cloves of garlic, but I didn’t want it to be too intense. Add shredded cheese of your choice. I used mozzarella and gouda, and didn’t measure the quantities. Probably at least a cup of each. Stir together.

Boil lasagna noodles (or don’t, if you are going to use a crock pot). Layer the tomato sauce/veggies, noodles, and cheese. Top with a bit of parmesan. Crock pot on low for 3-3.5 hours, oven for 30 minutes or longer if you refrigerate the pan overnight.

The last photo is of a fruit that did not go into the lasagna. I didn't cook with them, so there is no recipe for this blog. They are called "goldbeeren" in German, which means gold berries. They are eaten raw and though they look like yellow cherry tomatoes, they taste like limes! I cut them up and put them on a salad - we do that with grapes, so why not these interesting fruits?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Vienna, Austria: not at all off the beaten path

We drove from Salzburg to Vienna through glorious scenery and a bit of fog. Vienna is the kind of place where you are walking around after dinner and pass by a church with organ music coming out of the doors! We gazed at over done décor inside, while the thundering organ pipes washed the  music over us and up through the floor. Our first café after the concert had the very best apricot cheesecake with crumbles on top, but the cocoa was too sweet. #firstworldproblems
 We enjoyed the art museum, the “Kunsthistorischesmuseum”, though the paintings were not my favorite. There was an interesting coin collection, from the smallest chip of metal centuries ago to current commemorative coins and even a credit card! There were also amazing “household” wares on display, such as jewel encrusted cups and plates, and intricately carved metal clocks from days of old. That night another concert took place (well, there were dozens of concerts every night in Vienna!) at the Charles church, “Karlskirche”. An octet of strings played the top 10 of classical music, including Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and Vivaldi.
On our last day, we took a tram ride to the Belvedere Palace, where several Klimt paintings are housed, including “The Kiss”. Stay tuned for another post with photos of amazing European ceilings! We finally found a nice vegetarian restaurant with a spectacular buffet- even if you are not vegetarian, we recommend “Yamm” near Schottenring (Votivkirche Park). 
There was another wrap/bowl place in the 1st district where everything was vegetarian and you could add your protein of choice, but the atmosphere was very casual with loud rock music (!). After another long stroll in the rain, Jeff asked to go to Café Central, which is famous. The lemon tart was exquisite, and the piano player was on an American kick, such as “Moon River”. 
I'm pleased with the quality of photos taken with the iphone, and no longer lug around the huge "regular" camera.