Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sunday turkey cooking - the verdict

Well, last Sunday's cooking wasn't entirely a waste of time at least.  The turkey and orange pot came out very well.  The turkey wings were quite fatty though so when it was cooked, I fished them out of the pot and stripped the meat from the bones and just put that back into the pot.  There was a surprising amount of meat actually and I divided it up into four generous portions.  Three went straight into the freezer and one is in the fridge to be used up this week.  I didn't bother with the final step of topping it with bread yet, that can wait for when it's being heated up.  I'm not a big fan of soggy bread you see.

Unfortunately, the other dish was not as successful.  This is partly due to the fact that I think the method of cooking really was more suited to chicken breast than the tougher turkey legs.  Certainly what I reheated yesterday, where the turkey was a bit more submerged in the sauce while heating up, was less tough and stringy than the day before.  The legs were also very fatty so for storing for the leftovers I put the stuffed legs in one container and the sauce into another.  That meant that yesterday I could just remove the layer of fat on  top of the sauce and get rid of it and just enjoy the wonderfully gelatinous sauce that was left over.  This dish also wouldn't lend itself well to freezing so I'm just going to have to eat it all this week.  The third portion is heating up as I type.  In the end I was actually too lazy to cook either rice or pasta and I just had it with a couple of slices of bread, always nice for soaking up the last bits of sauce.  My big thumbs down for this recipe however, comes from the fact that it just didn't go together well.  The meat stuffed with creamcheese and kale is okay and the tomato and olive sauce is lovely.  But the two, in my opinion, just don't complement each other at all.  I felt like I was eating two separate meals on one plate.  So, a bit of a fail for my substitutions and my cooking but also a bit of a fail for the recipe.

Next up from that book will be a spicy lentil and carrot soup - I'm looking forward to that.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday night chit-chat

I missed this last week but as in previous weeks I'm posting on my Sunday evening.  Given the time difference between here and Canada, where the host of Sunday Night Chit-Chat is based, I will have posted before the lead post goes up there so I will come back later or tomorrow to edit this post with a proper link-up and the bonus question.

This disaster area (the table in my sitting room) must be tackled next week - I want this space back!

What are you...
Still working my way through the Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith but interspersing it with the more light-hearted but eminently interesting and thoroughly enjoyable 1,227 QI Facts to Blow your Socks off compiled by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson and James Harkin (did you know, for example, that the 10,000 trillion ants in the world weigh about the same as all the human beings?  Or that when we blush, our stomach lining goes red, too?)

An episode of the Mentalist (Simon Baker really is impossibly handsome) and then the rest of the documentary The Light Bulb Conspiracy

Listening to
The traffic outside and the bubbling of the casserole on the stovetop that I should have gone and checked at least fifteen minutes ago

Garlicky turkey cushions and rustic turkey and orange pot

Happy you accomplished this week
The washing up

Looking forward to next week
Finally getting better (fingers crossed) and being able to go back to choir on Wednesday

Thankful for today
Being able to read.  

BONUS QUESTION: What chore around the house do you dread doing the most?
I don't really dread any chores but I think I do dislike dusting the most.  The benefit to that, though, is that I realised a few years ago that having lots of little knick-knacks around (which I was somewhat prone to doing) meant more dusting.  So my desire to make the dusting as easy as possible to do led to quite a bit of decluttering and, more importantly, to a complete change in how I looked at all those cute little bits and pieces.  Now I just ask myself if I'm prepared to have to dust it on a regular basis and usually decide it's not, saving myself money at the same time as not gathering any more stuff.  

Thanks as always to Carla at Half-Dozen Daily for hosting Sunday Night Chit-Chat.  If you'd like to join in head on over there and link up.

Sunday turkey cooking

It started badly when the first batch of kale that I put on to wilt a bit burned. That'd be because I forgot to add a drop of water and I was sorely tempted to just give up then and there.  Still, since I'd bought all that meat I had to persevere.  So, trying to ignore the smell of burnt cabbage (I bet I'm popular with the neighbours today), I put on a second batch, glad that the Germans love kale so much they sell it in very large portions.  I still have a small amount left, which I am going to attempt kale crisps with but with the smell of the burnt stuff still lingering in my memory, I've decided to leave that until tomorrow.

I'm trying out two recipes from the Ultimate Recipes Low-Fat cookbook I mentioned yesterday.  One calls for part-boned chicken breasts and the other for chicken drumsticks.  Since I was a bit late to the market yesterday there wasn't much in the way of these choice cuts left.  Deciding to be frugal and make do with what was already there rather than just buying expensive fillets or getting them to chop up a few more chickens, I went instead for turkey - wings and legs (the lower part of the leg, which I suppose is a drumstick, isn't it?).  When I got to the veg farmers at the market all the chard (which I had planned on since there's no spinach available yet) was already gone so I got the kale instead.  Instead of ricotta, which is only available in the supermarket, I got cream cheese, which is available from a local farmer at the market.  And I could get it with garlic and chives already in it, which was good as I only had one small bunch of fresh garlic left and needed some for both recipes.  I was absolutely sure that I had wholemeal flour, as well as fennel seeds and bay leaves in the cupboard but it turns out I was wrong.  So I used ordinary white flour, left out the bay leaf and used dill and celery seeds instead of fennel.  I did check the internet for suggestions of good spices to use instead of fennel but overall I have to admit I am happy to have reached a stage where I'm not too nervous to substitute for what I can get rather than paying large amounts of money for lesser quality produce that has been flown in from far away.

What I do like about this particular book is that each recipe is on one page only and as well as a photograph of the finished dish, they include far more useful smaller photos of some of the steps.  There is also a nutrition guide given for each dish, if that's the kind of thing that floats your boat.  I made quite a few changes to accommodate what I had available to me so here's my version of garlicky chicken cushions.

Garlicky turkey cushions (adapted from Ultimate Recipes Low-Fat)
4 turkey legs
2 large handfuls kale, cooked in a small amount of water (covered) for about 30 minutes, then drained/water pressed out in sieve - final amount just over 250ml/2 cups which I allowed to cool for a few minutes and then mixed well with
1 small tub cream cheese with garlic and chives

1 onion, chopped
1 x 500ml jar tomatoes
100ml vegetable stock
About half a small jar of sliced green olives
Salt and pepper, olive oil

For the sauce I friend the onion in olive oil in my large oven-proof sauteuse and then stock, tomatoes, olives and small amount of salt and pepper added to that.  While that was coming to the boil I pulled the skin of each turkey leg away on one side and stuffed in about a quarter of the kale and cream cheese mix.  I secured the skin back down with some cocktail sticks.  Then I placed the turkey legs on top of the sauce and put the pan in the oven, uncovered, at 200c.  The serving suggestion is for with pasta but I think this would go well with rice.  I still have twenty minutes or so to decide.

Rustic turkey and orange pot (adapted from Ultimate Recipes Low-Fat)
2 turkey wings, cut into two pieces
1 tbsp flour and 1 tbsp olive oil
3 smallish red onions
1 small bunch fresh garlic
1.5 teaspoon mix of dill and celery seeds
Salt and pepper
Grated rind and juice of one large orange
1 x 500ml jar of tomatoes
1 x can of cannellini beans, drained

I dipped the turkey pieces in the flour and then fried them briefly in the olive oil, then added then to a deep pot (my good casserole dish is still in a friends' house - I brought it there before my holidays for a potluck dinner and was lazy enough to leave it there for them to wash in their dishwasher and had forgotten about it until I needed it.  Typical).  Added the onions and garlic to the pan with a touch more olive oil and fried gently for a few minutes.  Just for fun I also added the spices to the pan to toast for a few seconds before adding all of that to the pot with the turkey, the tomatoes, orange and beans.  That's just cooking on the stovetop now rather than in the oven since I can't fit two things in the oven at once.  It's supposed to be finished off by topping with cubes of bread tossed in olive oil but I think I will leave that until tomorrow.

Half of these dishes will go into the freezer for future use and the rest will be eaten as leftovers this week.  Well, that's the plan anyway.  Best of all for now is that I've been a good little chef and cleaned as I went along so that the only washing up to do this evening will be the two pots and the dishes I use to eat from.  Having managed to get all of the washing-up done yesterday and put away first thing this morning, it would have killed me to be looking at more stuff waiting to be washed this evening.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday spending

I made it up and out to the market this morning but that might be as far as my energy takes me today.  I think I'll go and have a nap shortly and maybe that'll leave me able to get some things done this evening.  I'm really not sure how I'm going to make it through a full day of work on Monday.  We'll have to see.

No photo today but I bought a lot, with plans for very nice dishes from a cookbook that I took down from the bookshelf with the express purpose of getting rid of it.  I haven't opened it in probably ten years, it's one of the first cookbooks I ever bought and although I did go through it at the time, marking each recipe I wanted to try, I think I only used it a couple of times.  If I recall correctly, it was a special offer from the Book People, whose representative used to come around to our company and leave samples that could be ordered every month.  I don't think any month went by when I didn't order something.  I have no willpower. At any rate, I finally decided that before getting rid of it, I would see if I could use my Low-Fat Ultimate Recipes book at least three times in the next month.  I started flicking through it and immediately realised that my tastes and entire life has changed so much since I got this book, that there are now far, far more recipes that appeal to me than there were even before.  So I bought the fixings for two chicken dinners and one soup and will try to spend an hour or two in the kitchen tomorrow.

Price list for today's shopping
Putenfarm Peter Ritte (at market)
Turkey wings x 2 - 1.007kg - 3.42 (3.40/kg)
Turkey legs x 4 - 1.863kg - 6.52 (3.50/kg)

Straetmans (at market)
Refund of deposit on milk bottle - 1.50
Butter 288g - 2.74 (9.50/kg)
Cream cheese 174g - 2.77 (15.90/kg)
Mittlealter Bauernkaese (hard cheese, similar to gouda) 204g - 2.43 (11.90/kg)

Etzold (at market)
Carrots (ronicalla or similar, forgot to check how it's spelt) 1.044kg - 2.30 (2.20/kg)
Leeks x 4 - 780g - 2.96 (3.80/kg)
Red onions x 3 - 225g - 0.63 (2.80/kg)
Eggs x 6 medium - 1.98

Thees (at market)
Kale (already de-stemmed), 1 x 500g bag - 3.80 (with stems still in it was 3.80/kg)
Chilies, 4 x small, dried - 1.30

Flassrath (at market)
Boskoop apples 2.5kg - 4.00
Apple juice 1lt - 1.00 (didn't have to pay deposit 'cos they know I always bring them back)

Other (at market)
Lardons 108g - 1.09 (10.10/kg)

Green olives with stones 310g jar - 2.99 (9.65/kg)
Green olives stoned and sliced 180g jar - 3.50 (18.40/kg)

el martin (fairtrade shop)
Birthday cards x 2 - 5.00
Cardamon pods 30g - 2.80
Dark chocolate 100g - 2.00

Behmer (bakery)
Spelt/joghurt bread - half a loaf (250g) - 1.55

Mayersche (bookshop)
Das Urgeschmack Dessertbuch - 21.90 (paid for from giftcard my boss gave me) - this is a book with recipes for some paleo desserts.  I follow this guy on youtube and some of these recipes looked very interesting so I decided to go ahead and get the book.  Decisions made when you have a giftcard are very different than those made when you have to hand over cold hard cash!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Spending recap

Here's what I've spent from last Saturday to today.  Having been at home sick all week keeps costs down in one way but on the other hands pushes costs up since cooking was just not something I've been able to get interested in.  So there have been a few frozen pizzas and lots of junk food again this week as well as lots and lots of toast.  I plan to go to the market in the morning though and cook properly, two or three different dishes so that I have leftovers for the rest of the week as well.

0.00 transport
22.32 food necessities
23.52 food luxuries
0.00 food out/take-away
0.00 toiletries
0.00 gifts
0.00 clothes
0.00 house/garden
13.99 medical (1 x cough bottle, 1 x prescription charge for allergy dose - I'm doing a hypersensitisation for my hayfever this year and this is the first (double) dose)
13.30 other (1 x scratchcard, 1 x cooking magazine, 1 x game of Boggle)

Total: 73.13

I even managed to have 4 no-spend days.  It would have been 5 but on one of the days I didn't go out I decided to check ebay to see if there were any games of Boggle on offer and there happened to be one, an English version no less, on sale with the auction ending in less than thirty minutes.  So after a quick check to see how much it costs new I placed a bid and got it.  Even with the postage costs added in, it still cost less than  it would new and it's in really good condition.  The box is a bit worn looking but the game looks like it has hardly ever been played.  I'm looking forward to trying to improve my Boggle skills now.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Spending recap

Here's the breakdown of what I've spent from last Saturday to yesterday:

17.00 transport
71.51 food necessities (Full shop last Saturday and two mini-trips to the supermarket with some stocking up of the freezer)
58.41 food luxuries (Dinner out on Saturday, takeaway dinner yesterday and far too much junk food)
7.64 lunch out (1 x pizza on Tuesday, 1 x kebab on Tuesday evening)
2.25 toiletries (Cider vinegar for hair)
0.00 gifts
0.00 clothes
2.36 house/garden (4 x bottles of vinegar)
10.42 medical (Nose salve.  The doctor's visit and antibiotics I got were fully covered by health insurance - they've changed some of the rules this year so no more quarterly admin charge or, apparently, prescription charges)
6.00 other (Overdue fines at library)

Total: 175.59

Notes of a few prices

Just a quick post, more for my own information looking back than anything else.  I'm not going out shopping today, haven't made a meal plan for the week and don't much care.  I didn't make the red cabbage meal I planned for last week so if I feel better enough to cook at some stage, I can make that.  I also still have eggs and I got some frozen chips and some wraps and pitta bread for the freezer so I have more than enough.  Unfortunately, the speck that I bought last week in order to add to the red cabbage has started to smell a little bit off so I'll have to dump that.  If I hadn't been feeling so rotten I might have thought to check it earlier in the week and I could have cooked it separately and put it in the freezer as well.  But these things happen when you're not well.  There's about a glass' worth of milk left in the fridge which is undoubtedly sour by now as well but the second litre I bought last week is in the freezer (I knew I wouldn't be able to get to it before it would go off anyway so put it straight in the freezer after buying it).  It can stay there until I feel more like eating again.  At the moment, the only reason I'm eating is because I have to have eaten properly before taking the antibiotics I was given.  I made the mistake on the first day of taking one after only having had a snack and my stomach did not like that too much.  The first couple of days I was sick I bought a whole pile of junk food as well but the crisps, the biscuits and most of the chocolate is gone now and I'm not buying anymore.  The old comfort foods just aren't quite as comforting as they used to be.

One of the things I also bought was some ham from the counter in Kaisers supermarket.  I got four slices and, silly me, didn't look at the label once she handed me the bag.  I've just checked it now so that I could make a note here of the kilo price and see that not only did I pay for my ham, I seem to have also paid for some sausages that I certainly didn't buy.  But the 1.25 is not enough to convince me to get dressed and go back to argue that point with the supermarket today, three days later.

Smoked, cooked ham from Kaisers: 19.90/kg

Fresh ginger from SuperBioMarkt: 9.90/kg

I may need to go and lie down again now.  I seem to have arrived back at the severe cough stage of this cold and it is exhausting.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The men who made us fat

This is a very interesting BBC documentary that I heard about when it came out last summer, but never had a chance to sit down and watch (and then forgot about).  Since my cold finally did get bad enough again to be off work, I have been watching lots of youtube stuff and I decided to take a look at this.  I was already aware of many of the issues discussed but it is always interesting to see how different people present the data.  As it's a British production it is also a bit more interesting for me, as the ads shown and the cultural shifts talked about are those I remember from my childhood.

It's, in total, 12 youtube videos, I think perhaps three-parts and each part has four 15 minute videos.  I watched it as a playlist so that I didn't have to keep on clicking through to the next one.  Here's the first part of the first episode:

The really interesting thing I found about this comes within the first few minutes.  The presenter, a fairly slim, healthy looking guy, has an MRI done to look at the levels of fat in his body and the although the subcutaneous fat is about as expected, the levels of fat around his organs are about double what a healthy amount is considered to be.  Interesting to know that not all fat is the same.

And I very much like this quote from the final part:

"Putting the food industry at the policy table is like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank." Professor Simon Capewell, University of Liverpool 

Well worth a look, even if it mostly just involves the same conclusions and the usual obfuscation from politicians and the food industry.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Chugging along

I still have not shaken off this silly cold but it's not coming back with enough vengeance to justify me staying home sick.  I've used the nose salve the doctor prescribed for me a few times now and it's completely gross. Although it does seem to help somewhat, I'm not entirely sure that it isn't just the mixture that's coming out when I blow my nose (apologies to those who don't want to hear about the things that come out of my nose - that's just the kind of place I'm in at the moment).

It occurred to me over the weekend (not for the first time) that if I really want to have a semi-normal life, you know, one where I eat meals at home every day with the attendant washing-up that entails, I really need to actually be here most evenings for most of the evening.  Working even just till seven and then walking home and/or stopping in to say hello to my friend (and her very cute baby) who has a shop in the bottom of my building means not getting into my apartment until after eight.  By the time I change and have time to gather my thoughts and perhaps get something to eat (assuming it's already waiting for me and at most needs to be heated up) still means nearly nine before I could begin to think of anything else.  And by nine I am really tired and ready to start winding down to go to bed around ten.  But if I don't do at least that much every day, I can forget about being organised enough to actually eat proper food every day and at least keep on top of the daily chores well enough to not need a major catch-up session at the weekend.  Le sigh.

Anyway, at least today I have gotten somewhere.  Despite the minus temperature (okay, it's 'only' minus one here, which for some of you barely registers as cold, but we'd count our minus degree weather in weeks rather than months here and that's still usually interspersed with days of warmer weather), I did walk home from work today.  I was exhausted for a good part of the afternoon, even giving in to a major chocolate craving, but after sitting down for ten minutes or so when I got home, I did actually get up and put on a wash (the fact that I opened up my bedroom window to let a bit of air in may have had something to do with me getting up again - it was freezing).  While I was doing that I also cleaned the bathroom.  Okay, I haven't washed the floor but the rest of the basics are done.  And I put the apples I dried yesterday into a jar, labelled it properly and added it to the stockpile.  I really missed having a good store of apples on hand this summer, when the old ones on sale at the market were just not really very nice anymore but the summer fruit season hadn't really started yet.

And even though when I arrived home I couldn't imagine summoning up the energy to even heat up my planned pineapple rice for dinner and ate three chocolate covered macadamia nuts instead, I did get up after that and put the box away and the pineapple rice is heating up now, along with a small amount of the pulled pork and the onions and sauce from yesterday.  I made less pineapple rice than I planned as I decided to just finish off the open box of rice without opening a new one so really I had two decent portions, which I divided into three smaller portions.  I did feel like I wanted a bit more yesterday at dinnertime but had already divided  the rest between a couple of Tupperware containers and decided to stay strong and not just give in since, really, I was full enough.  But I am really hungry today so I am just going ahead and eating both of the small portions that were leftover.  I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that I had salad for lunch.  Delicious though it was, I think this cold weather does require some more substantial meals.

Now to eat that.  Have myself a nice cup of tea.  And snuggle under a blanket on the sofa while watching a bit of The Bourne Ultimatum.

Edited to add: the pulled pork was a success and I will definitely be doing this again, as well as trying similar recipes for beef.  I will probably tweak the spices a few times until I find a few variations I really like.  This time round, I found that the taste of the BBQ powder overpowered everything else quite a bit.  It kind of needed the sweetness of the pineapple in the rice to balance it out a bit.  And I'm trying to figure out how it ended up so spicy (in terms of heat).  Perhaps it was the mustard powder?  It's just a nice amount of heat but definitely more than I was expecting.  Definitely a keeper recipe although since it's so delicious it's definitely easy to eat an awful lot of it.  Four portions is doable but expecting five was a bit too ambitious, methinks.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday night chit-chat

As I did last week, I'm posting this on my Sunday evening.  Given the time difference between here and Canada I will have posted before the lead post goes up on Half-Dozen Daily so I will come back to edit this post with a proper link-up and the bonus question.

One of my favourite pieces of Tupperware.  I only bought it in order to be able to demonstrate it at parties and somehow it became something I use every week.

What are you:
The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith

Finally saw The Dark Knight and even watch a second film this evening.  Perhaps Die Dienstagsfrauen, a comedy/drama about a group of women on the Camino de Santiago.

Listening to?

The sound of the dehydrator in the hallway


First attempt at pulled pork finished and accompanied it with pineapple rice

Happy you accomplished this week?

Made it to the English Speakers' Circle dinner and am encouraged to go to some of their talks this year.  Also very happy that I managed to more or less stick to my meal plan and my budget, as well as plan fresh ones for the coming week.

Looking forward to next week?

Lunch with a very interesting colleague during the week.  Dinner and finally getting to see The Intouchables in a friend's house on Friday.

Thankful for today?

Being able to decide, given the minus temperatures outside for a lot of the day, that it was a good day to not even bother getting properly dressed in, mooching around the place and turning on the heating more than I usually would.  It's nice to have the luxury to do so.

Bonus Question:
What is your favourite board game?
I think I'd have to say Cleudo.  I haven't played any board games for years really, although Clickclackgorilla did introduce me to Boggle when I visited a few weeks ago.  I suppose that's not really a board game but it belongs in the same category for me and is high on my list of things to acquire sometime soon.  I also remember enjoying Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit, although I haven't played either of them for years either.  The last time I played Trivial Pursuit it was the new one (so about seven years ago now I think) and I found it very frustrating because after twenty years or so, I'd only just started to get the hang of the original one!

If you fancy joining in with the Sunday night chit-chat, head over to My 1/2 Dozen Daily and link up.

Pulled pork

Having first heard about pulled pork a year or so ago, puzzled over what the hell it was for a while and finally started searching the internet for pictures and recipes, I decided it was about time I gave it a go myself.  There are dozens of recipes out there, all somewhat similar but not quite and, if I could get my hands on some pork shoulder, I thought it'd be worth a try.  One of the things most of the recipes said was that it always serves more than you think and that it freezes really well.  Sounds ideal.  Of course, when looking at these recipes I wasn't really looking at quantities, just making sure I had most of the stuff.  When I asked for pork shoulder at the market yesterday they apologised that they only had a small piece left but, since it weighed just over 500g, about the weight I had been planning on buying, I was perfectly fine with that.  Only to get home and see that almost all the recipes I had found call for a whopping four pounds of meat (and those that don't call for six!).  No wonder people think it goes a long way - that's two kilos of meat.  I'm planning on at least four or five servings from my 500g.

Reducing the spices to suit the smaller amount of meat isn't difficult but I am a bit nervous about the slow cooker being far too big now.  But I'm going to cook it during the day so I can keep an eye on it while it's cooking.  At the moment, I've rubbed in the spices and the meat is sitting in the fridge settling.  That gives me another hour or two to decide exactly what to use for the liquid part of the cooking.  I haven't followed any one recipe exactly so far, more just read an awful lot of them and then thrown together a spice rub based on what I have on hand.

Spice rub for first attempt at pulled pork
1 teaspoon each of ground mace, BBQ powder, cumin, mustard powder, cayenne, coriander, black pepper, salt
4 teaspoons sugar

Update with the rest
I chopped a couple of onions and a small bunch of fresh garlic (the smell when I cut the garlic was wonderful) and fried them gently in some sunflower oil.  I put them into the bottom of the slow cooker, they made a decent covering of the entire bottom of it and I think less wouldn't have done (good thing I like onions, I'll have more than I need really for that amount of meat) and placed the pork on top.  Then I added about half a mug-full of cider vinegar and a bit more than that of chicken stock to the pan that I had cooked the onions and garlic in.  Let that boil and reduce for a while and then I poured it in to the jar of honey I had just used the last proper spoonful out of.  Well, a touch of honey's nice with pork and it's as good a way as any to clean a jar.  Once it was back in the pan, I added a jar of very runny tomato ketchup and a generous splashing of worcestershire sauce.  Let that all simmer for a while and before I added it to the slow cooker, I measured it.  There was about 350ml of liquid.  It covered the onions and came just a centimetre or two up the side of the meat, which is about right for braising, I reckon.  Have it on high and it should be ready in a few hours.  Between the pork and the apples I have going in the dehydrator, it's fairly delicious smelling around here at the moment.

And since I was in the kitchen anyway, I washed the salad, boiled myself some potatoes to have with some salad for lunch, washed everything up and then finally moved the jars of stuff I processed this summer and autumn out to the shelf in the hallway.  Until I clear out the big cupboards and/or find somewhere else to store stuff, this will have to do.  I rarely turn the light on in the hallway and there's no natural light, except for what comes in from other rooms, so it's about as dark as most cupboards most of the time anyway.  This isn't everything as I've already used up a good bit of stuff - this year I'd prefer to run out because I've used everything up than forget I have it and just buy things in to use.
Not an exact list but: vanilla sugar, 3 attempts at tomato ketchup, spicy tomato sauce, dried apples, dried strawberries, dried peaches, dried plums, raspberry jam, bottled peaches, bottled strawberries and lots and lots of tomatoes

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday shopping and an expense I should have avoided

Well, the farmers' market is back, and lovely it was to see it this morning.  Even if I did get up a bit later than planned and even if the temperature was still hovering just above freezing when I went out.  I kept to my list fairly well again and only bought two things that weren't on it, one of which I did need but had forgotten to write down.

On the way back from the market I stopped in a shoe shop to try on some shoes - I really could do with a second pair suitable for winter weather but okay for wearing in the office, too.  Unfortunately, my big feet continue to be an issue.  Either manufacturers are making their shoes smaller or I've gone up another half-size.  There was a pair that were kind of nice and not too expensive but the 43 was just that bit too long and the 42 was just that bit too short.  Oh for the days when I could just buy a size 41 and it always fit.  I may just bite the bullet and go to the shop I got my last boots from.  It's a proper shop with trained staff and since almost everything is expensive (in the really good quality kind of way), they don't specially try to push you towards one thing or another based on price but rather really spend their time finding you a shoe that fits well.  It's run by the people who manufacture arch supports as well and I badly need new ones, too.  Might try and fit in a quick appointment with the orthopaedic doctor next week to get myself a prescription and then head there next weekend to organise new arch supports and check out the shoes.

I also stopped off at the library to drop back some DVDs I borrowed last week.  Stupidly, I forgot that since I wasn't working last week, I had actually gone to the library on Friday and not Saturday so I had to pay 6 euro late return fines.  It's very annoying to have to pay money that I could easily have avoided having to pay.

On the whole, I'm doing alright budgetwise.  That may have something to do with having given myself a very, very generous budget this month knowing that not only is January always just a generally grey and depressing month that can be tough to cope with but also that following a long holiday, it might take me a while to get back to a normal routine.  Here's what I spent from last Saturday to yesterday:
25.30 transport
37.18 food necessities
9.62 food luxuries
21.00 lunch x 2 (one nice lunch out, one pizza at my desk)
0.00 toiletries
0.00 gifts (incl. postage)
0.00 clothes
6.99 house/garden (this was a small first aid kit on special offer in one of the local drugstores)
9.45 medical (sinupret tablets)
5.50 other (this was for 11 cards for various occasions that were also on offer in the local drugstore - handy to have in the drawer in work)
Total: 115.04

And here's what today's shopping looks like:

Price list for today's shopping:
Straetmans (at market)
2 x 1 litre milk - 1.20 (plus 1.50 deposit) each
456g apple bread - 2.69 (this was the unplanned item - 5.90/kg)
262g butter - 2.49 (the forgotten item - 9.50/kg)

Etzold (at market)
Red cabbage 1.408kg - 2.82 (2.00/kg)
Onions 914g - 2.29 (2.50/kg)

Vennbachhof (at market)
Pork shoulder 534g - 4.01 (7.50/kg)
Speck 188g - 162g - 1.62 (8.60/kg)
Small piece of Fleischwurst thrown in the bag for free

Thees (at market)
2 x small bunch fresh garlic - 1.80 each
Very large handful lamb's lettuce and a smaller handful of a type of purslane - 6.90 (2.00/100g)

Flassrath (at market)
Apples 2.5kg - 4.00 (on the left of the picture are boskoop and one smaller rubinette, which I got mostly for drying.  On the right are golden delicious, jonagold and elstar)
Potatoes (afra) 2.5kg - 3.00

750ml cider vinegar - 2.25 (this goes under the category of toiletries in my tracking spreadsheet as I'll use it as a conditioning rinse for my hair)
370g jar of pineapple pieces in juice - 2.85

Nose salve - 10.42 (that's the white bottle at the front of the picture.  I was at the throat, nose and ear doctor during the week to get a prescription for the hypersensitisation I'm going to try this year for hayfever.  Since I'm still struggling a bit with this cold/sinusitis he told me to take more of the same sinupret build up your defences tablets and also prescribed this salve, which is supposed to help with my dry nose.  I hate, hate, hate having to stick or spray things up my nose but I suppose if it helps...)

I'll post my meal plan up on the other blog again.  I mostly kept to last week's one although there were an awful lot of celebrations in work this week and yesterday I had several glasses too many of Sekt (sparkling wine), which led me into a very bad snackfood kind of place.  Not the healthiest dinner ever, I must say.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Book lists

When I first starting reading blogs I often came across book suggestions and reviews and started to keep them all in an email draft.  I can't quite remember why I decided an email draft was the handiest way to do this but looking through some old emails today, I found that draft and decided to post the list here.  That way, I know where it is if I'm looking for it.  It's also interesting to see that even though I hadn't thought about this list for years, I have read some more of the books on it since then.  Links may or may not work, they're not ones I have added (because if I was going to do that I'd try and figure out how to get that amazon associates thing working again :) ) but rather ones that may have been in place on the original postings that I copied from.  It's interesting to look back and wonder what I was doing or thinking about over the couple of years that I kept this list.  And I don't feel like I'd particularly cross any off today, either - they still all sound interesting.

  1. The Envelope Mill by Haila Harvey- I do search for this occasionally on abebooks but have never seen it at anything less than an exorbitant price
  2. Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures & Politics of Local Foods by Gary Paul Nabhan  OWN (the kindle version)
  3. Moosewood Book of Desserts
  4. John Seymour's The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency OWN
  5. Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
  6. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan OWN
  7. Gaia's garden ?? (Why the questionmarks?  No idea.)
  8. Putting Food By (Plume) (Paperback) by Janet Greene
  9. Putting It Up With Honey: A Natural Foods Canning and Preserving Cookbook by Susan Geiskopf
  10. Clearly delicious, an illustrated guide to the art of preserving, pickling and bottling, Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz And Judy Ridgway Publication Dorling Kindersley, 1994
  11. Preserving by Oded Schwartz, read, not great (vaguely remember this now - I think I managed to find it in the library and obviously I wasn't too impressed)
  12. This Organic Life by Joan Dye Gussow - OWN
  13. Harold McGee's "On food and cooking".
  14. Mike and Nancy Bubel, Root Cellaring: The Simple No-Processing Way to Store Fruits and Vegetables, Rodale Press, 1979 ISBN 0-87857-277-5 - read, need to buy OWN
  15. Preserving Nature's Bounty" (ISBN 0-87596-979-8)
  16. The $50 & Up Underground House Book - Mike Oehler OWN
  17. The Hippy Survival Guide to Y2K - Mike Oehler
  18. Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan
  19. 'build your own earth oven' by Kiko Denzer
  20. Slug Bread & Beheaded Thistles by Ellen Sandbeck
  21. Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening by Louise Riotte
  22. 'The Woodland House' by Ben Law
  23. Living the Good Life: How One Family Changed Their World from Their Own Backyard (Paperback) by Linda Cockburn OWN
  24. Scenes from a Smallholding by Chas Griffiths
  25. How to Make Sewing Patterns (Paperback) by Donald H. McCunn
  26. The Fragrant Pharmacy by Valerie Ann Worwood its ISBN is 0-553-40397-4
  27. Creating Learning Communities is published by the Foundation for Educational Renewal (www.pathsoflearning.net) ISBN: 1-885580-04-5
  28. The Simple Living Guide Janet Luhrs
  29. How to Live Off-grid Nick Rosen
  30. Keep Chickens! by Barbara Kilarski was the book that got me started with chickens. It's by Storey Press, who publish books about gardening, soap-making, brewing, livestock etc. (this is someone else's comment, no idea now where it's from)
  31. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver OWN
  32. Eating Fossil Fuels: Oil, Food and the Coming Crisis in Agriculture (Paperback) by Dale Allen Pfeiffer (Author)
  33. The one pan Gourmet by Don Jacobson
  34. The Backpacker's Handbook by Chris Townsend
  35. How to be Free by Tom Hodgkinson and How to be Idle OWN (both of them)
  36. You Can Save the Planet (Hardcover) by Jacquie Wines (Author), Sarah Horne (Illustrator)
  37. Seed to Seed Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners Suzanne Ashworth OWN
  38. Carol Harris’ book A Guide to Traditional Pig Keeping
  39. Making Stuff: An Alternative Craft Book by Ziggy Hanaor and Victoria Woodcock,
  40. Four-Season Harvest, by Eliot Coleman
  41. Home Comforts, by Cheryl Mendelson OWN
  42. Madhjar Jaffries 'World Vegetarian' cookbook (not yet but I did get a second-hand copy of her Ultimate Curry Bible)
  43. Mary Norwak’s The Farmhouse Kitchen (1994 edition, ISBN1-85891-238-5) OWN
  44. Celebrating the Great Mother
  45. The After Dinner Gardening Book by Richard W Langer
  46. The Preserving Book", by Mackinlay and Ricketts, Pan book ISBN 0 330 25563 0
  47. The encyclopedia of country living" - ISBN 1-57061-377-X
  48. "The Complete Herbal handbook for farm and stable" - ISBN 0-571-16116-2

Monday, January 07, 2013

Tough getting back to work

I really didn't plan on spending longer than a normal eight hours at work on my first day back but the fact that it is quarter end, we have a narrower than usual window to finish billing (1.5 days rather than the usual 4) and that I was away for a few weeks as well as, admittedly, spending quite a bit of time answering questions about my holiday, meant that it was a ridiculous thirteen.  Tomorrow is looking like being quite a stressful few hours until the twelve o'clock deadline but it was undoubtedly worth it to stay longer this evening.  Staying late did put the kibosh on my no-spend day though, as I got a taxi home.  I suspect I may not have been able to resist the desire to stop and buy a kebab if I had walked to the tram stop because I could feel that urge to stuff my face that the stress and unexpectedly long day was bringing on.  So I'm feeling kind of happy with myself for managing to keep on track with my food, even if I didn't stay quite on track with my spending.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Sunday night chit-chat

I've enjoyed reading these posts on I'm Losing It Here over the last while and finally got around to clicking through to see who hosts this (My 1/2 Dozen Daily) and join in.  I assume that given the time difference between here and Canada I will be posting before the original post goes up so I will come back to edit this post with a proper link-up and the bonus question. 

Ice-lollies made from the free sample of elderflower and apple tea that I got yesterday. 

What are you:
Die große Liebe - Hans Josef Ortheil

I think I'm going to watch Death at a Funeral, one of the DVDs I got out of the library on Friday.  But first I'm going to watch just one more video at Feminist Frequency (LEGO and gender part 2), which I've been getting to know (again) this weekend.

Listening to?

I was listening to Imelda May's "Love Tattoo" while I tidied up a bit and finished unpacking.  Now it's just the sound of my fingers on the keyboard.


Pinto bean and chickpea casserole with onion, carrot and tomatoes (some of those that I canned during the summer)

Happy you accomplished this week?

Unpacking.  Writing a menu plan and shopping just for that, including not buying any sweets.

Looking forward to next week?

Catching up with people I haven't seen since the end of November

Thankful for today?

Slowly returning health.  And even more than that, being in my own home again.

Bonus Question:
What is the "minimum" # you feel comfortable with sitting in your bank account/piggy bank? 
This is a tough question, given that I'm still in debt. But if I include immediate access to credit then I suppose the minimum amount I feel comfortable with is between 1,000 and 2,000.  There have been times where I didn't have access to that much as I just didn't have much of anything in my current account and my overdraft and credit card were maxed out and I found that extremely stressful.  I am definitely more familiar with feeling uncomfortable!  But once I had cleared more than 1,000, I did relax more.  I'm taking that as a sign that when I am debt-free in a few months, my aim, once I've built up an emergency fund, will be to have about 1,500 sitting doing not much but ready to be transferred in and out of my current account as required.  

If you want to join in with Sunday night chit-chat, head over to My Half-Dozen Daily and leave a comment and link on this post.

Blogs come and go

And sometimes I miss it.  There are a few blogs I used to read and enjoyed very much which have since been deleted or made private.  Blogs that are made private often have posts that request regular readers to apply for access as, for one reason or another, often privacy around use of photos) before it is taken private.  Or some people, having decided not to blog, let you know in advance so that you can exchange private contact information, find out where they'll be posting in the future or at least just give you the chance to say goodbye.  Having not really spent much time in the blogosphere for periods of months at a time over the last year or two, I've obviously missed out on quite a bit.  I'm removing these blogs from my read list but if any of them are still going and would like me to continue reading/would like to give me access, please just comment here and we can sort out email contact.

And, to all of these, I wish you the very best in your endeavours and would like to thank you for sharing parts of your life in such a lovely way.  Take care.




Saturday, January 05, 2013

End of Ordinary: One Kid Against Climate Change

I found this blog post so inspiring, I felt I should share it.  I can't even describe to you the feelings this brings up in me.  So impressive and so humbling.

One kid against climate change

Saturday shopping - 5th January 2013

Got up relatively early this morning (just after 8), trying not to be dismayed at the fact that it was still dark.  I thought the dark evenings would be a bit of an adjustment again after returning from the southern hemisphere but it seems it's the mornings I'm going to struggle with.  I've taken an executive decision to set my alarm clock for 8 for the next couple of months and to not put myself under pressure to get up earlier than that to do things like go swimming or get some cleaning done before work, not to mention the elusive "I'll go into work early today".  8 is time enough to get ready for work without rushing too much, including time for a quick breakfast and still being on time for work at 9.

I was going to go straight to the market but ended up instead giving the fridge a thorough cleaning.  I'd emptied it and switched it off while I was away but ran out of time before I could clean it properly.  So that's all done and it's switched back on again.  Let's see if I can keep it clean and tidy this year.  I had four open jars of chutney and I really need to not do that kind of thing anymore.  Two of them have gone in the bin this morning as they didn't smell quite right but the other two, as well as the jam and mustard, seem to have survived quite well.  Since the heating was off while I was away as well, the temperature in the kitchen will have been fairly low most of the time anyway.  I've started the freezer off with a few ice-cubes and the ice-pack but want to really think about it before anything else goes in there.

I took the time to write out a meal plan for the week and set out for the market. I stopped first to put some empty bottles in the recycle bin and headed for the greengrocer on the corner to get some lemons and oranges (planning to make some ice-lollies as well as lots more lemon and honey hot drinks for my cold).  Both were on "special" offer, although if I remember the prices from last year correctly, more expensive than before.  Oh well.

I headed off to the market only to arrive and realise they must be taking their usual holiday.  I can't remember how long it's for and because I was away for all of December, I missed out on any signs they would have had up.  Presumably they'll be back next week but I have to admit I was momentarily confounded.  Something of a salutary lesson in taking things for granted, I suppose.

I walked back around to my street and stopped at the Reformhaus.  A Reformhaus is basically a health-food shop.  They all have the umbrella term Reformhaus in their name but are independently run shops and although my local one is not the biggest there is, it's a decent size and the people are nice.  I got eggs there and picked up some Detox Tea that was on offer as well.  Can't hurt.  And got a freebie sample of an elderflower and apple teabag, which smells so delicious I'm going to make a large cup of tea later and then freeze that as ice-lollies, too.

After that I headed into the SuperBioMarkt (organic supermarket, probably something similar to Whole Foods in the States, I think).  I normally don't buy veg, or anything much, there because the veg tends not to last very well and be mostly imported from afar and the prices can be steep.  However, I do need to eat this week and I should count myself lucky that I have the opportunity and the money to have the choice.  I tried to restrict myself at least to German produce and got some potatoes (selection was not good, three types and almost all with only very small ones left), a couple of carrots, an onion and some leeks.  I also picked up two sweet potatoes, which were from Spain.  I am growing very fond of this vegetable but the only ones available most of the time are imported from the USA.  If I have a chance to talk to one of the farmers at the market next time, I want to ask them if they'd consider growing them.  I don't think it's that easy to do so in this climate though.

In the SuperBioMarkt I also got some milk, raspberry joghurt and cheese.  I was able to get mostly what I wanted to get from the market although I decided not to buy any chicken or apples and didn't get any salad either, so will need to rethink my menu a bit. 

On the way back home I stopped to get some bread and a couple of bread rolls (which look like they're double the normal size) and also popped in to the bookshop to spend some of the lovely book token my boss gave me for christmas.  I hadn't gotten a diary for 2013 yet and was spared the agony of decision-making as they only had one left in the size and type I like.  I also bought Eating Animals, which is a book I've wanted to read for a while.  I love, love, love book tokens.

Price list for today's shopping
SuperBioMarkt (all organic stuff, all prices in euro)
1 litre milk - 1.35 (plus 0.15 deposit on bottle)
Joghurt - 1.79 (plus 0.15 deposit on jar)
Leeks - 2.96 (3.79/kg)
Sweet potatoes - 2.65 (3.49/kg)
Potatoes (have forgotten the type) - 1.23 (1.99/kg)
Carrots - 0.28 (1.29/kg)
Onion - 0.73 (2.49/kg)
Cheese - 5.19 (14.90/kg)

Detox tea - 5.65
6 eggs - 2.10 (0.35 each)

2 spicy rolls - 1.20
Half a Delikatessbrot - 1.55

6 lemons - 3.90
3 oranges - 1.95

Paperblanks diary - 12.95
Eating animals - 9.95

Total spend today: 32.17 cash, 22.90 book token

I'm going to try and start doing proper meal plans and tracking what I eat again, which I will post about on the other blog, for anyone who's interested in that.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

2012 - the year in books summary

Here's the summary of totals for the books that I read during last year (here's the link to last year's for anyone who's interested):
  • Books by male authors: 53
  • Books by female authors:59
  • Plus one book written by both a man and a woman
  • Fiction: 86
  • Non-fiction: 27
  • English books: 108
  • German books: 5
  • Books re-read: 22
  • Bookclub books: 7
 I had a somewhat vague aim to read 12 non-fiction and 12 German books in 2012.  Didn't manage it with the German but more than doubled last year's amount, which is something.  And I have several books on hand that I didn't get around to reading last year which will give me a good start on German reading this year.

I read a lot more non-fiction although there are a couple of very short e-books included in that total.  Seven of the non-fiction books were auto-biographies but even taking both of those things into account I still read more than my aim and hope to continue with that this year. 

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

A few more photos from Oz

Hyam's Beach, Jervis Bay - I would happily go back and spend several weeks just in this spot.  I miss the sea where I live and have never enjoyed swimming in it as much as I did here.  The power of the waves is immense and I now more fully comprehend what my therapist was talking about when he spoke of an epiphanic moment he experienced standing in the ocean once.
The Three Sisters - taken from Echo Point, Katoomba, Blue Mountains

Part of the rainforest beneath the Three Sisters - no photo can ever capture the immensity of this place (I checked, even the professional photos on sale in the souvenir shops just couldn't do it justice).

A park in Brisbane - I was captivated by the beautiful trees I saw in Australia

Another view, taken from the same spot as the photo above - had been enjoying the view and glanced down to see that, sad though it is, some things will always be the same, no matter where in the world you are.

Another tree, different park in a different part of Brisbane

Koala bear in Taronga Zoo

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

I'm behind the times as always - but here's Imelda May

I'm hopeless when it comes to keeping up with what's current in music.  I did start listening to the radio a bit more during last year so at least I'm a bit more up to date these days.  On the other hand, German radio plays an awful lot of (my beloved) 80s hits as well as an awful lot of horrible summer DJ type music so I cannot claim to have been exposed to an awful lot of good music.  I caught a glimpse of Gangnam Style on one of those review of the year programs last night.  Even though I've seen take-offs of it a few times, that was the first time I'd actually seen what those were based on.  I don't really get it but am fairly used to that feeling.  As someone who loves the llama song, I can't really claim to necessarily know what's good or not, I suppose.

How and ever, I just came across an interview for Irish television's new year celebrations with a singer called Imelda May.  I've never heard of her before but she seems like a lovely down to earth woman and, having found a few things on youtube, I'm liking her stuff so far.  Here's a clip of her singing on the Graham Norton show, followed by a short interview, in which she talks about the honour of having her photo placed on the wall of the martial arts studio above her local chipper next to Bruce Lee, Elvis and Jesus.