Saturday, March 30, 2013

Holy Week Food: Wednesday to Saturday

So, the last few days of food have not been terribly exciting or picture worthy.

On Wednesday, we had leftover Shepherd's pie, so no picture of that. It was delicious, of course, but looked exactly the same as the other one.

On Thursday, we had beans and rice. We also had a green vegetable which the internet tells me is called Lamb's Lettuce. This was not terribly exciting, but I am firmly of the opinion that Holy Week food should be a little boring, since then Easter food will be more delicious.

I also experimented with making shortbread. I used Cam's recipe for gluten free shortbread. I decided to go with regular shortbread, though, because I didn't feel like messing around with the chocolate part. It didn't work at all, but I think that's my fault. I think my butter should have been softer. After it became clear to me that it wasn't going to stick together, I tried adding Nutella. That didn't work either. So now there is a large amount of really really crumbly shortbread sitting on my shelf in a tupperware waiting for Easter. I am sure it will taste delicious, but appearance-wise it is a little non-ideal!

On Friday, we had a soup made out of lentils and carrots. It looked very weird and not-tasty, so I didn't take a picture. I thought it was okay, but I'm not a soup person. Kevin thought it was good, not great, but certainly filling.

Tonight we are having a stir-fry of cashews and peas with rice. Then tomorrow we are feasting!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Ah, Holy Jesus

(I am completely off the internet for the day. Here's a lovely Good Friday hymn for you.)

Ah, holy Jesus, how hast Thou offended,
That man to judge Thee hath in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by Thine own rejected,
O most afflicted.

Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon Thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone Thee.
’Twas I, Lord, Jesus, I it was denied Thee!
I crucified Thee.

Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered;
The slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered;
For man’s atonement, while he nothing heedeth,
God intercedeth.

For me, kind Jesus, was Thy incarnation,
Thy mortal sorrow, and Thy life’s oblation;
Thy death of anguish and Thy bitter passion,
For my salvation.

Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay Thee,
I do adore Thee, and will ever pray Thee,
Think on Thy pity and Thy love unswerving,
Not my deserving.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Week Food: Tuesday

Tuesday was a really mixed bag. I didn't feel very good and was exhausted a lot of the day, but I still got a lot done. I cleaned my room, for one thing, which makes me feel so much better!

I also cooked two dishes: chili and gluten-free cornbread.

I made up my own chili recipe, which is extremely straightforward: canned tomatoes, beans, onions, garlic, basil, pepper, salt. It was delicious.
Oops. I bought whole tomatoes.

The cornbread was not quite as much of a success. I used this recipe with two minor alterations. I used lactose-free milk, and since it's sweeter, I left out a tablespoon of brown sugar. If I were to make it again, I would leave in all the brown sugar.
The main problem was just that the raw ingredients are different here. I think my corn meal was of a much finer grain than American corn meal.
 The batter looked more like dough to me than I think of it as looking. Then again, the cornbread baked faster than our cornbread at home. Maybe the two are related?
It turned out ok. The flavor was good, but it was much denser than I think of cornbread as being. Either I mixed it too much, or the fineness of the cornmeal screwed it up. Or both. Anyway, it was perfectly edible, and I will keep experimenting.

The cornbread went extremely well with the chili, and I would call it a very successful dinner!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Holy Week Food, Monday

I am on vacation this whole week. I mean, I was on vacation last week, but it wasn't the relaxing kind of vacation. This week is. I have left my house to go shopping, go to Church, and...that's about it really. I ran a few errands on with gritted teeth.

Anyway, the point is that I have been cooking. I have quite the plan worked up for the Triduum, but even the beginning of Holy Week has been filled with things I have never cooked before. So here's a few posts about them. I will split this up into as many posts as I feel the need to, because I love taking pictures of food and so there are a lot of pictures!

To start off, though, let me clarify where I am starting from with cooking. I can follow recipes well, but I am not an innovative cooker. If told to make dinner, I will almost always cook spaghetti. My main gap in cooking skills is normal meals that take a reasonable amount of time to make. I can do stupid-easy, and I can do long recipes. I have trouble innovating in the middle.

So anyway, here we go!

On Monday, we had shepherd's pie. Easy and relatively cheap, especially if you do what we did and buy the mixed ground meat instead of pure ground beef. (Is there a downside to doing that?)

I also made Hot Cross Buns, using the recipe from A Continual Feast. Of course, I can't eat them, and I forgot to halve the recipe, so Kevin has an awful lot of hot cross buns to eat! From what I hear, though, he's making good progress on the pile.

As you can see, this was slightly a mixed success. The ones I baked in muffin tins were a little overcooked, although once you get past the shell they are fine inside. I blame the oven for this--I heated it to the right amount, but the buns just cooked too fast. I will admit I was worried about these buns, because using an American recipe with German ingredients and measuring implements is always hard. I had a pyrex container with pints marked on it, and so I used that to estimate all variations of a cup. I used a regular teaspoon for teaspoon measures. It seems to have turned out ok! (Note to self--next time you move to Germany bring a complete set of American measuring implements.)

The more I cook, the more I enjoy it. I am starting to collect recipes I like in a recipe book, and I am excited to find more as I go on!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Trip report

Well, that was a lovely trip! It was also rather exhausting. I really don't like hotel rooms, and I especially don't like sharing them with people I don't know well. And, of course, Prague and Dresden had a cold snap. Every day was a scarf and glove kind of day, and some of them had temperatures in the teens. There was also a good deal of snow and rain. This was not ideal for outdoor tours, but we made the best of it.

I took over 1000 photos this week. Of course, that's the unsorted number. I'm starting to realize I take too many pictures. It's frustrating to me when I want to take a picture of something, but I can't get a good picture because the light is all wrong or something like that. I wonder if I can fix these problems by learning more about my camera, or if some shots really are just impossible. The edited photo totals turned out to be 549. 617 photos from Prague turned into 349, 244 photos from Dresden turned into 125, and 150 photos from Eisenach turned into 75. So I only keep approximately half the pictures I take. I wonder how that compares to other people.

I'm not sure how much of a trip recount I really want to do. I'll probably post some of my favorite pictures from the trip, but I assume anyone reading this blog is a family member, so they can look at all the pictures on facebook and get a pretty good idea of what happened on the trip.

Last note: staying gluten free worked pretty well, I think. I ate hardboiled eggs and oranges for lunch, mostly.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Food fail

So, the other day, I was thinking about how I was so hungry and had been eating all day and was still hungry. My first inclination was to tell myself to be quiet, because I figured it was some sort of withdrawal something. Then I thought that maybe I actually was hungry. So I logged into My Fitness Pal and plugged in everything I had eaten.

Too few calories, but too much sugar. Hmmph. Will have to work on that. The next day, I found myself out in the city without lunch. So I ran over to Aldi and bought a small can of peanuts. Well, turns out that a small amount of nuts has a large amount of calories!

That wasn't really what I was going for either! This is a bit of a balancing game, I think. I have been tracking my food ever since then, and I am coming up with consistent results--about 300 or 400 calories short, but with too much sugar. Days when I have nutella are shot (that has a TON of sugar), but there's also not much you can put in a sandwich when meat is out because it's Friday, cheese is out because it's a dairy product, and peanut butter is out because you live in Germany!

This is going to be tricky. I have several friends who are gluten free who reassure me that it does get easier, and I'm glad to hear that. Once I get back from Prague (yes, I am attempting to go traveling to a country whose language I do not speak and stay glutenfree throughout the trip) I think I can spend Easter break trying to figure out how to make more nutritionally balanced yet packable lunches.

And on the last glutenfree note of the day, I am going to do a test tomorrow, and deliberately eat a substantial (although not ridiculous) amount of gluten tomorrow to test that it was, in fact, causing my stomach aches. Wish me luck...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Papal predictions

So yesterday, Kevin and I decided to make some predictions about the new pope.
You have to sort of read from right to left. Sorry!

I posted the picture on facebook, and all my friends started joining in. I thought it was interesting that there was very little agreement among them. Here are the predictions we made:

Vote Number: 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, 4
Country/Continent: Africa, Italy, North America, Latin America, Italy, European
Papal Name: An African Saint's name, Leo, Benedict XVII, Leo, Boniface, Pius VIII
Decade of Age: 60s, 70s, 60s, 60s, 60s, 60s

No clearly favored front runner here, that seems to be clear! All I can say is that I really hope we don't get a new pope while I am sitting in German class today!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Memento Mori

(Edited to add this picture I took last weekend: the clock on the side of the Dominican church in Alsace.)

 One of my boyfriend's favorite bloggers likes to post and remind people that they could die at any time, or the end of the world could come, and to tell them to go to confession just in case. Such posts make me squirm a little bit (because I am usually overdue for confession anyway) and then rely on statistics. If the end of the world hasn't happened yet, chances it will happen in the next 60 or 70 years are quite slim, and chances it will come in the next few weeks are almost null.

Then something changed in my life, which made me stop and think twice. I stopped eating gluten. This had been some time coming, as I have been having many medical problems which can be caused by a gluten intolerance, but the actual decision was pretty much a spur of the moment thing. I had had what should have been a lovely evening--chips, a movie, and a bottle of beer with Kevin. But it wasn't a lovely evening, because I somehow acquired a terrible stomachache, which stuck around for the next 36 hours. I felt perfectly fine, until I had the chips (which had claimed to be healthy, because they were made of, yes, wheat) and the beer (which of course is also made from wheat). To me, that was enough for me to give going gluten-free a shot. And so, just like that, with no warning, I stopped eating gluten.

While it's too early to tell for sure, I think it has been helping. I have not had a stomachache since then. I will be testing in a week or two by deliberately eating some gluten and seeing what happens, but I suspect that I will be sticking with this gluten-free diet. No more pasta. No more donuts, or bread, or pastries. No more granola bars, or flavored chips, or beer. No more pretzels, or muesli yogurt, or soy sauce. I won't miss all of these things equally, of course. Soy sauce, pasta, beer, pretzels, and paprika chips will be the things I miss most, I think. It may be possible to find substitutes for some of them.

In retrospect, though, this does give me pause. Every day I think of one more kind of food that I like and will probably never eat again. I didn't know, when eating these things for the last time, that it was the last time. I had no idea. If I had known, I would have done things differently. I would have savored them more, and said my goodbyes to them. But I didn't know, and I didn't prepare, and I wasn't ready to leave. But I had to leave anyway, and so I left unprepared.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Welcome, and what is this blog?

Hi all. Or hi nobody, as the case may be.

What is this blog? This is a place for me to blog about whatever I want. It might include travel pictures, it might include religious thoughts, it might include jokes, it might include sewing posts. I want a space where I can turn over my ideas in public, and work out thoughts by typing them. I don't imagine what I have to say is anything special, but I have often wanted to have a blog where, unlike my other blog, I wasn't tied to a particular topic.

This blog will not have any post rhythm. Some months I will post lots, some months not at all. We'll see.