Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I need a drink

2 parts orange liquor to 1 part of cognac - cures all!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Guilty pleasure

One of my guilty pleasures is... egg salad.

My cholesterol has always been high (runs in the female side of my family and does not change with diet so I have been on meds for condition for a long time ... and no I am not that old yet) so I usually try to avoid foods that are considered further elevating HDL but occasionally you have to give in - no?!!!

So today after getting a little agitated about the fact that my drive way is still not cleaned from the snow (even though we pay a sh..-load of money to have it done) I needed a treat. In trying to be not too bad I made up my own egg salad recipe which turned out to be really yummy (if you wonder - no, I did not finish it all in one setting... my day hasn't been that bad):

3 hard-boiled eggs peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon of low fat mayo
2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt
salt to taste
pepper to taste
2-2 pinches of Paprika and Cayenne pepper each
1.5 teaspoons of chopped dill

Mix mayo, yogurt and spices - carefully fold eggs in: DONE!

Enjoy on fresh baguette or nice crunchy toast.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Yummy Brownie-bites - Shortcut Adult-version

I am a from scratch baking person but sometimes time just gets into my way and I have to retreat to semi-homemade in this department.
Brownies are one of the items that you can easily dress up and here is one version that I made yesterday as a little self-made take along Xmas gift for my friends that they can indulge on when the blizzard hits later today.
What do you need?
Box of Brownie mix - I prefer real dark chocolate brownie mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup of neutral oil (or whatever your mix calls for)
1/3 cup of rum (yes, you are reading that one right... replace water by rum!)
Tablespoon of good vanilla extract
Shot of coffee or teaspoon of espresso powder
Teaspoon of good orange extract (if you like nuts substituting with almond or hazelnut would surely taste great too)

Prepare brownies according to instructions, pour in well greased baking dish (I prefer 8"x8" to have a thicker brownie), and bake at temperature mentioned on box BUT slightly under bake them (I cut off about 8-10mins from recommended time), take out of oven and cover with thick towel. Why you might ask - this gives you the most chewy brownie with just the right amount of crust.
Give it a try - the small changes/additions in ingredients make everybody think you sweat in the kitchen measuring ingredients for hours.

Share and indulge!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

It's Christmas eve and this in my German background was always the big day of Christmas as traditionally us Germans gather on Christmas eve with family and friends, exchange gifts, eat and be merry ... and if offered would head out to attend midnight mass.

So here I am in the US thinking of the good ol' times and it makes me all warm and fuzzy feeling - I don't have my family around but tomorrow I am going to see some of my best friends and we will spend a lovely day of exchanging gifts, eating and being merry all over again... so what do I want to say with this - you can find happiness and warmth wherever you are!

Wishing you all a very Merry Holiday season! Be Happy and Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Quick and easy supper

I love to cook but sometimes I just do not have the time to be in the kitchen for long and/or I have stuff in the fridge that I really need to use... this is how I put this supper together.


It's meatless too; however, I did not miss the meat at all (OK, that does not mean that much as I often skip meat).

First I whipped up a quick raw fennel salad with orange & pistachios - yum. Thinly sliced fennel (one bulb - don't forget to take the core out as it is really tough), orange slices (1-2 oranges depending on how citrusy you like it) and a good handful of pistachios. Dressing - very simple white vineyard of your choice, orange juice and zest, pepper & salt ... that's it. You can add Greek yogurt if you like a creamier dressing. I am a sucker for pistachios if you are not - walnuts are perfect in this salad as well.

Then I thought - crispy potato cakes would go great with the salad. If you are really pressed for time you can use ready bought or a mix but freshly made they are even better. Potatoes (2 Idaho), 1 onion, flour, 1 egg, salt and pepper is all you need - coarsely grind in food processor or hand grinder (let the potatoes sit for a while and discard the fluid that collects), mix it all together (as usual don't over mix) and bake in canola oil on medium-high heat... enjoy with salad :-)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Test Knitting & The Holidays Part 1

First of all I love to test knit for various reasons:

1) You get opportunity to make something that is a brandnew design
2) You often learn a new technique or how to do things different... and often smarter
3) No WIPinitis as you are on a deadline (OK, may not be a favourite thing for many but for me it works extremely well and is fun)
4) You help a designer to improve their already great work
... and best of all: A beautiful piece of knitwear for you :-)
This season I got really lucky as I found great testing opportunities that at the same time generated gifts for family and friends.
A very quick and fun knit is my Sainte Chapelle which is based on a pattern called "Arches and Columns Hat" by "Ancient Pathways" (US$5.00) Ravel pattern.
The name of my project came upon me as the gothic like arc construction of the pattern reminded me of the chapel of Sainte Chapelle:


Very easy and fast knit with absolutely beautiful result - voila Xmas present for Chriselle.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pumkin Soup & Three Pepper Shrimp

I did some of the cooking for Thanksgiving this week (no, not the Turkey - did that once and it can't be topped) - not sure if the combo is very traditional but yummy for sure:

Pumpkin soup & Three Pepper Shrimp





My personal recipe for the shrimp - nothing new or unique but so easy and quite tasteful if you want to try:

5-6 medium to large shrimp per person
Black, white, green pepper (I grind them fairly coarse)
Olive oil and grape seed oil
Salt and Red Pepper flakes

Toss shrimp with good dosing of olive oil (you can use a neutral oil if you don't like the taste of Olive oil) and 1/2 - 1 tbs of pepper per serving. Let marinate for about an hour.
Heat non-stick skillet on medium heat with little bit of grape seed oil; grill shrimps in batches for about 2 minutes on each side (don't overcook or they get rubbery).
Salt and add Red Pepper Flakes to taste (this is spicy version, you can skip Red Pepper and it still taste great)

Can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature. Bon Appetit!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

Till moving to the US 10 years ago I never observed Thanksgiving but I must say that I really like this holiday - even if you sometimes don't realise there is so much to be thankful for each day. So once in a while stepping back and saying thank you is a good thing.

I am very lucky today as I will be spending time with friends and their kids - nothing fancy or formal just a relaxed afternoon with yummy food and great company and chats :-)
Something to be thankful for!

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving and time to reflect on the good things in your life.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Autumn in Good Old Germany... Take I

With multiple business meetings in EU over next few weeks I have a chance to stay with my mom during weekend in Germany.

Here are some photos that I took in our garden today - no additional words needed:












Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pink Diamonds turned blue for me

I just finished testing another lovely pattern - it is called Pink Diamonds (by Timeless Creations) and will shortly be available for sale (Pink Diamonds)

The pattern has instructions for matching scarf & fingerless gloves and I tested the scarf:


Close up:

The scarf consists of 8 row repeat - easy to memorise which makes this project an easy take-along project. Pattern is also written in a very clear way. As I love how the scarf turned out I plan to make the fingerless mitts as well.

Bottomline: If you are looking for a charming fingerless mitts/scarf set I really recommend this pattern.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Italian Men

Well, I love Italian men (or at least most of them) for their relaxed style - they have a way to look very manly and stylish but you have the impression that they do not even try (not true as I was told by some of my Italian male friends). Anyway the vibe of doing the stylish thing totally unintentinally looks great to me.

But today I am telling a totally different story of Italian men being great gentlemen and putting me in some trouble because of it.

I was on a fairly long business trip in EU and therefore took a much bigger suitcase than normal. Yesterday I finally came to Rome airport to fly back to the US... so far so good.

Stayed at airport hotel - short walk from Terminal 3 (T3). When I got there I could not locate any reference to my flight... so curb-side I checked if I may be at the wrong terminal. Some lovely Italians informed me that all flights to US leave from Terminal 5 (T5), short bus ride away and that I was in the right place to board the bus. I was still not quite convinced that my assistant should have gotten the terminal wrong so I continued checking with one of the gentlemen... while another loaded my heavy suitcase on the bus.

Problems with that 1) I did not realise that my suitcase got loaded on bus to T5 2) bus took off with my suitcase but NOT with ME AND my SUITCASE 3) it turned out that my flight on Alitalia would actually go from T3 so no need to go to T5.

Here I am @ T3 already little late for check in and my luggage travelling all by itself to T5... what to do???

Plan A - check if bus comes back on round-trip so that I can just stay put and wait for it to come back... sorry, m'am not this particular bus.

Plan B is needed fast - convince Italian gentlemen to page their colleagues at T5 to pull my suitcase off bus and keep it save for me - me jumping on next bus to T5 (two pairs of new shoes in my suitcase so I am very attached to it!!!), grab suitcase (actually nice Italian gentlemen again loading it on bus - this time with my knowlegde!!), ME AND SUITCASE taking next bus back to T3 and run to check-in & make last call to board my flight. Phew - talk about cutting it close.

Learning: It's OK and fun to flirt with nice Italien men but keep a close eye on your luggage :-)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My first pattern test

Isn't it funny how a grown up woman can get so excited about a little achievement like doing her first official pattern test for a Ravelry fellow crocheter in this case? Maybe because my week at work was filled with one little disaster after the other?
Anyway it was on my to-do list for a while to do a free pattern test for a designer on Ravelry - there were many, many, many gorgeous patterns out there to be tested but you have to be realistic if you really have the time to do it on the required schedule ... so sadly I passed opportunity after opportunity month after month... until YESTERDAY!!! There it was - a cute little crochet project designed by Anastasia (check out her Website http://crochetnj.com/) called "Cell Phone Cozy". I was accepted as a tester and got on my exciting new task right away - it took me just under an hour to finish (incl embroidery and weaving in ends).
Here's the result - my Blackberry doesn't want to come out of his new cozy anymore :-)

The pattern will be part of a larger collection and I will update my blog when it becomes available.

What a HAPPY WEEKEND - two projects finished and work done on another. I know, I know, they were tiny but sometimes the small things make all the difference.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

1 Hour Bubbles (Knitting)

While looking for one of my WIPs this morning I came across a single bulky novelty skein of yarn (no label attached anymore so not sure of name or yarn company; estimate 70 yards left). As I don't like wasting any yarn in general and actually liked the colours and mix of eyelash and bubbles I decided to make a quick mini scarf.
Here's the easy recipe:
Cast on 9 stitches, continue in in garter for 2 inches, bind off middle 5 stitches in middle of next row and directly cast these 5 stitches back on the next row (creates a hole to slip the other end of the scarf through to keep it snug around your neck) and continue in garter until you run out of yarn.
Easy-peasy mini-scarf that can be finished in less than an hour.
That is what I call a good start into the weekend!

Friday, September 17, 2010

WIPs are hiding from me

For those of you who are not knitters/crocheters and the like (could there still be anybody out there not interested in these crafts??) WIP = Work in Progress projects that I usually tend to well associate with. This week I decided to make it my goal for the remainder of this year to finish up more WIPs than generating new ones... sounds like a good (maybe overly ambitious) plan - we will see.

So off I go to find a particular WIP that would be nice to finish for the fall/winter season as it is a pillow needed for wee afternoon naps on the weekend when the weather is dreadful and knitting & napping is the only sane thing to do. It cannot be found anywhere - I am not hallucinating that I started working on this pillow am I??? I find yarns and needles that I did not even know I had (yippee - all is good) but no in progress pillow. Eventually I give up and decide to check on my gardening supplies to soon start prepping for winter... and who is peeking out behind the bulbs, shovel - yes, my little pillow. Guess it decided that I am serious on picking up work on it again... if I only remembered where I left the right size hook... sigh


Saturday, March 13, 2010

I hate WATER

Back from business trip just in time for the big rain - and I mean big rain like soaking - pouring rain & wind... By now it is so bad that my roof starting leaking :-( I don't know why but I am jinxxed with water damages in my apartments wherever I live. I usually get lucky and find nice places to live but water is stalking me - maybe I should file a constraining order??!!

To ease my pain I am going to have "Blood Orange Royal" - yummy:





So easy to make but really delicious.

Bring 1/2 cup of sugar with 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup blood orange juice and orange peel to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Let cool and strain through fine sieve.
1 part blood orange syrup to 4 parts Champagne - voila: "Blood Orange Royal"

Tomatoes and Knitting

Obviously I love knitting and another favourite of mine are tomatoes. I like them raw just by themselves, with basil/mozzarella, feta/oregano, in stews, as a sauce, grilled,... I could go on and on and on.

Not sure if you have tried them yet but heirloom tomatoes are really yummy and they look great too with their different shape and colours - salad made out of them is like a painting in a bowl.
But today something weird happened - my knitting and my tomatoes match:



How great is that?!!!

Bon apetit and Happy Knitting :-)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Singapore

OK - I don't get it... everybody I talked to before my trip to Singapore had rave reviews how nice and clean and interesting this city is.

Maybe my expectations because of that were sky-high... I did not get the vibe at all!!! It was hot and humid (I know to be expected) and other than that it was just another big city with nothing that really caught my eye. I actually think that the issue was that it is so nice and clean - no edge to catch your eye; nothing that made it stand out in a unique way.

Oh well, likely it's me as I had the experience before that for some bizarre reason I like cities better that are a bit less orderly (Barcelona, Rome, Berlin, NYC,...).

Off to Lima in a couple of weeks ... that may be the other extreme ha-ha.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Spoilage alert

Off on business trip to Asia... and almost forgot the veggies in the fridge. Not sure what I was thinking when I bought all of them - likely sub-conscious I was not in the mood to go on another trip so soon ha-ha.
I love my veggies so have to do something about them before they go bad.


POA:

1) Cauliflower soup with curry = freezes extremely well (something to look forward too when I get back)

2) Italian-style mixed veggies with mascarpone melted in

An hour later - all done!! Soup is cooling to go into freezer (not very photogenic but delicious) and the Italian veggies are yummy just as they are - no need for pasta... I eat them right out of the pan hehe.



I love cooking. It gives you instant gratification without a lot of effort - don't you wish all things in life would be so easy?!!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Frog day

Nah, not the zoology one... the knitting/crocheting kind of frog, sigh!!!

First I decided to frog some fingerless gloves as they had an odd hole at the thumb but will give those another try later again.

While I was on "frog mission" my eye caught the baby blanket that I was working on - was supposed to be a quick project to give to a friend at work who is due soon. In a moment of clarity I decided that it just did not look right - there was no tweaking that would make it better hence another frogged project (really bad part: frogging took me longer than crocheting that far as I worked with multiple strands of yarn which upon frogging decided to not cooperate but get all tangled up... but in the end I won).


Hopefully the alternative baby gift project (easy booties) turns out better.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Enough already - PLEEAAASE

I am not a snow-loving person in the first place but I can cope with it between Thanksgiving and the New Year when in anticipation of the holidays I curl up on the couch with some hot tea and a magazine or my latest knitting project.

After New Year's day - please have spring roll around. Well, who's listening to me... not the one in charge of the Tristate weather this year!
Almost March and this is what we get...




Please, please, please where are the spring flowers.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sunday

Sundays are not my favourite day of the week - why you may wonder... most people are off work, you sleep in, get to see family and friends and so on BUT the next day is Monday. I am just not a Monday person bc I have to force myself out of bed early, drag my protesting body into the city and to the office regardless of the weather and usually before I even get there my email is filled with some kind of (often subjectively perceived) disaster. And all I do is wish it would be Thursday already - yes, Thursday is my favourite day of the week. You can smell the weekend... there's only the Friday left in the regular work week and then yep, there is the weekend where I can fiddle around with things that I really enjoy and choose to do.

So what did I play with this weekend? I finished a scarf "Hope" (posted on Ravelry) for a great Charity which is called Compassionate Creations and gives hand knit items to victims of sexual and/or physical abuse. I am very lucky that I was loved so much at home that it would be enough for at least two life-times so that is my humble thought that maybe I can give some of that love back.



Did some cooking - my own Indian Curry creation with Cucumber Raita. First time I made the Raita and I was surprised that it turned out quite well. If I just had had the patience to drain the Jogurth - it would have been even better. Well, goal was to use up the veggies that I still had in my fridge before they developed a life of their own... mission accomplished with quite tasty outcome.


Monday here I come with a full & happy belly =)

Just another blog

Well, finally here I am with my own blog after thinking about it for I don’t know how long. There will be nothing earth shattering being posted on my blog – just the regular daily stuff: how I am progressing with my knitting projects or not, what I had planned to do and then scratched bc I just did not feel like it, about cooking (a lot when work is stressful, yes, I cook up a storm when I am stressed – a nice dish is an easy accomplishment and it tickles so many of your senses) and whatever else I can think of.

The title of my blog will likely make some of my friends and my mom laugh really hard because my work regularly spills over into my private life… and frankly sometimes takes it over. I could have made a resolution this year to change that… but we know how long resolutions last – at least for me. So I will be honest with myself and just take it a day at a time – there will be days I will do very well with having a life outside work and other days I will stink at it. Just like real life.