Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Avec Nutella

There’s nothing wrong with any particular version of what we in America call “French Toast.” Battered Wonder bread (wonder why they call it bread) fried in a cast iron skillet and served drowning in melted margarine and genuine imitation maple syrup (we weren’t wealthy) is how I remember it. French toast is quick and easy and kids love it. The only problem is making it here in Germany where soft white bread is scarce and “ahorn sirup” nearly impossible to find.

We had Lara and Emma over one weekend recently, and as usual things were in a disarray in the morning. I decided to try making them some French toast, using what I had on hand. This included a leftover baguette and some milk and eggs. What I didn’t have was syrup, maple or otherwise. I thought I would try to sell the girls on strawberry jam as a topping. I made the French toast, but they wanted Nutella on it instead. Nutella is from Italy and is very popular in Europe. It is a mashup of ground hazelnuts and chocolate, about the consistency of peanut butter and probably about as good for you. But the girls loved it on their French toast. And on their faces, the table cloth, and anything else within reach. This stuff can be messy. But French toast with Nutella is as popular here as my “egg McMuffins,” another classic breakfast only Opa can make.


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“Popular cereal is a drug, US food watchdog says”

See full size imageAt first, it sounded ridiculous – the Food and Drug Administration calling Cheerios a drug? That was the headline which caught my attention. I half expected to read about the millions of kids becoming addicted to the little round bits of processed “oats”  I should have known better. It was a misleading headline about the misleading claims of one of America’s leading breakfast cereals. Cheerios is no more a drug than it is a cure for high cholesterol.

The FDA did not say Cheerios was a drug, per se. It sent General Mills a warning letter, telling them their health claims make Cheerios look like a new drug. As protectors of America’s health, the FDA takes exception to the manufacturer’s claims and threatens to seize boxes of Cheerios from retailer shelves. General Mills has 15 days to do something about all this, and they aren’t taking it lying down. The good folks at Cheerios are in a “dialogue” with the FDA over this dispute, and they hope to resolve it soon. 

In the mean time, I would like to point out that General Mills is in business to make money, not improve your health. This is only an advertising strategy and advertising is the method by which cost is added to a product without a corresponding increase in value. 

So how are Cheerios made?

Cheerios are produced in a factory. General Mills takes whole grain oat flour and then adds in some more oat bran and oat fiber (as well as a little sugar and salt.) The flour is then mixed together in a big vat with water and some “binders” like corn and wheat starch and pushed through machinery (also called “dies”) to create the little “Os”. The “Os” are then cooked in a pressurized steam cylinder, dried some more and sprayed with synthetic vitamins.


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The Bean Pot


The Bean Pot

Originally uploaded by kilgorebrian13

A clay pot is essential to proper New England style baked beans.

My mother made “Boston baked beans” every Saturday night I lived at home. I tried to duplicate her recipe without success until I found this clay pot in an antique store in Lompoc, Ca. I don’t think it was ever used before I bought it for $15.

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My first experience with this Bavarian “liquid bread” was in 1973 and involved a late night trip to the Bahnhof with my buddy Reginald, six half-litre bottles of Salvator doppelbock, and a crippling hangover.

Bock is a strong lager which has its origins in the Hanseatic town of Einbeck, Germany. Bocks have a long history of being brewed and consumed by Roman Catholic monks in Germany. During the spring religious season of Lent, monks were required to fast. High-gravity Bock beers are higher in food energy and nutrients than lighter lagers, thus providing sustenance during this period. 


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The Bush administration apparently doesn’t like the essential ingredient to one of my favorite salad dressings – Roquefort cheese. So, before turning off the lights and heading to Texas, George slapped a 300 percent duty on the real deal. This pretty much means we will either have to pay through the nose for the stinky delight, or do without. I sure hope you enjoy your Velveeta, George.

Legend has it that the cheese was discovered when a young shepherd, eating his lunch of bread and ewes’ milk cheese, saw a beautiful girl in the distance. Abandoning his meal in a nearby cave, he ran to meet her. When he returned a few months later, the mold had transformed his plain cheese into Roquefort.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediakaiserchmarrn

Kaiserschmarrn (“Kaiser”, meaning “Emperor’s” and “Schmarrn” is “Mishmash” in Austrian German) is one of the best know Austrian desserts, popular in the former Austria–Hungary as well  as in Bavaria. In Hungary it is called “császármorzsa” or simply “smarni”. The translation of Kaiserschmarrn has generated some etymological debate. While “Kaiser” is literally translatable as Emperor, the same cannot be said for “Schmarrn”. “Schmarrn” has been translated as a mishmash, a mess, crumbs, a trifle, a nonsense, a fluff or even as a mild expletive.

Gerda made Kaiserschmarrn yesterday from a recipe she found in the German language WIKIBOOKS. Unfortunately, there isn’t an English version of this same recipe. The other recipies I found don’t really come close, but I can translate this one if someone wants it. 

It may be interesting to learn how this Austrian dessert or light meal became known as Kaiserschmarrn. To me though, the only important thing to know is there is no better way to combine eggs, flour and milk. If I were a condemned man, this is what I would want for my last meal.

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The Ultimate Breakfast


We enjoy our own version of müsli just about every single morning and never seem to tire of it.  Most of the ingredients are available in a decent grocery store, but we have to drive to Johnson City where we shop at the Whole Foods Market .  Here’s how we make it.

  • 1/2 cup mixed thick rolled (not instant!) oats (50%) barley flakes and rye flakes (25% each)
  • 1 tbs raisins
  • 1 tsp flax seed meal
  • 1 tsp sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbs walnuts
  • 1/2 apple
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 slice of pineapple
  • in-season fresh fruit, such as strawberries, peaches, blueberries, etc.

In a good sized individual serving bowl, mix the first six ingredients together and soak in soy milk for an hour or so at room temperature.  In the winter, we heat this in the microware for about 30 seconds to take the chill off it.  You could use regular or non-fat milk but the soy gives it better flavor.  Just make sure to use regular and not flavored soy milk.

Slice, dice, or otherwise prepare the fruit and add to the bowl. Apples, bananas and canned pineapple is always available and are standard in our mix.  Now add whatever other fruit that is in season until your bowl is as full as you can get it. There really isn’t a downside to overeating this stuff.

Top with a generous dollop of plain, non-fat yogurt and sprinkle with a teaspoon of wheat germ. The whole thing now looks like an ice cream sundae.


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Sacher Torte

2664681937_22af4b0bba_mI am reading “Mortals” by Norman Rush.  On the back cover are all the out-of-context quotes by various literary types.  Karen Heller writes for the Philadelphia Enquirer and says “Dazzling . . .  A thick, delicious Sache torte of a novel.”  It is a good book, but this Austrian delight has it’s own web site.

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It’s Good!

I tried the Schlenkerla smoke beer last night.  We had it with Gerda’s homemade broccoli soup and laugenstangen with cheese.  It was a little milder than I expected but this could be the difference between the bottled and on-tap versions.  In any case it was excellent. The smoke flavor wasn’t at all overbearing, even at the beginning.  The beer went very well with the soup and a sandwich.  This is what I call an indoor beer, to be enjoyed with a good meal.

PS: A laugenstange is a type of bread roll I make from time to time.  These are pretty good and close to the original we get in Germany.  Next time I make them I’ll post a recipe and a picture or two.

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