Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lange Nacht der Museen

Last night we had a Night at the Museums!
Together with our fun friends, Hans and Gena, we visited 4 different museums in downtown Stuttgart, during the museum "open house" at night event called "Lange Nacht der Museen."
It was a beautiful night, Spring is definitely here! Yay!
We started off at the Modern Museum of Art in Schlossplatz (referred to as "The Cube" here for obvious reasons), then visited the Bunker under Dem Marktplatz, which is only open once a year, during this event.
It was so cool to go underground in the heart of the beautiful downtown; underneath the cobblestoned streets and underneath one of the most walked on parts of Stuttgart- the Marktplatz.
The Bunker was built during WWII to shelter up to 3000 Stuttgarters from the bombings during the war.
After the war, the bunker was converted into a hotel (with no windows- great location, not so good view) and was used as a hotel for 40 years!! We then headed to the gorgeous, old "Landesmuseum Wuerttemberg" which I pass every day on my way to school.
 It is such a pretty building, inside and out.
We got to check out some beautiful crown jewels and memorabilia from times past.

I would definitely like to go back to that museum to explore in more detail.
We then grabbed a gelato (I L.O.V.E. G.E.L.A.T.O- thank you, Gena!) on our way to the Staatsgalerie of Baden Wuerttemberg, and saw some original pieces by Picasso, Gauguin, Matisse, Dali and countless others. It was amazing to see the "original" famous paintings and sculptures up close and personal. We could of visited many more museums, but we were honestly pooped by midnight, so we headed back home! It was definitely a fun way to get a taste of the different museums in Stuttgart, and to spend a great night with friends. What a night!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Speaking of cooking....

Today was my turn to host The Girls for lunch.
Adele, Hend and I met over a year ago (can you believe it has been that long!?) in German school, here in Esslingen. We clicked right away and have stayed in close contact ever since. About 6 months ago, we started a "tradition" where we would each take turns hosting lunch/ dinner at our house, cooking something from our homeland. Adele made a French dish (which you can see in the October post from 2009), and Hend made a delicious Lebanese FEAST (because there was enough for 12 people!) when it was her turn. Although I am not Mexican, Zev and I absolutely LOVE Mexican food, so my theme for our lunch was Mexican food. Luckily, I can find a lot of the typical Mexican ingredients (tortillas, salsa, refried beans etc) on base (they are difficult to find in local German supermarkets), so the meal was easy to prepare. It was cute watching the girls pay close attention to how I "constructed" my chicken enchiladas and then watching them make their own.
I love my girlfriends, and promised them that we will keep in touch even when Zev and I have to move back to the States (Adele and I have already decided that my daughter will marry her son. No, Adele and I don't have children yet, and no, I am not pregnant, in case you were wondering. ;-)).
After lunch, we sat outside (my first time sitting outside since the beginning of winter!) and enjoyed coffees in the sun. I think Spring is truly just around the corner...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

So I married a really good cook

It's no secret that I got the better end of the deal by marrying a man that can cook. I mean, REALLY cook! Just take, for example, the fact that Zev just went and cooked up Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon after watching the movie "Julie and Julia."
If you look up Julia Child's recipe online, it says "Difficulty: Difficult" and "Cook Time: Over 2 hours."
Yes, you read that correctly- TWO HOURS.
It tasted soooooo good though. Tender and FULL of flavor in every bite.
I'm hoping he will make that dish again soon (hint hint ;-))
You would have lost me at the "difficult" part. Hence, I like Rachel Ray's recipes. No offense against Rachel Ray, but her recipes involve more assembling stuff together and making it taste yummy by adding olive oil (EVOO!), rather than carefully monitoring the evolution in the molecular structure of the ingredients through heat and time (one of Zev's favorite TV shows back in the States is Alton Brown's "Good Eats." Does that surprise you? It shouldn't. Alton and Zev could be brothers.....)
Needless to say, I haven't "Mastered the Art of French Cooking," so I won't be pulling out any Julia Child tricks in the near future. I can't even pronounce half the French recipes (sorry, Adele!) so maybe I need to work on that first.
So, not only does my man love to cook, he loves to come up with new recipes and host dinner parties just so he can share his love of good food with others. Yes, I married wisely ;-)
Zev likes to read magazines like "Gourmet" (he is sad that they are out of print); "Bon Appetit" (next best thing to "Gourmet"), "Guns and Ammo" and "Handloader"). Can you guess what some of my magazine choices are? Yes, Rachel Ray's magazine is one of them. And I only subscribed to Oprah because they had a special deal that you could get a whole year's supply of Oprah for $5!! I also read stuff like latest developments in Louisiana Law, but I digress...
We invited some of our dear friends here in Stuttgart over for dinner this past weekend. Our menu was an eclectic mix of Meditteranean, Middle Eastern and American. Zev was inspired by a recipe he read in this month's "Bon Appetit." Our menu consisted of Beef "Koefte" meatballs (not just your ordinary meatballs, TRUST me!), with a topping of Tahini-spiked Yoghurt Sauce and "muhammara", a Syrian red pepper sauce. I had to look up these names in the magazine. Basically, if a recipe has a name that is diffucult to pronouce; requires ingredients that are usually diffcult to find in a store; and has a level of "difficult," Zev will make it. 
I contributed to the food preparation by making a recipe which has (surprising to me!) become one of Zev's favorites. It's called Stuffed Eggplants. Exotic, I know. (He also like my Stuffed Peppers" which shows some of my cooking repertoire ;-) It surprised me that he liked it because it is low in "points" and if you know what I am referring to by "points" then you will know where the recipe came from!!
I also made a simple salad, which Zev garnished with grated cheese.
I tell Zev that since we have been married he has taught me many things. Two of the main things he has taught me are: how to appreciate good food (as well as how to pair the best wine to a particular dish), and how to shoot guns (as well as how to pair the best gun with the task at hand, like shooting skeet or hunting.) Like I said, I am a lucky girl.
The best part (aside from the incredibly tasting food) was the fact that we were able to spend some great quality time with our local friends and their adorable kids.
As most military families will understand, our friends are like family here, so it is important to make time to catch up when we can.
We concluded the dinner party with a good ol American favorite, Bread Pudding. We paired it with a local favorite, Bourbon Vanilla Ice-Cream.
We buy this ice-cream from a store that we have to drive to, but Zev likes it better than the American ice-cream that we can buy on base. So German made ice-cream it is!
Hope you enjoyed our dinner party! Till next time, Fi xoxo

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Snow Day

Adele and I were meant to go to Strabourg, France today for a girls trip and for her to take her sewing lessons. It snowed all of last night and is still snowing now, so Adele's husband advised against driving to France, which was a good thing because apparently the major roads are backed up in a "stau." We were really looking forward to our day in France, but I think we will reschedule for a nicer day when it is safe to drive and we can enjoy the outdoors.
So, the good news is that snow days mean that I can get a lot done at home. I have two weeks of holidays from my German school, so I am using this time wisely catching up with friends, housework, my business and of course speaking as much German as possible in preparation for my big test in April!! This morning I went out to the local little grocery store (2 minute walk by foot, wearing the new snow boots that Zev bought me) and was glad to run into the regulars who now know me by name "Frau York." I can't get them to call me "Fiona" for some reason, so of course I call them by their formal names too- Frau Reich, Herr Silberhorn and so forth. Even the "Mayor" was standing on the corner with his posse UNDER AN UMBRELLA by the way (because of the snow), was able to wave at me. The Mayor only has one arm and usually has a drink in this one arm, so I appreciated him making the gesture to say "hi."
I attempted my hand at what I call German craft. I have noticed that a lot of stores have these decorations at Easter time but also at other times of the year, where they take unusual looking sticks and hang sweet little decorations on them. Just so happens that across the street from our little grocery store, this young couple has opened a sort of thrift/ handmade goods store, right next to the bus stop. They are only opened a few days a week, and as they were opened this morning, I popped in and had a look. I met the loveliest lady and her baby girl who was sitting in a high chair out the back. I asked her about the little Easter eggs which were hanging in the window with "Happy Easter" written in German "Frohe Ostern." We got talking about their new business (her husband is an electrician and they sell some electrical appliances as well as her handmade goods in the store). Anyway, I bought some of her Easter eggs and came home to get started on my project. I thought about how to hang the eggs, and then looked out onto our backyard and noticed that the trees in the back had some interesting looking branches, all curly and delicate yet intriguing.
I picked out some of the low hanging ones and arranged them in a vase (given to us by Aunt Joanne at our wedding! Thanks Aunt Joanne!)
 I think my Easter tree looks just like the ones in the store. Do you like it? I hope Zev likes it. I think he will.
Have a good day. I am looking forward to Spring and Summer, but at least snow days are a good excuse to stay indoors and get the necessary things done. I wonder if that means I need to shovel the driveway now? 

Love and hugs,

Fi xoxoxo

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Skiing with Olympians....sort of

What do Winter Olympics Gold Medallion skiier Lindsey Vonn and Zev and Fi have in common?
Why, they have all skiied at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, of course!
Just so happens that American skiier Lindsey Vonn is best friends with Germany's top female skiier (also a Gold medalist at Vancouver), Maria Riesch, who is featured in the picture above with Lindsey. According to NBC, Lindsey Vonn and her husband spend Christmas with Maria Riesch and her family in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Lindsey also speaks a little German. Hearing her speak German was actually quite motivating for Fi, because it showed Fi that speaking German without sounding like a foreigner (ie from the US or Australia) is easier said than done! It was interesting to watch the Winter Olympics from Germany, because we saw a lot of events that Germans participated in, and only a smattering of events that included athletes from other countries. Fi was really hoping to see the figure skating events and the Aussies, namely Torah Bright, in action, but sadly, they were not featured on our German TV channels.
Nonetheless, we enjoyed a lovely (and sunny!) weekend skiing in Garmisch-Partenkirchen this past weekend.
We skiied with local friends, Daniel (from Australia) and his German girlfriend, Susi.
The weather was so nice that our faces got a little tanned.
We ate hearty food, including this dish called "Leberkaese" which translates to Liver Cheese. With a fried egg on top. Mmmmmmm. Zev ate that and liked it. He says that it doesn't really have liver in it.....
I just HAD to look up the ingredients for this traditional South Germany dish, and yes, Zev was right- there are no livers in Leberkaese. The other ingredients however....

Leberkaese Recipe for 15 people:

3 kg lean beef

500g pig's neck

250g fatty calf's belly with rind

1 onion, grated

80g salt

8g ground white pepper

1 tbsp marjoram

2 crushed garlic cloves

a little lemon zest

1.5 litres water

10g lard

We love Germany- the culture, the scenery, the people, the language (working on that one!) and yes, even the food.  
Hope you have a wonderful week!