This is the American food section of the grocery store.
There is a farm school in my neighborhood and apparently they think it's necessary to have sheep, goats, chickens (who live in a different area), and a pony in the middle of the city.
It makes me sad, but I do like to visit and feed them carrots.
There is a place in Friedrichshain called Cupcake, which serves vegan cupcakes, so I had to make a visit. I don't know if they usually have multiple vegan choices, but on the day I went they only had vanilla with raspberry frosting. It looks good...
...but the frosting was too dense and sugary and the cake was too dense and chewy. I ate it (because who would waste a cupcake?) but it really wasn't that enjoyable I definitely would have been better off just making my own. Apparently they have root beer at the cafe though, so I might just have to go back for that.
I've been jogging along the river by our apartment and enjoying the bits of wildlife in the city, especially with the arrival of spring and the development of buds, flowers, and leaves. It was kind of chilly and cloudy, but I managed to get Shawn to take a walk with me along the path I jogged on. We ended up having a grand old time.
I love the pussy willows. These were already past perfection and by now they are completely leafy!
I wish I knew what these were called.
Just enough gate.
We came to a small playground, where Shawn spun me around on the wheel thing. I almost fell off.
And then we found a better playground! With a zipline!
But leave your hypodermic needles at home!
Yeah, we had fun :)
We also did a jigsaw puzzle together recently. It was 500 pieces, so nothing too crazy, but it was Shawn's first big puzzle.
I'll start with a coincidence. Shawn and I went to Karstadt to look for a winter coat for him. We were not successful in finding a coat, but it made us decide that I should knit him a warmer scarf, so we went to the crafts section of the store to look at yarn. Lo and behold...
These yarns were right next to each other on the shelves! Sister yarn!!
We didn't end up buying any yarn that day, but I am really glad that we went and looked.
And now for some food photos:
Feb 5th: Cinnamon rolls from the Vegan Brunch cookbook
Feb 13th: Brunch with my tofu scramble, oven roasted potatoes,
and zucchini muffin from Vegan Brunch.
Feb 14th: Valentine's Day dessert of coconut custard pie
from Veganomicon, with strawberries
I guess my photos are too big so it's not letting me put up any more at the moment, but I have plenty more for the next post.
I have been taking a German class for over a month now, and it's going very well. I go there every weekday, from 12:15 to 3:30 pm. My class has about 20 students total but there are usually 16 of us on any given day. It's a large class but it's great to have classmates from all over the world. Together we represent Vietnam, Japan, Indonesia, Turkey, Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, Serbia, England, Spain, Mexico, and of course the U.S. It's great to be learning German so that I can actually start understanding and communicating in the city I live in!
A couple weeks ago I decided that I should buy some vitamin B-12 and calcium, so I went to Veni Vidi Vegi to get them in order to make sure that they would be from vegan sources. When I asked if I could buy them there, the shopkeeper responded, "of course, they're in the fruits and vegetables and other foods in the store." That wasn't really the answer I was looking for, so I inquired where else I could go to find vegan vitamins and he told me I could buy them at the Apotheke. I was thrilled that I was able to have that conversation in German!
The Apotheke I went to was fabulous. It looked very old fashioned and I was helped by the nicest pharmacist I have ever encountered. He took his time looking through the B-12 and calcium they sold and came up with a liquid form of B-12 (because the tablets contained lactose) in small glass capsules (which he instructed me on how to break open carefully) and calcium tablets that would dissolve in water like Airborne. His kindness and helpfulness astounded me and I left smiling from ear to ear with my normally boring purchase.
One of my first orders of business here was to buy a food processor/blender of some sort. I went to real,- a sort of Target + supermarket store here, and bought a cheap combo food processor and blender. When I took it home to try it out, I realized just how cheap it was when I couldn't even get it to work. That night I had planned on making Chickpeas in Romesco Sauce from Veganomicon, but without a functioning blender I had to make a quick change in the dinner plans. I ended up making one of the worst meals I've ever created: Vegan Fried Chicken from vegweb, brussels sprouts, and cornbread. It doesn't sound too terrible, but the vegan fried chicken tasted like salt, I overcooked the brussels sprouts, and the cornbread tasted like applesauce. Dreadful.
So I returned the crappy blender/food processor to real,- and bought a Mr. Magic instead, which apparently is like the Magic Bullet blender. Let me say, I LOVE my Mr. Magic. He has been very good to me so far. I made the Chickpeas in Romesco Sauce and I thought it turned out divine, accompanied by sauteed broccoli and Creamy Polenta from Radiant Health Inner Wealth.
One of Shawn's and my favorite meals so far was lasagna! It was the creamiest lasagna I have eaten in many years, thanks to a hint on the Barilla box to use a bechamel sauce. I melted about 1/4 cup margarine in a saucepan, added about 1/4 cup flour and 2 cups of soymilk, and cooked the mixture until it was boiling and thickened. Then I added a dash of nutmeg and salt. I layered the bechamel sauce, lasagna noodles, spinach, tofu ricotta, and tomato sauce and cooked it until it was bubbling beautifully. The result isn't very pretty, but oooh was it delicious.
Shawn and I went to the all-veganCafe Vuxfor a brunch buffet on the afternoon before my birthday. The cafe is beautiful and charming, but I was somewhat confused by what they considered brunch. There was an assortment of salads and dips, some lime seitan, warm rolls, fresh fruit, and granola. It was definitely more on the lunch side of brunch, but it was pretty tasty. I think I would return for one of their bagel sandwiches or Belgian waffles. Mmmm...waffles.
The next day, Shawn came home from work with a huge box for me. I was busy cooking dinner, so I decided to wait to open it, but while I was cooking it dawned on me what it contained....
Beatles Rock Band!!!
We played after dinner and again the next evening, which was Shawn's birthday. It was that night that I noticed something weird going on with my face. My right eye was watering a lot, but I thought that might be from looking at the screen so much while we were playing Rock Band. Later on though, the right side of my face started twitching, which was definitely not normal. When I woke up on Wednesday I realized that the whole right side of my face couldn't move normally, which it turns out is due to Bell's Palsy. Now I have a cold on top of that and I feel pretty awful. But I look great with my lopsided smile and funky eye patch, right?
Ok, hopefully I won't have too many more exciting heath problems to share after this. I just can't help myself!
I've been in Berlin for a week now (!), so it's high time I updated this.
When I arrived in snowy Berlin on the morning of December 31st I was utterly exhausted and slept most of the day, only getting out by 11:45 pm to watch the fireworks outside. Shawn and I walked about a block from the apartment to a bridge where a large crowd was gathered, not just to watch fireworks, but to set them off. I never experienced fireworks in such close proximity and it was quite exhilarating. What a way to ring in a new year in a new country with a wonderful man!
Shawn had just gotten back here from California the night before I arrived, so he didn't have time to buy food, and then the stores were closed until January 2nd. There was not much to eat here until Saturday, when we got groceries at Netto, one of the two local discount food stores. Then I was able to start cooking! The recipe I used was dependent on what ingredients were available at Netto, so I made the Leek and Bean Cassoulet with Biscuits from Veganomicon (with many thanks to Matt F. for the book!). Very simple, hearty, and delicious.
We played some Gin Rummy later on, and though I started out lucky, Shawn's experience let him catch up with me, so he proposed a bet: If he won, I would bake cookies. If I won, I could bake whatever I wanted. Hah! Good thing I love to bake. This was the outcome:
Living at my parents' house hasn't been too bad, apart from the mile walk from the T in the freezing cold and the constant reminders to sort out the stuff in my room. I haven't been cooking as much as I've been meaning to because I've been going out for dinner with friends, but I have made some of my typical meals for my parents. They loved my tofu pot pie and the "best mac and cheese" from VegWeb that Victoria always requested. I also made a blueberry pie with some of the summer-picked blueberries in the freezer. Yum!
So I am now all signed up for international health insurance, which is a relief. And it's a good thing, too, because you never know what might happen! On Monday I was playing tag outside with the kids at work. I slipped on the play structure and hit my shin on a metal bar that's meant for climbing. Hobbling over to a place to sit down, failing at holding back tears, I pulled up my pant leg and saw blood gushing out of a gash about an inch long. Meghan, our lead teacher, immediately got the first aid kit and did an impressive job bandaging my leg, while I nearly passed out from the shock. Luckily my mom was nearby and drove me to the hospital, where I got 2 layers of stitches to fix me up. It was pretty exciting to get stitches for the first time and I love showing them off.
Today I got a 2nd large suitcase to carry my things over to Berlin. It's magenta, hard-sided, and 4-wheeled. Very elegant.
I moved from my wonderful apartment in Somerville back to my parents' house this past Sunday. Most of my things are still in boxes because I need to clear out a lot of stuff in my childhood bedroom before I can put away my current things. But by the end of December all of my favorite clothes and cooking supplies will be packed up again, in suitcases this time, and flying with me to Berlin.
The most important thing I need to do this week is sign up for international health insurance. I am going to get a plan through Allianz Worldwide Care but I am not yet sure what to sign up for. It's too bad that I am leaving my job as an after school teacher, not only because I'll miss my first graders terribly, but also because I'm giving up my full health and dental insurance coverage. *sigh* It will be okay though. I'm so thrilled to be moving to Germany that problems like this aren't even getting to me.
So what is this blog going to be about? Definitely not health insurance, I promise. I've been wanting to start a vegan food blog for a while but I never really had a strong point of view or creativity in my cooking and simply never got around to it. But now that I am moving to Berlin, which is full of exciting vegan things, believe it or not, I think I have a good excuse to start a blog. I will write about my day to day life, post photos of the delicious food I cook, and describe the adventures I hope to have in country where I don't (yet) speak the language.
Oh, and the title, "go buy altitude, it's the best game ever"? That came out of the conversation I had with Shawn (the one I'm moving to Berlin for) when I asked him what I should name it. Amara what should I name my blog? Shawn blogs are lame booo Amara NO Shawn actually name it "go buy altitude, it's the best game ever"