Monday, January 25, 2010

Ups and Downs

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-vegan Cafe Vux for 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!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Gl├╝ckliches Neues Jahr!

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:

with chocolate chips in mine :)

Monday came and Shawn had to go back to work, but my sleep schedule was so messed up from traveling and sleeping during the day and having a cold that I haven't done much this week.

On Tuesday I went to Veni Vidi Vegi, the local vegan grocery store! I bought Vegetarian Shoes Para Boots, which I need to decide whether to keep or return. 
The pros: they are comfortable, sturdy, will keep my feet dry, last a long time, and I like them.
The cons: they take a long time to put on/lace up (I'm used to slip-on Vans, so this is nuts), they're expensive, and I might not like them when they're still in good shape 8 years from now.
Gah, I'm not so good with decisions like this.