Monthly Archives: February, 2012

Contemplations about food and cooking

My love for cooking evolved over time. My Mom is a chef and I always watched her when she cooked when I was little. She would get too impatient with me, though, when I attempted to cook myself; so for the longest time I was happy enough with assisting and watching.

Eventually, when I started to live by myself, I started to bake and cook and experiment. I was never skinny, so a couple of years back food was always somehow related to diets and losing weight. Even back then I always tried to make the best out of the various diet dishes.

Nowadays, I look at food in a way more relaxed way. I love good food and I love it even more to share or cook it with someone I love. I like watching cooking shows and get some inspiration from there – Rachael Ray got me hooked (I will forever call Olive Oil EVOO..) and inspired when I was in States. Nowadays I love Jamie Oliver. I adore the way he cooks and improvises. I myself improvise loads in the kitchen. Often I would look into my fridge, the pantry, the freezer and improvise something. I seldom follow recipes to the letter, I rather use them as guidelines and inspiration.

I got Jamie’s Cookbook 30 Minute Meals a week or so ago, because when watching the show I absolutely loved the ideas in it. For me, it was crystal clear that I won’t be able to prepare that stuff in 30 Minutes. I have neither the space, equipment or practice to manage that. But who cares! The whole point is not to serve something within that time, but to pick out new ideas and adapt them to our needs. (Made a fantastic Spinach-Feta-Tarte yesterday – freely adapted from Jamies’ recipe.)

In some of the reviews about the book the people complained that it’s impossible to prepare the described meals in that time and that they needed to buy all sorts of equipment. However, in my opinion they haven’t understood the purpose of cooking.

Preparing food is not only to feed the body. It’s so much more.

Joy, Pleasure, Art, Fun, Creativity.

It’s messy and wild and punk.

 It’s Love.

In Switzerland, the cost for certain foods is very high. For example meat and fish. In our little family, we eat meat very consciously and not every day. If we decide to prepare a dish with meat, we choose very carefully. This is one of the reasons I’m always on the lookout for inspiration and new ideas to keep our foods interesting.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t always feel like cooking every night. Sometimes I’ll just have a sandwich. But I think the trick is to find a healthy balance for everything.

And I intend to share my ideas and favourites with whoever fancies to read my musings.

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Add-Ons – your friendly little helpers

 I was thinking about what useful WoW-related post I could write. So I figured I would talk about Add-Ons today.  Or maybe I’ll make it a mini-series. (I’m writing this from the top of my head, far away from my game station at home. J) 

For the longest time I was playing without any little helpers, until my cousin explained to me – with loads of patience – why it is nice to have those little in-game helpers.

I’m stubborn that way – my boyfriend still has to convince me sometimes that this or that add-on would be good for me.  

First of all, if you don’t know it yet, get yourself a downloader that helps you organize and update your add-ons. I recommend Curse Client, it’s a safe choice. There are unfortunately quite some black sheep out there (WoWMatrix, I’m looking at you…), but Curse is a great choice. Its use is quite self-explanatory and intuitive.  I won’t add links to the various add-ons; you may find them all at curse.com or within the Downloader itself.  

One of my first Add-Ons I got and that I still love dearly and don’t want to miss is Sell Junk. Sell Junk installs a button in every vendors window that lets you sell all the grey stuff with just one click. And you would be amazed what kind of gold that may net you. (Especially if you’re like me and are farming and grinding every now and then). 

Titan Panel is a close runner-up to my favourites. It shows you how much gold you own on your various chars, the coordinates you’re at, how much time is approx. left until your next level-up and lots of other useful information, that is highly customizeable to your needs.  

A relatively new find that my boyfriend introduced me to is Reforge Lite. Man, what did I do without it?! I was studying my armour the other day, trying to decide how to reforge best when T. told me about this add-on. It’s simple – you choose your class, your specialization, hit the calculate button and – BAM – it shows you how to reforge best and how much it’ll cost you in total. Just one more click away and you’re all set and reforged nicely. Boy, that one has fastly  become my absolute favourite! 

For the longest time I couldn’t be bothered with any UI add-ons. That was way too complicated and intimidating for me. And what if I buggered up my whole interface and could never, ever play again? Yep, those were my thoughts. Eventually, T. explained – again with neverending patience – how to use Bartender. Bartender lets you place your action bars  wherever you want, in whichever size. You need one big OH-SHIT-FEIGN-DEATH-Button? No problem at all. Bartender takes some fiddling around until you find what suits you best  – but it sure changed my gaming experience to the better.  

Are you a vanity pet and mount collector? Can’t decide which mount or pet to choose? GupPet does it for you. It installs two buttons – one for mounts, one for vanity pets – and chooses one at random for you when you click it. It even lets you customize the choices, for example if there are mounts or pets you don’t like at all, you simply exclude them.  

A fantastic add-on just for the silliness of it is A-Team. Yes, you read that right. You remember the title song? You got an earworm now? Great. J If you have this add-on installed, it will play the title song from The A-Team whenever a Deathknight, be it yourself or someone else in your group or raid calls forth his army of the dead. It cracks me up every time! 

I think I’ll leave it at this for the moment – more to come at a later point!

P.S. I apologize for the text size and style – I’m still struggling a bit with WordPress and can’t find anything to change the style or size of my text! Grrrr… .

Weekend Munchies – Ham in spiced bread

I got this recipe out of a Newspaper last year. It’s a variation of a classical Swiss holiday dish. We love it so much though, that every now and then T. and I prepare it no matter what season it is. Besides, it feeds us at least two days. 🙂

This is what it looks like in the end, just to give you an idea.

Ingredients for the bread:

  • 750 g whole wheat flour or mixed half-and-half with all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp gingerbread spice (2 works, too, depending on how intense you like the spice flavour)
  • 30 g yeast (I use 1 1/2 packets of dried yeast)
  • 2 tbsp liquid honey
  • approx. 500 ml water, lukewarm

Personally, I simply dump all the ingredients for the dough into my breadbaking machine, choose the program for dough and let the machine do all the work. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my breadmaker?

Of course you can prepare the dough the traditional way, combine all the ingredients and knead until you have a soft, even dough and let it rest for about one hour.

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 75 g bacon cubes
  • 2 onions, finely cubed
  • 2 apples, in rough pieces
  • 3 tbsp white wine or alternatively veggie broth
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 pre-cooked, vacuumed ham or a similar piece of pre-cooked, maybe lightly smoked meat

Roast the bacon, onions and apples in a pan. Add the wine or broth and let it simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. It’s done when all the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat and set aside.

That was the easy part. Now, for the tricky part, that’s what T. always has to do – he’s a baker, so he really knows how to handle dough. 😉 Roll out the dough, approx. like in the picture below. It should not be rolled out too thin. Remember, you wrap a lot of filling and meat in there!

Then, add the filling and the ham like that:

Then pull the dough over the ham carefully, like you would wrap a present. Press the edges together and then put it upside down on a baking sheet. Carefully add some cuts (not too deep!) to the dough.

Put in the pre-heated oven (200° Celsius) for approx. 50 minutes. Depending on your oven you need to give it a couple of more minutes until it’s done, but it’s safe to check after 50 minutes.

Carefully cut off the top for serving and then slice the ham and the bread. This can be served together with salad, but we usually eat it just like that and add only a bit of mustard to the ham.  

It tastes great warm and cold and usually we munch on it the next day in front of our computers when we’re playing WoW.

True, this dish takes some time to prepare, but it’s absolutely worth it.  The juices from the Ham and the filling seep into the bread and give it a unique and fantastic flavour.

Besides – as mentioned before, it feeds us a long time. 😉

Fantastic News!

Yesterday afternoon I got THE CALL. I’m extremely happy to announce that I got the job I wanted so badly! *cheer*

Good-Bye temp job, Hello Full Time job in cool company with good pay, sensible AND flexible working hours and most importantly, work that suits me. And a shorter commute as well! (I’ll start in a month, on April 1st – well, 2nd, since the 1st is a Sunday :-))

I can’t even start to tell you how happy and relieved I am. For my WoW-Life this means that after an initial settling-in time at the new job I will most likely be able to start raiding on a regular basis again. No getting-up at silly o’clock anymore!

Happy, Happy, Happy!

Thanks to all of you who held their thumb, kept their fingers crossed and put in a good word for me with the Universe. Hugs to y’all, you know who you are. 🙂

I tried this dish yesterday and it was absolutely fantastic! I changed a couple of veggie-ingredients, since I couldn’t find parsnip and my boyfriend doesn’t like corn. After checking my fridge for other veggies, I added some more carrots, leek and a zucchini (or would that be courgette in English?). The potato-cauliflower crust was amazing… most definitely a dish I will cook again!

The Scrumptious Pumpkin

Here are the things I love about this dish:

  • It’s pretty sneaky and sly, and you’ll find out why in a minute
  • It’s extremely flavorful and very addictive.  My meat-and-potatoes-loving husband can’t resist going back for seconds and thirds of this one
  • Just in time for Valentine’s Day, it’s also a super romantic recipe

Okay, so maybe this hearty and rustic dish is the opposite of a romantic Valentine’s dish.

I felt like I had to say something about the impending holiday.  Please note the roses and wine in my photo above in place of the romantic recipe.

So here are the major players this week ( ground beef not pictured since there really wasn’t room left on the cutting board).

Begin by starting on the potato crust.  Boil a large stock pot of water.  While that’s heating up, chop up the potatoes.  Cut each potato in half and cut each half into four…

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When your RL schedule interferes with your WoW-Life

 Warning: this will be a whiney post today. You’ve been warned.

 I recently started a new job that requires me to start very early. I’m a person that needs relatively lots of sleep to be able to function, so obviously, my RL schedule interferes with my gaming schedule. Unfortunately, I’m usually way too knackered to play in the evenings, let alone raid. That bothers me greatly, because I LOVE to raid and I would love to be part of my guilds progress. But as it is, I simply can’t.  

My inner clock is so messed up by now, that even on the weekends I wake up at silly o’clock and am not able to go back to sleep. Therefore, I’m often online very early, but then offline again to take a nap. Sometimes I make it online in the evenings on the weekend, but very often not.  

Due to this situation, I’m barely able to spend time with my guildmates and do something with them, because they are usually online when I’m sleeping. This whole situation makes me extremely sad. I’m an officer in my guild and I would love to contribute more and be a part of the raiding, but my current situation simply won’t allow it. I sometimes feel like I’m missing out on all the fun and what’s even more: on achievements. Yes, I love achievements. I’m #1 in my guild as far as achievement points go. It’s stupid, I know – but I feel like this is my last straw, at least with the achievements I’m something special, something I’m good at and the thought that someone might overtake me there is really bothering me.

(yeah, slap me already, I know I earn it for thinking such nonsense…)  

There might be a light at the end of the tunnel, though. I applied for a new job, one that fits me better and apparently they really liked me. This week – hopefully – the decision will be made. Flexible working hours, how I miss thee! I know a lot of you guys are already crossing your fingers for me – thank you so much! I will keep you posted on what’s happening on the job-front.  

I can’t be the only one out there juggling RL and WoW – how do you handle it? What are your tricks?

Fish-Rice-Balls with Spinach Sauce

This will be my first proper recipe post. The weekend is mostly the time when I try out new recipes and so I did this afternoon. I’ve found this particular recipe when I was browsing the website of a cooking magazin called “Saisonküche”, of which my mom gave me a subscription last Christmas. Just in case you’re wondering, the website is in German, so I’m gonna translate the recipe for you.  

These are the ingredients - plus a lemon, I forgot to put it in the picture. 🙂

So, for the Fishballs (insert insane giggles here – I just can’ t help it, I’m so sorry!) you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 100 g Basmatirice
  • 500 g Codfish (I suspect any white fish will do)
  • 100 ml cream
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salt, Pepper
  • 200 g spinach (I used 250 g fresh spinach, because I think it tastes so much better than frozen)
  • 3 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 20 g sesame seeds

Soak the rice for about 15 minutes in cold water. Cut the fish into rough pieces and puree it together with the cream. Add some lemonzest and the juice of the lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Form approx. walnut sized balls from the fish mass. Drain the rice. Roll the fishballs in the rice until nicely coated. Steam the balls for approx. 15 minutes.  (Note: the recipe says to steam it in a bamboo basket – you can get them relatively cheap at the asia market. I’m lucky enough to own a regular steamer and just made everything in there. Worked wonderful.)

Steam the spinach in a separate bamboo basket (Note: I steamed the spinach while I prepared the fish mass and then simply changed the baskets on the steamer.) Puree the spinach with the sesame oil and the soy sauce. Stir in the sesame seeds. Serve the sauce together with the Fish-Rice-Balls.

I used frozen codfish and was too impatient to let it thaw thouroughly. Thus my mass was a bit too wet. I simply drained it, but you might want to pay attention that if you do use frozen fish, that you really let it thaw and dry it off a bit afterwards.

Doesn’t look very pretty, but it sure tastes good!

It’s pretty messy to make, especially the first time, but it was totally worth it. I only had a sweet-ish indonesian soy sauce in the house, but will try a more salty kind the next time. I think it’ll complement the spinach a bit better.

 
If you try it, let me know what you think!

Sixth!

You know this game everyone plays right now? So I was tagged by my fellow guildie over at Arsenic and Old Mooncloth

The name of the game is Sixth.

  • The rules are as follows:
  • Go in to your image (Sreenshot) folder.
  • Open the sixth sub-folder and select the sixth image.
  • Publish.
  • Challenge six more saps and link to them.

Well, I won’t tag anyone because – you know – I’ve only been here a couple of days and don’t know that many other bloggers yet. And those I do know, are already tagged. 🙂

 

Ambêr visiting the well of eternity for the first time.

 As you can see, I play with the German Interface because, yes, my native tongue is German (well, actually, Swissgerman – but that’s a whole different story.)  🙂 Plus, it makes for some fun in the naming of various stuff – especially my guildmate Alquiel is usually highly amused by the names of the vanity pets in German. 🙂

Sadly, I had to set up my computer new due to a nasty virus and a whole lot of rather old Screenshots were lost. Therefore, here’s one from last weekend (yes, it’s the sixth!). I use the Add-On Multishot, which automatically takes a screenshot when I get an achievement. I took my Shadowpriest Ambêr for a spin – she usually only gets to go out when there’s picking flowers or mixing flasks to do. But last weekend I had some huge fun with her in various dungeons. Not that I’m really good at playing a Shadowpriest – but I have loads of fun doing so.

 

Toxic Wasteling – Woohoo!

I got lucky on Valentines Day – when I went to do my daily run for the Heartshaped Box (and I never ever give up on the Love Rocket! I mean – c’mon, it’s naughty and therefore totally awesome!) I got the Toxic Wasteling! Yay! I’m a very happy Tanyanka with yet another vanity pet for my collection.

Also, pics or it didn’t happen (although I don’t see a huge difference to the Disgusting Oozling…)

Tanyanka with the newest addition to the vanity pet collection.

The Valentines Dinner at Anka’s

This is our dinner tonight – a fresh, homemade pizza made from scratch.
 
The dough was made with our trusty breadmaker. Basically you just drop all the ingredients for a pizza dough in there (add some herbs for good measure, makes the dough so much tastier!), tell the machine to run the program “dough” and after a while you get out the perfect pizza dough for further procedure.
 
For the sauce, we used 1,5 cans of chopped tomatoes and a can of tuna, mixed with some salt and pepper and italian herbs and tadaaaa – a perfect base topping.
 
Further, there is grated cheese, onions, fresh cherry and date tomatoes, salami and ham and fresh mozzarella. The picture here is before baking – I don’t think I could snap a picture fast enough once it’s done!
 
Have a nice evening everyone!
 

Our dinner tonight!