The girl with half a tongue


It’s been awhile since I’ve been here, I admit. In the last weeks I’ve faithfully photographed a number of delicious meals with every intent to post them, and yet….motivation was lacking. But here we are. Motivation found.

So let’s catch up. Miss sourpuss up there was obviously pissed as hell at me for leaving her in the care of a cat sitter for a week. Granted, she always looks a bit pissed off, but there was a note of evilness in that glare that was even a little scarier than usual. While we were off cavorting in the sun (amazing view from the terrace of the house we rented):



(Dad and Michal probably talking about politics in Israel.)


(a church in Porto San Paulo I ran by each time I ran on Sardinia),

and moping a bit in the rain:


(Just before a downpour at a beach about 100 km south of where we were staying)


(No point in leaving the house that day)

for a week in Sardinia with my parents, the cats sat quietly waiting for our return. And our cat sitter took a photo of them every day and sent it to me…


I think this must have been my favorite meal there:


In just 4 hours I will be at the starting line for the half marathon I am running today. The six weeks of training were rather grueling, mostly the heavy protein diet to quickly drop 10-12 pounds. (Done!). The running felt almost easy compared to that. So the week of pasta in Sardinia was especially wonderful. I must have eaten it every day. Up there – a local pasta shape, I don’t even remember the name of it, with a lamb ragu. Every bite heavenly.

And I came back…and am running a full 45 second per kilometer faster. Hopefully I can hold the tempo for the 21 kilometers today.

I have a date with a pizza tonight. Already I can imagine it…even if I will only be able to taste it…halfway. I still have only “half a tongue,” due to a little accident that my dentist had in my mouth a month ago…when he punched through a nerve with his needle, partially severing it, while giving me anesthetic for some tooth fixing. He tells me…”it should come back (feeling in my tongue, which completely mutes the taste buds on that side and makes half the tongue feel like a giant slug in my mouth) in no more than six months.” By now, I’ve gotten used to it. But….I wish it hadn’t happened.

Getting nervous – a little bit – now…and am busy downloading music to my phone to listen to. And packing the bag I can pick up at the end of the race. And hydrating hydrating hydrating.


(Can you spot Sardinia?)

Next magnet to come in December: Sri Lanka! :-)


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I can’t get no satisfaction


Just so you know, there is something behind this nonsense diet I have undertaken. With all the running I have been doing this summer, around 50k per week these days, I decided I might as well put some goals behind it, so it’s not all aimless running. Scratch that. None of it is aimless, it’s all for fitness, staying in shape, keeping stress away, feeling good, staying young (29 and counting!). But when you can put another specific, dated goal on top, a real challenge that will push you – at least a bit – it feels even better. So I have. As long as the weather is reasonable on that day, I will run the Munich half marathon on October 11. A mere six weeks away. But considering I have been running all summer with the aim to improve, I feel like I have been training for quite a long time already. In theory, it should be a breeze. Not that I have ever done it before.

But…it would be even nicer not to come in last. I’m slooooow. And while I have seen nice improvement over the summer – so far cutting about 35 seconds off my average km speed, I know I can do better if I get more serious. More serious about core strengthening for better posture and simply easier running, more serious about speed by doing interval training, more serious about diet, for which there has been very little seriousness. I don’t eat junk, at least not much, but when you perform sport activities for 2+ hours a day (running, biking to work and back, biking everywhere), you burn a lot of calories, and I’ve noticed that the hunger gets really out of control mid-day. I snack too much in between meals and it’s not snacking on carrot sticks. I am a carb junkie. Give me crackers and pretzels and I am a really happy camper. Throw in some ice cream when the thermometer hits 30+ degrees, and I am wallowing in bliss. But all this means that calories in are only perhaps a bit less than calories out. So I have managed to lose a few pounds over the summer, but really only a few.

And wouldn’t it be nice to be 10 pounds/15 pounds lighter to run a half marathon?

With six weeks to go…time to make a drastic, impactful change and see what happens. I’m cutting carbs. Day 7 in, I’m fairly miserable, but seeing results, so sticking with it. I guess you could say I am trying out a Paleo diet – with the exception that I am also leaving out the fruit, All sugar is gone, all carbs, except what comes from nuts and vegetables, gone. Let’s see what happens. Feels like Atkins, which I tried out quite successfully a long long time ago, but much much worse because in those days I didn’t run a 10k five times a week.

Tonight’s dinner: a reflection of the diet, but doing my best to stay happy with food I love.


Some poached salmon, long cooked kale, (always a favorite),


And a weird but ok attempt at zucchini/pepper/cheese pancakes (I resisted adding an egg to bind everything together, hoping the cheese would do the job as the pancakes cooked, because there have been way too many eggs in the last 7 days. Wasn’t pefect).



Good, filling, better than much of what I’ve eaten in the last few days while traveling, (on the road: piles of nuts, tomatoes, carrot sticks to fill the hunger moments) but…oh, I am really suffering without bread. Timing: gonna try to make it through another 3 weeks. For the last couple weeks before the race I’ll pull in fruit and legumes and some whole grain carbs.

So for now, dealing with this.


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Bean me up


Now you’re awake, aren’t you? My colleague, Valentin, brings a smile to everyone’s face on a daily basis with his crazy outfits. That was yesterday, in the Augustiner Biergarten next door to our office, where I gathered with 5 of my colleagues for a semi-spontaneous homemade lunch. (We planned it two days prior to yesterday – spontaneously.) Now these lunches have become a lunch series, inofficially named “Lunch of Awesomeness” by Herb, another foodie colleague of mine – in the back there, with the cap on. This was lunch number two – each one entailing the participants to bring some sort of home made dish or gourmet offering. We’re quite an international crowd there – representing 5 countries – USA (me), Poland (Kinga), Romania (Valentin), Germany (Guenter and Eva) and Austria (Herb.) Yesterday was a delicious mixed bag offering of Polish celery and beet salads, an Austrian beef “salad” with pumpkin seed pesto, my spicy duck and noodle dish (granted, not very American, but yummy), fresh baguettes, chocolate mousse and strawberry quark, and a minty ice tea (which you’re not allowed to bring into the beer gardens – so Valentin served it to us after lunch back at our desks.)


The last few days and weeks really have been scorching hot, with little reprieve from the sun. Taking picnics to beer gardens helps you stay cool. And when I cook in this heat, I try to find dishes that don’t require turning on the stove or oven for very long, if possible.

I’ve been a bit addicted to Korean recipes again lately, perhaps because of my discovery of this lady’s YouTube channel. Maangchi – just a simple housewife who started putting her recipes into short videos and over time has become this huge YouTube sensation (almost 700k subscribers!). And she’s really great. In just a few minutes she inspires me to throw together nice easy Korean dishes.

A week ago, again with her as inspiration, I went and bought a huge bag of dry soybeans. You know, these:


In 5 days, you can sprout them to full-grown sprouts. You just need to keep them watered regularly and covered. Not much to it.


No special equipment needed. Those are my sprouts! Fun window-sill projects.

And what to do with said sprouts? She had a great recipe for a bi-bim-bop with sprouts (called Kongnamulbap), cooked and done in about 45 minutes.

You mix up some beef with onions and garlic and a few other ingredients (a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil mixed into the beef to further flavor it).


In a pot with the rice and sprouts – yup, all together.


Let it cook for about 20 minutes….first on high and then down at a simmer.

Mix with a “dressing” of sorts, (⅓ cup soy sauce, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 stalk of chopped green onion, 2 ts hot pepper flakes, 1 ts honey, 1 tbs chopped onion, 1 tbs chopped green chili pepper, and 1 tbs roasted sesame seeds.)  fry an egg, mix the dressing with a scoop of the beef/rice/sprout mixture and then serve. Easy, fast and reasonably healthy – especially with a salad on the side.



Posted by on August 7, 2015 in Asian, Cooking at home, Summer in Bavaria


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Can you Orecchiette me?


Home for the weekend and almost no travel ahead of me for the next 30 days – just a day trip here and there. It’s an awesome feeling. I will be sleeping in my own bed, cooking in my own kitchen, running along the isar, playing with the cats, every single day through the month of July. Today, after a month of no significant interesting cooking/recipes because I was on the road most of May/June (or it felt like it), I got a chance to really splurge and spend most of the day in the kitchen, quietly preparing dinner, almost meditating as I pressed and folded, pressed and folded, little Italian-shaped “orcchiette” – which means “little ear” in Italian.

I’d seen this recipe a month or two back, and though it is more of a late spring recipe, because stinging nettles are rather more of a spring ingredient, I didn’t have a chance to tackle it until today. And there are still plenty of nettles around my neighborhood, you just have to take care and look for younger ones, preferably those that haven’t yet flowered. I loaded up the bike basket with a bag, rubber gloves, and scissors and went in search of the weeds. It didn’t take long to find some.


There they are, to the right of the bike, mixed in with all kinds of other stuff, but easy enough to spot, their nasty little venomous needles out and ready to bite.


You only cut the top tender leaves off, which I did. Cups of them – perhaps seven or eight – and then I brought them home, to soak in cold water. I wear the gloves all the way through the moment I get them in the pan. I was reminded during the collection, that even a gentle swish of an arm against a leaf is enough to leave a burn.


But washed and prepped, they look innocuous enough. Sauteed with garlic and onion and then pureed, they are a bit like spinach, but with a wild tang to them. Supposedly quite healthy as well, and I always like gathering things that end up in my dinner.

So on to the pasta. That was a nice mix of standard semolina and in my case, buckwheat, as I didn’t have any rye and couldn’t find it at the store yesterday. Mixed with water, the dough rests for an hour or so before you roll it out and begin the process of creating each of the little “ears.” I had no idea it would take so long, but I did a 600 gram recipe, meaning about 210 or 220 of those ears…each carefully hand rolled, hand pressed, hand folded. It was sort of relaxing ultimately, especially if you can just sit there and watch Netflix for two hours while you do it.


Weigh out 100 grams, roll it into a log, cut the log into 30-35 pieces.


Roll each into a little ball. And then press them into shape – a little concave hollow and then press the edges back…to look like an ear. Repeat with the next 100 grams, taking care to always keep the rest of the pasta well covered in plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out as you roll.

There is probably a shortcut, I just haven’t learned it yet.


And let them dry out on a cloth or some baking sheets for a few hours.


I’ll put the uneaten ones in the freezer and cook them another time. But for tonight, the rest of the recipe was quite easy.

Chop herbs (mint, dill, chives) and crumble some feta. Zest a lemon. Place it all in the bowl where the dish comes together.



While you boil the pasta, saute some oyster mushrooms, throw in some fresh peas, dollop the nettle pesto you’ve made into the mix, stir in some pasta water, and finally mix it all together.


I love how the little ears gently cradle the peas – a perfect bite of sauce in each little ear. (Cute, no!!?!).

And each bite was lovely, a medley of flavors, each bite a little different: fresh herbs, the salty cheese, the sweet peas, the gentle buckwheat flavor of the dough in the background.


And to finish off our meal, I’d made a simple upside-down cherry and cornmeal cake. A coffee cake, as it turned out, served with a spoonful of petit suisse cheese mixed with a bit of honey.


Happy Sunday Supper.


After that, Monday doesn’t feel so bad, does it?



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Bananas for Bananas


Well the last business trip wasn’t quite as inspiring as some of the ones before. ;-) An interview meeting here two weeks ago …ja, not in the middle of the dirt field, but around the corner in a very nearby building…where was that again? Ah yes, not too far from Cologne. An hour drive into the boonies from the Cologne airport, where we saw huge machines pulling coal out of the ground. I suppose that is something to at least gape and wonder at, if not be inspired by. The customer we spoke with, a grumpy guy who wanted to know what we were doing there, “What do you know about companies like this?!?!” but who sorted his manners out and got much nicer by the end of our 90-minute discussion. Relief. And a sunny, beautiful day to smooth out the rough edges.

But the recipe below is inspiring. Especially because I didn’t believe a word of it even though I read it in at least 10 different places or 100.

Another ice cream recipe. With one ingredient. Or maybe two. Three or four if you want to get creative.

Let’s start with one.


Here’s how this one goes.

Wait until banana is nice a ripe. Not slightly rotten or brown, just aromatic and sweet. Peel the banana. Chop it into slices. Place in a bag, Put in your freezer.

Next day. Take frozen banana out.


Break the slices up a bit – just separate – and stick them into a blender.


If you like, add a little milk. Or a little cream. But that’s unnecessary.

For some spice, consider a bit of cinammon.

For some decadence, throw in a spoonful of nutella.

But you don’t need any of that.



Somewhere halfway through (a few pulses), your bananas might get stuck. Just take a tool and push them down again. Blend.

Keep going. Maybe a minute in total.

Open up the blender and look at your beautiful banana ice cream.


That’s it. It’s perfect. Cold, sweet, creamy, refreshing, and just a banana that has the power of ice cream.

Ok, maybe not this much power


But at least this much power


Happy summer from Munich!



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Tell me, please, how it’s possible that the end of April has already arrived. Last time I looked at a calendar it was January. Don’t get me wrong: I’m very happy that we have scenes like this just outside my home:


and scenes like this when in Hamburg for a day of client visits:


Those gorgeous blossoming trees really are a motivation to get out of bed for the day, go for a run…and then maybe sit down to a bowl of this:


Ummmmmmm. The photo doesn’t even begin to do justice to my new breakfast addiction. (And I have quite a few nice new breakfast suggestions here.) Have you ever made a granola mix yourself? I hadn’t. Friends, let me tell you, if you like to eat cereal in the morning…this stuff is crazy good. Yes, I will reveal the secret ingredients. What’s nice is that it’s also easy and fast to make.

I started with this recipe as a basis for what I ended up with. And I admit, I didn’t stray too far from it.

Nevertheless, here’s my version, tweaked a bit (consider doing a recipe and a half or even doubling it, this stuff goes fast!):

Coconut Cardamom Granola


2 cups whole oats

1 cup coconut flakes (not the tiny flake shreds, you want the large flake)

1 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup whole almonds

1/4 cup hemp seeds (see – that must be where the addiction comes in)

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1 ½ tsp cardamom powder

2 tsp cinnamon powder

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

Mix together all the seeds and grains in a bowl:


On the stove, melt your coconut oil in a small pot, add the honey, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and cardamon. Stir to combine. Remove from stove, pour the mixture over the mixed grains and nuts, and stir until the liquid is even distributed over the rest.

Spread the mixture on a baking tray, and bake in the oven at 275 F/135 C for about 45 minutes.


Stir every 10 minutes for a few seconds to make sure you are evening toasting the mix. When the coconut flakes begin to get nice and toasty brown, remove the mixture from the oven, let cool, and then store it in the air-tight container of your choice.


I haven’t yet tried to create granola bars from this mix, but I guess that is next on the spring agenda.




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Magic words: “Biang noodles?”


This nasty cold I have. It doesn’t go away. I’ve tried everything from ginger tea to hard drugs. Ok, not that hard. Four weeks in, I swear I would be willing to make an animal sacrifice (no, not my kitties) to get rid of the damn thing. I’m looking for a magic cure at the moment. Three weekends have now been spent in bed, and really, enough is enough.

I’m not really sick enough anymore to stay in bed all day (although I did that most of today), but I am working from home more often than not. After taking a week and a half off to “be sick” and “not infect anyone else,” enough was enough last week and I flew off to our Cologne office to work with a few colleagues for two days.

Anyway, one of my favorite bloggers out of Beijing put this blog post up a few days back and it was irresistible. Magic words – “Biang” and “Hand-smashed.” I hoped they might have some magic cure-all properties. Those hand-smashed homemade Chinese noodles looked too incredible not to try out right away – especially after her many reassurances that they were ridiculously easy to make (true.)

I wasn’t really into the idea of a spicy lamb cumin dish, though – her recipe for the sauce. Cumin and stuffed nose didn’t appeal. The husband wanted duck, and I had seen a pistachio pesto that looked interesting…but I twisted things up a bit into a strange fusion that worked in the end:

Hand smashed Chinese noodles with peanut/almond cilantro/mint pesto, wild mushrooms and roasted duck. Yes, it was a bit much, but it came together. The duck was superfluous – a rich extra that we didn’t need at all, but still didn’t overload if you had a few bites.

Mandy (up there from the Lady and Pups blog), recommends using a dumpling flour, which has at least 10% gluten. So I went out and got some yesterday. Not hard to find at your local Asian grocery.


Her instructions to make the noodles:

  • 218 grams (1 1/2 cup) Chinese dumpling flour
  • 2 grams (1/4 tsp) salt
  • 126 grams (1/2 cup) water + 15 grams (1 tbsp) for adjustment

Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a dough hook mixer (I have a hand-held) for 5-6 minutes. Let sit for an hour, then roll out to about a centimeter in thickness.


Cut into strips (10 strips), take each strip, oil it so it doesn’t stick, smash it down on your counter with the back of your wrist, and then pick it up and stretch it out a bit by holding both ends and gently smacking it against the counter. It’s quite easy. You end up with a bunch of these – which you can lay out on a baking sheet. This goes quite fast – not the painstaking process of rolling out the dough and running it through a pasta machine x times and then cutting it. You only have about 10 strips – so ….really – quite fast.


Next, you want to boil each of them – dropping them into salted boiling water one at a time – for about a minute – until they rise to the top of the water. Drain, and mix with your sauce, whatever you choose, on the stove – gently tossing the noodles in the sauce.

For the pesto – I simply went with the “by feel” cooking method: a few cloves of garlic, a handful of peanuts and almonds, a chili, a couple handfuls of cilantro and mint, a teaspoon or two of sesame oil, a tablespoon or so of fish sauce, and oil. Best go with canola or similar, although I went with olive oil. Zap in your blender, adjusting for flavors and consistency with salt/oil/water.


For the mushrooms, I chopped them and threw them in a hot oven (200 degrees C) for about 20 minutes, tossed with oil, chopped garlic, and a chopped a spring onion, some sliced baby corn – until they were brown on the edges


Bringing it all together – warm the pesto, mushrooms and slivered duck (I cheated and bought a pre-roasted Chinese duck and then used pieces of it, torn up – would work just as well with a roasted chicken) on the stove in a pan while you finish cooking the noodles. Drain them and toss with the sauce.


Magic? No, she says with her still-blocked congested head. Back to ginger tea.

But they were yummy.

1 Comment

Posted by on March 22, 2015 in Asian, Cooking at home


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