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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lotus Pumpkin

When daylight gets shorter, night temperature dropping down to single digit, you know it will be Halloween. Here in Germany (in parts of Austria and Switzerland as well), it is to celebrate the end of harvest (Erntedank).

The children will carve small pumpkins, huge potatos or sugarbeets and when it gets dark, they wander house to house, singing and showing their Rübengeist.  Sort of like trick or treat.
I'm sure many of you are going to turn the humble pumpkin into some awesome creatures/work of art. I have not had the chance to start on my pumpkins this year but here is what I carved last year. It was placed outside on my doorstep, lighted up with a maxi tealight inside.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Beer - Hops (Hopfen)

I have wanted to post this article in early September (that's when the photos were taken) to coincide with the 200 year Oktoberfest.   But as usual, something cropped up and I had to postpone.   It is still October anyway.     

Beer is a major part of german culture.  Every german town used to have their own brewery or breweries. You may have heard of the 'Reinheitsgebot'  (Bavarian Purity law) dated 1516 which is still enforced today, stipulating  that only ingredients allowed for brewing are water, barley-malt and HOPS.

Facit : No hops, no beer !!
What is hops ?

Hop cones (flowers) are the dried flower of the hop vine.   This is the ingredient which imparts the aroma, flavour and bitterness in your beer.  There are many different varieties with each of its own unique flavours. I spent half a day on this farm, watching, following their every step, trying to be invicible, from the fields to export process.

These veins are grown in and around fruit orchards. As you drive towards the lake (Lake of Constance) from Stuttgart to Austria/Switzerland, you may spot these poles standing like soldiers in a row.  
On the left are the veins. On the right are naked poles after harvesting 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Japanese Cheese Cake

There were discussions about this elusive crustless cheesecake and the countless receipes one finds online. Lily initiated this topic in our almost daily banter.  To cut the story short, we (4 of us) decided that each should bake this and compare the results.

I did some tweeking to the measures of ingredients. 125 gm of xxxx is too odd so I round it up 150 gm. The fresh cheese I used has relatively high moisture content. Result - moist, light, buttery, silky cake.
A real keeper !!

Friday, October 8, 2010


What do you bake when you have a tub of clotted cream and Damson jam.
Scones !!   Delicious hot or cold.  Perfect for afternoon tea.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mushroom Risotto

Picked some fresh mushrooms from the forest in the morning.  Now make a good guess: what is up for my lunch? Mushroom risotto of course.