Monday, July 22, 2013

{ quinoa fried rice & salmon }

Dear Friends & Family,

One of my favorite things to do is to cook, and I'm getting to try new things here in Berlin. I have found a lot of recipes (courtesy of Pinterest) that I enjoy making, but I'm somewhat limited when it comes to certain recipes. I'v yet to find chicken broth readily available, and I haven't done much baking because I haven't found brown sugar or baking soda, or at least I don't know the translation yet.

The easy things to cook are proteins and vegetables because you don't need a translation book for those.

Tonight I made quinoa fried rice. The recipe called for carrots and peas, but most people use the frozen version, and I prefer fresh vegetables. Instead, I used zucchini & green beans. The nice thing about this recipe is that I don't have to follow exact measurements.

Quinoa-make in advance and let it chill:
Rinse 1 cup with cold water.
Bring to a boil with 2 cups of water
Let simmer for 15-20 minutes

2-3 fresh garlic minced
ginger (optional, if I have it I'll use it, but most of the time I don't, and it tastes fine without)
Zucchini sliced and cut into quarters
trim the ends of green beans and break into bite size pieces
green onion cut into small pieces
2 beaten eggs

cook on med-high heat
add 1/2 tbsp of olive oil
add garlic and cook 2 minutes
add zucchini and cook 2 minutes
add 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
add green onions and quinoa and cook for 2 minutes
add Maggi to taste (or Braggs liquid amino....or soy sauce)
make a center to add the 2 eggs
let it cook to your preference of wellness before mixing it all together
add the green beans and stir together for a minute before removing from heat and serving.

This is the easiest if you have a meat thermometer/timer. I prepare the salmon and insert the thermometer to cook until it reaches 145 degrees (I reference cooking temperatures here).
Or you can wrap the salmon in foil and bake for 25 minutes at 200C or 400F.

I like to wrap my filet in foil on slices of lemon and add dijon mustard and black pepper on top. Just a light brush. You can also use bbq sauce or a simple slice of butter with salt and pepper.

That's pretty much all there is to it. While I had my salmon baking in the oven, I made my fried quinoa and dinner was served in 25 minutes. The prep work can take some time, but if you have it done earlier in the day, then the cooking time is very short.

The Prindles

Thursday, July 18, 2013

{ on a quest }

Dear Friends & Family,

The one thing John & I really miss about the US is the food! Our tastebuds just can't appreciate the food in Berlin as much as it did in California. They just do everything...different. Even Vietnamese food here is different than the home cooking or the restaurants I've tried. Most cater to the German's taste buds (they're not a fan of spicy), and nothing tastes as authentic as I am used to. The Asian restaurants here are usually a fusion. You'll see a Vietnamese restaurant that serves sushi. Or a Thai restaurant that serves sushi. They also really love sweet chili sauce. They put it on e v e r y t h i n g. Vietnamese sandwich? It's there. Dim Sum? Forget soy sauce and hot mustard. You get sweet chili sauce. I'm also pretty sure that the same place that serves it with their dim sum also puts it in their hot and sour soup. It's not just Asian restaurants that can't seem to get it right. We ordered a chili cheese hot dog near our place, and it was refried beans mixed with cayenne pepper. Bleh.

..."but that doesn't mean it's all bad," says John.

Yes, of course there are some good. We've mentioned the Dim Sum place that serves really good Shumai and some delicious melt in your mouth pork belly. We are a fan of the BBQ sandwiches they serve at Markthalle IX, and the Indian restaurant in our neighborhood serves the most amazing melt in your mouth chicken; whether it's chicken curry or chicken tandoori, you can't believe how good their chicken is. And on cold, or rainy days, we love going to Cocolo for some authentic Japanese Ramen. I used to love going to Good Morning, Vietnam for their Banh Cuon, but the last few times I've been there, it hasn't been available. Boo. And of course, I can't leave out the doner kebab and the currywurst that you can find on every corner. If you visit us in Berlin, we will take you to Curry 36.
{ photo by Randy B. after landing in Berlin }

One thing they don't have in Berlin is a good breakfast diner. John and I had a few favorites. You could always rely on diners to be open early, have unlimited refills of black coffee, and have a variety of breakfast dishes to choose from. The breakfast in Berlin isn't bad, but most places don't open until 9 or 10 in the morning, there's no unlimited refills of coffee, and their idea of American pancake is yellow cake with syrup. The egg dishes are good, and I've been a fan of their plain yogurt with fruit and honey.

Of course when we tire of the restaurants, we cook at home, which is most of the time. I'll try to post more recipes in the future. I've been on a zucchini kick and have made fritters and zucchini bites that are perfect as a snack or a side dish. And I've discovered how easy it is to cook chicken with a little olive oil and some seasoning.

Until the next post, enjoy these pictures of food!

{ my new favorite thing to make: recipe here }

{ bacon, mint, and pepper }

{ shumai }

bánh bèo at District Mot is good, but not quite right }

Bánh xèo at Coco Banh Mi is missing something }

The Prindles
{ froyo on a hot day }

Sunday, July 14, 2013

{ hello again }

Dear Friends & Family,

My dad has reminded me that it's been a month since I've updated my blog, so I will try my best to make this one a good one.

So much has happened in a month! We've had friends come visit during one of the hottest days EVER. Berlin felt like an outdoor sauna, it was so humid. We took a trip to Amsterdam with said friends. And we are continuing to make our place a home in our beautiful neighborhood that we love more and more.

The friends that came were John's old labmates from USC, along with John's advisor, Jack, and his wife, Carol. They were here for a workshop that Jack was presenting at John's work, MPI, and had plans to explore Berlin, Prague, Amsterdam, and Paris for a couple days each.

As excited as we were to show them around, we just couldn't beat the heat. Luckily, the ice cream here is really good, very cheap, and pretty much on every corner.

Our friends then left to Prague, and a few days later we met them in Amsterdam.

John & I talk about this many times, but we truly feel so lucky to live in Berlin and to be able to explore other countries in Europe. We've been to Paris, we plan on visiting our friend in the south of France when she comes in September to visit her family, we've talked about going to Prague, we plan on going to Italy this year, and my parents have booked a timeshare in Austria in April. So we are definitely taking advantage of living in Europe.

Between Berlin, Paris, and Amsterdam, there was something refreshing about Amsterdam. There are a lot of tourist in all three, but usually tourist blend with the locals. I can't recall locals among the area we were at, so I don't know their cultural behaviour. In Berlin, Germans have no personal space. People stand and walk very close to you, and if they're not paying attention, will walk right into you. In Amsterdam at the Rijkmuseum, someone was courteous enough to acknowledge someone else taking a picture and ducked out of their way. That does not happen in Berlin. Everyone's in their own little bubble, including me most of the time.

John and I really enjoyed Amsterdam. The buildings were so beautiful, and nothing seemed out of place. I believe all the buildings were built in the 16-1700's. Everything was brick that stood along the canals. Everyone spoke English. There was wifi everywhere to keep us connected when we needed it. There were even cats hanging around and inside establishments. John and I were sitting at the bar in a "brown" cafe when a cat just jumped on top and strolled over to two patrons enjoying some beers and snacks. After it got bored of people taking its picture, it strolled by us and jumped onto a nearby table of 12 before heading to the back. After that, I would see cats either inside places, or I would see them pop in or out of the doors.

Another thing we enjoyed in Amsterdam was the food! (of course)
For the first time in 6 months, we finally had an actually decent burger to our normal "American" standard. Sure we've had good burgers in Berlin....but for Berlin they were good. We wouldn't take our visitors to any burger places here. Our first night in Amsterdam, we met up with our friends for Indonesian, and we all agreed the food was amazing. We also went to Pancake Bakery since it's supposed to a very popular place among the locals and tourists.

We hope this has enticed you to book a trip to Berlin to visit us! After Berlin, you can go to Amsterdam, Paris, Prague, Italy, or wherever you fancy! And remember, the beer is cheaper than water here!

The Prindles

{ entertainment just before dinner }

{ getting to know the city...via map }

{ pancake bakery } 

{ dutch pancake with bacon and apples }

{ sweet sassy mollassy }

{ canal tour }

{ love hearing the history of the buildings }

{ kevin & randy }

{ erin }

{ the heineken experience }

{ being cheesy with randy }

{ watching past heineken commercials }

{ houseboats }

{ line was too long to see this }

{ our air bnb home }

{ our air bnb cat }

{ there's always time for ice cream }

{ i AMsterdam sign }

{ in front of the rijksmuseum }

Thursday, July 4, 2013

{ Happy Birthday, America! }

Dear Friends & Family,

It's 4th of Berlin. Nothing special over here. Luckily we have some American friends who are getting together for a BBQ. Who doesn't love a good BBQ? I made potato salad, and I thought I would share the recipe. I found a recipe online (InspiredTaste.Net) that I found very useful. They start with the basic, and you can modify however you like. I like to start with the most simple recipe and go from there.

Add potatoes to a large pot and add water until it's fully cover and bring to a boil
(should be no more than an inch over potatoes...)

Add a teaspoon of salt for every quart of water 
(large pot with 5-7 potatoes about 2 tsp of salt)

Once water boils, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes. You'll know it's done when you can pierce a fork through it easily. 

Once potatoes are done, drain and add to a bowl of ice water until it's cool enough to peel the skin off .
Chop potatoes into bite size chunks and add to a large bowl.
Season with salt & toss the potatoes in the vinegar 
(I use a large plastic container and toss with the lid on)

add chopped eggs (whites only) and green onion-chives (you can add as much or as little as you like)

In a small mixing bowl, combine yolks and mustard with a fork.
Add mayonnaise (and paprika if you're into that sort of thing).
Fold in yogurt (or sour cream)

Once combined, fold mixture with the potatoes/eggs/onions. 
Chill in the fridge. 

...ignore the third egg. That was my lunch. 

I usually divide my batch and add chopped pickles for me...because somebody doesn't like pickles. I've also been on a tabasco kick, so once I've scooped out some for myself, I like to add a few dashes. 
To John's batch, I like to add shredded "cheddar" cheese. (cheddar cheese in Berlin is NOT the same as cheddar cheese in the US)

Hope everyone had a safe and fun filled day! 

The Prindles

Sunday, June 2, 2013

{ finally connected }

Dear Friends & Family,

After waiting for over a month, and a no call no show from the telephone company, John and I finally have  Internet/WiFi! It's been one month in our new home, and everything is steadily coming together.
{ our new door name plate }

{ weekly trip to IKEA }

{ instead of curtains, we bought plants for the kitchen }

The weather has been lingering in the 60's with a touch of rain here and there. When it rains, it doesn't rain for long...which is good because we do not own an umbrella.

John & I finished our 8 weeks of German class, and we are going to try to incorporate what we learned when we are out. It's pretty bad, but we're lucky enough that majority of the people in our neighborhood can speak English and help us with our German.

Right now we are sitting on our comfortable couch watching soccer, USA vs Germany. We are very thankful we are connected again.

With the rain on and off, it's nice to stay home and catch up on our shows. We watched John Dies at the End, a movie based on a book that I had finished reading last week (don't bother watching the movie, but check out the book if you're into that kind of humor).

We have our first visitors in two weeks which we are excited about. We've also talked about traveling somewhere in June, we're just not sure where yet. Flights and train tickets are cheap to Amsterdam right now, and Prague is not too far from Berlin.

Still counting down to August when we can see our friends & family again.

{ sun doesn't go down until almost 10pm }

The Prindles.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

{ staying busy }

Dear Friends & Family,

You know, when I told everyone we were moving to Berlin, everyone asked me, "what will you do?" Hmmm....that was a good question, and I told everyone I would keep them updated with this blog (I hope I'm doing a good job).

I thought I would miss working, but...I don't. I enjoy my days, whatever I do. I'm enjoying them much more living in Schöneberg. Not having our Internet hooked up has made me start my days at the cafe down the street enjoying a Latte Macchiato whilst taking advantage of their WiFi. From there I usually go home to clean up any mess from the night before (i.e. dishes), and do laundry if it's needed. When people in Berlin ask me what I do, I respond that I am a Hausfrau (housewife). Although we have a bigger fridge than our old place in Zehlendorf, I don't buy more than we need, but that's also because the store is much closer, so I try to buy only for what we need that day.  

One of the staples I like to have always prepared is couscous (although I just started making quinoa which is just as easy to prepare). We haven't eaten much rice even though they sell Jasmine rice at the store. In the mornings, my favorite thing to prepare is a fried egg over couscous with Maggi & Sriracha hot sauce. Growing up, I remember my dad used to crack a few eggs on a cast iron skillet and serve it with a fresh baguette and Maggi. He wouldn't even remove the eggs from the skillet. He'd just put a potholder on the table and place the skillet within everyone's reach. Something so simple tastes so good. And I love adding fried eggs to rice & noodles. Now, I love adding a fried egg to my couscous. If you're a fried egg lover like me, you should try this. 

Other than trying new (and somewhat healthy) recipes, I have been exploring our neighborhood looking for new things for us. Just the other day, I found myself bored, so I took a walk to see what daily flavors there were at one of the ice cream shops. Not seeing anything that stood out, I kept walking. I decided to walk down a different block, and to my excitement, I found a Vanille & Marille, a place we had been introduced to in March in Kreuzberg.  They had just opened their new location a week ago. What I love about their ice cream is that it's made in house, AND it's only 1 euro. 

Part of my mission is to be prepared when our friends & family come visit. I know our friends & family will enjoy the same things we have been enjoying, not only in our neighborhood, but all of Berlin. 
{ our very own air plant as a housewarming gift }

{ okay, not healthy, but delicious sriracha hot wings }

The Prindles.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

{ no connection }

Dear Friends & Family,

The good reliable people of Berlin have failed to show up to their appointment between 8AM & 4PM to get our Internet working yesterday. Thank you, O2 and the telephone company, for wasting our whole day...and not giving us Internet to keep in touch with our friends & family. sigh 

The plus side, John has put together our closet made out of copper pipes, and we have been painting our doors back to a fresh clean white color. I've been getting a lot of reading done as well. When we arrived to Berlin, I had brought a few books that I wanted to read, but up until last week I never really got around to just sitting myself down to read. With our new couch and chair, I have a great place to read with plenty of sunlight by the window. I've finished three books this week, and I'm on my fourth. I'm going to need another book soon...

So we apologize if we've been out of touch this week...our data is also maxed out on our phone until June. Hopefully we'll get everything worked out this week. If not then, we'll have more data on our phones. Or you know, hang out at the cafe using their WiFi....

The Prindles.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

( flights are booked }

Dear Friends & Family,

So it's official! We will be home in August for 2 1/2 weeks. We hope that is enough time to see everyone we hope to see, but we will return in February to take a break from the cold Berlin winter.

It's cooling off this week, getting down to the low 60's. Without any beaches nearby or access to swimming pools, we don't mind the cool weather. I mean, there are places people go to cool off, but we're content with the cool weather. I don't know how I would have survived in Florida with the constant humidity...

{ on a hot day, Berliners sunbathe by the canal }

{ today's weather was both warm and cool due to spotty clouds }

The Prindles

Friday, May 17, 2013

{ come visit us }

Dear Friends & Family,

It's been a pretty laid back week for us. We are just enjoying our neighborhood and all it has to offer. We are really happy with all the good eats there are around us, and everything is cheap here (in Euros...which sounds like "uh-ro" in German). I've mentioned this before, but beer is cheaper than water in Berlin. The ice cream is soooo good here. We try to treat ourselves whenever we can from the three or four different places close by.

The sun doesn't set until 9PM and comes up a little after 5AM. Our windows face south, but we usually wake up just after 7AM, 8AM the latest when the church bells go off. We won't have Internet until next week, so I try to catch up on things across the street at the cafe.

Our place is almost completely furnished. We were lucky to be given a couch and a sofa chair from Cat's brother and his wife who are moving to Munich from Berlin. Eventually we will get Cat's couch with a pull out bed, but we are ready for guests now!

The weather has been really nice. I wasn't expecting Berlin to be so humid. John and I were walking around our neighborhood last night around 8PM, and it was still light out and also very warm. Definitely regret not packing more summer clothes. I was on a winter one track mind back in December.
Luckily our place isn't affected by the warmth. It stays cool throughout the day, and no, we do not have air conditioning .Their idea of air conditioning is to just open your windows.

That's enough rambling for today. We miss you guys, and look forward to seeing everyone in August.
{ having fun with a new photo app }

The Prindles.