Hello From Germany

Culture, Food, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

It’s hard to believe that 10 days have passed since we left the states. Our days have been filled with museums, monuments, and lots of great food. We’ve seen some of the world’s best artwork and architecture, and have dined on some of the most delicious cuisines. We are becoming professional picnickers, and our settings never disappoint. We are getting this whole train travel thing down, and are in awe everywhere we go.

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London was grand, and felt much like home. We adapted very quickly, and were sad to leave so soon. We spent time with friends, old and new. We enjoyed the pub culture, and we even didn’t mind the warm, flat beer. London was great, but it’s Paris that stole my heart.

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There’s really just too much to say when it comes to Paris. Best saved for another day. The architecture had me at first glance. The people were not at all what I expected. And the food! The way the French appreciate their food is admirable and respectable. I long to live a bit more like the French in my eating…
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After an exhausting week in the city, we are now relaxing in the countryside of Germany. We’ve explored castle ruins, drank fine wines, cruised a mighty river, and walked town walls. I feel like we’ve left the real world and entered a fairytale.

Tomorrow we are off to Munich, and on Monday, we will be sleeping 4,500 feet high in the Swiss Alps. Three days after that, and our two week journey in Italy begins. Our trip has been a dream thus far. I’ll hate to see it end. Updates soon!

Sauerkraut and Goodbye

Boston, Crafts, Food, Food Photography, Photography, Recipes, Travel, Uncategorized

Last night we locked the door to #20 one last time. We stood and stared at the empty space, reflecting on the moments shared in our sweet little home. Closing my eyes, I saw an apartment filled with beautiful memories. Maybe it’s because I’ve never moved much before, or maybe it’s because of the things that happened there, but I had an awfully hard time saying goodbye.

Two years ago, I didn’t know what to think of this city. Life here was not what I was used to. It was foreign, and hard, and I was ready to go home. Then suddenly, one day, Boston became home. It became the place that I loved to live. The lifestyle here was no longer foreign to me, but instead, exhilarating (though often frustrating). The idea of ever leaving was not one I was excited about.

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But now, that time has come. We’ve said most of our goodbyes and have sent our belongings on their way. Tonight, we board a plane for Europe, and in August, we will say goodbye to Boston one last time.

Before leaving, I had hopes to whip up lots of amazing European inspired meals and share the recipes with you. I planned to enlighten you with the wonderful history behind some of these foods. I planned to take you along in our travels by connecting you through food.

Now, here it is, months later, and the time for our trip has finally come.

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This recipe is credited to our dear friend Sam. I’ve likely changed it a bit from the original, but then again, I don’t think Sam has ever cooked it the same way twice.

Sauerkraut originated in China over 2000 years ago, but it wasn’t until 1000 years later that it appeared in Germany. Before trying this recipe, I never knew sauerkraut to be much more than pickled cabbage. Though this recipe is great on its own, I still favor it with a hearty sausage and tasty doppelbock.

My posts may be few and far between these next few weeks, but I promise to post pictures and updates along the way. For now, here’s a German inspired recipe for you to enjoy. Prost!

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Bacon-Apple Sauerkraut

15 ounces sauerkraut, rinsed
5-6 slices bacon
1 golden delicious apple, cored and chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1 tbsp brown sugar

In a large skillet over medium heat, fry your bacon until just crisp. Set aside and crumble, reserving bacon grease.

Sauté onion in bacon grease until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add apple and stir.

Add sauerkraut, vinegar, bacon, caraway seeds, and brown sugar. Mix together and cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes.

Serves 6.

Shepherd’s Pie with Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Food, Food Photography, Recipes, Travel

Backpacking through Europe has long been a dream of mine. When I was 13 I had a hot pink, Parisian themed room, complete with photographs of the Eiffel Tower, paintings of the Arc de Triomphe, and various other Parisian trinkets adorning my walls. Even at a young age I longed to live in Paris. Then, growing up a little, and very much growing out of having a hot pink bedroom, I decided to paint my room red.  It was a beautiful deep shade of red, color washed with gold. I loved that version of my room. I replaced the black and white Eiffel Tower photographs with an enormous National Geographic world map. I would stand on my bed nightly studying that map and dreaming of where I would one day go. Then came college; a whole new world of learning to fuel my desires. After several architecture, art history, and anthropology courses, I knew that the desire to travel was just part of who I am.

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I deeply wanted to be a foreign exchange student in Paris as a high schooler, but truth be told, I was too afraid. In college I long talked about studying abroad in Rome, but never followed through. Jacob and and I fantasized over backpacking together  during college, but it never happened. But now, finally, the talking is over. We purchased our tickets to hop the pond! Come July, we will set off on our first European excursion, backpacking for one month from London to Rome.

Purchasing our plane tickets was a big moment for me. There were even tears. We’ve been planning this trip for months, but it just didn’t feel like it would really happen until we finalized our order. Even adding them to the cart didn’t feel real enough for me. But let me tell you, once that confirmation email came through, the water works started flowing. I’ve anticipated this trip for a long time, and just knowing that it is actually going to happen was a lot for me to take in.

To celebrate, and in honor of our first stop, we cracked open a couple of English Porters, dug into some Shepherd’s Pie, and watched a bit of our favorite travel guide, Rick Steves.

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The English tradition of eating Shepherd’s Pie dates back to the 18th century when potatoes were first introduced to England.  Made with ground beef or lamb, vegetables, and topped with a crust of potatoes, Shepherd’s Pie has traditionally been made as a way to use up left over meat and vegetables.

While still keeping things traditional, I strayed from the basic roots of this recipe a bit. Using sweet potatoes instead of white gave this dish a bit of sweetness and a healthy dose of vitamins, while using ground turkey helped cut back on the fat a tad.

Hearty and delicious, this meal is perfect for frosty winter nights.

Shepherd’s Pie with Whipped Sweet Potatoes

1 lb ground turkey

1 tbsp fat of choice

1 medium onion, sliced

1 lb sliced mushrooms

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup beef broth

16 oz can diced tomatoes

1 tbsp fresh thyme

1 tbsp worcestershire sauce

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1 cup mixed vegetables (I used peas, carrots, corn, and green beans)

6 cups peeled, cubed sweet potatoes

pat of butter

splash of cream (or milk)

dash of cinnamon

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

shredded Parmesan (optional)

sliced green onion (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large oven proof skillet cook turkey over medium-high heat, breaking up with back of a wooden spoon until no longer pink. Add Worcestershire sauce,  a few pinches of salt and pepper,  and about one tablespoon of fresh thyme.

Once your meat has finished cooking, spoon it into a colander with a slotted spoon. Drain off all but one tablespoon of excess fat from your skillet. If you use a lean meat like ground turkey, you may not have any fat to drain. If this is the case, add a pat of butter or drizzle of oil to your skillet. Add the mushrooms and cook on medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Add garlic, onions, and mixed vegetables and cook for 5 minutes more.

Stir in broth and tomatoes and simmer until thickened. Once your liquid has reduced by about a 1/3, add in your meat and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, bring a large stock pot full of water to a boil. Once at a boil, add potatoes and cook until tender. Once cooked,  drain potatoes and rinse with cold water. Then, with a hand or stand mixer, whip potatoes with a splash of cream, a pat of butter, a pinch of salt, and a dash of cinnamon until creamy and smooth.

Lather meat and vegetable mixture with your whipped potatoes and sprinkle with about 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Alternatively, you could broil your dish for the last 3-5 minutes to blister your cheese.

Once your dish has finished cooking, let settle for 10 minutes or so before serving. Garnish with extra cheese and green onion if desired.

What’s your dream travel destination? Is there one place that you’ve always longed to go? Or maybe you’ve already been? Stay posted for more European-inspired dishes!