Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Food Stuffs Part Zwei

As promised, here is a glimpse into more food items, along with my thoughts on them. :) WHAT? Tell me you're not surprised I'm posting a lot about food. If so, tsk tsk. You know me better.

 The Radler

Let's talk about the "Radler" here. Radler is a half beer, half citrus soda adult beverage. The first time I was offered it, I actually had no interest in trying it. I really like my beer. I like beer to taste...beerish. Not sissified and mixed and such. But I was pleasantly surprised to find I really enjoy Radler! This is just one brand that makes it. Braustüb'l is one of my favorite beer brands here. This stuff is more refreshing and a lot less heavy than a normal beer, and has a very low alcohol content; around 2.7%.


Mmmmm Schokokeks. "Chocolate biscuits". These delicious little sins treats are pretty darn addicting. I don't buy them often as such. The biscuit texture and flavor kind of reminds me of animal crackers; just in non-mammal form. ;) The "Zartbitter" (delicately bitter) chocolate on top is just a perfect thin layer that lends to the double whammy of sweet and bitter yumminess overload. They. Are. So. Good.

Chili Tortilla Chips

This is actually my go-to salty snack. One of my all time favorite snacks has always been tortilla chips with salsa or dip. My mouth is now watering thinking of the crazy delicious (and FREE) chips and salsa you can get at Mexican restaurants in the U.S. Not so here for the most part. :( Sadness. Anyway, these tortilla chips are all natural and only contain a few ingredients. They are crispy and a little salty and full of spiced flavor. I really like them! I usually eat a handful plain OR dip them into plain Greek yogurt. Yep. Try it. These suckers are only 99 cents a bag at "Tegut" grocery store, which is a more upscale grocery store in the area that offers a really large selection of Bio (organic) products.

Studenten Futter

Before I talk about this, let me tell you what "Studenten Futter" would translate into if the "en" were left off the first word. "Student Futter" would be: student feed! I accidentally left off the en when I first looked it up to see what it meant and cracked up thinking that's really what it meant! You know, like college students needing a quick and easy yet healthy snack...nuts and such! Student feed! Alas, my humor quickly dissipated when I added the forgotten en and discovered it really means "Nuts and Raisins". WAYYYYYY lamer.

I really like these bags of student feed nuts and raisins because they are a really tasty and healthy snack in between meals or right before I go work out. Except for the raisins, there is no added sugar and all of the nuts are totally raw. Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, etc. All in one bag! And the bags are about 1.59 Euros at Aldi. I do confess I have probably gained 2 lbs in the last week from snacking on these and consuming almost an entire bag in one sitting due to not paying attention. And not just once. Healthy fats from nuts, but still fat!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Outdoor Produce Markets (Video)

Here is a quick glimpse of two outdoor produce markets that are about a 12 minute walk from our apartment. The 2nd one you'll see in the video has employees who shout out the prices of the produce as you walk by! :) 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Winner of the Giveaway

Thank you to all who participated in my last blog giveaway for the ceramic German beer stein! We discovered during this giveaway that comments on my blog weren't always showing up after people posted them. :( Sorry about that! I do believe I have remedied that, so comments should now work!

Everyone who shared any of my postings, commented, asked a question, referred a friend, followed the blog, etc received entries!

The winner of the stein (through random entry selection) is: Heather Livingston! Woo hoo! Be prepared to receive your amazing stein very soon!

There will be another giveaway in the very near future for some tasty German chocolates! Mmmm! Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Food Stuffs

If you haven't figured it out by now, I love food. Food is my bestie. Food is my love. Ok, maybe it's not that intense of a relationship, but I love to eat. I try my very best to eat pretty clean and healthy. I do give in and treat myself every once in a while...ok, maybe more than that these days!

I like writing about and sharing information about neat food items I've found in Germany. I may post some things that you don't get very excited about, and you may be thinking,"Wow Sheena, Germany has apples. How exciting." Eye roll. My purpose is to share not only things that are new and different here, but also things that are similar and familiar. Or price comparisons, the process of finding these items, etc.

When we first moved here, I felt like I was missing a lot of the things I ate frequently and found easily back home. After more time here and more information and exploration, I've found the majority of those things at this point! EXCEPTION: Mexican food is not the same here. It's just not. Salsas, wraps, etc from the store are different. Not good. Mexican restaurants are few and far between and don't measure up. (I have recently learned that there is a "Chipotle" in Frankfurt. Plans ARE being formulated to make a visit!)

Let's explore some food stuffs. (Yes, I know it's "stuff", I just like saying food stuffs. It's more fun.)

 There are SO many different spreads for bread here. The cold aisles have a HUGE amount of space devoted to these spreads. Most are dairy based and come in many flavor varieties. As I don't eat much dairy and don't care for those types of spreads, I typically bypass that aisle. But sometimes walk down it just to stare at all the varieties! I mean, you could try a different flavor/brand/type of cream/spread every week and still not be running out of options after a year. I actually tried this "Kräuter-Tomate" Bio Veggie Streichcreme at a friend's place and it was delicious! It doesn't have dairy in it and doesn't have to be refrigerated. I found it at Aldi and sometimes enjoy a slice of gluten-free bread smothered with a delicate application of Tomate spread. ;)

(Sidebar: Bio means all-natural/organic here.)

 Here is the gluten-free bread I like. It's "Meisterbäckers" Mehrkorn (multigrain) bread. It's quite tasty, although expensive for this pitiful sized loaf. 

 I love peanut butter. I'm on a very low sugar eating plan right now due to some chronic inflammation issues, and traditional peanut butter has a good amount of sugar, so naturally I have to avoid it. Sadness. I did find some "Erdnuss Mus" (peanut puree) that is 100% pureed peanuts with no added ingredients. Not even oil! Kinda weird...it's not very tasty and is quite runny, but if I'm desperately craving some P.B. it somewhat helps. I don't think you need to be able to read between the lines to conclude that I'm not excited about it in the least, and am still trying to convince myself it's an acceptable substitute for "real" peanut butter.

Let's talk pancakes. Delicious fluffy flour spheres of moist heat goodness. One of my all time FAVORITE foods. Something I actively crave, although I rarely eat them. When I do, I enjoy them plain, or with butter and syrup, or with just powdered sugar, or with honey, or with peanut butter, or with sliced bananas on top..ok I suppose I enjoy them any way.
(I did however learn to make them with more natural and wholesome ingredients. They don't taste quite as yum, but are decent!)
Germany doesn't have pancakes ya'll. Not really! This is their version of pancakes. Pfannkuchen. (Pancake.) Suss oder herzhaft. (Sweet or savory.) And lemme tell ya, these suckers are neither sweet or savory. They are weird. They taste like a bland eggie flour tortilla thing that neither thrills or satisfies the palette. They are refrigerated and you can heat them in the microwave or on a pan on the stove. The only way to somewhat pleasantly force them down is to smother the middle with peanut butter and roll them up.  And pretend they aren't supposed to be anything even remotely related to a revered pancake.

(Note: I am fully aware that pancakes from scratch aren't that hard to make and the ingredients are ALMOST all pretty easy to find here in Germany. Carry on.)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Meister Proper!

I am somewhat easily amused by what I personally think of as funny product names. It doesn't matter how wonderfully the product works, I lose maybe just an ounce of respect for it if it has a silly name!

I also like finding products from the same company that have different names in other countries. 

Take for instance, our "Mr. Clean". Here in Deutschland, he goes by another name: "Meister Proper". When I saw this at the Rewe Center, I laughed. Not because I think "Mr. Clean" is better, but because I kept picturing the mascot with a butler uniform on to better portray the image of "Meister Proper", which roughly translates into champion proper.

Can't you just see him losing the earring and white muscle tee and donning a black butlers suit with a proper hat?

Or take the Pillsbury frozen biscuit and croissant products, which are "Knack Back" here.

The dough boy is still cute!

I actually haven't tried either of these products to tell you if they are the same or perhaps have a different chemical makeup (Meister Proper) or different ingredients (Knack Back), although the foods here, even from the same company, tend to be less preservative and chemical-filled, which I love.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Giveaway time!

Ok my lovelies, it's time for another giveaway! This one is pretty exciting and I'm hoping the winner will be quite stoked to receive a stereotypical and genuine German piece! Read on for more important info.

You can earn 1 entry for each action (and can do some of these multiple times for more entries, such as commenting, questions, etc) listed below:
*Following my blog (let me know if you do)
*Commenting on posts 
*Sharing my blog on your Facebook or other social media page
*Referring new readers to my blog
*Requesting things you'd like to see more of or that you'd like to read about on this blog
*Joining my Google+ circle

~~Please comment on this blog post or on FB and let me know each action you take!~~

This giveaway will end on Saturday, February 21st.

A winner will be randomly selected on Sunday, February 22nd and will receive a traditional ceramic German beer stein! If you don't drink beer, rest assured they also work for other beverages. Haha! They are also quite fun and handy to have as a pencil/pen cup. ;)

This isn't the exact stein, but an example.

You will get 1 entry for each completed action as listed above. If you comment 15 times, you will get 15 entries. Winner will be announced via FB and also on this blog.

Let me know if you have any questions! :) Good luck!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cool stuff

I really enjoy finding and trying things when I travel or move somewhere that I could not find around my previous home area. So of course, living on another continent and in another country, there are many things here in Germany we don't have in the U.S. and vice versa.

I thought I'd blog about a couple of things every now and then that I have discovered during my time here.

*Packets of "Waffeln"- these crunchy little mini-waffles are available at most grocery stores and even at the drug stores here! You set one on top of your cup of coffee or tea and the steam from your mug heats it up, making the syrup or honey inside warm and sticky and the waffle a bit more soft. They are delicious! 

Mezzo Mix- a Coco-Cola product, Mezzo Mix is a combination of cola and orange soda. It is quite popular here. I personally am not a big soda drinker, and wasn't a fan.

Note: Soda is very expensive to buy at a restaurant, bakery or other specialty type store here. It's much cheaper to purchase at a grocery store in the beverage section. Expect to pay around 2.40-3.00 Euros ($2.74-$3.99) for a SMALL glass of cola at a restaurant and there are no free refills. To purchase a plastic bottle of soda, around 0.5 liters, is usually around 1.50-2.00 Euros ($1.71-$2.40) plus the Pfand which is anywhere from 0.25-0.50 cents. The Pfand is returned to you once you have returned your bottle for recycling

Pfand basically means "bottle deposits". You should expect to pay a Pfand for all plastic, aluminum or glass beverage containers in Germany.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Drying Wars

How great does it feel to pull hot clean clothes out of your dryer and smother yourself with a few as you fold the rest into piles? Or to wrap yourself in a hot blanket or warm towel from the dryer on a chilly day?

I never thought there would be a day that I'd pine and yearn and grieve for my dryer back home. That day has come. Moving to Germany, I was unaware that having a clothes dryer is pretty uncommon, especially in apartments. Heck, even in a lot of homes. Allow me to introduce the ever popular drying rack!

The drying rack- expanded in front of the radiator, excitedly waiting for clothing. Ha!

If you're lucky and it's warm and breezy or sunny out, you stick your drying rack out on the patio. You better secure those neon pink leopard print panties tightly else the breeze will blow them right off the rack and down into the bushes below your patio...not that I have firsthand experience with this situation. ;)

In the summer, clothes would be mostly dry in a day if they were outside on the rack and the sun was hitting them. Of course, towels, sheets, jeans and other thick items take the longest.  I have discovered there is an art to drying those items as fast as possible. It's kinda like flipping a steak to make sure both sides are equally cooked and seared.

Winter time is another story. Your clothes obviously cannot hang wet outside, as they'd freeze and get crispy and stay wet. I mean, unless you like that sort of thing. Drying racks go in front of the heat units, which for most places are radiators in each room. The clothes take about a day or a day and half to dry with the heat running.

 Drying rack loaded up with clean wet clothes!

A rare sunny day! Helps the clothes dry much faster with the sun coming through the windows and the heat from the radiator right next to them.

Let's be honest. If you're used to having a dryer, this concept is a bit hard to get used to. I agree that it can be more environmentally friendly for sure, less energy consumption, no dryer sheets, etc. 

Line/rack drying is more work. It's not hard work, it just obviously takes more time and effort than shoving your wet clothes into a dryer and turning it on. You have to arrange the clothes the best way on the rack to ensure the things that take longest to dry are closest to the sun/heat source, balance the weight of the clothes on the sides, and flip some items over after half a day. It's a bit inconvenient for our situation, as there are three of us living in a small 1 bedroom apartment and the drying rack takes up our entire patio in the summer and about 25% of our living room in the winter.

Don't get me wrong, you CAN buy dryers in Germany. I have met only a few people who have one though. Those that own a dryer also use their drying rack a lot of the time as well.

You'd have to A. Have the space for one, and B. Be able to afford a pretty nice one to make it worthwhile, otherwise line drying/rack drying is much more efficient.

Differences in Dryers in Germany and most of Europe:
*They don't have an exhaust that goes outside; they have a water catcher instead. That's right, you empty out the water catcher as it pulls the moisture from the clothes.
*Condenser dryers are less efficient than vented exhaust dryers. Clothes take longer to dry.
*They are pricey.
*Most residences don't have the space for  dryer. Washers tend to be in the kitchen in apartments and small homes here. 
*Some have 2 lint catchers. I'm not sure why, but our washer here is hard on my clothes in terms of pilling, so maybe they know there are more pills and lint to catch. Who knows!?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Where's the passion?

One thing I really enjoy about a new place is trying new things. (Ok, I just like trying new things, whether I'm in a new place or a familiar place!)

I love trying new food! I would describe myself as adventurous with new culinary delights. It takes a lot for me to actively dislike a certain food or flavor. There are only a few I can come up with off the top of my head: cottage cheese, "Hamburger Helper"...ok I'm stumped now. I'm sure there are more things I don't like, but you get the picture. The list is small.

Since living in Germany, I have been purchasing a good percentage of our produce from produce markets and outdoor vendors. The selection is usually so much better than in the grocery store, the produce looks so much better and I feel good about supporting local and family businesses. I have been trying to sample a new fruit or veggie every so often.

My first "new fruit" was the persimmon.

Now, you can get persimmons in the States, but they aren't always easy to find. Asian speciality stores or a "Whole Foods" type of store would be most likely to carry them. They are in season in the fall: October-December. In Germany, they are called "kaki" or "sharon". The persimmon is a firm, apple-sized fruit that typically is a light orange to a dark orange color. When eaten raw, you just wash them and cut them into slices, consuming both the skin and flesh. They have a mild, sweet flavor that I love! The inside fruit flesh is firm but soft to chew. There are no seeds to worry about.

Verdict: I love persimmons! They are a bit pricey, usually 1 euro each or sometimes 2 for 1.50 euros.

About two weeks ago, I was purchasing my produce at one of the outdoor markets and the lady asked if I wanted 10 maracujas for 1 euro. I had no idea what these were! I asked her to show me. They were dark purple plum-sized fruits. They usually are marked at 4 for 1 euro, but were getting overly ripe, so they were trying to sell them quickly. She told me they were a sweet fruit and very tasty, so I took 10. Once I got home, I washed them and googled "how to eat a maracuja". I discovered while on Google that these were actually passion fruits, as a maracuja is green. You slice them in half and scoop out the seeds and "jelly" in the middle. That's it. You don't get much out of each fruit.

This picture was taken after washing and slicing them in half. I had not tasted them at this point.

Verdict: Yuck! I do not like passion fruit. This was surprising, as I really like fruit and haven't come across a fruit I actively dislike until now. The jelly and seeds had a strange tart flavor that I didn't care for. I have wondered if the flavor was a little off due to the over-ripeness, so I would try one again that wasn't at the cusp of spoiling. :) Haha!

I would actually like to find and try a real maracuja now, as they are supposed to be more mild and sweet than a passion fruit.

I guess I'm just not very passionate about passion fruit.