Weekend Playlist 24.01.16

12596653_10156562647280165_1189444387_o

Sunday ♥️

This morning I practiced flipping pancakes, I’m getting quite good at it.

I ate some with brown sugar and some with regular sugar and lemon. And drank copious amounts of sweet tea.

Later my friend Maaike is coming over to help me eat the rest of the pancakes. Maaike is very spiritual, and reads a lot about numerology, astrology, energies and lights, and tells me about them. Whether you’re into all things less tangible, I think self-reflection is always a good thing. Understanding how and why you respond to the world and energies around you 🙂 She and I emit the same frequency, she says, and that’s why we get along so well.

Maaike likes to joke that she pursued me aggressively as a friend, playground-style. For some reason she decided that she and I should be friends, that she liked my aura! And so she told me, and that was that. I’m quite a, I don’t want to say repressed, but kind of introverted person, but I took to Maaike very easily, she’s the kind of person who just lets you be whatever and whoever you are. I’m also not a very touchy person, so she likes to ‘Fockerise’ me. I think it’s working. Anyways. My point, I seem to have lost it. I think the one I was trying to get at, convolutedly so, is that self-reflection is a great thing, but so is getting out of your own head. And for that, there’s music.

Here are a few of the songs that have soothed, comforted, energised me and made me dance around while making pancakes this weekend:

Patti Smith is great for making pancakes, or just in general.

And then, sometimes, lyrics will jump out at you and make you realise what you’re feeling, or have felt. Or just make you wonder 🙂 And Annie Lennox is a beautiful, bittersweet unicorn:

Some things are better left unsaid
But they still turn me inside out.

How beautiful is that?

P.s.: The photo is of sea ice frost flowers, from Nick Cobbing’s gorgeous instagram account.

The Ambition Bird

I’ve been having trouble sleeping for the past few nights.

It happens sometimes, when i’m not aware that something is on my mind, or when I am 🙂 I always liked to stay awake when everyone else was asleep. Have you ever read Tom’s Midnight Garden? It’s a children’s book from the 1950’s that my mum got for me when I was about 11, about a young boy who goes to stay with his aunt and uncle, and discovers that he can enter a beautiful Victorian garden whenever the grandfather clock strikes 13 at midnight. He befriends a young girl called Hatty, in this midnight garden, and whenever he goes back it’s at a different time, and she gets older. The whole book has a strange and lovely, almost ethereal feel to it. I guess that’s that feeling I get from being awake late at night, when everyone else is asleep. A feeling like dark blue. Everything is quiet, it’s when I’m at my most productive. At university I would stay up to write essays until 7am, although I’m not very good at sleeping during the day to catch up on sleep afterwards. So it’s not very sustainable 🙂 Now, with a 9:30am-6pm job, I’ve gotten better at going to bed early. But it’s different when you’re unable to sleep because your head is buzzing with thoughts, and your heart is beating fast and loud in your ears.

A few nights ago I was looking through a book of poems by Anne Sexton. I love Anne Sexton. She writes some of the most honest things I’ve ever read. And also really beautiful, in the way that truth and honesty can be. Not very polished, but raw.

Anyways, this one is called The Ambition Bird. It sprang back into my mind last night, as I couldn’t sleep.

It goes:

 

So it has come to this —
insomnia at 3:15 A.M.,
the clock tolling its engine

like a frog following
a sundial yet having an electric
seizure at the quarter hour.

The business of words keeps me awake.
I am drinking cocoa,
that warm brown mama.

I would like a simple life
yet all night I am laying
poems away in a long box.

It is my immortality box,
my lay-away plan,
my coffin.

All night dark wings
flopping in my heart.
Each an ambition bird.

The bird wants to be dropped
from a high place like Tallahatchie Bridge.

He wants to light a kitchen match
and immolate himself.

He wants to fly into the hand of Michelangelo
and come out painted on a ceiling.

He wants to pierce the hornet’s nest
and come out with a long godhead.

He wants to take bread and wine
and bring forth a man happily floating in the Caribbean.

He wants to be pressed out like a key
so he can unlock the Magi.

He wants to take leave among strangers
passing out bits of his heart like hors d’oeuvres.

He wants to die changing his clothes
and bolt for the sun like a diamond.

He wants, I want.
Dear God, wouldn’t it be
good enough to just drink cocoa?

I must get a new bird
and a new immortality box.
There is folly enough inside this one.

I guess I’m digesting the year that was, and feeling more thin-skinned as the year rounds off. Things are resurfacing, or surfacing, thoughts about the past, and the future. Sometimes I think how beautiful it would be to only think about the now. But then where would we be 🙂

And yet. Wouldn’t it be
good enough to just drink cocoa?

12458778_10156481775650165_1385369162_o-002

Chocolate Toffee Sauce

12465409_10156478326185165_1118907975_o12436728_10156478326585165_975786970_o12438663_10156478327140165_1342878354_o

I made this sauce by accident. But what a beautiful accident it was. It’s thick and drizzly, perfectly speckled with tiny bits of dark chocolate that melt on your tongue a moment after the toffee sauce does.

To my great dismay, some of the Christmas presents I ordered never arrived (they finally arrived today!). Not wanting to get the person something else, since I really wanted to get them this specific thing, very late on December 23rd (so late, in fact, that it was almost the 24th), I had the idea of trying my hand at chewy chocolate toffees.

Not owning a sugar thermometer I decided to eye-ball it, and after happily watching my mixture of sugar, syrup, cream and dark chocolate bubble away for what seemed like nearly an hour, I decided the mixture must surely be close to soft-ball stage (even though when I poured some into a glass of cold water it didn’t really form the malleable ball it was supposed to, which I decided might be because of the chocolate I’d added, and not because the mixture wasn’t actually the desired temperature yet), and poured it into my baking parchment-lined pan. The next morning I awoke to a glorious pan of thick chocolate toffee sauce, which was hard to get too annoyed about.

So I made my brother an I’m-sorry-your-present-didn’t-get-delivered-in-time-for-Christmas mug (like this!), and spooned the toffee sauce into a sterilised jar. That jar is now happily sitting in my fridge, one third emptier than on the 24th because I had a friend over for dinner last night, and we heated some up and poured it over vanilla ice cream (*smacks lips happily*).

(Accidental) Chocolate Toffee Sauce
Slightly and accidentally adapted from chocolat.dk
Yield: one large jar. Keeps for about 3 days at room temperature, and several weeks in the fridge (my guestimate is 4-6 weeks, but I’ll test this and get back to you!).

  • 200 g sugar
  • 100 g golden syrup
  • 400 ml heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 50 g dark chocolate, chopped

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, mix cream, syrup, sugar and salt, and bring to a boil.

Let it boil away at medium heat until the caramel begins to get more golden and thick. Now and then give the mixture a stir.

Add your chopped chocolate, and keep on letting the caramel boil, giving it a good stir now and then, to mix in the chocolate.

After about 20 minutes, when the mixture is starting to thicken but is still quite liquid (indeed, before it reaches a temperature of 120°C (248°F/soft-ball stage), pour into a sterilised jar and allow to cool at room temperature before keeping in the fridge to use however you please (over ice cream, in cupcakes, or simply eaten by the spoonful). Straight out of the fridge I think it could even be eaten as a kind of chocolate-caramel spread on bread. For use over ice cream, blitz it in the microwave for just a few seconds, to make it ever so slightly less thick, or allow to come to room temperature, before drizzling over the ice cream.

12449567_10156478296335165_1115213161_o12458918_10156478326235165_525878955_o12465713_10156478327230165_1296332035_o

* Should you wish to make the actual toffees, let your mixture reach 120°C, then pour into a pan lined with baking parchment (about 15×25 cm) and let cool over night at room temperature, covered in tin foil. Once cooled, cut into little squares, and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.

Beautiful Berlin (Or: That Time I Ate All The Food)

Croco

Last weekend I went to Berlin to visit some friends and family (my brother and sister in law live there, so I try to go once a year). And boy did I eat. This also happened the last time I went – I don’t think Berlin is famous for good food, but it should be!

The sun shined gloriously most of the time I was there, and we even had to take our coats off at one point as we sat in the sun drinking an apfelschorle, after walking around for hours playing tourist (Checkpoint Charlie: check; The Jewish Memorial: check; Under den Linden: check; East Side Gallery: check).

BallonMemorialOST

I’m not very good at remembering to take a picture of my food before I eat whatever I’m about to eat, so alas, I have no photographic evidence. But I have addresses! And some were just too good not to share. So here goes 🙂

DINNER

I’ve been to Berlin twice before, and last time I went, for my brother’s birthday, we had THE BEST Mexican food this side of the equator. I kid you not. I find that good Mexican food really isn’t all that easy to come by in Northern/Western Europe, none that I’ve tried anyway, other than really mediocre Tex-Mex that could very likely give you salmonella (true story).

But thankfully Maria Bonitas is nothing of the sort, and I highly recommend that you try it, should you find yourself in that neck of the woods. It’s a tiny sort of ‘hole in the wall’ restaurant, with a few seats inside, if you’re lucky, and two or three tables outside during the Summer months. Located in Prenzlauer Berg, their motto is ‘Eat More Tacos’ – and we did. I had the tinga de pollo burrito (slow cooked chicken with caramelised onions and refried beans), with guacamole and tortilla chips. Portions are massive, almost so much so that I wish they had a ‘I’m very hungry but maybe slightly more medium-hungry than that’-sized portion, because as good as it is, I didn’t manage to finish, this time or last. Although the boys seemed to have less trouble. Long story short: well worth the trip, and I’m most definitely going back 🙂

Tacos

BREAKFAST

On Saturday we had breakfast in a lovely little place that is well worth a visit, Malinikoff, a sort of German-French café on Helmholtzplatz. I had a croissant with butter and blackberry jam which I’m still dreaming about, blackberry jam is my jam (pun intended). I also had a big old cappuccino, a fresh pear juice, and lots of bread and butter. The others had soft-boiled eggs and fresh fruit with yoghurt, but I was too wrapped up in my carb-fest to try any of their stuff. Apparently their food was also delicious, and the service was super friendly (a rare treat in Berlin 😉 ).

SNACK TIME

Another little gem is the Hokey Pokey ice cream parlour, which just happened to reopen after the Winter hiatus on the very Saturday we were there! We had the salted caramel ice cream, which was so good that we’d planned on going back the next day. But then it rained and we got side-tracked by other culinary delights. I’m told they also sometimes do a salted caramel with sour plums ice cream, which is apparently to die for. Next time!

LUNCH

We also visited the street food fair in the KulturBrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg, which is on every two weeks on Sundays – and luckily for us fell on the Sunday we were there. We had these amazing pulled pork burgers from a big green van, the name of which I’ve unfortunately forgotten (but it’s this green one, at the bottom!). The others had the Southern pulled pork burger with coleslaw and BBQ sauce, and I had the Classic: homemade burger bun, BBQ sauce, succulent pulled pork with green salad and slices of crisp apple. It was the bomb.com, and totally made up for the rain and wind and frozen legs and feet, and we ate them huddled around a gas heater under a parasol. No regrets.

sax2market 4heart

LOPPIS (flea market) AND GLÜHWEIN

After the street food fair we strolled around the flea market in Mauerpark, and I unexpectedly found a stall selling Danish salty licorice (!!!!), so I was VERY happy. I also bought some fridge magnets with dancing cows and robots on them, and some old tins. Although I’ve imposed an ‘old tin-embargo’ on myself, because I have such a ridiculous amount of old tins in my apartment that it’s becoming a problem, I feel as though all bets are off when you’re abroad. The Mauerpark flea market is on every Sunday, and includes an outside food area with a little inside bar, where we took refuge from the rain and wind and had a glühwein. When we came back out the sun had reappeared, and we had the market mostly to ourselves compared to how crowded it normally is, so the rain had done us a service. Although it wasn’t on this Sunday, during the Summer months there’s also outside karaoke right next to the flea market, which is really fun and entertaining and well worth a visit, and provides a nice break from the usually very crowded flea market lanes 🙂

MORE DINNER

Berlin is divided into a number of boroughs, and although we walked around a lot of Berlin, for some reason most of our meals were consumed in Prenzlauer Berg (probably because we were staying there, and also because there’s a lot of good food around that area, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it?). But for our last meal in Berlin (this time around), we ventured all the way to Mitte, for cocktails and burgers at Hans Im Glück. This is apparently a chain, and is a bit gimmicky, but what it lacked in ‘artisanal feel’ (I’m sorry I just said that), it made up for in cocktail and burger originality, so who gives a hoot. We were seated amongst a bunch of tree trunks that go from floor to ceiling, and which serve to break up the massive restaurant and make it feel a little more homey than I imagine it otherwise would, and although the place was super crowded and there was a long line of people waiting to be seated, we had no problem hearing each other over the hubbub. I had a spicy veggie burger with garlic mayo, and a ginger and elderflower virgin cocktail (I decided to go forego the boozey cocktails because we had to get up at 4.30 to catch a 5 am train the next morning). They also had a really delicious burger with goat’s cheese and fig sauce, and I’ve definitely been inspired to up my burger game at home.

So that is the story of how I ate my way around Berlin 🙂

 

P.S. / A FEW OTHER EATS WORTH A MENTION: Last time we also went to The Bird (there are two of these, the original one in Prenzlauer Berg and a second one in Kreutzberg which opened a year ago, but I would recommend the Prenslauer Berg one. The Bird is known for making some of the best burgers and steaks in Berlin, and I had the best club sandwich in my life there, and was really sad not to be able to fit one in this time around – but I just didn’t have any space left in my belly, and it’s such a popular place that you usually have to reserve a table well in advance); and Due Forni (according to my brother, the best pizza and pasta he’s had outside of Italy, Due Forni is a kind of grungy/punky cantina-style Italian restaurant with a massive terrace, slow service, but really good and cheap food, and very good tiramisu! My sister-in-law had the spaghetti carbonara, and it was seriously good). Both very much to be recommended!

 

 

 

The Best Hot Chocolate

kakao-og-klejner-025-004

You have to try this hot chocolate mix from smitten kitchen. It is the bomb.com. I’m not even kidding. You have to. I’m planning on making a bunch of it, both to keep around the house and to give away this Christmas. I’ve had three mugs of it since yesterday, and I’m planning on having at least one more today.

It’s super easy to make, rich and creamy and extremely yummy, just the right amount of sweet.

Trust me, just make it.

For a jar with enough for about 7-9 mugs of hot chocolate (depending on how chocolaty you like your cocoa), you will need:

  • 100 g / 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 85 g / 3 ounces dark chocolate (for this batch I used 54%, which was perfect)
  • 40 g / 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract / a teeny tiny amount of seeds from a fresh vanilla bean
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt

Grate the chocolate on the fine side of a box grater/cheese grater (I also tried making a portion in my food processor later in the day, and found that it made the chocolate stick together in clumps and make the mixture clumpy – but maybe that’s just my food processor? In any case, grating worked no problem 🙂 I may try chopping the chocolate more finely and giving the blender another go rather than grating it, when I make a big batch).

kakao og klejner 003-001kakao og klejner 012

Put into a mixing bowl along with the remaining ingredients and stir with a spoon until well combined.

Heat a cup of milk (whichever kind you prefer) in the microwave on high for 2 minutes; add 4 heaped teaspoons of hot chocolate mix (after vigorous testing, I’ve concluded that this is my preferred amount 😉 ). Or heat the milk and hot chocolate mix in a small saucepan for a few minutes until the mixture has dissolved and the milk is nice and hot!

kakao og klejner 017kakao og klejner 022

Serve on its own or with whipped cream or marshmallows. I had mine with breakfast, sunny side up!

kakao-og-klejner-025-005kakao-og-klejner-027-002

The hot chocolate mix keeps in an airtight container for about two months (but I promise you it won’t be around for that long).

Mushy Peas

  Mushy peas 005

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

I love mushy peas. Love love love.

Tomorrow I’m making bangers and mash with mushy peas for dinner, and I decided to make the mushy peas ahead of time so that I could have some tonight already!

This recipe is so, so simple, and so, so yummy. It always turns out perfect, no one could mess this up. Plus these take about 15-20 minutes to make, most of which is simply the peas simmering by themselves. This is high a very low maintenance, instant gratification side dish.

You will need:

  • About 500 g / 17-18 ounces frozen peas
  • About 1 tbsp of butter
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • A small sprig of fresh mint, chopped (if you happen to find yourself without fresh mint, you can absolutely leave it out, it will still taste yummy; but I still recommend using mint, if you have it!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mushy peas 021mint choppedMushy peas 025

Melt the butter in a sauté pan (a pan with semi high sides). Add the chopped mint and frozen peas to the pan, cover with a lid, and leave to simmer for about 10-15 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the peas are nice and soft, add the lemon juice and a bit of salt and pepper. Take off the heat and whiz up in a food processor/directly in the pan with a hand blender for a minute or so; make sure not to over-whiz – you still want some chunks of peas in there, for texture. Give it a good stir with your spoon and check the seasoning; it may need a bit more salt, pepper or lemon juice.

Eat the mushy peas on their own, with fish and chips or bangers and mash, or  however you fancy, really 🙂 They keep well in a Tupperware in the fridge, and can be reheated over medium-low heat. If they are too dry upon reheating, add a tiny bit of lemon juice.

 

 

 

The Sea (and Fudge!)

October and Brighton! 059
I went to Brighton this weekend to see my friend Tash, and ate my way through a lot of fudge. A lot.
A lot-a lot.

There’s a little shop in The Lanes that has very good fudge – my favourite is the fudge with sea salt. The runner up is the one with maple and walnuts. I basically end up just eating my way through the box looking for a piece with sea salt, which is how I end up giving myself heartburn. What a tough life I lead. Still, 3 am fudge-induced heartburn is no joke.

It was brilliant to get a good dose of salty sea air and pale Autumn sun.

October and Brighton! 045October and Brighton! 054October and Brighton! 067

We went on the worst, least scary and very rubbish, and therefore most awesome, haunted house ride, the Horror Hotel, on the rickety Brighton pier. And did you know, in Brighton there’s a place called Doughnut Groyne? I kid you not.

We went to the beach and took off our boots and listened to the sea for a while, and I found a bunch of very cool rocks to bring back to Brussels, and managed not to get pooped on by any seagulls.

Also, this happened:

October and Brighton! 104

We took a side trip to Lewes (which is apparently pronounced ‘Lewis’) where we had a pub lunch and a wander around the country side, and saw a cloud shaped like a long-necked dinosaur.

October and Brighton! 133October and Brighton! 165 October and Brighton! 151

We also saw several brilliant signs:

October and Brighton! 112October and Brighton! 175

I ate bangers and mash twice, and drank a lot of tea, and stocked up on mini cheddars and M&S percy pig gummies before catching my train back to Brussels.