Good News/ Bad News

Why is it, lately, that every bit of good stuff has to come with equally proportionate bad stuff? (I know, that was really eloquent, let's just go with it.) For example, this weekend I went to Copenhagen to visit my friend Ted. (Good!) But now I'm sick. (Bad.) I found a free English language novel on the side of the road the other night, and it was getting pretty interesting! (Good!) But I left it on the airplane. (Bad.) I found a nearby store that sells Masa Harina so I can make tamales! (Good!) But its imported and costs 8 f*cking euros a bag. (Doh!)

And perhaps the most important piece of news straddling the good/ line is my new job. On the one hand, its a job! That's super good, because I'm beyond broke and I really want to go intern in Budapest this summer, so I need to find some income, and fast. Onnnnn the downside... its a job as a "putzfrau" for a pre-school. So I'm basically walking around with a mop, broom and vacuum cleaner and trying to clean surfaces faster than babies can expel bodily fluids onto them. It is, so far, a losing battle. So yeah, that's bad.

But at least, when I come home sore and smelling of baby powder (or worse) there's still the old, and almost free standby of Hutspot- mashed potatoes with add-ins (in this case sauerkraut and apples.) It's always so comforting, and makes me feel a little better about my terrible low-wage torture job (even if it does remind me of baby food, a little.)

So what if things aren't perfect? Good/ bad is way better than bad/ bad, and maybe I'm even on the way to good/good...


Is it really so strange?

So wouldn't you know that just when I get this awesome trio of faux-micro lenses for my camera AND cook up Viva Vegan's feijoada twice in one week, I realize I left my damn camera charger in the USA. And I know that you vegan blog folks are just like frat boys (in one respect): "Pics or it didn't happen."

So I will have to take a little break until my camera charger comes back, but in the meantime please entertain yourself with some tidbits from around the internets:

*First off: dude, Terry Hope Romero has just posted on her blog that she is starting on a new vegan World Foods cookbook. If that wasn't exciting enough, she and Isa are apparently completing their trilogy of dessert cookbooks with one on...wait for it.... PIE. Dude. Best trilogy since Lord of the Rings. I am so freaking stoked.

*Mark Bittman generally has great shit on his Times column, The Minimalist, and this last week he put up a little how-to on making pancakes from a variety of cooked grains and spices. The recipe has an egg, but as you all know by now, you can also up the baking powder slightly to alter these recipes to vegan perfection. (Cardamom scented oatmeal pancakes with apricots, yum!)

*My boyfriend and I are planning to quit smoking officially on Valentines day this year and are spending the next month amping up on inspiration and ideas on how to do so effectively. This article, describing how even one cigarette can instantly damage your DNA, is just the kind of knowledge I need.

*I really love Design Sponge in general, as it is the only real heir to the dead mag Domino, but I especially adore their before and after category, where they turn fugly furniture and rooms into specimens of beauty. Maybe you have a dresser or broom closet that can benefit from a creative makeover?

*And finally, the Post Punk Kitchen is having a little cookbook challenge in the next 12 weeks. You probably have most of these cookbooks, and if not the internet has a surprising number of recipes from all of them, why not play along?

See you when the mail comes...


Quinoa Corn Chowder

Perhaps a future chapter in my autobiography will read as follows:

"I shall always remember the first occasion on which I realized that soups could change my life. It was the winter of 2011, and I faced a dangerous trifecta of unemployment, ever-growing debt, and a kitchen practically devoid of fresh food. As I often did during those dark times, I sat on the kitchen cabinet drinking coffee, absent-mindedly flipping through cookbooks, and waiting for the phone to ring offering me a job. As the radio blasted monotonous German electro-pop, I came across a recipe in Terry Hope Romero's now classic, Viva Vegan, Quinoa Corn Chowder with Limas and Aji. I sighed... oh, those fat summer days, when both sweet summer corn and money were plentiful! I pined for the past, before law school, when the world seemed full of meals and possibilities.

Suddenly, I realized: I had some frozen sweet corn in the freezer! Racing to my pantry I discovered I also had quinoa, some red beans, and a passable number of the spices! With a gleam in my eye, I gathered my last few cents and raced to Kaisers, hoping to find a decent avocado to round out my meal. Miraculously, on the top of the pile sat the last passably ripe avocado, beckoning to me.

A few hours later, I sat with S., staring at my creation: bursting with corn, plumped quinoa, red beans, a warming spicy broth, and ripe chunks of avocado, it looked amazing. And friends, it was. I sent up a quick prayer of thanks to God for blessing the planet with that celebrated genius Romero, and dug in. Maybe things were just about to turn around, I thought to myself. If I can eat like this when the money has dried up, just imagine what I can do when that phone finally rings..."

And then hopefully the next chapter will be about when Angela Merkel calls to personally offer me a job heading up the brand new German open-borders refugee agency... or at least that Irish pub finally hits me back for a waitressing gig.

Song of the Day: Die Sterne- Universal Tellerwascher


The year that was...

The Black Sea, Bagels, and Beans


Poverty-inspired flour mania- Pancakes, Spaetzle and Gnocchi from scratch


My little brother comes to visit and I embarrass him in front of all the great sites in Europe. For revenge, he steals my favorite coat and still hasn't given it back.


Passover tapas for all my friends in Brussels, despite a tragic lack of Manischevitz wine.


Springtime in Berlin gets off to an auspicious start when I invent the life-changing Chipotle Plantain Enchiladas.


Love is in the air in Berlin, and to celebrate I eat lots of red things, like cherries and rhubarbs. Meanwhile, we pack up and move into a new apartment.


Summer brings lots of weddings in the US, and (perhaps in response?) I develop a strange affinity for miniature pies. And a strange dis-finity for wedding registries. Take that, married people!

August: Apparently, nothing happens in August. I just sit on the roof of the new place and eat more pie. (Not too shabby, me!)


Oh wait, now I remember what I was doing in August, writing my dissertation! In September that baby is all turned in, so I celebrate by making lots of pierogies, hosting a Rosh Hoshana dinner, and finding a thousand and one things to do with CSA plums.


In October, having failed to immediately obtain a job upon graduation, I go into a housewife-like baking frenzy and serve S. gourmet meals, like crepes, every night in desperate response to my certain future as failed lawyer.


I attempt my first Vegan Mofo, cooking up lots of delicious things to impress you at first, only to drop out towards the end because of a flu caught in England. Bloody Brits.

And finally, December, as seen immediately below, was a whirl of holiday traveling and a good time had by all. (Well, except for the actual traveling part.)

All in all, this year was one of the brokest and most nerve-wracking years of my life, but I also made a lot of new friends, fell more in love with my boyfriend, and got to know yet another city and another language. I can also honestly say that I feel more confident in my cooking skills than ever before, partially because of said stress and brokeness. Turns out, deprivation inspires creativity! But you vegans already knew that. Stay tuned for food-related new years resolutions (yes, I have so many resolutions that I have to make categories.)

Happy New Years, internet!