Not quite Spring, but almost...

Hello friends! I know the question on everyone's mind: is it Spring yet in Berlin? The answer is: kind of. Its like, sunny and stuff, and everyone's out in the park, there are one or two flowers popping out, but.... its still winter coat weather, and any lying around in the park is primarily based on wishful thinking rather than inviting weather.

Oh well. A few more days I think. At any rate, this sort of nervous, not-really-spring-not-really-winter holding pattern seems to be pushing people a bit to the brink... everyone seems to be in a bad mood, some arsonist is setting prams on fire in apartment buildings all over the city, and on top of it all, there was the recent death of poor Knut, the Berlin zoo's famously abandoned polar bear and somewhat of a Berlin mascot. And I'm sure you guys are aware of what's been going on in Japan and Libya. Not to mention the death of the fabulous Liz Taylor. Alright, there's a lot of reasons to feel un-springlike. But despite the last vestiges of winter gloom, I have to admit, its getting better, its getting better all the time...

And I've been making (if not photographing) a ton of food! Have you guys all seen the PPK's food blog, run by Isa Chandra Moskowitz? Its amazing, because its authored by our favorite trusted cookbook author, but features some simpler or quicker things to try out for dinner (and other meals). I've recently made the chipotle sweet potato chili and the red curry soup with rice, and both were simple and sublime. Great resource for those of you who don't own a PPK cookbook yet... hahaha, like there's anyone out there like that.

In addition, I recently made my own chipotle plantain enchiladas, because my friends needed some cheering up after the whole depressing "Knut incident", as well as some weekend pancakes, since I needed some cheering up after the whole depressing "winter incident". These are B's oatmeal pancakes, covered in bananas, soy yogurt, and agave nectar. Needless to say, they were cheering.

And in a few weeks, when my paycheck is here, the weather makes up its mind to stay nice, and I have a fellow American visitor in town(albeit, no vegetarian) I'm expecting that I will be even more cheered! After all, its almost Passover, almost summer, and almost time to pick up again and head to another B-named European city... Budapest!

And almost forgot to mention: if you are indeed unhappy about some of the events going on recently there's no reason to just sit around feeling helpless and stuffing your face with enchiladas. There are a ton of vegan bake sales going on all over the world to benefit Japan (this list has some for Japan as well as other causes.) And over at Chocolate Covered Vegan, Katie is holding a virtual bakesale to benefit Japan, which you can read all about here.

And if you are sad about Elizabeth Taylor, do yourself a favor and rent A Place in the Sun or one of her other classics. Curl up, and soak in the divine.


Mid-Day Dinners

Na? Wie gehts, leute?

I know I've been bitching a lot about my work situation on this blog lately, and although I'm still not totally thrilled about it, its really not as bad as I make it out to be. In fact, there are even some plus sides (aside from the tiny trickle of income I derive only to immediately throw onto the eternal tire fire of my law school debt).

One benefit is that I get to meet interesting people. Last week, at my cleaning lady job, a random, surly teenage girl showed up and started half-heartedly mopping. I couldn't get a straight answer out of her as to why she was usurping my cherished position, but I later found out that she was sent there as punishment! Apparently, she committed some "light fraud" and had the following options in court: spend a month in jail, pay 2,500 euros, or, go work in a kindergarden as a putzfrau for one month.

(Ahem. So this is the German government literally saying that my work is equivalent to a month in PRISON. That is harsh. I'm thinking of telling my boss that the gov obviously thinks my work is worth 2,500 euros so maybe I should get a little raise... like 5 times my current salary.)

Anyways, after I figured out what she was doing we became fast friends based on her love of making fun of my German, and my love is making fun of her for dressing up like a fashion model to come take out trashbags full of diapers. And we both enjoy cooing at the tiny babies and watching them stumble around and do ridiculous things. All in all, the little criminal's presence has enhanced my mornings greatly.

The other nice thing about my schedule is that since I work during dinner hours, I have a huge lunch feast every day with S, often with him cooking while I lounge around and complain about having to go to my other job. Its kind of nice to eat a big meal when its light out! Last week we had the fabulous pineapple cashew quinoa stir fry from V-Con (pictured above). I know I've made it a hundred times, but it really is such a perfect meal! Sweet, spicy, hearty and full of fresh mint, ginger, and basil. It tastes like really healthy take-out from your favorite pan-Asian restaurant.

A second meal was this simple combo: roasted pumpkin rubbed with roasted sesame oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds, rice, and wirsing (a type of green cabage) with a little ketjap manis sauce. Perfect mid-day dinner, and a good way to use up the perpetual head of cabbage always hanging out in our fridge.

Yes, things could definitely be worse.

song of the day: Fettes Brot- Yein


International Women's Day!

Happy International Women's Day, citizens of the world! Did you know that this holiday was created by a famous German leftist and feminist, Clara Zetkin? And that it used to be international women workers day? And that in the Soviet Bloc it was celebrated like a mixture between Mother's Day and Valentine's Day, with candy and flowers for all the ladies in one's life? Now, I wouldn't promote all traditions of the Soviet Sateelite States (like, say, gulags, just off the top of my head) but I kind of dig this idea! Instead of being owned by Hallmark and having shitty ensemble movies made about it, International Women's Day celebrates all women, not just women who deserve validation because they are attached or have produced offspring.

I rather doubt that I will recieve some commi-red roses or any sweets today, but I decided I would celebrate by mentioning one of my favorite women of all time.

Emma Goldman

"Red Emma" is basically one of the most badass women in history. Born amid progroms in Russia, she emigrated to the US as a teen and was inspired to become involved in radical politics by the Haymarket Affair. She soonafter started a public speaking career that would last the rest of her life. She spoke and wrote about topics as diverse as family planning (she was also a nurse), gay rights, free love, revolution, and mostly, anarchism. She spent countless nights in jail for speaking about things most of us would consider fairly innocuous today. (Oh yeah, but she was sort of involved in an assasination attempt as well.)
She was eventually deported from the US to Russia along with other anarchists for seditious speech, and arrived in her homeland of Russia followning the revolution. Disenchanted by what she saw there, she broke with most of the left in condemning the violence against the population and starvation of large portions of the population while Moscow leaders continued to live in comfort.

In short, the woman never met a popular stance that she didn't disagree with. But she almost prophetically fought for what would become some of the major causes of the twentieth century, long before it was polite (or legal) to do so in public. And if you are looking for a kickass book to read, check out her autobiography, "My Life."

At any rate, I am also an international working woman, so I celebrated this morning with a special treat: a mango-strawberry-banana smoothie and two of Mihl's crispy cherry muffins. They were cinnamon spiked and supremely delicious, great preparation for a day as one of the world's countless working ladies.

Looking for an event to go to or something to do to honor WOMEN? Check out International Women's Day HQ for details.

song of the day: Le Tigre- Feminists We're Calling You!


Cherry Clafoutis...?

If you had the choice between working at a job that was frequently disgusting but kept you busy, or at one that was mind-numbingly boring but done in relative comfort, what would you choose? I've been pondering this from a purely intellectual standpoint lately because, in fact, I don't have to choose. I have both jobs, one after the other, every day.

Yes, friends, I've picked up another job. Following my humiliating but somewhat entertaining morning cleaning-lady job, I go to a fancy office building and conduct hours of phone calls to mostly disconnected phones in Latin America, in the hopes that one of them will take a survey. Its a dull job, but someone has to do it (or do they...?) At any rate, with these two super jobs combined, I should be able to fund a summer in Budapest (or back surgery, whatever comes first.) But on the other hand, it doesn't leave a lot of time for cooking. Or eating. (Dude, I'm going to be totally rich AND skinny!)

However, I did attempt one kitchen coup, with mixed success. So I finally made this clafoutis recipe from Vegan Visitor that I've been wanting to try for like, 3 years. Actually, literally that long, which I realized trying to dig up the recipe and seeing it was from 2008. But it had ingredients that I could largely reproduce, and feeling sophisticated, I decided to give it a try.

It was.... weird. Sort of a large chewy pancake filled with a sweet tofu mousse that doesn't ever really set (and I cooked this baby for 1 and 1/2 hours.) I mean, it was good, but I just wasn't sure I did it right. The inside is a cottage cheese consistency, owing to the curdled soy milk and silken tofu mixture, but it wasn't reminiscent of any desserts I'm familiar with. My non-vegan friend thought it was like a big milk-rice pancake, and loved it. I also thought it was fairly decent (obviously, because I consumed almost the entire thing in 1 hour), but just not totally sure it was clafoutis. I will have to try the whole experiment again to see if this is the way its meant to be.

At any rate, the whole clafoutis experiment is kind of like my two jobs. Pretty sure its a step in the right direction, but not something I can take out of the oven and call a "career".