Monday, July 28, 2014

Neighborly Love

We've been at our current location in Berlin for about 6 years now and since then we've seen our particular street grow almost beyond recognition.   Our block alone has sprouted a coffee house, a vintage store,  co-working spaces, two boutiques and a couple of bars (of course) all in the last two and a half years.

I'd like to say that I personally know each business on the street but this just would not be the truth.  Meeting ones neighbors takes effort and time, two things that often get swallowed up in the never-ending rush of busy business-like stuff, the same stuff that keeps us scrambling to our computers to help fill the void created by lack of actual human contact.

Lately I've been putting my mind to slowing down a bit to enjoy this fairly decent summer we seem to be experiencing.  If you're a resident of this charming city, you know that this isn't always the case and can also disappear at a moments notice.   So, today I finally stopped to introduce myself to a fairly new neighbor, The Liquor Company Berlin. They have their office and a small production space a few doors down from ours.  Again, if you live in Berlin, you may have already seen their various imported products on the shelves of your favorite watering hole but now they are launching their own brew, brewed right here on Weserstrasse, KR/23.

KR/23 is an herbal liqueur (Kräuterlikor) made from, you guessed it, 23 different ingredients:  black pepper, bay leaf, lemon zest, cloves, oregano, cinnamon, ginger, basil, sage, fennel, orange zest, green pepper, lemon balm, anise, rosemary, turmeric, caraway seed, mint, cardamom, wild rue and nutmeg.  Served chilled (in the refrigerator because it is too delicate for the freezer), this herbal liquor is quite the summer sip.  Delish.

As a good neighbor does, the gentleman who opened the door, welcomed me in and offered me something refreshing to drink.  Lovely, lovely people and damn good hooch.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pack Your Pickle

I just spent the last half of an hour debating if you would find these rather simple photos interesting enough to see at the "x-large" setting that google's blog template offers.  I shrunk some, enlarged others, tried to move them around to make a collage sort of thing (not possible with google blog template or I just don't know how) and was not satisfied.

Yeah, yeah… this post is supposed to be about making pickles (see way below for all that stuff) but half the fun came from the visuals this little project produced.  Neatly packed cut vegetables in jars, love it.  Before the hot vinegary liquid is poured and after: glorious.  

Why the fascination, you ask?  I don't know but in the end, I just made all the images the same size.

(recipe after the photos)

The beloved mixed veggie jar:  green and yellow beans, radishes, carrots, cauliflower, onions, ginger, fresh coriander, garlic and a couple of chills for good measure.

As straight up as I went with the pickling project:  local organic baby cumbers, mustard seeds, fresh dill, a couple of chilis for good measure, again.

Poetry in a jar.

Just waiting for hot lovin'.
Guilty pleasures:  Mini peppers with LOTS of hotness going on inside... and garlic.
Submerged and beautiful.
Bleeding heart:  local organic red beets, fennel, mint, dill… and garlic.

My XL jar of over the top spicy pickles.  All mine!

Family photo.

I'm no pickling expert, just a regular curious person who loves a good pickle. Below is the recipe I tweaked.  I like the slightly sweet, a bit more salty experience but I do know you can use only salt if that's your thing.

Also, in my mind, anything goes, pickle whatever the hell you want.  I'm sure there will be varying results based on what it is that you choose but sticking with firm veggies always yields a good crunch. 

Speaking of a good crunch, that's what I'm after as well.  I'm still in the testing mode here but I can say that I just tried one of my super spicy cucumber pickles and it was absolutely DELICIOUS,  less than 24 hours in the fridge. Actually, I would be very happy if they stay exactly the way they are (perhaps a little spicier) but let's see what happens after another day or two.  I'll be updating my findings in the comments. 

Warning:  Calculate how much fridge space you have before undergoing your pickling project, these need to be refrigerated.  If you go nuts buying your veggies and can't stop yourself like I couldn't, you either have to have catering capacity refrigeration  (lucky me) or you have to have lots of friends to pickle gift.  Careful that you don't end up with too much pickle to pack. Har har.



4 Crispy Baby Cucumbers (Kirby cucumbers), washed, dried, and quartered lengthwise
2 or 3 sprigs fresh dill (or any herb you like)
1 cup distilled white vinegar 
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 fresh chili
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

Place cucumbers, herbs, chili and garlic in a jar.

Heat vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan, stirring, until sugar and salt have dissolved. Pour into jar. Let cool completely, uncovered. Pickles are best refrigerated overnight (or up to 6 weeks) before serving.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Those cute little houses

The first time I saw a Schrebergartenkolonie, I thought it must be the equivalent to an American trailer park and those cute little houses, mobile homes.  I thought to myself, "Everything is quaint Europe".  Granted, this was back in 1997 and I soon found out that those garden colonies were not at all similar to trailer parks, rather, plots of land, often within the city limits, that people own to connect with nature (roughly speaking). I thought to myself,  "That's a very good idea".

I've had the pleasure to visit a few of these gardens over the years and last weekend I was invited to my friend's for a bbq.  We all brought a little something to share, as is often the case, and the rest is history.  Good times within the city limits.

Find my tasty potato salad recipe that I shared down below.

Schrabergarten Potato Salad

Serves 4-6

5kg Potatoes
2 cups of mayo
1 head garlic, chopped
handful chopped parsley
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
sea salt
cracked pepper

Preheat oven at 220°.  Wash potatoes, leave skin on and cut into 1 inch cubes.  Spread evenly on a rimmed cookie sheet, drizzle liberally with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast until cooked thru.

Once potatoes are cool, mix with the rest of the ingredients and salt and pepper to taste.  AND feel free to increase or decrease the amount garlic but remember, it's the garlic that make is dish what it is.