Saturday, October 29, 2011

More Fall baking

I have come to realize I love Fall. Coming from California I don't think I was truly able to appreciate this season. Don't get me wrong we had all the Fall themed decorations and of course pumpkin pie, but my wardrobe was not packed with jackets and scarves. Living in Georgia I began to realize the awesomeness that is Fall especially with tailgates and college football. And let's not forget Fall colors are my colors. I love the cool crisp air of Fall and all the spices and smells that come along with this season.  So in honor of Fall and to follow up my baking skills of the apple crisp, I bring you pumpkin oatmeal muffins made from a real pumpkin.  I found this recipe on Peanut Butter Fingers blog and they rock (once you double the spices, I love me some all-spice and cinnamon).  

Since canned pumpkin is impossible to find in Germany and I am trying to eat less processed food I decided to use a real pumpkin. This was my first time doing this and I was super excited. After some YouTubbing, I found multiple ways to attack this bad boy. I went with baking, you can also go with steaming or boiling which I will probably do next time because it is a little faster. So let me take you step by step.

I recruited Justin for some muscle. He did the honors of cutting the pumpkin

Next I placed the cleaned out and cut pumpkin on a baking sheet. Yes, I baked these in my toaster oven. In the end I had to cut it into quarters to fit in the toaster oven.

I baked two batches for an hour each....I know it was long, but I had a free Saturday afternoon.

Next I cleaned off all the seeds and saved them for later toasting.

Once the pumpkin was all baked and very soft, I scooped it out and blended it up with a hand mixer. Viola! Fresh pumpkin puree-goodbye canned pumpkin!

Now for the pumpkin oatmeal muffins. These are great for breakfast on-the-go or with a little honey or butter. Again I got this recipe here.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins
Makes 12 muffins (if they are big or 24 if they are little)
  • Prep time: 15 minutes 
  • Bake Time: 18 minutes (again for big and about 12 if they are little)
Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (double this)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I just added nutmeg, all-spice, and ginger and doubled it)
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (or fresh pumpkin like I did)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • Optional mix-ins: nuts, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, raisins
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line muffin tin with muffin cups
  2. Combine whole wheat flour through sugar in a large bowl and mix to evenly distribute ingredients
  3. In a separate bowl, mix egg, pumpkin, milk and canola oil
  4. Pour pumpkin mixture into flour mixture and stir until batter is thick and fully mixed
  5. Fold in optional mix-ins
  6. Pour batter into muffin cups and bake for 18 minutes or until tops of the muffins bounce back when lightly touched
  7. Cool, top with cinnamon or honey butter and enjoy
This was taken a little late in the game, I had already made a batch but you get the idea. Scoop the mixture into the muffin tins.

This was my first batch and they were a little dry, light colored and not enough spice but I made adjustments

But by my fourth batch and they rocked! Perfect color and perfect texture.

Let me give you a little heads up. I bought a medium size pumpkin and made about 90+ muffins. So if you use a real pumpkin buy small or plan to freeze some or make other pumpkin recipes. 

I picked up my second pumpkin today and my friend and I are going to make pumpkin bread tomorrow! This time I am going to steam it and I will let you know how it goes.

If you have any pumpkin recipes (bread, soup, pie, etc.) please share!

--Marisa

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

German Sandwich Meat

     This will be a quick one before we put up a series of posts about our Fall break in Spain.  So last year one of my Australian co-workers was telling me about this great sandwich meat that he buys on a weekly basis from the Penny Markt.  It's a seasoned turkey breast, and I'll explain the reasoning for the name in a second but here is the wonderful product that blew him away:





     That's right folks...........my boy couldn't get enough of this Black Puty (pronounced "pooty") and didn't think it was as funny as I did.  The best part is that the radio and television commercials for Black Puty use the song "Black Betty" by Ram Jam as their jingle......."Whoa, Black Puty, ram-a-lam......".
     So, it's not that odd here because "Puty" is short for "Puten" which means turkey in German.  I had to try it and I must say that Black Puty isn't too bad.  I think that I'll easily be able to "go back" to my previous sandwich meat though.

--Justin

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Oktoberfest 2011

So, another Fall is upon us and with it brings the much-anticipated Oktoberfest celebration in Germany.  While Munich is the only "real deal" there is no shortage of spirit throughout the country.  In our first year we made the trip down to Munich.  Last year we went to Stuttgart for Volksfest and Frankfurt's Oktoberfest.  This year we kept it local and went with a colleague to his soccer club's private party.  Over the past two years we've also gone the cheap route and passed up the opportunity to invest in Lederhosen ("leather pants") and a Dirndl (traditional dress).  This year, however, we bit the bullet and invested in our Oktoberfest garb that will double as our Halloween costumes for life.  I'm sure they'll pay for themselves eventually........


Here we are sporting the new purchases from the C&A Department store.  Only 99 Euros each!  Much better than our Halloween costumes from 2004!

This is the home-made version from 2004.  Upgrade?

Back to the present...........here is our entire group outside of our co-worker's soccer club.  Overall we had solid participation on the dress code.

No Oktoberfest-ival is complete without "Festbier".

So we were partly celebrating Oktoberfest, but also celebrating our co-worker's (Richard) 5-year wedding anniversary.  Being Scottish and having lived in Dublin, Richard had to show us a jig or two.

Coming as a great surprise to me, I was selected as a candidate for the 2011 Mr. Oktoberfest competition.  Women in Dirndl's picked six of us to compete in five elimination games to determine the true Mr. Oktoberfest.  While I did make it past this first round of musical chairs played to an accordion, I wouldn't put my money on a foreigner to win "Mr. Oktoberfest".

The sneaky Germans showed me up with the second game, which was to see how long you could hold this liter of beer straight out from your chest.  Needless to say, I was the first one down after a few minutes of agony.  There's definitely a technique to it that I pondered the rest of the evening.......with my free liter of beer that is!

The happy couple of 5 years.

Not sure if it's a British thing, but my colleague Jaygo always seems to want to arm-wrestle after a couple of beers.  After being embarrassed by the Germans in beer holding, I wasn't about to lose another test of manhood!

On a separate occasion we reserved our neighborhood restaurant, zur Sonnenuhr, to host a small Oktoberfest party for our co-workers.

Don't ask me why I tried again, but the result was the same as before......with no free beer at the end!

Our merry group enjoying themselves on the patio.

I made a special request that Tanya, the proprietor of the restaurant, also wear her Dirndl for the occasion.

All of the participating North Americans with Tanya.  We plan to frame some of these and give them to her whenever we leave.  We're trying to follow in the steps of Buck and Mae, who had their photos posted in their neighborhood place in Thailand.

Lastly, our "first friends" in Germany, the fellow Americans Katy and Ryan celebrated their last Oktoberfest with us before moving to Vancouver.  It was bitter-sweet and we wish them the best in their new city.

Everyone loves Oktoberfest time round these parts..............but what's not to like?  Marisa and I were talking recently about traditions that we'll take with us from Germany and we both agreed that we'd want to have an Oktoberfest party wherever we live in the States.  It will be our way of sharing this great culture with our home culture.  We've got it all planned out from the food, to the music, the beer, the decor, and the Mr. Oktoberfest competition!  Can't wait to have y'all over for the festivities some day.  Till then.......

--Justin

Monday, October 3, 2011

Palmengarten

This post is very late, but we took some beautiful pictures so I wanted to share.  After the crazy traveling in the summer we decided to stay in Frankfurt the week before we went back to work.  It turned out to be a great decision. We finally made it to the Botanical garden, or Palmgarten as they call it here, in Frankfurt after two years.  It was a sunny afternoon and we headed over for a few hours outside.









I am glad we finally made it and I hope we can go in spring next year when everything is blooming.  On a separate note, the weather in Frankfurt has been absolutely amazing.  It has felt like summer all weekend. You know this Cali girl is loving it!

Coming soon a post about all our Oktoberfest activities!

--Marisa

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