Europe 2012: The Video

Well, let me tell you, making a video for a two-week trip is quite a task… But I was determined to continue to develop this new-found hobby and have spliced together some of the best moments (ie. the moments I remembered to capture as moving pictures) of the trip. As we are our own worst critics, I always feel like there’s room for improvement, editing choices that could always fit a little bit better, but it is amazing how a quick little video does bring an entire vacation to life.

My father has said he’d like to see more of me in the video; however, I’m holding to the claim that it is hard to video oneself (on a train, walking in a strange city, drinking Belgian beers) while traveling without a tripod. So for now, please enjoy the lovely sites (my favorites are from the air) and wait patiently in anticipation of my next travel video, where I may or may not be making an appearance…

[vimeo w=700&h=500]

song: RJD2 – Ghostwriter


Apfelkuchen a.k.a. Apple Cake

At this point it should come as no surprise that I ended my European holiday in Stuttgart. After my au pair year, I have friends to catch up with, old haunts to visit and nostalgic food to gorge on. It was a great end to the trip and felt so much like home that I felt like I could have stayed forever. I actually felt that way on my entire trip seeing as that I was staying in apartments and visiting with friends, pretty much some of the same things I do at home – except with more leisure time and better beer.

When I lived in Germany, my closest friends were a group of British expats, as I was determined to steer clear of other Americans, yet couldn’t speak German to befriend native folks. We spent the year going to fests, trying to find spicy curries, taking trips here and there and in general living it up. Since then, the group has dissipated a bit and has returned to their home countries, yet a few have stayed including my good friend Nicola and her husband Joe. They so graciously put me up in their new house for my time in Germany and it was just lovely. Nicola took some time away from work and we spent a day making jewelry and baking a cake (the jewelry being her hobby and the cooking mine). I spied apple trees in the field across from their house and insisted that we trek out there so I could bake up something tasty. I found a supremely simple recipe online and we had a little afternoon tea and cake all displayed on her new tea set in its inaugural usage.

The cake was delicious! It was in the vein of my favorite types of cakes: not too sweet, no frosting and some fruit in there too. I loved the huge chunks of apples and the slightly tart bites that they brought to the cake. The simplicity of this cake is what also makes it amazing, I made the entire cake by hand and was done in what felt like a matter of minutes. This afternoon treat felt like the perfect combination of German and English tradition, bring the best of my au pair experience together.

my new favorite tea spoons from Zara Home

Apple Cake from epicurious

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.

Peel the apples, cut them in quarters and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the vanilla. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and spread evenly.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.

Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature.

Munich at Christmas Time

I had the pleasure to spend Christmas in Germany this year. With friends to visit, I was off for a week-long getaway complete with warm cocktails, great heights and nostalgic food. I got to practice my German, which continues to astonish me each time I return – the fact that when I first moved there I couldn’t order a ticket on the bus, yet now when I return 4 years later, I can easily order pretzels, converse a bit (easier after a few beers), understand the city and transit systems. Even though I hadn’t spent that much time in Munich before this trip, it did still feel a little bit like going home.

Other than walking around and exploring the streets, after several trips to the city, a few of my favorite places in Munich are:

  • Dallmayr, the absolute best high end food store in Munich
  • Viktualienmarkt, the outdoor food market of the main platz in old town
  • The University quarter, north east of city center
  • The walk along the river
  • Englischer Garten
  • The really old beer halls, try to find a smaller less touristy one
  • Schloss Nymphenburg
A few more of my German LOVES, including food and traditions:

{The German breakfast, with fresh breads and meats from the baker and butcher downstairs – litterally, right below my friend’s apartment}

{how gold the egg yolks are}

{Doner Kebap – what I equate to the fast Mexican food of Germany, this Turkish combo of meat, salad and sauce on warm bread is one of my favorites}

{sausage and potatoes}

{the prevalence, ease and punctuality of train travel}

{the simplicity of the bars}

{afternoon espresso or coffee}

{how everything, I mean everything, is decorated for Christmas}

{Zugspitze, the highest point in Germany, nestled in the alps on the boarder of Germany and Austria}

{the old streets}