Sunday, April 22, 2012

Food and Friends

I love to cook (as I hope you can all tell!) and few things are more fun than sharing an interest with like-minded people.  Today was one of those days :)  In the morning, Silene and I made pancakes, each with our favorite recipe.  We swapped pancakes and toppings (Grade A maple syrup and butter for me, separate stacks of margarine with grade C maple syrup and nutella and strawberry jam for her).  I should have brought my camera to document the pancake bar, but sometimes moments are valuable just for being moments, not because a camera is there.

Afterwards, I came back to my building to have a baking party with my neighbor D.  He make Smartie cookies with a delicious and peculiar invention known only in Germany -Milka Cream Cheese.  It's a spread from the beloved Philadelphia company, mixed with Milka chocolate.  Recipe here.  He changed it up a little by mixing some almond butter and smarties in, instead of macadamia nuts.  A good dry-run for a birthday party this week.  Mmmmm, delicious.

As for me, the recent appearance of GIANT rhubarb stalks in the stores had gotten me thinking.  Having never cooked with rhubarb before, I wanted to do something!  I have also been really enjoying looking for alternatives to cut down on the processed foods in my life.  I want to enjoy my desserts, but without white flour or white sugar, so I'm challenging myself!  The problem is that rhubarb is very bitter.  How can you turn that into a delicious sugar-free dessert?  Splenda, my friends, does not count.  So I searched and searched.  Most of the recipes called for sugar substitutes, but I finally found this one on a website filled with "clean eating" recipes.  Recipes with simple, whole, unprocessed ingredients.  Sign me up!  The only change I made was to use 1/4 cup honey mixed with 1/2 cup hot water instead of the 3/4 cup apple juice concentrate -where was I going to find THAT here in Germany?  I also put the filling into little piecrust circles (made with olive oil and yogurt) instead of under crumble topping.  They were really yummy :) 

Look, it's a giant rhubarb stalk!

And the mixture cooking down:

Daniyal's cookies:

After the pie was done (and I had "helped" D sample cookies) I went to meet up with some friends from my second German course to make dinner!  We went to our favorite discount grocery chain (Rewe) and shopped for last-minute chili.  No one had a recipe, so we just imagined what would be good, and went for it.  1 box of mushrooms, three peppers, two cans of crushed tomatoes, one can of beans, one can of corn, two onions, two garlic cloves, and some spices later, and we had a delicious filling dinner.  Eaten with bread -oh so good.

The table:

Us minus the fabulous photographer:

Delicious day.

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