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Archive for June, 2010

In the year group I teach, half of the school year is dedicated to studying Ancient Roman life in social studies.

Today, my class celebrated all we’ve learned with a Roman Feast!

I can do feast.

I can do feast all day long.

My day of feasting began with the most decadent breakfast.

Whole Grain Strawberry Pancakes with Nutella Sauce

Ingredients

Pancakes

  • 1 cup and 1 Tbsp. whole grain pancake mix
  • 1 cup plain kefir (or buttermilk or half yogurt/half milk)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup ripe strawberries

Nutella Sauce

  • nearly empty jar of nutella
  • splash of milk

Method

  1. Mix the pancake ingredients and let rest for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat. Spoon 1/4 cup pancake batter onto the hot pan.
  3. Once the edges begin to harden and bubbles form in the batter, flip over and cook the other side.
  4. Put a splash of milk in an almost empty nutella jar and microwave for 20 seconds. Stir well and let sit a minute to thicken.
  5. Top pancakes with fresh strawberries and drizzle with the sauce.

These were so good they made me slow down and make a “mmmmnnh” sound with each bite!

Each and every bite was perfect!

The school day started with a math test but quickly found its way to a party of Roman proportions!

Quick Facts About Roman Feasts

  1. The Romans loved to show off their wealth through the food they served at their amazing feasts.
  2. Commonly served food included exotic choices such as pig nipples, calve brains,  snails, swans, crows, horses, peacocks and mice.
  3. At feasts, the Romans ate until they were sick.
  4. Some homes even had special rooms for people to be sick in.
  5. Once a Roman was sick, they went back to carry on eating.
  6. The Romans ate in courses, similar to fancy dinner parties today.
  7. Eating was conducted while laying down on large sofas which resemble beds.

I have the best parents in the school. I put out a list of feast items about 2 weeks ago, and today, we had a feast prepared for us!

The parents provided bread, green beans, salad, grapes, cheese, radishes, ham, olives, asparagus, dates, pea pods, cherries, hard boiled eggs, grape “wine” and even a modern day “field mice” dish.

She cut chicken breast into mice shapes then wrapped them in bacon and sage, just like the Romans!

I passed the mice and other meat dishes but my plate was still full and I ended up with a Roman-worthy stuffed stomach!

We had such a lovely feast outside in the shade. The kids dressed up in togas and behaved like rich Romans. It was a blast!

The feasting continued after lunch when we had a good-bye party for one of the students who is leaving after this school year.

His parents came in with tons of fruit and the most delicious strawberry tarts.

The little boy’s grandmother woke up extra early this morning to hand-make these beauties.

They tasted even better than they look.

You might not think that’s possible, but it is.

The school day carried on without eating for about 3 hours… but then the feasting continued at home in the form of a pre-workout protein punch.

Dark Chocolate S’more Protein Bar

It may have been almost a week since my last visit, but I still gave my all at the gym today.

A little bit of strength training and a lot a bit of cardio. I was one sweaty lady.

Dinner was a quick one.

Salad with tomato and balsamic vinegar, steamed pea pods and a sweet potato with cinnamon and almond butter.

Mmm… cinnamon and almond butter… tastes like Thanksgiving!

Who does this remind you of? My favorite Pea Family.

That will do it for my feasting today. I’d better stop before I have to find the sick room.

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Breakfast Preview

I can’t wait to tell you about my delicious breakfast this morning. Here is a preview of the sweet seasonal goodness!

Get excited!

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I’ve really had a sweet-tooth lately. Today, I finally whipped up a sweet yet healthy recipe that I’ve been meaning to try for ages.

Susan’s Dark Chocolate S’more Protein Bars

Although I changed the recipe a bit to meet my own interests, the foundation is Susan’s.

Here is my take on her super simple treats.

Pay no mind to the hole in that bar… simply quality assurance people.

Dark Chocolate S’more Protein Bars

Makes 8 bars

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 4 scoops chocolate protein powder
  • 4 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 2 tbsp wheat germ
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • drizzle of agave nectar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
  • 2 tbsp chocolate chips

Method

  1. Mix all ingredients until well combined by gradually adding water. Once the mixture forms a sticky dough, stop adding water.
  2. Place in the refrigerator and allow to harden.
  3. Cut and individually wrap. Store in the fridge.

Yummo! This is a goodie!

Dinner tonight was an attempt to use up the green pepper, zucchini, baked potato, and red onion in the fridge.

Hobo Skillet

Does anyone else have this term or just people who dine at truck stops after church on Sunday afternoons for their entire childhood?

Baked potato, zucchini, red onion, green pepper and tomato browned in butter. Topped with 2 scrambled eggs and 1/2 a slice of cheese.

On a side note, when I was taking the photo of the bars on my balcony, I brushed up against a weed and quickly felt a stinging sensation.

Look at those thorns on the leaves!

Apparently stinging nettle seeds can reach 6th floor balconies. Interesting. Maybe I’ll dry it and make some tea.

Have a great day everyone and a wonderful start to the new week.

Only 2.5 days of school until Summer holiday!

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One of my favorite books growing up was The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear.

I believe that everyone should have the pleasure of knowing this wonderful story, so I’ve found an audio version for those of you who are not familiar with this children’s classic.

My favorite part of the story has always been when the little mouse attempts to disguise the strawberry.

Yesterday, there was no disguising the red ripe strawberries from this Big Hungry Bear.

Yesterday morning I was up early and on the road with a very nice Irish colleague of mine, heading to a strawberry field outside of Troisdorf, Germany.

The drive was beautiful, winding through small villages speckled with timber-framed houses and old mills which have been converted into lovely homes.

Rustling water and weeping willows= total peace.

If you live in Germany and are looking for farms in your area to harvest your own produce, visit this website. There are links to a variety of different farms, growing all sorts of produce.

Once we arrived at the field and opened the car doors, I was instantly struck by the smell.

Red Ripe Strawberries

Lots and lots of perfectly ripe strawberries.

The best part of picking your own berries? You can instantly eat the fruit fresh off the vine while you’re picking.

After 20 minutes, I had about 20 strawberries in my basket and probably 50 in my stomach.

I would pick a red ripe strawberry and think, “Oh no, that strawberry is too perfect to wait for!”

Then it would go in my mouth rather than my basket.

Although I didn’t think it possible before, one can develop a sick feeling stomach from too many strawberries.

After about an hour in the beautiful sunshiny weather, my basket was full.

Goodbye field of dreams.

My basket was weighed and amazingly, the total came to €4.50!!

It’s a good thing the lady didn’t weigh the difference in my weight pre and post picking.

But as always, there’s the one who got a way!

I couldn’t wait to get home and begin to bake for my berries!

More specifically, I couldn’t wait to bake strawberry lemon shortcakes!

Summertime fresh and sweet.

Ingredients for the shortcakes.

Mix the dry ingredients and cut in the butter until crumbly.

Whisk the egg, milk and lemon peel together.

Wet meets dry.

Combine to form a sticky dough.

Knead on a floured surface.

The dough will become soft and smooth.

Roll into a long log.

Slice into 12 even pieces.

Form into a ball

Then lightly press on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet.

Bake until golden brown

The lemony smell is sweet and light

Fresh strawberries, ready and waiting!

Layer it all together.


Strawberry Lemon Shortcake

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Shortcake:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 and 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon cold butter
  • 1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons cold milk
  • 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • grated peel from 1 lemon

Whipped cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • grated peel from 1/3 of a lemon

Method

  1. Hull and quarter the strawberries. Toss with sugar and refrigerate.
  2. For the shortcake, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter until crumbly. (Hint: if you do not have a pastry cutter, freeze the butter, grate it into the dry mixture, then stir until well coated.)
  3. Whisk together the milk, egg and lemon peel. Pour into the dry mixture and stir until well combined. The dough will be slightly sticky.
  4. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead 10 times. Roll the dough into a log then slice into 12 even pieces.
  5. Form the sections into balls then lightly flatten onto an un-greased piece of parchment paper.
  6. Bake at 400º F for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Place on a cooling rack.
  7. For the whipping cream: whip all ingredients until light and fluffy.
  8. To assemble, top the shortcake with the cold strawberries and whipped cream.

Simply Delicious!

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Nice Package

There is nothing better than receiving a package!

Seeing a tightly taped package with your name written on the address label produces instant joy.

Today, my instant joy came from my friend Julieanne.

Inside her package, tea, tea, and more tea were uncovered.

Speaking of covered… the best part of the package is a hand-made crocheted afghan blanket.

The colors are so bright and vibrant.

I’ll smile every time I use it, just thinking of my friend who put this beautiful blanket together with her own two hands!

The past two days have been good.

Incredibly exhausting, but good.

My class assembly went really well yesterday. All of my students remembered their lines and acted their little hearts out.

I am one proud teacher!

After school, I had parent-teacher conferences.

Only 5 sets of parents requested meetings, all of which just wanted to say thank you.

I even received a fancy box of chocolates.

I never buy fruit or yogurt flavored chocolate. I guess I just though I wouldn’t like it.

I was wrong.

These were so delicious, I had to bring them to my friend’s house to share before I ate the whole huge box.

Yesterday, I also celebrated a good-bye party for one of the German girls who has been an assistant at the school for the last 3 years. We went to dinner and then the Germany football game together.

She is off to Canada.

No plans. No expectations. Just off and ready to work and play freely.

I’m so excited for her and wish her all the best in her new adventure!

If you live in Canada and want to show a nice German woman around, let me know!

While we’re slightly on the topic of football- both Germany and the USA are through to the next level in the World Cup! This can get very exciting!

Needless to say, last night was a late night and today I woke up late and still tired.

I quickly made a smoothie for breakfast then ran out the door.

Today was another busy one.

Luckily, it started with baking with my my students. No better way to start the day!

They made little strawberry pastries as refreshments for our poetry party.

I would like to make this at home too so will share the recipe then.

I have so many adorable shots of the kids busy in their baking mode, but unfortunately I can’t post these pictures.

My childless shots are limited, but I think this is a very cute photo. This little guy was so careful about evenly distributing the powdered sugar.

I love cooking with kids! I can imagine opening a healthy eating cooking school for kids and parents some day.

The poetry party was a hit.

We had many teary-eyed parents in our classroom today.

They loved the poems and loved the baked goods as well! The kids were so proud of themselves.

After school, I came home and took a 45 minute nap which turned into a 2 hour nap.

Sebastian made dinner, great guy he is.

Baked potato topped with tuna salad and baked beans.

Salad with tomato and balsamic vinegar.

Yummy! Dinner was delicious! So good that I ate it all and gave myself an upset stomach.

A full stomach required some moving around so I went on a long walk.

The peace and quiet was incredibly therapeutic after the past few weeks of craziness.

I need to hear the birds and smell the changing earth.

Sometimes there is nothing more rejuvenating than nature.

I’m heading off to rejuvenate even further in my new blanket!

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Happy Monday Everyone!

I hope your weekend was a good one and you were able to spend time with all the important fathers in your life.

Today went very quickly. By the time I came home from work, I was hungry.

Not only was I hungry and needed to eat in a hurry, but I was craving more goat cheese after my delicious lunch salad.

Butter lettuce, fresh goat cheese from the market, red peppers and balsamic glaze.

Dinner was inspired by my assistant and a recipe she told me about involving goat cheese, butternut squash and puff pastry.

My time spent in the French region at the market yesterday is also probably to blame for this wonderful creation!

Apple, Red Onion and Goat Cheese Pastry

Ingredients

  • 1 roll puff pastry
  • 1 small container reduced-fat créme fraîche
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced in rings
  • 1 roll goat cheese, sliced
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced
  • fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 430° F (220° C.) Unroll the puff pastry and place it on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
  2. Spread the créme fraîche over the pastry, leaving a half-inch border.
  3. Layer the red onions, apples, and goat cheese, sprinkle with the chopped rosemary.
  4. Brush the pastry border with beaten egg.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cheese is melted and the pastry is golden brown.

All that you need, minus the rosemary.

The hard part is already done for you.

A creamy foundation

Sweet red onion rings

I wasn’t sure about the apples so only used half.

Next time I’m going all out as the apple added the perfect sweetness.

Gotta love the goat cheese!

Fresh rosemary sprinkles

Baked until flakey and golden brown.

Served with steamed broccoli.

So rich and luxurious!

From start to finish, this recipe took no more than 25 minutes to complete. The result was amazing!

Too rich for a meal, this would make the perfect appetizer. Pair it with a nice white wine and you’re set to go. Compliments will most certainly ensue.

Give it a go!

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The sky may have been cloudy and threatening rain, but the Live Art Market in Remagen carried on!

More than 200 artists from all over Europe transformed the streets of the historic town of Remagen into a living art gallery.

Breakfast powered me through the day, allowing me to manage the crowds and take in all the sights, smells, and sounds of the LebensKunstMarkt.

Wheat toast with almond butter and a fruit salad topped with poppy seed marzipan yogurt.

Fresh blueberries, strawberries, cherries and the most delicious yogurt.

Part of the market was organized by geographical regions.

For example, the French region included soaps, breads, cheese, salami, and hand-painted pottery

Not the best photo of their products, but I loved the patchwork flags so much that I bought a hunk of fresh goat’s cheese from this stand.

How cute is this apron?


Could have spent a month’s salary on ribbon at this stall.

I bought a pot of cilantro and rosemary for the balcony garden.

I spotted one of my colleagues and her husband along the Rhine. They are such a cute couple.

This waffle was as good as it looks.

This church reminded me of Hogwarts from Harry Potter.

I had a great time at the market, ate tons of free samples, oohed and ahhed over a bajillion pieces of jewelry and artwork, and generally enjoyed the day out.

Although I’m sad to be away from my family on Father’s Day, I’m so glad to be living in this beautiful part of the world!

Here’s one last Father’s Day photo. I love you, Dad!

Proud parents at my graduation.

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