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Survival Tactics to Living Abroad

Living abroad takes what we know as “living” and turns it upside down or right side up. It all depends on the perspective that you view it. 

Like a Child: humble yourself to view your new surroundings like a child. See it with open eyes. The world is what you make of it. If you choose to see it as full of possibility, then possibilities will appear.

img_3410Try a Little Something New: don’t be afraid of the unknown, embrace the unknown. When we try something new, we are signaling our brain to get ready for the challenge and push beyond our existing capacity.

Don’t Be Afraid to Start Again: It can seem so daunting. You’ve worked hard to build a community for yourself and then to leave it all behind. Many would rationalize what’s the point? The point is, we’re alive for more than ourselves. Everything has a season. It’s not all about us and once we realize this starting again doesn’t seem quite so bad. We must embrace the idea of starting again. Whether it’s learning how to live in a new community, understanding a local culture or just adapting to a new way of life.

Focus: you will become like whatever you’re focusing on. Think about what is good about where you are. If you’re unemployed you might have more time than ever to learn something new, train for a marathon or study a new language. FOCUS on what is good about your situation.

Hold Tight in the Process: yes it’s difficult, especially when you’re in a new place and attempting to create a routine for yourself. But stay focused in the process. Don’t give up because with each step you make you’re getting along the road. Before you know it, you’ll be at your destination.

You’re Doing Better than You Think You’re Doing: you will not always be a beginner or brand new. Although the beginning stages feel so challenging, take hope. With each new day, you’re learning and growing. You’re doing better today than you were yesterday just because you have another day under your belt so you are one day wiser. Focus on the progress you’re making and not the lack of progress you have yet to make.

Turkish Cabbage Rolls (Lahana Sarmasi) –Vegetarian Version

Savory, succulent and delicious, these stuffed cabbage leaves make a great meal. Paired with some crusty bread they’re so good for lunch or dinner.

     The first time I had stuffed cabbage leaves, my husband and I were traveling with a friend. We went to visit several of his family members and when we went to his aunt’s house we had lunch together. At first, I didn’t know what I was eating so I didn’t know what to expect but with one bite, I was pleasantly surprised. The cabbage is tender and lightly stuffed with a tomatoey meat and rice mixture. Delicious.

The first time I made them for myself, I realized that making these are indeed a labor of love. But they are so worth it in the end, especially if you’re cooking for a crowd.

My version is vegetarian but I find that they are still just as full of flavor as the traditional method of making them with meat. Here’s the recipe:

Turkish Cabbage Rolls (Lahana Sarmasi) –Vegetarian Version

  • 5-10 large cabbage leaves
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 2/3 c rice (soaked and drained)
  • 3 T fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (pull biber or Aleppo pepper –if possible)
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1/4- 1/2 c hot water

Preparation:

To prepare the cabbage: Remove the cabbage leaves from the head of cabbage and clean thoroughly.

Boil water in a large pot and working in batches, add the leaves to the water and cook them for 2-3 minutes (or just until they are tender and soft enough to roll).

Then place the leaves in a large pan of cold water and continue until all of the leaves are prepared.

thumb_DSC05087_1024To make the stuffing: Sauté the onions with the olive oil until tender. Then add the spices and stir well and cook for a minute or so (or until fragrant). Then add the rice, tomato paste and hot water and stir well. Allow the mixture to cook for 2-3 minutes until there is no water remaining. Then add the chopped parsley and stir. Set aside.

 

To stuff the cabbage leaves, lay out a small piece of a leaf. Cut off the hard stem part and then add about 1 TBSP of the filling in a straight line. 

Fold the sides and then roll the cabbage, being sure to continue to tuck in the sides as you roll it (as if you’re rolling a burrito).

Continue until all of the cabbage leaves or stuffing is used (whichever comes first).

In a large stock pot, place enough cabbage leaves to cover the bottom of the pot. Then layer the cabbage leaves in the pot, side by side, tightly together.

Using a kitchen weight or a “make-shift weight*” place it on top of the cabbage rolls. Cover with hot water just barely reaching the top of the cabbage rolls. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 30-40 minutes or until the cabbage and the rice are tender.

When the cabbage rolls are done cooking, drain the excess liquid and reserve* it for later. Serve the cabbage rolls immediately.

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Afiyet Olsun!

*The excess liquid is a great base to add to a soup, stew or rice. Or it’s great to dip your bread in as you eat your stuffed cabbage leaves.

Homemade German Pretzels (“Bretzels”)

Soft and tender, freshly baked pretzels. It is like taking a trip to Germany without stepping foot outside of your kitchen.

Pretzels are one of  the first snack foods that I remember eating as a kid outside of my favorites (cucumber & bell peppers — don’t judge me, I’ve always loved my veggies, lol!). My parents would buy these massive five pound bags of pretzels and I used to love to grab a handful of them.

Well, not much has changed from my childhood days. I still love pretzels. Every time my husband and I go to Germany, I always have to get at least one during our trip. Hey, we even had pretzels served during our “Kaffee und Kuchen” (German for “Coffee and Cake”) on our wedding day. After our wedding we were still eating all of the leftover pretzels and you know what, they were still so good (thanks to our lovely local German bakery).

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Plus, if you have not seen the episode of Mister Roger’s neighborhood when he goes to the pretzel factory, do yourself a favor and watch it. It inspires me and makes me smile today just as it did when I was a kid. Mister Rogers was a brilliant person, that I am still learning from to this very day. He had such a sincere compassion and love for people and also for pretzels too!

 

Well, as you can see, I am a pretzel fan to say the least. But without further adieu, aahhhemm, the recipe…

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade German Pretzels “Bretzels”

  • 1.5 c flour
  • 2 tsp dry active yeast
  • 2/3 c warm water
  • 1 T honey
  • 1.5 T oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 T baking soda
  • corse sea salt (to taste, sprinkled onto of the pretzels just before baking.

Preparation:

In a large bowl, combine the yeast, honey, 1 T of oil and warm water. Stir well and set aside.

In the meantime, combine the flour and salt in a bowl.

Then add the flour mixture into the yeast mixture and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together and stops sticking to the bowl.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it for about 8-10 minutes.

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Then lightly oil a bowl with the remaining half a tablespoon of oil. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel and place the dough in a warm place to rise for one hour.

After one hour, it is time to shape the pretzels.

 

Take a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and roll into a ball.

Then roll it out into a long thin rope.

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Make a U-shape with the rope and then fold one end over the other to create an “x.”

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Then flip this “x” shape over to the other side of the dough and set aside.

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Continue until all of the pretzels are shaped.

Then boil a large pot of water and add the baking soda.

Place each pretzel in the water for 20-30 seconds, turing them halfway in between.

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Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, sprinkle the course sea salt on top of each pretzel and bake them on 200C/392F for about 15 minutes (or until they are golden brown).

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Serve & Enjoy Warm.

Guten Appetit!

 

 

Italian Homemade Lasagna with Ground Beef

Layers of delicate noodles, tender ground beef, rich ricotta cheese and savory marinara sauce make this lasagna a flavorful dish for any night of the week.

I grew up eating a lot of Italian food and I’ve found that it has shaped and impacted my cooking in such a positive way. Lasagna was definitely a meal that we prepared at our home and I remember always wanting to eat it right out of the oven, but we always let it set for 15-20 minutes in order to ensure that the lasagna doesn’t fall apart as you cut it.

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This recipe is my variation of Mom’s classic recipe. I make it with homemade ricotta cheese and it really adds such a nice flavor to the dish.

Here’s the recipe:

Lasagna

  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • 48 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 12 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 c shredded mozzerella cheese
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 T dried oregano
  • 2 T dried basil
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

To make the marinara sauce: sauté the onions with olive oil until tender. Then add the crushed tomatoes and stir well. Season with half of the dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15-20 minutes on low heat.

To make the ground beef: place the ground beef  in a large pan and sauté until it is browned. Then add the garlic and the rest of the dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper. Stir well and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

To make the lasagna: Place about 1 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan. Then layer the noodles.

Then add more marinara sauce, ground beef and top with another layer of noodles.

Add some more marinara sauce on top of the noodles and then add the ricotta cheese.

Layer with another layer of noodles and add some marinara sauce the remaining ground beef.

Add another layer of noodles and cover with the marinara sauce and mozzerella cheese.

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Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven to bake for about 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese on top is melted.

Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 15-20 minutes.

Serve and Enjoy!

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Note: This can be prepared ahead of time and placed in the refrigerator to bake later.

 

 

 

Shepherd’s Salad (Coban Salatasi)

A simple and refreshing salad with lemon juice and olive oil.

Coban” literally means “shepherd” in Turkish. This flavorful salad packed with crisp veggies and a light dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. It is absolutely so simple to make and it is the perfect appetizer or even main course. I think you’re going to love this recipe.

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Here’s the recipe:

Shepherd’s Salad (Coban Salad)

  • 2 tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 cucumbers (chopped)
  • 1/2 white onion (chopped)
  • 1 c fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 green pepper (sweet or bell) (chopped)
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place all of the chopped vegetables in a large bowl.

Drizzle over the olive oil and lemon juice.

Season with salt and pepper.

Stir thoroughly.

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Serve & Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

German Meatballs in a White Caper Dijon Sauce (Königsberger Klopse or Kochklopse)

     Tender & flavorful German meatballs, boiled in a seasoned broth and doused in a delicious dijon mustard and caper white sauce. Paired with boiled potatoes, this is one of my favorite German comfort food dishes. 

I love that there are so many practical and yet delicious recipes in German cooking. The more I learn about this beautiful cuisine, the more I am delighted to cook it.

This recipe just so happens to be a favorite of my hubby. He doesn’t always make requests for certain meals, but this one, I noticed he liked it a lot. That makes me even happier to make it for him. And you know what, I like it too. I hope you do as well.

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Here’s the recipe:

German Meatballs in a White Caper Dijon Sauce or Kochklopse or “Königsberger Klopse

For the stock:

  • 3 bay leaves
  • 10-12 capers
  • 1 onion (quartered)
  • salt (to taste)

For the meatballs:

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large onion (finely diced)
  • 3-4 T dijon mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3-1/2 c breadcrumbs
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

For the gravy:

  • 3 T butter
  • 3 T flour
  • cooking stock (that the meatballs cooked in)
  • 2 T dijon mustard
  • 15-20 capers 
  • salt & pepper  (to taste, if needed)

Preparation:

Start by preparing the stock: Fill a large stock pot with water. Then add the bay leaves, capers, onion and salt. Place on the stove and bring to a boil.

In the meantime, prepare your meatballs. 

To prepare the meatballs: Place the ground beef in a large bowl. Add the onion, dijon mustard, eggs, breadcrumbs, oregano, salt and pepper. 

Then mix together the mixture using your hands until it is well combined.

Then shape the meat into large balls and gently drop into the boiling stock.

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Allow the meatballs to cook for about 40-45 minutes, monitoring the water levels occasionally to ensure that there is sufficient liquid (if not, then add some more water).

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Pre-cooked…
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The meatballs are done boiling & it smells so good!

Once the meatballs are done cooking, remove them from the pot and place them on a plate.

Then place a colander in a bowl and drain the stock. Set the stock aside for the gravy.

To make the gravy: Start by making a roux. Melt the butter in your stock pot and then add the flour and whisk constantly until it comes together. Then add the stock liquid while whisking constantly until smooth.

Bring to a boil and add the dijon mustard, capers, salt and pepper and whisk for anotherr minute or two.

Then add the meatballs back into the gravy.

Serve with boiled potatoes and enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

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Broken

via Daily Prompt: Broken

Broken

By EE Winkler

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Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

When you are broken you are at your best

still alive, you have withstood the test

humbled completely and compassionate

are breathed out from your brokenness

When you are broken the world is not as it seems

your lens is tainted based on what you see

and it’s hard to imagine all that you could be

but behold that there is a world of possibility

When you are broken don’t stay there

there is a Healer who desires to heal and repair

every broken place inside of you

with His Word he heals with peace, love and truth

When I am broken what my eyes can’t see

is His tender love that washes over me

His voice whispers to me and He calms all my fears

gives me hope for tomorrow and dries my tears

He holds my hand in my despair

and reminds me that His love has always been there

in my joy and in my pain

His perfect love pursues me all the same.

©All Rights Reserved

 

Homemade Fresh Ricotta Cheese

Rich, velvety, smooth ricotta cheese — made from scratch. 

I never knew until about 5 years ago just how simple some cheeses are to make. The first cheese I ever made was Paneer for making the beautiful Indian dish, Saag Paneer. It was truly such an exciting process because I love making new discoveries in the kitchen (new for me).

Ricotta is just like making Paneer except without the excess draining, pressing, waiting and cooking, lol! It is simply the result of a beautiful reaction when simmered milk meets an acid (lemon juice or vinegar) and magic starts to happen in the form of curds separating from the whey.

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Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Fresh Ricotta Cheese

  • 1 liter whole milk (the fresher, the better*)
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice (substitute white vinegar)
  • pinch of salt (optional)

Supplies:

  • 1 fine seive
  • 1 cheese cloth or a clean tea towel or thin cloth
  • 1 large pot
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • 1 large bowl

Preparation:

Pour the milk into a large pot. Place over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it comes to a simmer.

Remove the milk from the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir and set aside for 10-15 minutes.

After 10-15 minutes you should see the curds separating from the whey.

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Line the seive with your cheese cloth or clean tea towel and place over a bowl.

Carefully pour the “pre-cheese” (Lol!) mixture into the cheese cloth or clean tea towel.

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Allow it to drain until it reaches your desired consistency. (Note: If it drains to much, add some of the whey back to the curds and Voila! You’re in business!

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Use immediately or tuck it away in the fridge to use in 1-2 days.

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*Unfortunately, shelf stable (UHT) milk will not work for this recipe.