The Brave Cook

My life from the heart of Berlin!

My second award… The Reality Blog Award!

reality-blog-awardIt’s been only a week that I got my first blog award here on wordpress and this week I already received my second award. This time I need to thank Tonette of tonettejoycefoodfriendsfamily.wordpress.com for nominating me for the Reality Blog Award. It is very motivating to receive such a special award.

Here are five questions to be answered for this award:

1.If you could change one thing, what would you change?

I wished there would be no borders between countries and everyone was free to travel,work and to live where he wants.

2. If you could repeat an age, what would it be?

I would repeat my high school time, to be more ambitious about my future plans this time.

3. What is one thing that really scares you?

To loose myself in a monotone job not being able to change my situation.

4. What is one dream you have not completed, and do you think you’ll be able to complete it?

I’m dreaming of starting my own clothing collection, it’s still a long way there, but I’m planning to complete it.

5. If you could be someone else for one day, who would it be?

I would like to be my partner for one day to understand the way he feels and to understand who it feels to be in a relationship with me.

Here are some of my nominees for the Reality Blog Award:

Hannah of Hannah West Illustration

Munaiba of Sewjournal

Caroline of The Patterned Plate

Shelly of Vegetarian Ventures

Annie of Lime House Food

Michael of Inspiring The Everyday

Veena of Vina’s Delicious Recipes

Marlene of Life Through The Kitchen Window

Pallavi of Veggiezest

Sam and Phil of Cook Quilt Make And Bake

Amy of Chew Out Loud

Anne of The Maker Girl

The rules of the award are:

1  Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you.
2  Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and link back.
3  Answer the same 5  questions presented.
4  Nominate up to 20 blogs for the award and notify them on their blogs.
5  Copy and paste the award on your blog somewhere.

Congratulations to all of you and thanks to everyone who is following my blog every month!

The Brave Cook

What quinces are made for…

IMGP0695The winter season did in fact start and its’s a little bit late for preserves, but I made this year some quince-plum jam for the first time and I did not have the chance to post it yet. I’m so busy all the time with work and all my hobbies, it’s not easy to find the time for a recipe post. Not only that it’s some time ago that I’ve made this jam, but it’s also already gone. I’ve eaten it and prepared some cake with it. I also gave one jar to my mum to use it for her baking. This was only fair, because I received the quinces from my parents garden. This fruit is usually very hard, so that you have to cook it to eat it. It’s used quite often for jam or jelly. I also decided to make some jam out of it. The main reason was that I did never prepare jam before.

It’s very easy to make your own jam, so there is no difficulty or trick behind it. To make my jam more interesting I decided to add plums and ginger to it. That’s why my jam has this beautiful red color on the photographies. You can make your jam out of every fruit to love, there are many great combinations and I’m sure I’ll some of them in the future.IMGP0577

Ingredients

  • 3 quinces
  • 3 plums
  • 1 tbsp (fresh) ground ginger
  • 1 fresh ground vanilla bean
  • 400 grams preserving sugar (1 to 1)

Instructions

As you can see on my photography, I had one big jar and one small jar full of jam in the end. You can use more fruits if you want to make more jam. My cooked quinces and plums made together 400 grams.

First, chop the quinces and the plums in quarters. Put them in a big cooking pot and cover all pieces with water. Bring it all together to a boil and cook it until soft. This should take some 30 minutes.IMGP0690When the quinces are soft enough you can separate the fruits from the juicy water and use a blender, mortar or whatever to blend the soft fruit pieces together. When making jelly instead of jam you need to add extra fruit juice from the cooked fruits. For my amount of fruits (400 grams) I would use two cups of juice to make jelly of it. I did not make jelly, so I simply drank the juice water.

Now add some grounded vanilla and ginger to the cooked fruits and mix it with the same amount of 400 grams of preserving sugar. Adjust the amount of the sugar to the product you’re using, 1 to 1 means that you need to use the same amount of sugar as the amount of fruits you have. Check the texture of the jam and add some juicy if necessary, but remember that the jam gets more firm after a while.IMGP0691IMGP0703Put the jam in a jar and keep it in the fridge if you’re using it up daily. It’s really fun to make preserves. The smell from cooking the fruits is just incredible. It can also be a very beautiful and personal present. I wished I had more time to spend in the kitchen to produce such lovely things.

The Brave Cook

 

The first snow and the first award!

one_lovely_blog_award

What a nice week! The temperature decreased, the winter season did obviously arrive and we had the first snow here in Berlin. The snow did not last long, but I’m sure there will be a lot of snow the next days and I promise to make some winter photographies for you.

I have also received my first blog award! Many thanks to Samantha of Food Flavor Fascination for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award! I did not expect this at all.

7 random things about me!

  1. I was not that good at school! I loved to read and to write but I was pretty bad in all the other subjects.
  2. When I was young I always was the leader of the whole clique. Now that I’m older I prefer not to lead and rather to stay in the background. Maybe that has also to do with my convenience.
  3. I love hip hop music! Despite all the prejudices and clichés about hip hop music I always loved most of the hip hop artists and songs. I also listen to other music but my hip hop music collection is quite big. Hip hop is more versatile than many think.
  4. I love the color white! As long as I can remember white was always my favorite color and when I have to buy something most of the times I go for the white version of it. This applies to fashion as well as to furniture and other stuff.
  5. I’m not a city guy! There is really not a lot of things that attract me in the city. I prefer being in the nature and creating my own day rather than being distracted by all what the big city life offers.
  6. I believe in the good heart of a person even though I’m not religious in the sense of being part of a confession. That’s why I don’t understand people being ignorant and living in their own little reality discriminating people who differ from the norm of their own circle of friends.
  7. I would do anything and go anywhere for my beloved darling Mithun. I don’t care a lot about most things but when it comes to love and relationship I’m a full-hearted person willing to move mountains.

Here are the lovely blogs and bloggers that I am nominating for the One Lovely Blog Award!

Kristen of Borscht and Babushkas

Cecilia of The kitchen garden

Lakshmi of Lakshmi loves to shop

Danny of Danny Mansmith

EmilyAnn Frances of An attic in Brooklyn

Danny of gotasté

Sarah of good life farm

I am following these blogs and I love them a lot! Congratulations to all of you.

The rules of the award are:

1  Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you.
2  Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and link back.
3  Share 7 random things about yourself.
4  Nominate 7 or more blogs and notify them on their blogs.
5  Copy and paste the award on your blog somewhere.

The Brave Cook

At home with a cold and a pencil…

This week I had to sit at home and cure myself. I caught a cold and even though I tried to go to work and handle it somehow, it was just too much at the end of the day. My energy was gone and I needed some proper sleep and peace. I definitely wanted to use the extra time at home to finish some projects, but my body was too weak and I couldn’t concentrate on anything for a long time. The least I could do was something relaxing but still creative. So I took a pencil and started to sketch some stuff.

I didn’t do any sketches for a long time and I’m not the type of person who designs everything accurately and puts it down on paper. I’m having some ideas of making my own pieces and do something like a collection one day but I’m not as close to that as I would love to be. Still there are some ideas in my head on bags, underwear and woolen sweaters. Hopefully my progress in sewing will continue and bring everything together one day.

On the first sketch you can see the idea for an interesting avant-garde looking waistcoat/shirt that I’m planning to do the next weeks. It is supposed to be made of a shiny and flowing material. I also visualized some ideas for bags and sweaters/jackets. I think I will use many of these inspirations for my upcoming projects. I don’t use a lot color when sketching, I simply like to keep it clean and leave it open to whether color I want to use in the end. My sketches are not so professional, but I think some of them still turned out very nice.

I feel much better today and I’m glad that I used the extra time at home this week to be creative and practice sketching after a long time.IMGP0858IMGP0864IMGP0862IMGP0860IMGP0865

IMGP0859IMGP0857The Brave Cook

The Smurfs are coming!

Last week I presented you some of my sewing projects and the reactions were so good that I decided to present you more here on my blog. Next to cooking sewing is another big hobby of me and I don’t want to refrain from sharing my sewing experiences with you the same I do with my cooking. When it comes to cooking I’m an amateur. Regarding my sewing it’s not so easy to estimate my skills, but I’m trying things out and I’m determined to get better and better. Learning to sew means to me to create different things. Last week I have presented you a waistcoat and an altered bag. This week I tried to make something new out of an old piece of cloth. Actually, I made some underwear out of a t-shirt.

I was not planning to make mens underwear out of a t-shirt this week, but looking for some leftover fabric in my closet I’ve found an old smurf t-shirt. Yes, it was in fact mine! I had even worn that t-shirt a couple of times at work! This t-shirt was so cute that I decided to make something out of the smurf motif. The smurfs have been my favorite cartoon as a little kid and I still love the way they look. I immediately got the idea of making underwear out of it. First of all, the material was very stretchy and second I know some mens underwear with colorful prints and I always loved it. So I decided to make an underwear pant with a colorful smurf print on the back.

If you are planning to turn a piece of cloth into something else you just need to be sure that the material is appropriate for your idea and you also need to check if there is enough material from the piece that you’re using. My old t-shirt was cut very tight and I had to check first if the length and breadth would be enough to fit my hip area. Fortunately, it fitted perfectly on my hips so that I would not even have to cut the sides open. I simply had to cut off the upper part of the t-shirt including smurfette. I love smurfette a lot, that’s why I kept her to use her for another project in the future.I could have made the pant with the print in the front, but I wanted to make a lining in the front and the motif would look better in the back. I also found a waistband that was formerly a part of another shirt. I thought it would look good on the pant and give it a sporty look. I think I made a very clean and nice looking finish. I should remember that for the next time. Trying the pant on it was feeling very comfortable. Hope you also like the fit and the design of it considering that it was made out of a t-shirt!For all of you who are waiting for another recipe: I will definitely post more recipes on my blog, but I will also share with you my sewing projects and other things out of my life! So my blog will be an interesting mixture!

The Brave Cook

Two sewing projects in two weeks!

Finally an easy working week! The last weeks had been very stressful, taking all of my balance and energy, but this working week was over so fast and I was finally in the right mood to devote myself to some sewing projects. But before I start sharing with you my projects I really want to thank everyone who commented on my last weeks post thanking all of my followers. It is important to stay thankful in life and to appreciate every single joy and blessing.

Some of you were asking me to post my sewing projects here on wordpress. So first of all I finished the waistcoat that I was planning for such a long time. Actually it was really hard work. It was one of my first sewing projects and definitely not an easy one. A waistcoat has so many details and consists of many little parts, but I think I mastered it properly though it’s not perfect. I’ve already done a bound/jetted pocket and I can tell you that it’s one of the most difficult things to do, because you have to be as accurate as possible. I still need to practice that more to get a feeling for it. I also used a leather similar material for the inner front part and for the neck part. It requires some practice to work with such a material too. My sewing machine had some difficulties to handle it, but I definitely want to practice this such material more. To sum up the result, it’s very acceptable for the first waistcoat but there’s a lot of space for improvement left. Especially the neck piece was done not in an appropriate way. Hope you still like the result.

This project took me really quite a lot of my free time. But it’s a great feeling to hold a finished self-made piece in your hands as well as to think of a new project to start to challenge yourself.

Last week my backpack ripped completely and I was on a search for a new comfortable bag for work as well as for daily travels. It was not easy to find a bag suitable and for an acceptable price. Then I found an interesting shopper bag in a light color that was on sale! The only problem was that it was really huge, one of these extra large shopper bags that are so fashionable at the moment. I don’t like these huge bags at all, but since it was that cheap I figured out it would be ok to simply buy it and change the change of it. That’s exactly what I did! I cut the bag into pieces and started to put it together. It sounds easy to do that, but when you cut the bag into all these single pieces you realize that there is much more to it than just putting the outer parts together. I also had to sew the inner part and to renew the zipper. Due to the thick material I had to do a lot of hand sewing what took me a whole evening of my weekend.

I really wanted to finish it the same day so that I could take it to work the next day and I can truly say that I’m more than satisfied with the result. I made the shape of the bag into something like a postman’s bag which I like a lot on bags. I do enjoy taking the bag to work now and it was a good decision to buy it! What do you think of the shape?

The Brave Cook

Thanks to all of my followers…

Today I want to use the opportunity to thank all of my followers here on wordpress. This week I finally got 150 followers and I’m truly overwhelmed with the success of my blog. Of course I’m also thanking every single visitor and everyone who liked or commented on one of my posts.

I’m new to blogging and so is my blog new and developing. Two months ago I just started with my blog and this week I already got over 150 followers. That is pleasing me but at the same time it shows that some of you have expectations as to what I will post next. So I guess I earned some kind of responsibility.

I’m very busy every week with my regular sports training and my sewing projects next to my full time job, so I cannot post recipes on a regular basis as many bloggers do, but I will still let you take part in my life and give you insight into my latest cooking/sewing projects and plans.

I also enjoy reading all the other interesting blogs here on wordpress about cooking, traveling, photography, family and life itself. Some of your blogs fascinate me a lot and comparing my blog to these I know I have a lot to learn.

Once again, thanks to all of you from me and my sweet darling Mithi and keep enjoying my blog and everything what is ahead!

The Brave Cook

Some powerful words and some creamy squash!

This week some words by the writer Marianne Williamson from her book “A return to love” got stuck in my head: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

I love this short quote a lot, it really gives me motivation to hang on to my dreams and to love myself for my strengths and positive character traits. Of course, I also continued my practice in the kitchen presenting you today a delicious and wonderful looking creamy squash soup. I’ve seen quite a lot squash recipes the last days on wordpress and I loved them all, but I definitely wanted to make my own.Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut or hokkaido squash
  • 2 floury potatoes
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 onion (not necessarily)
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 chili
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sweet mustard
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Instructions

Prepare the chicken or vegetable stock in a large stock pot or pan while chopping the vegetables. You can use as much stock as you like, depending on how creamy or not you want to squash soup to be. I didn’t use a lot of stock, because I wanted it to be very creamy.

Halve, seed, peel and cube the squash. Peel and chop also the onion, the potatoes, the carrots and the chili. Chop the scallions and add other herbs to your taste. Heat another large stock pot over medium-high heat with one tablespoon of olive oil and add the chopped onion first for some minutes, until softened. Now you can also add the squash, the other vegetables and the stock. Don’t forget to sprinkle with one teaspoon salt, some lemon juice and to add one teaspoon mustard.Bring everything to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes until everything is completely tender. Now use an immersion blender or transfer it to a stand up blender/food processor to blend the soup smooth. You can still add more stock if it should be too thick for you.

Serve in small bowls with a dollop of sour cream or chopped scallions. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

The Brave Cook

My type of salsa!

The month is not even over but I’m already short of money. I was thinking what to do to avoid spending even more money for food this week. I took a look into my fridge to check what I could use up. I had tomatoes, onions, garlic and a lot of vinegar. The first thing that came to my mind was a salsa, but not the typical salsa in the form of a dip or sauce. I wanted to make something more like antipasti, an appetizer to be eaten with bread. One more thing I had at home were physalis fruits, so the idea came up to make a half spicy, half sweet salsa. Of course, I will tell you what I did differently when preparing my salsa. Please keep in mind that my recipe is only for a small bowl of salsa. If you want to prepare more salsa, you need to multiply the ingredients according to your needs!

Ingredients

  • 4 – 5 roughly chopped tomatoes, stems removed
  • 12 chopped physalis
  • 1 diced onion
  • 3 roughly chopped garlic cloves
  • 3 cayenne chilis or jalapeno pepper
  • 3 – 5 black olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley or other herbs
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar

Instructions

Peel the husks off the physalis fruits and rinse well in cold water. Roughly chop or quarter the physalis fruit.

Start with chopping up 4 – 5 medium sized fresh tomatoes. Prepare the onion, the garlic, the olives, the parsley and the chilies in the same way, chopping them in chunky pieces and combining all the ingredients in a big pot. Set aside some of the seeds from the chilies if you don’t want your salsa to be too spicy.Now add the sea salt, cumin, lime juice and a 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar into the pot with all the other ingredients. You can also use fruit vinegar and mix it with red wine. Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes, until everything is simmering and tender. To make a salsa dip or sauce puree with an immersion blender and cook everything for another 20 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally until it starts to be slightly thickened.

To make a chunky “antipasti” salsa like I did, don’t use an immersion blender. Simply cook the ingredients for 20 – 30 minutes, then separate from the vinegar and put into a mortar if needed.Salsa is really easy to make and you can prepare it in so many different ways and tastes! I could save some money by simply using up everything I had at home and turning it into this colorful appetizer. Serve it with some bread or use it as a substitute for a salad!

The Brave Cook

Save the basil!

I love to keep a basil plant at the kitchen window but due to the unsteady temperature conditions it is not so easy to keep it alive for long as well as it is not so easy to use it up fast enough. The best thing to do in that case is to make a basil pesto! I have never done a pesto before but my blog is basically all about trying new recipes and learning new things.

There are basil pesto recipes for a classic basil pesto but actually pesto is always made to taste, based on the ingredients at hand. That really comes up to my own philosophy about using for a recipe what I find in my kitchen. Most basil pesto recipes include pine nuts/walnuts and parmesan cheese. I did not have these ingredients at hand so I left out the nuts and used a creamy feta cheese. Of course, you can adjust the ingredients to your taste!Basil Pesto with goat cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan or goat cheese
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns or freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Instructions

Wash the basil and remove the leaves from the stems. Combine the basil leaves, garlic cloves, goat cheese and the peppercorns in a food processor. Pulse until everything is perfectly blended together. Add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Scrape down the sides of the food processor a few times with a spatula.

Since I do not use any nuts for my pesto I try to give it a special flavor with the type of salt and pepper that I’m using. My peppercorns have different colors and are freshly cracked in the food processor. If you do not have a food processor or you prefer to use a mortar you need to be very accurate when grinding the peppercorns. I like to use a mortar and to work with my hands instead of letting the food processor do all the work.The salt that I’m using is a special himalaya salt with a light pink color. It has a very strong and aromatic flavor.Add 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp lemon zest. This will give the pesto a fruity taste and balance the garlic.Your pesto is ready to be served! Serve with pasta, baked potatoes or even with fried fish.This is a very simple recipe and you can even safe your pesto in the fridge for several days to use it for many dishes. Pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top of it like I did so that it does not turn brown!

The Brave Cook

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