February 28, 2011

on the move

What a wonderful weekend, full of both new friends and old friends and lots and lots of walking. Walking is actually what I love most about living in Zürich. I can, and do, walk absolutely everywhere. Winter walking is perfect, but with spring and summer approaching I'm looking forward to buying a bike and biking my way around town. My new bike will certainly have to be pink, or white, and have a basket in the front.

Today I'm doing the opposite of walking, I'm going to be sitting, almost the entire day, for 9 + hours in a teeny little seat on a plane, making my way back to the states. It feels like I just got back to Zürich after my last trip, but it's been three weeks and I'm heading back for another week of wedding planning activities. I'm going to do my best to continue posting small posts throughout the week, but I promise to return in a little over a week with my regular posting.

February 25, 2011

colorful concrete

Graffiti in Zürich, who would have thought? It actually makes me smile when I come across graffiti in this city known for its polished garbage cans and tidy sidewalks. I love the image on the top right. Does it say "lovez" or "Love Z" ? I prefer to think it means "Love Z" because I have lots of Z's to love right now: Zach, Zürich and Zimt (cinnamon) in my coffee.

If visitor started with a Z, I would love that too. Zach and I are heading to Geneva first thing tomorrow to visit some friends who are here from the states for a quick trip.

Auf Wiedersehen for now. Happy Weekend!

February 24, 2011

snow and sorbet

Why limit ourselves to hot chocolate on a snowy and cold day? How about embracing the snow, ice and cold and eating sorbet? Sitting in my apartment watching the snow fall outside with the heat radiating from the floors (typical in Zürich), I decided I was in the mood for something icy and refreshing. I had leftover blood oranges from making the scones and blood orange sorbet sounded particularly delicious.
Who would have thought that in the land of dairy you literally cannot buy a pint of ice cream for under $8. If you are are in the market for non-Swiss brands, such as Häagan Dazs or Ben & Jerry's, well then you might as well buy a ticket back to the states, because that plane ticket will cost you just about as much as a pint of good old American ice cream. Of course that is a bit of an exaggeration, but would you pay $14 for a pint of ice cream? I am a bit lactose intolerant when it comes to ice cream so this isn't really an issue for me, but Zach on the other hand dreams about ice cream. Left to his own devices he would subsist on root beer floats. He only registered for one item in our wedding registry - a milk shake maker. It looks as though he is going to need to add an ice cream maker to the registry if he ever wants to eat ice cream again because I refuse to spend over $5 for a pint of ice cream.
This recipe is a bit tricky. I actually made it two different ways to see how they would come out. One was more of a sherbert, but incredibly and almost inedibly sweet, while the other one turned out more on the sorbet side and much icier. I prefer the second one.
ingredients for recipe 1 - sherbert:
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of blood orange juice + pulp
1 orange worth of zest
1 heaping tbsp of mascarpone

ingredients for recipe 2 - sorbet
1 cup of water
1/3 cup of sugar
1 cup blood orange juice + pulp
1 orange worth of zest
2 tbsp mascarpone

The main difference between these two recipes is the amount of sugar. 1 cup of sugar made for incredibly sweet sherbert. Wow. But it also made for a more viscous syrup. Place a freezer safe dish in the freezer to pre-freeze. In both cases heat up the water and sugar in a pan until it boils. Once it begins to bowl, turn the heat down and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes or until the liquid is clear and syrupy (with the second recipe it will be less syrupy). Take off of the heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Add the orange juice and zest and mix in the mascarpone. Pour into the pre-frozen dish and place back in the freezer. Every hour for three hours mix the sherbert/sorbet with a fork. After that point it will be ready to eat - yum.
Wait for a cold and snowy day, wrap yourself in a warm blanket and eat some sorbet!

February 23, 2011

did you eat your veggies today?

Zürich is full of surprises, little ones. Yesterday I happened upon a community garden, bordered between the city and the forest, on the hill East of downtown. My first thought was wow, how unexpected, yet beautiful (especially in the snow)and my second thought was, I want one! The garden is arranged in small plots, each with a miniature house properly sized for holding a couple of chairs, farm tools and a grill. It must be an unbelievable site in the blooming season. The snow and brisk breeze gave it a quiet and peaceful feeling. I didn't see anyone else in the garden, just one beautiful red fox, who slipped away before I could snap a photo of him. I came home with a red nose and chilled fingers and was desperate for something warm, comforting and full of veggies, so I made sausage stuffing. It was a delicious meal, although it would have been better if I had grown the vegetables myself. Perhaps next year when I figure out how to get one of these little plots and then learn to garden.
This is Zürich so don't expect to garden at your leisure, there are rules!
1) you have to have something planted by June 1st and keep it planted all summer long
2) you can only plant tall crops where they will not shade a neighboring plot
3) If the plot becomes unkempt you will be given 2 weeks notice to clean it up, if you don't it will be reassigned.
4) you must keep weeds down
etc, etc, etc
I have seen a few other community gardens, mostly out of the train window, but this one is special. Sandwiched between the city and the forest, and terraced on a hill, it draws you in and pulls you through it's stone pathways and grassed lanes.
This image on the left, which appears to be lettuce is actually Brussels sprouts. The German word for them is Rosenkohl, which is really only a touch more appetizing than Brussels sprouts. I'm not sure what the vegetables in the pictures below are, but perhaps one of you can educate me. This was my favorite little garden. The stone pathways and the terraced gardens make it both beautiful and inviting. The plot is small, but the garden is big.
Swiss food culture, although ladened with butter and sausage, is extremely healthy. The Swiss have no choice but to "eat locally." Almost all of their produce is grown in the country, a country that is roughly the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined. The same is true of their meat, eggs and dairy, it is all produced within Switzerland. The meat is more expensive here than in the states, but I'm happy to pay a few extra dollars for chicken that doesn't come from an enormous, chicken factory in Iowa. I also don't have to be worried about eating genetically modified organisms because the Swiss extended the ban on all GMOs until 2013. Did you hear that Genetically Modified salmon has been approved by the USDA and might make its way to markets in the US? It is called AquaAdvantage Salmon - sounds appetizing huh? It grows 2x as fast as normal salmon and is reproductively sterile, and it will not be labeled as a GMO so you won't know when/if you are eating it. How is that okay? stuffing recipe and ingredients: adapted from Food and Wine
- 20 cups of bread - this is a wonderful use for stale bread
- 1/2 stick of butter
- 3 carrots
- 5 celery ribs
- 1 onion
- 1 leek
- 4 - 6 good sized sausage links
- 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
- salt and pepper
- fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 350
Cut the bread in 1" cubes, place on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until they are lightly browned. While bread is toasting, melt the butter in a pan, reserve 1/2 in the pan and pour the other half into a bowl. Saute the carrots, celery, onion and leek in the butter until the onions and leeks become transparent and begin to brown. Place into a medium sized bowl. In the same saute pan, cook the sausage. I remove the casing of the link and chop up into small pieces. Once the sausage has cooked through and has begun to brown add the veggies back to the saute pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, add the thyme and 1 cup of the chicken stock. Let it cook for 5-8 minutes, or until the chicken stock has begun to evaporate. Poor the veggie-sausage mixture into a bowl, add the toasted bread and then the remaining 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock. Mix until the bread is evenly coated. Place in an oven safe dish and brush with the remaining butter. Place in the oven for about an hour, or until the top is crispy.
This was the only plot that seemed forgotten, so I'm going to claim it as ours. The mini-haus could use a bit of a fix-up, but I think a little paint on the shutters would be an easy and effective first step. We would need some help with the garden, which is where our friends Crem and Jeremy come in - it's always good to know some farmers!
It seemed appropriate to enjoy the stuffing with the Food Issue of the New Yorker. It's an old issue, and I had already read it, but I was in a vegetable-garden-cooking state of mind and decided it would be worth rereading.
I hope you are as inspired as I am to plant and grow your own food. Until we can snag one of those garden plots I am going to work on planting some herbs in window boxes. Have a happy, veggie-filled, Wednesday.

I just found this very timely article in the New York Times about kitchen gardens. I'm going to buy an avocado, eat the flesh and plant the pit today!

February 22, 2011

simple snowy day

It's snowing here in Zürich today, for the first time since I moved in early January. I had assumed I was moving to a city that was frequented by blizzards and feet upon feet of snow, but that hasn't been the case this winter. Sure Zürich has had it's share of grey days, but I'm use to that from nine and a half years in New Haven. The photos above were taken in Davos this past weekend. Sunday morning as we were getting ready to leave a snow storm was just beginning to make its appearance.

Somehow today has gotten away from me and with a friend coming for dinner I don't have time for a more elaborate post. The days either inch by or they fly by. I prefer when they fly by, leaving me less time to reflect on the fact that I'm living in Zürich, for the foreseeable future, and still have yet to really find my place in this city.

February 21, 2011

a little monday pick me up

Reunions are wonderful, until they end. I always have a hard time the day after a weekend with friends. I look forward to the weekend for so long and then it arrives, passes in a fun and wonderful flash and then it's over. We had a great time with our first visitor - Zach's brother Al. He arrived on Wednesday and we toured the city for a couple days and then left for Davos first thing on Friday morning. We skied Friday and Saturday and came home yesterday. Now it's Monday and Al is gone and our weekend of fun is officially over. What to do?...BAKE! There's nothing a little flour, butter and sugar can't fix. I decided to make some orange/cranberry/almond scones. As per usual some ingredients got lost in translation and I ended up with blood oranges instead of regular oranges (note to self: blut means blood), but in this case it turned out to be a happy, albeit delicious accident.
We experienced a variety of weather conditions in Davos, from sunny and beautiful, to complete snowy white out. These two photos were taken the same day, about 2 hours apart.
I love this photo of Zach and Al. We are at the top of the mountain about to go down one of the steepest runs in whiteout conditions. If I had taken this photo a couple of hours earlier, the boys would have been standing against a backdrop of mountains that appear to continue into the distance forever.
These scones were the perfect cure for my post weekend blues. They are light, flakey and delicious. I always find scones to be a bit too big, so I made mini scones, perfect for a tea-time snack.
I was surprised when I cut into these oranges to find that they were blood oranges. The vibrant colors and the sweet juice made this a fortunate accident. Regular oranges would have been great too, but these added a bit of a punch to the scone and to the plate.
ingredients: adapted from Mark Bittman How to Cook Everything
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 scant tsp salt
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 5 tbsp cold butter
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup cream
- 3 tbsp fresh orange juice
- 2/3 cup cranberries
- 2/3 cup sliced almonds
- zest from 1 orange

Heat the oven to 450

Mix the flours, salt, baking powder, 1 tbsp of the sugar and the almond flour in a large bowl. Cut in the butter so that it is well integrated. In another bowl mix 2 of the eggs and the cream. Once combined mix in the orange juice. With a few quick strokes combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add the cranberries, almonds and orange zest.

On a floured surface kneed the dough 10 times, but no more. If the dough is incredibly sticky add some flour, which I had to do, but just a bit. My dough was incredibly sticky, but I just went with it, added a bit of flour, and then proceeded to flatten it to a 3/4 rectangle and with a round cookie cutter, cut the scones out of the dough.

Place on a non stick cookie sheet. Beat the other egg. Brush a bit of the egg over the cut out scones and the sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until golden brown. Eat the same day!
I would love to eat some of these scones in this cute little house!
The scone in this picture is actually the my second. I had to test them so I ate one right out of the oven. yum!!
Hopefully this post brightens your Monday - I know it brightened mine! Now it's time to make some dinner with Zach...if he's even hungry after the two scones he ate within a minute of getting home from work.

February 18, 2011

on the piste (ski-run)

After staying in Zürich last weekend we are off to Davos this weekend for some skiing. I'm looking forward to being in the mountains again and eating some more bratwurst and fondue! I'll be back to the blog on Monday. Have a happy weekend everyone.

February 17, 2011

a blumen city

If you compulsively cut your hair and live to buy fresh flowers every couple days then you should live in Zürich. Every other little store seems to be either a hair salon or a flower shop. As spring nears the flower shops are incredibly inviting, leaving me wishing spring would just show up and stay already!
Even though the sidewalks are narrow, the flowers and pots still pour out into the street. Most of the merchandise actually sits outside the store rather than in it. As with everything in Zürich the flowers are expensive - the lavender bundle for 18chf is a bit extreme, considering I bought the same thing the other day for 7. However, I did take this picture on the Banhofstrasse, Zürich's Fifth Ave equivalent, so I guess I shouldn't be that surprised.
The time of year to dine outside is right around the corner. We constantly tell people how beautiful we think Zürich is and how much we are enjoying it so far, and everyone responds, "wait until summer, you will love it!" I believe them - summer is going to be great. I vow to drink or eat something at a little table like this at least a few times a week.I adore this flamingo, which I found sitting in a little garden tucked in a narrow alley way. A flamingo in Zürich! I might need one, or two, for our back porch.
...and of course some flowers for us. I usually prefer white flowers, but these red-orange tulips with yellow centers just felt right on a cloudy day.