Saturday Night Takeaway

Well one thing that I sort of miss over here in Germany is the exciting moment that the doorbell rings and there’s a nice chap with a bin liner sized bag of hot food waiting for his £15 or so.

Kebabs, curries, fish and chips, free cheesey garlic bread, giant pizzas dripping with oil. And a bottle of Diet Coke to keep the calories down of course. Yum! My record consumption was one 16 inch pizza, one 12 inch cheesey garlic bread, and one kebab, all at the same time. Was pregnant. Was ill. Did not do that again.

Since living in Germany I haven’t had a single food delivery. A few takeaways have been consumed, small of portion, expensive in my opinion, and really I find the supermarkets here so cheap that when a takeaway is shouting out to be consumed, I do make my own.

Small observation , haven’t lost any weight since giving up monster takeaways so I think they must all be very low fat or something.

Today was such a day and I threw together some random stuff and made a vegetarian kebab substitute. I don’t eat meat by the way.

It was sooooo tasty that I feel the need to share the recipe so here it is. Oh here’s a photo of my balls…

For the balls, I used 150g of dried soya chunks. This type (this is a link to Amazon UK pretty cheap to buy these there).

Prepare according to packet, I simmered mine for ten minutes in water containing 1tsp of vegetable stock. Drain and cool.

While cooling, make some breadcrumbs. I used 1 medium slice of wholemeal bread and blitzed in food processor along with 1 brazil nut, 4 cashew nuts, 2 hazlenuts and a walnut. I removed the nuts from a pack of muesli. Why not.

Mix the breadcrumb mix with the soya, add 1 egg, then spices to taste. In mine was salt and pepper, cumin, turmeric, mixed herbs, coriander and paprika (about half a teaspoon of each), half a teaspoon of garlic powder and a squirt of Jif lemon. Then add one finely chopped red chilli pepper and one small finely chopped onion. Also half a teaspoon of sesame seeds if you fancy that.

Puree everything with a hand blender. Leave a bit lumpy or totally blitz, its up to you.

With your hands, squish into balls/little patties. Shallow fry the balls until brown on both sides,  then bake at 200 degrees for 15 minutes. This ensures they cook through properly. I put mine onto baking paper before placing in oven. Drain on  kitchen paper. Serve with salad, pitta bread and sauces of your choice for a yummy veggie kebab experience.

Experiment with herbs and spices. I will make these again, a lot I guess as they are yummy and cheap, and I plan to use fresh coriander next time, and more chilli.

Ok its not a British takeaway but really really nice. More takeaway talk at a later date…

Have fun squishing those balls!



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How to raise a Gamer

I absolutely love the Final Fantasy series of games by Square Enix. I mean, really. It is the only thing (please note I said thing not people) that I have loved outside the 1980s.

I discovered Final Fantasy after finishing Castlevania on the PS1. I talked to a nice young man in the game shop and I explained that I’m really fussy, and needed a game that’s similar to Castlevania. He suggested Final Fantasy VII so I did buy it.

This was in the late 90s. I was just amazed by it, had never played an RPG before actually, and I was and still am in love with the game. I played it through my pregnancy with my now 18 year old daughter. I would play, puke, drink lucozade, puke, play, eat wotsits, play, puke. And so on.

My record length of uninterrupted playing time was 14 hours, pausing only for the toilet and for wotsits and lucozade. Well as the pregnancy progressed I managed to eat pies and chips with gravy but my gaming memories definitely mostly involve wotsits. The fourteen hours was time very well spent breeding chocobos, by the way.

I declared to my (now ex) husband that if we had a daughter I would call her Aeris. He said no chance, too nerdy. We did have a daughter, and she is called Alice. Almost got my way haha. When I was in hospital with my newborn, the midwife told me that the babies would often go quiet when the Coronation Street theme tune came on. They recognize music that they hear often when in the womb. My child went quiet at the familiar sounds of Final Fantasy VII battle and chocobo racing music.

Here is my Alice. She likes a bit of gaming. Awesome Mortal Kombat T-Shirt Choose Your Fighter (L) t shirt eh. I was so proud when she wanted that (that’s a link to the t shirt on Amazon UK by the way).

And here is Aeris. Similar I feel.

Well anyway, I have played FF 7,8,10,10.2,12 and most recently, 14, a Realm Reborn and Heavensward (Heavensward is an optional extension but I guess its necessary)

FF14 is the most amazing and addictive MMO game that exists. Well OK you might not agree, but for a devotee of FF it’s just FABULOUS. I’m waiting for Stormblood, the new extension, to be released in June. Cannot wait!!!!

I took a few pics of my beloved toon, Rinoa. Here she is ❤️

The scholar healing class, and some chocobos

This is my machinist class with her awesome moogle gun

It’s possible to level several job classes. this is one of my healers, the white mage. Please note the awesome moogle slippers. Many hours well spent getting those from the moogle tribe quests.

You can buy and furnish an apartment, and plant flowers and stuff inside. This is mine oh I do love it in there.
It’s such a great game. You can join a free company and meet friends and do dungeons and trials together. You u can be a miner, a weaver, a black magician, a healer, a tank… it never gets boring I don’t think, it’s so much fun. I will maybe write more about it another time.

You can learn more about FFXIV on Amazon via this link ,final fantasy XIV
there are some useful reviews there and you see the various available products. You can play the game for free for two weeks on PC too (I play on the PS4 but started on a very basic laptop, it worked fine). I tried to find a link to the trial, but I have only found the German one so far. Just google it 🙂 Well worth giving it a go I promise.

Maiwoche

Maiwoche (literally translated as May week) is annual festival that takes place in Osnabrück every year. It is the largest festival in northern Germany and attracts over 800,000 visitors.

The festival takes place in the city center and there is a week long programme including live bands, exhibitions and shows for children. There is food and drink from around the world, shopping stands, and lots and lots and lots of people.

Osnabrück is a beautiful town and if you can cope with crowds it’s well worth visiting the Maiwoche. I went last night and the atmosphere was wonderful. We watched a fab rock music cover band, can’t beat a bit of Guns n Roses 🕺well not true actually as The Cure would have been preferable but hey it was still great.

Here are some pics of little old me at the Maiwoche…

At the British food stand. Sadly no mushy peas. Not bad though.
Sooo many people
Pink is the way forward at Maiwoche
The beautiful Dom cathedral at Maiwoche
Food area so much to choose from nom nom
Traditional German cuisine cooked on a swinging grill.
A yummy Mai-Bowle, strawberries with light alcohol. Most refreshing.
This was taken before the music started and the crowds really arrived. It was almost impossible to move after 8pm. Such a fabulous atmosphere. And such great pink Doc Martens.
One of the many live bands dotted about through the city center.

Well what a lovely evening we had. A bit too crowded for me, I guess that Saturday night is the most popular night to go and the weather was great. So lovely though and if you are in the area at this time of year I definitely recommend a visit. And if you live in Germany and havent tried the Mai-Bowle drink, you definitely should do and here is a link to some I found on Amazon Gerstacker Mai-Bowle 5% Vol. 1L bitte schön 🙂

Fish and Chips and Beer and Gravy

Some British food just isn’t available abroad. Definitely not in Germany anyway, and I have a couple of friends who live in the USA and I know that they struggle with certain items aswell.

Following a conversation about mint sauce with a German friend last week (he has never tried it but KNOWS that it is surely pure green evil), I have been on a bit of a mission to make a list of the things that just don’t seem to exist outside the UK, and find out where to buy them.

Amazon UK is quite a good option. I searched for english tea and british hamper and there is plenty to choose from. Then I found a fabulous website, The British Corner Shop, and I have already signed up and perused.  The price of the food and the postage costs are quite reasonable (half price with orders over 100 pounds). I am excited.

Here is a link to it. They sell Waitrose food yayyyy

So anyway, here is my list of British food that does not exisit abroad. To any non UK people, you should try these things…

mintMINT SAUCE is not pure green evil. Its chopped up mint in a vinegar base and its really super tasty. We eat it with roast dinners (meat and veg and yorkshire puddings and gravy) and its also super added to MUSHY PEAS (another non existent outisde UK food) and indeed mixed with yoghurt to make a lovely dressing or kebab type sauce.

gravy dinner GRAVY well really if you havent eaten gravy you haven’t lived. Its a thickish brown hot liquid which we pour over everything. It can be home made from meat stock but I think that most people just use instant gravy, which is a non meat meat flavoured hot liquid. We like to have chips and gravy, roast dinner with gravy, pie and gravy, sausage, mash and gravy, in fact gravy can be poured over everything and the result is a gravy dinner. Bisto is considered the best but I prefer Golden Fry.

dumplings DUMPLINGS are little balls made from flour and suet, suet being the thing that is not available. Its a type of fat, animal and vegetable versions are available. The dumplings are cooked in stews or casseroles and I have to say they are really really yummy. My USA friend told me that she has been making them with butter instead of suet. I intend to try making them with coconut oil very soon.

My daughter keeps asking me to cook her a pie. She really wants a Birdseye chicken and vegetable pie covered in gravy. Pies do not exist in Germany. Heinz salad cream does not exist. No mushy peas. No marrowfat processed peas. No sausage rolls. Not much pastry at all actually. Paxo stuffing does not exist, neither does tatare sauce. No Hobnobs, no Branston Pickle, and no Marmite. I guess I can live without Marmite. Do like it though, No Cadburys chocolate. No Cadburys cream eggs at Easter. If you are a chocolate fan I would recommend Cadbury Gifts Direct it’s possible to make your own pick and mix hamper and they deliver worldwide.

Ok thats it, I am going to order some food now. I need to force my friend to eat some mint sauce ASAP.  He will be reading this, and I would like to reassure him that his life will soon be a happier and more enriched, minty green pleasuresome daily experience.

Controversial Communal Laundry Rooms 

When I used to visit Osnabrück in the 80s, I was absolutely super amazed by some of the houses that the German exchange students lived in. My pen friend’s house for example had a giant bathroom with a bidet and a massive cellar which had been converted into some sort of nightclub. It had a glitter ball and a bar. I grew up in a council house and thought that everything in Germany was totally huge and posh in comparison.

I remember that one of my school friends stayed in a house which had a swimming pool and a solarium. This was so super impressive especially as I loved sunlamps for their zit killing skills. I was so spotty back then. Lovely.

Anyway, I guess that property prices are now as they are in the U.K., and that it’s really difficult to buy a big house now. I live as many other other families over here do, in a flat within a big house. I stayed in such a flat during the German exchange programme once (my pen friend was on holiday) well I stayed with the man that I’m now married to. I live in the same street now actually, and his mother lives next door in the 80s flat, which hasn’t changed at all. It’s a bit like a museum of teenage memories for me. The place where this arrogant teenage boy told me that he would not take me to the disco. I still haven’t forgiven him for that and he knows it.

There are nine flats within the house that I live in now. A few people are related to each other, that seems to be quite common here. We all share a great big garden. Here it is…


There is a swing and a trampoline and in the summer holidays there will be a big paddling pool for the children of the house. That little wooden house has an open fire inside and a bar and eating area. You can book it for parties, or take a BBQ into the garden and invite friends over. We had our wedding party in the garden/little house. Well I did not attend as my husband did not impress me that day, but I think it went quite well.

I don’t go in the garden as I am completely anti social and do not wish to communicate. It’s great for my daughter though and there are often children out there for her to play with.

The big house also has a communal bike storage room, and a communal laundry. Each flat has a washing machine in the cellar, with its own power point, and there is a shared tumble dryer. You just plug it into your own power point and dry your clothes. I don’t go down there as I’m completely anti social and do not wish to communicate. My husband does all the washing.

Each flat has a huge storage room in the cellar too, ours has a toilet inside it. No, I do not go down there.

There is a cleaning rota in place. I don’t think anyone really sticks to it apart from us and a couple of others. There are regular notices put up in the hallway from neighbors complaining about other neighbors and there’s one man who thinks it’s funny to shut my husband in the basement when he knows he’s down there. He doesn’t like him because he uses a steam cleaner instead of a mop to clean the hallway so he shuts him in at every opportunity. I think that’s absolutely hilarious actually.  He deserves it for not taking me to the disco in 1987.

So yes it’s a different way of life here. I quite like it. It feels safe to always have other people in the building. The garden is great and also someone else mows the grass. No grass to mow is heaven. But yes I wish there was a disco and not washing machines in the basement haha. I would be dancing the to The Smiths and The Cure every day.

Starting school in Germany 

When we moved to Germany, my 6 year old daughter had already been in her U.K. School for almost three years, in the nursery and then in reception. Children here start school later, at 6 or 7, and we rushed the move a little bit so that she could join year one here from the beginning and not miss anything and not be the only new pupil.

There was no nerve rousing central application process, just a quick visit to the school, who told me that there is always space for local children. They simply employ as many teachers as necessary to accommodate everyone. Controversial!

I was a tad worried about the language issue of course, however we live in an area with high immigration and the school is experienced in teaching German to non native speakers from a variety of countries. My daughter was immediately signed up for extra German lessons during the school day.

I can speak a bit of German, I studied A Level when I was young. That helped me to teach her a bit to prepare her for school, and we watched Youtube videos a lot and worked through this fab sticker book First Thousand Words in German Sticker Book (First Thousand Words Sticker) which one of her friends bought her as a gift. That was really super and helped me as much as her. Jogged my memory a bit.

Her first school day was on a Saturday morning. Controversial! All of the new children and their families gathered in the sports hall and watched a concert performed by older pupils. Each new child had a giant rucksack and a Schultüte with them (my daughter’s are in the cover photo). The Schultüte is a giant cardboard cone which is made at home and filled by friends and family with sweets. The tradition behind this is that the sadness of leaving the family home for the first time is sweetened by the treats in the Tüte.

The giant rucksack, well, parents here have to buy all of the books, textbooks, pens, pencils, paints, everything, there’s a long list given out, I had to label each thing, and place it in the rucksack. The rucksack is then transported to and from school each day. It’s heavy. I’m getting old and I attach it to a shopping trolley on wheels most days, otherwise my back goes, and I feel guilty to let my daughter carry it haha.

Well, my daughter loves her school. She’s been there 18 months now and is more or less fluent in German. She has enjoyed learning it, loves to speak it, she has made lots of friends and she totally loves that she will have to learn English next year. Her class size is small, only 18 children. She was very quiet in class in the U.K. and wouldn’t talk to the teachers, thats all gone now. There is a shorter school day too. They start at eight and finish at one. That’s a bit painful for me in the morning but that’s because I’m completely rubbish until around noon. It’s fine for her.

The children don’t wear a uniform and each morning they take off their shoes and put on their slippers. There is more music, more playtime, more sport, swimming lessons, more day trips. They often go to the cinema or the theatre. She’s doing great anyway. It’s been really interesting to see the difference in the educational systems. I’m not saying it’s better or worse here, it’s just definitely different. I’m very proud of my bi lingual little 😇.

If you are interested in helping your child learn a foreign language, I recommend this Kindle book, it has really helped me to understand how my daughter’s language learning has developed and ways in which I can help her. An interesting and informative read.

Please don’t unwind me!!!

I do love a good dystopian novel.

Loved the Hunger Games series. Have to say that I didn’t really think I would enjoy anything quite so much.

My friend gave me a Kindle for my last birthday, he felt a bit sorry for me because its a tad difficult here to just pop to the shop and buy English language books. Woo yes exciting, I immediately looked for books in a similar vein to The Hunger Games, and this blog post is about the title I most recently finished.

OMG. What a book. Its called Unwind by Neal Shusterman. Similar to The Hunger Games, its in the catergory of young adult literature, and is about an absolutely terrifying fate that many teenagers are truly unfortunate enough to live and indeed die through.

It is set in the USA. There has been a civil war about the topic of abortion. The pro lifers and pro choice groups finally reached a compromise which saw abortion become illegal but still offer choice – the choice for parents to send off their unwanted teenagers to be ‘unwound’.

Between the ages of 13 and 18 young people can, at the request of their parents or legal guardians, become subject to an Unwind Order. They are taken to a Harvest Camp where their lives do not technically end, instead the young people live on in a ‘divided’ state. Their body parts are harvested and stored and ultimately transplanted into others.

Some young people, Tythes, are born and bred to be unwounds. This is a religious act by their parents, and Tythes are brainwashed into accepting that they are almost super human and pure and giving, and they are given special treatment at the Harvest Camps. Well, before they get chopped up at least aaaghhrrrr.

Unwind is about three young people who try to escape their horrifying fate. This book is so well written, so tense, so fast paced. I couldn’t put it down. I kept wondering and wondering, will the author describe the actual surgical unwinding process or not. I decided that it wouldn’t be described in detail as its one of those things best left to the imagination.

I was wrong.

Still haven’t recovered from the brilliantly written imagery in that chapter. I just about stopped breathing.

I have read some horror books and seen some horror movies in my time, and I really think this one terrified me the most. If you haven’t already, and you like dystopian topics, please read it. Theres a series of these books actually, I will be reading them all asap.

I buy my Kindle books in the Amazon.de Kindle Store. So happy to be able to access so many English written books this way. Here is the link to Unwind if you fancy taking a peek…

And heres the link to the book on Amazon UK. There are some UK only offers here.

Granny Gamers

Ok I’m not a grandma yet, but I guess I’m the right age for it.

I am however a gamer. Female gamers in their forties do exist. I’ve recently discovered the joy of MMO (massively multiplayer online)  games and I’m not the only granny gamer. How great it has been to meet other female, older players.

I guess I’ve been playing video games since the ZX Spectrum was invented. Then came the Commodore 64 and the Intellivision. As the years have passed, I’ve enjoyed having a games console around. It stopped after Final Fantasy 12. I’m a massive fan of the Final Fantasy Games from Square Enix. After 12, the PS3 was released and the series moved to that console and I guess that work and family just took over and I decided not to buy one. Haven’t gamed for years.

Since moving to Germany I’ve reunited with my friend from the 80s who also loves to game and he very kindly gave me his PS4. Then he told me about Final Fantasy 14. OMG!!! Addicted.com. Really. It’s great. It can be tricky. You have to clear dungeons and big bosses with groups of other players, and I guess that most are young men. I’m slow to react sometimes and have been thrown out of dungeons and raids, insulted, sworn at, told I’m stupid.

Not pleasant. I’m taking a break this week as it can be quite disheartening to be a bit rubbish. But it’s Final Fantasy and I lurrrrv it and I’m going to keep playing it.

I do have a very nerdy blog about Final Fantasy inside and it wants to come out. And it will. Today I wanted really to share a conversation I had at my friend’s house last night. We talked about how the 80s us would never have believed the games that are available to play at home now. The graphics, the speed, the music, I’m so grateful to him for bringing gaming back into my life.

He’s currently playing a game called Persona 5. Just WOW.

I took a photo here it is


It’s amazing! And he’s got a fancy tv with wall lights that change colour woo I didn’t even know that such things existed. It’s a bit different to PacMan isn’t it. I guess I need to play it, I’ve got Final Fantasy 15 waiting for me at the moment though. In June an extension for Final Fantasy 14 is released so I need to save my pennies for that one, now is probably the time to play 15.

How exciting!! And the 80s us really couldn’t have imagined how far technology and games would progress. I wonder what the future will bring…

 

 

Here are a couple of links to Amazon if you would like more info about FFXIV. First you need    Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PS4) and then when you get to level 50 you can opt to add Heavensward for heaps more main quests, dungeons and job classes Square Enix FINAL FANTASY XIV: Heavensward PS4 – video games (PlayStation 4, RPG (Role-Playing Game), 23/06/2015, T (Teen), Add-on, Square Enix).

 

Baking Problems

I love to bake. I don’t think that anything beats a home made cake. I don’t actually have a sweet tooth but something about home made cake is just sublime.

I think that the best recipes for cakes BY FAR are those by Mary Berry. Just nom. None of her recipes have been a failure for me and really I am no pro.

When I moved to Germany I sold or gave away most of my belongings, just came with 2 suitcases, I however made sure that I brought what is I think the best ever baking recipe book,  Mary Berry’s Baking BibleEdit. It really is the ultimate baking guide and in my opinion every home should have one.

Anyway, as the title shows, there has been a slight baking problem. There is no such thing as self raising flour in Germany. Aaaagghhrrrrr. I was confused and thought noooo I can’t use my Mary Bible. Actually I went to the library and borrowed some German baking books. Tried a few recipes, using plain flour and baking powder, but they just didn’t compare to the great master.

I decided that I needed Mary’s cakes in my life and tried to make my own self raising flour. Did it, used it, and it works perfectly with the self raising flour recipes in my favourite book. In fact, its better. More even rising, more succulence, a better texture. I don’t know why. Maybe the flour here is better (doubtful I know), or maybe the fact that the baking powder is freshly mixed in is an advantage. Could be that I have a better oven here. Probably option 2 or 3.

Anyway I just add 2 teaspoons of baking powder for each 150g of flour, and a pinch of salt. I sieve it all into the mixing bowl and make sure its properly mixed together. My mum felt my pain and bought this for me Baking Powder 1kg. Works out cheaper than buying the little sachets and is much better for making the flour fresh. I guess more environmentally friendly too.

For Germany dwellers, you need the type 405 Mehl (flour) and Backpulver mixed together as above, and if you are German your cakes are completely super. Different texture to ours though and you need to try some of our recipes and you should deffo check out our Mary 🙂

How to make Mushy Peas

I have a friend here in Germany. Just one. Actually he is one of the nice German boys from the 1980s. He was my first love. He had great shoes and my friends and I dedicated the song ‘I love your Shoes’ by Furniture to him. He didn’t know that. I found him on Facebook and he just lives around the corner and we are super great friends. He didn’t know that song but I forced him to listen to it and now he knows that he is an Eighties Icon. Really, he had such great shoes.

Anyway it was my turn to cook and I asked what he fancied eating. I’d been telling him about The Macc Lads and their song beer and sex and chips and gravy and he decided that he wanted to try British mushy peas.

I hadn’t eaten mushy peas for two years. They don’t exist here. I hope all my friends feel the pain of this torment.

I like this guy with the great shoes a lot and I proceeded to google for mushy peas recipes. Now, British mushy peas are made with marrowfat peas, which I have discovered are peas which have been left out in the sun too long. Something like that anyway. Brain getting old can’t exactly remember the details.

Of course marrowfat peas don’t exist in Germany. They quite clearly look after their pea fields properly. And I will not lie, I cannot remember which recipe I followed. Well, I didn’t follow one actually because I didn’t have a lemon. And I added mint. So anyway, here’s my recipe for home made made mushy peas…

Boil one kg bag of frozen garden peas in water with a bit of salt and a sprinkling of dried mint, for about five minutes.

Then drain it, then put it back in the pan.

Add a tablespoon of butter and a generous squirt of that lemon stuff that is supposed to be squirted on pancakes. About one teaspoon probably.

Add salt and pepper. Add half a pot of single cream or Schlagsahne for those of you who live in Germany. Add half a cup of water. Cook on low heat for about two minutes, stirring. Then use a hand blender to purée it. Add water if it’s too thick, or more cream. That’s it! Just purée it until it’s correct for you. I left mine quite lumpy.

You can use a vegan butter replacement and vegan cooking cream if you are dairy free by the way.

Now I’m pretty sure that there’s no butter or cream in tinned mushy peas or chippy shop mushy peas, and these peas are not like that. These mushy peas are posh. They were delicious actually. They tasted like Michelin star restaurant peas. Well I’ve never been to a Michelin star restaurant because I’m poor but I’m pretty sure that the mushy peas there would taste like this.

My lovely friend with the lovely shoes really enjoyed them. We ate them with chips and some mushroom pancake thingies mm they are tasty. Like crispy pancakes but with mushrooms inside. Mmm.

If anyone out there has perfected making mushy peas in a chip shop stylie pleeeease let me know but hey I recommend giving this recipe a try. They were great.