I have a cold but I also have a remedy for it

This started off as just a slice of ginger in boiling water but it’s evolved twice since then: First I decided to try camomile tea instead of just hot water to switch up the flavour a bit. My maternal grandmother always used to say there wasn’t a problem that couldn’t be solved by drinking camomile tea.

Since moving to Bonn, every time I’ve ordered a cup of camomile tea in a café, they ask me if I’d like a bit of lemon juice in. I took the plunge, it was nice and now I’ve started adding a teeny bit of lemon juice to my cold remedy mix. So basically you choose which of the three ingredients you’d like to use, add boiling water and voila, there’s your drink!

Finally, I’d like to point out that there is absolutely no science behind this; it’s just what I like drinking when I’ve got the sniffles – if your cold symptoms persist, you should probably go see your GP.

My current favourite breakfast

I moved to Germany two thirds into last month, so I stayed at a hotel for the first week and a bit. The best part about living in a hotel besides having someone clean your room is having a whole buffet’s worth of breakfast options! After the novelty of having such a vast offering of breakfast items wore off I ended up settling on yoghurt with oats and fruit cocktail (didn’t see any fresh fruit) as my morning fuel.

I’ve been recreating this type of breakfast at home. It’s quick, easy, tasty and filling – four traits any good breakfast should have. I’ve substituted the fruit cocktail with fruit that’s not bathed in syrup and the oats with everyone’s favourite anti-masturbatory aid; cornflakes. I opted for a variant of cereal I could also eat with milk if I’m running low on yoghurt. I’m not quite Danish enough to start eating raw porridge any time soon.

Below are three variants I’m particularly fond of at the moment; banana, kiwi, and plum:

So that’s natural yoghurt, some type of crunch and some type of flavour, layered in that order. Try it – it’s good!

The cheapest Rhine ferry trip

I really want to go on a ferry trip down the Rhine. Or up, I’m not that concerned with the direction. However, I want to save that experience for when my family comes to visit me. I tried the next best thing, a trip on the passenger ferry.

If anyone asks, I was just testing the waters. It’s totally not because I would’ve gone sailing on the river by any means possible. Nope, definitely not the case.

I walked across the Kennedybrücke to Beuel. That side of the river is very green compared to the Bonn side, so the walk from the bridge to the ferry was particularly pleasant.

 I boarded the Rheinnixe and paid the low price of €1.10 to get shipped safely back to the side of the river I came from. I noticed you could get a monthly pass if you were a student. I’d totally do that if I studied at Universität Bonn and lived in Beuel, what a grand way to travel to university!

If it’s possible, you should travel by public transport when you go places. It helps you get a feel of what the local life is like. I’ll be honest with you, on a Thursday in September on a passanger ferry in Bonn it mostly feels like the local life consists of mothers with small children and old men.

The weather was gorgeous so all the passangers headed straight for the deck. Obviously if it had been raining everyone would’ve opted for the dry, indoor seats beneath the deck instead. At least, I know I would.

Due to the lovely weather, the trip didn’t feel long enough. I suppose that’s what I get for going across the river on a tiny boat instead of traveling downstream (or upstream, I’m not sure which way the currents flow) on one of the sightseeing ferry tours.

After too few minutes the boat landed and I had to disembark. Later that day I saw another passenger ferry, the one that leaves from Bad Godesberg. No idea where it actually goes beyond ‘to the other side of the river’. I was on the city bus tour at the time so I regrettably haven’t gone on that one yet.

MS Rheinnixe
Intersection of Brassertufer and Erste Fährgasse (Bonn side)
Intersection of Hans-Steger-Ufer and Steinerstraße (Beuel side)

Autumn means foraging and baking

Food created with locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients tastes incredible and what’s more local than your own garden? Since I currently don’t have an oven or a garden, I can’t bake anything using ingredients I’ve cultivated. Having said that, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the baker in my family; my sister is. I’m more the person who roasts vegetables in the oven.

The few times I do something baking related I tend to gravitate towards pastry. Cakes confuse me and they seem to be such an exact science compared to cooking. If a pastry goes wrong for some reason, you can just make a new one and continue where you left off. I don’t feel like cakes give me that option. As I don’t currently have the means to bake anything, I’ll instead reminisce about a beautiful September day two years ago when I baked a pie using fruit that was ripe in that month.

Luckily for my fruit pie baking efforts, my parents are pretty keen on growing food items in their garden. Homegrown tends to taste better as it hasn’t been transported anywhere and is as fresh as can be! When I had a balcony garden all of my plants were from my parents garden (and most of them have returned again). They have quite a large garden, their friends often receive surplus from it or get permission to go scavenger hunting in it.

This pie was a sweet pie with a standard shortcrust pastry (recipe below) crust. Fruit pie filling is pretty easy, you dump the fruit in a pot with a bit of water and sugar to taste and heat it up. Since we didn’t have enough raspberries we added some frozen ones. Frozen fruit tends to be picked when it’s exactly ripe so it’s just as good as the fresh stuff from a nutritional point of view.

You want the rest of the fruit you add to be roughly the same size as the berries and adding uncut apples would look a bit strange. Cutting the apples also ended up being the easiest way to get rid of the core, this particular variety didn’t fare too well on the apple corer (they got smushed instead of sliced).

I don’t have a photo of the finished result, only one of the pie prior to going in the oven. On the other hand, it gives you a good idea of what the filling looks like when it goes in which the after photo wouldn’t. We added a lattice top for that American look but if you only have enough pastry for the base it works as a tart too.

This type of pie is best eaten straight out of the oven with a dollop of sour cream on top!

Shortcrust pastry recipe

You will need a ratio of flour to butter that is 2.25. For instance if you have 100g of butter, you will need 225g of flour. Add a pinch of salt and rub the ingredients together until you have “breadcrumbs”. Then add water slowly until it forms a dough, you won’t need a lot of water for this. You just want the “breadcrumbs” to stick together. Kneeding the dough is optional but it you do, don’t do a lot of it. Leave it in the fridge while you make the filling for your pie. This dough can be used for both savoury and sweet fillings and you can make it both by hand and by machine.

 

I found a Bonn book tower

I’ve slightly touched on book towers before and I am still a big fan of them. However, they can also be used in the opposite way of what I alluded to in the previous post. Instead of being recipients of books, they can also be givers. This is particularly handy if you’re an unpaid intern temporarily living abroad but I think most people would agree that free books are a pretty good thing.

I found such a tower close to Poppelsdorf Palace. I had some hours to kill due to Bonn’s museums having strange opening hours and decided to take a look at the selection offered. Since I hadn’t seen any cats in Bonn, I decided to take the English book with a cat on the front cover; A Street Cat Named Bob.

Have you read the book? He’s quite some cat! It was an easy read so I returned it to the tower a couple of hours later so someone else could enjoy it. I would like to point out that there’s no way its title isn’t inspired by A Streetcar Named Desire. They’re vastly different stories though.

I noticed a set of German-English dictionaries in the tower as I put the book back. I contemplated taking them but decided to think about whether I really needed them or not. I mulled over it for a couple of days and then went back for them. Unfortunately for me, someone else had swiped them.

However, lady luck was on my side and I found a different one which is only one volume, thereby making it easier to bring places. It’s currently hanging out on my shelf next to the few German books I have.

Book tower
Poppelsdorfer Allee, 53115 Poppelsdorf

Frozen solid

A couple of months ago I asked my sister to get me some Big Solid Conditioner and some Fresh Farmacy from Lush since she was heading there anyway. The lady in the shop would only offer fairly large pieces, refusing to cut them smaller even after my sister asked nicely. This meant I was left with sizeable chunks of product.

When I saw their overwhelming size, I decided I was going to cut them myself to make them more manageable. Then I got the idea of freezing the portions I wasn’t planning on using right away. I figured it might help preserve the product and since they were solid bars I didn’t expect their physical qualities to be changed by the freezing. I froze the excess in its original packaging.

Below is what the conditioner looked like after defrosting in the fridge for a day, followed by a day of further thawing outside of the fridge. I compared it with the remaining stub of the original, non-frozen half that I had been using in the meantime and they were pretty much similar in looks and touch.

Now that I have used both halfs in a similar manner, I can report that it did turn out that the properties of the once frozen one were changed slightly. The non-frozen one lasted five weeks while the defrosted half lasted around three weeks. However, the non-frozen one was hard to use initially while the defrosted half was more malleable from the get go.

Ultimately I’d say that if you don’t live near a Lush and you’re worried your conditioner bar will become mouldy before you can use it, you should freeze it. If you have the option of buying a replacement when you run out, you should consider whether you like the initial acclimation period of using it. In terms of the face soap bar, I’m still on the first round of Fresh Farmacy so I haven’t got any results on that yet.

Tap into your generosity

You can help people in other parts of the world gain access to clean water by leaving your phone for a while. To get started, you go to the UNICEF Tap Project’s webpage on your phone. As it goes through the browser, you don’t even need to download an app first.

For every quarter of an hour your phone is kept steady, you’re doing some good. In particular 15 minutes gives a day of clean water for a child. Your phone keeps you updated with facts about other people’s progress in the Tap Project and how you are helping.

I tend to do this if I’m typing up an assignment or streaming a film through the library on my laptop, since I won’t be using my phone and can plug it in so it doesn’t lose charge during the tapping process.

When you grab your phone again, it registers movement and stops tapping. Now you can binge Netflix with less of a guilty conscience (unless you have homework, of course).

Scrub a dub dub

This thing – called the Precision Pore Cleansing Pad on the American Sephora website and the Face Massage Mini Mitt if you get it from Soap and Glory – is great.

It doesn’t cost a lot so everyone and their mother can join in the removing dead skin cells fun!

Essentially, you scrub your face with this thing instead of your hands (if you are into physical exfoliation). It has this little nub on the back (a handle, if you wish) which doubles as a suction cup:

Some of the ladies in the comments on this XOvain article suggest it can double up as a tool for cleaning brushes. Not bad for such a cheap little thing, eh?

Copenhagen Dining Week

Last weekend my sister and I went to Copenhagen Dining Week. It’s a festival celebrating food sponsored by San Pellegrino and a food magazine called Copenhagen Food. For a set price you get a set menu at one of the participating restaurants. Obviously, the popular ones sell out pretty much immediately. We chose The Italian as some of the other places had bizarre items on the menu.

We booked a table for lunch. The set menu for the Italian was a three-course deal. The first course was a grilled tuna steak with an avocado cream. It’s hiding underneath the fennel in the picture but it was in no way overshadowed by the other elements of the meal. They complemented each other well.

The main course was veal sirloin on a bed of potato compote and supported by roast boretta onions, tomatoes and a marsala-based sauce.

The dessert course consisted of a passionfruit tart with Italian meringue on top, mascarpone sorbet and caramelised white chocolate. One of my theories is that you can make everything more delicious by adding cheese (the right type of cheese, mind) which is also the case for ice cream! The tart had the perfect amount of smoothness.

My sister and I agreed that we would definitely go there again. If not for next year’s Dining Week then before.

The Italian
Vester Voldgade 25, 1552 København V

Give and receive at the same time

Located behind Princes Street is a coffee shop that not only is different to most – it also makes a difference.

Social Bite donates all of its profits to social welfare charities, e.g. to Shelter Scotland as seen in the picture above! One of Social Bite’s goals is to employ former homeless people in their shops.

 

 As you probably can’t read from the sign on the window in the picture below Social Bite furthermore offers suspended coffee which in itself is a beautiful concept.

Social Bite’s motto is “Good Food for a Good Cause” which I would definitely say they are doing a better job of achieving than your standard coffee shop chains (then again, my first post on this blog mentions how I feel about those). Another Social Bite recently opened in Glasgow and there is another one in Shandwick Place! You really don’t have an excuse not to check it out.

Social Bite
131 Rose Street, EH2 4JN