Friday, February 17, 2012

Cooking: Oven Pancakes, yummy for adults and kids

In our family we are big on breakfast foods as great anytime meals, especially my husband whose top picks for lunch or dinner always seem to be; rice pudding, pancakes, or waffles. Another fun and *fast* food to make is oven pancakes. Now you may have heard of these as German pancakes or German oven pancakes but I'm just going to let you know now that they most definitely aren't German. Most Germans wouldn't even know what you were talking about. The most likely countries of origin are either Finland or Holland.

But back to the subject at hand- they are simple, fast, and relatively healthy.

All you need are:
a few tablespoons sugar (how much is up to you, I normally do 2-3 tbsps)
a bit of cinnamon ( once again depends on your taste preference I normally do a few good shakes)
vanilla (I have powdered vanilla bean but vanilla extract would be OK too)
A bit of butter to coat the pan
a pan (I use a glass pie crust)
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
Whatever you want to use as a topping- here your choices are really open. Apples and applesauce, berries, powdered sugar, syrup,etc.

That is it!
To make you heat the oven to 425 degrees, and put the butter in the pan you don't need to try and coat the pan yet as you are going to toss it in the oven for a few minutes to help the butter melt.

Then you take out a blender or a mixer and put your eggs and milk in, if you are doing a liquid form of vanilla you add a few drops of that as well. You blend it until well mixed and then add the flour and blend again until completely mixed with no lumps.

Then you mix your sugar and cinnamon together in a separate bowl (adding maybe a tsp or 2 of vanilla if you use a powdered form)

Take the pan out of the oven, spread the butter so it coats everything, pour in the egg mixture, shake the sugar mixture on top (only use as much as you need the rest can be used later or if you decide to make a homemade fruit compote or sauce), and that was it! Toss it in the oven for 20-25 minutes and you are done!

What I like about this is how quickly you can make it and how it is such a good kid and adult meal. It is soft, so even if you are still at the stage where your child has no teeth they can gum it fine. Plus if you have the time you can make a yummy homemade apple sauce to go with it. At the same time it is definitely an enjoyable meal for an adult especially if you add some nice touches like fresh berries or a homemade compote.

The recipe as I have described here is enough for either 2 adults or one adult and 1 child. It wouldn't be enough for a family of 3 unless you increased it, or made it a side and not the main meal.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

One question

Why is maternity wear so ugly?? Seriously POLKA DOTS are a NO GO. Why would I want to look like a blimp with bad taste? Now to be fair there are some cuter things out there nowadays but I don't normally spend 70 euros on a skirt and I am not going to start now just because I need an extra meter of fabric.

I haven't really mentioned that we are pregnant on here yet. We are. yay! Due at the end of August. It was planned. It happened fast. We are *lucky*. I felt super terrible pretty much right away because it started out as 2. Then 1 stopped developing and we let out a sigh of relief. I still felt sick all the time though. I've been taking B6 and unisom. Lifesaver! Looking forward to having more energy when I start the 2nd trimester next week.

So I haven't mentioned it, 1 because I have felt terrible but also because this time around I am just not that interested. Oh sure I am interested in adding another member to the family, but the pregnancy and birth? A bit meh right now. I'm sure I will get there but right now I am trying to get some good deals on winter sales of maternity wear and all I can think is how much better some of this stuff would look if the woman didn't have a huge baby in there, and that I am going to get so ridiculously big. Again. And honestly I'm so glad I lost all the weight after Teddy because at least I am not scared about losing it again after this one.Vain and shallow but that is how I feel right now.I'm also missing a nice beer and a good cocktail. Of course it goes without saying that it is nothing in comparison to getting to have another baby but since that is how I feel right now, I figure better not to write about it.

Also I don't know if I have mentioned on here but Teddy has actually gotten sweeter and more fun to be around which we didn't even know was possible. We really lucked out with this one :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Life in Germany: You won't get that for free

This is so banal and random that I often forget about it completely but it comes down to what we as Americans are used to getting for free; condiments at a fast food restaurant, tap water everywhere, use of bathroom facilities, a refill on our soda or coffee. And what Germans are used to getting for free: nothing.

I'm exaggerating a little but the whole idea of the customer being king is most definitely not German, and in general customer service is something which while improving is just not particularly good.

Things like condiments at a place like Mickey D's normally cost 30 cents. That's right 30 cents for one of those small packets of ketchup that people take by the fistful in the U.S.. You might get one for free if you ordered some type of "meal" but want anymore and you get to pay up.

Free refills don't exist. You also won't ever get a glass of water for free when you sit down for a meal at a restaurant. If you are thirsty you get to order a glass of mineral water. Of course you are allowed to ask for tap water but the chances are 50/50 that they will actually give you one for free. A nice bottomless cup of coffee? Dream on my friend.

The bathroom issue is another pain. Now in any establishment like a restaurant you of course aren't paying a cent but at a mall, gas station, zoo, etc there will normally be someone who cleans the bathrooms with a plate set out for expected tips of about 50 cents. Now in some cases you can choose not to pay and just get a dirty glare, but in other places it is all automated and you won't be able to get to the bathroom without paying. The problem with these tips are that in some cases- often at malls, there is a person standing at the table for tips who has nothing to do with cleaning the bathrooms, the money is going straight to mall management.Or a place like the zoo, I pay a large sum of money for a yearly membership, there is no way I am going to pay to use the restroom.  I won't pay these ones, but for the ones where I see them cleaning the bathrooms I don't mind paying the tip, although it drove me crazy when I first moved here.

The nice thing about this is it forces us to be a bit more aware of how much we are eating and drinking, and we often have small change with us. The bad thing, sometimes it would just be nice to have that bottomless beverage!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Motherhood, friendships, and a ramble

I'm a young mother for Germany. I was 24 when Teddy was born and I will be 26 when baby number 2 arrives.   Now for the USA that is on the earlyish side but for most towns still totally normal. For Germany, especially a big city, it is weird. Weirder still is that I am married and have been since I was 22. The average age for a German to get married is 30 and the average age to have a first child is 30. But of course averages are funny things so in an affluent area you see many, many moms with young children in their early to mid 40s. Nothing wrong with that of course. But when it comes to trying to make friends it can be hard.

I've lived here for 7 1/2 years and I still don't have a "best friend" here. I'm thankful that in my time here I have managed to make some good friends. Friends that I enjoy hanging out with and chatting with. But I'll be honest and say I'm still on the search for a friend that would compare to the friendships I had back home in the States.  Now there are quite a few reasons for this; different cultures, ex-pats often only here for short periods of time, twenties are a period of transition for lots of people, etc. This is also something I am alright with and I really have made some awesome friends here both German and not who I really enjoy. However I'm not letting go of my goal of trying to find a female best friend who I really love, can relate to, and who has just as much fun with me as I with her. Honestly reading this it sounds sort of like I am searching for the perfect partner and since I already hit the jackpot once in that regard, I totally accept that this time around it will probably be a little more difficult and take a bit longer. However I think some things are slowly starting to turn in my favor, for example...

The average German female I meet in my age range (lets say within 6 years of me) has normally been in a completely different spot in life, and can't really relate to me already being married and having a kid. Now don't get me wrong I still really like to go out, go drinking, go dancing, and in general do all the things I enjoyed doing before having Teddy but I can't really relate to someone with absolutely no responsibility in their life. Not that I can't enjoy hanging out with them, but in general I have always tended to be closest with people who could at least in many ways relate to me. But the situation is changing because I am getting older! Yep that's right I'm now closer to 30 then 20, which for most people wouldn't necessarily be a positive thing but for me I do think it absolutely increases my chances of meeting someone my age, with kids, with a long term partner, who shares similar interests, and who isn't 15 years my senior.

I have to interject here that I do have a lot of friends that are 10-15 years older then me, and I really enjoy them, and hopefully they me. However there are some things in which we just can't really relate to each other and which sometimes makes things harder. I mean who really wants to go out dancing with a girl 15 years your junior? Not me LOL. I get it. Of course they would never say it but in certain things you feel it.

So I have a plan for this year. One is to start being a bit more friendly at activities for Teddy and when we are out and about. Now normally I have my friends at things like children's gym, and I don't really interact with anyone else but I am going to try and be a bit more "Minnesotan nice" and start chit chatting with others when opportunities arise. Same thing goes for when I am at the park ,etc. I'm also going to try and start going to a few classes at the gym more regularly so I have a chance to get to know people better by showing up to the same course multiple times, instead of always switching around.

I'm also just going to chill because through the hubby and my own exploits I have managed to make quite a few friends and have exciting things like a girl's spa weekend, and a 3 family 4 day long weekend trip planned which is pretty impressive considering I came to Germany knowing all of 4 people. I also accept that my standards are kind of high for what I want in a good friend... although I have to say it is partially a culture thing too. I have a friend I met on an online message board from my home state. We met in real life and she was awesome! Honestly if I lived back home I am sure we would see each other often, and it was so easy. Reminding me that friendship doesn't have to be this thing that you constantly need to work at and which is difficult. I have another woman I met here from the US who unfortunately is only here for a year but once again hanging out with her and her son is just fun and easy and enjoyable. In some ways Americans are just more open then Germans so it is much easier to reach that level where you are just sitting around chatting about your life, or a TV show, or whatever. But that is no excuse for me.

So that was a ramble. Sorry! I'm going out to dinner with the hubby tonight and I am sure he is thrilled he isn't hearing it....again.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I'm in love

and with someone other then my husband.... That's right you heard me. I'm in love with..... WAIT FOR IT.....
I'm in love with an inanimate object called a heated mattress pad.

No joke.

Every night I get excited just thinking about going to bed and laying on my warm and snuggly mattress before falling asleep. You see somehow I am naturally cold blooded and growing up in the cold winters of Minnesota didn't toughen me up at all. I still hate the cold, feel cold all the time if it is below 50 degrees outside, and generally am miserable for the winter months. Even though I sleep with a super thick winter comforter it isn't enough and I actually used to also sleep with a light sleeping blanket under the comforter in the winter. As you can imagine my husband thought this was awesome!

So about a week ago I was shopping at one of Germany's best supermarkets, Aldi, and I saw a heated mattress pad for 19,99 Euros. Now looking back I can't believe I even considered it for more then 5 seconds but in fact I thought about the purchase for a good 2 minutes before deciding to just try it out and see if I liked it. It was one of the best decisions I have made so far this year. And I'm honestly only slightly exaggerating.

Now I go to bed not dressed in 4 layers and freezing from my head to my toes, but instead in light PJs and all blissed out lounging on a warm mattress. Plus I turn it off before I fall asleep so that I don't wake in the middle of the night sweating and gross. Seriously this has changed my life, and made this first trimester a little more bearable-yay!