cats, spinach and the golden leaves of Czechia

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My dear fellows, here I am again, already! I have taken the resolution to talk to you more often, so brace yourselves! I spent my last few days abroad and I came back tired, yet inspired (what an amazing rhyme to start off this blog post!). Today, you should thus be ready for: more autumn inspiration, vegan food and bewitching Czech Brno!

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After not having seen my lovely friend in three months (a horribly long time considering she almost lives on my sofa bed) I finally managed to visit her in that city that makes my tongue go crazy because I cannot role the R properly: Brno. And seriously? I am not sure I would ever have made it there had it not been for her. Shame on me (a geography student), I had not even heard of that city before it came out of her mouth and later made it right into her heart. Not a very good beginning to convince you all to go there, really. But you should. It is, for instance, perfect to visit when you’re based in larger cities like Vienna and Prague and want some quiet time off. And I will now give you three reasons to seriously consider it:

3 reasons to have a stop-over in Brno

#1: Less tourists, more fun. 

Brno is not quite a tourist city. And that is exactly hat makes it extremely appealing to me. As a friend put it: Brno does not have any particular attractions to plan your day around, but it’s the perfect city to live in. Especially in autumn (and summer, I was told) it is simply amazing but at the same time does not make you feel like you should be running from sight to sight all day. Just chill – in Brno!

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#2: The 13th century Špilberk Castle.

What a great afternoon walk through golden leaves, what nice cafés on your way up (those cakes!) and what a lovely view up there! I went there twice: by night and by day. Don’t leave without having done that.

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#3: The most amazing cafés (and, yes, their beer).

So, first of all, I really tried not to list beer as a reason. That is why brackets. But after two months in Iceland it is simply incredible to get the best beer and wine for about a twelfth of the price I paid there. But this should really only be viewed as a side note. For, hold your hat: There is a cat café! Now maybe you hate cats. Or this is nothing special for you. But I had never been to one before and it was, to be frank, a dream come true. Other people have bungee jumps on their bucket list, I had the cat café instead. There were at least six fluffy kittens running around. Need I say more? Also one of my favourite places is the ultimate hipster café in town: Skog. They serve great drinks and great salads. I think in czech terms it’s rather expensive. In my Swiss terms amazingly cheap.

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Back home, I felt absolutely inspired by that yummy salad I enjoyed there. Also, I could use some fresh and healthy food after all the beer (okay, I promise this is the last time I mention beer in this post. It’s kinda possessing my mind).

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However, I did not have a lot of time to go for the big grocery shopping thing. I hate doing that. I can’t drive the car and I am pretty bad with my bike. So basically that makes me walk back like an overweight pack donkey every single time. Maybe that is why I like spinach. It’s so light! Also, it makes a great salad-basis. Very patient and flexible, for today it is topped with easy and clever left-over recycling:

Baby spinach salad with risotto-patties, caramelized curry-onions and dates

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ingredients (2 people)

  • 4 handful baby spinach
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 cm ginger, grated
  • canola oil
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tabelspoon agave syrup
  • risotto-leftovers (mine were from a mixture of rice, coconut milk, broth, ginger, curcuma and sweet potatoes)

preparation

  1. form small patties of the risotto-leftovers while preheating a pan with canola oil (be generous with it)
  2. fry the patties, then take out and roast the onions with curry powder and agave syrup
  3. top the baby spinach leaves with lemon juice and zest, canola oil, salt, pepper and grated ginger
  4. top with dates, onions and fried patties

Enjoy with flatbread and ginger tea (no beer for once, though!). And have a lovely weekend people!

x, Florence

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northern memories, figs and autumn leaves

My dear friends, I am finally back alright – with a bag full of pretty memories and chitchat, my favourite autumn fruit (and a bunch of recipes circling around it), as well as with ultimate advice for the icy land on the 64th parallel.

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I have come home from Iceland three weeks ago already and, honestly, I thought it would be easy to get home. But it wasn’t, really. Basically, my first few days felt like an enormous sensory overload – so many houses, people, and noises. And after two months of counting seeds, cutting soil samples and collecting caterpillars while listening to the whimbrel’s ringing sound I now got my nose deep into linguistic books (time to bring my studies to an end – or, rather, graduation) and drink chai-tea while the trams rattle by.

One of the amazing things about being back – apart from seeing all the lovely people again – is cooking. I literally did not cook anything useful in eight weeks (the credit goes to the canteen on site, which absolutely made me wanna bathe in the classic Icelandic rúgbraud) ! But I did get a lot of fun food inspiration over there, although not everything is worth copying, to be sincere. From dried fish, fermented shark, liquorice-chocolate, flatbread to lamb-paste I tried pretty much everything edible and icelandic there was to try. My personal favourites (also including the food-related ones) are listed in todays special section “massive DOs in Iceland”, right after todays culinary chitchat and recipes.

With that said, let’s turn to my food star guest today: figs.

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During my last two weeks in Iceland, autumn was totally taking over, sending me back home in perfect mood for pumpkins, chestnuts, colourful leaves, spices, and, of course, figs. Let me tell you one thing: never buy figs in the stores, never! They are over-priced and often spoiled. Go take the time, grab your favourite people and do a little trip to a fresh food market nearby. It’s social, it’s fun, and, eventually, it’s also tasty.

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Having done so myself, I came back with fresh spinach, a bunch of organic carrots, flowers, sweet potatoes and Italian figs. I absolutely love their tender sweetness and variety when it comes to using them for cooking. Want proof? I have brought you three different recipes of how to use figs in your own little kitchen – in an incredibly quick and easy, healthy, surprising and tempting way. Let’s go!

#1 Spinach-Salad with figs, roasted nuts, broccoli, avocado, grilled halloumi and orange-mustard-curry dressing

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put together:

  • 4 broccoli florets, blanched
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 4 figs, sliced
  • 100 g halloumi cheese, roasted and finely sliced
  • 2 handful of young spinach
  • 1 handful of roasted walnuts and pumpkin seeds

blend:

  • 1 dl olive oil
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 0.5 dl vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt, pepper

#2 fig-carpaccio with caramelized walnuts, feta cheese, sesame oil and basil

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put together:

  • 6 figs, sliced
  • 1 feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons sesame oil
  • pepper
  • hashed basil

roast:

  • 1 handful crushed walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

#3 vegan fig-caramel with almonds and cinnamon

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simmer, then blend:

  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 4 figs, sliced

You can have this nasty beauty on your toast, apple slices, as a cake topping, or just as it is – pure, sweet, perfection.

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But enough food-talk for today! As I did not really know where I would possibly start telling about my stay in Iceland I simply decided to go for a very straight forward version: The ultimate list of massive DOs in Iceland. And by “DO” I mean: really, really, really DO. I thought about including some DON’Ts, too. But then I figured that most of them are just things that you think you have to do when you are in Iceland for the first time, including me. So I guess you will do them anyways. As long as you make sure you have done the DOs, all is good:

The ultimate list of massive DOs in Iceland

#1: Go to Iceland in mid september, instead of June or July. I mean, it’s chilly there, anyways. So why not have included northern lights and amazing autumn landscapes (and a tiny, tiny, tiny little less tourists)? Especially nice in Skaftafell National Park, and around volcano Hekla (Do not go up there, though)!

#2: Buy wool and knit. It’s what me and my lovely companions did on rainy days: Sit in lovely cafés, chat, knit and feel very Icelandic (and have tourists take pictures of us).

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#3: get your holiday-reading right: pack Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir and, of course, Halldór Laxness.

#4: Go to Húsavík – it’s gorgeously cute. Actually, do go appreciate the whole north: Akureyri, Ásbergi, Myvatn. And pass the Westfjords on your way.

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#5: Participate in Réttir. It’s basically gathering all the sheep (they are everywhere!) and assigning them to their farmers. But it’s tough. Also, it is one of the most fun and Icelandic things I have done over there. Make sure you put on orange rain trousers and an Icelandic pullover. It’s THE dresscode.

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#6: Go collect wild thyme, crowberries and blueberries. At dawn.

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#7: Eat Lousiana Chicken Strips at Vegamót. Eat dessert at Grillmarkaðurinn.

#8: Check the aurora forecast. Rent a car. Drive some place where there are no artificial lights (not very hard to find in Iceland, really) and enjoy mother nature’s light show.

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#9: Buy: icelandic tomatoes, smoked haddock, blueberry skyr, flatbread with butter, rúgbraud.

#10: watch the sunset at the harbour of Stykkishólmur. On your way, stop for a hike at Eldborg, a volcanic caldera.

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#11: When in Snæfellsnes, look for Lýsuhóll hot spring and have a bath in hot fir green water. Or else consider these amazing suggestions (by one of my favourite icelandic bloggers): Drive it yourself for Snæfellsnes.

#12: Stay at least two weeks. At least. Believe me, you will need the time. You do not wanna be one of those people who try to drive around the whole island in one week.

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#13: Attend at least one concert. Even if it’s not your music style. I have randomly seen Páll Óskar and it was incredibly fun. Consider the event calendar and go to local events.

#14: Hike along Heimaey’s coastline up on Helgafell or Eldfell and enjoy the amazing view. Be prepared for wind. A hell lot of wind. And book your ferry ride there early!

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#15: Have a picnic in the warm black sand on one of the many amazing beaches of the south. But don’t try have a bath in the sea. It’s one of those things you only do once.

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#16: Make Icelandic friends. Let them show you the best places to eat out and drink. And go horse riding.

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#17: Stay flexible. Believe me, I am the very first to be stressed when I do not have things under control. So I had to learn to let all the amazing stuff I did not have in mind and did not expect happen.

With that incomplete list (I am open to any complements from your side) made of pure love for that quirky country, all that I have left to say for now is: enjoy your autumn, guys, stay curious and be open to all the amazing things life has to offer. I will do my best to be back soon, depending on how much my bachelor-exam readings are about to swallow and digest me.

Much love, Florence

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Lenses and Chickpeas

Hey my dear fellows,  how are you?

Recently, my days just don’t have enough hours for me to get to do everything I wanted to do. Or would have had to do. Anyways, here I am giving you a vital sign. At the advanced age of 22, I moved out. Well, I also moved in. Luckily. So the last couple of weeks were all about moving furniture, buying furniture and, most importantly, pretending to be an adult and to know what’s going on. This, in succession, made me spend a lot of money, basically. And then try to make money again, which left me pretty busy.

So after almost three weeks in the new apartment, you can really see what I assigned priority to. A little cupboard with exactly 21 different spices on it? Sure I have that! A wardrobe? Uhm, well… A desk? Who needs a desk when there is a sofa bed and a laptop?!

So while I am spending time with this virtual little bubble showering you with my daily struggles, I should actually be doing other stuff. But priorities, ya know…

And: I have a new camera which I am terribly in love with. It’s basically all I do at the moment: Carefully picking that beautiful thing up and taking pictures of everything and everyone not fast enough to do a runner. And it’s exactly why my days are too short and why I am skillfully ignoring my seminar paper and why my favourite curly-headed man only sees me in a static position, slightly bent, winking, with a huge black thing in front of my face, making click sounds. But now I’m back in familiar territory. With my sweet tooth whining. And my healthy and sporty part reasoning. That’s the result:

Mellow vegan and gluten-free orange-maple-brownies on chickpea-basis

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ingredients:

  • 1 ,5 cups chickpeas
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cashew butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup agave syrup
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 4 tablespoons raw cocoa powder

preparation:

  1. blend chickpeas and coconut milk, then put into a bowl
  2. add all the other ingredients and stir well
  3. preheat the oven on 200°, fill dough into a baking mould of about 25×25 cm and bake for 20 minutes
  4. enjoy with warm coconut-rice milk

True colours

Hey there! Doing fine, beloved hungry mouths?

This is an attempt to fuse my first learning-blog flowers in your kitchen with this new culinary (and hopefully inspiring and life-affirming) baby of mine. With all the University courses, work and social stuff going on outside my virtual activities, two blogs are one too many. So this is why I decided to transfer a best-of to where we are right now, this second. So much for that.

What you are gonna see in this post in terms of food is the best results of what I did in the last two years of food-blogging. What you may expect from the following posts is an ode to Iceland (yes, I have been to lovely icy Iceland and I am soon gonna tell you about it!) , a healthy children’s nightmare dressed like a daydream (thanks for the lyrics, Taylor) and a sweet tooth going nuts.

With this said, let’s finally turn to the essential thing here: Food.

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This first dish is my absolute all-time favourite when I need a fast, nourishing meal. I do not often eat fish and with standing on my own two (quite large) feet from now on, something like this will probably make it’s way to my kitchen even more rarely. I know that eating fish, like eating meat, can be pretty controversial in our times. I basically prefer salmon from aqua cultures, even though they also have their drawbacks. And I’d rather eat fish rarely but honestly enjoy and cherish it when I do. So I mostl enjoy this beauty with some self-made bread or some eggs (the latter is the case especially when I have a sports-phase and wanna get the whole load of protein):

Avocado-Salmon-Salad with Sesame-Lime-Cumin-Dressing and OriganoThe following beauty is the ultimately perfect comfort food for all those who really do wanna feel comforted after having eaten it. Because, seriously, real comfort food only makes you feel worse, after all, doesn’t it? So eating this one is perfectly justified thanks to the shiploads of superfoods and dark chocolate it contains. And, most importantly, it still tastes like a sin. What else would one wish for?

Dark-Chocolate-Sesame-Chunks with Barberries, Sunflowerseeds and Honey

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ingredients

  • 100 dark chocolate
  • 75 sesame paste
  • 50 g honey
  • 25 g dried barberries
  • 50 g sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground anise
  • 1/2 groud cloves

Now the last one for today ( for I really don’t want you to leave this blog in a sense of overload but full of energy), is as healthy as it gets. It makes a perfect light lunch or entrée in a dinner with friends:

purslane-salad with grapes, parsnip, pomegranate, avocado, roasted eggplant, caramelized kernels and orange-curry-garlic-dressing 052

ingredients (4 people, starter)

  • 6 handful young purslane
  • 1 eggplant, sliced and roasted
  • 1 large parsnip, sliced and roasted
  • 1 avocado, finely sliced
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 24 grapes (seedless)
  • 8 tabelspoons kernels

sauce:

  • 2 teaspoons raw cane sugar
  • 2 dl olive oil
  • 1 dl orange juice
  • 0.2 dl lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cumin

With all this I leave you for today and I am looking forwar like crazy to meet you soon again!

Love, Florence

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