Friday, November 19, 2010 Anya 0 Comments

With Thanksgiving so close the season of 'Giving' has begun and although it shouldn't necessarily be tied to the holidays in this household we finally try to slow down to be thankful and to think about possible charities and people in need. We give to the local shelter here in San Diego every year and pay for a couple of Thanksgiving dinners for the homeless as well as some support for Christmas. One of the things that I always wanted to do is deliver 'meals on wheels' or something as a volunteer around the holidays and maybe this is something we can actually do this year since we'll stay home in Cali. One of the charity pages that caught my attention a while back is Kiva. The site enables people to give free loans to people in third-world countries or in need in order to establish a business or take care of things when they otherwise wouldn't get a loan or had to pay interest. This is such a beautiful idea. Owning a small business we know exactly how hard it is to make money and especially to get started. Lending money for outrageous interest rates isn't something that I believe in and it seems like a great idea to help people with free loans. It's really hard to go through the 'applications' and pick a candidate when I'd like to help everybody, but for now I decided to help Marcelino and his family.

I have no experience with this yet and can't tell you whether the money actually comes back or not, but I'll be glad to keep you posted. :)

There are a lot of moving little stories of people trying to improve their homes for their families or trying to sell livestock. If our small loan amount can help them that would be so wonderful. There is so much that we are thankful for! Aaahhh - Thanksgiving is so close - I can smell the turkey. Haha.

Are you making any donations this season? What are you preferred charities? Have you tried Kiva before? I wanna hear all about it!


Fun with Chickpeas - Homemade Hummus

Saturday, November 13, 2010 Anya 3 Comments

Chickpeas are something that came into my life here in the US. Known in Germany as 'Kichererbse' they haven't really shown up in my families food life before and if I remember it correctly the only time I held one in my hand was when we went fishing. :)) I am not sure whether Germans are not to fond of the chickpea or whether it's considered fish food more than anything..maybe it's just my family. I am very thankful that I have chickpeas in my life now, nevertheless. I really embrace the new culinary possibilities that opened up for me here and I try to embrace them.

I think I probably tried Hummus for the first time a year or so ago. It's a very healthy spread for fresh bread or pita chips for example. The store bought kind is pretty good, especially from the San Diego Farmer's Markets here in town, but nothing is better than home-made, when you know what's in there.

It's great with flat-bread too or fresh whole-wheat toast. I know, I know - it looks funny - but trust me, it's a great addition to your pita chips or bread if you feel snacky and it's healthy too! It's the first time that I used Sesame Tahini, which is great! The smell of it - oh baby. You can find it in health or international stores, usually in the same aisle that has peanut butter or bread spreads of all sorts.

This is the very basic recipe and it can be spiced up or changed with extra ingredients like black beans or red peppers for example. The recipe that I used can be found here.

Have you tried Hummus yet? Any other good recipes that you have tried? 


What's cooking today? Channa Masala!

Sunday, November 07, 2010 Anya 0 Comments

I was ready to try something new today - I already knew this yesterday night and went ahead and bought the necessary missing ingredients at one of my favorite grocery stores: Henrys.

This is a follow-up recipe to my first Indian dish a little while ago and it turned out really great tasting while being vegetarian. 

I started to try out chickpeas in my recipes more since I made home-made hummus the other day. (More about this later...) So I felt really inspired by this recipe by Meg Kat that I found on her blog a little while ago. I only changed minor things:

Recipe Ingredients:
2-3 TBS vegetable oil
1.5 tsp cumin seeds
1.5 tsp onion seeds
2 16oz cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
3-5 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
3 garlic cloves, minced garlic
1″ piece of ginger, minced or grated
1/2-1 jalapeno, minced
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp garam masala
1.5 tsp turmeric
3 C water
some milk for tastinghandful of fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion seeds and cumin seeds. Saute for around 20 seconds then add the chopped onions and cook until they are lightly browned.
(Didn't have the onion seeds, but it still turned out great)
Add the ginger, garlic and jalapeno and stir fry for a minute or two.
Now add the can of diced tomatoes and stir fry for another 5 minutes, then add the spices and stir thoroughly.
Add the diced potatoes and stir well to coat in spices
Add 3 cups of water and put the lid on. Once it comes to a boil, turn down the heat a bit and let simmer for around 20 minutes to soften the potato.
Check to see that the potato chunks are soft then add the chickpeas. Stir it all up and add some milk to the pot. 
(In her original recipe it asked for a whole new cup of water, but it was fairly liquid already and so I just added a little bit of milk instead as I didn't want to water the spices down any further. I also feel like there could be a little less chickpeas, but it tasted good this way too. Next time I might try it with just one can)
Bring to a boil again and then turn the heat down to simmer for 15 minutes with the lid partially on.
Stir in some freshly chopped cilantro then turn off the heat, put the lid on tight, and let it it stand for around 15 minutes while you make some rice or warm up some bread. It’s then ready to serve!


October Wedding in Clovis, California

Wednesday, November 03, 2010 Anya 0 Comments

Yeah, it was time for a wedding again. I love weddings - oh how I love weddings. I appreciate the festivities so much more after planning my own wedding for over a year. Before I was there for the party, the food, the music and to party with the couple but now I soak everything in and enjoy every minute of it. I look for the details now and appreciate all the hard work (and money!) that was put into such a big party.

Anyway - we started our weekend trip to Fresno California with the weather for the town of Clovis saying it's 'dusty' - literally. I have never seen that before and me and the hubby had a good laugh about it. Sunglasses for sure if not a full mask or something...I have to say - I really don't like these tiny little machines with 10-20 people on it that take you to Fresno. Everything rattles and the noise changes constantly - it just makes me soo nervous. If I can't stand up straight on the plane - I'm already nervous.

The location was really stunning - right at the lake.

The couple looked so stunning and happy. The family and friends were so happy and the weather couldn't have been better in early October.

I was able to catch this pretty flower and the flag around the estate.

The picture of those fabulous 'wedding cake' cupcakes might be my favorite of the day. Is that wrong? :))

The cake topper is really cute, I remember looking at this one when we were looking for one.

The happy and very good-looking Newlyweds

The table names were countries or places that the couple has visited. We were seated at the Germany table - it could not have been better. :D

She looked really pretty in the dress - a great fit for her.

Very pretty view once the sun went down

The 'First Dance' moment is always so cute. Great picture - so emotional.

Total happiness....

After nightfall there was no holding us back. The costume box came out - what a surprise and everybody had a blast. Am I wearing 'mickey mouse ears'? I might be...

We feel partly responsible for this as the engagement happened in Switzerland in 2009 right after our wedding in Germany. Must have put them in the mood. :)