Mount Soledad - San Diego

Thursday, January 27, 2011 Anya 0 Comments

The sun has been so good to us lately - it's been so good to us that I tend to forget that some of you are either freezing in Germany or in the Northern and Eastern parts of the US. It's hard to think of snow and cold when you are surrounded by palm trees and sunshine. Hey, I'm just here to share : D. I thought some of you might really like some sunny San Diego pictures for a change. One of these weekends we took a little trip to Mount Soledad to enjoy the sunshine and the view. It's a great place with great views all around La Jolla and Downtown on a clear day.

It's been our first time around here, which is crazy considering that I have been living here for years now. It's such a big city that i still find new things to discover. A great place to check out the views and relax. Little did we know that there was this ongoing controversy of the cross symbol being unconstitutional. Mount Soledad is a memorial for those who fought for the US during the wars and the wall around the cross features a beautiful individual plaque for each soldier with a picture printed on it. It's hard to imagine that such a wonderful and peaceful place is reason for this huge controversy but hey - we are just up here to enjoy the views and the sun.

I was able to take out my new photography bag for the first time. I will have to tell you about that bag later, because it's really sweet. Thank you H. for the gift! :)

I love cacti especially in the wild. How great are they? That is so different from anything that just grows in a German landscape which is probably why I'm so obsessed with them. I love to look at them, take pictures of them or paint them. 

What's the weather like where you are? Hey, send me your pictures - I like snow pictures too ;)


Spicy Tuscan Soup

Sunday, January 23, 2011 Anya 1 Comments

The rainy weeks of late December inspired me to go through my available soup recipes or look for new ones that I'd like to try out. I am constantly ripping out recipes from magazines or print them out from the internet. I have a magazine stack that almost reaches the ceiling now. Somehow during my last trip to Europe I fell back reading them and now they just beat me. I give up - Magazines 1 - Anja 0. I am constantly trying to catch up, but I guess I subscribed to so many magazines that it's impossible to get back on track. At least I get a lot of inspiration for the kitchen. :) I picked this soup recipe for Spicy Tuscan Soup that you can find here and just changed it up a little bit to cut down on calories. I am very much into healthy cooking!

This is my modified ingredient version:

•1 pound Spicy Turkey Sausage (Love the one from Henry's!! if you are in Cali)
•1 whole Medium Red Onion, Diced

•2 slices Turkey Bacon, Diced (or Centercut!)
•3 cloves Garlic, Minced
•3 whole Medium Potatoes (Yukon Gold)
•1 quart Chicken Broth (Organic!)
•¼ bunches Kale, Roughly Chopped

•½ cups Half-And-Half
•Salt And Pepper, to taste

Preparation Instructions:

Crumble sausage into big soup pot and heat over medium-high heat until cooked through. Drain and set the sausage aside.

Chop onions and dice bacon; add to the pot. Reduce heat to medium and cook until onions are clear. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and cut into 1/4″ slices. Add chicken broth and potatoes to the pot and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until potatoes are almost done.
Add remaining ingredients as well as the sausage and simmer for 5 more minutes.

It's really easy to make and due to the sausage and the bacon you'll get this wonderful flavor. I am a huge fan of brothy soups and I would still count this into the brothy category even if it has some Half-And-Half in there. As a huge fan of Kale I was happy to add it to the mix. I haven't cooked with Kale before but I loved it in Germany. (Gruenkohl with sausage!!) Kale holds up wonderfully in the soup and I'll probably try to prepare some very german Gruenkohl here shortly now that I have some on hand. Next time I'll use some more with the soup.
I have to admit - I don't trust the american sausage. :)) I have found that a lot of Americans don't trust the American Sausage either and that makes it even less trustworthy. Our local Henry's farmers market makes some great sausages and it's about the only sausage that is not "Made in Germany" that seems trustworthy to me. 
I am in love with Henry's. So glad that I can get my organic and local fruits and veggies so close by.
Aaah, it's great comfort food. One of my favorite soups is French Onion Soup. I am not afraid to admit that I had French Onion Soup as an appetizer almost every day when we took our honeymoon cruise. :))
What is your favorite soup? Please share your best soup recipes....I'm in the mood.


Non-toxic Make-Up

Saturday, January 15, 2011 Anya 0 Comments

I wanted to post about a book that I just finished reading and that I believe is very educational and a must-read if you care about your health like I do. If you know me, you know that I'm a health-nut and I love Make-Up, so when I heard about this book I was very interested. I hadn't spent much time thinking about the chemicals in the Make-Up, Shampoos and plain old soaps that we are using which is interesting since I spent so much time reading ingredient labels on groceries and care highly about organic and healthy food. I must have assumed that the several health agencies and government officials will make sure that no company can sell me hygiene products of any kind that could seriously harm me or mess with my health. As a European I'm used to regulation and supervision of harmful ingredients in food and hygiene products and didn't have a clue that there could be more harmful stuff in products sold in the States. This is not to say that you don't have to be careful what you buy in Germany for example, there is still stuff that messes with your hormones for example but overall there are a lot of chemicals and ingredients that have long been banned in the EU and even in Japan that are still sold to us here.

I learned from the book that there is not much of any regulation about ingredients that can or cannot be contained in make-up, especially in scents/perfume.

The book is called "No More Dirty Looks" and it's 10 Dollars you will never regret to have spent. It really is a shame that our elected officials don't make sure that we can't be harmed by the products that are sold to us, but if necessary - hey - I'll learn about chemicals. I want to know what I put on my skin - as the book so nicely explains - it matters - if chemicals wouldn't be absorbed by the skin like a sponge and transported into your blood then why would the nicotine free patch work? Granted, this new information doesn't make me happy - I'm deeply in love with my favorite make-up products. Needless to say that I checked each and every product that I'm currently using online for harmful ingredients. The first products that I changed were tooth paste, mouth wash, shampoo and deodorant. Stuff that is directly absorbed by the body.

If you would like to check your products, I highly recommend this link:

If you are in Germany and would like to check your products, this works:

I was happy to learn that my Aloe Face Wash from the BodyShop is clean and not harmful whatsoever. About some other discoveries I was less than amused and I still have to find new blush apparently. Turns out paying more for a product doesn't necessarily make it non-toxic. ;)

Ladies, if you use a lot of products and you don't yet know what's in it and what each ingredient means for your body - you need to read this!

Big Thank you to Siobhan O'Connor and Alexandra Spunt for publishing this and for the tips and product recommendations to detox my regimen. Highly appreciated!


German Goodies!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 Anya 0 Comments

First of all - Happy New Year! I know - I know...I have been lagging with my posts lately but the holiday season was very busy around here. We were happy to have my friend Maike from Germany around just up to the holidays. She had a pretty hard time to get back to Germany with the weather chaos but made it back home for Christmas Eve. I had all these grand plans of baking cookies for not just us but the whole family. I wanted to pack everything neatly and send it out before Christmas - needless to say none of this actually happened. Instead I have been stressed with college, getting ready for multiple visitors at our home before and during Christmas and house hunting for a good deal whenever we got a chance in between. I actually managed to send out all the presents to Germany on time and also sent out Christmas cards. They weren't designed by me like planned and didn't include pictures, but that's one of the goals for next year I suppose.

Things are slowing down after the holidays and I started to get back in my flow and start cooking up a storm again. Aaahh, it feels good to be back in the kitchen and spend some time with new recipes. It actually relaxes me, it's something that I can fully concentrate on and it's like a time-out almost. I can't say the same about the mountains of dishes afterwards, but that comes with the joy of cooking I guess. I'm thankful for this dishwasher for sure!

I am so excited about todays delivery that I wanted to post about. I got a piece of Germany on my table today with the delivery from GermanDeli, an importer for german goods. I had a giftcard and couldn't wait to pick some of my favorites from the store.

The packaging is absolutely adorable! Seeing this I couldn't wait to get my hands on all the German goodies I miss so dearly. Among them and most importantly Thomy Mayonnaise which is produced close to my German hometown and stinks up the whole city. This is the best and therefore the only mayonnaise that gets my seal of approval. I recommend trying this stuff, even if you don't think you like Mayonnaise. It's just the best!!

If you haven't tried Backerbsen yet, you are seriously missing out on something. They are little baked pea-shaped snacks that you drop into your soup and they take eating broth-based soup to a whole new level - trust me! Aahhh - I'm a happy camper today and I think my parents are sending more this way - my little piece of home!