Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Breakfast at Sukie’s

Remember Sukie’s cake shop, home of Karlsruhe’s one and only cream tea? Well, while I was looking at the Facebook page and website in preparation for the post I’ve just linked to, I read that they also do breakfast on weekends. Obviously this needed to be tried (the description included  bacon!), and when I mentioned it to Jan he suggested we go that very weekend. So last Sunday found Jan, myself and our friend K turning up at Sukie’s bright an early. We decided to go with something savoury first then move on to something sweet. For the first course, we ordered srambled eggs with bacon. What turned up was this:

bacon and eggs

All that for three people! There was also toast, fried tomatoes and, of course, a pot of tea each. The eggs were delicious and the bacon had just the perfect amount of crispiness. I’m getting hungry now just remembering it! Mmmmm.

For our sweet course, we chose scones, which came with clotted cream, jam and lemon curd. The scones came in blueberry and cranberry varieties… here’s a blueberry one before being creamed and jammed:

blueberry scone

After all that, we were absolutely stuffed so sadly didn’t get to find out about the pancakes that were also on offer. I’ll just have to go back again another day ;-)


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Carrot and ginger soup with coconut milk

soupAs regular readers will know, I have recently been having some problems with my stomach. For over a week, the only foods I could eat without immediately being in pain were plain porridge made with water (yuk!) and plain couscous with a bit of spinach stirred in. Exciting, no? Towards the middle of week two, I started to feel able to introduce slightly more flavourful foods to my diet, so I decided to make some soup. Being already blended, I thought it would be easy enough to digest while allowing my taste buds to get some action again! I enjoyed the soup so much that I knew I would have to make it again. So  when my stomach started playing up again yesterday (apparantly greasy fish and chips at the Irish pub weren’t its friend), I did, and this time remembered to record it for my blog. So here is my recipe for Carrot and Ginger Soup with Coconut Milk (completely made up by me – if there are similar soups already on the internet it’s entirely coincidence!). I apologise in advance for the crappy photos (even more crappy than usual that is). My camera is in the process of dying a slow and painful death…

Carrot and Ginger Soup with Coconut Milk

Step 1: Gather your ingredients

Step 1: Gather your ingredients

Ingredients (serves 2 as a main meal with bread)
5 or 6 carrots (750g)
1 medium potato (200g)
Fresh ginger
1 tin of coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Put some water in a pan and set it on to boil (or boil some water in the kettle and pour it into a pan)
2. Peel the potato and all but one carrot (two if they’re small ones) and dice them into small pieces, then place them in the boiling water and cook until soft.

Dicing

3. Drain out the water then place the potatoes and carrots in a blender (or back in the pan if using a hand blender) and blend to a purree.

Blending

4. Return the purree to the pan and grate in about a teaspoon of fresh ginger – sorry I can’t be more precise with the measurement. I just chopped a chunk off and grated it! – (or stir in some powdered ginger if that’s all you’ve got – I won’t tell anyone), then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper
5. Place the pan back on the hob on a low heat and stir in the tin of coconut milk
6. While the mixture is heating, peel the remaining carrots then grate them into the pan. Once all the carrot is grated, stir it in and immediately remove the pan from the heat.

Grate in the remaining carrot

7. Check the seasoning, add more if required, then serve the soup along with some bread.

The step with the grated carrot is optional – if you prefer, you can purree all the carrots. Personally, I like the texture the grated carrot adds and I like to kid myself that it makes the soup more healthy because it ends up practically raw so none of the vitamins can have been cooked out yet ;-)

This soup is gluten free, dairy free and both vegetarian and vegan, so basically perfect for almost everyone.


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35 Before 35: Pistachio and Cranberry Cookies

One of the snacks I made for my friends on Saturday night was Pistachio and Cranberry cookies. You can find the recipe on the BBC Good Food website, so I won’t plagerize it here.
Unfortunately, I made these biscuits on Photo an Hour day, and I was so focussed on taking a photo on each hour that I was halfway through the dough-making process before I realised I should probably take photos of the biscuit-making process too. I had dirty hands by that time though, so I wasn’t able to pick up my camera until the dough was almost ready.

Dough rolls

Dough rolls

By the way, when you get to the part of the recipe where it says “you may not to get your hands in at this stage”, replace the word may with will! Without using hands, there is no way of making the mixture into a dough.
After refrigerating, the bottoms of my rolls were a bit flat from where they’d been sitting on the plate, which meant the biscuits I cut from them weren’t exactly round…

Slightly deformed...

Slightly deformed…

Here they are again after baking. I left lots of space between each one in case they decided to spread, but they didn’t much.

biscuits

The finished article was very tasty. The bicuits themselves taste almost like shortbread and the mixture of cranberry and pistachio is a good one. I especially liked the ones where the pistachio was on top and had been roasted slightly in the oven. Mmmm!

The finished article

The finished article

That’s four types of biscuits down, six more to go.
For those who missed them, here are the previous biscuits I’ve baked for the challenge:

Honey Gingerbread Biscuits
Chocolate Brownie Biscuits
Chocolate Cherry Cookies


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A photo an hour: 11 October 2014

I feel like I only just did a photo an hour post, but the September one was, in fact, nearly a month ago and yesterday it was time for the October version.
I actually got up at 10:30, but again I wanted to take my photos at full hours, so my first one is from 11.

11 a.m. Making breakfast

Toaster

12 noon. Out of the shower and on my way to get dressed.

PJs

1 p.m. Off to the supermarket for a few bits.

Trolleys

2 p.m. I woke up with the urge to bake, so now I’m back from shopping that’s what I’m going to do.

Baking

3 p.m. The cookie dough is chilling in the fridge, so time for a bit of cross stitch (I should really have been doing the dishes at this point, but whatever).

Snow cross stitch

4 p.m. Just finished hoovering

Hoover

5 p.m. Making a couple of baked potatoes for Jan and I to eat.

Potatoes

6 p.m. Preparing some snacks for movie night – this will be sausage rolls.

Sausage rolls

7 p.m. Snacks and a film… now all we need is for our friends to show up. (The sausage rolls were still in the oven at this point).

Snacks

Aaaand after 7 p.m. I forgot to take any more photos. For the record, our friends showed up and we watched Zombieland followed by Dogma. All the food was devoured (apart from a few cookies that I had for breakfast this morning), everyone left at midnight and then I went to bed.

For more Photo an Hour posts, see Jane’s blog Is That You Darling. Next month’s Photo an Hour will be taking place on 8th November. If you would like to join in, make a note of it now :-)


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921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan and Sun Moon Lake by night

On Wednesday, 27 August 2014, we left Taipei and set off down the West coast of Taiwan. It’s not a very interesting drive by the way – the motorway goes nowhere near the water and all the towns are industrial with very little to see – which is why every single guide book tells you to drive along the East coast (don’t worry, we did that on the way back… and it was spectacular!). Our destination was Sun-Moon Lake, but on the way we decided to stop at the 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan (formerly called the Earthquake Memorial Museum). The museum is a memorial to an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale that hit central Taiwan on 21 September 1999 and is located at the site of the former Guangfu Junior High School (some sources say elementary school), which was destroyed in the earthquake. The buildings have all basically been left as they were (with some propping up for safety!) so visitors can see the entire extent of the destruction. After paying for your entrance ticket, the first area of the museum you enter is the Chelungpu Fault Gallery, which crosses the actual fault line along which the earthquake struck. In there, you can see various photos of the aftermath of the earthquake – fallen bridges, destroyed railway tracks, collapsed buildings and people in emergency accommodation. After the gallery, the route takes you outside where you can see the school buildings. Luckily the earthquake struck at about 1 a.m. so nobody was in school at the time! Here are some of the photos I took:

(Click on the photos to see larger versions and read my captions)

There was also an Earthquake Engineering Hall in one of the former school buildings. In the hall, there was lots of information about how to build earthquake-proof buildings and secure items within your home against earthquakes. There were also various “hands-on” exhibits, where you could, for example, build various types of houses then simulate an earthquake and see which one collapsed first. The information board in the photos above is from the Earthquake Engineering Hall. Next, we headed into a newer building where there was a 3D film showing a story about the earthquake. The film was obviously aimed at children, but there were a few interesting bits. Then we moved on to another room. There, we were told to choose a cushion to sit on and not to move once the show had started. On one side of the room were objects that were just randomly placed on shelves, while on the other there were items that had been properly secured. First we were shown images of an ordinary school day (supposedly the day before the earthquake), then came a simulation of the 1999 earthquake. The lights went out – because it happened at 1 a.m. when it was dark – and the room shook. There was a brief pause, then came the aftershock. Once the quake was over, the screen continued to show images from the actual rescue effort that followed the earthquake. Then the lights came back on and we could see which how well the objects on each side of the room had survived the earthquake. All in all, the museum was a real eye-opener, especially coming from a country where an earthquake means a tiny tremor that may or may not even be noticeable. Seeing the devastation that the quake caused was sobering and certainly made you think about the power of nature! There is also a geological museum at the site which looked to have a lot of information, but unfortunately we were in a bit of a hurry by that point. Entrance to the earthquake museum is inexpensive and I would certainly recommend it! It’s a bit out of the way and I’m not sure how you’d get to it without a car, but I imagine there’d be bus trips from somewhere in the area.

Once we left the museum, we headed straight for our hotel beside Sun-Moon Lake. By the time we got there, it was clouding over and a few drops of rain had started to fall. Here’s the view from our hotel room window just before the heavens properly opened:

We had a “lake view” room, but mostly we saw the ticket office for the boats ;-) After dropping off our suitcases, we decided to head out despite the fact that it was now raining quite heavily. Food was needed as all we’d had all day was breakfast and a bag of M&Ms from a service station we stopped at on the road! First we headed down to the lake, of course.

Unfortunately it doesn’t quite unfold it’s true beaty in torrential rain ;-) Also, I’ve no idea what happened with the last photo… I’ve only just seen how blurry it is! After looking at the lake we went into a little souvenir shop where I bought postcards and we sampled then bought some rice wine. After wandering around for a bit and getting very wet, we finally decided where to go for food. It was a little road-side stand, but behind it was what looked like a converted garage with a few tables and chairs in! We chose one of each of the things in offer, all deep fried parcels. In the left-hand photo below you can see at the back a long, thin parcel which contained pork, cheese and onions, on the right a round one filled with cabbage and mushrooms and on the left a sort of flatish one that was filled with seaweed. We both loved the pork and cheese one so much that we ordered a second (that would be the terrible photo on the right ;-) ).

I wasn’t overly keen on the cabbage/mushroom one (I’m not a massive fan of cabbage and hate mushrooms!), but thought the seaweed one was tasty enough. I’ve already told you what we thought of the other one ;-) To go with our food, we were given a large cup of sweet iced tea. All Taiwanese cold drinks are sweet! Even the bottles of fruit juice had added sugar.

By the time we’d eaten, it was dark and late, so back to the hotel we went for a good night’s sleep before a full day of driving over mountains the following day! Before bed, I attempted to take a photo of the lake in the dark…

Taiwan

Yeah, the less said about it the better ;-) In my next post, you can look forward to some better photos of Sun-Moon Lake. I can promise you it is stunningly beautiful! Until next time, folks.

~ Taiwan was my August 2014 trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge with Clare from Need Another Holiday. It also counts towards my 35 Before 35, item: Visit a continent I’ve never been to before ~


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Taipei, Taiwan

Our first stop in Taiwan was Taipei, partly because it’s the capital city so it seemed like a good idea but also partly for the fairly obvious reason that it’s where we had to fly to! Jan had already been in Taiwan a week at that stage, but in a place just outside Taipei where the conference he was attending was being held. He moved to our hotel the day before I arrived and came to pick me up from the airport when I landed. We then picked up the rental car that Jan had booked for the week and drove to Taipei. I landed at around 4:30 p.m. so by the time I’d picked up my suitcase and we’d driven back to Taipei it was fairly late. I had a quick shower then there was only one thing to do… head out for food! We decided to head to the Shilin Night Market, which is among the most famous night markets. We ate spicy meat on sticks (like kebabs) and then steamed bread dumplings – one filled with meat and spices and one filled with either spring onion or chives. Both were delicious. Here are a few impressions from the market:

The next morning, we headed out bright and early after breakfast. It was already over 30°C and very humid, but since this was our only day in Taipei, out we had to go! Our first stop was Lungshan Temple (or Longshan… there are different spellings) because it had been recommended to Jan. It was certainly beautiful, but extremely crowded. A little boy burnt me with an incense stick! My favourite part was all the brightly coloured dragons adorning various parts of the roof. I took quite a few photos of them because I loved the way they looked against the bright blue sky.

Next, we headed towards the Dadaocheng district. Jan said there weren’t any useful Metro stops along the way, so we decided to walk. It was boiling hot and while we were walking we didn’t see a single place to buy a cold drink! Where we were staying, there were iced tea places on every corner, but not on the way to Dadaocheng! By the time we got there, I was so hot and thirsty I thought I might faint! We bought some what we thought was water at a tiny, dusty shop. Actually, it turned out to be something called “No Sweat”, a horridly sweet, vaguely medicinal tasting drink that I assume is supposed to be consumed after sports. I drank half of it anyway just because it was cold. The Dadaocheng District is one of the oldest parts of Taiwan. We walked down a street that seemed to consist solely of shops selling dried fruits and medicinal herbs. Seriously, every shop had the same selection of dried fruits! I wonder how any of them stay in business! At the top of the street was a little park with a statue of the Taiwanese songwriter Lee Lin-Chiu. An information board said that he used to live in the district and wrote many of his songs there.

On our way back down the street, we bought ice creams made using bean curd. They were interesting! Not as sweet as the icecream I’m used to. Them, since the main train station wasn’t too far away, we decided to go there because Jan wanted to show it to me and we could take the Metro from there. The main hall is huge, but feels surprisingly uncrowded! We spotted a bubble tea stand and decided to grab a drink. I wasn’t too impressed! You can see my reaction here. Then we hopped on a Metro, quickly stopped off at the hotel to pick up some more money and have a wash then headed to the 101 tower – probably Taipei’s most famous landmark. We got there just as the sun was setting, which made for a nice view. It then got dark very quickly!

Once we’d finished at the top of the tower, we headed back down to the bottom where there was a food court. We each took a set menu consisting of a soup, noodle dish and something else. Mine was supposed to come with pig’s blood soup but I was given the fish/meat soup from all the other menus. Not being able to speak Chinese, I’m not sure whether there was no pig’s blood soup or she assumed that as a Westerner I wouldn’t really want it. My shrimp sticks were delicious. In the picture below, on the plate behind the soup bowl furthest from me is oyster omelette… the worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth! Even caviar (which I hate) is nothing compared to oyster slime! The meaty bits of oyster themselves were surprisingly okay, but the slime… ugh! Nothing could have prepared me for that!

Food, glorious(?) food!

Food, glorious(?) food!

Once we were back outside, we spent quite some time trying to take photos of the lit up tower (not easy without a tripod!), then it was time to head back to the hotel and repack our suitcases ready to leave for our next destination the following morning.

~ Taiwan was my August trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge with Claire at Need Another Holiday. It also counts towards my 35 before 35 as the destination for “Visit a continent I’ve never been to before~

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