Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Foodie Penpals April 2016 reveal

Yes, it’s that time again! In April, I was paired with two people from England. I sent a parcel to Evette who blogs at Bizzimummy and received one from Jess. I pretty much told Jess to just surprise me as long as there were no peanuts, so she put together a box of her favourite treats. The first thing I saw when I opened the box (after taking out Jess’s note, of course), was this:

Chocolate

The little After Eight chocolates were eaten as soon as I’d taken the photo!
I was happy to see Jaffa Cakes because I love them and hadn’t had any in ages. I was nice and only ate two of them, saving the third for Jan.

Next came more chocolate:

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We ate the M&Ms while watching some TV on Saturday. The Milky Way I had all to myself­čśë

The next item took me right back to my student days!

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They became my oh-so-healthy lunch on Friday.

Next up was stuff to drink:

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The Wispa Gold hot chocolate was very yummy! I may have to buy more when I’m next in the UK.

Finally, at the bottom of the box were two packet mixes:

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I can’t even remember the last time I had Angel Delight!

Here’s everything all together:

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As for what I sent… Evette told me she likes chocolate, crisps and cake and prefers ready-to-eat foods over ingredients. Here’s what she got:

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Not the healthiest of parcels, but all very yummy.

If you’re in Europe, you can find out all about Foodie Penpals and sign up here. You can see more examples of parcels that people have received in the Facebook group.

I can’t wait to see what my May parcel brings!


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Food and drink in Queenstown

Instead of doing multiple posts on all the places we ate at, I thought I would just do one post and lump them all in together. Apologies in advance for my inadequacy when it comes to photographing food!

On our first evening in Queenstown, after taking a trip to Paradise, we chose to go to a place we had spotted while looking for the hotel: Smiths Craft Beer House. We originally went for the beer, but ended up eating some of the most delicious pub food I’ve had in a while! I went for venison pie (mmm, Bambi! Sorry vegetarians!) while Jan chose the vegan burger, which consisted of a kumura (sweet potato) pattie with salad and pesto, served with hand cut fries and the most amazing aioli!

Obviously beer was consumed. I can’t remember the names of all the ones we sampled, but this one was definitely among them:

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Why bother giving your beer a fancy name?

It was actually quite nice, despite the lack of creativity in the name­čśë

On the second night, we went to The World Bar, because my sister’s boyfriend had recommended it. Their main claim to fame is that they serve cocktails in teapots. We initially decided to go for something slightly less strong though and chose some interesting sounding ciders from the menu. To eat, I went for “Chicken & Waffles” which, as the name suggests, consisted of southern fried chicken on waffles. It also came with bacon and maple syrup. The combination sounded intriguing, but the chicken was quite fatty and not that nice. Jan had some quinoa wrap thing, which was quite tasty (if incredibly trendy!). Definitely the better choice!

Obviously we had to partake in teapot cocktails, if only so I could take a picture to send to my sister’s boyfriend! Mine was called Bloom and tasted exactly like a strawberry Mini Milk, but with alcohol.

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The teapot came with shot glasses to drink it from, but trying to pour it into them was messy! Much easier to stick a straw in the teapot…

The cocktails are fun, but other that I wouldn’t say The World Bar is an absolute must when you’re in Queenstown. (Sorry A!).

On night three, we went to another beer place on the recommendation of our wine tour guide! We mentioned that we had been to Smith’s, so he suggested we try out Atlas Beer Cafe. According to him, they have the best steak and chips in Queenstown… I can’t comment on that though since Jan and I both chose beef sausage on kumara mash (are you sensing a theme here?). It was absolutely delicious – more than making up for the previous night’s disappointing chicken!

We both chose to drink beer by Altitude here since it’s a local brewing company. Unfortunately neither of the ones we tried was particularly to our taste. Oh well, you win some, you lose some!

The next night we went to a fish restaurant where I took no pictures, but was asked for the first time in my life how I wanted my salmon cooked! (They recommended “medium rare”, I went for it and it was delicious!), so to the final night…

Our last night in Queenstown was Good Friday. According to New Zealand law, alcohol is not allowed to be sold on Good Friday… unless you’re having it with a meal! Many places were just closed entirely, some were open for dinner then planned to close afterwards, opening again at midnight (when it wouldn’t be a holiday any more…). Everywhere was absolutely packed! We managed to find some room at a table in┬á Pub on Wharf though (yes.. that’s its name. Who needs articles?). This time Jan had salmon (because it came with wasabi mash), while I chose pork belly stuffed with apricot, sage and onion and served with mash, veg and apple sauce. It was a good choice! The beer on tap was from Mac’s brewery, and it was all very tasty. Win!

Overall, I can recommend every single place we ate at… except maybe The World Bar. I’ll leave that one for the youngsters and party animals, I think­čśë


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Foodie penpals February 2016 reveal

You may have noticed that I didn’t do a January reveal (but probably not). The reason for that was my penpal never actually sent me a package! It was okay though – I still had fun putting mine together. And I got an amazing one in February to make up for it! I’m a bit late with this reveal since I was waiting for the package I sent to arrive and then things got busy…

I was paired up with Gale, who is an American living in the UK. I basically told her to surprise me – and she didn’t disappoint. First of all, my item arrived in an absolutely gorgeous box that has now become home to some of my crafting supplies!

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I then opened the lid to find that each item had been individually wrapped in its own piece of tissue paper.

Opening the little packages was so exciting – like Christmas or my birthday!

Here’s what I found inside all the tissue paper:

delicious foods

I also took individual photos of the foods (on the table for a change – such a nice package seemed too good for my usual floor photos­čśë )

Snacks in the form of cashew nuts and flavoured corn nuts. I had never heard of corn nuts before, but now I neeeeeed to get my hands on more! They were delicious. I ate them all by myself! Jan didn’t even get a look in.

Stuff to make chicken taste good. We love both garlic and spicy stuff in this household!

Cous cous and coffee (pictured together because alliteration!). I absolutely love Ainsley’s couscous, and the coffee sounds so interesting.

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Various hot chocolates, including a Galaxy one!! Amazing! I love Galaxy!

And, finally, Gale included a non-food gift, so I have something that I can keep permanently. So thoughtful! Here it is:

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A tea towel decorated with chillis! Love it!

And now, before I publish this overly exclamation marked post, here’s what I sent to my foodie pen pal. She told me she wasn’t keen on chocolate but other than that had no special requirements, which resulted in this:

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Basler Mehlsuppe (flour soup) because it’s traditional for Fasnacht, which it was at the time. Z├╝rcher Geschnetzeltes. A small bar of chocolate. Garlic sausage from Gruyeres, because she told me she loved garlic. Blevita crackers with Gruyere cheese. Jelly bunnies from the Easter selection and a Spitzbube (jammy biscuit). Fairly representative of Switzerland, I think.

I’m not doing foodie pen pals in March because of New Zealand, but I can’t wait to take part again in April.

If you too want to receive delicious foods from around the world each month, sign up for the April foodie pen pals now on the new foodie pen pals pen pals website! Everything you need to know is there.


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Spiced apricot couscous salad

Couscous salad with smoked salmon fillet

Couscous salad with smoked salmon fillet

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe, so here’s what I had for tea last night. This tastes best if you use fresh apricots, but if you plan on making it any time soon you’ll need to use dried ones or tinned ones (if you’re lucky enough to be able to find the type that are in juice instead of syrup!).

This amount serves around 2-4 people, depending on appetites and what you serve with it (probably 2 if you just have the salad by itself, 3 or maybe 4 if you have something substantial on the side).

It’s really more of a dish for summer, when fresh apricots are around, but it was still pretty tasty with the dried kind.

Spiced Apricot Couscous Salad

Ingredients:

180g couscous
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp each ground cinnamon, ground cumin and ground ginger
80g apricots
1 small red onion
15g fresh mint
Approx. 15g fresh ginger
Handful of cashew nuts
Juice of 2 limes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Cook the couscous in accordance with the packet instructions. Add the spices, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper then fluff slightly with a fork and set it to one side to cool. Either place the pan lid on or cover with cling film while cooling.

    Spiced couscous

    Spiced couscous

  2. While the couscous is cooling, chop the onion, mint, fresh ginger and apricots and juice the limes.

    Chopped ingredients

    Chopped ingredients

  3. Add all the chopped ingredients plus a handful of cashew buts to the couscous. (I chopped the cashews in half, but you can leave them whole).

    Add the chopped ingredients to the couscous...

    Add the chopped ingredients to the couscous…

  4. Stir everything in well, then add the lime juice and stir that in as well. Taste test the couscous and add extra salt/pepper/spices to taste.

Tada – done! So quick and easy. I served mine with smoked salmon fillet, but it also goes well with grilled salmon or other types of fish. Chicken would probably be good with it as well, although I’ve never done that. And obviously whatever vegetarian/vegan alternative suits you.

For variations, you could add sultanas as well as the apricots (this is really nice – I just didn’t have any last night), replace the cashews with pine nuts or even add in pine nuts as well as the cashews. It’s really quite a versatile dish:-)


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Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival 2015

I’m aware I haven’t actually finished telling you about our holiday in England yet, but today I want to skip to what we did this weekend because the festival isn’t over yet and there might be people in the area who feel like going.

Each year, the castle in Ludwigsburg hosts a huge pumpkin festival in its gardens. A few bloggers went last year and it looked amazing, but sadly I wasn’t able to go then, so when Meredith wrote a blog post about this year’s event I was determined to make it there this time. From Karlsruhe, it would have been fairly easy to get to. This year we were further away, meaning the journey took us around 3 hours (changing trains twice), but we decided that was just about doable. Since we had to change trains in Karlsruhe, I asked whether any of my friends there would like to join us and two of them did.

Tiny pumpkinsEach year, there is a theme for the sculptures at the festival to fit into and this year’s was Fliegen, which mines flight. However, there were some interesting interpretations of the word, for instance one sculpture was of a grand piano, which is der Fl├╝gel in German… and Fl├╝gel is also the German word for wing (as in what birds have, not the wing of a house), giving it a (slightly contrived) connection to flight. Here are some of my favourite photos that I took of the sculptures. The smaller carved pumpkins aren’t part of the “main” exhibition and therefore don’t have to follow the flight theme (hence cows and snakes).

I managed to take my camera along without it’s memory card because I’m a moron­čśë Luckily I can actually take some photos with the camera’s own memory, but it meant I had to ration myself. Luckily my friend K took lots of photos, which she very kindly shared with me, so the next gallery is all her work.

As well as the sculptures, there were various culinary offerings involving pumpkin. We had roast pumpkin seeds – I bought ones with chilli and sugar while K chose sugar and cinnamon, pumpkin popcorn (boring – it was just ordinary sweet popcorn with crushed pumpkin seeds sprinkled on, and taste of just… popcorn), pumpkin burgers (amazing! Would eat again!), pumpkin chips/fries (also amazing! I plan to try and make my own), pumpkin Schorle (juice mixed with fizzy water) and pumpkin prosecco (“K├╝rbissecco”), and also sampled some of the items that were available to buy for taking home – including pumpkin seed pesto, pumpkin ketchup and pumpkin chutney. All were delicious!

As well as the sculptures, the entire place is decorated with pumpkins and the winners of the German and European giant pumpkin contests were also in display. Here are a few general impressions of the pumpkins, the park and the gorgeous autumn colours. First gallery contains my photos:

And the following photos are by K:

Sorry about the photo overload – I couldn’t narrow it down any further!

If anyone is in the Stuttgart/Ludwigsburg/Heidelberg area and wants to see the pumpkins for themselves, the festival is on until Saturday 8th November. The exhibition area is not lit, so I recommend going during the day/before dark. Entrance to the garden is ÔéČ8.50 – and make sure you do ask for a ticket to just the garden, unless you actually want to go into the castle! Apart from the pumpkins, the garden itself has a lot to offer, including a huge walk in aviary (which we sadly didn’t have time to go into this time, but Jan and I have been before and it’s amazing!) and a fairytale forest.

Phew! That was a long post, so congratulations if you’ve made it to the end!
I’m linking this up for Monday Escapes with Packing my Suitcase and My Travel Monkey. Click the button for more information.

Packing my Suitcase


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Foodie Penpals October 2015 reveal

I can’t believe another round of Foodie Penpals has been and gone already! The next one is the final one for 2015, as Carol Anne is understandably taking a break for December (I’m sure people will have plenty of treats to enjoy then anyway!).

My package actually arrived not long after I got back from my holiday, but in keeping with the rules I waited until closer to the end of the month to write my reveal post. This time I got to send my package to Germany, which was a bit more of a challenge as I wanted to try and find products that aren’t in every single supermarket there (a lot of brands are the same). In return, I got a lovely package from England. Abbie told me it was her first time taking part, but if she hadn’t mentioned that I would never have known. The package she put together was amazing! I had mentioned that we like spicy food, such as Thai, and asked her to put in some healthy snacks (I’m desperately trying to get those pounds that have crept back on since we moved to Switzerland!).

Here’s my box of treats waiting to be unpacked:

Foodie October 2015As you can see, I did take out the postcard so you could see the food.

Now for a closer look:

Foodie October 2015Two more Graze tubs. The one Charlotte sent me last month was delicious, so I was pleased to see these ones in my latest package. These ones have both been devoured already, and they were both very tasty indeed.

Foodie October 2015Energy-giving treats. These were both delicious, but I especially liked the coconut and macadamia energy ball. I ate these for my mid-morning snack on two days so Jan didn’t even get a look in­čśë

Foodie October 2015Some sweet treats. All were tasty, but the macaroon was my favourite. It’s a good job she only included one because I’m not sure I could have stopped myself eating two in a row (and then feeling sick!).

Foodie October 2015Thai (sweet) chilli snacks. The crackers have been demolished, and most delicious they were too. The chickpeas are waiting for the next time we sit down to watch a film – they look intriguing so I thought I’d be nice and actually share with Jan­čśë

Foodie October 2015Finally, a drink. This is actually still sitting in my fridge untried but I will definitely be drinking it soon. It sounds absolutely delicious (and very healthy). Many thanks Abbie Lee for an amazing box!

Once again, I was sending to a non-blogger so I’ll show you myself what I bought her:

Foodie October 2015Z├╝rcher Geschnetzeltes sauce – you can probably get that in Germany, but oh well, it’s Swiss at least. Branche chocolate bars (these are delicious!). Basler L├Ąckerli – a kind of gingerbread. A hazelnut biscuit called “bird’s nest”. Swiss herb salt (it’s literally salt mixed with various herbs) and a barley soup from Graub├╝nden (anything with “B├╝ndner” in the name comes from the canton of Graub├╝nden/Grisons).

If you want to take part in Foodie Penpals, you can read the rules and sign up here. (This is the European version, for those of you in the US/Canada, the original Foodie Penpals on The Lean Green Bean is here.). Matches go out on the 5th of each month, so if you want to take part in November go and sign up right now! The deadline for sending packages is the 20th of the month. It’s a lot of fun and if you do decide to sign up I promise you won’t regret it!


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Foodie Penpals September 2015 Reveal

My foodie penpals package for September is heeere!
I was excited to receive it this month (even more so than usual I mean) because the person sending to me is someone I know pretty well from blogging and even met once – the lovely Charlotte. This month’s parcel was a giant envelope, so on opening it I tipped it all out on the floor:

FoodCheck out those noms! Here’s a more detailed look at what my parcel contained:

Fruit bearsA strawberry bear and a raspberry bear. I’m not 100% sure what these are but I can’t wait to find out!

ChocolateBritish chocolatey goodnessÔŁĄ

GrazeThis is really cool! Chocolate pieces, raisins, dried cranberries and cherries in a little pack. Immediately after I finished taking the photos I ripped this open and devoured it. It was delicious – and it counts as one of my five a day!

Food mixesThe savoury stuff. A sausage casserole mixture and some Jamie Oliver stuffing mix that sounds amazing!

Skittles“The dark side of Skittles”. I’m very intrigued by these.

Green tea Finally, some fruity green tea that says it’s good for my immune system. Charlotte said she included this so I wouldn’t catch another bad cold – how thoughtful is that?

She also sent me this cute pasta postcard (the rules say you must include something written with the food – it is supposed to be “penpals” after all!).

Pasta postcardI’ve been totally spoiled with this months package. So many treats! Thank you Charlotte:-)

As for me, I was again sending to somebody without a blog. Alice, from England, told me she’s gluten intolerant, which ruled out a lot of the traditional Swiss things I usually send. This is what I ended up putting together for her:

Swiss parcelAmazingly, I managed to squidge all of that into one rather small box. Check it out:

Food parcel

If you want to take part in Foodie Penpals, you can read the rules and sign up here. (This is the European version, for those of you in the US/Canada, the original Foodie Penpals on The Lean Green Bean is here.). Matches go out on the 5th of each month and the deadline for sending packages is the 20th. It’s a lot of fun and if you do decide to sign up I promise you won’t regret it!

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