Sunday, 29 May 2011
Beetrose - Sweet Dream
English Old Rose
"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of
us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose
garden over the horizon - instead of enjoying the roses that are
blooming outside our windows today."
My first purchased rose for this summer is named Rumba, followed
by another pot of Gertrude Jekyll English old rose. Inspired by
the blooming roses in my neighborhood, I got this time a climbing
rose with dark orange color. The card says roses would later smell
deliciously of chrysanthemums, banana and tea. When the dear neighbor
drove me to a garden center where I saw more collections of roses
in all colors and scents, I took another pot of beetrose with
the name, Sweet Dream. I'm thinking of going back to the garden
center and get the pinkish Leonardo da Vinci.
The magical rose garden is not over the horizon...it's just
outside my windows. Hope the magic will last long.
Sunday, 22 May 2011
"Eat to Live not Live to Eat"
Talks and news since the last two weeks have been focussed on two main
subjects: Food and Weather. While waiting for the real rain to fall,
the price of groceries has gone up even up to 43% as reported by
some German tabloid newspapers. I learned it first-hand when I bought
a whole rhabarbercake and must paid 30 cents more, 25 for the cake
and 5 for the paper bag. When I asked the saleslady why the sudden
increase in price, she answered back with a question,"Lesen Sie
nicht die Zeitung?"..."don't you read the papers, everything has
increased, sugar, oil, flour." I wanted to answer back not the kind
of papers you have here in your bakery but I let it go otherwise
I won't get any cake at all. It's not worth my time to engage in
small arguments with a saleslady...get the bread or cake and keep
your cool, I told myself.
Some days later, the food subject spread to massive waste
of food and bought groceries landing in garbage bins.
This week, it was food in restaurants and specifically on
restaurant hygiene. To learn more on this new regulation of
granting restaurants "traffic light" evaluation of their
hygiene stand starting next year, read on the article
I posted below taken from "der Spiegel".
Getting the Green Light for German Restaurants
Consumers worried about filthy kitchens full of rotting food will soon know just how clean German restaurants are thanks to a new hygiene rating system set to begin in 2012. A "traffic light" scheme will show which eateries are spick-and-span -- and which have nasties lurking under the cupboards.
Finding a random hair in an entrée can be distressing enough, but there are a host of other potential hygiene dangers that are often invisible to restaurant customers, hidden behind closed kitchen doors.
But soon there won't be quite as much guesswork involved in choosing one's next dining experience, at least in Germany. On Thursday, consumer ministers from Germany's federal states, with the exception of the southern state of Bavaria, agreed to institute a color-coded hygiene rating system that will be clearly posted at the entry of every restaurant in the country.
"This is a milestone for consumer protection," said Bremen's health minister Ingelore Rosenkötter.
The "traffic light" scheme will indicate how closely each restaurant adheres to health standards. Green rankings will go to eateries with the highest marks for cleanliness. Yellow will indicate some concerns, and red will point to grave violations. The exact graphic incarnation of the ratings remains undecided, though. "The important thing is that it will be easy to understand at first glance," Rosenkötter said.
The decision came after more than a year of internal wrangling over whether the scheme should mirror Denmark's food safety "Smiley system," which has been in place since 2001. A similar pilot project has been tested in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and in Berlin's Pankow district since 2009, complete with smiley faces. Pankow's progam has been received with particular interest thanks to its monthly online publication of their "negative list," which details the worst hygiene violations using photos of the restaurants in question (see photo gallery) and which has been wildly popular among locals. Berlin has since announced its intention to implement the smiley labels city-wide in July 2011.
Restaurants and Beyond
It now lies with the federal government to create the legal foundation for the new system, which the state-level consumer ministers hope will begin in early 2012. Beginning with restaurants, it will later include bakers, butchers, grocers, commercial kitchens and weekly markets. Pizza delivery establishments, to which customers have little direct contact, will be rated online.
Federal Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner pledged to help implement the new program, but also called on each of the country's 16 states to ensure they had enough public regulations employees on hand to make it a success. "Only when the level of regulation is high in all states and the monitoring results are current does this barometer make sense," she told the regional daily Stuttgarter Zeitung.
Reaction to the announcement was mixed. While consumer organizations were largely in favour of the meaasure, food industry advocates said it threatened to destroy business.
"Exemplary establishments can use their rating to advertize, while those that aren't as good have incentive to improve, and the black sheep have nowhere to hide," the national association of consumer initiatives said.
The German Federation for Food Law and Food Science (BLL) said the program could only http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifwork if states were willing to conduct more frequent tests and spend more money.
Meanwhile heavy criticism came from the national hotel and gastronomy association DEHOGA, which said current regulations are sufficient. "This system is built to endanger people's existence," they said in a statement.
kla -- with wire reports
(Source: der Spiegel
The Colors of Hygiene in your fav restaurant next year and don't
be color-blind please.
Thursday, 19 May 2011
When travelling to Germany, don't miss ordering these gems of
German cakes, Schwarzwaelder Torte or Black Forest Cake. If you
are not in Germany and have time to experiment on baking,
here's one recipe I found in the internet courtesy of CD Kitchen.
2 eggs -- separate out yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup salad oil
1 cup milk, divided
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 can (20 oz.) tart cherries -- drained
1/2 cup port wine
1 tablespoon kirsch
3 drops almond extract
3 ounces semisweet chocolate
3 tablespoons kirsch
1 egg, well beaten
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 package (16 oz.) confectioner's sugar -- sifted
1/4 cup light cream
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
CHERRY FILLING: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour 2 nine inch round cake pans. In a large mixing bowl beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add in 1/2 cup sugar, beating until soft peaks from again. In a large mixer bowl sift together flour, 1 cup sugar and salt. Add oil and 1/2 cup milk.
Beat for 1 minute at medium, on electric mixer, scraping down side of bowl often. Add remaining milk, egg yolks and chocolate. Beat 1 minutes longer, scraping down sides of bowl frequently. Gently fold in egg whites. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30 - 35 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes then remove from pans and allow to cool completely on racks. Split each layer in half, horizontally, to make 4 thin layers. Set aside.
In the top of a double boiler, combine Kirsch and chocolate. Stir until melted and smooth. Slowly stir into egg. In a mixing bowl whip cream with sugar. Fold cream into chocolate. Refrigerate and chill for 2 hours.
In a large mixer bowl cream butter and gradually add in half the sugar. Beat in 2 tablespoons cream and the vanilla extract. Gradually blend in remaining sugar, adding enough cream to make it a spreading consistency.
Spread 1/2 cup frosting on the cut side of a cake layer. With remaining frosting make 1 ridge, 1/2 inch wide and 3/4 inch high around the outside of the layer you just frosted. Make another ridge 2 inches in from the outside edge. Chill 30 minutes.
Fill the space between the two ridges with the cherry filling. Spread second layer with chocolate mousse and place unfrosted side atop first layer. Chill 30 minutes. Whip 2 cups whipped cream with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Spread third layer with 1 1/2 cups whipped cream and place atop second layer. Top with fourth layer. Frost sides of cake with 1/4 cup whipped cream. Sift confectioner's sugar over top. Garnish with dollops of remaining whipped cream, maraschino cherries and chocolate curls. Chill 2 hours before serving.
This recipe from CDKitchen for Black Forest Cake serves/makes 8
And if you wish to bring them home as sweet souvenirs, here's
an interesting development on the richest and most famous
German cake. Why not ask for canned Black Forest Gateau.
See this feature on this legendary German Black Forest Cake
with the Deutsche Welle.
Thursday, 12 May 2011
On my way to the city to fetch groceries, I saw the headline in a local
newspaper this morning. It says "Prices for Foodstuffs Increase
up to 43%. Aha,I was telling myself, as a legendary economical wife,
this means I must also increase the household allowance up to 43% at
least for the basic groceries. Would this entail another marital
discussion about my stuffing the pantry with goods which would be
forgotten and found only past their expiry dates?
Earlier today, I planned to have a fruit day either with
fresh pineapples with kiwis and bananas but soon changed my
mind when I passed by my favorite Turkish grocery and saw
huge, ripe papayas attractively piled up in their white lacy
anti-dent nets along with water melons and plastic boxes of
delicate raspberries.One whole piece of papaya costs 7.99 Euro
(why they won't round off the price remains a big riddle to me)
which is still cheap compared to the price of imported
fruits sold in the city center. Luckily, we have localities in
this city which I would also call as areas with migration
background where one could still freely touch and smell
fruits without getting scolded by the shopkeeper.
And passing by the Moroccan fish dealer minutes later, I knew I
just had to forgo my fruit day for a another date.
I bought a kilo of fresh sardines for 5.99 Euro(again no
rounding off)and paid after a small talk with the friendly
Moroccan man. He assured me that I could freeze, grill,
cook the sardines and they would taste fresh from the
seas. Did he say Atlantic Ocean? I don't remember but
I paid him 6 Euro for my sardines. He rounded if off, finally.
So for the day, I spent all in all for one piece of papaya,
one kilo of sardines, one bunch of parsley, a pack of green peppers
and a bunch of young green onions - 16.76 Euro. I love this
shopping streets with migration background but I won't think
of them in our marital discussion about increasing the
food allowance. It's official...43% more. Basta!
Sunday, 8 May 2011
Photo Taken from
While waiting for my turn in this long line of bouguet hunters and payers in
our village flower shop,it came to my mind to check again on the original
date of the celebration of Mother's Day. I am very grateful for wikipedia
for the fast answer and other links relevant to this tradition of giving
honour to mothers. See the posted info from wikipedia.
"One of the early calls to celebrate a Mother's Day in the United States was the "Mother's Day Proclamation" by Julia Ward Howe. Written in 1870, it was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The Proclamation was tied to Howe's feminist belief that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level.
Mother's Day Proclamation
by Julia Ward Howe in 1870
Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.
Celebration of Mother's Day in Germany
In the 1920s Germany had the lowest birthrate in Europe, and it was still declining. It was attributed to women's participation in the labor market. At the same time, all influential groups in society (politicians in both Left and Right, churchwomen and feminists) thought that mothers should be honored, but they couldn't agree on how to do it. All those groups agreed strongly in the promotion of the values of motherhood. This resulted in the unanimous adoption in 1923 of the Muttertag, the Mother's Day holiday as imported from America and Norway. The head of the Association of German Florists cited "the inner conflict of our Volk and the loosening of the family" as his reason for introducing the holiday, and he expected that it would unite the divided country. In 1925 the Mother's Day Committee joined the Task Force for the recovery of the volk, and the holiday stopped depending on commercial interests and it started being about the level of population Germany.
The holiday was now seen as a means to get the women to bear more children, and nationalists saw it as a way of rejuvenating the nation. The holiday didn't celebrate the individual women, but an idealized standard of motherhood. The progressive forces resisted the implementation of the holiday because it was backed by so many conservatives, and because they saw it as a way to cut the rights of the worker women. Die Frau, the newspaper of the Federation of German Women's Associations, refused to even recognize the holiday. Many local authorities made their own interpretation of the holiday: it would be a day to support economically larger families or single-mother families. The guidelines for the subsidies had eugenics criteria, but there is no indication that social workers ever implemented them in practice, and subsidies were given preferentially to families in economic needs rather that families with more children or with "healthier" children.
With the Nazi party in power during 1933–1945, this all changed radically. The propaganda for Mother's Day had increased in many European countries, including England and France, and Nazis increased it from the moment they entered into power. The role of mothers was unambiguously promoted as that of giving healthy sons to the German Nation. The Nazi party's intention was creating a pure "Aryan race" according to the nazi eugenics. Among other Mother's Day ideas, the government promoted the death of your sons in battle as the highest embodiment of patriotic motherhood.
The Nazis quickly declared Mother's Day an official holiday and put it under the control of the NSV (National Socialist People's Welfare Association) and the NSF (National Socialist Women Organization). This brought conflicts with other organizations that resented Nazi control of the holiday, like the Catholic and the Protestant churches and local women organizations. Local authorities continuously resisted the guidelines from the Nazi government and kept assigning resources to families that were in economical need, much to the dismay of the Nazi officials.
The government started issuing in 1938, an award called Mother's Cross (Mutterkreuz), with different categories depending on the number of children. The cross intended to encouraging having more children, and recipients had to have at least 4 children. For example, a gold cross recipient (a level one) had to have eight children or more. Since having fewer children was a recent development, the gold cross was awarded mostly to elderly mothers with grown children. It promoted loyalty among German women and it was a popular award even if it had little material awards and it was mostly empty praise. The recipients of honors had to be examined by doctors and social workers according to genetic and racial values that were considered beneficial to the volk. The friends and family were also examined for possible flaws that could disqualify them, and they had to be racially and morally fit. They had to be "German-blooded", "genetically healthy", "worthy", "politically reliable", and they couldn't have vices like drinking. Criteria against honors were, for example, "family history contains inferior blood", "unfemenine" behaviour like smoking or doing poor housekeeping, not being "politically reliable", or having family members that had been "indicted and imprisoned". There were instances where a family was disqualified because a doctor saw signs of "feeblemindedness." Even contact with a Jew could disqualify a potential recipient. Social workers had become disillusioned from the Weimar Republic and supported Nazi ideas personally as a means to "cure" the problems of the country. Application of policies was uneven, as doctors promoted medical criteria over racial criteria, and local authorities promoted economical need over any other criteria.
Happy Mother's Day!