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A Travelling Cook: July 2014

A Travelling Cook

A Travelling Cook: July 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014


Pierogies are a popular dish in Eastern Europe on a cold winter night. Whilst it's summer here, I've been meaning to make some for a while. You could use any vegetables really, silver beet and spinach would work really well, and I'd be keen to add some diced vegan bratwurst next time. They'd also be a fantastic way to use up leftover baked vegetables.

  • 3 cups of wheat flour (all-purpose)
  • half a teaspoon of salt
  • 2/3 cup of boiling water
  • 1/4 cup of cold water
  • half a teaspoon of olive oil
Filling 1
  • 2 tablespoon onion jam
  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast mixed with 1/2 cup hot water (or 1 veggie stock cube)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Filling 2
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced in small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 cup cabbage, diced finely
  • 1 tablespoon onion jam
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Sift flour into a mixing bowl
  2. Pour  boiling water into the bowl, while vigorously stirring the mixture with a fork or wooden spoon.
  3. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and set aside for 5 minutes.
  4. After 5 min, add a quarter of a cup of cold water, give it a stir, and crumble down the lumps (if any). 
  5.  Once again cover the pierogi dough with a tea towel and set is aside for 15 minutes.
  6. Knead the dough for 5 minutes until it becomes a smooth and pliable.
  7. Flour a chopping board and roll out the dough until it becames as thin as possible without holes. Half a centimetre or less is ideal. 
  8. Roll out the dough and cut out circles for pierogies using a large glass

9. Put some of the filling onto the dough circle and fold it in half.

10. Close it with your fingers and some water around the edges to seal

Now it's time to cook your pierogies. I like mine boiled and then lightly fried. You could no doubt try baking them also.

To boil
  1. Bring a litres of salted water to the boil
  2. Add pierogies and once they rise to the top, boil for 4 minutes. Remove carefully with a spatula.

To fry
Warm some olive oil or dairy free spread and cook on both sides until brown


Once browned, removed from the pan and serve with salad, soy sour cream and a shot of your favourite vodka. 

Variations: grated pumpkin, sweet corn, brocoli and soy mince also work well as fillings.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Food for thought

This book reminds me of me, working on my novel (slowly)

Can bloggers live off rainbows and hugs?, Holly Becker, Decor8

Is Freelancing a Lonely Business, Liz Parry, The Guardian

David Lynch now has a line of women's sportswear. Weird.

You can see some of my favourite places to eat in Melbourne here. Sadly Camy Shanghai Dumpling Noodle Restaurant is not mentioned!

Silo by Joost replaced by Brothl, looks really interesting! I'm not big on meat based dishes but I think it's a clever way to address food waste. You can see the menu here.

I've always been blown away by the work of Ron Muek. How can you not be? I was lucky to see some in Melbourne a few years ago. This is not a new article but rather new to me.

Very pleased to see another interview with my friend Kate. I look forward to owning her book someday!

This website made me giggle. And did you know there's a big Goth Festival in Leipzig every year? There's quite a few gothic clothing shops and clubs so this make me lol.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Strawberry fields forever: strawberry and rosewater jam & strawberry cordial

We've found that strawberries are well and truly in abundance in Germany at the moment. They are locally grown (unlike a lot of other fresh produce) and insanely cheap. On Saturday we took a ten minute bike ride to a big market held at a local Sports stadium. It's a combination of clothing and produce ala Queen Victoria Markets in Melbourne with some of the most revolting sweat shop produced, bedazzled garments that you'll ever see. But we didn't go for the clothes thankfully! It's been a very hot summer here and I assume crops have peaked early, accounting for the cheap prices. Like two huge cauliflower for 1€ ($1.40AUD) or 6 punnets of strawberries for 1€. Yep we were rather excited and stupidly bought 6 punnets. It was stupid because like most apartments, our fridge is small and the freezer maybe as big as two shoe boxes. 

I knew I had to do something with them fast, especially as fruit flies are a problem everywhere and fly spray non-existent. So I decided to make strawberry cordial and strawberry and rosewater jam. I haven't found our local Middle Eastern grocer yet to buy rosewater but luckily I bought a little over with me. I water bathed both recipes ( a preserving method which enables them to be kept out of the refrigerator) but you can certainly skip this step and just pop them in the fridge. Of course, opened jars should always be stored in the freezer. 

Strawberry cordial

• 2 cups water
• 2 cups sugar
• 1.5 cups strawberries 

• juice of 2 lemons
1. Put the sugar and water into a saucepan and boil for 10 minutes.
2. Add the Strawberries and lemon juice then simmer for 5 minutes. Stir well, mashing the fruit as it simmers.
3. Put the mixture through a strainer and allow to cool.
4. Bottle and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. 
5. To serve, add to a glass and top with sparking or still water and ice.

(yes that was a Vegemite jar in the photo. I will have to order some from the online shop in Germany or UK. We've found Marmite in our local asian supermarket but Vegemite is sadly absent. Vegemite is actually cheaper in the UK than Australia)

Berry and Rosewater jam

• 1.5kg strawberries 
• Juice of 2 lemons
• 1.3kg of sugar
• 1/4 cup of rosewater


1. Combine berries, juice and sugar in a pot.
2. Slowly bring to the boil – remembering to stir as

you go. The sugar needs to be dissolves prior to the jam boiling.
3. Boil for 15-20minutes or until the hot jam reaches

setting point.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the

5. Skim off any frothy scum (or add 1 teaspoon

butter) and allow to cool for a while before bottling. 
6. Pour into warm sterilized jars, seal, label and water bath or store in the fridge.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Vegan oven baked donuts

I'm not a huge fan of donuts but I really like these little ones. They are baked rather than deep fried, making them less greasy. Make them small and you'll be reaching for more

1 cup milk ( I like almond milk)
50g dairy free spread
2.5 cups self raising flour*
1 1-2 teaspoon dried yeast
3/4 cup lemon sugar 
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1. Place milk in saucepan and heat until warm. Do not boil. Stir in 1 tablespoon spread.
2. Sift flour into a bowl. Stir in yeast, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Make a well in the centre. Add milk mixture. Mix to form a soft dough.
3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

4. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel
5. Set aside in a warm place for 1.5 hours or until doubled in size

6. Line a baking tray with baking paper
7. Using your fist, punch dough down.
8. Place on a lightly floured board
9. Knead until smooth and elastic
10. Stretch dough to be 2cm thick

11. Using a small round cutter, cut 12 donuts
12. Place doughnuts, 5cm apart, on prepared tray. Cover with a tea towel again. 

13. Set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200°C.

14. Cook doughnuts for 10 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
15. Combine remaining lemon sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
16. Brush doughnuts with remaining butter. Dip in sugar mixture, shaking off excess.
17. Serve with your choice of tea or coffee.

 *Don't have access to self raising flour like here in Germany? You can use plain flour on it's own of course or add 5 teaspoons of baking powder to the flour and stir well together. 

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Lemon sugar

Lemon sugar is a great way to use up lemon rinds and add flavour to your baking, cocktails and desserts. It takes only minutes and each jar will last a couple of months. 

  • 2  medium lemons
  • 3 cups sugar

  1. Place sugar in a jar
  2. Zest the yellow outer rind (avoiding the white pith) and place in the jar
  3. Stir well then leave in a warm, dry place to dry slightly for 30 mins
  4. Close and store in the cupboard
  5. Shake before use

Variations: use orange of lime zest
This can also be made using orange zest or lime zest, instead of lemon zest, if you’d prefer a different citrus taste. In addition to being mixed into recipes, citrus sugar is also great for making drinks

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Moving to Germany: Greetings from Leipzig

I've been an absent blogger but this time, with good reason, I've moved countries! Chris, Mr Pablo and I now reside in Leipzig, Germany. We've been here just over 2 weeks, and it's certainly been a ride.

How's it all going? I'll divide into good and bad in dot point form to give you a wee snap shot. I've had a rotten lurgy so have been too unwell to explore much or cook much so my lens is somewhat limited to local haunts.

Bad (and some good)

  • I left my mobile phone on the plane to Frankfurt. Despite contacting the appropriate authorities it was never handed in. And it's not worth much either. Luckily Chris sent a phone to his Dad in the UK which he doesn't use so he's posting it to me. Hence the lack of photos
  • We had major dramas with the Lufthansa and Mr Pablo. In short, he was left in Frankfurt whilst we flew to Leipzig. I caught a train back the next day (four hours each way) and spent 5 hours in animal cargo/customs/animal cargo/ et al. All of these places were a fair distance from the main airport and required driving to each. Yes, neither the airline or pet travel company detailed any of this. Stressful, very stressful. I was very lucky to befriend a kindly cab driver who spoke English and really helped me out. In his own time for free. As we'd caused a bit of a rucus at Lufthansa the day before when we realised Mr P wasn't loaded onto the plane. I also had a lovely Lufthansa animal staffer called Armando helping me out. It's when you depend on the kindness of strangers that you really value goodness in people.
  • I developed a rotten sore throat and ear infection and bad cough a couple of days after arriving. Probably the same lurgy that struck everyone back home. I needed to see a doctor and did a google for doctors who could speak some English. 
  • Ah the joy of the German medical system. Appointments could only be made by an online form and the place was closed all weekend. Despite sending two requests for an appointment I received no reply. So went down to the clinic which looked like a weird hospital DDR style. The receptionist was dressed in white and didn't speak English (fair enough). We were all offered tea and coffee in the waiting room. Called in to see a student doctor perhaps in her 50's. Explained symptoms and asked how to say ear in Deutsch. She suggested holding my nose and exhaling repeatedly with my mouth closed. I explained I had tried this repeatedly and my ears have been ringing at a high volume for days and are extremely painful. Then her supervisor came in (wearing shorts and t shirt hehe) and changed the battery of the ear checker, digging it far enough into my ear that I screamed. He then showed the student comparable pictures of ear infections on google pics and pointed to mine. They decided that a nasal spray from the chemist would work and if it wasn't better in 2 days go back for a prescription for  'very serious treatment-' antibiotics. I'm cursing myself for not bring a pack with me from Australia. It's times like this I miss Brunswick Betta Health, as crap as it was. That said, the appointment was free and the nasal spray was 2€. It contains water and essential oils.  ( I returned for another visit and since my hearing is still impaired, I received a script for antibiotics and a referral for an ear specialist if the antibiotics don't fix it).
  • The chemist was like going to a liquor shop with no booze on show. There were sweets and bandages but I couldn't see any drugs. If you are planning a trip to Deutschland bring all the drugs. Upon advice of other expats I took 6 months worth of my prescription meds with me to Leipzig.
  • It's been really hot. 36c today which is of course, not as hot as Melbourne but there's no air con anywhere. Poor Mr P in his winter coat!
Things that are just a bit weird or different
  • We only have one key for the apartment, for both of us. We are not allowed to copy the key. I am terrified of losing the key. When we next leave the country we will try get some copies made overseas. 
  • Supermarkets are interesting. Each supermarket has at least three full aisles of booze and a comparative amount of meat. I have never seen so much meat in my life in all it's forms. I have bought some vegan bratwurst however. 
  • You get charged a tax on any bottles (glass or plastic) that you buy. These can returned to the store for a refund. 
  • Despite scouring supermarkets and health food shops, I am unable to find bicarbonate soda in quantities bigger than 50g, more than single sachets of yeast or baking powder, ice cube trays or shower puffers 
(these things) 
I am debating whether to wait until I go to the UK next or buy all of the above on ebay. 
  • Sausages are hugely popular. Even when a sausage stall is located next to indian and thai restaurants for the same price, people will opt for the sausages. 
  • Ice cream parlours are very popular, serving huge sundaes. I have enjoyed a few due to lurgy recovery. Great gelato!
  • Downloading aka torrenting is heavily penalised. We have a proxy but I miss being able to d/l at whim.

The natural museum near our apartment . It currently has an exhibition about Australia, complete with posters of badly taxidermied kangaroos. 

The Good
  • Despite speaking very little German I can generally get by. Chris is fluent and I am keen to do a proper intensive course once the schools reopen in August. I have done German lessons in Australia, it's just hard to remember! Unlike Berlin, most people don't speak English unless they are younger. 
  • There's a fruit and veg market twice a week in the town square with lovely fruit, veg, bread, flowers etc.
  • Booze at the supermarket is ridiculously cheap. When you go out, beer is the cheapest followed by wine, mixed spirits (like a gin and tonic) are expensive by Australian standards but the wine is good. 
  • Buffet brunch is really popular here on the weekends. I love brunch! 
  • It's great living in the city and being close to things. It's a walk to shopping centres, the town square, cafes and restaurants etc
  • Our cargo arrived without any damage. 
  • Yesterday I found the Leipzig version of Brunswick st/Smith st in Melbourne. A big second hand store like Savers where I bought a skirt, plenty of bars and interesting restaurants. It's 8 tram stops from our house, nice and close. 
  • My ears are still blocked but my throat is better and hopefully I'll be well enough next week to get stuck into working on my book.

 We can attest the fire station is still in operation

Stay tuned for more pics once I have a phone again!

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