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A Travelling Cook: August 2014

A Travelling Cook

A Travelling Cook: August 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

Life in Leipzig

I wanted to write a little bit about life in Leipzig, past and present, things that interest me. It's not really in any particular sequence. I didn't know much about Leipzig before I moved here, and perhaps you don't either, so it might be a chance to learn some new things.

Last weekend we visited Runde Ecke, the memorial museum in the Stasi bunker, situated about 5 minutes walk from our apartment. It offers a fascinating insight into life in Leipzig during the rule of the GDR in East Germany. I've seen the comparable museum in Berlin but there was something incredibly poignant about seeing photos and letters that had been stolen from local citizens and photographs of people under surveillance without their knowledge. The exhibition ranges from the incredibly sad to the bizarre. The collection of scent samples (for detecting dissident elements from  within local citizens) is more than a little weird. (Even stranger, it looks like that method has been used more recently).

I often wonder about the impact of frequent surveillance and undercover spies upon one's long term psyche, it would of course make it very difficult to trust people easily.

This is a great short video about life during the GDR in Berlin. The carrying round of a small shopping bags 'just in case' particularly stuck with me.

If you're looking for some easy reads about the GDR, I recommend The Berlin Wall: A World Divided, 1961-1989 and of course, Anna Funder's Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall.

One thing I really like about Leipzig is the variations in architecture. The buildings of the 1960's really stick out!


This is one of the many icecream parlours, really popular with tourists


We're lucky to be close to the bi weekly fresh market in the Market Square. Market stalls sell a wide array of fruits, vegetables, cheeses and flowers.





Where we live in Leipzig is very close to Höfe am Brühl, a large shopping mall called Blechbüchse by locals (Tin Can). It was built in the 1960's as was East Germany's most prominent place to shop during the GDR. The metal facade was part of the original facade.


In between the market and Höfe am Brühl is Currywurst, where we often stop for lunch. Sorry the pics aren't great, it's really dark inside!


Höfe am Brühl has a supermarket called Edeka. Its not the cheapest one in Leipzig or the biggest but it's handy. It sometimes has some rather bizarre goods:


Frozen bretzel

Frozen kangaroo anyone? It also has the croissants in a can which amused me no end in Amsterdam.
I've had a few people ask me about the availability of vegan products in Leipzig. I'm going to be participating in Vegan MoFo this September so will be telling all.

Vegan blueberry cake


I was lucky to find a big tub of blueberries this week. I love blueberries and I remember when they were $12AUD for 300grams. So of course, I bought them. I have been making cocktails with them, sprinkling them on my cereal, nibbling them by the handful. I had some leftover so I decided to make a cake. I wanted to try making a vegan cake without using the usual egg replacer variations (chickpea flour, faux egg, mashed banana etc) so I can up with this recipe. It's not as sweet as I originally intended, a little bit more like a muffin perhaps, so i have adjusted the measurements slightly to reflect this. Next time I will also try an extra half cup of milk. It's lovely and moist and it's a really easy cake, goes great with a big cup of tea! 


  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup agave nectar (or 1 1/4 cup sugar)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 130 g butter or 1 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder/essence
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups milk 
  • 1 cup blueberries
  1. Preheat your oven to 175 C.
  2. Dust blueberries with 2 tablespoons of the flour and set aside. The flour will help them stay float in the cake rather than sink to the bottom. 
  3. Mix flour, sugar (if using), cinnamon and baking powder. Add agave (if using) milk and vanilla. 
  4. Mix gently until combined.
  5. Fold in berries
  6. Transfer into an oiled or lined baking pan. Bake until cake springs back when touched, or when a toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean.
  7. Dust with icing sugar if desired and serve

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Kohlrabi Coleslaw

I can't remember if I'd seen kohlrabi in Australia. Not from memory anyway.  According to wikipediaKohlrabi  is also known as German turnip or turnip cabbage and is an annual vegetable.  It can be eaten raw as well as cooked. 

I tried it for the first time last week stir fried with chilli oil and garlic-very good! I decided to make a bit of a coleslaw last night for dinner. Usually I'd add diced garlic and spring onions but with a small fridge here, we find the smells spread to everything else in the fridge! So add to taste.

  • 1 kohrabi, peeled and cut into julienne strips
  • 4 carrots, julienned
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 8 radishes, sliced
  • 1/2 capsicum diced

  • 1 cup sour cream/yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Place vegetables and chickpeas in a bowl and stir.
  2. Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until combined. Taste and adjust if desired.
  3. Combine with salad and leave to chill in the fridge before eating. 

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Food for thought

from here

"Change", David Leibovitz.  I love this article as it discusses the same problem we have here in Germany, everyone wants change and it's really hard to get big notes split!

"Kids left in hot cars: why technology and (your) creativity are needed to prevent the unthinkable", Dan Lacivita, Fast Company

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Restaurant Review: S Kultur, Leipzig

Living in an old Eastern bloc part of Germany, meat still is (like many parts of the world) a staple in everyday diets. Every day I see people walking around chewing on a fat Bratwurst in a roll. Yuck. I've always hated sausages. 

I recently went out to dinner with some vegan friends to a restaurant that of us had been to before, 
S Kultur in Lindenau. 

S Kultur is a lovely light and airy restaurant serving a selection of meals with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal produce. The menu is a combination of omni and vegan dishes across starters, salads and main meals. There was also an extensive wine list. 

I wasn't particularly hungry so I opted for 2 vegetarian chicken skewers with dates and pine nuts-peanut sauce 8.90€/12.70AUD. 


It was absolutely delicious. But I say this with a proviso. This was mock meat made from soy. But it looked and tasted like chicken (perhaps slightly drier). 

One of my dining companions ordered sweet potato and chickpea curry with vegetables and vegetarian chicken pieces on rice (16.50€/ 23.60AUD). My apologies for the picture, my phone camera is a bit crap and I was tying to take a quick snap before we tucked in! 


She was quite perturbed by the mock chicken, having not had meat for several years. The texture was very different to the soy based mock meats in Australia which are most often sourced from South East Asia, South Africa or America. My other friend ordered linguine with tomato and white wine sauce. 

We had a chat to one of the owners about the food. She was from Holland and explained that the mock meat was shipped in from The Vegetarian Butcher in The Netherlands, a company that makes a range of mock meats including burgers, chicken, raw minced meat and croquettes. The concept has grown in two years from 1 concept store in The Hague to more than 1000 Vegetarian Butcher Dealers across the Netherlands, through independent fruit-vegetable and butcher shops, natural food stores and supermarkets.

The owner kindly gave us some Dutch Bitterballs to try from the company. They are usually sold retail at S Kultur but they were waiting on a shipment. They had a crispy crust and inside was a creamy mixture based on organic lupin. Severed with a side of mustard they were divine! 

I also enjoyed some delicious wine. Perhaps the only thing missing from the menu was vegan options for desserts. I know some vegan folks wouldn't want to eat at a restaurant that sold meat, let alone mock meat, but for a city where veggie options besides stir fries and felafel can be hard to find (and there are almost no completely vegan restaurants)  it's great to have the choice. 

S Kultur isn't the cheapest place to eat in Leipzig, but the food was delicious and the ambience most relaxing. 

S Kultur

Nathanaelstr. 1, Lindenau

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Chocolate cauliflower brownies

I like using vegetables like carrots, zucchini and beetroot in cakes and slices and I was intrigued to find this recipe for cauliflower and chocolate ice creams. I made a small test batch (enough for a couple of ice creams) and gave them a taste. Well, they tasted very strongly of cauliflower and not great! 

I still had loads of cauliflower puree so I decided to try making brownies with it. Here's what I came up with. Taste before baking, you might like to add more cocoa powder or sugar. 

  • 1 cup cauliflower puree (2 cups raw cauliflower)
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 200grams dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup sugar or 1/3 cup agave syrup
  • 1/3 cup strong espresso coffee
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts 
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla powder/vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon 
  • 1 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  1. Cook  cauliflower until tender.
  2. Add milk and coffee to cauliflower and puree.
  3. Melt chocolate either in a microwave or in a bowl over a boiling pan of water. Add agave or sugar and stir to combine.
  4. Combine cauliflower and chocolate mix
  5. Add flour, coconut, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon and hazelnuts. Stir well to combine.
  6. The batter will be thick, almost mousse-like. Grease a baking pan and spread the batter evenly into it.  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 40 minutes or until cooked.  
  7. Remove and cool before cutting.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Food for thought

It's been a fairly quiet week here in Leipzig. Chris is away in the States so I've been spending a bit of time alone with Mr Pablo doing boring things like accounting. I'm also working on a presentation for a client back in Australia and recipe testing quite a bit. I've been thinking about releasing a small e-book of recipes that I've been teaching and/or developing, preferably in Deutsch and English. 

My German classes starting in the first week of September and will be Monday-Friday, four hours a day. It'll be a challenge as I don't have a natural affinity for language but I miss the ability to communication with people on more than a superficial level. As someone who's worked from home for many years I like spending time in chit chat, at the shops, coffee shop, post office etc. It sounds superficial, but when this I keenly miss this kind of interaction. 

I've also changed the name of my blog. Basically I am trying to put all the things I'm doing a bit more under one banner to make it easier and it seemed to make sense to rename the blog also. I've also started a Facebook page to link everything together.

I've also started up a Craft and Cocktails group here in Leipzig. Crafting seems to be popular from people I've spoken to (you can even get fairly involved crafting supplies at department stores) but there's no real visible, organised crafting community. There's a shop that does knitting classes and various practicing artists studios and plenty of art exhibitions but not things like craft markets and gatherings. In Melbourne I went to a fortnightly craft group and really enjoyed it. Hence my desire to start something here in Leipzig. I think it might take a while to kick off, but I think it could be something great. Our first event was small but fun. 

My other venture is the Apartment Supper Club. I've always loved shows like Come Dine With Me  for a bit of fun and I'm hoping this kicks off. There are over 30 supper clubs and underground restaurants in Berlin but none in Leipzig, so fingers crossed. It's a little hard to work out the marketing but hoping there's so interest. I was thinking of making a flyer to put around all the hotels and backpackers? There's very little tourist resources here in English (at least from what I have seen) so it might prove appealing. Likewise a flyer for the craft group might be a good idea. 

I'm off to Berlin on Sunday to hang out with my friend Kate and visit flea markets. Really keen to get some vintage crockery and linens as I sold off 99% of my collection back in Australia. 

Other things:

I'm propogating some succulents on the windowsill (we have no balcony).

Taking a few pics around town

Working on my patchwork quilt, as you can see I've got a bit to go! It's always good to have an excuse to buy fabric isn't it? Especially vintage fabric from ebay. 

I guess like many people, I am deeply sad by the death of Robin Williams. Suicide devastates so many lives and leaves irrepairable damage to friends and family. I'm writing a bit more about this but I'm not sure if I'll put it on this blog. That said, the one thing I have found wonderful about Robin's death is the sheer number of people speaking openly and honestly about mental health, depression and grief. Powerful stuff. 

Things I'm reading:

Richard Marx hates my guts, Edward McClelland, Salon

Expose: shedding light on collective beauty (NSFW), The Militant Baker

You’re 16. You’re a Pedophile. You Don’t Want to Hurt Anyone. What Do You Do Now?, Luke Malone, Medium

You and me on a sunny day, Rocky Mc Corkle, Medium 

The most wanted man in the world, Wired

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Apartment Supper Club Leipzig: Our first dinner party is coming up!

This first event of Apartment Supper Club Leipzig is announced! Come and join us for our inaugural dinner party on September 13! There'll be a four course dinner, great company and great cheer!
You can find all about it and book tickets on our website


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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pickled beetroots and beetroot bread

I've been craving beetroot the last week or so. So I decided to get cooking my favourite pickled beetroot and some tasty bread to go with it. Here's my recipes.

Pickled beetroot
• 4 large beetroot
• 3/4 cup water
• 1 1/2 cups white vinegar • 3/4 cup sugar

• 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 cloves
• 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds • 1/2 cinnamon stick

• 1/4 teaspoon salt


1. Wash your beetroot and cook in a boiling water until tender.
2. Take out and let cool. Remove the skin and cut the beetroot into slices or quarters.
3. All the other ingredients go in a saucepan and boil for 5 minutes.
4. Place your beetroot into hot sterilised jars and pour vinegar mixture over until all beetroot is covered.
5. Seal the pickled beetroot and store in a cool place. 

Beetroot Bread
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1 3/4 cups water from boiled beetroots
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 grated beetroot
  1. Place flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add water and mix lightly until all ingredients are combined and sticky. 
  3. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and a rubber band (so it doesn't blow away). I pop mine in the warm sun for a bit if I make it during the day but you don't have to. It will bubble and expand and smell rather yeasty.

Leave covered for 12-18 hours. 
The next day:
  1. Flour a chopping board. 
  2. Remove the dough and pop onto the board
  3. Add the grated beetroot and knead lightly to disperse the beetroot.
  4. Fold it into itself so it becomes a bit more ball like.
  5. Cover slightly with plastic wrap or tea towel and leave for 15 mins. 
  6. Remove and dust top and bottom with flour. 
  7.  Heat your oven to it's highest temperature (250C) 
  8. A little spray oil or olive oil to the bottom and sides of your baking pot
  9. Transfer the dough into the pot with a lid.
  10. Place in the oven for 30 mins. Be aware it will be VERY hot. Your oven mitts may not be thick enough so use layers to remove it at any stage
  11. Remove the lid (CAREFULLY) and place back in the oven for 15 mins. 
  12. Turn out (yes carefully) onto a wire rack until cool.
Variation: if you want your bread to be a true pink colour, then I would advise adding 1 cup of pureed beetroot instead of grated beetroot. Just add it with the liquid at the start of the recipe. I didn't want to lose out on my pickling beetroots so I used grated beetroot instead in this instance. 

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Food for thought

I have no interest in cars at all (I don't even drive) but I enjoyed my time in Prague last year so this ad makes me laugh.

Love these artworks!

Love this colouring book for grown ups. A few years ago Chris and I did a political colouring book.

Cute blog of homes in Leipzig

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