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A Travelling Cook: November 2014

A Travelling Cook

A Travelling Cook: November 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Rose cordial

We used to run a popular workshop at Green Renters on cordials and ginger beer where I would demonstrate some of my favourite recipes. This was a recipe I read about in a historical book and adapted somewhat to suit a workshop audience. It works wonderfully as a cool, refreshing drinking or when added to sparkling water and gin or vodka, for a cocktail with a difference. Use red roses if you can, the colour looks gorgeous.

Rose cordial
3 cups of red/pink rose petals*
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

  1. Carefully wash petals and add to a small saucepan with 1 cup water and 2 cup sugar.
  2. Bring to boil stirring gently to ensure the sugar dissolves.
  3. Reduce to simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Leave to steep for 20 minutes until cool.
  5. Strain through a fine sieve and pour in clean, sterilised bottles or jars. 
*Obviously the roses should be from your own or a friend's garden and grown without any kind of pesticides.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

10 things to do in Leipzig: the Cheap and Free

If you look for things to do in Leipzig as a tourist or a newcomer you may initially find not all the much but shopping centres, churches and monuments to long dead men with women getting never a look in. But take some time to scratch beneath the surface and you'll find that there is much to see and enjoy in Leipzig. I'm writing this article to cater for those of us on a low budget that may be looking for fun things to do during the cooler months. 

People watch
If you've spent a bit of time in Deutschland you'll notice the Germans are notorious starers. Staring back is not a deterrent. I don't understand why they do it, but if you smile, they generally smile back. Pick somewhere public and you'll see what I mean. If you're lucky you'll enjoy a parade of cute puppy dogs also, I often see pugs, scottie dogs and french bulldogs strutting around Leipzig with their owners. 

Bike riding
Go bike riding in one of Leipzig's beautiful parks. Even in the cooler months, bike riding is a great way to get around with most of Leipzig's roads wonderfully flat with a separate cycle path.  There are various bicycle hire options around Leipzig such as Next Bike. It's worth knowing that you need to ride on the left, you don't need a helmet and you can't ride through the market square during the day, there's far too much foot traffic and usually some kind of event on, so plan your trip accordingly. 

Visit the lakes

If you like being by the water, regardless of the weather, take a trip to Markkleeberg See (Lake). Get Tram 11 to the end, and take a short walk to the water. If the weather is fine, you'll no doubt see people swimming without or without swimsuits. Quite unlike Australia where children or adults naked in public is seen as some sign of offence (with parents afraid the naked children might be victims of pedophiles). 

There is also the famous Cospudner See but I've not had an opportunity to visit there yet. 

Visit the Wild Park
If you are Australian like me, you'll definitely enjoy a trip to the Wild Park, to see wild and protected woodland animals in their natural habitat, including some which are endangered. Walk in the spacious woodlands, grab a glass of wine (and laugh at the Germans eating yet another bratwurst), stomp in the leaves. The downsides were the paid farm area (€5 ) which had too small enclosures, especially for the rabbits and that the whole time I visited I heard the sound of rifles shooting from the near by forest which was rather disturbing. Highlights includes friendly deer, owls and otters and these creatures that were like a cross between a huge guinea pig and a rat but I don't know the name! 
(Tram 9 goes to the wildlife stop or it's a nice walk from Connewitz.) 

Go to the Park
Leipzig is lovely and green, so why not take a bottle of wine and a rug to a nearby park. I particularly like Clara Zetkin Park which has a cafe with live music, buskers and a icecream van. It's a great place to do some writing or reading.

Enjoy a Cafe



Pick up a table at an outdoor cafe (or stay inside if it's really cold and rainy) order a coffee or mug of glühwein and watch the people going by. You can opt for the cheap and cheerful bakery chains like Lucas or  but the coffee comes from a vending machine, not unlike what you'd see in a hospital waiting room. A couple of my favourite cafes so far in Leipzig are Fleischeri, Goodies, and  Marshalls Mum. There's also Corsoela, which is below my language school. The cakes are amazing but the coffee is the vending machine type I mentioned earlier. Also, in case you're wondering, Konditorei means pastry shop not air conditioning like I first thought when I arrived in the heat of July to discover Europe doesn't do aircon. 

Galleries and Museums
In Leipzig, galleries and museums have a free day each month. The City History Museum ( Old Town Hall , New and Schiller House ) and the museums in the Grassi ( Grassi Museum for Applied Arts , Grassi Museum of Musical Instruments and Grassi Museum of Ethnology ) offer every first Wednesday of the month free admission, the Museum of Fine Arts, every second Wednesday month.We went to the Agyptisch Museum on Sunday for 5€ each, most museums and galleries are low cost when not free. 
If you're an art lover I'd also encourage you to check out the work of  Michael Fischer. A football-pitch-sized mural by Leipzig artist Michael Fische to mark the 20th anniversary of Germany’s “peaceful revolution”. The eastern facade is at the Leipzig Marriott hotel, between Richard-Wagnerstraße and Brühl: 


You can also see a Fische's work in Karl-Liebknechtstraße, surrounded by trendy bars and cafes. If your timing is right, you might score a happy hour cockail.



Go to a flea market. 
Unlike Australia and England, second hand shops selling cheap second hand goods (usually for charities) are not so common. We have Oxfam but most of the non-clothing items items cost more than they do new even though they are not vintage. The real action is at flea markets. The AGRA antique and flea market,(last weekend of the month) Alte Messe Leipzig Flea Market (First weeekend of the month) and periodic markets at Cottagwegstraße are especially fun. 

Have a read 
I encourage everyone to buy a kindle for the sheer portability of a library of books in the langauge of your choice. You may not get the smell or tactility of the printed edition but the ease of carriage is a definite plus. Go to one of Leipzig's many bars or pubs and order some pommes frites and a beer or wine. Enjoy the heating and the ambiance, even if you have no idea what people are saying. If you've run out of books (a disaster for a keen reader like me) you can buy English books at Connewitzer Verlagsbuchhandlung in the city centre. 

Go to the movies
The cinema is cheap here (at least compared to Australia) and there are film festivals held regularly. As you are probably aware, most films screened in Deutschland are dubbed in Deutsch. If your Deutsch is not so flash you can see quite a few OV (original voice) films each month. You can even enjoy a glass of wine and some films serve the German version of nachos. 

Leipzig is a great place to live, there's always things to do and lots of free events on from festivals to concerts. I'm not so interested in sports and I find myself more drawn to the outdoors during the day and the indoors at night as the weather cools. I'll add more posts of this ilk to my blog as I discover more things to do and see! I'd love to hear about things others enjoy in their home town. 

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tomato kasundi


Tomato Kasundi is one of my favourite condiments to make. It enlivens a sandwich, works wonderfully as a dip, can be used to make a curry or makes any kind of 'meat ball' taste sublime. It's one of the most popular recipes I have taught and I make it in batches each year.  Right now in Australia I would be watering my tomato plants which I'd have planted at the start of November. In Germany it is growing colder and tomatoes are hydroponic or imported for warmer climates but I wanted to share this recipe for my Australian readers, as this is a wonderful recipe to make it bulk for Christmas gifts.

Tomato Kasundi Relish 

  • 2.5 kg ripe tomatoes
  • 15 cloves garlic
  • 200g fresh ginger
  • 400ml white malt vinegar
  • 2 tblspn black mustard seeds
  • 8 small red chillies or to taste
  • 2 tblspn chilli powder
  • 2 tblspn ground turmeric
  • 5 tblspn ground cumin
  • 250ml vegetable oil
  • 300g sugar
  • 1 tblspn salt to taste


  1. Dice tomatoes
  2. Cut the chillies in half lengthways and discard the seeds. 
  3. Peel the garlic and ginger & chop finely
  4. Heat the oil in a pan & when hot, add the mustard seeds, turmeric, cumin & chilli powder. 
  5. Stir & cook for a minute or two until fragrant. 
  6. Add the ginger, garlic & chillies. 
  7. Add the tomatoes, sugar, salt & vinegar. 
  8. Simmer stirring occasionally until the tomatoes are cooked to a pulp and the oil has risen to the top. (Approx. 1-1½ hrs). 
  9. If the sauce is too watery, it is usually because your pan is too small, the easiest way to reduce the liquid is to pour the sauce in a fry pan until the liquid reduces. 

In Deutsch


  • 2.5 Kilogramm reif Tomaten
  • 15 Knoblauchzehen
  • 200 gramm frischem Ingwer
  • 400 Milliliter weiß Malzessig
  • 2 Esslöffel schwarzer Senf Saatgut
  • 4 kleine rote Chilischoten oder nach Geschmack
  • 2  Esslöffelchilli pulver
  • 2 Esslöffel Kurkuma, gemahlen
  • 5 Esslöffel Kreuzkümmel, gemahlen
  • 250 Milliliter Pflanzenöl
  • 300 gramm zucker
  • 1 Milliliter salz oder nach Geschmack

If you want to store your kasundi out of the fridge, ensure you use clean, sterilised jars with new lids and water bath the kasundi for 30 minutes before storing in a cool dark space. 

In Deutsch:
Ich bin am Transcribieren meine Rezepte in Deutsch arbeiten. Meine Deutsch ist nicht sehr gut. Ich gehen um Sprachshule funf Vormittagen in der Wocke. Es wird kein Zweifel daren bestehen, viele Fehler. Bitte zögern Sie nicht korrigieren!


  1. Dice Tomaten
  2. Würfel die Chilischoten und entsorgen Sie die SamenDen Knoblauch schälen und Ingwer & fein hacken
  3. Erhitzen Sie das Öl in einer Pfanne und wenn heiß, fügen Sie die Senfsamen, Kurkuma, Kreuzkümmel & Chilipulver.
  4. Stir & Koch für ein oder zwei Minuten.
  5. Fügen Sie den Ingwer, Knoblauch & Chili.
  6. Fügen Sie die Tomaten, Zucker, Salz & Essig. Simmer gelegentlich umrühren, bis die Tomaten zu Brei gekocht und das Öl nach oben gestiegen. (ca. 1-1 ½ Stunden). 
  7. Wenn die Sauce zu wässrig, ist es in der Regel, weil die Pfanne zu klein ist, ist der einfachste Weg, um die Flüssigkeit zu reduzieren, um die Sauce in einer Pfanne gießen, bis die Flüssigkeit reduziert.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A foodie, fun weekend in Berlin (picture heavy)

Last weekend we took a trip to Berlin. I've visited Berlin lots of times and I love the vibrancy of the city. It's noisy, busy, colourful, full of a multitude of places selling food and drink from all over the world  and loads of things to do from art galleries to pop up gigs. We take a bus to Berlin, it takes two hours and costs 15€ ($21AUD) which is half the price of the train but twice as long. No bother, the bus has wifi and we read blogs and listen to talking books. 


We have been using airbnb for travel accommodation since it opened it is has so many advantages over hotels (I'll be writing another post about this so stay tuned). We stayed in a big one room apartment in Kreuzberg, a great part of Berlin with a great multicultural twist. We were just around the corner from Wienerstraße  and close to some great places to visit. Fancy Japanese, Chinese, African or Spanish food? You'll find it here. It's also one of the greenest parts of Berlin, with the Green Party in office. I get different things about of various trips. The weather was cold and rainy and it was wonderful to just wander around, reading, trying cafes and taking pictures. It was very relaxing. 


Chris was in Kreuzberg for a conference so besides a couple of drink events in Prenzlauerberg and Mitte, we didn't stray from the suburb. On our first afternoon, after getting our fill of burgers, fries and Club Mate and one of the many burger places in Berlin, we went along to the Museum of Things. It's absolutely torture for a lover of vintage home wares and kitsch like me, so many things you like, and you can't have any of them! 
There's many things that make Berlin distinct from Leipzig. Firstly, there's so much advertising and writing in general in English. I have gotten so used to seeing everything in Deutsch bar the odd gig poster that it was quite disconcerting. Berlin is far more International that Leipzig, it's a huge tourist and expat destination. I heard many english speakers, quite a jolt when you're used to only hearing people speak Deutsch! 

Secondly the grafitti and street art. It's everywhere, from scribble to tagging to paste ups and murals:


Thirdly, Leipzig is definitely quieter and cheaper. This makes it a great place to live on a budget. Berlin is still cheap of course, but closer to Australian prices. We also got also repeatedly if we want to buy drugs when near the train station which amused me as it's not happened since I left Melbourne. On the street we were staying was an school which had been occupied by refugees, asylum seekers and refugee activists. I wasn't entirely clear whether this meant people could go and leave freely and the site had security guards and bus load of police there the entire time. Given that Berlin's history of squatting is famous world wide, it certainly was heavy handed. 

Saturday I went along for a Vegan Tour of Kreuzberg, kindly organised by some friendly local vegans. Along with folks from Korea and Belgium we walked around and discovered the latest and greatest eateries in Kreuzberg, getting a great oral history along the way. 

 I had the pleasure of visiting Khartoum, Imbiss, a tiny Sudanese cafe/restaurant serving snack food with a twist. It had a variety of foods, including vegan and vegetarian. We shared a vegan plate which was absolutely delicious and included felafels made of fava beans, spiced kidney beans, salad, fried tofu, baked vegetables and tomato and peanut sauces. It was so good I took Chris there the following evening before we went home! 


We tried bits and pieces at various eateries and really enjoyed seeing Kreuzberg through the eyes of locals. Berlin is not short of vegan eateries, I don't think there would be many restaurants and cafes without options. And if you like Turkish food, you could eat a felafel kebab at a different Imbiss everyday and never get through them all, they are everywhere! 

I had Original Unverpackt on my list of places to visit and we were staying 5 minutes walk away. It's the first supermarket chain which offers food and other household goods without any packaging. You can bring your own paper, cloth or string bags or buy form the extensive range of sustainable packaging from triffin tins to Keep cups. I tried to take some pictures but the lighting made it a bit hard. The store was more like a co-op than I was expecting, with commensurate pricing. I can see this is a fantastic idea (especially as many more supermarket goods are packaged here than in Australia) but out of the price range of most Germans. 

I was delighted to learn of Markt Hall Neun, a collection of eateries and market stalls which included Florists, bars, thai food, a New Zealand butcher and lots of vegan burgers and cakes. 

I was really interested to hear about  selling a regular community market  stall Wild Gartnerei, who grow and sell fruits, vegetables and edible weeds 30 kilometres North of Berlin.  

I've been seriously craving Asian dumplings since I left Melbourne. I really miss ShanDon Mama and  of course Camy Shanghai Dumpling House! There's a couple of places where I can buy frozen ones here in Leipzig and of course I make my own dumplings and pierogies but it's not the same as a huge bamboo basket of steaming dumplings served with chilli oil, soy sauce and vinegar and a plate of garlic chinese broccoli! (Eat them fast while the rest are coming and drink your weight in Jasmine tea). So I asked my new vegan friends about what options there were for dumplings in Berlin. They suggested a couple of places and we settled on Momos which was Vegetarian and organic. We tried a bit of everything, on the menu going for the platter of 32 dumplings in four different varieties (15€/ $21.50AUD) . Three were vegan and one (spinach and cheese) vegetarian.  Half were fried and half steamed and it's interesting how the variation in cooking works better with different flavours. The spinach and cheese were far better steamed and the carrot and chickpea worked best fried. Dipping sauces of soy and ginger and spiced tomato complimented the dumplings. I would have really liked some chilli sauce for a bit of kick. They were good, but of course not as good as Chinatown dumplings. 

I had a lovely walk Sunday, looking at buildings, walking down by the river, window shopping 

I would have loved to have visited this shop/cafe, but being Sunday, it was closed. 
Coffee and cake- so good to have real coffee! 

I had lunch at Yellow Sunshine. It's a Germany's first Vegetarian eatery and offer a half vegetarian/half vegan menu. I ordered a fish burger (made of chickpeas) but found it a bit bland. Some more dill and gherkins would have fixed this. Excellent chips and I had a mate drink as a concession to health! 

I love old buildings, here's a few pics:

A great trip, we'll be back again soon. 

Place of interest (some of many):

Made in Germany – Politics through Things. The German Werkbund in 1914September 25, 2014 – February 2, 2015Werkbundarchiv –Museum der DingeOranienstraße 250999 Berlinhttp://www.museumderdinge.de


Original Univerpackt
Wienerstraße 16 
10999 Berlin 

Markt Hall Neun
Eisenbahnstraße. 42/43
10997 Berlin

Fehrbelliner Straße 5, 
10119 Berlin

Yellow Sunshine
Wiener Straße 19

10999 Berlin

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Food for thought

I'm really behind in writing about things that have been of interest to me over the last few weeks. I had a really bad cold again (yes, my third illness since moving to Germany) which totally depleted my energy. I've also been working on some behind the scenes work for Green Renters as we are making our website and website content open source. I've also been spending time with new friends in various capacities: visiting Dawanda craft market here in Leipzig (the Etsy of Europe), going out for drinks, enjoying Guy Fawkes Day/ Bonfire night with a bunch of English expats and students, having friends over for dinner and also working on recipes, writing....

I got my 5 year residence permit (AUSFENTHALTSKARTE) to live, work, study etc. here in Deutschland. As I am married to a UK citizen, we both have full freedom of movement under the EU laws. That said, if I wanted to get a job here in Leipzig, without better Deutsch, it is almost impossible. There's a lot of Europeans in Leipzig looking for work as the reality is that it is very hard to work without fluent language skills. It's something I took for granted in Australia, despite working with International students in Tafe and Universities for ten years and another seven years working with refugees and other migrants through Green Renters.

In Australia when I worked with Councils or government authorities for example, translated documents and translators were plentiful. I even did a few workshops with folks from different countries and thus 3 interpreters (difficult at best). Leipzig is not like this. Almost everything is in Deutsch without translation. I am not trying to complain about this, more to provide a contrast. When I visit the Auslander officer (Foreigners office) I can only speak Deutsch, no one (at least willingly) speaks english.  But I managed fine in Deutsch this time without Chris having to help which was a bit of a triumph for me. I also recognise more words when I talk to people and overhear other people's conversations. It's little things that make the difference and are the reward for getting up early each weekday morning to go to Deutsch schule.


This sign at the laundromat always amuses me.

A few things new and old which have attracted my attention of late:

A Letter to my 22 year old self, Erika Leibrandt, Elephant Journal.

Unbearable Whiteness of Gone Girls, Amanda Ann Klein, Avidly. I enjoyed reading Gillian Flynn's Gone Girls and I liked the twist so  found this very interesting. 

I love the idea of an articles club.

 I've been following the Kathleen Hale case with interest. Kathleen Hale is an author who wrote an article in The Guardian about perceived cyber bullying by a reader who gave her book a negative review initially on Good Reads advising others to not read the novel.  Her response after online conversations was to track down the reader to their workplace and home address and demand a response in person. It's a complex issue. At first I felt a bit sorry for her. As someone who has worked in arenas where I 'put myself out there' in public forms, it is easy for people to criticise your efforts from behind a computer, anonymous without recourse.  But  I also consider that I myself am writing a novel and I expect that not everyone will like it. People are open to criticise, this is reality. But I read a bit more like this article:

Author stalks anonymous blogger who gave her a one star Review, Erin Gloria Ryan, Jezebel

and On the Importance of Pseudonymous Activity, Dear Author. I also read this article with interest Authors behaving badly, how I pissed off legions of Emily Griffen fans, CoreyAnn. I have read a couple of Emily Griffen books and whilst they are well written, I find the characters very unlikeable!

The problem with thug cuisine, Bryan Terry, CNN

Answer Sheet: Teacher spends two days as a student as it shocked what she learns, Valerie Strauss, Washington Post

I've been meaning to mention  the world of Haley Morris Cafiero for a while:

For a year, Haley took photographs of strangers responses to her in public spaces. As someone who is bigger than they used to be, this work definitely resonates as many see you either as invisible or an object of amusement. You can read more at Pictures of people who mock me, Haley Morris Cafiero, Salon.

Loving these works by Stephen Baker

Lastly one of my favourite ads from a little while ago


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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Veganz opens in Leipzig (picture heavy post)

This morning Chris and I went along to the grand opening of Veganz  here in Leipzig. Veganz: Wir Leben lieben  is a vegan chain store supermarket with other stores in other parts of Germany, Vienna and Prague. We've previously visiting the stores in Berlin and Prague. 

Leipzig is not short of vegan options in regard to grocery shopping: there's bit and pieces at supermarkets, several 'Biomarkts' and various health food shops. I've also bought a lot of bits and pieces at Asian and Middle Eastern grocers. But it's a real luxury to be able to buy everything in one place! I love cooking and I love vegan cooking most of all and it's great to go somewhere and be able to enjoy everything. 

I think people were wondering for a long time if the store would ever open as it was sitting like this for at least a year. 

But now it is open and the celebrations were in full swing. We were delighted to be welcomed with delicious tastings of chocolate chip biscuits, chickpea salads, drinks and spreads and lovely, friendly staff.  The store was packed with a camera crew setting up to shoot. The front of the store is a cafe with a real coffee (hurrah!) including cold drip, a range of teas and cold drinks. There's also a bounty of cakes,  desserts and savoury dishes.

We enjoyed some delicious savoury pastries. The one on the left reminded me of a vegan spring roll and the one on the right was more like baked vegan sausage mix. Both were absolutely delicious. 

We also shared a tasty roll filled with cooked pumpkin, pear, roquet and a spread. Really delicious. 

Behind the cafe is an extensive supermarket with fresh fruit and vegetables, an antipasto bar, make your own orange juice dispense, cupboard goods and an extension fridge and frozen section. There's also a few cookbooks, t shirts, bags and other vegan paraphernalia.
 We were delighted to see the Tofurky section in the fridge and freezer. I make my own Tofurky quite regularly and even teach others to make it in my cooking classes. But it's nice to have the option of buying able to buy it readily off the shelf!

Interesting to see all the tofu based products as in the past we've thought seitan was more commonly used in Europe where tofu and tempeh are more common in Australia.

Great to see Orgran, a vegan Australian owned company!

Keen to give the faux fish a try. 

Loads of alternatives to Nutella! Chocolate spread is very popular in Europe

So many cheeses!

Soy chunks look interesting, good variation of TVP.

I was intrigued by these gluten free croissants

Lots of variations on mayo, dressings and bratwurst. Pleased to see hummus, we used to eat loads of dips in Australia but they are not as common here. 

Love the Green Christmas postcards!


German Christmas biscuits!

 Is it expensive? Well yes, in that imported foods are always more expensive than local foods. Some of the imported goods are more expensive than when imported to Australia, despite the relative difference in distance. But let's put things in perspective. It is almost always more expensive to buy products like vegan cheeses, tofu, juices, biscuits etc than make your own. This is a reality everywhere, regardless of where you live. A vegan diet is very affordable if one lives off homemade soup, pastas, curries etc. But the prices add up if organic, out of season or manufactured ingredients are included. I genuinely enjoy making my own vegan products from scratch and teaching others to make their own also. I would like to continue this work if I can get enough interest in Leipig. I think there is plenty of need for both homemade and ready made food stuffs, I have a list of goods I can't wait to try!

So what did I buy? To be honest I was a bit overwhelmed by choice (wonderful) so I just picked up some kamut crackers ( I eat far to much wheat bread these days) and Lupinen Filets. Lupinen is a pea like legume based product and is absolutely delicious. I tried it for the first time at the Vegan Summer Day here in Leipzig and have bought it a few times since.

I'll be definitely returning to the store, can't wait to do some more shopping for the next Apartment Supper Club dinner party! 


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