Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How do you say "foodie" in Swiss-German?

Hooray! Our air freight finally arrived yesterday. CF sent a stern email on Sunday evening and suddenly they were ready to deliver. Hmmmm. Well, we're just going to appreciate that we have more of our stuff here now. Including our hiking shoes and my trenchcoat and great rain jacket that sort of matches CF's. Ummm, I'm ready for my cheese hike now! Drat!

We also got some of our kitchen stuff. A fully stocked kitchen was left in place by our gracious hosts from whom we are subletting, but we still brought plenty of our stuff so we can use familiar tools and also spare their belongings some of a year's worth of wear. It's going to be a bit tricky to figure out where everything goes and I almost don't want to deal with it until the bigger shipment arrives, which may or may not be next week. I'm not getting my hopes up again!

I have to say, I haven't quite gotten the hang of our kitchen. The fridge is small, the foods less processed... you can't buy too much or it's just going to go bad. But at the same time I feel like I am constantly buying groceries. I think I will learn to balance this better as time goes on. This awkward stage, along with the fact that the foods we've been eating are just different from the routine things I tended to buy at home, has led me to have some weird moments of not feeling satisfied by anything I eat. It's weird, I can't explain it. Maybe it's again related to not feeling like I'm traveling but not feeling like I'm at home either? It's starting to get better though.

I've been cooking up a storm lately. We've been enjoying plenty of fresh produce, much of it is Swiss but there are also items from Italy and Spain. There's basil growing on our balcony. The cheese is all fantastic whether it comes from the market or the cheese counter or the plain cheese section of the grocery store. Dried and cured meats are very popular, prosciutto everywhere, I love it. I've been trying to use the ingredients left behind, as well as experimenting with items rounded up from my many grocery shopping trips. Last week I faked my way through stuff pasta, I found the tubes in our pantry. I cooked up ground beef, stirred in ricotta, stuffed it in the tubes, drenched it all in sauce and covered it in shredded mozzarella... didn't know what I was doing but how could I really go wrong? This week I faked my way through lasagna, which was a tiny bit more tricky. I browned the meat, I broiled eggplant that needed using, I sauteed shallots and spinach in another pan, decided to combine the spinach and meat as well as the ricotta, then needed to season the crushed tomatoes I was using as sauce so washed the little pan I had cooked the beef in and got that going, didn't really have the right spices so that was frustrating (I've since purchased crushed red pepper, garlic powder and onion powder), then realized I couldn't read the pasta box and wasn't sure these were no-boil but took a chance (whew, they were!), settled on putting down a thin layer of sauce, a layer of noodles, the eggplant, the meat/cheese/veggie mixture, a second layer of noodles, the rest of the sauce and then shredded mozzarella, I baked it about as long as the stuffed pasta (that box had included English so I knew I could stuff the dried tubes)... and somehow after all this madness I actually got a pretty good lasagna, it just had a little too much black pepper in the sauce. Whew!

Also in the same kitchen and sort of at the same time, I made a dessert to bake. I got the idea over at Geeks in Zürich. Italian Prune Plums had seemed sort of familiar, turns out we used to have a tree when I was little, and they're all over the place right now. Zwetschgen, as they are known here, are smaller than other plums and pit very easily. I followed the same recipe as Mama Geek, although I had no measuring cups and I didn't know if what I had in the pantry was brown sugar or something else but it tasted pretty close. You just cut up the plums and sugar them a little. Mix ground walnuts, flour, sugar and cinnamon (it asked for cardamom but I don't have any here) with some melted butter, and blend it with a fork. Pour the mix on top of the fruit and bake it for most of an hour. I think I used too much of the dry ingredients and therefore not quite enough butter, the topping didn't look as pretty as it could have. But man, was it delicious! CF has maybe never been more impressed with something I've cooked. We happened to have a little vanilla ice cream to have with it. Cooking by the seat of my pants seems to be working out just fine.


Leslie said...

Basil on your balcony~cool! I'm going to try the dessert~I've got prune plums in the fridge! T and I just discussed cooking by the seat of our pants this week~must be a family thing!

Russ said...

The small fridge was a big adjustment for us, too. However, since you aren't driving a car to the store, you end up making more smaller trips anyhow. :) Did you buy a shopping cart yet?

MW said...

The couple we are subleasing from left a rolling bag if that's what you mean. I've only taken it to the store once. I put a 6 pack of big bottles of sparkling water at the bottom of it and then realized there was no clear handle for lifting it on to the tram! It was... awkward. I might set up a delivery of the big heavy stuff for once a month or so. And yes, more smaller trips (I can't believe I bothered to bring so many shopping bags... did I think I was going to carry them all?). Like almost every single day!