time + alcohol + time + cleaning + time + creativity + time + new kitchen + cravings
Revival of The Medical Gourmet.
Just over a year ago the last sign of life made it to this blog….the horror! It’s not like I didn’t cook for 365 days and lived off of take away… on the contrary, I still love spending time in the kitchen and getting creative – I guess commuting, outdoor adventures and travels came in the way.
But, thankfully we now have Corona in our lives, which is forcing us to stay at home and generously bestowing us with the chance of really getting to know ourselves, our brilliant sides and our flaws. Or, if you already feel you have connected with your inner self and are content, you can finally focus on all the cleaning and cooking you have never done before.
I am one of the lucky bunch who gets to work “normally” during this pandemic (ah, how I dream of home office days in pyjamas). It is fascinating to see what our healthcare system has managed to create in the shortest period of time. Apparently all specialties suddenly CAN work together. It is admirable to see multiple teams become one, have each others back in all situations, and pass on their knowledge. In my hospital we set up a new ICU ward, trained all staff necessary to run it, changed rota’s, gave up holidays and weekends, all in time for day X, as we called it.
The illness is no fun and is definitely no normal flu as many people seem to think. Granted, working in the ICU I only see the worst end of the spectrum. It causes insane inflammation, an intense cytokin storm, an impaired gas exchange which can’t keep all organs trying to function in form of an ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) and probably leaves its survivors with life long impairments. It can be lethal. And putting someone on a ventilator, as one reads in the news, doesn’t solve the problem. They need a break/help from breathing for about 2-3 weeks whilst in an induced coma, which brings along potential failure of other organ systems with it. So when you are told to social distance – please do.
Back to the food business. What is a period of isolation without a warming piece of baked deliciousness? Not even worth trying out! So if you are on a back log in the baking department, here is a slightly spiced zucchini bread attempt of mine. My new oven did surprisingly well – I am sure yours will too.
April: a usually wonderful month of the year – flowers start reappearing from their winter sleep, chestnut stands slowly transform into ice cream stands along the lake, winter jackets can finally do what they do best (live in the attic), one can leave work in daylight and even go for a run before the sun sets. Technically so much to love – everyone seems to be in a happy mood now that the cold has passed. Or so we thought it had passed….. last weekend the warmth decided to take a leave of absence making way for some spring snow. How rude!
The snow did not stop me from embracing the supposed spring season – it is finally asparagus time again! A delicious unique vegetable which has the questionable side note of adding a peculiar smell to ones pee. We can count ourselves lucky that not all produce does that….. I wouldn’t want to know what aubergine urine could smell like…. or how about egg? Anyways, in keeping with the season with a hint of snow, I attempted a warming spring pasta dish using six ingredients: asparagus, cream, lemon, garlic, parmesan and, of course, pasta. Turned out yums – perfect for a mid week meal and freezable lunch!
About one month ago I moved cities within Switzerland. Exciting! Not such a biggie though as a trip to my old “home” is only one hour by train. But, nonetheless, new city (which I love!) = new traditions, or lack thereof. First lack: Herbstmesse. That’s right, there is no Herbstmesse where I now live (SO SAD!!).
For those of you who don’t know Herbstmesse, it’s the Basel autumn fair which last for 2 weeks, spreads across the whole city and is well-known for rides, games and most importantly food. Lots of exciting edible things to indulge in are unique to the Herbstmesse, eg. Beggeschmutz (something like a chocolate covered giant marshmallow), Mässmogge (sugar-candy), Brennti Mandle (caramelised almonds), Biberli (gingerbread like heaven filled with almond paste), Rosekiechli (a thin kind of waffle), Maagebrot (cinnamony/clove/chocolatey bread bites coated in a chocolate/sugar glaze), the list goes on. My personal favorite: Maagebrot. Directly translated it would be called stomach bread…. doesn’t sound too appetising. Honestly, it also doesn’t look appetising. But the combination of the cocoa, cinnamon and cloves in the bread with a thin chocolatey glaze is irresistible.
In an attempt to bring a bit of the autumn fair feeling into my new home I decided to make Maagebrot. To my surprise, it wasn’t even that difficult. As mentioned before, its appearance really isn’t that appetising so sorry for the picture. Try to imagine a christmassy smell, recreate at home and dig in alongside a cup of hot chocolate!
Happy Monday! Happy commuting life to me. After a month of funemployment I am back in the working community. What’s different apart from the job? I have to commute. Naturally, my naive self assumed that Swiss trains are reliable. After a nervousness filled sleepless night, I decided to get an early train to 100% make sure I’d be on time for my first day. Little did I know that no trains were running due to some confused (and maybe hungover) train blocking multiple tracks (?!?!). You can only imagine the panic that broke out in my mind. So much for my planned relaxing train breakfast. So much for making a good impression on my first day. In the end I did make an entrance – half an hour late. For you non-swiss that might be acceptable, for us it’s terrible.
Anyways – for my commuting I invested in this great muesli-on-the-go cup (it was a fully instagram inspired 2am kind of buy after a late shift). My first use of it: yoghurt/fruit with home-made granola. Once I did manage to get onto a train it was delicious and calming. Especially the granola – peanut butter, pecan and chocolate. The pecans are probably the best part. Granola is so simple, so rewarding and requires few ingredients. Great for commuting, great for any breakfast, also great directly out of the jar. Try it!
Upon returning from an exciting Scandinavian road trip I feel I need to detox. Firstly from alcohol, secondly from meat/fish. The Scandinavians have some incredible fresh fish, smoked shrimps and I’m sure you’ve all heard of the famous swedish meatballs. Let me tell you, Ikea’s meatballs are surprisingly good in comparison to the ones you’ll find in a proper restaurant.
Anyways, after 2 weeks my body has started to strike and seems to be craving vegetarian alternatives. And no, the new Ikea vegetarian hot dog does not count (although it is admittedly delicious). Meatless Monday has been around for long – high time to add it to my routine. Inspired by all the beetroot Scandinavians include in their dishes, especially hummus, I attempted a vegetable/feta galette. I went all out and even made the pastry from scratch, apologies for the rustic look. A great start to the week with perfect leftovers for lunch.
What is your favorite on-the-go breakfast? In winter, mine is oatmeal (with lots of cinnamon and honey). In summer it used to be müesli with yoghurt and fruits. That got a bit repetitive and I never managed to keep the müesli as crispy as I’d like to. With my upcoming job change in mind (which requires commuting) I decided to try something new: Overnight oats, a.k.a. cold oatmeal. Sounds quite nasty actually. You may be thinking why try turn a winter breakfast into a summer version, but let me tell you, it is delish. Cool, refreshing, full of flavor, satisfying and also filling. Perfect for a commute to work. Of course you can experiment around with the flavoring, but you and I both know that peanut butter, banana and chocolate are a match made in heaven.
Peanut Butter, Banana and Chocolate Overnight Oats
One handed cooking didn’t prove to be so easy after all – my meal plan went down the drain. As did all culinary experiments. The most exciting dish was pasta with homemade sauce, which is tasty but definitely nothing to boast about.
For those of you who have never had a cast – cast removal after 6 weeks of immobilisation ist bizarre. Your limb feels as though gravity has no effect and it is floating above your head. It misses its tight cocoon. The stiffness of your joints coming out of a cast is also fascinating. I could hardly move my wrist in any angle. Another fun fact of post cast life: the emerging limb is a lot hairier than before! That’s right – black hair is suddenly everywhere and makes you feel 1/4 bear, without the perks of being able to roar or elegantly catch fish.
Anyways, this syrup definitely needs two hands to make – picking elderflowers with one hand might prove tricky (I even found it difficult with two hands..). Elderflower syrup is an essential ingredient for one of the most refreshing summer drinks on this side of the world – a Hugo = Prosecco + ederflower syrup +fresh mint + soda. Need I say more?
I hope you all spent a fabulous Easter with your family, ate delicious roasted lamb, drank some fruity wine and indulged in things you gave up for Lent. Our Easter felt a bit more like Christmas, waking up to at least 15cm of fresh snow each morning. Great for everyone who can ski – spring skiing is the best. Not so fun for people like moi who are one-armed and banned from all winter sports. I did make good use of my ski pass though and soaked up some sun on the top of mountains. Wonderful.
Need an idea of what to do with some left over chocolate bunnies? How about trying this classic, adapted from an Italian chef – Gennaro Contaldo. It’s one of the last desserts I made for my father and to my (and his) surprise he declared it better than his beloved Stalden chocolate crème (a Nestlé dessert classic for the true Swiss). Now, my friends, trust me when I say that is a compliment. See for yourself.
For the next 6 weeks fate has decided to give me a new challenge: learn to cook with one hand. How come? After a wonderful girlie weekend filled with fresh mountain air, snow, saunas, steambaths, delicious food, excellent company and a terrifying but harmless mass collision on skis, we decided to end the fun with a bang: sledding. Sounded like a great idea. Proved to be a great idea, however, only until two of us lost control, flung ourselves off the sled in an attempt to brake, as one has learnt to as a child. We successfully came to a grinding halt. Sadly, three of our bones were none too pleased with the speed of our stop. Where did the two junior doctors, who clearly don’t know how to sled, end up? Their favorite place: the ER. Diagnosis? Fractures, to be precise 3 of them, fairly divided between the two of us (mine being the fractured wrist). The best part: we got matching green casts! Needless to say, we sure did end our holiday with a bang and a great story. Also, note to self: never go sledding again.
Now, as for one-handed cooking – it’s really not that easy. I miss my left hand! But, never give up and accept the challenge. Here my first successful one-handed dish. Simple (even with one hand), heart warming and delicious.
One of the best inventions (if you can call it that) nature has brought with itself is honey. In any form, in any meal, in chapstick, in skin cream, in a hair mask – it always seems to find its place successfully. I completely understand and support it being the most important food in Winnie-the-Pooh’s universe.
My father’s family used to have beehives up on an Alp when he was a child (how Swiss, right?), yielding over a yearly supply of the golden goodness. We regularly try to inspire him to set one up again masking it as a new retirement project…. so far we have failed. On a recent road trip along the West Coast I came across an amazing shop revolving around bee keeping and honey in Portland, OR. I almost took the invisible project a step further by buying all the essentials for a DIY beehive… lucky for my father the only item I left the store with was a honey-inspired cookbook. And here you have it, a twist on one of their recipes – duck and honey are a great couple. Let me know what you think!