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!
Lemony Asparagus Cream Pasta
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.
Cauliflower, Brussels Sprout and Bacon Gratin
Based on ecological reasons, my flatmate has recently decided to turn vegetarian. My, was she a bacon lover.
Nonetheless, I fully support and understand her choice. Despite being born omnivores, the impact and consequences of today’s meat and fish consumption are horrendous. Not only is the amount of water used to produce one pound of meat (ca. 1600 litres, no joke) disgusting, the amount of ongoing soy bean cultivation to create enough meal for livestock is equally shocking. Since the 90’s, soy bean production has doubled globally, with about 85% of the produce being used for oil and meal. On average, for the 87kg meat and 250 eggs each European eats per annum, 400m2 of land are needed per person to keep up with the demand. Unimaginable. The rapid expansion has led to invasion of natural habitats, (including woodlands, rainforests, savannahs in South America), damaging water reserves, soil quality, ultimately threatening wildlife and biodiversity.
Something has to change. Something has to change fast. Reducing your meat and dairy intake would be a great first step – it is mine.
That being said, I went through my recipe index and was shocked by the small percentage of vegetarian dishes cited. So, to improve that statistic, I got to work and am proud to present you with a simple mid-week vegetarian gratin. Not dairy free, but delicious. Meat is definitely not missed here. Also, keeping in tune with the ecological theme, it is avocado free.
Asparagus Mushroom Gratin
Who do you enjoy following most on Instagram (apart from The Medical Gourmet, of course)? Top on my list are The Dogist and Americankennelclub. There is something about the four-legged furry creatures that always manages to brighten my day. I mean, look at the legend below, chilling in Manhattan traffic with no care in the world. Sadly current life logistics don’t allow for my flatmate and myself to have a dog. Maybe I should use a quarter-life crisis as an excuse to commence a dog-walker career :-).
If you are Swiss – stop reading here and wait for my next post. If not, please continue.
Sit back, close your eyes, and try to imagine how a typical Swiss winter weekend is spent. What did you come up with? Let me guess: waking up to blue sky and sunshine in a remote wooden chalet amongst meters of powpow. The day is started with freshly baked bread and hot chocolate, before taking to the slopes (mind you, by this time it’s probably only just gone 08:30 am). After a full days of skiing you slide into the local après ski bar for a glas or two of mulled wine before returning to your chalet and pampering yourself, especially your muscles, in the in-house sauna or steam-bath. Showered, relaxed and changed you gather around the fireplace and commence with an apéro, probably consisting of some bubblies, Hobelkäse and Bündnerfleisch. And dinner? Well, cheese of course. There’s nothing like melted cheese served with potatoes, grilled veggies, garlic and meats, a.k.a Raclette (wohooo low carb!!). The food-belly will be painful, but worth it – no better way to digest than with a sip of Kirsch whilst enjoying fire number two, before heading to bed. And tomorrow? Well, naturally, REPEAT, with cheese fondue instead. Sound about right?
Now, what on earth do the Swiss do when it snows and rains all day? Get all dressed up in ski-gear and watch ski-racing from the sofa, prior to commencing the daily apéro a few hours early? Exactly right. Also exactly how I spent my past weekend (minus the ski-gear, in-house sauna and steam-bath, add the onesie). It was glorious, you should try it.