Germany – What’s Not to LOVE!

So I LOVE Germany!

I had never been there before this trip, and to say I fell in love with that country would not be an understatement.

Such beautiful countryside…. well what you could see anyway as you whizzed by at 150KM (or more) on the Auotbahns.  I was a bit nervous to drive in Germany, but our little Peugeot which had great “get up and go” was more than capable of holding her own with ALL the fancy beautiful cars in Germany.  NO ONE drives a beat up car in Germany….. I honestly mean NO ONE!  Everywhere you look its Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Bentley, Ferrari….. the list goes on!

I quickly got over my driving nerves, as everyone seems to know “their” speed limit and drives in the aproppriate lanes.  “My” speed limit was max 140km/hr…. Mikes was higher, so yes he got us there “faster”. It is crazy that you can be in you car driving at 160km/hr and be passed like you are standing still.  Some of those cars must have been doing close to 200km/hr.

The people in Germany were so nice. Everywhere we went we were greeted with smiles.  If they were holding doors for the kiddies and I (and the huge double stroller), helping to show us how to use an automated machine to pay for something, or helping to read a menu, the people we encountered on our day to day activities were always amazing.

The food was delish although we didnt eat German food everynight!  Brodie was pretty happy with his “hotdogs”, and both kiddies are pretty happy that they can get french fries. We had our last dinner in Heidelberg at a FANTASTIC Italian restaurant.

The Euro 2012 is on while we are vacationing here in Europe, and Germany is playing FANTASTIC!  Brodie and I have them pegged to win it all……

GO GERMANY GO!

Heidelberg….. a beautiful little town, that made a huge impression on me.

Germany – what’s not to love!

Enjoy you Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Looking across the Neckar River on our walk to “old town”

The family in one of Europe’s longest, outdoor, pedestrian shopping areas is in Heidelberg

My addiction…..  Mmmmmm….. so good!

Germany’s newest football fan #1

Germany’s newest football fan #2

Mikes speed…. crazy!

Brodies FAVOURITE German word!

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Week one went FAST!

So the week in Heidelberg went super FAST!

It is such a beautiful town, and alot that it has to offer was all in walking distance from our hotel.  There were 2 visits to the Heidelberg Zoo, and 3 visits to the wonderful outdoor pool a block from the hotel.

Brodie and Syd are in LOVE with the ZOO….. so much so that we had to go twice just to see their favorite animal….. the Orangatans!  It really is a fabulous Zoo,(although I’m not the biggest fan of Zoos’) and over the 2 visits we managed to spend 9 hours there.  There are many animals, and exhibits to see, but the best part was the fantastic kids play area.  Both times we had lunch beside the lion exhibit, again, with an amazing kids “water park” play area.  The kids probably could have spent the entire day there.  I am sure the entire city of Heidelberg knows we were at the zoo, as the kiddies have been wearing their tiger masks non-stop since we bought them!

The outdoor swimming pool was also amazing.  It was the cleanest and well kept pool I have ever been in, with the cutest food stand.  The kids pool was super fun with little slides, water hoses, and a water pump and bucket.  It also had the best  assortment of kids teeter totters, “spin bowls” and springy horses in the grassy area.

The “Old Town” was within walking distance and on our last day I took the kiddies shopping…… a little bit for them…. a little bit for me!

Heidelberg is one of the oldest university town in Europe. It is an quaint little city, and EVERYONE rides a bike!

So glad that SAP has their head office so close to this awesome city, and that we could include a week there on our 7 week trip!

Enjoy your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Lunch by the Lion Viewing and “waterpark”

All the following images are from my “run” through Heidelberg

We’ve Arrived

So getting to Europe with 2 kiddies was harder than I initially thought it was going to be.

Brodie and Sydney were great on the first flight from Vancouver to Montreal.  Sydney had a bit of trouble on the descent into Montreal but was fine once we landed.  We had a 3 hour layover which we thought would be great for the kiddies to run off some steam, eat, and get ready for the last flight from Montreal to Paris.

The little Miss had other ideas….. there was an incident as we were heading to the gate. It had to do with her not getting to put a stick of gum in Brodies backpack that sent her into a 45 minute meltdown.  I actually thought we were going to have to grab a room at the airport and catch the next flight out.  Brodie turned out to be the hero of the moment accomplishing what Mike and I could not do and help his little sister calm down and stop crying and bring her out of “it”. He is our new “secret weapon” against meltdowns!

The kiddies both fell asleep shortly after take off, and with fingers crossed I was hoping it was for the duration of the flight until we landed in Paris.  That dream came to an abrupt end when Syd woke up after an hour, and then procceded to wake her brother.  The rest of the flight was without incident until the descent into Paris…… Oh my……

Little Syd had the craziest of meltdowns EVER.  I doubt there has ever been a worse incident in the history of flight!  Lets just say that we are glad it is over, and that we have now decided to adopted a new parenting strategy with the little lady. If in 7 weeks we tell you that we wont be getting on the airplane, and that we are taking up residence this side of the pond, its because we just dont EVER want to go through that again…. EVER!  I also plan into buying some children’s Gravol while we are here…..just incase we need to get on another flight It might just put her to sleep for the part of the flight!

Once we landed, passed through customs, picked up all our luggage, “found” the car seats, we were off to get the car rental.  The car is awesome….I havent driven a standard in along time, and I forgot how much I LOVE driving standard.  Once we got the car packed and installed the car seats we were off on our 5 hour journey to Heidelberg.  Mike installed the Tomtom app on his phone and installed Darth Vader`s voice to direct us to our destination – Brodie LOVES it and laughs every time he gives us directions. The kiddies slept the whole way and Mike and I switched every so often so we could each catch a bit of sleep.

Driving in Europe brings back so many amazing memories from our last adventure here 12 years ago on our honeymoon….. I LOVE Europe….. it is such a special place!

We are settling to our 3rd night in Heidelberg and both kiddies are asleep.  Mike and I are drinking wine with Mike reading his e-book, all while I write this. The kiddies are adjusting to the jet lag and should be back to normal in a day or two.

Heidelberg is such a beautiful little town. The weather is great, and summer has arrived for us….. and we actually had to put on sunscreen.  Funny that we had to take 2 flights in order to find summer. Hopefully the weather will hold out as there is much for the kiddies and I to do outside.  Glad we are here till Satruday, so much to see, do, and shop…. not to mention Germany plays in the Quarter finals on Friday… the crowds will be out… as will we!  Go Germany Go!

Enjoy you Daily Dose

Xox

B.

The Start of meltdown #1

Go Germany Go!

Hello Heidelberg

 Afternoon break

Starwars follows Brodie EVERYWHERE!

Awesome 5 hours at the Zoo

My 2 tigers!

So happy to be in Heidelberg!

So…… I can’t sleep!

OK…. so I can’t sleep!

So upto now I have been pretty methodical in my approach to getting ready for our trip.  You know……getting things in order, not really thinking too much about the days or number of hours till we leave, and how long we will be gone for (…..yikes 50 days) ect, ect, ect. I was doing pretty well until tonight.  Tonight that is, until while getting ready for bed, and brushing our teeth, Mike turns to me and says with a great big grin “38 hours…. no…. it’s less than 32 hours till we leave!”  “Make sure you get some good sleep…. its gonna be a crazy long day with the kids….. 5 hours to Montreal.  3 hour layover. 5 hours to Paris. 5 hour drive to Heidelberg”.

Ok I knew all of this but…….

Wait …. WHAT…. OMG…. REALLY!

Yes its gonna be one crazy travel day for the Bain family!

With that said, I think I was doing pretty well, since I had today planned for my packing day for Brodie and I.  The suitcases were brought out of storage almost a week ago, and they were ready to be filled.

I placed all that I thought Brodie would need for about a weeks worth of clothing (all types of weather conditions were thought of) on his bed, and did the exact same thing for my clothing.  Now on a friends advice, I left it there so I could come back to and see if it could be pared down…… Hahahaha …. not a chance could it be pared down (but thanks for the advice Ray)!  I actually added things! Uuuuggghhhh!

As of tonight, I would say that Brodie and I are at about 90% packed and ready to go.  Mike says not to worry…. and that “this is the most prepared we have EVER been for a trip!”.  So that brings me to not being able to sleep…. my mind is racing on things I may be forgetting, and things I wanted to get done before we left and now have a slim (now read NO) chance of getting done!

I’m not sure how, this trip, that we have been talking seriously about since September, is now less that 32 hours away!  I actually wish we were already on the plane because I then could stop thinking about everything I “need” for this trip!

Come on Friday 9:00am……. I just need to get on that plane….. If not just so I can finally relax, sleep, and forget about everything I “need” for this trip!

Enjoy your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Ha…. not all this is coming with us… we just needed options!

All set and ready to go… on this end anyway!

A Big Ol’ Bowl of Magic and a Half Marathon

This past week saw the kiddies get hit hard by a virus. To say it has not been the best week in our house would be an understatement, but I think we have made our way through the worst of it….. well for the kiddies anyway!

I was unsure what to cook for our travels this week.  With everyone either sick or on the verge of being sick, cooking a themed dinner was not high on my list of priorities. It never seems to fail that when you are really looking forward to (not to mention training really hard for) something, a virus or illness always seems to creep into the picture!  It happened to Mike earlier this year when he was to run the “First-Half” Half Marathon, but became so ill he was unable to move.  I don’t think he got out of bed for 3 days!!  So this was my weekend, and it was an important one.  I was to be running in one of my favourite races, the Vancouver Half Marathon……. I was not about to get sick!

As I was going through The Food of Spain cookbook, my initial thought was that a soup would be nice.  Something warm, super easy, yummy. Everyone would feel better!  There were a few different recipes for soup in the book, but the one I kept coming back to was Gazpacho.  It’s not a warm soup, but a cold soup, and its best served really, REALLY, COLD!  The thought of all the raw yummy veggies packed full of vitamins was enough to convince me that this is EXACTLY what our family needed!  I wanted to keep with the Tapas style menu and decided to also make Tortilla….. aka Potato Omelette.

Now I have a Gazpacho recipe that I love.  I have no idea where I got it from……  all I know is its on my computer, in my documents folder, and I LOVE it.  With that said, I am trying to stay pretty authentic in my dinners, so I decided to use a recipe in my cookbook.  The  recipe in the book definitely has fewer vegetables than my recipe, (maybe my recipe is the V-8 version), but the one in the book also has the addition of soaked and puree’d bread.  I was totally intrigued by this, and have since found that I REALLY like this little addition.  The bread gives the soup a real nice texture and richness.  The soup was a pretty delicious, but both the kiddies were uninterested (I think due to them both being sick).  Brodie, managed a few big spoonfuls, while little Syd could only bring herself to try just one bite.  I personally, had a second helping of the soup, and then managed to eat all the leftovers on Saturday.

Now…… I wish I could say yummy and good things about the Tortilla that I made.  The recipe even states “such a simple dish, so difficult to perfect…… The Tortilla is the dish by which to judge a tapas bar.”  Uuummmm ….. OK……so I LIKE things to be PERFECT! I really should have read that and decided to try a different recipe…. that was the red flag waving high in the air for all to see! Did I listen…. no… of course not!

Having made this dish, I honestly can’t wait to try this in an authentic Spanish Tapas Bar.   It is the one dish I thought was sooooooo BORING!  I didn’t like how it looked, and I didn’t like how it tasted. Maybe I didn’t add enough salt, maybe the potatoes were cut to thick…. maybe I just didn’t have a clue what I was doing….. I’m still at a bit of a loss on this one, but in no hurry to make it again! Mike however, seemed to REALLY enjoy it, (eating 2 whole pieces).  Brodie had a few bites….. and little Syd, well she had none!  You can bet that this topic it will pop up again on the blog during our travels through Spain!

I am happy to report that both the kiddies and Mike are on the road to recovery.  It is always tough when the kiddies are sick.  Very often, you wish it was you, and that they didn’t have to go through it…… however…… that was not my thought until Sunday at 10:30am. Race weekend was pretty important and I managed to stay healthy enough to have a pretty decent half marathon finishing in 2:14:54.  It was a beautiful new course, in one FABULOUS city! You really should do it if you haven’t… an amazing run…..you won’t be disappointed!

I have no doubt that my determination in not getting sick played a big part in keeping the virus at bay till after race day, however I also think the Gazpacho played an even bigger part with all the freshly pureed vitamins and minerals!  Well it looks like I now need to make another big batch of Gazpacho….. I am getting pretty hard hit with the same thing the kiddies and Mike had…. time for that big ol’ bowl to work her magic!

Enjoy your Daily Dose.

Xox

B.

Fresh Roma Tomatoes blanched and ready to be peeled.

Soup Garnish

A touch of EVOO and a little S&P to mix it all together

Hello Big Ol’ Bowl of Magic

Not my favourite dish…..

For me…. So yummy!

For MIke…..

One of the worlds most beautiful half marathon courses…. on your “bucket list” it should be!

2:14:54  So FUN!

The Little Red Tin of Awesomeness

Well here she is folks:  The Little Red Tin of Awesomeness!

(and I will come back to her importance in a bit!)

This past week, we started our culinary journey just over the border from France and into Spain. Since I  thoughoghly and 100% enjoyed cooking from The Food of France cookbook, I decided to pick up The Food of Spain cookbook.  If you are looking for an uncomplicated, tasty, and authentic meals, these are definitely the books you should check out….. they are pretty great!

When we travel to Spain in July 2012, we will be hitting both the west coast (staying in San Sebastian) as well as the east coast (staying in Barcelona) of Spain. This past week, for our dining adventure, I decided we would be having a couple of different “tapas” (small Spanish savoury dishes), a chicken dish, as well as a seafood dish.

The nights menu consisted of :

Tortillitas de Gambas con Salsa Romesco

Pollo en salsa de Ajo

aka:

Prawn Fritters with Romesco Sauce

Chicken in Garlic Sauce

Sooooooo……. the kids have NOT been exposed a lot of seafood in their short little lives (I know…..weird…..we live on the west coast of Canada).  So with this thought in mind, I thought it was best to “disguise” the shrimp (now this might be a bit of a “no-no” in the book I’m reading – French Kids Eat Everything {and Yours Can Too}), but I haven’t gotten that far in the book, so…….. I made “Tortillias De Gambas”.  I chopped up the shrimp and make a “prawn pancake”, (yes I even called it a “pancake” for Brodie sake) served with a romesco sauce for dipping.

Now cooking these dinners has been a bit of a challenge for me.  The “Chef” in me has really been holding back on my natural impulses for changing recipes.  It has all been for the sake of creating “authentic” national dishes that I have not acted on these impulses.  With that said, and the recipes I chose this past weekend, I really thought that the Prawn Fritters was the one dish, that, so far, could have used a bit of livening up (a hit of lemon zest, some cilantro….. ).  It totally would have brought the dish to life…… but then, maybe not so “Spanish”?!? RIGHT?!?)).

The Romesco sauce was nothing short of AMAZING! My first I thought was that I had made way too much sauce, but it turns out, it was just the right amount since we couldn’t get enough of the stuff, and ate it like it was going out of style!

The Chicken in  Garlic Sauce was  as close to “unbelievable” as you can imagine.  WOW, it was soooooo good!  My total favourite of the night,and maybe even since I stared writing this whole blog thingy.  The caption for the recipe even states…..

“……in a way that is so impressive the dish will soon enter your repertoire of everyday meals”.

To say I was a bit sceptical as I was preparing the dish was a bit of an understatement, but this dish took me by total surprise….  happily, 150% by surprise!  It was so AMAZING…. it really was not something I was expecting from reading the recipe when deciding to put it on our evening menu.  Really, the only reason I picked it, was because it was chicken, and the kids like chicken!

I am happy to say that Brodie LOVED it …. although at one point he stated “my lips are burning a bit”…… yes little man…… it will take some time to get used to the Smoked Sweet Paprika (aka the Little Red Tin of Awesomeness)!  Little Syd (being the tough nut she is…) was not such a fan. I think she is gonna be a hard one to convert (too all types of food) no matter what. Unless of course we are going to Japan…. then I know that girl would EAT!  But since we are not……..

Well that brings me back to “The Little Red Tin of Awesomeness”,

aka… Sweet Smoked Paprika!

I have used this little gem in my Turkey Chilli for a number of years (though, not much else aside from this), and it is the one addition that everyone asks about when they inquire about my chilli.

Now there are a couple of things I learned about whlle making this dinner

1. Sweet Smoked Paprika is in 2 of 3 recipes, so I need to have it on hand.

2. I now need to go and replenish my supply of Sweet Smoked Paprika before Friday and our next “inspired” meal, since it was all used up this past weekend, and you can almost bet its gonna be in at least one of the dishes I decide to make this coming weekend!

If you don’t already have this “Little Red Tin of Awesomeness”  in your pantry….. make your way to the grocery store to get some …… she is a delight to have in your cupboard. You will be happy to have it on hand and to add to just about any of your recipes, especially if you ever intend on cooking traditional Spanish meals!

Enjoy your Daily Dose.

Xox

B.

Hello Romesco….

Mmmmmm…  yummy goodness!

Fritters…. aka “Pancakes”!

Chop chop chop

I see you little red tin of awesomeness!

Tasty… but needs a bit of an “tweak” for my taste

This was beyond AMAZING!

Mmmmmmmm……. the finished product.

$10.00 red and it was so de-lish….

Mikes beer, crafted especially for food pairing… although he didn’t drink it from a champagne glass like directed! Oh Mike!

Looks like the little man is as excited as I am to get to Europe!  I LOVE the Eiffel Tower “space ship”!