Thursday, 19 July 2012


Bananas....... who'd have thought they be quite so troublesome.  I know I should just avoid them, not pander to whining children in the supermarket and buy them....but I think"Oh good, they're demanding fruit - much better for them than XYZ junk food they usual clamour for".  So I succumbed again and now have four slightly dappled, soft bananas sitting on my worktop begging to be used before the fruit flies take over completely.

So what are my options?

1) Force the children to sit and eat soft, mushy, slightly brown bananas - that'll learn 'em for asking for fruit goddammit.

2) bin the blighters and never buy again - but that goes against my principles of throwing away anything.... well at least on the food front something that can be transformed into something edible!

3) Get me to the kitchen and whip up something marvellous (which no doubt the Kindling wont eat because it tastes of bananas.....)

Well, option 3 it is and we've flipped a coin to decide between banana ice cream and banana cake - and the cake won.  Out come the pinnies, Kenwood, various chairs to raise children to the appropriate worktop height.......

Having (un)thoroughly googled 'banana cake' I came across this which seemed nice and easy and as a bonus I have everything for it in the cupboard (well almost - not quite enough SR flour which you can't get here - so I topped up with plain and added most of a packet of Backin...seemed to work OK).  Now, why I googled I'm not sure as I have a considerable number of cookbooks (am a bit of a closet collector!) and could quite easily have flicked through at my leisure, salivating over the luscious pictures and been completely sidetracked by something else..... but hey, why get up from the sofa to find a book when I can just google....

Well, four ripe bananas - so lets double the recipe and put one loaf in the freezer and take one on holiday with us - something to 'pique-nique' with on the Autoroute.

Now, despite the proliferation of cookbooks in the house, I've never been known to be particularly attentive to following recipes - so here I dispensed with the melt everything step and just bunged (technical term here) it all in the Kenwood and beat it mercilessly.......

It needed cooking for quite a bit longer - and at a higher temperature than stated - I started it off at 150c for the 35mins - then gave it another 15 before whacking it up to 200c for another 15mins before it was suitable browned.

 And you know what - well have a look and see for yourself....

 ...... whether they're eaten or not is another matter!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

"Summer" Holidays part 1

This year's summer holiday has loomed long before us - with G changing schools we were looking at about 10 weeks which needed filling and planning.......

We took Henry out of Kindergarten early - it's too difficult for one to go and one to be on holiday so, from 22 June we've officially been on our summer holidays - well me and the Kindling as A still needs to earn a crust. 

We decided that part one of the holiday should encompass one of my trips back to Blighty - we spent about a week with my parents which allowed me to catch up on some of the mundane admin bits and bobs I needed to do which I can't do from Germany - paying cheques in, sorting out school shoes etc.  Oh  - and I still had time for lots of shopping!!

The weather gods were quite kind to us that week and we didn't get too wet - indeed we managed a lovely day out at Beale Park near Pangbourne.  A glorious, sunny day which meant wandering around the animal park and playgrounds there was super - although I was rather surprised to see I had to pay for L to go in - she's only 2.  Here in Germany we don't seem to have to pay for children if they're under 6 so to pay for a 2 year old seemed a bit much to me.  None the less, we had a great time and it is to be recommended.

On the train ride around Beale Park

It was then on to Solihull - via lunch in Derby to see a friend's new baby lots of lovely, snugly cuddles but not enough time to catch up properly given we've not seen them in over a year (yikes) - for a weekend to stay with good friends and their boys - six under seven makes for an action packed time!!  G was lucky enough to see the Olympic Torch relay - getting up and out for 7'O'Clock on a wet Sunday morning in order to do so - I suppose another one of those 'once in a lifetime' events ticked off the list! 

From there we were back to my parents briefly in order to drive to Salisbury for lunch with 'great grandma' - well my Mum's stepmum and at a sprightly 64 can't really be a 'great grandma'.......  That was lovely although the weather put paid to our planned route march (aka wear the Kindling out plan) around Old Sarum.  This was a real shame as both boys are into castles and knights and Romans - but it's been there for eons and I'm sure there will be another opportunity in the not to distant future.

Following a brief interlude at the garage - my tyre system was flashing up an error, just what you need when you've 500km planned driving over the next couple of days - it was up to London to stay with my sister and her husband.  This kicked off in style with a family dinner for another branch of the family - it was super to catch up with all their news (Weddings, Engagements amongst other fun) - although G refused to sit next to David because of his 'tickly moustache'.....

Again the weather gods were not content and although we managed a fun trip to Archbishop's Park just over the road from St Thomas' Hospital and an abortive visit to the IWM (due to overactive imaginations of 7 and 5 year olds) our main planned outing to the Tower of London didn't happen.  However, the Kindling were more than satisfied with a trip to the Science Museum - an old favourite (in fact we went back two days running to get another fix!) their current exhibition is all about modern life and it's great fun pointing out all the things that mummy used to use....think video recorders, early mobile phones, spectrum computers among other things.  We had to go back without L the second day so the boys could do the Think Lab properly, this is a hands-on experimental zone which is packed with things for them to do - this culminated in a talk on rockets - including some hydrogen explosions - great fun!!

We were then lucky enough to have homemade afternoon tea (scones, homemade jam, two types of cake, prosecco....) laid on at my sisters and a visit from another Aunt and cousin.  Not having seen them in about 18 months, it was super to cacth up and we hope not to leave it so long next time. One more day in London and then the big drive home back to Germany

So home safely and round one of the Summer Holiday is complete - and after a two week pause at home we're off again on Saturday to the south of France as we are in desperate need of some sun.  This time, Daddy is coming too and we're all looking forward to some quiet time together exploring the Languedoc-Roussillon area between Montpellier and Cap D'Agde. 

Our next manic trip back to the UK is in October half term when again we're cramming in too much to too short a time and trying to visit all the family and some of the friends we didn't manage to get to this time. But such is the lot of an expat family - never enough time to visit everyone you want and need to see and those visits you do manage to shoehorn in become too short and not a proper catch up and everyone feels shortchanged.  We tend to end up spending more time in the car than anything else and it's not fair on the Kindling to do that

Monday, 16 July 2012

Rebellion sunk!

So Saturday saw us hosting A's work colleagues for a barbecue (ever the optimists weather-wise) chez nous.  The English beer had been provided along with copious amounts of Pimms (although The Girls had said in advance that they would be drinking wine....little did they know I was out to scupper that plan!) and as everyone bought a dish or two with them so we had bags of food.

We provided the drink and the barbecue bits and the rest of the spread was efficiently coordinated and organised in a typically German way with a spreadsheet to sign up to so everyone knew who was bringing what and what was still needed and how much to bring etc.  As it was we had lots of bits left over and it has kept us going all weekend and still more left which has been put in the freezer for use later in the week (which is good as we're off to the sun next weekend and so don't want to have too much left in the house! I'm not one to throw anything out if it can be saved and eaten at a later date (my freezer if full of bits and bobs to be made into a new meal when the need arises - that's probably a whole other post in itself...)

So how did our English fare fare?  Well, the Rebellion went down a treat - the 24 Carat I recommended last time was particularly enjoyed by our German and American guests and we've none of that left now - bother!  We only had to open one bottle of wine all day too as the German Girls were more than taken with the Pimms provided - it's the very precise way in which I make it which makes it so moreish.....I have a very unsteady hand when it comes to pouring - and a very large jug in which to mix it..... Now to find a local supplier as more has been requested!

Well, we also managed to grill despite the weather (we're fortunate to have a covered terrace so were kept dry) which tried it's hardest to rain on our parade - we even managed to spot some blue sky amongst the big dark black clouds....our summer here seems to be as wet and miserable as it's been in the UK.  Thankfully, we live on the top of a hill and not down by the river!

So all in all a lovely day was had despite the inclement weather - it was nice to meet A's team and see who he gets to spend the day with..... faces and names matched up and mostly not as I'd imagined them; an opportunity to practise the German again - after 2 weeks back in the UK it was decidely rusty - the Kindling slipped back into German-mode so much easier than I...... oh and plenty of good things to eat and drink - a great way to while away a Saturday afternoon! Danke Freunde.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Wine of the Month - July 2012

Well actually it's Beer of the month this time.  I've just returned from a trip to the UK and have brought back some 'proper English beer' as requested by A to serve at a party we're holding for work colleagues at the weekend.

Now you might thing that bringing beer to Germany is a bit coals to Newcastle-ish - and perhaps you may be right, but of course there is plenty to recommend beer wise for both nations.

Anyway, back to the tip of the month.  Near where I visited is a lovely little independent brewery and it's one of their specials which I think you all ought to hear about.  I'm not normally an ale drinker - the German pils style is much more my cup of tea (so to speak!) and I was pleasantly surprised by this hoppy little number.  Perhaps it's the fact that you should serve it chilled (a la lager) rather than warmer as a bitter might be but it did rather catch my fancy.

So who are these brewers and what is this yummy ale?  Well, the brewery is Rebellion Beer based in Marlow, Buckinghamshire and the beer in question is the bottled beer 24 Carat.  Give it a try and I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised!