Springtime visitor

We’ve all been longing eagerly for spring – the sun has hardly been out this year (and it’s April already!).

My dad put up bird houses and feeding places all over the garden and during winter we had a bunch of cute little visitors like sparrows, blackbirds and even doves from time to time. Dad decided to keep feedings the birds through summer as well (he’s a big fan of birds and also tries his best to save endangered species from extinction).

Last week, it looked like waiting for spring and feeding the birds finally paid off. The sun came out and this cute little (well, actually not so little) visitor showed:

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A beautifully coloured woodpecker!

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Isn’t he preicous? With this angle, it might not look quite like it, but I’ve actually taken these pictures from inside as he was sitting right in front of the lounge window, eating away on the fat balls and occassionally peeking inside to where I was sitting. Too cute!

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A beauty, isn’t he!? Only a shame that Luigi wasn’t around to see him. I’m sure he would have liked that. (Luigi doesn’t catch birds, he makes friends with them. I’m not sure whether he is that lazy or just a really strange cat, but he would sit right next to a tiny sparrow and not even attempt to catch it…)

March Wrap-up

You’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been lately. Let me explain.

There are a few reasons for my absence from coffeerocketfairytale. One is the new Bon Jovi record, of course. It came out within the first week of March and I’ve been listening to nothing else since. I love it (even though I have to admit that it takes some time for me to get used to some of the songs – but once I’ve listened to them a couple of times, I’m madly in love. It always goes like this.)

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Next reason – I have been job hunting like mad. I’ve been dying to tell you this and now that it’s somewhat “official” I can finally share the news with you. My final exams start in May and go through till July, which means I’ll have to get myself a new job until August 1. Actually, I could stay at the bakery where I’m currently working – they offered me a job, yay! – but I’m dying to gain new experience and see new places. I would love to work in a hotel so I’m currently running from one job interview to another and I’m quite positive that in the end everything will turn out just right.

Finally, I have even more exciting news for you: I’m currently working on a new project I am really excited about. You’ve probably realised that during the past year, I had more and more recipes of cakes and other sweet things published here on coffeerocketfairytale. I never wanted this to be a food blog, though. Coffeerocketfairytale is my personal blog where I write about everything I like – my hobbies, things I come across and everything I like. No need to change that. But at the same time, the desire to start a food blog – solely about baking – grew and I’m happy to announce that the day has come. As of today, there is a little corner on the internet where you can find all my recipes (soon) all in one place.

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But there is even more to it. You might be surprised to find out that Zimtzauber & Zuckernebel is entirely written in German. I’m currently working on a way to get relevant recipes or articles delivered to you in English (without writing every article in both languages, because I did that before on my aotearoablog and it’s really a pain…). Also, I’m trying out Blogger, as you can see. Simply because I’m curios.

Apart from Nana’s 80th birthday which I haven’t talked about (and which kept me pretty occupied in terms of organisation and all) that’s about it. I don’t think any of the other things that kept me busy (work, school, exams and work again) would be of interest to you. And this wrap-up is long enough, I suppose.

What have you been up to lately?

Ich bin ein Berliner… or something like that!

Have you ever tried a “German doughnut”, a Berliner, a Krapfen or a Fastnachtsküchle? No? Oh, dear. You missed out big time, I’m afraid.

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Today is what we call “Rosenmontag“, Carnival Monday, the highlight of German carnival, the day of raving carnival parades, crazy costumes and one endless party. To be honest, I hate it. The disguises, the craziness, the drunk people out on the streets, the roadside breath tests every few kilometres… but there is one thing I really apreciate this time of the year – the Berliner.

It’s made of a sweet yeast dough, fried in hot oil and has a jam- or creme- (vanilla, Baileys, eggnogg, Nutella, whatever flavour you could possibly imagine) filled centre. It’s covered in cinnamon and powdered sugar and taking your first bite feels like an epiphany. I spent the better half of today making Berliner and a similar type of doughnuts (made with baking powder instead of yeast) called “Quarkbällchen”.

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If you want to try to make your own Berliner and Quarkbällchen and get a taste of German carnival, here are the recipes for you.

Quarkbällchen (super-easy, perfect for beginners!)
– makes about 20 –

In a mixer with paddle attachement mix for 3-5 minutes

250 g plain flour
80 g sugar
2 g salt
12 g baking powder
300 g quark
13 g cooking oil
100 g butter (liquid)
3 eggs
1 egg yolk

Let sit for about 30-45 minutes. Heat about 2 l of cooking oil (or deep-frying fat) in a pot (or use a deep fryer), use an ice-cream scoop to drop portions of dough into the hot oil and deep-fry at 180°C for 5-10 minutes until golden brown (make sure to turn them around from time to time). Use a slotted spoon to take the Quarkbällchen out and roll them in either white sugar or a mix of white sugar and cinnamon powder. Enjoy.

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Berliner (a bit trickier, but if you follow the instructions, it shouldn’t be too complicated)
– makes about 17 –

Using a mixer with dough hook, mix

250 g flour
250 g milk
21 g yeast

After 3-5 minutes add

300 g flour
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
75 g butter (liquid)
40 g sugar
1 pinch of salt

Knead for about 10 minutes on low speed and another 4-5 minutes on high speed. Let the dough prove for about 30 minutes in a warm place (kitchen counter, for instance). Cut pieces of 50-60 g each and roll them either on the counter or in your hands to form little balls. Let them sit on the counter (or on a baking tray, covered with a teatowel) until their twice their original size (this might take a while, be patient!).IMG_8351.JPG

Then put them upside down into the cooking oil (again at 180°C), cover the pot with a lid and let them cook for 3 minutes (placing the lid on top of the pot is very important as it keeps the steam inside the pot and enhances the volume of your Berliner). Use a slotted spoon to turn them upside down and let them cook for another 3 minutes. Take out and dip them in a mix of white sugar and cinnamon. (By the way, the white stripe around the middle is characteristic for this type of baked good and it’s a sign of high quality and the right method of cooking!)

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You can fill them with anything you like, using a thin nozzle on your pastry bag and your favourite marmalade, jam or pudding. I used vanilla pudding mixed with eggnogg but this also works with Baileys or any other liquor you like. Some people also cut them open like you would a bun, and spread Nutella on one half before putting the two halves back together. Get creative! Once you have them filled, dust them with powdered sugar and impress your guests (or your family or simply yourself) with traditional German Berliner/Krapfen. Enjoy!

P.S.: No, Kennedy wasn’t talking about these delicious things when he famously said “Ich bin ein Berliner!“. He really meant “I am a person from Berlin”, not “I am a German carnival doughnut”. Famous words…

Currently obsessed with…

1. Monkey Island – I really don’t know what took me so long to get the Special Edition for Playstation 3, but I got it the week before last and I’ve been hooked since. It’s like having one never-ending déjà-vu… I used to watch my older brother play it 13 years ago so when I play it now it’s a bit like travelling back in time. Amazing.

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2. Knitting – Totally re-discovered needlework and at the moment, it’s knitting. I try to teach myself how to knit socks using four and five needles.

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Cat Life // Luigi Photo Dump

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Luigi has a pretty tough life these days. He’s got about 10 houses to check in the neighbourhood – every morning he runs off to check on the next-door neighbours, then he goes on to the next house and then … Continue reading

Book Bucket List 2013 | WEEKEND WIND UP #71

Big suprise: the world hasn’t come to an end. But the year will end shortly and since I discovered so many great books in 2012 (some of which I will tell you about in another post laster early next week) I’m already thinking about the books I want to tackle in 2013.

Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone” is a collection of essays Hunter S. Thompson has written for the Rolling Stone magazine. I got this book as a Christmas present and it ranks top on my “to read” list.

Another book I’m curious about is “Fury”, the first of a series of three paranormal mystery type books. On author Elizabeth Miles’ website it says: “Revenge has never been so bitter sweet in this sexy new series about the ties that bind, and the secrets that kill.” This (and what the trailer shows) is about as much as I know about the story so far but I’m looking forward to find out more.  The German edition will be out in January and since I’m really intrigued by the trailer I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Other than those two, I’m looking forward to finally take a glance at some of Ken Follett’s books. I’ve been wanting to read “World Without End” for ages but other books distracted me before I even got to page 1.

Most books on my “to read” list aren’t even new actually. I don’t know if you can relate (if you like reading as much as I do, I’m sure you can, though) but I reckon there are much more good books than one can read in one lifetime. Looks like I have to set priorities… if I can.

Do you have a “bucket list” for books you want to read in 2013?

A musical résumé of my life before the apocalypse | WEEKEND WIND UP #70

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{pic: via Pinterest/http://www.onthemarqueeblog.com/2009_05_01_archive.html}

And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and ev’ry highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

I feel like Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ seems like the best soundtrack to the last week of our lives. If you believe in any of the countless apocalypse theories, Maya speculations and doomsday prophecies, that is. People have been speculating for over a year now whether the world will come to an end on December 21 and I reckon with 2012 coming to an end also, this is the perfect time for a little resumée anyway. All in all, I’m quite happy with my life, I reckon. I feel privileged to having been able to study journalism overseas, work in London and then even change professions to now become a pastry chef. And I’ve travelled a lot, too. People seem to find my CV rather unusual, but hey, at least I can say: I did it my way.

Regrets, I’ve had a few 
But then again, too few to mention 
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption 
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway 
And more, much more than this, I did it my way 

On some days, I regret not having stayed in New Zealand when I had the chance. But like Frankie says: I did what I had to do and in the end it all turned out fine. Some other regrets relate to hasty decisions I made and little chances I missed, like not giving that cute guy your phone number or something like that.

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew 
When I bit off more than I could chew 
But through it all, when there was doubt 
I ate it up and spit it out 
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way 

This probably relates mostly to work… there were quite a few times when I thought I could easily do something when in the end it turned out to be trickier than expected. But that’s fine. It’s always a good experience to grow with the challenge.

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried 
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing 
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing 
To think I did all that 
And may I say, not in a shy way, 
“Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way” 

Especially in the last two or three years I lost a few people who meant a lot to me. The weird part is that I didn’t actually lose them, like, they didn’t die or something. They just stopped being part of my life for one reason or another. And others don’t take up an active role in my life anymore even though they still mean as much to me as they always did. Yet they decided to leave. My brother is one of them. He’s physically still here but I feel like the special bond between us went missing somehow. He’s almost like a stranger to me.

For what is a man, what has he got? 
If not himself, then he has naught 
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels 
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!

If you know me a little, you know that I tend to say what I think very straight forward. Must be tough sometimes when you hear my judgement, but I hate it when people are dishonest for the sake of friendliness. It makes life so complicated! Say what you truly feel, people! It might actually make the world a better place!

Yes, it was my way

Oh yes, this is my way!

P.S.: By the way, I don’t believe in any of the apocalypse theories. The Maya calender has actually ended months ago except nobody took the lap years into account when coming up with the date for the apocalypse. Also, someone must have broadcasted the rumour the end would come to an end on 12/12/12 – my facebook went all bonkers that day because of all these “OMG it’s the last day of our lives”-type messages. Ironically, they all came from my New Zealand friends. And ONLY from my New Zealand friends. So obviously, whoever spread that rumour only spread it over there.

P.P.S.: Speaking of 12/12/12… another thing people were waiting for that day was a big miracle to happen. You know, that “the-last-sequential-day-of-our-lives-surely-something-miraculous-will-happen” rubbish. Anyway, I decided NOT to hop on that train – but then I really had a small miracle of some sort happening to me. I had a really bad day at work and was a little unstable and on my way back home everything just stressed me out and I broke down crying. Imagine me, hands clenched around the steering wheel, tears running down my face, having a total meltdown. – And then there was this huge truck in front of me that got stuck in the middle of the old part of my town. The driver got out of the car, came to my window, which meant I stopped crying and tried to look normal, and asked me where the cement works were. And boy he was gorgeous! And he had this super-cute accent (he must have been from Luxembourg). So I showed him the way and we discussed whether his vehicle would fit through the tiny, narrow roads (it did) and when he took the wrong way, I honked and showed him the right way. Not a big deal, but it totally brightened my mood so when I left him at the cement works, I felt all cheery and happy again. Well… until I realised I hadn’t given my number. But you know, like Frankie said, regrets, I’ve had a few…

{Frank Sinatra: My Way lyrics © CHRYSALIS MUSIC GROUP, Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.}

The smell of winter | WEEKEND WIND UP #69

The past few weeks have been literally horrible – but this morning I woke up to a miracle.

It was 4 am, I had to go to work on a day when most people stay in bed (or in their pyjamas anyway) and I am still recovering from a nasty cold. And then I looked out the window and there it was, my very own personal miracle.

The world was covered in white, glittery, silver shining ice crystals: snow.

If you’ve been following this little blog of mine for a while you have probably realised that I’ve been crazy about snow since I came back from New Zealand (where I had like six summers in a row, but that’s a different story). P1080661.JPG

You probably sit right at your desk now, thinking: “Oh no, here she goes again. The neverending love story of Sabrina and the snow.” Same story every year, I know. But I’m not sorry and I’m not going to apologise. I love winter and I love snow and, seeing how something as dull as the weather can actually turn the world into a place that seems quiter and more peaceful all of sudden, makes me happy.

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Meanwhile, with some Christmas songs playing in the background, I’m trying a new recipe. Roast apple cookies. Imagine the smell of cinnamon, clove, baked apples and caramelised brown sugar. And now put that into a cookie. Winter awesomeness, I say.

Cut 2 apples in mini-cubes and roast with a little butter in a pan (~2 min.). Sprinkle with a pinch of sugar and cinnamon. In a seperate pan, melt 100 g butter and 150 g brown sugar. Beat 1 egg and add to the butter-sugar-mix. Add 150 g flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and clove. Finally, add the apples, then use a little spoon and drop spoonfuls of dough onto a prepared baking tray (greased or lined). Bake at 170-180°C for 12 minutes. Enjoy!