Category Archives: Travel

Weetabix vs. Oatibix



Years ago, I fell in love with Weetabix, a British cereal made of shredded wheat. It comes in big biscuits, but once you add milk, it resembles oatmeal. Nothing could compete with Weetabix (except maybe Kashi). Then, in the international aisle at Meijer, I saw

OATibix?

Whaaaat?

I bought it, tasted it and fell in love with it. It outshined Weetabix by FAR! The way it absorbed the milk and its nutty oat flavor. It’s just fantastic.

Isn’t Oatibix beautiful?

BUT, true love cannot always last forever…

Oatibix was only on the shelves for two weeks! I never saw it again! I craved Oatibix, but couldn’t find anything to compare! I raved about it to Kim, who was studying abroad in Austria at the time and never got the chance to try it!

I said to myself, Beth, next time you’re in England, head straight to Waitrose and STOCK UP.

Just see how it soaks up the milk. AMAZING.

Well, Oatibix isn’t easy to find, even in London. Finally though, after several grocery stores and questions to staff, Kim and I found some and bought 4 boxes!!  I wanted more, but I didn’t know if I could fit it in my luggage. 😥

We’ve been eating it so sparingly, we still have a box and a half and we’ve been back for 2 and a half months.

So, in the States, Weetabix will have to do. Meijer’s international aisle is slimming down, (or, more accurately, the European sections are downsized, while the “Mexican” and “Italian” sections have grown) so even Weetabix might go away.

Okay, this picture looks delicious, but it never soaks up the milk the way Oatibix does. This picture is very poorly displaying it’s faults.

I’ve just discovered some really depressing information. If I were to order 6 boxes of Oatibix from England, I’d spend £73.56, or $90! £50 of it is the shipping. I could probably buy a lot of other stuff to ship with it… but not gonna happen anyway…

I guess I’ll just have to move to England or something. Weetabix and Oatibix are both heartily delicious.

All done.

-Beth


Nostalgia for a German/Austrian/Dutch breakfast.


Kim and I often feel nostalgic for our times abroad – the scenery, the people, the culture – and of course the food.

The other day, we were longing for the traditional breakfasts of central Europe. Or at least German, Austrian and Dutch breakfasts. We did a good job putting together a fantastically reminiscent meal of pretzel rolls, meats, cheeses, homemade Preiselbeeren jam (cranberry jam), homemade appelstroop (thick apple syrup), with tomato and cucumber.

When I was visiting a friend of mine in Cologne, Germany, her family’s breakfast table had an assortment of dense rolls, jams, chocolate spreads, cheeses and meats. My friend said she normally ate Meusli for breakfast during the week, but this was a special occasion, so they brought out the goods!

While Kim and I were eating our dinner, Kim said she could be in Austria right then, sitting in her host family’s kitchen. The only thing missing was the liverwurst pate!

Kim’s breakfast at our friend Barbara’s in Tettnang, Germany

When I was in Amsterdam for work, our hotel breakfast included slices of bread, salamis and ham, cheeses, tomato, cucumber, and of course Appelstroop.

Breakfast at my hotel in Amsterdam

A terrible photo of Appelstroop

So anyway, our dinner:

The Preisselbeeren jam and Appelstroop both turned out to be ridiculously easy to make.

Preiselbeeren Jam (Cranberry Jam)
On stovetop, cook cup of cranberries on medium heat. Spritz about half a lemon’s juice (a tablespoon) and add cinnamon, sugar. Cook until the cranberries have burst and become a spreadable delicacy!

preiselbeeren jam (with ricotta on bread)

Appelstroop (Apple Syrup)
The appelstroop is made of apple juice, lemon juice, whole anise, cinnamon and sugar. In a saucepan, add 6 cups of apple juice, two anise (seeds?) and a teaspoon or two of cinnamon. Boil until it’s 1/3 the amount, then add 1/2 cup of sugar and continue to boil until it’s a syrupy mass. BUT DON’T BOIL TOO LONG 0r the sugar will thicken too much, and you and that pan will be spending a lot of time with each other, you scraping off incredibly goopy syrup with a knife.

Anise – similar in taste as fennel, liquorice or tarragon. Pairs well with cinnamon.

Review: It was delicious of course! I love discovering food, or new ways of eating the same food, in this case, from different regions of the world!

-Beth


Cherry Cheese Scones



A rare occurrence, but Kim and I followed this recipe exactly, and guess what? They turned out amazing! Many times, when we’re just cooking for the two of us, we skimp on or swap ingredients, to make it healthier, and the dishes (usually) turn out tasting good, but nothing to rave about. THESE are rave-worthy!

Kim was craving the scones we had while in London, specifically the ones from our hostel cafe, which were fantastically buttery and rich. (with clotted cream and jam!) So she insisted we follow the recipe to see how close our Joy of Cooking got to English scones.

The English, historically and/or traditionally, have something called Afternoon Tea or High Tea (or just Tea, actually) that is served with little biscuits, scones and light sandwiches. We wanted to have a traditional “Afternoon Tea” while there, but they’re quite expensive – cheapest was £19 per person!

Kim had these juicy dried cherries – they were halfway between normal cherries and dried cherries. I’ve never seen that before, but I’m glad I’ve been introduced to them – they’re delicious! Very sweet on their own, but delicious.

Kim and I LOVE to mix sweet and savory, so of course we opted to make cherry cheese scones, so we swapped out the blueberries from the Joy of cooking recipe and added the cherries and cheese, hoping the consistency wasn’t changed too much by the cheese, and nixed the streusel topping. (Okay, I lied, I guess we did change the recipe…) Oh, and we forgot the vanilla extract too, but I think that worked in our favor, with the cheesiness.

Cherry Cheese Scones (altered from this recipe in Joy of Cooking cookbook.)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
6 Tbsp chilled, unsalted butter
1 egg
1/2 cup heavy cream (or milk)

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend with flour mixture until it’s crumbly. You can do this with a pastry cutter, grinder, or with your hands (my favorite way!) But we ground in in a grinder this time.

In a second bowl beat the egg, then add the cream. Add to flour mixture and stir/blend until dough comes together. Don’t overmix the cough, or your scones will be tough.

Spray the pan and transfer dough to pan. Knead the dough 4 or 5 times and mold into a flat round shape and cut into eighths, and separate the triangular pieces so each side bakes with a crusty exterior.

Bake for about 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean. I’d check after 15 minutes though, to see how they’re doing. Scones are best eaten fresh, but they were alright the next day too.

What we thought: DELICIOUS! I raved about them to everyone. I already remade them for co-workers and will make them next week when my friends and I have our own little afternoon tea! Cheers!

I know what a scone is, but what is clotted cream, cumpets, or lemon curd???
A brief history of the scone.
Wait, the English don’t pronounce it scone as in cone?

UPDATE: And speak of the devil (scones), a new YouTube food channel, Sorted, I started watching, literally yesterday, posted scones today! And they look so good, I think I might just have to make them tonight, for dessert!

-Beth


Picking oranges and other food, in California


Picking Oranges in near Santa Barbara, CA

So Kim and I, who live in Michigan, visited our friend Satpreet, in Southern California, this past weekend. There was nothing good at the cinema, so we thought, why not? (kidding)

One of our main goals was to try loads of good food – and that we did. In addition to the burritos from the Mexican food truck, the amazing Indian food our friend’s mom made and the oranges fresh from the tree, we picked spectacular places to eat. If any of you makes it out to SoCal, and you’re not the Bubba Gump type, then you might just absolutely adore these places.


Cafe Gratitude – Los Angeles

Our first day in L.A. we ate at Cafe Gratitude, near West Hollywood (around the corner from Paramount Studios!). Cafe Gratitude was, in short, simply and subtly magnificent.

Kim and Satpreet at Cafe Gratitude, LA

Everything on the menu is titled I AM HAPPY, I AM THRIVING, I AM GLORIOUS and so on. That weekend was one of the rare few days that it rained (and snowed and hailed…), and they had a chalkboard asking “What do you like most about the rain?” Dancing in it, the smell, the rainbow that follows. I came up with the somewhat lame, but truthful, answer of “just the rain.”

We ordered 3 dishes to split: I AM FESTIVE, I AM COMFORTED and I AM HEARTY (Taco salad with walnut chorizo & cashew cheese, roasted rosemary yams with spicy nacho cheese, and pesto pizza on onion crust with cashew ricotta & topped with brazil nut parmesan, respectively.)

The food was fresh, healthy, unique, and most importantly, delicious. Normally, “vacation-food” insists on being greasy, heavy and over-eaten. But aside from our grilled cheese from In-N-Out, I felt good and healthy at the end of the weekend – no guilty conscience and resolution to jog every day. These were 3 dishes, and 3 words, that easily sum up our feelings of being together again.



I’m sad I have little hope of returning to it very soon. For a full day and a half, I named Cafe Gratitude my favorite restaurant, but our later food ventures forced me to push it to 2nd place.

Backyard Bowls – Santa Barbara

In Santa Barbara we ate at Backyard Bowls, no doubt one of the most unique eateries and so perfect for our palettes. We split two bowls, the Green Bowl (Acaí, Banana, Broccoli, Spinach, Ginger, Lime Juice & Apple Juice with Strawberries, Blueberries, Granola & Honey) and Diego’s Power Bowl (Acaí, Banana, Strawberry, Hemp Protein, Peanut Butter, & Hemp Milk with Banana, Hemp Seeds, Granola & Honey). The pictures don’t do them justice – I couldn’t imagine their delicious-ness from the website’s photos. You just have to taste them for yourself.

I desperately wish we had a Backyard Bowls near where I live – It’s worth the $8 bucks, and the serving is fairly big anyway. Kim and I have both tried to more closely imitate these bowls (though unique yogurt concoctions are far from foreign in our kitchens), but nothing compares to the flavors they’ve put together.

Until next time!

-Beth