Testing my green thumb

I’ve recently started trying to keep houseplants!

IMG_20180513_134129300.jpg

Wish me luck!

Advertisements

Romantic night for one, please?

I am newly single.  Newly in this case means that I have been single for several months now. After a long and amicable relationship, I managed to have an even more amicable break up.  That does not mean it was fun or easy.  On the contrary, it was rather difficult and hard but in the end, both parties recognized the need to end things because we were facing 7 years of long distance.  We are still great friends.

I say this so you do not get the idea of me sitting on my bed, swaddled in blankets, watching Dirty Dancing while eating tub after tub of the most calorically intensive Ben&Jerry’s flavors all the while drowning my sorrows in a bottle of vodka.  That did not happen, nor will it ever happen.

If I had to pick a flavor to eat after a breakup, I would probably start with Karamel Sutra.  You get your chocolate and it is satisfying to the core.  (Pun intended.)

 

I am in Germany, content with my current relationship status.  When living in a foreign city for 3 months, it is hard to find people to do things with.  I can find people to hang out with, go clubbing with, but it is difficult to find a person to go on “girl dates” with.

 

First, I have to define my meaning of “girl dates.”  (Before you get excited, these events are completely platonic.)  A girl date is when two good friends, who enjoy each others companies do special things together.  For example, they could go to afternoon tea together, going to an opera together, having a spa date or going out to a nice meal.   Girl dates could involve staying in and watching a movie, drinking wine (only when I am in a country where it is legal for me to drink i.e. not the US), and catching up.   It is basically doing something with a good friend.  It is also the type of thing that if you do it with a good guy friend, people think more is going on.  They are chances to do special things.

 

Before Wales, if I wanted to do something special, I would drag my boyfriend with me, or I would call up a  friend and have a girl date.  In Wales, I had friends with me from back home and I also visited people who were also abroad when in London.  We went to operas, nice dinners, had Afternoon teas, etc.

 

But here in Germany, the same is not the case.  I still want to go to operas, nice dinners and Afternoon teas.  I still want to do special things.  Don’t get me wrong:  I have friends here.  We hang out, play cards, and go out.  I am not lonely in any sense of the word.  The problem is, the type of things I like to do, are not as casual as just hanging out.  They require more planning, tend to be more formal, and tend to be more intimate in nature.  Just because I cannot find someone to go with me, does not mean that I will not go.  I only have three months in Berlin, and I fully intend to make the most of it.  If there is a festival, market or something I want to see or do, I am going to go to it.

 

So, I wanted to go to the opera.  I tried to get people to go with me, and then decided that I was going to go regardless.  It takes a little getting used to to go to operas along.  It takes some getting used to to go to a restaurant or cafe and enjoy oneself.  While waiting for my food, tea or for the end of intermission, I would feel uncomfortable.  I pretended to be reading things, I would leaf through the U-bahn map, even though I knew it.  I would try to think of things to do to distract me from the fact that I was alone and doing things that is generally a social thing.  I felt awkward and uncomfortable.  I also felt like people were watching.

 

But you see, I got over it.  Life is too short.  So now, I embrace doing these things alone.  Well, oh look there is an opera tonight.  Date with myself?  Yes please.  The purpose of a date, romantic or otherwise, is to

  1. do something special  or fun with another person
  2. get to know the other person more and have them get to know you more
  3. to strengthen a relationship
  4. spend time with someone you like
  5. create memories
  6. enjoy oneself

You get the general idea.  Well you know what, I can do these things with myself

  1. I want to do fun and special things with myself
  2. I want to get to know myself a little more
  3. I want to strengthen my relationship with and my understanding of myself?  I could not hurt.
  4. I like myself.  I like to have time with myself to just think.
  5. I am in Berlin.  Of course I want to create memories.
  6. Yeah, I want to enjoy myself.

So now, there is an opera I want to go to?  Date with myself tonight? I think so.

There is some food I want to try? Table for one please!

 

You know what? Once you get over the being alone part, you realize that you are not lonely, and you get to do exactly what you want.  So now I just sit back, embrace the atmosphere and simply enjoy myself.

 

Komischer Oper Berlin, taken from the 1st balcony.

 

Opening this blog

I have been keeping a blog through Blogger.com which is linked to my g-mail account. The problem is, I do not have a table of contents or a menu for me to keep track of my travels.  Hopefully this will be better.

Also, I will set the dates of my previous posts to when I initially published them.  I am very behind on my travels, so, when I do publish posts, I set the date to be approximately the time I went on the trip.

~Apple Brown Betty

About me

Hello.  So, a little bit about me and this blog.

I was born to wonderful parents who worked very hard in order to provide for me.  I was always well taken care of.  They made sure that I had enough food, clothing, shelter and medical attention when necessary.  They were very attentive and responsible parents.

They were also foodies.  We ate fabulous food.  I was not allowed to eat any artificial flavors or colors, and I was not allowed to have soda.   In addition to a full time job, my mom cooked every meal at home to make this possible.  My mom made sure to get fresh, seasonal and local ingredients.  We would go to farmers markets to get what we needed.  (I had always loved farmers markets.)  Every meal we would have a salad of dark green lettuce with a home made salad dressing.   After that, we would have our entree.  Mother would cook very traditional New England foods and then sometimes she would cook Thai coconut curries.  Cooking was one of her hobbies.  She would read Bon Appetit, Cook’s Illustrated, etc and she had hundreds of cookbooks, literally.  Guess who her Sioux chef was?  Me.  I did a fair amount of chopping, grading, pealing and setting the table.  It was one of the activities I did with my mother.  I loved the food she cooked, although I did not necessarily enjoy cooking it.

We also gardened, a lot.  My weekend afternoons were spent helping my mother with the flower beds, the herb garden and the vegetable garden.  We would cook with the herbs we grew, and, of course the vegetables.  (My English Rose Garden is shown below.)

English Rose Garden

desktop

My parents took me with them on their vacations when I was younger, so from a very young age, I loved to travel.  I spend a week traveling with my parents around the United States every year.  They loved to take me to national parks.  Some of my childhood favorites include Acadia National Park in Maine, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Yosemite National Park in California.  We would hike a lot of mountains.  I was nine when I first hiked Half Dome in Yosemite.   I would also spend a week with my maternal grandparents as well.  The first trip, I spend the week at their house and we went on day trips to local state or county parks and museums.  After that, we started branching out.  We went to Colorado, Florida, Alberta, Montreal, the Bahamas, etc.

As foodies, one of our favorite things to do when traveling was eat well.  I remember many of my vacations in terms of what we ate.  I loved trying new types of foods and different cuisines from a very young age.  I loved sushi.  I also loved Thai, Indian and Vietnamese foods.  I loved the flavor spices would add to Indian food.  I loved how aromatic Thai and Vietnamese food were.  I would beg my parents to go eat sushi, Thai, Indian and Vietnamese foods.  My first cookbook was a stir fry cookbook and I use it very often to this day.

When I was younger, I was at a sushi bar in Hawaii.  The Japanese sushi chef was surprised that I loved sushi and ate it whenever I got a chance.  (This was over ten years ago and sushi was not that popular.)  He decided to quiz me on what all the different ingredients were, what was in the different rolls, etc.  I got every question right.  Then he said, last question:  “What is the purpose of the pickled ginger?”  I did not know the answer.  It turns out, the answer was, “To cleanse the palate.”  My dad was watching this as it happened and when the quiz was finished, he heard one man say to another man, ” She’s going to be an expensive date.”  It is one of the stories we have joked about for the last decade or so. After all, I was a little girl at the time (shown below).

Little Me

I took professional cooking and baking lessons from a Professor at the local community college in the summers from when I was 10 to 15.  I developed my techniques.  Some of the things I learned come in handy all the time, like how to use knives properly and how to emulsify salad dressings to prevent the separation of oil and vinegar.  Other things are not so practical, like making puff pastry.  Certain skills I use on the holidays, like making tortes, biscotti, yeast breads, ganache, truffles, etc.  (Actually, my mother taught me how to make truffles when I was 3.  I was helping her roll them out and then decided it would be fun to body paint with the chocolate.  We have photos of me in a diaper drawing chocolate lines all over my stomach and grinning.)

I also learned how to disinfect a kitchen, etc.  Now, at home, not all of the cooking hygiene things transfer.  I learned how chefs in professional kitchens sanitize things.  You clean dishes with three basins.  The first is wear you clean with soap and water, the second is where you rinse it off, and the third is where you sanitize it by dissolving tablets in the water and immersing the item in it for 30 seconds.  You never dry things with towels, but only let them air dry, and you never use oven mitts, only towels.  Things like that are impossible to do in a home kitchen, or just too much effort.  Besides, when cooking in your own home, you do not need all the safety precautions.  It is fine if you do not wear gloves.

So by the time I went of to college, I knew I could look at a recipe and make it.  At least I could in my mothers kitchen.  (She had a very well stocked kitchen and had all of the tools I would need and almost all of the ingredients.)  I got my own apartment (with friends) so the first thing I had to do was buy plates, pots, pans, etc.  I went to a lot of garage sales in order to get these things.  I made sure to bleach everything I go to make sure it was clean.  Now I have a pretty extensive amount of cooking items.

In college, I still craved really good food, especially Thai, Vietnamese and Indian food.  The problem was, there were no Thai, Indian or Vietnamese restaurants in the area.  (An Indian restaurant has opened since then in the area.)  I realized that the only way to eat the way I wanted to, was to cook it myself.   The internet is a fabulous thing and I found the recipes, purchased the ingredients and made Asian food.  I could say that I taught myself, and I did not some extent.  But I was only able to do so because I had been taught the basics and a bit more by other people.  To take all the credit would be the equivalent to saying that one taught oneself piano, when in fact one had been extensively classically trained and just taught oneself how to play jazz on one’s own.  Now, I am at the point where I can modify or make up Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Indian recipes.

In the summers during College, I worked on a family farm where we grew plants, flowers, vegetable plants, herbs and veggies.  We would go to farmers markets and sell the plants in the beginning of the season and the produce later on as well.  I helped with customer service, and as such, I became very familiar with the flower plants, herbs and vegetable plants as well.  My mother was really happy about this.  You see, I had helped my mom garden, but I never really took too much of an interest in it.  I loved gardens, but I hated weeding.  I also thought it was too hard to keep track of which plants were which, what type of sun they needed and when they bloomed or produced produce.  All that changed when I worked on the farm.  I could help my mother plan her gardens and even give her advice or information when she asked.  I would also wait on her when she would come to the farm to buy stuff or go to the farmers markets on the weekend to buy her produce.

So here I am.  I love to cook, eat, garden and travel.

I started this blog to record my culinary and travel experiences while I studied abroad in Cardiff, Wales for a semester.  While I was studying abroad, I found out that I got the research internship I wanted that summer.  So I lived and worked in Berlin, Germany during the summer of 2013.  After that, I moved back to the states and completed my senior year of university.  Enjoy my journey!

Enjoy my travels!

~Apple Brown Betty