Willkommen Sie meinen Blog

Welcome to my Blog, I'm glad you stopped by. I thought a little introduction was in order after I reviewed some Blogs of others and didn't have a clue what it was their Blog was about even after reading the last several posts. Not that it matters, if you like what I write, read on, if not, no harm no foul.

I began writing again after one of my grad classes last summer inspired me to do so. It was a class on the world famous author, Stephen King and it was incredible. In 2011 I received my Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. My undergraduate degree is also from UNCW in Sociology with a minor in Gerontology which I obtained in 2005.

A lot has changed since I began writing this Blog in 2010. I am rediscovering who it is that I am and what makes me happy. Feel free to read through from the beginning and see where I have come from and continue to follow along as I begin a new chapter in my life, one that proves to be interesting and filled with exciting challenges that I can't wait to share with the World. So for now, "Das ist Leben"...this is life!

Monday, October 18, 2010

165th Stuttgart Cannstatter Volksfest

Ich Liebe Pommes

The Cannstatter Volksfest, known as the "Stuttgart Beer Festival" to many Americans, is the second largest beer festival in the world; the Oktoberfest in München is the largest.


"Big Corn"


Matt enjoying Schnapps

"The Giant Hamburger"

Simona, Tonya, Me

Matt and I went to this fest twice since it's where we live...just a short train ride to the Wasen (fest grounds). Oktoberfest in Germany is nothing like an American festival, at least none that I've ever been to, and I've been to TONS! Once we arrived at the festival on Sunday the 10th, we enjoyed some Pommes and Steak Brötchens with our new friends; our next door neighbor Tonya and her friends Jim and Simona were our escorts. This was the final day of the festival and it was pretty packed; I have a feeling it was because of the nice weather. The first time we visited it was opening day, and it rained on us the entire time.

Inside the Beer Tent

We met a "Bachelor Party" on the train

Matt & Tonya eating Steak Brötchens

The Grille

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Walk to Remember...beware of pictures!

Matt and I decided to take a walk Friday evening down to the City Center in Böblingen which has many fun shops, nail & hair salons, clothing stores, and eateries. There is an underground parking garage, a Solarium (tanning salon) and a great grocery store; I can't wait to get our vehicle so we can do some real shopping. The walk from base housing is about 45 minutes and offers a pretty scenic view along the way...

It's fall in Stuttgart! 

Bitte ein Bit

I love Clock Towers

We began our walk around 4:00pm and it was beautiful outside, there weren't too many cars on the road and the temperature was just right for a stroll through the town wearing a T-shirt and jeans. I decided to look cute and wear my brand new, wine colored, low-top, Chuck Taylors...sans socks! I have never owned a pair of Chucks and figured they were like Sperry's and didn't need socks. Well, that was a massive mistake and lucky you, I took pictures to prove it. My pinky toes began to ache around the 15 minute mark and there wasn't a shop in sight in which to purchase socks so we kept walking until we stumbled upon a shoe store. This store carried hi-tech running shoes and apparently the best socks in the world because we paid 11,95 Euro for ONE pair! Today's exchange rate says that's just over $16.50! They even had a Left and a Right designator on these babies...when I'm able to wear shoes again, I'll take them out for a spin and see if they make me fly. Unfortunately, the socks didn't help, the damage was already done so I puttered forth at a snail's pace as we searched for flip flops.

Above the mask it says "Business" Hmmmm


Das Schnitzel Haus

We found what appears to be a fresh market or organic grocery store and I bought a bottle of Italian Cabernet for 3,45 Euro, Woohoo!! We'll definitely be back for more when we get our car.

Cabernet Del Piave 2008
Rapunzel Vinothek

City Center

Matt also found a tobacco shop that sells cigars but I don't think the ones he bought were very good. We kept walking until we made it to the City Center where I found my first sign of relief at a shoe store, in the men's "house shoes" section. I tried on several pairs of these and finally decided to go with a snazzy pair of size 40 (American size 7 Mens...9.5 Womens) "Relax" brand called "Der Wohlfühlschuh."

Comfy House Shoes

Schuhe zu Haus

I wear between a 6.5-7 normally so these are pretty big on my feet but they are lined with 100% wool and I am wearing them around the house every day, I don't care how large they are, they rock!

Now for the horror shots...
The "Enemy"

Poor "Righty"

Poor "Lefty"

Even after walking around for another hour or so, we decided to head to our favorite Böblingen restaurant, Hendlhouse, (their slogan is...wir grillen die hendl! Which means, "we're grilling the chicken") and have dinner and dessert before walking back home. For dinner Matt had the "Mega Burger" (Four times in a row now) and I tried the chicken strips, I usually go for the "Bier Hendle" but I wasn't as hungry this time and wanted dessert!

Fasten your Lederhosen

Matt's Eis Schokolade mit Vanilleeis

Meine Himbeere mit Vanilleeis

All in all it was a pretty nice walk and at least I broke in my new shoes!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Breuningerland & Epicurean Delights

Last Saturday we "discovered" a Mall called Breuningerland in Sindelfingen which is only about a 6 Euro cab ride from our house via "Weasel Mobile", our favorite cab company. This mall has three levels and 110 stores that sell plenty of high end fashion items, shoes, and toys. Matt found a cigar shop and we had a delicious slice of pizza at one of the many restaurants. We also had to try Gelato which seems to be very popular here. This place had so many coffee, cake, and ice cream shops, it was unlike any mall I have ever been to, there was even a piano player on the second level playing classical music. There is also a McDonalds with a drive-thru next door and there are NO drive-thrus here!! The only down side is that they are closed on Sundays, like almost everything in Germany :( Needless to say, I finally found an umbrella...and it hasn't rained since; Das ist Leben!

I've tried a couple of new recipes this week, one worked out, and the other one did not.  
Zucchini e Pomodori Gratinati 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 4 large tomatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Mandy's Gratinati

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Move oven rack into the top third of the oven.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and spread the zucchini slices into the skillet in a single layer. If they don't fit, cook them in batches. Sprinkle pieces of garlic over the zucchini, and cook until the zucchini are golden brown on both sides, about 8 minutes per side. Remove from heat.

Arrange the slices of zucchini in an 9x12-inch glass baking dish, alternating with slices of mozzarella cheese and tomato, so that the slices overlap each other in a neat row pattern. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese and basil over the dish, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bake in the preheated oven until the cheese is melted and brown and the dish is bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Cook's Note:
Try putting the freshly sliced zucchini in a colander in layers, salting each layer as you go. Then place a suitably sized plate (or equivalent) on the top and weigh it down. After 30 or so minutes, a surprising amount of water will have been drawn out. You can then dry the slices thoroughly with a clean cloth, or paper kitchen towel (careful not to leave paper behind!) and then they're ready for cooking.

I was unable to follow the "Cook's Notes" and did not have any basil so this is why my batch turned out sort of bland...I may try it again when all of our household good arrive and I have my cooking supplies. 

When the moon hits your eye, like a big Pizza Pie, that's Amore!
The next recipe I tried was a huge hit, and I made it up! I bought a bunch of pizza toppings, sauce, and whole wheat pitas and Matt and I made our own pies.

Matt's Pie

Mandy's Pie (hidden salami!)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cincinnati Chili- A True American Classic

Music selection: Alabama- Song of the South, Tennessee River, High Cotton
The first thing I do when I make Cincinnati Chili is put on my warm and comfy sweatpants and turn up some country music. My grandparents currently live in Tennessee but I think of Ohio when I cook this recipe. I moved to Ohio in the mid nineties and I was only 30 minutes away from my grandparents when they lived there. My dad was born in Cincinnati and my husband was born in Cleveland so Ohio is a state I hold dear to my heart. We used to visit restaurants like Skyline Chili and White Castle when we lived there, my mom used to get cravings for White Castle around midnight and when I first learned to drive I can remember driving my parents through the drive-thru late at night for some onion chips and sliders.  The smell of the chili simmering for hours smells up the entire house and it has a welcoming scent just like grandma’s house.

Cincinnati Chili                                           
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef/turkey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder 
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red (cayenne) pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa or 1/2 ounce grated unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (8 oz can) diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 (16-ounce) package uncooked dried spaghetti pasta
  • Toppings (see below)

Combine the following ingredients in a crock pot and simmer over medium-high heat: ground beef, garlic, and chili powder until ground beef is slightly cooked. Add allspice, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, unsweetened cocoa or chocolate, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, and apple cider vinegar. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, at least 3 hours. The longer the better!

Cook spaghetti according to package directions and transfer onto individual serving plates (small oval plates are traditional).
Ladle chili over spaghetti and serve with toppings of your choice. Oyster crackers are served in a separate container on the side.

Mandy's Chili!

Oyster Crackers
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Chopped Onion
Kidney Beans (16-ounce) can
Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Cincinnati chili lovers order their chili by number. Two, Three, Four, or Five Way. Let your guest create their own final product.

Two-Way Chili:   Chili served on spaghetti
Three-Way Chili:   Additionally topped with shredded Cheddar cheese
Four-Way Chili:   Additionally topped with chopped onions
Five-Way Chili:   Additionally topped with kidney beans

A History Lesson

Chili Powder
In 1890, DeWitt Clinton Pendery developed the first known mixture of chili powder in Cincinnati, Ohio. Called "Chiltomaline," he mixed chiles, cumin and oregano. Later, he traveled to Fort Worth, Texas, introducing the mixture to towns along the way.

Surveyor John Filson gave the area, originally settled by John Symmes, the name "Losantiville." In 1790, General Arthur St. Claire, the first governor of the Northwest Territory, renamed the settlement 'Cincinnati' in honor of an organization of Revolutionary Soldiers called The Society of the Cincinnati, of which he was a member. The Society took its name from Quinctius Cincinnatus, an ancient Roman military leader.

Food for thought
Cincinnati is the Chili Capital of the United States and, likely, the world. The city has more Chili parlors per capita and square mileage than any known city on the continent. But, the Chili produced, sold, and consumed in the Cincinnati area is not truly "Chili"as we know it. Cincinnati Chili is unique and quite different from its western cousin. In fact, about the only relation it has are the meat, cumin and chili powder it contains. After that, the recipe takes an interesting twist.

How it all came to be
In 1922, a Macedonian immigrant named Tom Athanas Kiradjieff settled in Cincinnati with his brother, John. He opened a hot dog stand, which he named 'Empress' and sold hot dogs and Greek food. His business did poorly because, at that time, the large majority of the inhabitants were of German heritage, and nobody in the area knew anything about Greek food, and weren't thrilled by it. Tom was not to be defeated; he took a Greek stew, maintained the Mediterranean spices of Cinnamon and Cloves, changed the meat to ground beef, and added other spices, such as chili powder, to the mix and began to sell this stew over spaghetti and called it 'Chili.' It proved to be a successful experiment. He also came up with the idea of selling his Chili in 'ways', which is also unique to the area.

The "Cheese Coney"

Coney Dog
Around the same time, the Coney Dog was also developed by Kiradejieff. On his way to Cincinnati, he stopped by Coney Island in New York and attempted to duplicate the hot dog popularity he saw there. Adding mustard, chili and cheese, the Coney Dog is highly 


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Have you ever had "just one of those days?"

September Sunset, Böblingen
I'm pretty sure I can say "It's been one of those WEEKS!" Matt and I have been sick on and off since we arrived in Germany (exactly 1 month ago today!). It's probably due in large part to the weather since we came from hot and sunny eastern North Carolina where it almost never rains (I understand there was a bit of a down pour last week and all car dealers in the area were bought out by boat salesmen). Since our vehicle has yet to be delivered, Matt and I walk everywhere and when you consider our wardrobe and the sudden drizzle every other day, paired with a significant drop in temperature, it's no wonder we keep getting sick. But that isn't what the title of this post is about...

Both of us failed the German driving test last week (we didn't study), I "blew up" my blow dryer at the gym (it said "Wigo Europe" right on it but must not have been able to handle the 220 voltage here), the BX/PX (exchange) is always sold out of umbrellas, and they do not carry my favorite socks or stay open late enough . I'm sure these things don't sound like the end of the world to most of you but when they add up all in one day it gets to be a bit more than I'm happily able to handle when I'm sick and having to walk all over the place in the rain, while carrying everything in a 2000 cm backpack.