Sunday, February 28, 2016


So, I’ve been a working girl for two weeks now. Although I’m still a little stressed out about the job, I like what I’m doing. To get paid to write is a dream come true, not to mention I get to work from home for the majority of the time except when I travel to interview people and attend commercial real estate events. (And I no longer have to work on a $60/week grocery budget for a family of four!) It’s so wonderful to have a boss who likes me and is reasonable and patient. After having a boss who didn’t like me and worked against me for so long, you have no idea what a breath of fresh air this is! 
The tastes of summer...

But today is a time of relaxation (as much as I can do while cooking and keeping the kids from killing each other at the same time). I’m kind of excited about this meal. I typically start with making the bread, but this time I’m starting with the Corn-Bean Salad. It’s a simple salad, but it needs time to set. In a small bowl, I mixed together 1 c of canned corn, 2 c of kidney beans (I used light kidney beans), 1 c diced cucumber, a half of an onion diced, 2 medium tomatoes diced (I bought cherry tomatoes, so I cut up about 12 or so into quarters), 3 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 Tbsp minced parsley, and a little salt and pepper to taste. I tossed everything together to make sure it got mixed consistently before putting it in the fridge to meld its flavors. To serve it, I just put a few lettuce leaves in the bottom of a bowl and scooped the salad onto the lettuce leaves. I think this would make a great summer salad. It was light, refreshing, colorful, and would go well with a lot of different kinds of foods. I think I’m going to keep this recipe around for those summer barbecues coming up. 

Surprise Recipe of the Day

Now I got started on the bread. Well, I couldn’t find a definitive bread recipe from Luxembourg. I found all kinds of mentions of breads, most of them French- or German-style breads. But I did find a recipe for Quetschentaart, a Luxembourger damson prune tart. [NOTE: Now, I’m not a fan of prunes by any means. Prunes are only eaten for one reason, and one reason only. Most of the time, I think prunes taste like tobacco-infused hairballs. However, it was probably by some kind subconscious force that I actually bought plums instead. In my defense, they taste better and are practically the same fruit anyway. Oh, and I don’t have a tart tin nor could I find a cheap one at the last minute, so this was made in a pie tin instead. I guess this is a two-off recipe. But I digress.] I started with preparing my dough by mixing one stick of softened butter with 2 ¼ Tbsp sugar, and then I added in an egg and beat everything until it was fluffy looking. Then I slowly stirred in a cup of flour and a pinch of salt, kneading it until it became firm. Wrapping it in plastic wrap as best I could, I put it in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes. While I was waiting on my dough to do its thing, I washed eight plums, cut them in half and removed the pit. Then I cut them into thin slices and laid them on a cookie sheet I covered with paper towels. Then I patted them dry to soak up as much juice as I could. When the dough was ready, I rolled out the dough and placed it in my 9” buttered pie tin, cutting off the excess and crimping the edges with a fork. Then I laid my plum slices/wedges in circular patterns. Once it was filled to the top, I put it in a 400ºF oven (technically, 200ºC converts to 392ºF) for about 30 minutes. It might be a little soggy on the bottom because of the plum juice, but the edges were really brown. I took it out and dusted it with a little powdered sugar. (OK, I used a lot of powdered sugar.) I liked the consistency of the plums, and cutting them thin seemed to be a good idea. It almost tasted like an apple pie. I think next time I make this, I might double the dough recipe and place one on top of it. The dough itself was buttery and had a good flavor. I just would’ve been happier with more dough to balance out the number of plum slices. But otherwise, I was quite happy with this. My husband also suggested cooking the plum slices in some butter and sugar, and then using the dough to make a plum cobbler out of it. I might try to work that recipe up. 

Full of flavor and veggies.

Finally, the main dish for today is a green bean soup called Bouneshlupp. I first fried about five pieces of thick-cut bacon, and when the bacon was almost done, I threw in some turkey sausage crumbles in the skillet to cook down together. Then I removed the meat (each separately) and set it aside. Pouring the bacon fat into my larger pot, I used that to cook down my finely diced carrot and diced shallot and cooked this for a few minutes. Then I threw in my minced garlic and green beans. I added enough cold water to cover the beans and waited for it to come to a boil before reducing it to a simmer. Once it came to a simmer, I added in about half of the bacon (crumbling it up, of course), saving the other half for later. Then I covered it and let it cook for about 20 minutes. After this time, I added in my diced potatoes and let cook for another 20 minutes with a touch of salt and pepper. I added in the cooked sausage to the soup and let it simmer for the last 10-15 minutes or so. I served this topped with sour cream, the rest of the crumbled bacon, and some diced green onions with a side of some Italian bread. This soup was fantastic! Such a simple soup, but the best part of the soup was the combination of the dollop of sour cream, the bacon crumbles, and green onions. The kids ate it up, and so did my husband, and that was important. I’m not even sure if there’s going to be enough for my lunch tomorrow. I certainly hope so. 

What's not to love? Even my finicky eater of a son ate it, except the green beans. (He decided today he doesn't like those.)

So, I finally reached the end of the L countries. And this also marks the four-year anniversary of my blog. This was also one country past the halfway mark, too. (I didn’t realize Lithuania was the halfway-mark country.) When I think about where I was in my cooking and baking abilities at the beginning, I’ve certainly come a long way. There’s a lot to still learn, though. I guess I can say I’ve made a name for myself as well. It’s fun; it’s addictive; there are far more expensive or frivolous ways to spend money. There are a lot of M countries coming up—I’ll be on the M’s until the end of November. I know I’m only halfway through, but I’m already starting to figure out what I’m going to do when I get to the end. Desserts only, maybe?

Up next: Macedonia

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