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Monday, March 2, 2015

Chocolate Chips Espresso Birthday Cake


Two of the world's best things in one… Well, three even, you get to bake, make have coffee and eat the cake!



Wait - didn't we have that a couple of weeks ago? Yes, it was Chocolate Espresso Cake containing cacao powder. Today it's gonna be chocolate chips. Ground hazelnut nuts, too. Totally different, see? 

And let's not forget that I also call it birthday cake. Yes, On this gray and rainy Monday I go from early to mid thirties. 


OK, with 10 years experience. 

Let's not get hung up on technicalities and have a look at the ingredients!

Cake:

4                     eggs
1       cup       brown sugar (200g)

1.75 sticks    butter, melted, cooled a bit (200g)

1.25 cups      espresso (250ml), today I used Gold Coast Blend one of my favorites

2      cups     ground hazelnut (200g)2.5   cups     all purpouse flour (300g)
1      tbsp      baking powder (15g = 1 sachet)
0.5   tsp        ground cinnamon
1      pinch    salt

(source: Meranercake by Betty Bossi)

Frosting:

3      tbsp      butter (40g)
0.5   cups     chocolate chips (80g)
0.25 cups     espresso (70-80ml)
2      cups     confectioner's sugar (260g)

Directions

Preheat oven at 350°F (180°C) and prepare your baking dish. I used two smallish aluminum pans.

Cream eggs and sugar until fluffy, 


Pour in melted butter and coffee until combined. 

Add hazelnut and all the flour except a tablespoon, use this to "coat" the chocolate chips. This is supposed to prevent them from sinking. 

Pour your batter into the baking pan and bake for about 50-60 minutes, depending on your oven.

Take out the cake and let cool completely. 

If it has risen as much as mine, cut off the top so you have a flat surface.


Prepare the frosting by melting butter and chocolate in a small sauce pan, add coffee and gradually stir in confectioner's sugar with a whisk. 


Using a butter knife or a spatula coat your cake. For your sanity's sake I hope you won't end up with the same mess I did. My frosting contains too much coffee but tastes yummy!


Let it set for at least an hour - or as long as it takes so you can transfer your cake to a plate and serve it. 

I'm very happy with this cake. 

Let's just hope I will still manage to have dinner - hubby is taking me to St. Lucia.



Enjoy!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

How do go shopping in your PJs

Some days are different from others. Today was one of these days. We went shopping in our PJs.

How can you do that?
  • Don't take a shower
  • Don't get dressed
  • Go shopping

That's what we did. 

But why? And what's with the wig and the hat?

See, our shower head broke. After the heating and the dryer it was the shower head's turn.

This morning hubs got ready to go to work. Just before he was leaving he casually asked if I had heard about #TheDress? 

Baahahahaha! Had I heard about it? It has been all over FB for the past few days. So much that people who usually express themselves in a polite manner, posted "I can't see another   #$@&%*! dress post!" To which other people - who probably spend slightly less time on social media - innocently asked what particular dress they were talking about? Maybe one that some movie star was wearing for the Oscar show?
Anyway, as it turned out, hubby saw a white and gold dress, whereas I saw blue and brown/gray. I was still very sleepy and didn't really care. He found it fascinating. I was like "you know there are different pics circulating. Which one did you see?"
 
 

For the sake of it, he called Colin, and of course he said "white and gold". That was that.

After hubby was gone I told C that at some point we needed to go to Jumbo (Swiss Version of Home Depot) and get a new shower head. And because I was not going to take another runlet shower I was probably going shopping in my PJs. I said it half jokingly, but he grinned so broadly that an idea was born that very moment. Well, until he realized that I expected him to join me. NO WAY! He said. PEOPLE ARE GONNA LAUGH AT US!

They will probably stare at us, but they won't have the courage to openly laugh at us, I told him. And if they do, we can still stick our tongue at them!

He was very worried, and I said if anybody had to worry it was me. Look at my hair, it's a mess! He shrugged. WEAR A HAT!

Brilliant! I am wearing the leprechaun hat, I exclaimed.

NO, I WANT THE LEPRECHAUN HAT!

I thought you weren't coming?

WELL, MAYBE I AM NOW.

Allright, fine, I'll find something else to wear...



In the meantime I posted on FB and asked if anybody was feeling frisky and wanted to meet us there in their PJs. By the time we left the house there were a couple of likes and comments like "I have to work / I am sick, otherwise I'd join you".

 

 
So we were on our way, and I thought we were looking pretty cool!


 
We had tons of fun!


 
Did we mind?
 
Nope.
 
And because we had been doing so well, we went ahead and had lunch.



Even the hat, the jacket and the wig came off. We ate our burgers in our PJs without batting an eye! I think we are on to something.

Maybe one day we can arrange a flash mob:
 
Everybody show up in a public place wearing their PJs!
 
You game?

 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Funny Friday - Grumpy Cat

Today’s post is February’s Funny Friday, a regular feature published on the last Friday of every month. Funny Friday is a collaborative project. Each month one of the participants submits a picture, then we all write 5 captions or thoughts inspired by that month’s picture. Links to the other bloggers’ posts are below, click on them and see what they’ve come up with. I hope we bring a smile to your face as you start your weekend.


Here’s today’s picture. It was submitted by Sanity waiting to happen:






  1. When Garfield is in a foul mood, he is funny - when I am less than cheery, they call me Grumpy Cat!
  2. When was Garfield ever perky anyway? 
  3. Does he ever come out of his man cave?
  4. Speaking of… where is he? 
  5. Is that coffee or lasagna I'm smelling, I really can't tell? It does smell nice, though!
 


Click on the links below and let some other bloggers make you smile: 





Monday, February 23, 2015

The playdate and the beer bottle

During lunch C asked whether J could comer over for a playdate later today.
"Sure - is he asking his mom, too?"
"I'm not sure."

We called the number off his class phone list, but nobody answered. This boy has never been to our house, I don't know his parents apart from saying hello at parent-teacher conferences, so I don't have her cell phone number.

What we do know is that this family lives next to the school house, so we said after class C could go to J's house so they could ask.

So they made it home after school, had a snack,


Did their homework


And finally got to play hockey.


J was very curious and asked a million questions about the gear, the players, the rules, Colin's practice..


Later his mom called and asked about Colin's practice as well. Turns out J desperately wants to play hockey, too, and not just anywhere - in Zug, with Colin's team. Desperately means whining and crying all weekend.

There was no way her family could take J to Zug every week, she said. She didn't even drive, and her husband often works late. "Well, I drive anyway, if you trust me enough I would be happy to take your boy" I said. "This Wednesday is going to be the last practice of the season. Have him come and watch, and you'll have all spring and summer long to further discuss it!"

We exchanged mobile phone numbers and e-mail addresses, and I sent her links and info to just about everything she might need to know to make a decision. Equipment, prices, location, schedule, phone numbers, videos, pictures, you know me ;-)


She was also anxious to know what time he would be coming home tonight, and how he was going to find his way.


So I asked Colin to walk his friend home, and they left late because their game ended tied, and there was overtime and penalty shots, too, and when they finally left at 5:30pm, I texted her to let her know. 

Then I went to the kitchen and started getting my ingredients ready for pizza. A couple of times I went down to the basement to get tomato sauce, or up to the bedroom to carry up a basket of laundry. This must have been when she texted me "when exactly did they leave? J isn't home yet" at 5:53. It's not far, maybe a 10 minutes' walk if you have short legs. 


At 6 she called, pretty distraught. She was looking for them in the street, but fortunately while we were talking on the phone she said she could see them, and she was relieved.

When C was home 10 minutes later I told him his friend's mom was upset and scared, and I asked him what the h*** they was taking them so long. He grinned and admitted that they had done something silly. Like what? 

"Well, there was a bottle of beer by the fountain" he said "and there was some beer left, so we poured it into the water, and then the bottle fell in the fountain, and we didn't know how to get it out…" 

Frankly I was glad they didn't drink it, and had to refrain from laughing and asked "so was this a smart thing to do?" No, he shook his head. "Are you going to do it again?" He is smart enough to know what to say. "You are aware that dogs are drinking water from that fountain? When I was your age, our village cop might have come to our house to scold me" I said (that's true. He was a meanie. He even punished students for spitting on the pavement and stuff.) 

So C wanted to know if there was sill a village cop. No, but the area police, and I'd prefer not to see them at our house neither, I said.

"Moooommmmy?" he asked a couple of minutes later.
Yeah, honey?
"Can J and I have a sleepover?"
Not in the nearest future!!!

That's the long version of today's Facebook post earlier.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

10 things indicating it's Valentine's Day in Switzerland

I know I'm repeating myself. In terms of celebrating non-Christian holidays, living in Switzerland equals living under a rock. 

There are basically the following holidays that notably exist around here:

Three Wise Men, Carnival, Easter, Mother's Day, August 1st (our National Holiday) Back to School, Fall / Venison Food, Advent, Christmas.

You can see where this is going. Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Thanksgiving and Halloween - oh, and of course the Elf on the Shelf - are non-existent or negligible at best.



Still I thought I'd list the top ten indicators that Valentine's Day is in fact happening around here:


  1. Flower shops, above all Fleurop are advertising and announcing extended opening hours. One radio ad was actually quite interesting. It went like this: "Listen to how (insert male first name) is going to convince his wife to let him put the table soccer game in the living room as a permanent piece of furniture… (sound of phone ringing) Hello? Yes, I'd like to order some Valentine's flowers…" Good luck with that, dude! 

  2. Jewellers and watch makers are launching twinkling, heart shaped little somethings

  3. Grocery stores are setting up one measly little Valentine's table consisting in a range of chocolate boxes (this is still Switzerland, so no real effort necessary, just slap on a new packing onto the Christmas chocolate boxes that couldn't be sold), a bunch of thoughtless cards and some raunchy pieces of red lingerie. 

  4. Speaking of lingerie, our national wanna-be equivalents of Victoria's Secret redirected their usual saucy button to the seasonal Valentine's button.

  5. Mountain resorts and nice restaurants are offering "Valentine's specials" 

  6. Decoration item companies… wait a minute. They ain't doing anything! They have their Easter stuff out that nobody wants to buy yet.

That's it! Really! I come to a total of 5 points.

I was browsing stationary departments for wrapping paper. Something with a couple of hearts, please? Anywhere? No? This is so lame. Sales people were directing me toward the sturdy plain packaging paper. The one that people use to line their cupboards. "We carry them in red as well." No thanks. 



Lately I have been thinking about what I am going to do job-wise when C gets older. That's it! I am going to be Switzerland's holiday retail ambassador or something! Product Manager for pink. red, green and orange holiday items! While I'm at it I'll also obtain a free import license - if it doesn't already exist I'll have to introduce it - so our country can source graham and peanut butter crackers, BBQ chips, pumpkin puree and the like.

Until then I'll be spending a fortune ordering online.

But let me tell you about our very Swiss Valentine's weekend.



Saturday morning, probably 7:30am, it felt like 5:00 though:

Colin: "Moooom? I mean, good morning, dear Mommy!" (Did I train him well or what?)
Me: "Hi, sweets, I'm still very sleepy!"
Colin: "I was wondering when you are going to come through on your promise?"
Me: "Huh?"
Colin: "You know? The car? The one I was not supposed to talk about? We saw it at the toy store a while ago, and you bought it, and you told me I wasn't gonna get it until V-Day?"
(I can't believe he remembered. I didn't even get round to wrap it. Lack of wrapping paper, see above!)
Husband: "What are you talking about, today isn't Valentine's Day?"
Colin: "Of course it is, duh!! Yesterday was Friday, February 13th, so usually the next day is the 14th, and February 14 is V-Day, ta-daaa!" There was most probably some eye rolling. I didn't see. I kept my eyes closed.
Husband: "Ooohps! Indeed. Wow. Today…" Then he went to take a shower, got dressed and left for the office.

Meet Ice Racer Vitaly Petrov:




C and I were going to meet his friend for the local carnival parade later, and I didn't feel like going grocery shopping and cooking before leaving, so instead I took him on a surprise lunch date:



It's not a mall. It's a movie theater where for some reason Subway is open outside movie showtimes.
Coming soon!
Shaun, the Sheep
(Please don't make me watch this…)
Yes, we are open!
C likes to put together his own sandwich. He even does it in the U.S. - in English -  and he was inspired by a commercial we keep seeing when we watch NHL hockey games. (In case you're wondering if Swiss TV broadcasts NHL games. Of course not. We stream them from the NHL app we purchased. Best spent money!)

So in he marched and asked for "white chicken". The girl was like "huh?" He showed her. Ha, yes, this one was looking white and taste-less all right ;-) 

He also added salami and threw in some ham for good measure. Sliced cheese, shredded cheese, tomatoes, fresh cucumber, pickled cucumber, olives… He went all the way, and he cracked me up! 

Sandwich: 10 bucks, soda: 4 bucks,
his bright smile: priceless!

Are you going to eat all this? Of course!


When I asked him in January (with enough time to make or buy something) what costume he wanted to wear at the carnival parade, he said "just my skeleton". That was easy. Halloween box, done! 

One day prior to the parade he heard about his girlfriend and her sister being Native American Squaws. "Wouldn't it be cool if I were to wear a matching costume?" he asked at bedtime. Grrrrr! 

Wait! Two years ago I purchased one for him that was the smallest boy's size but still a bit too large for him back then. With any luck I could squeeze him into that. If I could find it in the attic, that is!

Ta-daaa! It was probably going to tear upon removal, but who cares?



His buddy Eric dressed up as a pirate, the sun was shining unexpectedly, and we had great fun!

 

One girlfriend,...


...Two girlfriends!


Plus Grandma!


Eric's parents and I felt like going to the pub for a beer / some sparkling wine. The kids felt like going to either home to play. Solution: our place! We usually don't have beer in our fridge, but from my beer bread making days there was a Guinness left! Also the last time we met we didn't empty all the Prosecco bottles D brought, so the sparkling part was covered as well.


By the time hubs came home from work I wasn't feeling like cleaning up and starting to make dinner and was just tipsy enough not to care about it anyway. He was quite amused and probably grateful for his opportunity to announce "Let me take you out for dinner. After all it's Valentine's Day!"

And that's how we ended up at our favorite Italian restaurant, no reservation needed - because, Switzerland - for some pasta and mineral water.

Eric told Colin that the next day he would be playing his very first soccer tournament. Of course we had to see this! 


Mr E was working the buffet, too!


I hate to say it, but he was more successful in serving beverages than scoring :-(


Even though he had the largest and loudest fan crowd!


Bummed to be losing all the games


A little iPhone gaming works wonders


In the end every participant got a shiny medal!



So, retail shortcomings aside, I feel that all in all we spent V-day weekend doing what matters: spending time with people we love. Although the guys were asking for another scavenger hunt. I am impressed and flattered that they remembered! 

I might plan one for the green holiday that C and I are already looking forward to!