I openly and happily admit I am a real homebody. There is almost nothing better than spending a day at home for me: I sleep in, then get up and make tea and fresh almond milk, check my emails, and engage in some piano playing, without having the need to dress for the day immediately. On a home day, I do all these things in my PJ’s. I then usually start doing some work, still in my PJ’s, which is so much nicer – it almost feels voluntary then, and I am so comfortable when working at home.

~ also, home-cooked food is the best ~

At home, I have my piano in the next room, so I can have a playing refreshment whenever I want to – not to forget the kitchen which provides me with tea and a nice meal as soon as I get thirsty or hungry. Okay, I have to admit I may be more distracted by all these pleasant thing as I am in the office, but I am not less productive overall, at least not since I created a little working space in my apartment where I go to do stuff. And knowing that I have everything at hand I need to be comfortable eases my mind a lot. I also love the solitude and the possibility to freely determine how to ration my time. This fuels me up before I throw myself into the world out there again. My home really is my little treasure island.

Now that I know I can stay in my apartment, I felt motivated to make this place more cozy. Today, I finished unpacking and then re-organized both my linen cupboard and my food-spices-and-tea shelf.

I made name tags for my herb and spice jars to have a better overview on what I have, and to find things more easily.

During the course of this endeavor, it happened that I stumbled across a jar containing some herbs of which I did (and do) not have the slightest idea of what they are. They smell aromatic with a somewhat dark, earthy flavor, but not similar to anything else I have. This is a little annoying and shameful, since I thought I was rather experienced with herbs and spices meanwhile, but for now, they have to be filed under “unidentified herbs”.

~ hm … ~

Apart from that, I am currently working on re-editing the first parts of my thesis. Two very good friends of mine have proofread the theory part, and now I am working in their corrections and suggestions. This is quite satisfying work.

Dinner today was a mix of roasted chicken, winter squash, and green beans, nicely flavored, and it tasted so good that I want to share the recipe with you.


1 serving


butter or oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
150 g (5 oz) winter squash, seeds removed and cut into pieces
2 handfuls of green beans, blanched or frozen
150 g (5 oz) chicken breast fillet, cut into pieces
1/4 tsp dried chili flakes
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch of ground allspice
1 pinch of ground cardamom
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp soy sauce


Heat some fat in a pan. Roast onion and ginger until fragrant. Add the squash and the beans together with a little water and cook covered for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook for another 5 minutes, then season with chili, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, and basil. Cook openly while stirring constantly, until the liquid has vanished. Serve drizzled with soy sauce and enjoy.

Are you a homebody, or does being at home give you the cabin fever feeling?

Hi friends! Here is a sign of life after some time of absence from the blog sphere. I am still existing!

Some of you have already emailed me to tell me that they missed me and to ask me how I was doing. These emails made me happy and smile a lot. Just know that when you do not hear or read from me, this does not mean I have forgotten or abandoned you, it just means that I have a lot to do. And I will always be back as soon as I can. So this is what I have been up to …

Life has been busy as always, but even more since Christmas is coming closer. This week somewhat was the last chance to run studies before Christmas, since people are gradually getting into this particular mindset resulting from a mixture of elevated alcohol levels due to constant mulled wine consumption, elevated adrenaline levels due to rushing and running errands for Christmas preparation, and elevated spirits due to the other-wordliness of the season. There are psychological effects that can only be found and replicated around Christmas, probably wrecking data quality by augmenting error variance and producing invalid results.

For me, this meant that I was quite busy during the past two weeks to get everything done in time – my supervisor has given me the honor and responsibility to conduct his studies over here while he is in New Zealand, and since he wanted me to collect data for some study, I had a deadline. So, we skyped and exchanged countless emails on the study design, I worked on materials he sent me, and then had to organize everything: doing testruns, collecting a sample for pretesting and gathering feedback on the comprehensibility of the instructions and items, putting the study up with studies from other researchers since we usually share labs (and of course, all labs were already taken until mid December), and finding a budget for paying the participants (which meant begging my way through the whole department). Then, preparing the lab and the study materials such as questionnaires, sampling lists, flyers, billings lists, and so on.

Anyway, I really enjoy this job. It is not mainly a job for money – most importantly, it gets me into actual research business, and I learn so much. I work with high self-determination but also high responsibility, and I really enjoy the challenge. So, I am totally in my element with this. And the best thing is that, due to all my commitment and contributions, I will be on the paper when the stuff gets published – what is likely to happen, since the current study is a follow-up to a previous study which already yielded some interesting results, and both will be published together in one article. You know, the number of your publications is the current in the academia of empirical sciences – this is how the game works, and although this is not the most fortunate condition, you just need publications when you want to sustain in the field. Therefore, having publications – preferably in reputable journals – is a good thing.

Of course, there are also my piano students, and I keep playing myself. And in the meantime, I try to get some work on my thesis done, more or less successfully. The idea of getting it finished this year unfortunately was rather unrealistic, so my new, more realistic goal is to finish it in January, especially since I will present the whole thing in the colloquium at the end of January next year.

Apart from this, social life has kept me busy as well on most evenings (when I would blog and do relaxing things otherwise). There were birthday and goodbye parties, the Christmas dinner of the personality psychology department, the Christmas party of the social psychology department, and various visits to the Christmas market with friends.

Last year, I took you with me on an extended tour over the Christmas market in the inner city. (Click here to relive the ultimate Christmas market experience.) This year, I went up to the Christmas market at the castle with a couple of social psychology friends.

~ the castle Christmas market ~

~ the castle being Christmas-y ~

From the castle terrace, we could enjoy a view over the city beautifully illuminated by countless lights.

And of course, we enjoyed Glühwein, a hot mulled wine sweetened and spiced with oranges, cinnamon, and cloves, that people traditionally have at Christmas markets probably not only in Germany.

I am very blessed now with having such awesome friends! Two of my best friends are also in social psychology, and since we all live for what we do, whenever we meet, it is just a matter of time that we end up with psychology discussions. Over drinks this week, we started collecting ideas and planning upcoming experiments which we will hopefully start conducting by the beginning of the next year already.

~ the three musketeers ~

Finally, after so many months of sagging, just getting along somehow, and worrying about my future, I am finally confident that things will turn out well. I know that great ideas do not come from one person alone, but result from the most inspiring interaction with other people. Especially in science, it is crucial to connect, exchange, and discuss ideas, and for that, you need people who you can totally trust and who would never backstab you. With my lovely co-musketeer ladies, I now have a couple of research ideas going to be pursued in the time to come, and I am looking forward to that like nothing else.

However, all of these things going on were a little too much in the end, and I ended up with getting a migraine the other day. I spend the whole day in bed with curtains drawn and a towel on my face to exclude the light, after returning home from the institute around midday, and then slept for almost 20 hours. Now I am feeling a little better, but having to stay at home to recover ironically gives me an opportunity to update my blog. (This is something for the upcoming New Year’s resolutions – no late-night working and no driving-myself-to-my-limits anymore, and taking more time for other things instead!)

It also gives me an opportunity to provide you with a sick stomach recipe, because my tummy was feeling really weird and I needed to cook something that I would be able to eat without getting myself into trouble. I chose ginger against the nausea, winter squash (I used kuri squash because it cooks down to a nicely mealy consistency) for comforting and easing my stomach, tomatoes for soupiness, and chicken for unproblematic satiety – when I am sick, alone the idea of eating eggs or seafood makes everything worse. Actually, I had made a big batch of this in the morning already, and boxed it since I had a lab day scheduled (which I then had to cancel), and this was good because I could just eat from it throughout the whole day, whenever I woke up and felt hungry, and then went back to bed and continued sleeping.


4 servings


butter or oil
2 tsp of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium-sized winter squash (I used kuri squash, but you can also use kabocha or butternut), peeled (according to kind), seeds removed, and cut into pieces
500 g (1 lb) chicken breast fillet, cut into pieces
500 g (1 lb) tomatoes, chopped
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch of ground cloves
1 pinch of ground cardamom
1 handful of fresh cilantro


In a big pot, heat some fat and roast the ginger until fragrant. Add the pumpkin and roast it for a minute, then add a little water and cook the whole thing covered for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and tomatoes, season with salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom, and cook everything on low to medium heat for 20 minutes. Finally, throw in the cilantro and cook openly until desired consistency, then serve or box or whatever, but anyhow, enjoy!

What kind of food or dish agrees with your tummy when it feels like doing somersaults?

As you can see from my lack of updating recently, I am (still) quite busy. There is a lot of work to do – running experiments, teaching piano and statistics lessons, reading articles, and writing my thesis – and besides that, I spend my little spare time at my piano and with friends.

The more things I have on my schedule, the more I realize the importance of eating well to feel balanced not only physically but also mentally. I tend to be quite sensitive towards food, so good nutrition is essential to keep me going. At the same time, I cannot afford too much time for preparing food. This, coupled with my preference for simplicity, makes me a great fan of simple but nourishing food.

One dish I have cooked a lot lately, for the reasons that it is (1) easy and quick to make, (2) yummy, (3) warming and comforting, and (4) rather inexpensive, is chicken in spicy tomato sauce.

This dish is ready in less than 10 minutes and never disappoints. Moreover, it allows for a lot of variations – the chicken can be exchanged for seafood or legumes, for example, and the herbs and spices can be switched up – I made this with basil, dill, chives, thyme, or tarragon for seasoning, and fish, mussels, squid, adzuki beans, or brown rice as a main ingredient so far, and it was always good.

Usually, I eat it just like it is, but it is also great as a sauce with rice or pasta. I recently cooked this dish for friends of mine, and they loved it as well.


1 serving


butter or oil
2 red onions, peeled and cut into slices
150 g (5 oz) chicken breast fillet, cut into pieces
400 g (14 oz) chopped (fresh or canned) tomatoes
salt to taste
1/4 tsp dried chili flakes
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch of cardamom
1 handful of fresh cilantro (or other herbs)


In a pot or a pan, heat some fat and sauté the onion slices. Add the chicken and roast it until browned from all sides, then add the tomatoes. Season with salt, chili, cinnamon, and cardamom, then cover and stew everything for about 5 minutes until everything is done. Remove the lid and cook openly until the sauce is reduced to the wished degree. In the end, throw in some cilantro, then serve and enjoy.

Which dish gives you comfort?

If I had to eat just one dish for the rest of my life, or had to chose my last meal, it would be carrot tagliatelle with chicken. The basics are always the same: I use two or three carrots (depending on size), cut into tagliatelle, a sliced red onion, and some chicken breast fillet I cut into bite-sized pieces. I start with roasting the onion in a little ghee, then add the carrots, put the lid on and roast them until they become tender. In the end, I add the chicken, and the covered roasting goes on until everything is done. Sometimes, I add a little water some time along the way, but often I do not have to. The seasoning is always a little salt or soy sauce, lots of black pepper or chili, and either cinnamon or Chinese five-spice – and then, lots of fresh herbs. It is a very simple and delicious dish that is ready within 10 or 15 minutes, and I often make varieties of it by adding some other veggies – mostly green veggies, like spinach, kale, or broccoli – and different herbs.

I really eat this dish a lot, way more than my blog reflects so far, so I decided that it was time to devote a post to this dish. And since I do not want to bother you with countless recipe posts on different chicken-with-carrot-tagliatelle variations, I thought to show you some of them in a single post.

In this version, I added lamb’s lettuce which is a mild-tasting lettuce with small, dark green leaves that is similar to spinach, but other than spinach, you can get it fresh during the whole year over here. I also used fresh dill.

~ it is a special joy to take shine-through pictures of carrot tagliatelle ~

Here is another version with sweetheart cabbage, which can be compared to white cabbage but it is more tender, and chives.

And finally, a very basic version with just carrots. Since there were no other vegetables, lots of fresh basil had to come up for that.

Which dish is the dish for you?

Yesterday I wanted to watch the wedding, and since I do not own a tv, I wondered how to do it. But then the wonderful made the great suggestion to watch it online via live stream, so I was happily looking forward to wedding pleasure around midday – thanks to living in Germany, I did not have to decide whether or not to pull an all-nighter.

Everything seemed to be perfect. But then, unfortunately, the live stream decided to look like this after about 10 minutes.

~ turquoise everywhere ~

~ at least I could see some faces ~

And I totally loved the speech about spiritual growth in marriage. So good! Listening to that was worth it alone.

Then, I had thought that it would be nice to make some shortbread to go with it, and looked up a nice almond shortbread recipe on the internet which I adjusted a little to make it gluten-free and low in sugar.

Everything seemed to be perfect. But then, much to my regret, it ended up like this.

~ nothing could be saved here ~

So, no almond shortbread for the wedding. I just had tea – English breakfast tea with cream.

~ mmmmmmmmm, never lets me down ~

Ah, it looks like I am not yet a baker. But I am not giving up! The recipe would have worked, I think, if I had just had an better eye on my creation while it was roasting in the oven. I will try it again!

At least, not all things went like that. My supervisor (who currently is in New Zealand on a research scholarship) has finished the programming of my thesis study, and after countless weeks of delay due to earthquakes getting in the way, troubles with the internet server, and emails getting lost in the cyberspace between Germany and New Zealand, it finally looks as if I could start data collection next week. I will open a bottle of sparkling wine if everything will somehow work out in the end.

Also, while I suck at baking (for now), my cooking skills are getting better. I made another pot roast, this time using turkey, and it turned out delicious. I highly recommend to try this – the meat was incredibly tender and flavorful – and I think the recipe would also work well with fish like trout or salmon.

Lemon, Garlic, and Ginger Flavored Turkey Pot Roast

4-5 servings


ghee, butter, or oil
750 g (1 1/2 lbs) turkey meat (I used a turkey breast filet)
salt to taste
pepper to taste
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut into slices
1 tbsp fresh gingerroot, peeled and cut into slices
1 small handful dried kaffir lime leaves (from the Asia store)
1 stalk lemon grass, cut into diagonal slices
1 handful fresh parsley


Heat some fat in a big pot and roast the meat from all sides. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic, ginger, lemon leaves, lemon grass, and parsley, then fill some water into the pot so the bottom of the pot is covered.

Bring to boil, then put the lid on and roast on low heat for about 1 1/2 hours. When the meat is done, carefully take it out of the pot, drain the liquid, and let it cool a little. Cut slices from the meat, serve with a nice side dish, and enjoy. Leftovers stay fresh in the fridge for a couple of days, or can be stored in the freezer.

Now there is a thunderstorm outside, and I still need to do the weekend grocery shopping. Ah, life …

Did you watch the wedding? Have you experienced any kitchen disasters lately?

I am delighted that one of my favorite lyrics from the song appear in the video pic above.

You say the magic’s gone – I’m no magician.

You say the spark’s gone – well, get an electrician.

Awesome, awesome, and just how I like it: Regardless of the misery you are in, never lose you humor!

Speaking of misery: My cold has gotten worse today. My arms, legs, and back hurt all the time, I got fever now, and my head cannot decide whether to implode or explode – well, this way, it stays at its place, at least. I am very thankful for the care that speaks from your comments on my last post, and your great suggestions. However, with regard to how I feel today, there was no thinking of exercise, and despite a 20 minutes drag to the grocery store and back, I was happy not to move at all.

I spent the day in my bed and in the bathtub , and later I moved to the living room and did some piano playing, reading, and drawing. Eats were light and far from special, since my head was not willing to show any creativity at all. So, this is the perfect day to post one the recipes I recently made and have not posted yet.

As I have written a while ago, my cooking style can be described as throwing everything into a single pan. I use to make single servings and eat everything up at once, and a few hours later, I will do the same thing again. This way, I almost never do any cooking in advance, unless I know I will be away for the complete day – then I fry a pound of chicken breast filets at 7 am and throw them all into a lunchbox, alongside with a bunch of vegetables and a handful of almonds.

While my cooking style is perfectly alright, given my current life conditions (I spend a lot of time at home, working on my diploma thesis, giving piano lessons every now and then, and doing stuff), it sometimes annoys me for the following reasons:

I am inflexible. Since I do not eat most grains, I cannot simply make a quick sandwich or have a bowl of cereal if I am hungry, but always need to cook something. (The only “quick food” for me is a green smoothie, that is something at least!)
I eat very much the same all the time – stir fries, stir fries, stir fries.
It impairs my creativity in the kitchen. There are many recipes I would love to try, but which take quite a lot of preparation time. Usually, I start cooking when I get hungry, and this means I do not want to wait for an hour, but have something ready within 15 minutes. And, for ecological reasons, I really do not see the point in preheating my oven and then bake a single serving of something for 40 minutes or longer if I can have it ready in the pan in a fraction of that time.

With cooking in advance, though, these things would not happen.

I would have something to eat at hand every time.
I could try a wider range of recipes, and thus have a bigger variety of dishes. Moreover, I would also make more meatless side dishes to please my vegetarian and vegan readers.
I would not have to mind about preparation times. You can justify 40 minutes of oven roasting if you get several servings from it, no? Plus, you can roast several things in your oven at once!
Oh, and did I mention that I do not have any problems to eat the same things over and over again?

Why do I not do it, then? Well, I think it is mostly laziness, mind clutter (thus, not thinking of food when I am not actually hungry), and bad organization (cooking in advance calls for planning). And you know that I am not the best when it comes to just doing something – in many different regards. Fear also plays a role.

Fear, you ask? Sure! For a coward by disposition, new things tend to be scary, and cooking several servings at once is unknown territory for me. Thank goodness, I have some fellow bloggers who already did/do it and, without knowing, improve my confidence about it. And while I am still frightened by the thought of a whole chicken, I think chicken drumsticks are something I can handle.

~ I made them in my new cast-iron pot ~

Okay, my dear vegetarian and vegan readers , this one might not be for you, but the seasoning was awesome, and I think it might work with tofu as well, if you first fry the tofu in a little oil (which was unnecessary with the chicken drumsticks because the skin contained sufficient fat) and then roast it with the spices for 10 minutes or so.

Speaking of the seasoning: I used lavender for this dish, and liked it a lot! The dried lavender blossoms are tea actually (at least I got them from the tea shelf at the organic supermarket), but I though they would make a nice seasoning as well.

Juniper, Rosemary, and Lavender Roasted Chicken Drumsticks

4 servings


4 chicken drumsticks
1 tbsp juniper berries
1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
1/2 tbsp dried lavender
4 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into slices
salt to taste
pepper to taste


Put the chicken drumsticks into a pot and cover them with garlic slices and spices. Heat carefully to let them roast a little, then fill a little water into the pot (so that the water stands as high in the pot as two fingers are wide). Bring to boil, then simmer covered and at low to medium heat for about an hour – the water will be cooked away afterwards. Serve hot and enjoy. Leftovers will stay fresh in the fridge for a few days.

Do you cook in advance? Do you have any recipes to share that are good to make in advance? Is there a dish you like a lot that only pays the effort if you make several servings at once?