A few days ago, it happened that I was given a blog award. Thank you so much for this!

This made me happy for several reasons: It does not happen every day that you receive a blog award, and I feel honored every time when I am chosen. This time I feel especially honored since the blog award I got is meant for rather small blogs (with less than 200 followers) that are somehow special and worth reading.

But, most importantly: Have you ever seen such a cute blog award?

~ my new mp3 player ~

I bought this one from my Christmas money, when my old one was starting to establish a habit of showing nervous tics. An mp3 player is a vital accessory for me, because it helps me to leave the house by keeping the noise overload at bay when I go by tram or walk down the pedestrial area in the inner city. I love this one because it is pink and has this cute flowery design.

~ Percy ~

Percy is a little plush turtle I got from a very good friend for my last birthday. He is not actually pretty, but he has the most lovely and trusting eyes imaginable. From the moment I saw him for the first time, he had a place in my heart, and he has been constantly accompanying me in my pocket since then.

~ my Ma’s Mii ~

When I got a Wii, the first thing I did was making Miis for my family and closest friends. These Miis show up frequently when I play, and I am happy every time I see them. I have a very special relationship with my Ma, so it makes me particularly happy when I see my Ma’s Mii. And it really looks like her.

~ my gecko felt bag ~

I got this felt bag for Christmas last year. It is handmade by a northern German craftslady who makes these bags which have covers you can exchange. So basically, you can buy a bag and then get different covers and change them according to your liking and daily mood. My mom picked this green gecko cover for me, and scored a 100 % hit.

~ my flower carry bag ~

Another new bag! This one just arrived on Monday, and I love it a lot. I always wanted to have a nice carry bag I, and finally found this one. I like the flowers, and it has a lot of space for storage, which is perfect for somebody who tends to carry around a lot of things, just in case.

~ PlayStation Portable with games ~

I am a little nostalgic when it comes to video games. I love these old-school role playing and strategic role playing games, and my favorite ones I have played through 10 or more times. Now I can replay them on my PSP, while being curled up in my rocking chair or laying in my bed. The graphics and dialogues have been overworked in a very nice way, without destroying the feel of the original game. And since 2012 is my year of playing, I really enjoy this.

~ banana fresh box ~

This one is not for me, actually. I sent it to my Ma for her birthday last year (along with tea, spices, and homemade almond butter stuffed into the meanwhile emptied Happy Bee Manuka honey jar Stephanie had sent me a while ago). This fancy banana fresh box will hopefully prevent my Ma’s beloved bananas from getting squeezed in her golf bag. Note that it has breathing holes for the banana, so this is really fancy.

~ Chopin’s piano concerto #2 ~

This is one of my favorite piano concertos. When I listened to it for the first time, I immediately knew that I wanted to be able to play it. Last year or so, I could play half of the first movement, but then I focused on another piece I prepared for the annual recital at my teacher’s home, and recently refreshed a couple of yet other pieces, abandoning this wonderful piano concerto. Now I dug it out again, and although I have to work on some passages again, I am happy that large parts are still in my fingers.

~ my piano ~

Forever, unchanged.

Which are some of your favorite things, of lately or in general?

What do you like to do on a quiet evening when you know you will not leave the house anymore? Well, one thing you could do is cook something that contains its fair share of garlic.

My dad is always a little “socially” concerned with eating garlic, and for many years, I was not used to eating it at all. I remember the vacation I spent in Florida with my parents when I was 6 or so years old – we bought garlic flavored crispbread (not knowing that garlic is “Knoblauch” in English), as a food supply for a road trip. When we opened the package during a picnic by the side of an abandoned country road, it turned out what it was, and it was decided better not to eat it. So we fed it to a racoon who had accompanied us since we had food, and he ate up the whole stuff to the last crumb.

“What a shame!”, I would say now, in my garlic-loving days. Garlic does not only have wonderful health benefits, but also adds so much flavor to a lot of dishes! And still, my dad’s concerns got somewhat stuck with me – I am a little reluctant to eat it on an occasion that is probably followed by meeting people, so I mostly use it when I cook dinner on a stay-home evening. Evenings like that are the best for indulging in lots of garlic.

Okay, I know there is this roast-chicken-with-40-cloves-of-garlic thing going around on the internet, and my humble little recipe is far from keeping up with that one, but it still contains quite a lot of garlic, for my standards. The reason why I do not eat more garlic basically is that I tend to be a lazy girl. If I had more time, I would happily spend one hour a day with peeling and chopping garlic cloves, but at the moment, I do not see myself like that. (If I lived in the county where foodie dreams come true, and where you can buy already-peeled cloves of garlic at the supermarket, this story may have taken a different ending. But I live in Germany, and this means I have to peel the garlic myself.) I may try that 40-cloves-of-garlic recipe one day, though, when I feel ready for it. Until then, I will stay with magnitudes like this.

~ served in one of my lovely bowls ~


1 serving


butter or oil
4 cloves o garlic (or as much as you can stomach), peeled and finely chopped
150 g (5 oz) squid (I used frozen squid rings)
4 tomatoes, chopped
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1/2 tsp ground garam marsala
1/4 tps dried basil
1/4 tsp dried lovage
1/4 tsp dried tarragon
1/4 tsp dried chives
1 handful of fresh parsley


Heat some at in a pan and roast the garlic until fragrant. Add the squid and roast until done, then add the tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, garam marsala, basil, lovage, tarragon, and chives. Cook covered for about 10 minutes. Throw in the fresh parsley, serve, and enjoy.

Any garlic lovers out there?

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?

I am back home – back to the cosiness of my own place, the otherwordly clarity, tenderness, and complexity of sound my grand piano delights me with, and a nice surprise.

Actually, I am not the biggest fan of surprises – the idea of being in a situation and not having the slightest idea of what to expect, plus being under the pressure to react immediately and adequately to it and not being able to get away … No, thank you. Also, what pleases the one frightens the other, and many things other people may find or consider pleasing – “Hey, look, I baked a cake for you, and I want you to try it immediately!” ”Whee, we have a surprise party at your place!” ”I thought I would just come over, isn’t that a great idea?” – elicit a strong need of playing dead with me.

Moving on …

This surprise was a really nice one. If you have read my blog long enough, you may remember that I have quite the serious humidity problem in my apartment. In other words: My apartment is wet. Rainforest, washkitchen wet. This is not only uncomfortable and unhealthy for myself (I was starting to develop breathing issues), but it also gradually wrecks my grand piano – accoustic pianos do not like a high humidity of 70 % or above, and that was what I constantly had in my apartment.

~ at least it did not rain from the ceiling ~

The reason for this is that I live in an old house which is not optimally insulated. One of my neighbors just moved out because her apartment was full of mold, and she had to throw away half of her furniture because it was mildewed. Another one has mold in her kitchen and another room – this is the one I spoke about changing apartments with, but it turned out her apartment was no better than my own. At least I do not have mold, for some reason, probably because I air properly.

By recommendation of my piano tuner, I had bought a dehydrator a year ago, to go against the humidity. With having it run 24/7, and fetching 10 to 15 liters of water from my living room air every day (!), I got the humidity down to a nice mid 50 %. Over the months, I realized that the amount of water was gradually decreasing, and while I had to empty the water container twice a day in the beginning, I was down to twice a week in the end. I think that I somewhat dried out the complete apartment because there was not so much water coming after anymore. My landlady, however, did not believe me and said it was just due to the weather, and while that plays a role as well, it is not a sufficient explanation, since summer, autumn, and winter were very rainy this year.

Anyway, the ultimate test of whether or not I would have to consider a move was my two weeks of absence (and not dehydrating) during the Christmas holidays. I actually expected to come back to a washkitchen again. But when I opened the door, my apartment awaited me warm and dry, and the hygrometer showed incredible 49 % humidity.

~ this is almost too low ~

So it seems that I can stay in my apartment. This is nice because I really like my apartment, and for Heidelberg standards, the rent is very cheap – I could easily pay a much higher rent for an apartment half the size. However, the utilities make it rather expensive again: My energy company just sent me the most horrible electricity back pay bill I have ever seen in my entire life, and also increased my monthly energy expense. But anyway, if I moved, I would most likely end up with housing costs comparable to my current ones (lower utilities but higher rent) and a smaller or very peripheral apartment, and it is not easy to find an apartment suitable for a grand piano anyway, not to mention all the additional costs and stress coming from moving itself. So I will just stay here.

I also love that this apartment has a big kitchen.

I hope you all had a happy and smooth transition! I started into the new year with a new haircut , a sinus infection , and some plans and wishes for the upcoming year . I am very excited about this next part of this year because this year will bring a lot of changes in my personal and professional life, with me finally transitioning from studying to working life, and many of my friends certainly or probably moving away and scattering across the planet.

My last New Year’s resolutions were centered around getting eating and nutrition right, finishing my studies, improving my piano skills, caring better for myself, educating myself in areas of interest, and keeping up blogging. Looking back it is time to strike a balance.


I can happily say that I did pretty well on this one: During the course of the past year, I more and more developed a sense of which foods to eat (in which proportions) and which foods to avoid to feel healthy and energized, and so I start this year with a feeling of knowing how to feed my body.

Moreover, my stomach and gut have recovered after cutting out dairy, gluten, soy protein, sugar, and “white” carbs, although it took many months, and I could carefully widen my food spectrum and reintroduce foods that used to give me cramps before – legumes, brown rice, and kale. I am looking forward to continuing this adventure into the world of real food. This is the kind of experimenting I like.


Ahhhhh … Not finished yet. In the end, everything took much longer than expected, and due to having (several) side jobs – research assistance work in two departments, statistics tutorials, and piano lessons – I often did not have sufficient time and energy to work on my thesis as much as I would have liked to. However, 100 pages are written and re-edited already, and additionally, there already exist an extended references list and several appendices and graphics to insert in the end.

I think there are about 30 to 50 more pages to write, due to the large amount of statistical analyses I conducted with the data, and then the whole thing will finally be finished. With the final exams still to come afterwards, I will need some more months to graduate, but that is okay.


This one was fine as well – surprise surprise! Admittedly, I did not start to play Bach as I wanted, but I learned a couple of new pieces and refreshed some old ones, and also my technique and touch have improved a lot. Things I found very challenging in my first years of playing come rather easily to me now, and I also learn a lot and take great pleasure in teaching piano lessons myself. Based on principles of learning and memory psychology I know from my psychology studies, research into piano practicing and playing techniques, and the knowledge and experience of my wonderful piano teacher, I have developed a quite unique style of teaching which focuses on how to practice with efficiency, and also contains elements of tai-chi (inspired by my own piano teacher) and mindfulness practice. This teaching style I then adjust regarding to my students’ individual needs and current state of playing, and I am happy to say that they enjoy the lessons a lot and learn very well.


I got better with this, but there is still room for improvement. Overall though, I have learned to relax and to handle stress better. My bathtub may or may not have played a major role in this …

Anyway, I still have to listen more to my body when to stop. Especially by the end of the last year, there was a lot of work and social events going on, and I ended up with a migraine shortly before going home for Christmas. This is the ultimate sign that it is too much. I also think that I may have developed something like a body memory for exhaustion over the years, so I have to be careful not to slip back into that state of burn-out I have been in until less than two years ago – I tend to be more susceptible to exhaustion now than earlier in my life, but I know that, by learning myself well and applying good self-management strategies, I can be productive at a high-quality level. Saying “no” more often, and learning to let go of my ideal of perfection and not to feel responsible for everything, seem to be the next steps into the right direction.


I have not done this to the extend I would have liked, but to some extend. Thankfully, due to my profession, I somewhat have a warranty for constant learning, but I would like to widen the scope and read more about things which are not on the current to-do list.

Topics which I have deepened my knowledge on are psychometrics, social cognition, language and communication, self-concept and identity, motivation, and nutrition. However, some more reading in general would be nice …


As you can see, this blog still exists, and I am happy to still be in contact with my beautiful blogging friends. A big thank you again to all of you, because without your help, I would have never been able to collect so many participants for my diploma thesis study!

On the other hand, my post counts of the past months and my very reduced blog-reading and commenting almost fill me with shame. Now that I have more time for blogging during the holidays, I realize again how happy it makes me to be a more active part of this wonderful community.

* * * * *

So you see, the balance of last year is a little mixed, but rather positive overall. It is time to announce my plan for the new year! (You may have guessed it from my blog title already …) In a nutshell, it is this.


Why work-play balance and not work-life balance, as it is usually called? Well, playing is important for a healthy and fulfilling life! Moreover, playing contains activities you take pleasure in, while life can very well be nasty sometimes, regardless of whether that is related to work or not. And work can also be satisfying, actually, if it is work that suits you. But in this juxtaposition, on the “work” side there is everything that has to be done, while on the “play” side there is everything that is voluntary and fun. I could also have called it “should-want balance”. However, both sides are a potential source of happiness, but in different ways: Happiness coming from the work side is satisfaction due to getting things done, while happiness coming from the play side is joy due to engaging in blissful activities, just for their own sake. The balance is important to experience both kinds of happiness in life.

Most of my life, the scales always inclined towards the work side, and playing came short given everything that had to be done. From now on, I want to try my best to keep the scales more balanced, what means: More time for blissful activities!

The idea for this, I have to admit, does not originate with me but rather with my family. As it were to give me a broad hint, for my birthday this year, I got a package from my parents and grandmoms containing this.

This is a Wii, a PlayStation Portable, and games. When I opened the package, my first thought was, “Where shall I ever take the time from to play with these?” And at the same time, I had an eerie feeling something was not at all going right in my life, and the presents in front of me were telling me what it was.

A few days later, I set up the Wii. It was a weekend evening, I had worked on my thesis for a couple of hours (which I usually do on the weekends because the weekdays do not tend to leave me enough time to get something done on my own things), and was being in this unpleasant condition of being too exhausted to relax with a book or at my piano, while it was still way too early to go to bed. When feeling like that, I cannot even watch TV because having to sit quietly makes me more nervous and tensed and gives my hyperactivity and tics (weird, I know).

Anyway, I started with making Miis, these little characters you can build on the Wii, and two hours were happily spent creating myself and my family and closest friends. Here is my Mii.

~ my Mii visiting the Fuji mountain in the Wii Party world traveling game ~

Then, I started to play Wii Sports Resorts. It was great fun, and it made me happy that all my family-and-friends Miis were also around all the time.

~ catching Ma during skydiving ~

I soon discovered my love for cycling, archery, swordfighting, and – above all – tabletennis. From then on, I played for an hour or two every evening, and made some very exciting discoveries: First, I realized I actually exercised – after 10 minutes or so of playing, I was in t-shirt and boxers and still sweating, and my arm muscles were stiff (so I started to strategically switch games to grant them some rest). Second, and even more important, my exhaustion went away: While I would have just dragged myself through a dreary evening before, too tired to be able to make use of myself, I had finally discovered a way to actively restore my energy – playing. Afterwards, I was refreshed enough to practice the piano or read a book before going to sleep. So, the point of the story is that devoting more time to playing actually makes me more productive, energized, and happier overall.

What are your plans and wishes for the new year? Do you play enough?

My parents and I are currently eating our ways through all the leftovers that have accumulated during the Christmas holidays …

~ munch, munch ~

What I think works very well is to combine leftover foods with something fresh, and make new dishes of old things all the time. Leftovers, in a wider sense, here also contain foods which my mom bought to make me happy (she did!) – lots of chicken, cherry tomatoes, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and the like – and which had not been prepared since everything else was so much, and thus had to be finished off as well, due to the freezer being stuffed already. Here is a little gallery showing dishes we (okay, mostly I ) enjoyed during the past days – and a recipe, in the end.

~ chicken with cherry tomatoes and leftover green beans ~

~ leftover venison and green beans with brussel sprouts and shiitake ~

~ chicken with leek and onions in tomato sauce ~

~ chicken with carrot tagliatelle ~

~ leftover venison and potatoes with brussel sprouts ~

~ roasted pork and shiitake with fresh cherry tomatoes ~

~ leftover venison with onions, shiitake, and lamb’s lettuce ~

~ chicken with turnip, shiitake, and sweetheart cabbage ~

~ leftover fish and potatoes with tomatoes and lamb’s lettuce ~

The last dish I made as a quick dinner for my parents one day, and all the fish and potatoes left from the Christmas dinner went into there. My parents enjoyed this dish very much, and I really take pleasure in cooking for them when I am here. Please feel free to use other kinds of fish and vegetables for making this, or tofu to veganize it. I just used what was there and had to be eaten.


2 servings


butter or oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
150 g (5 oz) salmon fillet, cut into pieces
150 g white fish fillet (I used cod), cut into pieces
3 cooked potatoes, peeled and cut into slices
4 tomatoes, cut into pieces
1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 pinch of ground chili
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 big handful of lamb’s lettuce (or spinach)


Heat some fat in a large pan and roast the garlic until fragrant. Add fish, potatoes, and tomatoes, season with paprika, thyme, oregano, basil, chili, salt, and pepper, then put the lid on and let everything simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. By then, the fish and tomatoes should be done, and all the flavors should have nicely combined. Throw in the lamb’s lettuce and cook openly for a little longer if there is too much liquid you wish to reduce, then serve and enjoy.

Please share what you do with leftovers! You can choose several options, if you like.

The holidays have been cozy and filled with delicious foods again. The main Christmas holiday is December 24th in Germany, not the 25th as in most other countries. As usual, the day began with setting up and decorating the Christmas tree while listening to Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

In the afternoon, my two grandmoms came to my parents’ house, and we all had tea and coffee together and talked, since they had not seen me in such a long time. For the ones who wanted, there were sweets to enjoy.

~ cream-filled Christmas cake my grand aunt had sent us ~

~ Niederegger marzipan chocolates, a delicacy from my hometown ~

With exception of the cake, everything was gluten-free this year: My parents both switched to a gluten-free diet several months earlier, due to my dad’s aggravating and increasingly harmful bowel issues. When the doctors recommended to raise his consumption of fibers by eating more whole grains and legumes, I had suggested to try a gluten-free diet first, to rule out the possibly he had developed a wheat sensitivity after getting bowel surgery a couple of years ago – thanks to my friend Panda who once mentioned that food intolerances can result from having an infection or undergoing surgery, especially in the belly and bowel area. In that case, increasing (gluten) whole grain consumption might have had very unfortunate effects.

I am very happy that the gluten-free diet seems to work for my dad: He has not had a single attack in the last half of a year, and has not been to the hospital, which he was every three or four months before, when he got the most severe cramps and obstruction of the bowels. My mom cooks a lot of potatoes, and sometimes rice or other gluten-free grains, and my dad eats gluten-free bread and the like. Now, my mom has made her traditional Christmas stolen with gluten-free flour for the first time, and an accomplished baker she is, she immediately found out that gluten-free dough is likely to need an egg more not to become dry and crumbly, since it lacks the elasticity provided by wheat gluten.

~ my mom’s gluten-free stollen ~

For Christmas dinner, we had fish this year – salmon and cod caught by my dad on his last fishing vacation in Denmark – with vegetables and potatoes, and a fruit salad for dessert. The fish was prepared differently so everybody could have it the way he liked it best, or try it all.

My dad had marinated the salmon with olive oil, lemon juice, and a Mediterranean spice mix, and roasted it in a large, heavy pan.

Part of the cod was breaded with a mixture of egg-yolk and gluten-free flour, and roasted as well.

The rest I carefully cooked with slices of fresh ginger, dried lemon leaves, and tarragon.

Sides were potatoes, green beans and carrots, and a green salad my mom just seasoned with a little light olive oil, lemon juice, and a dash of sugar (northern German style ).

For the fruit salad, I undertook the task to deseed a pomegranate, and this was a great occasion to try out the pitting technique I had seen on a blog a while ago, and had not tried out so far (while being very curious about it). The idea is to simply cut the pomegranate into halves, and then holding one half with the cutting surface downwards, and tapping the half from above with a blunt object. I used a wooden thing actually thought for flattening meat cutlets (or so), and it worked amazingly well. The seeds fell out undamaged, and the whole endeavor could be done without giving the kitchen a pink pomegranate juice shower.

~ melon, mandarin, banana, and pomegranate fruit salad ~

I leave you for today with a picture of my Christmas dinner plate. In the next post, I will show you what happened to the many leftovers we had.

What did you have for Christmas dinner this year?

After a 7 hours trip, I have safely arrived at home. Long train rides exhaust me quite a bit because I get headache and nausea from the constant shaking, and all the chatter and noises around do not make it better. Therefore, I was happy to change trains twice and had two little rests on the way.

~ changing trains at Frankfurt main station ~

The train to Frankfurt was incredibly full (although not as badly as last year), and I sat on the floor all the way, but in the other trains, I was happy to get a seat. Before leaving, I had prepared a big batch of cooked chicken, onions, and tomatoes which made up for two servings enjoyed in the train, and I also had tea, water, and a bottle with almond milk, so everything was fine regarding food. As I ate and drank my way through all of this, my baggage weight reduced remarkably.

My parents picked me up at the station, and we spent a nice and relaxed evening together. I was excited to play the piano my parents had arranged to be repaired before I arrived. This is my grandmom’s piano which she gave to me when she recently sold her house, some time after my granddad had died, since she could not take it to her current apartment and I did not want it to be sold. I love that it is an old piano with ivory and ebony keys, and it has a beautiful, mellow sound. Now that it is tuned and all keys respond evenly again, it is wonderful to play, and I know lots of playing will happen during these holidays.

Food-wise, I am living very well here. My mom had made a venison pot roast before I came, which she flavored with star anise, and it is delicious.

The pot roast makes up for countless servings, so you can easily cut a slice off it as a basis for a quick meal. These were the first two meals I enjoyed at home. And probably, today was also the first day in many, many months that I did not eat any chicken.

~ venison pot roast with carrots and brussel sprouts ~

~ venison pot roast with roasted onions, fresh tomatoes, and parsley ~

So you see, I am incredibly well here. Tomorrow, we are going to do the last Christmas preparations and set up the tree, and I am looking forward to a relaxed holiday, after the rather stressful pre-Christmas time. I hope you are all fine and enjoy the time with your loved ones as well!

The pre-Christmas season is always so busy, and I actually long for being able to really enjoy it some day! But probably this is not going to happen, since it did not happen in the past 15 years or so …

Anyway, I at least bought a little illuminated snowman who now sits on my window sill. He even changes colors every few moments! I love snowmen because they are so cute and may stay until the end of February, while Santas have to disappear when Christmas is over.

Tomorrow, I am going to jump on a train and go home for visiting my parents. I have not seen them in a year, and this was the longest time I have ever been away from home. Can you imagine how much I am looking forward to seeing them?

Is there anything more wonderful than your whole living space being filled with the most pleasing scents coming from the kitchen? And is there anything more comforting than enjoying a dish making you reminiscent of your childhood, when the world was still alright?

Probably not. So, in order to fulfill both those criteria, I recreated a dish my mom used to make, and spiced it up a little. The result was this.

My mom always used to cook a lot of fresh vegetables (she still does), and in winter, she sometimes chopped up a whole white cabbage and rosted it in butter with just salt and pepper, as a vegetable side dish. This on its own is awesome already, and it features this lovely quality of cabbage dishes that they get better every time you heat them up again. However, if you also add ginger, galgant, garam marsala, cloves, and star anise, you will receive the most wonderful flavors! You can get all the spices you need for this dish at an Asian supermarket.


4-6 servings


butter or oil
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
1 tsp fresh gingerroot, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp fresh galgant root, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium-sized head of white cabbage, chopped
1/2 tbsp dried chili flakes
1 tbsp ground garam marsala
1 pinch of ground cloves
6 whole star anise
2 tbsp soy sauce


Heat some fat in a large pot and fry the onions, ginger, and galgant until fragrant. Add the shredded cabbage and roast for a minute while stirring, then add a little water and season with chili, garam marsala, cloves, star anise, and soy sauce. Let everything stew for about 30 minutes on low to medium heat, covered, then enjoy this together with a nice main dish of your choice.

Which childhood dishes do you like to recreate? And have you ever put your personal twist on it? (If not, I highly recommend to try that! )