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Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

So what happened was that I was putting together the ingredients to whip up basic Coconut Flour Blondies when I peered into my pantry and found that I still had some Matcha Powder that was waiting to be used up.

I wasn’t quite sure how Matcha and Coconut would dance together but tango they did once these blondies had cooled down enough for me to pop one into my mouth. It had the lovely bitter intensity from the matcha, that was sweetly balanced by the coconut and honey.

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The addition of Greek Yoghurt helped keep the blondies moist, hence, fewer eggs were used. That being said, the absence of more eggs means that these blondies are less on the fudgy side. What I enjoyed about them the most aside from their  flavour, was their dense texture. However, if your preference is for a more cakey blondie, definitely try my Basil and Walnut Coconut Flour Blondies. While these blondies may appear crumbly, they actually held very well together.

I’d say that if Shortbread and Cake had a love child, these Matcha Coconut Flour Blondies would be it! I know, it’s probably a hybrid that’s not easy to imagine but I actually found myself enjoying them more and more with every piece I scoffed down. So I suggest you give this recipe a go because I wouldn’t share it if I didn’t like these blondies myself!

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Coconut Matcha Blondies (1 6×6″ Square)
75g coconut flour
10g matcha powder
25g coconut oil
3 eggs
vanilla
110g honey
100g greek yoghurt

  1. Preheat oven to 170deg C and line a 6×6″ baking tin.
  2. Whisk oil, eggs and vanilla together. 
  3. Add honey and greek yoghurt. Mix well.
  4. Add coconut flour and matcha powder. Stir until just incorporated. 
  5. Pour batter into prepared tin and bake for 18-20min.

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So my love for baking brownies and blondies should be quite obvious now. I baked some Coconut Flour Brownies earlier on and this time, I decided to try and put them into making a blondie.

I had some fresh basil at hand, so usually, when I have more herbs than I can finish quickly, I think about how I might be able to incorporate them into one of my bakes. In my recipe below, I stated to have the basil chopped finely, but what I did was I whizzed it up quickly in the blender which worked just as well apart from the extra washing up. You can choose to omit the basil or use a different herb, perhaps Rosemary and Lemon might be a nice combination, or Bay Leaves with Almonds, or Chocolate Chips and Banana.

I enjoyed how refreshing a flavour the Basil brought to these blondies. And the crunch of walnuts was very welcome as well. These are certainly not your fudgy blondies. They’re more on the cakey side with a slightly rough texture due to the structure of the Coconut Flour when mixed in. I brought some of these to my family gathering and one of my Uncles took one bite and quickly tried to snag the rest home. So trust me, you might want to share these with friends and family, but be sure to hide some away for yourself because there won’t even be any crumbs left otherwise! 🙂

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Coconut Flour Blondies (8×8″ Square)

56g melted butter (or coconut/sunflower/olive oil)
50g honey
2 eggs
60g coconut milk
60g coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Bunch of Basil, Finely chopped (optional)
50g Walnuts, chopped (optional but recommended)

  1. Preheat oven to 170deg C and line an 8×8″ square tin.
  2. Whisk melted butter/oil, honey, eggs and milk together.
  3. Add flour, baking soda and salt, and stir until just mixed.
  4. Fold in optional ingredients if using.
  5. Bake 20-22min.

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I was interested in using Coconut Flour to make bread. I’ve made a Coconut Milk Oatmeal Sandwich Loaf before and quite liked the subtle flavour of the coconut milk in it. I find however, that coconut flour carries a strong coconut aroma and taste.

I’m not going to lie though, Coconut Flour Bread should in no way be compared to normal bread because it’s gluten-free to begin with. That means that the chew factor will definitely be absent. That being said, it is perfect for those who are on a paleo diet, or have celiac, or are looking for something that is high in fibre and protein, but low in carbs.

This bread is a breeze to make because there’s no need for proving. Just mix everything together, throw the batter into the oven (inside a loaf tin please!), and you get a beautiful loaf that’s a perfect canvas for just about anything you choose to eat it with.

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Savoury Coconut Flour Bread (7×3″ loaf):

6 eggs
15g honey (optional but I like that slight hint of sweetness which also makes the bread more aromatic)
110g coconut oil or melted butter
90g coconut flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

  1. Preheat oven to 170deg C and line a baking tin.
  2. Whisk eggs, honey and oil together.
  3. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt until just mixed.
  4. Let mixture stand 5min.
  5. Bake 35-40min. If top gets too brown, cover with foil until cooked through.
  6. Allow to cool before removing from tin.

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The loaf may be on the smaller side but trust me, with so much fibre in each slice, a little goes a long way. It’s the kind of bread you can eat plain simply because it’s flavourful on its own. I use it more for open-faced sandwiches because they don’t quite hold as well as bread does, but that just means double the filling! Well, the filling will really become the sandwich topping in this case but you already knew that!

Also, these can be sliced up and kept frozen up to a month if you happen not to be able to finish it within 3 days. Likelihood though, is that it’ll be gone before then – even the crumbs. 🙂

 

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I’ve been dabbling in quite a bit of healthier baking recently aside from my usual cake orders that I’ve been getting on top of since returning from my Lonburg holiday. I prefer to use the term healthier as opposed to healthy because everything sits in a relative continuum don’t they? So while I might consider these bakes healthy, someone who bakes raw and vegan might consider this unhealthy. Or unethical. Haha.

Technicalities aside…

I had a few fail attempts while playing with coconut flour resulting in frustration and binned goods. I tend to feel so annoyed whenever I bake something new but it fails to come out as I hope. And unless I can have a do-over straight away, I usually end up spending the night tossing and turning, thinking about how I could have baked them better.

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So here I am, sharing with you 5 of my favourite bakes using Coconut Flour. None of these contain refined sugar either – I used Coconut Sugar, and if not, then I’ve used Honey.

I initially thought of sharing all 5 recipes here in one blog post but I figured that it might be a little too overwhelming. So one at a time it is. That will also create some suspense!

One thing I learned about Coconut Flour during my trial and error phase was just how very absorbent it is compared to say, Spelt Flour, or Wholewheat, or simple Plain, All-Purpose Flour. Hence, don’t be surprised at the wet to dry ingredients ratio being quite skewed towards the more liquid side.

Also, don’t worry over the number of eggs in the recipes because the are key in creating moistness and they also bind the ingredients together. Recent studies have also shown that cholesterol in food doesn’t have quite the big impact on blood levels of total cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol as previous thought. Just remember – everything in moderation!

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Now, these Coconut Flour Brownies are heavenly! I kid you not. I’ve tried way too many ‘healthied-up’ brownies that have turned out dry, overly mushy or too grainy. These were ever-so-slightly on the cakey side, and exceptionally moist and chocolatey. The minute I took my first bite, I surprised myself at how well this recipe turned out. It was everything a Brownie strives to be, and had that aromatic whiff of coconut.

Coconut Flour Brownies (8×8″ Square)

75g butter, melted (or coconut oil)
50g cocoa powder, sifted
6 eggs
160 coconut sugar 
60g coconut milk
pinch of salt
60g coconut flour
Handful of Chocolate Chips.

  1. Preheat oven to 170deg C.
  2. Combine butter/oil with cocoa powder and mix well.
  3. Stir in eggs, coconut sugar and milk. Mix well.
  4. Add flour and salt until just incorporated.
  5. Sprinke chocolate chips on top.
  6. Bake for 20-25min until just set. 

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I could spend all day gushing about these babies but… I’m too busy stuffing them into my mouth! Looks like I’ll be baking up a new batch sooner than I thought!

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Friday was our last full day in London. The few days we had there just whizzed by too quickly and the evening before, I was lamenting about how sad I was the be leaving Europe this time around. Usually I’m ever the eager beaver to return back to the warmth of Singapore, but I guess the weather had treated me so well that it made me fall that little bit in love with Europe – especially Hamburg. And already I can’t wait to return again to that side of the world next year, hopefully to Italy or Switzerland or another city in Germany.

Friday morning Flo and I made our way back into London but more to the CBD where we met Leena during her lunch hour. It was really sweet of her to sacrifice her precious hour off work just to see us.

We met at To A Tea near Farringdon station, which is this cute little bistro that specialises in teas and they also do healthy lunches – think full salads with lean proteins or veggie options.

I chose a Flowering Tea just because it looked so pretty in the picture. A glass of hot water came and I was like “Whuuuuut?!” before the server dropped a blob of something into it. It took about a minute to slowly unfurl and open up.


Green Tea with Lily and Osmanthus.

Definitely rather girly to look at and perfect for Instagramming. The tea carried a lovely aroma of osmanthus but towards the bottom, it got quite bitter, naturally, as the tea has steeped quite a while by then so it was a little difficult to drink.

It was great catching up with Leena and learning about how the year ahead is going to be quite an exciting one for her, and especially Brian who’s taken over his parents’ restaurant down in Southampton. Lots of things are starting to come together but at the same time, there’re lots of issues to iron out. I hope that all goes well for them!

After tea, Flo and I walked along the River Thames to get to Borough Market.

I love love love Borough Market! Yes yes, it’s full of tourists and food prices aren’t exceptionally cheap but the buzz in the air as you walk through the market is amazing. The delicious smells of food sizzling on the grill, the wide array of pastries, the sweet scent of fresh bread. It’s a feast for the senses!

First thing Flo and I had was an oyster each from this man here.

£2.50 per oyster, with a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of tabasco, downed in a mere 2.5 seconds. Faster than that in fact!

There were two girls next to us who appeared never to have seen or eaten oysters before and were both keen yet hesitant to try them. After Flo and I had swallowed our delightfully fresh oysters that tasted of the sea, they asked if they were good. I said that they were and Mr. Oyster Man complained that I wasn’t loud enough for him to hear. So I sportingly exclaimed that they were AWESOME!

Paella…

Which we skipped. 

Now Flo and I enjoy good food but we’re not the types to go around and stuff our faces with every appetising thing in sight. It’s not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just that we both realise that sometimes overeating not only makes you feel sick, it also taints your memory of the food and the place. Instead, we tend to zero in on something we think we’d like and savour it. If we are still hungry after, we might get a small snack or dessert. And the next time we return, we can always try something else. In this case, it might be a while but still…

I more or less zeroed in on Big V.

They specialise in vegan burgers and I opted for the Salad Box that came with two salads and a choice of burger patty. I chose the Spicy Chickpea Sweet Potato Patty. Cost me £7. And it was quite a hefty box which left me very full after.

I loved the Spinach and Broccoli Salad but the Shredded Beetroot Carrot Salad that’s hidden below was a bit too dry and rabbit-food like. Then again, I tend to prefer my veggies on the softer side so yeah… I’m like an old woman in that respect.

I had the salads drizzled with Ume Dressing and they also scooped a generous amount of Beetroot Hummus and Tahini dressing on top as well. Those last two were really yummy. I added Sriracha for the extra kick on my burger. I enjoyed the patty so much I actually returned home and made some for myself! In fact, I made two kinds of veggie burgers so stay tuned for those recipes in a few blog posts’ time!

Flo on the other hand, stayed away from the greens since I had enough for the both of us, and went for the good ol’ British Classic – Fish&Chips from Fish!.

It was ironic because Flo was always drawing flak about how England’s doesn’t have much good food to speak of, and that Fish & Chips are often drowned in oil so why would anyone want to eat them?! I only found out the day that we were at Borough Market that he’d never actually had proper fish and chips before! Tsk! Anyway, he finally decided to give it a go to see if there was some redemption in the English food scene to be found.

And it looks like Fish!, with their £9.95 Cod Fish and Chips managed to impress him after all!

The batter of the piping hot fresh, flakey fish was thin and crisp, while the chips were fat and so very lightly salted. Great with the ketchup although salt and vinegar would have been the more traditional way to go.

Flo said that he was very pleasantly surprised that the fish was fried well and not at all oily. Same with the chips. I’m glad he enjoyed this typical English pub grub especially since this is something the English have definitely got a deft hand in cooking this speciality of theirs. It’s not easy to find Fish & Chips of that same standard in Singapore so having it in London was definitely the right choice.

Happy bellies! We did take a lot of pictures of the food and the food with ourselves. Funny because I think it was in my last post that I was laughing at people taking wefies with the swans at Hyde Park. I guess we all have our little fetishes. Flo’s, and mine, just happens to be food.

So after we filled our bellies, we walked a little more around Borough Market, soaking in the gorgeous sights of beautifully made pastries and desserts.

Giant cookies, German cakes, Dessert slices…

Tarts, Sliced cakes, Chocolate fondants…

Fudge! I’m not really a fudge fan but they’re really popular in the UK.

We skipped the cheeses and breads because we knew that we’d be tempted to buy some but there wouldn’t have been much point since we were leaving the next day – me back to Singapore, and Flo to Zurich for a week at head office.

I wanted to take him over to Bermondsey Street to this place called Fuckoffee. It’s this super quirky, hipster, coffee cafe place where the youngsters go to. It’s like an ‘alternative’ cafe that’s a little rough round the edges.

We were a mere few hundred metres off when it began to pour, so Flo and I quickly found shelter at Bermondsey Street Cafe instead which looked a world away from Fuckoffee. It took quite a big space and looked upmarket-industrial. There was a group of hot mamas with their babies there and two Japanese girls who looked to be having a late brunch of delectable looking fluffy pancakes.

Flo had his Cappuccino. I had my Piccolo.

We didn’t make it to Fuckoffee in the end and I think it was kind of a good thing because the more I think about it, the more the place seems a little dank and grungy. That’s just my opinion. 

When the rain finally cleared, the temperature dropped quite a bit and the winds turned a touch icy. Just a touch.

Flo and I continued on towards the Thames…

Where we then wefied with Tower Bridge

And The Shard

Awesome huh? We took pictures with some of the most iconic, world famous buildings in the world!!!

Then we crossed Tower Bridge, which is one of the prettiest bridges ever. I used to think it was the London Bridge just because. But one day, I found out which one was the real London Bridge and felt rather disappointed that it didn’t look as impressive as it sounded. Also, I guess because there was the song about London bridge falling down, I simply assumed it had to be an amazeballs looking bridge.

Flo and I had quite a journey home because we went to Tower Hill station where we had to make a few switches before we got onto the Met line home. Thought we’d be late for family dinner but nope! We had about a good half hour before most of the family started to pile in.

Grandma cooked the perfect amount for 16 of us – there was a bit more food kept aside in the kitchen for the latecomers.

Sambal Squid with Lady’s Fingers, Roast Pork Belly, Curry Prawns, Stir-fried Asparagus with Runner Beans and Pork Ribs. She later took out some of that Spinach Curry from the night before that I love.

T’was a great final dinner in London and it was wonderful being able to catch up with Rachael especially and find out how her wedding plans are coming along. First cousin on Mum’s side to get married!! 

And seeing Suk Gong, as well as Uncle Peter and Aunty Betty. It’s been a while and sometimes, it’s only after not seeing them for a while that I realise just how much they, and my parents too, are getting on. I’m happy though, that they are all blessed with good health and are looking lively and happy.

Saturday morning, I finished packing everything. By packing I actually mean stuffing everything into my check-in bag. I was a little worried that it might burst open while transiting from London to Singapore. Thank God it didn’t.

Mum, Dad, Grandpa and Grandma left quite early to Southampton to catch their two-week cruise around the Baltic. Flo and I managed to say goodbye to them before catching a bit more zees. At 11am, just an hour before their ship was due to depart, Uncle David got a call to say that they’d left their tickets at home! So there was a bit of a panic where Uncle David had to drive fast and furiously to get the tickets to them, while Kor had to dash Sophie to her tuition class in Harrow.

So lunch with Kor at this Japanese place we enjoy was scrapped and Flo and I made a simple lunch at home before Kor dropped us off at the airport.

Flo’s flight to Zurich was at 4.55pm so I managed to send him all the way to his gate before I somehow managed to burn the other 3 hours until my flight was due to leave.

And so, our two week Eurotrip came to a close. Eurotrip isn’t really the right term because we were really only in two places. Hamdon trip? Lonburg? It was a great one though, one that far exceeded my expectations especially spending it with Flo. In fact, I daresay it was my favourite holiday ever. So far. Especially because it was with Flo.

 

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I. Am. Happy.

It must have been the weather and the sun, but I felt so happy being in Hamburg. I think it’s one thing to go about doing touristy things in a city/country, and it’s another be immersed into another culture by being with locals. I love discovering new places as a tourist, but being part of German life even for a week, made me feel more connected to the country.

On the Friday that I was there, Flo had some errands to run. So he dropped me off at Cafe May where I was hankering after yoghurt for breakfast. Alas, they only had yoghurt available for their buffet breakfast so I settled for a Sesambrötchen with Nutella and Sour Cherry Compote for €3.60. It came with coffee.

I know it’s a little silly but this seemingly plain breakfast tasted so good. I swear the air in Europe makes food taste better. Or perhaps it’s the quality of flour that makes their bread taste so much richer, more aromatic, more hearty. And yes, we get Nutella here but the Sour Cherries compote was something different. It was delightful! Sweet, but not too sweet. Tart, but not too tart.

Just before I took the picture above, the place was buzzing with people grabbing a quick breakfast before dashing off to work or school. There was a homeliness about the cafe and their large, rustic cakes looked just like the ones grandma would make, filling the air with the sweet scent of fresh bakes. Uhm.. by grandma I mean the kind of grandma who spends her days making magic in the kitchen, patiently coating layers of sponge with light lashings of cream. My grandma bakes too but more Asian cakes – Pandan chiffon cakes and butter cakes. Less of the cream ones.

After a leisurely breakfast, I crossed over to the park that was abound with parents watching their children having the time of their lives. It was a really big park by Singapore standards and it was so peaceful as I made my way further in. I tried not to wander too far or make too many turns lest I got lost. I’m quite prone to getting lost and without wifi or data, that wouldn’t have been ideal.

Clear blue skies and green green trees.

I found a bench where I sat myself on to bask under the sunshine. Then I got a little restless and decided to walk slowly back to the station. Flo was still settling some stuff so I went over to Penny, this convenience store across the road where I had a good poke around.

Call me a noob but I found these large blocks of Ritter Sport!! They only have the smaller squares here so these looked really novel to me! I restrained myself and didn’t buy any. Just got myself a Coke Zero and a packet of fruit and nut mix in case I got peckish.

I managed to find a small green area where I chilled for a bit before receiving a text from Flo to say he was done and would meet me at the station.

Fun Fact: In Germany, glass bottles, plastic bottles and aluminium cans are often placed beside the bin for the homeless to pick up. They then bring it for recycling where they can get some money back. 

I wasn’t sure where to put my finished tin of coke so I put it inside the bin because I was afraid it might get blown away. Not more than 10min later was it fished out by an elderly woman. So I guess I was supposed to leave it beside the bin but no matter, because it was found anyway. 🙂

Our plan for the afternoon was to visit Flo’s aunty Sangeeta and her family. But first. LUNCH!

This time, we tried the Matjesbrötchen and the Bratheringbrötchen.

Apparently, Matjes herring is skinned and filleted before being cured in a marinade. Usually young herrings are used to make matjes herring. Bismarck is lightly salted and pickled while Brathering, it is fried, marinated herring.

The matjes herring reminded me a lot of smoked salmon with saltiness being its most dominant flavour, while the brathering was more plain. My preference is still 100% for the bismarck herring!

We didn’t have too much time to dwell on the brötchens as we were running a little late getting to Sangeeta’s. When we finally reached, it was just about tea time so after introductions were made, we made for their back patio where Sangeeta laid out her stunning Rhabarberkuchen (Rhubarb Cake).

As well as these gorgeous looking Erdbeertörtchen (Strawberry Cakelets).

I’ve never tried a rhubarb cake in my life so this was a first. The nutty ground almonds in the cake base held up a generous layer of delicately tangy rhubarb, while the soft meringue on top carried that bit of sweetness needed to balance the flavours off perfectly.

Flo’s 14-years-old and growing cousin, Nilai, managed to down slice after slice of Rhubarb Cake as well as a fair number of Strawberry Cakelets. And he still had room later for dinner. I was in awe!

Flo’s paternal grandma, Frau Mathur, was also present. Bless her! I thought she was amazing and really sweet. As was Flo’s cousin sister Shalin whose attempt to do some social work in Bangalore when her gap year starts in September fell through right at the last minute. I have my fingers and toes crossed that she will get to go with another organisation.

Torsen, Sangeeta’s husband, joined us a little while later in time to get some cake before Nilai polished them off. Then Flo flew his drone around a little while and managed to snap a few pictures of all of us.

I was nice being able to relax on their porch and chit-chat with Flo’s family before dinner. Frau Mathur spent a few years in London working, and that was where she met her husband, Flo’s paternal grandpa, Herr Mathur. Sangeeta and Torsen also lived in the States a few years with their kids so communication with them was a breeze.

Flo’s late paternal grandfather was Indian which also explains the little traces of exoticism in his and his cousins, as well as Sangeeta’s features. They all look so damn gorgeous!!

Torsen fired up the barbecue for dinner and the meats! I think I’ve raved so many times to anyone willing to hear that the Germans are awesome at their barbecues. They use good cuts of meat and the sausages are not filled with gristle unlike the ones we get in the UK. They’re proper meat and proper quality.

Sangeeta’s salads were also crazy delicious. I couldn’t help but have a few servings of her salad before daring to ask her what she put into it. Olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper, sprinkles. Sprinkles of mixed dried herbs. And so, before we left, she gifted me a box of sprinkles for when I make salads at home. I was so touched!

And the plate above ended up having more food piled onto it. I didn’t just eat the one sausage!

Saturday morning was supposed to be our last full day in Hamburg. One of Jens’ friends bunked over the night before because he was testing out a car that his company had lent to him. Mercedes. He woke up so bright and so early that Flo and I were wondering whether he’d already left to drive back to Munich. We found out not long after that he’d actually gone out to pick up some breakfast.

A ‘typical’ Bavarian breakfast.

Of Pretzels and Weisswursts.

In Germany, you can buy unbaked pretzels frozen and then bake them up at home. Which is what we did. You can’t get any fresher than that! The pretzels were just slightly crisp on the outside and so fluffy on the inside. They were nowhere as dense and bulky as the ones we get in Singapore.

Weisswursts are usually boiled to warm them up, after which you remove their casing and eat the meat with sweet mustard. What I love about these is that the sausage meat is really lean yet so flavourful.

After breakfast, Jens’ friend left for his drive home while we set off to Alster Lake.

It’s not so apparent in my photos but it was bustling with activity. There were people kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, rowing, and even water cycling which was new to me.

Further down where the lake opens up were lots of people windsurfing. I love how the Germans make use of beautiful days to do outdoor activities be it on the water, or simply taking a walk or cycling. It shows how much they appreciate good weather and fresh air.

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Finally, a picture with our wonderful hosts, Jens and Leslie.

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Who managed to put up with the two of us a whole week! 🙂

On our way home, we stopped by their local supermarket to pick up more white asparagus at my request since I don’t think I’ll have any more for quite a while.

White asparagus with ham for starters.

Then we shared the meats that Flo and I failed to bring over to Chris’ place on Thursday. They were still awesome-possum anyway.

We also grilled up some feta cheese sprinkled with dried herbs, salt and pepper, topped with red onions, chopped tomatoes and paprika, and wrapped in foil. Another flavour bomb! I was going to share a picture of it but really, it’s not much of a looker. Trust me though, warm, gooey, melty, salty feta is pure bliss. I actually bought a pack of feta just now! Will wait for Flo to come back and have a BBQ with Amanda and Alex since we plan to swing by Huber’s for some meats. Mmm… I’m already salivating just thinking of it.

Our evening ended on a high because Flo’s team, Dortmund, beat Frankfurt 2-1 to win the German cup. I was very happy because my boyfriend was ecstatic – Happy boyfriend happy life! Only we couldn’t properly celebrate because Leslie’s a die-hard Frankfurt fan. Oops!

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Flo and I mainly commuted around Hamburg by bus or on trains during our stay there. So when we had to make our way to the area where his Mum, Ute, lives, we had to catch one of those fast trains that went out of the main city area.

This picture below reminds me a lot of Paris’ Gare du Nord. It’s a hustle and bustle of people heading to or coming from somewhere.

Due to a slight miscommunication, Ute wasn’t around when we arrived. So Flo and I went to the nearby town bakery to grab a Mettbrötchen. This is probably Flo’s favourite breakfast since he often raves about it and never fails to have one whenever he goes back to Germany.

It was my first time trying raw minced pork with chopped raw onions. I found it slightly on the salty side and while I didn’t hate it, I didn’t find myself desiring to have more. That being said, it was interesting to finally try one of Flo’s favourite foods.

We met Ute not long after and she brought us to her apartment for a quick cup of coffee before we set off to Flo’s grandparents’ home an hour and a half away. It was a nice drive through the countryside, so nice that I ended up nodding off half the journey.

We arrived after his grandparents’ usual lunch time so Herr Rennekamp was rather on the hungry side. He was really cute though, asking repeatedly when lunch would be served. It wasn’t too long before the beautiful aroma of home-cooked food began to waft through the rooms.

Frau Rennekamp had cooked some of the Weißer Spargel (White Asparagus) that Ute had bought over, Spätzle and Hungarian Beef Goulash.

It was a simple meal but so wholesome and sumptuous! It was my virgin experience eating spätzle and I enjoyed it very much, especially with the comforting, tender beef with tangy sauerkraut in the goulash. Flo said the goulash wasn’t the best but I loved it and am serious about making some at home once Flo returns from Zurich. I even bought home some spätzle!

Also, I’d never eaten white asparagus before and while it was simply boiled in salt water, it was incredibly sweet and tender. No seasoning was needed. We had some ham along with it and it’s amazing how there isn’t always a need for fancy cooking for food to taste delicious. Fresh ingredients certainly speak for themselves.

Herr Rennekamp heartily dug into lunch and once we were filled up, he excitedly asked for dessert. He reminded me so much of Grandpa who we all know has quite a sweet-tooth. My grandpa, even at 85, can be quite cheeky too and is known to behave himself a couple of days before the doctor checks his blood sugar, only to return home after the test to indulge in Honey Nut Crunch drowned in tea (he says he doesn’t take sugar with his tea anymore but it looks like this is his alternative) as well as toast slathered in marmalade. 

It took all of two minutes for Herr Rennekamp to dish ice-cream for all of us, to be eaten with berries compote. And not long after, he made sure to have a second round.

We spent quite a bit of time chit-chatting. Back in the day, Herr and Frau Rennekamp used to travel a lot but age has slowed them down. Frau Rennekamp used to visit the US quite often so she was able to speak some English although after years of little practice, she claims to have forgotten quite a lot. Still, I thought that she spoke really well!

We went for a short walk after lunch, like a really really short walk. Like 50m off from their home where we stood around looking at neighbouring houses before we returned. Then Flo’s grandfather showed us around his garden – Flo helped him build the garden 15, 16 years ago when they had just built the house. It’s a gorgeous garden with a little camping ‘hut’ where you can BBQ in, and even sleep in, in winter.

And just as Asian families love to feed their loved ones, Flo’s grandma had prepared cakes in anticipation for tea time. Or coffee for them.

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These were huge (to me) slices of cakes and each person had one for themselves.

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I went for one that was akin to a Blackforest but not typical of the usual one. It had a marble butter cake base studded with sour cherries, was topped with fresh cream and then covered by a thin layer of dark chocolate. I loved the cherries but I just couldn’t stomach any more than half the cake.

Right after tea time, Flo and I had to bid farewell to Herr and Frau Rennekamp. It amazed me how quickly time flew spending the afternoon with them and Ute. I could see how sad they were that we couldn’t stay longer and Frau Rennekamp asked for us to spend more time with them next visit. Alternatively, she might come over to Singapore or meet us somewhere in between.

Ute dropped us at one of the train stations on the way home so Flo and I managed to hop on over to Hauptbahnhof station where he managed to buy some new ear phones from a nearby electronic store, and also for us to get some dinner.

Flo was adamant that I try one of Germany’s favourite street grub, especially after a late night out – the Doner. According to Google, Batman served a mean doner. And it wasn’t too far from where we were either.

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They made fresh wraps on site and I swear, it took 30 seconds to make a doner from start to finish. They were that fast! See video below for evidence:

Unfortunately, they were out of veal which was Flo’s preference, so we had to settle for chicken. And let me tell you, their doners were like the size and weight of a baby!

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Digging in.

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Fresh chunks of chicken, fresh, crisp salad, onions, yoghurt sauce, chilli flakes. 


I wasn’t blown away. I guess I haven’t had enough doner kebabs in my life to know whether this was a good one, bad one, or great one. It did the job of filling me up though although Flo and I agreed that the bread was a bit too thick and chewy for our liking.

After we left Batman, Flo felt a tinge of regret at not having decided to go to a different doner shop to get one with veal. Also, he claims that his usual spot still makes it better. It’s ok. It was fun just having a go and crossing something else off our ‘To-Eat’ list.

So I’ve just shared with you about meeting part of Flo’s family. On Thursday, it was time to meet his friends. After being with Flo a while now, I know how important his friends are to him and it was important to me too that I made a good impression on them.

His friends and him go back years and years, and I know that they’ve stuck by him through thick and thin, just as Flo has done for them. I was also excited in finally seeing in person the people Flo has shared stories with me about, from their school days to travelling together.

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Thursday was a perfect day for a BBQ with the warm sun smiling upon us. We went to Chris’s home – Chris actually just visited and stayed with us a couple months back so it was great seeing him again! He has a huge back garden, the kind that’d be lovely for kids to get up to no good in.

Anyway, the BBQ was set such that every person/couple brought just enough food for themselves, and would cook their own food as well so that everyone would be able to socialise. Flo and I had put our meats into the fridge but somehow, in our frenzy to go over to Chris’ home (which is about a 45-60min drive away), only Jens and Leslie’s food got packed. We did however, have our two red bell peppers make the trip.

Flo’s friends were sweet enough to offer us some of their grub and we ended up having more than enough food that evening. So much so that we could only stomach one bell pepper while the other ended up being kept by Chris I believe because it certainly didn’t make it home with us.

We managed to get a picture of all of us with Flo’s drone.

And another.

After sunset, it started to get a little chilly so we moved into Chris’ living room. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Flo’s friends – Geezy, Felix and Thomas especially, all of whom I was meeting for the first time. They all spoke great English although as a group, they sometimes lapsed into German unconsciously which is natural.

It was a tiring day but so fulfilling. I told Flo later that after getting to know his friends and his family, I felt closer to him. Closer to him in the sense that I was able to see him mingle with his nearest and dearest, and see how he treated them, cared for them, loved them. And it warmed my heart to know that his friends and family too, care for and love him the same way back.

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