Anita Martin

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since Aug 16, 2018
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Translator, gardener, book-lover, mother, home-maker and much more
Southern Germany
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Recent posts by Anita Martin

This looks really nice!
On the "retraction" of the dough discs: This has to do with the gluten forming (normally a good thing when baking). When you let the dough relax a bit, it should be easier. Work it out until you feel resistance, walk away for some minutes and try again.

I often make flatbread in a pan, but I first make a roll, then cut off discs, form them into balls and flatten those with a rolling pin.
I use almost no fat in the pan (probably a little oil, but preferrably I have added a bit of oil to the dough) and I set the heat rather to high. I get very nice flatbreads that need only a few seconds per side and immediately after lifting them out of the pan I paint them with some melted butter with crushed garlic.

It is quite a busy job and I don't want anyone to help as I prefer to manage this myself: Roll out one disc on a slightly flour covered countertop, lifting it then on the rolling pin in the waiting position while one bread is in the pan, put in the new bread, paint the done bread, roll out the next disc, repeat.

We love those flatbreads and it is actually a good idea to start some dough for tonight or tomorrow! If it will be flatbread or pizza then is up to us.
9 hours ago

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote: This was the first time I did not put only vegetables in it, but chicken too. I wanted to do it with a whole chicken, but they were too large. Anyway, no problem, three parts of chicken and a mixture of root vegetables went in the pot.

The smell of today's lunch aroused childhood memories: The dish my mother would prepare most often was called Chicken Basque style. I have to confess I did not like it. The chicken was cut in parts for that dish.

As to keeping the clay pot warm by insulation I can't tell. You could put an old plastic bag over the pot (when it is not piping hot to avoid melting) and cover with a towel then?
20 hours ago
Today I tried to prepare a low energy meal:
I brought the rice to a boil, switched off the heat, then closed the lid with a tea towel between pot and lid and wrapped it in a thicker towel.

I watered the Römertopf, cut up a small hokkaido, some remaining squash, onions, garlic, half a green pepper and a small hot chili pepper. I mixed a can of coconut cream with salt, pepper, some fresh ginger and turmeric with cumin and ground cardamom and put it in the unheated oven.
When the first kid came from school, he said "what a nice smell!". Unfortunately once he was aware that it were cooked veggies his enthusiasms sank.
After I had luch, I put everything back in the oven

When the second kid came back from school over two hours later, the food was till hot. She is a picky eater as well so I had another portion. Well, tonight DH and me will have a big serving.
Semi-success with the kids, bigger success for the cooking methods!
1 day ago

s. ayalp wrote: Simple-cooking, as I call it, is cheaper, way faster and -I think- healthier. Search for recepies of the world cussine that have 5 or less main ingredients. Or try to simplify your recepies.

There are some tasty dishes with 5 or less ingredients. If all the ingredients are top quality and if you additionally have good herbs/spices on hand.
For example a freshly baked bread, tomatoes and basil from the garden, a good mozzarella cheese and excellent olive oil.

But often I like to have more flavours to blend.
I usually do "simple cooking" when I make typical dishes that my children like (and that I liked as a kid):
Pancakes (neutral), either with sweet filling or filled with grated cheese.
Kaiserschmarrn, a fluffy sweet omelette powdered with sugar and served with apple sauce.
Potato pancakes (or latkes, as some would call it) with a bit of onion, an egg, served with apple sauce or sour cream.

Maybe pasta with a good homemade tomato sauce.

However, normally I always prefer to have some interesting ingredients and have several small dishes instead of one. Those dishes don't have to have expensive or exotic ingredients, but I like the variety (like in mezze).
My husband on the other hand is happy with pasta with butter, rice with butter, polenta with butter, mashed potatoes with butter etc. (which he would cook when he was single or when I am sick). I would certainly starve on such a diet.

I know that some Germans who live in traditional German families (with parents who never travelled and who never tried out dishes from other cultures) prefer very bland meals with no "spice" whatsoever. A pizza is the most they would dare. They try neither mushrooms, olives, seafood, capers, hot spices, garlic or similar.
When I read some time ago that boiled eggs with mustard sauce (bechamel with mustard) is considered a treat by some Germans I thought I was missing out as I never had that. Now I am convinced I didn't miss anything!
1 day ago

Elva Alice Hunter wrote:
So I'd start by looking at my trash, and asking some questions.  

That is a clever approach.
Here in Germany we have two separate bins for packaging and for other residues. While the mixed residues is usually very little (bin emptied every two weeks) there is still a good deal to improve with the packaging (emptied every two weeks as well).

I try to reduce packaging. We almost don't buy prepared meals (only in an emergency) and never buy take-out but there are still the containers of canned tomatoes, potato chips (I feel guilty) and similar. I try to compensate by buying as much simple produce as possible, e.g. potatoes in a sack from the roadside box, loose veggies I bag myself into a reusable mesh bag in the grocery section, flour, oats and sugar in paper bags, barilla pasta that comes in a cardboard box with only a tiny foil window etc. I try to buy milk, cream and vanilla yoghurt in deposit bottles and make my own plain yoghurt or sour cream with those bottled ingredients.
I also compensate by baking all our bread, especially the sandwich bread produced about two plastic bags a week.

Same with cookies, cakes, beverages and similar: If it comes prepackaged it is less sustainable, more pricey and probably less healthy. It is easy enough to prepare those in batches and have them at home for snacking.
2 days ago

Leigh Tate wrote:How about a haybox cooker? There's a Permies thread on what it is and how to make one here - Haybox Cooking / Thermal Cooker / Wonder Box. They look pretty easy to make and would seem to be a good alternative to a slow cooker or crockpot.

I have only now taken the time to follow the link to the haybox thread. Thanks for referring to that thread, it was an interesting read!
I think such a haybox/wonder box is the perfect alternative for a slow cooker, and if I understand correctly, a slow cooker or crockpot does need some electricity while the wonder box needs none.

I remembered that the wonder box is called "Kochkiste" (cooking box) in German.
The German inventor Karl Drais (1785-1851, inventor of the bicycle-like Draisine) was the first to build such a box. It only became popular at the end of the 19th century and after that especially during WW1 as it drastically reduced the need of firewood/fuels.
After WW1, the main purpose was to make cooking easier for working women because they could serve hot meals after a working day.

If you are into architecture and design you might have heard of the Frankfurter Kitchen (1926), the first modular kitchen with modern and efficient design - it also included a wonder box.
The first wonder boxes looked like this:

... and then of course there are the homemade ones or high-end customized boxes like for the cooking pot I showed in an earlier post:

I wasn't aware that there are also numerous recipe books (old and new) for the Kochkiste. I never looked in detail because apparently a lot of dishes are heavy on the meat side (we eat little meat), but of course you could also cook rice dishes or Chili sin carne or similar. There are many websites in German on slow cooking with a Kochkiste so I might take a look for inspiration!
2 days ago
Beth, yes, I guess these are the same.
I have not used them myself but I read German permaculture sites as well and some people absolutely swear by it.
It was probably here on Permies that I read about someone suggesting it instead of deodorant as well? Might well work...

3 days ago
My husband used to associate the smell of bleach with "clean" (he grew up in Latin America). I know it is the same in Spain (my parents live there most of the year).
I can't stand it and luckily its use for cleaning is not common here in Germany. I don't even have a bottle of bleach in my household.

From what I am reading, science is proving more and more that this radical cleaning is not beneficial for your health. About 2 kg of bacteria live in our bodies, everybody has their own microbiome (there can be more than 33,000 thousand species of bacteria in the mouth alone!). By some the microbiome is even considered an additional organ.

My MIL used to use lots of bleach and all other poisons to combat pests or just any insect. Like a lot of other friends and relatives from Argentina she died from cancer last year. Only very recently did she start reading about microbiome and healthy eating (I hadn't gotten as far as suggesting ferments). She was a doctor, very intelligent and knowledgeable but one of those old-school doctors who believed in antibiotics for everything. She was often astonished that our German doctor would not prescribe us antibiotics for a cold and similar.
There are other countries that are faring much better, as far as I remember the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries with very reduced antibiotics prescriptions. Germany is ranking after them, then there are the mediterranean countries like Spain and also North and South America with heavy usages of antibiotics.
MRSA are a real problem and it is scary that even with our modern science there is not much we can do about it.

Regarding ferments: I should look into this fermented garlic, sounds interesting! My family laughs when I say "I feel a cold coming, I need some Kimchi!". Now I have got a cold and I should have eaten some Kimchi, obviously! Will do so at noon.

Regarding good bacteria for cleaning: As I am not sure about the English term I don't know if EMa are also a thing? These are a certain culture of lactobacillus bacteria that are not only used for fermenting bokashi but can also be diluted to wash down surfaces and eliminate odours, as an additive for pet food, as an activator for healthy soil.

In general, I feel cool about my home not being sterile and sparkling. Humans do not need sterile conditions unless they suffer from some immunodeficiency. I never got food poisoning in my home (but sometimes in a restaurant or the Microsoft cafeteria in Dublin!), the meat/chicken we buy is not bathed in chlorine, and eggs sold here are not washed. And I also pick berries fresh from the garden without washing. Never been an issue, but of course this might also depend on the climate/environment.
3 days ago

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Because you here (Megan, Anita) assure me it is possible to use a second hand Schlemmertopf or Römertopf, I finally dared to buy the one that was in the thrift store for a long time. Months ago I saw it, I thought of buying it for use as a plant container. But I didn't. And now I bought it for its real use!

What a coincidence! Yesterday I brought the Römertopf back from my mother's house (or rather one of them - she had two).
It is well-used but not grimy.
I will look into recipes. So far I have seen that you can even bake bread in the Römertopf.

Another thought on the crockpots etc.: For rice or other things I often bring the liquid to a boil and then turn off the heat. The pots I use have a very heavy bottom so they stay hot for a long while. Of course you could combine those with a kind of haysack. I have heard of people putting pots under the down duvet to prolong the cooking process (I also make my yoghurt under the duvet).
The pots my mother uses in Spain and those my MIL used in Latin America look and feel very flimsy compared to those I own and I doubt they would hold the heat as well as mine.
I have one set of these:

and another similar one.
The pots do cost a lot (the one showsn is around 100 Euro, i.e. around 120 USD but they are well worth the price. I got my set as a gift from my aunt when I started my own home and they are still as good as new.
ETA: The shown pot is so expensive because the multilayered bottom contains copper. There are other layered bottoms that contain aluminum (encapsulated by stainless steel on all sides) and these are less pricey.
3 days ago