jeudi 16 février 2012

Frozen land

Bild 158

It's the tips of my ears and nose that told me it was going to be a brutally cold day. Poking out from the warmth of the covers, they felt the first chill of the air and I knew that the bedroom windowpane, thin and cracked, would be covered in ice patterns (or Eisblumen in German) just like the kitchen one too. It's hard to make an effort to get up when Berlin is still sleeping but they promised a gloriously sunny day like the rest of the week when the explosion of colours above the rooftops first thing makes me regret having to go to work. There was the first cup of tea and a bowl of muesli with warm milk before slipping on the lined winter boots which unfortunately give me blisters, a skirt, thick tights and my Sarah Lund jumper. I decided to walk close to the water in the hope of catching reflections of the morning and took the underground to Schönleinstraße in Neukölln, a district I barely even know. The weather forecast was wrong though; a grey, colourless day but nevertheless, it still felt good to be there, walking along the frozen Landwehrkanal. Apart from the odd jogger and some car headlights in the distance, I saw no signs of life, just groups of seagulls taking off and landing at regular intervals. Taking pictures in these kind of temperatures (-14°C at 8am) is hard; I have learned to remove and replace the lens cap with my gloves on but after an hour and a half there was an unbearable numbness in my fingers and I had to return home for fresh coffee.

Bild 012

Bild 014

Bild 015

Bild 018

Stockings for everyone

Bild 035

Bild 044

Bild 069

Bild 027

Bild 101

Bild 125 

Snow on my windowsill

Bild 182
Taking pictures in frozen Mitte

Bild 188

Bild 192

Bild 206

Bild 210

Bild 216
Carrot cake - nice to look at but too heavy and unfortunately with cream instead of cream cheese on top

Last Sunday was different - milder without the bone chilling wind that makes your cheeks hurt - and with plenty of sunshine. On the Spree icebreakers travelled by and groups of birds huddled together on the few bits of the river which remain unfrozen. Treptower park still looks eeriliy beautiful in the morning light with the snow gilmmering in the first rays. Winter days are good for comfort food; thick soups with plenty of cheese melted on top, hot desserts with fruit bubbling out and most all a spicy stew. The one below is simple but truly heartening and exactly what is needed when the thermometer hangs around zero.

Bild 004

Bild 018

Bild 028

Bild 040

Bild 043

Bild 048

Bild 050

Bild 055

Bild 081

Bild 087

Bild 092

Bild 102

Bild 115

Bild 116

Bild 123

Bild 004
This post is dedicated to H. who loves Streuselkuchen - recipe here. We'll miss you on Saturdays!

  Spiced aubergine stew (adapted slightly from Nigel Slater's Tender)

Bild 123

I'm going to shamefully confess to having chosen ready ground spices for this recipe despite Nigel's advice to freshly grind your own for the simple reason that I don't posess a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar. But if you do and feel like grinding your spices for better flavours, please do so. I also left out the chillies because when it comes to really hot food, I'm a total wimp. It was still a deliciously comforting dish though, one of my favourites for winter and even more delicious the following day when all the ingredients had had time to blend.

Makes generous portions for 2

1 large aubergine
2 medium onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp cardamom powder
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
a thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely sliced
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder
4 medium tomatoes (tinned whole ones are also fine in winter)
1x  400ml tin coconut imlk
a small bunch of mint
a small bunch of coriander

1. Wash the aubergines, remove the stalk and cut them into chunks. Place them in a colander in the sink, sprinkle with a little sea salt and leave for at least half an hour to get rid of the bitter juices.
2. Heat the oil in large pan and fry the sliced onions until transluscent and soft.Stir in the crushed garlic and finely chopped ginger, followed by the ground spices. Chop the tomatoes and add them to the pan.
3. Rinse the salt off the aubergine and pat dry. Without oiling it, heat a ridged grill pan and griddle the aubergines until streaked on each side and softer.
4. Add the aubergines to the onions and pour in the coconut milk and allow everything to simmer gently until the vegetables are tender. Salt as needed and serve with flatbread or rice.

14 commentaires:

  1. Nice pictures! Those polar temperatures were not very enjoyable, but thankfully it is now warmer...

    A delicious curry! So comforting...

    Strange that people top their carrot cakes with whipped cream. I definitely prefer it covered with a luscious cream cheese frosting.

    Spring is on its way!



  2. Beautiful photographs as always. The shots of Treptower Park remind me of my walks there, especially in the snow - it's well worth a trip to Alt-Schmoeckwitz in snowy weather too, for the tram journey through the woods, along the river and out to a place that feels _really_ like the end of the line. (There's a lovely Chinese restaurant there too that gives massive portions - everyone left with their leftovers in a box...)
    Once again you make me feel homesick for Berlin... I love the 'let it be Spring again' sign.

  3. It was very brave of you to venture out on such a cold day. The resulting photos are beautifully crisp. I have never experiences a carrot cake topped with whipping cream, odd. Keep warm, Cheers.

  4. Vanessa, you are such a tough frost person! The only human being who can take better photos at double-digit negative Celsius temperature - perhaps with the exception of Vincent Munier, your alsacian compatriot, who produces just kitsch at temperatures above Zero.
    Why don't you pay a visit to the polar bears. You could borrow you my E510 with the good tele lens! I bet the results will be fantastic!

  5. I felt cold just looking at them... but they are beautiful in that sere way winter has.

    I own a St Bernard, so winter means happiness to me...well at least snow does. Sadly for us in the Eastern US, there has been precious little so I have an unhappy puppy.

    The stew is lovely... I would pump it full of chilis... crave heat most of the time.

  6. Je ne saurais l'expliquer, mais chaque nouveau billet de toi me rend heureuse. C'est peut-être dû au ton, à certains mots, tout autant qu'à la qualité des photographies.
    Je ne lis plus que deux "blogs" (je n'aime pas le mot), dont le tien. J'y trouve toujours un certain appétit de vivre. Merci.
    P.S. : J'ai adoré les deux saisons de The Killing.

  7. Hey!
    I have a surprise for you on my blog!

  8. You really tease me with your posts. This was beautiful and made me long for Berlin, even in the snap of deep cold.

  9. Your photos even made ME feel cold today! And here we are on an unusually hot day for Florida this time of year.
    Your eggplant stew would be perfect for warming up!

  10. @Rosa - There's certainly a feeling of spring here now and hopefully in Switzerland too. It was hard when it was so cold but the light was amazing. I totally agree about the cream cheese topping, so much nicer than just cream and for me, carrot cake has to be light to compensate for a rich topping.
    @Abbie - I remember Treptower Park was a special place for you too, one of the nicest spots for a walk I think. I know that nice tramline in Alt-Schmöckwitz, the ride through the woods is quite magical and now I'll have to finish my walk there with a trip to the restaurant so thanks for the tip! I miss you in Berlin too!
    @P.K - Oh thanks, it was mainly the quality of the light that made me go out but after 1 hour or 90 minutes I'd had enough. Much warmer today but with a snowstorm. Whipped cream is an interesting topping but it somehow doesn't work so well with carrot cake in my opinion.
    @Max - It's true that it takes a bit of courage to venture outside on such days ubt I don't agree that I'm the only one who can get such results at these temperatures because the light is so good which makes taking pictures quite easy. Visiting the polar bears again would be nice though - I haven't seen them for a while.
    @Deana - Yes, the photos do have a raw feel to them but the last ones were already taken on a day with only -7°C whereas it was -15°C in the top ones which makes quite a difference. As you live in New York I'm not surprised you like very hot food as that's the thing many visitors from there complain about here as it's tricky to find anything really spicy. Sorry to hear about the lack of snow for your St- Bernard - I can imagine how wonderful you two would look walking through the white city.
    @Holly - Je suis si contente et touchée en lisant ton commentaire! Un grand merci à toi de me lire, surtout car tu n'as pas beaucoup de temps. Tu as une si belle plume et cela me fait toujours plaisir de te lire aussi. Ah, tu aimes aussi The Killing! C'est une série vraiment exceptionnelle mais je pense qu'elle n'est pas très connue en France.
    @Kate - Oh wow! You're the best and thanks very much for the award.
    @Amber - I'm glad the photos came out well because that meant it was worth going outside but I'm happier now it's a lot warmer. I think enjoying the cold snap from far away is definitely the best solution!
    @Barbara - I can't imagine what it's like not having a hard winter but it must be nice too not having to worry about ice and snow. Everyone here tells me how cold winter in the UK must be and everyone in the UK tells me how hard winter in Berlin must be. The climate here can me a bit extreme for my tastes.

  11. Keep those fingers warm, we need them. Your aubergine stew looks lovely. Ginger, tomatoes, coconut milk, mint...yum.

  12. Comme la ville est belle sous la neige ! Tu fais bien d'en profiter même par ce froid glacial. En Laponie, c'était pareil, j'avais un mal de chien à prendre des photos, tellement j'avais les mains gelées...

  13. @Denise - That winter chill seems like a million miles away and the other day I even went out without gloves. I miss that amazing light but am looking forward to spring.
    @Julia - Toi aussi, tu es bien courageuse car en Laponie il doit faire encore plus froid, non? En tout cas ça vaut la peine, il faut juste se réchauffer après avec un café ou un chocolat chaud.

  14. beautiful photos' my favourite is of the bike with flowers