Summer

end of march things + spring cake recipe!

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traditionally, i’m not a huge fan of march. for all intents and purposes, it’s still winter for most of it, and here in central europe the trees are almost all still bare throughout. this month however was so much fun with our very important visitor from michigan, loads of travel, parties, games, beer (!!!), and ending with the most beautiful spring weather. i guess it is true what they say about “in like a lion, out like a lamb”.

some thoughts, stories, and happenings from the past couple weeks of life in south bohemia…

– we have the best travel dog! after our first overnight trip with ferdie (to prague), i have continually been impressed how good he is and how well he travels. it was the first time with his carrier (which i showed a photo of in the recent bamberg post) which he tolerates more and more as time goes on. coming back from prague on the train, we sat in the carriage with an older woman who was absolutely in love with him. he spent much of that journey on her lap! normally i would put him in the carrier as a courtesy to the other passengers, but she would have none of it!

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– we also released him from his leash for the first time at the park last weekend. he was pretty wonderful – never would get too far away or not respond to me calling him back (for a treat!)… until he saw that one german sheperd when we were walking right next to a ditch full of muddy water and unknowingly dove into it and sort of just stood there like a lump. (pond creature!) honestly, i’m just pleased to have a dog who has been socialized as much as ferdinand! we can bring him everywhere.

– i forgot to tell a funny story about the bamberg post, an addendum to the fact that i bought two mini-kegs of beer (and even more in bottles, if you can believe that!) we had the (mis?)fortune to pass our surly pension proprietor on the way upstairs to our holiday flat, and i stopped to ask him a question about check-out, and noticed he had a particularly “long face”. then i realized that we were a) visibly taking a bunch of beer upstairs and b) asking a question about how long we can stay in the room the next morning. i have no idea what he thought after that!

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– do you have any cosmetics allergies? what about to cocoglycerides or any coconut-based washing product? i do, sadly, and this dang ingredient is found in so many products as an eco-friendly alternative to… whatever makes cleaning products non eco-friendly. i’ve purchased two shower gels in the past three months from LUSH, thinking that i was simply sneezing because it was cold season. no, it didn’t occur to me to check the label for the damn cocoglycerides until after the second LUSH purchase.

– the comparison trap. i think it happens to all of us. lately i’ve been a bit caught up in it. it’s really so awful…. when i’m busy and working a lot, i wish i had free time. when i have too much time (and too many lesson cancellations), i feel poor and useless. alex is good at keeping me on track during these weak moments – to look around at all we have and have accomplished. to see that we have enough for us to have this good life here. it’s all fine and good to look up to someone you know, but not when you start comparing your very different paths and life choices…

– spring has hit central europe this week! everything is beautiful here – the cherry tree in my backyard is in full bloom, wild garlic is in the shops, and people are walking around in  t-shirts for the first time this year. daylight savings time has really saved me – it feels like life is about 20% better with more evening sunlight. i’m so excited for a bit of adventuring this weekend as it should be quite nice! time to get out and remember why we live here! bam.

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– i think i have a sickness: on my lunch hour the other day, i seriously researched and planned an entire eight day iceland trip. costs, plane tickets, itinerary… it’s all there! do i have any intention on realizing this trip absolutely anytime in the near future? of course not. but, planner’s gonna plan. saved to my folder of all the potential trips.

– last week has been full of delicious free time. it always happens about once a year or so – many of my lessons cancel the same week for no apparent reason. i have been relishing it!  i even made this delicious weekday cake just for the reason of to have a delicious cake on the table. it is so completely delicious and i will be making it over and over again! i highly recommend it!

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berry mascarpone cake

you’ll need…

–500g mascarpone cheese (two packages)
–1 ¼ cups flour
–¾ cup sugar
–1 tablespoon baking powder
–3 eggs
–½ teaspoon vanilla extract
–100g butter (just under a stick), melted
–a cup of berries (i used sliced strawberries and whole raspberries)
–a handful of almonds, chopped
–powdered sugar, to serve

1) preset oven to 160°C (140°C for fan ovens like mine).
2) mix together your flour, sugar, and baking powder in a medium-large bowl.
3) in a larger bowl, mix together the eggs with the mascarpone and the vanilla. then, mix in the butter. stir well until it looks like some kind of delicious frosting.
4) fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture and mix well.
5) spread the batter into a greased cake pan until even. scatter the fruit evenly on top, followed by the chopped almonds.
6) bake for 45-60 minutes, depending on how large your cake pan is. you are looking for light brown edges and the middle should be firm when moved, not wobbly. cake is done when fork inserted in the middle comes out clean. set and let cool, then sprinkle cake evenly with powdered sugar. enjoy!


full disclosure: after i came home that evening, i saw part of the cake missing, and then looked down and saw some crumbs on ferdie’s nose. no wonder he didn’t eat his dinner! even dogs love it… but not recommended.

ps, more soon about foooood & a living abroad post. i have a lot to say about spring cooking as i’ve been cooking my ‘ead off every night of the week lately.

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