Spoiler: After having received the terrifying message that I may have the chronic disease called Multiple Sclerosis, I am happy to say that I don’t have it. This coffee date will be about this experience as well as medical gaslighting. But be warned, this is a long article and quite personal. Baking will only play a minor role. If you don’t feel like it, then read this some other time or not at all. But let’s start from the beginning. On October 24th, I received the following bad news in the form of an MRI report: “A few perventricular T2 hyperintense lesions as a possible indication of multiple sclerosis.” Have you ever heard of MS? Multiple sclerosis is an inflammation of the central nervous system, a chronic, but non-contagious autoimmune disease that is not curable and usually occurs in relapses and usually worsens over time. Even though a lot has obviously been done in recent decades and the disease can be well controlled with medication for many people, it is still not curable. Since this disease affects the nervous system, there are numerous different symptoms. It is not for nothing that it is called the disease of the 1,000 faces (not sure though if this holds true in English as well).
MS usually is only confirmed after running several tests. The MRI is only one important building block, another is the lumbar puncture, the removal of cerebrospinal fluid from the spine, which is checked for inflammations, etc. Of course my neurologist did not explain this to me when we discussed the findings, but I had to research this myself. When I asked him if he could perform this second important examination, he waved it off. When I asked him for referrals, he could not help me either. So I had to find a clinic myself. Perhaps you can imagine that I was pretty down when I was confronted with this suspicion along with a completely incompetent neurologist who could not help me in any way. Of course I wanted to know whether I had MS or not. The day after I received the MRI results, my husband and I took a day off and drove to Schliersee or Spitzigsee. I had to clear my mind. We drove to a place called Albert-Link-Hütte, they are known for their Kaiserschmarrn (see picture on the right). I just needed nature and fresh air so I wouldn’t be trapped in the same thought spiral again. Since fall is my favorite season anyway, I enjoyed the trip despite everything.
Today I am inviting you to a special coffee. I am going to explain why there are so many Latin American recipes on my blog. So grab a coffee or a tea and let me get started. You will see a traditional Colombian breakfast in the featured picture. These are tamales, which is food steamed in banana leaves accompanied by hot chocolate. Yes, this is something you will eat for breakfast in Colombia, I am not kidding. So just as this may be a very unusal coffee, I am also inviting you to grab something out of the ordinary for your “coffee”. The short answer to the original question is because I was born in Uruguay and because my husband is Colombian. Obviously both of us are interested in eating food we ate as a child. So there definitely is a nostalgic factor, for sure. But apart from the very simple and egoistic “I want to eat food I am familiar with”, I started this blog because I wanted to
It has been way too long that I have drunk a virtual coffee with you, so let’s do that now. This time I invite you to Dresden and Radebeul. We got to spend Easter in Dresden and Radebeul. Dresden will always be in my heart as it is the city I first studied jazz piano in at the Carl Maria von Weber music conservatory, and later switched to the Technical University in order to study languages). Moreover, Dresden is the city I got to meet my Colombian husband and where we got married after many months of red tape and many hurdles. Needless to say that Dresden will always have a special place in my heart even if I still don’t like the Saxon dialect.
During one of our walks to Altkötzschenbroda; the church you see in the back is where we got married 13 years ago
Same procedure as every year? Same procedure as every year. Again I am going to summarize this year’s blogging experience with the eight questions from Feedmeuobeforeyougogo. So here goes nothing. Featured picture by Daniel Cuervo.
#1 Which one was your most successful blog post in 2022?
Again the brownie cookies are the most popular recipe of 2022. However, I am going to focus on the runner-up because why not. The runner up is the round up with more than 20 Christmas cookies, which were clicked on by more than 44k people within a few days, it was crazy! For me this taught me two things. A) that apparently the German Christmas cookie baking starts earlier than expected. The article went online on November 16th, apparently there are many Germans that like to serve Christmas cookies for the first of advent already. I always thought this was for Christmas, but no, it seems to be much earlier. Also, since Halloween is not a common thing, Christmas basically starts in November. B) sometimes it is so much easier than expected. Writing a roundup is so much less work than preparing a new recipe. You have to structure your roundup properly, but boy, you don’t need to bake and/or cook, you don’t need to shoot pictures, you don’t have to write down ingredients, measurements and steps/instructions. It is so simple in comparison, yet this post was so popular. Below picture shows my cookie plate of 2022, it was the most liked post on Instagram in 2022, which I found very fitting.
We went on a holiday to the north of France and got to see beautiful Lille. If you are up for it, how about a virtual coffee with me and you get to get a small glimpse into what we experienced? I have to warn you though, a lot of pictures and a lot of culinary recommendations, however none of them are sponsored. You can’t deny that I am married to a foodie and probably am one myself by now 😉 By the way, travelling with a dog was super easy, all restaurants we visited allowed Hazel to be with us, she usually got fresh water and was petted by waiters a lot, so don’t fret, Lille seems to be a dog-friendly destination.
Bam, so I am turning 40 today, wow. I am old, suddenly all these terms pop up, such as middle-aged, half time, mid-life crisis, not very encouraging, don’t you think? But I can’t change the fact that I am 40 now. So I figured, OK, so be it, I guess I will have to deal. When we were on holiday in Spain end of July, I asked my in-laws if we could pre-celebrate my birthday, they complied. We had paella, which was prepared by my brother-in-law (thank you again!) and since we couldn’t decide for a flavor, we went for paella mixta, so it had it all, rabbit, chicken, and seafood. I was responsible for dessert (of course) and decided to make tarte tatin with apricots. We drank wine, which is a given in the wine region, we had a wonderful scenery with vineyards and a river, it was just so wonderful! Thanks to my in-laws for this wonderful experience: fue un placer, muchísimas gracias!
Featured picture and above picture by Daniel Cuervo
Shame on me, why does it always take so long for me to finally invite you to another coffee date? It has been forever. Last time I invited you to a coffee when I made my my second wedding cake. It was so much fun, but it was also exhausting. The first wedding cake (pictured below on the left) was made in Spain, the second (pictured on the right) I made partially in Munich, took the frozen cake layers with me for 600km, along with my KitchenAid and ten million tools, and then finished the fillings, frosted and stacked the cake in an Airbnb. If you are interested in the process and recipes, check out this blogpost and well as this one. In 2022 I haven’t been asked to make a wedding cake yet. This means, I can just relax and enjoy the spring and summer ahead.
However, it looks like somehow I ended up making fancy cakes regardless. This time a couple asked if I could make a gender-reveal cake. Of course I could. It is not as common in Germany yet to make an event out of this. One thing I knew for sure was the fact that I didn’t want the traditional pink and blue on the cake, but instead went for a neutral color. In the end I went with a “bee” theme, because baby and babee seemed to be a cute pun. Even though I was not 100% satified with the cake (especially with the air bubble wrap) as it did not represent the honeycombs the way I wanted to, the parents were over the moon regardless. And it was quite a process to get this done in Germany. First I was handed a sealed letter by the doctor, which revealed the sex, this had to make it untouched to my apartment (the mom-to-be brought it herself), I baked the cake and obviously didn’t say a word to the parents until they cut into the cake and it showed a pink filling. By the way, the color was all done naturally, it simply was raspberries that did the job. As always all parts of the cake were edible, the bees as well, the honeycombs were made with candy melts. Since I am often asked about the cake toppers, I get them on Etsy. If you are interested in the recipe, let me know in the comments.
Our puppy Hazel has been growing, she is almost ten months old and absolutely adorable. The first months with a puppy are really hard, but now we got used to each other and it is more easy-going. However, she had to go through two tough surgeries already, which is a pain if you are this young and cannot play with other puppies. So much restrain! She is recovereing though. I am excited to take her on long hiking tours in summer.
I started 2022 with the vegan January. I published only vegan recipes in the blog. You especially seemed to like the German mole cake. Reason for the vegan recipes was the chronic sickness endometriosis I was diagnosed with about a year ago, you can read more about this here. Supposedly a vegan diet can reduce the symptoms and fight the inflammations. However, I have to say I didn’t feel any different. I have to admit, I did not go fully vegan in January, I sometimes had vegetarian days, but I did not see any change. For me the worst symptom of endomertriosis is feeling exhausted and tired all the time. I didn’t feel that the vegan diet changed that in any way. Maybe I was impatient and the timeframe was too short. However, I did turn to intermitten fasting in February. I basically eat between 7:30 to 3:30 and will then fast until the next morning. Remember, the main meal is eaten during lunch in Germany. I have had cheat days and I eat whatever I want during the eating window. Intermitten fasting seems to be working better for me. I seem to sleep better and feel more energetic. For now I will continue intermitten fasting as this somehow seems to be better for my body.
Be sure to check in on my blog the week after Easter. I had a horrible bike accident five years ago and I am going to celebrate the anniversary with a lot of other bloggers as I don’t have any permanent damage. I am not going to spill the secret, but I am going to say that there is a lot of chocolate involved. My creation also includes Nutella.
This is going to be a slightly different coffee date to the previous ones. I decided to show you a few pictures of the second wedding cake I had the honor of making in August this year. I will try to keep it short, but I will let you know the few lessons I learned along the way. If you are interested in the recipes, please check this blog post. For more details on the process, check out my highlights on Instagram.
Lesson #1: A three-tiered cake requires much more work than a two-tiered cake. For that reason I made the cake layers at home in Munich and decided to freeze them. As you can see, I wrapped them tightly in plastic wrap and also used a plastic bag to keep them fresh. I decided to do this as the wedding was 600km away and I was simply too scared to carry a cake long-distance for such a long amount of time. I am glad I went this route, I ended up 7 1/2 hours on the road.
You can see that I wrapped the cake layers in plastic wrap and a bag in order to freeze them
Lesson #2: Cooling boxes are my new favorite toy. I carried the frozen cake layers for 7 1/2 hours in this box, wrapped in ice and it was not problem at all to continue freezing the cake layers in a freezer. Yes!
Yes, it used a seatbelt for the box
Lesson #3: I finished the wedding cake in an Airbnb. Obviously, I carried with me a lot of the tools, including my KitchenAid. But it was very convenient to have an empty fridge for the cakes at hand.
You will see the three cake layers in the semi-naked style here
Lesson #4: Unfortunately, larger cakes tend to look smaller and bulkier than they actually are. I made 4 cake layers for the top tiers, but decided to use five cake layers (as you can see below) for the bottom tier. Reason for this being that the bottom layer somehow looked smaller otherwise. This is something you should keep in mind when you calculate your sizes, I had to add one extra layer to my bottom tier!
You see that the bottom tier of 30xm had five cake layers to get it to look a bit taller
Lesson #5: If the bride tears up when she sees the cake, I feel you have done a good job. And let me tell you, making a three-tiered cake requires a lot of work. I think I spent about 20 hours on this cake, let alone the many hours I did research, tried different cake recipes, checked many flavors, etc. Many of the guests came to me thanking me that this was the first wedding cake ever tasting fresh and fruity and was not so overly sweet. Of course each layer had a different flavor combo and as requested by the couple, I had used very little buttercream, but cream cheese, etc. for the filling. Below you can see how popular the wedding cake was, coffee time was not over yet when I snapped that picture.
I snapped this picture during coffee time, I think barely anything was left
If you are interested in further details or would like to know the recipes, feel free to leave me a comment. Update: I finally gave in and posted the recipes for the three-tiered wedding cake here. Also, I did do a whole series on the first wedding cake I made, you can check it out here:
It has been a while since I last drank a coffee with you virtually. Reason for this was because there have been many things going on in my life. We moved inside the city and I underwent surgery. I am all good, no worries, it was planned. However, originally there were two zysts they wanted to remove, but afterwards I learned that I do have endometriosis. Endo what? Believe me, I had no idea what the doctors were talking about. So I had to do a bit of research. This is a chronic sickness where tissue develops for example on your ovaries or fallopian tubes where it is not supposed to grow. It can create a lot of pain, usually women with this condition have extremely painful periods, some may faint or need to vomit and in some instances the pain will be constant, not only during your period.
Fortunately, I have not experienced such horrible pain. I do recall, especially when I attended university, that I once fainted during a very large lecture with about 600 students and the professor just sent me home. I don’t know how I even managed to catch the right tram and crawled inside my bed. This is the most painful episode I ever had. But I do have other typical symptoms. One of them is feeling exhausted and fatigued all the time. Nowadays people understand much better what this entails as it can be a symptom of COVID19. It is really frustrating, because I normally sleep well and try to do sports regularly. Believe me, feeling fatigued is much more than simply being tired. For a long time I thought it was my fault. I mean, how can this be that I am living a pretty healthy lifestlye, I sleep 8 hours per night, I excercise, yet I always feel so exhausted. Sometimes it is like a knob was turned off, it may only be 8pm, but I feel like crashing on my bed and falling asleep right away. Martina Liel, a woman who has endometrioses, too, describes it in German as if your body wants to get into hibernation just like the sleeping beauty. I couldn’t have said it any better. That is exactly how it feels.
The crazy year 2020 is almost over and I think it is about time to review it. With this blog post I am taking part in the “food blog review 2020” (in German) from the blog Feed me up before you go-go and below I am going to answer the eight questions for my blog.
#1 What was your most popular recipe in 2020?
The most popular recipe was definitely these brownie cookies. It has been the most clicked, most rated (more than 300 reviews!), and most baked recipe of my blog. I do understand why my readers love it so much, I love it, too. As a chocoholic, 2020 required more chocolate than ever. If you can get chocolate in cookie form, what is not there to like? I have also made a version with sourdough in case you started your sourdough in 2020 and don’t know what to do with the discards. Brownie cookies with sourdough are a wonderful variation, or you can try these vegan brownies with sourdough.
I have also made a video of these brownie cookies:
#2 Which three blog posts did you personally find most important?
Number 1 is definitely the blog post about my favorite café in Munich called “Wir machen Cupcakes”. The first lockdown in spring was already hard on it, now I just hope it will survive the second lockdown. If you wonder whether your café will make it or not, contact the owner and ask how you can support. Many offer vouchers, delivery, anything to keep them going. You will be surprised to see how grateful owners are if you just show your concern and offer some help.
Number 2 is this recipe for German spice cookies or Pfeffernüsse, which was passed down from my grandma. She was an amazing baker. She never seemed to measure anything, everything was by touch and feel, yet everything always tasted amazing. Unfortunately, she passed away recently, but I had the honor of receiving a handwritten recipe booklet from her. I hold it very dear. Obviously the recipes are rather brief, many times you will not find any measurements or oven temperatures. I have gotten used to that. Regardless, I have managed to make her apple strudel, gingerbread for the Christmas tree, and said Pfeffernüsse from this precious recipe book.
Number 3 is this blog post about how to ship a cookie box successfully, which contains lots of tips and tricks and tons of cookie recipes. I have been shipping cookie boxes for many years already, I have even shipped fancy cakes such as Sachertorte and also shipped internationally. I don’t think I have ever had as much traffic people googling for tips and tricks. But I cannot blame you, during these weird times we do need to remind our loved ones that we are thinking about them even if we cannot see them. And mind you, cookies can be sent all year round, you don’t need to do it only during the season. Nothing is more exciting than a cookie box full of homemade cookies during a time when you least expect it.
Then I need to mention Zorra from the blog Kochtopf (in German), she has been organizing blog events of various kinds for many years. I have done a few and have to say, wow, she is my personal hero for doing this all the time. I especially like the baking together she organizes every month. We all bake the same recipe on the same day and share our results later on. If I took part in it, you will find a lot of the posts in my breakfast and bread category.
And lastly, I need to mention one inspiring article, which is from Mara about getting ready for her wedding (in German) Mara’s blog Life is full of goodies (in German) is amazing. That particular article is long, but it is funny and I was truly impressed by the amount of time and effort she put into her wedding cake, all of the decorations, and the entire set-up. Seriously, I have no idea how she did it. Maybe I was so touched by it because I hope to bake two wedding cakes in 2021. My own wedding took place more than ten years ago and if I had only made half of what she did, I would have probably died of stress. I really don’t know how she did it. If you don’t speak German, just check out the photos. Everything, the wedding cake, the centerpieces, everything was made by her. It is incredible.
#4 Which recipe you published in 2020 you have made yourself most often and why?
This is the runner-up, it is my beloved chocolate raspberry cake. As written before, I needed a lot of chocolate in 2020. I personally love the combination of raspberries with chocolate, so I decided to invent a recipe with precisely this combination. Apparently you love it, too. At least I got a huge crowd baking this cake, so many readers clicked on the recipe and have left reviews and comments, it is wonderful. As soon as I became aware that this was such a beloved recipe, I had to make sure I got it all right and had to bake it several times. I also decided to make a video and was requested to make this flavor combination for a cake I sold.
#5 Which cooking or blogging problem did you encounter in 2020 and how did you tackle it?
If you are running a blog, believe me, there are many problems, many challenges, so many things to learn and to tackle. I personally find it very hard to narrow it down to only one. One of the things I have been dreaming of doing is offering baking classes. First our move from the north of Germany to the south got in the way and then the Corona virus hit us. For that reason I didn’t tackle it for a long time. At least I managed to offer one virtual baking class in December 2020 with about 14 participants, some of them even including their children. We made Christmas cookies and it was so much fun. I am a teacher at heart and I do enjoy teaching. I also realized that I have been baking for so long, I forgot the feeling of being a beginner. It was so cool to see what people were struggling with and helping them with tips and tricks of the trade. I hope I can tackle this even more in 2021.
#6 What was your biggest discovery this year, which recipe, technique, food stuff, flavor, etc. opened a completely new world to you?
I don’t think that you always discover new worlds, especially not in 2020 where most of us stayed at home most of the time. I also didn’t follow the Dalgona coffee fad or the banana bread fad. I did try them, but somehow got tired rather quickly and decided not to publish any recipe as I was not fully happy. But despite the fact that we all stayed at home and didn’t have as much exposure to new stuff, I did get into something very new. I started shooting recipe videos. For that reason I established a new category with all recipe videos on my blog. For sure this category is going to grow over time. Making a video is a super exciting yet also tiring process. I have to admit, when I filmed above chocolate raspberry cake, it took an entire day with many breaks in between. It is amazing how much time goes into filming and also the editting later on.
#7 What was the best or funniest search term that somebody used to find your blog?
This is a very recent one from December and said “Christmas cookies for women”. This got me thinking how Christmas cookies for women differ from Christmas cookies for guys. If you are looking for anything that may solve problems of women, I would definitely mention these brownie cookies, chocolate is perfect for PMSing or other gloomy happenings. This is coming from a chocoholic.
#8 What do you wish for your blog in 2021?
I do feel that fewer people comment on my blog than before. Somehow people do not mind leaving comments on Pinterest or Instagram, but I don’t know why they have such a hard time commenting on blogs. I can only encourage you to do so, many other readers will benefit from it, problems you may encounter, may be more common than you think or maybe you will help to improve the recipe. Only if you are willing to share how it went, there is the chance to improve and learn.