Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ohne Abk├╝hlung=Without Refrigeration?

Englisch bitte! Okay fine.....

This had been bugging me for a while so I thought finally I would do a little research behind it. When I'm at the German grocer, I notice that there is milk on the shelves. Just, hanging out.....GASP! Not in the cooler/refrigerated section?! What is up with that!? Upon further inspection I noticed eggs, as well, were not refrigerated. Some milk is still kept in the refrigerated section, but a lot of it is sitting on shelves.

Being American, this seemed very strange and dangerous. I thought to myself that maybe the milk was evaporated milk, or maybe soy or almond milk (By the way, is there a German grocery where I can by Almond Milk?). When it came to the eggs, I thought maybe they are hard boiled? I was stumped. But, every time I would get home I'd forget to look it up. Finally, this Sunday it occurred to me to get my tush to the computer and do it! So I revved up the Google search engine and found out these interesting things:

The non-refrigerated milk on the shelves is ultra pasteurized and then sealed in Tetra-packs (same company that does many of the milk cartons in the US), making it fine to store in the market at room temp and at home at room temp. If taken home and refrigerated, it is recommended to stay kept in refrigeration. I don't know the science behind it, but there it is.

If eggs are just brushed off after they've been collected (not washed off) they can stay out in room temp or on a kitchen counter for about 14 days. Many Europeans recommend leaving them out on the counter for better flavor.

Apparently people who buy their eggs at a farmers market or have hens at home do this all the time. I don't know the science behind it. From what I gather from popular opinion on the internet, it's perfectly fine to do here in Europe & some farmers stateside who sell their eggs at farmers markets recommend to leave them on the counter to have the best tasting hard boiled eggs. That being said, many folks say because of the US practice of mass producing eggs/keeping chickens in close quarters /not corn fed/chemically treated can cause more risk of salmonella and things like this. I found no proof of this, just a theory by many. By the way, if there are any foreigners reading this, not ALL American eggs are produced this way. Get over yourselves! There are many producers that use the good old fashioned methods. I think in Sacramento, laws just passed for folks to legally keep chickens in their backyard. I used to go to the farmers market every week to get my eggs. I'd get close to 30 eggs for $3.99. Cheaper than the grocery store. Plus, Joshua preferred the brown ones... I have no idea why. I did too when I was a kid.

The non-refrigerated milk thing freaked me out a bit. Especially because if milk is not pasteurized correctly/stored correctly people can get REALLY sick and die. But, at the same time, I thought back to not so long ago when people got their milk from the milk man everyday. What happened if the milk man delivered the milk and no one was home? Did the milk go bad sitting out all day? Obviously if people were getting sick all the time, the milk man would have been out of a job. I read something too that people used to put silver coins in their milk jugs to prevent the growth of bacteria? Is this true? Are US regulations on milk and eggs just outdated? Is it truly healthier to refrigerate our dairy and eggs? The Europeans have been drinking non-refrigerated milk for about a decade now and are still going strong.

In the US it's gaining a little momentum (ever go to Costco and buy the organic chocolate milk packs by Horizon?).

Needless to say, this question has led to many more questions. Any thoughts? If the benefits outnumber the risks, what a fabulous energy conservation idea (which, maybe isn't such a "new" idea).

Again, I don't know the science around it all... so I don't recommend folks just start leaving their things out, but it's still a good thing to look into I think.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's Greek To Me

As luck would have it, my very first work related trip outside of Germany was a 4-day journey to Crete, one of the larger islands in the Mediterranean under Greek rule. It took all day on Saturday, 12 March to fly there, but that allowed time for me to have a "non work" Sunday to decompress before hitting the ground running on Monday morning. As it turns out, much of the early part of Sunday was actually spent preparing for Monday's duties, but on Sunday afternoon I was able to get out and about to explore nearby Chania, a city along the northwest side of the island.

What a place! The Island of Crete was settled over 3000 years ago - think about that for a minute - it's old. It's also considered the birthplace of Zeus - arguably the most famous of Greek gods. Having only spent four days on the island, I can see why Crete could boast the claim. The part of the island near Chania commands fantastic natural views - crystal clear lakes, large daunting snow capped mountains, and the Mediterranean Sea. And the inhabitants of the island seem as charming and as welcoming as the environment. Almost everyone I met, from the Greek nationals to the fortunate foreigners who lived and worked on the island, had such positive attitudes - they seem to truly appreciate the beauty of the place.

Armed with just a point-and-shoot camera (I kept the Canon Rebel back in Germany, as I had to handle quite a significant amount of work related baggage on the trip and wanted to keep my personal luggage to a minimum), the pictures don't begin to tell the story of the beauty that encompasses the island. I wish I had spent a few more days there, just to be able to explore more of the island. I guess I'll just have to visit again sometime!

Photos are linked on the right-hand side of the blog, or you can just click here.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Um, where have I been?

For about a month, we had no internet at home. I was a little traumatized... believe me! Just a day ago, we got internet and I called my mother, who said I need to get blogging again. So, here I go with my latest entry of experiences.

We moved into our 4-story home about a month ago now and still we are not all settled. For the most part, we have the boxes gone from our bedrooms, bathrooms, and main living areas. I have curtains hung up on one of the floors. However, our guest room, garage and office are in shambles and we just can't go very much further without purchasing storage units. Hopefully, soon we'll be looking good. Because of the lack of internet, I wasn't really able to explore too much but I have been able to make this house a home, keep it cleaner than I usually would and take up my old hobby of cooking. Friday night, I made "street tacos": homemade shredded beef, pico de gallo, guacamole, and homemade tortillas. It was so yummy. I also was able to experiment with a vegetarian cook book that my aunt gave me a year or two ago and I made Walnut Alfredo. It was really good. It had the creamy consistency of an Alfredo without cream. Walnuts, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, and hot water. It was an emulsion of sorts. At the end I sprinkled it with Parmesan but other than that, it was dairy free. I was really excited about it... perfect for the vegetarian on the guest list or a creamy topping for meat (since, I'm attempting to keep kosher again). Okay, I'm gonna say it again and the readers can probably fathom, I was really excited about this new recipe.

I've gotten used to our home. On the outside it doesn't seem really impressive but once inside it feels like a good size. Not a huge back yard but we've got 4 balconies, which is actually really nice. During the warmer months we can be outside but we don't have much yard work to do. It's built like a stovepipe, which at first I wasn't in love with, but the design is for energy efficiency. It's 4 stories high (3 flights of stairs that I use all the time). Surprisingly it works for us. The first floor is the entryway, laundry room, garage entry, and guest room. The guest room opens up to the backyard (which I'm not too keen on). Then the second floor is the main living area with kitchen, living room, and two balconies. The 3rd floor is where our room is, the main bathroom with the bathtub, a linen closet, and the office (2 balconies). The top floor is the boys' rooms and a bathroom with a shower. The home itself is connected to other homes that are similar, so it looks like apartments from the outside.

I'm getting used to Germany. I'm finding that if we leave our area, it feels more comfortable for some reason. We are trying out our German (Zwei Laugon Brezil Bitte=2 Long Pretzels Please) but it's going much slower than I thought. I'm still working on getting Samuel registered into Kindergarten but that too has proven more difficult. Because there are so many Americans here, I've heard stories of Kindergarten being a little unwelcoming to foreigners trying to get there children in. I got an idea from someone online about talking to my Realtor/Landlord about working on getting Samuel registered so I may go about that route.

As far as traveling goes, we are touring a little bit of German but are waiting until Mike gets his normal passport (Yes, he had one... it's a long story) to leave Germany. As spring approaches there will be much more to see. I, for one, am very eager to see the Tulip festival in Holland.

The food here is good. The Italian food in our area is really good. The beer is good but we tend to like the darker beers. Here they serve mostly Pilsners and Hefeweizen. This is the German wine region. All the wine I've had is really sweet. I'm hoping for a good recommendation for a local wine??

Alright, this was a shorty but for some reason writers block has hit me hard lately.