GREEK KEBAB RECIPE
This is one of my favorite easy summer dinners. Make it with steak or shrimp for a change.
HOW TO TRAVEL IN EUROPE BY TRAIN
During my trip to Europe starting in February this year, I had planned to visit a number of friends scattered throughout the continent, and I needed to find a budget-friendly way to do so. Despite having grown up in Germany, where one can drive at high speeds on the Autobahn, I prefer traveling by train. Consequently, I opted to purchase a 10-trip Eurail pass that was valid for a two-month period.
It's worth noting that while this ticket is known in Europe as an Interail pass, it's only available to European residents and comes with certain restrictions. The Eurail ticket is a way better deal in my opinion.
Here is how I used my 10 trips:
The Eurail pass comes in different prices and in different configurations but gives you the chance to travel throughout Europe pretty freely. For 10 days of travel in 2 month time, the cost for my ticket was 459 Euros (approximately $503), which is an amazing deal. The trains are extremely comfortable and quiet, with free WIFI available, and "quiet zones" designated for those who prefer a more peaceful journey. At each station, there are information stands with English-speaking employees who are able to assist you if you need help, but the app is really user friendly and you can plan your trips and then activate once you are standing on the platform. This makes traveling really flexible and stress free. To secure a seat, you can obtain a reservation for as little as 5 euros (with some being more expensive). However, I have only made reservations in Italy and Switzerland, as I was always able to find a seat otherwise.
How to make your train trip it the most comfortable:
Train travel with kids (I got this information from the website, so please don't quote me on this):
If a train trip in Europe is in your future I hope this article helps a little. I for one, can not wait to come back and and tackle other parts of Europe. I think I want to spend more time in Italy, explore Greece and finally spenn some time in Spain.
If you have any question feel free to contact me.
Drinks for Oktoberfest!
You will probably say, well why do you need to write a newsletter about drinks when we all know it's beer, but honestly, there are several really yummy German drinks that are not beer.
I made a video for you and the recipes are below:
Recipes for Oktoberfest
1/2 sparkling water
1/2 Coca Cola
1/2 Orange Soda
1/2 white wine of your choice
1/2 sparkling water
1/2 lager beer
1/2 lemon soda (like Sprite)
I did this thing:
I went to Burning Man.
My friend Michi (on the left) asked me a few months ago if I wanted to go to Burning Man and I didn't even hesitate... it was a YES!
Burning Man is a collaborative event where people from around the world gather together in the middle of the Nevada desert to share art in all forms - during 1 week each year, people transform this isolated, vast space of sand into a place of community where awe-inspiring art and music is shared. What began as a small gathering of people 36 years ago is now 80,000....
Here is how the Burning Man Project describes itself: "We will bring experiences to people in grand, awe-inspiring, and joyful ways that lift the human spirit, address social problems, and inspire a sense of culture, community, and civic engagement."
The result is a time that can be not only challenging to the senses but inspiring to the spirit.
Understand please that I do not like the heat, large crowds, EDM music, staying up all night, dust, camping in extreme situations, and everything that goes with what you might imagine Burning Man stands for.
But this lady has been my friend for more than 10 years and when she asks, I usually say yes.
We applied to be part of a camp, some people camp on their own but we thought we wanted to have the full experience of being in a community and some of the emotional and physical support like shade and water.
After going through several interviews, we were asked to be team leads, Michi was in charge of decorations, which is her specialty as she is the art director and stylist of Obsidian & Blush.
I was asked to be the head chef for 76 people, which included three meals per day plus snacks plus some beverages, like coffee & iced teas.
For months I met with people online and in person from all over the globe to discuss, plan and design a game plan. We created a book full of recipes, schedules, shopping lists, etc. to feed and hydrate everyone.
In retrospect, I appreciate that my co-leads, who all have been to Buring Man several times, did not start laughing when I suggested, beard nets, face masks, and high cleaning standards.
Don't get me wrong... we tried, but washing hands, wearing a clean shirt, and tying our hair back was about the extent of what we were able to pull off on a daily basis.
The dust was incredible (and I don't mean in a good way).
Black Rock City, where the event takes place is in the basin of an ancient lake flat made of alkaline dust.
Here is how someone describes it:
"Playa Dust: The dried lakebed dust of the playa is an all-infiltrating constant of Burning Man. It's not dirt. It's not sand. It is a fine, fine powder that turns skin ghost gray, shades all fabric with a chalky cloudiness."
You keep your skin from cracking by washing yourself with a mixture of vinegar & water to replenish the PH of your skin.
At any given moment it could blanket every single surface even inside our kitchen shelter and I am sure we all ingested a pound of that stuff throughout the week.
We had a dishwashing station, and we had clean running water (most of the time) - which is pure luxury!!!!
We had several fridges and freezers, a BBQ smoker and a couple of camp stoves, and one electric stove top.
Right before we went into the desert, we got a few crockpots and one huge instant pot (I named her Bertha - she was my BFF)
In spite of challenges and these curveballs, we managed to make some incredibly yummy meals and every meal also had vegan options.
As you can imagine with a group of 76 people, there were many dietary needs and requests.
Anything from Gluten Free, Dairy Free, high protein, vegan, vegetarian, Keto, high calories, low calories, ..... the list goes on.
Our menu was ambitious: Toddy Coffe, Breakfast tacos & a bagel bar with overnight oats, fresh fruit, bacon, and eggs every day for Breakfast. Lunches were pita pockets & wraps, loaded with lots of fresh veggies and protein. Dinners were crowd-pleasers, like burgers, Frito pie, hot dogs, peanut stew, Indian Butter chicken, lasagne, enchiladas and we even had a steak night (which I have to say was probably the best meal I have had in a while).
I used many recipes from our classes which felt amazing because I felt like I was taking all of you with me on this trip.
Teaching these recipes to my fellow campers brought me right back to teaching your kids.
Many of my fellow campers told me they don't eat this well in their day-to-day life!
You can imagine that ordering everything, calculating the numbers, and delegating everything was a challenge. We only had three days in Reo to prep and shop- we placed orders with various stores, and some of the orders were not fulfilled. So we ended up with no pita pockets, no eggs (but we ended up getting some delivered to the desert!!), too many snacks, too much salami, bacon, onions, lettuce, and apples to keep fresh etc.
But if you know me, you also know that I thrive in situations where I have to pivot, so we made our adjustments and some of the things we created like an apple compote to save the many apples we had received, ended up being one of the groups' favorites.
It was an ongoing struggle between keeping everyone fed, keeping things clean, and also having some time to go out and explore the event.
I was surprised by how many people my age were actually at this event. So many parents whose kids had just left home, like mine, and just like myself, they are doing things that they have not been able to do while raising their kids.
Seeing all the incredible art was so inspiring, meeting people from all over the world, with nobody on their phones (there is no WIFI!!!), actually talking to humans because there are no distractions, lots of hugs, and every time you turned a corner, there was someone happy to see you.
It was a beautiful reaffirming experience that we are all still a big family.
In closing here are a few facts:
Top 5 meals in our camp at Burning Man:
1. Pancakes with apple compote served during a dusty day while setting up hex tent.
2. Warm Vegan Chickpea Curry in big Bertha, served in the early morning hours when people came home from watching the sunrise.
3. On Friday night we had an epic Steak Dinner with mashed potatoes and a giant salad, as a celebration, and thank you for everyone's huge effort.
4. Frito Pie, to my surprise some people were like "what's Frito pie?" - It was an uphill struggle, LOL, but they all loved it.
5. Chef Pavla's (my culinary teacher's) Mexican Wedding cookies - not necessarily a meal but a delight! She had sent me with hundreds of these cookies, plus banana bread, and her famous jalapeno jelly which was devoured!
34 lbs coffee
27lbs chicken tenders
20 lbs ground beef
and I could go on.
We served 1776 meals to our campers
65 gallons of iced coffee
and about 45 gallons of iced tea
I could have not pulled this off without some key players here in Austin and abroad who helped me brainstorm and execute this undertaking. I am so grateful for everyone who showed up for their shifts and helped when needed.
Next year, yes I know it's crazy to think I might do this again, I want to create a more magical menu, and I am already brainstorming fun titles and new menu ideas.
If anything comes to mind, please let me know.
"Sparkle Pony's delight"
Michi and I are safely back in Austin, diving deep into our work again and inspired by all the incredible impressions from this event.
And if you are ever inspired to go, I am happy to share my packing list with you. I learned A LOT!
Happy to be home for now
So you have a budding young chef in your household and he/she is begging you to let them cook in your kitchen. But you don’t know what to give them in regards to tools and equipment.
Let me make it easy for you! After years of cooking and baking with children we have come up with a comprehensive list of kitchen tools, equipment, and basics that everyone should have in their kitchen.
Your kid doesn’t need a bunch of special equipment to become proficient in the kitchen. It is more about it being the right fit, size and with little bit of foresight and you can let them cook up a storm. But you will need a few basic things to make sure your kid is successful in the kitchen.
Let us get into the nitty gritty of these items:
Let's start with the most controversial item: the knife. The knife needs to fit well in your child's hand, their fingers should fit around the handle and I personally think a chef knife is better then a small paring knife. There is something about holding a knife with some weight that makes it feel more secure, these little paring knives are just too light too pointy and just too dangerous in my opinion. (Don’t know your knifes? Here is a guide) there is a good chance that you already have one that works. Take a couple of minutes with your child and find the knife that really fits. But one thing is make sure the knife is sharp, a dull knife is actually more dangerous. Here is a video on how to sharpen a knife.
Do make sure that you store the knife in a safe place out of reach, especially if you have younger kids who are not ready to use the knife.
I teach my students to keep their knife above the cutting board with the blade facing away, when not in use, so that the knife can not be accidentally knocked off the counter.
Speaking of knives, as a parent I can remember the first few times I handed my child a chef knife and boy was I freaked out. But over the years of teaching children how to use knifes, I can tell you that a good sharp knife will do less harm then us giving them “child safe” plastic knives which in theory seem safer but ultimately they will need to apply too much pressure and they are just not sharp enough which can lead to accidents.
If you are not ready to hand your kid a chef knife (no judgment here!), try these amazing cut resistant gloves.
They will not break the bank and oftentimes double as pretty decent potholders to protect those little hands.
A good cutting board is a dream. I like mine heavy, big and wooden. This would also be a great gift idea for your child. There are so many different cutting boards out there, it would be easy to cater to your child's preferences.
What do you look for? It is important that the cutting board lays flat on the counter, if it is made of plastic or glass, they sometimes like to move around depending on what surface the cutting board is sitting on. A moist paper towel, or dish towel placed under the cutting board will keep it in place.
Also it is always nice to know that it can fit in your sink, for easy clean-up and that your child can carry it easily.
Spatulas and spoons to stir that don't get hot when cooking, or that can easily melt or break. Just remember they are still learning. So don’t give your kid a metal spatula in a non-stick pan!
They need to learn about everything else and not have to worry about damaging the pots and pans on top of it.
Your pots and pans should sit securely on your stovetop, we don't want them to be too small and wobble. They should sit securely on the burner. Any pots that don’t should be hidden from the kids. It would be great if they have lids and lastly I always recommend pots that have handles that do not get hot. If that is all you have you can purchase silicone handle protectors.
A set of measuring spoons & cups are a must, a liquid measuring cup would also be amazing, especially if it can be set in the microwave. Please keep the measuring spoons and cups on the ring it comes with, it is really difficult for the kids when they have to search for the missing measuring spoon or cup.
Zesters, my favorite is a micro blader, but whatever you have at home will be fine, don’t overthink this one. If we are after some lemon zest we will figure it out.
If you want to go all out, a simple citrus juicer is a nice things to have, but a fork will do the trick.
If your child is not able to stand at the counter and comfortably reach everything and or get proper leverage while cutting should have a secure stepping stool to stand on. Most of us still have those around, it’s worth pulling it back out of wherever it's hiding. :)
A colander that can sit securely in your sink, when draining pasta. You don't want your child to have to hold a colander while pouring off boiling water.
2. Simple equipment like an electric mixer, and food processorI am not a big fan of a lot of gadgets, but an electric mixer will make your life easier, especially when whipping cream or egg whites. It does not need to be a super fancy stand mixer, though I do recommend that you get an electric mixer that also has a whisk attachment! Like this (I do not get any cut for any of these items, these are just examples)
A food processor is great for making pesto, smoothies, ice cream, gelato, sorbet, etc. It also works great for chopping up things like onions or carrots. This piece of equipment is not a must but sure is nice to have. Make sure you show your kids the blade, explain that this is nothing but a knife, so they need to treat it with the utmost respect. Also show them how to turn the food processor on. I like to do several test runs, because if you have ever used one of those machines, you know. :)
3. Kitchen basics like a set of good potholders, apron, dishtowels, spongesInvest in some good fitting potholders, for me this is probably the one thing that is an absolute must! They can’t be too bulky, you still need to have some dexterity while wearing them. I prefer the mitten style, just because your hand is fully protected.
Make sure those potholders are not close to any water, a moist or wet potholder is absolutely never to be used on anything hot!
Aprons are nice but not necessary. I go back and forth of wearing an apron. Obviously as a chef we wear our uniform but when I cook at home I oftentimes don’t wear one. But for kids it creates another layer of protection. Aprons protect your child's clothing from stains but also they protect your child from potentially spilling hot liquids on them.
An inexperienced chef should always wear long sleeve cotton shirts to protect arms from spills and burns.
Of course close toed shoes are also a great idea, just in case a knife falls or something spills.
In my classes I always teach the kids how to clean up, so make sure they know where everything is for that. I like to tell them before they start that I expect the kitchen to look the way they found it when they are done.
Get them their own sponge, soap and dish towel if you have a very anti-cleaning child, sometimes that is all it takes.
Sometimes even a little rug on the floor, kids can get a little messy and a wet floor can cause someone to slip and fall, so maybe invest in a cheap little non-slip rug to lay on the floor in front of your sink.
I hope these tips and tricks were helpful. If you have any tools or items you find super helpful in your kitchen do let me know, I am always curious how other people manage their spaces.
Treat your mother (earth) to some sweetness and kindness!
Happy (Almost) Earth Day!
Hello my fellow earthling!
I wanted to share with you this video that has some wonderfully useful tips on how to regrow and reuse food waste. We would love to see how you incorporate these ideas into your everyday life, as every day is Earth Day! :)
WHAT OTHER WAYS DO YOU CELEBRATE THE EARTH?
Join us as we create visually stimulating cookies to celebrate Earth Day!
This class is FREE for new students and just $15 for returning chefs.
Saturday, April 23rd @ 10:00am - 11:00am, click the button below to register
2022 SUMMER CAMP
If your kids are already making dinner, why not include dessert too?
Chef Pascal's Favorite Carrot Cake
THE BEST CREAM CHEESE ICING
Earth Day Cookie Class is next Saturday
Saturday, April 23rd at 10 am - 11 am
FREE for new students, discounted price for existing students
a quick and easy easter cake
In today's Newsletter:
SIGN YOUR KIDS UP FOR OUR BRAND NEW CLASS OFFERINGS:
A Quick and Easy Easter Cake
Hi everybody! Sorry, this isn't a blast from the past about an iconic '80s film that many parents will remember and nearly none of our kids will remember. This is Sara and I want to take a minute to talk about breakfast food.
Breakfast is one of my most favorite food groups of all time. No hyperbole! I promise that when I first interviewed for Home Slice Pizza in 2007, they asked what my favorite food to make for others was. I said breakfast, I still mean it.
Some might think this to be a simple task, but I ask ... have you ever tried to make the perfect hashbrowns or over-easy fried egg? Not easy AT ALL! Let your kids master the skills to start the day in a delicious way this summer.
This video is full of meals that I had never heard of, let alone for breakfast!
Does your child love to be as literal as possible?
We added a last-minute Easter Wreath class!
This is a German tradition that I remember fondly from my childhood.
Come and join me for this lovely baking tradition on Saturday, April 16th from 10am - 12pm.
It is literally just fun to make and your kids will love it. Also it looks lovely on your breakfast table.
Before founding Bake Austin, Pascal Simon earned her degree as a Pastry Chef from the prestigious Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. A mother of two, Pascal is passionate about cultivating the next generation of bakers and welcomes children from all schooling backgrounds, whether public, private or homeschooled.