Do you have a food that you remember fondly, not because it’s the best thing you’ve eaten but because you connect lots of vivid memories with it? For me, the first food that comes to mind is brownie bites! Whenever I find myself in a place where they are sold I have to get a box and share it with friends, because that’s how they became memory brownies. The last time the duck and I encountered brownie bites, however, we were surprised at how regular they tasted. I guess that particular situation was not suitable for new brownie bites memories, or the duck and my tastes have changed throughout the years, or somehow the recipe had changed? Either way, we decided to not let the fact that we had lots of brownie bites left over in the end (after several attempts at sharing them) sabotage their place in our hearts which is why the duck and I created a new memory in the shape of this picture. I’m still not sure if it’s morbid or cute.
What do you think?
What are your (favorite) memory foods?
Fall has come once again and the duck and I miss our beloved Japanese seasonal autumn snacks even more this year. Just look at this beautiful treat that we got to devour four years ago sitting on a canopied bench under a pretty autumn afternoon sun after a fun exploration tour of an area we had never been to. Even though we got it at a local grocery store, we felt truly fancy when we ate this maple syrup sweet potato rice cake (at least that’s what our translator app told us this is)! 5/5 sweet potato stuffed ducks for the sweetness of Japanese autumn in a bite (and many more after that)! 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁
The duck and I still aren’t eating out a lot, especially since we don’t really like it all that much if catching up with a friend is not involved. So, there might be even more solitary or inside snack reports in the near future of this blog. What about you? Do you like eating out? Are there any foods that you miss?
After having devoured our last tub of grocery store vegan ice cream, the duck and I decided that it was high time we tried to make our own non-dairy ice cream that would incorporate all of our favorite flavors, not only peanut butter and sandwich cookie pieces that remind of ice cream sandwich ‘bread’; we wanted matcha and pretzels, too! This would be the ice cream of the future, the duck and I thought, as we tried coming up with a recipe while listening to one of our favorite friend-recommended podcasts, Flash Forward, which is all about ‘possible and not so possible future scenarios’, as host Rose Eveleth explains at the beginning of each episode.
Today’s friend recommendation actually dates back to the very same weekend the duck and I watched one of our absolute favorite movies, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, for the first time, together with our lovely friends J and Al. I wonder what our lives would be like had we just stayed at home that weekend. That’s a future that I don’t want to imagine. Let’s talk about more exciting future scenarios instead – alongside a summary of how the duck and my (too-)many-flavors ice cream came to be:
I love the image of a wise old person sticking out of my pocket to share pieces of wisdom with me! This little post, however, is about how I like to always have a few pieces of elderflower hard candy on me whenever I go out. At first the only reason for having candy in my backpack was the usual: You never know when you’ll have a sudden sore throat or a simple candy craving. When the pandemic started, there was an added reason: I realized just how often I abruptly have to cough from a dry throat – which is something that you definitely want to avoid at a time when everyone is afraid of catching an infectious virus of which coughing is a common symptom. Whenever I can’t easily take out my water bottle (or had to leave it at home because of strict security), a piece of candy usually does the trick. It’s not always elderflower candy, though; in Japan I always had a few pieces of vitamin candy in my bag, and these days I supplement elderflower candy with lemon candy for more variety. I wonder what it’ll be in the next place…
To get back to the image of an elderly person in my pocket: I’m actually such a proponent of carrying hard candy for all kinds of situations that whenever I hear a friend cough or complain about an aching throat or a looming cold, I leap to their side and offer them a piece of candy (just like I imagine a wise elderly person would), and if they accept, I’ll give them an extra two or three, just in case. I usually carry so much candy that I have been a short term personal plague prevention provider for more than one friend or colleague in the past – when they were feeling sick but didn’t benefit from elder in their own pocket. I guess this behavior contributes to my at times being considered ‘the granny’ of my friend group. Why can’t I be ‘the cool one’ like the duck?
‘Phoneless hours’ would be more accurate. But since that’s also true for every time we sleep, the duck and I decided on a more dramatic title because, let’s face it, writing about how we went out without a phone once is a bit over-dramatic, anyway; there are people and ducks who unplug for days! We just went to a place with super strict security which meant that we had to leave a majority of the things that we usually carry around with us at home, including our phone. Still, venturing out without a phone did make us think about how reliant on it we have become throughout the years. See, the duck and I actually pride ourselves on not being regular ‘phone people’ as we hate writing messages on our phone and aren’t that big on social media, either (I wouldn’t consider this blog ‘social media’). We do, however, use our phone to study and to listen to podcasts a lot. And that was the first thing we noticed when we mentally prepared for traveling sans phone: We wouldn’t be able to access our usual means of travel entertainment.It seems that we are phone people after all…:
Even though the duck and I sometimes forget about it (we actually spent the whole of August thinking it was September), the calendar reminds us that it is still summer. What a great opportunity to share some of our most recent beach photos: Continue reading
Last week I reminisced about the hottest AC-less summer that the duck and I can remember. This week I want to write about another way to cool down when it’s hot outside: ice cream! When I was still good with milk ice cream was a summer staple. I loved devouring the occasional tub of that extra creamy American style, preferably cookies and cream flavored, ice cream. Unfortunately that was the exact food that started off my milk troubles some years ago. Gelato and frozen yogurt still worked for the duck and me for a while after that, but these days our frozen refreshment of choice when we’re out is sorbet (just to be safe). A side effect of not eating a lot of ice cream was the disappearance of our regular ice cream cravings which made encountering deep and beautifully bitter matcha soft serve on almost every street corner back when we were living in Japan decidedly more bearable. The duck and I had gotten used to life without ice cream until, some weeks ago, we saw that one of our favorite grocery stores, Aldi, has started selling vegan ice cream that looks just like the kind that I was in love with many years ago. Of course the duck and I had to throw our no ice cream lifestyles overboard and make this the subject of a subjective taste test – summer edition:
The duck and I bought our first fan two summers ago when we felt that we really couldn’t go on without one. Let me clarify: I’m writing about an electric floor fan – we would never buy an admirer (we’re way too stingy for that) and I don’t remember when I bought my first hand fan. See, until that summer we had always been lucky to be living at places with surprisingly well-stocked basements or storage rooms so that there was always a fan somewhere if we needed one. But that time we searched in vain.
Houses with built in air conditioning are rare in Germany; even though it can get hot in summer, days with temperatures above 28°C/82°F are few and far between. However, there are such things as heat waves, like the one in 2019 that brought temperatures above 40°C/104°F – three days in a row. Imagine going through that without an AC unit or even a simple floor fan that can redirect any little breeze that may find its way into the room straight to you (though fans are a terrible AC replacement, but that’s not the point here)! Pair that with a weirdly insulated bedroom that’s comfortably warm in winter and unbearably so in summer and you get the immersive experience of being a butter cookie in the oven – waiting for your edges to turn golden. This is why, that very summer, the duck and I threw all our reservations overboard and invested in an affordable floor fan. We usually avoid buying bulky items because it’s a hassle to deal with them when we have to move, but if the alternative is possibly waking up baked to a crisp one day the decision is easy.Now, two years later, the duck and I yet have to regret this investment; we’ve already used our first fan this year (I even tried to clean it for the first time last week in hopes of ridding it of that dusty smell it must have acquired standing around unused for so long) and the duck has found a new hobby in latching on to the vent grille and instructing me to increase the ventilation speed step by step (so weird).
Still, I wouldn’t mind living with proper air conditioning again (sorry, environment!). That’s why the duck and my next move will hopefully be to a place that is so warm that air conditioning is a fixture, or so cold that we can just burn all our summer clothes and bows for a toasty fire (if there is no toasty toilet seat around).
Actually, the more I think about it moderate temperatures all the year round might be the most comfortable and environmentally friendly option… we’ll see.
What’s summer like in your area? Do you have air conditioning?
This is embarrassing. Usually the duck and I are too proud to even consider posting obviously shaky snapshots on here (shaky is for videos only), but we’re running out of photographic memories of amazing snacks we’ve eaten in the past so that now we have to resort to fuzzy photos of fabulous outside foods we ate at home (apologies to your eyes – wait! I know! – let’s make this ‘art’ and call it a ‘nearsightedness-simulation’):
One Tokyo spring day the duck and I came home to a lovely little dessert waiting for us: a Mille-feuille Pie with Strawberry & Chocolate from La Petite Mercerie in one of the Shinjuku Lumines. Our wonderful house mate MG had bought it for a photographic project, but instead of eating her model herself afterward, she decided to give it to us. The duck and I were so thrilled and surprised that we took a single shaky shot of our lovely pie before we devoured it. It was delicious! First of all, eating strawberries as a persistently poor person in Japan always feels like a treat which is why they were our favorite part, especially paired with the puff pastry pieces and the custard-/whipped cream topping. The layers of puff pastry, chocolate cakes and -mousse tasted divine and probably made this one of the fanciest desserts the duck and I have ever had. This is why we decided to give this delectable memory a home on this blog even though the photo doesn’t even remotely measure up to the taste. 4/5 ducks, only because of the boring ambiance of our bedroom (but with leftover happiness about our lovely house mate).
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I wonder if the duck and I will ever eat out again? Only time (and our motivation) will tell…
Today the duck and I want to tell you about one of our favorite books: Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. When Ch, our amazing pumpkin pilgrimage pal, recommended it to us some time ago she said that ‘I’m not going to describe it to you, but I think that you’ll like it’. We loved it! We particularly loved reading about all the foods that the narrator gets to eat; our favorite is a bowl of porridge with blackberry jam and cream that precedes the series of mysterious events that are the main focus of the story. In fact, when we reread this perfectly pleasing porridge passage recently, we knew that we had to attempt to recreate this beautiful breakfast. So, that’s what will accompany today’s friend recommendation post.Here’s a photo of the duck admiring our pretty porridge that turned out just the way we had imagined it when we read about it; this might be our favorite recommendation accompaniment so far (probably because it’s so basic and not really a ‘recipe’ you can easily mess up).
When it comes to the story, I agree with Ch that The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of those novels that you shouldn’t know too much about before you read it. This is why, rather than going into the details of the plot, the duck and I want to talk about some of our favorite themes, descriptions and mental images we had while reading this book: