Hungry? Try This Stew

dijon and cognac beef stew by smitten kitchen
dijon and cognac beef stew by smitten kitchen, image via smitten kitchen as my food photography skills still need improvement

There are moments of hunger when only a big fat amount of protein preferably of the animal fibre variety is the only food that can save you. And I don’t mean the typical “Heißhunger”, no no, more a hunger which had time to build up during a couple of hours and lets you fantasize of dinners the most elaborate kind.

At this point there is no way that a simple turkey sandwich would satisfy you and although hungry as hell with your stomach rumbling, you don’t want to head over to the next reachable fast food supplier. On times like this you are even willing to wait two hours prepping and cooking so you can treat yourself with really wonderful deliciousness.

This is exactly the situation where you should cook this stew. I discovered the recipe through smitten kitchen, a fabulous food blog I regularly browse for dinner inspiration. Actually the only food blog I find myself recooking meals from because the images are so appealing while at the same time the recipes still stay manageable.

Debs recipes are truly tried and tested and her step by steps very detailed. Just stay close to her directions and you’ll be rewarded with perfect results. However fortunately hearty meals always leave a little room for adjustment if ingredients happen to be out of stock or you just want to use what’s in storage.

This is what I did, as I used good old additive free Bautz’ner and Händlmaier sweet mustard, no shallots just onions, interchanged cognac for red wine because it’s cheaper to get a whole bottle and I like the taste of it in food a lot and at least I tossed the bacon, or more exactly the Speck, back in again which gave extra smokey flavor although Deb recommends only using the rendered fat.

The steps you definitely can’t skip are sautéing the ingredients separately, especially the meat. Oh the meat!!! We used Jungbullenbraten from our local REWE, nothing luxe, just conventionally raised and still it came out heavenly. I think in English it would be translated young bull roast or something and we cut it in big chunks. What makes it so tasty is the flour dusting beforehand, buttering the pan and browning it in batches in high but not too high heat. If you don’t own a Dutch oven just use a large nonstick pan with a lid. Seriously this will result into the best medium cooked mini steaks and I deeply considered eating them all up right away but as I said above this was the time to get fancy so on went the preparation.

For those of you struggling with American measurements I changed them into European and listed the ingredients as I used them. But for exact directions you have to head over to smitten kitchen.

Serve best along egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

200g smoked Speck (bacon), diced
2 large onions, diced
60g butter
around 800g beef chuck
flour, salt and pepper for dusting
250ml red wine
100ml organic beef stock
3 tablespoons smooth mustard
3 tablespoons coarse mustard
2 carrots, finely diced to make sure they cook through
300g mushrooms, sliced

Happy (Iranian) New Year

Nowruz, haft sin From left to right: serkeh (vinegar), sekkeh (coins), sabzi (sprouts), sonbol (hyazinth, sib (apple), mahi qermez (goldfish) in a bowl of water, senjed (dried fruit of the oleaster tree), lit candles and a mirror
Haft Sin – from left to right: serkeh (vinegar), sekkeh (coins), sabzi (sprouts), sonbol (hyacinth,sir (garlic), sib (apple), mahi qermez (goldfish) in a bowl of water, senjed (dried fruit of the oleaster tree), lit candles and a mirror

Happy Nowruz to everyone!!!

Today Iranians and a lot of other cultures celebrate their New Year and the arrival of spring. A joyful time where families and friends visit each other and take part in plenty of traditions.

The most important tradition is the special table setting haft sin upon a teghmeh, a kind of table-cloth, with at least seven items starting with the letter ‘s’. The objects sometimes differ and also others get added. Each item on the haft sin has a deep symbolic meaning. For example the goldfish stands for life within life.

The feast goes back until ancient times and origins in Zoroastrian culture and belief. Through modifying some of its symbolism it has survived through islamic times till now. And by no means celebrating ends just after one day! Oh yes, festivities go on for further 13 days. On sizdah be dar everybody will be out in the nature picnicking and with throwing out the greens from the haft sin into some flowing water people afterwards finally go back to their regular life.

But this still not all, it is coming even better. Celebrating starts actually before Nowruz. At night before the last Wednesday of the old year little fires get lighted and young people jump over them. Very much like Nubbel here. In Iran young folks can go really berserk at this night but this was my favorite spectacle as a child.

There was just one element I didn’t like at the feasts as a child and this was the appearance of Haji Firuz, the herald of Nowruz. But this was only because the dirty face paint scared me, actually it is a sweet character. With a blackened face and a red costume as signs of luck he sings and dances through streets with a tambourine and heralds the coming of the New Year.

Haji Firuz at Park Mellat in Tehran
Haji Firuz at Park Mellat in Tehran

And how sweet is this Persian animation clip about Nowruz:

German readers if you would like to know more my friend Shohreh wrote a nice article at qantara.

I also created a board on Pinterest around this Fest.

Goodbye To A Special Talent: L’Wren Scott

Designer L’Wren Scott at British Fashion Awards 2013 via elle ©getty

Rest in peace Ms. Scott, you were a fabulous designer and surely even more. We’ll never know why.

Obituary on New York Times.

L’Wren Scott RTW spring 2014 via style ©Yannis Vlamos
L’Wren Scott FW09 via lwrenscott

Her designs were red carpet staples and mostly popular under fashionistas. I would find myself very often analyzing the structure of her figure hugging and super flattering dresses with the help of my zoom button on my computer. She never clothed someone badly.

Büro Für Brauchbarkeit: Wohlan! Noch Einmal!

Detail Lomme 3 - Dominik Sartor - Büro für Brauchbarkeit - Vernissage
Detail, painting Lomme

The Büro für Brauchbarkeit regularly features great artists at their exhibition rooms in Köln-Kalk. This is the other side of the Rhein, also sometimes jokingly called the wrong side of the river.

But nothing wrong with Dominik Sartor. A young resident artist with a wide range of works from paintings and installations to videos.

We went to his vernissage Wohlan! Noch Einmal! on friday and I really like his new stuff. Actually I lovvvve it!

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The colors and arrangement of his paintings appeal very much to me and his constructions are fun and calm at the same time. Ah, words can’t describe, you have to go and see for yourself.

Exhibition is open until 11th of April.

Update: The wire light definitely does not belong to Dominik Sartors work

Land Of Beauty Mistakes

On my way through Bonn yesterday it happened that I walked by a few examples of beauties made up like this:

via Maskcara

Of course you can find those mistakes not only in Bonn. They’re quite common everywhere in Germany and obviously as you can see from the location of Maskcara’s Blog in the States, too.

This makes me wonder about the grade of beauty education in other countries because as hard as I’m trying to I can’t remember seeing this kind of bad make up for example in Paris. Or was my sight just blurred from the general excitement of being in Paris…

May be there is more such a thing like every country has their own special kind of false applied make up. Because in Iran you surely won’t spot a girl looking like the left side of above picture. Groomed appearance is soooooo important in Iran and girls have a special look they aspire to. Just sometimes they overdo it and end up with something like a scouse brow.

These sweet girls made a fun, slightly exaggerated video on how Iranian girls like to apply makeup. They talk mostly in Persian but it is still funny if you don’t understand any.

Fortunately there is no need to fall for a flat make up anymore. The times where girls mostly had to figure out everything on themselves are long over. Gosh, I cringe when I think of my extensive bronzer use in the 90s and how long it took me to find out the difference between face powder and bronzing powder.

The make up artist which took the before and after picture has a good blog where she will tell you a lot about the secrets of highlighting and contouring. Go and explore if you struggle with that.

And from all the millions of youtube tutorials the ones I recommend the most are Lisa Eldridge’s videos. She is a real celebrity make up artist oftentimes called goddess by her followers. With her always nice and beautiful style she keeps producing really helpful advice without bothering everyone with irrelevant information of her personal life which seems to be a widespread disease under youtube vloggers.

Now, I’m curious the girls I see on the streets running around like this girl in her before picture, are they actually as pretty as her after the makeover?

It’s Literature Time

Fellas do you feel bored by your evening tv program? What about some literature for a change?

The 14th lit.Cologne has started and will take place until the end of next week. This is our international literature festival with plenty of events bringing artists and authors together. This reading of Sahar Delijani’s book sounds particularly interesting, the location Kulturkirche is pretty cool, too. It is marked as sold out but there will be remaining tickets at the box office.

Logo via their Facebook page

Honestly in all the years before I never went to one of the readings of lit.Cologne. You know, too much university stuff and the after parties always seemed more interesting. Also paying 15 bucks just for listening somebody reading is usually not something young folks are known for but now I think it is nice to have something intellectual happening in the city, why not support it?

So if you happen to live nearby, come around and visit the city.

Rituals Giveaway – The Winner

I am happy to announce the winner of the Rituals Cosmetics giveaway:

Rituals Giveaway - Winner

Congratulations! I will contact you via Facebook for further details.

Did the choosing process analogue, just out of joy for the old school.

Rituals Giveaway - Winner
Writing down the names with a pen.
Rituals Giveaway - Winner
Fishing for the winner’s name

And for the rest of you, I have another documentary recommendation. I got hinted at Forbidden Voices which will be broadcasted tonight at 10 pm Central European Time on ARTE Germany. The docu is about three bloggers from Cuba, China and Iran and the problems they face with their work. You can watch it later if you are like me and still have uni or something else to do, like uhmm sleeping… On ARTE+7 the programme is always seven days after broadcast available and also more accessible if you’re on the other side of the planet. The links lead to the German sites but they have a French version, too.

Boss Women

Did you all had a happy women’s day? Or for the ones living in a different time zone are you going to celebrate womanhood today?

According to this special day I have a documentary recommendation from the year 2000 for you. Wow, 14 years ago!!! It was part of a BBC series and in this episode (vintage) Anna Wintour and her work at Vogue are shown.

But still, many aspects haven’t changed and others that have are nice to be seen in retrospective. Especially the fashion. Clothes get much better fitted nowadays… Am I right?

There are so many great videos about beauty and fashion floating around Youtube. I really like that because regular tv in Germany usually doesn’t show what the fashionista heart desires. Now if I could lay my hands on James Franco’s Gucci documentary somehow…


The Nubbel burning on the ground
The Nubbel burning on the ground

Dat ham wa nit jewollt, dat war ja nur dr Nubbel schuld!

These were the words we had to shout again and again in the middle of the night as Veilchendienstag went over to Aschermittwoch, following a tradition more than hundreds of years old.

Each year at the end of carnival season people come together at their local pubs and burn the Nubbel, a straw man who stands for the origin of all sins that have been made the days before. A false priest will stand in front of the people and hold a speech in Kölsch listing up all the wrong that has happened, while in between requesting the audience to accuse loudly the Nubbel of all guilt. Then the straw man will be carried around the block in some kind of mourning procession, the people behind carrying lit candles. The ceremony is somehow solemn and at the same time funny and concludes with everybody throwing a burning candle upon the poor straw man cleansing themselves of guilt. Some were even hopping over the fire reminding me of Nowruz celebrations back in Iran.

We took part at the ritual organized by pub Alcazar in the Belgische Viertel and I really liked it although the average age of the participants there was much above mine.

But that doesn’t matter, it is a great spectacle and I won’t miss it again. Hope you will take part next year, too.

Just remember you get freed of your past sins only, not the ones to come… Also get costumed for this occasion, too. I was unaware and felt a little like an outsider with my super warm jumper.

Me at home pre-nubbeling
Me, chilling at home pre-nubbeling in my non-costume

Getting Gifted And Gifting You

Last week a nice package from Rituals Cosmetics reached my door. Inside lots of good scented stuff in popping colors, yay.


The acetone-free nail polish remover and eye make-up remover came in immediate use and they’re pretty good.

Usually I prefer acetone for getting rid of my nail polish because it works quick and contains no additives like oil which if you paint your nails right after reduces its longevity. However this time I got convinced, especially the bath solution got me. And it was a happy coincidence that the eye make-up remover was included so I could swipe away the blue eye-liner I wore at Weiberfastnacht which is beautiful but also a tough job to swipe away.

You see the big pink jar in the picture above? This is a salt body scrub. I am so glad about that as I don’t need to worry again about teeny tiny plastic beads polluting our environment whenever I want to rub some of it on my skin.  I wrote about the Polyethylene issue here and here.

And now, my dears, I am happy to announce the very first giveaway for this blog! I decided to share this beauty package with you. The give away will contain the Happy Mist, Qi stress relief serum, Energy Bubbles and Hammam Mint Tea. Just leave a comment below or like this site on facebook and I will randomly select the winner next week on Tuesday, March 11th.*

Happy Mist, Stress Relief Serum, Energy Bubbles, Hammam Mint
Happy Mist Bed & Body Perfume, Qi Stress Relief Serum, Energy Bubbles Moisturizing Cream Bath, Hammam Mint Tea

Have a nice rose monday!!!

* Due to shipment this give away is open for Germany only. Despite this, if you really want to take part, I can send it anywhere in the world, you just have to be willing to take over shipment cost then.

Weiberfastnacht All Day Long

Cologne Carnival is still full on and I had my fair share at Thursday on Weiberfastnacht. Although the name suggest something happening at night it is actually more a cheerful day street party where you better appear customized or else feel really out-of-place.

Here carnival season starts at eleventh November the year before and reaches its peak on a Thursday usually in February. Followed by a few days full of parades through all boroughs of the city. People are very fond of the special music which is played during this time but for some people those sounds feel a little painful which is why you should consume a lot of beer then. Sadly February is still in winter and this year it rained so much, sometimes the scenes reminded me of Glastonbury Festival in Britain. Completely different from carnival celebrations in warm and thongful Rio.

Sorry for the chaotic backdrop. Next time I will do better.
Sorry for the chaotic backdrop. Next time I will do better.

This is a phone picture of me with my costume. I was supposed to dress up as Little Red Riding Hood but I couldn’t bear the shabby cape of my borrowed costume. So I quickly grabbed an Iranian silk scarf and incorporated it into a braided style in my hair. A little Frida-Kahloesque, don’t you think?

Karneval Porträt

For my face I didn’t want to go over the top. The heavy makeup and glitters you usually get to use on carnival are sooooo itchy. Fortunately I still possess this awesome Liquid Eye Liner from Kiko, a very non expensive Italian cosmetics brand. At their store opening two years ago I tried them out and this Liner proofed to be the bomb. The vibrant metallic color in electric blue gave me just the right amount of show stopping effect to my otherwise regular make up. Usually I struggle with applying Liquid Liner but this one is more gelish and the brush tip behaves well. Hmmm, maybe I should go and get more of this stuff…

kiko Liner