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Cherry Jam Margarita

It’s the weekend!  The weather here in Stuttgart has had its moments.  a few moments of sun, followed by it going away for a while, then you get some rain mixed in there.

With the weather being nice at points, here Stuttgart, that is anything over 72 °f (22 °c), I start going out for more walks in my neighborhood, as well as to the farmers market.  Not to mention you see really nice seasonal fruits and vegetables come about.  When I start seeing strawberries, blueberries, cherries, etc.  I can’t help but just want to make a nice cocktail.  Normally, if you follow my instagram, you know I love a Friday cocktail.  I come home after work, hit my liquor cabinet and decide what I’m in the mood for.  My Friday rule is pretty clear, nothing too simple, because I deserve something tasty as a reward for finishing a week of work.

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This time I was in the mood for a margarita.  I enjoy the taste of a margarita, if you can find a nice tequila that goes down smooth and mixes well, then you have a great drink.  A problem that I’ve run into here in Stuttgart is finding a tequila like that.  That’s why when I get a visitor, OK, when my mom comes, or a friend,  I ask for a nice bottle.  This time it was Milagro.  This is a wonderfully smooth tequila, that you can shot and not feel horrible the next day.

With my love of cocktails and also because I live in a neighborhood that has some of the best bars in the world, seriously I have a bar (Schwarz Weiss) that was voted as one, I’m constantly inspired to learn from them, then come home and make a great drink, for way less of a cost.  This time it is a cherry jam margarita.  Yes, if you never thought about it, you can make a great drink using that jar of jam or jelly in your frig.

If you want to try out different flavors, go get a jar of jam, you will be amazed.  It works in many ways.  You have something, which will impart the flavor you are looking for from that particular fruit, along with the sweetness you might also enjoy.

If you are looking for that first cocktail to make tonight, or really any night in general, then make this Cherry Jam Margarita.  Once you do, make sure to tell me about it.  I know I can’t be the only person who enjoys a nice Friday drink to start the weekend.

Cherry Jam Margarita

Prep Time: 10 Minutes             Total Time:  10 Minutes      Yield: 1 Drink

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon cherry jam
  • 1 oz lime juice (about the juice from one 1 lime)
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1 1/2 oz Silver Tequila
  • Dash Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish of a lime wedge, or a cherry (optional)

Directions

In a rocks glass add ice and set aside.  In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients, except for garnishes.  Fill shaker with ice and put the cap on.  Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds, or until shaker is extremely cold.

Strain cocktail into your prepared rocks glass and garnish with lime wedge or a cherry if using.  Serve immediately.

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Tasty Carrot and Banana Bars

It’s been an interesting time with February rolling in, here in Stuttgart, the weather always leaves you wondering what will come next.  For instance, take last Sunday, I was sitting here in my living room, look outside and there are nice fat snowflakes.  I should probably mention a few days before if I wanted, a nice light jacket could’ve been worn.  That’s just the weather you come to expect here.  Can’t say I’ll ever get used to it, but it’s not something that going to stop me from really being active.  I mean it’s just a little random weather, right?

Other than the random flurries along with the seesaw of temperatures, an excellent bright side is the fact it’s staying brighter a little while longer.  Everyone knows what that means?  Cold temperatures are leaving, and longer days are on the horizon.  However, we still have some colder days coming, which means you will probably want something that’s going to warm you up.  Carrot and banana bars anyone?

Oat Loaf

These bars have a lot going for them.  They are gluten-free and vegetarian, not to mention they have all of those good things, we all love.  One of those flavors being peanut butter.  Now you have a peanut allergy, then you can definitely sub it out with another nut/seed butter without a problem.  Now this recipe uses a fun technique, but you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to.  If you have a spiralizer, get it out and spiralize those carrots!  You will want to make sure you are cutting the carrots here or there.  Long strands of carrots look cool but can be a little problematic, when eating, or that might just be me.

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If you don’t have a spiralizer, don’t worry, just get out the box grater, a shredder or whatever, and get at it that way.  Lastly, you have honey as a sweetener, but no other refined sweetener, that’s right none of that white sugar, which means these bars are good for you all the way around.  Eat them for breakfast, as a snack, or even dessert.  You name it, it’ll work great for it.

Give these bars a try, you won’t be sorry that you did!

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Carrot and Banana Bars (adapted from Spiralize Everyday)

Prep Time: 30 Minutes             Cooking Time: 25-30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 4 Tablespoons peanut butter (smooth or crunchy are fine)
  • 2 medium to large carrots (
  • 3 overripe bananas
  • 1 Cup (7 oz / 200 g) Raisins
  • 3 1/2 Cups (10 oz / 300 g) Gluten-free Rolled Oats

Cooking Method

Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C).  Prepare an 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) square baking pan with either aluminum foil or parchment paper, set aside.

Place honey, peanut butter, and coconut oil in a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is completely melted.

Meanwhile, if using a spiralizer, with a spaghetti size blade (1/8 inch, 3 mm), and spiralize the carrots.  While spiralizing, roughly cut any really long spirals in half with scissors or knife.  Alternately, grate carrots into a bowl or on a plate.

In a large bowl, place bananas and mash with a fork.  Once complete, stir in carrots, raisins, and oats.  Pour peanut butter mixture over ingredients and combine.

Spoon combined mixture into prepared pan and flatten with the back of a spoon.  Bake in a preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes (depending on your oven), until golden brown and set.  Remove from the oven and cool in the pan.  Once cool enough to remove from pan, slice into desired bar sizes.  This can vary from 10 to 12 slices.

For short-term storage, place in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days. For long-term storage, wrap individually and store in the refrigerator for a week.  They can also be wrapped and stored in the freezer, thaw in the refrigerator, then heat for about 30 seconds, and enjoy.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings4 bars

 

Gooey Bacon Brownies Revisited

 

Several years ago I shared a recipe for gooey bacon brownies.  I know the thought of bacon in something that is sweet is still odd to a lot of you.  It was that way to me too, but I thought why not.  The funny thing is that when I made these, then had friends try them, let me tell you something.  To this day, people who have either heard about them or tried them, the first question is, “Do you have any of those bacon brownies?”

There was a time when I made these things a lot.  I really enjoyed trying out different ways of layering them, presenting them.  Not to mention the fact of taking them to different parties is always fun for me to do.

When I put this up this recipe in July of 2012, it was inspired thanks to an ebook called 21 Bacon Desserts Recipes That You’ll Wish You Would Have.  Going back and looking to see if the author did anything or just to see what was happing with the book, looks like it’s nowhere to be found.  It’s unfortunate, the book has some very interesting, with a lot of very unique recipes.

Now for the recipe itself, the components are straightforward.  If you have made any brownies or baked goods before, it’s not mind-blowing at all.  You start by making a bacon caramel, which I have to say.  If you wanted, you could just do the bacon caramel sauce, and not make the brownies.  Another good option is that you can double up on the ingredients for the bacon caramel, have some for the brownies, then the rest for later.  Now, one thing that you have to keep in mind while making these.  Don’t overcook the brownies!  A problem that a lot of us do constantly is overcooking our baked goods.  We overcook brownies, cookies, cakes.  Remember this, actually, do me a favor, write it down, put it in your phone, or wherever.  Just because you took it out of the oven, doesn’t mean it’s going to stop cooking instantly.

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For these lovely morsels, they are supposed to be undercooked.  Don’t put a toothpick or something in to see if they are cooked or ready.  I like the shake test of the pan.  Just tap the pan a little bit, a little movement means that you are good to go.  In any case, you are going to let them cool, then pop them in the refrigerator for an hour or so.  This allows for nice slices.  Don’t worry though, they will still be gooey and full of tasty caramel.

If you are wondering why I’m posting this recipe again after 5 plus years, a few reasons.  You learn how to do a few things better, so why not pass that learning along.  I also was able to take some pictures that look so much better, which really show how awesome and tasty these brownies really are.

I hope everyone makes these and enjoys every single bite of them.  They are truly a very tasty sweet to have.  Enjoy the brownies!

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Gooey Bacon Brownies with Caramel Sauce

Prep time: 20 minutes                    Cook time: 35-45 minutes,

Ingredients 

Bacon Caramel Sauce

  • 3 slices of bacon, A thick cut is best
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Brownies

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate (chips or chocolate bar)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (not raw sugar, but the kind mixed with molasses)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla bourbon (optional)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, a mix of either 1 cup cake flour, or a mix of a 1/2 cup of cake flour, with whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 slices of cooked bacon, chopped

Cooking Method

*Bacon Caramel Sauce: In a dry skillet, fry bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and add cream to hot pan and let cool. When bacon is cool, crumble or chop finely.

In a larger pan, heat the sugar over high heat until the mixture is liquid, keep an eye on the caramel.  It is very easy for this to go quick, and burn your caramel, which means you have to start over. Mix in the butter and the cooled bacon cream. Stir until the butter is melted. Add the chopped bacon. Remove pan from heat and let the mixture cool thoroughly.

Brownies: Preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C) degrees. Line an 8-inch (20-cm) square pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper that covers the bottom and sides of the pan. If using foil, grease the foil with butter, if using parchment, then just butter the pan and lay paper in the pan.

Melt the butter and your chocolate chips, or chocolate bar by microwaving in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals. Stir after each melting, add the cocoa and mix until smooth.  Next add in the eggs one at a time, followed by the sugar, vanilla, bourbon vanilla, if using, along with the flour and baking powder.  Stir until combined.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Over top of that, spread a third of the bacon caramel in an even layer, if caramel is stiff, reheat slightly to allow for easier spreading. Spread the rest of the brownie batter over the top and finish with the remaining caramel sauce over the top of the brownies.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes.  The brownies will have a nice rise, along with bubbling.  If you have to or aren’t completely sure stick a toothpick in an area where there is no caramel, if it comes out slightly clean, remove from the oven, and let cool.  You can also shake the pan slightly, and a little bit of movement also means it is ready to be removed.  Don’t forget it will still be cooking, for several minutes after it is out of the oven.  After it has cooled, refrigerate for at least 1 hour, then cut into squares, or whatever shapes you desire.

Yield: 12 to 14 servings4 brownies.jpg

*Note – Depending on your bacon type, you may need to add some oil to the pan to help cook your bacon.  American bacon has a lot of fat so you won’t need to do this at all.

The return, this time hopefully for good

 

It has been over 2 years, 2 months, and 27 days, if anyone was counting, since I’ve graced my own my page with new written content.  I’m always putting material up via twitter (@jacobkthomas) and on Instagram (@jacobkt225), however actually putting words to a page, hadn’t really happened.  The question of why/how this happened is first question.  That answer is kind of easy to answer, that little thing called life.  Also, I didn’t have anything to live up to my mission statement.  I’m supposed to be providing things about my travels, my food, and my life in Germany.  I am still traveling from time to time.  I’m still eating and making excellent food, look at my Instagram, seriously, I’m not ashamed of the food.  Lastly, I’m still living here in Deutschland.  I guess when it all came down to it, providing new content that I thought people would like to read wasn’t something I felt up to doing.

However, after over 2 years of nothing, I feel like now I’m able to finally put something up.  That feeling of wanting to put up new material just happens to coincide with bringing in 2017 with renewed hope and brand new motivation.  I also felt like this place is the best place to review my 2016 resolutions.  I’m still putting the finishing touches on the 2017 resolutions, which will probably go where the 2016 ones were.  That location was my refrigerator.  The idea was simple.  What place do I spend most of my time in my apartment?  That would be my kitchen.  I decided to put it there because I felt that I would come in there everyday and be reminded of what I wanted to do.  I’ll be honest for the first part of the year, it worked.  Needless to say like a lot of things for a lot of people, even when you have something looking you straight in the face, you can find a way around it.  With all of that though, I put down 13 resolutions, goals, things I wanted to change.  Whatever you want to call it, I put down 13 of them.

20170102_154820-2017-01-02t16_44_10-996Literally decided to handwrite these, out of the 13 things I wanted to do, I can say I was able to accomplish 8 or 9.  Why 8 or 9, it comes down to the second resolution, lose weight, target weight of 165 lbs.  I did lose weight, however 165 was a pipe dream.  As I was told by my girlfriend and a few other people, me getting down to that weight is a bit much.  I did get down to around 170 or 171.  I was happy with that, though with the holidays and all, who knows where I’m at now.  My reasoning behind that was that I wanted to feel healthy.  I really feel like a healthy body can provide you with a healthy mind.  I have read that when you workout, it gets your mind going.  I can say that when I worked out, my mind was clearer and I felt happier at times.  Not to say that working out alone led to weight lose, but I also wanted to eat better and watch my portion sizes.  With that being explained, let’s review the 2016 resolutions: Read More

The times you know you should be doing something else

I’m always surprised at the times I tell myself, “You know you should probably get back to writing.”  I then think I should be working on getting something up, I have been to Greece, Spain, back to Belgium, and back to Berlin.

I however hadn’t been able to get myself into doing the actual task.  I mean the reason is pretty much I’m a perfectionist.  I’m far from being perfect, for me to go into the reason why would take longer than I really want to get into.  In any case, I’m actually writing something.  I’m working on a true system, so I can do this a whole lot more.  I like writing though actually doing it is the real problem.

The first thing to get to is where have I been?  For those of you that haven’t paid attention to the calendar, it is October, which means, it is Oktoberfest time.

Jacob fest 2014Unlike last year, when the government was shutdown and I decided to spend a Friday in Munich for Oktoberfest, I’ve only actually been to the Stuttgart fest, which is called Volksfest once.  However this week is going to be different all together.  I will be going and enjoy some very tasty food and fun sites in the fest.

Along with going to fest, as I mentioned, I went to Spain, Valencia to be more exact.  I’ll be writing about how great that trip was soon.  I mean the city in itself is amazing and the time I had there really makes living in Europe something people should do at some point in their life.

DSC_0660For right now that’s all I have.  I can’t wait to share all of the good times I’ve had over the last few months.  Not to mention some of the awesome recipes I’ve found, made, the food I’ve eaten, and the great people I’ve met.

I think I’m setting the bar very high, but I believe I can do it.

Lastly, if you haven’t been here in a  while, you might have noticed I have a Instagram feed up now.  Yup, if you wanna see what I’m seeing in Stuttgart as well as my trips in Europe and beyond, look for my Instagram feed, you can find me as @jacobkt225.

See you all soon!

The road to a new life alone in Germany

In one of my last post, I wrote how I had been away from the blog for a little while.  I also thought I would get myself back in the swing of things.  I however forgot the fact oh I had a lot of things to take care of with my move to downtown Stuttgart.  This meant we had to say goodbye to the Leonberg house, which is above.  Not to mention slowly getting myself into the proper mindset of starting a new life.  The life of actually for the first time in about five years of living on my own.  In some ways the time had some.  However I wish it hadn’t had to come in such a surprising way.

As I mentioned before, I always thought I would have another year with my parents but alas, that wasn’t the case.  My mom, stepdad and Jada flew out on Sunday, the 7th of July.  To say that I was sad, would be a complete understatement.  The bond between my mom and I is a pretty strong one.  Having a parent who is also your best-friend in some ways is different, but if I needed something, or if she needed something.  We each knew the other would be there to help.  Not to mention, I didn’t grow up with my mom.  This was a redo in some ways.  OK, is it odd for a 30 year, well, I was 25 or 26 at that point, to stay with his parents?  For me yes, but nowadays, it does happen a little bit more.  Now we are each far apart from each other.  The good thing is the fact we can call each other if I have a question.  Mainly its my questions, my mother is back in the states now.  Definitely not like being here needing help with certain things.

Now the bright side of things that are going on with me.  I live downtown in pretty awesome city in Germany!  I am really enjoying things here.  I have never lived somewhere so far like this.  I can walk out of my door and go and find various things in a short amount of time.  I can go and see friends who live downtown within a 10-15 minute walk.  I have about 10 or more restaurants near me, that are a 5 minute walk.  Not to mention my train stop is pretty much outside of my door.  If I’m running late, I should always be OK.

I have to say, this is pretty sweet!  I however have to make myself stay in a little bit more in the coming months.  The good with living downtown, is also the bad with living downtown.  You have the ability to be close to so many cool things.  It makes you want to go out and explore.  This means you end up spending more money than you actually should.  I do know one thing, once I get everything together, life will continue to be awesome.

Well, after the last few months of travel and getting myself sorted, I hope to be back writing more often.  I have great pictures and stories to tell.  Look out for all of the interesting things to come.  Enjoy!

Wine, Esslingen, some amazing views, oh and good friends to

Do you like wine?  Do you like seeing where the wine comes from?  Would you like to walk through hills that have wine carts setup, which let you try said wine, oh and see some amazing views?  If you answered yes to these very important questions, then the Esslingen Wine Walk is for you.

A few weeks ago it was that lovely time again when a bunch of my friends and I trek our way to Esslingen on a Sunday afternoon, and take part in the Weinwandertag Esslingen or in english the Esslingen Wine Walk.  Esslingen is a lovely city right outside of Stuttgart.  People love coming here because its just a nice place.  It has a great river, where you can find a cafe and sit outside and just enjoy yourself.  This is truly my favorite event in the early part of the year.  Why?  Mainly because it lets you walk through the wine vineyards in Esslingen, take some really awesome pictures, and just enjoy being outside.  Not to mention that its pretty much all the hiking I’m ever going to do in the year.  Only problem with this event is the fact its on a Sunday.  Now I understand a little bit why this is the day they do it.  On Sunday nothing is open and you probably want to give the people something to do.  They can’t go shopping, there aren’t any shops open to buy beer, wine, or liquor.  Except for the main train station in Stuttgart, but not everyone lives by there, nor does anyone want to go just for that reason.  The only thing that are open are restaurants, cafes, oh and gelato stands.  Lovely tasty gelato.

So how does this little thing work?  The walk has 6 stands setup, which takes up about 5km, which is about 3 miles.  You start at the first stand, where you buy your sample glass, along with your first glass of wine.  From there you start your hike and wine tasting.  You spend about €3 or so for your glass, then your first glass is about the same price if not a euro less.  Depending on your love of wine, you probably will have a few glasses at the first few stands, then if you are with a group, it becomes cheaper to just pick a wine and buy a bottle from the next stands.  Just make sure you know what you like or are in the mood for.  Though the bottles are from €10 to €15, pretty cheap compared to if you were buying them from a say a restaurant.

This year the weather was OK at points, until the standard German storm came by.  You know sideways rain, hail, and massive winds.  Best part is when you are standing through this, completely pissed with the world, then it stops, the sun comes out, and you continue with your day.  This was my third time doing this event.  The first time the weather was fine, rained or looked to rain at a few random times.  Last year, it was completely to hot.  Drinking wine and walking around had to be the worse idea you could have.  Still we made it through and I had a nice time.  Along with the people who found random spots to just hang out and chill.

Now what do you all think is going to happen after you’ve walked about 3 miles or more and had a good amount of wine, and find yourself at the end of all this fun?  Well, if you guessed more wine, grilled sausages, other pork products, and a band, you’d be right.  Also, not just any band, a concert band, with a German lead singer.  Doing traditional German fest songs.  I really think that its not a choice.  You are pretty much required to have these things.  If you don’t, I think Germans may think the event isn’t a real event.  Especially if it’s an outdoor gig.

DSC_0540All in all, the wine walk is a great time.  Every year I’ve gotten to hang out with different groups of people.  We have a great time.  We see some really cool stuff, and enjoy decent German wine.  I would say if you are ever around the area, then you need to do this event.

Many more excellent things are coming up, can’t wait to share them with you on the next go around.  Enjoy the week ahead!

The Wine Walk experience

The traveler returns

So its been 106 days, or 15 weeks and 1 day, or well, I was going to do the hours and minutes thing, but you all get the point.  Its been a minute since I last put something up.  I actually have a few drafts that I started during that time.  Alas, they never made it up, so the simple question is, what happened?

 Well, I got a little sister.  Jada Jenae Johnson was born in April.  I’ve been an only child for 30 years, my mom and stepdad were able to do this amazing thing and I’m pretty happy with it.  It is really funny to be a big brother now.  Jada is so cute and its interesting to hold a baby.

My other interesting change was the fact while my mom was pregnant, her and my stepdad told me they were going back to the states for his job.  What did that mean for me?  Well, I’m staying in Germany for the near future.  Along with that news from my parents, I also got a new job.  Something that will actually pay me a real salary, though its going to be a struggle.  A struggle I’m totally looking forward to.

I was able to find a place, though looking for a place in Stuttgart is one of the most frustrating things in this city.  The reasons for this are countless.  In any case though a good friend of mine got a new job in the Ukraine, so I was able to take over her place.  An apartment that is in downtown Stuttgart, a great place, that will allow me to grow in my life and know what it feels like to be so close to so many things.

Now lastly one of the best times in the year is beginning.  That is fest season.  What is fest season, well, in Stuttgart every weekend gives you something to do.  More will be coming on this.  In any case Frühlingsfest (Spring Fest) just ended.  This is Stuttgarts form of Octoberfest.  Beer tents, rides, and pretty awesome food.

I guess I should also mention the outfit.  Yes, that is me in my Lederhosen, loose meaning is leather pants.  My friend Brian took this, a pretty excellent picture.  Fest season is one of the best times in Germany.  There is a sense of community, you make great friends, and you get to hang out and enjoy some nice weather.

Well, I have so much more to tell about so many things.  I don’t think it’ll be another 106 days, or 15 weeks and 1 day, or who knows how many hours until I write again.  Have a good one and we’ll see you soon!

Stuttgart a pretty solid view

Living in Germany you can see some pretty cool things.  Today the rage amongst several of my friends was this solid time lapsed video called Stuttgart in Motion by  Sebastian Weitbrecht.  Mr. Weitbrecht put together this video that consist of over 18,000 still photos.  This took him over a year to do this project.  I have to say in watching this allowed me to see things which I see all the time, along with new things I hadn’t really paid attention to before.

Sit back and watch this 3 minute video.  You won’t be sorry.

Stuttgart in Motion from Sebastian Weitbrecht.

This is how to celebrate New Years in Germany

Happy 2013 everyone!  I spent my new years eve with friends and got to see an excellent fireworks show at a local pub called the Maulwurf in Stuttgart.  Every year they do a pretty awesome show.  Here in Germany fireworks are legal to purchase and use during new years.  I’ve attached the video I took during the show.  It is a little long, but totally worth the time to see the craziness that ensued.

I hope everyone has a great start to the new year.  I know I can’t wait to see and do so much more in my career, personal, and travel life.  Happy New Year!!