Best items to pack: All-star tools

One day before we boarded a plane for Rome, we found out that our apartment was not ready for us to move-in yet. We would be staying at a beautiful and conveniently located hotel for up to 6 weeks. A little bit of a surprise to which we couldn’t prepare since we were already staying in Washington, D.C. for the two weeks leading up to our departure. Meaning, we had already packed for a two-week trip, with about another two weeks in Rome, after which we expected to receive the first batch of our clothes and office equipment, with the second, larger batch coming in about a month after that — or so.

already packed

Anyway, that cut out the packing anxiety completely. We were already packed and committed. Fortunately, I have some on-the-road tools that have become my all-stars for road trips. NOTE: These all-stars must be in checked baggage. I realize that the trend is to take everything in a carry-on, but at my age, I rely on various comforts and for long-term trips, over two weeks, on an abundantly filled suitcase.

Here is my bullet list of All-Stars and how they have made our hotel living work:

  • Scissors: used to cut black electrical tape, stray threads, open pockets on hubby’s new blazers
  • Black electrical tape: used to cover all of the led lights in the room (TV, 10 light switches, thermostat)
  • Foldable sharp knife: open jammed suitcase, open packaging, slice lemon for sick hubby, slice olive focaccia bread, slice cheese
  • Cosmetics organizers: two hanging organizers, one train case, three clear plastic zippered bags (one shown)
  • Samples of Products: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, lotion, serum, moisturizer, sunscreen (already don’t like the smell of the shower gel–I have an aversion to the smell of lavender, need special shampoo/conditioner, love expensive serums but hate having $100 of product leak out during flight, it’s nice when you can get your special products in travel size–but can’t always find travel size plus samples are usually free, etc.)
all stars
Traveling all-stars.
Light switches
Each switch has blue LED light shining throughout the night to ensure no sleep occurs.
TV
Light from TV shines in eyes all night long.
Thermostat
Dumb light on Thermostat shines directly in eyes when sleeping. Absolutely must cover with black tape.

Best Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

In the same vein as a second semester home-ec class in 1977, here is a genuine muffin. Not cake batter in the shape of a muffin, but a not-too-sweet muffin with the coarser crumb that defines old school homemade muffins.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees-this is always the first step.

List of ingredients-get them gathered with the proper cooking utensils second.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 TBS powdered buttermilk

2 TBS Poppy seeds

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

1 lemon

1/4 cup powdered sugar plus more for glaze

Ingredients for Lemon Poppyseed muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
About 1 cup granulated sugar (adjust to how sweet you want the muffins to be)
2-1/2 Tablespoons powdered buttermilk.
2 teaspoons baking powder.
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (to activate the buttermilk).
2 Tablespoons poppy seeds.
Mix dry ingredients.
1/2 cup oil in a 2 cup measuring cup (this is canola oil).
1/2 cup milk (this is non-fat).
Add 2 eggs to wet ingredients.
Microplane the entire lemon zest into the dry or wet ingredients (this time into the dry, with a quick stir).
Cut lemon in half. Juice.
Remove seeds from the juice. Reserve the juices lemon halves. Add juice to wet ingredients.
Mix wet ingredients well.
Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently fold and stir just until all dry ingredients are incorporated.
Spray muffin pan with oil. Make sure your oven is preheated to 400 degrees.
Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.
Set timer to 20 minutes.
Stir up the lemon glaze, start with 1/4 cup powdered sugar.
Squeeze juice out of the reserved lemon halves.
Add a little milk. The glazers is adjusted by adding a little powdered sugar and a little milk or fresh lemon juice and lemon pulp and lemon zest left on the microplane until it looks right.
Stir glaze.
Stir glaze.
Add the lemon zest!
Remove from the oven. They should be deep golden brown and spring back when touched. Don’t burn your fingers!
Put just a little glaze on top!
According to my home economics teacher, never use a knife on muffins. Just pull open gently and place a pat of butter inside.

Easy & Tasty Broccoli and Carrots

Clean and prep
Good olive oil, kosher salt and a pan
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
In addition to trimming and rinsing carrots, a good scrub is good
Or you might feel like peeling the dirty looking spots
Coat in oil in pan
Cut down broccoli
Cut down to about the same size as the carrots
Be sure everything is coated in oil
Set timer from 30 to 45 minutes
Half way through the cooking time, turn them over

Then check every 10 minutes until done.

Fresh Beet Greens

There’s a simple technique that is used for fresh beet greens, kale, and broccolini. Here’s the template:

  1. Clean and prep
  2. Blanche
  3. Ice water bath
  4. Saute

Here’s what it looks like with fresh beet greens from the farmer’s market.

Must be cleaned and all icky leaves discarded
Remove stems
Bring to a boil with plenty of salt!
Blanche for 2 minutes until tender
Cool blanched greens quickly
Use a slotted spoon to remove from the water
Season with fresh garlic and spring onions
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat
Saute for a minute or two
Rough chop cooled greens
Saute together and season with S&P

How to Use the ICE train

When I first moved to Frankfurt, Germany, I wanted to see everything in Europe on a budget! The best way to travel is by train. There are the local trams, the Regional trains, and the ICE or Inter City Express high-speed trains. Each train has a very well-organized process and it helps to have it quickly explained. For instance, once you purchase your ICE ticket, how do you know where to get on the train to find your seat?

This short video below shows you how to quickly find out!

 

 

20190619_080537 ICE Train in Binz

Muffins Template: #2 Wet Add-ins

cranberry-muffins.jpg
Made with homemade Cranberry Sauce

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup to 3/4 cup sugar

1 TBS Baking Powder

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

up to 1 teaspoon of additional spice to complement add-in (orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, etc.)

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup to 1 cup wet add-in (cranberry sauce, pumpkin, finely shredded zucchini, banana [2], yogurt, applesauce, or whichever ingredient you are planning to use)

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray muffin pan with plenty of oil. Mix dry ingredients first in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients–I do this in a 4-cup measure to save dirty bowls (I’m thrifty, not lazy LOL). Gently add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, folding just until mixed. Fill muffin cups to 3/4 full. If you have leftover, put into an oven save custard dish (sprayed first) and cook for half the time. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from pan within first 2 minutes to keep from “sweating” and store on a plate with a clean dishtowel covering.

Traveling While Sick: Tips & Observations

The morning of my flight from Johannesburg, South Africa to Frankfurt, Germany I started an earnest sinus infection/summer cold. Here’s what I did right and what I would change if I had to do it all over again…

This is what worked well:

  • Scheduled 24-hour layover in new hotel
  • Hall’s cough drops in a carry-on bag
  • Advil in a carry-on bag
  • Z-pack antibiotics (proactively prescribed from fantastic nurse practitioner)
  • Giant bottle of water to take on the plane
  • Best carry-on bag design
  • Cash
  • Shopping in airport
  • Very-close-to-airport hotel

What I would change:

  • Type of hotel
  • Should have been located near some restaurants

So, I stayed at a sister brand hotel– it was really new, and really cute. Hip. Trendy. Lower cost. Here’s why:

  • No in-room coffee
  • No executive lounge
  • No room service
  • No restaurant
  • No wi-fi in room

I learned on this trip just how spoiled I am with a full-service hotel, meaning the big, full service with a restaurant, a snack room, an executive lounge, room service, coffee-at-will in my room. In these big hotels, I can work in the room, in the lounge, in the lobby, but in these trendy scaled down hotels, it is designed for a different crowd. Folks who have kids, don’t work from their room, are not spending any time in their room except to shower and to sleep.

So, I dragged myself around the coffee bar/check-in a few times during the day, looking so pathetic, the guest manager/clerk helped me microwave my soup, find the spoons, and made me coffee. I ended up sleeping throughout the day and night, recovering from the crud that had ushered me out of Africa.

Moxy Hotel, Frankfurt, Germany
Welcome to the 2nd Floor!

Note: I have found incredible hospitality at the hotels that I have stayed at — caring people, ready to help. Because I have been a road warrior, I have had several instances of being quite ill during my stays throughout the United States and Europe. Here’s a shout out to every room service person who helped me with hot water and lemon, disinfecting the bathroom [don’t ask], the folks in the restaurant who prescribed lime juice with salt for my throat so I could deliver training to a crowd, and proceeded to procure it for me from the kitchen, and I could go on…Everyone at these places deserves to be treated kindly and with respect. I love you all in the hospitality industry!!!!

 

Shout out to the room decor designers! This is what I was waking up to when I was so sick in Frankfurt, Germany at the Moxy Hotel.

cute boy mural