I got a lie in today! I was up AFTER dawn. Imagine that, 8:10 my alarm went off. To tell the truth the body clock was well awake by then anyway but it felt like a slow start. After gulping down a small bowl of porridge and a coffee we got ready for some exercise and Tim and I rode, while Thorsten ran, to the lake in Obernzenn. We met Christian here and ran a few laps of the lake with him before getting back on the bikes for a further 15km on the bikes around the local area. The tracks and trails were really pleasant, heading up into the forest (and joyfully on a mountain bike back down again) before sweeping around the Zenn valley passed the US training base and back to Obernzenn and eventually back to Esbach. 23km before 11 on a Sunday was a very pleasant start to a day off.

Me Christian and Thorsten just before we headed out again for biking/ running with Tim (the photographer)

Me Christian and Thorsten just before we headed out again for biking/ running with Tim (the photographer)

After a thoroughly restorative hot shower we sat down for lunch of veggie burgers and sauerkraut leftover from yesterday’s lunch which was just as tasty as it had been previously. Today is apparently fish day (which occurs in each month containing an ‘R’) so the family had battered carp caught from a local lake.

Another, fixed roof this time, biogas plant (this one is owned by a collection of farmers)

Another, fixed roof this time, biogas plant (this one is owned by a collection of farmers)

After lunch we got to be tourists for a bit and drove out to Rothenberg, an old walled city that survived the bombing of WWII almost entirely intact. En route we detoured to take in a range of biogas plants that are dotted around the Franconian countryside, the vast majority of which also supply district heating, which is awesome. On the drive a few wind turbines also came into view and with the PV and solar-heating panels provided a panoply (sorry, I just love that word) of renewable technologies that were well integrated with the local population. Talking Tim and me through the different sites, Thorsten mentioned something I hadn’t really thought of about biogas, which is that it doesn’t just breed a closed cycle in environmental terms, but as silage, corn and manure are supplied by local farmers, heat distributed to local residents and digestate then spread on local fields, it promotes a circular economy too. Far less dependence on oil and gas from far away, these sites source from, give back to and benefit the local economy, which for rural populations is incredibly important.

DSC_1506_lrRothenberg was very impressive and really like stepping back in time with brightly painted plaster and wood-fronted houses, cobbled streets and imposing church spires and towers interposing the jaunty vertices of the rooftops. We sat for a coffee, pretzel and schneeball (snowball, sadly probably made with butter) for a quick pick me up after walking around the town and the ramparts discussing everything from energy prices to planning permission – in English before you think my German has improved that much.

Back on the farm we headed for dinner with Suzie’s sister (Steffi) and her boyfriend (Patrick) by Obernzenn lake at a restaurant that apparently does very good salads. As we walked in it was as if the restaurant had been planned as between them the group of four locals knew almost everyone already present. We sat down with one of Suzie’s colleagues, her boyfriend and their dog and tucked in to a good dinner. For me it was salad and chips (before you think that’s a dire choice of food to classify as a good dinner it was awesome, with seeds and nuts galore in the salad), while the food around the table ranged from pizza to prawn pasta and schnitzel with potatoes. And there was good local beer too. In addition to the good food, the conversation at dinner was great with lots of joking around. I also realised that here at least, we and the Germans hold our forks differently. Sounds benign, is benign I suppose, but one of those things that you can’t help but be captivated by once you’ve noticed it. Similarly, the locals thought the way we Brits use our gabels is odd so everyone quickly agreed to disagree and we got on with dinner.

The pretty city of Rothenberg from the tower about the main entrance (so many stairs wasn't great for the legs after this mornings exercise)

The pretty city of Rothenberg from the tower about the main entrance (so many stairs wasn’t great for the legs after this mornings exercise)

Back in the room at 8:45 and I’m shattered. So, while I was going to get on with some work I think it’s going to be an episode of something on the laptop and then early to bed. Oooh and I also got the go ahead to put this online as a blog, so perhaps tomorrow I’ll start posting these notes.

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Following yesterday’s pretty damn awesome Indian meal out you may think I’d have steered clear of more of the same. Instead it just seemed to whet my appetite more and lunch – today’s highlight – was a madras-style mixed lentil curry soup…

Madras lentil soup

Madras lentil soup

But, by the time dinner came around I realised I needed some greens and also to empty my fridge shelf as heading away for the Easter break. So another green salad with an avocado on the side played second fiddle to my vegetable-sausage baguette:

Sausage roll with green salad with satay sauce dressing and an avocado

Sausage roll with green salad with satay sauce dressing and an avocado

Leftovers for lunch with a bit of salad to spice things up

Sweet potato, butternut squash and pea risotto with green salad

Sweet potato, butternut squash and pea risotto with green salad

Then for dinner as many colours of vegetables (i.e. what I had left in the fridge) that could fit into one stir fry…with some pretty cool black noodles

Pepper, tofu, peanut, mushroom onion, beansprouts, french bean and onion stir fry with black udon noodles

Pepper, tofu, peanut, mushroom onion, beansprouts, french bean and onion stir fry with black udon noodles

 

Mmm dinner can’t come soon enough. Had a real craving for pizza today so decided I’d make one: wholemeal pizza dough with herby-tomato sauce and butternut squash, onion, mushroom, tomato and yellow pepper:

Homemade vegan pizza - from thought to eat in an hour too :)

Homemade vegan pizza – from thought to eat in an hour too 🙂

and a pretty awesome rocket salad on the side

 

rocket, celery, mixed toasted seeds, tomatoes and pepper

rocket, celery, mixed toasted seeds, tomatoes and pepper

and together half of them fills a plate, which means the rest is lunch tomorrow – hooray!

plating up pizza and salad

plating up pizza and salad

 

Back to the rig so another day devoid of food but can’t complain too much as managed to stuff pittas with salad and humous late afternoon before getting on with some more work. With everyone in my house shattered and still at uni gone 8 we decided we were allowed to share some chips (called in advance to get vegetarian ones cooked rather than the Yorkshire usual dripping) with grilled mushrooms salad and wraps. Mmm fat Friday!

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Feb 16 – vegan lent day 4

February 23, 2013

Wonderful rocket, hemp seeds, pepper and spinach salad with parsley roasted mushrooms and jacket potato with beans and sheese. I was hungry so shuddup about greediness!

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Oh and I also made rhubarb ginger and mixed fruit crumble (no custard tho)
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Feb 15th – vegan lent day 3

February 23, 2013

Everything-in-the-fridge salad with lime-toasted hemp seeds and toasted sour dough

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Well hello and sorry in one equally emphatically delivered greeting. I do apologise for radio silence but I’ve had a fair bit of time taken up on a few other projects of late. For example, I’ve just got back from crossing Europe and Asia by train (see http://lowco2motives.wordpress.com/) and have just signed up for the Oxfam trailtrekker later this year (see http://powerhikingdudes.wordpress.com/) but that is no excuse for letting this slide so please accept my sincerest apologies.

Before lamenting any more about how busy I seem to be (oh and add that I’m getting the 9-month twitch for my PhD) I thought I should let you know that despite there not being regular blogs on the subject I’ve been keeping up veganism at least once per week whenever it’s been practical of late. In fact, owing to questionable vegetarian-ness of dairy based food while travelling I’ve been erring on the side of caution and been vegan more often than not.

But that’s not what you are I are here for, it’s the pretty food pictures isn’t it!?!

Okay, well one vegan day last week I had:

breakfast of champions – porridge with dates, coconut flakes, crystallized ginger, goji berries and raisins soaked overnight in rice milk and mixed spice with coffee and juice on the side.

Runny porridge with dates coconut flakes, ginger and goji berries

Runny porridge with dates coconut flakes, ginger and goji berries

lunch of avocado salad (avocado, lime juice, red onion, spinach, tomato and balsamic vinegar)

…and…

dinner of saag-butternut squash (saag aloo swapping potato for squash) with star anise, ginger, garlic, garam masala, turmeric, ground coriander, cardamom as spices and spinach, squash and mushroom in the mix with a bit of fresh coriander stirred in too

Dinner and lunch. Okay okay maybe I ate them together. I was hungry!

Dinner and lunch. Okay okay maybe I ate them together. I was hungry!

Supper (yes I worked late) of toasted butternut squash, humous, rocket and beetroot sandwiches

Toasties for supper. NOM!

Toasties for supper. NOM!

And I think that’s about it for today. I actually made enough to have pretty much the exact same menu the following day which was fortunate since they were awesome 🙂

Until next week

Ttfn!