Thursday, 1 August 2013

When life gives you apple-sauce

So as I said yesterday, we’re halfway through our stay in Cologne, before we move on to Marburg. I was feeling particularly optimistic yesterday, seizing the day, and was feeling pretty positive about this whole Germany-thing... 
like I was finally getting used to things...

And then I went grocery shopping.

I’m being super-house-wife-y and not only do I have a cleaning schedule, but I also have our meals planned out for the month. This is in an attempt to save money and have some variety in our diet. (or we’d be living off gnocci and red beans... my new go-to quick meal.)

So off I went with my extra-long shopping list... bus, train, walk, arrive.

I was determined to make apple crumble and so my list included brown sugar and apples. Simple, ja? Nien.
Apples are a rip-off. Maybe it’s not apple-season, but seriously, I’m not paying that price. So, next best things, I headed to the tinned/bottled fruit, 'cuz tart-apples are always right there next to the dessert peaches, right? Do you want bottled litchis, apricots, peaches, figs, raspberries, strawberries, pineapples or mixed fruit? You’re in luck! Apples? 
Ok so next, brown sugar. I’d love to list the types one can get but I really couldn't figure out what was different. Basically, sugar cubes (white and brown), coffee sugar... other sugar. There was a lot of variety (hooray!) but I couldn't figure out what just normal brown sugar was (awww...).

I managed to get most of what I needed, and I really do enjoy discovering new things on the shelves. I took the train and bus home, which took an unreasonable amount of time because I hadn't checked the train schedule so I had to wait for it, and then for the bus. Once all those groceries were safely in their cupboards and finally in the freezer, I cycled to buy the rest at a shop close by... still no bottled apples (but you want bottled carrots? Green beans? Meilies? Sausages? Okay!). And I still couldn't figure out brown sugar... except one pack of 500g for 1euro50. Nah uh!
I’m also pushing my bike-carrying limit as I forget to consider transport when loading the trolley. Consequently, I'm getting quite good at playing grocery-jigsaw to make it fit. So with the other half of our month’s grocery shopping loaded in my basket and bag, I cycled home.

So what happened to my apple crumble? I used normal white sugar. And apple sauce...
I can hear your horrified gasps from all the way over here.
Ja, nicht ideal.
But, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade, right? Or in this case, if German-grocery-stores give you apple sauce, make apple-sauce-crumble.
The crumble part was not nearly crumbly enough (still getting used to different butter and flour...) so I ended up rolling out some dough and layering it with the sauce, and then adding more flour to the last bit to crumble on top.
And you know what? It turned out pretty great.

I think I learned an important lesson yesterday. 
After one gets somewhat used to the cute-ness of a new place and start having to actually live there, things do get frustrating. There's lots that I miss and lots that's different here. But, there's no use longing for everything to change (because it probably won't), and I need to just make the most of what is here (and lets be honest, a lot that's here is amaziiiiiing!). Things might not turn out as planned or expected, but there's a pretty good chance it will turn out good, just different. 
And I discovered a new recipe. 


  1. I'm so impressed with how resourceful you were! I never would have thought to use applesauce. Genius! But I think that I will pass on the bottled carrots :)

    1. Haha, why thank you!
      As for the carrots and green beans, I agree, no way... though they are SO common here.

  2. oh man, you know the expat honeymoon is over when you have experiences like this! but you definitely turned it into lemonade... or yummy apple sauce crumble :)

    1. Oh yes! And I'm anticipating many, many more...!

  3. Thank you for linking up with us today! I can't imagine how difficult it would be to find ingredients in Germany. I had a difficult time in Scotland and everything was written in english! Your apple crumble looks delicious and hopefully things will get a bit easier. :)

    1. Thanks for hosting it! I've loved reading others' contributions!
      The ingredients are just tricky to identify, and then there's the awesome variety that I love but get confused by! There's so much in the baking isle I want to try though!

  4. Bonjour Erica et Malcom
    Je sais qu'il y a longtemps que je n'ai pas écrit mais je lis ton blog presque chaque jour et ça m'intéresse beaucoup. On a recommencé avec le cours de français et jeudi dernier on a trouvé le livre de Harry Potter et l’école des sorciers dans la classe. J’ai decidé que je le dois lire et je m’en occupe à ce moment. C’est incroyable – je l’adore et je comprends presque tout ce que je lis, sans utiliser la dictionnaire trop.
    Il fait très froid les matins mais aujourd’hui on aurait dit que l’été est arrivé! Mais la pluie nous manque.
    Et bien mes amis, je pense que ça suffit à ce moment. Écrire en français est plus dificile que lire français.

    1. Salut, Ian!
      J’ai pensé que tu as disparu!
      Combien d’étudiants sont dans la classe maintenant? J’espère que vous tous ont toujours la même énergie et que les cours vont bien  C’est génial de trouver et de lire des livres intéressants, comme Harry Potter... meilleure que les livres obscures que j’ai du lire pour l’université. Mais, le livre que je recommande, c’est L’Africain par le Clezio... je crois que ce n’est pas traduit en anglais, mais c’était vraiment super... une image sauvage et romantique d’Afrique. 

    2. I think your experiences are so interesting to me as a German! Apples are actually something that a lot of people in Germany would consider a 'cheap' fruit, but I think it probably really depends on the perspective - I'm sure ingredients in SA are much cheaper than in Europe! Grocery Shopping in Norway has been a challenge, too... Btw, I don't think there are canned Apples in Germany, but you're right, almost anything else is! ;)

    3. I always considered them cheap too... but not so much now... maybe I should check out the markets and see if they're cheaper :) With our poor exchange rate, everything seems expensive if I convert it, so I don't, and then it's not so bad :D
      No canned apples?!? Ah oh well... at least there's really cheap apple sauce!
      I hope that Norway is treating you well!!!

  5. Hey Erica! I found you through Casey's hop. I always love reading blogs from other expats in Germany. I've been there. Apparently they don't have what we think of as brown sugar in Germany at all. My local carries 'Brauner Zucker' but its actually just raw sugar. BUT! You can make your own brown sugar using normal white sugar and zuckerrubensirup {basically molasses}. Definitely not essential for apple crumble, but I thought I'd share just in case it might come in handy later!

    Here is where I learned about it:

    Lauren from Kiwi+Peach

    1. Hi :)
      I've learned soooo much from other German bloggers... thanks for that tip!