My favorite books 2017 – Part I

I was aiming for 20 books to read this year after I really surprised myself last year with 45. I managed to almost hit last year’s  count again – I am currently at 40. However not all of them were that good but I wanted to share my favorite books of 2017. There will be two parts as it has been a good reading year.

I have this personal quest. I will read many of the debut authors and free books on Amazon. And then I will clap myself on the back when those books will later be sold for money and I found a good one for free and was one of the first to read and discover. Well it is a tough job but I kinda love it.

Also I come across books I would otherwise not read. And I have to admit most of them are really easy reads so I can manage my reading goal.

Anyway, lets get into my finds for 2017 that I can really recommend and where I spent money on sequels or further books of the author.

Carrion by Betsy Reavley

If I have to sum up this book in one word it would be: disturbing.

The story starts with a very rough opening (car accident and death) and is pretty dark throughout (mental illness). However it is very engaging and I could not put down the book because I wanted to know all the puzzle pieces and get the full dimension of the story. I was intrigued with the different aspects of the character’s and how they develop throughout the story line.

I also like how the language of the author transformed to my own mood and while I was reading this book I was going through emotions like anxiety and anger and I felt how I clenched my jaw while reading because it was so intense.

Over all I can definitely recomment reading! A good writing style and engaging storyline and an interesting topic you don’t come across often.

My rating: Carrion***** free eBook

Ice (Dr. Leah Andrews and Jack Hobson Thriller) by Kevin Tinto

This book was written a bit like an movie – an adventure movie. Fast pasted and a bit over the top but very entertaining. Leah is an archeologist specialized in cliff dwelling settlements of Southern Mexico and her ex Jack an extrem athlete/arctic expert. They end up on a mission with a millionaire at the end of the world between a political conflict. I learnt a lot of survival stuff and you can tell that the  author is an athlete himself.

My rating: **** eBook

After You’ve Gone by Lisa Tremayne

What a wonderful gem! Seriously this book is different and lovely and stands out from all the other (free) Amazon romance books.

Hope and love across oceans and time without being cheesy and flat. Great characters, wise words and just magical. My advice: read! Perfect for the upcoming holidays.

My rating: **** free eBook (unfortunately it is currently unavailable so keep a look out)

House of Cry by Linda Bleser

Starting this book I expected something totally different. I was positively surprised.
I found this book a bit dark and the serious topic (suicide) took me by surprise and yet it was so full of hope and promise and love. An interesting intriguing combination, something I haven’t come across, ever?! It’s a book I won’t forget as soon as I finished it.
So definitely read it!

My rating: **** eBook

The Scottish Rose by Jill Jones

A time-travel romance set in Scotland in the year 1651.

TV Journalist Taylor doesn’t believe in magic and has a show where she discovers the truth behind legends. Of course she ends up in one. After this rather predictable start the story is quite engaging. All about how to adapt to a new era, change history, discovering ones own heritage and falling in love. The main characters are very likable, well crafted and have their flaws but are very likable. It is not all sunshine and rainbows more like struggle and reality. And while reading you learn about Scottish history.

My rating: **** eBook, paperback

The Medium (Emily Chambers Spirit Medium #1) by C.J. Archer

I am usually not really into paranormal suspense but figured I could read something different for a change. It was entertaining and I was not disappointed. I might even found a new guilty pleasure. I defiantly discovered a new author. I like her style of writing.

Emily is a bit weird. She can talk to ghosts. And a ghost was assigned to her because he can’t cross to the other side. Well and there is a demon. And some romance. Again I would read the sequel but hoping it shows up on kindle unlimited.

My rating: **** free eBook, paperback

The Watchmaker’s Daughter (Glass and Steele #1) by C.J. Archer

My second book I read by this author and it did not disappoint.
India lost her father – a watchmaker and also her inheritance as her fiancee stole it and left her. A girl in London of 1890 is depending on man – not so India Steele. It’s a combination of fantasy, mystery and romance. I would read the sequel.

My rating: **** eBook, paperback

The Game by Terry Schott

I was having this one on my kindle for a while as gaming is not so much my thing but then I figured I give it a try. And while I found the setting and the thought process I had really interesting and worth mulling over I have not picked up the sequel. I believe it is a good book and would recommend it. Iit is just not my kind of entertainment.

My rating: **** free eBook, paperback

If you need more books on your reading list come back soon for part II or check out my favorite books of 2016. Also lets be friends on goodreads.

Now will you share your discoveries of 2017 with me.

Happy reading,

Tobia

*If you buy a book through one of the Amazon links I will receive a small  provision. This would help me keep this blog alive and cover a few of the administrative costs. Thank you. Or maybe I just buy a new book, who knows…

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Kale Pie – Because Pie is always a good idea

I hear kale is healthy. And I hear pie makes happy. So it is pretty obvious to me, to combine those two to make Kale Pie! A good idea I think especially for Clara’s veggie expedition. I only managed to take part in February with my winter salad so i say it’s high time.

Kale Pie good idea yummy

Kale is weird. I mean not the taste. I’ve always loved it. But it wasn’t really available that much in stores. Only canned and even then hard to come by. It only changed in recent years with all the hipster blog posts about kale chips and detox and such.

But lets be real here, it can’t get my “German” than kale in winter. I mean how else do you eat your goose during the holidays. Ok maybe red cabbage. Or how about those Christmas market concession stands with their Kale & Knacker offers?

I remember that kale was the only veggie in my grandparents garden that was still peeking out of the snow glowing bright green and giving hope that not all is lost.

Kale Pie good idea

So I said I made a pie. I found the dough recipe in one of Cynthia Barcomi’s books*. I have to admit that the filling was not at all convincible. But I had dough left so I could experiment a bit and came up with this lovely kale pie.

What you need for the dough:

❤︎ 175g flour
❤︎ 1/4 tsp salt
❤︎ 125g cold butter
❤︎ 125g cold cream cheese
❤︎ 1,5 tbs cold water

For the filling:

❤︎ kale, cooked and drained
❤︎ 1 tbs butter
❤︎ potato, sliced
❤︎ bacon
❤︎ pepper
❤︎ salt
❤︎ nutmeg

For the glaze:

❤︎ egg
❤︎ water

Kale Pie_good idea

Instructions for dough:

  1. Combine flour and salt.
  2. Add butter and cream cheese.
  3. Crumble fat and mix while adding water.
  4. Use fork to make dough and stop immediately once a dough has formed.
  5. Roll dough on floured surface and make into round shape.
  6. Put in plastic wrap and let sit in refrigerator for at least 2 hours better over night.

    Can be stored there for a couple of days.

Instructions for filling:

  1. Drain liquid from kale as not to make pie to soaky.
  2. Fold in butter, potatoes dices and spices as well as bacon.

Instructions for pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C/390°F
  2. Grease the pie form.
  3. Coat pie from with dough and leave 1/3 to cover the pie.
  4. Fill kale mixture into your pie form.
  5. Cover pie. Go crazy with a design if you feel like it. Make at least 4 cuts so heat can escape.
  6. Glaze with egg mixture.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes. Check frequently aas every oven is different.

Kale Pie Grühnkohl kuchen good idea

This might take a while to do but it really is worth all the effort. And I find it is good to prepare. Once everything is in the oven you are done and can enjoy company.

Have you any cool Pie recipes? Please share! They aren’t too common in Germany so I am interested.

Happy cooking,

Tobia

 

*Affiliate Link – if you purchase the book through this link I earn a few cent. Read more here.

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Lohikeitto – Finnish Salmon Soup

It has become a bit of a tradition that I share a Finnish recipe to celebrate my anniversary. In year one we had cake, year two I shared pancakes and today I invite you for soup. Lohikeitto – Finnish Salmon Soup.

Lohikeitto Finnish Salmon Soup

And let me say this soup is amazing! I am so glad I actually know about it. When we spent our honeymoon at the attic circle I’ve seen this soup everywhere. Unfortunately I felt sick most of the time and fish soup just didn’t sound appealing.

On our last night in Finland we slept in an ice hotel. And there Lohikeitto was served yet again. I decided to give it a try. Been angry with myself for not ordering it earlier ever since. It comes as no surprise that I immediately googled a recipe for this Finnish Salmon Soup.

You can find original recipe easily. I made my own version the other night and really enjoyed it.

You need:

♥ 1 Tbsp Ghee (you can also use regular butter or olive oil)
♥ 1 Finely chopped onion
♥ 1 sweet potatoe
♥ 1.25 litres vegetables broth (alternatively you may use fish stock)
♥ 1/2 kg fresh cubed salmon fillet
♥ 250 ml cream (use milk for a thinner soup)
♥ 1 handful finely chopped baby spinach
♥ 5 pieces Bay Leaf
♥ 5 grains of allspice
♥ 5 grains of junipers
♥ dash of sea salt
♥ dash of pepper

yummy Lohikeitto finnish salmon soup

Lets get cooking

  1. Chop onions and add to large saucepan, simmer in the ghee over medium heat until soft
  2. Cut the potato roughly into 1-inch cubes and add to onions, let simmer a bit.
  3. Add enough water to just cover the potatoes. Add allspice, junipers and bayleaf. Turn up the heat to high, cover the saucepan with a lid, bring to a boil and cook the potatoes until almost soft
  4. Add the vegetable broth.
  5. Cube the salmon and add to the pot. Cook until it is mostly opaque (maybe 5 minutes). Do not stir the soup so as not to break up the salmon – I did as I didn’t care much though.
  6. Add cream and make sure it does not cook anymore. ( I hardly ever manage that part. The cream will clot. It doesn’t matter for the taste but it just doesn’t look too good.)
  7. Take off the heat and stir in chopped spinach.
  8. Serve hot and enjoy.

Finnish Salmon Soup Lohikeitto

So can you image coming back home after a long day outdoors with freezing numb cheeks? This soup is a total game changer than. Its warm, it’s reach, it’s filling.

Let me know how you liked it.

Happy Soup Sunday,

Tobia

Anniversary Trip To Helsinki – Travel Log

Today I have been married for three years. We are not doing anything fancy today but go for dinner Friday night. Last year we’ve celebrated our anniversary with a trip to Helsinki.

When we went to our honeymoon we had a lay-over in Helsinki and agreed to come back after seeing the city from the plane. So we did. It was fun.

Most people are probably scared to fly north during winter but than we love winter. Why don’t I tell you a bit more.

Helsinki City

Ok, first I have to be honest. We had tough weather. It was around freezing and it was so humid. Something between fog, sleek and snow-slush-rain… Being outside was sometimes tough so we didn’t wander that far out of the downtown area and had quite a few coffee stops. BUT what we liked what we saw.

We walked and wandered around a lot. It’s our way of discovering a city and we easily get the lay of the land. More than once we ended up at the South Harbor and were mesmerized with the frozen Baltic Sea. I’ve just never seen anything like it. We came back almost every day…

Trip to Helsinki winter skyline

Close by is the Old Market hall – Vanha kauppahalli. A cozy warm roofed market. We had the feeling that locals and tourist were at balance among the visitors. Lots of people had lunch. Unfortunately we weren’t hungry. Still it was interesting seeing local food and warm up.

Helsinki Trip Old Market Hall Vanha kauppahalli

Also around the corner you can find Uspenskin cathedral. A russian orthodox church.

trip to Helsinki Harbor with Uspenskin katedraali

Unfortunately the building is not open for public but we walked around there and the neighborhood and found it was quite different. The heavy fog might have had something to do with it…

Trip to Helsinki houses

Sunday afternoon we were frozen so we went to the design museum. We really liked it a lot. If you are interested in interior design this is for you. If you are into design history go there too. We learned a lot about how strategic the Finnish people planned their design supremacy. Also there are so many objects we knew by sight but had no idea they were made in Finland.

Trip to Helsinki design museum

Just across the street from the museum is the Johanneksenkirkku – a church (ok, I do have a thing for sacred architecture…). I believe it is one of the nicest I have seen in all my travels. While there is pompous decor it is not dark, stuffy and gold but rather light and withdrawn. You can hardly find any pictures from the inside, I think it’s so worth seeing.

Trip to Helsinki st. Johns church

Suomolinna

On our last day before heading to the airport we went to Suomolinna. An island with a huge sea fortress or better an island fortress. Going by boat through the ice floes was maybe my best experience. It is much louder than I expected and you feel every impact. We journeyed through the skerry landscape and I discovered quite a few cute remote houses. I could easily spent a few weeks there…

Helsinki Trip ice floes on the Baltic Sea

The island was somewhat deserted as we went there off season. However it was still nice to walk around and get a feel of what it must have been living there in rough weather. Being at Suomolinna was the only time I really felt cold during our trip to Finland. The wind is crazy, it was snowing a bit and we were outside walking for a long time. We didn’t go to the museum as we didn’t have much time and rather walked to the far end of the island to have a look at the open waters. The history of the sea fortress is quite interesting and it is under UNESCO World Heritage. You could easily spent a whole day there specially in summer with picnics and nice views.

Helsinki Trip Suomenlinna

Food

During our honeymoon we had a tough time with the food. It was just so very different and than we were even further north and not in a city. Being in Helsinki the food scene was much better. While I started to like it and ate my way through fish and crabs and karjalanpirakka Mr. ♥ had a tougher time. Assuming it’s due to the conditions and location of Finland – they just don’t have veggies and if there are they are really horrible… Just be aware. It all looks old and frozen and tasteless – even in the supermarkets. Maybe that is just a momentarily picture in February but that is what we got after two trips to Finland. On another note, Helsinki has a broad selection of craft beer. I had quite a few and I liked them all. So if you like that Helsinki might be for you.

Helsinki Trip Finnish Food

Accomodation

We found a nice and affordable hotel within the city – Hotel Indigo Boulevard. The hotel is located in Helsinki’s Design District. Al lot of small little shops are in the surrounding neighborhood. We liked the hotel as it was clean, modern and had a separated bathroom – something hard to find nowadays.

Trip to Helsinki Hotel Indigo

Transport

We took a flight from Berlin with airberlin and were surprised it’s only about 2 hours. From the Helsinki airport we took a bus to the central station where we switched to the tram that took us directly to the hotel. We found public transport very easy and comfortable to use.

It was a nice trip to Helsinki we had last year. I would go there again. Maybe in summer. We heard and read the summers in Helsinki are legendary with lots of outside activities and festivals … and the sun never goes down…

Have you been to Helsinki? Would you take a trip to Helsinki? What would you check out?

Happy traveling,

Tobia

PARK LIFE #2 – 2017 PHOTO PROJECT

It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s foggy. I grab my camera and head out. To the park. My park. And today I love it. Hardly any people around. Park life winter edition.

The cold numbs my cheeks. It cleans my lunges. It’s refreshing. It’s a reset. The perfect start to the weekend. The mind slows down, the thoughts ebb away. Free…

Volkspark Friedrichshain winter

My feet get wet. Snow is melting, puddles are forming and give sight to most curious reflections. I pause a moment and I am in awe. So much beauty on a grey foggy day in February.

Trees are showing there skeletons and seem suddenly magical. Water droplets imitate fairy dust and enchanting my surroundings.

Volkspark Friedrichshain winter

A wisp of cold air fills my lungs. There is something else. Warm, soothing… The smell of home. Of comfort. Coffee.

My feet carry me back, the sounds become vibrant. But the memory of this magical winter day will stay with me.

Have a whimsical Sunday

Tobia

I took those pictures for my 2017 photo project and Tabea is collecting more