It’s because you are a vegetarian

I used to get really upset when someone would say to me: “I would invite you round to dinner, but you are a vegetarian and that makes it difficult.” Bang. Now, if you are veggie, you may have heard this before. Did you feel hurt? Or did you just shrug it off? If you are a meat eater, you probably sympathise with those friends, I mean after all it’s a blooming nightmare to cater for vegetarians.

I am sure the persons who said this did not consider what they were saying and that is actually a pretty awful thing to say to a friend – assuming they consider me a friend in the first place and not just simply didn’t want to invite me. Possible. In which case this whole blog post is pointless.

Still, when you say something like that to someone you say “You are not worth the effort to provide a vegetarian option” or “Meat is more important to me than spending time with you ” and mostly you are saying “Hey, you can’t come round because what you eat is weird.”

It is pretty hurtful, both what they say and the actual effect: You are weird and not invited. 

I no longer care, because in my world I am starting to find the inability of people to have anything other than meat annoying and irritating. Yes, it does annoy me, that you can’t consider a dish without meat a meal. “Hey, if it does not have meat in it, then it’s not a proper dinner.” Seriously? All the healthy nutritious food we have access to these days and only if you have a bit of dead animal on your plate, do you actually feel that you have had something to eat?

Vegetarians and vegans are not liked by most meat eaters. I used to think it’s because we make them feel uncomfortable, question what they do. Now I think, it’s really just because they think we are weird. Oddballs, goofy nerds. And no one loves the weird-o, right?

I love it when I talk to other vegetarians, because it is refreshing to see that I am not alone. We all have tales to tell, all tales are similar. I consider myself lucky because I do have a few friends who are really ok with us being vegetarians.

I worked for 2 years in a company where every Friday the staff would get bacon butties in the morning paid for by the business. Needless to say, that I did not eat a bacon buttie to please my boss and no alternative was provided. That’s ok, but what was not ok, was that every Friday – seriously EVERY SINGLE FRIDAY – someone would ask “Hey Mel, do you want a bacon buttie.” and the whole office would burst into laughter. That was not ok. I had mentioned it to my boss, who simply said: “Well, if you are a vegetarian, you really have to be able to take a joke.” Erm no, when you are a vegetarian, all you do is not eat meat and fish. Humor not required, especially not if it is actually insulting and not funny. At all.

“Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans … are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit.”
― Anthony BourdainKitchen Confidential


 Anthony Bourdain and in fact most of the celebrity chefs out there hate vegetarians. Most cooking shows are just meat, fish, meat, fish with maybe the token vegetarian dish thrown in. Thank god for youtube where a whole host of great vegetarian and vegan cooks/chefs can show what they can do and have thousands of subscribers like me, who want to have a cooking show that is just for them, where they can recreate things they see, where vegetarianism is not an afterthought.
After almost 12 years of vegetarianism, I am no longer tolerant towards meat eaters when they make stupid comments to me. In future when someone says something stupid to me like those things below then I will counter back.
1.  Where do you get protein from?
Dude, where do you get your fibre from, I bet you must be constipated like hell all the time.
2. Are you an animal rights activist?
Erm, yes, I do like animals, shame you don’t.
3. Would you eat meat if there was nothing else to eat?
Would you eat kale, if there was nothing else to eat?
4. Is it because of your religion?
Yes, we pray to Kong the animal king and vouch to never eat animal flesh, but we sacrifice stupid humans. Happily.
5.  What do you actually eat?
Guess what, it’s kinda unbelievable, but I actually eat everything apart from dead animals. Just because you are so boring that you cannot consider a meal that does not consist of meat and two veg, does not mean I am boring too. I am creative, inventive and have a varied diet.
If you are a vegetarian/vegan please comment and share the most stupid thing someone ever said to you.

A change at a time

You could say that I am in some sort of life overhaul at the moment, I am not unhappy with my life, but I feel and have felt for a while that my life is really ready for version 2.1. There ain’t nothing wrong with version 2.0, it works, it’s functional, it’s flipping familiar, but overall, there are some bugs and some things that simply need ironing out.

I am pleased to say that on this journey, I have already accomplished a few victories (and I had to go back here to delete the word “minor” as I really don’t want to diminish any bit of these achievements, as heavily ingrained it is for me to do so).

One of the achievement is the writing. Maybe not so much on here, but I open Scrivener pretty much daily and I do write. And I do edit. And I cringe at times, but I am also delighted with myself. I have written 30,000 words. That’s a lot of words. Not a book yet, but also not nothing. Far from it. The fact that I keep showing up and keep doing it is inspiring myself.

Another achievement is that I pretty much exclusively make our own bread. And I am getting good at it. Now, you may wonder, why this is so important to me. As the bread making became such a thing for me, I did wonder “Why on earth is this so important to you?” (I have a lot of conversations with myself.) And then one morning it hit me. It’s the transformation. I literally transform some humble ingredients into something that smells and tastes delicious. It’s magic. I am starting to understand dough. The way it breathes, the way it rises, I am slowly seeing which kind of consistency makes which kind of bread. And this is important proof to me, that I am able to learn and apply, something that I am often very doubtful of. The bread shows me there is no need to be doubtful.

In the world of self-help, that I love (and loathe quite often too), the morning routine is bounded about as some sort of cure all. For years, I resisted the morning routine, because, hey my mornings are busy. There is a kid, a drive to take the husband to the train station, a lunch bag to make, cats to feed, dishes to wash… I HAVE NO TIME. And then we watched this Ted Talk (see below). And since, we watched it I get up at around 5.30 every day. I meditate, I drink coffee, I read a bit of an inspirational book, I journal or I just stare into space, whilst clutching my cup. At 6.30 my daughter comes downstairs and I feel light like a feather.


There are other changes on the way, but the key for me is that I am taking it one step at a time. I did not get up one day and say ok: as of today, I write daily, bake bread and have a morning routine. This has so far been a journey of several months. The most recent one being the morning routine, which is still developing. The first few days, I sat in the semi-dark feeling a bit like a fool. But there you go. We all need to feel foolish at times.

Next up: Yoga. Oh yes, I return to the mat. Again.


My family lost their home during WWII. A familiar story as so many were displaced, had to literally run for their lives and could never go back. At least, they were alive, when so many got murdered.

My family were smallholders in an area called the “Sudetenland”, which describes the land on the fringes of former Czechoslovakia. It was never a country or anything like that, just a region that had been mostly German speaking for centuries. In fact, we know that our family had lived in the same area for more than 500 years. After the 2nd World War, the Czechs expelled all German speakers – unless you could prove that you were not a Nazi sympathizer, which was almost impossible. I never will understand the violence, fear and horror that my grandmother and her family experienced.

Despite the fact, that I will never understand what it has been like to lose everything, however little that “everything” had been, I know that this loss had defined my grandmother greatly. She longed for the forests and mountains of her youth and she missed that rural life. She would have been a great farmer’s wife and although my grandparents settled in Western Germany, in a Swabian village, living in a flat was just not the same as living in a house in the country surrounded by fields and animals.

I know that life had not been easy for the displaced and resentment from Western Germans towards those refugees was great. My grandparents lived for a couple of years in a refugee camp. There are some black and white images of them standing next to a fence with barbed wire on top, it did look a bit like a prison to me. Now I know that Germans killed millions of Jews during WWII, I don’t want to make a judgement of who had it worse, I am just telling the story of my family and of what it means to have a home.

The resentment of the local people grew, once they were forced to share their homes with those refugees. The stories that my grandmother would tell, made my blood boil at times, but now I can understand both sides: Imagine some official body tells you that one bedroom has to be made available to someone you don’t even know and you have to share your kitchen and your toilet with them. Our homes are such private places, the intrusion must have felt threatening. And to my grandmother it was degrading. Local people referred to them as people who had lived in earth hovels, who had no manners and who were thieves hardly better than the lowest of the low.

Over time, my grandmother made peace with where she lived. It was a fragile peace and she often suffered from depression (I know that it was depression now, when I was a kid, I did not understand the mood swings, withdrawal and anger). She would put a lot of work into her allotment, she loved the woods and day trips to the Black Forest reminded her of home. The landscape of the Black Forest and the landscape of the Ore Mountains are similar in many ways.

I was born in the 1970ies and I grew up with this little Swabian village being my home, but I learnt loss of home and the meaning early on, literally on the lap of my grandmother. The stories of her childhood were my bedtime stories, I learnt about the loss in stories too and about the fear. I grew up being scared of Czech people (who I learnt later are lovely). Every year, we went to the get-togethers of the displaced Sudetenddeutsche, keeping the loss always at the forefront of our minds. When I was kid, I loved going to those meetings. The flags, the ceremony, my grandmother was happy there, among people she had been friends with when she was little and who now lived all over Germany. I loved the food, the cakes and the places we stayed at. My favourite was the garden centre that one of my grandmother’s friends had established, they had a lovely house and those greenhouses were magical places to me. There was a lot of laughter, but also tears. Some had a dogged determination, that one day, they would go back home. Of course, this will never happen, but it gave them comfort. As I grew older and my leanings were more liberal and on the left end of the political spectrum, those meetings and the feelings displayed become uncomfortable to me. Now, in my 40ies myself, I wish I could go back and simply love the people that were there. My people as it turns out. Listen more to their stories. I do realise that the politics of it all, were just a side show, the main show was grief.

My uncle and my father never moved away from the Swabian village I grew up in. Well my uncle once moved for a couple of years to the town right next to it, but moved back because he felt he lived too far away. Their sense of home was to hold on to what they knew. I did often wonder if that had something to do with them drinking loss of home with their mother’s milk.

I grew up with the urge to flee the village for many reasons and at first I went to Munich, which was not far enough for me and then finally to the UK. The thing with moving away is that most of us that do still feel a sense of loss despite the choice we made. No one forced me to move, well, maybe in a way my hand was forced as I wanted to live as far away from my father as possible.  I am not unhappy with my life here, in fact, I love my family and I don’t mind where I live. My home is where my little family is. I love also my house house and I have met some wonderful people over the years. This feels like home, but it’s not my “Heimat” and I do miss my “Heimat”.

Heimat has no equivilant in English, it’s best to be described as a combination of where you are from, the social context of your life there and the way it connects you to the tradition of the place. I get weepy at times when I see a picture of Spaetzle, and that is just one of many little things that connects me with the place I used to call home. And then there is also that longing for the Ore Mountains, which has less to do with my Heimat. The longing for the place where – according to my grandmother’s fairytales – life was wonderful despite poverty and hardship. I realise that she told stories and they were embellished, still, I do feel the loss of that home at times quite acutely. And I don’t even know why.

I often feel that as an expat – at least in my experience – we either start to love where we are from more than we did when living there or we start to resent it even more when away from it. For most of us, there seems to be no way back and in that way I am not so different from my grandmother: She longed to go back but could not due to the politics of the time, I long to go back but I cannot because I fear that I will hate the reality of it and destroy my family’s happiness. The reasons may be different, but the reality is the same.

So I make my home away from home, my home that is not my Heimat and the Heimat which remains – at least for me – an unattainable dream.

Socks with holes and other things that occupy my time

The good news is that I am writing every day. Not here, necessarily, but I am writing. Writing that book is becoming increasingly important and my thoughts are more and more connected to the writing. At times, it’s the only thing that excites me.

Truthfully though, I am excited about many things at the moment. Decluttering and keeping house – as unbelievably boring as it sounds – I remember “Handwash Cold” and the sense of calm simple tasks like making the bed can bring you and I am bringing myself to them. So much so that we have let our cleaner go – who is also a friend of mine, so that was hard and is hard as I have upset her very much. Yet, I believe that for my own mental well-being this is important. Self-sufficiency and freedom starts with such simple things as sorting out your own stuff.

I have been through many drawers, cupboards and minimized and thrown out. I have discovered that my husband owns 32 pairs of socks. Every time I see him walking around the house with socks that have holes in, I buy new pairs and tell him to throw the worn out ones away. He obviously does not do it, so today I did it, which left 32 pairs of intact socks. Insane.

Going through my own underwear drawer, I found that my underwear is lacking so I ordered some new things. Less, but good quality.

Some days, it’s all about the small upgrades, the small improvements. Today was such a day. Now I shall retire to my sofa with a new book.

Writing your own life story

What if marketing makes you uncomfortable
You may have heard the saying that history is written by the victors, meaning that those who overcome the other party will be in charge of determining on how the event is seen by future generations.

These days, that might be different and I don’t really want to discuss if this statement still holds true or not, but I just want to run something by you – my non-existent reader – and hope you indulge me by reflecting with me.

What if, just for today, we took this statement and looked at it on a personal level. I guess most of us have two fractions in us, a positive mindset one and a negative mindset one. I do. Every day I wake up and I struggle with negative mindset and hopefully over the course of a day, I managed to tame negative mindset and enjoyed more positivity. And then the next day I try again.

I have been writing a gratitude journal for years – on and off, sometimes I just can’t use it, but I would say I use it more often than not. And it struck me today that by using a Gratitude Journal, we are becoming victors over the other party, the negative mindset, and we are writing our own victor’s history.

Let’s say you had a particularly bad day and whatever happened you feel lousy. Sometimes these things can be big powerful things, other times it can be just a string of annoying little things that made your day harder than you felt it ought to have been. We all have that. No matter how hard we try to be all ZEN.

Then you sit down and you force yourself to find a few things to be grateful for. You may struggle to find stuff on those days, but a few will make it into the journal. I try to always have some specific things on top of my general gratitude for my family, health and wealth. Like “I am so grateful that I managed to play Jenga with D.” The funny thing is when I go back in my journal, I can often see the days when I have been bouncy happy and when the days were hard, but what is even more amazing is that when I look at what I wrote I can only remember that one or two specific things that I was grateful for that day and not what bugged me so much.

My plan is to implement this somehow in my journalling, journal as the victor in my life. Often my journal feels very much like a victim’s story and I would like to change that. I am not saying to not have anything bad happen or to ignore the bad. I just want to deal with the hard days better. Find more balance in them. See how often I manage to turn around a bad day into a decent one by the end. That sort of thing.

What do you think? Are you doing something similar?


Monday Musings

It is another Monday, another start of the week.


I often feel a bit sad when I see so many of my friends post negative things about Mondays. How they hate their job, hate that the weekend has ended, hate, hate, hate.

I am on a mission to eliminate the word “hate” from my vocabulary and this includes to not blame the poor old Monday for coming again, like it does every 7 days or so.

I like Mondays. It’s a new beginning, a bit like a mini New Year every week. I can aim to have a great week. Make a meal plan with lovely food. Do the best at my job and maybe tackle some projects.

Hating something will not make things better. By saying “I hate Mondays”, your day will not become any better. In fact, I hazard a guess that it might be not that good even if at the end you think “oh that was not so bad”.

I read a while ago that “if you got to do something anyway, you might as well love it”. The writer (and I wish I could remember who it was) made the argument that since we have to do the washing up, we can at least aim to do our very best in doing so. To bring a dedication to this moment of washing up that fills us with enjoyment and to glory in the fact that the dishes sparkle and the kitchen is getting clean.

Since I read this, I have been trying to apply this to everything I do and it is kind of magical how this works out. Enjoying my daily tasks has meant that I get more done. I am less exhausted at the end of the day because I am in a more positive mood. I no longer have tasks with “dread value” I simply do them bit by bit.

I don’t want to give the impression that I am perfect and nothing gets me down, far from it, but practice makes perfect and aim to practice this all year and see where it gets me.


30 minutes to bread roll heaven

Now let me start by saying that it might be that this blog is turning a bit into a foodie thing. I don’t know. I just show up at the keyboard and I write.

Anyway, the other day, I made Ribollita for dinner – based on Hugh Fearnley’s Cooking book VEG and we were out of bread. Since I don’t buy shop bread at the moment, but really wanted some bread with the soup, I made those yummy rolls.

They are a bit sweet (you can reduce the sugar a bit but you many need to let them rise a bit longer) but we did not mind that. And yes, they are totally not healthy, but I believe in the 80% good method, so an occasional unhealthy slip will not likely kill me. And unfortunately, they are not vegan, although I am working on veganising them. I shall report back.


  • 1 cup of warm water
  • ⅓ of a cup sunflower oil
  • 2 Tbsp fast acting yeast (I use Doves, which is my favourite)
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3½ cups of bread flour (seems to work better but all purpose flour will also work)
  • maybe a touch more water
  1. Heat oven to Gas 6/200 celcius
  2. I use the bowl of my Kenwood Chef to combine the water, oil, yeast and sugar and then leave it for 15 minutes. I have tried this process both covered and uncovered and uncovered is better.
  3. After the 15 minutes, use the dough hook of your mixer to work in the salt, egg and flour.
  4. The dough will come together very quickly and you don’t need to mix it for long. In fact, 4 minutes will do. The dough will be very soft, smooth and a bit sticky.
  5. I oil my hands a bit and then form dough into balls. I sometimes use a larger tin and make smaller rolls but more often than not, I use a 9 x 13 pan. Please, please grease the tin or the rolls won’t come out. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, covered with a tea towel.
  6. Bake for at Gas 6 or 200 Celcius until golden brown. Depending on size this can take anything from 8 to 15 minutes.





Enjoy :)

Cooking and Happiness

Cooking and happiness is for me intrinsically linked. I am not saying that everyone who cooks is happy, what I mean is that if you learn to enjoy cooking, cooking can become the source of joy, delight and much, much happiness. In 2015, my cooking goal is to stick to “whole” foods pretty as much as possible. So e.g. this means to not purchase Quorn products or any other vegetarian “meat replacements”, but to create my own made from whole ingredients. A whole ingredient for me is one that has in its ingredient list only one item, the thing itself. This goal is as yet not perfect. Quorn products have been consumed and items in the pantry have to be used up. For me, I always fail at goals when I want to get it perfect from day 1. I am giving myself much more grace this year. It is going to be a journey and journey include stops, detours and bad days. There would be no need for the expression “learning curve” if there was not one. So far this year, I have also had some outstanding successes. Making almond milk for example. A simple process, involving almonds, some water, a bit of vanilla and some dates for sweetness. I have also made some lovely healthy banana cocoa muffins which are super healthy and I have based them on a recipe by Heather Nicholds (who I love, I have been a lover of Tahini dressing for many years thanks to her).  Now, my husband was not an instant lover of those muffins, but my daughter and I are obsessed. The thing with vegan and healthy baking is that you have to divorce yourself from the idea of having a traditional baking product. You won’t. It will be something new and something different. There is nothing wrong with new and different. New and different can be lovely. Now here is my take on Heather Nicholds muffins, the original recipe can be found here.



  • 2 medium bananas
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup dates
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup porridge oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 cup choc chips (dark chocolate is best)


  1. Put the bananas, dates and all the wet ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. I used my nutribullet for it and it was perfect.
  2. Put the flour and dry ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Do not add the choc chips yet.
  3. Mix together the wet and dry, stirring as little as possible.
  4. Spoon into muffin cups, and bake at gas mark 4/180C for 20 – 25 minutes. Check after 20 minutes.
  5. Let them cool in the tray, I tried to take one out to early and that was not a good idea.


Finding a true purpose

“Many women today feel a sadness we cannot name. Tough we accomplish much of what we set out to do, we sense that something is missing in our lives and – fruitlessly – search “out there” for the answers. What’s often wrong is that we are disconnected from an authentic sense of self.” – Emily Hancock

This year I am trying to look more inside myself and less outside. I want to discover what is really important to me, what I am all about and it’s high time that I do that. I find it so easy to be distracted, get excited by something someone else is doing that I jump on that bandwaggon only to find a few miles down the road that it’s really not my journey, but theirs.

I want to focus on my work, which I see as my translation work and writing my book and my home life which includes family time, being creative with my child and cooking/baking for the family.

I aim to document these things here, apart from my translation work (which is top secret, lol) and my writing (which is at this stage still top secret too).

I am sure there will be a lot of soul searching too. I am just that kind of person, forever digging away at things to find the bottom. Often only to find that there is no bottom. Small steps, tiger, I keep telling myself. I have tried to change many things at once and so far this has never worked. So I just do small things different for some time and see how I go.

I hope by doing this, I connect with myself instead of with others and I can then hopefully use this connection to coming closer to finding my true purpose.

My list of things I want to accomplish today is:

1. Turn leftover “super mash” (my husband made mash of potatoes, parsnip, carrot and sweet potatoe) into a yummy veggie cottage pie.

2. Go for a walk

3. And write 2000 words

I know that once epiphany is over, my schedule will be full with translation work again. So best be grateful that I have another two slower days yet.



Happy New Year

991cd568d77a23a598b48b1da693cf47 I took a couple of weeks off over Christmas and before Christmas to spend with my little family, enjoy Christmas and do not much apart from eating, going for walks and playing board games. Oh and we watched the first season of “The Bridge”, which means that I am much happier now because I am a bit like Saga at times and if she can do a good job, so can I.

Usually on New Year’s Eve, we plan what we want to do in the year ahead but this year we decided not to do it. We want to invoke positive change and instead of making plans (and then at the end of the year thinking, oh we only did 4 out of the 10 things), we are going to have a jar with the things we did. The idea is simple: Let’s say we had a fun weekend away, we are going to write a little note and put it in the jar. Then next New Year’s Eve we can look at all the fun things WE DID, ENJOYED etc. rather than be a bit “umph, we did not get around to do this”. I feel ridiculously good about this. So I know we are on the right track. The kid is going on this enthusiastically and I have to stop her otherwise the jar will be full by the end of today.

What I did not change this year in terms of my personal traditions is choosing a word for the year. In fact I chose two: SHINE and PASSION.

I really want to SHINE my light this year and focus on the sparkly aspects of my personality whilst at the same time trying to mostly engage with the things that make me glow and empower me. I am really going to jump on the “NO” train this year and things that don’t serve my purpose will not be part of the to do list. A huge factor of this is curb my urge to give advice and get involved in problems that are not my problems. I am not saying that I will not help if a friend needs my help, but I will not force my advice and help on people who actually don’t need. I have been practicing that for a few weeks now (boy it’s hard) and I have to say it is freeing up a lot of time.

The other word which sort of links into SHINE, is PASSION: I will bring passion to all the things I decide to do. If I do something, I will do it with PASSION. And yes on days, this may just be enjoying the hoovering or cooking a good meal. I will do these things with PASSION.

I have no resolutions as such merely continue on the path I was on before I got sick: Walk loads (shall be walking my neighbour’s dog again) and eat healthy continuously reducing dairy, eggs and refined wheat until it’s gone.

If I have one resolution then it is this: Believe in myself.

I believe in myself. There I said it.