Recipe | Glazed Orange-Hoisin Chicken

March 31, 2014

glazed orange hoisin chicken over rice with bell pepper green onions and toasted almonds on placemat During our time without a working stovetop in our new Berlin apartment, I suffered from a sort of cooking malaise in which I let the sad state of our kitchen get the better of me. Luckily, my husband stepped up quite often to figure out what we would make for dinner - and more importantly, how the heck we were going to do it. This was one such oven-only recipe he discovered - the rice was made with an awesome microwave rice cooker picked up at our local Asian market - and I immediately insisted it remain in our regular dinner recipe rotation.

The nice thing about this fairly simple meal is the ability to change it up and customize it. Cut down on the chili paste if you don't want it so spicy. Mix it up with the kind of vegetables you prefer. You can even make it with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, if that's your thing (though I think much of it's winning flavor and moisture hail from the bone-in, skin on meat). Another plus: This sticky-sweet and hot goodness gets even better after it's had time to sit, so it's one of those wonderful and rare occurrences where the leftovers are even better than the first night.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

glazed orange hoisin chicken sauce ingredients soy sauce marmalade honey

Glazed Orange-Hoisin Chicken with Vegetables

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon chili paste
1 large garlic clove, pressed
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons scallions, chopped for garnish
3 lbs/ 1.3 kilo chicken legs with thigh, with skin
3-4 carrots, cut on the diagonal
green beans (optional)
sliced bell pepper, for garnish
chopped green onion, for garnish
roasted sliced almonds, for garnish
2-3 cups cooked white rice

Combine ingredients up to marmalade in a large bowl and whisk until well combined. Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C. Place the chicken and vegetables in a large shallow roasting pan or baking dish. Pour the hoisin marmalade sauce over the top. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the chicken is done (depending on thickness of meat), basting with juices one or two times during the baking process. Remove from oven and serve over rice. Spoon some sauce over it and garnish with the bell pepper, onions and almonds. Serve immediately.

glazed orange hoisin chicken with carrots in baking dish

adapted from this recipe

Currently Coveting: Nike Blazer High Vintage White Sneakers

March 28, 2014

nike-womens_blazer_mid_leather_vintage-sail_red_zalando Ever since I spied these, so nonchalantly displayed in Garance's style story on Jeanne Damas, I was smitten. Perhaps it was the fashionable French girl they belonged to or Garance's lovely styling and classic monochromatic photo, but something made me want a pair for myself. Bad. I'm not sure exactly when white sneakers transitioned from '80s Working Girl - the film, not the profession - to acceptably chic footwear, but I owe it to French women. They take simple, normcore styles and turn them into highly covetable fashion, just by slipping them on.

The bright, colorful versions of this style are abundant, but these 1970s throwbacks were apparently re-released a few years ago, making finding this classic white leather pair like a needle in a haystack. If I strike out, I admit to really liking this updated urban-style version, appropriately in Berlin grey. But I'm not giving up hope just yet of finding my little piece of the French je ne sais quoi...

image via Zalando

Berlin Parks | Volkspark Friedrichshain

March 26, 2014

Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_curved archways in the sky With spring's arrival and the rather gloriously early warm weather we have been getting here in Berlin, I thought what better way to celebrate the season than with a series on the parks in this wonderful new city of ours. Second only to perhaps finding new places to eat is discovering great places to be outdoors and letting Bailey do some dog-type exploring as well. And for such an urban environment, Berlin is surprisingly covered with trees - one fifth of the city, to be precise, with over 2,500 public parks and gardens. So every Wednesday from now through April, I will be highlighting a different park in Berlin.

First up is Volkspark Friedrichshain. Like so many parks in Berlin, this one is deceptively large. What looks like a modest park entrance just keeps going and going (apparently, it's the third largest in the city), with pockets of charming playgrounds, a swan pond and quite a history. With original construction hailing back to the 1840s, the park has seen many additions and changes over the years. The charming Märchenbrunnen (Fairy Tale Fountain) with its numerous stone sculptures from German fairy tales, was bittersweetly created for the children of Berlin in the time of rickets and typhoid. During the war, the Nazis made use of it for bunkers and Flak towers - now covered over and creating the natural high points of the park - and as a result, much of the park at that time was destroyed. A few of the park's other updates over the years include an open air theater, a beach volleyball court and a restaurant.

Our recent time at the park was on a beautiful sunny day, just as spring was starting to make it's early mark on the plant life and temperatures. As with many of the massive green spaces this city has to offer, we didn't make into even half the park, but what we did see was inspiration enough to come back once the temperatures reach sunbathing potential and the fountains are filled for the season. Only one city oasis amidst many, Volkspark Friedrichshain is quickly rising to the top of my favorites.

Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_Fairy Tale Fountain Maerchenbrunnen archways animals and trees Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_Fairy Tale Fountain Maerchenbrunnen dog in bowl statue_horizontal Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_stone benches and shadows Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_Fairy Tale Fountain Maerchenbrunnen turtle statue Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_ivy covered blooming tree at park entrance blue sky buildings Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_tree close-up and statue with bird Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_park grass trees and blue sky Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_purple flowers Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_early spring leaves Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_park path
Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_Kate in the park zara scarf moop messenger warby parker huxley Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_panting Bailey on the stairs
Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_red Asics sneakers Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_cracked graffiti bunker wall Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_trees and shadows Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_red squirrel with big ears in the tree branches
Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_creepy knarled tree Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_neighborhood direction in stone
Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_city through the park trees Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_Russ in sunglasses Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_stone steps trees and Ferensehturm tv tower view Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_wood swings playground Volkspark Friedrichshain Berlin_trees statue blue skies

Am Friedrichshain 1
10407 Berlin
U5 Strausberger Platz | S-bahn at Landsberger Allee

Music Monday: Serena Ryder

March 24, 2014

While she's been around for a while, making big strides over the years opening for Aerosmith and winning a handful of awards, Canadian Serena Ryder only just popped up on my radar. This single won me over with its catchy sound and her slightly scratchy, old-school vocals that would be right at home in the era of vinyl. When I managed to listen to the rest of her latest album Harmony (2013), I was hooked and it's been on repeat ever since. There's a stirring emotionality packed into her songs that I haven't heard in awhile. I dare you to listen to "What I Wouldn't Do" and fight the urge to jump in the car, roll down the windows and feel the wind in your hair, or hear the throwback sound of "For You" and not make Adele comparisons. Or at the very least, want to shake up a very dirty martini.

And it appears I'm not the only one. Later this week in fact, Serena is up for Juno Awards in pretty much every category she qualifies for. So pop on the album, dance around the flat in your underwear (or, ahem, however you enjoy music) and cross your fingers for her to win. Here's to more albums like this one.


Currently Coveting: Spring Wish List

March 20, 2014

Currently Coveting: Spring Wish List

On the day of the spring equinox, it only seems right to take stock of my preparedness for the season and refine my wish list accordingly. While I may be a far cry from these bloggers and stylists sharing their stories of culling down their wardrobes to only a few key pieces, I'm at least trying to think through my needs and wants, rather than run around, blindly grabbing anything and everything that catches my eye as I used to do. The recent amazing Berlin weather has already got me thinking about what I'd love to invest in most as the weather begins to turn, and here's what I've decided is topping my list:

one  | I have one pair of prescription sunnies I got a few years back and in all honesty, the times I've actually pulled them out in Germany's notoriously grey weather I could probably count on both my hands. The recent and unlikely explosion of sunshine on Berlin reminds me of the days when I was a Californian with more sunglasses than days in the week. To add to my singular collection of basic black Persols, these fabulously oversized and color-blocked frames channel the sun and surf of summer, even if we're still stuck in a mostly grey spring.

two  | After ditching all my dingy white button-downs years ago after ditching the job that had required them, my tiredness at the uniform-like culture of them meant I never bothered to buy another one. Now, I admit that there feels to be a crucial piece missing in my wardrobe. I love that this loose linen version has buttons down the back as well, making it feel a bit more special, and less corporate, than your run-of-the-mill basic.

three  | It's been a while since I've acquired a new scent and other than my go-to Chanel, my diminishing collection has felt a bit tired. Spring is the time when everyone reaches for florals, but that feels too expected. Right now, I'm loving the warm, bourbon-y and unisex vibe of this Maison Martin Margiela scent. Pour me a drink, douse me with this and let's cheers to spring!

four  | Strangely enough, I have yet to hang a single picture in our new place. Having been raised by an artist, art is extremely important to me - and yet I can't manage to commit to a single piece that we already own. Much like our all-new paint palette or chopping off all of my hair, perhaps what hangs on our walls also needs a jolt of the unfamiliar and new. I discovered artist Michelle Morin some time last year and just fell in love with her style and natural subjects. While I am partial to her landscapes with trees, she recently posted a piece she's working on now featuring the coast that I called home for most of my life. I think that might be just the thing I've been waiting for...

five  | Like much of my wardrobe, my nail polish collection is centered around the deep, rich hues of fall and winter or the punchy bright colors of summer. Pastels that bring to mind soft skies and flower petals are minimal, at best. And Other Stories is quickly becoming my favorite place to pick up fashion-forward, saturated colors in whatever the season calls for, and I think this pale blue might be the perfect addition to my collection.

six  | So I'd already started having a major pink moment (I mean, what better way to feminize a short hair cut?) when that post-Paris shows photo of the girl in the pink coat and pants started spreading like wildfire across the internet. So naturally, every piece of bright pink outerwear I'd been considering promptly sold out (including the one shown here, boo). Perhaps I will just have to luck out or perhaps I will have to admit defeat and go back to my second choice for a bold coat: cobalt.

seven  | After being in love with this beauty for years, not to mention being in the market for a lighter-colored spring bag for just as long, it appears this J.Crew classic has finally been retired. Sold out online, I'm scouting eBay for one before it becomes an outright collectors item and suffers from an inflated price. Roomy enough for my DSLR, the ease of a crossbody strap and that gorgeous J.Crew leather? It's too good to let it slip through my fingers.

eight  | With their delicate ankle strap, high black wedge and thick snake-print strap, these sandals are the perfect combination of sexy urbanite and Clarks comfort. Just right for chicly navigating city streets and endless u-bahn stairs - once it's warm enough for bare toes, of course.

What about you? What is on your spring refresh list for your home or closet?

Trip to the Baltic Sea: Ahlbeck, Germany & Świnoujście, Poland

March 18, 2014

Ahlbeck beach Germany_path to sea with lifeguard tower The lack of good beef. The near impossibility at finding my shoe size in an actual store. That awful German language. Sure, there are lots of things that are quite an adjustment being a Californian now settled in Germany, but there is one that tops them all: not living next to the ocean. Growing up, vacations were always at the beach. After my mother moved to the coast when I graduated high school, I spent most weekends there. Granted, I was never your stereotypical California girl. I've never surfed, I don't consider rubber flip-flops to be legitimate footwear and I can count the number of times I've been sunburned on one hand. For the most part, I remain bundled at the windy beach well into summer and never venture more than calf-deep into the water (more for fear of what's living there than of the ocean itself - if you grew up where sea lions washed up on shore, half-eaten with teeth markings of a Great White, you might feel the same). But there is something about watching the waves roll in and feeling the sand between your toes that can put one's mind at ease. Looking out at that great expanse of blue, or grey, as was often determined by the cloud cover, most problems feel insignificant. It was the place I went to think.

So after feeling supremely landlocked in the central/western part of Germany for the last four years - albeit, fantastically located for travel to other European countries - realizing Berlin was mere hours from a beach was almost reason enough to make the move. The phenomenally unseasonable weather we were having last week, coupled with my husband's forced vacation time, meant the time had come to make a break for the sea. I was just along for the ride, oblivious to where we were going (somewhere near the border with Poland, I was told...) and thinking only of the blue paradise that is the Baltic Sea, or Die Ostsee as the Germans call it, awaiting us at the end of our drive. When we showed up in the picturesque town of Ahlbeck, a resort town located on the island of Usedom, I was surprised at how charming and welcoming it was, even in the winter time. Sure, it looked as if most resorts and restaurants were closed up for the season, but the town itself was incredibly clean and well-cared for (it is Germany, after all), and we were able to find one open cafe for some drinks, snacks and some sun-soaking from inside the charming Strandkorbs (best. invention. ever.) on its patio.

Perhaps even more starved for sand and surf was our poor California-born-and-raised dog, who grew up romping on the beach and paddling around my mother's pool. While we had been to the seaside last summer in France, Bailey had not been able to indulge her aquatic sensibilities, other than at the shore of the industry-lined Rhine river in Wiesbaden, since leaving the States. We did the very un-German thing and took her out on the regular beach, regardless of the posted 'no dog' signs, as it was nearly empty and we kept her close so as not to bother anyone. When we did discover a sign pointing to a dedicated Hundestrand, we laughed at the distance noted, as it conveniently appeared to be exactly how far to the border of Poland. Well, we did take her to Poland and she romped and splashed and played and ingested enough sand with her stick-fetching to poop sand castles. The excitement on her face was worth any repercussions for German (or Polish) laws we might have been breaking. At the end of the day, we headed back to Berlin exhausted, still warmed from the seaside sun and dreaming of returning on even warmer summer days in the future.

Ahlbeck beach Germany_picturesque tree-lined promenade through town and Villa Seeblick Ahlbeck beach Germany_birds flying in the sky Ahlbeck beach Germany_sand sea and blue sky Ahlbeck beach Germany_Bailey dog shadow in the sand Ahlbeck beach Germany_blue and white lifeguard tower Ahlbeck beach Germany_dunes grass and trees
Ahlbeck beach Germany_plank path with trees and sea grass Ahlbeck beach Germany_sandy path to town with sun
Ahlbeck beach Germany_beautiful brick building Ahlbeck beach Germany_Strandhotel Ahlbeck beach Germany_beach cafe Strandversorgung Ostender Tor Ahlbeck beach Germany_cocktail and beer at cafe in the sunshine Ahlbeck beach Germany_Kate relaxing on cafe bench Strandkorb in the sunshine Ahlbeck beach Germany_blooming branches and trees Ahlbeck beach Germany_bird in the branches Ahlbeck beach Germany_boat on the sand through the trees Świnoujście beach Poland_protected area sign in Polish Świnoujście beach Poland_sand sea and sky Świnoujście beach Poland_Bailey dog running into the sea Świnoujście beach Poland_Bailey dog running in the waves with her stick Świnoujście beach Poland_Kate bundled in down coat and Warby Parker Preston glasses in pearled tortoise_closeup
Świnoujście beach Poland_shore seagull flying cruise ship Świnoujście beach Poland_dunes with grass and trees
Border posts of Ahlbeck Germany and Świnoujście, Poland Świnoujście beach Poland_late afternoon sun

Oh, and another highlight of our trip? A bag full of Polish groceries - including beer, candy bars and not-to-be-found-in-Germany American classics like Cheerios and Cheetos - that we discovered after doing the conversions, cost us less than 10€. Next time we head to the coast, we'll be sure to pack more grocery bags for stocking up!

Polish grocery store food_Cheerios Cheetos chocolate