Experimentation is essential if you want to progress in life, well, that’s my theory anyway. So in this big experiment called Life Cycle Stories, I keep creating a lot of little experiments to keep me going and keep me motivated. This past week for example, was all about the three S’s; silence, sugar and slaughtering.
I can’t help it: I am curious person and I like to speed up. When I look at a map, which I do often, I get inspired, I want to see everything, cycle through that landscapes, visit that city or see that particular town. I just want to be there. Sometimes I have A goal, for example last week, I had some appointments in Freiburg. Visit a brewery, some markets and a vineyard. All arranged by Ingo Plessing and Barbara Schneider from the Slowfood network Germany. As I was cycling true the blackforrest on my way to the south of Germany. The blackforrest by the way, impressed me al lot by his darkness and silence. I was actually listening to the song ‘The sweet sound of silence’. The sweet sound of silence…? I don’t think there is anything sweet about silence.
This goes against all the trendy theories that silence is healing and meditation is all the craze, but what if I am simply a person who does not enjoy silence? So while making my way through, I did some experiments on this concept of silence to establish for sure whether I could actually get something positive out of it. Or not.
With so much of my days spent on my bike out in nature, my headphones have become essential, unmissable even. For me, music is my way to “optimize the boring” while riding for hours and not talking to anyone. Could I enjoy my day without music?
The first few were fine, the sounds of nature were quite calming and it’s nice to recognize animals and birds as you glide past. But as the day wore on and I became more and more tired, my upbeat, happy mood collapsed. the best solution to pick up my mood and energy levels is to get some groovy tunes playing. As soon as I hear my favourite tracks, I peddle faster, songs trigger memories, reminding me of people, times and places that make me smile and keep me going.
Next up, the sugar experiment. I love everything sweet, always have. When I’m tired or hungry, a piece of cake, chocolate, ice cream is what I desperately crave. I arrived someday in a town called Göttingen, north Germany. His name was Thorsten 26 years old and cycled from Germany to China.. (wow!) I told Thorsten what I ate that day, because I was still kind of struggling with this topic. We concluded that I had consumed an impressive amount of sugars. “Don’t kid yourself Anne! If you crave something sweet, grab a sweet peach, apricot, banana or other fresh fruit to satisfy yourself.” Mmm Thorsten might be right.
The next day I set myself the challenge of no products with added sugars. It was surprisingly easy to avoid the ice cream and chocolate after a day’s biking, but my conclusion? Ice cream makes me happy and after a full day of cycling I think I deserve it! So for your’e imagination, every day around 16:00 a clock I am searching for an cold and creamy ice cream. I am keeping a list where I have tasted best flavours, might by inspiration I need for later.
Now comes the third S; slaughter. I wanted to make sausage, because I know Germans and sausage going so great together. I arrived at Landfleischerei Koch in Calden, a butcher family for 5 generations. They explained me the basics about the sausage-making process and we agreed I would be ready at 04:00 the next morning, first for the slaughtering and from 08:00 to start making the sausages. I was keen to see first-hand what it takes to get meat on your plate, and part of that is how the animals are killed. Please note: this is not because I am a dark or disturbed person! But as a meat-eater and someone who enjoys cooking beautiful rib eye, pork chops or roast chicken leg, I believe that ‘killing what you’ eat is something really important to experience.
So that Monday morning, I wake up at 04:00, with a ‘heavy’ feeling, slightly nervous about what lay ahead. We went to the farm and chose 7 suitable pigs, loaded them into the trailer and drove to the slaughter house. But now the heavy feeling was gone, as Thomas is telling me about the great life these pigs have had out in the field and now we are going to make some beautiful sausages. No stress or fear for these animals, it was impressive how fast it all went. In about 3 hours, 7 pigs had been slaughtered, butchered and the sausage production was well underway. The 4 “Sausage Men” of Landflescherei Koch were proud and passionate about their work.
Back in the butcher, the actual process of making sausage is starting. They clean the animal properly, they take the skin, cut around the legs completely, then sliced down their length, carcass, they take the nice cuts of meat out first. There is no waste at Landfleischerei Koch, they use everything and all sold at the butcher shop. Once sliced, the spice mix was added on top and then mixed it all together by pounding it around. Ready for the sausage machine, so fast, so fresh and so extremely taste full. Have a look at the movie for a short impression.
It’s true that death is a part of life, and if you kill an animal for food, it’s important to do this with respect. Eat what you love, but always eat animals that were treated the way you would like to be treated.
Reading these words, I am a little amazed that they are mine! It makes me realize how much I have already seen and learned on this trip, that I’m starting to think differently about food. And about life.
As I write this blog, I’m actually already in France, Dijon, yes enjoying many good wines..! Time to experience Mediterranean Europa, no more Bratwurst, beer and Sauerkraut. Landscapes are changing, more mountains coming up, the language barrier will rise higher, weather is heating up. And the food will change too, I sure am looking forward to all those French cheeses, fresh fish, red and juicy tomatoes and to meet more people who are passionate about their local food.
I hope that Life Cycle Stories can help inspire people in a positive way, to look at the book behind the cover, to hear the whole story without judging too quickly. I love sharing these inspirational stories behind fair food production and keeping my eyes open for true craftsmanship.
Here a little video I made about my time in Germany, which I loved. The Germans I met were funny, super hospitable and as Dutch and German are so similar, communicating was easy. The food, surprisingly good and diverse, that is also because I visit places and people who are passionate about food…
Many big adventures are fun when undertaken with a friend, my personality goes very well with cycling alone as you can read: I can be independent, unpredictable, I can be un patient, cycle my own speed, stop whenever I want.. But A new experience is coming up for sure.. I will cycle together with my big brother Beer, for 2 weeks from Bordeaux to Madrid from next week on. So we will rock the roads, eat food, sort out new routes and meet new people. All together, I am looking so much forward!
And like every time, I have a great recipe for you. This is the cheese cake from Stefan in Freiburg. (I know, it sweet again, next time a French gourmand dish, maybe:-))
Stefan’s Cheesecake is probably best cheesecake in the world. They sell it at the local market and the queue is long and lasts all day long. The recipe is strictly secret so this is a bit of an educated guess. It needs to taste really creamy with lots of vanilla, but is also light. You won’t be able to stop eating. Try this recipe and let me know how it turns out.
- 200gm digestive biscuits
- 50gm whole almonds
- 75gm unsalted butter, melted
- Pinch of salt
- 500g quark
- 3 eggs, separated
- 75g flour
- 130g Castor sugar
- 2 vanilla bean, scraped
- 2 bags vanilla sugar
- (I would put a bit of lemon rasp, just because I think that goes well together)
- 200ml low fat cream, room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Run the biscuits and whole almonds in food processor until ground.
- With the processor on low speed, pour the butter in and process until a moist crumb forms.
- Turn into the baking tin and press the crumbs into the base
- Bake for 15 minutes. Cool for 20-30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
- Place the quark cheese, egg yolks, flour, 40g Castor sugar, scraped vanilla beans, cream and vanilla sugar if using into the bowl of your food processor and run on medium speed till smooth
- Beat the whites with the remaining 90g sugar to firm peaks. Gently fold this through the quark cheese mixture and pour over baked base.
- Bake at 200C for 15 minutes, and then at 180C for 30-45 minutesuntil firm.
- Allow to cool completely in oven, leaving the door ajar.
- Cover well and chill before serving, preferably overnight
You can top it up with marinated balsamico strawberries, banana slices with some cinnamon, blue berries or just plain!