Progress Costs $$!


I feel somewhat accomplished this week. I ordered the stone coating for the countertops yesterday, as well as some other supplies I need. Tonight I intend to go pickup the rest of the flooring and some plastic drop clothes and tape for taping off edges.

I wish I’d gotten my act together and ordered sooner, so that I’d have it. It would be nice to get the primer painted on the countertop tomorrow so that on Sunday I could do the coating. Instead I’ll plan on spending one or two days over there next week.

I will also have to buy what’s necessary for re-coating the roof, because I noted a leak over the mattress when I was there last. Luckily, I am replacing the mattress, but now I can’t do that until the leak is fixed. It’s a real bummer.

The biggest issue I’m having right now is with trying to be patient for repairs. I can’t move forward with certain things until they are done. Once it’s safe to drive it again, I’ll need to take it to have the propane tank re-filled (also waiting on the sanding and painting of that tank) and then once that is done, I can determine if everything works. I am sure I will have to have the AC recharged. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I don’t have to replace any appliances or other water-related parts. I can find things for a reasonable price, but it all adds up.

I have made no progress in emptying my house. I made progress last weekend with my garage and I got rid of a ton of garage garbage in a bulk pickup that they do around here just once a year. They weren’t even supposed to take everything I put out, but were nice enough to do so. I still have a ton of garbage to pull out of the basement, because it floods and a lot of things got ruined.

Meanwhile, there are tons of boxes and bins to go through in the garage–or that’s how it feels. I’d like to empty the dining room and office this weekend, but I know I cannot do it all.

Other things on my list include getting my Great Dane current on his vaccinations and begin going through the food in the kitchen.

Once again, I’ll say it: my dream/goal is so close, but still so far! It’s a lot of work to try to carry out on your own when you only get one day a week off!!

I will post pictures after I re-do the countertop and install the floor. I’m very excited!

 

Where to find professional baking supplies in Ireland


In the past I’ve talked about where to find the best food and American foods in Germany and where to find bacon in Ireland.  Today I want to talk about finding professional baking items for the home baker.  In addition to my online work, I started baking cakes, cheesecakes, pies, pastries, etc. and selling them to local (Irish) restaurants, cafés, news agents and private individuals.  The busier I got, the more difficult it became to find the supplies I was used to working with in the U.S.  So today I thought I would pass along the locations I’ve found items and what I found.  If you’ve been trying to shop for baking items in Ireland, you’re probably aware of the fact that you’ll have to visit multiple locations to get what you want.

It probably would have been easier for me to find these things when I lived in Dublin, but I wasn’t do this then.  My kitchen and oven were too small in the last house and I had absolutely no storage.  I moved to Co. Leitrim nearly a year ago and suddenly had the space to do what I wanted.

Here is my list of “always searching for” supplies:

  • Gel food dyes
  • Wilton cake pans
  • Buttercream frosting decorating tips and bags (quality)
  • Wilton Meringue Powder
  • Flower nails

Of course there are many other things needed when baking, but those were the things I found it most difficult to find.  For starters, keep an eye on your local area Lidl and Aldi.  They don’t always have baking stuff, but when they do, it’s generally decent quality for a good price.  I purchased two of my favorite and most useful spring foam pans there a couple months ago and have been kicking myself for not purchasing more before they sold out ever since. 

There are many shops throughout Ireland that claim to be baking supply shops.  There is a shop in Cliffoney, Co. Sligo (about an hour and a half from where we live) that claims to be the largest baking supply shop in all of Ireland.  They do have a good assortment of things, but not everything.  I did find my flower nails and an assortment of gel food color.  Unfortunately, their Wilton products (food coloring) were very limited, so I had to go with a brand I was unfamiliar with (which also works just as fine). 

There are a couple of shops in Dublin too, but lately I’ve been finding the best shops seem to be shops that carry other products and don’t label themselves as baking or cake supply shops.  I do a lot of shopping at Whispy’s and Quidsworth (Q2) in Carrick-on-Shannon.  Be sure to check both locations for each (each has a downtown location, as well as a larger location in a different part of town).  You’ll find a lot of cheaper baking pans, fondant tools, cookie cutters and so forth. 

Heaton’s in Carrick-on-Shannon is another place that has a modest, but helpful, cake decorating aisle.  There you can buy a cake decorating turn table, decorating nozzles and bags, frosting spatulas and so forth.  You can also check your local Tesco. 

Also in Carrick-on-Shannon, you’ll find a good amount of baking supplies (pans, etc.) at Woody’s DIY.

I was shocked to find a good deal of baking and cake decorating supplies at Providers in Longford (Co. Longford).  Not only do they have some Wilton products, but they also carry a line of Cake Boss products.  You’ll find gel food colors here too.    

In Dublin, I was impressed with a shop in Blanchardstown called Inspiring Ideas (http://www.inspiringideas.com).  This is essentially a large craft shop with a café in the back.  They not only have a baking section, but they carry a good amount of Wilton products.  They had quite a selection of specialty fondant tools and rolling pins, gel food colors, cake decorating turn tables, pans and so forth. 

I’ve also been told that there is (or was) a baking supply house in Athlone and that I should go to Enniskillen in Northern Ireland (about 40 minutes from me), but I haven’t made it to either of those yet.  You’ll find some moderate supplies in little shops in downtown Sligo too. 

So if you’re in Ireland and you’re looking for a place to buy baking supplies, check out these places.  If you know of a place I haven’t mentioned, feel free to leave it in the comments below.

If you’re curious about what I’m doing, like me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/AmericanDessertsinIreland) or visit my website (http://www.letseat/AmericanDesserts).

5 Cheap Meal Ideas


If you’ve been reading any of my other recent blog posts, you may know that I am currently on the 10-day master cleanse, so it may come as a surprise to you that I’m posting about food.  I’ve been wanting to post this for a while and since I’m still able to think, talk about and look at food without feeling like an animal about to go for its kill, I thought it would be a good time to get it out of the way.

Times are tough for many people around the world.  I’m an American living in Ireland and although I find the food to be quite expensive here, I’m also hearing how expensive food has become from my family back home.  We have good weeks and we have bad weeks here and on the bad weeks, I have to get thrifty with the grocery cost.  Here are some cheap meal ideas.  They won’t win you any gourmet cooking awards, but they will help reduce the cost of your food bill.  Also, I can tell you that you can buy all of the ingredients for these items in Ireland.  

#1.  Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Condensed Tomato Soup:  You can buy bread here for as cheap as 69-89 cents a loaf if you shop at stores like Aldi and Lidl.  I spent 54 cents on a can of tomato soup from Tesco and you can be 15 slices of processed cheese for 64 cents at Tesco.  Butter is actually your biggest cost here.  In case you’ve never made a grilled cheese before, heat up a fry pan on medium heat.  Lightly butter one side of two slices of bread.  Put one piece of bread butter-side down in the frying pan and lay one to two slices of cheese on top of it.  Place the second slice of bread butter-side up over the top.  Cook each side until golden brown.  Be sure to check frequently, because there’s nothing worse than an overcooked grilled cheese sandwich.

#2.  Grilled Peanut Butter Sandwich:  Grilled peanut butter sandwiches are delightful.  There’s nothing better than that warm, gooey peanut butter in the middle and the fried butter taste that comes with it.  You make these the same way, but put smooth peanut butter in between layers instead of cheese.  I personally like Tesco brand smooth peanut butter.  It tastes the most like Skippy or Jiffy in the U.S.

#3.  Classic Hotdogs and Potato Chips/Crisps:  You can buy a 12 pack of hotdogs from Lidl for less than 2 Euro.  Hotdog buns at Lidl are only 99 cents for a 6-pack.  A jar of pickles (can be chopped up for relish) can be purchased just about anywhere for 89 cents and condiments are also cheap (particularly at Lidl and Aldi).  I also make sort of a homemade ranch dressing using Creme Fresh (89 cents at Lidl), 2 Tablespoons of chopped chive, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of garlic and salt and pepper to taste.  This can be used as a salad dressing or on the hotdogs.  I simply boil my hotdogs until they’re done.  

#4.  Garden Salad:  I love to eat salad.  Of course I don’t eat healthy salad, but if it is your only meal, it’s okay to incorporate all of the food groups.  Everyone’s salad is different, but here is what mine consists of:  Freshly chopped lettuce (lettuce is 89 cents a head at Tesco), chopped cucumber (69 cents a piece at Tesco), sliced green olives (I get a huge jar of green olives at Lidl for less than 3 Euro), ranch dressing (can buy in some Tescos in Dublin area or make recipe above), shredded cheddar cheese (I buy 500 grams of shredded cheddar for less than 3 Euro at Lidl), diced tomato (always cheap), diced onion (always cheap again) and cottage cheese (if I have it – can be purchased for less than a Euro at many local stores).  You can make your own croutons out of old bread by tossing bread cubes with butter and seasoning to taste.  

#5.  Buttered Noodles:  If you’ve ever gone into a Noodles & Co. in the states, you may have seen or even tried buttered noodles.  Sounds weird, but can be excellent.  Pasta is cheap in this country.  You can usually buy a bag of penne for less than a Euro (particularly at places like LIdl and Aldi).  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, melt 1 cup of butter in a frying pan.  Add 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 1/2 a teaspoon of Italian seasonings, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper.  Melt completely, but do not burn.  Shred Parmesan cheese.  To serve, fill bowl with hot pasta, pour plenty of butter sauce over the top and sprinkle generously with cheese.  Again, the Parmesan and butter are going to be your most expensive purchases, but you should be able to get more than one of these meals out of a blocck of Parmesan.  It depends on how much cheese you like and how many people are eating.  

The Great Bacon Hunt in Dublin


By Beth Lytle

bacon_main

Hello Everyone!  It’s been a while since I posted on here.  When you visited me last, I was living in Frankfurt, Germany and I was busy telling you what it was like as an American living in Germany.  Well, it’s been a busy year.  Since then, I relocated to Dublin, Ireland.

Now that I’ve been here a year, I’ve decided there are a lot of things I have to say about Dublin.  For one thing, even though I didn’t have problems getting around Frankfurt as an English-speaking person, it is, of course, much easier in an English-speaking country.

One thing my family has learned since being here is that we’re not big fans of rashers, the UK/Irish version of bacon.  Since bacon is one of our all-time favorite foods, I began doing some research on the subject.  I’ve also discovered where you can find bacon in Dublin.  Even though there are not many places, you can actually find bacon all over Dublin.

Here’s a bit of background information about bacon.  It will help you understand why an American might find rashers to be a bit off.  In the United States, the majority of bacon is prepared from the pork belly.  In other parts of the world, it is prepared from several different cuts of meat, usually from the back and sides.

So, let’s get on to where you can find the bacon you’re looking for in Dublin.  There are three main places we buy our bacon from here.  The first place is Tesco, but it’s not just any Tesco.  In fact, many Tesco’s do not carry what we’re looking for.  The Tesco we buy it from is the Tesco on Navan Road (next to the Maple Centre).  What we buy there is actually called Pancetta.  It looks and tastes like American bacon.  The brand we get is Sol.  It can be found usually in an end cap of a refrigeration aisle across from the deli section.  Despite the fact that we always find it there and that we order our groceries from that particular store, it does not show up on Tesco’s online ordering.

Maple Centre

Next, you can buy bacon from the Fresh Market in Smithfield.  Sometimes they have it, sometimes they don’t.  You’ll find it to the right of the refrigerated Polish section if they do have it.  As far as I can tell, they stock two different brands.  The brand names are Espina Bacon and Campofrio Bacon.  We just found these brands, so I haven’t tried the Campofrio brand, but I cooked up the Espina brand yesterday.  It claims to be lower in fat and was okay, but even when cooked at a low temperature, it cooked up pretty crispy.  So far, my preference is the Pancetta from the Navan Road Tesco.

Fresh Market Photo

Finally, you can get bacon from Marks & Spencer.  They have a couple of different types of brands.  Unfortunately I haven’t bought any from there lately, so I don’t have the brand names or photos.  We get it from the M&S at the Jervis Shopping Centre.

Jervis Shopping Centre

Have you found other places in Dublin that you get your American-style bacon?  Post a comment letting us know where!  I will make changes to this article as I come across more information, because, yes, bacon is that important!

About the Author

Beth Lytle works with The Site Gardener as copywriter and editor, project manager, and marketing director.  She also works on several other ongoing projects, including Seen It MagazineTranscription Connection, her Winded Gypsy expat blog and varying small projects.  Connect with Beth on Facebook for constant updates to her projects.

Shopping for American Groceries in Frankfurt, Germany


I would have posted sooner, but they were working on something in our neighborhood and managed to knock out the Internet and phone service for everyone who has our service.  It put a real damper on my school work and my freelance work and I’ve been playing catch-up ever since!

For us, living outside of the United States is amazing, but you always miss things about home, especially the food.  Going without our favorite meals just isn’t an option for us, so we’ve found ways to either substitute food we can’t find or we’ve found where we can get it. Check back for updates, because I’ll be talking a lot about what foods/ingredients are available in Germany (or at least, which ones are available in Frankfurt) and where to find them.

When I look around the Internet, I find a lot of posts asking where to find American ingredients.  In Frankfurt, people will tell you that the Galeria at Konstablerwache has a real “American food”.  Some will send you to Real.  It’s true that these places have some American food, but each has a very small section with just a few options.  Both places have virtually the same choices.  These ingredients may change, but here’s what I’ve found at each place:

Galeria:

Crisco

Macaroni & Cheese (not Kraft, but an off brand)

Cake mixes

Cake frosting

Jack Daniels Mustard

Baking soda

Real:

Strawberry Poptarts

American syrup

Baking soda

Hellmann’s Mayonnaise

Brownie Mix

Off-brand macaroni & cheese

Refried beans

Keep in mind that the above lists are just some of the items I’ve found there and are only to the best of my memory.  You can find baking soda in some grocery stores, but it’s not something I find to be readily available.  The other source for pure American brands is Amazon.de.  Unfortunately, you end up paying a lot, because it’s imported.  I don’t think you save money by order from Amazon.  You can just as easily have an American friend or family member go shopping for you and have it mailed here.

Amazon.de has a variety of things available.  You’ll find everything from cereal to chips, candy and other odds and ends.  I know I’ve seen Bisquick available at one of the two stores, but I can’t remember if that was at Real or Galeria.  Neither store has a very big section, so if you’re not going there for something specific, check out the Galeria.  Real takes a little bit more time to get to and it’s much easier if you have a car.

If you’ve spent any time in Germany, you’ve probably come to realize that finding good Mexican food here is pointless.  You have to make it at home.  We’ve managed to make some very good Mexican food on our (of course, it helps that Tony is a trained chef and that I love to cook and experiment).  Rewe stores are excellent for some Mexican ingredients, but you’ll be hard pressed to find anything that’s truly spicy here.  We buy the “hot” salsa and end up adding jalapeno sauce to it to spice it up a bit.  You’ll find taco seasoning mixes, soft tortilla shells, refried beans and salsa at stores like Rewe.  Some large Rewe’s have Ortega spice mixes.  Personally, we prefer to mix our own.  There are a lot of good recipes on the Internet (and we plan on compiling a Mexican e-book to offer on here soon).  I save old jars, wash them out and use them to store my homemade spice mixes.  This mini Pesto jar has what’s left of the last taco seasoning mix I made. 

Do you have a question about where to find something?  Ask me and I’ll do my best to answer!

I have a big mouth, deranged thoughts and I’m here to stay!


My family and I left the United States in August of 2010 to go to Cairo, Egypt.  In February, 2011, we left Egypt and began a new adventure in Frankfurt, Germany.  Why we left each place and how we got there is a different story for another day and I’ll get to it, but for now, I wanted to open with a quick “hello” and a little insight to what I’ll be writing about on here.

The main focus of this blog will be about living as an expat (or a foreigner) in Frankfurt, Germany, but I will most likely dive into my memory of what it was like to live in Cairo too.  I make a living as a freelance writer.  It’s not always a great living, but it works for me and allows me to take care of my daughter instead of sticking her in daycare or school.  I plan to talk about everything with this blog, but you can expect to find a lot of information about living in Frankfurt as a non-German-speaking foreigner.  We’ve overcome a lot of obstacles to create things like we’re accustomed to in America.  Germany doesn’t always make that easy and though options are available, sometimes you have to either know where to look or go out of your way to find it.  Little by little, I plan to address various expat issues, including where to find certain food ingredients, good things to see and places to stop, and some of the more serious questions (like finding an apartment, job and getting a visa).

You’ll also likely catch some of my more deranged thoughts, so don’t be shocked when you take a look into my evil little mind.

I welcome you to my blog and hope to stay fairly consistent with my posts.  As I add information about living in Germany, please feel free to post your own questions to me or suggest topics.  The same goes for writing, working as a freelancer and living as an expat in Cairo.  I can probably be helpful about a lot of different things and the purpose of this blog is to provide information to people.  I noticed that a lot of blogs offer good expat information, but they don’t answer quite everything.  I’m hoping to answer some of the unanswered questions that I see floating around the Internet about Germany.

The Winded Gypsy a.k.a. Beth Lytle

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