Bierocks, Vegetarian Style

bierocks on foil

As my possibly indefinite move to Germany is rapidly, almost scarily approaching, I’ve been mulling over all of the seemingly innumerable possibilities that living there will provide me with: an extremely central location within the European Union, with a rail system just begging me to travel every chance I get, a new language to (attempt to) master, all of the people I will meet….and all of the extremely cheap, extremely available beer I will drink. Thoughts of this, all too obviously, led me to thoughts of Oktoberfest.

Being a lover of beer, and a lover of large gatherings of all sorts, Oktoberfest is something I am extremely excited for; however, being that a vegetarian is also something that I am, the food, which is primarily meat-lover friendly, is something I am a bit leery of. But I am not the only one, it would seem: Der Spiegel did a post entirely on the issue, explaining that beer tent owners are aware of the issue, and some are going to great lengths to combat it. Looking through the vegetarian and vegan options now being offered got me thinking – if these people can put a spin on a mostly meat-centric ordeal, so can I!

And thus, the meatless Bierock was borne.

I’m sure I’m not the first to do it, as it’s a pretty simple process to make this dish meatless, but hey, I am the first one to blog on Eurokulture about it, so that counts for something, right?

A little background: The Bierock is a typically German dish, brought to the United States in the 1880s by German Mennonite immigrants consisting of a semi-sweet roll filled with pan-cooked and seasonsed beef, cabbage and onions. In my version, as you could have guessed, there is no meat, but there is added mushrooms and mozzarella cheese, because really, how can cheese be a bad thing in this situation? In any situation, really, but I digress.

Alright, here we go, let’s do it.

Ingredients, post use

Ingredients, post use

Ingredient List:

2 cups warm water

2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast

1/2 cups white sugar

1/4 cup margarine, softened

1 egg

2 teaspoons salt

7 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup chopped onion

6 cups shredded cabbage

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup melted butter


1 package of mushrooms of your choice

12 ounces mozzarella cheese

bierocks with yeast

Step One: Prepare the dough. Yup, that’s right, we’re gettin’ fancy and makin’ the dough ourselves. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy; about 10 minutes.



Mix in the sugar, margarine, egg, salt and 1/2 of the flour. Beat that baby until smooth. Add remaining flour until dough pulls together. Or, if you’re poor like me and don’t have an electric mixer/beater, you can get down and dirty and use your hands. Fair warning though: it gets sticky as all hell. My advice? Get over being socially awkward and ask that neighbor that you’ve never met despite living 5 feet away if they have a mixer and if you could pretty, pretty please use it for the smallest of time.

bierocks swirling the dough

Swirl that dough, giirl.


bierocks sticky dough with face


bierocks doughh



My lovely assistant with the nearly baby-sized ball of dough.

My lovely assistant with the nearly baby-sized ball of dough.

Once you’ve done all of this (and maybe made a new friend? Eh? Eh?), place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover said bowl with foil and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, or let it rise for 1 hour. Can you guess which one I chose? Here’s a hint: it wasn’t the “refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight” option.

bierocks cabbagebierocks greased pan

Step Two: In a large heavy skillet, sauté onion, cabbage, mushrooms. Add salt and pepper to season and let simmer for 30 minutes. Cool until lukewarm. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F in the meantime. Coat a cookie sheet with non-stick spray in the meantime as well.



Step Three: Punch down dough – really get into it –  and divide into 20 pieces. Spread each piece of dough out on an un-floured surface and lay 2 pieces of cheese in each. The recipe I used states that you are to then fill each dough square with 2 tablespoons of the cabbage mix, but for me, 2 tablespoons was absolutely too much, so I ended up cutting it down to around 1 tablespoon. Once you manage to squish all of that vegetable and cheesegoodness into the dough, fold it over and seal edges. Place on prepared cookie sheet and let rise for 1 hour.


Step Four: Nearly there! If you want to get classy with it, you can eggwash these pups; I did it on half of them and it was well worth the extra minute it took. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with butter – lots of butter, lots and lots of butter – and DEVOUR.


Fire in the Mountain: A Festival

fire in the mountain

The Fire in the Mountain Festival is a folk festival held every spring/early summer (this year it’s  May 30th – June 1st) in Wales, featuring artists from the USA, Canada, Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales. It is put on by Fire in the Mountain, a Not-For-Profit Organization, and it is about as local as you can get, bringing in all of their food, beverages and materials from around the area. Even their staff is local, and on a purely volunteer base as well! Can’t get much more home grown than that. Joe Buirski, the event director, describes it as “the proper wild west of Wales,” adding that “the off-the beaten-track nature of it just adds to the authenticity of the music we stage there.”

In its fourth year running, the Fire in the Mountain Festival takes place on a dilapidated farm, which the profits of your ticket go into renovating, in remote mid-Wales —  Cwmnedidion Isaf, Cnwch Coch, Aberystwyth, to be exact. … And no, don’t ask me how to pronounce that, as I have literally and figuratively absolutely no idea …

Photo Credit to: Jese Corte

Photo Credit to: Jese Cortes


Photo Credit: Rowan Stanfield

Photo Credit: Rowan Stanfield. Just runnin’ through two lines of people like hooligans, havin’ a great time.

“Red kites swooped overhead,

fire in the mountain stage singin

Even folk bands get down…occasionally. Photo Credit: Fire in the Mountain Facebook page.

fire in the mountain rainbow campin

The quality might be a bit grainy, but the beauty of it is undeniable. Photo Credit: Fire in the Mountain Facebook page.

“Red kites swooped overhead, the sun beat down for three days straight and all kinds of music poured out of every nook and cranny of the little farm. We learned Appalachian flat foot dancing, sang in harmony with our fellow festy-goers, bonded around camp fires and ceilidh-d our way through the weekend.” Rowan Stanfield, UK blogger.

fire in the mountain violin playin

Violins on violins. Photo Credit: Fire in the Mountain Facebook page.


fire in the mountains swing dancin

Dancing on dancing on DANCING. Photo Credit: Fire in the Mountain Facebook page.


fire in the mountain paintin barns

Volunteers renovating the farm. Photo Credit: Fire in the Mountain Facebook page 

Photo Credit: Fire in the Mountain Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Fire in the Mountain Facebook page.


All in all, it looks like a pretty cool event, especially if you’re into folk music and nature lovin’. Check out their Facebook page for more photos and info here.

And for a complete line-up of this year’s musical selection, click here.

Manchester: Manny, Manny Manchester

Having studied for 6 months in Manchester, England of course did not make me an expert on the subject, but it did let me in on a few of the hidden (and not so hidden) niches of the city.. Manchester City Centre

Photo By:
Manchester City Centre

Music: The first of many things my study abroad advisor told me when campaigning for me to give Manchester a try was “if you’re into music, you’re going to love it there.” I, like so many (every?) other person, do happen to be into music, and correspondently, did happen to love Manchester for this reason. Not only are there the big(ger) venues like Academy 1, ran through the University of Manchester and having usually pretty decent ticket prices, and the O2 Apollo, but there are a ton of more intimate venues as well, hosting a medley of different types of music. To locate some of these places, Robbie Douglas and Sarah Oxley have created a pretty comprehensive list of Manchester’s music venues on their (ish) blog, ranging from the above mentioned Academy 1 to Satan’s Hollow, a mainly rock/metal venue that is sometimes, most of the times, yes, as hard core as it sounds. If you’re ever in the area and wanting some more info on where to go to get your fix of whatever music you may be into at the moment, you should check it out.

Notice the small rocking horse and bar stools.. Yea, that's Ryan Vintage for ya.

Photo By: Rachul Earnshaw. Notice the small rocking horse and bar stools.. Yea, that’s Ryan Vintage for ya.

Shopping: If you’re looking for something unique, be it that odd trinket you know your friend is expecting you to get them for their latest birthday, or a f***ing cute outfit for yourself, The Northern Quarter of Manchester is a great place to hit up. There are tons of smaller vintage stores and the like, the one I hold near and dearest to my heart being Ryan Vintage. It is a very well, if not overwhelmingly stocked store, with clothes in the front and furniture, hats, shoes, belts, picture frames, etc in the back, and just so happens to also be the place where I found this absolutely amazing mid-length green velvet winter coat with a bird themed lining and two mallards sewn onto the two large outside pockets for £10, and my friend found the coolest sheepskin coat I’ve ever seen for 15. It was a stylish winter, let me tell ya.

The one, the only..

Photo By: Tanvir Hamid. The one, the only..

If you’re looking for more basic items, or don’t care quite so much about the quality – maybe you’re so strapped for cash you’re about to skip meals to be able to pay for your night out, who knows – Primark will welcome you with over-commercialized, yet oh so loving arms. They’ve got everything from bedding to underwear to towels to dress pants, so come with some time to kill and the expectancy that you’ll always think you’re going to end up spending more than you actually do, and you’ll have a great time, I promise.

Nightlife: Going out seemed to be something that I did on a probably too regular basis whilst abroad –  but hey, you only live once (dare I say, YOLO?….God, I hate myself), right? It also probably didn’t help that there was an abundance of places the party could be at, on any given night of the week. Although I’m sure I could devote an entire post to the random galavants I had in Manchester, I’ll save you and I both from that long winded passage of reminiscences, and stick to the two places I feel most inclined towards: Canal Street and Antwerp Mansion.

Canal Street

Photo By: grahamc99. Canal Street


Canal Street, is (shockingly) a street of pubs/clubs/hangouts on one side of the Rochdale Canal in Manchester City Centre. Though I find canals in general to be pretty cool, this set of places has an extra level of coolness, as it is part of Manchester’s Gay Village, recognized as the UK’s LGBTQ center, outside of London. Great karaoke, great drag, and great stripper poles abound on Canal Street, and never did I return from a night out travelling about this colorful hub wishing that I hadn’t. Other places, I can’t quite say the same for……

The back of Antwerp Mansion

Photo By: The back of Antwerp Mansion

As much as I love Canal Street, if I were forced to pick one place to spend the rest of my going out days – just one place! – it would have to be Antwerp Mansion. This place absolutely reeks of badassery, in a roaring ’20s, funky art, drug den type of way. It’s a “beautiful but run down Victorian Mansion turned Music, Art and Photography Haven,” so you know, the feel just kind of comes with it. Thefirst time I made my way to Antwerp there was hula hooping upstairs and a face painting tent on the same level as the dance floor, with a jazz pop band called Jazz Riot saxing their hearts out. Everyone there, staff and patrons alike, was all so charismatic and friendly, and though some might say that that outgoing spirit was created in a lab, I personally choose to believe that it’s just the type of people the place attracts. Either way,this proliferation  of bubbling personality made an appearance each time I visited Antwerp there after, making it a place I thoroughly enjoyed myself at time and time again.

Antwerp Mansion gig room...don't tell me this doesn't look cool..

Photo By: Antwerp Mansion gig room…don’t tell me this doesn’t look cool..

**Just a random site note regarding every last pub/club/going out venue that I ever experienced in Manchester: ALL of them had coat checks. Yes, yes, I know that the weather is colder there, and that it rains a lot, so it would make sense for them to have coat checks everywhere, but really, if you look at the way Missouri’s winters have gone, is there really that much difference? I beg to proclaim that no, no there is not, and quite frankly, when I am faced with the option of either wearing my coat out to a crowded bar, which I am then forced to carry  around all night like some sort of material item turned child or the option of immediately catching a cold the second I step outside because I have decided not to lug a coat around, I find there not really to be any options at all. So here’s to you, Manchester, great city that you are, for keep your citizens responsibly, reasonably warm.**

Though I am sure I have left too many things out of this post to even count, while simultaneously spending too much time on others, this is my (somewhat) take on the city. Take what you will from it, and if you ever get the chance to see it for yourself, my only advice is: take it.

Country Hopping, the Airbnb Way.

Before studying abroad in Manchester, England in the Spring of 2013, I had never even heard of Airbnb. But once I did, oh, I did.

Credit: lipqtiq

Credit: lipqtiq

Airbnb is a website where customers can rent out different people’s abodes – actual houses, guest houses, apartments, or single/multiple rooms within. I’ve even seen an “American style” van in someone’s backyard up for grabs. Options people, options!

With 300,000 current listings in over 34,000 cities in 192 countries, and 4 millions guests having already booked, Airbnb, and other sites like it – Flipkey, Roomorama, Wimdu, etc  – seems to have somewhat revolutionized how people do vacationing.

And with good reason, too. As Heike Kauffhold writes on her blog, “Um es vorweg zu nehmen: meine Airbnb Unterkunft entpuppte sich am Ende als absolut perfekt. Die Lage war super, es war sauber, gemütlich und mein Host total unkompliziert und flexibel. UND meine Übernachtungen waren wirklich günstig.” Translation: ” To make it short : my Airbnb accommodation turned out to end up being absolutely perfect. The location was great , it was clean , cozy and my host totally uncomplicated and flexible. AND my nights were really cheap.”

I myself have stayed in three different European cities – Berlin, Paris, and Amsterdam – using Airbnb, and I will personally contest that each time was absolutely fantastic. Not only do you get to stay in someone’s actual home, with an actual kitchen (and sometimes even a washing machine!), you get to see the city you’re visiting in a way you never would be able to if staying at a hotel: through someone else’s eyes. You walk the streets that they walk, see the sights that they see, and all of the sounds, smells and other sensory items that come along with.

Credit: fastcompany

Credit: fastcompany

What’s more, if the people hosting you are around, they are more likely than not going to be willing to, if not physically take you to some of their favorite places, at least jot a few places down for you. When I visited Amsterdam, I ended up arriving a good 18 hours before my travel buddy, thanks to the many, many delays of the small, local trains he was taking,  and was slightly panicked over what exactly I was supposed to do for an entire day and night all by my lonesome. I had nothing to worry about, however, once I met up with my host, Bo. Upon hearing of my less than desirable situation, she attached me to herself like her new best friend and showed me all around the town, even offering to somehow wrangle me tickets to some crazy concert she was going to the next day if my companion’s many train delays put him even further behind schedule. Although this didn’t end up being necessary – his train arrived at around 10 AM the next morning – it was so cornily heart-warming to know that this random girl I had met by some chance apartment renting was so ready to make sure that I had a good time whilst visiting the city she called home. It was great.

Credit: collarcitybrownstone

Credit: collarcitybrownstone

Along with the nice personal touch you get, the logistics of it fair pretty well, too. The website is extremely easy to use, detailed with lots of pictures and drop-down filter lists for just about anything you could want to filter: how many bedrooms, bathrooms, beds, which neighborhoods, what amenities, what type of property, what language the host speaks. And if anything doesn’t fit within these categories, there’s a search bar at the bottom where you can type in anything that fits your fancy – oceanside, relaxing, near public transportation, etc. You can get as minimalistic or as lavish as you want, the price varying from $10 a night to $1,000 a night – you know, just so no one feels left out.When I rented out someone’s entire apartment in Mitte in Berlin for 3 nights the total only came out to be $87 (and yes, I do mean dollars), which is ridiculously cheap when compared to the prices of even a single hotel room in a not so great hotel.

Credit: airbnb-blog

Credit: airbnb-blog

One thing that  some of the many people I have ranted and raved about Airbnb to have been concerned with is safety. Oddly enough, it was not necessarily the customer’s safety (although this did cross at least one person’s mind: “What if they come in and kidnap you in the middle of the night? They do have a key, it is their house you know.” …Yea, maybe Airbnb isn’t really right for you all who have these same thoughts…) that people were concerned about, but rather, the hosts’.

Questions involving the stealing or breaking of personal items, and general disrespect of the home are valid enough, but thanks to Airbnb’s review system, this isn’t really an issue. To use Airbnb, you must create an account, and on that account, you can review the people that you stay with, and they you. That way, if you show up to the described accommodation you paid for and it is actually just a cot under a bridge, not only will Airbnb hear about it, and hopefully help you get the hell out of there, the other customer’s will hear about it as well. The same thing goes for if you are an obnoxiously loud or otherwise disrespectful guest: the host will write a review and your chances of renting from other people that have read the reviews on you go way down. Obviously, if you are a perfect angel of a guest, hosts will hear of this as well, and will be more willing to take you into their home. It’s a give and take relationship, one built on mutual trust, and one that tends to bring out the goodness in people, as opposed to the other way around.

So, if you’re ever travelling (in one of the 192 countries that its offered), and looking for a unique way to stay, give Airbnb a try, and discover what makes it such a great idea for yourself.

Let’s Talk about Sex, Baby

The red light district in the northern German town     As of 1927, prostitution has been legal in Germany. In 1964, sex workers were required to pay taxes, and in 2002 the prostitution law was updated, granting sex workers more legal rights, such as the right to sue clients who refuse to pay and the right to health insurance and social security. Last Wednesday, the 26th of February, marks the latest update, as the European Parliament voted Yes, 139 MEPS (Member of the European Parliament) to 109, on a resolution proposed by UK politician Mary Honeyball to criminalize the purchase of sexual services, thereby officially marking the EU’s stance on prostitution, and officially marking the start of pressure for the countries of the EU to follow suit.

As said by Honeyball, this “Swedish Model” of prostitution “focuses on reducing the demand, making it the purchaser of sex – invariably the man – who is criminalised.”

While on paper, this theory may seem like a good option to an increasingly hard problem, many others – some 560 NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and civil society organizations, including the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe and La Strada International (an anti-trafficking organization), as well as 91 academics and researchers, to be exact – are resolutely not in agreement.

Mona Küppers, vice chairwoman of the National Council of German Women’s Organisations, in a letter signed by the aforementioned 560 NGOs to the members of the European Parliament asking them to reject a report by Honeyball, commented : “We think that the systematic criminalisation of sex buyers will not bring the change supporters of this resolution are hoping for. Quite the opposite: the experience in Sweden shows that prostitution does not just simply disappear after introducing the criminalisation of buyers – activities just simply shift underground. This cannot be the solution – particularly not for the women working in the sex trade.” View the letter in its entirety here.

One of the big problems that people have with Honeyball’s argument is its failure to separate willful prostitution from prostitution begot by sex trafficking. In doing this, Honeyball effectively submits an argument against sex trafficking, not prostitution, but under the false name of the latter, thereby adding nothing valid to the legitimate discussion at hand.

La Strada graz    What’s more, even if it is sex trafficking Honeyball is campaigning against, her ideas on how to improve the situation have shown to have the opposite effect. La Strada International, a network of 12 anti-trafficking NGOS, have stated, ” The partners of the LSI NGO Platform have supported many women and men who were trafficked in the sex industry in the past nearly two decades. (..) Criminalisation stigmatises and marginalises both domestic and migrant sex workers and it deprives them of the tools to protect themselves from violence and seek redress. It drives the sex industry even more underground, which results in less access to health, social and legal assistance for sex workers, and significantly lowers chances to identify individuals who have been trafficked.”

Another rather large (rather, rather large)  issue is the statistical information used to back up Honeyball’s argument; namely, that its scientific quality is poor and that many of the references cited by Honeyball have been proven to be inaccurate time and time again. Plainly put, as stated in the letter, A CRITIQUE OF THE “REPORT ON PROSTITUTION AND SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND ITS IMPACT ON GENDER EQUALITY” BY MARY HONEYBALL, MEP, signed by the aforementioned 91 academics and researchers, “The report by Ms Honeyball fails to address the problems and harms that can surround sex work and instead produces biased, inaccurate and disproven data.” View the full critique here.

It’s a hard line to walk, somehow having to balance the agency of prostitutes as legal, rightful workers using sex as a legitimate means of income and the illegally coerced  and exploited women stuck in the violent cycle that is sex trafficking, but it would seem that Honeyball has not only incorrectly toed that line, but fallen off of it completely.


For a full commentary on the (il)legitimacy of Honeyball’s now EU backed resolution, check out these sites: (auf Deutsch)


The Berlin Drug Scene: You know it has to be good.

Whenever you think of Berlin, what do you think of? Among the list could be many things – the Berlin Wall, the up and coming start-up scene, the art. No doubt, though, that something included in this list has something to do with the throngs of young people that make the city feel like it’s buzzing – a live wire poised ever so precariously above a bathtub of water. Maybe that’s just me, counting myself among those “young people,” and about to be counting myself as one of those “young people” living in Berlin. Or maybe it’s the clubs that stay open all day and all night, or my experience with the U-Bahn on a Friday night, or the one of the many, many green, open parks littered with young people drinking cheap beer, sunbathing on one of those “soak it up while it lasts” sunny, summer days. With that picture successfully painted, I would like to now point to something that most of the time, albeit stereotypically, comes conjointly with the thought of young people: drugs.


….as if you don’t know what this is….

As cannabis is used by some three million Germans, I felt it only necessary that this be the drug I hone in on in this post. The 2011 Drug Affinity Study (DAS), carried out by the Federal Centre for Health Education (Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung/BZgA), states that a decline in cannabis use among peoples aged 12-17 can be witnessed in its latest German study, insinuating that the country’s prevention measures, aimed at drug education in middle schools and recreational settings, just might be working.

But what about the older inhabitants of Germany, aged 18 and above; the ones that can legally drink all types of alcohol and smoke tobacco in public? The findings on the 18-25 age group, according to the DAS, show no such reduction, with cannabis remaining the most frequently used illicit substance in this age group across studies. It would seem, then, that cannabis is here to stay. And guess what? The mayor of Kreuzburg borough in Berlin, Monika Herrmann, thinks so too. At the moment, German law prohibits the sale and purchase of cannabis, but allows each federal state to decide how much one may personally possess without being arrested: in Berlin, the amount is 15 grams. Monika Herrmann would like to take this somewhat relaxation of the law even further, by implementing various government-run “coffee shops” where valid card holders over the age of 18 can buy a specified amount of cannabis from a member of a medically trained staff.

weed list in amsterdam coffee shop

Weed list in Amsterdam coffee shop

Though the benefit to cannabis smokers this suggested new law would bring is obvious, the reasoning behind Herrmann’s thoughts is hardly all fun and games. Her proposal is an attempt to combat the ever-growing issue of the black market in Berlin, something that hosts a medley of social problems, from allowing illegal immigrants to make a somewhat steady income without putting anything back into the economy, to problems concerning the purity of the cannabis that is being sold. Herrmann uses Kreuzberg’s Görlitzer Park, a place infamous for its nearly infinite amount of drug dealers, as one of her prime examples. As quoted by SmartPlanet, Herrmann states, “Punishment hasn’t changed a thing in these cases. We’ve had police raid after police raid, and the sellers are back before you know it… the current direction isn’t working anymore, and we need to try something else.” Her version of this “something else” has been put to successful work in various other countries, the American state of Colorado being one of the newest members to join in the growing trend.

Monika Herrmann

Monika Herrmann

Though this progressive view on cannabis is one shared by many, it should not be confused with an overall lax view on drugs; rather, it should be seen as the opposite. Another of this potential new law’s take home points is that with the regulation of cannabis would come a differentiation between “hard” and “soft” drugs. I am not one to buy into the whole “gateway drug” argument, but it is hard to deny that there is the potential for this argument to be somewhat valid when studies like this one done in 2011 on the E.U show that 52% of the cannabis users it surveyed in Sweden, a country where cannabis is illegal, full out, said they were well aware that other drugs were available for purchase through the same location that they bought their cannabis from. Now, does this mean that all people buying cannabis will eventually move on to buying harder drugs? Of course not. But does it mean that if those people buying cannabis wanted to buy other, harder drugs from their cannabis dealer, they could? Yes, yes it does.

Obviously, if people want to buy harder drugs, they can and most likely will be able to—if they just take a stroll through Görlitzer Park, I’m sure they’ll find what they’re looking for. But when buying cannabis from a “coffee shop” becomes a regulated, regular thing, people simply do not have these same easy options for access to harder drugs. And hey, given that the consumption of cannabis literally cannot kill you, doesn’t it seem like a better alternative to separate it from drugs that most definitely can kill you? Though only time will tell if this potential law will become a reality, the fact that it is circulating at all is telling of the times—a harbinger of what is to come for Berlin’s “notorious” drug scene.