Because February in Central Europe means epicurious adventures in the kitchen.

I begin with a (semi) fail. Honeycomb Macaroni. It took only two stores for me to find flat tube pasta; I consider this a win. And, lining the pasta in the dish was oddly satisfying in that OCD-kind-of-way; another win.

Step Two involved lightly browning the cheese and porcetta sauce that had been poured over said macaroni.

Alas. I went a little too far on the lightly browning step, but the end result was still much-raved-about at the dinner table.  A recipe to try again, now that I know.

Always a success. A ratatouille-meets-proscuitto spiral bake with béchamel.

A hearty winter salad made with Rotkäpchen greens; sautéed chickpeas; crumbled herbed Feta; toasted pine nuts; sun-dried tomatoes and sliced avocado. The dressing, a vinaigrette from the tomato oil with some lemon and white wine vinegar. No one at the dinner table missed the meat!

Let’s talk about this China Kohl. I needed approximately one-eighth of this leafy green for a recipe, but was stuck with the remainder. Apparently Austrians eat this flavorless green as a salad with vinegar, oil, and a sprinkle of sugar. No, thank you.

After using what I need for whatever recipe that was, I chopped it all and froze half to make Kimchi sometime in the future (translation: will compost when I next clean out the freezer). To the remainder I added spiced ground chicken and carrots and made flat potstickers, which I topped with a nuclear-heat level chili sauce (the key to dull dumplings). Perhaps a bit unconventional by Austrian standards but the family nom-nomed them regardless.

We had a rough few days early in the month because we could not find charcoal for the grill; such luxuries are not a given year-round here at the home and garden store, and our supply had run low. #Hardships. Hence, a satisfying salad with grapes, beluga lentils, Bergkäse and a honey mustard vinaigrette until the briquettes could be located.

But once the garage was stacked with charcoal…Grilled Romaine, Avocado and Sriracha Chicken. A new recipe that needs better photography, since it was added to the rotation by the family.

Grilled artichoke pesto pizza with burrata.

Finally, I dared to attempt a recipe from the monthly grocery magazine,  Beet Carpaccio. One might think that if a grocery store publishes a highlight recipe in a particular month, then said ingredients would be available in the grocery. Not so. I had to forage in our local farmers market for the beets and winter radishes.

Looks like a beet-icide scene, doesn’t it?

The finished product. Topped with a warm walnut oil vinaigrette, it was a memorable starter to our Valentines supper (grilled octopus).