Friday, December 30, 2011

Michigan (Crack) Rocks

Not only did I get to meet with a friend (who's originally from Pennsylvania) this evening and visit the Schokoladenbar, where you can eat, drink or slurp something like warm pudding spiked with anything from milk rice to cherries, plums and spices from a giant cup, but I also got a little surprise package of Michigan Rocks, pictured above.  At first, when presented with this shiny package of rocks, I nearly laughed at the name, because all I could think was: Michigan rocks?  Like crack rocks?  Ah yes, my mind is always functioning at a very high level.  But then I learned that the contents of this little package were cookies.  With what ingredients?  The regular old cookie ingredients, dates, raisins and walnuts, that's what.  But still, I'm hung up on the name.  Why, oh why are these called Michigan Rocks?  I am from Michigan and lived 23 years of my life there, and have never heard of these cookies.  Is it a Pennsylvanian way of poking fun at one of Detroit's major goods?  Or is it a reference to Michigan's mining industry in earlier times?  Or are they (truthfully or ironically) exclaiming "Michigan Rocks!" every time they say the name of these cookies?  I don't know, but what I can tell you is that these are some moist, delicious treats!

 I also baked some cookies myself yesterday.  This was a little experiment.  The recipe came from a vegan cookbook, and so while I was happy to have everything required on hand, I was sceptical that baking cookies with no egg would supply me with a satisfying result.   I was to be proven wrong!  These little guys are chewy oatmeal raisin cookies, and while they are not as soft as the Michigan Rocks, they are pleasantly chewy and excellently seasoned with a generous portion of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.

Not only did I bake cookies yesterday, but I also baked some stuffing and made some soup.  These short, dark, work-free days are inspiring me to do things that I otherwise don't have time for.  Actually, I've been craving stuffing for a few days.  Probably because it was Christmas and I think my family always has stuffing at Christmas.  However, I think the stuffing wasn't really stuffed (into a bird, for example a turkey or goose), I believe it was prepared much like I prepared my vegetarian stuffing:  mix some roasted bread cubes with some sauted onions, peppers and celery, add some vegetable broth, seasonings and an egg, stir it up, put it in a covered baking dish and bake the heck out of it.  While this stuff tasted a bit like stuffing, some liquid was lacking and the consistency wasn't quite right.  I think the key is more seasoning, more broth, more baking!  We'll see if I can perfect this recipe. 

My other kitchen masterpiece yesterday was celery soup.  I only used 3 stalks of celery in the stuffing, and had the rest of a bunch of celery, so I had to do something with it so that it didn't just go all limp in my fridge.  So I whipped out my cooking notebook and consulted the celery page:  celery soup sounded appealing.  It's really quite simple:  saute the celery and an onion, throw in one cubed potato, cover with broth and boil, boil, boil.  When everything is soft puree it, put in 2 tablespoons of cream and maybe some salt and pepper and voila!  You've got some warm, delicious celery soup.

Scenes from Christmas

 Better late than never, here are some pictures of Christmas in Dresden-Neustadt.  I was so thrilled when I found that the above mural survived the holiday, this particular location is often painted and repainted at regular intervals.  It's between Katy's Garage and the Scheune on Alaunstrasse.  The message is "Gift's instead love" and while the English isn't perfect, I find the painting absolutely perfect.


Here are two views of the giant ferris wheel at the end of Hauptstrasse near the Golden Rider.  A part of me would love to ride that ferris wheel, and another part of me gets terrified even being near the thing.  I'm always a little scared of these rides that are assembled and disassembled and operated by carnies.  Need I say more?
The other thing I really like at this spot are the humongous and slightly creepy figures: the nutcracker and the chimney sweep.  As pleased as I am that there's no snow yet, these guys look just a little out of place surrounded by dry leaves blowing around. 

I've always been a fan of the Christmas pyramid, and this one with its life-size figures is my absolute favorite one.  The kids like it, too.

Santa Claus even came to my house!  This Claus is actually a vending machine for parking tickets.  It seems that our neighbors decorate this machine each year with the Claus costume.  That's the spirit!

Sunday, December 25, 2011


 Finally!  These blasted socks are finished!  I really like this yarn, I got it years ago as a birthday present.  It's hand spun and the colors are just fantastic.  I saved it and saved it until I thought of a worthy project:  warm, cuddly house socks.  I started them, a simple spiral sock pattern, and finished the first one rather quickly.  But then, I started the second.  About halfway in, it became depressingly clear that the yarn wouldn't be enough to finish the sock.  So my search began.  No shop seemed to have this yarn in stock this year, so I had to go with a simple deep red to complete the toe of the second sock.  And now, finally, it's done. 

As much as I like the idea of knitting (creating something warm and cozy all by myself) I find actual knitting to be incredibly frustrating.  Starting a project is really tricky for me, as is finishing.  The middle is rather easy, but it can be boring unless I have a good audiobook or some good radio programs to listen to.  That's my other problem:  I can't watch a film and knit.  My multitasking just isn't that good.  I'm too busy counting and making sure I get the needles in the right place. 
On another note, knitting is all the rage.  I've read about urban knitting projects  now for a couple of years:  knit sheaths for everything from lampposts to signposts and everything in between (see some neat pictures here).  And now urban knitting has come to Dresden:  somebody made this colorful cover for a trash can on Hauptstr.

Monday, December 12, 2011

We'll miss you guys

Yesterday morning I was witness to great carnage as I took some bread to my bunnies:  tufts of fur and what seemed to be a whole piece of skin, complete with fur.  At first I couldn't believe my eyes, then a wave of shock washed over me.  This had to mean that poor Knuddelhase had an awful night and an unexpected visit from a very unwelcome visitor:  the marten. 

This seemingly cuddly little guy is actually a brutal killer.

We seemed to have a foolproof bunny run built into a corner of our terrace, complete with emergency escapes for the bunnies into the three-storey bunny mansion, since there are a lot of cats in our neighborhood, and a net over the top.  But nothing can keep out a marten, they are skinny, nimble little guys.  We live quite close to the Dresden Heath, a large forest area home to a number of quirky wild animals who like to pay a visit to their city friends.  Additionally, I'm sure they are regular visitors to our street because I've spotted them skipping along the street after dark when I'm out and I've heard from our neighbors that they've also eaten their guinea pigs.  But I thought bunnies were too big and quick.  After a little research, though, I've learned that bunnies are a much-loved source of nutrition for these feisty little thiefs.  In hindsight, we're lucky a marten didn't come sooner. 

Cream and Knuddelhase, I'm sorry to have left you so helpless against such a terrible enemy.  We're glad to have known you and it's going to take me a long time to get rid of my reflex of tossing you our vegetable peels when I'm cooking.  We'll miss seeing you guys hopping about when we come home, and the kids will miss looking out their window at you and bringing you in to pet.  We hope you meet Wee Man (who died of tilt head) and Waboose (who died of a broken heart after Wee Man was gone) wherever you are!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Apple Crepes!

Due to my seemingly endless supply of apples, I've had to get creative with my use of them.  My kids eat two or three apples a day along with breakfast and dinner and as a snack, but that barely makes a dent in the boxes and boxes of apples that I have.  I've made apple cake, apple muffins, apple cookies, apple sauce and I even throw an apple into some of my cream soups (curried pumpkin soup or zucchini soup), and still I have boxes and boxes left!  A few weeks ago while perusing my cookbooks for new apple ideas, I found something intriguing:  apple crepes.  It was early in the morning, and I thought the apples went into the crepe batter and I started chopping.  Then I had another look at the recipe and realized, no, the apples are part of a delicious creamy filling.  I was sceptical at first that my food testers, accustomed to fresh rolls from the bakery with cheese or Nutella for breakfast, would like this culinary experiment so early on a Saturday morning, but I forged ahead on my way.  Here's what I did:

  1. Finely chop two apples, add 200 grams of cream cheese and mix well, then add sugar, vanilla and lemon juice to taste.
  2. Put this mixture in the fridge.
  3. Stir together 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of milk and 2 eggs.
  4. Heat a large frying pan and butter it.
  5. Pour in crepe batter and spread it around the whole pan.  Basically, what you're aiming for is one giant, thin pancake.  
  6. Flip it when it starts getting golden brown on the bottom. 
  7. When it's finished, fill it with the apple-cream cheese mixture and roll it up like an enchilada. 
This is a super delicious and pretty simple breakfast.  I'm amazed that I can even remember all the ingredients and all the steps, I've made it a couple times now without even looking at the recipe.  The really beautiful thing is that with this basic crepe recipe, you can even make lunch or dinner crepes, just change the filling.  Fill them with grated cheese, herbs and sour cream, or maybe mushrooms and cheese, or really, whatever you like!  My early morning food testers were also thrilled with this new twist on breakfast.  The only problem is that even this new twist on apples has hardly made a dent in my apple supply!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Delectable treats

As usual, I've been busy creating delicious treats.  No parts of this one came from the garden, though.  This cake was just for fun:  for the little guy's second birthday!  But he didn't eat any of it.  He's only been eating noodles, bread and the occasional waffle or bowl of cereal lately, there's no room for delicious cake in that menu. 

The main flavor of this cream cheese came from my garden though:  habanero pepper!  I took one big, fat habanero, one package of plain cream cheese and a generous amount of curry powder, chopped and mixed and voila!  A very yummy, very spicy cream cheese was born.

This version of cream cheese is for the non-spicy gourmets:  it features a selection of herbs from my garden and windowsill.  I think I threw everything in here: chives, parsley, oregano, thyme maybe even tarragon and marjoram, a small onion and some salt and pepper.  Despite its lack of spiciness, it was still delicious.

This weekend was fun-I sorted out the good chili peppers that survived the frost from the questionable ones, then had to find a way to preserve them so that we can enjoy them through the winter.  We aren't such fans of dried chilis, we like sauce, so the search for a simple sauce ensued.  Finally, I found a very simple recipe for sambal olek with just chilis and a little salt and sugar.  So I roasted 300+ grams of red chilis, then pureed them to make a very spicy sauce.  The deadly habanero sauce was a bit more complicated:  I had to saute, carmelize, etc, etc.  But the work was worth it!  I made yet another very hot, very delicious sauce.  Yesterday I even whipped up another sambal with about 400 grams of yellow chilis!  It's excellent in squash soup.

These bad boys came from the garden.  Yesterday I carved the spooky mad jack-o-lantern, and today I carved the happy one.  Today I even used the cut out pieces to make some pumpkin-carrot-curry-sambal soup.  Yum!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Sweet Ride

Oh, woe is me, I feel so lame.  I hardly ever blog any more.  It's not so much for a lack of things to write about, it's more due to a massive lack of time.  I work too much, sleep too little, and when I'm not doing that or consuming some sustenance in the form of coffee or the rare meal, I'm hanging out with my kids.  That leaves little time for blogging.  But I must share this:  my sweet ride!  After being a righteous, non-gas consuming, non-CO2 emitting cyclist for nearly 9 years (well, not counting my 10-month experiment in Michigan), I've purchased a car.  The thought of even committing such an act was initiated by events that I cannot yet publish here, they are still much too secret and much too unsure.  Despite the unsureness of these acts of which I do not speak, the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of speed, horsepower and six cylinders.  Then came a new job where I have to start at 8 am, and before which I have to get my kids off to the Kinderhaus.  With fall and winter creeping up on me and these early appointments, the only alternative to getting up at 5 am and leaving at the absolute latest at 7 was to get a car.  After many a trip and many a test drive between Dresden, Hamburg and Hannover, I found this lovely red jacket of steel for myself in Döbeln.  Not only is it a spacious, comfortable and powerful mama car, it's also an eyecatching fashion accessory in candy apple red.  To put it simply:  I love it. 

And now I feel even lamer.  This lovely red car has driven me to inner conflict.  Here I am, I used to be a committed cyclist, and thoroughly enjoy that nice extra of keeping fit while travelling to work and all the other places I have to go.  Why am I singing the praises of a gas guzzling six-cylinder that's probably going to make me fat?  I'm not some technology obsessed man, I've never cared about horsepower or cylinders, and I sure as hell never dreamed I'd be thrilled to own a station wagon!  They're right up there on my list near minivans.  I think there are two very important factors in this new development.  First, I'm an American, and I'm from Michigan.  If you've heard of Michigan, then you've heard of Detroit, the Motor City.  I'm not from Detroit (but my grandmother was!), and a good portion of car manufacturing is no longer done there, but still, I must have cars in my blood.  It's in our nature to travel on 4 wheels, not just 2.  I beat my nature for quite a while, and probably would have remained committed to my car-free lifestyle had I not grown up and turned my life upside down with a couple of kids.  This leads me to the second undeniable fact:  I'm getting older.  As depressing as it is, I have a gray hair that shines in my face every morning in the mirror, and this one I'm not going to yank out of my head like the last 2 or 3.  Maybe I'll dye it if any of its friends decide to join the party, but whatever.  I'll cross that bridge-by car, haha!-when I get there.  I don't feel like lugging my kids through ice and snow at 6 am this winter or biking 45 minutes in subzero temperatures and having my brakes freeze up on me.  I want comfort, I want to stay warm, I want to travel faster and I want to listen to the radio.  So, there you have it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The reason for my long hiatus...the vegetables.

One of our early harvests from the summer included crunchy kohlrabi, yellow peppers, juicy tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini.  The kohlrabi is finished now, but we are still getting a few tomatoes, cukes from the greenhouse, zucchini and peppers like you wouldn’t believe.  Yellow peppers, bell peppers and chilis, habaneros, jalapenos and more. 

Here you can see our lovely, colorful potatoes.  They are small, so they are a pain in the neck to peel, but they are pretty and delicious!  These are truly a feast for the eyes.

Kale is another thing we have a whole lot of.  When this delicious green started growing like gangbusters, I became a little concerned because I had no idea what to do with it.  The only form in which I’d ever seen it in was in the supermarket as “Kohl King”:  a kind of TV dinner type product with pureed kale and slices of wiener or some other sausage that doesn’t interest me in the least.  I consulted my good friend Google, and found out that whatever you can do with spinach, you can do with kale.  So I unleashed my powers of blanching, pureeing and creaming, and voila!  We had tons of delicious kale dishes, from lasagna to casserole to just plain old kale.  It’s good stuff, and very healthy.
Here you can see a fraction of our hot peppers, we have more hot peppers than we know what to do with.  These are either adojemas or habaneros, I don't know which.  They are supposedly among the hottest peppers out there, but this weekend, I devoured that big yellow one in the middle in some dipping sauce for grilled zucchini without any trouble.  It was funny, it didn't burn my mouth, but for whatever reason, my nostrils felt like they were on fire--I felt like a dragon after eating that thing!
 We don't just have edibles in the garden, but also nice flowers.  These plants were given to  us by our neighbors when they were just a wee few inches tall, now they are 2 or more feet tall. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mmmmm, squash

I'm turning one of our precious butternut squash into soup and pudding right now!  The soup is basically the same recipe that I use for zucchini soup: squash, a pear, vegetable broth, curry, salt and pepper, garlic and cream.  Here's the pudding recipe I'm trying:

Pumpkin pudding


  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 3/4 cups half-and-half or light cream


Butter a 1 1/2-quart casserole. Heat oven to 350°.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk or beat on low speed until blended. Pour into the prepared casserole and bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. If desired, serve with sweetened whipped cream and cinnamon sugar for sprinkling.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk or beat on low speed until blended. Pour into the prepared casserole and bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. If desired, serve with sweetened whipped cream and cinnamon sugar for sprinkling.

This recipe is from here:

Friday, September 09, 2011

The Bike Rack’s Maiden Voyage

After getting an old bike rack from our neighbors’ yard sale last year, we finally strapped it on the car’s roof rack, heaved the bike into position and took her for a spin. The test trip around the block seemed promising, so we took it for a longer ride. Racing along the Autobahn, performing the slalom maneuvers that my esteemed driver usually does, all seemed well. Until we neared Chemnitz. There was a VW that my esteemed driver was just burning to pass, and as he attempted the pass, there was a crash. The bike went down. Fortunately, it was hanging by a thread on our roof, and we had to work our way from the left across 3 lanes of traffic to the right shoulder. We were lucky there was a sort of a turnout leading to a field close by our incident, so we didn’t have to drive the next 5 kilometers to the next gas station with my precious bike teetering from the roof hanging only by its' lock. Everything was fine, I unlocked the bike, we lifted it down and checked all its parts, no damage but a little scrape had been done. The car got a new dent, but with all the other dents from its' various accidents, you won’t notice one more. The thing that suffered the most was the roof rack, or more precisely, the bike rack part of the roof rack. The track the bike stands on was bent all to heck, but fortunately for us, it is of such low quality that we could simply bend it back to a position vaguely similar to its original position. The only thing that hasn’t yet been repaired are my nerves, but that’ll go away soon enough.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

More Prague Pictures

Here are some more sights from Prague. First, the fantastic peeing men statue. Below you can see some details of my favorite architectural style: Art Nouveau!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Sunday Lunch in Prague

A few weeks ago we had visitors from North America, and I was lucky enough to accompany them to Prague. Because I had to work on Monday, I couldn’t stay overnight in Prague with them, but did go for the day on Sunday. Despite the poor weather, we still had a colourful time. Some pictures:

We didn’t have lunch at Hooters, though I would have felt at home there! We wanted to have some Czech food, not delicious fries. I’ve been to Hooters before in Michigan, and the food isn’t exactly gourmet, but at least the service is friendly. My son was enthused!

Admittedly, my lunch (tortellini with spinach filling) wasn’t that Czech after all, but the appetizer was: battered, deep fried cheese! A delectable treat, and quite filling. I didn’t even have Czech beer as you can see in the picture, I had water. But at least my guests had something traditional: goulash!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Those are not nachos

It's almost a tradition of sorts that I get ice cream with the kids if we walk to the garden in the afternoon. Everyone is tired, needs a bit of sugar, and some delicious ice cream is just the right thing to get at the halfway point of the trip. This time I spotted a very special item at the store, and Kid 1 was also very enthused to try these delicious things. To me, these are tacos, but some confused soul at the Gut & Günstig company (Good-n-cheap is how I'd translate that, though a marketing manager may not like that translation because günstig isn't just cheap, it's a good deal...) named these tasty treats "Nacho". If I'm not mistaken, a nacho is actually a tortilla or taco chip served together with various fantastic toppings and sauces, often with melted cheese on top. This in no way resembles a nacho, not even a desert nacho. These scrumptious snacks are most definitely ice cream tacos, a taco being a tortilla shell folded around the filling. Nachos are not folded. Their origin is also from a tortilla, but a tortilla cut into triangles, making it too small to fold around anything.

I was hungry for some salty comfort food on this particular trip to the store, so instead of snacking on false nachos, I hit the chip aisle. I considered getting actual nacho chips, but much to my delight, I found something that not only looks, but also tastes like Sun Chips! Sun Chips are mouth watering whole grain chips. I've always been puzzled about the lack of Sun Chips here in Germany, because this seems to be such a whole grain loving place. But maybe the whole grain lovers are not so much the chip lovers...
Anyway, on my junk food shopping spree I almost lost my appetite, because I could just feel the other shoppers' eyes burning holes of disdain into my back. The English-speaking fat American is plying her kids with junk food one hour before dinner time! Little did they know, we'd already walked about a kilometer and a half with another kilometer and a half to go. Rather than feel too guilty, I paid and promptly tore open the false nachos gave each kid one right there in the entryway of the supermarket. Take that.

And yet, despite all the "fat American" jokes that course the streets, there's one sinful treat that you can get here that I've never seen in my home country: that would be sweetened condensed milk in a tube. For what reason do you need sweetened condensed milk in a tube? Let me tell you, gentle readers. Not for baking, not for your coffee, no, a can of sweetened condensed milk is good enough for that. This is for the kids huddled on street corners like crack addicts who suck the stuff straight from the tube. Yes, I've seen it with my own eyes. Children and grown ups alike, sucking sweetened condensed milk straight from the tube. At least I have the self-respect to eat the stuff from a spoon behind closed doors!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


This weekend was the BRN, the Bunte Republik Neustadt festival, here in my neighborhood. I've been away from Dresden on the BRN weekend for the last 5 years due to other commitments, but this year I stayed on board and even took on a fun project: I organized a stand for the non-profit organization that sponsors our Kinderhaus, cocolores e.V. Now, all of you know how I love our Kinderhaus, so it was a pleasure for me to do this very big job.

Here's a picture from behind the scenes at our stand: you can see the table, the coffee, the delicious cake and the happy visitors!

Here's a view down the street where we had our stand, Talstrasse. Talstr. is known as being the children's street of the BRN, but I like it there the best because it has the neatest stands. It's not only stuff for kids, but also creative cooks who only take donations for their food, people with vegan sushi like the guys next to us, and the physicist Rocket Ulf who shoots empty pop bottles, rolls of toilet paper and other objects high into the air. We were lucky to have a roof over our heads, because Rocket Ulf's rockets kept coming down right on us. A friend of mine even set up a table on this street with an "Unprofessional Tailor Shop": an iron, a sewing machine, some fabric and buttons and sewed things on people's clothes like flowers, buttons, pockets, whatever they desired for free! That's the spirit!

Here are the guys at our stand building a giant marble run...or as one viewer of this picture said, "There's the engineer solving world hunger while the two managers drink coffee". The marble run was definitely a favorite for the crowd, the kids and adults loved it. One kid even showed up with a giant tin of marbles and just went nuts. My kid also lost it when he saw the giant marble run. I think somebody at my house might get a room-size marble run for their next birthday...

Like I said, it's been a while since I've been at a BRN. It's something I have mixed feelings about anyway. The first time I heard of it, it sounded great, almost like a giant, quirky, neighborhood flea market, with the people in the neighborhood coming out of their apartments, bringing tables and chairs out onto the street, eating and drinking and doing fun projects together. But when I saw it, it didn't look so much like this, except on Talstrasse and a few other little corners and alleys. To me the rest of the BRN looked like any other street festival: loud music, food stands, stands selling t-shirts, clothes, jewelry, and of course, beer. Oh, yeah, and aggressive neo-Nazis and anti-fascists and police in riot gear. Nothing too surprising, nothing horrifying, but certainly not at all like the warm, fuzzy, artsy event that had been described to me. This year was at least peaceful. There were still loads of police everywhere, but not in riot gear. You could talk to them like normal people, I had to ask about driving in on Saturday morning to haul the tables and stuff for the stand. They weren't weird like they had been in earlier years, and they had normal uniforms on. They also weren't so militant about searching every bag, pocket and crevice that entered the festival area for glass bottles as they had been in earlier years. I think this led to a more relaxed atmosphere. I didn't hear about any riots and there were no helicopters hovering overhead constantly, even on Saturday night. Late Saturday night the most annoying things were the mingling stench of urine and the aroma of the food stands along with all the staggering drunks on the streets.

Most of the live music on offer didn't really tickle my fancy, some of the DJs were playing tunes that I like, but dancing isn't so much my thing. My favorite spectacle from Saturday night was "Balkon Rap", some guys rapping from a balcony. These guys were obviously having a lot of fun, they had a giant crowd, and rapping from a balcony has this weird reference to political leaders giving propaganda speeches from their little balconies and yet, it's rap! That has a flair that I like. It was cool.

So, in the end, what it comes down to is that the BRN once again didn't change my life with its more or less nonexistant warm-and-fuzziness, it wasn't horrible, our stand was great, and I really liked Talstrasse as I always do. There were some very neat ideas and activities on offer, and masses and masses of lame, run-of-the-mill stuff. So I guess there was something for everyone. But I'll do it again next year, because it was fun to see the twinkle in older people's eyes when they saw our potato printing project, I loved watching the kids just go crazy for the marble run, giving people cake always makes my day (especially when repeat customers gobble up an entire batch of real American brownies still warm from the oven in 15 minutes!!!), and I'll take any chance I get to tell people how great the Kinderhaus is in a heartbeat.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Food, food and more food

I'm up to my ears in herbs, strawberries and lettuce!

Not that I'm complaining about getting a heaping bowl of delicious strawberries every day I go to the garden. Certain kids in my household are also not too disturbed by this. One of them will only eat butter at present, the other could most likely fuel himself solely on strawberries. As quickly as I can pick them, the strawberry eater eats them! Plain, with cream and sugar, straight from the plant still sprinkled with dirt, it doesn't matter! They are delicious!

The cress was ready a couple weeks ago so I harvested it, this is only a fraction of the total amount. I made soup:

This was a nice cream soup with some crunchy homemade croutons. I also made cress pesto, very tasty on bread with cream cheese or pasta. The final product that we ate two days in a row and that was my favorite cress dish of all was salad, featuring cress, roquefort cheese, pear, white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
And then there was the spinach:

This is also just a mere fraction of the piles and piles of spinach that I had. The most delicious way of eating this was washing the daylights out of it to get the sand off and cooking it for a maximum of 3 minutes and just chowing down. Yum. I also made spinach lasagna with a significant portion of it, which is a tried and true favorite. There's another spinach recipe that I was too lazy to try, because it involved a few steps after the 3 minutes of cooking and I was hungry. It's a Turkish creamed spinach dish with dill, which would have been possible, because I am also practically swimming in dill. Dill quark, dill cream cheese, dill everything! One of these days, I will make the dill spinach, maybe even tomorrow. The fridge, freezer and windowsill are brimming with dill!

Today I had massive amounts of basil at my disposal, so I whipped up some pesto this evening. For that I threw some basil, olive oil, salt, pepper, almonds and a few garlic cloves into the blender, blended the heck out of it, and yummy green pesto came out. I can't wait for lunch tomorrow! I'll probably have it for breakfast, too :-)

Our lettuce is also getting ready to harvest, in fact, we harvested one head of butterhead lettuce today. It may be bibb lettuce, but I'm not up to speed on the specific types of lettuce. Anyway, my German chef simply tore it up, squeezed on some lemon and sprinkled in a bit of sugar, and voila! A tasty salad was made. The only thing that slightly freaked me out was that it was a bit crunchy, and I couldn't discern if the crunching was the sugar or sand. Unidentifiable crunching in my food really freaks me out, call it oversensitivity or a sensory processing disorder, it has seriously disturbed me since I was a kid.

But now, the real work comes in. I have to start learning some new tricks, because the above mentioned foods are all things I have some measure of experience with. What do I do with the other herbs like melissa? I know I can make tea out of it, is there anything else? How do I store it? What about lavender? Can I make soap? Should I make sachets? How in the world do I store oregano, thyme, rosemary, savory, marjoram...? Freeze or dry? In talks with more experienced gardeners, I was advised today to definitely dry the marjoram and thyme.

The herbs are harmless and take up little space. What in the hell are we going to do with all of the potatoes? We have a giant field of potatoes. Who's going to cook all of the tomatoes into tomato sauce? We'll need another freezer if we're going to make that much sauce. Not to mention the countless varieties of peppers, yellow, normal, hot...

In other news, our little tarpaper shack got a new roof this past week. It looks fancy! I was distressed last weekend when the boys went to town tearing off the old roof, and could walk through the door and look up and see nothing but sky. This week a certain someone worked from dawn to dusk, all alone except the last 2 days when we also had some most excellent helpers, and put on a beautiful new roof.

That's all from the garden front. This thing that was a hairbrained scheme in March has turned into an all-consuming epic. Maybe in the fall or winter I'll write about something else again :-) Or maybe next weekend, who knows.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

"We'll put the toilet in the kitchen"

What garden could be complete without a dwarf? I love dwarfs and trolls and the like, and am now the proud owner of 2. This one came with the garden. I purchased my first dwarf in 2004 at the flea market.

Last weekend we discovered this asparagus peeking out of the sand behind the cottage. Yes! Asparagus! Today while watering the plants I spotted 3 more little stalks sprouting.

Behold the blossoms on the blueberry bush! I can't wait to eat the blueberries!

Here are 2 sections of the vegetable garden with spinach, leeks, dill, radishes and probably some other stuff that I'm forgetting. In the background you can see the little shack. From the outside it looks okay, but the inside...we still have a lot of work to do.

The quince tree is just lovely right now.

All those blossoms on the cherry tree are now turning into little sweet cherries, yay!

The strawberries are blossoming like mad and are also producing some little berries already!

After I thought I'd transplanted all the flower bulbs from the lawn, these little guys pop up and contradict me. A garden is always full of surprises.

It seems like the previous owners of our garden really did gardening the last time in 2006. While reorganizing the cottage and getting the little room ready to set up a kitchen I started rifling through a box of GDR gardening books. At the bottom of the box was a folder with "Personal thoughts about the garden 2006". I thought this might make for some interesting reading, and did it ever! Not only was the work plan for the garden neatly typed out for 2005 and 2006, but there were also notes about other "Gartenfreunde" ("Garden friends", this is how people address each other in the garden colony. Maybe you're "Gartenfreund Smith" and I'm "Gartenfreund Leser".)
There weren't many scathing notes about others, but one of my favorites was about how "A Gartenfreund bitched at us for driving down path XY. He was stupid!"
The quote of the year for 2005 was neatly typed at the end of the personal thoughts for 2005: "We'll put the toilet in the kitchen."