Friday, December 30, 2011
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
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.
here). And now urban knitting has come to Dresden: somebody made this colorful cover for a trash can on Hauptstr.
Monday, December 12, 2011
|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
- Finely chop two apples, add 200 grams of cream cheese and mix well, then add sugar, vanilla and lemon juice to taste.
- Put this mixture in the fridge.
- Stir together 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of milk and 2 eggs.
- Heat a large frying pan and butter it.
- Pour in crepe batter and spread it around the whole pan. Basically, what you're aiming for is one giant, thin pancake.
- Flip it when it starts getting golden brown on the bottom.
- When it's finished, fill it with the apple-cream cheese mixture and roll it up like an enchilada.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
|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
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
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
- 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
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: http://southernfood.about.com/od/pumpkins/r/pumpkin-pudding.htm
Friday, September 09, 2011
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
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
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
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
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
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
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."