Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween auf Deutsch

Halloween outside the US is always kind of a bummer, especially if Halloween is your favorite holiday. Alas, I did my best to bring the mountain to Mohammed by making a special Halloween lunch for my Wednesday lunch clients. The bad news is that even though I remembered to bring my camera and charge the battery, technology and/or Cannon (who hate me!) got the best of me again. Luckily, one of the diners took pictures and sent them to me. Anyway, the lunch was a lot of fun to make and a big hit: slime soup was really split pea soup (although when I went to buy split peas, all I could find were whole dry peas... which worked just fine and I think have more fiber anyway). It was quite slimelike (in color, not texture) and tasted pretty good thanks to the wide array of pork products available in the Fatherland to flavor soup (no picnic hams, however). I also made finger- and toe-shaped pretzels, which turned out quite well (thank you, Martha Stewart (say what you will about her, the woman does Halloween right). There was also a Decomposed Salad...which is a really great play words (again, thanks to MS), but doesn´t translate at all as there is no German word that means both unarranged and rotten, alas. This is a pretty bilingual crowd, but I think I was the only one who got it....alas. And for dessert, I found these perfectly disgusting gummi eyeballs at the grocery store.
There were too perfect not to buy. And I made red velvet chiffon cupcakes with meringue frosting....these were not as pretty as I had hoped (stupid culinary mistakes on my part...) but, the eaters got such a kick out of the eyeballs, which had the most disgusting texture, and the red velvet cake was like biting into the flesh behind the eye socket! Anyway, they were quite tickled and it was great to get such a good response!

Alas, no Remy costume (except in spirit) this year....but here is a shot of our Jack o´ Lantern, Scarface Melinda:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Schleppen, jeztz einfacher!

Well, the big news this week is that after far too many years of schlepping far too much produce for far too many blocks using just my own human strength(come to think of it, this may have something to do with my elbow and back pain....), I have finally acquired a shopping cart. I got it at the Turkish Market for only 6 Euros (which is a lot more in dollars as I am reminded every morning because they announce it on the radio. I wonder if they did this way back when the dollar was stronger? I doubt it. It's depressing). Anyway, it is sleek and black (and goes with everything) and extremely helpful when carting around 6 cauliflowers (my weekly lunch clients had Sicilian cauliflower pasta last week) and would have been great the week before when I lugged several mammoth cabbages(coleslaw to accompany bbq sandwiches and baked beans). Anyway, I have secretly wanted one for years, but never got around to getting one, but the 6 heads of cauliflower pushed me over the edge.

In other moving-from-here-to-there news...I have been meaning to write about the absurdity/humor of crossing the street here for a while. I think it´s widely known that Deutschland is not a jaywalker´s paradise. You´ve heard how they stand, waiting patiently for the cute little walk signal (der Ampelman!), even when there isn´t a car or even a bike in sight. Especially when there are Kinder around, because we all have to set a good example... It's not that I'm darting between cars or in all that much of a hurry, but I do have places do go, things to do, and it´s cold now. It´s just not in my impatient, American nature to follow such a stupid rule (except when there are scary policemen in view). So I jaywalk and frequently. But my favorite part or consequence of my careless ways is when the other people waiting look at me and I can hear them silently thanking me: you did it, so now I can too...and they follow me across the street. Bizarre and hysterical. Anyway, you have to jaywalk here if you ever want to get anywhere because the crossing signals here don't make any sense at all. Usually you can only get to the median...if you don't take matters into your own hands, you'll spend half your life standing between multiple lanes of oncoming traffic, which is just no fun. Especially in the cold.

I promise to take pictures of my halloween lunch on Wednesday! And of my Remy costume (if it happens)!

Friday, October 19, 2007

So viele Milchprodukte!

Germany might be lacking in some things, but dairy products isn´t one of them; there's really an astounding variety. The other day, the grocery store was out of or probably just hadn´t stocked the organic yogurt section, so I decided to just get drinking yogurt. This morning when I poured it over my Müsli, I was shocked at how watery it was. I shook it, thinking it must have separated, but that didn´t help. Then,I read the label and then had to look up Molke: whey. Today I had Müsli with orange-passionfruit-flavored whey for breakfast. I won´t buy it again, it was like watery, sweet skim milk. It is amusing, though, that the Germans are willing to pay for what Americans only accept as government cheese. I think government cheese might be better, though....

There's also a very wide and extremely fun selection of yogurt flavors. I´ve already sung the praises of hazelnut yogurt, but I didn´t tell you that there are seasonal flavors. In summer we had lemon-mint and I just bought ginger-pear! Seriously, I don´t think I´ve had the same flavor more than once or twice in the past 8 months.

On a non-dairy note, I stumbled upon Goldsaft (sugar beet syrup) in the grocery store recently. I know it´s just an Eastern European version of corn syrup, but it´s exotic to me. And best of all, it is a perfect substitute for molasses, which is hard to come by in these parts. I made baked beans and "molasses" cookies this week and I dare you to tell the difference!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Noch ein Samstagabenteuer

We like to have adventures in these parts and we are having one beautiful fall day after another (same temperature as summer only sunny), but we know the winter is coming so we have to make the most of it. On Saturday we set out to explore Bauhaus architecture in Berlin. We were distracted however, by the message-bearing bear hanging in front of the neighborhood anti-capitalist shop. Seems the Hollywoods are not making too many friends in this town. We were also distracted by the library (which is seriously enhancing my music collection and German movie watching habit), shoe shopping, vacuum bag buying, inspecting the new mall to see what all the fuss was about (???), and coffee drinking and sesame-date bar eating on the subway, but we finally made to the southeast of the city where we inspected 3 bauhaus sites. Wikipedia has the following information on bauhaus for your information: "Bauhaus is the common term for the Staatliches Bauhaus, a school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts" and "became one of the most influential currents in Modernist architecture and modern design." It is known for "radically simplified forms, the rationality and functionality, and the idea that mass-production was reconcilable with the individual artistic spirit." The Seagram building and the UN headquarters in NYC are American example. Anyway, this little group of what we would call town or rowhouses reminded me a little bit of Fairlington (for those of you familiar with Arlington neighborhoods). Anyway, I'm not sure that its bauhaus-ness comes across in this photo, but .... I tried. Not to worry--my professional photographer aka Allison will be here in a month (!) so it's quite likely that the visual aspect of this here blog will improve significantly, if briefly. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 8, 2007


So, the mascot of Berlin is the bear. I don't know why, but Wikipedia does say that there was an Albert the Bear who "formally inherited Berlin from its last Wendish king, Pribislav" and the bear is on the city flag and crest and there are a bunch of those stupid artist-decorated statues in bear form (like there were cows in NYC, elephants & donkeys in DC, etc). Anyway, mein Freund had a family reunion here in Berlin over the weekend so we did a bit of touring around and happened to wander by this little park with a real Bear pit. This is home to Berlin's mascots, Thilo, Maxi, and Schnute (can't say for sure which one is pictured here) .... who seemed like nice enough guys, but the pit seemed freakishly small and lacking in stimulation for three actual adult-size brown bears. I thought the Germans were known for being nice to animals? Anyway, aside from the depressing bear citings, a good time was had by all, a lot of German was spoken, and much food was consumed as we went both to this very good Brazilian rodizio place (9 different roast meats!) and to our favorite brunch spot. (Then I got to go to the Hollywoods and listen to them berate their daughter for not drawing grass vertically. I wanted to send them to bed without their cobb salad, but....).