Monday, October 3, 2011

I'm Still Standing...

Hello internet.

Just wanted to check in here and move around a little so no one thinks I've gone and expired. We are in the middle of owning and operating our unofficial Guten Gasthaus B&B and loving every minute of it, but that has left very few other minutes for things like blogging...and laundry. People are more important than personal hygene and bedbugs, right? Do you get bedbugs from prolonged periods of unwashed sheets? For some reason the memory of my college experience is telling me no...

Anyway, I'll be back with lots to talk about around October 20! (Crickets. Chirp Chirp.) Seriously, I'll be back. (Dead silence.) Ok, so maybe I'm writing this little missive to myself, but either way, there will be more blogging in my future. I'm particularly excited about next week's Blind Brownie Bake-off (!) where we are going to make brownies from scratch, from a mix and grab a few store-bought and have a literal blind taste test to see which dessert reins supreme. I just can't believe I didn't think of doing this sooner.
Happy blogging, till then.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Buzzity Buzz Buzz

I'm not one for drunk blogging.

I swear. But I have had a few libations. And I'm not (exactly) drunk. But I am regretting the severe neglect on which I've subjected this poor little blog, and when is regret stronger than under the influence of the devil juice? Never, I say. So I'm just stopping by, after a full night of our (very cool...I promise) Bowling League, and a full day of playing the role of Suzie Homemaker and preparing for our guests to come. And I just wanted to say hi to the blogging world. So, hello.

And now I'm off to either maintain this delicious buzz or fall immediately to sleep. Any guesses on the outcome are most assuredly welcome.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Where are my blasted mice?

Please sir, can I have another?

Two of my bestest friends in the world came to visit last week (hence the silence) and now I must confess myself thoroughly plagued by severe girlfriend withdrawal. I have another set of friends visiting in a scant 4 days, then my brother-in-law (we'll call him Bil) and his girlfriend a few days after that, and then finally my parents are coming less than a week later. Soooo....blogging....uh....may take a bit of a backseat. At least until mid-October. I love having company in, but the prep work is taxing.

So for the next few days I get to be a fairy princess! This is AWESOME. Oh wait, that fairy princess is Cinderella. Pre-slipper. And I need to lose the 6 lbs I gained over the past 5 days. Did Cinderella get to eat? Maybe I should go on the Disney Princess Diet- they always had such slim figures.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bags of tea.

So, I've been drinking tea.

A really fun read. And a bonus(!)- you'll start talking like you're in 19th Century London!

I'm reading a delightful series of brain-candy books called the Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger and I just can't seem to stop myself from brewing up a cup of tea every time the wittily blunt and often-peckish heroine, Alexia Tarabotti, takes one herself. This happens a lot. Hence, my tea supply is greatly dwindling and I'm finding my increased caffeine intake favorable to a clean house and elaborate dinners on the table. The one thing I'm having a hard time with, however is the phrasing of my indulgences.

Is it just me or has the term "teabag" adopted such negative connotations that it's almost inexcusable to utter it in polite society? Well, unless you are a politician or a sex-trade worker, that is. What a shame. On the one hand, I hate to dredge up associations with the lewd act by the same name, and on the other hand I hate to dredge up almost as unsavory associations with the renegade political movement. What's a girl to do! I blush every time the water starts to boil.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Obtrusive Little List

So I've been thinking.

Which can really get me into trouble. I know, I know, I can hear it now, "But dear Guten Allie, I didn't know you could think." I will give you some time to formally register your objection to this news.

In the mean time, here are some pictures that are totally unrelated to the content of this post!

The ice storm we had not so long ago. That is HAIL.
A rainbow over our favorite little town, Heidelberg.
Bride and groom sawing their first log ya do. Obviously some kind of sex metaphor.

Aaaaaaand...I hope that was enough time for you. 

So, I've been thinking, and try as I might I just can't stop, about some of the things I want to do with my life. I have a certain proclivity toward laziness, so you can see why I'm quite vexed. But this list just keeps coming back to me, and with alarming force. So I thought maybe if I write these things down, they will go away and I can return to my unfussed state. No such luck! I wrote them down at least two and a half times, and still the thoughts continued to harass. Now I suppose I should take a bigger leap and put them on the internet. It seems the next logical step.

While my sensibilities twinge a bit at the term "Bucket List" not only for the banality of the common bucket to hold such important life dreams, or the morbidity of the idea that such dreams must be achieved, presumably, close to death, but more that my most associative memories of a bucket involve myself as a 10 year old wanting to play outside but instead being confined to the couch to puke into said receptacle. Ew, the bucket. You don't want to have to get out the bucket. And I guess, as far as my own (shudder) Bucket List is concerned, I feel the same way. But The List has nonetheless made an appearance and it seems it will not be ignored. 

So here it is, my little List, written most assuredly under duress. These things have been on my mind for months without conscious aid on my part, so I suppose they are here to stay.

The Bucket List
1. Do 10 perfect pushups, forever
2. Weigh (mumble, mumble, mumble) pounds, forever
3. Flawlessly drive a stick shift
4. Learn to ride a motorcycle
5. Learn a foreign language to a conversational level, forever
6. Finish my masters degree
7. Do a real half-marathon* or triathalon
8. Always write a blog

* I did complete a half marathon in 2009, but my heart wasn't really in it and I didn't train properly and the time was atrocious, so I feel like it didn't really count.

And that is IT. No more! Eight items is borderline too many anyway. I grow faint just thinking about it. My demanding little list here has even forced timelines into my goals, most notably, forever. Ugh. Where did these things come from? Not my psyche, thats for sure. This is totally out of character. If I wanted to invent such a list on my own volition, which I don't, it would include way better goals like "Eat more snacks" and "Cook every night" and "Bake." All food related goals, for sure. Who can I blame?

But now I'm curious. Do any of you, fine readers, have such a list? Is it appropriate to challenge you to blog about it yourself? Or at least leave a comment? Or a silent prayer that my list will stop demanding my attention and I can blissfully return to my thoroughly non-motivated state? Please?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Cold Front


Husband and I woke up this morning to rain and a distinct nip in the air. We immediately thew open all the windows and I'm wearing a fuzzy robe with sweatpants and socks and I'm still shivering. Oh shivering, how I've missed you! It looks like the Two Weeks of German Summer has, thankfully, passed. 

Good thing the Stuttgart Wine Village is open to warm us from the inside.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hola Barcelona

Well, that was perfect.

The excitement! The horror!
Except for the very end, but that's a story for another time. Our vacation to Barcelona was amazing- the weather was great, the food was even better and the sights were well worth the blistered feet and (gasp! how old am I?) swollen ankles. Better shoes next time, I think. That's one for the "lessons I should have learned many, many years ago but I'm an idiot so I think these laws of gravity and biology don't apply to me" book. I have a feeling that the tanning/burning cycle may, one day, fall into that category as well. When I look like a piece of rawhide. Or worse. We'll see.

I don't think I have the words to express how wonderful the vacation was. It may have been our first...ever. Almost all of our travels in the past have been what I call trips, not vacations, because, as fun as they are, they leave you more tired and more in need of a real vacation afterward than before you started. But this one was a perfect mix of running ragged and chilling out with 2 very relaxing days at the beach where my skin darkened to a delicious bronze hue (read: splotchy sunburn), and 3 days of pleasant meandering, lots of eating and all the sightseeing our little touristy brains could handle.

Sagrada Familia- the Sacred Family Cathedral. Think: Disney Church.

The "Dragon House" built by Antoni Gaudi.

Out of the 5 days, two major highlights emerged. The first, undoubtedly, was the food. Oh, the food! Husband and I have traveled extensively and always feel a little let down in the foreign food department. But Spain was up to something. Everything we put in our mouths- from our fancy dinners to the convenience store fresh empanadas- were delicious. And the seafood was perfect. I even ate a shrimp that had eyeballs still attached. Squirley little eyeballs looking right at me. But I didn't care. We were in Spain, eating good food, and I would be dammed if I would let a little shrimpy eyeball keep me from enjoying the delicious brains within. Ugh, that grossed me out.

Seafood paella.

Lots of tapas.

I play with my food. Or- The Shrimp Have Eyes.
The other hightlight was the Fiesta Major de Gracia, that just happened to coincide with our trip. It. Was. Amazing. One of those things where the whole time you are thinking, "This would NEVER happen in the Sates." Two themes emerged from the pre-fiesta parade- guns and fire. With no concern for the people around. Why not shoot fireworks into a crowd of onlookers? Who's to say we can't randomly, and with no warning, fire musket (blanks) 5 feet away from children? Eardrums, what eardrums? Following the Parade of Multiple Hazards, Husband and I roamed the elaborately decorated sidestreets and marveled at the sense of community pride and the immense effort it must have taken to come together with your neighbors to create such a spectacle. Truly unbelievable. I want to live there. Maybe.

Fire at will!

Fire! Scary Fire!
Don't mind the innocent bystanders.
The stuff of nightmares.

All the decorations seemed to be made of trash/recycled goods.
Mermaids and Pirates- really cool.
Peter Pan looking...tall.
I'm guessing Monsters and Aliens.

Stunning! The decor, that is, not the sweaty girl in front with the swollen ankles.

Now I'm back in Germany, sweating my purdy little face off, as we have entered into the fabled 2 Weeks of German Summer (du du duuuuuuuuun- that was scary music). The weather has been so mild, even downright chilly, and everyone kept warning us about the 2 Weeks of German Summer that was bound to knock on our door any day and leave our airconditioner-less apartments a tepid festering hotbed of swampy heat. Well it has come. Hello. I've been sitting around in a sportsbra and shorts (for you imaginary viewing pleasure) trailing a fan on an extension cord. "Hot mess" doesn't even begin to cover it. But by next week the high temps in the low 90's will be gone and the current low temps in the mid-70's will then be the high temps with the low temps in the low 60's. Just like it should be. Don't get too sassy on me, Deustchland! I'm watching you...

Friday, August 12, 2011

PDA Hell

Sometimes I'm embarrased to be human.

An adult male came into my office today and sat himself down for the long wait-time that was to follow. About 15 minutes later his (girlfriend? wife? mail-order bride?) saunters in and, despite the vast single-user seating options available immediately surrounding the man, she proceeds to sit on his lap. They open up a big expanda-map of Europe. The discuss travel plans in whispers and giggles. I barf a little.


Well, whatever. They are in looove. Good for them. I, too, am in love, so I chalk it up to excitement over being in Europe and just try to keep looking the other way. Well, naturally one can only look the other way for oh-so-long, and eventually the crick in my neck demands I glance in the couple's general direction. 

Oh good, now they are making out. Not just a quick peck here and there, mind, but she is straddling him, he has his hands on her back, and they are engaging in the slow passionate kisses of a couple about to need some private time. Although, one could argue, they already need some private time. What could be more private than a public waiting area? Maybe they still live with their parents.

Time passes, the armourous activities continue, and, if possible, escalate. There is ear nibbling. And audible pet-name calling. Arms are being stroked and I swear I saw a butterfly kiss. Ugh. Luckily my line of site was all above-the-belt, so nothing to report there, but seriously, one can only imagine. The canoodling was unbearable, and the squelchy-kissy-slurpy sounds were more than unsettling. I began to fantasize about what I could do with all the money I would make if I started to secretly film them and sell the video to some unsavory website. You know, should I be inclined to associate with such an industry.

Then, just when I think they can go no further afoul, they unstick from each other momentarily to discipline their unseen children! CHILDREN! As in, "Starla, get your hands off that man's wallet and swat your brother- he's humping the table again!" What do you think family time is like at their home? Keep in mind- she is still sitting in his lap. And now the other customers in the waiting area are starting to just unabashedly stare. Whereas before they were only covertly staring. You know, over the tops of magazines and smartphones and such.

After some time the lady (I don't know, can I call her that?) gets up and leave the waiting area and the guy comes over to my desk and says, "I don't mean to bother you, but can I ask a question..." Uh, it's not the question that's bothersome, bro.

Now, who's gonna sanitize that chair?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Husband is a deal-hunting rockstar.

There is a budget airline here in thrifty Deutschland called Germanwings which offers "blind booking" to major cities. You can choose a certain type of vacation you want (i.e. cultural, adventure, Eastern/Western Europe, etc) and then choose your departure city and dates of travel and it will send you to one of 6-9 options of destination depending on the flight schedules for a paltry 60 euro round-trip. Usually there are 3 or 4 really great options in each category (like Barcelona, Lisbon, Venice, Vienna) and then a few less desirable ones (Leipzig, Dresden, Frankfurt), so you're running about a 50/50 shot of getting a crappy location.

Now let me take this time to say that while my friends and family and millions of strangers in the States are melting their little faces off due to the widespread heat-wave, Husband and I have been huddled together in our little corner of Germany trying to stay warm. The high today was 62. Sixty-two degrees. Fahrenheit. Excluding early April, I don't think we've broken the 80 degree mark all year, and the last few weeks have been downright chilly. Far be it for me to complain (heh), and glory knows I'd rather have a mild summer sans trips to the pool over a sweaty mess of tan worthy temperatures, but I'm starting to feel a little gypped here. So we decided a trip to a beachy place was in order. Husband's a nut for a deal so we went the Germanwings route.

Husband found a way to beat the system.

It took several hours of study and playing around with dates and travel options, and possibly a single bead of sweat, but he managed to guarantee us a trip to Barcelona. Now we just need to find a hotel within the next 3 days and then we will be set for a glorious 5-day beachy vacation. What is the Spanish word for "Huzzah?" 

Hola. Me llamo Guten Allie. Yo quiero la playa. Uno cerveza por favor. Y una margarita. Erm, dos margaritas.

I've been trying to brush up on...ahem..."my Spanish" which, despite 6 years of study, is nowhere near even remedial, but try as I might, I just can't get German words out of my mind. Funny, because when I can't figure out the German word for something I usually default to the Spanish word. Thanks brain. Way to be a team player.

But I'm not concerned. I imagine my mouth will be so constantly full of paella and booze that any attempts at speach in any language will just come out as incomprehensible grunts and morsel-infused flying spittle. It may not be pretty, but that's the way I like it.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Best. Husband. EVAR.

And he looks like Patrick Dempsey.

Not Husband.

Apparently I'm the only one who sees it though...which is fine with me. Homie don't need no hoes all up on my mans. Ahem. Sorry. I don't know what came over me.

Anyway, so the story goes like this. Moi, being the working girl/domestic goddess that I am (roll came home from a grueling 4-hour shift and immediately set to task a number of household duties that had since been neglected. Cooking, cleaning, laundry. I'm sure you can just imagine the state of things. A few hours later, Husband came home to a very busy wife doing very busy wifely things for which he seems to sincerely appreciate. Even if that appreciation comes at the oddest moments. Like the mid-dishwashing hug from behind. No one likes the mid-dishwashing hug from behind. Someone else mentioned it not too long ago in a very relatable and likely hilarious post. Was it Confessions of a Corn Fed Girl (?) or maybe Stumbling Towards Perfect? Someone help me out. I'll edit if I'm off base.

Uh...where was I?

Oh yeah, domestic nonsense. Right. I had put a Harry Potter movie on the laptop for some background noise and at some point left the apartment to get the laundry in the creepy storage room. You know, where we do our laundry. Whatever. Husband was busy fixing his computer, a task which is impossible to interrupt due to his uncanny inability to notice the world around him when confronted with electronics, so I just left the movie playing and called over my shoulder that I was headed into the creepy storage room and if I come back covered in dustballs and spiderwebs smelling of old cigarettes and regret he should just pay me no mind. I believe he grunted in response. Which, considering the splay of motherboards and wires and chips (oh my!) surrounding him, was akin to a verifiable gab session. Ah, love.

Harry Potter saves my love life.
So I gather my dry clothes and come back (sans dustballs- huzzah!) and begin folding in the bedroom. Meanwhile, my Harry Potter movie, which I have seen literally hundreds of times, plays on in the other room. I hear Husband get up from his techno-nest and shuffle over the wood floors and then the movie pauses and seems to skip back. From the other room I kind of call to him that he can turn it off if it's bothering him and, startled, he replies that he didn't realize I had come back. Sheepishly, he pokes his head in the bedroom and says he just wanted to rewind the movie for me while I was doing the laundry so I wouldn't miss any of it when I got back.

Be still my beating heart!

Does anyone else see the romance in this? Is it weird that my little heart just melted? Here we have a man who is usually so immersed in his computer-whatzits that he literally wouldn't notice if the house was dismantled and then rebuilt around him using nothing but dog poop and rotten eggs so long as his technology bits weren't fussed, and he took the time to stop what he was doing to rewind a movie I am so familiar with that I could actually recite verbatim in its entirety just so my evening would be a little better. Why, I'm tearing up just thinking about it. Total marriage win.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Did that just happen?

It was bound to happen some time.

My coworker Charles has the most adorable little girl. She's "FOUR AND A HALF!!!" but she's really tiny, so it's easy to forget she's almost kindergarten age. Thusly and so-forth, when she comes up with robust dialog and intelligent conversation she seems all the more impressive. Except for when she's being too astute.

Today we got into a conversation that began with the prerequisite, "I'm (Name) and I'm FOUR AND A HALF!" and abruptly ended with the dreaded, "Do you have a baby in your tummy?"

Chirp chirp. Chirp chirp.

Woooah there, small thing. 

Being the thorough asshat that I am, I responded with a hearty, "Nope! I'm just fat!"

OMG. I was snarky to a preschooler.

Ok, to be fair, during the middle of the conversation she had asked me if I had kids (no) and if I wanted a baby (yes...well, eventually...maybe. Ok, yes. Maybe.). So I guess she was just owning the interview, so to speak, but still, I can't pretend it didn't catch me off guard. I suppose it didn't help matters that I was holding a fast-food hamburger in my bare hands because I was so ravenous that I asked the cashier not to bother bagging it. I can't imagine how anyone would get the wrong idea...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hold me closer, Tony Danza

Hi internet! Thought you were rid of me, didntcha.

Can YOU feel the love tonight?

Well, I'm back for at least one measly post. Actually, considering the subject matter, maybe I should call it Sir Measly Post. The measly post where I gloat over free tickets to see Elton John in concert in some rinky-dink little German college town with about 2,000 very polite and non-excitable Germans between me and a living legend. The Piano Man himself.

Due to my prolific networking skills (read: blatant eavesdropping) I was able to charm my way into 4 free tickets to the show (read: I just asked). Husband and I went with friends and despite a minor navigational error that could not have possibly been prevented even if we all had a working knowledge of the German language (by the way, Germany, it's so NOT COOL that the address printed on the tickets was not the address of the event) we managed to illegally park just steps outside the venue and meandered in a scant 20 minutes late. We only missed two songs.

Me and Elton, hanging out. With some unimpressed Germans.

And then we saw Elton John preform live, outdoors, perfect weather, at a tiny venue for free. Free! We were so close I could practically count the number of pink sequence on his bedazzled tailcoat. We didn't even bother to find our seats- we just loitered in the back by the beer carts and whooped and hollared like the decent concert-going Americans we are. 

And at this point we noticed a slight cultural difference.
The Germans were totally devoid of any sort of normal emotional response to the legendary musical stylings of Sir Elton. During the songs they sat quietly in their assigned seats and politely listened to the music being preformed. At the end of each song they rose to their feet to offer applause and then quickly reseated themselves for the next tune. Even Rocktman failed to illicit even the faintest of mid-song cheer. It quickly became apparent who the Americans were in the crowd, as there was a whole obnoxious group of us in the back on our 10th beer, offering our enthusiastic vocal support and cracking up every time someone uttered, "Hold me closer, Tony Danza." And by "someone" I mean me.

I even bought a shirt. I call it my "beer goggles" shirt.

So the concert was awesome, we all sang along to every word and barely noticed the looks of mild dissaproval from the rest of the audience. I know what they were thinking...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Civil Blood and Civil Hands

Too much to say.

Mmmm...Strudel. Guten strudel.

So I won't say much at all. Howsabout a little photo montage instead. Here's how I've been spending my blogless days:

Husband and I took a mini-vacation over Memorial Day to Verona, Italy- home of everyone's favorite tragic lovebirds, Romeo and Juliet. The six-hour drive was totally (hair flip) worth it as we had to pass straight through the Austrian Alps to get to Italy. Husband practically wrecked the car when we crossed the German/Austrian border and out of nowhere (seriously, nowhere) an entire mountain range popped up.

Here are some crappy moving-car picture of what we saw:
See how the road curves- yeah, before that curve there were no mountains.

Suddenly, MOUNTAINS!

The whole place was just teaming with mountains.
So we get to Verona, and it is just perfect. Perfect weather, perfect hotel, perfect mix of things to do and food to eat and stuff to see given the amount of time we were there. I even made Husband slow down and relax and breathe and chill and all those other calming actions that he has to be forced at wife-point to do. The man was born to tourist himself into a whirling cloud of sensible footware, discount admission deals and sightseeing efficiency. But not in fair Verona...not this scene.

Speaking of scenes...

On Juliet's actual balcony, looking for that damn Romeo. He's run off again.

A beautiful day in Verona.

And then, the unexpected. Tragedy struck. Husband and I decided to end our beautiful day with some ice cream at a famous and wildly popular ice cream shop...
...and it was AWFUL!
Please excuse how absolutely frightening I look in this picture- not my finest moment. Anyway, I never thought I'd see the day that I throw away an ice cream cone. I wasn't raised like that.

We saw some creepy art...

Creepy Jesus.
Creepy Creepster. Sorry.

And most importantly, we had some wine. 

Please pretend I have on makeup and my hair is clean.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Boys, a prediction

Today at work an 87 year-old lady Italian lady with the most affecting accent told me I had beautiful brown eyes, that my heritage should be Italian (like her) instead of German/British/Whitebread, and that I will resolutely not have twin baby girls when Husband and I start having kids, but instead will have a flock of boys. Ugh. I was tracking with her right up until the "boy" bit. I told her I wouldn't know what to do with male offspring, being raised in a family full of females myself, but she said it didn't matter because the boys- oh the boys- "they love their mamma. The girls love their daddy. You will have the boys."

She was in town visiting her son.

Let's hope she's no oracle.

Twin baby girls.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Castles and Beer

And a cheery Guten Strudel to you.

You may have noticed I haven't posted anything in a while. Or maybe not. Maybe the internet isn't as "into" my blogging existence as my self absorbed guilt would lead me to believe. Alas, there is no way to tell. Heavy sigh. Ennui.  

I've been busy.
 I'll tell ya, this whole "job" thing is really putting a damper on my blogging. And my housework. I know, I know...poor baby. It's just that now that the weather is (still) awesome and it stays light out until about 10:00 pm, and Germany has really outdone herself with festivals and events and beirgartens and such, it's hard to find time to write about it all. I get it- I can hear you rolling your eyes at my first world problem. Noted. I'm rolling my eyes at myself too, which is actually making it hard to focus on what I'm typing.

In keeping with the "Germany is made of beer and tourism" theme, Husband and I have spent the last few weekends visiting castles and getting rambunctious at the Stuttgart Frühlingsfest (Spring Festival) in one of the famed beer tents, reminiscent of Oktoberfest in Munich. As an interesting aside, the Stuttgart Beer Festival usually coincides with Oktoberfest and the Germans typically flock to Stuttgart to get their beer on while leaving Oktoberfest for tourists. I haven't been to an Oktoberfest yet, but sources on the inside tell me it's full of Americans, Brits and Australians. And lions and tigers and bears. 

Does anyone else think it looks like Hogwarts?
Over Muttertag (Mother's Day) Husband and I trekked out to Hohenzollern Castle and after climbing straight uphill for 25 minutes, we were really impressed by how neat it was- by far my favorite castle we've seen. In honor of Mother's Day they had a band playing and allowed people to wander about the castle without a set tour, which was really interesting. Definitely worth the impromptu workout. Husband and I are in decent shape, but we were still huffing and puffing up the hill to get to the entrance. But these Germans- man these Germans!- they are just powerhouses! It must be all that biking in lieu of driving, because we had grandmothers passing us on the hill. Like little old ladies just zipping up a near vertical incline. Unbelievable. Props to the Germans. I've yet to spot a fat one.

I'll have one of those.
Last weekend we were lucky enough to snag tickets to one of the beer tents at the Spring Fest, and seriously, words can't begin to describe it. Not that I won't try. The tent was about the size of two school gymnasiums, they had a live band playing on a fully loaded stage akin to what you would find at a rock concert, about half the crowd was wearing dirndls or leiderhosen, and the regular size beer is a liter. A LITER. I had two. The tent is packed with hundreds of long picnic style tables, but few people are sitting. Most are standing on the table. That's just what you do, I guess. You stand on the table the whole night, singing along to the U.S. top hits of the 80's and 90's- Germans seem to really like American music- and about every third or forth song is this German drinking song where you continually "Prost!" (Cheers), and continue to drink a lot.

Always drink with friends.
Lots of friends.
So now that we've caught up I'm off to do about 3 loads of laundry. Prost.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

General Tso Good

We miss greasy Chinese (food, that is).

Germany has just about every gastronomical choice you would find in the States with the noted exception of greasy American-style Chinese food and palatable Mexican. The Mexican dilemma is easy enough to solve with store bought tortillas and enough cheese to send all of Baden-Württemberg into cardiac arrest, but the greasy Chinese is another story. I don't own a wok and I just can't seem to find MSG's anywhere. Maybe it's in the snack isle? Clearly a lost cause.

Or IS it?

Turns out, NO! Husband and I had been particularly desirous of one, General Tso's Chicken, of late but I was wary of attempting a homemade reproduction due to generally disappointing quality issues with other fakey-Chinese recipes attempted in the past. But I had a husband to feed, and his recent bout with some kind of particularly nasty cold virus made him such a sympathetic cause that I just couldn't say no. So together we trod (trodded? trode?) through endless online recipes with obvious flaws (hoisin mixed with sweet and sour? Ugh. My teeth rot just thinking about it.), complicated ingredients and photos of completed recipes that could have doubled as a crime scene. 

But then, shining like a beacon of pure white meat chicken breast in a sea of reconstituted poultry parts, it stood. So deliciously possible I couldn't resist. My heart lept, my stomach growled, the frozen chicken in the freezer quivered with anticipation- a culinary delight was born. 

Yes, I know it's blurry and washed out, but I was hungry. So hungry.

with a few variations

I followed this recipe as closely as I could with the ingredients I had, and let me say, it was perfect. Absolutely perfect. The flavors and textures were exact replicas of what we would order at our favorite Chinese place back home. 

That being said, here are my variations:

1. Right away, double the sauce. Just do it.

2. I didn't have Rice Wine, so I used the same amount of cooking sherry instead.

3. To prevent the breading from falling off the chicken or getting soggy when mixed with the sauce, I dipped my chicken pieces in the egg/cornstarch mix as in Step 1, but then also dredged them in flour before frying (I pan fried my chicken in olive oil). Oh, and I also used chicken breast instead of thighs.

3. I didn't have green onion or dried red chili peppers, so I sliced half a yellow onion instead and sprinkled it very liberally with crushed red pepper and then sauteed that in olive oil in Step 4, cooking just until the onion started to soften.

4. The double batch of sauce just coated my chicken (I used more than a pound though), so I made another single batch of sauce and heated in in a separate saucepan until thickened (1-2 minutes after boiling) to pour on the rice.

I will never buy this dish again. Too easy, too good.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hopps and Wheat and Barley- Oh My!

I'm starting to like beer.

Those are the regular sized beers.
I think I've mentioned this before (and let's be honest here, what haven't I mentioned), but it bears repeating due to my German surroundings- I'm not a huge beer fan. In fact, I'm not much of a drinker at all...unless weddings and opportunities for public embarrassment are involved. (Right Cathy? Ugh, the shame.) So you can just imagine my surprise when I have found myself ordering- repeatedly no less!- Kristallweizen at just about every eating opportunity. It's practically involuntary at this point. I don't know what's come over me.

Ok, maybe it's the fact that I don't like to deal with scouring pages and pages of a beer selection in German on German menus while being bore down upon by an impatient German waiter. Or maybe it's the utter and absolute reluctance to spend triple the Euro on about a quarter of the amount of diet soda. Or maybe it's just easier to pronounce than some of the other beers, and I don't like to be fussed. Take your pick. I'm sure the truth is in there somewhere.

But in all, this is good news! Good news indeed! Because it is officially beer season in Germany and the Beirgartens are in full swing, not to mention the overwhelming selection of beer festivals and beer tastings and regular festivals posing as beer festivals and people just milling about on the streets and in the parks drinking beers and beersy beer beer beered beery things that are cropping up at dizzying rates. Dizzying for many reasons. Beer! 

Beer tent at the Spring Festival. Note the people dancing on tables in dirndls and leiderhosen...and the CHILDREN. Totally normal.
So half the beer battle is already won- I have identified my beer of choice. Whew, what a relief. Pressure's off. I've also come up with a contingency plan, should the beer-related activity not have my preferred Kristallweizen, and will gladly accept any other form of Weissbier (wheat beer), and go merrily about my day. But not quite so merrily had I been able to procure my first choice. There has to be a consequences. Additionally, and this is very important, should anyone offer a Pils, I will run frantically from the offender in a zig zag patters so they will be less likely to attack with such a foul brew, find a matronly looking German hausfrau dressed in a dirndl and hide behind her voluminous skirt until the danger is abated.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Indy: A Recap

I will not discuss my blogging hiatus guilt.

Alright, now that that's out of the way. Hello! How are yoooou? Nice to see you again. I do hope things have been just corking for you all. Thanks to everyone who posted little comments of bloggy love while I was away, and please accept my sincerest apologies for not writing back. I swear on all the snot of my prolific allergies that I wanted to, but...uh...well, now I wasn't going to mention the blogging guilt again, know. Looks away and digs toe in the ground.

So Germany! GERMANY! Germany greeted me back into her loving embrace, lo one week ago, but just like a manipulating and conniving evil stepmother-country, publicly showered me with love and affection in the form of sunshine and blooming flowers and highs in the mid-70's when the rest of the family was looking, but once everyone's back was turned, cursed me with an onset of itchy, watery eyes, sinus pressure, an unholy measure of mucus and something like sandpaper in my ears and throat- the likes of which have not yet been known to man. If this doesn't stop soon I'm donating my body to science in exchange for an air conditioned room with no vegetation whatsoever. I saw our apartment caretaker approach our patch of backyard with a lawnmower yesterday and it was all I could do not to run screaming from my apartment warrior-style and bodily tackle the man before he could stir up all the innocently resting pollen and whatnot in the yard. Social niceties be damned.

That right thur is AMURICAN!
My trip back to the States was fantastic. We ate, we shopped, we ate, we saw friends, we talked and we ate and watched a bit of good old fashioned American television programming. Then I left. Absolute perfection. In between all that eating and talking we managed to get a few hearty walks in, but other than that it was sedentary American bliss. Seven pounds later, I wished I had been a little more peppy, but what's life without a few regrets, eh?

Oh greasy Chinese food, how I missed you. Dear, sweet flavorful enchiladas, it's been too long!

Ok, enough of that. I don't want to get all emotional here. Speaking of emotional, I also got my hair done, and not a moment too soon, really. I noticed a few mothers at the airport teaching their preschoolers the color wheel based on my roots. Ahem, "That one is black, there's a brown, here is yellow, and this is red. Can you say red?" I could be wrong, but I swear I heard a faint, "That's right little Sally, she should be ashamed of herself," as I walked away.

BEFORE! Oh the horror!
 My one true love, Brandi, at Texture Hair Design Studio dyed my hair so fantastically dark brown without even the faintest hint of red, that I practically weeped with joy when the final strand was blown adequately dry. I might have given her a round of applause and requested a speech. Just thinking about it now I get a little misty eyed. In truth, even an ocean can't separate a girl and her hair stylist. It was meant to be.

AFTER! Hair of undeniable dark brownness! Please disregard the gayness of the picture.
I got to bond a bit with my dad, too, while I was at home- a definite highlight. We spent late night hour upon even later night hour watching episode after episode of Season 1 of Battlestar Galactica, which I bought for him last Christmas, and he hadn't even taken the plastic wrap off. Socks for him next year then! Bah humbug. Well, at least now he knows what he was missing. I can't even count the number of times he scared the dog by exclaiming in surprise or suspense at particularly riveting points along the way. I am proud to report that we did manage to watch all 20 episodes, including the 3-hour movie that starts the whole shebang, in the span of 8 days. I implore you all to do the same. Best show ever.

And that was pretty much it. Couldn't have been more perfect.