Monday, July 16, 2007

things are heating up around here

Talk about hot and steamy! We went from about 17°C on Friday up to about 30°C on Saturday and right now it's 34°C in the shade. Ugh. The kids had Hitzefrei (heat free) today and got out of school an hour early. That's how hot it is. Thank goodness for my new best friend.

We don't have air conditioning, but we do have plenty of electric fans all over the house, including ceiling fans in the upstairs rooms where it gets the hottest, so we manage to keep our cool.

I don't even want to know how many people, in typically German fashion, suffered a Kreislaufzusammenbruch on the weekend. I didn't, but I still must be in danger of being assimilated because after reading the Biowetter report in the newspaper, I awoke with a mother of a headache on Saturday morning. It still lingers on today but I've gotten it down to a dull roar. The only upside of having frequent headaches is that you learn to ignore them and get on with it.

And get on with it we did. As luck would have it, the father-in-law chose to be born on July 15 and we were all expected at high noon to help him celebrate his 78th birthday. Wheee. You know that saying "It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks"? Well, I'd say it's also hard to teach old Germans new tricks. Same procedure as every year: tiny, stuffy 4th floor apartment, no elevator, piping hot midday meal, less than congenial birthday boy and the windows MUST NOT be opened under any circumstances. You get the picture. Fortunately Opa was eager to commence his afternoon nap so we didn't have to stay too long and got to take some cake home with us. Party on.

After a carnivorous barbeque on Saturday and plenty of meat for lunch on Sunday, I decided to declare the place a bratwurst-free zone Sunday evening and whipped up a cool finger food dinner.

goat cheese toasts with walnuts, honey and fresh rosemary

shrimp and mozzarella crostini with a balsamic vinegar dressing

And guess who needs to go out into the searing heat right now? I do. I've been invited to one of those Tupperware/jewelry/candle/racy lingerie/flourescent sex toy-type parties tonight at our neighbour's and need to buy some flowers for her. The merchandise in question this evening is anything but hot, unfortunately. We'll get to look at a selection of overpriced cleaning products. Whooo, doesn't that sound exciting? I'm usually pretty resistant to this type of sales pitch, but I'm sure I'll end up buying something or other because our neighbour is such a sweetheart.

So it's off the the market and back home again for a cold shower. Hope I don't melt into a puddle on the way.



At July 16, 2007 4:45 p.m., Blogger Rositta said...

I laughed out loud this morning reading your blog. I know all about these mysterious illness, all of my aunties suffer from them. Not opening windows, yup that's why when I come to Germany I'm not staying with, couldn't take it. Not taking drugs I know all about since even my Mom when they could have saved her life chose to toss them down the toilet. Oh well, what can you do. Your feast looks lovely...ciao

At July 16, 2007 5:24 p.m., Blogger CanadianSwiss said...

It's been hot here, too. I'm amazed how tough the Germans are. On a HOT Sunday, they will stand for hours in the even hotter kitchen in order to serve a (ahem) "decent" meal.

I think I would have collapsed just seeing it served.

At July 16, 2007 5:30 p.m., Blogger Thimbleanna said...

HeyHey -- your finger foods look divine -- and once again, you know you'll be pestered with comments "May we have the recipe please?" (At least I will pester you!) Thanks for the laugh too -- your comment about the windows. I'd forgotten about riding the train to and from work in the sweltering heat. The minute that train would pull out from the station, everyone would stand up and close all the windows. WTF? There was no air conditioning. And no deodorant. I never understood why it was so important to close the windows. Someone told me that is was because they worried that someone in a car ahead of them might use the toilet and what got flushed to the tracks might blow back in the windows. I've always doubted this -- but perhaps your father-in-law is worried the people in the apt. above him might throw the contents of a bedpan out the window??? ;-)

At July 16, 2007 5:52 p.m., Blogger The Big Finn said...

The Swiss also have that irrational fear of breezes. Yet, they all sleep with their bedroom windows open throughout the winter! Go figure! I guess it's just warm summer air that causes all those illnesses...

At July 16, 2007 6:49 p.m., Blogger Carol said...

Too funny! It's cooled down in Seattle now (last Wednesday it was 102 at our house!), but I still carry my trusty fan around... for "personal" reasons. (Sigh) And coincidentally, my post today also features a picture of a fan -- or, actually, many pictures of a fan!

The pictures of the food you made make my mouth water! You must be quite the chef!


At July 16, 2007 9:02 p.m., Blogger ColourMeCrazy said...

It's hot over here too but I'm enjoying it! Love the photos of your "summery" finger food! I'm "eating" with my eyes ;-)

At July 16, 2007 10:06 p.m., Blogger J said...

I love it! This is my kind of weather!

At July 16, 2007 10:16 p.m., Blogger Expat Traveler said...

those apps look incredible!!!! But the hot weather, we've been having it all last week. I'm sure you've heard that...

Hope it cools down for ya. I'm guessing it will since our rain is coming!

At July 17, 2007 12:21 a.m., Blogger Dixie said...

I have successfully gotten my husband and MIL to adapt to my way of handling summer ('cause I'm from Mississippi - I'm a professional at hot, humid weather that lasts for four months without a break) because I have every window in my apartment wide open, balcony door included, and have a fan running. My MIL's doing the same at her apartment, minus the fan. She doesn't like the cool air blowing directly on her.

I can only change them so much, ya know...

At July 17, 2007 11:44 a.m., Blogger Julia said...

Your cool cooking looks so tasty. What sauce did you use for your shrimps?

At July 17, 2007 12:25 p.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

And now I think I'm supposed to be very glad we are not in that 4th floor attic apartment there in Hannover! But I still miss you!!

Here in Amsterdam it can be quite warm one day and then quite chilly the next. Right now there is a lovely breeze going through the apartment (A'dam) and I have on a long-sleeved T-shirt and my fingerless glove on my right hand while I type. In a minute I may need to get up and put on shoes and sox!

Hopefully that cooled you down a bit?!

At July 17, 2007 12:54 p.m., Blogger christina said...

rositta - I know, it's so funny. My husband's granny was also against taking "drugs" - I don't think she ever took an aspirin in her life, but she used all sorts of herbal stuff that could probably kill you faster. :-)

CanSwiss - Yes, yes, we must keep with tradition. We all just practically fell into a coma after lunch. :-)

thimbleanna - They have deodorant now! Yay! Oh yeah, not being able to have the windows open in a train/bus/car is especially awful. Even the German health insurance companies put out articles telling people how bad a draft can be. :-)

TBF - Yep,it's the same German paradox of smoking while one rides one's bike to the health food store, I guess.

carol - I loved your fan post! Seems like you're having the same weather we are, which is pretty weird considering how much it usuall rains here and there. I'm no chef, I just like my food to look good!

colourmecrazy - I wish I was one of those people who enjoy hot weather, but my thermostat seems to be broken and I can't regulate my body temperature that well so I really suffer.

J - I know you love it - enjoy it while it lasts. :-)

Expat - It's cooling down a bit already and we had a thunderstorm last night. This week will only be upper 20's, I think, which is much more bearable.

Dixie - Ahh, you've trained them well. It's nice if both sides can compromise a bit. I don't like the fan blowing directly on my either, but I do like a nice breeze blowing through the place.

Julia - It's a vinaigrette made with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sugar, salt and pepper to taste. The original recipe said 2 T oil and 2-3 T vinegar but I found that to be too acidic. I
would up the oil to 3 T and reduce the vinegar to 1. The shrimps marinate in the dressing for 15 mins before they go on the crostini and then I drizzled a bit over the top.

Ginnie - Ha! I JUST emailed you a minute before I saw your comment and I miss you too! Oh yes, it was sweltering here yesterday. 36°C in some places. Much better today though. I have thrown open ALL the windows!

At July 17, 2007 5:09 p.m., Blogger Angie said...

Yum! That food looks fantastic!

I had never heard about "es zieht!" I guess the two weeks I spent in Germany in 2003 weren't enough to pick up on that cultural oddity, even though it was definitely hot! Your father-in-law doesn't know how lucky he is to have such an understanding daughter-in-law! Surely you saved him from some horrible, deadly disease.

BTW, I did the sleep meme, just a few weeks after the fact! :)

At July 17, 2007 6:26 p.m., Blogger swenglishexpat said...

I know what you are talking about. My Mum in Sweden can get away with her closed windows due to age, although she has changed a little. She now opens a few windows sometimes. My English wife always makes fun of my brother's family who never seem to open any windows despite searing heat. So some Swedes are just like the Germans in that respect. I and my wife always have the bedroom windows open, all year around. Let some fresh air in, please!

At July 17, 2007 9:41 p.m., Blogger christina said...

angie - I just went over to take a look!

It does take a while to figure out all these interesting cultural differences. I sort of knew about the "es zieht" before I moved here because my dad is Austrian (he's been Canadianized and throws open the windows all the time) but I didn't realize how extreme it could be. Sort of ties in with the "ice cubes will give you pneumonia" thing.

swenglish - I was just reading another article that said that this is also very common in eastern Europe so maybe it also applies in the north? I sometimes wonder if my husband is a real German because he likes nothing more than a stiff breeze blowing through the house. Sometimes *I* even have to close the windows!

At July 18, 2007 4:02 a.m., Anonymous Juanita said...

I'm only too aware of the reluctance of Germans to take any medication. My Mom would only take ONE aspirin in the most severe circumstances. She had a colonostomy (major abdominal surgery) and I don't know what they MADE her take in the hospital, but she never took another thing when she came home after two days (usual stay for that sort of surgery is 10 days). I did a post on my blog the other day about that and also talked about how she walked around on a broken hip for a whole day. She was one tough woman!

At July 21, 2007 5:01 a.m., Blogger susan d said...

LOL- the German custom followed (150 years removed from living in Germany) my 76 year old father on his birthday July 18. It was over 90 degrees, they didn't have the A/C on, and all the windows and drapes were closed. My German background mother says the theory is open the windows at night to let the cool air in, then close it up on a hot day to trap the cool air inside. I don't buy it, they have functional air conditioning unit, use it.

At July 31, 2007 4:12 p.m., Blogger Mike B said...

Do you cater?


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