Monday, June 30, 2008

Language Week, Day 1: ein Rezept/a recipe

Es ist Language Week. Diese Woche werde ich meine Beiträge auf Deutsch schreiben (mit Übersetzung, natürlich)

It's Language Week. This week I'll be writing my posts in German (with a translation, of course).

Also hier endlich das Rezept für die Jogurt Schnitten die ich zu meinem Geburtstag gemacht habe.

At long last here's the recipe for the yogurt squares I made for my birthday.

Nur weil das Wort Joghurt im Namen erscheint, bedeutet nicht, das die Schnitten kalorienarm sind. Wie in vielen deutschen Backrezepten, gehört eine ordentliche Portion Schlagsahne dazu. Aber ich bin die Meinung, daß ein bißchen Sahne noch niemanden geschadet hat.

Just because the word yogurt appears in the name of the recipe, doesn't mean that these are low calorie. As with many German baking recipes, whipping cream also appears in abundance. But I happen to think that a little whipping cream never hurt anyone.

Vanille-Joghurt Schnitten

2 Eier
135 Zucker
1 Prise Salz
100g Mehl
1 TL Backpulver
1 gehäufter EL Kakaopulver
8 Blatt Gelatine
200g Vollmilch-Joghurt
400g Schlagsahne
300g Vanille-Joghurt
Waffelröllchen zum Verzieren

1. Eier, 75 g Zucker, Salz und 1 EL heißes Wasser 4 Minuten lang schäumig schlagen. Mehl, Backpulver und Kakao mischen und über die Eimasse sieben und dann unterheben. Boden einer eckigen Springform (24 x 24) fetten. Masse einfüllen und bei 175°C 12-15 Minuten backen. Auskühlen lassen.

2. Springformrand wieder um den Boden schließen. 4 Blatt Gelatine 5 Minuten einweichen. Vollmilch-Joghurt und 60g Zucker verrühren. Gelatine ausdrücken und auflösen. Zuerst mit 4 Esslöffeln Joghurt verrühren, dann unter restlichen Joghurt rühren. 250g Sahne steif schlagen, unterheben. Creme auf den Boden geben, glatt streichen. Ca. 1 Stunde kalt stellen.

3. 4 Blatt Gelatine 5 Minuten einweichen, ausdrücken und auflösen. Zuerst mit 4 Esslöffeln Vanille-Joghurt verrühren, dann unter Rest Vanille-Joghurt rühren. 150g Sahne steifschlagen, unterheben. Auf die helle Joghurtcreme streichen. Ca. 2 Stunden kalt stellen. Kuchen in Quadrate (oder Dreiecke) schneiden. Mit Waffelröllchen verzieren.

Ich habe keine eckige Springform sondern einen Backrahmen. Wer keins davon hat kann entweder eine runde Springform nehmen, oder eine eckige Backform mit Frischhaltefolie aufschlagen nachdem der Tortenboden schon fertig ist.

Vanilla Yogurt Squares

2 eggs
135g sugar
pinch of salt
100g flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
8 leaves of gelatin
200g full fat natural yogurt
400g whipping cream
300g vanilla yogurt
wafers for decoration

1. Beat eggs, 75g suger, salt and 1 tablespoon hot water together for 4 minutes until foamy. Combine flour, baking powder and cocoa powder and sift over egg mixture, folding in. Grease bottom of 24 x 24 cm (8 x 8 in) square springform pan. Turn batter into pan and bake at 175°C/350°F 12-15 minute. Let cool.

2. Place springform around cake base. Soften 4 leave of gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes. Combine full fat yogurt and 60g of sugar. Squeeze out gelatin and dissolve over low heat. First stir 4 tablespoons yogurt into dissolved gelatin, then add this mixture to rest of yogurt. Whip 250g of cream and fold into yogurt mixture. Spread yogurt cream evenly over cake base. Refrigerate for about 1 hour.

3. Soften, squeeze and dissolve 4 leaves of gelatin as above, stirring in 4 tablespoons of vanilla yogurt and then adding to rest of yogurt. Whip 150g of cream and fold into yogurt mixture. Spread onto first yogurt layer and refrigerate about 2 hours. Cut into squares or triangles and decorate with wafers.

I don't have a square springform pan, but I do have a rectangular baking frame. If you have neither of those, either a round springform pan or a rectangular cake pan lined with plastic wrap would do after the cake base is done.

Ich denke, solange man die Proportionen behält, kann man diese Schnitten in allen möglichen Varianten machen. Wir hatten noch ein paar Erdbeeren im Garten, da habe ich die mit Erdbeer-Rhabarber Joghurt/Natur-Yoghurt kombiniert und diese runde Torte gemacht. War ganz erfrischend.

I think as long as you keep the correct proportions you could make these squares in many possible variations. We still had a few strawberries in the garden so I combined them with strawberry-rhubard and natural jogurt and made this round cake from the same recipe. Very refreshing.

Das war's für heute. Die ganze Woche liegt vor uns und es gibt viel zu erzählen.

That's it for today. We've got the whole week ahead of us and there'll be lots to talk about.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

reverse psychology

We eat enough German food around here, so tonight in honour of the Germany vs. Spain Euro 2008 final we had somthing different for dinner.

Tapas, baby!

And some cheap Sangria to wash them down with

That means Germany will win for sure, right? My prediction for tonight? 2:2 in the regular game and a win for the Fatherland in the penalty thingie.

UPDATE: Spain wins 1:0! Oh well. They were by far the better players tonight.

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thing one and thing two

Two things before I forget:

1. It has been decided by the powers that be that the Whiney Expat Blogger Meet-Up 2008 will take place in Bremen this year. Yes, I am pleased. Now it's time to decide on a date - September 20 & 21 , September 27 & 28 or October 11 & 12. October 4 & 5 are not such a good idea since the 3rd is German Unity day and lots of people will be traveling. November is a bit too dark and dreary, as we found out at the last two meet-ups.

So get over to J's blog and put in your vote, but only if you're really serious about attending. Triflers need not apply, as they say. N.B. Voting ends Wednesday evening.

2. This year's Language Week is June 30 to July 4. You can check the details at sra's blog and sign up to particpate.

More of the footy tonight. Must go snag a good place on the sofa!

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

more cowbell!

We're the kind of parents who usually figure that no news is good news when our children are at camp or on a school trip. I mean, if something bad happens, they call you, right? They're not just going to lose your kid and forget to let you know.

But after almost a week and a half of not hearing a peep out of Boy15, we did start to get a little worried, especially since he had promised to write to his grandparents. They're the kind of people who take family correspondence very seriously.

Yesterday, with only four days to go, we finally had a sign of life from deepest, darkest Austria - a postcard for us and one for Oma and Opa! Phew!

Greetings from Kleinwalsertal. Experience the original.

Our card reads:

Hallo Mummy, Papa und Boy12,

In Baad gibt's nichts zu tun und nichts zu sehen, aber beim Wandern habe ich ein paar tolle Fotos gemacht. Es regnet nie and das Essen is super! Hier gibt's auch Minigolf! Wir haben auch 'nen kleinen Fernseher für Fussball. Und am Sonntag haben sich alle gelangweilt. Heute geht's auf die 3-Tages-Tour.

Boy 15

In plain English that would be:

Hello Mummy, Papa and Boy12,

There's nothing to do and nothing to see in Baad, but I took a few nice pictures while we were hiking. It never rains and the food is great! And there's mini golf! We also have a small TV to watch soccer. On Sunday we were all bored. Today we're going on a 3-day hiking tour.


That's our boy - saved by the (cow)bell.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

the footy - you can run, but you can't hide

Soccer, football, Fußball, footy - whatever you want to call it, it's all there is in Germany right now.

Even if you never turn on your TV during the Euro 2008, you'll see fans everywhere sporting t-shirts, face paint and funny hats, their cars are adorned with at least one flag. This is a BIG deal.

Mr. M isn't really one for football, and our kids seems to have inherited our "no sports" genes, but Boy12 likes to run with the in crowd, so last Friday evening he invited three of his best pals over for a "EM Party" to watch the Croatia vs. Turkey game.

They plowed through all the snacks...

...but still left room for the football cake

...and two of the little guys stayed over night. I swear none of them got a wink of sleep. I've never heard boys talk so much.

Turkey's victory last Friday and Germany's win over Portugal the night before meant that Germany would be up against Turkey in the semi-finals. That game takes place tonight and the city is just hopping. There are over 1.7 million Turkish citizens living in Germany, 20,000 of them are registered in Hannover alone. Two public viewing screens have been set up downtown to accomodate the huge numbers of fans that are expected to turn out for this event and everyone's hoping for a relatively peaceful celebration no matter who wins. You won't find us there, though. We prefer to stay home and watch the action from the comfort and safety of our boring old living room.

May the best team win!

And...GERMANY WINS 3:2!!!

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

go germany!

Tonight it's Germany vs. Portugal in the first EURO 2008 quarter final game in Basel, Switzerland.

Boy12 and I bought Mr. M a special halftime refreshment at the supermarket this afternoon.

Win or lose, it'll go down well.

UPDATE: Germany wins 3:2!! Great game.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

I did and I still do

Him: Well, I guess it's that day again, isn't it? Geez, when I met you all those years ago I was just out to have a good time. I never thought I'd end up married to you for 18 years!

Me: You're a true romantic, as always. Now where are my flowers??

Mr. M took the day off today and we spent it puttering around the house getting things done. Later on we'll be going out for a nice dinner followed by the Germany vs. Austria Euro 2008 soccer game. We're not really soccer fans but we'll be keeping an eye on it just to see who wins this important match - the Piefkes, as the Austrians like to call the Germans, or the Ösis, the Germans' pet name for the Austrians.

I haven't done a meme in a long time so here you go - The Wedding Meme

1. Where / how did you meet?
In Vancouver on a blind date set up by his aunt.

2. How long have you known each other?
Since July 1986.

3. How long after you met did you start dating?
Five minutes.

4. How long did you date before you were engaged?
Three years. You know, long distance relationship.

5. How long was your engagement?
Ten months.

6. How long have you been married?
18 years!

7. When is your anniversary?
That would be today, June 16th. I never set out to be a June bride, it just kind of happened.

8. How many people came to your wedding reception?
About seventy-five. Six on his side, the rest on mine.

9. What kind of cake did you serve?
White cake, three tiers, ivory buttercream frosting decorated with fresh tea roses.

10. Where was your wedding?
St. Francis-In-the-Wood Church in West Vancouver. The reception was at a golf and country club.

11. What did you serve for the meal?
Canapés, champagne, petit-fours, coffee and tea. It was an afternoon reception.

12. How many people were in your bridal party?
My matron of honour, his best man and two flower girls.

13. Are you still friends with them all?
Only with the first two.

14. Did your spouse cry during the ceremony?
No, but I did, and so did our cousin Charlie from Florida.

15. Most special moment of your wedding day?
When both of my parents walked me down the aisle.

16. Any funny moments?
I think someone may have fallen down, but I can't remember.

17. Any big disasters?
The best man stepped on the back of my dress and almost ripped it.

18. Where did you go on your honeymoon?
Guernsey in the Channel Islands.

19. How long were you gone?
Two weeks.

20. If you were to do your wedding over, what would you change?
Not a thing.

21. What side of the bed do you sleep on?
The left.

22. What size is your bed?

23. Greatest strength as a couple?
Not killing each other when the going gets rough.

24. Greatest challenge as a couple?
Bridging cultural differences.

25. Who literally pays the bills?
He brings home the bacon, I cook it.

26. What is your song?
We have a (cheesy) movie instead of a song - Ferris Beuller's Day Off

27. What did you dance your first dance to?
I have no idea. We're not big dancers.

28. Describe your wedding dress.
Floor-length, off-white satin, puffed short sleeves, sweetheart neckline.

29. What kind of flowers did you have at your wedding?
Ranunculas, sweet pea, stephanotis, alstroemeria, gerbera daisies, peonies, roses

30. Are your wedding bands engraved?
Um, no. We keep meaning to get around to that...

Oh look, here are my flowers.

He may drive me crazy, but he gets those right every time.

Happy 18th Anniversary, Schnucki.


the hills are alive...

...with the sound of myriad 15-yr-olds descending upon an unsuspecting Austria.

Early Monday morning Boy15, his classmates and two other 9th grade classes will set off on a 13-day Outward Bound adventure to a tiny little place called Baad in the Kleinwalsertal, a valley surrounded by the Allgäu Alps in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg.

(click to enlarge)

My dad grew up in Bregenz in Vorarlberg and was thrilled to know that Boy15 would be visiting the Kleinwalsertal because many of Dad's ancestors came from there.

It's a seven hour train ride from Hannover to Oberstdorf in southern Germany. There the adventurers will be met by buses to take them to their final destination. I just spent two days helping Boy15 organize and pack all his stuff and I am pooped, especially after discovering that we couldn't get all the gear to fit into the bag we had chosen. The kid has size 13 (German 47) feet and just two pairs of shoes take up an inordinate amount of space. A few moments of frenzied rummaging around up in the attic produced a more suitable bag and we're ready to go. Phew.

Outdoor activities will be the order of the day; hiking, climbing and biking, along with some free time to discover what else the area has to offer. Apparently there is a bus service operating every 10 minutes connecting the little towns in the valley so they'll be able to get out on their own and explore.

And now to get us in the mood here's a video of some wild and crazy Austrians doing the Schuhplattler, a traditional dance performed in Bavaria and the Austrian province of Tirol, right beside Vorarlberg. Yep, I had Lederhosen just like that when I was a kid.

And here we have lots and lots of yodeling, also from Tirol. For heavens's sake don't try this at home. You might hurt yourself

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

we've got gas!

Good times on the weekend. On Sunday the brand new biogas plant in our little town held an open house. We decided to get in on the fun by walking over to take a look.

This is a pretty flat, rural area and there are walkways between most of the fields. Only pedestrians, bikes and farming vehicles allowed. If you don't watch your back at all times you run the risk of getting run over by a tractor. That's country life for ya.

We thought it would take us about a half hour to get there but we ended up going for 45 minutes since the plant is right on the edge of town and we just happen to live on the other edge.

This is where the journey starts.

If hiking through the fields in the blazing hot sun isn't your idea of fun, you can always follow that brown sign pointing to the left and end up at the friendly neighbourhood brothel aka "erotic hotel". Uh huh. I've never been there but I hear it's very nice. Isn't Germany progressive?

Also to the left is a more innocent view of the old sugar factory with yet another small town behind it.

But there were no detours allowed and so we trudged on and on

If you'd been with us you would have seen wild flowers along the way

And many a tasty vegetable set out in neat rows

Cauliflower in the making

The railway crossing is always a highlight because it means you're halfway there.

And finally (finally!), just when you think you can't stand it a minute longer, the biogas plant, lovingly know by the common folk as The Three Nipples, comes into view.

Basically, they're taking corn and turning it into biogas (methane) which is then piped into the natural gas line for Hannover. Wow. What a feat. There's a lot of controversy surrounding this type of process, but we're not going to start a debate on the pros and cons here.

Here's a closer view of one of the three containers

The shredded corn is kept in large compressed piles outside and is gradually fed into the first container to start the fermentation process. And no, it doesn't smell as bad as people thought it would.

For privacy reasons I'm unable to post any more pictures here, but it was a very interesting tour and I have to say I was impressed even if I may not entirely agree with the idea of using food for fuel. Ahem.

The sizzling 45 minute walk back brought me a killer migraine (and stripey feet thanks to my sandals!) and I had to lie down for the rest of the afternoon. The good side to that was that the hour and a half of power walking meant that I didn't need to use the cross trainer that day, and that's a good thing.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

make up yer mind, will ya?

Over at J's the votes are pouring in for the location of the 2008 Whiney Expat Blogger Meet-Up. Six cities were nominated and now, in the second round, it's time to choose the one you'd like to have a fabulous time in. The only rule is that you shouldn't vote for the city you live in - I'm not really sure why this is, maybe J can tell us.

Here they are in alphabetical order...


...and here according to how many votes each has gotten so far and who voted for which city

Wiesbaden – 6 (Rositta, G in Berlin, Belinda, Martina, Erin, AmiO)

Bremen – 5 ***(Claire, Mausi, CN Heidelberg, Scott, Jul)

Berlin – 3 (Ian, Dixie, Headbang8)

Nuremburg – 3 (Adam, J, ChristinaG)

Frankfurt – 1 (Andrea)

Hamburg - 1 (Nate)

Now this can change at any time and I might update it a bit before my next post. You'll notice that Wiesbaden(!?) has taken the lead at the moment. Completely unexplainable, but, hey, if enough bloggers want Wiesbaden, then Wiesbaden it shall be. For the time being my humble vote still goes to Bremen. Let someone else sit on a train for 4 hours this year, I say. But you know I'm gonna be there whatever location we choose.

If you want to have your say and not have some random whiney bloggers make up your mind for you, go put in your vote before J makes the final decree.

After the location is announced, it will be time to work on a specific date. September and October are looking good since the weather tends to be a little iffy in November and it gets dark early leaving less time for sightseeing.

Once again to refresh your memories:

(See? Wiesbaden isn't even on there!)

P.S. If you feel like it, post a link to J's on your own blog so we can get as many bloggers as possible to attend.

***UPDATE: Three more votes at J's blog now put Bremen in the lead! It's not over yet, folks.


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