Friday, February 29, 2008

This is sometimes what I eat:

I made nori rolls and filled them with quinoa (very high in calcium), corn, cucumber, and grilled shallot for lack of any green onion.
These Hello Kitty chopsticks were given to me by a Japanese friend to match my underwear.

I got this cookzine from a woman on the PPK forums. It's filled with many fantastic things, including this banana bread, which is definately the best I've ever had. And I've had some pretty good banana bread in my day. Here's how she describes it: "This bread is so good, I read that chimpanzees in Australia preferred it 3:1 over organic banana peels."
kittee's blog

Here's a curry that I made with homemade gnochi (don't ever do that if you live in Germany where it's so easy and cheap to just get it at the store), spinach, coconut milk, and some other things. I liked the colour.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What's the word for...?

There are some words that you don't learn in class and you don't hear in general conversation, but for which you will occasionally need. Not often. Just about once a month if you're forgetful, like me, and never remember to put supplies in your purse. Then you might be wandering around your city on a Sunday afternoon looking for some Geshäft that is open, but of course nothing is because half of Europe is under the hold of Vatican... the dirty Catholics. Well, if you are in Germany on such an occassion, 1) do not find yourself in such a predicament on a Sunday, 2) do not have a train to catch, 3) be perpared to have yourself embarrased in front of old men.

I walked into some Tabac on such a day as aforementioned and was about to politely exit once I could tell from a quick glance that the owners, an elderly couple, did not have for sale what I needed.

"But hold on a minute!" they requested. "We may have it here, just tell us what it is."

Well, I did have a train to catch, so I ventured a guess at the word, "Haben Sie Tampons?"

Expressionless faces responded. I tried again. The woman made a few false guesses, but I could see the old man's brain a-ticking..., "Ist es für..?" and then he pointed, very discreatly, between his legs. I nodded that we understood each other.

"Nein, haben wir noch nichts," he told me.

My exit was quick; naught but a "thankyou" and a wave.

For future reference, they call them "ob"s (pronounced like "oh" and "bay,")because that particular brand is the prevailing sort that you'll see in these parts.

Monday, February 18, 2008

This House is Tightly Run

The Grandmother said that this week I have to...

1. Clean my room. We all know that I don't like using the dresser for my clothes, so this is probably a good suggestion.
2. Eat dinner before 7PM.
3. Vaccum and mop every day. We don't even wear shoes in the house. How dirty can it get in 24 hours? Apparently quite.
4. Go to bed by 10PM. I got yelled at last night for checking my e-mail at 10:30. The kid had left the speakers on, so it made a lot of sound when I didn't expect it.
5. A whole bunch of really anal things that I'm sure I won't remember....

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Die Oma

The father of the family is gone on vacation for a week. His mother has come to stay, so technically I'm not working this next week. (I hope that I'll still get paid.) This woman is very sweet, but incredibly anal. I cleaned the house really well before she came and this morning she re-did everything.

1. Woke me up at 10 this morning to ask where the vaccuum cleaner bags were kept. I had to go on a search through the basement. That's not very early, but I did go to bed at 4.

2. Re-washed the towels that I had done the day before.

3. They made a lasanga yesterday and because it wasn't all eaten in that day, she threw it in the garbage.

4. She put about eight buckets of detergent into one load of laundry. Okay, I think it was six, but still.

5. If I don't understand a word that she says, she repeats it over and over instead of looking for a synonym or another manner of explanation.

Other than some things like that, I think it should all be fine.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I made this Corn Chowder from VwaV on Sunday. Sometimes on Sunday, when there's nothing to do, I like to go to the supermarket in Holland because it's the only one that's open. Also, I love foreign supermarkets and the German and Belgian ones have worn on me. There I found canned ocra, roasted red peppers, corn, and cheap coconut milk (for which I currently have an affinity). The ocra wasn't that great as it was in a tomato sauce and therein lost the ocra flavor, plus it was a little slimy. With the corn, red peppers, and a few other things, I made this corn chowder:

As Isa promised, it was even better the next day.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ninja-Zombie Movie

Wouldn't that be the best ever? I mean, have you ever seen a Ninja-Zombie movie? Two great things put into one cinamographic package. I'll write the screenplay and make a million bucks.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

How I Speak German

Here's an update on my successes in the language department:

1) I'm seriously lacking on swear words.

2) I can say almost whatever I want, but often have to do so in a very round-about way.

3) The accent...
a) It used to be French. Not American. French.

b) Someone told me the other day that I had a nice Aachen accent. An example of that would be to say the "g"s at the end of a word with an "sh" rather than a "guh" or "kuh," which you can also here. Really, it's more of a Cologne/ Rhine River accent and really, I don't know crap about what I'm saying, I just try my damnedest to copy everyone else.

c) Someone else told me that I fall into that general "no accent" category where you can tell from all the grammatical mistakes that they're an Auslander, but you can't tell from where. Hey, that's still points in my book.

4) I've dreamt in German a few times.

5) I got a German folk song stuck in my head the other day. If only you truly knew of the torture of which I speak....

Nice Weather!

Aachen is blessed with lovely weather about 5 days out of every month. Other than that, it's usually cold and sleeting. Yes. Even in July. Actually I wouldn't know because I'd retreated to France at that time, but you get my drift. I went outside and took some photos.

We don't get shadows too often here!

Some lovely street art.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Cupcake Adventure

For Lent, I'm giving up all processed sugars, except for on Thursday when I make cupcakes for the cleaning woman. Then, I can try a little of the batter because... well, once I forgot to add sugar and if it weren't for the batter tasting, all would have been lost! Oh, the travesty! Plus, it's great to relish in the vegan light of safe-batter-tasting.

Today I made some Banana Split Cupcakes from VctotW and I thought that they were pretty killer. I even made some buttercream frosting to go with them; my first attempt in Deutschland as shortening is very difficult to find. In fact, I did not use shortening, but coconut fat, which you can find in any health food store or in an ethnic foods section at a well-stocked grocery store.

Here's the story:

Coconut fat comes in a block, so I thought that I ought to melt it, leave it in the fridge and let it become a little bit solid again. It turned from a white, solid mass to a clear liquid when I cooked it over the stove. Then...

1) I realized that the fat I'd left in the fridge had turned back to solid.

2) I made it liquid over the stove again and set it aside

3) I went out for a few hours.

4) I came back, stirred it up a bit, made the frosting.

The first few cupcakes I frosted turned out really well, then the frosting warmed very quickly by my hands, through the bag and the last couple ended up looking messy.

Before frosting. Some sunk in a little because I chose to not stir the pineapple and chocolate in too much.

The frosting!

Then the Putzfrau came and she was all, "But I sent an SMS to Herr Gies and asked him to tell you that I wanted donuts today!" WTF, woman?

I made a few anyway. The recipe needs tinkering. Recipe from Lolo's blog.

What I did for Karneval....

I'm going to sum it up real quick:

I was really busy (I know! Weird, huh?) and didn't do anything.

I was at a really lame birthday party where everyone was stoned, then somebody pulled out a guitar and they played the usual Dylan songs. I left "early," but then spent the night at a friend's flat and he showed me cool photography stuff.
It forking snowed!!! Here's a photo:

Then I dressed up as a pirate and high tailed it to Cologne. We pre-gamed on the train:
This is me and I'm a fool.
This is Timo and he's a Bavarian.
That party lasted from about noon 'till 6AM the next day.
This day is the most important in Holland. I went to Maastricht to meet couchsurfers, but because of the late night before, I got there late and missed them. Schade. On the upside, the weather was fantastic and the celebration a lot better in comparison to Aachen's parade the following day. The costumes were more unique, there weren't buckets of sweets being thrown into the streets and not so much drinking.
I met some German friends in the city. It was very cold, windy, and rainy. It even snowed a bit. As aforementioned there was sooooo much candy being thrown into the streets. I mean, you had to watch out or a 3lb box of chocolates would fall into your eye. Or worse, your beer, an indispensible liquid for warmth.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Karneval- a sum-up

The informative bit....

Karneval is a 5 day affair in this part of Deutschland, all along the river Rein, even including some Holland cities. It begins on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. They call this day, "Fett Donnerstag," or, "Fat Thursday." It's called that because there's some kind of traditional fatty cake that's supposed to be made on this day. I have not seen one. The next three days aren't that important in Germany. I think that they give them each a flower name like, "Nelken Freitag," "Tulipen Samstag," and "Lola Sonntag," (the last I believe I made up) but they aren't really official. Monday is Rosen Montag and it's the day for the biggest parade. I totally forget the name for today, Tuesday, but it's got something special that's not entirely related to partying. (I'll edit it in later.)

Also, they have a day for the women (Thursday) and a day for the children (Monday). On Thursday at 11:11AM the women (in Aachen, at least) get the keys to the Rathaus (townhall) and open it and take over... or something like that. There's a whole bunch of dancing and music on this day; lots of kids about my age getting sloshed in the streets. Monday is the big parade day and they throw out TONS of candy in the streets.

They also have these... I'm not sure what to call them... royal families of Karneval, perhaps. A committee selects a prince, a treasurer, and some other folks and they become in charge of the communittee for the entirety of the festival. Kelmis, where I live, places a lot of importance on this and I would imagine that other small towns to as well. The prince has to attend all sorts of local events; I'm thinking stuff like BINGO at the old folks' home, but I'm not really sure.
Here's a photo of a friend of mine who was the treasurer in Kelmis a year or two ago:

The costumes varry a good bit. This one here is very traditional and very expensive. Like, €1000 or something. Some costumes are very ridiculous-looking; glittery, puffy sleeves and the like. Most are just very nice suits with the traditional hats like you can see in this picture:

There's a special kind of Karneval dance as well that can be pretty bad-ass. Because I cannot explain it very well, I'm posting the first two adequate YouTube videos that I found. The first is of some younger girls; you can see in the back the Karneval prince and the other important people. (They're wearing nice suits and funny hats.) The second is older, more skilled women dancing. Neither video is the coolest that I've seen, though. If they've got guys up there with them, there's be lots of lifting, throwing and tossing. Sort-of like "Bring It On," but German-style.

video 1
video 2