Friday, October 31, 2008


It's Halloween! and I'm not excited about it at all. I've gotta admit, after going vegan, this holiday stopped being so fun. Reeses, Snickers... no more. And here, people don't do the fun costume parties or anything.

This evening, I'm going all the way out to Bielefeld to see a band that my friend Catherine wants to see. That's their poster there on the left. And they really do dress like that on the stage. So hey, that's almost like a real Halloween.

When I picked Simon up from his final painting class (which he abhors) today, I asked him, per usual, how it was and he responded, "Good!" "Really?", I asked, somewhat surprised. Then he realized the mistake he'd made and corrected himself, "No! It was bad! Really bad!" Whatever. We've signed him up for the next one that begins in January.

EDA: The Disco Biscuits also have this really cool song called "Astronaut." you should listen to it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Learnin's from Euroland

My friend Amanda did the same thing on her blog not too long ago. This is in no particular order, ok?

  • I prefer fiction to non.
  • Silence is valuable.
  • Baking is almost never healthy.
  • I do NOT like the news.
  • How to take care of myself. To rest when I need it.
  • Anger doesn't help anything.
  • I prefer complete independence as opposed to any kind of dependence.
  • Cooking for one.
  • I hate the disco.
  • Friendship is really important.
Hmmm.... Amanda's list is a lot better. She compares how things are here to the U.S. a bit more. I'd like to, but I forget too much about it. My list seems a little bleak. Like, "cooking for one." But cooking for just yourself is really fun because you can put as much nooch or whatever in what your making and you don't have to care what anyone else will think of it! And it's also funny that I say that anger is no good, then go on to profess my hatred of the disco. But really, it's best to stay clear of those places.

Okay, maybe you can take a momment to pause and reflect upon what you've learned in the last year or whatever. How to divide fractions? Gardening skillz? How to really piss off your sibling? Feel free to share.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yes or Dried Tofu Knots

In Cologne yesterday, I had a killer find at a random asian food shop: a bag of "dried tofu knots" for 99 euro cents. Your guess would be as good as mine when trying to imagine what sort of texture and taste this packaged food would aquire after rehydration. I boiled them for about 10min in vegetable bouillon and then sprinkled them with soy sauce and brown rice vinegar. Result: Tasty! and also quite chewy.

Of course I double-checked the label that it was vegan. Ingredients: soy beans, water. Well, I suppose that is what tofu is made of, but should we still be calling these buggers tofu knots? It reminded me of an argument about stem cell research or the likes that I'd heard in my philosophy 101 class from back in the day. But before we go there, let's talk about Yes.

Yes, Yes. The pop rock hit from the '70s that kept going until no one was too sure what was actually going along anymore. How much was the band Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe? Was it still Yes despite the departures and returns of many a guitarist, keyboardist, bass player...? What makes them Yes? How can these knots remain tofu? I'm no guru. I've only just compared tofu to another British progressive rock band.

Friday, October 24, 2008


We made a jack-o-lantern today! He didn't get so into taking out the guts as I thought he would. The smell really repulsed him. I recalled it being repelling as well, back when I was young. (cue annoying winkey face made with a semicolon and half a bracket)

I asked him to make a terrible face, like his pumpkin.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Home in May!

I'm going back to the states in May for my sister's high school graduation. Not permanently, of course. Hopefully by then I'll know where I'm going next because right now I haven't a damn clue. Good thing I don't stress, huh?

Things I'm looking forward to:
  • The colloquial and quotidian things that I've forgotten: different accents, The Olive Garden, what size bags flour and sugar are sold in, expressions, stores open past 10PM, that good ol' American friendliness...
  • The great outdoors: hiking, climbing, swimming, skinny dipping, wading and swimming in water so cold you think you might die, star gazing....
  • is family even necessary to say?
  • drinking beer at Shannanaghan's
  • the community. it's small, so I'm pretty sure people are going to remember me. I wonder how many read the blog?
  • my old friends might be home onaccounta they'll've all just finished college! ouch! I'm a failure!
  • I wonder how simple or out-of-place it'll feel?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Simon on Love

There's this podcast that I really like called "Savage Love." I think that Simon could teach Dan Savage a thing or two about that.

Today, I picked the young lad up from Kindergarten and one of his friends informed me, "Simon is in love." The little girl's name is Emma and she's a neighbor of ours.

Simon also loves Nutella. The girl in the background is his cousin.

In the bus today, Simon asked his friend (a boy) quite spontaniously, "Shall we kiss?" and they both leaned forward and kissed on the lips! Simon then stated that men and women can marry, but men and men cannot marry. Suddenly, a boy behind us piped up, "They can so marry! Men and men can get married to each other!" If some people on the bus weren't staring when the two friends kissed, they were all looking in our direction now. I figure it's good to get folks thinking a little, no matter how young.

When we play The Game of Life (it's a boardgame) I let Simon and his friends choose to marry a man or a woman. Simon usually chooses to be a woman, then he marries a man when he gets to that point in the game. The other day, though, he and all his friends chose to be boys and marry boys as well. "We don't want any girls in our cars," they said.

I like it when I ask Simon for a reason as to why he's doing something. Hmmm... I can't think of a good example right now, but he'll often reply, "Weil es einfach so ist!" Because it's simply so! Okay, I stink at translating, but maybe you get it. Personally, I dig the simplicity. Very sagacious for his age.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Road Trip!!

I went to the Ruhrgebiet this week-end to visit some buddies. We made it into a road trip and it was a blast. The Ruhrgebiet is this part of Germany that had a lot of coal and really boomed in population during the Industrial Revolution (or thereabouts?), but the deluge has since declined and the residents of these many, compacted cities are so affluent as in their glory days.

Stuff the Ruhrgebiet has:
  • great currywurst (apparently)
  • hills of discarded sediment, on one of which this structure (picture top left and bottom right) was built
  • areas that look like one town, but there's signs that state where one city is ending and another beginning
  • the biggest mall in germany (we did not make a stop there)
  • that's all I got for now.
this is kind-of a messed up post. I'm not fixing it now.

Drunken Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins

What can I say? I got a hardcore crush on the havecakewilltravel! blog. I did a lot of deviating and a bit of improvising, so I can't say how they'll be for you if you try to make them. I will say, however, that whiskey + chocolate + pumpkin is brilliance in a bite... even at nine in the morning.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Sometimes I write my rs in cursive and sometimes I write them in manuscript; it depends on the precursory letter or my mood. The other day in German class, I asked my teacher to look over some sentences I had written. She saw my rs and told me that, to her, they looked like ns and in Germany they don't mix manuscript and cursive like that. I may've been a bit curt in my reply. I told her, "For the test I'll be sure to write my rs your way." What I was really thinking, though, was: Well, your 1s look like 7s and I shouldn't have to attune my handwriting to y'alls! I've conformed enough!

over there are the fall colours in my home town. idn't it lurvly?

The other day I was in the grocery store on a mission to purchase Fleichwurst. Never having bothered to expand this area of my German vocabulary, I walked up to the counter and asked the woman who appeared to be responsible for the handing out of tattered flesh. Much to my dissappointment, she returned my question with, "Which one?" I was hoping that she'd just hand me one of those phallic tubes and we'd be done wtih our exchange, but no. I had to choose between a phallic tube and some pre-cut slices of greater circumfrance than the pink, sausage-like thing. If I'd've kept working at that traditional German restaurant, would I have known this already?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

schönes wetter. schönes wochenende.

Damn. It's really had to set up cool photos all left and right sided on the blog. Good luck reading this post!

The top left photo is a pretty building up 'round the Lousberg and Amanda making her cult facebook photo face

The top right photo is my Aachen family.

The bottom left photo is of fall colours beginning to arrive.

The bottom right is this little corner in Aachen that I really <3. You can kinda see the Dom there in the background.

When you click on the photos, they'll get bigger for you.

We found a place to sit outside on the Marktplatz. I'm perpetually fascinated that this must be by natural hair colour.

Stroganoff... back to 8th grade

Now that we all know that I view "seitan stroganoff" as some sort of vague sexual allusion, we can all wash that sass out of our mouths and return to our homerooms.

I splurged on some sorta nicer noodles. They come in their own individual balls?

Of course I didn't have much of what the recipe (VwaV, per usual, by the way) required when I decided that I wanted to make stroganoff. I figured that eggplant could sub cremini mushrooms and zucchini could sub peas and that shiitake mushrooms could sub portebello. right?

I made a lot and didn't realize how incredibly filling it'd be. Doubtful that I could finish it all in a week, I thought about bringing some over to a friend's the other evening, but then I thought that this might be one of those foods that I like and is weird to everyone else. I've never had beef stroganoff either, so I'd no idea what it was supposed to taste like. To me, though, it was quite delectable.

a dark bread + some dostrovsky and we've got ourselves a right red dinner.

Friday, October 10, 2008

VwaV Carrot Bisque

On that forum that I visit, they've got filters for bad words that are generally food related. For example: masterbate = stroganoff and fuck = fork and bitch = bisque, so you can imagine how I might be giggling when I talk about that awesome bisque I had last night. I can't say that it was the best thing ever... because all the VwaV soups are so.forking.good!!

VwaV carrot bisque with a brötchen.

This week-end I'm going to Aachen to visit the family (not the former folks I lived with, silly!) and then to Bonn for a CS brunch. I was a little freaked out about money and stuff, but when my host father paid me this morning, he gave me money for last week too! I told him, "But I didn't work last week." "Oh, that's alright," he replied. " There may be another week where we'll need you more often." So, basically he's bribing me (is that bribing? or is there a better term?), but I'm totally okay with that. He's named a good price.

When my host father was re-arranging my room yesterday (more on that later), he kept talking about getting rid of my huge bed and getting a smaller one so I could fit a desk and couch or chair in there. I said, "No way, man!" (alright, i didn't call him "man") "I love the huge bed! In my last host family, I had to sleep on this couch thing." [see this post] My host father responded, "You what?! Rachel, that's not right." It'd never occured to me before, but he's absolutely correct. If I'm going to be living somewhere for a year, I need to be given an actual mattress to sleep on and not whatever my host family has got lying around. For all the preaching I do to other aupairs about asserting their rights, I can't believe how often I don't stand up for my own.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Brownie Cupcakes

I know this aupair from Kenya, her name is Beatrice. Today is her birthday, so I've made her cupcakes; Brownie Cupcakes, from have cake, will travel! As much as I love zelinueh's blog and trust her recipes, I wasn't all together with her on these cupcakes. She called for raisins, but I thought, "Well that's not brownie-like," so I subbed in chocolate chips. It also calls for jam and a lot of lemon flavoring. I think that the jam idea was cool. Next time I'll probably use blueberry and not strawberry. If I make these babies again, I don't think I'll use any lemon at all because that made them too citrus-y and brownies can't be citrus-y. On first bite, though, I definately thought, "wow! brownie!" so, that was cool.

brownie cupcakes. click on it! It looks cooler!

Pictured with the cupcakes is my apron that my friend Catherine got me. I try to use it whenever possible. I'd like to pimp it up with some ponies and anarchist pins in the future.

In other news, I FINALLY FOUND MY GRATEFUL DEAD FRISBEE!! My host father is re-arranging my room (more on that later) and when he was moving a big bookshelf with camping stuff, I saw it shoved in there. woo hoo! Folks, I have been in some serious frisbee-playing deprevation. We need to play soon.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Worship Seitan!

Seitan is made from wheat gluten. What is wheat gluten? I've no freakin' clue. I do know that you can make your own wheat gluten by washing flour 3 times. I've no idea how you wash flour either. I will tell you, however, that the best seitan recipe in the whole wide internet was created by Lachesis on thePPK. You can see her recipe here.

Oh, and Lukas brought back this plate from his soccer training trip in Spain. He got everyone in the family a plate. Even me!

cut it with our meat cutter so it's all nice and even. forgot to clean it off, though and there was icky white globs of fat on two of the pieces! yuck!

Actually, I was lying. That recipe is not the greatest on the whole wide internet. I've made it better with a few slight, but integral changes. see, the other Seitan O'Greatness, although great, comes out a little dry, like pepperoni (okay, what I imagine pepperoni must be like). Adding some fresh veggies in the mix and not so much wheat gluten helped a tad.

The Recipe O' Greatness:

1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4-1/2 cup diced red bell pepper or other veg (about half a pepper)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp pepper (I use 2 tsp)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (you can use 1/8 tsp if you like it less spicy)
1/8 tsp allspice
2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cups water or veg broth
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 325°.

In a large mixing bowl mix dry ingredients. Mix the rest of the ingredients (liquid ingredients) in a smaller mixing bowl. Whisk well until mixed.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well, then knead for a minute or two.. it doesn't need long. the bits of veggie might try to fall out; just shove 'em back in there.

Form into a log (6-8" long Actually, I have enough for two logs.), wrap tightly in foil, twisting ends. Bake for 90 minutes. Flip at 45min. When done baking, unwrap and leave out to cool all the way. Then wrap it foil or plastic and refrigerate. Slice to use as desired.

There's some other good seitan recipes out there, lately most of 'em are based off of Lachesis'. Next week, I think I'd like to try this one.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Chick Lit

Simon and his mom are back! Katja, who is ever-so-thoughtful, brought me back a book from the States. "I figured you were running low," was her reasoning. She was right.

The title of the novel: Fourth Comings. It's about a twenty-something Columbia graduate and the woe's of having an NYC brownstone appartment that she can barely afford, an outstandingly cool twenty-something boyfriend who's just started his freshman year at Princeton, living with nympho lesbians and her best friend since middle school and, on top of all that, balancing a free-lance editing job. Hilarious, right? The opening chapter includes a handsome young WASP trying and failing miserably to get the number of our heroine in a bar, an explicit sex scene complete with fantasy digression, and a short discussion on Buddhism.

This is the fourth book in the author's nearly-finished five part series. I wouldn't've known that the public had another three stories of this vein forced down their throats if I hadn't developed an avid interest in the author. You can't help but wonder, Who writes these things anyway? Megan McCafferty, as Wikipedia states, grew up in New Jersey, attended Central Regional High School (hello middle class America!), graduated from Columbia University where she majored in English, has lived in Brooklyn and Manhattan before settling in Princeton, NJ, and worked as an editor for magazines like YM and Cosmopolitan . Essentially, McCafferty is writing an auto-biography of her life as she would have wanted it. I find that fascinating.

When I started this blog post, I'd no idea that I was going to spend such a long time ranting about a chick lit book. Read into that as much as you like.