Egyptian Red Lentil Soup

I just had my wisdom teeth out, so on top of not being so smart anymore, I have to eat soft food. Luckily, I know a few recipes for delicious soft food. The original recipe involves a fried onion topping, which looks wonderful yet chew-intensive. Luckily, lentils and a stick blender yield a gently textured, full flavored product that I’ll happily eat even with teeth.

3 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1/2 t dried thyme)
1/2 t cayenne pepper or ancho chile
1/2 t sweet smoked paprika
3 large, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
2 T tomato paste
8 c beef stock (vegetable stock makes this vegan!)
salt and pepper to taste (how much salt depends on your stock – taste often)
2 c red lentils
1 lemon, juiced

Pick over your lentils for any unwanted debris. Heat oil to medium high in a soup pot or deep dutch oven. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté until soft. Add spices and stir well into vegetables, cooking for a couple of minutes until very fragrant. Add tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes, until they begin to break down. Add tomato paste and stir well. Add stock and reduce heat to medium low – soup should not boil. Season with salt and pepper and add the lentils. Simmer 30-40 minutes (reducing heat to low, if necessary), until lentils and vegetables are very soft.

Remove soup from heat and process with immersion blender (or purée in batches in a heat-safe blender) until desired texture is achieved. Remember, it will thicken as it cools. If soup is still too thin, bring it back to a simmer for a few minutes. Check seasoning and stir in lemon juice. Serve with additional wedges of lemon and yogurt.

Christi Himmelfahrt in Amsterdam

Seems like everyone in Europe has been to Amsterdam. Well, now we have, too. Sarah had wanted a visit to this city for a long time, so we planned this trip as a birthday present many months ago (around the time of her actual birthday, which is not a good time to be in the Northern Hemisphere). Continue reading Christi Himmelfahrt in Amsterdam

Opening the grilling season with homemade hotdogs

In the land of Wurst and Bier, I’ve been hankering for some hotdogs for a couple years. We’ve had great success in our attempts at various homemade fresh sausage varieties, but I still wanted a plain old hotdog. I hit upon this recipe but found I was lacking an important ingredient: pink curing salt, sometimes known under the brand name “Instacure.” I’d found 10kg buckets of it via amazon.de, but considering we make sausage in the <10lb batch, and a batch calls for a teaspoon at a time, that seemed like overkill. 1 I found Prague Powder #1 online2 in the USA and I had some shipped to my parents, and they brought it to Mexico for us. Finally I had all the ingredients necessary — or so I thought. Continue reading Opening the grilling season with homemade hotdogs

  1. If we ever run out of the one-pound package I bought, I guess I’d consider the 10kg bucket (it’s not very expensive) provided other local sausage enthusiasts — a LOT of them — will be willing to share it with me. Unlikely! []
  2. after finding nothing in local and chain grocery stores in rural Michigan near hunting season — weird! []

Bridge Update and Dult Prep, May 2015

We’re really, really close to getting our half of the bridge back. I mean, we must be. Right? Pavers are in place, the sidewalls are up. What’s holding us back? Besides the chicken wire, I mean.

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Are these guys supposed to be helping with the bridge? Or the museum construction project happening on the site of the old Donaumarkt (just a bit downstream and under the Eiserner Brücke from here)?

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Maybe they can’t get there because of how high and fast the river is at the moment.



Or maybe they’re just waiting around for Maidult to get rolling, which as you can see below, is also nearly ready.

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Maidult always opens up with fireworks over the river the first evening; maybe they’ll be celebrating the closure of that phase of the bridge construction, too.

Creamy Lemon Asparagus Pasta

SPARGELZEIT!!1!

It’s that time of year again. While the locals are losing it over the white stuff, I’m partial to green asparagus (more flavor). This will definitely make another appearance before the fleeting season ends. Here’s the original, my version is below.

500 g/1 lb pasta (whole wheat pasta would be great here)
500 g/1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces (you could easily double this)
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk or cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 small shallots, minced
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Cook pasta in well salted water. For last 3-4 minutes of cooking time, add asparagus pieces. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Whisk together mustard, flour, milk or cream, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned. Whisk in mustard mixture and bring to a simmer, cooking until thickened. Stir in lemon zest and juice and half of the cheese. If sauce gets too thick, loosen it by stirring in a little pasta water or more milk.

Combine pasta, asparagus and sauce, tossing until well coated. Serve and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Austro-Slovene-Italian Triangle

After the rest of Germany came back from Easter, we hit the road for a trip through the mountains from Regensburg to Graz, Austria to Lake Bled, Slovenia on the way to Verona, Italy. We had great weather most of the time. This was our second try on a few days in Verona, and we’re glad we gave it another shot. Continue reading Austro-Slovene-Italian Triangle

Moving on from WEBMU

The Whiny Expat Bloggers Meet-Up has been an annual treat for us, through which we’ve met fantastic people and explored areas (sometimes new, sometimes familiar) through a local’s eyes. In the last few years, we’ve taken on an organizational role, helping the hosts execute the event, lending guidance and fomenting discussion. However, this feels like the right time for us to step back.

We’re open to attending future meetups, but WEBMU needs a new driver if it is to continue. We’d be happy to hand over the existing resources (blog, FB and forums) to anyone who wants to carry on. Or maybe WEBMU will continue under someone else’s auspices, but in a different form. If you’d like to try giving WEBMU a facelift, go for it. Contact either of us via any of the methods listed here. And if there’s no interest, we’ll eventually shut down the meetup’s online presence.

It’s been a good run, and lots of fun, and we still have and value friends we made through WEBMU. Thanks to everyone who has participated and made it so special!