Chipotle Corn Soup

The Germans aren’t huge fans of corn – I think it’s a more a novelty or garnish that makes something ‘American’ to them (see pizza). So corn season can be a fraught, unreliable affair filled with dashed expectations.

But the corn is ok this year, so I get to try things like this! The original is here, but I tweaked and tinkered, so this is my version.

2 T butter
6 green onions, sliced thin (about 1 bunch)
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 t chipotle pepper in adobo, roughly chopped
1 1/2 t salt
ground black pepper to taste (go easy – chipotle is potent)
1/2 t ground cumin
6 ears corn, shucked and kernels cut off
2 small potatoes, peeled and diced (optional)
3 c chicken broth
1 c whole milk

In a Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat until foaming and add green onions, garlic and chipotle. Sauté until onions are tender and fragrant. Add salt, pepper, cumin, corn and potatoes (if using) and stir well to coat with butter. Add chicken broth and milk and bring to a low boil, turn down heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove soup from heat and blend with a stick blender. The original recipe instructs you to then strain soup through a food mill or fine mesh sieve, removing solids and pressing all liquid out of them. We skipped the sieving, which leaves lots of…um, ballast. Consider the quirks of your digestion going forward.

External USB drive won’t mount on OS X? Try safe boot.

I like to reuse old computer parts where possible. I’ve got an old 2.5″ hard drive rescued from a laptop headed for the junkyard Recyclinghof in a USB enclosure that is serving Sarah’s much more modern laptop quite well as a back up driving, using Time Machine. We’re using the same drive, but it’s partitioned into two different Time Machine volumes.

But try as I might, I could not that make that drive mount reliably on my machine. Until now.

Symptoms

I could plug in the drive into one of my USB ports and the green drive light would go on and you could hear it whir to life, but it never mounted. The System Information and Disk Utility never showed the drive. And yet it mounted quickly and painlessly on Sarah’s Macbook Air (a couple years older than mine, but running the same OS version).

Sometimes I would leave the drive connected (but not mounted!) overnight and come back to find that it had eventually mounted and the Time Machine backup had run. But usually not. I thought it might be a question of the cable, the connector pins, even something mechanical about the drive itself. One time it came to life while standing vertically, so for weeks I thought that must have something to do with it — kinks in the cable or drive inertia or something.

Solution

It’s working now, but I still don’t know what the problem was or why the fix worked. All I did was start up the machine, a late-model Macbook Air, with a safe boot, while the drive was connected via USB, after googling for similar problems. I am not aware of any other problems on this Mac, so I figured a safe boot couldn’t hurt. It’s “safe,” right?

  1. Turn your Mac off.
  2. Turn it back on, and press and hold the shift key (either one? I used the left shift key) as soon as you hear the chime.
  3. It’ll check the startup disk, and take longer to boot than normal.
  4. When you log in, not all the usual stuff that happens upon login will happen. But that’s when my drive started happily blinking away, and I saw it was mounted and ready for business.

Safe Boot

Here’s what Apple says about starting your Mac in “safe mode.” Nothing on that page really leaps out at me with a solution that indicate external drives connected via USB are handled differently, unless maybe the failure to recognize and mount the drive was caused by an unnecessary kernel extension, and disabling it via the safe boot made the drive usable again. But if that’s the case, then a subsequent normal, non-safe (um…unsafe?) boot should have caused the drive to fail to mount again. But it doesn’t. So safe boot must have fixed something else.

I kinda want to know what it did, but I’m just glad I didn’t junk this drive without giving it one more try.

Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake

It’s the berry time of year, and while at the local farmers’ market on Saturday, I couldn’t resist a big carton of tiny little wild blueberries at a stand manned by two little old ladies, offering only blueberries and raspberries (they were near the west entrance, across from the egg ladies, in case you need to score from them next Saturday).

I transcribed this recipe from an allrecipes.com video on a recipe page for blueberry sour cream coffee cake1. I like the streusel topping so much I plan to use it on future cakes, too.


Equipment

  • Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C
  • Grease and flour a 9×13 inch (23×33 cm) baking pan or 9″ Bundt pan

Ingredients

Batter

  • 2/3 cup (146 g) softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (315 g) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (200 g) sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 5/8 cups (224 g) flour + 2 Tbsp flour (for blueberry flotation)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries

Topping

  • 1/2 cup (105 g) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (just eyeball it) chopped pecans
  • optional powdered sugar for dusting the final product

Method

  1. Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in 2 eggs one at a time. Gently stir in 1 cup sour cream and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

  2. In a separate bowl combine

    • 1 5/8 cups of flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
  3. Combine with butter mixture, just until blended. Toss 1 1/2 cups blueberries with 2 Tbsp flour to keep them from sinking in the batter2, and gently fold into the batter. Put half the batter into your greased and floured pan.

  4. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar to a bowl, along with 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Stir together, sprinkle half over the batter. Spread the rest of the batter into the pan, and top with the rest of the pecan/sugar mixture. Swirl the batter/topping layers around with a chopstick for a nice artsy touch.

  5. Bake about 55 minutes, or until it passes the toothpick test. Ours needed an extra 10 minutes, but it’s really hard to tell with all those blueberries at the bottom moistening your toothpick. Cool completely in the pan, and optionally top with powdered sugar just before serving.

  1. which, oddly, doesn’t seem like exactly the same recipe depicted in the video []
  2. this proved completely ineffective, but I guess I don’t care. []
Adapted a recipe from the Kitchn, and they're perfect.

Homemade Hamburger Buns

You can find American-style hamburger buns in Germany in many or maybe even all supermarkets, if you’re willing to buy into the kooky red-white-and-blue motifs. Those products, in our experience, are generally not bad. They’re usually not quite as soft as you’d expect a hamburger bun in the USA to be, and they’ll do just fine.

But they don’t have to. I found this recipe online yesterday for homemade hamburger buns and tried it out. It was a great success! Continue reading

Scottish Thistle

A week in Scotland’s West Highlands

We’d been to Edinburgh once for a long weekend of exploring, but were itching for a change of scenery. (Turns out the itching would be literal at times.) When my parents came to visit from Michigan, they told us to pick a place we’d like to explore together. We chose a bed-and-breakfast in Scotland’s West Highlands to use as a daily jumping-off point, and we sure don’t regret any of it. Continue reading

World Cup Fever on the Steinerne Brücke

Germans are getting goofy with their World Cuppery. It’s kind of nice to see them cut loose and blow off some steam.

Not a whole lot of progress on the bridge to report since last time. At the south terminus you can see the nice new interlocking stones forming the base of the future sidewalls.

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So I’ll leave you with a nice scene from the bridge instead of of the bridge.

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…what's happening on our side of the pond