Mid-week Alpine Escape

The heat around Regensburg (indeed, much of Germany) lately has been hard to bear — particularly for a country so resolutely opposed to air conditioning. But upwards of 32 °C / 90 °F at 09:00 a.m. or p.m., even the most resolute of my AC-hating colleagues give up, and would turn it on in the office… if only they could.

We picked a good week to head south outta town on a workshop to (somewhat) cooler climes. Continue reading Mid-week Alpine Escape

A Visit to Schlosspark Nymphenburg

Schlosspark Nymphenburg

Back in June, we spent a couple days in Munich. Sarah had to spend all day Saturday there for a concert, and our pal Resident on Earth — our travel buddy on trips to the Shetlands in August 2013 and Northern France in May 2014 — was in town for it. She showed me around one of her favorite parts of Munich: the grounds of Nymphenburg.

Nymphenburg It threatened to rain most of the day, but never actually did for more than a moment. And sweet as we are, we’re not made of brown sugar.

We saw a surprising amount of wildlife just tromping around randomly between ornate hunting lodges. Examples: a tiny puffball of a field mouse (see below), and a crow picking at a baby mole out of his element on the grass in bright sunlight (too morbid to snap…and even the crow seemed embarrassed by it as we approached the scene).

You can walk around the park for free, admiring the ponds and fountains along the woodsy paths and meadows. If you head inside to one of the pavillions, however, you’re obligated to buy admission to them. It’s possible that admission to the Nymphenburg palace includes the pavillions (not sure, didn’t need palace admission). The security guy at the first pavillion we entered tried to upsell us on a multi-day pass to the pavillions, but knowing we’d only have one day in town, we politely declined, and bought admissions to just the pavillions for just one day. It was a nice way to kill time, mostly outdoors, until catching a bus towards Chinesischer Turm for a late lunch.

In-Laws’ Baked Beans

This recipe came to us, in its original form, from my father-in-law’s sister-in-law’s mother-in-law (no joke!), from a region in the USA famous for its baked beans as a side dish to barbecue. I’ve modified it slightly to reduce the amount of sugar and up the mustard and cider vinegar to give it a little more zing.

For the last two years at a local July 4th party, there have been no left-overs.

Ingredients

3 medium cans (15oz. or 425g each) VanCamps Pork&Beans – excess liquid drained, but not rinsed
1 big handful brown sugar
1/2 cup (120ml) ketchup – or to taste, I usually add more
4 or 5 strips bacon
1 medium onion, diced
1/3 cup (75ml) white corn syrup
2.5 tablespoons cider vinegar
1.5 teaspoon yellow mustard

Instructions

  1. Fry up the bacon until it’s crispy but not completely burnt, keeping the grease in the pan. Chop the bacon into bits.
  2. Sauté the onion in the bacon grease — you want to cook the squishy crunch out of them, but not take them all the way to caramelization.
  3. Mix the onions, bacon, drained beans and everything else together in a large bowl, and bake uncovered at 350 °F for 1 hour in a 9″ x 9″ (23cm x 23cm) baking dish. If you’re scaling up the recipe, a 9″ x 13″ works well. In any case, stop baking when the texture has firmed up significantly from first having mixed the ingredients but bubbles are still burbling up from the lower layers.
  4. Let them cool in the pan and serve at room temperature.

Travel Kitchen

We like to combine two of our passions — cooking and traveling. Since we bought a car a little over a year ago, we’ve been planning on making use of it on weekend getaways, in the region and into neighboring regions, at self-catering cottages, or Ferienwohnungen, where possible.

But what are the bare necessities for that happen? Here are some things we’d rather not cook without, and/or experiences thus far have told us not to expect. We’ve assembled a kit we can throw into the trunk of our car. It’s mostly multi-use items, avoiding our most-prized kitchen implements where possible. Having a check list like this helps avoid leaving little treasures for the host or next guest. Continue reading Travel Kitchen

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.