Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

The soup place I used to work at had a couple of varieties that they offered every day. Chicken Pot Pie Soup was one of them and it was outstanding! Thick and rib-sticky, with a topping of pie-crust crumbles to really make it feel indulgent. This is an approximation of that soup with a few more vegetables thrown in for good measure. Leave out noodles and add 2-3 diced potatoes and this could work as pot-pie filling.

2 T olive oil
5 T butter, divided
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
75 g all-purpose flour
1.5 L chicken stock
300-400 g shredded cooked chicken
1 t Brathähnchengewürz (rotisserie chicken seasoning; poultry seasoning should work here)
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t tarragon
200 mL boiling water
250 g (1/2 lb) short noodles
200 g frozen peas
50-75 mL cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a deep pot over medium-high heat, warm oil. Add 2 T butter, heat until starting to foam, then add onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender and fragrant. Add 2-3 more T butter and cook until butter is deep golden and nutty smelling, then sprinkle flour over vegetable mixture. Lower heat to medium, stir until all flour is incorporated and roux no longer smells raw. Whisk in chicken broth in gradual additions to avoid lumps (3-4 will probably do). Add chicken, poultry seasoning, thyme and tarragon and bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for 6-8 minutes.

Turn heat back up and add boiling water. When boil is steady, add noodles and cook until about 2 minutes short of done. Add peas for final 2 minutes of noodle cook time. Remove from heat and stir in cream. Adjust seasonings and allow to sit covered for 5 minutes before serving.

Kulinarische Weinwanderung Freinsheim die Vierte

This is quickly becoming a tradition for us.

Dear pals in Heidelberg (at the time) convinced us to come visit them for a weekend and hit this perennial food and wine stroll (I’ve taken to calling it the “Freinsheimer Nosh & Slosh” but I doubt that’ll catch on) through the vineyards. From Heidelberg it was pretty easy to get four adults to the event and back using public transit, keeping all of us out of the DD pool.

Since they moved out of the country, we’ve soldiered on bravely. But last year they did a grand reunion tour through Germany including this festival in Freinsheim with us, so that was extra cool. This year, and the one before last, we joined forces with another convert from Berlin, who has rendezvoused with us Mannheim (two years ago) or met us in Regensburg for the road trip from the Oberpfalz to the Pfalz.

We’ve stayed at the same Ferienwohnung in Großkarlbach (not far from Freinsheim, but not really walkable, which means you need a DD or to shell out for a taxi ride) twice, but this year they were sold out when we tried to reserve. Sarah found us a FeWo in Kleinkarlbach instead, which had the added charm of being an easy walk to Kirchheim an der Weinstraße, which is a four-minute train ride from Freinsheim. A three-adult all-day RNV ticket cost us about 12 Euros, which was an excellent value. A one-way taxi trip would probably have cost at least twice that.

This year the route of the hike was drastically different: due to a “Flurbereinigung” the Wanderweg Schwarzes Kreuz was not open for foot traffic. But the alternative route was also pretty, if a bit more variable in terms of elevation. Fortunately, plenty of good eats and drinks were still to be had. And boy, did we have them.

Here’s the hodge-podge of photos. Click to embiggen.

We’re already looking forward to next year.

Upon our return to Regensburg, we had some pretty dramatic weather as a storm passed through much of Germany. Right before it got nasty, though, the lighting downtown was kinda neat.

Neupfarrkirche
Gesandtenstraße
Altes Rathaus
Neupfarrplatz

3 problems upgrading to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS “Bionic Beaver” on an old Mac mini (2007 model)

The upgrade from 14.04 LTS to 16.04 LTS a few years ago was unproblematic, as I recall. So I was hoping this latest upgrade would go smoothly. It did not.

TL;DR: 3 big problems came up, but were fixable, thanks to solutions and ideas published by earlier adopters.

First I did the upgrade on my Kubuntu computer, a full-tower desktop machine which is also getting long in the tooth. That upgrade was slow, but mostly due to the WiFi situation upstairs in the home office. The throughput is not great, but good enough for work. After the slowness of that upgrade, everything else seemed to run pretty smoothly — just a few config file questions for me answer and it did everything else by itself.

So I set about upgrading my 2007 Mac mini from Ubuntu 16.04 to 18.04, and was quite pleased with the download speeds (duh…it’s connected directly the cable modem via ethernet). After the downloads completed in a third of the time or less, a quick reboot and I’d be in business. Or so I thought. I encountered one problem after another. Fortunately, others found these problems before me and published them. I am paying it forward for you here.

Wayland

It would hang on the startup screen and never let me log in. I mostly run this box headless, but every now and again I like a GUI for it. So I googled.

https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/gdm3/+bug/1767606

There’s some incompatibility between Wayland and the GNOME desktop manager and the integrated graphics card on my Mac mini’s motherboard. Solution: fall back to Xorg instead of Wayland. Edit the /etc/gdm3/custom.conf file and uncomment the line WaylandEnable=false.

DNS

After I got the display manager working, I quickly saw that no internet stuff dependent on domain names was working. Hard-coded addresses, like for the machines on my LAN, seemed to work fine. More googling led me to comment out the line:

dns=dnsmasq

… in the file /etc/NetworkManger/NetworkManager.conf so as to not use the systemd DNS-stub thing from systemd pointing to 127.0.0.53 or whatever. After a reboot, domain name resolution starting working again.

apt and $LANGUAGE in my locale

OK, DNS resolution was working again. I wanted to get the freshest versions of the packages (maybe fixing the previous problems). Reading the package lists with sudo apt update was running extremely slowly — several minutes just to advance from 1% to 2%, whereas this part of the task is over and done with normally quite quickly. I googled some more and found something to try here:

https://askubuntu.com/questions/251781/reading-package-list-takes-forever/327444 (kinda far down on the page)

Apparently the $LANGUAGE variable needs to be in the form of a two-character lower-case ISO code, like “en”. Mine had been set to something like “en_US.UTF-8” and it had never caused problems for me before. But I used localectl set-locale LANGUAGE=en to update it, and after a new login, things were working normally again.

Conclusion

I wonder when that old mid-2007 Mac mini will no longer be supported by the likes of Debian and Ubuntu. 11 years later though — it’s still chugging along with maxed-out RAM and an SSD HD upgrade along the way.

I’m the Keymaster. Are you the Gatekeeper?

It’s time for another of my modern electronic communication security and personal privacy appeals! Catch up on previous episodes here, here, here, or here.

Sometimes I feel like the dude in the clip below (minus the supernatural stuff, natch): I have a lot of keys, and I’m always looking for people to use them with. 1 Continue reading I’m the Keymaster. Are you the Gatekeeper?

  1. Thinking of you, Snooker. []

Perhaps the last bridge update…..EVAR!?

Checking back through old posts, it would seem like the last update on Bavaria’s Slowest Construction Project® was over a year ago: Bridge Work Still in Progress. But maybe this story is coming to a close, after more than 8 years — four years longer than originally planned. 1

Despite major distractions from local life due to work stress and a few short trips out of town in May (did you see our Cinque Terre post?), we somehow managed to hear that the Bruckmandl2 is back at his post since a week or two ago. Continue reading Perhaps the last bridge update…..EVAR!?

  1. Still doing better than the Berlin-Brandenburg airport fiasco! []
  2. “little bridge dude” []

How Not to Visit the Cinque Terre

I find traveling is a set of skills that stays sharp when you do it often, but we’ve been on a bit of a travel hiatus. After spending a couple of weeks (a long stretch for us) in Mexico this January, we pretty much stayed put for early 2018. Besides, there was plenty that needed doing here. But the drought ended with a road trip to the Cinque Terre, on the northwestern coast of Italy, south of Genoa. In blundering ahead with our rusty skills, we missed a few points on the mental checklist. Here is what we learned so that you don’t have to: Continue reading How Not to Visit the Cinque Terre

Dutch Baby

Mom suggested we try one of these based on this WaPo article she read. Great idea, Mom! I also got some inspiration from this YouTube video.

These are like crêpes you can’t screw up.

I’ve converted the English volumes into metric and/or masses, since I like to weigh ingredients whenever possible to minimize my dish cleanup. Continue reading Dutch Baby

Tiramisu

Sounds fancy, but it’s an icebox cake. Raw eggs are in there, so if that’s a dealbreaker, best skip this one.

500 g / 16 oz. Mascarpone cheese
157 g / 3/4 c sugar
2 eggs, separated (I use XL; if you use smaller eggs, you might need 3)
250 mL / 1 cup strong, cold coffee
3 T Marsala wine, DiSaronno almond liqueur, Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, whatever sweet booze you enjoy
1 large package ladyfinger cookies (min. 24 pieces)
grated chocolate or cocoa powder

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine Mascarpone, sugar and egg yolks. Mix until well combined.

  2. Whip the separated egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into cheese until mixture becomes smooth and light – don’t overmix!

  3. Have a deep 9×13 ready! Pour coffee and liqueur into large shallow bowl or deep plate. Dip (but don’t soak) unsugared half of cookie into coffee mixture and place wet side down on bottom of 9×13. Repeat until dipped cookies cover the bottom of your pan, breaking up cookies as needed. Spread a thick layer of your cream mixture over the cookie layer. Dip and place another layer of cookies over the cream, then top with more cream. Keep going if you have enough cookies and cream left, just make sure you end with cream.

  4. Sprinkle grated chocolate or dust cocoa over the top. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.