Fast Break to Berchtesgaden and Burg Hohenwerfen

We planned a rendezvous with some of Sarah’s extended family months ago and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

We’d been to Berchtesgaden before, several years ago, in that dark, rainy period before Christmas. Visiting it in the summer was a very different experience! Also, this time we stayed in the Kempinski hotel above the town. We were only there one night — just long enough to catch up with the fam and send them back on their way home to the USA.

After a glorious breakfast among breaks in the clouds, it was time to check out. We followed a tip to visit Burg Hohenwerfen while in the area. It’s only about 40 minutes away from Berchtesgaden.

It was kind of crowded, and a little cheesy, but nonetheless enjoyable for a few hours before we got back in the car for the drive home. The highlight was the climb to the top of the bell tower for the views.

Note well: our route from Regensburg took us south around Munich and into Austria, obligating us to buy the Vignette for Austrian toll roads. On the way back — a Friday afternoon approaching rush hour — we opted for a nominally slower route along the Bundestraßen instead of the Autobahnen. It was in fact slower, but at least we kept moving.

Again with the passwords

TLDR:

  • Don’t re-use passwords, ever.
  • Make the passwords you use cryptographically strong — adequate length, no stock phrases, and a mix of cases, numbers, and symbols can’t hurt. Lots of sites are dumb about these rules.
  • Use a system that works for you to generate and store them: Password Safe, KeePass, 1Password, LastPass, whatever. Google them.
  • Retire old passwords, and replace them with completely unrelated new, better ones.

Bonus Points:

  • Use a password system that replicates across all your devices (lappy, tablet, desktop, phone).
  • Save yourself some headache by generating human-readable (but still of acceptable complexity) passwords for when you do have to read from one device and type/tap into another, or read one off to another human.
  • Set your password system bug you to update your passwords periodically.

https://pw.cliff1976.net is my gift to you for generating those.

Continue reading Again with the passwords

Cutting Winter Short in Catalonia

Oops! This post has been lurking in our drafts for a couple months. Sorry about that!

We needed to get outta town for a change of scenery after getting most of the way through the winter. Plus, it was a chance to celebrate a milestone and a Hallmark Holiday.™ Barcelona was the right mix of travel effort, climate, and activity.

Continue reading Cutting Winter Short in Catalonia

Basic Pizza Sauce

This came together as the amalgamation of at least 6 different pizza sauce recipes. Skip the pepper flakes if you prefer it mild. When cooking, I like to leave the sauce slightly thinner than optimal. We make pan pizza at home, so the thick crust needs a longer bake than the toppings. We bake the crust for 10 minutes with sauce only, then 10 more minutes with cheese and toppings. The first bake allows the sauce to evaporate extra liquid.

1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz/400g can whole stewed tomatoes
1/2 t dried oregano
1 t dried basil
large pinch salt
large pinch sugar
1/2 t whole fennel seeds
large pinch dried red pepper flakes (optional)
1 small onion, peeled and halved

Heat a small saucepan to medium and add butter and oil, cooking until milk solids just start to brown. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until very fragrant. Add tomatoes and juices to the pan. If you like your tomatoes chunky, add them to the pot whole and break them up with a spatula; for smoother sauce, run them through a food processor first. Stir in all of the rest of the ingredients plus a half-can of water, bring sauce to a simmer and cook on medium-low for one hour or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove onion, taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Warming up in Porto

After that stunning — but chilling — visit to Iceland the first week of November, we knew we’d need a little dose of sun and warmth before diving into the long, dark Upper Palatinate winter.  We came back for basically a weekend at home in Regensburg before turning around and departing for Porto. 

Continue reading Warming up in Porto

Visit to Iceland — Day 4

We did four full days in Iceland in November 2018. Here’re the write-ups for Day 1 and Days 2 and 3.

Day 4: South Shore

It felt significantly warmer on this, our last day of adventure in Iceland. Unfortunately, that meant also it rained cats and dogs. Really would have loved my rain pants here. It was too warm for the ski pants but not dry enough for just jeans.

Reynisdrangar rock formations and hexagonal basalt cliff walls

Continue reading Visit to Iceland — Day 4

Pumpkin Risotto

Pumpkin is pretty naturally sweet, so don’t be bashful with the salt and cheese.

4-5 c/1-1.25 L vegetable broth
2 T olive oil
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
500 g arborio or carnaroli rice
0.5 c/100 mL dry white wine
1 c/225 mL pumpkin purée
1 t dried thyme
1 t ground black pepper
salt to taste
2 T butter
1 c/225 g grated Parmesan, divided

Heat oil in large deep skillet to medium and bring broth to a low simmer. Sauté shallots and garlic until tender and fragrant. Add rice and stir until coated with oil and starting to smell toasty. Add wine and stir until mostly evaporated. Start adding broth by ladleful, stirring constantly. When the pan starts to look dry, add another ladle of broth. After adding about half of the broth, add the pumpkin, thyme and pepper. Taste and add salt, if needed. Keep adding broth until it’s gone. Once all broth is in, remove skillet from heat, stir in butter and half of cheese thoroughly, cover skillet and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with cheese for sprinkling.