the Regensburg Dump is cool!

We’ve been living here for four years now, so we finally decided it’s time to finalize the move from back in March 2004. That is to say, we’ve gotten rid of as much of the crap left over from the move as possible — mostly cardboard boxes. Our collection of big pieces of styrofoam has also grown over the years from purchases of items like lamps and television sets and printers and computers and all that stuff, and we decided this was the right time to get rid of it. And some big furniture items not elegible for street-level pickup.

So we

  1. rented a van from Europcar by reserving online a couple days ago
  2. got up shortly before six in the morning (on my day off!)
  3. got all our crap together
  4. took the bus out to Europcar to pick up our van — an Opel model with an Italian name
  5. brought the van back to the parking lot am Evangelischen Krankenhaus
  6. schlepped all our stuff down from the apartment to the ground level
  7. brought the van up closer to the apartment (pretty sure this was illegal, but what else am I going to do?)
  8. crammed our bigger items in first, then the smaller items in around them
  9. headed out to Regensburg’s Recyclinghof
    Recyclinghof Recyclinghof Recyclinghof

    I was a little nervous, not knowing much about town dumps and stuff like that in general, let alone in deepest Oberpfalz, but we took a co-worker’s advice, were super-polite to everyone we encountered, and we got along just fine, dumping all our stuff into quite precisely labeled dumpsters and compactor machines. Check out the pictures snapped by Sarah with her phone.

    If you’re good at sorting your trash at home, you’ll be fine here. It’s the same concept, but simultaneously more specific and more flexible:

    • separate styrofoam and plastic film (think grocery bags, cellophane, and all that) waste out from other kinds of plastic
    • bring your old computer or telephone or other electronic junk; you can pitch it here!
    • yard and construction waste are also acceptable
    • and of course the ability to get rid of desks, bedframes, full-length mirrors, and other stuff that the normal garbage collection doesn’t cover.

    It was, for both of us, oddly exhilarating. Probably for at least one of several reasons:

    • We expected much more hassle, knowing Germans and their systems like we think we do
    • We are agog at the implication of it going smoothly: we must have beaten the system over the past four years!

    Or maybe not. We still get worked up about stuff like this (below). Click the pictures for a bigger view and our comments on them.
    grocery store grocery store

¡ay, Dios mí­o!

¡Hay unos locos en Wisconsin!*

Holy crap: Pledge of Allegiance. Public school. Spanish class. One day a year. “Freedom isn’t free.” Call centers with non-native speakers. “Nationalist oath.”*

Now go read this:

Yeah. You read it correctly. Playing the “ultimate sacrifice” card in conjunction with your overdue Chase MasterCard payment or getting that cute top from Land’s End in one size dumber and a vocabulary exercise for a high school class that happens once a year.

Sarah’s observed before that apparently some people are out looking for reasons to get offended. Life must be pretty sweet in Edgerton, WI if a Spanish class exercise once a year is big enough news to cause a ruckus. I am intrigued to see how they tie it into the gas prices next.

Kudos to the school system for standing their ground.

Flourless chocolate cupcakes

I don’t think these should really even be considered cupcakes – they’re just astonishingly rich. Which is awesome. But I think they probably work better as individually-sized flourless chocolate cakes. I imagine they would rock with some raspberry sauce drizzled on top. I found the recipe here. I bought all of the ingredients for the accompanying frosting, but I can’t imagine the sugar shock the combo of these things and frosting would induce. They’re pretty easy to make, but there’s a lot of waiting and you have to make sure you have room available in the fridge.

1/2 c water
1/4 t salt
3/4 c white sugar
18 ozs bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pieces (I used 5 100g bars of 85% cocoa content chocolate)
1 c unsalted butter, room temperature
3 eggs
3 egg whites, whipped to stiff peaks

Heat oven to 300° F/150° C. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine water, salt and sugar until everything is dissolved and set aside. Melt the chocolate and pour it into the bowl of an electric mixer. Cut the butter into pieces and mix it into the chocolate one piece at a time. Next, beat in the hot sugar water. Finally, beat in the eggs one at a time. Gently fold in egg whites until just combined. Pour batter into lined cupcake tin (it must be lined – these will not come out without cupcake papers), filling cups about 3/4 full. Place cupcake tin in a larger pan and fill the larger pan halfway with boiling water. Bake cupcakes in their bath for 30 minutes. Remove from oven (centers will look wet) and let them rest for about 15-20 minutes, then put the cupcake tin in the fridge. Don’t remove cupcakes from the tin until they’re cold – otherwise they may lose their shape.

geeky updates

Mac stuff

Today something weird happened on our Mac mini (running OS 10.5, known as Leopard). It “forgot” that it had a built-in sound card. How weird is that?

I quickly found all kinds of suggestions online for how to remind it. Checking permissions on the disk with the Disk Utility application, zapping PRAM (whatever that means), tweaking MIDI settings, and a lot more.

You know what worked? Rebooting with the Shift key held down so the Mac would boot in Safe Mode.

What kind of Wintel crap is that?

Linux stuff

I upgraded both our Linux machines to Kubuntu Hardy Heron (8.04) this weekend…I mean, starting Wednesday evening. Things seem to work pretty well, but the b43 driver thingies that are supposedly included by default in the version of the 2.6.24 series kernel still had to be downloaded and installed and configured through the Hardware Drivers Manager…requiring a network connection. I guess it’s not a big deal for our lappy, since I can walk it over to our router and connect an ethernet cable, but it was a pain for our desktop machine, given that it’s on another floor of our house. How do you go out into the series of tubes to get stuff you need to make teh intarwebs work on your computer if you don’t already have that stuff?

cruising the Danube down to Kelheim and back

Today, on Tammy’s brother Mark’s last day in town, the five of us piled into their car, drove to Kelheim, hopped aboard a river cruise ship and cruised upstream to Weltenburg for lunch. We had to cut the trip short, unfortunately, because Matthias felt ill. But it was still fun and at least we managed to be under the awning for lunch while it was raining.

Notables counter-clockwise, from top left:

  • that’s the Befreiungshalle commemorating victory against Napoleon, as seen from around a bend in the river
  • I had a smoked salmon. This guy had a lemon wedge propping him up from the inside. Everyone else was seemed thoroughly disgusted, but I thought it was great.
  • Tammy discovered that pregnant women lunching at the Weltenburg Monastery get free booties when they visit the ladies’ room. Nice, huh?

Befreiungshalle Tammy and restroom lady booties Forelle

season opener

Last night Sarah and I kicked off the Biergarten season with ol’ work buddy Tim from Troy (he was in town on a trip). Traditionally Sarah and I like to get the spring started with the Alte Linde, since it has such a nice view of the city from across the river and the food is good and the atmosphere is nice — even during the World Cup in 2006 (see here). Editor’s note: if you’re lucky, you’ll get the middle-aged waiter dude with an earring. He’s a good sport. If you’re not, you’ll get the elderly shrew. She’s not.

Today, having the day off, we went out grocery shopping together and I smelled and spotted these flowers (couldn’t miss them really) on the way towards the train station:
P4243102 P4243099
P4243098 P4243097

calm, assertive, rolling awesomeness

Thanks to Tammy and Matthias, we’re watching Season 2 of The Dog Whisperer. In one episode, they showed more of Cesar Millan’s sweet wheels — the ones attached to his feet.

They’re called LandRollers and they look really, really cool. I could totally see myself using something like these to get to and from work as a way to change it up from my daily bike ride (which I’ll miss while I’m in Iasi May 5-10) or to get more of a workout on the way to work. My bike rides are all-naturally powered by Yours Truly of course, but they’re about 17 minutes on average — not long enough for an aerobic benefit. I suspect the cobblestones surrounding our building would be too much for them, but once I can get out to the sidewalks on Obermünsterstraße or the flat pavers on Neupfarrplatz, it should be smooth sailing from there.

I’m already known for riding my bike to/from work in all kinds of weather; cruising in on a pair of these shouldn’t be that much of a switcheroo. And besides, that’s by far not the weirdest dude in the office. A certain Dr. S. is known for zooming from office to office on our floor on his kick scooter and even wore his Darth Vader mask all day in the office on his birthday.

I’m a size 11½ should anyone feel like donating a pair to me.

Größere Kartenansicht

Pork Tenderloin in Mustard Sauce

This was a bit of a shocker. I just wanted to make something that involved a mustard sauce. I got the recipe originally from Recipezaar, but partially due to negligence and an inborn inability to follow directions, I tweaked it. So follow the link for the original – I’m posting here what I did. It looks kind of involved, but it comes together really quickly. I served it over egg noodles, but it might work with brown rice or a dark green vegetable like broccoli. The sauce was fabulous – I suggest 1.5ing or doubling it.

1 c crème fraîche
1 T whole grain mustard
1 t dijon mustard
1 t Colman’s dry mustard
1 T butter
1 T canola oil
1 onion, sliced thin
1 medium pork tenderloin (about 1 lb), trimmed and sliced thin
1 lb mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2 c chicken broth
1/2 t cornstarch
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/4 t tarragon

Whisk together crème fraîche and all three mustards in a small bowl and set aside. In a large skillet, heat butter and oil to medium and cook onions until just soft, about 3-5 minutes. Remove onions to plate and turn skillet up to high. When the pan starts to smoke a little, add the pork and quickly stir-fry (the thinner the pork is sliced, the faster this part goes). When the pork is still slightly pink in the centers, add the mushrooms and stir frequently. When the mushrooms just start to release their juices, add the onions back in. Stir the cornstarch into the chicken broth and add it to the skillet, letting it come to a rapid boil. After it boils for about a minute, add the pepper and tarragon, then turn the heat down to medium low and add the mustard mixture. Stir until just combined and heat through, but do not boil. Serve immediately.

Banana Cookies

We’ve been on a bit of a banana kick lately, I guess. This recipe was inspired by this one, but we changed it up by using half brown sugar and half white sugar. That concept came from our pal Andrea, whose chocolate chip cookies were the perfect mix between soft and squishy and dense and crunchy.

Anyhoo, here we go:

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup of mashed bananas (about 3 large bananas)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 2 cups of flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground mace or nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 cup of pecans (walnuts and chocolate chips are fine alternatives)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar and brown together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

  2. In a bowl, mix the mashed bananas and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes. The baking soda will react with the acid in the bananas which in turn will give the cookies their lift and rise.

  3. Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture. Mix together the flour, salt, and spices and sift into the butter and banana mixture and mix until just combined.

  4. Fold into the batter the pecans or chocolate chips if using. Drop in dollops onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Actually for us, it made exactly 3 dozen. Not sure how that happened; our recipes generally yield fewer cookies/muffins/whatevers than promised. But these are good — really good. I think I like them even better than banana bread or banana muffins due to the ease of distribution (I’m taking a few to work tomorrow and publicizing this here and now ensures that they’ll survive the night) and greatly reduced risk of loss due to crumbs from slicing or peeling (i.e., muffin liners).