Lentil Sausage Soup

Here’s another recipe from my mom. It’s good the first day you make it, but it improves after a couple of days.

1 c brown or green lentils
1 T olive oil or butter
2 medium green peppers, seeded and chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 c water
2 t chicken bouillon granules
1/2 t sage
1/4 cayenne pepper
1/2 lb smoked sausage, sliced

Rinse and drain lentils. In a deep soup pot, heat oil or butter to medium high and sauté peppers, carrot, onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Add lentils, water, bouillon, sage and cayenne pepper to vegetables, bring to a boil and simmer covered for 30 minutes. Over medium heat, brown sausage in a skillet and add it to soup. Once sausage is heated through, serve.

productive Saturday

Whew. We got a lot done today between 10:15 and 13:45. We’ve got a lot more to do, but so far, this has been a much more productive Saturday than normal. We

  1. got a cup of coffee at Black Bean for on-the-go Genuss.
  2. Thats not me (thanks Amazon)
    That's not me (thanks Amazon)
    checked out a bunch of stuff at MediaMarkt:
    • netbooks while we were there (not that we need one; but they are awfully cute, and could mean we don’t have to schlep our laptop with us to K.C. and Mexico next year)
    • stereo receiver units (been meaning to put my speakers from the U.S. to good use for the last five years or so; our upcoming move might finally make that happen)
    • TVs (ours is OK for now, but it has a mysterious green area which I can’t seem to eliminate – our TV apparently has no degaussing function)
  3. bought a drill, which will come in handy before, during, and after our move, I’m sure.
  4. hit our local favorite Chinaladen for some fresh cilantro, crucial for some falafel experimentation tonight or tomorrow
  5. hit the Edeka in the Galeria Kaufhof basement for some fresh parsley, also for the falafel, but also to pick up some supplies for trying our hand at this sauce, intended for enjoyment with these meatballs.

Time to go cook some more!

English Muffins! Dampfnudeln! SketchUp!

I’m glad I’m not working this week — I might not have had the pleasure of these several experiences  In reverse chronological order:

Thanks, Wikipedia!
Thanks, Wikipedia!
  1. I stumbled upon English Muffins at Edeka this afternoon! I’ve been looking for these puppies for like five years now. Maybe they were there the whole time and I’m just not a good finder (ask Sarah), but I prefer to believe that they’re new to the market (at least around here). Stocked up this afternoon, tried ’em out this evening with a little lemon curd spread over them and…yum!
  2. Dampfnudel Uli is one of those places I’ve been walking or biking past for about five years now and haven’t ever tried — though locals have recommended it to me on occasion. It’s literally a hole in the wall around the corner from L’Osteria tucked back in one of those Altstadt streets which are almost too narrow for my bike. Besides Dampfnudeln, they specialize in kitsch*. We should have figured this out from their odd hours: 10:01 to 15:01 weekdays (and they’re closed Sundays and Mondays). Sarah and I ducked in there on a whim today for dessert after a combined meter of sausage on this, the Weihnachtsmarkt’s final day. Results: mixed.
    • The coffee was dreadful.
    • The special of the day was OK, if a little weird. It was beer-battered Apfelkücherl in a Weißwein-Vanillesoße. I’m not sure how I felt about the vanilla pudding with a white wine aftertaste.
    • The Dampfnudeln in their own non-boozy Vanillasoße (on sale every day) were excellent.

    Just goes to show: go with what you know.

  3. Google SketchUp looked neat as all get out for 3D-diagramming — especially in the training videos. I’d heard Tammy was happy with Google SketchUp for layouting their furniture in their new apartment. Unfortunately, for diagramming ours, it’s not working out at all. Of course I looked for a Linux version first. No dice there. Then I tried installing it on the Windows machine at my disposal. It appears to install OK, but quickly crashes as soon as I try to launch the application. I got it installed easily on our Mac, but it’s a real pig to use (even after watching the nifty tutorials). It’s slow and jerky and every action (adding a new polygon, erasing an existing one) invokes the pinwheel and 10-15 seconds of waiting. Yuck. I know my Mac is weak*, but c’mon.

    Has anyone managed to get it to work?

Travel Deals 18.12.2008

Again, not much general travel goodness available, although there are a fair number of destination-specific hotel/resort packages (curious about those? Check Travelzoo top 20). And I appreciate that the travel sites seem to be attempting innovations with their booking functions. Unfortunately, not all the innovations are good ones. You mileage may vary.

Europe from Germanwings

Germanwings is offering flights from Germany to European metropolises for as little as 19,99€, taxes and fees included. Looks like the deals are only leaving from Köln-Bonn, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Berlin. München does not appear to be included, but they have expanded their routes from there, so yay. You can purchase until January 1 and fly between December 27 and March 31. Be warned: the calendar function is supposed to show you when the best prices are available, but mostly it just made me want to yank my hair out. Or else what they’re calling a ‘sale’ is actually just an anomaly, since my sample search yielded only two flights within a three-month period that looked related to the promotion.

Orbitz – American Airlines Sale

AA is a having a small winter sale on U.S.-Europe routes through Orbitz. Choose your origin and see where the fares are the best bargain; maybe get some family or friends to come over! Last chance to purchase is on December 31, flight period is exquisitely complicated, so scroll down on the page linked above and read it before you get all excited and stuff. Orbitz has added a cool feature – even when pricing out flights specific to an airline deal, it gives you the option of searching only the airline attached to the promotion or all airlines. Interestingly enough, when I did a sample search, the AA sale fare was still more than the USAir fare for the same route/time period. So, good going, Orbitz! That one’s a keeper.

Those are the big ones for this week. If you see any goodies out there that you feel I have overlooked, please leave them in the comments. KLM/Air France always seems to be late to the party, so if I see anything from them, I’ll drop it in the comments.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

We’ve been trying to get this right for a while now. We’ve tried it with cream and without, with pancetta, with prosciutto, with garlic, with onion and with all different kinds of long pastas. We finally hit it out of the park. I’m going to detail what we did in this recipe, but I found the inspiration here.

200 g (about 1/2 lb) bacon, cut into 1 in squares (seriously, just normal bacon)
1 large or 2 medium shallots, sliced
1/3 c white wine
500 g (1 lb) spaghetti (we used linguine, it was awesome)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 c Grana Padano, shredded or grated
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1 t black pepper, coarsely ground
pinch salt (optional)

In a deep skillet, fry the bacon over medium high heat until some fat is rendered and the edges begin to crisp. Add the shallots and turn the heat down to medium low. Cook the shallot until translucent and add the wine. Heat to a boil and allow to reduce until about 1/2 the wine is left. Remove the skillet from heat, cover and set aside.

Cook the pasta in salted water. While pasta is cooking, stir eggs into cheese until just mixed and add nutmeg, pepper and salt. Drain the pasta, return the skillet with bacon to very low heat and remove lid. Pour pasta into skillet and toss until well coated with wine and bacon and shallot are well distributed. Remove skillet from heat and pour egg and cheese mixture over pasta. Toss quickly with tongs and serve immediately.

Clementine Cake

Sarah knows how much I dig clementines. Every year, when the end of November rolls around the clementines fresh from Spain or Morocco are at grocery stores and produce stands, I go nuts and eat a kilo or more at a sitting. I love how sweet and tart they are. I love that I can peel them without any utensils. I love that there usually aren’t any seeds to bother with.

So when she spied this recipe, she knew it would be something I’d have to try. So we did.

We didn’t deviate from that recipe at all, except to use a glass 9×9 square baking dish. Ours didn’t come nearly as pretty as hers, but the flavor is surprisingly citrusy and it goes outstandingly with a cup of hot chocolate…and you know I’m not talking about the likes of Swiss Miss. More on the hot chocolate later, when we’ve perfected the recipe and eliminated the need for a weekly pilgrimage to Angelina in Paris.

Other perks: it’s got neither dairy nor gluten products in it, so great for those friends and colleagues who always have to fall back to their carob rice cakes when everyone else is pigging out on traditional desserts.

Here’s the Clementine Cake recipe, for posterity, with small cosmetic adjustments by yours truly:

  • 4 – 5 clementine (about 375g total weight)
  • 6 eggs
  • 225g (just over a cup) golden caster sugar
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 1 generous teaspoon of baking powder

Put the clementines in a pan and cover with cold water, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a lively simmer. Leave the clementines bobbing away for 2 hours.

Drain and cool the clementines. Once cool enough to handle, cut the clementines in half and remove the pips and then mash everything, skin, pith, fruit into a pulp.

Heat the oven to 190°C (375°F) and butter and line a 21cm (8″) cake tin.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Add the sugar, ground almonds and baking powder and stir everthing together with a metal spoon.

Fold the clementine pulp carefully but firmly into the other ingredients using a metal spoon.

Pour the mixture into the lined cake tin and bake for about 50 mins to 1 hour, when a skewer comes out clean. You may need to cover the cake with baking parchment or foil for the last 20mins if looks like the top is browning too quickly.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin. When he cake is cool, take it out of the tin.

The cake is without a doubt better after 1 or 2 days, according to her. We’ll see if there’s any left to judge.

Paris Walks Marais Walking Tour

The Joint

Paris Walks
Peter and Oriel Caine
12 passage Meunier
93200 Saint Denis
+33 148 09 21 40



Twenty Euro well spent! We took the ‘Old Marais Quarter Circuit 2′ tour, with a focus on the existence of the Marais as Paris’ Jewish quarter and that community’s changing fortunes, then turning to famous Parisians through history and their roots in the area. The walk was two hours (dress warmly and bring an umbrella) and our guide, Iris, kept us moving at a good clip – not too fast, but fast enough to keep things interesting and blood circulating. In addition to a comprehensive knowledge and apparent interest in the history of the area, she had a few personal tips (where to get a good falafel or a great chocolate boutique) that made us want to come back and explore the neighborhood more on our own.

Paris Walks has a variety of tours, any of which I’d be tempted to try on a return trip.


Note: it’s only 10 EUR per person. That’s 5 EUR per hour you’re paying to walk around and get the inside scoop. A fantastic bargain. Definitely money and time well-spent. Thanks Iris, for your enthusiasm despite the rest of the group appearing somewhat nonplussed. We dug this tour!