Last week my department sequestered itself away for a couple days in a castle-turned-hotel/conference center in a small town about 30 minutes North of where we live in Regensburg. The hotelly parts of it seemed a little spooky — we got the impression we were the only guests the first day — but the weather and the Naab river both contributed to the late autumn ambience.

I keep living in cities that rip out their public transit systems

In the early 2000s (um…the Noughties? We still don’t have a good name for that decade, do we?), I, a Detroit-area kid with the auto industry in my blood, read a fascinating book. It was “The End of Detroit” by Micheline Maynard. One of the big points that stuck with me from that book was the Great American Streetcar Conspiracy — that the big players in the auto industry deliberately set up the United States’ dependency on personal transportation. Continue reading I keep living in cities that rip out their public transit systems

Fresh Fettucine Alfredo

For Christmas last year, we got some KitchenAid attachments from my family. Back in January, I posted some of our first attempts, which were great successes. Here is a detailed recipe for fresh Fettucine Alfredo: a simple, fresh pasta and a rich, creamy sauce. Continue reading Fresh Fettucine Alfredo

Pulled Pork

We have high standards for barbecue in this apartment. Sarah’s from a barbecue-centric part of the world. We’ve been getting better at making sauces of all kinds (let me tell you about a recent Alfredo experiment that has bolstered my own confidence). Oh, and we live in Germany, home of the Champion Pork People. So why wouldn’t we want to try our hand at pulled pork sandwiches? Continue reading Pulled Pork

Copycat Gates Barbecue Sauce (a.k.a. Fake Gates)

There are many Kansas City barbecue sauces that I enjoy: Rosedale is great when you want something sweeter, Jack Stack is nice when you want something thicker, but Gates is my all-purpose winner. I feel they do a great job of balancing the sweet and vinegar tang and pepperiness, and that’s what makes it so great on beef, pork, turkey or chicken. It’s even my favorite french fry dipping sauce.

But bottles of barbecue sauce are heavy to ship and to carry in luggage. Continue reading Copycat Gates Barbecue Sauce (a.k.a. Fake Gates)

Celery Root Soup

Are you aware that celery is a root vegetable? I was a having dinner with my (German) boss and (Mexican) colleague a year ago, and one of them was surprised that Americans often don’t realize that celery stalks are not the whole plant. You can’t really blame them, since most of their exposure is just to the stalks — and if you’re like me, primarily as a childhood peanut butter delivery vehicle, or an early science class experiment in plant vascular systems.

But upon moving over here, we saw the roots (“celeriac”) available in grocery stores nearly as frequently as the stalks. Last year, around the time we started roasting our vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts), I saw this video from the NY Times, so we began thinking about celeriac in future meal plans.

Then Sarah recently found this recipe:

As usual, we applied our own touches and substitutions to it — in this case, mostly out of convenience. We found the mild flavor comforting and the soup’s thick-but-still-liquid texture very filling. It holds warmth really well, which makes it a great dinner on an unseasonably cold autumn evening.

Our Substitutions/Additions/Omissions

  1. Freshly grated nutmeg — not too much — and black pepper seemed appropriate here.
  2. We skipped the olive oil drizzle at the end.
  3. We went with regular old bacon instead of pancetta or lardons or something fancier.
  4. Dried thyme instead of fresh, because buying fresh around here means like a pound of it — way more than we could ever use.
  5. We used whipping cream instead of double cream.


150 g bacon, chopped
bit of butter
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 bay leaf
tablespoon of dried thyme
1 celery root, peeled and cut into chunks
850 ml chicken stock
100 ml whipping cream, unwhipped
a couple scrapes of freshly grated nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a soup pot, fry the bacon until the fat renders and it has gotten as crispy as you want it. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-covered plate to drain, but leave the rendered fat in the pot. If you need more fat, add a little olive oil or butter (no more than a tablespoon) to the pot and add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it becomes translucent. Add the bay leaf, the dried thyme, and the celeriac and cook for another 2 minutes.

Pour the stock into the pot, bring it to a boil, then turn it down and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the celeriac is soft (knife slides into a chunk easily). Remove the bay leaf, stir the cream in, add the black pepper and nutmeg, and puree the soup with a stick blender until smooth. Throw the bacon back into the soup pot or add it to the bowls upon serving.