Travel: Verdun

 

Now that I’m comfortable with my 50’s appearance, it only took 5 years, I am helping myself remember which packing plans have worked best for me here in Europe. This post covers our trip to see the WWI history in Verdun. The weather forecast was rainy; the itinerary included light hiking in the woods,  staying at a pensione in the country, and going to a community flea market.

Bullet wardrobe for a long weekend in Verdun, Lorraine, France over the July 4 holiday.

  • Jeans: stretchy, straight leg
  • Jeans: skinny
  • Knit shirts: L/S french stripes
  • Shirt: Crisp, white button down
  • Cardigan: White, light weight
  • Rain shell: white, packable
  • Rain coat: mustard yellow tin cloth
  • Down vest or wool pullover (wished for on trip)
  • 3 scarves: linen, vintage silk, microfiber
  • Hiking boots: should have been waterproof, legwarmers were a plus
  • Sneakers: leather, walking
  • Birkenstocks: good for pensione & car
  • Bag: cross body
  • Backpack: waterproof
  • Extra wash cloths!
  • Other usuals: socks, medicine, cosmetics
  • Vintage accessory: daisy print silk scarf with sunny yellow border, charm bracelets

Focusing on wearing white makes selfies seem lighter and somewhat more flattering. Using the old wardrobe rule 2 neutrals+1 accent color keeps it simple. Remember that in these wet, cloudy, and breezy climates, layering allows accommodation for temperature fluctuations. The folks in Verdun were kind and in the country, were just like all country folks-hospitable and pragmatic.

St. Valentine’s Day: Anticipation

hermes-scarf-valentine-2017-2I find myself in Paris this St. Valentine’s Day. As if I were some amazing writer, world traveler, or jet-set member. All of which, I am not. And yet, here I am, living a romance novel character’s dream…let’s be honest, my dream!

My husband and I have been here to Paris twice before, we’ve walked past that amazing fixture of luxury restaurants, Maxim’s, and I have always put it out of my mind that I would ever have a meal there. After all, royalty has dined there. But everything has become more accessible now, here in our time, in the new century. Even Maxim’s.

My husband made reservations for us this evening at 8:00 p.m. I am going a little crazy with excitement. I will wear a black, elegant, almost tuxedo-like suit, with a satin blouse, and as my key accessory, I will wear my Hermes scarf.

Hah! I shouldn’t even own an Hermes scarf! Again, another gift from my loving husband who goes out of his way to make me feel like we are part of the elite class. And truly, I am wealthy. I am married to a man who is truly my partner. We share love and adventure daily. He knows me, he gets me, and he makes me laugh. I am rich!

 

 

Flugente [Duck] Preparation Results

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Flugente, prepared as discussed at the Farmer’s Market in Dornbusch, Frankfurt, Germany.

I had a great time preparing my Flugente [Duck] yesterday and have a list of Things I Learned. First, let me say, the recipe that was shared with me was spot on as far as flavors were concerned. The onion/apple fragrance filled the apartment, then the addition of the duck to the dutch over, took everything to a new level of homey goodness. As I have a terrible habit of trying several new processes at once, I added onto the cooking of this dish the videoing of the process, which, when I have it edited down, I will also provide. So, overall, the dish was a success, my hubby and I ate it with relish, with mostly positive observations. Here is the list of Things I Learned Yesterday:

Negatives

  1. Duck fat should be reserved for Duck Confit, not slished down the drain while you are hurrying for your next video shot. Money wasted about $12 worth of duck fat.
  2. Realizing that you should have saved something when you are just pouring the last spoonful down the drain is priceless. Too bad the forehead slapping and self-loathing were not caught on camera.
  3. Duck is NOT like chicken. One negative phrase regarding the duck skin was “rubbery” and another phrase was, “well, you only really eat the duck breast”….

Positives

  1. Bratapfel liqueur is marvelous! Use it to soak some fresh apple slices to use for garnish, as you might see on the video. Use it in the sauce, it creates the most lovely compliment to duck. I can’t wait to use it over cinnamon ice cream and in some sort of a torte recipe.
  2. Duck is a beautiful dark meat and has a somewhat earthier flavor than chicken. It is also darker in its’ breast than a goose. There are some other techniques for cooking duck that I will try next time to crisp up the skin.
  3. Farmer’s Market is known as Bauern Markt in Deutsche. It is also the easiest way, next to going to the specialty shops, to get the freshest meat, poultry, and produce. They are held weekly and year round.
  4. Videoing with your phone and selfie stick isn’t as simple as you might think. Kudos to all of the great How-To video producers that I see on Instagram!

 

Frankfurt: Dornbusch Farmer’s Market

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Flugente very frisch! It’s what’s for dinner tonight!

Today, regardless of the calendar, felt like autumn, Herbst in Deutsch. The clouds settled in yesterday and the dip in temperature and the crunch of dead leaves left no one in doubt of the season. I have been here for nine, almost ten months; waiting for autumn, my favorite season.

Although I have been trying to live every “American in Europe” cliche, today was the first day that I did my shopping, my main shopping on foot, in a local farmer’s market, in our neighborhood. Yes, I have shopped at the big farmer’s market in Konstablerwache, but mostly to take photos and eat waffles. Today, I was armed with a loose idea of a menu:

  1. Poultry
  2. Vegetable
  3. Fruit

I didn’t expect more than four or five rickety stands set up. I thought that there wouldn’t be many people. Ha! There were easily twice or even thrice that many vendors and not one of them in a rickety stand, well, maybe one. Instead, there were highly evolved, refrigerated cases that are part of the trucks themselves. There was fresh fish from one vendor, fresh beef and pork from another. There was a wall of rotisserie chickens roasting happily at one booth. The vegetables were a colorful palette of greens, purples, reds, and orange. Large vegetable stands, at least four of them, renewed my faith in farm-to-table. As I ambled down the center of the street, I saw another refrigerated case, a long, well stocked poultry case. In it was this beautiful bird, labeled flugente. This bird was whispering to me, “cook me”, so I asked in my preschool German, ” Sprechen Sie English? Was is das?”

He said it was “a duck, very frisch!”

“How fresh?” I asked.

“Yesterday night.”

I had hit it. The holy Grail of optimum ingredients. And this, in Dornbusch, after my incredible weekend in Paris.

So, that is how I ended up with the freshest “duck”, [personally, I think it’s a goose], for our dinner. But how to prepare it?

I asked the poultry vendor and a little woman three people down, took over. She started describing a recipe with zwiebeln to anyone who would listen. I know that “zwiebeln” means “onions” and I turned to her and she turned to me, said her English wasn’t that good, and then described how to cook this bird.

Flugente Recipe, by a friendly older woman at the Farmer’s Market

“Onions in fett til tey are soft. Bird in pan and some wasser. Cook til da string runs clear, is det right? string?” She motioned with her hands.

“Juices” I added, then nodded my head for her to continue.

“Then add some Calvados and some cream to deh pan.” She made a whisking motion with her hands.
I nodded. “Got it.” I also squeezed my eyes shut and sighed. Heaven. She continued,

“You can add some apple to the onions, not too much, but to balance. Keep it in the pan.”

Have I said it before? “I love Germany!”

I will post a photo of the end result tomorrow.

1Q 2016 Now that I’ve Survived the Move

I have survived the stress of moving to Germany. Stress listed below:

  1. Packing
  2. Jet lag
  3. Unpacking
  4. Technology set up and streamlined
  5. Learning my new phone number
  6. Mostly learning my new address
  7. Starting to learn a new language
  8. Finding a warm enough coat

The easiest parts:

  1. Apartment, no yard work
  2. Taking bus to language class
  3. Walking to store 2x per week
  4. Using ATM
  5. Taking U-bahn (equivalent to the El in Chicago)

I have discovered that cobblestones come in various strengths. There’s mostly smooth walkways, well-worn and not-level cobblestones, and brutal ragged jagged poorly spaced cobblestones. Good news: our American athletic shoes are in fashion over here finally! Still many folks who don’t wear them, but plenty of teens do. I like to double gel insert my shoes when traveling to the small towns–I’m just sayin’.

The food here also comes in three types: really yummy, meh, and gross. We had a perfectly great dinner at a restaurant, but had ordered the traditional cheese as a “Vorspeise”  or appetizer. It was the texture of paraffin, in a cold watery i-don’t-know-what liquid, with finely chopped white onions over the top. The waiter stood there watching us take our first bite.

The look on my face. That’s why he was watching us take our first bite. Apparently, everyone gets that look of repulsion and horror when they bite into that cheese. I couldn’t keep chewing. I couldn’t spit it out, being diplomatic and all, but I couldn’t keep it in my mouth. That’s how he, the waiter, gets amusement throughout the long winter evenings. He then admitted that he couldn’t eat it and rarely meets anyone who can.

Wine is amazing here and I am talking about the wine that you buy for three to four euros. It’s great, I’m spoiled.

The bread here is on another level from the bread we get at the grocery store in Colorado. And I’m talking about the good bakery bread from Whole Foods. This is just, well, baked fresh in front of you, hand braided, using incredible versions of wheat, rye, and every other whole grain known to man. One of my favorite rolls to buy is a pretzel braid covered in poppy seeds. I could eat one right now. And again for dinner. And again for breakfast. But breakfast, in hour apartment, is reserved for the German version of raisin bread. Roisinen Brot. It has extra yummy citron pieces in it that wake up your taste buds and it goes great with dark black coffee. It absolutely must be toasted just beyond golden brown to bring out the flavors.

Have I gained some weight you ask? Well, not much, due to the walking everywhere on cobblestones. Thank the good Lord.

Speaking of the good Lord. We have found a beautiful little church located on a lovely park, with the charm and ritual that the Church of England and the Episcopalians use for worship. More importantly, this small church has amazing music. They have a pipe organ and the choir sings beautiful classical Bach numbers– that shouldn’t be possible at this little congregation, but there they were. Our walk there is only 10 minutes, past the duck pond, over the bridge, just absolutely idyllic. Anyway, we found out why the choir is so amazing. It has several members who sing for the Frankfurt opera.

After Sunday service, we walk through the park, see the geese and the lone gosling, on our way to eating outside at a dumpy, but relaxing dining establishment. We’ve had really good food there for the past two weeks and as we pass all of the little gardening plots we see flowers and many other signs of spring. And graffiti.

The graffiti covers everything in Frankfurt. Sheds, buildings, backs of signs, walls, fences. Everything. Is. Covered. In. Graffiti.

 

 

 

 

Moving Algebra: Packing It Up

I’m here. finally. in Frankfurt. But it was like doing a story problem in algebra.

Calculate solving for x. UAB=air shipping, HHE=slow container shipping

UAB=175 lbs   HHE≠500 lbs

(x2)-weight of boxes=UAB

HHE=x2*y+weight of boxes+weight of containers+monty python movie poster (framed)=UAB+HHE

Therefore x= _____________lbs

Now answer the following story questions:

If Mary didn’t get everything shipped UAB and/or HHE, what will it cost to ship the rest of her sh!t to Germany? Use the following information to help you solve for x.

4 large-sized priority shipping boxes

2 medium-sized priority shipping boxes

1 small-sized shipping box = x

Solve for x. You may use the USPS website for additional information.

If Tina has a bag allowance of 2 suitcases, each with a 50 lb maximum, and she is shipping her french bulldog on the same flight and can take 2 personal items on board, how will she get all of this luggage out of baggage claim, which has a rule that no one but passengers can enter the area? Remember, Tina cannot ask for help due to a cultural rule of public silence and her husband cannot help her, since he is not allowed in the baggage claim area.

answer: How many muscles and nerves has Tina injured?

Trivia questions: Which airline provides lighting that imitates the northern lights?

answer: Iceland Air

What is the traditional Christmas drink of Iceland composed of?

answer: non-alcoholic stout and orange soda

BONUS Question: (more than one answer may apply)

When Tina’s husband says “everything is ready”, should she:

  1. believe him
  2. buy a new coffee maker
  3. expect that some shopping is required
  4. plan on spending at least $1000 to get the new apartment up to her standards

Oh, and by the way. Thank God I’m not married to Tina’s husband!