Odd Side Effects

This post is an entirely unscientific list of things that I wouldn’t have thought about before all this happened:

  • Virtually no contrails in the sky on these super beautiful spring days.
  • Piggybacking onto that, one of my random hobbies is checking on the Flightradar24 app when I see a plane overhead. Lately, they’re nearly all cargo planes.
  • And again piggybacking: we are quite close to a small airfield and on aforementioned beautiful spring (and summer) days, we see piles and piles of gliders. Now? None. I haven’t checked to see if it’s officially banned, but I’m guessing it falls under ‘sports activities that can’t be done alone’ and so it is.
  • I’ve mentioned in some of the weekly posts that I’ve been cooking a lot. The dish piles have been LEGENDARY.
  • On the opposite end, we’re doing nearly no laundry. That side is nice. Stretchy pants for dayzzzz.
  • I had a few pairs of mid-season shoes/boots that either 1) needed replacing or 2) nearly did, and I can happily push that off until fall at least. Saving wear and tear on clothes is okay as far as I’m concerned.
  • We’ve gotten some solid cleaning done. If you only have a weekend, it’s the last thing you want to do, but now we have no other options, and can get some little things done after work during the week.
  • I kinda miss riding trains. I do not miss the commute.
  • There are daily vacillations between, “oh my goodness, I’m so glad we live out here and can be in the forest and nearly alone in less than 10 minutes,” and “oh my goodness, I would murder for a take out burrito or pizza or anything else but there’s nowhere to walk to.” Not knowing what will become of our favorite places in the city is deeply frustrating.
  • Some places have expanded delivery options, which is fantastic. Also BV owes me sushi, and I think I’m going to try cashing that in next week for some sweet, sweet, sushi delivery.
  • This spring has been prime Biergarten weather, but we can’t visit our favorite one. And we have no idea if it’s even open. They were maybe closing, then definitely closing for a bit then opening under new management, but then the last time we walked past, the menu outside still had the same family name on it. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING. Also, I miss the lovely waitresses and the terrace cats. *sigh*

 

Here’s hoping we all get through this. Back to beer gardens and trains, back to making plans, and not seeing people only through ambush video calls.

 

14/52

Week Four.

Week four of social distancing was, mercifully, a four-day workweek. Good Friday and Easter Monday are both public holidays here, and they came at a perfect time.

For the most part I’m still feeling pretty decent most days, and taking advantage of the good weather, garden, extra cooking time, and all of that. But by the end of the workday on Thursday, I was ready to pitch my headset out of the window. I don’t even like talking on the phone… and so after four weeks of spending most of the day with this stupid thing on my head, my ears were very ready for four days off.

YES I am aware that this is small potatoes, and YES I’m very happy to still have a job through all of this, and shouldn’t really complain, but my ears hurt.

As of this week Tuesday, BV is now working from home almost entirely. He may have to go in once a week if something needs organizing in person, but I’m happy to have him avoiding public transit more.

In preparation for the long weekend, he took a half day and picked up a car share so he could do a big shop. We hadn’t been to the Getränkemarkt since before Thanksgiving, so our stock of water, beer, and juice was empty. Now we’re restocked on beverages, and he also managed to pick up a few other large and unwieldy items that we usually save for car trips.

Easter weekend was mostly spent baking. I made both Samin Nosrat’s Ligurian Focaccia and Swedish Cardamom Buns because everyone knows that Jesus only rises with yeast.

Besides that, we both tackled a bit more garden work. I didn’t get back to the fence clearing project, but I did manage to completely fill our compost box with dead grass that I raked out of the most offensive places in the garden. We may need to cut the grass more often. Maybe. We put down a bit of grass seed along the fence, and in some spots in the back that had been torn up when a mystery digger was parked back there a few weeks ago.

An outdoor brunch was also necessary, and the glorious weather lasted all the way through until this morning.

Really, it seems appropriate to end the long holiday weekend with a rainy Monday afternoon/evening. Hope it does some good for that grass seed.

The social distancing regulations that were announced a few weeks ago were scheduled to go through the upcoming weekend, with schools planned to reopen after the Easter holidays on the 20th. Nothing has changed yet as far as that plan goes, so let’s see what week five brings.

Side note: was thinking about doing quick posts with links to all the what-not that I’ve been cooking these last weeks… anyone in need of some new ideas and/or interested in that? Lemme know in ze comments!

And you? How are things going wherever you are?

 

13/52

Week Three Down.

How’s everyone doing out there?

Here in ze Dorf, we’re marching along. I’m still home; my only excursion out this week was to our local Edeka on Friday afternoon. People were keeping distance, sort of. Everyone in there was approximately 8000 years old though, which wasn’t great to see. It also seemed entirely too busy for that time of day normally, so I think next time I’ll be trying to go in a daytime window, preferably not on a Friday.

BV is still splitting his time, so he gives me missives from the outside world. His company has taken some measures to space people out, and I know he’s doing the best he can to steer clear of people on the trains and buses as much as he can. With these coming two weeks being the Easter holidays, they’ll be shorter than usual, and hopefully even emptier in the public spaces he does have to occupy.

Beyond work and yoga and cooking, this weekend we occupied ourselves with some intensive spring cleaning. He continued his plant preparation and every windowsill in the house in currently covered in small boxes hopefully sprouting some kind of seed or another. Some things have made their way out into the garden already, but most will end up in his balcony planters or, possibly a raised garden bed to avoid the slug issues we’ve had in the past. The garden bed needs building though, so minor detail there.

While he planted, I dusted and vacuumed the bejeezus out of the bedroom and living rooms. I do like our wooden ceilings but my lord do they collect spider webs. My neck hurt by the end of the day from looking up for so long! Curtains came down and got washed, furniture was shifted, needless to say, it was a long overdue cleaning. Poor Marry was mildly traumatized by how long I had the vacuum going, but she seems to have recovered. I’m slightly embarrassed by how long it took, and how much better it looks now. If the pollen stays mostly outside this spring, I’ll consider myself lucky.

Sunday should technically be a quiet day, but it was a bit warmer so we moved the cleaning party out to the garden. BV tackled the back of the house, where he chopped up a tree that he had taken down last weekend, and tried cleaning out next to the brush pile. Since we don’t have our big cherry tree anymore, it would be nice if we could get close to the small one in the back of the garden, but usually it was covered by piles of brush.

I didn’t help his cause though, as I took a rake to the fence line in the front of the house. There’s a weird plant up there, no idea what it is, but it results in piles of straight sticks out of the ground, most of which die quickly. Nearly the whole fence was covered in brush when I started, and this is how it looked by the end.

Not exactly an English garden yet, but much improved. I had to give up after three hours through. Between the leftover muscle aches from Saturday’s cleaning spree and clearing this mess out, I was KO. Where the brush starts again in the middle has more actual living plants, so it won’t be quite as bad (famous last words). But they’ll have to wait a few days at least. Plus there are some very sweet blue flowers in front of that mess and I didn’t want to trample all of them. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

So. Week four. Let’s see how we go.

 

 

12/52

Amateur Hour Baking: A Tale of Two Strudels

It seems that many of us have taken to the kitchen more than usual in these strange, Covid quarantine days. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time cooking, trying out new things, and cleaning up the kitchen nearly non-stop.

The first weekend in, I spent in a South Tyrol-influenced bakeathon. Like many of social media accounts, the official ST Instagram account has switched over from “come visit us!” posts to, “stay home and experience South Tyrol through pictures and food until you can come visit us at some indeterminate point of time in the future!” posts. For the best, of course, but it did lead us into the dangerous territory of too much dessert.

When this recipe for Apfelstrudel popped up in my feed, I immediately grabbed a screenshot and decided it was time to give Strudel another shot. It’s been ages since I made the peach brie variety, and making a decent Strudel is undoubtedly a life goal I aim to accomplish. To the kitchen!

I began by whipping together my dough. About halfway through, it occurred to me to check and see what I had done last time, following the Classic German Baking method. This pastry dough was completely different to that one, but as my bowl was already chock full of butter and such, I pressed on.

I had started with butter that was already quite soft, so my dough was as well. It was less kneading, more mixing, but I hoped that some time in the fridge would firm it up well enough.

While that was in the fridge, I got to work on the filling. Naturally the recommended apples for this recipe would come from South Tyrol itself, but we settled for German apples of unknown origins, because the little signs at our local Tante-Emma-Laden are less than legible. I whipped together the apples, whatever quantity of pine nuts we still had, and threw in some cranberries as raisins were nowhere to be found in the drawer.

Filling prepared, I pulled the pastry dough out of the refrigerator and got to rolling. It was… slightly firmer but it quickly became apparent that I should have mixed the butter and sugar a bit better before throwing in the other ingredients. Besides a dollop or two of butter in my rolled-out pastry, it was still entirely too soft and I soon realized that there was no way to get it any thinner while also being able to fold it over the filling.

Finally I did get it rolled out to approximately the size recommended in the recipe, 25x35cm, and started to pour on the apple mixture. A problem quickly became apparent.

After reconsulting CGB, I think there may have been a slight conversion error. All the recipes in that book recommend closer to 25×35 inches, not centimeters. But even if I hadn’t already piled my apples on, there was no way that my sticky, sticky dough was going to get that big. Not a chance. So what to do? Call it a tart!

The filling was good, and the pastry itself was quite good. Of course it was too thick for the filling where I had folded it over, but I was in general pleased with the flavor.

But I still had nearly half the filling and what to do with that? I considered a few options, but in the end, I decided that I did not want to be defeated by this damn Strudel. I could have just gone on with the CGB pastry recipe, but I did really like the buttery sugary crust of this tart, so I headed back to the internet to source a likely-sounding replacement. Happily, South Tyrol came through for me again when I found this recipe for Apple Strudel with a Shortcrust Pastry.

The amounts of sugar, butter, and flour were much more reasonable sounding, but I did also switch out the vanilla sugar for bourbon vanilla and added lemon zest as in the first recipe. I also opted to do the smart thing and whip together the (colder this time) butter and sugar before adding the other ingredients… no butter pockets today!

At the end, I had a lovely pastry dough, not a hint of stickiness. I did give it some time in the fridge again, just in case, and then got to rolling. Lo and behold, I managed to get it to a much more impressive size, with nary a hint of sticky!

I retrieved the filling from the fridge and piled it on. Wait… could it be that now I don’t have enough? It was looking a little thin, so I pulled another two apples out of the pantry and quickly chopped those up to add in. A few minutes later, it was time to wrap and roll, with BV’s assistance.

It was a fairly secure package, but it was rather large and unwieldy, so his long arms were very helpful here. Between the two of us, we got it curled onto the baking sheet and bathed in egg yolk. Another 45 minutes, and we had a house of delicious smells and  this thicc boi.

I was sorely missing a bit of vanilla ice cream or some whipped cream, but this really worked out much better on day two. I do think more filling would’ve been good as well, so I think if I used this pastry recipe again with the full amount of filling the recipe yielded originally, it would’ve been nearly perfect. Possibly immovable, but the ratio would’ve been better anyway.

Note to self: brush up on food photo skills. As you can see,the filling was a bit thin, but so was that top crust… thin and gloriously crisp and flaky. If anyone wants to give their own Apfelstrudel a try, give the link above a shot. Just try not to get distracted by all the other delicious things on that website. Ahhhhhh…. Strudel and dumplings and Vinschgauer, oh my.

For the time being though, it’s vicarious travel through food and photos. Hopefully, we can get back to South Tyrol sooner rather than later. Happy, and healthy, with any luck. Stay inside if you can. Bake stuff if you want. It helps…  or at least for me it does.

 

11/52

Week Two Down.

Twelve days by the calendar since my last post, though time seems to have developed some curious warping and stretching tendencies. Apparently this morning we were all supposed to change that odd clock in the house that isn’t controlled by satellite… daylight savings time didn’t seem to get the memo that days have gotten all fuzzy.

Twelve days ago, I was working from home mostly by choice. My people that I have contact weren’t in the office, so what was the point of me going anywhere? That was Tuesday. Most of last week was truly glorious weather, so I took advantage of my freed-up commute time and took long walks in the warm sun every afternoon. I tried dodging people as best as I could, but it seems that all around Germany the social distancing that was encouraged by the government was not quite taking hold. On Friday at midnight, Bavaria became the first federal state to institute stricter measures.

All non-essential businesses are now closed, restaurants and cafes are limited to take-out, and everyone who can is to work from home. BV was still going in the first week, but last week he and his boss worked out a plan so they can alternate days. It’s not ideal, but its the best they can do for now, and at least it cuts down on his train/bus commuting by half.

For our first official weekend at home with nowhere to go and nothing to do, I spent most of my time in the kitchen. I tried and partially succeeded in making an apple strudel (more on that later), and finally got around to reorganizing the disaster area that we had been calling a pantry.

Still has some ways to go, but we shall not be buying anymore canned fruit unless there’s a specific purpose for it. And expired pickles will be the new salty snack until further notice.

My classes rolled on this week, with the exception of one or two last-minute cancellations. Really, that made it more like a normal week in some ways. The only difference being that here I could do my in-between administrative tasks with Marry die Katze looking over my shoulder, rather than hunting for a free desk in the wild plains of the open office concept. I’m grateful that I’m still working, and I do think that the people I work with are appreciative to have that sense of normalcy. Thank goodness they’re used to spending half the day on telephone conferences and didn’t bat an eye at changing our English lessons.

Beyond work, I didn’t leave the house/our garden from last week Friday afternoon until this week Friday afternoon. Besides the harder restrictions being in place, I had a few more late meetings this week, and the weather took a hard turn back to cold. It was deceptively nice-looking out the window, but the wind had a distinct bite and I decided it wasn’t worth it. Instead, I spent more time cooking because at least we will eat well during all of this. By the end of the week it warmed up a tad, so we were able to have a nice Feierabendbier at our garden table for the first time on Friday afternoon. Plus, we were joined by our new part-time garden residents!

These two wee nuts have been frequent visitors so far this spring. They are very playful, very rumbly, and very intent on causing a ruckus over at our neighbor’s chicken coop on a regular basis.

They also joined me for much of yesterday afternoon while I did some recipe recording in the garden. BV took care of the manual garden labor portion of the day, and we got the grill going later in the evening for the first grilled bratwursts of the season. The next few days look rather chilly again, but we’re hoping for more nice days to take advantage of the weather and approximate the Biergarten experience at home as best as we can. It seems we may have to for quite a while.

After two weeks of this strange new world, I’d say we’re coping fairly well with it most days. Thank goodness we already did a fair amount of meal planning and didn’t rely too heavily on eating out (though I was VERY excited to have sushi delivered to the village on Monday. That was not possible before). We’re both more homebody types anyway, but I’m guessing that in a week or two, I’ll be wanting to see… someone else. Since BV will still be in the office at least 50% of the time, he’ll have some outside contact. I’ll have to make do with virtual connection. Or order more food so I can at least talk to the sushi guy.

I did have a small crisis on Wednesday or Thursday. I was scrolling through something or another and just really wanted to go… somewhere. It’s very rare that we have no vacations, no weekends away, no hiking trips, absolutely nothing planned. I get itchy if we don’t. Intellectually I know that we can’t plan anything right now, but that did not stop me from hopping onto one booking platform or another and just bemoaning all the nice, cozy places that might as well be on Mars now. I doubt that will be the last time it happens, so if you’ve got a tip on a solid distraction or coping mechanism, leave it in the comments?

Whew. This got rambly. Sorry about that.

Stay home, stay healthy, stay sane. We’re all in this together (separately, at home, alone).

 

 

10/52

Greetings from the Inside

Hay there

From the other side of the story to the inside of all our stories. Here we are, in Corona-induced limbo.

Like hopefully most of you are doing, I’m on day two of self-isolating. I wasn’t really planning on it this week, but my first indication came at about 8:00 on Monday morning when one of my afternoon appointments switched our meeting to their virtual channel.

Normally on Mondays, I have an 8:45 meeting so I’m out of the house by 7:30. They had conflicts this week though, so cancelled our meetings. Thank goodness, because that saved me at least an hour-and-a-half round trip to find no one in office. All of my groups were informed on Friday afternoon or Monday morning to stay home, so though I wasn’t ordered to stay in, I’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future. The good news is, it’s possible. Not ideal, of course, but possible.

BV is, at least for now, still going in. They have relatively little possibility (tech capability, really) to work from home, so he doesn’t really have a choice until they are told otherwise. We have no idea if that will happen or not, so for now we’re just hoping he doesn’t bring anything home with him.

Germany isn’t yet fully restricted, and I will be interested to see how quickly they decide if that needs to be cracked down on. Not that social media is always a terribly reliable resource, but it sounds a bit like people are treating it as freebie days, particularly in the cities. As of this week, non-essential shops should all be closed, all big events are cancelled, but it’s still not as stringent as many countries around us.

I’m not without fault… I went to the post office yesterday to retrieve a package, and took a long walk later in the afternoon, but I did my best to give other walkers a wide berth. The parking lots at both supermarkets were quite busy when I went past, and the people in line at the butcher’s (attached to our post office), were standing much too close to each other for comfort. There were also a few groups out walking together in the afternoon, and while sure, the mom and kids probably live together, I doubt that the three older men walking and chatting away do. If it does come to a stricter lockdown situation, I would really like to still have the possibility to get out in “the nature,” so people need to stop acting like idiots and potentially ruining it for the rest of us.

But if that is where we are headed, I fully plan to channel the energy of that lovely South Tyrolean horse up there. Even a recluse by myself might get itchy after a week or two of this. So if you’re stuck on the other side of the proverbial fence, you can still try to reach people. Or maybe it’ll be time to learn to be content where you are. Though if where you are looks like this…

…it might be a bit easier. Our apartment is plenty comfy, but I think I’ll be mentally going to this valley as needed in the next few weeks.

Take care of yourselves, each other, feel free to mentally hang out in this majestic place too… and remember to #staythefuckhome. Hope you can.

 

9/52

 

The Other Side of the Story

Shout out to Cynthia over at Adventurings for reminding me of this incident after her comment on my 2019 wrap up post!

In that post I mentioned that when my old friend Angie came to visit, we took a day trip from Garmisch-Partenkirchen over to Neuschwanstein. What I didn’t mention was the less-photogenic part of the day.

It was a beautiful summer morning when we set out over the Bavarian countryside, seemingly defying the weather report which had called for showers that day. Everything looked great as we got closer to the castles, but after we parked the car, picked up our tickets, and killed some time walking around the Alpsee, I started to notice something. Something dark.

Eh, a couple of clouds. It was windy, it would probably blow over.

We headed up the hill to the Hohenschwangau castle first, and bopped around the gardens snapping more pictures as we waited. Hmmm, what’s that?

The knights say, “Yeah, it’s still moving away. You’re fine.”

Our tour time arrived, so we piled into the castle with the rest of our group. Plus or minus 30 minutes later, we spilled back out to find a bit of precipitation coming down. Nothing too bad, and we all had prepared with our raincoats, which is more than I could say for some of the other visitors.

Note that they don’t all have umbrellas.

If you haven’t been to Neuschwanstein or Hohenschwangau before, they really have it down to a science there. If you buy a ticket to both castles, you must pick it up at least one hour before your first entrance time, and you have at least two hours between each castle tour. That should give you plenty of time to walk (uphill, naturally) between them, or catch the bus or horse carriage. We planned to walk, but were getting hungry so decided to make a quick stop at one of the bratwurst stands.

No sooner had we gotten there, but the heavens opened up. We sheltered our sausages as we ducked from under the stand’s awning to one of several free umbrella tables. Where it rained. And thundered. And rained even harder. I mean, pouring rain. Gushing rain. Rivers cascading off the ends of the awning rain. Girls dressed for Instagram, not for weather, sprinting through the rivers running down the hill in front of us to huddle as close to the souvenir shops and under their overhangs as they could get.

The three of us were pressed to the table, all but clinging to the center pole, our backs getting soaked as I tried to protect my non-waterproof camera bag. The terrace of the restaurant next to us, which was covered by an awning, was quickly abandoned as it wasn’t strong enough to hold all the water. Waiters hustled people inside as other waiters poked brooms up to get the standing water off before they tried rolling it back up. It was Biblical.

I thanked my lucky stars that BV and I had both opted to wear our hiking shoes that day but our jeans were absolutely soaked through. Poor Angie only had sneakers, which were quickly reduced to athletic sponges. The leggings would eventually dry, the shoes… less so.*

After 15 minutes or so it started to lighten a bit. We had to make a decision though. Do we attempt to walk up the hill in the deluge, or join one of the lines for the bus or a carriage? All options led to getting wetter, but our reservation time was getting closer. Angie finally made the decision, so it was to the bus!

Shockingly when we got to the ticket desk, there was nearly no line. Why is that? Ummm… no roof. We thought we were in decent shape. The rain lightened up shortly after we got our tickets and mostly stopped, thank goodness, but there was no bus. We waited a solid 30 minutes before one finally arrived, by which time the line was getting a bit aggro, and had expanded significantly behind us. Or at least, they should have mostly been behind us. Turns out, they can’t drive down a mountain road with hairpin turns when it rains like that.

One steamy, funky-smelling bus ride later, we were up the hill.

My new favorite game at this point became, “spot the unprepared instagrammer,” most of whom were descending from the castle with summery dresses and hair that probably had looked very photogenic at an earlier point in the day. Now it was a little more, ‘had a few cocktails and jumped in the hotel pool mid-photoshoot.’

The smart people up the castle waited in the line area under their umbrellas, while the masses packed into the area under the gate to wait for their tour number to get called.

It was nearly as fresh smelling as the bus, despite being outside. Still not sure how that worked.

We shuffled through our tour alongside a large group of either Spanish or Italian (can’t recall at the moment) seniors, most of whom were much more interested in loudly chatting with each other rather than listening to the audio guides, or the actual humans who were responsible for hustling us through the rooms. Delightful! I know when I was there years ago, they did have people giving the tours rather than the audio guides, but no idea if that ever happens now.** I definitely prefer a human to an audio guide, but c’est la vie.

Tour finished, we were herded towards the gift shop (natürlich), the restrooms, and the balcony overlooking Hohenschwangau and the Alpsee. And thank goodness, the view had most definitely improved! Compare this to the nearly the same (just from lower down) view above…

Not bad!

Thankfully, that seemed to be it for the rain. We made our way out of the castle, coaxed Angie out onto Marienbrücke so she could get those money shot pictures of the castle from above, and watched the Instagrammers who had arrived post-storm glory in their dry and breezy dresses as they threw elbows to get a spot on the bridge. Less Biblical, but entertaining nonetheless.

Moral of the story: even if you’re focused on getting that perfect shot, maybe at least have your friend/IG boyfriend/handler throw an umbrella or some sponsored rain gear in your tote? I did mean to go back and check the location tags for that day on IG and see how many wet photos had been posted, but I forgot in the next few days. I don’t really want to scroll that far now, but for anyone who does it was June 20th, 2019. Huh, just realized that was my 8-year Germaniversary. We ate sausages, we walked up hills, we got drenched… could be worse!

 

 

8/52

*The shoes did dry in the end. She took them off for the drive home, then we put them in the sun on the balcony back at our flat, and then on the heated towel rack when the sun went down.

**They still do the tour in English with guides at Hohenschwangau.

I Am Easily Influenced

…at least, when it comes to cake.

In one of my classes the other day (coincidentally, one that happens right before lunch), we spent a good deal of our time discussing desserts. One of them has worked there for years and thus has the corresponding encyclopedic knowledge of when everyone has a birthday AND which cake from their (or their wife’s, mom’s,  life partner’s) repertoire, should be brought in on said birthday.

During the course of this conversation, one of the other ones mentioned that every year he requests his mom and his sister to bake several cakes for his birthday. I asked if they had a specialty, and he said of course, it’s his favorite, but he only has it one time a year. What was it? Something called Apfelweinkuchen, or apple wine cake.*

I had never heard of this cake before and my interest was immediately piqued, but the conversation moved quickly on after that, so I didn’t get a chance to inquire more. But as soon as I had a minute between appointments, it was straight to the Google. There were no shortages of recipes for this cake, which seems to originate from the Hesse area of Germany (where my source was from, if I remember correctly).

The rest of the day was spent with visions of cake dancing in my head, so naturally I tweeted about it. I was already considering making it on the weekend when I was informed that bringing a cake to a planned weekend event would be fairly welcome. And so it was.

I didn’t fully document the process, but I compared a few recipes and found them all fairly similar. I followed this recipe, for those of you who can read German at least well enough to do the same… https://feedmeupbeforeyougogo.de/2018/10/07/apfelweinkuchen-rezept/

Hallo, creamy goodness.

Some recipes suggest using white wine (usually Riesling) and apple juice instead of Apple wine, but I went with Apple wine. The only other thing I did differently was leave the cake in the oven to cool overnight (also suggested in another recipe). This was mostly because it was fairly late by the time I finished the cake and I didn’t want to put it in the fridge to cool when it was still pretty warm.

Here’s the carnage about halfway through….

Mess.

None survived. I will be making this again. You should, too.

 

7/52

 

 

*I daresay even the non-German speakers could’ve worked that one out but just in case.

Tuscan News and Views

Not really that new though, since it really feels like I’ve been sitting on this one for a hot minute. Or nearly two months.

Jan. 1. Every year should start with views like this.

Our Tuscany trip was memorable in a lot of ways. We ate well, we drank well, we saw beautiful sights and soaked up lots and lots of much-needed vitamin D over the ten days.

Sun and city trips in Cortona.

But there was something else as well. On New Year’s Eve afternoon, we went for a rambling hike around and over the hill behind Santa Lucia. Towards the end of the hike, we found a nice place to sit and relax for a bit on a sandy hill with a nice view. After awhile the wind got a bit chilly, but before BV would let us head back down the hill home, he had another thing on the agenda. A small change of scenery…

Yep… after seven years together, it’s time we make this thing official. What that will look like though, I have no idea. And when and where is still very much to be determined. We were thinking sometime this fall, but we’re learning that as two very poor planners, we don’t have much time to act if we really want to make that happen. Next year would not be the end of the world, but we also don’t really want to wait that long! It took two months just to see most of the friends and family here to tell them the news,* so now we’re ready to get this show on the road.

So to add a bit of explanation for anyone who may have been confused about why in the world we embarked on that ridiculous train trip last weekend, it’s because we wanted to check out some venues. The cats and Kaiserschmarren were just a most excellent bonus. More on that later.

Though looking back on photos for this post, maybe we should just scrap all the ideas we’ve had thus far and go back to Tuscany to get married. Decisions, decisions… and planning… not either of our strong suits.

The good news is that neither of us have any interest in a big, fluffy wedding with all of the trimmings; nor do I have any interest in chronicling the entire planning process here. There are plenty of mediocre wedding planning blogs out there for that.

The bad news is that all it takes is some basic wedding-related googling to turn your suggested pages into a scary, scary place. My Pinterest home page, previously full of recipes, has now got lots of wedding to-do lists, suggestions for bridesmaid gifts, and assorted ‘shedding for the wedding’ type content. *insert vomit emoji here* If that stuff takes over my brain, it’s possible in six months I’ll be waxing poetic about cupcake dresses and shopping for tiaras.

But for both our sakes, I’ll try to keep it sane. If BV develops a strong opinion on bow ties though, I’m in trouble.

A special occasion calls for a rare BV facial appearance on the blog!

 

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*hence this post coming two months after the fact!

Bahnventure: A New Record?

Yesterday BV and I really tested the limits of the Bayernticket. Long-time readers may remember my fondness for the sweet sweet deal that is the ‘Bavaria’ ticket. For new folks, here’s the deal…

The Bayernticket (and all its counterparts in the other German federal states), is a train ticket that can be used on nearly every mode of public transportation except for the high-speed ICE trains on any given day. They can be used for up to five people, and the current price is €29 for the first passenger, plus €5 for each additional person. It’s our go-to for pretty much every time we venture out of the greater Nbg area for a day trip. During the week they can’t be used until after 9am, but on the weekends it’s fair game anytime, which comes in very handy on days like yesterday.

Bright and early Sunday morning, we boarded our first train at 6:30. We went from our home station to Fürth (train 1), from there to Nürnberg (train 2), from Nbg to Augsburg (train 3), from Augsburg to Munich (train 4), and finally, Munich to Rosenheim (train 5). It sounds a tad absurd, but everything was bang on time, and we arrived promptly at 10:27. Not bad for the ca. 300km trip!

Our plan was then to pick up a carshare, as we had to get to somewhere slightly less public transportation accessible. We grabbed a coffee, then spent a solid 45 minutes wandering around looking for our car. Due to some construction work at the train station in Rosenheim, the cars had been moved to the other side of the station. While there was a sign where our car was supposed to be, it was tiny and fairly invisible until you got right up to it. It would be nice if the app with our reservation could update the location information, but I guess it’s up to BV if he wants to go all Keyboard Cat on that one.

Eventually though, we found our car and got on about our business of the day. A few hours later, we returned to Rosenheim and perused the snack options for our return trip.

Pretzels (what else?) in hand, we boarded our train at 6:30pm. Our plan was four trains, arriving back home at 11:30.

This time, it went… less to plan. Rosenheim to Munich (train 1) was fine, and in Munich we boarded a train to Nürnberg. There are several options between the two cities, but we’d have to wait another hour for the faster, 1:50 option. Instead, we got on a blissfully empty double-decker that would go over Ingolstadt and Treuchtlingen, and take about 3:30.

There were some storms in the area yesterday and while all we heard was rain slapping against the train window, there were some trees down on part of our route. We wound up having to exit train 2 in Treuchtlingen to an unplanned train 3 from there to Ansbach. Train 3 ended in Ansbach and after a 30-minute wait, it was onto train 4 from Ansbach to Nürnberg. Train 5 got us back to Fürth, and we made it to the last run of our local train (number 6) with just a few minutes to spare. Woof.

We rolled back into our house at 12:44am. Great for a Sunday night, right? Thank goodness my usual Monday morning group wasn’t planning to meet as they moved offices on Friday and we busy settling into their new digs. After 18 hours out of the house and ten hours on trains… nevermind the hiking part of the day… sleeping a bit earlier than usual this morning was not optional.

To be fair, you can’t help the weather, and we knew that this itinerary was pushing it. I still heart the Deutsche Bahn, but I also understand why BV was grumbling about “maybe it’s time for a little car” again by the end of the day. Especially after a solid display of Sunday night crazy people in the  Nürnberg Hauptbahnhof. We should probably take a few more Bahnventures though before we get too crazy with the car shopping. Got a few things in mind already…

An oldie but a goodie. 

 

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