Saturday, October 31, 2015

October Highs and Lows 2015

Our October weather felt more like November - gray and dreary almost every day. But the rain held off for the most part, so I was able to reach my 10,000-step goal almost every day. To be honest, it's good walking weather - the sun is nice, but not sweating is nicer. At one point on one of my walks in the valley the sun came out and warmed right through my fleece just at the moment when John Denver's song "Sunshine on my Shoulders" started on my little MP3 player. That's right, I often listen to John Denver while I walk, like all the cool people do.

So here we go...


  • a walk with M to the Uracher Wasserfälle on a beautiful autumn afternoon.
"Not exactly Niagara Falls, is it?"
But look at all those visitors!
the ruins of Hohenurach
  • horseback riding!!! I finally called the stable near us to set up a riding lesson. I've had two lessons, and I'm pleased to say the instructor already has enough trust in me to leave me alone while I get the horse ready. I asked her to let me know when she thinks I'm ready to join the Friday ladies group, and she said I could join them now. "They don't ride better than you." Nice!! But they ride for an hour, and I don't think my butt body is up for that yet!

  • trying a new recipe that we both liked - Whisky Chicken! It needs tweeking, but we both agreed it has potential even though it's chicken (M says chicken doesn't really count as meat because it's not a steak). The whisky - we used  Glenmorangie because it's all we had - goes into the sauce and is then flamed - very exciting, and it smells divine! Can you tell we're missing Scotland? 

  • meeting my friend H for Kaffee und Kuchen and a chat. We hadn't seen each other for a while because of our vacations, so we had lots to catch up on. I drove home along a new (for me) road without using the GPS - another driving baby step! And the fall colors were still gorgeous.

  • driving to Esslingen on the spur of the moment for a short meeting, and not being panicky or afraid at all! The drives there and back went well - three traffic jams, of course, but that's normal. And I was able to buy a new pair of obnoxiously overpriced walking shoes (what I can buy at Kohl's in Wisconsin for $35 cost €119 in Esslingen - and the Euro and dollar are nearly equal these days).

  • trying another chicken recipe that M liked well enough - Jamie Oliver's Hit 'n' Run Traybaked Chicken. It's SO easy!! I used regular paprika, though, and we're pretty sure it needs the smoked paprika (which our grocery store didn't have). They also didn't have boneless skinless chicken thighs, so I had to skin and debone the things myself. Not my favorite thing. But I also threw in a breast to see how that would turn out, and although it was ok, the thigh meat is much better for this recipe.

  • our fourth Kochkurs - this is something we totally enjoy doing together, and it's almost even a social thing!


  • I've got nothing here. In an entire month, I can't think of one single thing that would count as a "low". That's kind of breaking the rules. Of everything that went on, something had to have been the low point. Oh wait, I've got one:

  • cleaning. I don't love cleaning, but it's got to be done, so there's no sense in whining about it.

  • I suppose paying €119 for a pair of damn gym shoes wasn't a highlight, either. But they are really comfortable.

Thermomix Successes of the Month

  • Marmorkuchen and Banana  Bread: Obviously those baked in the oven, but I used Thermomix recipes and the machine for measuring, mixing, and chopping.

  • Apfelmus (Applesauce): I should have left out the optional Vanillezucker, but it was easy, had a great consistency, and tasted good.
third try: possibly perfect this time
(For my second try I didn't peel the apples. It was ok, but I prefer it without chunky bits.)
  • Chocolate pudding: I probably could increase the sugar a bit, but it was good. I don't love the film that forms on the pudding as it cools, so if anyone knows a trick to avoid that, let me know.

  • Frischkäse (like cream cheese): mix and heat Quark (like plain yogurt), Schmand (like sour cream), a frightening amount of Butter, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt for 6 minutes. Cool. Easy peasy, and a good spread. Now if only I could find good bagels...

  • Carrot-Apple-Walnut Rohkost Salad: basically just chop everything together with walnut oil, salt, and pepper. This one's a keeper!

  • Hefezopf (braided yeast roll): I wish you could have been there when M returned from work as I was trying to mould a third of the dough into a long, floppy dough roll. Rolling it on the counter wasn't working (I'd floured the surface and shouldn't have), so I was dangling it in the air while rubbing it and letting gravity help. "This isn't working well!"  "You're holding it wrong." Awkward (and yet hilarious)...
not perfect yet - I'll have to try again
  • Tortellini-Mushroom Casserole: Not the best, and sadly not great as leftovers. But it was not a failure!
  • Quittenmarmelade (quince jam) with Quitten our neighbor gave us! We just made this today.

Other Moments

  • Two gentlemen from the Watchtower showed up at the door to tell me that many people wonder, when they pray, if anyone is listening*. I actually pulled the "Oh, gee, sorry. I'm from the U.S. and I don't speak German." They had their pamphlet in English, too. No, not that either. But I wished them a nice day.
    *I don't wonder that. I think if there's a greater power up there, He's got better things to do than listen to my drivel. I only pray in gratitude, but I do that nearly every day, usually during my walks.

  • A guy came to our door selling apples. I like apples, but every time I buy even just 3 from our vegetable guy, they sit there for weeks until I either force myself to eat them or stuff one in the cavity of a chicken I'm baking. He took 3 different apples out of his apron and cut off pieces for me to try. I told him I'd buy five apples, but we really can't use more than that. His minimum was 10 kilos. I do not need and cannot use even 2 kilos of apples. But you guessed it - after saying "Nein" at least three times, I bought 10 kilos of apples. They're now in a box in the cellar. He said they're from somewhere near the Bodensee (he gave me the town's name twice, but I didn't understand it), and he said they'll last in the cellar for 3 months.

    It was right after his visit that I called the riding stable to set up lessons. At least I'll have somewhere to take the apples when I get sick of eating and baking with them.

    I really need to stop answering the door.


  1. Aaah, those trees are GORGEOUS! I love the colours of autumn.
    The apples story made me laugh :-D

    1. It's always nice when my stories can bring someone to laughter. :-) I wasted 6 of those apples on an apple pie this morning - a total kitchen fail.

      I enjoyed your pumpkin festival post!

  2. Oh you have so many interesting recipes! It's funny because some of them I know from Chile - which I never realise has a huge german food culture in their heritage!

    1. I wouldn't have known that either. It's amazing how much one can enjoy cooking when s/he has time to experiment. In my earlier life I cooked, but not with any real enjoyment. Now it's actually (usually) fun!

  3. Apples? Apfelstrudel! So easy. Flour, oil, water, mix and let for 2 hours. Chopp the apples, mix with sugar, raisins, vanilla and cinnamon. Tear the dough on a dish towel until you can read the newspaper through it, put the apples on, roll and put it in a saucepan and for 50 min in the oven. Make vanilla sauce (Dr Oetker). Perfect for a sunday afternoon.