30 April 2010

Good Morning, Sunshine!

Yup, it's time to get up earlier than normal and go out to the gardens to see what's popping up and what needs attention. Time to set in some new flowers, start putting together hanging planters and set in new herbs, trim back established ones, and start cutting some of the first greens for salads and savory sauces...

29 April 2010

Blog Awards ... Nice Nods!

I once commented to someone that blogging is more than playing around with the computer. It's sharing your passion and interests with the world-at-large, honing your writing skills, learning more each day about the technology of the Internet, practicing with photography, and hoping that someone reads and admires a bit of what you've done. If that doesn't happen, than you just have to accept that your interest and efforts are enough for you, yourself, and you. There is, after all, something to be said for self-actualization.

Which leads me to a bit of thanks. While I was off puttering about in Germany with Silent Bob and friends, one of my Internet acquaintances paid me a wonderful compliment... an award,  I would never have expected. To boot, it's called The Sunshine Award ... just what the doctor ordered for this time of year when we all crave sunshine and flowers! Thank-you Lizzy! I'd like you to know that I thought of you as I flew over the Netherlands to and fro!

26 April 2010

Sunday in the Odenwald

Early yesterday morning , Gundel took Silent Bob and I on a lovely walk through the farmland outside Weinheim.  Trixie, Gundel's sweet wolfhound mix, needed a run and we needed to walk off the Cream of Asparagus soup, Schnitzel and fixings, and Weizen beer that we'd knoshed on Saturday night ...

It seemed that the entire village of Obermumbach  had ditched church and headed for the hills! A festive atmosphere reigned on the trails above the village. Folks with their dogs, young couples towing children in wagons, old couples strolling the hills and stopping every so often to rest on wayside benches, even young teens walking with their grandparents, groups of bicyclers riding the trails, a couple of horseback riders clopping along at a slow pace ... everyone was out in their shirtsleeves to enjoy the sunshine and cool breezes. 'Guten tag!', 'Morgen! (insert singsong tone to voice on this one)' are typical greetings shared with any and all you meet on the way when out for a stroll... so chipper ... and the beauty of the morning jumpstarted everyone's enthusiasm!

We walked for perhaps 7 km along trails that wound through beautiful farmland and ended up seeing deer bounding up through the back pastures of one farm. The resident cows flicked their tails and paid little attention to neither passing deer or wanderers. Apple and cherry blossoms let loose snow petals that showered the trails and meadows. Their were millions of dandelions (Löwenzahn - Lion teeth, here!), wild mustard, violets, and wild chives blanketing the fields. Bliss... truly!

14 April 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Today, I have been challenged to learn to use my friends Gundel and Wichard's European keyboard in order to communicate this short post! There are umlauts and different special symbols, and Euro signs as well as dollar signs mixed up with all the other letters!  Mix this slight confusion with jetlag and ... wow! No wonder my eyes are squirrelly!

Gundel met us at the airport in Frankfurt and helped us settle into our room in her home, then served a wonderfully fresh Spring luncheon ... a green salad and fingerling potatoes and hardboiled eggs served with Frankfurter Grune Soße - a fresh, tart, white sauce made from quark, a bit of mayonaisse, a bit of plain yogurt, and many fresh green herbs( parsley, borage, sprouts, watercress, and some I am unfamiliar with). Light and delicious ... a true regional Spring favorite!

Pictures will have to wait until I'm not so tired ... until then, Wiedersehen!

11 April 2010

Sesame Crusted Halibut with Stir-fried Vegetables

Can you believe it? Tonight is the first time in my life that I have eaten halibut? How is this possible? I think I have always been intimidated  by the circular bone that is so prominent in the halibut steaks. Then, the long cuts of halibut have the added bone that radiates to either end of the 'fletch' ... and what the heck is that name all about? Not to mention, fishy skin that looks kinda like sharkskin... call me a wimp when it comes to fish.

I know this strange quirkiness comes from my childhood. Blame it on my mom who always warned us about choking on fishbones. She must have gotten a fishbone stuck crossways at some point in time, because she was totally paranoid when we had fish for dinner (which wasn't often!). The thing is, I love seafood! Over the years, I've worked my way up from fish sticks, to clams and crab, to cod fillets, to swordfish, to tuna, to scallops (no bones there!), to sea bass, to monkfish, to lobster, to salmon, to flounder, to hake,  to trout. How is it that I missed halibut?

10 April 2010

If It's Saturday, I'm Baking Cookies...

Oh  boy ... I went to this bridal shower a few weeks ago. There were incredible sweets gracing the sideboard in the dining room... look! See those chocolate cookies on the tiered stand?

There were entirely too few of them there! They disappeared ... like, really fast ... sucked into the chocolate vortex created by a couple dozen women grazing the dessert table. I am telling you, since I grabbed one of those little chocolate bombs, I've been obsessed with finding a recipe for them . Our hostess called them Rolo Surprises.

09 April 2010

It's Time for Asparagus!

This is the asparagus post...........

This asparagus post starts out with a big, bad, gross question... and you all know what it is. Yes, you do! Come on! Perhaps someone out there cares to research for the answer and get back to me... and the question is... why does asparagus make your pee smell really strange? Since I was a child, I've pondered this strange phenomenon ... but not long enough to do my own research.

Okay, now that I have that out of my system I can proceed to all the wonderful things I plan to make with the asparagus that will be coming in soon, soon, soon! Asparagus frittata, creamy asparagus soup decked with crunchy croutons, asparagus wrapped in phyllo dough, smoked salmon and asparagus canapes, roasted asparagus with prosciutto and Parmesan, asparagus and ham quiche, ...

07 April 2010

A Taste of Summer ... Potatoes - Patatas, Tomatoes - Tomates ... Avocado!

Happy Spring! I hope you have been able to get out into the fine balmy weather! We had a gorgeous weekend and have come into the new week with more warm sunny weather. I am one happy woman, looking for easy fixin's after being out in the gardens cleaning up winterkill and pulling leaves and dried flower stalks off of last season's flower mounds.  It's so much fun to see the first little unfurlings of leaves and tiny stalks poking through the soil! It's good for the soul to see all this renewal!

This past weekend saw a gorgeous pile of beautiful vegetables in our markets for folks to use in preparing their Easter celebration dinners. I came upon tomatoes and basil from a greenhouse operation down the road in Massachusetts. There were gorgeous avocados from far away ... but I couldn't resist them! I picked up some good mozzarella and made a salad plate side dish to go with our Easter ham ... it was wonderful!

02 April 2010

Trouble In Paradise ... Paddling Toward Bliss!

Let's just say that life in the cottage on the hill has been better. We woke up to rain ... rain ... and more rain. No gentle Spring showers, no! Torrents, 'sheets and pillowcases', buckets! You get the idea. Our cellar has about four inches on the floor and it's rising. The sump pump is trying hard, but it looks like it's not strong enough ... the old hoses have been pressed into service as siphons to aid the poor little pump that thought it could.