Monday, July 25, 2011

{still life with cat, detective story, denial}

Thanks to the slight drop in temperature, I'm spending this morning on the front porch with my kitty, my latest Sayers and an iced coffee, trying to forget that my house looks like this:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

witchy-woman echinacea tincture

Last summer I was delighted to learn that the lovely purple coneflowers in my front garden also answer to echinacea purpura, a prairie wildflower long used medicinally by Native American Plains nations. And for good reason: echinacea properties seem to range from antibacterial (cold), to antiviral (flu), to anti-inflammatory (cancer...?).

So today I found my inner herb-witch and concocted a little brew.  Just a few drops in a cup of chamomile tea do the trick, so they say.




echinacea tincture: the steps
1. Snip: Cut entire blossom* (not much stem, which is the least potent part).
2. Stash: Loosely fill a 32oz glass container (here, an old milk bottle) with blossoms.
3. Souse: Cover blossoms with 750 mL 80-proof vodka.
4. Store: Lid and set in a cool, dark space for two weeks. Finally, filter through a cheesecloth into dark-tinted glass containers and keep, refrigerated, up to two years.

*Herbalists suggest echinacea root for a slightly stronger brew (but one not nearly as pretty; besides, I was loath to uproot my flower garden).

What are your favorite handed-down home remedies?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

{july garden}

Our garden gave us a wonderful welcome home upon our return to Louisville.  Although our kitchen is a construction zone, the moment our stove is plugged back into the wall we're making our favorite soup with all the good stuff our garden is growing.  However, anyone who's not currently covered in sawdust should make this soup immediately. Recipe below (my mama's, with a couple of tweaks).

{summer garden soup}
In a large stock pot, combine the following:
            * 6 cups veggie stock
            * 1 cup dry lentils
            * 1 large red onion, diced
            * 5 Tbs. garlic, minced
            * 8 Tbs. soy sauce
            * 4 Tbs. olive oil

Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes.  In the meantime, begin cooking 1 cup of dry brown rice separately.

After 10 minutes, add the following to the soup:
            * 6 more cups veggie stock
            * 2 cups red wine
            * 2 carrots (approx 4 oz.), sliced
            * 2 celery stalks, sliced
            * 3 tomatoes (approx 16 oz.), diced
            * 1 beet, pref. julienned
            * 4 Tbs. fresh basil (I chop it with kitchen scissors)
            * 2 tsp. thyme
            * 2 tsp. marjoram
            * 4 tsp paprika
            * 3 bay leaves
            * salt to taste

Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Then remove from heat and add the cooked brown rice.  The soup can be served immediately, but it gets more flavorful being refrigerated for a day or so (which is good, because this recipe makes a lot of soup).  We love it with cornbread or honey-wheat bread and the remaining bottle of wine.

Monday, July 18, 2011

{1st floor restore, pt. 1}

Day 1: Things were just a little too quiet around here.

My kitchen floor. Where to begin?

We could begin in 1939, when the original builder looked down at new, gorgeous, red oak floors and decided to cover them with a layer of vinyl flooring without first sealing the wood.

We could begin with subsequent owners: the one who updated the floor with snazzy mid-century hard tile, or the one who carpeted --actually carpeted-- the kitchen in orange shag, or the one who built cabinets atop four layers of plywood and linoleum.

We could begin with the duct work that screwed with the subfloor that led to the bulge that led to the crack: the 15-foot, kitchen-to-library Crack of Doom.  Yes, let's begin there.

Crack of Doom!

Pulling up boards the length of the split.

Back together again.

Day 6: Old floor and new.

Two days and many inches of sawdust later, the Crack of Doom is no more.  Next up: adventures in belt sanding!

{filmstrip, die biere!}

If a crucial element seemed missing from previous posts on Deutschland, it's only because the beer deserved a post all its own...

1.  In a Füssen biergarten, the brew named for mad King Ludwig.
2.  Hacker-Pschorr at the Viktualienmarkt, Munich. We had the Weisse (good!) and the Münchner Radler (strange).
3. Brezel (groß), my accompaniment of choice.
4. König Ludwig Dunkel Lager.

5. Rothenburg Biergarten.
6. Tucher Helles Hefeweizen in Rothenburg.
7. Coasters: we saved 'em.
8. Late-night snack: Käse, Äpfeln and Augustiner Bräu München from the corner store.

Friday, July 15, 2011

{filmstrip, münchen again}

Our last day in Munich, M and I revisited all our favorite spots around the city (and discovered one or two more).

1. Honig Häus at Viktualienmarkt.
2. One last latte macchiato at Kaffeehaus on Fraunhoferstrasse.
3.  A bit of the eccentric and wonderful Kaffeehaus décor.
4. Courtyard at St. Maximilian's.

5. The Maypole at Viktualienmarkt, our favorite place to make a picnic of vendor fare: Frukt, Käse, Brezel, Bier.
6. Purchasing Kirschen from a Viktualienmarkt fruit stand.
7. Bicycles and cobblestones at Ludwig Maximilians University.
8. ...another Kaffee for good measure.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

{filmstrip, rhineland}

Nearing the end of our time in Germany, M and I toured wine country along the Rhine river. We spent two days soaking up gorgeous weather, charming sights and the primary local export...

1. "The vine-clad hills of Bingen, fair Bingen on the Rhine..."  Southernmost stop on our tour of the valley.
2.  Rhineland is wine land! We sampled fifteen local offerings with a "wine carousel" at Bastian's Weingut.
3. Chalk numbers on the carousel matched a numbered photo of the Bacharach hillside. We could see the same vineyards from our table at Bastian's.
4. We packed a picnic with baguette and a bottle of Bastian's (no. 9) and took a riverboat cruise up the Rhine, past castles and little towns to St. Goar, then back to Bacharach.

5. We arrived in Bacharach without a place to spend the night.  Just minutes after we stepped from the train, a tiny little woman, Frau Orth, waylaid us on Mainzstrasse and brought us straight up to a room above her apartment. Next morning, she served us breakfast in her living room.
6. A narrow alleyway on Rosenstrasse.
7.  Dogs everywhere in Bacharach.  Gizmo was basking in the doorway of this cafe until I approached to take his photo. He was friendly, not fierce.
8.  This sweetie was just around the corner from Frau Orth's.

9. Visiting Bacharach felt a little like visiting Hobbiton. No grocery store in town, but there's a butcher's shop, a bakery, and a woman who drives around delivering eggs.
10. We wandered down lovely Rosenstrasse before hiking up to Stahleck Castle, there at the top left.
11. Seen hiking to the castle: the western edge of town with hilly vineyards behind.
12. M and I above Bacharach at Stahleck, a 12th-century castle that is now a youth hostel. When we arrived, a terrible battle was being waged at the city gate. With water bottles. Boys against girls, of course.

Still to come: last day in Munich, Deutschbahn, and beer!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

{filmstrip, salzburg}

We nipped down to Austria for a day to tour Old Salzburg, famous for its musical history (real and Hollywood prefab). While M and I wandered through Petersfriedhof, hiked the cliffs of Mönchsberg, and snacked at 12th-century Stiftsbäckerei, we passed on the Sound of Music tour as well as the local confection: "Mozartkugeln."

1. Mozart's birth house in Old Salzburg and the site of his childhood compositions.
2. A gated portico in Petersfriedhof, St. Peter's Abbey Cemetery.
3. Salzburg Cathedral. We ducked inside during a rain shower and caught the final gorgeous moments of a choral performance of Mozart's Requiem Mass.
4. Salzburg Cathedral again, seen from the cliffs of Mönchsberg on the Hohensalzburg Fortress grounds.

5. St. Peter's Abbey, seen from Hohensalzburg Fortress.
6. A portico lock and chain in St. Peter's Cemetery (though what really protects the remains of old Salzburg aristocrats is the rental fee their descendants pay every ten years to keep them there).
7. Marble memorials just outside the Abbey catacombs.
8. Evening thunderclouds over Alter Markt.  We didn't (quite) beat the rain to the station.

Rhineland (read: wineland) still to come!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

{filmstrip, füssen}

After five busy days in cities and villages, M and I took a train due south to Füssen and spent a peaceful afternoon in the hills edging Switzerland.

1.  Neuschwanstein castle, built in the 19th century by infamous King Ludwig II, who went mad and perished under mysterious circumstances.
2. On the banks of lake Alpsee.
3. Seeing the Alps.
4. Pöllat river valley from a north-facing Neuschwanstein balcony.

5. Alps and Alpsee from a west-facing balcony.
6. Castle and turret.
7. Throne room ceiling.  This was the only room with a Byzantine aesthetic.  Each of the castle's other rooms pays homage to a different Wagner opera.
8. Patrona Bavariae.

Still to come: Austria and more!

Monday, July 11, 2011

{filmstrip, rothenburg}

Once the LMU conference ended, M and I began taking little day trips out of Munich. The town of Rothenburg, to the northwest, is about three hours by train (and is darling). You half expect to glimpse Märchen characters down the narrow alleys and side streets. 

1. A kleine pub, seen from the top of the city wall. We walked the town perimeter along the medieval wall and saw into everyone's garden.
2. Repurposed Post bike. In Munich, these bikes zipped around us on deliveries, weaving in and out of early morning traffic. In Rothenburg they're planters. A fairly tidy contrast.
3. A Bäckerei near the center of town, specializing in Schneeballen ("snowballs") --what appear to be pastry scraps rolled in a ball, fried, and sugared.
4. Rudi, one gnome among millions.

5. Evening in Rothenburg.
6. In the Grünermarkt, we happened upon a sheep-shearing festival.  The square was filled with stalls selling woolen and felted goods (and, as always, kartoffeln and bier).
7. M with pen of denuded and chilly sheep.
8. In the market square, a group of Rothenburg women sat spinning wool together and chatting about their knitting projects. Wish I could've joined them, but we were due back at the train station before we knew it.

Still more to come...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

{filmstrip, münchen}

Beginning today with Munich, I'll run a short pictorial travelogue of M's and my tour through lovely southern Germany. Just some odds and ends --a little fragmented and not at all comprehensive. Serendipitous --like the trip.   

1. Morning of arrival. First Munich purchase: umbrella.
2. Certain indispensable words we learned quickly.  Fortunately, as Sesamstrasse came on each morning at eight, we can now count to ten in Deutsch and sing the hiccup song.
3. One street from our hotel: Fraunhoferstrasse, of the manifold boutiques, antiques, bakeries and cafes. Wandering through our neighborhood, we were perplexed when every street we chose seemed to take us back to Gärtnerplatz. Then we saw it on a map.
4. Exiting the U-Bahn on Saturday morning, having just brought it at Monster Conference, Munich 2011. As the kids say.

5. Seen on Maximilianstrasse.
6. Most unexpectedly, M encountered his own kind at a Marienplatz rally.  (Alternately: That's our hero shot.)
7. Latte macchiato outside Kaffeehaus on Fraunhoferstrasse.  Three coffee shops operated within a block of our hotel. We frequented all three.
8. Tea for breakfast in our room. We awoke each morning at seven to the bells of St. Maximilian's on the corner. Sometimes just a little earlier to a neighborhood trumpet student, practicing scales.

More to come...
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