Autumn eats: Pumpkin and Potato Stew

StewNot exactly a quick meal this one with the amount of peeling and chopping it requires, but it’s colourful and warming on a dark autumn evening. All times are very rough, based on what I seem to remember doing – basically it’s a case of going by what you think seems right. We got four large-ish bowls out of the ingredients below, but amounts will differ depending on the size of your pumpkin and how much water you put in.

Ingredients

Olive oil
1-3 cloves of garlic (depending on size of cloves and how garlicky you like things), chopped or crushed
1 leek, chopped
1 pumpkin, cubed (I used Hokaido)
2-3 potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, sliced
350 ml vegetable stock
Freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Method

  1. Heat some olive oil in a sauce pan then fry garlic for about a minute.
  2. Add the chopped leek and continue to fry for another 2 minutes or so.
  3. Add the cubes pumpkin and fry for 3-4 minutes. In the meantime, peel and cube the potatoes.
  4. Add the potatoes to the pan and continue frying for another 3-4 minutes. If stuff starts to stick to the bottom at any point, add a tiny bit of water to the pan and use it scrape the stuck bits back into the mixture.
  5. Add the sliced carrots to the pan and fry for another 2-3 minutes, then season with black pepper and a bit of cayenne pepper (if using).
  6. Pour 350 ml of chicken stock into the pan and stir well, scraping anything that’s stuck to the bottom back into the mixture.
  7. If the vegetables aren’t submerged in liquid, add water to the pan until they are then place a lid or cover on the pan and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes
  8. Taste your stew and add extra seasoning, if desired, then serve.

Bowl of stew

Hello autumn!

Fallen leaves in the Schlosspark
Fallen leaves in the Schlosspark

Today is the official first day of autumn and the sun is actually shining, so when Jan went out to vote I decided to join him for a walk. I had my camera along with me so I was able to capture the first signs of autumn just for you guys.

Still mostly green... but slowly starting to change
Still mostly green… but slowly starting to change

Once Jan had voted (as a non-German national, I’m only allowed to vote in local elections), we headed towards the Schlosspark to continue our walk. I was wearing my denim jacket, but it was so warm that I ended up taking it off and carrying it! Here are some photos of the first day of autumn in Karlsruhe’s Sclosspark.

What season is this again?

It’s hard to believe that a mere two weeks ago the temperatures were still in the high 20s (degrees celsius, that is). The day we went to the wine festival was the last nice day we had here. Since then, it’s been raining… and cold. So cold, in fact, that last night I took my trusty blanket (the one that got me through the first few days of post-wisdom tooth removal pain) to bed with me. Curled up under both that and the quilt I was actually able to warm up enough to sleep!

This is what autumn is supposed to look like...
This is what autumn is supposed to look like…

I know it’s September, and therefore an autumn month (although not officially until Sunday), but is a temperature drop of more than 10 degrees really necessary? Right now, it feels more like the beginning of winter than the first weeks of autumn (which makes me wonder how I’m going to cope when winter actually does arrive!). Early autumn is supposed to be about brightly coloured trees and piles of crunchy brown leaves that are just perfect for stomping on. How are the leaves supposed to get crunchy when they’re wet all the time? Temperatures are supposed to be mild… well, cool mornings and nights are to be expected, but during the day I should be able to get by with just a cardigan or light-weight jacket. A cardigan, my raincoat and a scarf is not autumn attire! And on the way home from work last night, I even found myself wishing I had some gloves with me. I cannot remember a September this cold in my entire six years in Germany! Here’s hoping the sun comes back for at least a day or two before winter kicks in!

And on an entirely unrelated note… I managed to sleep without a painkiller last night and swallowing seems to be much easier today. My stitches come out tomorrow, so hopefully it will be all up hill from there!

Tomorrow, I shall bid farewell to my wisdom teeth…

A random post today… a bit of everything, but nothing much really. Just snippets.

♠ We came fifth in the pub quiz last night. I thought we’d done pretty well, but others were better. All four who were above us were teams who have won before though.

tired and sleepy
tired and sleepy (Photo credit: fena_wen)

♠ Exhausted again today. And this time I can’t even blame my tooth – that’s been mostly okay the past few days. Except when I eat. Or yawn. Instead I was kept awake by nightmares… except that’s not really the word, because I wasn’t asleep. Every time I started to drift off, a scary thought would cross my mind, and I would have to open my eyes and reassure myself I was in my bedroom, at home. It probably didn’t help that Jan was away last night. I can’t even remember what the thoughts were now, but they must have been pretty scary…

♠ Speaking of the tooth of evilness… the appointment yesterday went well. X-rays were taken… the minute someone tells me to stand still, all I want to do is fidget! But I managed to control myself. After the x-rays, I spent ages waiting before being summoned to a room to wait some more on the dentist’s chair. Apparantly this is normal here?? (Says Jan). I saw the x-rays, and the source of the pain (one wisdom tooth is literally sideways and is pressing right into the tooth next to it. No wonder it hurts!). Bottom two wisdom teeth coming out tomorrow morning. Apparantly my top ones simply don’t exist!

♠ Jan’s choir is performing at a festival in the west of town on Sunday. Whether I will be well enough to go remains to be seen… the doctor said it should usually take three days to recover, which in theory means Saturday. I’ll find out, I suppose…

♠ I bought a new jumper the other day and now can’t wait for it to get properly cold so I can wear it. Not like me to ask for cold weather, but somehow I’m looking forward to autumn this year. Weird.

That’s all… like I said, a bit of everything but mostly nothing. Hopefully inspiration will return once the tooth is gone and sleep returns!

Marburg

Woooah, I’m halfway there-eeere…

This is number 15 in my series of 30 German towns before 30!

The River Lahn
The River Lahn in Marburg

I went to Marburg with Jan in October 2007 to visit his sister, who was studying there at the time. She was studying Art History, which already tells you something about the differences between Karlsruhe and Marburg. I’m not even sure you can study something as frivolous as art here! Karlsruhe is all about computer science and mechanical engineering!

Capital of the Federal state of Hessen from 1485 – 1500, and again between, 1567 and 1605, these days Marburg is best known for its university, which is the oldest Protestant-founded university in the world.

One of the must-see buildings in Marburg is the castle, so of course that was one of the first places we went.

At the castle
At the castle

Like all the best castles, the Marburg one is located on a hill, meaning we were able to get some excellent views of the city. The fact that it was a beautiful autumn day also helped, of course.

Marburg, viewed from the castle
Marburg, viewed from the castle

After checking out the castle, we took a walk through Marburg to the other side of the valley, where there is a tower (the Kaiser Wilhelm tower). On our way through town, we walked down some beautiful streets, such as this one:

Marburg

To get to the tower, we first had to walk up a hill through some woodland. It was a bit like being in Narnia (after the banishing of the White Witch and all her snow, obviously).

Marburg woods

Emerging from the woods, we finally found ourselves at the tower. It’s 36m high, which meant a lot of steps to climb, but the view from the top was definitely worth the effort.

The top of the tower
The top of the tower
View from the tower
View from the tower

We picked exactly the right part of autumn for our trip – while the days were still warm and the leaves hadn’t left the trees yet, but were still at that beautiful reddy-orangey stage.

Autumn trees

The next day we had breakfast at one of Marburg’s most alternative cafes – Cafe am Grün. It’s quite a studenty place – with prices to match – and the coffee literally comes in a bowl! I couldn’t actually finish mine before it went cold. We sat inside, but it does have a back garden, which is right on the River Lahn. I can imagine it would be a beautiful place to sit and enjoy a coffee or a meal in summer.

We also went to the New Botanic Gardens, which are outside of town. It seems I didn’tactually  take any photos there (at least I can’t find any). Most of the flowers were of the summer variety so there wasn’t much to see. I’m sure it would have been amazing in summer though!

Unfortunately, I had to leave later that day as I had work the next morning. Jan stayed on for a couple of days and probably managed to see a bit more than I did, but what I did manage to take in was definitely worth the trip!

Autumn days

I’ve been meaning to show you some of the photos I’ve taken recently, but somehow time has been getting away from me and other topics to post about kept cropping up, leaving my poor blog devoid of autumn colours (and now winter is approaching!).

Here are some of the photos I’ve taken over the past few months.
Home made beef and pumpkin stew. There’s nothing like it on a rainy autumn day!


An autumny tree in Mannheim.


The sun goes down so early these days.


I love how there’s just a little bit of red in amongst all the green.


Penguins at Karlsruhe zoo.


Beautiful leaves!

That’s all. I hope you like them.

Thank god for this beautiful view

As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to work from home yesterday to give my colleagues a break from my coughing and myself a chance to recover.

At work, I regularly share a room with one colleague (there is also a spare computer in our room, which is occasionally used by interns and the like, but usually there are two of us). My colleague has the window seat, while I sit by the door. Occasionally I will look away from whatever translation I’m working on to try to give my eyes a break from the computer screen. Naturally, my gaze tends to be drawn towards the window on these occasions but, being so far away, I can’t really see much – just the top of the building next door. Not that I would anything more interesting if my desk was closer to the window. Our office looks out on a concrete courtyard which is usually full of cars. And because our room is almost the last one in our corridor, we tend not to get much sun in either. In fact, at this time of year we need the light on pretty much all day. So, while working from home, it was quite nice to have something else to look at than the various postcards I’ve stuck above my desk at work. Here is what I currently see outside the window when I look over to it from the computer desk in our spare room:

At that point in time, the sky was completely white with clouds, although there had been some blue sky early in the day. But despite the clouds, there is some sun coming from a place I can’t see, causing the trees to light up in all their autumn glory. The desk in our spare room is also at the opposite side of the room from the window, but the trees are tall enough to be seen from over there. And actually, if I was to go over to the window, the view would consist of a road and tram tracks (plus some grass a little further away), so it may, in fact, be a good thing that the desk is so far away from the window. This way, I only get the nice view (plus, if I am working from home, I’m less likely to be distracted by people watching opportunities. Unless someone starts walking along the roof of the building opposite there aren’t really any people to watch!). Despite the fact that my cough was annoying me a lot, I actually managed to gain some pleasure from gazing out at the pretty coloured trees (during my lunch break, obviously. I did get some work done as well 😉 ).

Have I mentioned recently that I love my flat? 🙂

By the way, the title of this blog is a line from possibly my favourite Tina Dico song, A Room With A View. Here’s the YouTube link for you:

Hello autumn!

We returned from England to find that autumn has Karlsruhe well and truly in its grip. There had been signs of it before me left, of course, but somehow you don’t notice just how long the nights are getting when the darkness is lasting a little longer each day. After an entire week of waking up well after sunrise, it came as a bit of a shock to wake up to pitch blackness on Monday morning (well, as pitch black as it ever gets in a city). And the dark stuck around until it was almost time for me to leave for work. Then on Wednesday – a public holiday in Germany – while walking through the castle garden in Bruchsal I picked up a shiny conker from the ground. Yes, autumn has definitely arrived again.

While I can’t seem to get particularly enthusiastic about dark mornings or the rain that the weather forecasters are threatening for this weekend, autumn does have it’s good points. Such as being able to dress up my legs in warm, funky tights again, like these brown spotty ones, purchased from C&A.

And the slightly colder weather gives me the perfect excuse to start munching on some of my favourite meals again. Things that, in summer, are just too much effort – both to cook and to eat! Cottage pie, bangers and mash, delicious curries and nice warming soups and stews. Mmmm. And, of course October means Halloween, which I can hardly wait for. I love an excuse to get dressed up! I really need to get cracking with making my costume though…

Autumn in the air

Standing at the tram stop this morning, I was hit by a smell that I can only describe as “Autumn”. Unfortunately it didn’t last long, as after a few minutes the only other person at the stop lit up a cigarette and my nostrils were filled with smoke instead, but not before I managed to take a deep breath of that wonderful aumtumny fragrance. The sun was just barely up and it was still pretty cold outside, with that crisp clean feel to the air that makes smells (and sounds) spread for miles. And the scent of autumn was definitely in the air. It’s that slightly dusty smell of fallen leaves, mixed with the scent of conkers. I couldn’t see any conkers but I could certainly smell them! It’s the smell of nature, but not the nature smell you get in spring. Spring smells new and fresh and green (of course green has a smell!). The nature of autumn is more mature. This is nature that’s seen things. It’s mature nature (interesting that those two words don’t rhyme). Spring smells invigorating, summer is sweet and warm, but autumn has a musty, down-to-earth smell. I love the first few weeks of autumn weather, when the days are still warm (but the sun isn’t beaming down, doing its best to give me sunstroke) and the evenings are still light. This part of autumn never lasts for long though, so I’d better enjoy it while I can!

Dark days are coming…

Don’t worry, the title of this post has nothing to do with my mental status. I mean it entirely literally…
I was most upset the other day when I got up the other morning and had to switch the light to see into my wardrobe. Admittedly it was 6 a.m., but still, it’s been ages since I’ve had to do that! And suddenly it occurred to me that Autumn is on its way. Despite the fact that we’ve barely even had summer yet. This week the sun has finally decided to come out, but instead of nice summer days the temperature decide to leap from about 12°C (toooo cold for summer) straight to 35°C. Throw in the fact that my place of work is basically a corrugated iron extension to another building, complete with lovely tin (well, some kind of metal) roof and no air conditioning and you can imagine how fun work has been! And of course the second the weekend arrived the temperature dropped and the heavens opened again. Murphy’s Law strikes again!

Part of the reason the coming of Autumn is such a shock is probably because we haven’t had a summer holiday this year. We did spend a week in England at the beginning of August, but a visit to my dad’s doesn’t really feel like a holiday… not to me anyway, maybe it’s different for Jan. And it especially doesn’t feel like a holiday when the main reason for going is to attend a wedding. I’ve actually been invited to another one on 2 September, but neither the bank balance nor the work situation will allow it. I will be getting a holiday soon enough though. Four days in Paris in October for my brother’s 21st. It really will be Autumn then! And if time keeps flying the way it has been this year it will be here in no time.