Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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A Photo an Hour: 21 February 2015

Yesterday I took part in A Photo an Hour, hosted by Jane from Is That You Darling? and Louisa from Duck in a Dress. Here are the results of my efforts.

11 a.m. A late start to the morning (but in my defence, I’d had a looong day the day before… and a long week for that matter!). First things first: a cup of tea is needed!

12 noon Doing a bit of cross stitch (actually, at this point I was unpicking. Yes, I messed up right at the beginning and had to start over)

1 p.m. A spot of lunch (brunch?) while looking for even more flat adverts to respond to. Jan took the tablet while I was fetching my camera and then wouldn’t give it back to me, so instead of a real estate website, you get a photo of my empty plate.

2 p.m. Wrapping a new home gift for a friend ready to take it to the post office.

3 p.m. Showered and dressed… aren’t my spotty tights fab?

4 p.m. Post office done, now to head home via the supermarket. I happened to be passing St Stephen’s Church at 4, and its chimes reminded me to take a photo so I decided it deserved to be the subject of said photo.

5 p.m. Time to wash some dishes. I’m ashamed to say that I was washing dishes from Thursday!

6 p.m. Sorting out some of my crafting supplies… a task that desperately needs doing so I can pack up the spare room read for the move.

7 p.m. Cracking some eggs to make omelets for tea.

8 p.m. Carrot and apple salad (it’s a German thing…)

9 p.m. (actually 9:30… I got distracted!). Cross stitching while watching TV.

11 p.m. I forgot to take a photo at 10! Not that it would have made much difference… still cross stitching. Working on the dreaded French knots of dooooom!

And actually forgetting to take a photo at 10 turned out quite well because it means I get to keep my symmetry. I went to bed after the news, which finished at 11:35, so there was no midnight photo.

So, that was my Saturday. Pretty boring! How was yours?


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I am a bad blogger…

The Lebanese flag

The Lebanese flag

As I mentioned on Friday, we went to look at a flat in Basel on Saturday. The appointment was late afternoon, so we decided to stay the night in Lörrach (on the German side of the border, where hotels are cheaper) and take some time on Sunday to drive around all the areas of Basel where we have inquired about flats. On Saturday night, we went out to eat at a Lebanese restaurant in Lörrach where I failed to take a single photo. Bad blogger! I can assure you that Lebanese food is very tasty, though. For me, it seemed like a mixture of Greek and Turkish cuisine, which is interesting seeing as it’s nowhere near either of those! The menu contained lots of aubergine, chickpeas and lamb dishes. Making a decision was difficult, so we chose a four-course set meal to get a bit of everything. There was a mixed starter plate followed by salad then a main course of meat, meat and more meat served with a spicy tomato cous cous. Dessert was some kind of coconut/cream cake plus a plate of different fruits. It was all delicious and I can highly recommend Cedar’s Lebanese Restaurant if you ever find yourself in Lörrach. You might want to reserve though – it was busy! We were initially sent away for an hour and then asked whether we minded sharing a table with another couple.

In other news, the flat we looked at was nice but much smaller than our current one! It’s in a nice area and has a big balcony out the back, though. We’re currently in the process of filling out forms for the (potential) landlady and gathering evidence that, should we move in, we can actually pay the rent! It seems there are many hoops to jump through before you can actually rent a flat in Switzerland… Meanwhile, we have 2 more appointments arranged for next weekend and are still frantically checking rental websites for new ads every day. Fingers crossed something works out soon!


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Raspberry chocolate dessert pots

DessertThe company Jan currently works for celebrated it’s 30th anniversary last week, so he and all his colleagues were working extremely hard to get everything ready for demonstrating to the visitors. The result was that Jan and I ate together precisely once last week (on Friday – the anniversary was on Thursday). In fact, he didn’t come home before midnight on any of those days. After all that hard work, I decided he deserved a treat, so I made this dessert last night. The amounts given here make 2 pots.

Raspberry Chocolate Dessert Pots

Ingredients:
70 g chocolate digestives (or similar biscuits)
35g butter
125g raspberries
50g dark chocolate
200 ml tub of cream
Caster sugar

Method:

1. Melt the butter in a pan and, while it’s melting, crush the chocolate biscuits. Once that’s done, stir the melted butter and crushed biscuits together.

2. Divide the biscuit crumb mixture between two dessert glasses/bowls (I used glass pots that had previously contained shop-bought cheesecakes. Recycling!), then cover the pots with tinfoil and place them in the fridge for around 15 minutes.

3. Place all but 10 of the raspberries in a bowl and crush them with a fork. Add half a teaspoon of caster sugar and stir it in well, then your pots/glasses back out of the fridge and spread a layer of crushed raspberries over the biscuit-crumb base. Put the pots back in the fridge.

4. Melt the chocolate and 20ml of the cream in a bowl, either in the microwave or over a pan of water, then place to one side to cool for a bit. Once it’s cooled slightly, add a layer of chocolate over the layer of raspberries in your pots then return the pots to the fridge again.

 (*Note: I’m writing this recipe down the way I did it. The chocolate layer ended up hardening though, so next time I might put the chocolate directly on top of the biscuit layer than add the crushed raspberries on top – it might be less messy when eating the dessert later!)

5. Whip the remaining cream until it starts to for firm peaks. Don’t over-whip otherwise it will go liquid again and nothing will persuade the peaks to come back! Take 6 of your remaining raspberries, halve them, and then carefully stir the raspberry halves into the cream. Finally, spoon the whipped cream/raspberry mixture on top of the chocolate layer in your post. Decorate with the remaining raspberries and anything else you want. As you can see, I chose chocolate stars.

 


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Sausage and fennel pasta bake

Pasta bakeRecently I’ve been experimenting with adding fennel to my dishes. I’d seen it in the shops countless times, but never really knew what to do with it. Finally, I decided to just buy some and find out what happened. This is a nice, comforting dish for autumn/winter and has the added bonus of being quick and easy enough to make in the evening after a long day at work. This amount serves 3-4 (me, Jan plus some leftovers for me to take to work for lunch, but Jan eats more than I do – it would be enough for 4 of me).

Ingredients:
Olive oil for frying
1 clove garlic
500g pork sausages (Germany residents: I would normally buy “grobe Bratwurst” but the supermarket didn’t have those this time)
1 fennel bulb
Any small pasta (I like penne, but fusilli or farfalle would also work)
1 400g tin of tomatoes
Cheese (one with a fairly strong taste, like Cheddar or Bergkäse)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (roughly 390°F). Heat some olive oil in a pan.

2. While the olive oil is heating, chop the sausages into bite-sized chunks. Once the oil is hot, crush in the garlic clove and fry for about a minute before adding the sausages.

Sausages and garlic

Sausages and garlic

3. While the sausages are cooking (stir them once in a while so they cook on all sides), chop the fennel into chunks. Once the sausages are mostly brown, add the fennel to the pan. Stir occasionally.

Add the fennel

Add the fennel

4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until it’s just short of being ready (with mine, that took 8 minutes). Drain the pasta then add it to the frying pan with the sausages/fennel.

5. Add a tin of tomatoes to the frying pan, stir everything together and season to taste with salt and pepper, then pour the entire mixture into an oven-proof bowl.

6. Grate cheese all over the top – how much is up to you – and place in the oven until the cheese has all melted. This will take about 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven and exactly how melted you like your cheese.

And there you have it – meaty, cheesy, comforting goodness… and it’s even pretty healthy (as long as you didn’t go too overboard on the cheese). If you wanted, you could add extra vegetables (leek might be nice), replace the sausages with a tin of tuna or, for a vegetarian version, use aubergine or tofu in place of the sausages. It’s entirely up to you!


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More from Zurich

I tried to write this post a few days ago but WordPress lost it and I couldn’t be bothered to type it all out again…

1 January was our final day in Zurich. We started 2015 by sleeping til 1.30 p.m., then eventually managed to drag ourselves out of the hotel and to the main train station, where we found a cafe for breakfast. I had a hazelnut-filled croissant (which are called Gipfeli in Swiss German!) and a far-too-sweet cinnamon latte. Then it was time for some more walking. We took a different parallel street to Bahnhofstrasse, one we’d never been down before, and eventually came to Zurich’s “other” river – the Sihl. Apparently it flows below the Hauptbahnhof (main station) and parts of the station are actually below the river! The things you learn from Wikipedia… Once we got away from the town centre, the path was slippy but it looked pretty with the river alongside and the tree branches hanging over it.

After we’d walked for a while, Jan consulted the map on his phone then decided we needed to turn left if we were eventually going to end up back in town. He then proceeded to make me go up this set of steps:

 

Narnia eat your heart out!

I didn’t so much walk up them as haul myself up, clinging to the handrail for dear life the whole time! What looks like pretty snow had been trodden on so often that it was actually more like ice. Very, very slippy ice! At the top, we found a park area set on a hillside. All the local kids were out playing with their bobsleighs. I wish we could have borrowed one… it would have been slightly easy than walking/slipping down the frozen path!

After leaving that park and walking down some random streets, we entered another park where we found more people sledding and another snowman. From there, we also had a view of the lake.

Finally, after walking for what seemed like days, we reached the lake. By this time it was dark and we were cold and hungry, but we still stopped to take a few photos of the lake. By which I mean Jan stole my camera and took pictures after witnessing me failing to get any good ones. Hmph!

After all the walking we’d done, Jan decided he wanted a hearty meal of the type served by a brew-house. The first Bierhalle we tried was closed (for future reference, lots of places in Zurich seem to close on New Year’s Day), so we headed to a place called Restaurant Johanniter. Jan chose a dark beer that was delicious! Unfortunately it was on special and the card only said “Schwarzbier” so we don’t know what it was to look out for in future. I went for the Appenzeller Quöllfrisch, which was also tasty. To eat I had vension “geschnetzeltes” – geschnetzeltes is a word for strips of meat cut in a certain way. Jan had the traditional Zürcher Geschnetzeltes, which I’m not keen on because it comes in a sauce with mushrooms. I then treated myself to some apple strudel for dessert (no picture of that because I was too busy stuffing my face ;-) )

Once we’d eaten, we headed back to the hotel to pack and relax for a while. And that was the end of our trip to Zurich. A lovely city, if fairly small. I’m sure we’ll be back… Basel to Zurich is only a little over an hour by train, which makes it pretty perfect for a day trip with visitors.


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A photo an hour: 14 December 2014

This month, Jane’s photo an hour took place on a Sunday. The day before, I had been out and about, but on photo an hour day I didn’t actually do a great deal, so it’s another boring one I’m afraid ;-) I didn’t even go grocery shopping because everything’s closed on a Sunday in Germany!

11 a.m. We were out watching a friend’s band the night before, so my day got off to a late start. First things first, must make a cuppa!

12 noon. Turning a cross stitched design into a Christmas card.

1 p.m. Back stitching.

2 p.m. Another card finished!

3 p.m.(ish) Out of the shower, time to get dressed.

4 p.m. Time to clean the kitchen.

5 p.m. Starting to cook tea. This is the second month in a row that this picture has shown a pumpkin – I swear we do eat other things!

6 p.m. Time to eat.

7 p.m. Second attempt at reading a book by a local author for the winter reading challenge. This time it actually does have enough pages.. I checked!

8 p.m. “If I’m going to post these cards tomorrow I should probably actually address the envelopes…”

9 p.m. I’ll just try and get one more card finished before I go to sleep…

10 p.m. Bed time! (Except I forgot to actually take a photo so here’s a bonus one of another completed card to avoid ruining my symmetry…)


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Burg Hohenzollern Weihnachtsmarkt

Weihnachtsmarkt

Yesterday, I went to the Christmas market at Burg Hohenzollern (a castle near Stuttgart) with Jan and two of our friends. We booked a day trip through a company called Binder Reisen, so we were picked up in Pforzheim in a mini bus, switched to a larger bus in Vahingen and were brought to a car park near the castle from where a shuttle bus took us the rest of the way up. The Christmas market is only on for the first two advent Sundays (and this was the second), so if you want to go you’ve unfortunately missed out this year, but there’s always next year. We paid €27 each for the bus and entrance to the Christmas market.

Down in the valley it was raining, but up at the castle it was snowing and apparently had also snowed a lot in the days prior… the trees looked beautiful! Unfortunately, it was also foggy so taking photos was difficult but I did my best!

There were a few stalls inside the main bit of the castle as well, but no photos were allowed in there.
After checking out all the stalls and partaking in a few Glühweins, we decided it was time to eat something. I had a venison steak, which was delicious (and not something you find at just any Christmas market!). Jan went for the wild boar sausage, which I tried a bit of, and which was also amazing. After trying some hot red mead (seriously delicious!) it was time for a walk around the castle grounds. Away from the market, it was freezing but also beautiful.

I may have gone slightly overboard taking photos of the snow-covered branches, but it really was beautiful!
Somebody had built some little snowmen on the wall and I couldn’t resist photographing them.

After our walk around the castle, we were all freezing so we returned to the main market for some more hot red mead (told you it was delicious!) and to listen to the carol singers before heading for the shuttle bus that would take us back down to where our coach was meeting us. When I first realised we would only have about 3 hours at the market, I thought it wouldn’t be long enough, but it turned out to be the perfect amount of time. It ended up being a lovely day, and definitely different to an ordinary Christmas market. I would highly recommend checking this out if you get the chance. In my opinion, it was well worth it! (Even if we did spend more time travelling than actually at the market!)

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