Milking MLK weekend for all it’s worth…

I can’t believe we’re already in the middle of January 2023. Time sure is flying. Ordinarily, we would have used Martin Luther King Day weekend for a short trip somewhere. But we haven’t been living in ordinary times for awhile now. Last year, we had COVID to deal with. This year, it’s Arran’s cancer.

Actually, we probably could have gone somewhere. He’s not so ill that he can’t be boarded. All he needs is Prednisolone every other day, a vet visit every other week, and Endoxan twice a week, every other week. This week, he just got the Prednisolone, which would have been easy for our regular boarding facility to manage. I just don’t want to board him if I can avoid it, because I know he’d rather be with us.

Noyzi loves being boarded, but I don’t want to drop him off and take Arran with us. That’s a hassle. Taking Noyzi with us is also difficult, because takes up the whole back end of our car. It’s better if he gets boarded. It’s hard to shop when the dog takes up all the cargo space. At this point, we have plans to go to Stuttgart at the end of March. The dogs will be boarded for that.

It was a lot easier to travel when we had Zane, as he and Arran could share the back seat. Zane also didn’t mind going to the potty on the leash. We did manage to get Noyzi to poop on the leash when we took him to France, but it took awhile. On the other hand, Zane was a lot louder and naughtier than Noyzi is. We were more likely to get yelled at by locals when we traveled with Zane.

The weather in Germany was pretty gloomy this weekend. We’ve had rain every day. While it’s not super cold, it is pretty windy and blustery. I still have a touch of cabin fever and would like to get out and do something fun. Then I look at the depressing weather and decide to hibernate.

It’s not all bad, though. I used the fireplace last night, which is always nice. I wish we had seating in the living room that makes the fireplace easy to enjoy. I like this house a lot, but the downstairs layout could be better. The living room is like two rooms that open into the dining room.

I was thinking the other day… I’d like to turn the dining room into an extension of the kitchen. Put in a pantry and a wine fridge, and move our spare fridge upstairs. Maybe install a kitchen island. and more counter space, and put in a door to block the kitchen from the living room. Too bad this isn’t my house and I don’t have tons of money. 😉

Bill and I spent the weekend watching movies, listening to music, drinking wine, and talking. He tried out making calzones with the empanada makers I got him for Christmas. They tasted good, although his presentation technique needs some polish. I’m sure he’ll get a chance to practice. He also tried a couple of new recipes from one of the cookbooks I got him.

I have been giving some thought to places we’d like to visit this year… I know Bill wants to go to Spain and/or Portugal again. I’d like to go to the Baltics, or maybe Finland. I’d also like to visit Brno in the Czech Republic. There are more exotic places we’d like to go, as well. They would require flying, which I’m still not sure I want to do unless I have to. I do know, however, that I’d like to venture out beyond the usual countries… France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, and the like.

For now, though… we’re at home. At least Bill got lots of sleep, which he really needs. Below are some photos… The first, second, and fourth are of the calzone experiment. The fifth is of some Bearnaise Sauce Bill tried to make using a new recipe out of a Michel Roux cookbook I bought him.

The last photo is a bottle of wine a friend bought that comes from, a winery in the Pfalz. They have lots of wines with funny names. There’s one called Bullshit, and another called If You’re a Terrorist, Racist, or Just an Asshole, Don’t Drink My Wine. I could list more, but some of the names are really long and I have another blog post to type. I’m thinking of ordering a bunch. If we’d had nicer weather, maybe we would have paid them a visit. Their outfit is about 80 minutes away from us.

I’d really like to kick the travel blog back into gear in 2023, although I don’t have plans to publicize it much. I can see there are a lot of people who are better at this than I am… and make YouTube videos, and shit. I just put songs on YouTube. 😉


Weekly market leads to profanity and homemade Friday night goodies!

This may seem like a mundane topic for my travel blog, but for those of you who know me personally, it might make some sense. Yesterday, after Thursday’s weekly market in our market square, I decided I wanted to use some of that delicious produce to make sauce. One thing led to another, and after a few hours of work, I had made lasagna with homemade sauce and a loaf of fresh garlic bread from scratch. The only thing that would have made it better is if we had also made the lasagna noodles, which we could have done, as we do have a pasta maker. We usually reserve fresh pasta projects for when the weather sucks or there’s a lockdown order because of a pandemic. 😉

I know I have a few readers who have met me offline and know there was a time when I really enjoyed cooking and baking. I don’t do it so much anymore, as Bill kind of took over that chore some time ago. But there was a time when I was a pretty damned good cook. I even got paid to do it. So, as Bill was finishing up his Friday work day at home, opting to use a few comp hours to take the afternoon off, I ventured into the kitchen and started a pot of water to blanch the beautiful vine ripened tomatoes we bought on Thursday.

“What are you doing?” Bill asked.

“I feel like making sauce.” I said.

“Great! I’ll get the peppers!” He was genuinely excited, as one of the reasons he decided I might be worth marrying is because I cooked a mean pot roast and made homemade cloverleaf rolls when he visited me at the apartment I lived in during graduate school. Like any good moonchild, he is easily seduced through his stomach.

Bill laid out the beautiful fruits and vegetables from the market. I started chopping them as the tomatoes blanched in the hot water. I was going to remove the skins, but decided not to bother trying to take out the seeds. I peeled the tomatoes and boiled the skins to render out even more of the flesh, then threw three kinds of sweet peppers, onion, garlic, fresh basil, and salt and pepper into a pot, where it simmered for most of the afternoon. I also used up the last of our oregano.

When I mentioned wanting to make bread, Bill said, “We already have bread from the bakery.” But it was the chewy kind that I don’t like that much. Besides, I enjoy baking bread. The kneading process is a great stress reliever. So I made a perfect loaf of garlic bread. Then, it came time to mix up the cheeses (mozzarella and Parmesan) and make Bechamel sauce for the lasagna. Although it started out a vegetarian dish, I decided to add a little Black Forest ham from the market. Just a little bit, mind you, as the ham was a bit smokey and strong, and a little was really all it needed. I wouldn’t usually put ham in lasagna, but Hell, I’ve see people put boiled eggs in them here, so why not? The ham was very good, by the way.

Below are some photos from yesterday’s project, courtesy of the market. Bill did have to go pick up some spinach for the cheese layers, and I added a little tomato paste from Parma to move the sauce a little bit. We still had enough sauce left to make a pizza later today. He also picked up a couple of slices of our local bakery’s version of a Sacher Torte… which wasn’t really a Sacher Torte, since it wasn’t made with apricot jam. There was also plenty of wine and good music, and the kitchen smelled fabulous!

I’m really pleased with how it turned out. Bill quipped, having tasted the lasagna, “That’s a fucking good lasagna.” He was channeling The Kids in the Hall, which probably ages us a bit. But I agree, it is a fucking good lasagna. I’m glad I “still got it” in the kitchen.

Yeah, I like it. It’s really fucking good…

Arran was happy to hang around and help us clean up, too. That’s good, because while I might be a good cook, I’m not the best at cleaning. But I make a fucking good lasagna… and an even better loaf of bread.


My ass is getting a lot of presents lately…

I have not made it a secret that Bill loves to cook for me. Lately, he’s been knocking himself out. I don’t have a lot to talk about in terms of traveling or eating at restaurants, but I do have some enchanting food pics. I’m beginning to think I should send Bill to chef’s school.

We’ve also found a few new online sources of food and beverages. Good thing he doesn’t mind fat chicks. It’s hard to believe that when we met, I was the better cook. Some of my friends don’t think Bill is real. Trust me, he is… and common sense would have told me to stay away from him. Fortunately, for once I didn’t like practicality stand in the way of a good love story.

Feast your eyes!

I am now at the tail end of my updating project. Hopefully, I will be finished updating old posts today or tomorrow. And then, everything that gets posted on the Facebook page from this blog will be fresh— fresh as Bill’s baked bread!


Homemade ravioli!

We had beautiful weather yesterday. It would have been so great if we could have gone out and enjoyed lunch somewhere nice. Unfortunately, like the rest of the world, we are locked down thanks to the coronavirus. My husband, Bill, decided to make some homemade ravioli with garlic sauce, which we enjoyed with too much wine from France and Armenia.

Some time ago, I bought him an electric pasta roller, a drying rack, and pasta stamps. In the States, we have a pasta roller that is hand cranked, but we didn’t bring it with us. I think when we finally go back to the USA, I’ll replace it with an electric roller. It’s worth the extra money. Here are some photos.

It’s really a privilege to get to live in another country, even if Germany isn’t that different than America is. As I’ve been updating my travel blog, I’ve realized just how much fun we’ve had over here since 2014. Really, we’ve had fun our whole marriage, but our latest Euro stint started almost 6 years ago. Time really flies, especially when you’ve had as much fun as we have.

Since we can’t do any traveling or eating in restaurants right now, maybe I’ll write some posts about some of our best memories. I do hope we’ll be able to add to them before too much time passes, but I’m also very grateful that if I have to be a shut in, I can be one with my husband. He’s my best friend. And I’m happy to be with him wherever we are… I got myself a real keeper.

Wine helps, too… but I think it’s time I embraced drinking more water before my liver fails. Bill sopped up the rest of the garlic sauce with homemade bread. You can take the man out of Arkansas…


A weekend at home and in the city…

Saturday morning, we got up later than usual. The weather is changing inexorably to autumn, which means random rain showers and cooler temperatures. I’m mostly happy to see the weather change. It kind of matches my mood these days.

Saturday, we stayed home, listened to music, and drank wine. Bill finally broke out the electric pasta maker I got him last year. He made homemade bread and fresh Fettuccini Alfredo. Here are the photos… I have created a cooking monster.

We drank lots of wine all day and enjoyed each other’s company. I think we’ll have to make fresh pasta more often, especially as the weather gets colder.

Yesterday, the weather was kind of crummy, but Bill wanted to venture into Wiesbaden to catch the last day of the annual city fest. It was very well attended despite the weather. I’m sure it helped that it was also a Sunday shopping day in Wiesbaden. I got lots of pictures. My favorite attraction, of course, was the Shetland ponies. They had quite a few people selling crafts, lots of food, wine, beer, and agricultural exhibits. There was also a car show going on in the Market Square.

To be honest, for several reasons, I’ve been feeling a bit down on Germany lately… but one thing I do like about living over here is that there’s always something to celebrate. The Germans will have a festival for anything. And the ones up here in Wiesbaden are kind of different from the ones near Stuttgart. They tend to be less focused on beer and more on wine.

I was hungry, but not in the mood for fest food or the crowds. We wandered around looking for someplace to eat and finally ended up at Casa del Sabor, an Argentinian steakhouse. We ate there a few months ago and I really enjoyed the rib eye steak I ordered. This time, I decided to try a cheeseburger. This was an act of bravery on my part, since burgers can be iffy over here…

The cheeseburger had tomatoes, onions, cucumbers (not pickles), lettuce, ketchup, and mayo on it. I don’t usually put mayo on burgers, but I think Germans often do. I had to cut it in half and struggled to finish it, mainly because I went to town on the bread. I was really hungry when we came in and both of the spreads, but particularly the garlic, were delicious. I like Casa del Sabor. We’ll have to go back and try some of their other stuff, if only so I can have more of that garlic spread.

I was feeling kind of tired and listless and the weather was getting worse, so we decided to go home. I relaxed for awhile, then joined Bill for more music and wine. I went on a buying binge on Saturday and got a few albums by classic bands from my youth… the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, and Chicago. Sometimes I miss being young, but I am grateful I grew up at a time when there was so much fantastic music.

So begins another week here in Deutschland… Columbus Day weekend is coming up. I usually plan trips for the long weekends, but I am not feeling very inspired to this year.


Hello Fresh!

A few weeks ago, someone on the Stuttgart Friends Facebook group asked about getting boxes of vegetables from co-ops in Germany.  Although I have never ordered vegetables that way, I am interested in doing it.  I need to broaden my palate and both my husband and I could stand to improve our diets.

Several co-ops are available in our area.  One person recommended Hello Fresh, which is not really a co-op per se, but a company that prepares boxes of fresh food that can be turned into delicious meals.  Hello Fresh is an international company, but I had not heard of it before I came to Germany.  I read up on it and didn’t give it another thought until I was on an Air Berlin flight back from Hamburg.  The airline’s magazine had a coupon for 20 euros off a box of food from Hello Fresh.  Since the boxes for three meals serving two people run about $50 (39.99 euros), I thought that was a generous deal.  I talked to Bill about it and, since he does a lot of the cooking and shopping, he decided it would be worthwhile to try Hello Fresh.

Here’s someone’s Hello Fresh review posted on YouTube.  These reviews are also what helped me take the plunge.

It turned out the 20 euro coupon was only good if you became a subscriber (two box minimum).  Since I wanted to just try the service, I went ahead and ordered a one time “Probierbox-Classic“.  It cost about $51 and contains enough food for two people and three meals.  The box arrived a little while ago and I just unpacked it.  I’m very impressed thus far.  Have a look at these photos…

The UPS guy joked that he’d brought me my Mittagessen.  Special thanks to Duolingo for teaching me that much German.

First impression of unpacked box.  Everything is neatly packed.

Fresh broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and an onion.  Pasta from Italy.

Recipe cards with photos.  Yes, the directions are in German.  Here’s a good chance to exercise my budding German skills.  I’m sure the photos will help.

Directions are on the back…  Includes serving size info.

Fresh tomatoes.

Fresh basil.

Almonds, garlic, and spices

Cold pack with cream, mascarpone cheese, yogurt, and fresh mozzarella…

Fresh beef and fresh chicken.

Coupons for other services.

And the card that started my experiment.  I will very likely be subscribing, so I will get to use it.

Hello Fresh offers boxes that contain meat and vegetables, but they also have boxes for vegetarians and boxes with just fruit.  The boxes contain all you would need for the recipes featured except for some very basic ingredients like salt and pepper.  You don’t have to get a box every week and you can pause service when necessary.  Next week’s boxes have recipes that use mushrooms.  I don’t eat mushrooms, so I won’t be ordering that one; but I may very well get the box offered next.  We got the smallest box offered, which is for two people.  They do have larger boxes that contain enough food for four people.  They also offer boxes that have five meals for two or four people.

You do have to order your box before a certain time each week if you want one for the following week.  Once you order, Hello Fresh is great about keeping in touch and letting you know when to expect your delivery.  Mine was scheduled between 8:00am and 12:00pm today.  If no one will be home to collect the delivery, you can specify for it to be left with a neighbor or make other arrangements.  When you have ordered five boxes, you can return all the packaging materials to Hello Fresh and they will recycle it for you.

Here’s one potential drawback to this service.  Say you don’t like pork or, like me, you hate mushrooms.  Unfortunately, you can’t ask for a substitution.  You can order a different box, say the vegetarian one or the fruit one.  But, say if you prefer the classic boxes that include meat, they won’t give you a different recipe.  The recipes also vary and don’t tend to be repeated.  If they do have one that turns out to be especially popular, the Hello Fresh folks might repeat it after at least fifteen weeks.  For more information about how this service works, I recommend opening the Hello Fresh Web site on Chrome (if you don’t understand German) and reading the FAQs there to decide if their conditions are acceptable to you.  The nice thing is, if the boxes contain something you don’t like, you don’t have to buy them each week, even if you are a subscriber.

Bill and I will try making one of these meals tonight.  Stay tuned to find out how it went.  I have a feeling Bill will want me to order again since the service is very convenient.  The shopping is done for you and the ingredients are very high quality and fresh.  It also appears to be a great way to expand your culinary horizons and try something new.  I look forward to our experiments!