May 28, 2009

3-Roux Day

Ever have one of those days?

A couple of days ago we shopped at one of the largest grocery stores in Jena, and there we found "Louisiana Crawfish", from China no less. Mark showed them to me and I offered to make gumbo for him. Poor gluten-free guy, his eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas morning at the thought, so we grabbed some shrimp and sausage and this morning I set about the first step, making the roux.

Now, being gluten-free means Mark can't have ordinary old flour, so I have to use "alternatives". My favorite so far has been a universal mix that makes pretty good muffins, but was a poor choice for roux. As soon as the roux started to heat and change color, these little rock-hard crystals appeared. Not good for gumbo. Clean the pan and start again.

Next, I pulled this lovely box of cornstarch out of the cupboard. It says it's great for cakes and desserts, so why not roux?

Well, I'll tell you why. After 30 minutes of heating and constant stirring it started to change color and then immediately began to make clumps of hard dough that reminded me a lot of dog shit.

So I washed the pan again and moved on to my third choice, some rice meal type of stuff that I got from the local co-op here. It cooked up beautifully dark and smooth.

Making roux is not hard, but it takes many minutes of constant stirring and produces a stinky, smoky kitchen. A project I started with the intention of finishing in 30 minutes ended up taking me almost three hours! I sure hope it tastes good.

P.S. Mom and Dad, please don't tell my Nana I tried to make roux out of cornstarch. She might very well revoke my cajun ancestry...

May 26, 2009

Prague in Pictures

My brother was so right, Prague is an amazingly beautiful and picturesque city. We had a phenomenal time. If you ever get the chance to visit, you should not pass it up.

Busy, busy, busy right now and I'm up WAY past my bedtime, but I couldn't wait another day to post our pictures. The in-laws are visiting and the docket is full; off to Erfurt tomorrow and I've got a 10th birthday party to plan.

May 17, 2009

The Orchid Hunters

The combination of altitude, humidity, and limestone hills make Jena one of the premier locations in Europe to view orchids in the wild. We hiked yesterday and were rewarded with 9 different species, and if any of you are orchid fans, you'll know just how special that is. There were meadows with hundreds and hundreds of blooming orchids and I pretty much smiled all afternoon.

I love boys who love flowers.

This guy was the most beautiful irredescent blue; the camera doesn't do him justice.

May 14, 2009

Fruhling's Fest

Jena is celebrating spring. The kids and I went downtown for the carnival yesterday. No carnies, a few fabulous rides and popcorn made for a pretty nice evening. The market plaza is full of food vendors and beer tents and there's a stage where local bands are playing most of the day and night. I'm thinking we should return tonight; I can always use a glass of wine and some live music.

May 13, 2009

Tooth Trouble

"How am I going to eat pizza now?" he asks.

The second of the front teeth fell out a couple nights ago. I love snaggle tooth kids. He thinks the tooth should be worth 2 euros since, because of our shattering discussion about Santa Clause last week, he has deduced that the tooth fairy is me. And I guess he thinks I have a bunch of 2 euro coins looking for a new home. The last couple of times we've been to the bank he's asked me if he could have the money. It may be time for "the" discussion about where money comes from.

Then, Ben was eating a lollipop on the walk home from the grocery yesterday and, being a typical kid, had no patience for licking it. So he took a big bite to crack it and broke off half of an upper molar. Luckily the tooth piece wasn't crunching like the other little pieces of lollipop, so he gave it to me for a look-see instead of swallowing it. He says it doesn't hurt, but it bled a lot and it looks awful. I have fears that it may become infected and hurt his adult tooth below somehow, but searching for a dentist here sounds even more painful. My squeeze is in Poland right now, so I'll have to await his return for a second opinion. My friend Joslin looked at the molar, said "eeewwww" and gave me a sympathizing look that spoke volumes about our experiences thus far. It's hard to be a foreigner.

May 12, 2009

I Don't Like It This Way

I haven't ever really "grounded" my kids. I haven't found much use for it, that is until this past Sunday, on Mother's Day of all days, when Claire decided that her week-long torment of the Mama should have a grand finale. And then I grounded her. And it was good.

I should preface all of this by saying that I am filled with compassion for Claire and understand that 1) she is a girl, 2) she is almost 10, 3) she is living in a foreign country, attending a school where no one speaks her language, and 4) she is a girl. I have done such a good job raising her that she feels confident expressing her feelings to me. And sometimes those feelings are expressed loudly, in public places, and packed with "I hate you's".

So Claire got grounded. And all the repercussions associated with a good grounding did not begin to sink in until yesterday afternoon when she got home from school, at which time she wanted to go outside to play and became very upset when I said no.

"You mean I have to just sit here and do nothing with you all day?"
Uh, yeah, grounded.
"It's no fair that Ben can play and I can't."
Uh, yeah, grounded.
"You're the worst mother ever."
Uh, yeah, grounded.

So she ran to her room and slammed the door and made this for me. She slid it under the door and knocked from the inside so I would notice it.

It reads: You might as well put me in prison 'cause that's what it feels like. I CAN'T DO ANYTHING. I'll be the best girl on earth if you'll just get me out of this prison.

Uh, sorry, grounded.

She finally cracked and broke down sobbing 2 hours later (isn't that the idea of punishment, to break their little spirits?). She was an enjoyable for the rest of the evening, put on her pajamas and brushed her teeth without being asked, and went to bed early to read.

Uh, yeah, it worked, but there's got to be a better way.

May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day... our Nancys, lots of love from us to you, you both ROCK and Mark and I are beyond grateful for your love and support.

... to all the women of the world who experience the joys and challenges of motherhood, have a great day and stay away from the laundry.

I'm planning a creek walk with my camera today to scout for flowers. I'm thinking a nice "kaffee" with my beau would be nice too.

May 8, 2009


Waiting for 4:00 to roll around so we can go to a birthday party for Jonathan at the Institute.

Waiting for my laundry to dry.

Waiting for the rain to stop and the sun to come out for real.

Waiting to see what Claire made for me for Mother's Day.

Waiting to see my first European soccer game tomorrow, the Under-17 Division is playing, Germany vs. England.

Waiting for Ray and Marilyn to arrive.

Waiting for my new thyroid medication to stabilize; some days I'm me and some days I'm this sloth-like person I don't recognize.

Waiting to go home.

What are you waiting for?

May 7, 2009

Berlin In Photos


Checkpoint Charlie

Brandenburg Gate

Double Decker Bus and McDonald's

Long Way From Home

Bao Bao

Aquarium at the Zoo

Natural History Museum: Largest Assembled Dinosaur in the World

Kaleidoscope of Ben's Face: Science & Technology Museum

Ka De Wa: Largest Department Store in Europe

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