Sep 302012
 
One of my favorite parts of living in Germany- LOTS of rainbows.
This one was particularly stunning- and had a minimum of 3 bows.

Autumn has definitely arrived- 

Here you can see the triple rainbow better,
The bottom bow has at least 2 sets of arcs (in person I recall it having 3,
but only 2 are visible here)

The air has a chill crispness, the mornings occasionally reveal frost, the leaves are starting to turn, and the storms are windy, full of rain, and generally best to enjoy from indoors. Last night we turned on the radiators for the first time this season.  It is always a struggle to get them working the first time.  You would think you just turn the knob to the proper level, but there are these weird buttons that are supposed to get things started, and they just never seem to work right.  Last year I actually wound up taking the one in our bedroom apart trying to get it to work!  It was totally worth it, though, because waking up to a warm bedroom and a dreary grey outside is much more pleasant than the alternative! 

But, everything in Germany is seasonal and they seem to know how to make the best of each phase.  I went to the market last week and discovered all the berry displays had been swapped out for this:

Root vegetables, crisp apples and baking pumpkins dominate the produce aisles.  Also, all the BBQ meats are gone, and new slow-roasting selections are in their place.  Mostly pork, of course, but some roasting chickens and the like.  Soon we will be getting goose and duck and even a few beef roasts, I suspect.  I miss affordable fish and lamb, but there are definitely acceptable autumn options around here.

First Wassail of the Season, just starting to steep.

Whats new with The Kids?
After the rough start, things are (knock wood) going…. well- Well!  DS is settling in to his classes, learning names, making friends (even a couple female ones), and enjoying his new-found status as “The Best Math Student in the Class”.  He apparently roxored their start of the year placement test, receiving the highest score, and resultingly the coveted First Seat. He is also joining the Musical Club, where they will work with the English and Music teachers to perform bits from musical plays.

DD has had an even better couple weeks.  She did get into the Techno class, which she is loving (she, too got the highest score on the first test).  And she is even starting the get the hang of the dreaded French.  Unfortunately, she is still not learning fast enough for the Snape-like Uncle Deadly, but that is going to be a long-term struggle, I suspect.  She did draw this wonderful (and accurate) portrait of him in class, but he caught her at it, so she never finished:

She also noticed that there were several empty cabinets in the new buildings, so she set about to fill them with place-holder items until they can be properly filled.  This is my favorite:

Titles include “The Willnots”, “A Weasel at Midnight”, and “Mostly Nothing”

But, the biggest news for DD is that she apparently got Second Prize in an Poetry contest.  At first we thought this was just the typical kind of school award sort of deal, but then we found that it comes with a rather significant cash prize!  (To give you an idea, if it is as much as touted, she plans to buy several video games with it). Unfortunately, DD, thinking it would be boring, chose not to attend the awards ceremony.  And, now she has spent the better part of the week trying to track down the revolving circle of teachers and admins, who have had her certificate and cash in their possession!  the poem itself was written and submitted last year around the topic of “games”.

Next year’s theme is “stars”, which DS complains just doesn’t fill him with inspiration.  “I like symbology!! How can you use stars as symbols!!?” he demanded- to dropped jaws and confusion.  It isn’t due until December, though, so he will have some time to reconsider his position.

Weinfest:
Through most of Germany the end of September and first week of October are notable for Octoberfest, of course! But, we are firmly in wine country around here.  They still revere Beer.  They are still German!  But, practical as always, they figure if you have access to some of the best grape growing regions in the world, go with it!  Thus our local town celebrated Weinfest this week.

I couldn’t find a great way to get a representative photo, but the town square was lined with
kiosks offering all sorts of local wines.  You buy your glass and wander
and sample.

Neither David nor I are much in the way of wine drinkers, so we mostly concentrated on the other stuff…

Entertainment was provided by this lovely orchestra.  I assumed
they were local. 
Until this gentleman began to speak, and introduced every performer in
perfect English- Nigel, Jeremy, Alexander, James….
I think he looks like a cross between Richard Attenborough
and Peter Ustinov.

Wait, What?  A piper?

Yes, indeed!  What every German Festival needs!

Turns out these folks are from Offenburg’s sister city of Borehamwood in England and were here entertaining for the first time in 14 years.  Even made their local paper: http://www.borehamwoodtimes.co.uk/news/9934825.Borehamwood_Brass_Band_to_play_at_German_wine_festival/

They played fun tunes, mostly oompha- though I am sorry to say the only piece I completely recognized was Baby Elephant Walk.  Oddly, the one band member I heard speaking between sets had an American accent. 

Other bits of the festival had a more distinctly German feel.  The sweets cart:

Offerings include the traditional gingerbread-like Magenbrot, popcorn, sweet-roasted nuts,
and an assortment of candies and gum: Tubble Gum,
Candy Spray, Flic-N-Lic and Kaugummi (just German gum).

This guy was playing this percussion instrument that appeared to be an inverted steel drum that he banged on with his open hands. It was quite pleasant sounding.  When David dropped a coin in his basket, he looked up and said “Thanks!” in English.

The photos below him didn’t make sense to me-
they seemed to be cartoonish images, but I just couldn’t
parse them.
The Original Grosse (Big) Hot Dogs, for Big Appetites.  Yeah, They were!
Not bad, either, but I could only eat 1/2 of mine.

The kids opted not to go to town for the Wein Fest.  But, when we got home, we discovered they had not been idle.  They had taken a number of our old boxes and created a Degu Wonderland!

Ramps, tunnels, boxes inside boxes- lots to explore!

One of the inside areas- think of the paper box as a Degu ball-pit.

The Food Section:  The other wonderful thing about Autumn, of course, is that it is a perfect excuse to cook.  Here are just a few bits cause I can’t help but share.

Still trying to perfect my breads, I figured a few
local recipes couldn’t hurt

(Edit: Finally started thumbing through the book- the VERY FIRST bread recipe has ham in it!  No kidding.  The Schinken Police wouldn’t have it any other way!)

And, lets face it, if you are going to have a fondue
cookbook, it ought to be from Germany or Switzerland!

Slices of Lemon and Ginger covered in local wild honey.
The recipe claims it is great to make “tea” for colds,
but I am thinking of a dozen other uses- I am especially
eager to make an Asian chicken dish with it.

Woot!  That dough seems to have risen!

Made three kinds of donuts with it-
Can’t really get American Style donuts around here

Chicken Galette

DS-style chicken noodle soup.  He got a head cold this week, so he was
very happy for the broth (and noodles!)

Schäufele… SO good!

DD is our Salad Mistress.

Getting better with the breads!  Combination of learning
which flours to use, which recipes work best,
and don’t underestimate the role of a good
stand mixer!!!

Better crumb!

The mixer also really helps with butter-making-
I have made a batch a week since I got it :)

Safe Mixing
(Really, just to keep the buttermilk spray down…)

Yummy! (one salted, one not)

Splurged on Coffee at my favorite little coffee house-
They get extra points for color-coordinating their bags to my kitchen!

Kingly Pleasure Chocolate
Also considerately colored for my decorating needs.
(plus, Schloss Heidelberg on the cover)

A Few Random Fun things:

Spleens Magazine-
An offering for DD from our insurance company
“Stand-Up-Paddling, Feel the Freedom!” 
Umm.

This same insurance company sent us a note about DD’s upcoming excursion into the world of Orthodontia.  It first outlined what they would pay, what we would pay, etc.  Then it admonished:

Mr. Paris, you and your child are now called – Employees and patience are needed to ensure that the treatment proceeds successfully, Please follow the instructions given by your doctor, and encourage your child when it comes to difficult moments.

Took me a while to parse that.  But, SOOO German.  Love it!

That white mini-vehicle off the the left?  Its a robot.  I don’t know what it
was for, but two French road workers walked along beside it (guiding it?)
as it meandered through a construction zone.

As an aside, something we have noticed here is that German road crews in particular are elderly.  Like the youngest guys often appear to be in their forties, and the older ones are well into their 60’s!

I had hoped to be able to report on a trip to a relatively local zoo this week, but weather thwarted our efforts.  We shall see if it gets any more cooperative as Autumn progresses…. um, yeah.  Could happen!

Upcoming: DD Gets Braces, DS learns to sing, Halloween is a sadly non-event and other tales of the season.

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