Saturday, November 10, 2018

Quinces galore!

Back in May, a beautiful and mysterious tree in our new back yard had me puzzled. I don’t remember seeing that corner tree when we looked at the house last Thanksgiving weekend, nor had I ever been around such a tree. I’m thrilled that it’s a quince tree! I got a bag of quinces to cook last year from a friend in Kaiserslautern, but Jeff took them with him to share with others, thinking that they looked like apples. Too bad, as quinces cannot be eaten raw because they are hard as rocks. So, I never got to experiment with cooking them until now. Hope nobody broke a tooth on them last year.
I’ve always adored quince jelly and heard that it is challenging to make because quinces are so difficult to peel and chop. Several blog recipes urged caution when using large knives to chop up the quinces. I thought, “there has got to be a better way!”
It turns out, quinces can be boiled whole, and are sooooo delicious without any fancy footwork (er, knife work). As much as quince jelly makes me happy, I don’t need piles of jars of the stuff, since I’m trying so hard to reduce my intake of carbs (NOT EASY IN GERMANY!). Quince jelly on toast will always be a favorite, but I like fruit lots of other/healthier ways, too.
So, I boiled a pot of quinces and was able to easily peel them while  they were still warm, cutting them into irregular pieces. The area near the core was still solid, so I probably disposed of more than necessary in order to not fight the resistance and risk a sliced finger. One trip to the ER last year to have medical glue applied to a finger which had been attacked by a vegetable peeler was enough! 
I planned to make a fruit crisp, which requires 4 cups of fruit, but used some of the quinces instead with pancakes. The flavor is difficult to describe…halfway between a delicate apple and a peach…sort of. Unique and spectacular.
There is another batch cooling now. The air was fragranced so nicely from the simmering water that I decided to make one pot full every day until I run out. Fruit crisp is up next! Check out how much I’m saving with the back-yard tree! 1.99 Euro per KG. Don't ask me to do conversions for you :). 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Update from the cats!

We are pleased to share our cat portraits with you! That’s right, a nice lady came to our house and took a million photos of us! Imagine that. Well, some of us enjoyed it more than others.
I, Sidney, was clearly the star of the show. Check out my portrait in the back yard. Nobody can leap like me. Things are sad otherwise. I miss Papa since he went on this deployment thing. I holler at the birds and squirrels through the windows until I go hoarse and can’t meow anymore. They should listen to the boss (me).
I, Ida, like to look out the large windows. It’s pretty cool how the photographer got me at my very best, when I felt safe and smart. I’m the only happy one about the deployment, because I get to rule the roost all day and all night. I don’t hang out in the basement anymore. My favorite cat toys keep me happy, along with long naps in the sunshine.
I, Sebastian, am still strutting my stuff at the age of 18. I like our new drinking fountain that we got because I have kidney disease. I’m guzzling water all day long. I like going into the back yard on a leash and having a nice rest on the grass. I also think our new cat-sitter is very nice. Believe it or not, I’m getting braver.
Now we are settling in for the winter, which started early (October!) Thank goodness this white stuff melted!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Ludwigsburg, Germany

As much as I enjoy seeing new places, this is the second regional spot I’ve been to twice in less than a year, and both repeat visits were great! The first trip to the Ludwigsburg Palace was in June, when the gardens were blooming beautifully. Our GPS didn’t know its way around all the fancy multi-acre fenced-in grounds, which was a first-world problem! Just follow signs for parking (P in a blue square). The 30-35 minute drive is worth it.
There are several separate museums inside the Palace, and we saw the porcelain exhibit the first time. In addition to items inside the display cases, the floors were gorgeous parquet, and the walls were covered with silk! Typical of many European museums, all bags are required to be stored in no-cost lockers.
The fall visit included a fantastical display of every type of pumpkin, gourd, and squash imaginable! A new German acquaintance asked me to explain the difference between pumpkins and squash… um, gulp! A walking dictionary I am not, but I grabbed a pen to make a drawing of various veggies.
The outdoor paths were nicely decorated, and there were numerous snack and sales booths around the property. The pumpkin soup was tasty, but the pumpkin beverage didn’t match my taste buds.
This time, we went to the antique clothing museum, which was spectacular. In addition to women’s dresses, an amazing variety of accessories were displayed: bejeweled shoe buckles, embroidered buttons, handbags, bow ties, hats, shoes, and more. Too bad women couldn’t sit when wearing hoop skirts! The audio guide in multiple languages was included in the ticket price. No photos were allowed in this museum.
After touring the Palace museum and grounds, we walked just a few blocks to the old town part of Ludwigsburg. Lots of shops, cafes, and a pretty church square make it worth your time and effort. I look forward to returning!