Sunday, October 30, 2016

Salzburg, Austria: not at all off the beaten path

Well, the only thing off the beaten path that we did was stay at a hotel in the suburb of Wals, that had a nice view into fields and mountains. 100% of everything else was standard issue- but we’d really recommend it!
Because we were making a week long vacation out of this trip to Austria, we drove to Salzburg, and then on to Vienna. Others have taken the train from the Kaiserslautern area to Salzburg, and there are also flights, but the 6 hour drive was not too bad. We tried the famous “Nockerl” dessert, which was light and fluffy, yet rich at the same time (eggs, vanilla, probably cream, etc.).
We walked through both parts of Salzburg, on either side of the river. Had the best hot chocolate ever (though pricey!), at a café near the Dom cathedral. The Christmas Museum started with a nice display of Advent Calendars! There were street musicians everywhere, and they were quite talented.
Thanks to a beautiful, sunny day, we relaxed in the gardens of the Mirabell Palace for a few minutes. We also took the cable car up to the fortress for stunning views and a history lesson on the area in the museum. We ended the day listening to an amazing concert in the cathedral, with three choirs, orchestra, and organ playing a coronation mass and a Te Deum.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Update from the cats in Germany

Things are going well for us in our village. We have a nice balcony to hang out on, with views across the meadow and our neighbor’s garden. It is Sidney’s favorite place for hours on end.
We love to go out into the yard on our leashes, where we eat some grass, take a nap (Sebastian), and chase butterflies. There may have even been a tiny hummingbird that was too fast to catch.
We like the wide bathtub edge, and of course we love suitcases. We don’t care if you are tired of seeing cat in suitcase photos, because we hop inside every time they get hauled out (entirely too often for the hauling, not the hopping). Apparently, there is another trip in the works, to some place called Vienna. Sheesh!
The cool thing about the “live” photos on the iphone is that they can show how tough I am (Ida, the cat). Some stray cat asked to come inside, and I hit the glass door really hard with my paw. I don’t care if he looked pathetic, all talking and asking nicely. I chased him away, which you can see, if the live feature goes through on the blog post.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Home-made grape juice!!!

Once again, having a farm share has broadened our horizons. German grapes taste amazing, and are often filled with seeds. I googled several recipes for grape juice, and decided to give it a try. The results were stupendous, and well worth the labor.

Rinse off the grapes and remove them from the stems into a pot. Use a potato masher to break open the grapes right in the pot. Add water- sorry, no measurements from me. We got 1 kg of grapes, and I covered them just barely with water. After the juice was strained, I added a bit more water. I did not put any sugar in the pot because the raw grapes were so tasty. I’m glad I didn’t, but most of the recipes I saw called for sugar.
I boiled the grapes gently for about 20 minutes. I have no idea if shorter or longer is better, because after I turned off the heat and the concoction cooled slightly, I found the flavor to be excellent. Apparently, mashing and boiling allows for more flavor to come out of the seeds and possibly the skin.

I could not locate my cheesecloth anywhere (hello, frequent movers, I know it’s here somewhere). I tried 2 different methods of straining the liquid from the pot: a traditional paper coffee filter, and a tea strainer. The coffee filter worked great for the first few ladles of grape juice, but eventually it got clogged up. The tea pot with built-in plastic filter worked very well.

I can’t rave about the flavor enough. I probably would not go to the grocery store just to buy seeded grapes to make juice with, but as long as fresh from the vine grapes arrive in our weekly farm share, I’ll make juice.