Tiny Types!

2:45 pm, June 27th, 2011
Subject: Warning
Dear Tiny,
If we have learned nothing else from the 1970’s, it is that eating a ham sandwich while lying down is a bad idea for women nicknamed ‘Mama‘. In the best interest of your long-term health and safety, I suggest that you either encourage me to take an immediate nap, OR that you demand that I eat a ham sandwich, but that you discontinue your practice of requiring me to do both at once.
Your Mother

3:45 pm, June 27th, 2011
Subject: re:re: Warning
Dear Tiny,
Since you have rejected my solution of a ham smoothie, I’m afraid that I must resort to threatening the use of caffeine to avoid hamnap suffocation.

3:48 pm, June 27th, 2011
Subject: re:re:re:re: Warning
Oh, really? A peanut butter sandwich? You’re hilarious. And no, we’re not putting ice cream on it just because you passed your fetal heartrate test today.

My Plan for Sunday

Guess what I’m doing tomorrow? I’m going to wake up at 6:00 am! And put warm clothes on!
Then I’m going to go outside!
Then I’m going to go over to the pig pens to see if there’s a mountain lion in the mountain lion trap!

p.s. I’m not in Hamburg this week. I’m back in Colorado, eating fresh peas off the vine while banging a tamborine to scare away things that want to eat me.

It’s not often that I can say that ricotta is as delicious as mountain lions are scary, but I’m saying it today. Chris, Jeff and I had a wonderful dinner at a mediterranean restaurant in Philadelphia on Thursday, and had a ricotta-based dip that was divine. It was rich but light, flavorful and fresh. It had a clear dairy taste and was a little herby. Amazing, and, unfortunately, well beyond my range of dip-making expertise (which hovers somewhere above from-the-mix ranch and below really good hummous, and which leans way too heavily on chipotle for interest.) We also had a salted caramel budino that was ridiculously good. I didn’t know what a budino was; it seemed like a pudding with a little crust on the bottom and caramel sauce on top. Yum. All in all, the meal (and the company) was terrific, and I am grateful for the fear with which I approach facing a large, wild, pig-eating mountain lion for helping me burn off those ricotta/salted caramel calories.

Background: yesterday morning, Dad found a partially-eaten pig outside of the pen where the 35-pound pigs are kept. The Dept of Wildlife came out, assessed the teeth marks and tracks, and said that the pig was killed by a mountain lion. They set up a live trap for it using the remaining carcass. This morning, there was no lion in the trap, but another pig was missing from the pen. A mountain lion trap is a big metal cage (like a huge dog crate,) that has a treat in the back and a trapdoor in the front that crashes closed when the treat is touched.

Update: No lion in the trap. A nice man came out this morning with several hounds and tried to track the mountain lion, but the trail was too old. Instead, the lion-hunting dogs spent a happy hour running up down and around, baying like their blood was on fire, and scaring a family of raccoons into practically crawling into my lap (by which I mean running across the lawn in broad daylight.) So, the lion saga continues and we’ll be up early tomorrow to check the trap and count pigs.

I feel especially vulnerable to mountain lion attack, as I have downed so much molasses this week that I am pre-basted like a turkey and, due to the pregnancy, I am a two-for-one special.

So Much To Learn

Last night, I peeled 100 shrimp. Because I was at the beach with the three nephews, it did not go unnoticed that the pile of shrimp carcasses contained 800 legs.
Today, my sister and I are going to the grocery to get ingredients for tonight’s dinner. I’m thinking that, with a decent pizza/hoagie place mere blocks away, now’s the time to make some interesting fruit salsas and see if we can feed them to the boys under the guise of fruit salad – they’ve demolished two containers of blueberries in the last 12 hours; I don’t think that this is unreasonable.
More later!

What to Look For in a Packing Tong: Cleanliness

Today I am cooking, and tomorrow I will be headed to the US for a month. I am beginning to be a bit concerned about leaving the German with substantial leftovers from tonight’s dinner, because the combination of what’s in the oven (lamb shanks with coriander, star anise and cloves,) and what’s on the stove (a white bean puree with tangerine zest and fresh sage,) smells exactly like Wintergreen Skoal. Eww. Luckily, chewing tobacco is unheard of in Germany so the German is none the wiser.

At our local public pool, there is a diving board just above water level, a 3 meter springboard, two 5 meter springboards, and a 10 meter diving platform. Whee! When the preteens horse around, they do it on the 3 meter springboard, where they can look tough but not get hurt. We dove and swam and played and watched other people play today, and it wasn’t until our walk home that I realized what had seemed odd about the pool: no one was yelling at anyone! No embittered lifeguards, no annoyed parents, no sassy girls shrieking at any smirking boys. Odd, yes, but wonderful.

On the way home from the pool, we stopped for a cake and coffee (or, in my case, an apple juice and oatmeal cookie. Because my body is a temple, and because the apple juice is spectacular here.) There isn’t any to-go option in the cafes here, so you sit in the sun at a little table while the server brings you your snack. When she arrived with mine, the oatmeal cookie was on a little plate with a doily. Nice, right? Why not respect your cookie and give it the treatment it deserves? At the edge of the plate was a nicely folded napkin, and inside the napkin was a beautiful little dessert fork. Amazed, I sat up a little straighter and ate my cookie as delicately as I possibly could. With a fork! Ever since then, I can’t stop thinking about shiny little tools and how nicely they’d dress up everyday activities: maybe I’d splatter less toothpaste on the bathroom mirror if my toothbrush had a pretty silver handle! And how about a tricky little spoon for delivering your contacts from their saline bath to your eyes? You could keep the spoon in the fridge – so refreshing! And I would almost certainly enjoy laundry more if my detergent scoop had a hidden telescoping handle.

On that note, I’m off to finish dinner and pack. I’ll be using serving tongs for both.


I am continually impressed at the ease with which locals maneuver their bicycles in Hamburg. From the elderly, to the parent/child duos, to the business-suited commuters, there are lots of people on lots of bicycles, most of them on rain-slick cobblestones. This evening, in the midst of after-work traffic and the near-constant steady rain, three cyclists stopped at the corner below the apartment to wait for the light to change. Each was wearing a black raincoat, and each had their own special extra-super bicycling challenge: one was smoking, one was talking on a cell phone, and the third was riding a bike while using her umbrella! Impressive.

In a city populated by black raincoats, mine (brought with me from Texas, a state somewhat more tolerant of femininity in all-weather gear,) is pink. With a collar in the shape of a flower. When I wear it in Hamburg, I look like this:

Only Without the Hat. And Riding a Bike

Only Without the Hat

Mind Over Matter

Today, in what is sure to be a triumph of constraint, I will not be craving the following:
• Salt Lick’s Barbecue Ribs
• Sweet Corn
• A blue cheese burger from Alamo Drafthouse
• Corn Dogs
• Ripe Peaches
• A Heap of Spicy Crawdads
• Anything from Nubian Queen Lola’s
• Fresh Tomatoes on Sourdough
• A Pulled Pork Sandwich
• Refried Beans from Las Manitas
• Ceviche
• Cornbread
• Tamale Pie (made by my mom)
• Mole Enchiladas
• Huevos Rancheros
• Chile Rellenos
• Ahi Poke
• Aji de Gallina
• Horchata
• Anticuchos

Instead, I will be craving muesli and possibly bratwurst. If I must, I will also crave a nice decaf espresso.
Why, you ask? Because it is going to be terrifically embarrassing when my German toddler has more self-discipline than I do, and I choose to believe that the sphincter of self control is tightened through exercise.
This good work is somewhat undone by my delight in imagining how delicious homemade marshmallows will be to a child whose favorite soda is sure to be herb-flavored lemonade. At age negative 6 months, the little freak likes it already.


Tonight’s menu:
-Ginger-Sesame Radish Tea Sandwiches
-Nordsee Shrimp Salad on Pumpernickel
-Roast Loin of Pork with Plum Sauce
-Carmelized Sweet Potatos, Carrots, and Artichokes

Things I Still Need To Make:
-ginger-sesame butter
-plum sauce
-mise en place for everything
-the pork
-the tea sandwiches
-the roasted veggies
-whipped cream
-strawberry sauce
-the guest bed

Hours Until Guests Are Due to Arrive:

Maybe I should go…

…to the grocery. Just kidding. I went to the grocery already, and to the flower shop, and got WAY overconfident about time when I realized that it was three in the afternoon and the flowers were already arranged in the hallway bathroom. See? I’m still bragging about that even though we’re on track to have dinner at midnight. OK, OK, an outbreak of E. Coli is no excuse for avoiding whipped egg whites and raw pork. I’m off.