Earlier this week, thanks to a little exercise and a week’s worth of illness-induced startvation, I was back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. Rather, to my pre-pregnancies weight. I stood in the kitchen, staring aimlessly into the refridgerator while my cheekbones threatened to jump through the skin, wondering what might be good with a crisp, cold apple. Then I remembered that I knew how to make caramel sauce, that I am a person who routinely keeps cream in the house, that I know how to avoid winterkill. There is more of me now. Whew, that was a close one.
Place 1 cup sugar in a saucepan, sprinkle 1/4 cup of water on top. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Once boiling, cover with a lid for 2 minutes. Take the lid off, swirl the pan by the handle, and continue boiling until the sugar is as brown as maple syrup, about 5 minutes (don’t stir at this point, just swirl the pan.) Turn the heat off and stir in several pats of butter. Add 1/2 cup cream and stir over low heat until caramel sauce is smooth and creamy (when you add the cream, the sauce might sieze and break into bits. Just keep stirring, the bits will melt!) Stir in a dash of vanilla and a big pinch of salt, and it’s ready for use!
Apple slices are a natural partner for this, but you can also use it as a filling for cookies, an ice-cream topping, or an add-in to coffee or hot chocolate. Yum.
Frida and I went to a playgroup today. She ran around like crazy, kicked any number of brightly-colored balls, jumped on the trampoline, walked (and ran) on the balance beam, clapped her hands and sang along to songs, etc. As a way to burn some energy in a dark, cold
place time of year, it’s a winner. As a way to get totally creeped out by how a group of 25+ adults can make it through an entire hour of playing with children without having one whit of social interaction themselves, it is also a winner. This happens regularly in Germany: a group of strangers with common interests will come together, will sing songs that they all know the words to and will smile and wave like robots when the song says, ad nasuem, ‘Hallo (insert name here), glad that you could make it,’ and will all file out the door at the end of the hour without so much as making eye contact with the other parents. I have never raised children anywhere but here, so maybe I’m wrong about this being abnormal, but I can’t help thinking that in some parallel universe there’s a Betsy who is cracking poop jokes with her fellow parents, poop-focusedness being something that parents of two year olds almost certainly have in common. We don’t do small talk here, but maybe there’s an opportunity to do Big Talk. Maybe at the next of these classes I’ll turn to the mother next to me and say, ‘Oh what darling socks your child has! Were you sure to buy them from a cruelty-free manufacturer, or were they sewn by starving children paid pennies per month with no hope of an education? How can you be sure that the dyes weren’t tested on poor defensefless puppies? Oh, you bought them in Hamburg? How do you feel about the way that your taxes are being used to police the populace? How do you balance what’s good for society with the rights of the individual?’
You know, I’m typing right now but I should be trying to translate the local news to find out if we’re still on lockdown here. Hamburg had some fairly serious riots in the week before Christmas, and the city instituted a Gefarhenzone (Danger Zone) in part of the city. This Gefahrenzone means that it is a high-risk area/time and the police have more authority to stop, search, and detain would-be troublemakers. The populace is commanded to carry identification with them at all times and to not wear quite so much black as usual. The Gefarhenzone used to be a quite large area of the city, now it’s just our neighborhood (we live literally across the street from the Rote Flora, a building that’s been occupied by squatters for 20+ years and which doubles as a surprisingly well-run leftist community center.) I joined last Saturday’s protests in support of adequate low-cost housing and improved policies for refugees. I was impressed by how large the demonstration was (many thousands of people), and how intimidating the hundreds and hundreds of riot police. Especially the riot horses. Hmm, make that anti-riot horses, I guess. Here’s some footage of the clashes; the tree you see at 0:13 is directly below Frida’s window and other angles of our lovely pink brick abound throughout the clip. Here’s some information about the U.S.’s reaction, which was to issue a travel warning for Hamburg. Really meeting my needs, there, U.S. Consulate, thanks. How about taking all of that energy you’re using to issue travel warnings and instead allow passport applications more often than the third Thursday of any month not containing a Y? I would venture to say that most tourists to Hamburg will be able to avoid getting water cannoned or teargassed simply by not throwing things at the police.
I should remind you that we live on the fifth floor and that experience over the last four years has shown that neither water cannons nor tear gas reach past the second floor windows. Come visit, enjoy our exquisite view of the action! We’ve got caramel sauce!