Yes, I Brought Back PEEPS. Again.

And it’s lovely to see you, too! After a terrific 2-week visit to sunny Colorado, we’ve safely returned to Hamburg. Here’s how the numbers played out:

10,000 = miles flown
78 = little pink piglets born (we were there during the peak time for birthing at my parents’ small farm)
14.3 = pounds of rib-eye consumed (by the family over the course of a few days, in the form of 10 two-inch-thick steaks cut from a beautiful piece of meat. Here’s a recipe for some excellent chimichurri sauce in case you luck into some grilled beef.)
14.0 = pounds of baby at the end of the trip
6 = flights (three there, three back)
3 = cousins met (oh my lord they were cute together. They spent a lot of time holding hands and staring at each other. The older two boys wanted to keep her company when she took a nap; she didn’t wanted to nap at all for fear that she would miss a moment.)
1 = number of next-day emails from seat-mates complimenting the baby on her in-flight comportment
0= number of parents who would receive said email and not brag about it (don’t hate – this website is the closest thing that poor kid has to a baby book.)
-8 = degrees Centigrade outside while we (minus baby) enjoyed a soak under the stars in a wood-fired hot tub the last night in Colorado.
? = number of times Tobias and I high-fived each other like complete dorks because we were so excited that the baby didn’t seem to be too much worse for the wear after travel.

While at the farm, we took advantage of the produce, meat, eggs and dairy. Mom and I made three kinds of cultured milk products: yogurt (good!), buttermilk (excellent!), and butter (not a good idea to depart quite so acutely from the recipe!) The specialty grocery in Hamburg that carries excellent raw-milk cultured butter is on my shit list for charging two Euro each for potatoes whose sole novelty is their number of eye sprouts, so we thought we’d make our own cultured butter. The recipe was promising, referring to a 12-minute stint overseeing the workings of the food processor rather than a long day with the butter churn, but we went awry when we tried to source non-homogenized cream. We did find non-homogenized milk, though, and you can let your imagination take it from here. (Let me know where you end up! We ended up with a lot of cultured milk topped with a mildly grainy foam. Good for making buttermilk-brined fried chicken, not so good for spreading on toast.)

And here are a few more thoughts that have been kicking around in my head since the last post:
• It is amazing that we had to learn every single thing we know. From what color dogs are to why referring to someone as a ‘Hasselhof’ is almost always an insult, we were born not knowing any of what we know now. This boggles the mind.
• Similarly, our bodies had to learn to breathe, to digest, to balance and to heal. It strikes me as somewhat incautious, knowing that each of the body’s systems are so complex, to spend precious resources in the first six weeks of life producing ear wax. Yes, ear wax. Baby Frida, who has so recently turned from tadpole to frog, has tiny precious shiny cute little ear wax.

Superbowl Sunday

It is cold as hell* here in Hamburg, cold to the point that showering is painful and we are taking up refuge in bed for large swathes of the day. The radiator in the kitchen is the highest one in the building, and it gave up the ghost days ago. In the interest of warding off pneumonia without decamping and incurring massive hotel bills, we have been putting everything but the baby in the oven: yesterday’s Morroccan Beef Stew was treated to a three-hour stint, today’s pork short ribs spent seven happy hours at 200 degrees. This evening, we made walnut biscotti (biscotti meaning twice-baked. Take that, Russian cold front!) and tomorrow’s breakfast will be baked oatmeal.
The ribs were good, but they firmly divided the household into two camps. Camp A thought that they were very tender (no huge surprise after their seven hours in the oven,) but that the spice rub relied too heavily on the smokiness of the BBQ sauce to balance its sweetness. In short, they might place at a Tyner Superbowl Rib Cookoff but they weren’t going to win it. Camp G, on the other hand, thought that they were the best ribs, nay, the best dinner, ever produced in our humble abode, and could not get over the tangy smoky taste. Camp G’s comment: “There are people in Europe who have bad things to say about Americans. This would change their minds.”
It is worth noting that Camp G had never had Stubbs’ BBQ Smoky Mesquite BBQ Sauce (killer care package, by the way, Laura R.!! KILLER!), and that his foreign policy comment, though earnest, depends heavily on a recent application of Stubbs’ sauce. During the Bush era, I would have said that there is not enough quality BBQ sauce on earth to repair our reputation on foreign soil. Given the Obama administration’s fence-mending and today’s discovery that 1/4 bottle=1 changed mind, things are looking up!

People of the world, unite! Pork ribs for everyone! Unless your religion forbids you to eat pork!

Damn. That’s not going to work, is it? Maybe tomorrow I should spend some nice warm oven time perfecting my recipe for chicken ribs.

*Oh, really? Hell is hot, you say? Prove it.