Why Chewing Matters

In honor of Heather’s wedding last weekend, and Amanda’s upcoming wedding next weekend:

Something Old, Something New

Enno Teaches Frida Crucial Social Skills

Something Borrowed, Something Ew

From the book What To Expect® The First Year, by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg, and Sandee Hathaway, B.S.N., on what NOT to feed your baby:

“Raw fish, such as in sushi. Young children don’t chew well enough to destroy the parasites that might dewll therein.”



In other wedding news, Tobias and I celebrated our one-year anniversary last week. When we got married last year, we had a great little weekend in France including a spectacular dinner featuring my first-ever sampling of pigeon. Wood pigeon, that is. What a lovely coincidence it was this weekend, still in anniversary season, when he spied two wood pigeons in the discounted meat section of the fancy pants grocery store! (And a good thing that they were discounted, because they still had feet and unplucked heads. Although I give in to more than a few extravagances when it comes to groceries, full-priced pigeon heads will never be ok with me.) Tobias cooked the pigeons last night, stuffed with a combination of bread crumbs, parsley, and goose fat, and they were tremendously good. Their meat is dark, darker than goose, darker than elk, darker than emu; the darkest, richest meat I’ve had outside of liver or heart. The serving size is laughably small at first: a few bites of breast on each side, and a mouthful or two of leg meat, but it’s so rich that those few ounces are plenty.

Like applying toenail polish or getting a little first-of-the-summer sunburn, eating wood pigeon will be put into annual, and no more than annual, rotation.


Heather and Bryn, Amanda and Ian, here’s to your happiness now and in the future, and many happy returns. Congratulations!






13 Lucky Winners

When the recipe starts with two quarts of goat milk and ends with ‘keeps up to a week in the fridge’, it might be trouble. There’s no way I can go through even a pint of goat milk in a week: goat milk on muesli? No thanks! How about some nice goat milk french toast? Splash in your tea? Sorry, no. Maybe it’s the persistent nausea I’ve had for the last week+ (obviously I’m not going to tell you about persistent nausea at the same time I’m telling you about head tumors. I want you to be amused, not worried,) but goat milk is a tough sell when there’s cow milk around.

The recipe I nicked from Homesick Texan starts with two quarts of goat milk, adds a ridiculous two cups of sugar, some cinnamon sticks and a vanilla bean, and then moves through nearly two hours of stovetop stirring and simmering. Spending a large chuck of the afternoon hovering over clouds of evaporated goat milk did nothing to relieve the nausea.

At the end of the stirring, though, you get about a pint of cajeta: goat milk caramel. Dark brown, thick but barely pourable, smack-yo-mama-sweet cajeta. Wanting the whiff of authenticity but also knowing that I do not enjoy that whiff when it is goaty, I concurrently made a half batch of dulce de leche: the same recipe as cajeta, but made with cow milk. That’s right, math majors, I am now the proud owner of 3 cups, a.k.a a pound and a half, of caramel. (And if you’re thinking that goat milk has got to be at least 10% solids, and didn’t I say 2 cups of sugar?, and surely if it’s pourable it couldn’t have reduced the liquid content to zero, let me stop you right there and admit that my tasting spoon was not a demitasse spoon. Yeah, testing both recipes in a well-controlled environment might have yielded two and a half pints. See also: I’m nauseous.)

What now?! I’m sick to death of caramel, and even more sick of goat stank, however mild, and although I have a number of acquaintances and a medium-sized handful of friends here in Hamburg, not more than a few are of the ‘try my super sweet goat milk sauce, it’s good on apples!’ variety. I actually packed some in a jar to take to the family that runs the apple stand at the weekly farmer’s market on my street, but I chickened out when I realized that the patriarch of the family farm wasn’t there, and I would have to explain the nature of the beast in German to the daughter well enough for her to explain the concept to her father. “It is a caramel, a sauce made by reducing milk and burning sugar, made with goat milk. It is Mexican.” –> “And then she said that it was from Mexico and something about burning and goats.”

I would suggest that a manageable quantity of cajeta is about an ounce and a half, which means that after distributing two jars and with one more spoken for, I have six more days to find 13 lucky winners. Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

Anyone want a care package?

Head Bonks

At step aerobics class today, Frida pulled herself up on someone else’s mother’s step and proceeded to laugh like a runaway monkey while the owner of the step was relegated to using just a corner of it. I retrieved the babe, made some lame joke about how Frida thought that her mother had grown glasses (the other mother was wearing specs, not uncommon during workouts in Germany. See also: ‘hair down’, ‘scarf on’, ‘wearing Chuck Taylors’, and ‘no sports bra’ for odd workout trends here in Hamburg), and retreated to my step. The wee one went on another rampage, stealing water bottles and toys from neighboring steppers, cooing adoringly at the tinier babies or climbing on the larger ones, and squawking at the instructor (Frida, bilingual to the core, apparently speaks both Pterodactyl and Eagle Scream.) Then she tried to climb up on a punching bag, fell down, and bonked her head. I picked her up to help calm her down and to check for bumps. Twenty seconds later, she was playful and bump-free, but, say, that reminds me…

I think I might have brain cancer. I have a largish newish head lump. I first noticed it a few months ago when I tried to roll my head to side to side while lying on my back on the floor: it sounded like roll-roll-therwhunk!- roll-roll-therwunk! I reached up and, for the first time, felt a large, painless, bony skull protrusion. Let’s play…

Where’dja Get That Head Lump, Miss?

How to play: If you were present at any of the events below, and remember me having a 1″x2″x1″ skull lump that’s about the size and shape of a fingerling potato on the parietal bone just above the right temporal bone, then we all win! No brain cancer for me! If you don’t, then maybe we win anyway, but this time winning means ‘me getting another MRI’.

  • My mother’s response to choruses of ‘your baby is so cute’: ‘Yes, she has a nicely shaped head.’
  • The time during sophomore year of college that Emily Walker shaved my head, including the several months after that when perfect or relative strangers would walk up to me and pat me on the head like a dog.
  • The summer of 2002 when, dealing with a particularly bad blond dye job, Ethan Ford gave me a mohawk, including offering to mohawk my eyebrows. (Offer respectfully declined.)
  • Any number of visits to Mint Salon in Austin, where over the course of a decade my look was updated from grown-out-mohawk to bob to pixie cut to whatever we call a pixie cut when we’re in our thirties.
  • The hundreds of noogies, Monkey Scrubs, and head slaps that come along with befriending brotherly types between third grade and… now.

So, let me know, will you? I think of myself as having a perfectly shaped, smooth, bilaterally uniform skull, and I’m told that paranoia is a side effect of brain tumors.


Update: I got my head examined this morning, and the doctor said that it was nothing to worry about. Hurrah!

What’s New

I can’t believe I forgot that there’s no relish in Germany. I’m back now, after a most excellent week with family and work colleagues in the U.S. Here’s what’s new:

Frida has a favorite food! It’s water. She started eating solids this week and has eaten carrots, sweet potato, and a semi-accidental bit of artichoke without incident, but she lights up when it’s time to drink some sips of water.

I found a muscle in my stomach. While sneezing, yes, but it still totally counts.

On a city bus yesterday, we swerved to go around a stopped truck and found another city bus blocking our way. I was like O shit what now? until our bus driver put the bus in reverse and backed out of the way. I guess I didn’t think that city busses could back up. Funny, the uninspected assumptions you carry around with you. (p.s. I might just need more sleep.)

After a mere 7 days in the U.S., the first thing I noticed in this little end-of-the-street park was the metal slide and its ability to burn chubby little legs. Then I remembered that we were in Hamburg, and that this slide was never going to get hot enough to burn anything. That’s why they provide rope netting to climb aboard the pirate ship on the left: try to get up there without some rope burn! The red pump in the right of the picture, with the various troughs for water to run through, is a popular feature in Hamburg parks. Kids build dams with sand and whatever else kids build dams with, and they learn about hydrophysics and about how things that make you clean can also make you dirty.

20 Fun Ways to Chip a Tooth


Yeah, that’s a wooden alligator. Or crocodile. The things on springs are sightless frogs with brackets on their heads. And please note that the rope around the top deck of the pirate ship is just about at knee height. (So that while the kid is having stapled-frog nightmares, the mother can spend some nice quiet sleepless nights thinking about how to teach a toddler not to trip on knee-high ropes.) Aargh, matey, I’m not ready for playgrounds.

In home news, guess which one of Frida’s parents makes dinner time a pleasant-smelling activity that focuses on ingesting nutritious food, and which parent actively encourages the babe to make pterodactyl noises while smooshing carrots into her eyelashes? Hint: Germans are cleaner than me. They just are. Somehow Tobias makes the bib look like a charming baby scarf whose main function is a visual cue in ‘baby’s first meal’ pictures, and I make the bib do its fucking job. Do your job, bib, so I can keep playing with the baby and her carrotty cheeks. Aww.