Tundra swans

We visited Reick's Lake today with the kids. The tundra swans were finishing their migration through the area. Over 2,000 were observed Friday; today the lake was iced over. Still a hundred or more dropped in. The swan shot was taken using a telescope at the observation deck.

Wild rice soupreme

A family favorite for holidays.

Preparation time 1 hour
Serves 6-8

wild rice, 3/4 cup
butter, 1/2 cup
onions, 2 large
fresh mushrooms, 8 oz.
carrot, grated
celery stalk
flour, 1/2 cup
chicken broth, 8 cups
(dried mushrooms, 2)
half and half, 2 cups
sherry, 1/2 cup
salt, 1 tbs
sprinkling fresh parsley
pepper, red or black

Soak wild rice overnight. Boil 4 times for 2 minutes each time. Pour off the water between boilings. Set aside.

Chop onions and celery. Grate carrot. Slice mushrooms. Melt butter in a soup pot. Add onions, carrot, celery, and a pinch of salt. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in flour.

Add chicken broth. (Grind up dried mushrooms and add powder to pot with broth.) Bring to boil.

Lower the heat to simmer, and add half and half, sherry, and salt.

Add the wild rice and a dash of ground pepper. (Or use red pepper flakes instead.)


While in Germany, Chris and I discussed photography. I mentioned that it was an essay by John Berger that got me going years ago. The gist of the thought was that a camera can help us to pay attention to our surroundings in a way we would not otherwise. Photography is then a way of seeing.

"The camera relieves us of the burden of memory. It surveys us like God, and it surveys for us. Yet no other god has been so cynical, for the camera records in order to forget." Uses of Photography.

John Peter Berger (born November 5, 1926) is an art critic, novelist, painter and author. The best-known among his many works include the novel G., winner of the 1972 Booker Prize, and the introductory essay on art criticism Ways of Seeing, written as an accompaniment to a significant BBC series of the same name, and often used as a college text.

Review of Berger's Selected Essays
Of course, there's no ignominy in being wrong, and Berger's way of being wrong is more interesting than most.

Roasted butternut squash and leek soup

We served this last night. Gen wanted the recipe. So I am reconstructing what I did here.

Trim out the flesh from 5 lbs. of squash. Chunk it, oil, and bake in a hot oven for 30-40 minutes till it browns a bit.

Chop up 4 leeks. Saute in a soup pan with butter, slightly browning, and 8 sprigs of thyme. Take out the sprigs when the leeks are softened and browning. Take out the leeks.

Add 1 Tbs. of butter to the pot. Melt. Add 1/4 cup of wine. Stir it up and deglaze the pot. Stir. Add 2 Tbs. of flour. Add 1 tsb. of cumin. Stir.

Add the leeks. Add 6 c. of broth, salt, pepper.

Add the squash.

Blend the whole kabash. Put it back in the soup pot. Check seasonings. Serve very warm. Serves 6.

Add a topping: chives, pumpkin seeds, croutons, parmesan, red pepper flakes.


Saint Barbara

The Bochum museum, mentioned below, had a neat if nichey collection of art pertaining to Saint Barbara, patron of miners. From the wiki entry: The hagiography of Saint Barbara says that she was born about A.D. 300 in Nicomedia, Bithynia in Asia Minor. Her father, Dioscurus, was the head of a wealthy aristocratic family. Her parents loved her for her beauty, intelligence and modesty. Dioscurus, who was cruel and a pagan, had her shut in a tower in order to preserve her from suitors.... She secretly converted from Polytheism to Christianity. ... when she tried to convert him to Christianity he became furious and wanted to kill her. However, her prayers created an opening in the tower wall and she escaped. Pursued by her father and guards, she hid in a gorge in the mountains. She stayed hidden here until a shepherd betrayed her. As legend has it, the shepherd was transformed into a marble statue and his herd into grasshoppers. Despite being tortured, Barbara held true to her faith. During the night, the dark prison was bathed in light and new miracles occurred. Every morning her wounds were healed. Torches that were to be used to burn her went out as soon as they came near her. ... Her father had her taken to a Roman imperial magistrate during a persecution of Christians, who ordered her to be beheaded, and directed that her father carry out the sentence himself. He dragged her up to a mountain and killed her. However, after having done so, he became frightened and tried to flee but, according to the story, was struck dead by lightning in divine retribution.

Visual Source


Time moves on, so I want to post a few items before leaving my recent trip behind.

Chris's friend and mentor Karl Heinz took the time to tour a mining museum in Bochum with me, Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum. It was a fine museum, with underground mine exhibits and a great geology section.

I do like the store windows.

One last shot from Colmar.

Our hike into the Schwartzwald, above Staufen, took us through a goat pasture.


German tuba band

Gotta have a little tuba on this trip. As part of the festivities marking the start of the Christmas season in Düsseldorf, street bands did their bit.

Food, Spanish style

For our last meal together, we feasted at a Spanish restaraunt in D.



Colmar was an hour west of Stauben in France. A different look. Its "little Venice" area was handsome, with some Christmas decorations already going up. Voltaire had a residence there.

Food pix

We had great good luck with restaraunts on the trip south; weather was another matter. We supped once at the "Löwen" and twice at the Hotel Gasthaus "Die Krone," which in Chris's estimation was comparable to his gustatory experiences in France, just miles away. We also had a great potato soup at an inn while hiking. In order, the dishes below include a pumpkin soup, a proscuitto-like slices of duck, beef medallions with cherries, dessert, a frothed potato soup, and a pate with shaved black truffles. The "Krone" offered a very nice vegetarisher entree, which risotto was delicious if not photogenic.



We stayed at the Gasthaus zum Löwen, which offers a room used by Faust in which he made his deal with the devil. The room itself was unavailable, but the hotel was quite nice. Dates from 1407.

I thought the illustrations on the wall of the restaurant were nicely done. Above we see the devil claiming Faust's soul. His clock has run out. His books to no avail.



Staufen is a charming place, set at the lower end of a valley in the upper Black Forest. The shot is from the ruins above the city. See Staufen city map. Yes, that's snow on the tree at left. Click to enlarge.


Staufen city map

Southern Comfort

We are heading south to Zürich, Freiburg, and the town of Staufen, where traditionally Faust signed his contract with the devil. We hope to stay in the hotel where Faust had a room, the fated place where he made his pact. We don't know what 'net access will be like, so it might be a few days until new blogs entries appear here.
Link to Staufen homepage.

A bit on Faust:
Faust (c1480 - 1539), an actual historical figure who sparked urban legends in his own day, was reputed to have sold his soul to the devil for 24 years of prosperity and magical power. The mysterious manner of his death in the town of Staufen, near Freiburg in southeastern Germany, fuelled speculation that the devil had claimed him, body and soul, in fulfilment of his pact.
Source: MBBC, h2g2, Staufen im Breisgau,Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, and the Death of Faust.

Rhine Riverbank at Düsseldorf


Steffi and Chris

This morning we caught the opening ceremonies for the Christmas festival. In the afternoon, we hiked along the Rhine. The weather was here and there. Steffi was over for supper. Nice Sunday schedule.


Andreas-Kirche is a seventeenth century church with eastern German looks, near Chris's place. I mixed an audio of its bells with the photo.


Texas throw'em

Chris and I were persuaded to join a poker game last night by his neighbor and friend Carsten. It was a good time, in fact. Most of the players knew little about the game, which led to lots of laughs. And the more experienced players were pleasant, perhaps to a fault: the newest player beat Chris on the last hand to pick up the winnings.

We rose a tad late today. A museum visit fell off the list. Steffi came over and we had a chat. Then we went over to her apartment to set up the computer I brought over with me.

Dussie art



A relatively quiet day, chatting and shopping for the week's meals. At five, Chris's colleague Max Peter picked us up. Max Peter, who visited Winona this summer, volunteers as a firefighter in the nearby city of Hilden, where, Gen will remember, we had tea in the old city a couple years ago. Anyway, Max Peter took us through the firehouse and yes, down the fire pole. Then he threw me a coat, pulled out the ladder truck, and took me up in the bucket. Chris had been up before. 'Fraid all we had was Chris's cellphone camera. But you can get the idea from the photo above. And this was half the reach of the bucket. Let's just say that I gained a heightened respect for firefighters everywhere.

We had supper at Max Peter's with his wife Heike. Nothing like home cooking. I am sure she won't mind my sharing the recipe for the soup.

500 g Mett (minced pork)
2 Zwiebeln (onions)
2 P. Tomaten Al Gusto - Kräuter (tomatoes, herbs)
500 ml Sahne (Küchensahne 20 %) (cream)
Oregano, Tabasco
200 g Sahne – Schmelzkäse (cheese)
1 Glas Champignons (geschnitten) (mushrooms)
Pfeffer, Paprika
etwas Salz, Pizzagewürz (salt, spices)


Food 1

Peter Flick has asked me to take food fotos. So here's a rather poor start: We were halfway through the meal before I remembered. Add a pile of bacon and sausages, a basket of nutty, seedy (in a good way) bread and a plate of cheeses and there you have it: Breakfast/Frühstuck. The potatoes aren't a popular breakfast offering, oddly enough. As we checked restaraunts, one guy said we might find potatoes served "auf England, vielleicht." Perhaps so.

Cool form factor

A computer on a lanyard is almost perfect design—like a sucker on a stick. Used my iPod nano traveling yesterday: I played music, podcasts, a novel, and brushed up on my German. Nice. Almost makes air travel bearable. And that's the old nano without video. I brought Chris one of the above as a house gift. We are presently loading up episodes of The Office to see how it works.


DUS: Heading East

Arrived at DUS about an hour late. NWA switched planes due to low numbers and the replacement was not quite ready for prime time. Other than that, the flights were great. I had a row to myself on the Detroit to DUS leg. Chris and I chatted away the afternoon, then I snoozed awhile, waking up regularly, as I do, wondering where in the world I was.

We met friends of Chris for supper and some b'ball. But at the mention of supping at a German restaraunt, German cuisine, my stomach, already gurgling, began sploshing. So I headed home. Had a glass of wine. Steadied up and found I was starving. That's travel. Went for take out: thunfish (tuna) pizza and chopsuey vegetarische.

The owner/cook at the Chinese take out place had been to Chicago. We philosophized on how the grass is always greener—he wanting to go to the US and me comng over here. (Grammar check for Bekkah: What pronouns in the previous sentence are mismatched and why?) His wife thought my US currency was charming. Remember how we once felt like we were spending play money in Canada? Ours is the monopoly money today. The euro is almost 1.5 to the buck.

Makes staying with Chris all the nicer.


No Name Tour

Chris recommends we stay at the hotel near Freiburg where Faust made his pact with the devil.