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January 24, 2011

Marble Pound Cake by David this weekend

Actually, like many things, it was a team effort (but mostly David's). He baked the cake, and I whisked the glaze together and poured it over and placed the nuts he had selected atop the mantle of chocolate. And he took this photo. Oh, the aroma when we open the cake-keeper each time! This is an old standard in our family, about which I've already posted before, in 2005 twice and again in 2007 (in 2006 and 2008 I mentioned it but without a photo)... Marble Pound Cake recipe here.

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January 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 19, 2011

My New Favorite Banana Bread Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 scant cup sugar 
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • Optional: chopped pecans and chocolate chips, or raisins, dried cranberries and walnuts

METHOD (No need for a mixer for this recipe)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). 

With a plastic spatula, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. 

Whisk in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. 

Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and whisk in. 

Add the flour last, mix with the plastic spatula. 

If desired, add chopped pecans and chocolate chips, or raisins, dried cranberries and walnuts.

Pour mixture into a buttered loaf pan. 

Bake for 1 hour. 

Cool on a rack. 

Remove from pan and slice to serve.

Based, with modifications, on http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/banana_bread/
I made a chocolatey loaf and a fruity loaf, both with nuts. Delicious! And so easy because of the melted instead of solid butter. Nice and moist!

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January 19, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 17, 2011

Parsley Shadow, Frosty Grass

January 17, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 16, 2011

Kunsthaus Zurich

On a quest for lunch between museums, David and I wandered towards the Lindenhof elevated park area overlooking the Limmat River, and found a part of the city we didn't even know existed. Cobblestone streets, narrow alleys, mysterious corners, covered walkways. We passed a Roman artifact from 200AD. We ate delicious Flammkuchen at a little restaurant, and felt restored.

Next stop: Kunsthaus Zürich, Zürich's main art museum. Boy, do they have some of everything. A veritable alphabet of famous artists (at least from C to V). We saw works by, for example:
Cézanne
Chagall
Courbet
Dalí
El Greco (did you know his real name was Domenico Theotocopoulos?)
Fra Angelico (a painting from 1445; that's a long time ago)
Gauguin
Giacometti
Hans Holbein the Elder
Magritte
Manet
Matisse
Miró
Monet
Picasso
Pissarro
Pollock
Renoir
Rodin
Rubens
Sisley
Van Gogh
Veronese

This museum kept our attention for one hour and forty-five minutes. After starting our day's exploration at 11:30, two museums and a city-tour later, our legs gave out around 5:30pm. Here are some highlights of the master works we admired:
Picasso - the Fountain, 1899



Van Gogh -  1889 - the Cyprus & the Flowering Tree



Monet - Houses of Parliament



Matisse, 1908



René Magritte



Sisley "The Road"



Signac - Rotterdam, 1906



Piet Mondrian



Giovanni Giacometti, 1910, "Winter in Maloja"



Robert Zünd, 1882 - Eichenwald



Giovanni Panini, 1734, St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome - if you've been there, you can see this is very evocative of it!

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January 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Lindenhof Area of Zurich - Some Fun Streets

Near the Lindenhof, Zurich - how you do like the shape of the building in the middle?

 



"Zum Bahnhof" Arcade/Gallery? Architect/designer people - is this an arcade, a gallery, or something else? Shops on the left, and open to the river on the right, with pillars all along on the right. Dark and narrow.

 



Rollen-Gasse, Narrowest street in Zurich?

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January 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Schweizerisches Landesmuseum, Zürich - Date with my Photographer Honey

David and I took the train to enjoy a 7-hour date yesterday in downtown Zurich, seeing mostly things we'd never seen before, and in some cases, had no idea existed. We had never visited any museums in Zürich. Well, there's no time like the present.

First stop: Schweizerisches Landesmuseum. That's a tough one to type. It's a collection of items relating to Swiss history. For example:
- an 800-year old embroidered tablecloth, flax on canvas
- a wooden 
Palm Sunday donkey with Jesus figure astride, from 1055 AD
- delicate, ornate drinking glasses from 1650 - how did they preserve such fine, thin glass all that time without breaking it??
Swiss Reformer Zwingli's sword & helmet (with a hole in it... he died in 1531 in the 2nd Battle of Kappel, 10 minutes from our home here)
- a huge collection of knives, ranging from the Neolithic Age, through the Bronze Age and on up to the present. A couple of intriguing highlights: 
• a mushrooming knife
• one for castrating boars
• an Austrian knife with a purple handle
• a knife for roast chestnuts
• Swiss army knives from 1891 on
• 4 "plagiarized copies of the Swiss army knife" (goodness!)
• Army knives from Germany, USA, Netherlands, Denmark, Malaysia (camouflage pattern!)
• a parachutist's knife
• NATO knife, NASA knife
• knives signed by Presidents Reagan and Bush
• a Nepalese machete-type tool (called a "Kukri")
• a diamond-encrusted, platinum and gold knife
• an ostrich feather trimming knife (doesn't everyone need one of those?)

We were pleasantly interested in the collection for exactly one hour, then it was clearly time to have lunch as hunger conquered any more attention we might have otherwise offered.
We were not allowed to take photos inside this museum, but David got some nice shots of the outside of the structure:
Schweizerisches Landesmuseum - Tower Roof

 



Landesmuseum - Tower

 



Landesmuseum - Above the Arch

 



Turrets inside the Landesmuseum Courtyard

 



Landesmuseum Courtyard High on a Wall

 

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January 16, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 14, 2011

Close-ups of the Christmas Stamp Collages For Each Year, 1993-2010

It's fun to remember the stamps of yesteryear. They can trigger memories and feelings of yesteryear as well.

 

 

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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January 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

18th Edition of my Christmas Stamp Collages

20020417-DSC_0146
Every year in January, I put together a stamp collage for the previous year, made with stamps from envelopes received in the mail in December (mostly Christmas cards). Each year forms one letter, and the years together are starting to spell a seasonal sentence. I started the Christmas after we got married, which was 1993. So we're up to the 18th letter in the sentence now. I'm starting to have trouble fitting it on a table... It's can also be quite dark at this time of year, making photography a bit more challenging. My dear one used his big camera for these this morning in the half-light.
 
The 1st letter was made in New Hampshire (J).
The 2nd one in Illinois (E).
The 3rd through 12th in California (first S up to the 2nd E).
13th in France (A).
14th & 15th in England (SO).
16th-18th in Switzerland (NFO).
The ratio of American to international stamps has changed through the years! It's a bit of a chronology of our lives together. I love living with David!

20020419-DSC_0145  20020420-DSC_0165  20020421-DSC_0167  20020422-DSC_0168

20020423-DSC_0169 20020424-DSC_0172

January 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 11, 2011

11.01.11 Today - the day of the Found Desk

On this day of so many ones in the date (in ten months we'll really see something one-wise), and so much nearly-freezing rain descending from the grey Zurich skies, I turned on the heater in our basement office and spent all day rediscovering that useful piece of furniture in there: my desk. I knew it was under all those papers and bits and bobs somewhere. Hurray for a clear space to sit and work and be productive and organized.
I love January and the clearing out of the house and putting things back in normal order, but I have to say the rolling up and storing of the Christmas decorations took longer than I anticipated this year.

Goodbye to the tree and Advent wreath and red candles and strung lights...

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January 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

January 09, 2011

Blinde Kuh - Dining in the Pitch Darkness

Happy 18th Anniversary to my dear, long-suffering, beloved, faithful husband today!

Last night we went along with the kids to a VERY special restaurant in down-town Zürich: the Blinde Kuh. We put all our light-emitting belongings, valuables, and anything else we didn't want to lose in a locker, tucked the key in a pocket, chose our food off a menu projected onto the wall, and then put our hands on each other's shoulders to shuffle into the darkness through three black-out curtains, led by our partially sighted waitress. The dark marathon began.

Monika, our lovely and capable waitress, led us to our table in our conga-line and placed our hands on the backs of our respective chairs. We sat down in a room full of happily chattering people, unsure as to where in the room we were. Somewhere in the middle. We reached out tentatively, to find we each had a placemat, a fork, a knife, and an empty glass. We found each other's hands to say hello and connect in the absence of visible smiles. Monika came by again and took our drink and meal orders (in German). 

The water tasted great. We all smelled David's wine (which he trusted was red). Monika brought us a surprise appetizer, and told us it was on a plate in the middle of the table, one piece each, to be eaten with our fingers. We surmised it was warm toast with herbed cheese on it. Delicious. None left on the plate. Empty plate. Yep. David purloined Emily's knife. And gave it back. Emily spent the rest of the night trying to steal David's fork.

Our main courses arrived. I knew I was supposed to have salmon in curry sauce, with spinach and basmati rice. You just can't feel much with your fork, so I resorted to feeling around the whole plate with my fingers. Ah, that's better - my salmon is at 6pm, the rice is over at 3pm, the spinach at 9pm. Not too much at noon. Some sauce, maybe. Yum, licking the fingers doesn't offend anyone - they can't see me or my hands or mouth. Once I knew where everything was, I went back to my fork and knife. But then gave up on the knife, since I didn't really need it, and it was easier to just use my more skillful right hand to eat with. I didn't always end up taking bites of what I expected, but since everything was equally tasty, I didn't mind. 

When it makes no difference whether your eyes are open or shut, and you can't see your hand in front of your face, it really is okay to lick your plate. It doesn't gross anyone out. It doesn't lose you any points or respect. Unless maybe you tell people you're doing it...oops. But how else are you going to know if you ate everything? And the sauce was really very good :-)

Emily's main course was different, and she gives this caveat on Facebook: "Just a little word of advice - potato gratin and ratatouille feel EXACTLY THE SAME in the dark."
Her piece of tender meat, however, was easily distinguishable from the other items...but the most challenging thing to eat with a knife and fork...yes, indeed, fingers and teeth work much better...and why not?

David had the easiest meal, since it was all the same: penne with gorgonzola sauce. Not to say he didn't come up with several empty forkloads...but at least he knew what it was going to be, if something DID make it onto the fork and all the way to his mouth.

Dessert was great fun. Emily and I ordered the chocolate truffle torte with whipped cream. Excellent. I think I forgot to lick that plate, though. I did feel it with my fingers to make sure I hadn't missed any "obvious" pieces. I managed to share some with David, diagonally across the table ("Incoming at high 10 o'clock..."). The boys ordered the surprise variation dessert plate, which shone brilliantly, metaphorically speaking, in the darkness. It turned out to contain five different little desserts, which I shouldn't really disclose in fullest detail, in case you should make your way to this restaurant... But I will tell you that there was a wonderful mousse, a fruit-flavored crème brûlee, a nutty cake, some fresh fruit, and a very refreshing sorbet. All different flavors, textures, temperatures, moistness, and presumably colors, but then we'll never know on that last count, will we? Discovering these widely differing elements was a real adventure, even for us girls who were just listening to the boys finding all the great treasure on their plates. I think we all had huge grins on our faces. But I can't be sure. I just know my own smile was broad. And I did get to taste some of everything - we're a sharing kind of family.

To finish things off, just like on a really nice airline, they brought us a warm, moist washcloth, only this time scented with fresh lemon...what a welcome relief from our well-used fingers, and our potentially sticky faces. If only I had noticed before I got all the way home that I had curry sauce dripped on my chest! Oh well, it was so worth it. Highly recommended.

And this is the Blinde Kuh's cow, standing outside the restaurant (Blinde Kuh means "Blind Cow"); a more colorful one has rarely been seen:

My scripture reading pre-scheduled for that day "happened" to include this passage:
"I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness."
Isaiah 42:6-7
God knows where I'm going to eat dinner any night of the year...

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January 9, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (2)