Doin' it raw

Living in Germany has taken its toll … mainly on our girth.

It’s customary to drink a beer with every meal (yep! A nice lunchtime buzz!) not to mention beer is considerably cheaper than soda, juice, tea – even a glass of water. Said beer, mixed with rich, hearty soul food mashed up into your favorite Schnitzel with a side of Käsespätzle. (okay – that shit is good. Think German mac and cheese) topped with a Laugenbreze (a pretzel, of course) makes for a delicious full calorie plate of goodness. (bellyache at no extra charge).

As warm and fuzzy as we feel inside from consuming months of comfort food, it’s time for a change.

Jeremy and I decided that dieting really isn’t our thing, so we are settling for a temporary-to-long-term life change – in the raw. We are now consuming only (okay mostly) raw foods and getting along nicely with our backyard friends.

But raw doesn’t have to be boring. Tonight I whipped up an adventure of garden goods to create a raw stuffed mushroom.

Here’s my improvisational recipe if ya fancy:

Step one: chop up cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, yellow peppers and spinach (or veggies of choice) into tiny little bits – marinate in teriyaki sauce. (or sauce of choice)

Step two: finely chop one clove garlic, add to mixture – along with juice from a ½ lemon. (to cut the garlic a bit) and a few pinches of chives.

Step three: tear off the base of mushrooms and stuff with mix - top with avocado.

Step four: make the mmmmmmmmmmmm sound.

The possibilities of new recipes are endless and Jeremy and I are über excited to try random made-up creations. We are officially on our way to becoming granolier than thou.


a box of jelly donuts

It’s been a busy week, a full-on-travel-entertaining kinda week that ended in exhaustion yesterday – the week in which my brain cells have finally cooperated enough to allow me to write about it.

Let’s back up and scratch the Berlin surface. (more travel adventures of the week later … we don’t want to overwhelm our readers. All four of you!)

It started last Thursday when our first official house guest (insert applause) Eileen arrived. I picked up my redheaded soul Schwester at the train station and ventured out to the lovely town of Weiden for tales of bologna salads and liter-tall biers. (bier!)

The following day started early as we packed up the car, picked Jeremy up from work and drove the 6 hours to Berlin for a fun-filled three-day weekend.

Our tri-country representation rag tag team consisted of Jeremy, Lawrence and myself for team Deutschland, Eileen for the US of A (although rumored to be traded to the Australian team in the near future), and J.R. and Jess bringing the French flare from Paris. Jess and J.R.’s flight landed at 10:30 p.m., so the four of us checked into our apartment and took to a cool smoke-filled hipster bar called “Slumberland” with sand floors (ah … Hawaii) before rushing back at the apartment to rescue the missing links.

Now, J.R. and Jess made it from the airport to our apartment in a record time of 3 hours, 45 minutes. (exactly 2 1/2 hours after we called the airport, 2 hours after we really started to worry, 1 hour after we proclaimed they were lying in a ditch somewhere, 15 minutes before we called their mamas and 20 minutes after we shrugged and opened more bier.)

But all is well that ended that night when we spotted them sauntering down the street and collectively, we all became Berliners. (Wir sind jelly donuts!) Drifting off into dreamland, everyone cozied up like orphans in our cold and vast apartment - Jeremy and I wrapped in a burlap curtain with a cot mattress over us, Eileen and Lawrence snuggled warm in their asbestos blankets, inches away from the heater, and J.R. and Jess “just right” in their Goldilocks suite.

The next few days flew by as we explored the Pergamon Museum and existing parts of the Berlin Wall (now an art gallery), peered in the Reichstag, walked under the Brandenburg gate and marveled at the unique architecture of the capitol city. We made our way across town sampling currywurst after currywurst, Dunkel bier after Helles bier, and rocked till wee hours of the morning with other Berliners in a music-filled underground cave. A record number of people wiped sweat on me and I accidentally touched (well…) and was touched by numerous people, inappropriately. Great night indeed. (note to random girl I held hands with walking off the dance floor – I swear I thought you were my husband. You had man hands.)

Every place we hit on our tour de Deutsch was spot on. (I’d like to add, without the help of rick steves.) It was the weekend of no plans. The weekend of accidental wunderbar. The kind of weekend where you say “where do you guys want to eat for breakfast?” turn around and see a small door with the words “das Frühstück Haus” (the breakfast place) written on it. Ah ...

Like Hannibal, I love it when a plan comes together.


The french are most definitely not a$$holes

after molly's healthy lambastation (yeah, i made that word up) of me and my rick steves tendencies, i have nothing to say except my work will be in the infamous Rick Steves' newsletter before her. (It's a bet - go!)

(rick bet spoiler alert: if she beats me, she will have indirectly eaten all her rick-bashing words; if i win, i win twice:)

so, setting aside the domestic squabbles, a quick update is in order. for christmas and new years we took to the road with our sights on gay Par-ee to meet up with jr and his petit ami (jess). jr's sister hennessy was visiting for a few weeks and jess' bruder gene arrived christmas day so jr's 300 sq.-meter apartment was comfortably cramped.

although the drive to paris took a full 3 hours longer than our gps unit "Ingrid" said (ok, we had a few "detours" in the French countryside looking for gas stations and the drug deal in the french ghetto we just couldn't take our eyes off of), we entertained ourselves with made-up games like, memory "you smell like A,B,C ..." and the "sing a strand of songs following the last word" game which ended abruptly with the word "orange."

in addition, the french music, which is actually
in french, rocked. (unlike german radio, which is mostly recycled american top 40 -- they sure love them some richard marx).

another joy - the french toll booth operators -- rrrrrrr! it seemed like most of the toll booth workers were cute, 20-something girls -- the kind of toll booth operators you almost don't mind giving $30 to for a 4-mile stretch of road. i'm pretty sure i made a lasting impression with my fluent "bonsoir!" and my nervous "ca va" response to one girl's "au revoir."

(for the record, "ca va" is like the word "smurf" -- it can mean anything and everything: "how are you" "i'm good" "let's get coffee" or "i think the asparagus gave me gas and we should find a drug store quick." it is rumored frenchmen have had entire conversations with only those 2 words.)

anywho, we spent much of the trip catching up with old friends over wine and a few cheese boards, seeing the sights and games of farkle and chess.

molly and i also took a 2-day trip to the loire valley (more toll booth operators!) for some wine tasting and to see a chateau or two. ok, we were chat-ted out after chenonceau, but we'd recommend at least one chateau if you go.

we had really positive interactions with the french and got a good feel for the culture, so much so that our french vocabulary rivaled our german. but after more than a week it was time to say au revoir -- to our friends, the awesome food and, of course, the toll operators.


Boom! Rick’s got my boyfriend, ha, ha, he’s got my man.

I’m not a planner. My life thus far has consisted of a series of fortunate events, happenstances and chance meetings. I never go with an itinerary; I just go, seek and occasionally conquer. One-way ticket to Barcelona, no problem. Hitchhiking through France, now you’re talking …

My notorious nature for showing up at friends’ doorsteps in random towns across random states at random times, unannounced, has always proved positive. (no, no, they like that … really.) Life is an adventure, see. I’m just keeping it adventurous. (and possibly giving my mother a heart attack.)

I thought I had met my match with Jeremy, i.e. “let’s get married next month,” or “let’s quit our jobs, we’ll find more,” following a “wanna move to Alaska, no scratch that, we’re moving to Germany in 2 weeks.” Ok!

Together we laugh in the face of stability. Ha!

Soon after we married though, things started to change. Jeremy started planning … with Rick Steves.

He got his first dose of Rick from his dealer, Joe Kerbleski, while in Boston. Kerbleski spoke highly of Rick, giving Jeremy just a little bit – knowing he would eventually have to come back for more.

My dear husband took the bait. It wasn’t long before he was showing signs of a Rickaphile, quoting Rick, staying up late to read from the book of Rick, looking at Rick on the Internet.

I let it go at first.

It progressively got worse and it wasn’t until a trip to Rome around Thanksgiving that other people started to notice.

It was supposed to be just the 4 of us, Jeremy, myself and the BFF’s, Sarah and Jess, but Jeremy insisted Rick go along. He was even so bold as to smuggle Rick in his suitcase, pulling him out on the plane, flaunting him right in front of everyone.

The 3 days we spent in Italy we did only what Rick said. If someone wanted to go inside a café, we had to check in the Ricktionary first. If a restaurant, museum, church, club or bingo hall was mentioned – Jeremy checked with Rick, planned in out and downright refused to go against the book of Rick. (Frankly, he was being a rickhead.)

When the BFF’s and I confronted Jeremy, he denied he had a problem.


Fast forward to Christmas in Paris. Once again I find myself sharing a bed with Jeremy and Rick. I look over to see Jeremy, gleamy-eyed, cheeks blushing as he giggles to the wit of Rick. He didn’t think I noticed the e-rick-tion* popping up from beneath the covers … but I saw it. And once again our trip was dictated by this menacing man and his fancy book. Whatever Rick said - went.

Now, I will admit, beyond the tool exterior, Rick Steves is an intelligent, witty writer and extremely knowledgeable on Europe and its history. His ideas and suggestions are pretty much always spot on. I’m not saying I don’t like the guy, and at times I may even sneak a peek myself to learn a bit about the area we’re traveling… it’s just, it’s just …

I refuse to be coerced into the cult of Rick. I won’t deny a glance for mere suggestions, but next time – let’s put the book down and create our own adventures. One rickless day at a time.
* and the winner of the best “rick word” ever goes to Hennessy Miller for this little gem. Yay.