Nothing to See Here

Saturday 20 December 2014 - Filed under Food

C and I are heading into London tomorrow. She has a yoga workshop and I’m going to kick around till she is done. After that I think we will head to Borough Market for some seasonal goodies and extraordinary ethnic food. Borough Market just celebrated 1000 years last summer. One thousand.  Its hard to fathom.

Also I’m past the half way point for these holidailies. Whew.

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-12-20  ::  cj

Career Opportunities

Friday 19 December 2014 - Filed under Random Mental Dishes

I don’t like to reveal too much about my current job search. Looking for a job comes with so many false starts, dead ends and missed connections. It a roller-coaster I usually try to ride alone. Even C doesn’t get all the details. I haven’t been looking here for very long and I feel like I’m making some progress in connecting with recruiters, finding opportunities and networking with the local community. I must say however, it is challenging building a completely new work network in a foreign land (all the more reason to find a more portable career at some point).

All of that aside, I do have an interview set up for the second week in January in another city. I’m not even sure it’s a job I want, but either way C and I are going to make a vacation out of it. Heck, we are even taking Tukla with us.

More details at a later date…maybe.

1 comment  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-12-19  ::  cj

All You Can Eat

Thursday 18 December 2014 - Filed under Food

I like to cook. I’m totally not a chef and I tend more toward comfort food, hearty meals and family favorites.

I can’t say exactly when my enjoyment of cooking started, but I can say I was 40+ before I could properly brown meat or really caramelize onions. I constantly surprise myself with what I don’t know and expect I will look back on this entry someday and laugh at my inexperience. Here is part of where I am today:

– Keep a tube of anchovy paste around. Add a bit to anything that has tomato sauce or paste (alternately, Taste Number 5 Umami Paste works well)

– If you are short on time, skip the prep and not the cooking, i.e., if you are running late, buy the pre-cut meat/veg and spend the extra time in the actual cooking. Someone else can cut reasonably well, but only time can produce flavor (And yes, I prefer to have the time to both cut and cook on my own, but that doesn’t always happen)

– Use fresh herbs and spices whenever possible. And when possible go to an ethnic grocer to buy them (never seldom buy them at your local store in small jars)

– Cook from the season, if you use a cookbook, find recipes that correspond to what is seasonally available

– When tomatoes are in season, make as many meals as you can from them because once the season is over they are all shit and not worth your time or money

– Use a good olive oil like you would salt or pepper and drizzle it over finished dishes (mostly soups and stews)

– Likewise, a splash of vinegar finishes dishes nicely, especially vegetables. Try different kinds. Apple cider vinegar is excellent with Brussels sprouts

– Eggs are amazing and their preparation is limited only to your imagination. You can cook an egg and a fat 100+ different ways depending on the egg, the fat, the pan and the heat. From there the possibilities are truly endless

– Nine times out of ten a cheap cut of meat tastes better (I’ll take a rib-eye, a pork shoulder or a chicken thigh over most cuts any day of the week. Bonus round: any venison, elk, duck, goose, pheasant, fish someone else is willing to share)

– Generally speaking, don’t buy an ethnic cookbook written by an Anglo-Saxon

– Homemade meals “taste better” when you take time for presentation

1 comment  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-12-18  ::  cj

She Knows

Wednesday 17 December 2014 - Filed under Holidailies

Christmas came early to Haus der Wilderen Schmetterlinge. Even though neither of us are big on holidays nor are we big gift givers, C came home with a few little surprises for me. LMU401GR_1She brought me a few Christmas treats; Lebkucken, Kougelhopfs d’Alsace and Truffes Amandes because nothings says it’s the holidays like food you wouldn’t eat any other time of the year. But best of all I got a pretty kick-ass pair of Austrian reading glasses. No more “Clark Kent” for me (unless I’m shopping for groceries).

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-12-17  ::  cj


Tuesday 16 December 2014 - Filed under Holidailies

C returns from her trip today. Both Tuks and I will be very happy to see her. She has made a number of friends there, some of whom I’ve already had the pleasure to meet. She goes again in April and next time I hope to go with her for at least a couple of days.

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-12-16  ::  cj


Monday 15 December 2014 - Filed under Curiosities

There are a lot of uncertainties around the idea of being nomads. One day the thought of it excites me and the next day I think it’s the craziest suggestion I’ve ever had. It’s fun to think of the possibilities but the reality of the chaos around that kind of lifestyle is very problematic.

I guess that’s why they are called dreams.

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-12-15  ::  cj

Thinking Outloud

Sunday 14 December 2014 - Filed under Friends + Random Mental Dishes + Soul

I have this sort of dream lately.  What if c and I could move anywhere in the EU for 6-18 months? We could live in Vienna, Rome, Berlin, Malta. Who knows?

Now certainly this wouldn’t be possible until we both have burgundy passports which is a few years off. But once we both have burgundy passports a lot of the red tape disappears.  So, those few years give me time to sort a few things out. Namely, my job. C’s job is very portable. What I would need to find is an equally portable profession. Alternately I would need to find housekeeper/housesitting gigs to offset our rent. Ideally I could find a little of both.

So what say you my techie mobile friends? If I have time to study, what fields would you recommend for portability and demand?  Please advise in the comments or via email.  Seriously. I am calling shenanigans.

2 comments  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-12-14  ::  cj

Love to Hate You

Saturday 13 December 2014 - Filed under Food

When C is travelling, and I’m left to my own devices, my cooking habits shift drastically. When I am cooking for one I tend toward simple things like soups, sandwiches and although I hate to admit it…bagged salad.

Now bagged salad is something that for economic and environmental reasons I’m against…in theory. Greens take a few extra minutes to prepare, they go bad quickly and I usually have to buy too much at once. But a bagged salad is easy.

So, I find myself strolling through the grocery store at closing time dinner time, hungry and desperate, and sure enough I take one home. Yeah, I enjoy it, but I always feel a little regret afterwards.

1 comment  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-12-13  ::  cj

Blank Space

Friday 12 December 2014 - Filed under Random Mental Dishes

Things I don’t have and don’t miss:
Garbage disposal
Full size fridge
A bed frame
Clothes Dryer
(proper) Doorknobs

Things I don’t have and do miss:
Wood floors
Kitchen spray hose
power outlet in the bathroom

Maybe I should explain that a bit. I don’t miss having a car. The public transportation is quite good. Sometimes C and I miss going for a drive in the evenings. But not often, and a scooter of some kind would suffice.

Too be fair, I haven’t had a microwave in years. I’ve seldom used a dishwasher or sink disposal even when I had them. The fridge/freezer has been the biggest adjustment. We have a 3.24 Cu Ft under counter fridge with a “colder” section, but not a freezer. I’ve had to change the way I shop and cook. I do a lot of small shopping trips. We have several good stores within walking distance and one store I really like is only 10 minutes away by bus. I only buy what I can fit in a backpack. But luckily with me not working it hasn’t been too difficult. I make less big meals and leftovers. We have almost no door condiments. (But in truth those just usually sat around until they went bad.)

Technically I haven’t had a TV in years either. I watch content on my tablet or laptop and I’ve re purposed an old cell phone/portable speaker as a dedicated music streaming device. With the help of a VPN I can still get Pandora and the American catalog on Netflix. (The British catalog is so much smaller. And in terms of what I miss for content, sometimes my news feed links to Daily show, Colbert and occasional SNL clips on the web. They are country locked for me and I’m not techie enough to figure a work around – but I can stream John Oliver clips. Go figure.)

We have a futon on the floor and it works just fine. I expect we will get a bed someday, but we are in no hurry. The only closet we have is in the outdoor hall where I keep my bike and our luggage. Otherwise we have storage furniture for our stuff.

Twist and pull

Twist and pull

Again I seldom used a clothes dryer when I had one. I mostly rack/line dry my clothes, and now I also rack dry my towels and bed linens. And we do have latches in the house, but both of our doors (interior/hall and exterior/hall) have knob/lock combos.

As for what I miss, the outside access and hard floors are the only things that bother me. (Tukla, however, thinks she’s in heaven with wall to wall carpet.) The spray and outlets are just little extras that I sometimes notice are missing.

 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-12-12  ::  cj

Cheap Sunglasses

Thursday 11 December 2014 - Filed under Random Mental Dishes

When I was 34 years old I noticed my first gray hair. I was pretty o.k. with the occasion and haven’t thought much about it since. When you are mostly blondish, gray hairs just look more blondish really.

However, this year, at the age of 44, I’ve had to buy my first pair of reading glasses. I first noticed I was having trouble in the supermarket reading really fine print on labels. So I bought a pair of cheap ones (think Clark Kent) at the Pound store and put them in my grocery backpack a couple months ago.

Since then I’ve noticed my eyes are fuzzy first thing in the morning and late in the evening if I’m trying to read my phone or tablet. I could probably bump up the font on these devices, but I don’t like how that looks artistically.

Like any good person who is proud of something they totally have no control over, I’ve always been super proud of my excellent vision. Yet I also really like wearing sunglasses and have occasionally worn fake glasses. So it’s with mixed emotion that I embrace this new stage in my life.

1 comment  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-12-11  ::  cj