Saturday, July 30, 2022

What's Wrong with that Beer?


I know I know, you have been waiting for this, haven't you? You were starting to ask, when is she finally taking us to the beer garden? She has been writing about München since the beginning of June, but what about the beer??? And what was wrong with that picture in last Tuesday's T post?

Alright then, let's go to the beer garden.

In München you can pretty much go to a different beer garden every day if you want to. There are the big ones by the breweries like Paulaner, but there are also many smaller ones, some really just a bigger garden by the side of the road. 

Beer gardens have long simple tables and benches. Sometimes, when the place is very crowded, you share the table with strangers - a great way to meet and get to know other people. The majority of German beer gardens are in Bavaria, and other than beer gardens in the rest of Germany, you can bring your own food and eat it there as long as you buy your drink(s). We've seen many people who do this - they buy their beer (or whatever they want to drink) and at the table they put out their tupperware and spread their food. It's a great way to spend the evening outside in company without breaking the bank.

Our first evening in Munich, finally spending time with Kaefer again

Of course you can also order food in a beer garden. The food is typical Bavarian dishes and is served cafeteria style.

Kaiserschmarrn, Schnitzel, Weißbier and dunkles Weißbier

Breze, Obatzda (Bavarian soft cheese dish), Radi (radish), Kartoffelsalat (potato salad)

Pretzels are always on offer and they can be very big.

She can be such a goofball!

Weißbier, especially the dark one, is my favorite. It is also often called Hefeweizen and is more popular in the South and Southwest than in the rest of Germany.

Weißbier is served in a special glass that is only used for Weißbier / Hefeweizen. 

A "regular" beer - called "Helles" (light - as in light color) or "Dunkles" (dark) - comes in glasses like this or smaller ones:

But what is "regular" beer anyway? There are so many different kinds of beer in Germany, some are more popular in the areas where thy come from. "Kölsch", a very light, top-fermented brew comes from Köln (Cologne); "Alt" (old) is a top-fermented, dark bitter brew from Düsseldorf; Pilsner or Pils is popular all over Germany, it is bitterer than most beers and must be carefully drawn - usually seven minutes (if you order a Pils and you get it after three minutes, it is not carefully drawn); "Rauchbier" (smoked beer) that is brewed in Bamberg. These are just a few kinds of beers of the rich selection in Germany. And each has its own glass.

Glasses for Weißbier, Kölsch and "Willibecher", a more universal glass 

Glasses for Pils, Alt and the famous Bierseidel which comes in 1 or 1/2 liter

You might have heard about the German Reinheitsgebot (purity law), enacted in 1516 in Bavaria's Ingolstadt. It says that "from henceforth, in our towns, our markets, and in the country, nothing should be used in the making of beer except barley, hops, and water alone." Yeast as an ingredient was added later. In 1987 this ruling was reversed when German brewers lost their case that brewers from countries outside Germany should not be allowed to import any beer if it wasn't brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot. However, brewing beer by only using barley, hops, water and yeast enjoys very high popularity in Germany and brewers proudly announce that their beer is "pure". Weißbier is brewed with a large proportion of wheat relative to the amount of malted barley.

German beer "science" doesn't end here. Remember the picture I showed last Tuesday, mentioning that something is wrong here?

When you go out with friends or a group, before you take your first sip of beer you clink glasses. While you clink glasses, you don't look at your glass, but you look into the eyes of the person you clink glasses with. It is very rude not to do that. So far so good. Looking at the picture above, you would think that this looks alright - we're clinking glasses, Kaefer is looking at me... but no. We're not drinking any old kind of beer, we're drinking Weißbier. And with Weißbier, you clink with the BOTTOM of the glasses, not the top as in the picture. This is ONLY for Weißbier, not for any other drink. Why? By clinking the glasses at the bottom, the yeast that has settled at the bottom after pouring is being "shaken up" and distributes throughout the drink. If you happen to pour Weißbier from a bottle, you have to do it very slowly with the glass held almost horizontally, otherwise you get too much foam at the top. Before the bottle is completely empty, you "shake" it in a circular movement so that you get all the yeast at the bottom. I told you it's science! I once even did a Weißbier pouring session at my home with my German class - it was very popular. The fun of teaching adult students!

By the way, we did clink our glasses at the bottom after taking this picture!

Elizabeth, thank you for the opportunity to share this with the T Tuesday gang. Everybody knows now what to do if they find themselves in Germany with some Weißbier (or in a German restaurant outside of Germany).

This has become quite long... so let's lean back and have a beer. Prost!

Friday, July 29, 2022

Tree Face

For Nicole's Friday Face Off I don't have a painted or drawn face today. Instead I want to share an experiment that I did a while ago. For this, I used an old photo of my then 10-year old daughter.

I also used a photo of a tree that I took on the Schwäbische Alb in Germany sometime in the 90s.

For my experiment I had to crop the photo of my daughter and I also cropped and edited the tree in Lightroom.

Then I opened Photoshop and layered both photos on top of each other, edited again and got this. I used the same technique as I did when I was layering photos with textures. The tree photo served as the "texture".

I didn't stop here. Once I start to edit and play around with several techniques I usually try more than just one way. In Lightroom I used a preset to achieve a much darker mood of the tree.

Don't you think the tree looks very different? I opened it in Photoshop (there is a lot of to and fro between Lightroom and Photoshop) and brought the photo of my daughter in which served as the "texture" now. I made it much smaller in the merging process so that she is peeking from behind the tree - sort of.

I liked it so much that I imported it on my cell phone as my background screen.

I did a lot more editing with the tree that resulted in different moods, not all of them good. But this is a "face" post, so I stop here and wish you a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

8-Ball Zucchini and a Quilt


At the farmers market 8-ball zucchini have turned up again. A few years ago I bought them for the first time, after I had learned how to prepare them. I found them the most delicious if you stuff them.

Preheat the oven to 375 F / 190 C.

First, cut off the tops of the zucchinis and hollow them out with a spoon. Put the zucchini guts in a bowl and add chopped tomato and onion.

Heat a skillet on medium high and brown some pancetta (the recipe says bacon, but I prefer diced pancetta). Add zucchini guts, tomato and onion and cook for 4 minutes or so.

Remove from heat and add bread crumbs, cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Spoon stuffing into zucchini and top with remaining cheese and the zucchini tops.

Place stuffed zucchini in a lightly greased baking pan or baking dish (the recipe says to pour water in the bottom of the pan which I don't do either). Bake for 40 minutes or until zucchini is softened. Enjoy.

The original recipe is available here

Since I am linking to Rain's Thursday Art and Dinner Date, I shouldn't forget about the art. Today, the art is not something that I created. Last Friday I met with my friend Liz - they had lost their home in the October 2017 fires and were only able to move into their rebuilt home last summer - and she gifted me with this gorgeous quilt she had made. She said that she always thought of me when she was working on it - because these are my colors! I was surprised and overwhelmed (in a good sense) about this wonderful, personal gift that she had put so much work in it.

This was also one of the first things I saw today (this week's prompt).

Monday, July 25, 2022

Another Bavarian Lake


Today I am taking you to Starnberger See, another lake near München. We have already been to Ammersee, but today we're riding on a different train which we will leave at Possenhofen and walk through the forest down to the lake. We'll pass a meadow that you've already seen.

From there it is just a Katzensprung ("cat jump" -> stone's throw) to the lake. Like Ammersee, Starnberger See has many piers that lead into the lake. These piers are very popular with the population for just hanging out for a few hours and make the most of the time at the lake.

The perfect backdrop for wedding pictures! We loved the swan swimming up to the couple. What you can't see is that the bride is holding their infant daughter as well.

After spending quite some time right here at the lake we took a walk along it. I have no idea what this old tower was used for. I can only guess that it used to belong to the castle grounds of Possenhofen.

We could only see a bit of the castle peeking through the vegetation. It is the childhood home of Princess Elisabeth in Bayern, who was known as "Sisi". She later became Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary and was assassinated in Geneva. She is often known as the tragic empress and the "Sissi" movie trilogy with Romy Schneider as Elisabeth was a huge success in Germany (and the start of Romy Schneider's remarkable carreer). Elisabeth's real life was a bit different than told in the movies though.

Almost directly on the opposite shore of the lake is the Votivkapelle, a memorial chapel for König Ludwig II (King Louis II), the Märchenkönig (fairy tale king). He was a cousin of Sisi and was engaged to her youngest sister Sophie Charlotte; however, they never married. Ludwig II built some of the best known castles in Bavaria, Herremchiemsee, Linderhof (my favorite) and, of course, Neuschwanstein which is particularly popular with Americans and which served as inspiration for Disney's Cinderella castle. He died at Starnberger See on June 13, 1886 and it is still unclear what had happened (murder? accident? natural death?). A cross was errected where his body was found - you can see it in the photo if you look hard (it's right on the shore).

I loved the wide meadows with the majestic trees. There were many chestnut trees in bloom and of course I saw a few of my beloved Copper beeches.

Chestnut bloom

The meadows were full with Pusteblumen (dandelion clock) - I remember blowing the seedheads apart as a child. Don't all children do that?

Let's take a last look at the lake before heading home.

After all these hours on the lake we need something to drink because this is for Elizabeth's T Tuesday where we show a drink every week. What do you think I'm bringing to Elizabeth's today? Of course it's beer from a beer garden - all of us having Weißbier. I hope someone who is familiar with the culture of German Weißbier/Hefeweizen sees what is wrong in this picture. Prost!

Friday, July 22, 2022

Graphite Girl

 A while ago I found the picture of a young Yemenite woman or girl on Pinterest. For some reason I found it captivating - the way she looked at the camera, her eyes, her way of attempting a smile that didn't quite work out and speaks more of hard and difficult times. I came to this picture again and again until I finally tried to draw her.

My attempt, of course, turned into something completely different. From the start it was clear that I didn't have hope that this would be any good because I drew on copy paper. At that time I didn't even finish it, but shoved it in my folder - I only found it a few days ago. Nicole's Friday Face Off was the motivation to keep on working on the drawing and be more serious this time. I used my graphite pencils (those lovely ones from Staedtler) and some charcoal (Derwent) and since I couldn't just let it stand with its shades of black, I added a touch of sanguine which you almost can't see in the photo. As you will see, my woman doesn't carry any similarities to the woman/girl that inspired the drawing. She is pensive, there is just a hint of a smile (if at all) - but I came to like her. I probably could have done much better, but I decided to let it be the way it is now.

You can find the original picture here.

Since Nicole was my motivation, I'm linking to her Friday Face Off.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Do Elephants Eat Chicken?


When David commented on one of my past posts, he mentioned Chicken Shawarma - which inspired me to cook it since the Geek and I hadn't had it in quite a while. We both love Chicken Shawarma and I honestly don't know why we don't have it more often. It is so easy to make.

Chicken Shawarma is a middle-eastern dish - and this is all you need - plus a cup of Greek yogurt for making the sauce:

Chicken thighs (bone- and skinless), garlic, smoked paprika, coriander, cumin, cardamon, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, lemon and olive oil. The flatbread is for wrapping.

Combine all the ingredients (with the exception of the chicken thighs) and make a marinade. Put the chicken thighs in a ziploc bag, add the marinade and make sure that every piece is coated. Marinate overnight in the fridge.

The next day make the yogurt sauce with the Greek yogurt, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and lemon juice. Put in the fridge. As you can see I added a little bit too much cumin to my yogurt.

You can grill the chicken thighs, but I prefer to bake them in the oven. Preheat oven to 425F (220C), spread the marinated chicken thighs on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. The drink in my picture is not wine, but pomegranate juice.

When the chicken is done, cut it in strips and serve with tomatoes, lettuce and the yogurt sauce. Don't forget the flatbread.

Trader Joe's flatbread is not very big, so eating became quite messy. But who cares? It was delicious with a very good spice, but not too hot. (If you don't like too spicy, use less of the cayenne pepper; it really puts the heat in the dish.)

A chilled dry white wine like a Pinot Grigio is a nice companion.

You can find the full recipe here.

Of course we need dessert! When we were in Istanbul we often had Künefe. When I discovered it at Trader Joe's I had to try it. It was very good, but then unfortunately for reason unbeknownst to me, they stopped carrying it. One of the employees who knew how much we liked it warned me about that, so I could stock up. This was the last package... I will probably need to learn how to make it myself.

I'm joining Rain's Thursday Art and Dinner Date - please do yourself a favor and visit some of the other wonderful blogs.

My art for today is this happy patchwork elephant:

This was one of the Kaleidoscope Taster Sessions with Eulalia Mejia, an artist from Colombia. Thankfully she had provided a traceable elephant because I would not have been able to draw it - I'm hopeless at that. She was the only one of the "taster artists" who provided complete step-by-step instructions with pictures to download. Supplies used: acrylic paints and wax pastels.

And no - this elephant doesn't eat chicken.