Monday, 27 January 2014

Snow (Hey Oh)

Flensburg is a fickle mistress, my friend.
When I think it is cold, it isn't really cold.
When I think the sun shines, it disappears just as I leave the house.
When I think it won't rain it does.
But the weather in Flensburg does provide me with magnificent changing views of the harbour.
Here are some taken in the last week :

Double Rainbow. 

Very high tide. 

Yesterday morning.
Yesterday afternoon.
Two hours ago.
Right now. 

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Memphis, Tennessee

I am wrapped in two blankets like a piece of chocolate inside a croissant. It is -1° outside. I can't remember the last time I saw, never mind felt, the sun. I intensely miss sunshine, not only for the warmth it brings but also for its ability to make people feel happier. Here we're all bulbs, hiding underneath layers of black cloth, waiting to bloom.

This lack of sunshine reminded me of a film a friend gave me a few years back, entitled That Evening Sun. Based on the short story I Hate To See That Evening Sun Go Down by William Gay, the imagery in the film reminds me of life at a slower pace, of cicadas, of sipping mojitos and not doing much because the heat is all-consuming. I'd like to be there, now, chilling with Abner Meecham on some porch and contemplating life in a strong southern accent.

According to the weather report, it is just going to get colder. Here's hoping that with the cold the wind stops, the rain becomes snow and the sun can finally peek from behind the clouds.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Hard to Find

I have been struggling with terms of 'arrival' and 'departure'; with being stuck in-between and searching how to 'get there' even if I don't know what/where there is. And then my friend K sends me the answer in an email - "maybe life is just limbo". By definition life is an in-between state: you are born, life happens, and then you die. If you do not believe in life before birth or after death, your existence is lived in-between.

Then I read Jonathan Harris's "Navigating Stuckness":
I thought of my life as a series of chapters, and I realized that each time I’d been majorly stuck, it meant that a life chapter was ending, and that a new one needed to start — like the stuckness was always a signal indicating imminent change. My life has had a bunch of different chapters, each one beginning with the fresh-faced idealism of a new approach to living, and each one ending with a period of stuckness and a moment of crisis.   
Hopefully the moment of crisis can stop dragging itself out for as long as possible and turn into a new chapter soon. I think it has already started: I found a job, I found people I enjoy hanging out with, I founded a language tandem and don't complain too much about it permanently raining anymore.

Jonathan Harris has also done numerous interesting projects, so check out his TED talks (on The Web's Secret Stories and The Web as Art), the I want you to want me project or his Cowbird profile


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Where the Humans Eat

As part of a group project on youth culture for university I went vegan for two weeks. On day 13 I cheated by drinking shots of Bailey's (it contains cream). The vegan experiment in itself was challenging because it was quite time-consuming to buy products that contain no animal by-products. Also, I missed cheese and butter and non-70%-chocolate.

But in itself the project wasn't life-changing. Rather, the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer was. I had never before really thought about the conditions the animals were kept in because they aren't treated terribly at my uncle's farm. Sure, he probably sees his animals as a business investment, but I like to believe that he enjoys working with the animals and does not torture them. The farms Foer describes have nothing to do with farming: they are factories designed to produce as much as possible in the shortest amount of time, without consideration for the pain and suffering of the animals that constitute this produce.

I also wrote about this on our eating-vegan-blog, called Eat Your Vegetables. The articles in German are by my fellow students, and the English ones are written by yours truly. The video above is one of a few by restaurant chain Chipotle in the States, whose Food with Integrity program supports ethical approaches to farming (click here for my post on factory farming).

Although I won't say that I am a dedicated vegetarian now, I will admit to being more conscious of what I buy and generally don't eat any meat here. In SA, that might be different because I know the animals are treated better (depending on where you buy your meat from, naturally). In general I think it is not necessary to label your own food consumption too much. Instead, I wish more people would read Eating Animals and be more aware that as consumers they have the power: if you want to buy the cheapest produce, you should know how the animals are treated in life and in slaughter, and then reassess whether the life of another living thing is worth the few moments on your taste buds. For those of us with the means to buy whatever food we want I think this is the most important realisation: you are choosing what to eat, and thus dictating production.

Little Talks

Driving to the airport there are two signs: Arrivals and Departures. But I feel like I have neither really departed nor arrived. I have landed, not arrived. My luggage is here, my things are here, but all the emotional baggage remains lost somewhere between here and home.

It is a strange in-between. Maybe it is just being-20-something and realising that at some point I need to find my own life. Today I made an appointment to go to the dentist for a check-up and it felt like an enormous achievement. My mom had always done it for me. I never realised how much admin it takes to be an adult. 

Hopefully with time it will get better, both the becoming-an-adult part and the not-feeling-like-this-is-home part. In the meantime I am a tourist in the place where I live. 

Arriving at Gl├╝cksburg

This is Denmark, apparently. 

The next day I walked around the harbour with my roommate because it was such a lovely, clear day after weeks of dappled rain.

I live in the blue house :)

Monday, 6 January 2014

Black Gold

There is a patisserie called MyDarlings on the corner of Lynnwood and Brooklyn street. I had never noticed its blue-and-black striped exterior even though I had driven past it hundreds of times. And then, on a revolutionary day, my mother and I had wanted to go to Aroma coffee but it was full so we discovered MyDarlings, which is right next door to the coffee shop.

On that day we shared one of their mud cakes, and if ever I would be served the death penalty it would be on my last-meal list. Outside it looks like an ordinary chocolate muffin, but when you take a bite it is gloriously pudding-like inside and very decadent. And somehow the outside-cakey-consistency works fantastically with the chocolate-mousse interior.

Since then I have been trying to recreate the mud pie, but have never really succeeded. There is one recipe though that comes quite close, namely this one for Miniature Chocolate Mud Pies. I have baked it once in SA and now tried it again as a Christmas dessert.

Here is the original recipe with my adaptations in brackets:

1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs (I used choc butter cookies)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 1/2 oz light cream cheese
2 tbsp chocolate chips (normal 70% chocolate, chopped)
2 large eggs
2 tbsp hot water
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
1 tsp instant coffee
3 tbsp corn syrup (or golden syrup)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180°C). Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with vegetable oil.
On the left: molten chocolate and coffee mix. On the right: crushed chocolate cookies. 
2. In small bowl combine chocolate chips, water and coffee.  Microwave for 40 seconds or just until chocolate begins to melt.  Stir until smooth. (Instead of microwaving everything I simply let the mixture stand for a few minutes and the heat from the water automatically melts the chocolate)

3. In small bowl combine wafer crumbs, water and oil until mixed.  Divide and pat into bottom of muffin tins. (I added some of the chopped chocolate pieces)

4. In bowl or food processor add sugar, cocoa, flour, cream cheese, eggs, sour cream, corn syrup and vanilla.  Puree until smooth.  Add chocolate mixture and puree until smooth. 

5. Divide among muffin cups and bake for 12 minutes or just until centre is still slightly loose.  Cool and chill before serving.  Remove from tin with a knife. 

Hmmm delicious :)

Per serving:
• Calories 220 • Protein 3.6 g • Carbohydrates 30 g • Fiber 1.5 g • Total fat 5.8 g • Saturated fat 2.1g • Cholesterol 23 mg • Sodium 62 mg
• prep time 15 minutes
• bake time 12 minutes
• make ahead Can be baked 2 days in advance and refrigerated.