Saturday, January 31, 2009

Minivacation time!

Easyjet has a great sale going on for the next couple days, so I'm trying to plan a little weekend trip for Mr K and I. My problem is we've been so few places so far, I can't decide! To the right you'll find a handy little poll to help us make our choice. The trips range from about 450 CHF (London) to 700 CHF (Marrakesh) for both of us, including hotel and flight (see what I mean about good deals).

If your recommended destination isn't on our list, please leave me a note in the comments and I'll price it out. The only catch is we have to book in the next couple days, so vote/suggest/act/move here now!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Another journey by train

Sunday morning found us up, if not at 'em, bright and early. We were heading to Chateau D'Oex (pronounced roughly 'SHA-toe Dey'... of course...grumble grumble French grumble) for the International Festival of Balloons. Our trip began with a crowded bus ride from Fribourg to Bulle. From Bulle, we caught our first train of the day to Montbovon and from there we squeezed onto train #2 to Chateau D'Oex. When I say squeezed, I mean it - Mr K, myself, and another friend were all shoved in a doorway, holding on and praying the door of this considerably-older-model train wouldn't pop open from the combined pressure of three Americans.

Just under two hours after leaving Fribourg, we arrived at our destination. The sky was perfectly clear and the air cold, but not bitterly so. We were comfortably bundled up in our snow clothing though I would soon come to regret forgetting my sunglasses. The crowd was spread out over a snowy hillside with a perfect view of the balloon ground. We arrived in time for the "special shapes" category of balloons, which included three different chickens, a guy with a kilt, a turtle, some tiny remote-controlled balloons and a few other entries. Superchicken, pictured at the top of this entry, was my favorite even though he got stuck in the trees halfway up the mountain and spent the rest of the day glowering over someone's chalet.

After a couple hours of craning our necks and squinting at the glare off the snow, we went in search of the Swiss version of Fair Food - a hot dog crammed in a baguette and some salty salty frites. We wandered back to our spot on the hill, where I spilled ketchup and mustard all down my swanky wool scarf. The program promised displays of paragliding, parachuting and wingsuits after the "special shapes" balloons. I should add that the mention of "wingsuits" was the sole factor that got us up and out of bed that morning.

And so we waited, me fidgeting with my scarf as the faint scent of mustard floated on the air around me. Two in the afternoon came and went. Then it was three. No wingsuits. No wingsuits. We waited a few more minutes as balloons for passenger rides were inflated before we decided wingsuits were just not going to happen. I toyed briefly with the idea of taking a balloon ride myself - until I saw that it would be around $750 for Mr K and I both to go for a couple hours. I was feeling cheap an Mr K isn't so fond of heights anyway, so instead we headed back to the train station to make our three part trip home.

As a final note, you have to check out Mr K's amazing shot of a very photogenic family watching the balloons. Just look at that! The kids, the coordinating snow gear, the coordinating DOG. Amazing.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's never enough...never enough...never enough

So, more about food it is!

Mr K referred to tonight's dinner as "800% make again" - a far cry from the typical enthusiastic "pretty okay" lesser recipes have garnered me. (Before you get to thinking I'm a horrendous cook you should probably know that Mr K actually considers "pretty okay" to be praise of the highest kind...)

So I started with a recipe a friend sent me earlier this week. In the copy below, I noted my first set of changes in italicized type:

Lentils and Rice with Fried Onions (Mujadarrah)


6 tablespoons olive oil (I used closer to three and it was more than enough)
1 large white onion, sliced into rings (One and a half small Swiss onions...)
1 1/3 cups uncooked green lentils
3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup plain yogurt (optional) (absolutely not optional despite what the original recipe said...)


1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onions, and cook about 10 minutes, until browned. Remove from heat, and set aside.
2. Place lentils in a medium saucepan with enough lightly salted water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer about 15 minutes.
3. Stir rice and enough water to cover into the saucepan with the lentils. Season with salt and pepper. Cover saucepan, and continue to simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until rice and lentils are tender.
4. Mix half the onions into the lentil mixture. Top with yogurt or sour cream and remaining onions to serve.

I thought this was a great starting point and I'm sure it would be delicious with no changes made, but I'm just terrible at leaving well enough alone. At step three, I added a pinch of saffron to the pot at the same time I added the rice for just a bit of flavor and color (the color failed to show but the flavor was nice and light). To the yogurt sauce, I added cumin and salt and pepper. I also doubled the amount of yogurt as we're yogurt fiends here.

As the lentils were cooking, I marinated a chicken breast in the other half of the plain yogurt with a bit of za'atar and a little lemon juice. Once the lentils and rice were nearly done, I turned my attention to the rest of the plate. I chopped half a cucumber to be stirred into the lentils and rice because I love a touch of cold veggie stirred into otherwise hot foods. I'm also a huge fan of the combination of yogurt and cucumber. When the lentils and rice had ten minutes left, I chopped up the chicken and sauteed it in the pan I used earlier for the onion (using the leftover onion-frying-oil).

Once everything was done, I plated it up and finished it off with sliced apple in an effort to get a bit more fruit and veggie into us. The sweetness and crispness of the apple turned out to be a really nice contrast to the rest of our dinner.

Now we're pleasantly full and I'm trying to decide if I feel like going to bed early or if I have the energy to do a little painting.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Drastic times and what-not

Miz K (that's me) is suffering from a severe case of blog-block. Any requests? Twenty questions? Help me out or I'm going to start posting recipes again...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Last night something happened

So this morning, I woke up to three messages to call home from my parents. Our cat Sega had a stroke and passed away. He was three months away from his ninth birthday.

Sega's life changed when we moved to Switzerland in 2007. Before we moved ourselves, we had to move Sega and his sister Atari in with my parents (thanks so much for adopting them, mom and dad). Earlier in the year, a routine vet visit for Sega to get his teeth cleaned turned into an appointment with the kitty cardiologist which turned into a hefty bill and a couple prescriptions to treat his newly-discovered heart murmur. We worried that a long flight wasn't going to make his heart matters any better so, with heavy hearts of our own, we left Sega and his sister with my parents.

Sega quickly became the favorite cat at my parents house as well - he had the best personality and just loved people. Over this past Christmas, we got to see he and Atari again and we were thrilled to find both cats even fatter, happier and more spoiled than we left them.

So, to celebrate Sega today, we've been eating black and white cake and trading stories of our best Sega memories. I thought I would share a couple of our favorites.

Soon after Mr. K and I met, he went out of town for a few weeks, so I stayed at his place to watch the kitties and keep them company. Right before I left to pick him up from the airport upon his return, I bought a bouquet of tiger lilies and put them in a nice vase on the coffee table. When we got home, the first thing Mr K said was "Sega-man, what happened to your mouth?" I looked at the cat and noticed his muzzle was Cheetos-orange. On the table, the vase held nothing but stems - Sega ate all the flowers off... and promptly barfed them up on the formerly-freshly-cleaned carpet. His muzzle stayed orange for over a week.

Sega had the worst kitty-breath ever. In desperation, I picked up some pricey kitty dental treats. He and Atari were supposed to get one treat each, twice a day. Somehow, Sega figured out how to get them out of the cabinet and then how to rip the foil packet open, after which he ate the entire bag of treats.

Sega loved to sleep under the blankets, right between us. He would curl up against Mr K's belly and roast the two of us with his kitty-heat.

Sega's favorite toy was a little plush Spiderman ball that came as a toy in a Happy Meal. We think initially the appeal was the smell of cheeseburgers permeating the thing, but long after the smell was bound to have worn off, he still gravitated toward that toy. We kept all his toys in a box in the living room and he would actually dig through the box to find his Spiderman.

Share your fun Sega memories in the comments.

We love you and miss you, Sega!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 in really bad poetry

In January we flew to "Atlan-ter,"
Our family and friends with to banter.
We met little Abbie,
My sister's new “babby
Who giggled and laughed with much candor.

February took us to Prague.
The architecture made us agog.
The buildings so old
And the air beyond cold...
Well, I wrote it all up in my blog.

On our menu for March we saw sushi -
A dish I find way too gooshy.
Dani disagreed -
On sixty bits he did feed.
A feat to be believed you must see.

April took us to CERN
A great opportunity to learn...
But our tour was in French
A word rhyming with “stench”
(No wonder our French teacher's so stern.)

Several adventures filled up our May
Month of our anniversary and birthdays.
A really great meal
Of ten courses - unreal!
Then a few days in Holland to play.

May was a hard month to beat
But June still brought us adventures quite neat.
A day trip to Lucerne
About yodeling to learn.
As we sipped some pomme-secco so sweet.

June brought excitement like none
And for a few days, stress by the ton -
Our realtor told
That our house finally sold.
And then C's parents arrived – so much fun!

In August we found ourselves smitten
By a family of small wild kittens.
One brown and one white
We caught (with some fight)
As C managed to not get all bitten.

September and we're back on vacation
Through three countries and just one train station
With my mom and dad
A great time we had.
( But I still don't eat no crustaceans.)

October, for the most part, was dull.
In our calendar, finally a lull.
Then one night our bus hit a car
Which then promptly caught “far.”
No injuries and no real damage – no bull.

Our November was busy again -
Many hours spent noveling and then
More time spent cooking
Our feast, quite good-looking.
Though turkeys here look more like hens.

December and back to the States
For Christmas on two separate dates.
We bought clothing galore
Books, camera and more.
And now we're wishing you all a “Cheers, mates!”