Sunday, January 31, 2010

Some pictures

Another in my burned-up-car series:

Remember in A Charlie Brown Christmas, Lucy asks for a pink Christmas tree? I found one:

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Today, we went on a day trip to Cortona, one of the many Tuscan hill towns that has become more popular recently due to it being the setting of "Under the Tuscan Sun," which we've neither seen nor read, however. The weather was supposed to be gorgeous, and in Florence it was still nice, though on the train to Cortona it became progressively more hazy and cloudy. Oh well. We took a bus up to the town, and walked to its main square, where an antiques market was setting up. This being January, there were very few tourists to be found, and some restaurants were still on holidays until March. We got a slice of pizza, and then went past some of the oldest surviving medieval houses in Italy to the Duomo, which was closed, and the Museo Diocesano, which was opening again shortly. Inside the small museum, the highlights were an Annunciation by Fra Angelico and some works by Luca Signorelli. After this, we slowly made our way up the hill to the church of Santa Margherita, which houses the remains of the saint. Then we walked back down into the town, where we had to wait an hour for the next bus to the train station. A tip for tourists: don't go to Cortona on a Sunday. In the meantime, we had a coffee/tea and a "brutti ma buoni" from a local pasticceria. After the 15 minute drive to the train station, we saw that we had just missed the train back to Florence, so it was off to a bar for another hour and another coffee/tea to stay warm while waiting.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Stir-fry noodles

This is one of our favorite recipes. Kristen requests it nearly every week (it also works well with seitan or other fake meat).
  • 250g Asian noodles
  • 500g chicken breasts
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • piece of ginger (thumb-sized)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 small dried chilies
  • 5-6 Tbsp. neutral oil (e.g. peanut oil)
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Cut chicken into narrow strips. Wash green onions and cut into thin rings. Chop garlic and ginger finely. Chop or crumble chilies. Prepare noodles according to package directions (usually you have to cook for 3-5 minutes in water). Rinse.
Heat 3-4 Tbsp. of the oil in a large frying pan or wok on high heat. Add chicken strips and cook for 1-2 minutes while stirring. Push to the side, add a bit of oil and fry the green onion, ginger, garlic and chilies. Add the remaining oil with the noodles and stir fry for another minute. Add soy sauce and lemon juice. Enjoy!

Monday, January 11, 2010


I tripped and hit my chin on the pavement today, so I went to a hospital, since the cut looked kind of big. They did charge me for the visit (Italians just pay into a government-run health care system, so they don't pay when they go to a Dr.). The nurse asked the Dr. why I had to pay, and the Dr. said it was because I was American. However, the total price for the visit and 2 stitches, without bringing insurance into it, was $51.03 (35.65 euros). My somewhat recent emergency room visit in the US, not including the price of medication or lab fees, cost over $600.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lemon-steamed fish

Still feeling guilty after all of those rich meals around the holidays? Try this quick, simple and healthy recipe.

  • 700g filet of zander, perch, or other fish
  • salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 organic lemons
  • 1 (small) bunch parsley
  • 400g fresh spinach
  • 200g mushrooms
  • olive oil
Dry off the fish filets and cut into ~3cm (1 inch) strips. Season with salt and pepper. Wash the lemons in hot water and remove the zest. Wash the parsley. Chop the lemon zest and parsley finely and combine. Press the juice of the lemons into 1/4 liter of water and add to a pot or wok large enough to hold a steamer.
Wash the spinach and coarsely chop. Add to the steamer. Clean the mushrooms, slice and place on top of the spinach. Finally, place the fish fillets on top of the bed of spinach and top with the lemon zest and parsley mixture. Drizzle with olive oil. Place the steamer in the pot, close lid and bring the lemon-flavored water to a boil. Once the water starts to boil, cook for about 5 minutes, or until fish is sufficiently cooked. Serve with potatoes, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with some more olive oil.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

No Stealing

In case there was any question. Also, the other sign means "Crap Stand."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What I did over break

The holidays have come and gone, so it's time for a brief recap of our activities. This year, Kristen and I went home to our respective families, so I flew to Germany. Or tried to, since my flight was canceled due to the winter storms across Europe the weekend before Christmas. Luckily, I made it on a flight the next morning, so I wasn't delayed too much. Kristen fared a bit worse, but I'll let her elaborate on that.
In Germany, I followed a strict regiment of meeting with friends, eating and drinking, and catching up on movies. For example, I finally managed to see the new Star Trek movie (which was actually quite good). In the theater, I watched "The White Ribbon" by Michael Haneke, which has got to be one of the favorites for the Oscar for best foreign picture, and "Avatar" by James Cameron, which could be the "Star Wars" of the 2000's. I also went to see a production of Verdi's "Macbeth" at the consistently good Nationaltheater Mannheim.