Snapshots of the Week

I must be starting to look like a local.  Two people asked me for directions on Friday.  One I was able to help (he wanted to get to the Munich Hauptbahnhof), but I had to tell the other that I had no idea.

All the walking is working.  My tight slacks aren’t so tight anymore.  In the words of my darling nephew, “Woo-yay!”

I went to see a ballet, Die Kameliendame, on Thursday.  It’s based on the book The Lady with the Camellias by Dumas.  The school has some kind of affiliation with the theaters that allows us to purchase tickets for a very low price, but the seats are still great.  I’d never seen a ballet live before, and it was incredible.  The dancers were so skilled and precise.  I took ballet classes briefly when I was younger (didn’t every little girl want to be a ballerina a some point?), so I have a limited understanding of how difficult it is.  Amazing.

I’d thought I might be able to keep up with one or two TV shows while I was here by watching them online.  That’s not going to happen.  First of all, I’ve been too busy to care about TV since I arrived, and second, when I actually had some time and tried to do it, all the networks’ websites told me a variation of the same thing:  these videos are only available for viewing by Americans.  The computer is convinced I’m German.  At least someone is.

I went on an outing to Regensburg with a teacher and some other students on Saturday.  It was really cold (we actually got a little bit of freezing rain here last night!), but it was fun.  We saw an 800-year-old bridge, and a huge cathedral.  There was some kind of induction ceremony going on for the boys choir in the cathedral, and we got to hear them sing.  The music echoing off those vaulted ceilings sounded incredible.  I took a couple of videos, but unfortunately the quality was pretty bad.

My classes are going well, although at the rate I’m learning, 8 weeks seems like a lot less time than it did before I left.  I feel like I’ll still barely have scratched the surface of German when I come back home.  My teacher is a great guy, and I liked him very much… until today.  At the end of class he told us we’re each going to have to make a 10-15 minute presentation this month.  I had fervently hoped I was done with presentations when I left the IUK School of Business, whose philosophy on education seemed to be that one must make a presentation every dang week in order to learn.  I hate public speaking.  I’ll write papers, take tests, whatever, but please don’t make me do a speech.  It’s bad enough in English, but in German?  Between the horrific grammar and my limited vocabulary, I’d consider myself lucky to be able to talk about something for 1 or 2 minutes, let alone 10 or 15.  *sigh*  Would anyone care to suggest a topic for me?

Lastly, I have a request for all the good cooks I know, seeing as I’m so inexperienced at cooking.  My diet has had too many carbs and not enough protein since I arrived, because carb-based meals are easier to prepare in my tiny kitchenette.  Most of the easy proteins I would normally make for myself at home (popcorn shrimp, frozen pre-breaded chicken breasts, etc.) require an oven, and I don’t have an oven or a microwave, just two (very slow) burners and a toaster.  Can anyone suggest some simple methods/recipes for preparing meat on the stove in a skillet or pot?  Extra points if you come up with one for the toaster.

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12 Responses to “Snapshots of the Week”

  1. Anwyn Says:

    Peppersteak! And any other kind of stir-fry. Ham/cheese omelets, obviously. Simple chicken soup: Boil a boneless/skinless chicken breast, let it cool enough to handle, shred it or chop it, toss it in a pot of storebought broth with noodles & chopped veggies, simmer.

  2. Anwyn Says:

    Saute some chopped pancetta or sausages to go with basic pasta.

  3. thelmajoy Says:

    Your favorite chicken breasts that I used to make for you are easy as pie on the stove top:

    1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter in pan at med. high heat.
    Salt and pepper chicken breasts and cook 4 minutes per side (approx).

    It depends on how thick the chicken breast is. You can do a side of rice and a frozen vegetable or salad. Pan gravy is easy. Once the breast is out of the pan, add chicken broth out of can or box (or you can use a cup of water with one bullion cube) and bring to a boil. Add cornstarch mixed wiht a little water to thicken.

  4. thelmajoy Says:

    Those amounts are for 4 chicken breasts, so if you are just cooking one or two then use half the butter and oil. And you will probably want to add a little salt and pepper to the pan gravy depending on if you use can broth or bullion.

    I used to chop up deli ham and add it to box pasta mix or boxed scalloped potatoes to get extra protein in Lily’s diet.

    Do they have tuna helper or hamburger helper there? If not you can do a hamburger or hot dog on the stove.

  5. Bumble Says:

    Much as I love pepper steak, I said “simple.” I’ll wait till I’m back in a familiar kitchen and language ’til I tackle that one. I wouldn’t even know what cut of beef to get. 🙂 Thanks for the suggestions though. I’ll let you know how I do.

  6. Bumble Says:

    I found some bacon at Aldi. I’m going to fry that up one night and add it to pasta to make a mock Carbonara. I’ll never forget Lily’s face that night you had me try to make mock Carbonara with milk and leftover ham for her dinner. She kept peeping into the kitchen with a concerned expression on her face saying, “It smells shooey in here.” When I finally gave up and said something about chicken noodle soup, she got a very hopeful expression on her face and proclaimed loudly, “I like chicken noodle soup.”

    I don’t know why, but I can never get broth gravy to thicken. I’ve tried it several times. I bring the broth to a boil and pour in the cornstarch/water mix, and it gets cloudy, but not thick.

    Haven’t seen anything resembling hamburger/tuna helper. I brought pasta-roni; didn’t think about tuna helper.

    Yeah, a hamburger would be easy, but I’m too lazy to buy ground beef and make one when I’m so close to Burger King and McDonald’s. 🙂

  7. Anwyn Says:

    Peppersteak *is* simple. You get a stir-fry cut or a 1-lb. cut of sirloin.

    If your broth won’t thicken, you either have too much broth to not enough cornstarch solution, or possibly you haven’t stirred up the cornstarchinto the water enough. Take two tablespoons of cornstarch to 1/4 cup water and mix it thoroughly with a fork until it is a smooth liquid; then stir it into the hot broth. If it doesn’t thicken, repeat.

    I suspect this works better with broth that more fat in it rather than with storebought broth, but I don’t really know.

  8. Bumble Says:

    The cutting board in my kitchenette is the size of a trade paperback, and I have no countertop or butcher knife. Simple dishes become complex when you have limited resources. And if I found a stir-fry cut in the grocery store, I doubt I’d recognize it. 🙂

    Thanks for the pointers. I’ll try again with the gravy.

  9. Anwyn Says:

    I meant, it is simple in preparation. Things are different if you are missing basic implements. When I say “stir-fry” cut I mean a pound of beef that the butcher has pre-chopped into stir-fry slices.

  10. bumble525 Says:

    Ah. I definitely want to learn to make it when I come home. Yours is the best I’ve ever had, and that’s something I usually only say to mom. 🙂

  11. Michelle W Says:

    Bea–Try stir fry. Cut up small pieces of meat and use oil to brown them. Then add veggies and a sauce. Yummy!! Eggs are great too 🙂 Tonya passed your blog on. Had fun reading. Very interesting and exciting experiences. Good luck on your presentation.

  12. bumble525 Says:

    Michelle~ Thanks for the idea (I want to try some of this stuff, but I have so little time!), and thanks for reading! Tonya passed it on, huh? Perhaps I have more blurkers than I realize. 🙂

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