Sunday, September 30, 2007

Hard Boiled Cat Pissers

For once, a kitchen experiment failed. I tried to make gape jam, which was not one of my best planed projects. But who was I to know that this is so hard to do?

I used fox grapes (vitis labrusca), which Toño helped me to pick. We Swiss call them also Americano or Chatzenseicheler (cat pissers). These grapes have a distictive taste which make them perfect for jam, but unfortunately, they also have huge pips. I only realised this when I'd finished the first round of jam.

I then decided to pick the pips from the next kilogram of grapes. No pigeons at hand, this Cinderella like task took almost two hours. This can't be the solution. I could make jelly, but I somehow prefer jam to jelly. Any suggestions?

Integral Disco

The Integral video is here...

Now I only have to wait for October 8, when finally Pet Shop Boys' Disco 4 will hit the shelf.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

License to Model

My handsome and deriously beloved Toño has not only a license to kiss (only me of course) but also to taste wine, as his latest modeling job shows:

My name is Toño, gomad's Toño

Monday, September 24, 2007

Time For The Frottage

Always when I'm rubbing quinces I realise that summer is definitely over.

Friday, September 21, 2007

15 minutes of fame?

Well I'm the Cookie Bitch of my family but it seems that this starts to pay off or at least that some my cookies get their well deserved 15 minutes of fame.

Vinum, Europe's Wine Magazine, is planing a special on Asti Spumante. This light effervescent wine from Italy's Piedmont region serves well as a dessert wine. Thus Vinum plans to publish recipes of sweets that go well with Asti Spumante.

I've put six of my cookie recipes into the competition for publication, some of which go back to my grand-grandmother.

This week, the specialists went for the tasting for the perfect match. All I know so far is that my angel-like cinnamon stars don't go well with the wine but that others might make it into the magazine. Now I have to wait until November.

Monday, September 17, 2007

¡Feliz cumpleaños, Toño!

On this day in 1967, a beautiful boy was born in Michoacán, México. Fate willed, he camed to Switzerland and he took me into his arms to teach me to love and to enjoy the creature comforts. ¡Feliz cumpleaños, mí Gatín!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Real-Time Window Tracking

Sleepy and Blitz, two friends of mine, are currently crossing Switzerland by running. Think running a bit more than a marathon daily for seven days and you get the picture. Despite this effort, they are also carrying some high-tech GPS gear, which allows us couch potatoes to track them real-time on the internet.

Well this morning, I was sitting in a tram in Zürich on my way to perform some retail therapy when I realised that this week's column by Michèle Roten is rather boring. I stopped reading and glanced through the window. Right in this moment Sleepy and Blitz were jogging by. Sometimes, the internet seems so redundant.

Heracles Was A Sissy

My this week's task was to show that the famous twelve labours of Heracles, the greatest of the heroes in Greek mythology, were a piece of cake - at least compared with my deeds.

My caring employer decided that I have to be a Certified Senior Project Manager. Shiny titles are always tantalising and I let them talk me into going for the cherries. Who was I to know that this was accompanied by quite a catch.

The principle of this certification is that you write a report on how you managed a project. This project will then be assessed by two experts, who will then cross-examine you in a two hour interview. The certification for the Senior version requires a complex, very difficult and challenging project.

All I had at hand was a small project, which performed reasonable well without much efford. However, next week I will have to file my report. So on Monday I started to type my fingers wound. I had to create a legend, how I prevailed in the face of adversity, how I singlehandedly turned a project that was condemned to be a complete mess into a collectable gem, which saved the company from nemesis. Of course every step of the case I built had to be fact-proven. Thank God, there is Tip-Ex, Post-it and Xerox.

Yesterday night I finished my case. I'm worn out. sometimes it's rather strange how we invest our creativity. Next Tuesday, I will file the report and in about two months time I will have a sleepless night before the cross-examination.

By the way, today's Dilbert seems again so appropriate.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Fallen Women

Fallen women rule our life. Only a day after I had finished Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, Toño got himself Flaubert's Madame Bovary.

While my Russian is far too poor to read the great classics, Toño can actually enjoy his book in its original language.

By the way, did you know that Flaubert was duelling Victor Hugo with his Madame Bovary? Read about.

Deflowering Chard

Can you believe this? We've never cooked chard, i.e. not until yesterday. This was clearly a mistake, because chard is mild in taste, rich in calcium, fibre and provitamin A.

We started to cook some pasta. Then we took 4 chard stems and 2 chard leafs, and sliced them separately into small stripes. We stir-fried the sliced stems for about 3 minutes in clarified butter, added the leafs to fry them briefly. Added the zest of a lemon and 3 dl of vegetable tock. Let it cook a bit and added 300 g of sliced chicken breast and 1.8 dl of sauce cream. Boiled it up, and let it simmer for 5-8 minutes until the pasta was al dente. We just used some salt and pepper to season. It takes 30 minutes top and we will do it again.

Fat Chance for Swiss Karma

Staying more than a week on a naval vessel requires also getting done some laundry. At least when you combine the mottoes change daily and keep friends and travel light. Providentially, the vessel was equipped with a big communal laundry room.

We Swiss have a special, not always easy, relation with our communal laundry room. We are devoted tenants and like it scrupulously clean. The combination of both is a source of constant trouble regarding the communal laundry room.

The laundry room on that vessel taught me, how easy things could be. If you filled a machine, you had to choose: Yes, it want my stuff tumble dried or No, I prefer not to. According to your selection, you had to put your personal laundry tag to the Yes or No holder. When the next person came to the machine and your round was finished, he/she could take your clothes out and either put them into a tumbler or into a basket, based on your tagged selection (and also put your tag to the same place). And yes, this system worked just perfectly well, fast and easy.

Why is such a system not applicable for Swiss communal laundry rooms? According to Mr.Mac, it does not work because Swiss don't believe in Karma. It would require to help your neighbour.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Rocky Landing

Luckily the sea calmed down from sea state 3 to 1. This means that we were spared the ride in a rubber boat to get ashore. Although a Venice gondola would have been more romantic, but without lying in Toño's arm, I was more than happy to get a ride in one of those:

I was a bit disappointed when I learned that we can't sit on deck and that we had to fasten the seat belts. However, I soon learned that they can go with 40 knots and that you can ride sharp corners full throttle. Forget roller coasters. This is the real thing to rock and it even brings you ashore.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Heavily Tempted

Finally a day off. The last couple of days, I've been repairing a poxy gun. Although I work in defence, I can hardly tell the difference between a gun and a toaster. And when we are already at comparisons, making a systems engineer fixing a gun is like forcing an architect to fix the plumbing. However, now the bloody thing is ready to pump hot lead again. Thus I could avoided work for today and went (window) shopping in Copenhagen were we happen to be moored right in front of the queen's palace.

I loath shopping, but in Copenhagen things are different, such as more beautifully designed than elsewhere. I spent almost an hour at Illums Bolighus, the unaffordable shrine to Scandinavian design. I'm lucky, I don't live here. I would starve to death just to buy all those lovely things.

Sailing Nation Switzerland

I was standing at the railing of this vessel...

...yes exactly, I was looking out of that rectangular black hole, when a small sailing boat passed and the crew shouted: "Where are you from?" I honestly answered "Switzerland". The crew shouted back "Switzerland? No WHERE ARE YOU FROM?". When will people learn that Switzerland is a sailing nation controlling the Seven Seas?