Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Reviewed - Everybody Loves Charlotte

At this hour one year ago, I was making my first Charlotte Royal. It was the most ambitious dessert, I've ever ventured on. But the risk taken paid back and it made quite an entrance at the New Year's Eve party (late entry - at this our I was supposed to be on my way to the party).

A while later, I also tried the Charlotte Russe for my mother's birthday.

Both recipe pages [1] [2] for those two desserts are my most visited posts. There seems to more people out there liking classical desserts :)

Well, this is it. I wish you a Happy New Year, stay healthy, indulge in love and enjoy everlasting groovieness :) 2010 will be fantastic - I know this, because we deserve only the best :)

2009 Reviewed - What made me leave my bed early

In 2009, I had to get up several time quite early. This all started on a cold Saturday night in Montreal in late 2007, when Mr. Mac introduced me after a movie in a book store to Nigella Lawson. I had never heard of her, but Mr. Mac's fascination was big enough that I got hooked and got one of her books for myself.

One of the recipes in the book I actually tried was Swedish Salmon. Toño loved it too and so it became quite a regular appetizer this year for when we had guests.

The problem is, that you need an intact salmon, which is difficult to get in Switzerland. So I had to get up early on Saturday or Wednesday morning, when there is a good fish merchant at the local farmer's market. Early I had to be that not another one got my preferred fish first.

Tonight at our New Year's Eve invitation we will serve it again. But I think we have to find something new for next year. It is not our intention to bore our guests. But what might it be? And will it make me leave the cosy bed early too?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Reviewed - Excited

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman was not published this year but I only read it this year. There was no other book that touched both my brain and heart* like this one since I'd read At Swim, Two Boys.

* and a bit my crotch as well ;p

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 Reviewed - Über Cute

Shakira's She Wolf burned itself into my memory only because its video was recreated as He Wolf in the most über cute way :)

2009 Reviewed - Unbridled Passion

I admire people who prove us wrong, by showing that the impossible can not only be thought of but also built. For many years Zaha Hadid had been drafting only, but since 1993 her powerful designs are actually built.

This year, Taschen published Zaha Hadid. Complete Works 1979-2009, a 600 page 7 kg XL tome demonstrating the progress of Hadid's work. A book showing that we can act beyond our wildest dreams.

2009 Reviewed - The Transforming Power of Glee

We do not watch much TV, nevertheless we like TV series. I either get them on DVD or previewed and recommended by Château Mac. So, out of this collection, what was so outstanding on Toño's iMac* this year?

Well Toño & I had been on TV in 2009! But I reckon it would be a slightly bit impudent to vote for ourselves. And if I look at the rest, I have to declare without the slightest hesitation Glee the Best on TV 2009.

Ever since I sat endless hours through that cheesy Phantom of the Opera I simply loath musicals. Thus, if you told me that I would favour anything in which people break into song and dance constantly, I would have hit you right into your face. Now I can't do it any more. It's the power of Glee. It made me so much more peaceful.

*we haven't even got a telly

Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 Reviewed - Only a Brief Glimpse

Yes, there was Almodóvar's Los Abrazos Rotos, but despite of this fact, I have no idea what the best film was, all I remember of the film year 2009 was this far too brief moment of Chris Pine in those boxer briefs *swoons again*

2009 Reviewed - When Best Is Worst Too

As so many, at the end of the year, I like to pause for a moment and to look back on the year which just rushed passed me. Like today, when I was disposing old newspapers and magazines, and I had to realise with astonishment that the best magazine cover boy of 2009 was also the worst magazine cover boy of 2009.

I so prefer a fantastically beautiful Ben to the one with attitude.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Saturday Flowers

Again a Christmas rose (Hellebore) from our balcony, because it's not only Saturday but also Boxing Day. Isn't it a lovely day? :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

We've waited all year...

... and I'm happy to wish you joy and good cheer. Merry Christmas!

This lovely card was so nicked from fragments treasures memory.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tři oříšky pro Popelku

What would Christmas be without Christmas films on TV. My all time favourite in that category is the Czech-German fairy-tale film Tři oříšky pro Popelku (Three Nuts for Cinderella).

I've just reseached the screening hours and channels for the rest of this week:
  • 24.12. 14:35 WDR
  • 24.12. 20:00 TV Nova (CZ)
  • 24.12. 21:15 RBB
  • 25.12. 11:00 ARD
  • 25.12. 13:10 SF-1
  • 26.12. 09:00 RBB
  • 26.12. 10:45 SWR/SR
  • 26.12. 12:20 NDR
  • 26.12. 12:45 MDR
  • 27.12. 06:15 MDR
  • 27.12. 08:50 BR

What is it about? Well, read here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Moi, l'architecte d'intérieur

This September, my brother surprisingly married his milker Татьяна. So far my brother and my parents were living in the farm house. Nevertheless, my parents were anticipating a marriage much earlier and wisely bought decades ago a small house down the road to use it as Stöckli:

My brother is not always the speediest and now my parents are aged 77 and 85. You can imagine that moving at this age is no easy undertaking. However they are up to it, but need some help to get the place ready. My sister makes no bones about things and thus took care that the carpets get cleaned, the hardwood floors get reworked and that a telephone line is connected. But since I'm the pooftah of my clan, interior design just had to be declared my field of expertise.

I is unclear when the house was actually built, but it must be around 400 years old and this had to be taken into account when selecting things. I don't mean that I was going to get 400 year old furniture and that all plumbing had to be removed. What I had to find were things that match with both the old building with its tiny rooms and my parents.

The pièce de résistance was clearly the settee for the drawing room. First I tried affordable furniture stores. This was torturous! Who was I to know that this planet is chastised with so many ugly furniture. I then tried the second hand stores. All furniture of the affordable shops obviously ended there. Close before I hit hit rock bottom and was about to declare defeat, Toño demanded that I had a look at a store nearby, which had a wide range of couches. And yes, they had the one model I was looking for:

I know, the Louis XI lounge table is not the most perfect match, but my parents will bring a lot of their old stuff and it will be a wild style mix anyway. If what I got would be too perfectly matching, it would not go with the other furniture.

In the background you can see the coat rack. It was originally designed for the Statens Järnvägar (Swedish State Railways). I chose it because it is solid and dynamic at the same time.

One of the most neglected fields is light. And since I also worked in designing lighting is usually spent a lot of time choosing lamps and bulbs bringing the lamps into effect. Luckily I found the Berliner Messinglampen GmbH. Of course choosing a chandelier would be nice, but the rooms have a low ceiling and thus I went for this:

and for the bedside tables:

Now, my parents can move. When this is completed, a second round will be necessary to fill the gaps.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Chräbeli translate to small scratches (the German speaking part of Switzerland uses the diminutive extensively). Probably the name is derived from the serrated shape of the cookies, which might cause scratches. But who cares, I like them because of their aniseed flavour and they are really easy to make.

  • 500g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp aniseed
  • a pinch baking powder
  • tbsp cherry brandy (optional)
  • 460 - 500 g flour

Mix sugar and eggs for about half an hour. Add anise, baking powder and cherry brandy (optional). Sieve flower onto the mixture and mix carefully.

Roll dough to finger-thick rolls. Cut diagonally into 5-7 cm long pieces. On a long-side, make 2-3 diagonal incisions. Bend to a slight horseshoe shape.

Put on a baking tray (with baking paper or greased and flour dusted) and let them rest at a warm place over night.

Bake at low heat (about 120°C/248°F) for 30 minutes. The top has to remain white. On the bottom little "feet" have to grow. If the feet don't appear, they need to rest a bit longer.

Source: Cookbook of the Cooking School Winterthur, published 1949

Cookie Bitching 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Good news of great joy"

I know, this is a bit premature. We will have some more days to pass until we can commemorate this announcement of the angel to the shepherds. But I already cite this line, because we use this fourth Advent Sunday to add an angle angel to our Nativity scene.

Read more about the Nativity scene tradition at our residence in last years post.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm not supposed to take prisoners, am I?

Do you remember? Back in July I'd ordered a new helmet. It seems much coveted not only by me. It did not arrive until last Friday. But now it's here and it's even hotter than I'd imagined in my wildest dreams:

A POC RECEPTOR+ helmet. It is designed all sorts of multi impact sports. There are not only nice logos printed on the back of it, the helmet has actually passed a plethora of certifications to prove this.

I bought the helmet not only to look at it (although this is already pretty satisfying), I'm actually wearing it.

Finally a helmet that keeps my brain at operational temperature while riding my bike through wintry Zürich. And I can also use it on the slopes early next year :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

I want my Christmas & I want it like now!

Today, the fabulous Pet Shop Boys released their Christmas EP. Of course I rushed to my on-line CD store of trust to order it immediately after Jon tweeted it, only to learn that the delivery time is 2 weeks. Yes, this is like after Christmas. What is the _______ point of this?

I actually might have to get it from the iTunes store :/

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Vital Necessity: Portable Loudspeakers

Sadly, only a few hotels have yet realised that it is really a vital travellers' necessity that you can plug your portable music player into the sound system of your room. Until I can rely on them having this basic equipment, I have no choice but to travel with my TravelSound thingy.

Talking about travels... Earlier today, there was a big contract signed, which will keep me busy for most of the next five years, including loads of trips to India.

But now, or to be more precise in an hour, I'll be checking out here in Bangalore to return to Toño :) Time to get into the shower and then to pack my TravelSound.

Saturday Flowers

A Hellebore on our balcony. The German name for the flower translates to Christ's Rose.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bum Gun FTW

Well, I think the proper and more decent term is health faucet, but I think bum gun sounds nice too. Not everybody might consider anal cleansing a decent topic anyway.

So yes, I'm in India again and I want to tell the world that one of the most enjoyable perks of travelling southern and south-eastern Asia is that (better) hotels are equipped with bum guns. I don't even want to go into the details of what we are supposed to do down there in our western culture. After applying the bum gun, you just feel so much better :)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Vital Necessity: Maraschino

I use Maraschino not only to make Charlotte Russe. The main purpose for having Maraschino (Marasca cherry cordial) in our household is Macedonia.

Macedonia (also known as fruit salad) gets a significant boost in flavour if you add a decent shot of Maraschino.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

St Nicholas and the old man with spread legs

Today, we can celibate St Nicholas (Nicholas of Myra, Patron Saint of children). St Nicholas is popularly called Samichlaus in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. He appears not on Christmas Eve or Day, but on December 6. Samichlaus is accompanied by a character called Schmutzli on his visits to children.

On his visits, Samichlaus reviews the children's behaviour since his last visit. Dressed in red, he reads their good and bad deeds out of a big book. Schmutzli is dressed in black and his job is to be Samichlaus' executioner. Schmutzli carries both a cane and a big sack filled with mandarins, nuts and chocolate.

If the children behaved well, they are given some goodies out of sack, however, if not, their butt might get to know the cane or if they were really bad, Schmutzli might even put them into sack and take them back to the dark forest. To prevent this fate, the children try to pacify Samichlaus at the beginning of the visit by reciting chumming verses.

I don't expect Toño to have ordered Samichlaus for later today to review my last year's behaviour. Nevertheless, he got us a Grittibänz each.

I have no idea why, but this kind of man shaped bread is also eaten on this day. If you follow the etymological roots of the name Grittibänz, it translates to old man with spread legs. Whatever, they are really scrumptious.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Saturday Flowers

Hellebores on our balcony.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

My Toys

Over at Lonely Blue Boy there was a post this morning on the film C.R.A.Z.Y. and the memories this film triggered, namely the similarities in the youth of both the protagonist in the film and the blog's author (read about).

After reading the post I looked for some old photos of me to trigger my memories of what I had played with. Actually to search, whether there was anything doll-like in my past.

One of the oldest I found with something toy-like was me eating a flower:

I can't remember if this was pure insensitivity or my first political statement, since on this very day the Soviet Union and members of its Warsaw Pact allies invaded Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague Spring.

The next I found was clearly me playing manly. Like here when I was imitating my father sharpening sickle bars:

Or playing trucker with my father's visor cap:

If you get the impression I was an outdoor kind of child I have to correct this immediately. I think I preferred to play indoors. Of course, Lego were extremely important:

But fare more important were florist wire sticks (the wood without the wire):

An uncle of mine worked in a nursery and he must have collected them for decades, since I had a crate with hundreds of them. I preferred them to all pre-fabricated toys, because they did not limit me at all. I built huge cities and places for the adventures I had in my mind. I think I've never thanked my uncle for this.

So I can't remember anything doll-like. There clearly was a teddy. There can't be an Urs without a bear. I have no picture of him, so here are some newer generations:

I don't think my furry companion is still around. It was in quite a bad shape and I remember that I had to fix it with needle and thread for several times (so here came the gender bending hint).

Of course, when I grew older I changed my toys. for about a decade, you could hardly see me without my Canon AE1. I even had my own darkroom to make prints (black & white only). And yes, I followed my father at least with having a thing for headgear.

Jay's Questions

Questions by Jay:

1. Whose the last person you've helped, but didn't have to?
I think this was one of the common curtsey kind of helps, like holding open a door or picking something up a person dropped. I try to do such things, not only because you get usually a free smile. Though, I like to get smiles and it's a really cheap way to get it.

2. Whose the last person you loved but didn't want to?
3. Whose the last person you hated, but couldn't help it?

I'm crap at both loving/hating on a casual basis. In my vernacular we do not even say "I love you". "I like you" is the most we stammer. I actually had to learn to use "I love you" (though I still hardly do in my dialect). I'm getting off track... The one I love, I really want to love and I hope that this will last till eternity. It happened though quite often that I dislike certain people without any apparent reason. This mostly at work, probably since I have the most social interaction there. Or as a friend of mine put it: "I really tried to be more tolerant, but there are just too many morons in this world." But I only dislike these people, I don't hate them. Morons are just not worth to get too much of my emotions.

4. What means most to you, but could do without?
My daily fix of newspapers.

5. At the end of the day what can you do better, and will you try to?
Loving and caring.

6. Can you ignore want and acknowledge necessity?
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. It is not always easy to distinguish between urge and importance. But I don't think I overemphasise want.

7. What is fucked up in your LIFE that you CAN change but never will?
I'm pretty content with my life. I don't think I've got incurable baggage.

8. What is fucked up in the WORLD that you CAN'T change but will try?
For all gays to live and love without fear.

9. Would you denounce your convictions to save the life of one person/millions?
Even Galileo Galilei abjured, cursed and detested his opinions. And my convictions are far weaker than his. I can be quite a wimp. I reckon, I definitely would.

10. Would you follow your convictions if it lead to the injustice of one person/millions?
What do you expect from somebody working in the arms business? (Not that I'm in this business out of conviction, or is money equal to conviction in this case?)

11. Is your life about giving or taking?
La vie n'est pas un long fleuve tranquille. There are waves. Right now, I'm more on the taker side, but I've been a giver, and it might come back again.

12. If you died tomorrow, what footprints have you left?
I did plant some trees, not enough though.

Indiscreet Neighbours

The antithesis to our discreet neighbours is our nearby bakery.

For readers from the U.S. of A. this might be a humble reference to Christmas. For our culture (which even bans minarets) it's way over the top. Inside the bakery, it's even worse (I did not dare to take pictures there).

Our baker has a passion for American style decoration and American style cars, but unfortunately not for bread. Which is really a pity, since I so like good bread. So I have to walk to further afar and less illuminated places to get my fix.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Discreet Neighbours

A few minutes ago, Toño came home "Did you see, our neighbours put up the Christmas decoration, very discreet, I love our discreet neighbours".

Monday, November 30, 2009

Blue Monday

I'm having a bit the blues today. It was just not my day. Can happen... So I call it an early night...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Advent

We could light the first candle in this year's Advent. At this point we Swiss gave up on being festive. First, we failed to turn swords into ploughshares by saying nay to put a ban on arms export* into our constitution (sorry World Peace). Nevertheless, we still managed to mess things up even more seriously by saying aye to put a ban on minarets into our constitution. We are still allowed to export arms but a significant part of the arms market is probably not all to keen to ask for ours. Besides now, carrying a Swiss passport will be the same as painting a bull's eye on the forehead when travelling certain countries (Hi Americans, we are now in the same boat). Blatant racism is not only complete stupidity, it puts us into the centre of cross-hairs. And these are the people who said aye to registered partnership for The Gays™ a few years back? I actually thought my compatriots were not so unreasonable. Fail!

* I actually am quite happy about this, since exported arms are my bread and butter.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Just In Case... are wading in money and you want to get out of this situation and considering that Christmas is just around the corner, buying me an IWC Ingenieur Automatic Mission Earth edition watch would actually help you.

I would also take the black version. Just in case...

Jammed by Visual Pollution

Sorry, another work related rant... but I just lost an hour of my precious life to visual pollution.

I was called to a compulsory course on my caring employer's new appraisal system. It lasted an hour, which is still better than the one about the new wage system which took four. The course was set at 8am, a time where my receivers are still quite far from operational. However, they were completely jammed when they detected that the presenter was dressed in worst 80es style combination: too long jacket left unbuttoned, shirt, tie and jeans. It did not help either that the jeans were so unfitting they could turn you straight and that his hair was touching the collar.

The day can go only uphill from here.

PS: we have also a new tool to submit/associate our worked hours to project accounts. The button you have to press to submit the data is labelled "Interrupt". Wtf?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm all right Jack, pull up the ladder

I'm a bit in a funk when it comes to work right now, or more in a rather indifferent après moi, le déluge kind of mood. Because it seems that doing a decent job does not solve anything. The mess is only get bigger.

The German idiom the fish reeks at its head describes it quite well. Things are rather badly organised around here so that you are given only quicksand under your feet.

One of the best teachers I've ever had was in organisation. He taught me the Hamburger Job Model: A good job is organised like a good hamburger. The buns and the meat have the same diameter and there is a balance between the amount of bread and meat:

The upper bun represents the tasks, the lower the responsibilities and the meat are the competences to get from the tasks to the responsibilities. Whatever, the real life Job Hamburger looks more like this:

You have got certain tasks, have to put your neck on the line for like everything and are not served any meat at all. How I'm supposed to achieve anything on that diet?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cut the Pear Bread

It is nasty when the days get shorter, the temperature drops* and the fog is all you see of the world. But there are things I always look forward to in November, like cutting the first pear bread.

* well, not so much right now

Saturday Flowers

Friday, November 20, 2009


I think I do not watch enough (Swiss) telly. Yesterday at our after swim pizza, this add was the part of the table talk but I could not add any wit or repartee to the discussion since I haven't seen nor heard of the commercial, although it seems to have been around for 4 months.

Vital Necessity: Meat Mincer

No, I'm not actually making my own meatloaf or burgers, my thoughtful sister gave me a handy meat mincer...

... to make the filling for pear bread.