6.12.2007

I'm drowning in mid-air

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIt's so hot here. It's so humid. Oh, how I miss those cold summer San Francisco days with the the chilly nordic breeze gently blowing off the ocean onto the shore.

The cooler nights, the dry days.

During the summer you often see San Franciscans shrugging against the wind and artfully throwing silk scarves and wool sweaters around their pale, white necks to stay warm.

It's so hot in Graz, that you can smell the sidewalks seweating. It's the smell of street dust getting heavy and wet. Everyone looks exhausted and annoyed. The residents are slumped against the humidity,their clothes are uncomfortably stuck to their body with musty sweat.

"It's tropical weather," said one to me trying to put sense to the unusual weather. It rains in the morning or during the night, then it's hot, sunny and mostly cloudy the rest of the time. Then... it starts all over again the next day.

It's so hot and humid, that we've got a petri tray of mold growing in our bedroom. We went away for four days to Italy and when we got back our bedroom wall had white fuzz and black things growing on it.

After a seven and a half hour drive (usually five and a half but we had to stop a few times because tortellino was suffering from molars popping in), I had to wipe down the walls with bleach before going to bed. It's going to be really expensive to replace the roof, and we knew whe had to do it eventually, but the lady living here told us there are no problems, no leaks (other lies!)... how can you not see black and fuzzy mold on the walls? We're going to contact the attoruney and hope for the best. Perhaps the woman, or her insurance can pay for part of the roof replacement.

But at the moment... I'm hot. I'm really hot. I can't stand it and I feel like I'm suffocating on the damp air.

6.06.2007

Thick, White, Asparagus

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In the last couple of weeks, the supermarkets in Graz, have been inundated with thumb-thick white asparagus. It seems that here, thicker is better which goes contrary to the advice of getting the thinnest, most pettite asparagus for a refined meal.

How to turn these thick, white monsters into a delicacy?

I was hunting around my spice coupard and found an unused jar of mustard. Mind you, this was not the yellow creamy stuff to spray on hotdogs. This was a little jar hubby brought back for me on his last trip to France. It's far from yellow, it's a little jar packed with whole-grained mustard which is suspended in a little bath of white wine and vinegar. It's called Moutarde a' l'Ancienne made by Reine Dijon and it's really changed my view of mustard for the better. If you don't have a hubby that occasionally travels to France on business, I'm sure any whole-grained mustard will work with this recipe.
White Asparagus al Moutarde
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhole grained mustard can be quite flavorful, so if you like a strong flavor, use restraint and start with a just a little bit (you can always add more later!) because you also do not want to overpower the asparagus flavor.

500g (or 1lb) of White Asparagus
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tspo of Whole Grain Mustard in White Wine and Vinegar
1 tsp of salt
pepper to taste

Rinse the asparagus and snap the stems (grab each end and let it snap naturally) put the bottoms aside to use as a base for broth, or something. If the asparagus is very thick (like a thumb) slice diagonally lengthwise leaving the tip intact on one of the diagonals. If the asparagus is very thin (like a pinky or less) leave whole.

In a skillet, add the tablespoon of olive oil an heat. When the oil makes a little sizzle when you put in a drop of water, tumble the asparagus in the skillet. Sprinkle with salt, grind a little pepper and sautee' for a few minutes. Add the teaspoon of mustard, mix and continue to cook until the asparagus have a nice golden tint and are soft to the fork.

Bon Apetit!

No Mow!

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJust a few weeks ago, my husband was mowing the lawn in our little modest garaden.

Our garden is fenced by one of those older fences which consists of bars (arrows pointing up) balanced by a horizontal bar. Our house being on a corner, two sides of our garden go along the sidewalk. So, other than the vegetation growing on the edge of the garden, it's easy to see inside, and conversly for us to see outside.
So, back to hubby mowing the lawn... he noticed, that while he was mowing several people stopped and watched for a little bit. He smiled and waved a nd continued mowing. He came back to me and told me what happened and we thought..
"Wow, Austrians are so friendly!"
Fastforward to last weekend when we had a couple over who's lived in Austria for a few years - long enough to understand quite a bit of German and the local laws. The hubby of the couple informed us that it's illegal to use any kind of motor (electric or gas-powered) on Sunday. That means electric saws, leaf blowers, lawn mowers... and yes, anything with a motor that can make noise.
Hmmmm.... it was on a Sunday when we were mowing the lawn! Maybe our neighbors were trying to say something, but I hope they walked away thinking...
"Wow, those new law-breaking neighbors are so friendly!"