Friday, 25 October 2013

Chestnut bounty

One of my favourite winter snacks are roasted chestnuts. I usually buy them from a little stall at the Christmas market where they are roasted on a charcoal grill. They come in a brown paper bag and keep your hands nice and warm. But that's still one month to go.
Last week I got a huge bag of chestnuts from my mother collected in the forest. They are much smaller than the one you can buy in the supermarket and smaller than the non-edible type of chestnut.
In the picture below you see the so called horse chestnut (left) and the edible sweet chestnut (right). I like the pointy end with the taft at its tip. It looks like a little pouch or teepee or fig.
To roast them without grill I just used a frying pan. I cut some of them crosswise with a knife. But it was difficult as these chestnuts are so small and the outer skin hard. So most of them went into the pan as they were. On full power heat without anything added, just turned around with a wooden spoon.
When the outer skin, the brown husk breaks open (the ones cut crosswise) the chestnuts are "done". With a sharp knife it is easy to get rid of the husk and the inner skin. Then you get to the sweet tasting creamy white fruit. The texture of the fruit reminds me of a potato, maybe because the chestnut contains a lot of starch. A great snack for the evening!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Minion - WIP

What happened to the minion, my new amigurumi crochet work in progress, I started two weeks ago? I finished the body part, stuffed it and added some hair. In order to keep the black strands of yarn from unravelling I used some glue and trimmed it. Then I started the overall which consists of little pieces of crocheted details. The main part of the overall though is crocheted like the body part, in rounds. Now I have to assemble the overall parts and continue with the arms, shoes and face.
The pattern for this amigurumi can be found on "All about Ami"

Monday, 21 October 2013

Autumn delights

Last week I have been in the Country of Berg (Bergisches Land), in the western part of Germany. I was born here and once in a while I come to visit my aunt. Actually she is not my real aunt but she used to look after me when I was little and I am still very fond of her.
She has a big garden with lots of beautiful flowers, lots of trees, a cat and some chicken and one lonely duck.
I admire her garden. There are still lots of blooming flowers and even tomatoes! Outside! And of course lots and lots of fallen leafs.
And lots of other autumnal delights: There is a huge walnut tree, where a swing is still dangling from one of the big branches. I remember the swing very well. And four big apple trees loaden with apples. So many this year that the branches have to be supported by sticks to prevent them from beeing pulled down by the apple's weight.
I love to wander around to discover little garden creatures. Unfortunately the cat was not willing to have a picture taken. She was observing me very closely but whenever I raised my camera she was turning or running away. Very clever.

We had a lovely afternoon drinking tea and devouring cake (of course with apples :-) and (Christmas)cookies. Christmas cookies are already available in the supermarkets. Unbelievable that in two months already it is Christmas again! In the below picture, top left corner, you may spot a transparent bag with something yellowish. This are dried apples my aunt gave to me. They were dried in a drying machine and have great apple taste, fruity and sweet. A snack I cannot stop eating!
What a relaxing and pleasant trip. Makes me smile thinking of it, love the beautiful and cozy place my aunt has created.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Apple and pears

We have a small apple tree on the office grounds full of golden-red apples. The apples are smaller than the one in the supermarket although with great flavour. I picked some of them to make apple-pear puree (Unfortunatelay I cannot eat them raw due to an allergie. I always have to cook or bake them first.) You simply peel and cut the apples and pears and cook them in a pot with a little bit of water and lemon juice to prevent the apples to get a brownish colour. I also added some peeled and cut pears and some sugar. If you like add 3 -4 cloves and cinnamon. Cook until tender and make a puree using a blender. If you used cloves take them out before using the blender!!! (I usually wrap them into filter paper which makes it easier to get them out).
My favourite dish with apple-pear puree is potato pancake.
For the potato pancake grate potatoes, add some onions and flour and 1 - 2 eggs. Fry in a pan with oil until golden brown and crispy. Eat while still hot with apple-pear puree on top. Delicious!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Minion - Work in progress

Have you seen the movie "Despicable me"? A computer-animated comedy film about a super villain who adopts three little girls who bring out the good side of him. I didn't know it until I visited my sister who watched the DVD with me. Actually the title and movie poster did not appeal to me at all. But the side characters, the minions, are very funny and adorable. And after watching the whole movie and all the extra features on the DVD I started to like them too. There are more mini film clips of the minions on YouTube and next year there will be a whole movie featuring the minions.
My sister and I then searched the web and found a pattern for a crocheted minion. Hurrah! Stephanie from "All about ami", the very talented amigurumi and crochet artist, wrote a pattern for a minion. As my sister loved it very much I promised to crochet one for her. So this is the start of a new amigurumi project.
I bought some yellow, blue, black and grey yarn and started to crochet the body. I just did on third of it and I am curious how it will turn out. What you see in the picture below is the upper part of the head

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Happy flower decoration

We had a real autumn weekend with lots of wind and tons of leaves blown off the trees. I felt like making something flowery, something to remind me of summer. So I looked up my crochet project database in ravelry and came across the happy flower decoration by the very talented Lucy of Attic24. She wrote a very detailled pattern description with lots of helpful pictures.
And it was really joyful to work on this flower: lots of different colours, quick and easy to make.
To finish off and give more stability to the flower, I used some glue as recommended in the pattern description. First I was a bit skeptical about the glue, which has a white colour when applying, that it would not turn out transparent. But all turned out well, the front is nice and wooly and the back is stiff with invisible glue. Then I assembled the three crocheted pieces and added some beads too. What fun! It has been ages since I last worked with beads.
This happy flower makes me smile!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

iCat phone cozy

Do you sometimes have yarn you like but don't know what to make of it? I got this beige/ brownish yarn from somewhere and only two skeins of it. So not enough for a shawl and a hat. Maybe for another Amineko? Yes, that would do! But I felt like crocheting something else for a change and I stumbled across Jessica's blog introducing the iCat phone cozy. The original website is here.
No text, just pictures. So I tried as good as I could and it turned out like this:
I took the measurements from my phone. The body is done quick and easy crocheting in rounds until the desired height is reached. For the ears I did half trebles and trebles. The legs were a bit tricky. I just crocheted a square (first two rows with white yarn) and then sew it onto the body. In the middle of the square I stitched a vertical line to separate the "legs". The eyes are just a crocheted oval tied in the middle with a piece of yarn, then sewn onto the body.
The tail is also a square (first 3 rows with white yarn), then sewn onto the backsite of the body. Then I stitched the face and the "iCat" lettering which was the most complicated part for me. I tried a couple of times, undid it and stitched again. I am not too happy about the lettering but it will do for the moment.  Finally I crocheted the supporting loop with pink and white yarn and secured it onto the upper right side of the phone cozy. Finished :-)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

More Aminekos

I love to crochet amigurumis, especially aminekos (I wrote about them already here.) They are fun to crochet. The sizes range from 21 cm to 28 cm, depending on your hook size and yarn weight, so it just takes a few days to make them. I crocheted more of them until I got a whole gang of cats:

In fact, they take the place of one of our shelfs already. And Peter is starting to be afraid of me producing a plethora of crocheted cats which will slowly but steadily congest our whole book shelf.

No worries though, all of them will just stay temporarily with us, with the exception of the beige amineko, a gift from my sister which I will keep. The others will go to different homes of friends of mine to spread the amineko love.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Biathlon in Oberhof

The last day of our trip to Southern Thuringia was Oberhof, a town known for it's Olympic Training Center for winter sports.
As I am not the winter sports type of person I first couldn't relate to this place, so it was a great idea of the organizer of this trip to have a brief introduction by someone who lived and trained many years in Oberhof. Sven Fischer, a multiple winner of major championships in biathlon, now retired and working for the media, gave us an insight into the life of a top-athlete. And how he coped when retiring from competitive sports. His vita is impressive!
After the introduction we went off to see different training places for cross country skiing and biathlon, skeleton and ski jumping.
Sven, as our guide, explained and told stories about each place we visited.
In between there were people asking for an autograph or to have a picture taken with him. Well, real winter sports fans. Albeit his popularity he is a very easy going and down-to-earth person.
At the end of our tour we went to a riffle shooting area and were greeted by more biathlon professionals. While munching on a bratwurst - after visiting all this training places we got hungry - they explained us the visitor's competition rules for riffle shooting. Well, for some of us including me the bratwurst got stuck in our throats. Me, riffle shooting?
The instructors were very friendly and veeeeeery patient. It took some time to get into the right position and to understand where the targets for your lane were located (the distance to the targets is 50 m, but you could easily mistake the targets of the adjoining lanes for your own targets when looking through the riffle lens). And miraculously I was able to hit all big targets (diameter 12 cm), but only one of the small targets (diameter 5 cm). Still I was quite content and it was fun after all.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Erfurt walks

The next day we went to Erfurt. Our group booked a tour guide in historic costume. First it was a bit odd to walk with the medivial merchant. Then we were suprised not only by his deep knowledge of history but by his wit and the charming way he used to tell stories.
We went to the narrowest house in town, barely the width of a car. Today though, it is only used as the staircase for the two adjoining houses.
The old town of Erfurt is very picturesque, especially one narrow street with artisan shops and beautiful flower arrangements at the windows.
And to our big surprise this narrow street is not just a normal street but a bridge! Unbelievable! We went to the back of that street and saw.... indeed, a bridge with houses on top!
In former times people have been so clever constructing without computers and engines. Our tour guide showed us more places how and where the city of Erfurt did business with merchands from all over Europe in medivial times. An excellent walk, informative and so enjoyable.