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Schnitzelfest 2012

One of the side effects of a month of virtuous eating, was the excessive mental energy given to thinking about verboten foods, mostly in the form of fried potatoes, stewed meats, warm bread and pastry.  By the end of January, we had planned a dinner party.  Schnitzelfest  is our mid-winter culinary tradition, usually centered around short ribs, spätzle and braised cabbage.  This year, we decided to go with saurbraten, which needed to be marinated for 5 days before the party.  Although it was delicious, I think shortribs are a better contrast to the braised cabbage.

Here is the menu:

VORSPEISE

Pretzels with Quark

Fun-sized Wienerschnitzel with Preserved Lemons

Latkes with Smoked Whitefish and Horseradish Sauce

HAUPTSPEISE

Saurbraten

Spätzle

Braised Red Cabbage

NACHSPEISE

Apfelstrudel mit schlag

Thumbprint Cookies

Underberg

The biggest success of the evening was the Strudel.  Made by gradually stretching pastry dough over a bed sheet draped over our kitchen table, my husband managed to pull it out to 3 feet square!  The result was magnificent.  One friend brought perfect thumbprint cookies and another brought small bottles of Underberg to finish off the evening.  It was a Bavarian bender like no other.

We’re back to reality now.  No more mini-schnitzels. sigh.

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A terrarium interlude

My friend, Johanna, has the terrarium fever – and she’s got it bad!  Any glass vessels in her vicinity will suddenly be filled with strange flora and figurine fauna.  She has even taken to the thievery of moss – something I certainly can’t judge after pilfering mulch and leaves from Central Park.  After I saw a few of her creations, I asked her if she would send me some photos to share and she obliged. They remind me of the tiny and strange worlds that were on display at MAD this summer – bucolic, yet bizarre.  I think my favorite is the one with the ponies. Or the gorillas. I can’t decide.

She has also put together a curriculum for teaching kindergarteners to build their own terrariums. It incorporates history (when did people start putting plants in jars, anyway?), biology (did you know that there are over 12000 types of moss?), organization (learning about the different elements in a terrarium and how they are layered), and creativity.  Each child will go home with their own funky living environment to keep alive. Or not.  I’m hoping to borrow the idea to use in my own daughter’s kindergarten class this spring.

All this mossy-ness has me yearning for spring – a dangerous thing to do on January 19th.  I think the reason why I am so drawn to terrariums (besides their obvious qualities) is because they are a beautiful way to bring the outdoors in. Especially if you live on the 9th floor of a building in Midtown.  Some days you just need a little moss.

You can also see some fascinating terrariums at Little Orphan Girl.

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Let’s take a moment to talk about : forks!

A coral and gold fork, c. 1590-1610, via larsdatter

All of your comments have had me thinking about composting of all kinds lately, and I am working on a longer post about indoor worm bins. But in the meantime, I ask you to consider the fork.  I was thinking about it this morning precisely because neither of my children care to use them. Spoons are cool, but forks? Not interested (granted, they are 5 and 8).  We make a point of sitting down at the table for almost every meal (eating is important to us, after all) and no matter what cutlery is made available to them, they just want to dig in with a spoon or – better yet – their hands.  When we asked them recently what they have against forks, my oldest responded by questioning why forks are even necessary.   Of course, we all know the obvious answer to that, but as it turns out, Medieval Venetians felt exactly the same way!  Forks are a relative newcomer to the table and you can read about their fascinating history in the recent Apartment Therapy Retrospect column, “Fork This: A Quick History of Forks” by Anna Hoffman.  Her regular column on design history is my favorite part of AT, so if you are not already familiar, check it out.  And if you are a regular AT reader, what do you think of the new design?  Personally, I’m glad they streamlined it and so far am a fan.

Now, back to the decomposition of vegetable matter. Happy Weekend!

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What would Ben Franklin do?

In keeping with the theme of To-Do lists, I can’t help but post this image of Ben Franklin’s daily schedule that has been floating around the web for some time now:

I love its elegant simplicity, but I can’t help but think how much it doesn’t look like the lists I make.  I mean, where is the grocery list, the overdue wedding and baby gifts to send, the after-school club to sign up for, or the laundry detergent? Of course, all those questions were answered when I came across Ben Franklin’s wife’s daily schedule. Mystery solved.

Elsewhere on the web, there are a few sites devoted to the art of the list.  One of my favorites is, Daily Routines, a compendium devoted to the schedules of interesting people.  The blog hasn’t been updated in quite a while because they are working on a book, but if you want to know how Simone de Beauvois, Charles Darwin, and Le Corbusier organized their days, this is your resource, and I am look forward to the book.  Pretty Listed is a Tumblr site that collects images of various lists and schedules.  It appears to be a great idea that hasn’t gained momentum yet, but I would love to see more submissions there.  And finally, I couldn’t resist the beauty of these lists featured on designer, Melissa Easton’s blog, Mrs. Easton.  Take a look.

Anything else?

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Back in the kitchen.

Perhaps you, like me, can’t get that catchy tune about the Frankfurt Kitchen out of your head.  Or maybe my brief description left you wanting more. If that is the case,   I highly recommend this post by Apartment Therapy’s Retrospect columnist, Anna Hoffman.  It includes more historical context, information and images.  If you, like me,  find yourself pondering where the Adirondack chair got its name, or why peacock feathers were such a popular decorative motif in the late 19th century, you will want to check out the Retrospect column every week!

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