On writing. (Sorry Mr King, for stealing your title) #amwriting Really ?

This time really about the creative part of it.

I guess the bug bit me when I took the decision to start my blog. The blog was, at first, meant to be only about gardening and vegetarian cooking. The writing bug stayed under the surface, well hidden.

But due to the people I’m following and those who are following me on Twitter. The urge grew stronger and stronger. So why not ?

The idea was planted in the head and, for sure, the doubts arrived. Me, writing something creative ? You must be joking.

When I was still in primary school I had to write essays. And I can still remember one of them. (and I will never forget !). We should write an essay about a dream we had last night. Whatever dream. If it wasn’t the night before then just one we still could remember. I started writing and after the forty-five minutes we had to complete the writing. I was quite satisfied with what I had produced. As usual one week later we received the corrected version with comments from our teacher. Under mine stood: “Orthography close to perfect, idea not that bad. But you seem to walk through life with a tape measure in your hand  That’s not working.”

That was all. No hints what I could or should improve. Just these three lines.

This was haunting me for forty years. For forty years I never had the courage nor even the idea of writing something creative.

Why now ? The doubts are still there and I hope these are somewhat healthy doubts.

Next problem, what should I write about ? If I look at what I’m reading. Not much help.

A private eye in ancient Rome (or another period, middle ages, for example) ? Already existing, both of them. Don’t think I’m capable of writing something that’s as least as good as these two. (M.Didius Falco series by Lindsey Davis or Brother Cadfael by Ellis Peters). A cat as a detective ? Done too (Francis series by Akif Pirinçci)

So what ? Main character will be the cat, I’m quite sure of that. Ausone’s notebook (here on the blog) is at least for now not really creative writing. Nothing of it was invented. Not even his remarks to mankind at the end of his entries.

chalkboard-620316_1920

So what could Ausone do ? Be a philosopher ? A Zen monk ? A reading cat ?

We’ll see…

Potato Onion Tarte #cooking #bento

Again cooking with what’s left in stock. Tarte working well for Milady’s bento. Always enough leftover.

Ingredients:

  • 400 g potatoes (peeled and cut in thin slices)
  • 400g onions (peeled and cut in thin slices)
  • 0.2 l cream
  • 2 eggs
  • short crust
  • salt, pepper, nut meg, Piment d’espelette, herbes (fresh or dried), garlic

Preparation:

  • sauté onions until clear and soft and set aside
  • cook potatoes in salted water for 5 minutes, strain and set aside
  • in a bowl: mix eggs with cream and spices.
  • preheat oven to 180°
  • put the crust in a tin
  • add first potatoes then onions cover with egg cream mix
  • let bake for 45 minutes

Kartoffel Zwiebel Quiche

enjoy with or without a side salad

Remarks:

Potatoes might need a lot of salt. But it’s always better to salt again after cooking.

You can’t take it away if you’ve used too much.

Ausone’s notebook 4.th instalment. #amwriting #cat

It’s Monday again. A new entry in my notebook.

Today I will tell you of a normal day in my life.

As I have the right to sleep wherever I want to in the house. And with regards to my age. I prefer to sleep in the bed with my human. Or from time to time in Milady’s bed. Whatever.

During the week at 6:00 am the alarm of my human goes off. He’s getting out of the bed without stretching like he should. When he’s back from his morning routine. I start with mine. A small yoga sequence and then down the stairs.

Either I start with a small breakfast or I leave immediately the house for my morning routine. A little stroll in the garden, a bit of watering the flowers and back home. Twenty to thirty minutes later I’m back for my breakfast. After I’ve finished, depending on the weather, it’s either another stroll in the garden or a nap to finish the night. If it’s the first I’ll be back after another hour a little snack and then it’s napping time. Mind you I’m twelve years old. If I were human that would be sixty-five. My naps are necessary.

sleeping cat

Somewhere around noon I get up again. A little snack and we’re out to see what’s new in the vicinity.

My afternoon stroll could take some time if the weather isn’t too bad. We cats do not have a big problem when it’s cold. We have our fur. Neither do we have a problem with a little humidity. It’s the combination that we don’t like. Wet and cold we hate.

Me, I’m used to being dried when I come home wet. I abuse it sometimes. Just going out for fifteen minutes, getting a little wet to have the pleasure of being dried when I come home.

In the evening I take another stroll. Eventually a little hunting session. We cats are crepuscular hunters. We hunt when our prey is active. Dusk and dawn are our preferred hunting times. This won’t mean we’re not hunting in bright daylight. If there is something to hunt we will hunt. At around 10:00 pm I should be home. If I’m not home at 11:30 I’ll have to sleep under the stars. (On the neighbour’s terrace) It’s better to sleep at home so I’ll do my best to be at home. Latest at 11:30pm my human goes to bed. Either I wait for him on his bed or I supervise him surfing the web. At midnight it’s lights out and another day is done.

As you can see I’m a creature of habit. And this brings us to today’s advice for people with cats.

Cats are creatures of habit. We don’t like it when you rearrange the house. We don’t like it when you change the place for our food or our toilet. By the way don’t put them newt to each other. You’re not eating on the toilet either.

Although we prefer to drink from running water. We can adapt to a bowl of water (that you change regularly, I hope !). If you should feed us with wet food only we won’t be drinking much. If it’s only dry food (not really a problem for us) then we will need more water. I hope you can see the link. If we start drinking more and more we might have problem with our kidneys. So a visit to the vet might be a good idea.

See you next Monday

Yours Ausone

Couscous (my version)

Ingredients :

  • 100g chickpeas (dried)
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots (cut into bits)
  • 1 courgette (cut into bits)
  • 1 swede (cut into bits)
  • Olive oil
  • Vegetable  broth
  • Cumin, salt, pepper
  • Harissa
  • Semoule (quick cook version)
  • Butter, olive oil

Preparation:

  • The day before put the dried chickpeas in a bowl and cover with water
  • The next day cook the chickpeas for 30 to 40 minutes. Drain and put aside.
  • Cut the tomatoes in small pieces (peeling not necessary). Cut the onion into tiny cubes.
  • Heat the olive oil in a big pot.
  • Put in the onion and let it loose colour.
  • Add the tomatoes and stir. Let cook for some minutes. Add the broth and stir.
  • Add the rest of the vegetables. Starting with the swede.
  • Add the cooked chickpeas. Let simmer.
  • Season with pepper, cumin and if needed salt.

Prepare the semoule:

-Put the semoule in a bowl with some olive oil.

-Add the same volume of cooking water.

-Cover and wait for 5 minutes.

-Stir in some butter. Cover and wait 5 minutes before serving

Serving:

Semoule in a deep plate cover with the vegetable sauce.

Everyone could add a mixture of the harissa paste with a bit of the cooking liquid. Attention it’s quite spicy

Enjoy !

Coucous 2

Remarks:

This is by no means the original version, it’s mine. You could use whichever veggies you like. The only must are the chickpeas !

My non-wife is a pied noir. Algerian French, French whose parents grew up in Algeria (her oldest sister was born in Algeria, too) That’s why we like this cooking style a lot. Mixed with swabian you get some interesting combinations.

Bon appètit.

It never lasts long

Coucous 1

On being German and why I’m not proud of it #history

Preliminary remark : I read a lot about blogging and how to attract people to read and follow your blog. One of the main points always is:

You should have a theme and stay with this theme. (Looks like this is a bit against my nature, never mind.) The purpose is that this way you should not loose readers.

At the moment I have two subscribers to my blog (Thank you very much, both of you !)

So If I jump from topic to topic I don’t risk loosing may readers. If you haven’t many you can’t lose many. (I hope my two stay !)

It might be necessary to start with a second remark before hitting the topic. Here we go.

I am nearly fifty years old. From a political point of view at least a bit left of the middle  and more important for today’s topic. I am German.

At the beginning of this week, while I was preparing breakfast for Milady (6:30 in the morning). I was listening to the news on the radio and heard the Prime minister of Israel ‘claim’. It wasn’t Hitler alone who was responsible for the Holocaust. That it was the idea of the Mufti of Jerusalem. I forgot this rubbish during a busy day.

In the evening I was too tired to read or doing something productive. So, I decided to relax I could look at some videos on Youtube. Without really thinking about it I searched for ‘Schindler’s list’. Having found it as a whole film, quite a surprise to be honest. I clicked on it and in the recommendations I found another film that I always wanted to see but never did.

‘The pianist’. Great something for a silent evening at home while Milady is attending her sewing class. Started the film and was kind of hooked.

I couldn’t finish the film. Milady came home earlier than usual and there were still some things to discuss. So I had to postpone the last 45 minutes of the film to the next morning.

As I woke up the next morning there was something running through my head. Not clear what it was. After breakfast and Milady’s departure to work I finished the film. It was quite impressive with a very good performance by Adrien Brody.

I had a little coffee break. And during this break I found out what was the puzzling thing in my head.

When I grew up there was a TV series about the same topic. A quick search at Youtube and I found the 1978 miniseries ‘Holocaust’.

Again I clicked on it. And yes, this was the series that started my interest in history in general and of this period in German history in particular.

Although there are points of critic to this series it has marked me.

Profoundly, I’m afraid.

25 years after the series was broadcast there are still a lot of things that I don’t get about my home country.

Let’s say I do get why and how the Nazis raised to power. I am able to explain myself that the Nazis had the idea of exterminating the Jews (and the sinti and others).

What I still don’t get is how they found so many willing to do the ‘dirty work.

How so many well-educated Germans committed atrocities that made (and still make) no sense at all to me ?

The leaders of the notorious ‘Einsatzgruppen’ were all very well-educated men (finished university studies,  a singer at an opera, etc.). Sure, there were sadistic criminals amongst those who committed these atrocities. But the majority of them were normal Germans. Well-educated, loving fathers and husband, just regular Germans. And these men committed atrocities that are not even easy to understand. Neither easy to explain.

Why ?

Twenty-five years after I’ve seen the series for the first time I cannot in the slightest way understand why and how they were able to do such things.

At the beginning of 2015 I watched ‘Im Labyrinth des Schweigens’. A German film about the people who made the inquiries to start the first ‘Auschwitzprozess in Frankfurt.

There were some explanations about why it took so long? Why it was (and still is) so complicated to bring the (now the last surviving) offenders to justice. A short time after the war it was politically impossible  to prosecute.

The new enemy, new threat was the Soviet Union. And Germany was necessary as an ally against the evil from the east. Germans wanted to be and have calm. They had lost the war (that they have started). Were much too busy coming back to wealth and power to take care of their ‘unfortunate’ history. A famous German saying at that time (and still today) is/was: “Man muss auch ‘mal einen Schlussstrich darunter ziehen. “ “Which translates loosely to: You should draw a line under it and go on.

There was no so-called ‘Aufarbeitung’. Those who survived either were back in their old positions. Or just wanted to forget what had happened, what they had done. They had to deal with those who fled from the east. Those who came back from PoW camps (the last from Russia in 1952). Nothing of that helped the Germans to deal with their past properly.

“Yes, there were bad things that happened during the war. Always the bombings, it wasn’t easy to rebuild after ’45.”

No one wanted to know what had happened, why it happened and who was responsible for it ? The standard answer was: “The Nazis did a lot of bad things. It was all done by the Nazis. We knew nothing about it.” Between 33 and ’45 Germans were either involved or looked away. And nothing changed in the ‘50s.

In 2014 Germany won the soccer world cup and I was frequently asked: “You must be proud, aren’t you ?” Why should I be proud ? I haven’t played and German I am by pure coincidence. So why should I be proud of it ?

And this is still the question. Proud of what ?

I can only be proud of something I’ve achieved myself. Proud of living in a country where they don’t speak my mother tongue. Proud that my non-wife still accepts me after fifteen years.

But proud of being German ?

Soup and how and why I #cook, something for Milady’s #bento box

due to some minor informatics problem the Wednesday post on Thursday, sorry for that.

How do I cook ? In general it should be something easy to prepare. There are days when I spent hours in the kitchen to produce something that is then eaten in fifteen minutes. Doesn’t happen that often but from to time.

My cooking is mostly the attempt to solve the following equation:

  • What do I have in stock ?
  • What is (or was) in the veggie box ?
  • vegetarian for me, milady eats still meat
  • should be possible to have some leftovers for milady’s bento for the next day
  • a certain variety is necessary, Milady doesn’t like to eat five days in a row rice (I could, but for peace’s sake would be better to have some variety)

As it’s autumn by now. The variety of the veggie box has changed according to the season. In last weeks box there were:

-carrots

-potatoes

-parsnips

-a squash

-endive

So what to do ? A soup !

Neither Milady nor me do like a broth with something in it. So the soup has to be something puréed. No problem here’s what you need:

  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 carrot (more if you like)
  • 1 onion
  • 1.5 l broth
  • herbs (fresh or dried (herbes de provence for me)

Cut potatoes, the carrot and the onion into chunks, put everything in a pot.

Add the broth, bring to a boil and let cook for 25 minutes.

This is the base. The rest depends on what you can find.

Last edition, I’ve added (from the start) two left over courgette from the garden, cut into chunks.

After the 25 minutes cooking, mix everything to your desired consistency. Verify the seasoning (salt, pepper, nutmeg).

Gemüsesuppe

Serve hot with a slice of bread and a bit of salted butter.

Bon appètit !

Sunday, my couscous !

Ausone’s notebook, 3rd instalement, #amwriting

Hi there, it’s Monday. So I’m back. I sincerely hope I do not bore or annoy you with my musings.

Where were we ?

I arrived at my new ‘family. And it looked acceptable.

At that time my human was still living in a small flat in Southern Germany. Every Friday we travelled to Belgium to spend the weekend with his female. It went on for two and a half years with a little bit of unpleasantness included.

I don’t really like to be in a car, at least not for three to four hours.

But this was the only way to have the liberty over the weekend. And liberty means I could leave the house, go hunting or just for a little walk. To get this liberty, every Friday when my human came home from work the same procedure. A little snack for me and then he put me in my travel box, box in the car and off to Belgium. Most of the time I slept in the car but the occasional traffic jam stopped the vibrations. So I woke up and wanted to get out of this travel box. This wasn’t possible for at least another hour, not really a pleasure. When we finally arrived, out of the box, taking care of an ardent longing and spending a bit time in liberty. For sure I returned after one or two hours to eat and sleep in the house. I’m not dumb and know where I get something to eat and a safe and comfortable place to sleep. Sleeping under the stars is nice from time to time. Safe at home is better !

This arrangement went on for two and a half years till my human found a job in Belgium.

I never liked being in a car. I had my share and now it’s enough. Two times a year for the medical (don’t like that either) and that’s it.

Next Monday I tell you how my life went on after I finally settled in Belgium.

And now to my weekly ranting:

Dear humans,

have you already looked at the food that you are offering us ? The different tastes ? If you take a look at the food that you are buying for us.

Thanks, by the way.

You may have realised (I hope at least) that the tastes are for a cat, kind of strange. You’ve ever seen a cat with a cow between his teeth ? Or a pig ?

Could you imagine a cat fishing for a tuna or a salmon ? What are we hunting if we are allowed to ?

hunting cat

Mice, rats, from time to time a small bird, spiders. We don’t hunt pigs. Could you just for a fraction of a second imagine a cat hunting a cow ? Sounds a bit intimidating, no ? So why ?

Now you have something to meditate for a week, see you next Monday

Take care of yourselves

Spätzle

A bit different today. In general my photos, as non-professional as they are, are kinda live photos. The same for my recipes. The recipe that you can find on the blog was prepared either the same day or latest the day before. This isn’t possible this time. The recipe for today I’ ve already published (potato chard gratin). Yesterday it was Raclette. I don’t think it’s necessary to publish a recipe for Raclette. It’s just runny cheese poured over potatoes, no recipe necessary for that, I hope.

Reasons that there is no fresh recipe today are quite simple

1.Chard was in the veggie box (recipe see here: https://meatdoesntgrowinmygarden.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/potato-chard-gratin/),

2.Milady is a bit anaemic and needs iron

3. Raclette yesterday was her wish.

So, Swabian food today: Spätzle

Spätzle

Spätzle are pasta, but swabian. The basic recipe is:

-250 g flour

-2 eggs

-a pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients together and add as a much water as needed to obtain a quite liquid dough. That you could use with this:

Spätzle Presse

Put the dough in the upper part and “grate” it into boiling water (slightly salted).

When the Spätzle remount to the surface they are ready. Put them out of the water and stock them for future utilization.

In star restaurants they don’t use water to add the necessary liquid, they use egg yolk (a lot of). Turns the Spätzle more yellow, slightly orange. The dough could be seasoned with grated nutmeg, herbs,etc. As you like it !

Future utilization could be:

  • serve them with cooked lentils and a dash of apple vinegar (for meat eaters, served with a thin swabian sausage called Saitenwürstle)
  • serve them to whatever roast you have (needs a bit of sauce)
  • just heat them with a bit of butter in a pan, pour a battered egg over it, let it stock
  • prepare Kässpätzle:

Kässpätzle

a layer of Spätzle, a layer of grated cheese (Allgäuer Bergkäse is best, french or swiss Gruyere, Comté, Emmentaler, etc.) a layer of roasted onions, Spätzle, cheese, onions, and so on.

Traditional way to eat: Bowl in the middle of the table, everyone armoured with a fork. Let’s go !

Bon appètit

Wednesday a “live” recipe, promised !

I don’t get it. Humans and animals. Why doesn’t it work ?

It wasn’t that easy to come up with a post for my blog today. That’s the reason why I’m late.

First I thought I would further elaborate my reading and how I had the idea to jump in the pool of ‘creative writing’. (Don’t worry the post will come.)

But then I was, let’s say overwhelmed, by the things that happened on social media. To be more precise on Twitter.

It started with a post from a writer of ‘The Guardian’. Again someone was mixing up the unnecessary killing of an animal with meat eating. In the end the crap was only the post on Twitter. Headline style to attract readers. The article was a bit more detailed. It was about another incident in Denmark. The same zoo that killed a giraffe to feed their lions some months ago.

This time they killed a lion cub and ‘performed’ a public dissection. The biological director of the zoo claimed that the dissection was to show to the public that even if it’s dead it is still an animal. As Denmark has a rural past it is not really a problem for Danish people. In the end the guy from the zoo stated that the problem is that people are ready to buy a wrapped steak in the supermarket. Because they don’t see the steak as being from an animal.

OK for this argument. People are capable to switch this fact off their minds while buying a steak. (Like my non-wife!) You could thus say that the reason for the PUBLIC dissection is acceptable. The reason for the killing still isn’t. The cub was killed because it was a male one and they have too many males and tried in vain to place the cub in another zoo.

Is this an argument to kill a living, breathing being ?

Just because the reproduction program happened to produce a male ? Isn’t this just nature ? Only humanity is capable to produce overpopulation. Animals on their own don’t overpopulate. Neither predators nor their prey. Nature keeps a biological balance.

Isn’t this an argument to close zoos ? Or at least to re-evaluate their program of reproduction ?

And to not forget animals only kill for food not for pleasure or to balance their population. They don’t need to.

Which brings us to number two. A German hunter apparently paid 40.000£to kill an elephant. I’m quite sure everything that needs to be said was already said in the Cecil the lion case. Jimmy Kimmel’s intro to his late show sums it up quite nicely. But it still does not stop. Why do people have to kill an animal ? For their ego ? To meet their sadistic needs ? I would love if someone could explain this to me. I don’t get it.

Number three was a new post on a blog I’m subscribed to. (@vegan_artist) She was complaining about the crap that she on and on has to hear or read as a vegan. She placed the ten most often heard ‘arguments’ from meat eaters on her blog. More than the half of these so-called arguments is just crap, nothing but crap.

Again humanity behaving badly. What’s so complicated ? Just respect ALL living beings, try to do no harm and be kind to everyone, animals and yourself included. It is not that complicated. You don’t have to be perfect for others, just for yourself.

If we just TRY to harm no one, accept and respect others, their opinions, behaviours, different forms of living. This planet could be a much nicer place and maybe might have a future.

Will we one day be capable to respect and not judge others ?

NB:

Link to the article in ‘The Guardian’:http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/15/dissect-lion-odense-zoo-schoolchildren-denmark?CMP=twt_gu

The link to the bog post: https://vegananything.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/10-of-the-most-facepalm-things-non-vegans-say/