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recipe recs III: vegetarian with egg

Braindead. But the conference is great. Also, having eggs + bacon for breakfast every day (yay good hotel food!).

Which seemed like a good transition for vegetarian recipe recs with egg, but I am not sure anymore that it is. Anyway: enjoy!

Simple egg quesadillas
I've been eating these for years. Don't skip roasting the capers, but feel free to skip the lemon and add any other spices to the yoghurt (I tend to use normal one, not Greek, but the tart European kind). Chives are great, but I don't often have fresh ones; simple onions, leeks, scallions, they all work.

Ricotta stuffed shells
This is one of the more complicated recipes, but oh so worth it. One of my favorite things to make when hosting people for dinner.
I tend to make my own tomato sauce - I have feelings about how tomato sauce has to taste. But the one suggested in the recipe tastes nice, too.

Hebrs omelette with bell pepper and goat cheese filling
So this is the recipe that started my recent love for omelettes. I tried something alike in a restaurant and then went searching for a recipe - the restaurant version also had cashews that are a nice addition but not necessary. The omelette you get is wonderfully fluffy and the feeling is perfect - I am sure not only for a bell pepper and goat cheese lover like me!
I don't think I ever used exactly the herb combination from the recipe - I used chives, parsley, basil, scallions and onions. It tastes better with fresh herbs - as most things do - but dried one will work as well. I am also not quite following the removing from heat/folding routine; I follow my feeling there. Especially since I am not good at actually flipping omelettes without totally destroying them.

Lemon curd
We've only made lemon curd once in my life - but it was oh so yummy. Totally need to repeat it at some point in my life when I am not cooking all for myself alone.

crustless cheese and onion quiche
It tastes best when cold - a great take to work lunch. I am pretty sure I leave out the butter. And I use whatever cheese I have. And use mustard instead of mustard power (I don't think I ever had any). And more onions than recipe calls for. (Hmmm ... I haven't cooked this since I am in the USA; I need to remedy this.)

Zucchini filled with mushrooms and cream cheese [German]
Easy and yummy. This is another combination that sounds strange but comes out of the oven absolutely amazing. It also warms up well - a bit messy for a work lunch (and somewhat too light for a really long working day), but worth it.

Semolina pudding [German]
I hate this stuff when it is cold - and dearly love it when hot. Did so even as a kid.
My favorite way to eat it is with fresh apples. I will reduce the amount of sugar somewhat as compared to the recipe - adding some crunchy brown sugar on top if it is not sweet enough.

Bread, apple, and raisin bake [German]
So yes, I am the kind of person who can have pancakes for lunch/dinner. Or sweet bread, apple, and raisin bake. It may not be very healthy, but who cares? Well, at least sometimes ;)

Spinach & ricotta filled pancakes [German]
Fresh spinach, not deep frozen spinach. (I will need to re-try frozen spinach at some point, but my only one experience with it so far was awful and made me hesitant trying spinach again for far too long.) Very rich and yummy.
I am also pretty sure I tend to make the pancakes my own way - but I am sure the one in the recipe works
well, too. It is remarkably popular and well rated.

Turkish spinach bites [German]
I am repeating myself, but: fresh spinach. Otherwise these are just perfect - I tend to use feta, but I am pretty sure a different sheep cheese will work, too. I also never use the sparkling water - I just never have any around. Also dried oregano instead of the fresh one.
The bites are also surprisingly filling. Good, quick one-person-dinner.

Apple and maple syrup muffins [German]
Favorite muffins. 'nough said. Absolute favorite muffins for years now.

Ovenpancake with cherries [German]
Did I mention pancakes for lunch/dinner? Well, it does not always have to be simple pancakes. Sometimes it's baked pancakes with cherries.

Quark strudel with peaches [German]
So I used canned peaches, because I am lazy. But this is so incredibly good. And that say I who usually hates baking.

Shakshuka / eggs in tomato & bell pepper sauce [German]
I wanted to try shakshuka for ages before I finally run into this recipe and cooked it. And then I cooked it again. And again. And again. If you cook the eggs all the way through (no runny yolk), it's another great work lunch.


material girl vol. III

So, ahem, maybe I went "a bit" overboard this year? Although on the other hand: who cares? Except for my poor suitcase, of course. Anyway: stuff that came into my closet in 2015, ahoi!

i.e., stuff I paid actual money for.

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... things that others paid money for ;) Well, ♥'s aunt did not pay for the socks, but she paid for the wool, so the previous sentence is still right (plus hand-knitted socks are just *such* an amazing present).

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Things neither I myself nor someone else paid for. Well, I guess originally someone paid for them, but you know what I mean, right?

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Puuuh ... I know, too much stuff. I know. This post took ages. Anyway: no new clothes, jewelry or accessories for me this year. At least as long as I'm on this side of the Atlantic. (Although I don't promise it. But I've been good so far!)


I suppose I will continue being overly emotional in the next time. Which is OK except that I need to call my parents and I should not be doing this when I start crying over the smallest of things. [I just spend five minutes over the stupid sentences because every idiot that would come to my mind was a German one that does not have an English equivalent - no English for "die Nerven liegen blank" or "Nahe am Wasser gebaut".]

Anyway, weekend: I finished a book, picked another one (Foster Wallace - I'm sorry, advdiaboli, but I guess I am too old and too grumpy for commencement speeches), started two more one of which I already finished. Made a roasted squash and carrot soup (with de-constructed meatballs) following an amazing recipe that sophiawestern recommended. Started freaking out about how I will get all the stuff I own (mainly books and clothes) back to Europe - and did the only logical thing one could do in such a situation: bought more books.

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-- missfragout and I even battled the blizzard Saturday night (which was just a normal snow day here in Boston, we were on the very edge of it and did not get more than 15 cm or so) to get to Harvard Coop bookstore to buy the books. And get some food from Clover (smallish fast-foodish chain that makes vegetarian - often vegan - local food here in Somerville/Cambridge area), followed by cannoli from Mike's pastry. I also found another book in the mini library on the way to Harvard Square. Those free book shelves will be the death of me.

book rec postcards anyone?

I feel like sending out some postcards - not sure yet which ones, once it stops raining, I'm gonna go postcard shopping in my favorite bookstore ever (Harvard Coop that I talked about here before I thought that I would ever live in walking distance from it). And not to send them empty, every postcard will have a personalized book recommendation.

So: want a book recommendation and a postcard? Comment here and send me a PM with an address to send the card to.

I will try to find a book that I think you will like, but if you want some special rec - a comic book, a book by a woman, a non-American book, a Russian book, a short book, a long book, whatever else, feel free to let me know. I can't promise I will manage to, but I will try hard.

I also have to admit that I don't remember what I recommended to whom the last time I sent out book rec postcards (except for what I recommended advdiaboli because I actually know that he read and liked the book).

[eda:] Also don't worry, I am absolutely fine with sending a few dozen postcards. I would actually love to :D [eda2:] And no, it's not too late to request one. Not even a month later. Or a few!

things done, places visited

My watch - and old faithful swatch that is with me for 11.5 years now - stopped on the last morning in Prague, the day that we were visiting the Jewish museum. I did repair the watch - change the batteries, nothing more, just before catching the bus back in Germany. I laid a stone of Rabbi Loew's grave. I cried standing in the Pinkas synagogue. I felt so strange standing in the Old New Synagogue, speaking German, today. (It did not help that I read Mirna Funk's wonderful novel, Winternähe, while in Prague. Highly recommended - it's about being Jewish and German or German and Jewish [in the digital age].)

Also this translation of a diary entry from the Klausen synagogue in Prague - note the dates. Note the dates. And the place.

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This made me feel like crying, but I did it already in the Pinkas synagogue. Not two times on the same day.
(My grandmother, the one I am named after, did - likely - study at Charles University. So I have a somewhat personal relationship to Prague.)

Omg, medovnik! Where will I get it in the USA? Or in Germany? I not a baker enough to try it myself, but I WANT.
Also trdelnik - we had at least one every day. More like two. Especially good from the little stands where you get yours cut directly down from the spit, all warm.

What else did we do, except the four days in Prague? Met friends, went to a thermal spring (it's so nice being in an open air pool with hot water when the air around you is freezing), went for two hikes, cried over a polar bear in the second season of Planet Earth (seriously, if you have not seen that documentary series, you should be watching it now!), almost-binged the whole first season of "The Man in the High Castle" (READ the book. Seriously, READ the book - this is one science fiction novel that did not just age well, but became better with age; it used to be a novel with at least 3 alternative timelines; today, there are at least four.), cooked and ate too much. (I also submitted another big proposal, but that's a different story.)

Since we are at food: dried mango! Why didn't I know how amazing it was before?

And now, back home in Boston. Declined a job offer. Still have to decide on another one. Made food, ate some deep frozen soup (thank you, past-me for thinking of it!), emptied my suitcase and cleaned the room afterwards, sorted through my mail, greeted all the colleagues at work. Back to work.

utah 2015: panoramas

This fall was crazy - I am so glad we managed to go to Utah before it all went to hell (as expected). But it also means that I never came around to actually post photos from Utah - given almost 3000 photos that needed and partly still need being sorted and in parts deleted, this may be understandable.

Yet - Utah was amazing. Magic. Incredible. And here are a few panoramas to show why (click on the individual images for bigger size pictures):

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As in the previous year, suggestions rather than goals, orientation rather than pressure, flexible and adaptable. These are not resolutions, these are things that make me feel better. These are reminders about things that are easy to forget.

  • don't freak out about moving
  • publish, publish, publish
  • don't shop for clothes
  • cook amazing things
  • reach out high(er) / apply for faculty
  • read more by women (two thirds of books I read in total?)
  • consciously take time to read
  • *tell* people how amazing they are; give more compliments, don't be shy about it
  • get good evernote/lab book habits
  • consciously take time to breath
  • go out for good food
  • hike
  • travel
  • consciously take time to be online (formerly known as "procrastinate less online")
  • wear power clothes
  • proposals and not (again) last minute
  • keep in touch with friends
  • website & work twitter
  • get up early(ier)
  • get good paperwork habits
  • enjoy Boston as long as you can
Many are repeats - it's not as if good food stops being important after a year. Or if it stops being something that makes me feel good.

And as for 2015 - well, here are five photos with impressions from the last bits of this year, including a dog and a cat:

At my friends place in B., we made a ton of Christmas cookies - some of them following recipes from a book from 50ies or 60ies:


At ♥'s parents' place, we had the traditional Christmas dinner: raclette - that's a small table top grill there and a number of things to go into the pans that grows and grows with the years:

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books '15

So goodreads will tell you that I reached my reading goal this year - this is a bit of cheating, I am 3 books under my original goal, but I changed it once it was clear that getting there would mean having to panicky read 3 comics books. I still don't have my reading groove back - I feel like I've been complaining about this for a while now. The books that flow most are re-reads or authors that I can rely on (say Egan and Tiptree and Houellebecq and Fontane) - it's somewhat frustrating, especially given how I am slowly running of Fontane books to read. Oh well. Perhaps it's just me getting older (and spoiled by the emotional impact of really good fanfiction). Or me having the wrong attitude - for the new year, I want to take more dedicated time to read, not just take a book up in between or before going to bed. Let's see whether this helps. I need to enjoy reading for my own mental health - life is so much better when accompanied by a great book I am looking forward to getting back to once the other work is finished.

I also plan to read more books by women - prompted by the "sexism in publishing" article (my entry about it); my rough plan it so aim for two thirds of the overall book count, but we will see who things develop. I hope to have a few new names to add to my books recs by female writers lists (I, II) by the end of 2016.

Oh well, but this entry is about 2015, not 2016 - as always, marks are on a 0 to 5 scale and there are some books which actually got a zero. I haven't abandoned anything this year. E stand for English, D for German [Deutsch], and R for Russian. Color are reading recommendations - as always, that's not always the same as the five stars books although the overlap is, of course, substantial.

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And because random statistics are fun: I read 20 books by women this year (I started with a "read more by women approach" at some point around August, fyi).

I've read two books by what seems to be an emerging genre of "German immigrant literature", especially written by young (Jewish) women: Olga Grjasnowa continues to delight, Alina Bronsky was at least interesting but well, it was a bestseller. I've given up on Margaret Atwood officially now. Greg Egan is amazing as ever - given that there are no photos of him, I sometimes wonder whether the male Australian (with its white default) may be a fake identity, especially given stories like "The Cutie". One Japanese book by Banana Yoshimito, who is an old favorite. Milena Michiko Flašar is half-Japanese, but the book was an over-constructed disappointment. So was unfortunately Kim Thúy's book in spite of individual gorgeous sentences. Pushkin! Like seriously, if you haven't read anything by him, do so! Neither Nabokov nor Krasznahorkai worked for me - I had high hopes for both. And I am so sad that Barbara Slawig books wasn't a bigger success; it's such a great read and I would so love to read more by her. I need to hunt down all the other books by Tiptree - I knew it but it is worth repeating. I expected to like the book by Dick and to dislike the one by Clarke - the reality taught me the opposite. And I did not remember Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books to be as much fun as this one that had me literally laugh out loud more than once. I loved Ann Leckie's take on gender - but ah, we may need to have a conversation about what is science fiction, because this book very much was not, even though it was a very nice read. I can totally see why LeGuin had to translate Gorodischer and I am glad to have read her translation - it is indeed a bit like invisible cities, only very-much fantasy-flavored. Vandana Singh (Indian-American) is another name I stumbled over in Gardner Dozois' collection and whose work I fell in love with: wonderful short stories (don't let the science fiction label scare you away, please don't) from a different culture even if written in the same language.

Lists from previous years are here: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.

iceland tips?

So we are planning a trip to Iceland for this summer - two weeks roadtrip, staying in hostels. And we need to book both the flights and the hostels asap because the only time we can go is in the middle of the season (late June/early July) and prices are going up like crazy already, so we wan't be able to just book a few days in advance the way we've done it in Scotland.

So: recommendations? Places to avoid because they are overhyped? Insider tips? Whatever you feel like saying, do say it - or link me to a place where you said it already.

I had a lot of luck asking for tips before, so don't disappoint me, LJ ;) We will definitely be driving around the whole island, so the big question is in part where to stay for how long and how to pace ourselves.

We tend to prefer nature over cities and less people over more. No overnight hikes, but day hikes and anything shorter need to happen almost daily. Our finances are somewhat tight, but not too tight.

Essigbrätlein II

One of the things I really wanted to do was to convince ♥ that spending a significant 3-digit amount of money on a meal can be worth it - and I think I succeeded. He is gushing about it as much as I do (when corrected for our overall different level of usual gushing about stuff).

This was more or less our 12-year-celebration, together with two dear friends - back to the wonderful Essigbrätlein in Nuremberg (a tiny two-Michelin star restaurant that focusses on regional cuisine, regional veggies). I talked about my first visit here. This time we went for the full evening meal:

Me, taking photos of my food.

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somerville cooking III

There is definitely a progression in this post: from summer, to late November, from ice yogurt pops to warm soups, although it's not as clear as if I were posting how often I made and ate each dish.

I used to hate eating the same thing more than two or at max three days in a row. This seems to have shifted this year - in part, I guess, because I just have less time. What else changed? I did some thinking about my protein intake and decided that I need more legumes, cottage cheese, and fish in my life.

Anyway, less rambling, more food. As usual - I am happy to share recipes and take ideas/recs!

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Dec. 16th, 2015

Talk one (Madrid) done. Talk two (Munich) done. Job application one submitted. Job application two submitted. I am #2 for a job that I would not be able to take (because money) even if it were the only option - I am pretty sure I am #2 because I was honest and told them I would only be available 6 months after their preferred date and would not be able to let them know whether I would take the job until mid January the earliest. Oh well.

I finally got to take a guided tour through Madrid; spent an evening eating and drinking with a random German+Spanish couple we met in "Mercado de San Miguel" and another with friends/colleagues of mine in a very nice restaurant eating modernized version of tapas. Still spent too much time holed up in my hotel room writing talks, but that's life, I guess. And looking at my friends with faculty jobs, I realize how lucky I still am - their workload is double and triple. And just as unthankful.

Being on the road all the time and buying random lunches and dinners is really strange: it all feels so cheap. Not because the Euro is so weak right now, but because Boston is so freaking expensive. In Munich, I got a giant portion of fish and chips for 3.99€ - I should have gotten the smaller one. In Bamberg, a Döner Kebab for 3.50€ (and I still feel like it should be 3€). Fruit and bread and liverwurst and veggies for two lunches for 9€ - but mainly because of the fruit. Passion fruit! I haven't had any for ages. (One of my aims in life: go to a place where passion fruit actually grow during passion fruit season and eat a ton of them.) And not to forget the 5€ lángos at the Christmas market in Munich airport - I would have usually lamented how expensive it is.

It's official: the cat has ♥ under his thumb. Because ... the cat is sensitive and harmony-loving. So if one wants to make him stay for the evening, one should not repeatedly take him from the table (where he is not allowed onto) and not be fidgety and loud in general. On the other hand: the cat is now officially a lap-cat. Or rather a tummy-cat. He even deigned me worthy of being his pillow after some convincing from ♥: He is very warm and overall awesome. (And still belongs to the neighbor.)

Visa appointment went well. There was a very nervous 15 year old - or rather a very nervous mother who was not allowed in with her. It's not like I have a ton of experience with getting visas, but it seems I am rather good talking people down from panic mode nowadays (anybody who has experience me myself in the panic mode is allowed to laugh). Getting up at 4:50 to make the train at 5:50 is just as much not fun as it sounds. Only even less when jet-lagged.

This seemed to be the day of randomly helping people out and chatting with people. Funny how I still know how to navigate Munich's ticket machines even though I haven't really lived there since 2009 and the machines themselves changed somewhat.

I'm thinking of challenging myself of not buying stuff (in particular: clothes, etc.) the next year. I usually don't like the "nothing at all" approach, but given how I don't know where I will be in less than 12 months and whether whoever will hire me will be able to pay my move (not that I have much, but my clothes and books are definitely more than just two suitcases). And given how much stuff, both bought and especially free, I got this year. Still ruminating on this one. Get myself a proper mirror instead and make outfit photos? Hm ...

Anyway, need to go to bed now. Madrid tomorrow. I still have two job application and a talk to finish until Monday. And another talk to polish and to give until Thursday 3 PM. And meetings. So many meetings.

notes: "Translating research into stories"

About a month ago, I've been to a mini conference/workshop on what one could call public outreach. "Translating research into stories". Now I am rather critical of the "everything has to be a story" approach because yes, it works. But also yes, we lose too much going this direction. This is even more so when it comes to people, to our "stories", because, to repeat the quote of Neil Gaiman's from my profile (does anybody ever look at it at all?) "I like things to be story-shaped. Reality, however, is not story-shaped."

(I am an extremely narrative-oriented person. I find it easy to tell stories. To turn anything into a story. To engage.)

But anyway, this is not about this - what this is about is the fact that I took notes and have no idea what to do with them. They sit there in my notebook, preventing me from throwing it away. But they are in the wrong notebook, not the one I want to keep. So - here they are. Who knows, you may find them interesting?

  • making the research easy to understand without losing the rigor
  • how memory works: "chunking"
    MDPHD is much easier to remember than a random string of letters
    [later research: the these does not quite hold up to the newest research. Duh.]
  • tweets with images are more likely to be shared
  • take people into your lab when you are telling your story (both metaphorically and literally)
  • imagine yourself telling your story to a 12 year old
  • make people want your news to be shareable on social media
    --> "fun", "I want to click it", "I want xy to see this, too"
  • layer information, give the reader the chance to explore more (but let the upper layer be fully understandable on its own)
  • podcasts: intimate, involve relationships --> if you are listening to the same podcast over years, you develop a trust into it
  • talking about failures is really good
  • medium (website): nice for storytelling, but somewhat old-fashioned (text)
    fold (website): atomized storytelling --> readers can re-arrange and read on their own
  • I don't feel confident discussing this, I don't know much about it
  • Walter Benjamin: history has decayed into images
  • sound can connect images & thoughts (in a movie), even if they don't connect on their own
  • "putting yourself" into a story
  • start-up mentality: bubble-burst (vs. more traditional, build a proper foundation)
  • "explainer" --> things like "10 things you need to know about xy" [the concept is not new; the word for it is, for me]
  • "hobbyist" [the word is new to me]

recipe recs II : vegan

Food is comfort. So here, have my favorite vegan recipes. As before, my preferences are for easy and flavorful plus easily scalable to a single-person household. Also, things that I can take to work as lunch have a special place in my heart (and tummy).

There is also a certain trends with my vegan and vegetarian dishes, that may not be obvious to others (or is it?) but is to me: I don't want to merely substitute the animal proteins in a dish with something plant-based. I want my veggies and grains and legumes to shine on their own, in dishes that are made to bring out their taste not to resemble something else.

  • Broccoli crunch salad with apples, candied walnuts and almond or peanut sauce

    I could never make ♥ like it, I guess it's just a wrong combination of tastes to him. But oh, do I dearly love this dish!

    I usually make it with peanut butter - first because I could not get almond butter back in Germany, then because I got to love the taste. I also usually go for less olive oil and more water - I don't need more oil and I like the dressing to be somewhat more liquid. I also skip making the crispy shallots and just go for some thinly slices raw onions; but then again, I love onions and am generally lazy. Don't even think about skipping the candied walnuts, though. They are super easy to make, need just a sprinkle of sugar, and make this dish shine.
  • Moroccan spiced lentil and beans (and/or chickpeas) soup

    The recipe was a recommendation from branna who also suggested replacing some of the spices with ras-al-hanout.
    I am too lazy to use dried beans - canned works just as well. I also founds out over the last year that I don't like chickpeas in sours, curries, etc., so I went and replaced them with kidney beans. The soup still turns out great - it's one of my go-to freezer lunches, because it also freezes extremely well and is a very satisfying, flavorful, warm work lunch.
  • Black bean and sweet potato soup

    And another favorite freezer lunch! I leave out the fennel because I absolutely can't stand the taste. And it needs neither the lime nor the yoghurt. Otherwise I follow the recipe - except that I am lazy and impatient and don't let it cook anymore once I blended it (also because creamy soups and sauces make such a mess when simmering).
    Hmmm, I may also be using more of both cumin and coriander. I hardly ever measure spices and I love these two, to … Just try out to find out what tastes good for you.
  • Roasted curried cauliflower

    Eat while still hot. I suppose one can use it as a side, but for me it's either a very light lunch (say after a good dinner at work) or a warm snack (I like warm snacks, they make me feel all warm and fuzzy in winter, just like a full warm meal for when I am not hungry enough to eat much).
  • Mujaddara - Middle Eastern/Lebanese lentils with onions and rice

    I had the suspicion that I would love mujaddara for ages now, but somehow never came around to actually try it. It's just - there are so many great things to try in Middle Eastern places on one hand and I don't get to go to Middle Eastern restaurants often. Anyway, I’ve been to that Lebanese place with missfragout where I ordered a mixed plate of three or four different dishes. One of them mujaddara. And then I went home and immediately looked through my cookbook folder, sure that I saved more than one recipe for it over the years.
    This one appealed to me most. I know it's not very authentic - the more authentic seem to mean cooking the lentils and the rice together, but once again: it's foolproof. I usually make three portions, which means 2 or 3 somewhat larger onions (I will recommend three, but as mentioned, I love onion), 180g dry lentils (green or brown) and 80-90g dry rice.
    The trick is not to overcook the lentils but to get them out while they are still somewhat firm. I also like adding the lentils to the onions first and frying them a bit before adding the rice. (You may also want to do this all in a large skillet. It all does not sound like much stuff, but it is!)
  • Maroccan eggplants and bell peppers salad

    I think I gushed about this salad often enough here. So, so, so good. I recommend asian eggplants (the long thin ones) and normal peppers, preferably red or orange, i.e., sweet.
  • My favorite panzanella (fresh veggies and fried bread salad)

    I've eaten this SO often over the last years (both back in B. and now in Boston) and I never get bored by it. It's also such an easy dish to scale down to one person. And such a great lunch (although in this case I pack the vinaigrette, the fried bread and the veggies and cut the veggies and mix everything together at work only).
    The only major change I made was to use avocado instead of cucumbers. It's just to hard to get truly good cucumbers. And the creaminess of good avocado works so well against the crunchiness of the bread. I also like to add the garlic to the bread into the pan not to the vinaigrette. And it's definitely best with fresh basil, but I almost never have it (a proper spice garden is still one of those things I dream of …) - fried works fine, too.
  • Super easy steam grilled baby bok choy

    This was a rec from twodottedlines and the first thing I ever cooked with bok choy (it’s almost non-existent in Germany, duh …). Anyway: soooo good. Also, I don’t own a grill pan. In works well in a normal pan, too (and does not even need oil). I do sometimes add a bit of water if it has all evaporated and the bok choy is not yet as tender as I want it to be. But this may be because I don't actually have a lid that would fully fit any of our pans; with a proper pan+lid combo this would likely not be necessary.
  • Eggplant stir fry [German]

    I just love eggplants, OK? Also, I use a lot less oil - I am not quite sure why people think that eggplants need to be drowned in oil to taste good.
  • Cabbage salad with fried ramen noodles [German]

    I am not big fan of napa cabbage, so I make this salad with normal white cabbage and a bit of carrots. Otherwise: just follow the recipe. I know the idea sounds strange, but the taste is amazing and the noodles are wonderfully crunchy.
    Btw., the noodles you need for this are the kind of noodles you get in the ramen packages - they have a special word for them in German and Dutch ("Mie" noodles), but I can't find an English equivalent?
  • My favorite pumpkin/squash/butternut soup [German]

    I usually make it with butternut and may be using more than the 400g pumpkin. But this is the recipe that spoiled me for every other pumpkin/squash soup - it’s just perfect. Fruity and intensive with a very light hot note to it.
    This is also one of my favorite starters when having people over for dinner.
  • Maghmour - Lebanese style eggplants and chickpeas in tomato sauce, minus the chickpeas for me [German]

    As mentioned somewhere above, it turned out that I am not a big fan of chickpeas (except in humus form). Who knew? Anyway, when it comes to this recipe, double the eggplants and get rid of the chickpeas and it is all yum. Or perhaps don’t get rid of chickpeas if you like them in curries. And I actually prefer it cold, I think. (Eggplants are almost always better cold actually, at least in my humble opinion.)
  • Red lentils and potato curry [German]

    This one was recommended in the comments to an entry of signomore's - sometimes perusing the comments of other people's entry can be very much productive :P
    Once again it's both an easy and a foolproof recipe. It's also perfect as it is - which I did not necessarily expect since I usually don't like my curries and alike to have a sweet note. Actually, I like the sweet note in that dish so much that I will sometimes use a few extra raisins.
  • Lentil soup [German]

    advdiaboli and I did not manage to cook often enough when I was in B. (But we ate out together rather often, although never as expensive as that one amazing time in Essigbrätlein.)
    One of the things we did cook was this soup - hearty, flavorful and recommended by one of his favorite bands (or the favorite band?). The version I made with advdiaboli used fresh tomatoes and quite a bit more garlic (three cloves or so).
    I haven't made this one in the USA, mainly because it really needs a slice of good, fresh, heavy, dark sourdough bread, preferably with a crunchy crust and chewy middle, to go with it and I still haven't found a really good one here in the USA. But if you have a favorite bread, you should totally go for it.
  • Beluga (black) lentil salad [German]

    As before: of course it tastes better with fresh basil, but I still end up using dry one. I also tend to forgo the lemon juice - I think I just forgot at a point and did not miss it. Having a good balsamic vinegar helped with not missing the lemon juice - always helps, actually, no matter what kind of salad one is making. Otherwise: just follow the recipe.
    The trick, once again, is not to overcook the lentils. Err on the somewhat too hard side. When the first ones start to fall apart and the rest is firm but already edible, it's time to stop.
    This one is very much a lunch favorite for times when I don't have the chance to heat thing up at work.


  • Tuesday, we had a fire drill. Which in itself would be not remarkable, except that the alarm was unexpected and loud enough for me to stab myself with my mechanical pencil between thumb and index finger of my left hand. And given how it's one of these Rotring Tikky ones, it hurt a ton and bled a lot.
  • One more person I know who as been far too close (hearing distance) to the Paris attacks: the lady who did the PhD at my institute and to whose job in Paris I, in a way contributed (she used the latex CV/cover letter template I hacked and has seen my applications as examples). We haven't been close friends, but we did chat from time to time and exchanged muffin recipes.
  • Blood red nails. They make me feel me and powerful and not quite so depressed about winter. We are on day three and they are going strong. (I will take the polish down for the interview, of course.)
  • I forgot to bring my jacket to the dry cleaners - the one my colleague's former messie tenant left behind. I ended up putting the other jacket and the skirt that belonged to this one into the donation bag. The jacket was too big, the skirt both too big and just the wrong cut for me. But the jacket was the most perfect thing for the last two talks.
    Anyway, I washed it by hand. I hope it worked. I guess I will need it two days at least (the talk is one day, the interview another).
  • Also - conference buddies are awesome. Someone I know from a conference is nice enough to allow ♥ to send some documents I need to her place instead of having to fedex them to the USA. And then to spend Sunday early afternoon getting the documents to me and eating dinner with me. I'm in this field for the people. No matter where I go next, no matter if decide to go into industry or become a high school teacher in the end, I met so many amazing people that it was worth it.
  • That said: N. sent us (me and our two friends/colleagues) about 4 pounds of homemade German cookies. Guess what I will be having for dinner today?!
  • I spent the last years trying very hard to avoid cuffed sweatpants because I thought they looked ridiculous. Now I had to give in and buy some - I needed new pants for home and the non-cuffed ones were all yoga pants without pockets. And I just don't do loungewear without pockets. Anyway: why did nobody tell me how incredibly comfortable cuffed sweatpants are? No cold air coming in! And if you buy them in tall but actually aren't tall yourself, they also don't look ridiculous.
  • I have found something that is far worse than both US and German bureaucracy. Italian one, also known as "we tell you in three places what you have to do, but all three of them unclear and seem to contradict each other". Aaaaaaah! I ended up with a "here is the paperwork if you mean the one thing, but if you mean the other thing, here is your paperwork, too!". They may just reject my application over being sassy, but I was in a panic mode at this point.
  • The neighbors - or their landlord - are renovating the stair. Which means waking up to the noise of a jack hammer at point 7 AM. It's a tiny jack hammer - not every efficient but extremely noisy. And I really, really need that half an hour of sleep I am not getting because of the noise.
  • I may be addicted to the Whole Foods's pigs in a blanket (for the Germans: Würstchen im Schlafrock). I mean, they are not even objectively good and I usually don't like sausages, but there is something to them ... I really, really want them all the time (after I got my first one when they were putting in the new windows and I did not have access to my kitchen for a day). And there is a Whole Foods around the corner from where I live.
  • I try reminding myself that I've done the best I can in terms of showing them that I am a great scientist. At the interview stage, it's often far more about whether the person fits the team and the task then whether they are good overall. And honestly, someone can be a great scientist (or a great programmer or a great whatever ...), but just not the right personality for a task or a team. And in the end I also don't want to work somewhere, where I don't fit and will be unhappy (honestly, I'm not paid enough for that). But it's really, really hard not to see any rejection at any stage as a judgement on my abilities and my quality as a person and a scientist. I know it often is not (I've been often enough on the other side of hiring), but ... (Somewhat relevant to this is this post by Dame Athene Donald, especially rule #10, the "don't kid yourself that luck does not play a role", is really, really important. Always.)

recipe recs I : fish and meat

There is a folder on my desktop called cookbook - it has over 2000 pdfs saved in there. It also has a sub-folder called "yummy" for recipes I tried and liked and would like to cook again at some point. So why not share? At least the "yummy" ones.

But 60 recipes are a lot for a single post, so you get them subdivided. No idea when the next posts (I plan for vegetarian and vegan, although they may get subdivided themselves) will come, but they will. I also point out below which recipes are in German - my comments on them are still in English. Because language mixing in one post just does not look good and also because recipes (especially simple recipes of the kind I prefer) are easy to translate. You can either try google translate or ask me ;)

My general approach is that I like my food to be simple and foolproof and not to use to many specialized kitchen utensils or ingredients. Big, bold flavors of all kind are always a win. So are fresh veggies, even though this part is not quite that obvious in this particular recipe selection. I also tend to err on the side of more spices, but that's also somewhat a matter of experience and knowledge of one's own taste, I guess. [eda: Also, most of the dishes need to amounts appropriate for a one-person-household.]

Anyway - enjoy! Ask if this are unclear. All the links go to original recipes as I found them online (random foodblogs for the English ones; the big German recipe website for the German ones).

  • Tuna salad with cucumber

    I use your average mayo - also quite a bit less of it, I think. And instead of nicely arranging the tuna salad on the cucumber, I use the cucumber slices as little spoons. It’s surprisingly filling and, less surprisingly a protein bomb. Also, the perfect 10 minutes dinner.
  • Moroccan style chicken in yoghurt marinade

    Halve the chicken, double the yoghurt for the marinade. The yoghurt dressing is amazing - serve the chicken with a salad (especially good if you add some slaw/cabbage into it) and the dressing. Also, marinating over night is wonderful, but it also works with an hour or so. Also yeah, I just put all the chicken into the pan, because I am careless like this.
  • Japanese cabbage pancakes with shrimp

    I never added kale into mine and they don't turn very much pancake like (I don't think these two things are related ;)). That said: they are yummy. I'm also too lazy to make the sauce (plus I think the one time I tried I did not enjoy it that much for it to be worth the work), so I eat them with the classic(?) Sweet Chicken/Sweet Chili Sauce.
  • Tuna and butter beans salad

    I use tuna in water (duh) and I don't add salad green immediately, only for serving - I just don't like my salad greens turning all mushy. Arugula tastes best, but given that this is me, this should not surprise you. I also just realized that the recipe uses lemon juice. I don't think I ever added any to my salad.
  • Hot and sour soup

    There is so much to tell about this soup - but first thing first: It is DELICIOUS. And super easy to make. (You will hear me repeating this often - I like things that are quick and foolproof.)

    This is the first and only recipe I ever made with tofu - I usually dislike it where it is mere ersatz for meat, but here it's an integral part of the dish. It's also a recipe that I would not have picked out myself. It just sounds so strange. 2/3 cups of rice vinegar, really? And all that tofu? Not to mention that I usually don't even like hot&sour soup that one gets at Chinese restaurants. But D. made it when I was visiting NY and gosh, was it delish. I had to try it myself - and I am now very sure that this soup will be in heavy rotation this winter. It's also super filling and great to take to work as lunch.

    The author of the recipe is also the owner of my favorite sandwich and cookie bakery in Boston (one where D. and I had Boston cream pie when she was visiting here). And I just found out that she has a restaurant here, too - I *have* to go there.
  • Asian curry soup [German]

    This soup is soooo good. And even better on the second or third day when it gets more thick and creamy.
    I tend to leave out the lime juice, but otherwise I just follow the recipe. You can reduce the amount of coconut milk, but don’t leave out the sesame oil. It makes the flavors of the soup really shine.
  • Indian veggie stir fry with chicken [German]

    I take some freedom with the spices on this one (I use the ones mentioned, although I usually don’t have the tandoori, but in wildly varying amounts) - but I can tell you that you really need the cardamon, it gives the dish a very special flavor. I also dislike green beans, so I use snow peas that I add a minute before things are done.

    I kind of also put in the veggies in in a wildly different oder, starting with bell peppers (that I like to be all soft) and corn, that I like to turn almost crunchy. The carrots come in really late because with them I also love them to keep the crunchiness. But that’s a matter of how you like your vegetables and tastes wildly differ there.
  • Iskender casserolle with feta sauce [German]

    I only cooked this one once so far back in B. - it’s not a dish to make for one person, but omg, was it good (we may also have made it with pork, hmm ...). Which reminds me that this is one of the recipes I want to make over the holidays, when at ♥'s place. I think it needs something light on the side. A good salad, perhaps?
  • Salmon with a walnut crust [German]

    Did any other Germans on my list grow up with Iglo's "Schlemmerfilet"? That's a bit like this - just much, much better and super easy (not quite as easy as just putting a frozen fish dish into the oven, but almost there). It tastes just amazing with a nice, big salad.
  • Spicy zucchini & mince [German]

    I have been eating this dish non-stop for the last 3 years or so, especially in winter. So good!
    To make the pax-version, you have to double to triple the zucchini though and half the meat. Also more curry and somewhat less cream is OK. I also prefer my zucchini cut in thin circles/half moons. And don't overcook, the zucchini are best when they still have some bite. It's then a perfect meal on it's own, perhaps with some bread - but you do not need potatoes or rice to go with it. Just zucchini and meat and the wonderful, spicy broth.


november feelings

I'm oscillating between being being elated by people being nice to me and believing in me and deeply depressed because I feel like I can't get my act together and am constantly running behind. I don't even have a semblance of a plan right now, I am just trying to extinguish whatever fire comes the closest to consuming me. (The original version of this sentence contains a lot more cursing, but I don't even know if it is proper English, so ...)

Packing for New York was a pain: it is supposed to be warm, so it's all t-shirts and such. My brain however is already all in the cozy sweaters and warm shawls mode, so everything feels and looks wrong and not me. (Staying in NY Wed-Sun, talk on Friday, guess who has not even touched it yet?)

It's a symptom, not the basic problem, but it makes it worse: I spend literally hours before I can make myself open and read e-mails. I know that I am in a state where the smallest critique can send me into a crying fit and I don't want to go there. (The strange thing is that of course all the e-mails are nice. We are not yet in the "getting all the rejections" phase.)

I really, really want to go for long walks at night.

I also really, really want hugs - the real kind. Touching. The presence of another.

(Maybe I also really want that crying fit; it would at least release some tension. But I don't want to cry alone.)


anger management

I am angry today. Do you know those days when you feel like you could smash something? Yeah. Reason? No reasons. Or some.

1. My LJ-style is broken. Instead of little black hearts there are giant (and I mean g-i-a-n0y) pink hearts. And given how often I use the symbol ... The support guys are working on it. I even tried different styles, but I really, really love mine and don't. want. to. change.

2. This interview with Slavoj Žižek (German, sorry). This is not the first interview of Žižek I read and while I would not presume to criticize in detail, I'm not a philosopher, I never found myself much interested in what he had to say before. But I was nodding along here: The absolute imperative to help when someone whose house is on fire is standing in front of your door. But also the push-back against cultural relativism.
Why it makes me angry? Mainly because I went down the memory lane to places I dislike.
Germany has a somewhat complicated school system with three main kinds of high school - in case you are not familiar, here is a quick overview. Back when we came to Germany, the usual way for the refugees - or ethnic Germans repatriated from the former Sovjet Union - was directly to the Hauptschule, the one who only gives access to the lowest level jobs. With quite some luck and pressure from your parents against the bureaucracy you could get to a Realschule, the one that would give access to intermediate level jobs - think secretary or paralegal or technician. My parents fought long and hard for me to get to Gymnasium, the one that gives access to university [being transferred to a Gymnasium after finishing Realschule isn't as easy as the linked explanation makes it sound; it was pretty much almost impossible 20 years ago] - I was extremely lucky to have parents for whom education of a girl mattered. A lot.
But I also had this friend, the way 12 year old have friends, living in a different part of the "refugee home" we were in while searching for an apartment of our own. Clever girl. Nice girl. Her parents were horrified when they realized that the German Gymnasium takes 13 years as opposed to the 10 or 11 it took in the former SU. And the only way to get there at this point was to lose two years, one in a "welcome class", one stepping back a year (absolutely unnecessary, both of them, but that's a different story). The story is: their daughter would be 21 by the time she would have finished school! And 26 or older by the time she would have finished university! But she should be married and have children by this time! And isn't being a paralegal or a nurse just as good as being a lawyer or a doctor? Such a job would fit a woman better anyway. Being a lawyer or a doctor is too stressful when also taking care of a family, anyway.
It will not surprise you, that this girl did not end up in a Gymnasium. Not even a Realschule, which would have been the way to being a paralegal or a nurse. Thinking back to her - thinking back to so many other Russian-speaking girls I knew -, it always makes me so, so, SO angry.
There are usual disclaimers: not everyone is like this. This is not the worst cultural background possible. But who is going to give this girl her missed chances back?

3. This post on the women in astronomy blog.
While I agree with the general sentiment - the number of publications does not say much about someone's scientific excellence and how much they are going to influence the field - the examples are so, so, SO of. Someone who published 4 papers, all of them first author? Well, if their papers were so interesting, someone would have reached out to them and asked for their input resulting in a co-authorship. Where are all those papers? Someone who only publishes as first author should be a giant red flag. This person is either not willing or not able to collaborate. Do we really want people leading our field who only publish as first author? What happens if someone - a colleague at the new institute - comes to them with an idea that would involve their method? Will they be able to step back and teach this colleague or will they go ahead and snag their first authorship? What with their students and postdocs? What with the simple promotion of their ideas and methods that, oh wonder!, happens via working with others that usually results in co-authorships? I know that not everyone is embedded in a big collaboration. I know that not everyone loves working on big projects. But you know what? If you are going to lead in the field, you will be.
And we are already in a field where almost only the first author publications count - go out there and ask anybody on hiring and fellowship committees. Do we want to promote this kind of thinking in a place that is supposed to discuss diversity? Especially from the perspective of women, who are the ones who tend to end up with the "service" and "helper" roles (ladies, hear my advice, learn from my mistakes and don't!).

4. And there was the end on net neutrality in Europe :(

I know, those are not really reasons to be angry. But yeah. I am. Stressed and furious at nothing at particular. And this needed to get out otherwise I'll not be able to sleep.

[There are a few sensitive topics in here. Underwater mines and such. Sorry. Tread with caution and such.]


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