The land of rape and honey

Life has certainly been different the last several months with the restrictions in place to try to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Germany we have been fortunate to not be confined totally to the indoors. Going outside for walks, while keeping a minimum distance from people outside of your household has been encouraged. And we were lucky to have some really great weather too – during most of April we enjoyed highs in the 60s to 70s. We have tried to take the opportunity to get outside almost every day. Just a few minute walk from our house and we are walking through fields – all kinds of different fields – strawberries, lettuce, sugar beet, barley, and lots of rapeseed, which is used to make Canola oil. Canola is a new-fangled marketing term for rapeseed oil, because for some reason, people didn’t want to buy rapeseed oil (well, besides the name, they also did some selective breeding in the 1970s to make the oil look and taste better). They grow lots of rapeseed in Canada, and thus they re-branded it as Canola oil. In fact, the town of Tinsdale, Saskatchewan was known as “the land of rape and honey” until just a few years ago. The industrial band Ministry learned of this fact and thought it was funny, thus they used it for the title of their third studio album (I had a dubbed version of this album on cassette tape when I was in middle school). One final note, in Germany, rapeseed oil is currently primarily used for the production of biodiesel.

Brownies

Brownie with caramel sauce
Brownie with caramel sauce

I had to test this recipe a few times before publication ­čśë Being homebound for the COVID-19 is a fine time to bake, if you can find the ingrediants. Meg has been super productive and today one of the things she set her sights on Brownies.

Ingredients
125 g butter
3 Tablespoons Coconut oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 packets vanilla sugar
3 large eggs or 4 small ones
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup flour
200 g diced dark chocolate bar/ chocolate chips

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350┬░F (175┬░C). Prep pan with either parchment paper or oil and flour. I used a 9″ round springform pan.

Melt oils together in a glass bowl. Stir in sugars. Whisk in eggs. Add salt. Sift in cocoa powder and flour and fold into batter. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into pan.

Bake for ~20 minutes. Adjust baking time by testing center with a toothpick. When it comes out clean, it is done. Let cool. Dust with powdered sugar. Nom nom nom nom.

Brownies
Brownies

Happy Easter 2020

Meg’s 2020 Easter decorations

2020 Easter is not like most others, but we managed to make it as nice as we could. In particular Meg went out of her way to try to make it as nice as possible with lots of decorations, and she even came up with some fun games for us. She hung up some candies from our loft, which we had to jump and touch, in order to get them. We also had a race trying to hold easter eggs on a spoon. Meg was the only one who didn’t drop the egg.

We also kept up some old traditions, in particular making hot cross buns. Meg helped a bunch. She has been practicing making pizza dough the last couple months, and she is getting pretty good at kneading. We are lucky that we had enough flour and yeast, which have been hard to find during the Corona-virus crisis. We also lucked out with the weather. It has been sunny and around 70 F all week long. We enjoyed our Easter dinner of ham, green beans, and potato dumplings on the balcony.

Bike ride to the town castle

Fedibbletys at Burg Wilhelmstein

The weather in our neck of the woods has been really nice lately – sunny with highs around 70 most of the last 2 weeks. While the playgrounds and beer gardens are closed, at least we are still allowed to get exercise outside in groups of 2, or with the immediate family. We have been taking advantage of that to try to get out and enjoy the fresh air as much as we can.

Shortly after we moved to Germany we bought bikes for all of us. The one that we got for Clare turned out not to be a good fit, so she hadn’t been biking at all. Last summer I bought some extra bikes for visitors, and upgrades for the growing children. Clare agreed to try one of these extra bikes, and it has worked out quite well. With the extra time on our hands she was able to test it out without any particular destination or time pressure, and after a few test runs, was willing to try a longer ride. I had done this ride a couple times before – once with Meg, and once with the Soule-Reeves when they visited last summer. It is about 5 kilometers (3 miles) each way, mostly on bike paths.

Rob under strangely grown tree at the castle
Meg loves picking wildflowers

When we got there, we had a little snack we had brought with us and Meg gave us a bit of a tour around the outside (the inside was closed because of Corona restrictions, but contains a fancy restaurant, and open-air amphitheater, and a mini-golf course). Meg had been there recently for a treasure-hunt birthday party, and showed us where the treasure was. Hopefully we will find more time soon for family bike rides.

View from the castle