Monthly Archives: December 2007

Gone

A year is over, one more year spent living, realising, creating and cancelling projects, discovering new places, leaving old ones, choosing a new city, a new place, coming home in more then one sense, making new friends while letting others go, renewing friendships, doing voluntary work, an internship and finding, finally real work, moving again and again, deciding to settle down for a few years and not to move that soon again, making space for someone special in my life.

2007 was Cape Town, Brussels, Berlin

2007 was X’hosa, Vlaams and Frenglish

2007 was Children of Men, Das Leben der Anderen and many other films not as worth being remembered as the first two

2007 was Hyperion I & II, Die Buddenbrocks and not enough French books

2007 was challenging, intensive, thrilling.

To sum up: The impression that a year starting the first of January on the beach on a warm and sunny day can’t go wrong, was true. I’m looking forward to see tomorrow.

La puce

Recipe for Lebkuchen*

To make original German Lebkuchen, you need:

  • A very motivated sister
  • Approximately 5 hours
  • A clean kitchen (at least one out of the five hours)
  • A good stomach to try the dough, the sugar decoration, the first hot Lebkuchen and the cold decorated ones

Furthermore, it is advised to take the following ingredients:

  • 1200 gr white flour
  • 550 gr honey
  • 250 gr butter
  • 250 gr sugar (the result is not as sweet as it may seem now)
  • 30 gr dark cacao powder
  • 1 package of Lebkuchen spices (approx. 20 gr)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 package of backing powder
  • Some salt

It’s really easy: Just heat the butter slowly with the honey, the sugar, the spices and the dark cacao powder until you have a nice, creamy, liquid sauce. Meanwhile, you mix the flour (all of it) with the baking powder and the salt. Add the eggs and slowly the warm (not hot!) spices-butter-honey-sugar-cacao mix and knead all of this until you get a nice, smooth and greasy dough. Give it a rest (half an hour or half a day) while you clean the kitchen.

The optimised approach to get the biscuits is to roll out the dough directly 5 mm thick on the greased backing tray and to cut out stars, moons, hearts and whatsoever else. Once this is done, the dough remaining between the cutout forms is just taken out. Baking time: 10-12 minutes in a well heated 200°C environment (= oven). To be done over and over and over again until all the dough is used. Let it cool down.

After one hour (you may enjoy something salted after all the sweet stuff) you need:

  • 2 egg-whites
  • 250 gr icing sugar

You beat up the egg-white with a kitchen machine until it gets a bit more solid, then you sieve the icing sugar into it while continuing stiring the kitchen machine. I should have taken a video for better illustration but I needed both my hands for this. Once you get a nice, smooth and brilliant white paste, you can start decorating the Lebkuchen with this and other evt. coloured sugar stuff.

Give it another rest (12 hours), clean the kitchen (again) and enjoy (if you still can) the nice smell of Lebkuchen which will be everywhere in your place.

* Gingerbread, pain d’épices

** I upload my photos of what we got out of this procedure as soon as I have an opportunity.

*** Warning: The quantities given here are enough to make Lebkuchen for a very, very big family and all of your friends. Taking 600 gr flour, 270 gr honey and so on, will still give you plenty of it.

Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen - Photo taken from Wikipedia
Recipe will come tomorrow, promised.

Going home for Christmas

  • 7h and 34 minutes by train
  • Wagenstandsanzeiger not in Brussels, but in Cologne
  • Hoarfrost (Raureif, givre) aka Puderzuckerlandschaft
  • Sitting in the bookshop while waiting for my train
  • Having a few minutes in the bright cold sun before leaving Cologne
  • Having an Ersatzzug instead of my ICE
  • Forming a Notgemeinschaft with the people in my Abteil – charing Christmas cookies
  • Making nasty comments about the Deutsche Bahn
  • Enjoying the voices announcing the trains, especially that the train in Hanover waits for me
  • Taking the time of reading Die Zeit
It’s kitschy, it’s beautiful, it’s Christmas.

Words of the week

  • Talking amok – if you cannot persuade your enemies with arguments, just talk until they fall dead from the chair.
  • Weihnachtschristen – Christmas Christians, chrétiens de Noël – particular religious species found mainly in the Northern Hemisphere between the 24th and 26th of December. Word read in “Die Zeit”
  • “Das Eichhörnchen ist Geborgenheit” – Learning German is mignon. 
  • “asexué linguistique” – I do not know if Belgium elects the “Unwort des Jahres” – the worst word of the year. If yes, this one which I found in an article of L’Echo would be my absolute favourite.

Habemus (quasi) government

Slowly but surely they are getting there. Belgium has a kind of government. Finally. Though I find it not very assuring to see that the old and new interim but not final prime minister, Verhofstadt, achieved in a bit more than two weeks what the supposedly new and final prime minister, Leterme who will take over in March, failed to do in more than 5 months.

The question now is how far this is really the end of the political crisis. The constitutional reform still needs to be done, the Vlaams extremists freed some Geister they cannot necessarily control and the gap of distrust splitting the linguistic communities will need more than time and good will to be closed.

But anyway, perhaps we should just take it as a good sign that Belgium got a brand new interim government just a few days before Christmas.

Dus, vrolijk kerstfeest wens ik! La puce

Winter Christmas Feelings

After spending Christmas in South Africa last year where I theoretically knew it was Christmas without really noticing; how can you having 30°C and bright sunshine; I really enjoy being back in the dark and cold Northern hemisphere. Christmas is definitely one of my preferred periods of the year with the contrast of cold and dark outside and warm and light inside. Even Brussels, usually not the beauty queen among European cities is pretty nice with it’s decorated buildings, the Christmas market, the lightnings and much more. Or as a friend of mine said: “The best is to sleep all day while it is grey. Once it’s dark you go outside and admire the beautifully lighted city.”

Christmas Market

Christmas Market II

Snowflake

Place Fernand Coq

L’église Trinité aka Châtelain