Brownie Recipe

Ingredients

1 Cup Butter (200-250 grams)

2 Cups Granulated Sugar (400 grams)

3/4 – 1 Cup Cocoa powder (NOT Droste)

4-5 Eggs

1/2 teaspoon Salt (kofffie lepel)

1 teaspoon liquid Vanilla extract (koffie lepel) OR replace 1 T of the sugar with vanilla sugar

1 Cup Flour (125 grams)

 

Preheat the oven to 350o F/170C

butter and flour a rectangular sheet cake pan (you can replace the flour with cocoa) or just line the pan with parchment paper

Melt the butter over a low heat in a large saucepan

Once the butter is melted remove it from the heat and add the sugar.

Stir.

Add the cocoa powder

Stir.

Add the eggs.

Mix until just blended.

Add the vanilla extract

Stir.

Mix in the flour gently until just blended.

 

Pour the batter into the rectangular pan. Gently smooth the mixture so that it is evenly distributed in the pan. OPTIONAL; Tap the pan on the counter to encourage any air bubbles to rise to the top.

 

Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center come out clean.

 

Cool for a minute, then run a knife around the edge of the pan. Cut into 24 or 35 square when cool.

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The Christmas eve incident

Saturday Dec 21

Got away at 4:45 am. Traffic was bad. While Allan slept…the traffic crawled. Al didn’t realize what torture it would be for Andy to ride for 12+ hours next to tins of Christmas cookies.

Stopped at a wonderful mall to the north Innsbruck. Stocked up on food for the week. There was no room in the car for the groceries.

We found our apartment easily but there was no one there. So we went down into town and walked around the weinachts market. It was charming, chilly and full of people. Food stalls and sweet crafts booths lined the town square.

One of the BEST things about this apartment was that we could turn the heat off! I don’t know why Austrians keep everything boiling hot in the winter. We prefer it to be cooler indoors.

Sunday Dec 22

Six am came really early! Andy’s training started at 8 so we needed to get on the move.  Why didn’t I buy coffee? We enjoyed the first of several bright pink sunrises as we drove the short distance from Altenmakt to the Flying Mozart lift in Wagrain.

The hard snow was groomed, just like I like it. Enjoyed the best cappuccino that I have ever had in my life! It was fun sitting outside on the terrace watching people attempt a little steep bit.  Later we split lunch, as usual.

I was skiing really well the first day. So when I would have normally taken the gondola down after skiing halfway …I skied the rest of the way down. I must’ve had a brain fart or turned wrong against a bump because I fell when we were almost all the way to the bottom. I waited at the bottom at a cafe while Al fetched the car to come and get me.

I had a horrible evening at the apartment. My son was a jewel acting as a human crutch. Al took care of dinner and the clean up.

Monday Dec 23

_1090109_tonemappedThe next day I stayed in the beautiful apartment, took three naps, and iced the wound. There was no bruise on my hip where I fell – I guess my saddlebags saved me. Even so I rubbed some Ibuprofen cream on it. The day started with a beautiful foggy pink dawn and later the apartment was filled with wonderful bright sunlight. I googled what to do for a bone bruise. Wasted the day getting caught on on Facebook. e-mail, WWF and fed my dragons on Dragonvale. After one paracetamol I felt 1000% better. That night I had trouble getting comfortable because I was hot and my hip still ached.

_1090110Al surprised Andy with his new skis. And then made potatoes and chicken for dinner. We all watched ‘The Big Bang Theory’ together on the converted couch bed before Andy kicked us out (the TV was in his bedroom which is also the dining room). I managed to get some rest that night.

Tuesday Dec 24

I felt much better so thought maybe I’d try one run on Christmas eve…but standing in the cold made my hip ache where I’d fallen. What a creaky old person I’d become! So Al and I took the bus to an English speaking doctor in town. So we could get a doctor’s note – which you need to get a refund on your ski lift pass-I totally freaked out when the x-ray showed a possible compression fracture … I was rushed to the hospital where they immediately took another better x-ray. I told the Dr. that when they decided what needed to be done to call my Dutch insurance so that any surgery could take place at home. She said no. That I would be operated on as soon as possible here and now. The anesthesiologist  put some sedative in my IV. By late afternoon I was recovering from surgery (two screws in the top of my left femur). My operation was pushed back an hour because another more urgent patient had come to the emergency room.

Wednesday Dec 25

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I wasn’t allowed to get up. And still couldn’t believe my leg was actually broken, shouldn’t it hurt more? The osteopath explained that I’d been able to walk on the leg because the break was stable.  I had trouble sleeping…my usual tactics of visualizing yoga just didn’t seem appropriate with a fracture. The nurse offered me a sleeping pill. I told her to check on me in an hour. I must have been already asleep when she came back.

Thursday Dec 26

Had to stay in bed with IV drip. I think the big event of the day was my sponge bath in the morning. At least the room had a view of the mountains. And the nurses would occasionally crack the window open or open the balcony door to let in the clean alpine air.  Andy’s race was postponed for a day due to bad weather.

Friday Dec 27

The first thing the nurse did was put a waterproof patch over my incision and told me I could take a shower. I let out a very enthusiastic ‘Yay!’ Which made my ward mates laugh. I was issued two blue crutches. Gingerly I made my way to the bathroom. It was terrifying to be upright and felt absolutely glorious to sit in the warm shower. The PT came and showed me how to walk properly and how to go up and down stairs. When the doctor made his rounds he told me that I would not be released before Monday. Bummer. I went out into the hall because I was upset by this and ran into some people speaking Dutch. They were visiting a friend in MUCH worse shape than me-he was in danger of losing his foot! At the point I decided a couple extra days in the hospital wasn’t that bad. Two of my ward mates were operated on this day.I started another night in the snoritorium…finally I just dialed in a ‘chill’ music station on my phone and tried to sleep with my headphone on.

Saturday Dec 28

The weekend doctor didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t be released. He ordered another x-ray which showed that I was healing better than expected. Going to get a new x-ray was pretty horrifying-because radiology is right next to the emergency entrance (makes sense) where the halls were lined with people still in their ski clothes lying on gurneys. They said they’d let the insurance know I could go home as soon at they could arrange something. That turned out to be Tuesday.

But first I had to learn how to give myself a shot of (when you lie in bed all day there is risk of blood clots so they give you anti-clot medicine). I dreaded doing this for a day…and when it came to it…sticking yourself with a needle doesn’t really hurt (yes, I did google ‘how to give yourself a shot’ in the meantime) but pushing the liquid through the needle does not feel good.

I think this was the day they brought me pizza for dinner. I made a big stink (I am not a pizza fan). It was either the language barrier or my post – anesthesia brain. I would never choose pizza but there wasn’t anything else so I just had to cope with it.

Sunday Dec 29

The lady with the bad knee, the only one who speaks English was released. I will miss her cheerful company but not her contribution to the snoritorium. As I’m putting on my compression hose in the morning the lady next to me (lower leg injury) says, ‘schwerarbeit’. In the corner is an 88 year old lady with 8 daughters. In the morning after our baths she bursts into song (a hymn I think) it was very sweet and spontaneous.  As I walk by on my crutches I think she says something like, ‘now you have two weapons with you if anyone gives you trouble.’ I tell one of her visiting daughters that I think they are wonderful with their mother. They offer me a sliver of (out of this world heavenly) what I suspect what is home cured ham.

Monday Dec 30

It is certain that I am to go home on the Tuesday flight. First an ambulance will meet me and transport me to the Innsbruck airport. After the short flight another ambulance will take me home. I’m worried that someone will throw away my ‘luggage’ the big blue trash bag that was issued to me on arrival at the hospital (they don’t). People don’t believe that I have so little pain. I had to beg the nurses to take out my (VERY painful IV access). I had a meeting with a wonderful “touchy-feely” PT-wish I could take him home with me. I take an eternity to blow dry my hair, because I can and have nothing else to do. This is not the first industrial hair dryer I’ve burnt out.

I was allowed to come home on the ‘gipsvlucht’ New Year’s Eve.

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That was my holiday adventure. I hope yours was much more boring. I don’t have a caste but I will be on crutches for awhile. People keep asking me about the pain- there’s very little, just twinges, aches and a bit of soreness…

February 5th update: I’m healing quite well and on schedule. Next x-ray in a month.

busy summer stay-cation

Al hasn’t been working all summer. In the interest of keeping fuel costs low at the end of April we bought a used Vespa (moped) and have ridden from one end of Holland to the other.Image
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We toured to the local wetlands nature preserve (naardermeer) by boat with a photography club. That was so interesting that we went back and did a walking path around the edge of the wetlands.
DS and Al had some fun making water balloons pop in the backyard and filming it in slow motion with our little GoPro camera. I’ve been honing my video editing skills.
The photo club also had an excursion to Utrecht’s botanical gardens — the highlight was the butterfly gardens. This is one of my favorite places. I didn’t expect to learn much, but boy! Was I wrong. The lady who started the club ran a hands-on workshop as we toured around which was really nice.
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Every year there’s a medieval fair in the park just south of Amsterdam. All three of us went and it was fun to compare it to the Bristol fair that we attended last year in Wisconsin. The juggler managed to get DS up in front of the crowd and show off a bit with his club juggling ability.
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We rented kayaks one sunny weekend and it was so much fun that we’ve been back a couple of times. Once DS’s friend brought his puppy.
Al and I took the moped into Amsterdam for the gay pride parade. The floats — well they really float — because the parade is on a canal. It was a beautiful day and the greatest friendliest crowd.
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Now the heather is in bloom (there are a number of heaths within biking distance) which is something I try to take pictures of every year. It’s a way to gauge whether I’ve improved as a photographer…

Can’t Miss Restaurants and sites in Amsterdam

(this is an email in reply to the question are there any ‘can’t miss restaurant in Amsterdam’ for a friend of a relative that was visiting)

See if any of these appeal;

breakfast, nothing exciting. The Dutch normally have ham and cheese at home.
But there is a really cool trendy restaurant called; de bakkerswinkel that does amazing coffee and scones http://www.debakkerswinkel.nl/
Also cafe ‘t smalle (across from the anne frank house – Egelantiersgracht 12 ) does a nice european breakfast. They have a floating dock on the canal that’s terrific in the morning.

You have to try dutch apple pie – apple taart. They’ll ask you if you want whipped cream as an extra. They don’t do ice cream and pie 😦
Close to the Anne Frank house is the pancake bakery. Dutch pancakes are popular for lunch. They are more closely related to crepes than American pancakes and can come filled with and infinite number of goodies. I like apples, bacon, raisins and walnuts. http://www.pancake.nl/indexeng.php

For atmosphere; you can’t do better than ‘de waag’ – this is in the old weigh house and has oodles of candles http://www.indewaag.nl/?English
Food, I always go to Ludens on Spui for great food – for lunch I’d eat in the bar, for dinner in the restaurant. This has to be my favorite. There’s a dutch restaurant in the same area called Haesje Claes http://www.haesjeclaes.nl/, and an indonesian one called Kantijl http://www.kantjil.nl/**
Up and coming is Fifteen. Incredible service. http://www.fifteen.nl/ I would make a reservation

**Indonesia was a Dutch colony so we have tons of indonesian restaurants. Their meal is called a rijsttafel (rice table) it’s family style that comes willy nilly of asian food.

Must sees would be a canal cruise (catch them outside the Allard Pierson museum). I like the Willard Holthuis and Our Lord in the Attic. The van Gogh museum is just a stone’s throw from the Rijksmuseum – the old masters exhibit is probably a ‘can’t miss’ for some people.

Heiniken does have tours. They’re fun. http://www.heinekenexperience.com/

If you like to read and study before you come. I would recommend;

An Embarrassment of Riches
Under the Low Sky – this guy’s writing style is really off putting but he unintentionally give you an amazing view into the local psyche that way
The Island at the Center of the World
Ray Klunn’s Love Life

(give ‘Girl with a Peal Earring’ a pass IMHO)

Definitely get bikes with hand brakes and go along spui to princengracht to vondel park and the rijksmuseam

and you have to do the Albert Kuijp street market.

video editing II

I must have been insane to agree to make an hour+ video of my son’s school year end musical. It took much more time than I ever could have imaged! But I learned so much. I learned that analog to digital is a Q#$%#$%. I learned that while LightRoom 4.2 says you can edit video…well in reality – you can’t. I learned that you can edit video in Photoshop CS6 – even in the standard version. I learned the difference between PAL & NTSC and just how much video will fit on a regular DVD. I learned how iDVD works and that it’s much better for me to shoot in MP4 format even though my camera can do (the much harder to work with) AVCHD format.

Here are the highlights from the musical made into an iMovie trailer.

Rockin’ Park 2012 – Goffert, Nijmegen

When we arrived in Nijmegen we followed the parking signs. Eventually we were directed to a spot by the fire station. The day promised to be dry and balmy. After a +/- 20 minute walk we heard ‘Flogging Molly’ strike up their first chord as we reached the security point. They confiscated our hard plastic water bottles.

 

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Inexplicably ‘Flogging Molly’ can make accordions, flutes and banjos hip. I was able to worm my way all the way up to the barrier. Fink was setting up on the 2nd stage — the crowd was at the other stage so you could go right up to that front of that. Which I thought was pretty cool.

 

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I put my earplugs in for Deus. And thought the drummer would most likely join that notorious club of over-enthusiastic percussionists who pass on early.  During ‘The Temper Trap’ I went to stand on a little hill to see them better … it also afforded much better availability to the nice cool breeze.

 

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We met our friends and left our picnic basket, er bag with them while we went up front to see Elbow. Guy Edward John Patrick Garvey was not in the least shy about using the energy of the crowd. In fact there was no wall between the audience and his performance. I suspect that he leaps our of bed every day, rushes to the mirror and belts out, “I have confidence in confidence…” at the top of his sublime voice. The audience echoed whistling during ‘Lippy Kids’ was both enthusiastic and humorous.

I think it was quite a gutsy move to start out with ‘The Birds’ … that song whips the crowd into such a frenzied frenzy, where the heck do you go from there!? Elbow’s songs have sublime lyrics delivered by a talented showman which is rather unfortunate in a way because that overshadows the brilliant bass player(ing) of Pete Turner.

DS had come to see the headliner – ‘Snow Patrol’ so while I stayed back on our picnic blanket he went up to the front with his Dad. Their show was visually stunning. They had a creative and unusual light show of trippy patterns. Opening with the song ‘Take Back the City’ in a park setting didn’t make any sense to me. The energy was right but the words just didn’t fit. Gary Lightbody has an amazing voice that really fits all the band’s romantic lyrics but I wish he would write more songs that showcased his vocal range more.

Like this;

 

 

Doesn’t ‘Batten down the Hatch’ sound a bit like ‘Cream’…imaging it segueing seamlessly into ‘White Room’. Some of their other songs sound a little like the ‘Moody Blues’ to me.

 

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When Lightbody sang the the lyrics from the song ‘Chasing Cars’, ‘Would you lie with me and just forget the world’ – he was so convincing…but then I thought, ‘With all +/-35,000’ of us!?

Youtube playlist of live performance;