Friday, December 26, 2008

Our Christmas Dinner - more than a menue

Of course I didn't do all the 6 courses of my menue, we left the redbeet risotto for tormorrow. I tend to cook large portions and it probably was quite tasty since we had two servicings from every course. But after the third course or so we started to get really full.

Here are some pics, so you can see that it also looks quite nice most of the time.

First was the cream of potatoe soup with some coriander green on top to make it more exotic or just because I didn't get any chervil in winter, who knows. this recipe is my mother's hence I can't post a recipe.

Then we had the 'Christmas Salad' from ( which was as good as it looked in it's Christmas colours:

I served it with soybean-baps a la bruschetta and it came out really nice:

We restricted the main course to the nut roast and it was a wise decision. I put Wendy's nutroast ( in a star-form dish to give it a bit more festive character.

This is a really light and wonderfully cashew nut-roast, which would be lovely in summer, too. Mini-gnocchi, roasted carrots and asparagus with a creamy crème fraîche lemon basil sauce rounded off our main.

For desert we had the lemon-tofu cake, a recipe from the Eight Day Café in Manchester. Instead of the digestive cookies I used spekulatius Christmas cookies (a kind of gingery biscuits) and I decorated it with a drizzle of rosehip jam, again to give it a festive look, but also because I put too much lemon juice in it and it was quite sour *lol* any way, it was tasty and not bad for my first vegan cheesecake, altought still worthy of improvement.

Stay tuned for the rest of our Christmas dinner which we will have tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Joyeux Noël, Merry Christmas, Buon Natale, Feliz Navidad, Frohe Weihnachten, メリークリスマス

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas time. Our tree is in purple and silver decorated, though I really do not have the space for a large standing tree. It is therefore a bit cramped in the corner but still nice to look upon and the smell is worth it anyway.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's a veggie Christmas this year!!

Since M is not here this Christmas, we can have a completely vegetarian Christmas dinner, no cooking twice, no carcasses in the workspace, no killing involveld. I wanted a nut roast all along, since this is the English traditional way (for vegetarians of course, carnivores must eat filet wellington and goose and such poor animals). Doesn't this look good?

A peaceful Christmas to all my friends and readers, have a wonderful time!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I left Bradford as soon as possible and stayed the rest of my trip in Manchester. First because it is an endlessly better option for shopping, second because my flight went from Manchester anyway, and last not least, it is a way more interesting town.... city..... whatever.

This is Manchester Cathedral, or rather one of it. I learnt that there are two cathedrals in Manchester, why, I don't know.

This is one of its modern, yet wonderful, stained-glass windows:

The townhall of Manchester with the European Christmas market (one of the seven markets in Manchester):

The old city centre with a ferris wheel. But this time a bit more discreet, being in front of the modern departmentstores instead of the old timber-framed buildings:

and a nice pub (this photo is especially for P and C, stay sharp!)

This is the International Christmas Market:

And of course the German one with -what is so typical for Germany- Bratwurst!

Christmas Carols in the shopping centre:
And funny buses:

I also had the chance to test one of Manchester's vegetarian restaurants, the Eight Day Café ( I had a marvellous vegan cottage pie. And don't forget to check out their webpage because they post a lot of their fav recipes.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Bradford cathedral and the 'grotto' archaeology conference

Yestereday evening I had a look at Bradford's cathedral:

The Polish community sang Polish carols, offered Polish (alas, very meaty) food and -of course, since we are in England- wine. There was also an exhibition of Polish cribs, with a single specimen from the Polish community of Huddersfield. It looked more like an oriental castle than the birthscene of Jesus, but well....

The cathedral has the wooden ceiling beautifully rebuilt:

And so I had a pretty nice evening.

Today was the Pre- & 'Grotto-History: Some Recent Research into the Prehistoric use of Caves day conference of the Prehistoric Society. There were some interesting talks concerning the Neolithic use of caves, for example Tom Lord's presentation of an early Neolithic non-monumental burial type, involving -not cannibalism- but complicated burial rites with decomposing in the open and then bringing back the still articulated body to prep it up with stones to imitate a living body. He called the stonepacked corpses 'skeletal mommies'.

Two speakers tried to develop a system how to predict where archaeological caves would be in order to find them before metal detectors and looters. Both had to admit that it is not really working.

Rick Schulting then presented his work, comparing isotope values from skeletons of Gop Cave in North Wales with skeletons from the very near chambered tomb Parc le Breos. He could demonstrate, that the people of the chamber tomb had a higher portion of meat/dairy in their diet than the people buried in the cave (lower end of social hierarchy?). this is the cave site (Cathole Cave, Gower peninsula):
And this is Parc le Breos, the nearby chambered tomb:

A PhD student of Paul Petit presented a paper in his absence about Mousterien use of caves, like fire places and stone tools.

Andrew Chamberlain did his statistics about cave burials, like 'a third of people buried in the Neolithic were sub-adults'. He was one of the two who presented the prediction model. The only thing he found was htat larger and higher caves attracted more burials.

L'art pariétal at Sculptor's Cave:

Neolithic pottery from Elbolten cave:

Friday, December 05, 2008


Bradford is just as I have remembered it, one of the sadest and most pitiful towns in England. I was looking for a knitting wool shop (which of course didn't exist anymore) and came across the TJ Hughes department store. Here you can experience on of the worst department stores you will ever come across in your life. It has the charm of pound land and the prices of Primark, but at least primark keeps it's dignity, so if you want to buy cheap, for heaven's sake go to Primark and not to TJ Hughes. I have never seen so much acrylic things on one spot. But that is the essence of Bradford, not value for money (which would at least make sense) but cheap, really cheap.

This is the new "Broadway Centre with over 100 shops and offices" according to the leaflet from the tourist information " for opening late 2007". And what have we now? Ah yes, late 2008. And still not a single wall standing of this ambitious project. But how could Bradford afford building such a project when they can't even afford to put some gritt on the iced pedestrian walks.

This here is the townhall of Bradford, which was built in the second half of the 19th century and extended in the early 20th century. It actually is a nice building but at the moment it is defaced by the Bradford Christmas spirit. A ferries wheel is obviously the highlight of Christmas, and the illumination doesn't help either. So sad.

The best thing Bradford has to offer is certainly it's university. One of the finest universities (archaeology-wise) in the country with a beautiful campus. And let's not forget Waterstones, not because of it's divers selections but because there is a Star Bucks on the second level.
But of course not all is bad in Bradford. The Love Apple restaurant and bar has wonderful veggie dishes and the new Tulsi being an all vegetarian Indian buffet restaurant. Hm...yummie.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Dolmen Hunting Tour

Ever since I read that there are dolmen in southern Germany and Switzerland I was obsessed with the idea of finding them. I just couldn't believe to find them so far in the south. But here I am on my dolmen hunt. My first stop was the museum of Freiburg. And I wasn't dissapointed. It is a small but very fine museum. Here some objects from the museum:

Something Neolithic:

Something from the Bronze Age, a Feuerbock, the English name is totally elusive to me, sorry.

And something from the Alamannen special exhibition:

I then went farther south to the French speaking Switzerland. My first stop was Courgenay, where a dolmen portal plate with a so-called spirit hole was supposed to have survived. Since it is getting dark very early, I stayed at a very charming and rustic hotel in Courgenay. This is the bathroom.

And after I had a pizza which tasted more like a tarte flambée in the restaurant 'La pierrre percèe' I had my first glimpse of a Jura dolmen:

Monday, November 03, 2008

Kauai (the end) and Oahu

Well, I think you still hadn't enough of Hawaii's beauty, therefore some more pictures. Apart from flowers and beautiful landscapes you will be lucky and can embrace fantastic archaeology (no just kidding, it won't be that bad).
A hiking tour brought us through forests and rivers:
Heliconia rostrata or hanging lobster claw heliconia
Schefflera actinophylla or Octopus tree, the one with the red flowers
On our last evening in Kauai we went to see the Mokihana Hula competition at the Kaua'i War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihu'e. Solo and group hula of all age classes did the hula at their best:

We left the Garden Island with a lot of things unfinished, unvisited, not yet done. But this is one reason to go back, right? And it is not as if we went to a barren and inhospitable place. No, we had the pleasure to go to O'ahu, the main island.
At the entrance to the Kea'iwa Heiau State Park (Aiea Heights Dr., Aiea) is an ancient healing centre from the 15th century, the Kea'iwa heiau. The 4-foot high stacked rock wall encloses the sacred area that measures 30 by 50 meters (100 by 160 feet). Within the enclosure was a halau (large thatched structure) built for the master kahuna (priest) to store the medicinal implements and train the students. Other features might include hale (small thatched structure) and a puholoholo (steam bath).Here the Kahuna (priest) grew plants, prayed, diagnosed and healed injuries and diseases.

At the entrance to the Wahiawa Botanica Garden is situated a heavily reconstructed heiau, the Hale o Lono heiau, the "House of Lono". It was build around 1400 and was dedicated to the God Lono, one of the four Principal gods of ancient Hawaii. He ruled agriculture and harvests, weather, sports, and medicine.

The garden itself should not be missed, apart from all the beautiful plants of Hawaii it harbours the Waimea Falls (depending on the rain, they were dry this year) and some archaeological sites, including, reconstructed on the spot, Taro towers:

they were freshly planted, hence you can only see some small taro leaves looking out of the tower.

But there are all kinds of flowering plants, ferns, trees:

Heliconia stricta belongs to the order Zingiberales like ginger

Alpinia purpurata or Hawaiian Red Ginger

Platycerium or elkhorn fern (Geweihfarn) growing on a tree

In short a well kept up and informative botanical garden, well worth a visit.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Time of the Heroes - An Exhibition in Karlsruhe, Germany

I wanted to visit two exhibitions while in Karlsruhe, well, you know, two birds.....

The exhibition about the archaeology of Karlsruhe and its surroundings promised to be interesting on the internet, so I went there in anticipation of nice objects like this Neolithic axe:

Neolithische Steinaxt aus dem Rhein bei Maxau, 3. Jahrtausend v. Chr.

However, nobody was informed and apart from some posters with alltogether not more than 30 lines about the prehistoric time and a miniature photo of the above mentioned axe, there was nothing there.

After getting rid of my bad mood through bying birthday presents, C and I went to the exhibiton in Karlsruhe's castle:

Zeit der Helden (age of the heroes)
Die 'dunklen Jahrhunderte' Griechenlands 1200 - 700 v. Chr.

The Mycenaean civilization flourished betweenn 1600 BC and ca. 1100 BC, the late Bronze Age in Greece. It ended with the collapse of their Bronze-Age civilization. The last phase of the Bronze Age is also the setting of Homers epics and heroes, hence the name of the exhibition. But it wasn't so much about the heroes themselves, with the exception of a virtual pyre for Patrokles, where Achilles (Achill, Achilleus, they couldn't agree which version of his name they should use) offered his hair.

Here some photos of the exhibition:

We also were lucky and had the chance to attend a lecture by Prof. Maran from University of Heidelberg. He talked about his excavations in Tiryns. Here he is together with a piece of an ivory rod inscribed with cuneiform characters, mostly numerals.

There is also a cuneiform tablet with some scribbeling on it:

And here you can see how the megaron of the palace changed in size after the catastrophic horizon, however, it was still in use:

What has this got to do with heroes? Well, he didn't mention any heroes in his lecture, the nameless kings of Tiryns are heroes for their architecture, building a huge dam to divert a river, building sophisticated secret exits, or cyclopic walls. Maybe he should have mentioned that Perseus reigned in Tiryns, Hercules was supposed to be born there, that Hera stole the throne of Tiryns from Hercules, that it was also here, that Hercules in a bad temper threw Iphitus from the famous walls of Tiryns.

In any case it was fun and we wished we had more time to explore the exhibition.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Art intermezzo

I need to stop the Hawaii blogging for a day or so, as much as I like to share more wonderful photos with you. This is newsworthy and therefore I will tell you what I did today. In the 'Kurpfälzisches Museum' of Heidelberg is a special exhibiton called 'Die Welle', the wave. Art from more than five centuries under the topic of 'waves' were exhibited. My friend D and I thought it would be fun to go to this exhibition. I so much hoped that they would exhibit some Japanese woodblock prints and I was not dissapointed. There were works from artist all over the world, famous and not so famous ones.
Here some examples:

Gustav Klimt: L'Attesa (1905)
Wellen - Zauber der Bewegung

Oskar Kokoschka 'Schlafende Frau' (aus: Die träumenden Knaben) 1907/1908

Katsushiga Hokusai, The Great Wave of Kanagawa, 1832 (

If you have the chance to go there, by all means do this, we had a lovely afternoon there. And it's only 4.50 euros for students (including the normal ticket for the general exhibiton). One reason more to got there.