Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Ray Bradbury's own oil painting of the Halloween Tree
source: from this webpage

Will be spending the evening reading Ray Bradbury's 'The Halloween Tree'!
Nice for archaeologists, since the children go on timetravel (from Ancient Egypt to the Medieval times) to find their mate who vanished on All Hallows' Eve :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Abu Dhabi - In the Desert

In the afternoon we went on a desert safari. Our tourguide was a bit grumpy and hardly talked at all; mostly just bellowing orders like: 'camel. 5 minutes. photos'
So this was the 5-minute-camel:

We then had some 'dune bashing' in other words you drive the dunes up and down and get car sick:

However, they didn't succed in getting us car sick enough; we were still able to admire the beauty of the desert:

Then Mr Grumpy dropped us off at a campsite: 'camel ride first' and left to do what Arabic men do in the desert (God Allah knows what). The camel ride was not what I would call a camel ride. It rather was a circus ride: ride your camel around a pole in a circle of 3 m in diameter.
The rest of the day was much more relaxed. My friend T got a henna tattoo:

We also had a nice decent Arabic dinner (although they didn't manage to get the barbecue going - not really a bother for a vegetarian though):
And we also had a Russian girl for belly dancing:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Abu Dhabi - Falcon Hospital

This morning we went to the Falcon Hospital in Abu Dhabi. We got a tour through the hospital which was was tremendously interesting. Here some photos:

The waiting room

Doctor's office:


Say ahhhh....
Not just for falcons ....

There is also a small museum about falcons and falcon hunting:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Abu Dhabi

Women's Handicraft Centre

Art from the Centre's exhibition hall:

Lunchbreak after a stroll through the gold souk in a Vegetarian Indian Restaurant:
Potato Samosa and Pasta (!) Samosa:
Pineapple and Melon juice
Marina Mall

View from a café in the 55 floors high Burj al Marina:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Animalistic Sunday

This morning we caught a little mouse. A sweet and little one like this one:

But since I can't allow it to stay in our house, after all in protected environment they have 5 to 10 litters a year with up to 14 youngsters per litter, we had to take it outside and give it its freedom. Since this autumn is unusally warm and food is still abundant we took her to the woods not too far from us. It was very curious and obviously enjoyed being outdoors .... that is until a magpie shot down from a tree and tried to grab little mousey. So we ran around like madmen and tried to shoo away the magpie to at least give it a small survival chance. After all it was the first day in the wilderness.
I've never seen magpies actively hunting mice, but they are quite fierce in what they do. But then magpies are highly intelligent creatures. They are the only birds that recognize their mirror image:
After a while the magpie got weary of us and took off, I hope mousey survived the day.
Now we could go for our planned walk around Lampenhain not too far from our place. To our surprise we met some alpacas which enjoyed the warm autumn sun.
After more sheep, dogs, and horses we had a cup of coffe in a country 'pub' (Landgasthof) where we met ... hairy coos :) = Scottish Highland cattle

Taiko Drumming in Heidelberg

Tonight we went for a performance of a taiko group called Sakura no ki (Cherry Tree):

The nearly all female group under the direction of Liliana Bulic joined Koji Nakamura from Los Angelos and his pupil Takeshi Demise from Milano to  present a variety of different arrangements from Bhuddist religious songs over shinto influenced pieces to modern choreographies. The choreography and precision in general was superb and the pieces very well performed.

If you not only want to see the 'amazon' taiko group, but also hear them, there are several videos on youtube:
Drums are, together with wind instruments,  Japan's oldest musical instruments. Toshi Tsuchitori (土取利行) a percussionist from Kagawa, Japan has been studying Japanese prehistoric music for more than three decades. His performances on Jomon replica clay drums (Jomon-ko) are spectacular; there are many videos on youtube, here is just one example:
Here you can watch a very interesting three-part program describing the research of Toshi Tsuchitori (part 1) and how he produces his own instruments, integrating Ainu and other ethnic music to perform 'Jomon music'. Even though it is in Japanese, it is very interesting and informative for non Japanese speakers. There is enough to watch and hear, so try it out if you are interesting in ancient music.
If you want to know more about Jomon music, here is an excellent article about music and musical instruments in the Jomon period: Jomon music.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

St. John's wort oil and a quick fix dinner for one

In July I collected some St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) - I know, I know - I was one month late. Ideally you should collect St. John's wort on the 24th of June which is the festival of the birthday of St. John the Baptist. The red colour that oozes out of the leaves if you squeeze them is a symbol of his blood when he was beheaded. Here a quite unconventional painting of John the Baptist :)
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio: John the Baptist
from: Malte Goga 2009, fig. 1

 However, usage of St. John's wort is much older than that and therefore it might not be a coincidence that St. John's Birthday happened to take place at the heathen midsummer festival. Yeah, the Christian church was very clever. It also said that St. John's wort causes evil spirits to depart (the Greek name Hypericum means somethink like "over an apparition"). Maybe psychosomatic disorders were thought to be caused by evil spirits and since Hypericum works as an antidepressant when taken orally it is understandable that St. John's wort was used as an apotropaic flower.
 Pliny the Elder prescribed Hypericum against burns in his Naturalis Historiæ (book XXVI chapter lxxx) ca. AD 77 and it was used extensivly during the Medieval period.
Buth enough history, here is the simple recipe for making your own beautifully red oil against infected wounds, abrasions, burns, muscle pain, inflammatory skin diseases, you name it ...
Put your Hypericum florescence in a glass jar
Pour a good quality olive oil over it, so that the oil just covers the inflorescences

Put it in a warm and sunny place and let stand for about 6 to 8 weeks or until the petals are drained of their colour and the oil turns red

Put it through a tea or coffee filter paper and fill into a tightly closable bottle

From now on keep it cool and dark and use whenever something hurts :)

And to let you know what I eat when alone: Spicy glass noodles with squash

Pour some boiling water over dry glass noodles, let sit for a couple of minutes and drain. Meanwhile fry some garlic and ginger in a wok, add vegetables to your liking (green onions, Chinese cabbage, celery, squash), add spices (chili flakes, Sechuan pepper, salt) and glass noodles. Done in under 30 minutes.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Killer Mashed-Potato-Salad

It's been a while, and even longer since I posted a recipe here. Since Barbara from Barbara's Spielwiese is on business in China at the moment, I got tremendously jealous, so today I want to share a recipe I found on the Chinese recipe site 下厨房 (xiachufang). It is called 夺命土豆泥 (killer mashed potatoes), deadly only because it is so good. Although I have to admit it could easily be a Japanese recipe, because I had some similar mashed potato salad in sandwiches when I was in Japan.
I changed the originally recipe a bit, because it wasn't vegetarian and also tried blue potatoes to see whether a purplish colour would look good in mashed potatoes. Judge for yourself :)
This is the blue potato (Blue Swede), peeled. I like the marbled look of them :)

And this is the end result; I shaped it in balls like in the original recipe, but it ended up spread on some yummie wholemeal rolls after all:

Killer Mashed-Potato-Salad


4 floury potatoes
2 carrots
1/2 cup of corn kernels (from can)
a handful green beans
1/2 cup plant milk (I used oat milk)
2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
white wine vinegar
salt and pepper 
What to do
Peel and boil potatoes in salty water. While potatoes boil cut carrots into small dices and boil together with cut beans in salty water until tender (don't overcook them!).
When potatoes are soft, drain, add plant milk and bring the milk to the boil (you can do this in an extra pot to better control the consistency but I sometimes just use the pot with the potatoes in it). Immediately take the pot from the heat and mash the potatoes; the mash should be quite firm. Add carrots, beans, corn, spices, mayonnaise, and vinegar and carefully mix the ingredients.
Shape them in balls (if I had an ice cream scoop I would have tried it because my balls are a bit misshapen) or just put it in a bowl.