I Love Swiss Chard

I know, you’re supposed to love people, not things. But I guess it’s ok to love a thing for its beauty. I bought a couple of bunches of the bright colorful kind of Swiss chard  (also known as silverbeet, perpetual spinach, spinach beet, crab beet, bright lights, seakale beet, and mangold), and when I started to prepare it, I couldn’t get over how gorgeous it was just to look at.

I don’t just love the looks, I love the taste, too. Do you want my recipe? It was about the same thing I do to all leafy greens. I sauteed everything in olive oil with garlic and a hot pepper. Of course there were a few more steps involved, but that’s what I do basically and haven’t gotten tired of it yet.

I saw those colors and ran for my camera.

Just incredible, almost too good to eat.

The first step is to tear the leaves off the stalks.

The stalks get cut into bite size pieces and are sauteed separately since they take longer.

After I wash the stalks and green leaves, I put the green stuff in a salad spinner so my finished product doesn’t  get too watery.

In the meantime, I have sauteed garlic and chili pepper for about one minute in hot olive oil. Now it’s time to  first add the stalks and stir fry until they are soft, about seven (?) minutes.

Then add the leaves. They’ll only take a few minutes. At the end I like to sprinkle toasted sunflower seeds over the top (in the pan on the back burner).

That’s it. I also added kidney beans. Optional. But I like ’em.

p.s. About a year ago I started a food blog, then I deleted it. I thought I wasn’t interested. Too bad, now I wish I had kept it. For the time being and until I discover if I want to do a food blog, I’ll just mix the posts in with bicycle tours, travel, photography and architecture.

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The Amsterdam-Munich Express Bicycle Blog

Express trains are also referred to as fast trains, though this is a relative term, fast meaning faster than some other trains on the line since they make only a small number of stops instead of stopping at every single station.

We took the train to Amsterdam and pedalled back to Munich. Were we fast, were we slow? That’s a relative term. Actually, it’s the blog that’s going to be an express here. I wanted to cover our four-week bicycle trip with a post that doesn’t stop at every station. So here goes.

We hadn’t worked out our tour in detail but we had pinpointed a few stops on the map of our route: visit friends in Den Haag, and while we were still in the Netherlands stop by the Kröller-Müller Museum near Arnhem. Continuing west into Germany we also wanted to see the Documenta, the world’s largest modern art exhibition which takes place every five years in Kassel, and visit friends who live there. After that the trip was open end.

As everyone knows, The Netherlands is a bicyclist’s paradise. Everyone rides a bicycle and there are signposted bicycle paths leading to almost any point in the country. Another boon for the cyclist is that Holland is flat. The only snag is that it can be very windy and a hefty headwind is worse than any mountain – almost.

We were blessed with tailwinds the whole time we were there. From Amsterdam we rode to Haarlem and Leiden, both beautiful cities with intact historic centers. We took a harbor tour of Rotterdam and got a look at its innovative modern architecture. A couple days more of cycling took us to the Veluwe National Park which houses an amazing museum of modern art, the Kröller-Müller Museum, and Sculpture Garden.

On to Germany and the hilly part of the ride began. Hills are work on a bike but they are also a treat for the eyes, breaking the monotony of a straight horizon. The hills of Westfalia and Hesse aren’t high, but still we had some substantial climbs and beautiful views before we reached Kassel.

This year’s Documenta, dOCUMENTA 13, was spread out over the whole city, many museums and parks were venues for showing the works of modern and some not so new artists, all interesting and thought-provoking. It wouldn’t have been hard to spend at least a week there, or all summer, discovering different aspects of the Documenta.

After Kassel, we weren’t sure which direction our trip should take. To the east? Or home? We decided to head south for Munich, another nine days by bike. It had been a fabulous trip so far and I was beginning to feel that I couldn’t absorb a whole lot more new impressions. After covering 1,200 kilometers we were back in Munich.

Putting our month of cycling in a few paragraphs is more like a TGV, the French high-speed rail, than an Express, just a blur as everything whizzes by.

Here are some pictures. To view the gallery, just click on an image and view as a slideshow. If you want the milk train, you can read my journal, a day-by-day account of the trip with lots more pictures.

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In Dubio Pro Decibel

In dubio pro decibel, something like when in doubt, turn up the volume. The expression in dubio pro reo (Latin for “when in doubt, for the accused”) was manipulated just a little for a song title. Munich’s Express Brass Band played on Sunday morning in the Frauenhofer, a Munich pub that has a music and cabaret program, and one of their songs was called In Dubio Pro Decibel. I liked the music and the title. I also like the band, and yes, they’re pretty loud. With influences from jazz, soul and afro beat, they have created a great foot-tapping sound. They’re good. Furthermore, two of my sons play in the band. I’ve heard them often over the years – and they keep getting better.

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Cars and Bikes

In the wake of my recent photo course on architectural photography, I wanted to get a few shots of the building just built for the ADAC or Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club (the German equivalent of the AAA) here in Munich. It’s so new that the landscaping outside the building hasn’t been finished yet. If this elaborate building is any indication, the automobile industry can’t be doing too bad.

By contrast I rode (cycled) by the address of Munich’s ADFC/National German Bicycle Association. Their few rooms are in the basement of an unpretentious pre-war apartment building. The place has a friendly and inviting atmosphere but they certainly don’t have a lot of money to spare for the rent.

In times of stagnating economies, I find more cars, bigger cars, faster cars are strange priorities. But maybe I’m just a bicycle nut and will never be able to understand.

By the way, here’s an interesting article in the New York Times on the topic of using bikes for urban transportation.

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Enough of the profane world of Gucci and McDonald’s, we left the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and crossed the street to Milan’s majestic and overwhelming Cathedral. We climbed to the roof – well, part of the climb was in an elevator –  and wandered in between the spires and statues (altogether there are 3,400 statues) and tourists (also numerous). You don’t just get a good close-up of the sculptures adorning the cathedral, you also get a view down to the Piazza Duomo and over the roof tops of Milan. Look at more views of Milan’s Duomo by clicking here.

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