Cobblestone Cooking Music IX – A Couple of Experiments

 

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The first one, admittedly, is a bit of a cheat – it involved a recipe…! But, as the photo shows, it made up for that by sheer colourfulness :) And, to go full confessional – these two things were not done for the same meal but just fitted nicely together under the “experiment” headline.

What it is – is red beets, raw, peeled, very thinly sliced on the mandoline. Bathe them liberally in lemon juice and set aside for an hor or so (we didn’t have that time – I imagine they’d cured a bit and become softer if we had in fact let them).

  • Communards, Don’t Leave Me This Way

The green stuff is a ramsons / buckrams / wild garlic / whateveryoucallit dressing:

Take a couple of handfuls of ramsons leaves, rinse them and very briefly blanch them in really boiling water, dumping them into cold water at once they get out of the hot water. My kitchen tweezers were ideal for the job: grab one or two leaves, dip them in the boiling water without letting them go, transfer them to the cold bath and leave them there.

  • Ray Parker Jr., Ghost Busters

Pat the water off the leaves and put them in the blender. Add a decent olive oil in rather copious amounts. Blend until the whole thing is smooth and very green. Add quite some lemon juice and adjust taste with salt and pepper and blend into a smooth paste. Arrange on the plates as you find it most elegant.

  • Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, I Love Rock and Roll

The other experiment was today. Came home late from the office – I was picking up 12-14 kg of fresh lamb from a farm in the countryside on the way. Leg, shoulder, some HUGE lamb chops (just saying this: we can fit max 2 on the big frying pan…!) etc. Yummy. All now neatly packed and in the freezer.

For some odd reason we hadn’t planned for lamb for dinner – doh! But we had two very nice pork chops – on the frying pan with sage, lemon thyme (both fresh from the pots in the front garden), salt & pepper.

  • Matt Bianco, Whose Side Are You On

Very apt song – next up: sides! Some pasta on the boil for carbohydrates. A tomato salad: sliced tomato, chopped red onion, olive oil & balsamico dressing, And then the experiment – a warm side salad:

We had a pointed cabbage (sweetheart cabbage? sounds better!). Took the outer leaves away – they’re always a bit soft and yucky. Took the next three-four layers and rinsed them and then sliced them 1/4 inch or so wide, maybe an inch or inch and a half long.

  • Katy Perry, I Kissed A Girl (Rock Mix)

And basically stir fried that in oil with maybe 6-8 green asparagus cut in similar lengths and a good handful of almonds and justa touch of salt. On good but not excessive heat until the cabbage turns really nicely green but still has bite.

  • Kim Wilde, You Keep Me Hanging On

Turned out very nice – and looked good on the plate along with the red tomato salad. Freshly grated parmesan for the pasta – and then an organic apple/elderberry flower cider we’d had as a present along with it. The quiet acidity of the cider made it a very good companion for the food.

And by the way, just now when I went out into the garden, the scent of the elderberry flower was wafting nicely around out there. With that happy thought –

Happy cooking!

Photo by me.
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Monday Motorway Music™, June 29 – Got Tied Up Last Week…

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No, not physically, no need to worry. But last Monday, in the morning, my youngest got one of these caps – a well-deserved proof of his high-school graduation.

These caps are very traditional here – and no, in no way military or cadet-related. It is simply a sign of graduation and is placed on the head of the student when he/she gets the marks for the last oral exam and, of course, has passed the whole exam. Placed – per tradition generally not put on by themselves. In this case, I did the honour (proudly and happily) to “even the score” as my wife had the honour on our daughter’s behalf three years back.

The caps date back to the mid-1800s and originally were only for the “academic” high school or upper secondary eduction – the one preparing for and giving access to university (graphic on the Danish School System here). In the last number of years, several other school types at the same age-level have begun using caps and the differentiating part is the colour of the band. The dark red’s still the right cap to have ;) (a bit of friendly rivalry there…)

Lots of traditions around it – never ever put one on before having earned it as bad luck will surely follow your academic efforts and you may never graduate! Friends write their names and short messages inside it – if the messages are *ahem* frank or naughty, they may be written under the sweatband as to be a wee bit hidden.

And much, much more. But to all Danes, when the white caps fill the streets and the bars (and believe me, they do!), you know it’s the height of summer and you think back to the glory days or few weeks of wearing your own.

But as we used last Monday to celebrate our “wee” boy – well, I never got to the keyboard. To be honest, I think the prioritization was fair enough :)

 

I’m A Believer – Smash Mouth
I’ll Stand By You – The Pretenders
Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen
Crystal Ball – Styx
Good As It Gets – Beth Hart

Photo by me.
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Mmmmm….

  

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Monday Motorway Music™, June 15 – What Is Me … And What Is Fiction?

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A question that pops up here now and then, especially when I publish in the poetry corner, is how much of that stuff is me and what is just made up?

I like to think of it the way I suppose crime writers do. Take Jo Nesbø as an example. A lot of the crimes in his Harry Hole series are gruesome and chilling to the bone (especially, and that is not meant a a silly pun, The Showman – that one almost gave me nightmares) and Harry Hole, the main character, is both likeable and host to some big problems, alcoholism included.

Do I think that Jo Nesbø is a drunkard who runs around killing people in the worst kind of way – or even fantasize about it? No. From what I read, he’s a nice guy who likes to rock climb and play music and such.

And while I am at it – I am under no illusion that I write anywhere near in his calls of writing. But the fundamental thing is probably comparable – I see or hear or smell something around me in my day, that whatever it is hits some synapses in my brain and connects to a small part of me that gives what I write some life and an identity in the world.

But the final piece is an amalgam, a fictional angle on a factual world. I’ve given it a voice and a little pat of myself on the back to send it on its way. Or, if you will, blown at the dandelion to make the seeds fly out and find some fertile soil to land on. But you shouldn’t try to read too much of me into it …

I’ve Been to Town – Cæcilie Norby
Heart of Glass – Blondie
I Am What I Am – Gloria Gaynor
Happy – Pharell Williams
I Hate Myself For Loving You – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Roseanna – Toto
Lady (Radio Edit) – Modjo

Photo by me.
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Cobblestone Flight Review – CPH-SGD and back (Danish domestic) on Alsie Express

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Alsie Express ATR72 – quite mean & lean and very black

It’s been more than a few years since I flew domestic in Denmark. Today’s flight to Sønderborg (SGD) turned out to be surprising in many ways – and, I haste to say, only in a good way (knocking on wood; I write this first part right after levelling out at flight altitude on the outbound flight). My immediate association was that this felt like flying may have been in its first heydays in the 50s or so.

Checkin times are mercifully short – 30 min before in CPH, 15 in SGD. I actually had to bring a roller that needed to be checked, normally – a load of gear for the talk with demonstrations that the trip was all about. Nothing that clashed with security but rather heavy for carry-on. But Alsie Express as a standard offers “Delivery at Aircraft” – as long as you can wheel the bag through security, you can get a tag at the gate and it’ll travel in the hold but be handed right back to you as you step off the aircraft. If you’re travelling with stuff you absolutely need with you, this is a perfect compromise – and an appreciated offering.

Often, you leave your bag on a cart of sorts and walk on the plane. Not here – two smiling ground crew gentlemen took care of the luggage – and put the bags directly into the hold. Nothing to make you feel more secure about your luggage travelling with you than actually seeing it being loaded!

Next surprise: we boarded by the rear door – and at the foot of the stairs, we were greeted by the pilot. I can count on very few fingers how many times that has happened in 20-some years of regular flying – and our captain today left me with a very sincere impression that he truly enjoyed his job. I commented to him that the matte-black plane looked mean and lean and he actually smiled as if it was his own.

2015-06-11 08.19.19The seating is free – but no need to rush as the seat pitch is more or less business class generous throughout the one-class cabin. A smiling cabin attendant handed out breakfast rolls as we boarded and – despite the short 30 minute flying time – actually managed to serve coffee on the way and clear it all away again, all with a pleasant glimt in her eye.

 

The captain – with a female pilot next to him on the flight deck, which (as I believe I have mentioned before) always makes me happy about general progress – told us that it’d be fine flying weather all across as soon as we got above the cloud cover. And it was.

On arrival in SGD – a few minutes ahead of schedule, even – deplaning was quick and easy, the stashed-away luggage apperared more or less immediately and I had time to check in for the afternoon flight before heading on.

2015-06-11 16.35.33The return flight in the afternoon? Pretty much rinse and repeat – with the addition of blue skies and sunshine. This captain, on top of the meet and greet – which is actually Alsie Express corporate policy, I found out – was a joking sort of guy: after doing the mandatory departure check walk around the aircraft, he explained on the intercom that walking around like that was not due to an inability to find the door of the aircraft but actually for our safety… ;)

2015-06-11 16.36.25Again, on time and in beautiful flying conditions. I actually cannot think of much to do such a short domestic commuter flight any better. Maybe it’s one notch up on Fridays where the late afternoon flight has a “TGIF” moment – the airline’s partnered with a local brewery in that part of the country to serve a cold beer on those flights. Free of charge…

So the verdict on the general execution must be a solid load of five cobblestones. And when you then add the friendliness, the meet-the-captain thing, the overall complete lack of any hassle, I do not hesitate to add the sixth and present Alsie Express with a full house! A flying job as nice as they come.

And, as always – fly safely out there.

score-stenscore-stenscore-stenscore-stenscore-stenscore-sten

Photos by me.
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A Musical Statistically Improbable Coincidence Involving Bicycling

Now, if I were writing clickbait for the Internet, I probably couldn’t have done much better, could I? ;)

It’s really just as it says. Biking home today, I heard the same song as the time before on the exact same stretch of the route. Given that I have heard music in between the rides several times and that I start the list with “Mix” on every occurence, it is rather random, innit?

There are exactly 800 songs in that list. So to get the same song twice, we’re at a probability of –

Skærmbillede 2015-06-09 kl. 20.49.33

 

or something like 1.5 in a million. (Yeah, yeah – 1.56 or closer to 1.6 than 1.5, but to normal human beings, one and a half is a thing while one point six isn’t). And that probability is without including the time element – playing right at that time of the ride.

The song? “Holding Out for a Hero “/ Bonnie Tyler –

Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?

Now, in Danish, a bicycle is sometimes called an iron horse. Mine’s 15 years old or so – a pretty good age for a horse, I reckon. And … Hercules? Gods? A white knight? Well, looking down at me, there on the forest path –

Yes, that’s a white thing I’m wearing. While I am sillily biking along an uneven path and trying to shoot photos with my phone at the same time. No, that’s not considered enough to be a white knight on a fiery steed?

Oh well :)

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CFR Traveller Tips vol. V – on SAS Eurobonus and loss of loyalty

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Let me say it as it is: this is going to be a disappointing post in terms of valuable traveller tips – at least if you are based in an SAS country. The point of the article was – because it is a very relevant topic for business travellers – on choosing a good frequent flyer programme. But that has become a lot harder lately, I am sorry to say.

I reckon that the only advice I feel qualified to give at this point is –

  • Pick, after all, the airline / frequent flyer programme that gives you most options out of the place where you are based
  • Look up the programmes on Flyer Talk – always loads of first hand experience to find there.

If you think I sound a bit dishearted, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The SAS Eurobonus programme that I have been a member of for 23 years has experienced a dramatic devaluation. One that has been widely communicated by SAS as “improvements” (save for one article, where the manager of the programme, Niels Lindhe, admits that it was necessary for the economically pressed SAS to put in effect savings – link, in Danish).

But also one that shows a complete … either lack of understanding about their customers’ travel reality or a, maybe financially needed, complete disregard of that reality. The SAS line on annoucing the programme was this (a.o.):

We will lower the points you earn on the least expensive tickets in SAS Go and SAS Plus from January 1, 2015. In return, you will earn more points than before when you travel to/from the US and Asia in SAS Business and we will make it easier to reach Gold/Diamond status.

A travel industry write-up of the changes (SAS’ own announcement page seems to have been taken down again) can be found here. As you can see, calling the cuts drastic is not out of touch with reality.

This, to me, seems to suggest that SAS believes it is possible for travellers to choose booking classes and fly business class at whim on long travels. Dear SAS: this is not your customers’ reality. I know many people flying for their jobs and unless you have a C-level position, you’re subject to a travel policy – and in 98%+ of the cases I know of, those say “flights within Europe: cheapest possible, end of story!” Some may even say “if you can get it significantly cheaper (read: lower scoring booking class) by accepting a stopover and not add more than 2-4 hours to your travel time, you must do so”. And if you book more expensively than that, you must explain yourself in writing – and if that is not deemed acceptable, you may well have to cough up with the difference out of your own pocket.

Similarily for long-haul – many companies flat out state “economy”. Where I am, we have an option to fly Economy Plus or Business – from the third long haul trip in a year, if “circumstances” merits it and the price difference is “acceptable”.

Summa summarum: SAS’ plea to us to fly more expensive tickets necessarily must fall on deaf ears – we are simply not allowed to. And the result? 37+ flights on SAS and Star Alliance in my Eurobonus year ending May 31, same amount as last year – and a point total that is 30%+ below last year and 25%+ below the new lower Gold requirement, even if the new rules only were in effect the last five months of my bonus year. Talk about a loyalty point revenue loss!

I predict that the new rules will make it more or less impossible for me to ever get back to Gold. Probably saving SAS some money that they are in desperate need of on the expense side – but as far as I can tell, the lounge access costs they will no longer incur on me will be more than cancelled by the revenue loss on the first long haul flight to Asia/Pacific that I book on Emirates instead of Star Alliance. And believe me, I will.

As a bittersweet last  comment, I had a mail from SAS today:

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The text paragraph below the image starts: “You are one of our most loyal customers. That means a lot to us …” Well, sorry, with your changes you are signalling that it really doesn’t. Maybe you have to – but then why did I have to look long and hard for the explanation that it was about savings? Why didn’t you write me – “one of your most loyal customers” – and explained to me that you were aware that this would affect me and that you were sorry for any ill effects but the reality of the company financials made it necessary for your survival and you hoped for my understanding? Did you really hope that I wouldn’t figure it out – or that I would accept 4 long-distance flights for nothing or turn the other cheek to 20, 40, 75% point reductions? Is that the way you really value your most loyal customers?

In the business I am in, we cannot expect to keep customers for long if we send them a sunny song and dance communication with one hand and slashes their benefits of being our customers dramatically with the other.

So, dear ex-favourite frequent flyer programme: It was a good time, we almost reached our silver anniversary. But all I have left for you when you have that little left for me is the scraps – the trips that I have to give you because you are, after all, the airline of my home airport.

As always: Happy flying – take care out there!

Photo by me
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Monday Motorway Music™, June 8 – Is That What They Call Summer?

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They did promise. At some point. Something like 26 or 28°C.

But look what then happened: 9° tomorrow morning. And, woohooo, up to 17… Dad is not angry, Dad is disappointed!

Nevertheless, I’ll jump on my bike tomorrow morning (and again tomorrow afternoon, I reckon). At least the wind looks manageable and after all, the weather icons are yellow and not gray. You learn to be grateful for the small scraps, too.

Had a quick bike ride this evening, too – 2 x 4 km over to my daughter and back. Mostly (*hangs head in shame*) because I forgot to stop by on my way home from work… But the 4 km, especially back with the way the hills (gentle as they are) are distributed, are really good – as it is short enough to let me drive with the cadence and the speed my brain tells me I’d like.

Not really in shape for that on the 2 x 18 km yet. With luck, I’ll get there…

 

Abracadabra – Steven Miller Band
All Around The World – Lisa Stansfield
All I Wanna Do – Sheryl Crow
(oops, not really random, is it? Seems more alphabetical…)
(presses buttons)
Lost In Music – Sister Sledge
YMCA – Village People
Medley: Alpetop / Folkevogn / Lulu / Nam-Nam – Shu-bi-dua

Picture: screenshot from yr.no.
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Basking in it

Finally summer
Enjoying the heat and light
From the sun – and you.

Photo by me.
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Monday Motorway Music™, June 1 – So, Summer Is Coming…

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Let’s just say it like it is – call a spade a spade, if you will, and not a stick equipped with a flat metal panel for the purpose of relocating soil: May was a cold one.

Twice it looked sunny and promising for a few days – and we turned off the central heating in the house. And twice, so far, it’s been turned back on. Not quite chattering teeth and blue fingers – but a monthly average temperature in this part of the country of 10.3°C vs 12.3 last year. And the maximum hit 26° last year in May – and barely crept over 20° this year.

And in case you don’t know, weather is one of the few things that all Danes have an opinion of and time to bicker about. (The other two are tax levels – even if we actually do prefer the system we have, largely in any case – and other people’s driving on the motorways.)

But forecasts have it that we’re in for a steadily climbing temperature curve with lots of sunshine-icons on the charts. And supposedly BOOM, high summer next week. Keep your fingers crossed!

So, the music list could of course have included Weather Report – but didn’t:

Horny ’98 – Mousse T vs. Hot ‘n’ Juicy
Back in Black – AC/DC
Suffragette City – David Bowie
Rasta Renezvous – Lotte Rømer
Danger Zone – Kenny Loggins
Rehab – Amy Winehouse
Blinded by the Light – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

– here’s hoping that the blinding light will be that of the summer sun!

Photo by me.
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