Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Great Oven Debacle

Let's just say European ovens are different, and I'm an idiot. To work the oven, there's two dials. One sets the temperature, the other lets you pick which heating elements you want on. You can just do the bottom (like most US ovens), the top, both, or the broiler. I can only assume that the top is like "low broil" and the broil is like "high broil." If you have an electric oven, you don't set a temperature, but rather a number like 1,2,3, etc.

In New Zealand, they had this two dial system too, plus the oven I used had a convection oven. Talk about options! So when I moved into our home in Germany, I was like, "oh I so know how this works."

One pizza that took 45 min to cook later, I wasn't so smug.

First, I blamed our landlord, then I blamed the prior tenants for breaking the oven and not telling the landlord. Then I blamed myself for not knowing how to work an oven. And yes, I even checked online. You know something should be idiot-proof when you can't google how to use it.

Then, I figured maybe the dial was off.... it didn't seen to click over the pictures. I would turn it to a setting, see which elements got hot, then record it on a little chart. But it didn't seem to be the same each time! And if I turned it to like 500 degrees F, the broiler would kick on.

So I spent an entire afternoon cooking a chicken, sitting on the floor, watching the oven. And ate lukewarm enchiladas and a questionable meatloaf. I was ready to call the landlord.

Tonight, I had an epiphany. The dials were switched! I was setting the temperature instead of the heating element, and the other way around. So on the element dial, the top and bottom element option is the first option, which is what they recommend you use for most things. Because I was setting my dial to that not realizing it was the temperature setting, I was only cooking my food at the lowest temperature possible (so like 200 degrees F)!

Duh.... see that thermometer above one of the dials? That should have been the first clue. Wow.

I have this picture in my mind of the tenants before us sitting around plotting ways to mess with us. Well, whoever you are, you got me.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's been too long

After 3 weeks, I finally have a home phone and internet. Because we're deep in the valley, we get null cell phone reception at home (come to think of it, neither at Craig's work, and that's on a hill), so we have two pay as you go cheapy cell phones. I don't mind because really, I never used all the cool features my nicer phone came with. At any rate, I'm back with the blog. We've moved into our new home, so I'd like to share some pictures.

My number one criteria, which no one seems to understand, is that we needed a backyard. The landlord wasn't too thrill when I asked about putting in a garden. It's not like the grass is all that spectacular, to tell you the truth. I've done a TON of work on that retaining wall in the background- pulling out vines and crazy weeds. I have big plans for that wall come spring. Also, in the shed is my nifty electric lawnmover. Already used it and didn't electrocute myself, yay!

Our funky staircase into the attic. Craig had to sign a waiver at the military housing office saying we didn't have any kids at the age that could climb it and hurt themselves. Also, gotta say I'm digging (somewhat sarcastic there) the metal fence that reminds me of the panels you put around calf hutches.

The next few pictures showcase some of the common things you see in German homes that aren't so common in the US:

Window in the kitchen looking out towards some old barn. Best thing about the windows....

... they're zombie proof!

Oh just a regular kitchen cabinet you say?

It's a refrigerator! So the military gave us a US style fridge to use, but I think this one is so cute, and I don't need both, but I do need the freezer on the US style one.... so many things to think about! Oh I know, the conundrums of a housewife...

I'll also be sharing some more interesting tid-bits about our home in the next few posts.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Trier and Bernkastel-Kues Winefest

This past weekend was a 4-day weekend for us, so we took advantage of it before Craig has to start shift work. (Booo to 6pm to 8am shifts.) We decided to take two short trips yesterday to Trier and the Bernkastel-Kues Winefest. Trier has the largest concentration of Roman ruins north of the Apls, and is also the city where Karl Marx grew up. We took a walking tour of the city, and the guide pointed out the small house where Marx lived. We had a "sign of the Apocalypse" moment as well:

Craig's Friend: This would be great if I knew who Karl Marx was.
Craig: You don't know who Karl Marx is? Ya know, Karl Marx, one of the Marx Brothers, ha, ha.

Ok, so apparently the Marx Brothers reference doesn't work well with our generation. Craig and I are officially huge nerds. I gotta say though, he did have to remind me who Constantine and St. Helen was. The following picture is the inside of Constantine Basilica. After living in Trier for some time, he went on to present day Turkey to form the city... wait for it... Constantinople. Istanbul is Constantinople..... Good thing for catchy weird songs to teach us history.

Constantine Basilica is now a fully functioning Lutheran Church, serving 10,000 Lutherans in the city of Trier. In fact, there was a service going on when we first arrived. It's not full of the bells and whistles of most churches, which I think makes it just as beautiful.

Next stop was the Middle Mosel Winefest in Bernkastel-Kues. The Mosel River region boasts quite a few vineyards, and as luck would have it, we arrived in Germany just in time for wine festival season. After parking, we took a little cruise down the river to get to the festival. We were able to buy wine by the bottle and enjoy it while walking around the festival, eating food, listening to local bands, and sitting by the river. At night, there was a fireworks show.

The fireworks were set off from the Landstut Castle. It was perched up on the hill high above the town. It looked like quite a hike to get up there! It would be interesting to come back sometime and learn the history of the castle.

Here's the castle lit up at night.