Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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[Alternative titles for this post: Butchered or Strawberry fields forever]

Big Seminar Friday

With it being Friday it was our big seminar afternoon once more. Actually things were quite interesting. And although I’ve known it for ages I keep being impressed with how my boss manages to quickly come up with reasonable ways out of what look like hopeless situations where a talk includes an argument that looks awfully oversimplified at first and manages to give a sketch on how to make things better. That said, it’s a sketch rather than a solution he’ll come up with. And turning it into a solid argument will require a certain amount of finding non-trivial parts of homological algebra and algebraic geometry ‘easy’. Oh well.

But before that I went shopping for the nice dinner we planned for the evening. In the course of that I also bought some ham and so on for the weekend.


They have a butchery / meat counter in the supermarket. And the guy there whom I suspect to be the butcher is really good. He can give you helpful hints on the things you’re buying, recommend sensible things and if necessary will cut whatever you need for you. He seems to be enjoying the job… just the kind of person you want to shop with.

But everybody else working there – and serving you most of the time – arrrrgh! One of them, who served me last week and almost scored a second of fame on my blog back then, has since coined the term ‘asynchronous communication’ among me and my friends. She knows all the right things to say and ask – as if there was a class to learn them in – but they always come at the wrong time. Slightly off the time you’d expect them. The simplest example being saying goodbye and passing the bag with my food over the counter a few seconds after that only. Or asking whether I want more while she hasn’t finished packing the previous item.

There seems to be a subtle rhythm to the dialogue in such simple situations. And she just breaks it. Those may just be a few seconds every time, but it’s highly irritating. And the fact that my flatmates immediately knew who I’m talking about suggests that it’s not just me for a change.

But that woman at least seems to try. The much younger one who served me today was much worse. She just completely didn’t give a damn about her work and just by body language let you know that by asking her to – uh! – do her job you were inconveniencing her quite a lot. Every move was done very slowly, a fact you particularly enjoy when just coming in for quick shopping in your lunch break. I was very close to either asking her whether she had a bad day, and if not, whether she wanted one. Or to buy loads and loads of different things – particularly from the areas that are hard to reach just so she could hate me more. But then I just wanted to get out of there quickly.


After the super seminar Friday afternoon I went back home as we had this asparagus dinner planned. Our former flatmate Birgit’s family have an asparagus farm and we have a few asparagus dinners each year in the season. When having our first dinner this season a fortnight ago, I was busy making some sauce Hollandaise – something that requires a lot of whipping, patience and care to make sure you don’t end up with a disgusting mess – and this time we omitted that step. While home made sauce Hollandaise tastes interesting, its main fan wasn’t around today and – well – a sauce consisting mainly of 100g of butter and an egg yolk per person isn’t exactly what makes a light dinner.

To go with the asparagus we had just a bit liquid butter, the unavoidable potatoes (this is potato country, yikes!) and some ham, also from Birgit’s parents. It’s very traditional solid ham that comes in huge thick slices. Not very fancy but making sure you know you won’t need to leave hungry right from the beginning.


As I had bought some strawberries for the dessert and there were plenty, I decided to make some strawberry shakes as a starter. Just some milk…

Now if I were a posh cooking writer, I’d say fresh full cream organic milk as we actually do have our milk delivered right from the cow to our door and it is a bit richer than normal supermarket milk – but then again I hate those people and I am sure any other milk will do. (I’m not the kind of person who’d consider anything with ‘low-fat’ or UHT on its label actual milk, though.)

… with a rotten banana which happened to lie around and helps to give the drink some extra taste and texture and a handful of strawberries per glass (about half a pint). Just mash the fruit with a hand blender (my favourite kitchen tool [Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]), add the milk and keep on blending for a while so the liquid becomes little thicker. If you a physics geek in any way, you can use the time to enjoy the fact that you can lift the tub you’re blending things in without touching it while the blender is running:

photo of hand blender making milk shake where the container with the shake is lifted from the table without being touched

Unfortunately the problem with strawberry milkshakes is that no matter how good your strawberries are – and ours were excellent today – their taste in the shake just won’t be too strong. It must be something about the milk as the same amount of strawberries will do a good job in a Daiquiri for example. The fact that most of he milkshakes I had in my life were full or artificial flavourings doesn’t help either, I suppose.

Oh and with the meal we had a rather nice wine that I discovered recently. A nice and dry German white wine which everybody liked. Not exactly cheap at six Euro per bottle but not excessively expensive, particularly if it goes well with the meal.

Photo of a bottle of Johanninger Grüner Silvaner 2005

Strawberry Fields Forever

And after the meal came the dessert. A strawberry crumble. I got those really nice strawberries today:

Closeup shot of strawberries

[I’m also starting to dig the unexpectedly good macro mode of my camera…]

And yummy fruit are the only ‘difficult’ thing you need for a good crumble (unless you ask Birgit who’ll tell you that having loads of crumble is the main point of the crumble). Making the crumble itself is rather simple. You just need some butter (slightly more than 100g), some sugar (two or three tablespoons, this really depends on the sweetness of your fruit, I didn’t use much today because the strawberries become quite sweet when baking, but you’ll need more when doing rhubarb crumble for example) and flour. First mix the butter to be nice and soft then add the sugar and mix it for a bit and then mix in flour (100-200g?) until you have the proper consistency to make crumbles.

Dish with the straberries and the readily mixed crumble dough

Of course there are many variations possible in this process. You could use honey instead of sugar or work with different types of flour. Today I used whole wheat spelt flour which gives the crumbles a distinct taste of their own which isn’t just ‘sweet’.

Finally you form the crumbles, put them on top of the fruit and bake for 20-30 minutes (or however long it takes until the first crumbles look like they start burning) at around 200°C. Serve while hot and add some ice cream. Enjoy!

Strawberry crumble with ice cream and a nice café au lait

See a few extra pictures at Flickr with the sspstrawberrycrumble tag.

June 17, 2006, 1:10

Tagged as food, photos.


Comment by wvh: User icon


This was an interesting post. When I was at college (in the USA), my German friend missed the leisurely, homemade, late, European-style dinners. So we banded together to make dinner together, then ate it out in the yard, under the trees, with wine. Your post reminded me of that fine meal.

I came to this blog for wise Mac opinions, and ended up hungry. :D

June 19, 2006, 21:00

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