Investigating Weird Portland 2014

1

2This is the last blog post about my American travels, and for me it’s the most spectacular one. I had always wanted to use my copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon as an actual tourist guide. And while it was impossible to follow it step-by-step – I have no idea where the self-cleaning house is, am not particularly interested in strip clubs, and the Portland Memorial is closed to the public these days unless you have relatives interred there – I did get to see most of the landmarks and shops and curiosities. I had a Big Wave Hawaiian lager at the Tiki bar mentioned in the book, I found the tour through the Shanghai tunnels (including sinister stories of waking up in total darkness with a hangover and no shoes and the floor strewn with broken glass: they’ve got trunks of men’s boots down there) – and I even had a chance to go to Mount Angel Abbey and have a look at their museum of curiosities. There I found: taxidermied deformed animals (two versions of eight-legged calf!), giant pig bezoars, an “authentic” replica of the Crown of Thorns using thorns from a shrub researched by a quite enthusiastic Franciscan Brother, strange international versions of “imported” Virgin Marys, and the most well-preserved and well-made collection of taxidermied wildlife I’ve ever seen, all arranged in “life-like” poses of interaction and often in combat.

You can find my pictures here. (I’ve deliberately kept my attempted “ghost photography” from inside the Shanghai tunnels; skip the pictures if you get bored by them.)

 

Tiroler Kirchtagskrapfen

IMG_9225-1024x623

“Tyrolean (sweet) church fair pasty” is as close to a translation as I could get. This is also one of my favourite things from my home district. A fried pasty thing with a filling of poppyseed and pears (and rum). And yes, this is the right amount of poppyseed. ;)

Ingredients:

– Dough:

400g wheat flour
salt
50g butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tablespoon rum
water (lukewarm)

– Filling:

300g dried pears
1/8 l milk
50g butter (or margarine)
120g sugar
150g ground poppyseed
grated lemon zest
ground cinnamon
ground cloves
1 shot rum

For the filling, simmer the dried pears until soft, then mince. Boil the milk with added butter and sugar, add the poppyseed and let steep a little. Add spices and rum, mix to form a creamy paste.

Combine dough ingredients to form a soft dough. Knead well, until it is silky and smooth. Cover with a dish towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface. The dough should be quite thin (like for cut-out cookies). Cut out circles (e.g. with the help of a big mug or small cereal bowl), put a spoonful of filling in the centre of the circles, then fold into half-moons and pinch the edges shut.

Fry in hot oil until both sides are golden brown, then drain on tissue paper. Serve with a dusting of castor sugar.

DISCLAIMER FOR VEGAN READERS OF MY BLOG: I have yet to try replacing the eggs in this recipe. I might give commercial egg replacer a try. Please bear with me until I have tested this – and forgive the non-vegan post for a change. If you have suggestions that might work, feel free to comment. I’m always grateful for an exchange of ideas.

(Picture nicked from wipptalblog.tirol – where they use a recipe that also has Powidl, an Austrian jam made from prunes.)

Review: In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle

in-calabria-313x500

This time I got a unicorn book to review: In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle. Surprisingly (?) this lovely novella is not a secondary-world fantasy, which may imply that the unicorns in the plot are metaphors (or that you or I could come across one too, who knows). In any case it was the nicest read, and it was the first book in ages – and definitely the first book I read for a review – that actually managed to make me cry. You can read my review here.