Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bad Influence

What kind of mother am I? I took my kids to a bar one spring morning.  It wasn't even noon, and we were whooping it up in a small, stale-cigarette-smelling-old-German-man-bar.  Except that the Germans don't say the word bar, they say pub - apparently, bar means strip club, my husband (an MP), once informed me.  Although, there WAS, some table dancing, going on, and I am embarrassed proud to say, that both of my boys put on a fine show for the barmaid.  They remained standing on their chairs, shaking their stuff,  rather than on top of the tables, and no tips were exchanged...

F.M. Doing what he does best...Table Dancing.

We were quite the spectacle...double stroller and all.  At a certain point, A.M.'s shirt came off, (surprise), and I thought one of the Herren was going to have a heart attack. There were weiswurst (white sausages), soft-pretzels, french fries, loud music, coca-cola, and apple spritzers.  A.M. wanted chips, that is where I drew the line, "No potatoe crisps for breakfast".

F.M. was trying to give one of the old men some pointers, on the lotto slot machine that he was playing...the man was trying to give him a sip of beer in exchange.  A.M. managed to dismantle a set of blinds, and all ashtrays and candles were removed from the tables, so that F.M. would stop using them as percussion instruments.  A.M. spotted a fake, mounted deer's head on the wall, and proudly stated, "Mommy, look at the puppy".  Everything my boys did seemed to amuse the Frau of the house.  She spoke excellent English, and told me that she couldn't even imagine a life with so much ACTION in it, all day long, everyday...her exact exact life, in a nutshell. 

I didn't understand a lick of what any of the 5 old men were chuckling about, but I think it is fairly safe to assume that the toddler set are not regulars at this hole-in-the-wall-bier-joint.  I wished that I had brought my camera, because A.M., demanded to sit at his own table, (already embarrassed by being with his Mom, I suppose), was a real hoot drinking Apfel Schorle out of a large glass, (no sippy cups available), without spilling.  He liked it so much, that he wanted to take the half-full glass and the soggy paper coaster, home to his haus.  One of my little cleptomaniacs managed to pilfer a set of forged, rather rustic and heavy, cutlery into the diaper bag.  This was not discovered until we arrived at home.  I thought about keeping it as a funny souvenir, or for Hubby to use at work...but then that would be stealing, and what would I be teaching my children?  Taking them to a bar is one thing, swiping silverware is quite another!

At this point in the story, you may be wondering why, exactly, I took them to this watering hole in the first place.  It's down the street from the Auspuff Stein, (mechanic), and we had a 3 hour wait, and their lobby had a lit fireplace, and a pond...yes, a pond, in it.  I figured the bar was the safer option of the two, considering A.M. came dangerously close to falling in/jumping in, to their rather large OUTDOOR pond.  I was busy fiddling with something when the receptionist pointed that out to me.  "Danke", I replied, "I really don't feel like fishing him out of the freezing cold water", "NOR I", stated the Frau.  Much to my dismay, my boys are always flirting with disaster.  Keeps it real I suppose.

We wrapped things up at the pub, and I made sure to leave an abundant tip.  We did drive back a few days later to return the stolen goods.  They were not open, so I "planted" the knife and fork upright in the flower box, perched on the window sill, directly next to the door.  I figured that might add a little spice or bewilderment, to someone's morning, upon opening the joint.  Similar to the morning a mutter (mother)brought her 2 kinder in for some softdrinks and sausages!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Ridiculously fun summertime, family activity...making homemade ice cream. Several Christmases ago we purchased ice cream making balls for 2 families that were on our list. L.L. Bean sells ice cream making balls in a variety of bright colors, in their camping gear. I wanted to purchase one for our family, but at $49.99 plus shipping, I couldn't justify the expense. Recently, I came across a barely used hot pink,  "Happy Camper", ice cream making ball at the thrift store for 4 bucks! Talk about a steal. LOVE thrift shopping!
We are spending our vacation at home sharing quality time with husband's 12 year old son, from a previous marriage. This was the perfect vehicle for creating gobs of fun, as well as scrumptious ice cream, inexpensively, in the comfort of our own home! YAY!

We decided to start out simple, with a basic vanilla ice cream, to go with our freshly baked apple crisp for dessert. First step was to fill the one end with ice cubes and rock salt. We live in Germany, and do not have much freezer sadly, we filled it up about halfway. Next, we were instructed to fill the innermost compartment on the opposite end, with tasty ingredients listed in the recipe book, such as cream, sugar, and vanilla extract.

U.S. Forces Dairy Products...the only  heavy cream the Military Commissary sells...cracks me up.

Beforehand, I measured out some of the ingredients for 3 year old to pour in to the ball himself. Then I taught 12 year old how to properly measure out liquid ingredients, as well as dry ingredients with measuring cups and spoons. He has taken a real interest in cooking this summer, so this was a fantastic way to involve him in the process. A.M., our 3 year old, was giddy with enthusiasm, shouting, "making ice cream, we're making ice cream", all the while...except that he pronounces it "I Cream", which makes it even cuter.

On to the shaking! The recipe required us to, "have a ball", for 15 minutes. Shaking, rolling, tossing, running, etc, then to open up the ice cream chamber to check the progress, and push the already frozen ice cream that clung to the sides, down into the center, with a wooden spoon....check. Dump out any water and reload with fresh ice and a wee bit more ice cream salt. Yeah, well more ice was going to be a little bit of a problem, being that we had used up all of our measly 2 trays of ice cubes. Hubby and I both thought at the same time to substitute broken up popsicles. Frankly, I was thrilled to do that, because the dang popsicles have been taking up prime real estate in the freezer, and toddler obsesses about them on a daily basis, wanting them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

A.M. aggravated that we are using "his" popsicles as ice cubes.

Now for 15 more minutes of craziness with the ball. We spent the majority of the time chasing each other in laps around the couch. This is a nightly event that happens after bath, before bed. Everyone gets involved, including the baby, (who is no longer a baby, but a waddling toddler), and the dog, who playfully nips at your heels or your bum to let you know you are not running fast enough for her standards! It always comes as a shock when she bites one of us, but it doesn't hurt too much, and we usually have a good laugh over it.

Please excuse the missing drawer knob, and laundry on the table.  Things like that drive me bonkers.

Hubby will tell you that he had to do all of the work himself. In reality, he hogged the ball. He claims that no one was being active enough. I would finally get a chance with the ball, and then, one of the kids would steal it from me. The kids would get a little lazy with it after awhile, then Daddy would take over again.

At the end of the 30 active minutes, we were delighted to crack open the ball, and discover homemade vanilla ice cream, the consistency of soft serve.  We spooned it onto our apple crisp, took one bite, and were sold. It was divine, and fun, and simple.

S.B., (12 year old), asked if we could make ice cream every night. We took this as a huge compliment, as he is a tough critic.

Next up...cherry ice cream with hunks of fresh, sweet, black cherries, and Kirsch, (a German cherry liqueur that goes into many desserts). Did you know it is illegal in Germany to call a dessert Black Forest Cake if it has no kirsch in it? Crazy Germans have rules for everything! We will not scrounge for ice this time. Instead, we will buy a bag, so we have more than enough!

Don't fret if you do not have access to one of these fancy-schmancy ice cream making balls. You can achieve the same delicious results with 2 coffee cans, or even 2 ziplock  bags!  Your kids will think you are not only the smartest, but the coolest if you include this in your repertoire of fun! Happy shaking!