#Behindeverybook – #Behindthisbook

See that face? That is the face of a proud and happy translator. For those of you who don’t know: I was privileged enough to be part of the team who translated both of those volumes, thanks to my esteemed colleague U. who suggested I participate.

It was my husband who bought me my two-volumed boxed Julia Child’s ‚Mastering the Art of French Cooking‘ in the early aughts, after the Julie/Julia movie came out. To be exact, he bought me the book the movie was based on first, and then I asked for the cookbooks, because I needed those :-).

I’ve wanted to translate them ever since.

At the time, I had this habit of reading cookbooks before falling asleep. This was before we had i-Phones and e-readers and such. I found it educational, as well as comforting. My favorite was my grandmother’s cooking and housekeeping bible, a thick old tome called Christine Schuster’s Kitchen and Household Book (Küche und Haushalt in German).

It’s comparable to Julia Child’s works in terms of being more of an encyclopedia of all things a person running a household in the late 19th and early 20th century needed to know: cooking, nutritional information, housekeeping, cleaning, making preserves, shopping and, of course, tons of recipes. It’s a fascinating glimpse into a long forgotten time, terribly outdated in some ways, and astonishingly on point in others. Anyway, I love that book, and as I just found out while writing this, it has been republished in the meantime. I just ordered a copy, because the one that I have is quite literally falling apart at the seams!

I’ve read my fair share of cookbooks over the decades. Julia Child stands out to me because, apart from writing from a gourmet point of view (and always suggesting an appropriate wine pairing!), she has this very down to earth attitude of never wasting food, using every scrap that you can, and generally being smart about housekeeping – all very relatable to me.

Oddly, I never really make any of her recipes. Not because some are ridiculously cumbersome (and some are!), but because we don’t really eat like that, in this house. But: many of the cooking basics mentioned have become second nature to me, as has the very technical knowledge behind baking, and making sauces. I cherish her books because of their practicality, more than for a Lobster Thermidor or éclair recipe. And of course, I adore her writing. If you’ve ever watched any of her television shows, you can’t help seeing her in your mind’s eye as you read the instructions for making a soup, learning everything there is to know about the respective vegetable or meat all the while, as a side bar.

So, it made me really happy to hold the two translated volumes, and to know I was part of making them happen!

In my last post, I was looking forward to Easter with family, and now I’m looking back on it fondly. There was playing and exploring country life with the littlest one, and there was cooking, eating and talking among the grown-ups. I loved having my ‚own‘ family for a change – my husband’s relatives are so many, and mine are so few. It was a good few days, and I hope they enjoyed themselves as much as I did. It’s so cute to have a little cousin-nephew-Little-Person :-). Also, kudos to the young couple for having worked out how to be a family, under intense and adverse circumstances, relying mostly on each other, because all the playgroups and music groups and baby sports and swimming weren’t really happening due to Covid-related restrictions. They do an amazing job.

The week after Easter (that I was supposed to have off) was divided between long walks with the pup and long hours at the computer – proofs to be read and quick translations for a friend to be squeezed in.

And now we’re back to school, and I have a number of doctor’s appointments. I’m trying to make my peace with that. Maintenance, and sustainability need to happen, right? As is pointed out to me when I complain, my body has been functioning really well for five decades now, and it stands to reason it would need some looking after to continue doing so. How are you guys coping with the aging process? Are you zen about it, or do you find yourself rebelling against this perfectly natural process of Physical Deterioration?

Last time I wrote I was happy to have finished the Red Sweater, and I still am. My crafts friends N and M don’t think it’s too short, but I must confess that I mostly wear it over a longer shirt – short things just make me uncomfortable.

Wow, that was an disproportional amount of selfies! Let’s move on to an update on the Waffle Blanket, which I had brought as a vacation project, and actually managed to add a few inches to. Here’s where we are now:

I might actually have finished the orange section but unfortunately ran out of yarn; I ordered more, but it hasn’t arrived yet – anything you order from England these days sure takes its sweet time! Grown impatient, I started in with the light turquoise yarn (that I already have) on the other side. Initially, I was going to use the colors in a different order, but it might look nice like this, too, after all. What do you think? This was the original design:

I’m happy with the pattern itself, even though the blanket will be quite heavy when it’s done, but it’s warm and cozy, and wool just weighs a bit more than acrylic yarn, so … it appears that I’m making a therapy blanket, inadvertently. Might come in handy for cramps, growing pains and other ailments!

And that is it for today – shop talk all the way, professionally and crafts-wise. No recipes this time, but I can show you what happened to my oh so prettily arranged apple cake when I baked it :-DD!

I was hoping it’d turn out all fancy, and was imitating the tulips on my kitchen table … oh, well. Thankfully, the cake was still good, if less elegant!

Have a good week, everyone, and thank you for reading!

50 Ways To Leave Your Lover

Remember that old Paul Simon song? I’m always on the fence about whether to find it cynical, or whether to embrace a little levity in the face of tragedy – even though I really like the song. To me, break-ups are always the end of the f…ing world, even if they’re not my own (no worries, not everything on here is about me.)

That said, it does concern two people whom I care deeply about, and it’s devastating to watch. Right now, both are miserable, even though the leavee is certain it’s the right decision, and the left one is caught in the limbo of sadness, resentment and not understanding.

It’s a process everybody who finds themselves at the end of a relationship has to go through. When you’ve been through it a number of times over the years, you may cognitively know that life is not over just because you’re not with the other person anymore. But even so, it doesn’t really get any less painful. I remember, even though my last breakup was about 25 years ago. (A bizarre sentence, I realize.)

I’m not going to meddle, but I must confess it’s on my mind more than it probably should be, but one of the people involved is my child, so I just worry, you know?

On to more pleasant matters! This fine Sunday morning, I’d like to share an unlikely (for me anyway) recipe – lemon and poppy seed pound cake. It’s a cake I made last weekend, and it came together quite randomly. To be honest, I’m usually not fond of poppy seed cake, the way it’s eaten in this country (short crust, poppy seed filling, streusels). The seeds can get stuck between your teeth (ew), the filling oftentimes tastes slightly stuffy (ew, again), and I just don’t see the appeal.

This cake was nice, though! I had added vanilla generously, as well as the peel of two lemons, and the juice of one. You could taste just a slight hint of the poppy seeds, and that worked very well with the other flavorings. Basically, it was a lemon pound cake with poppy seeds added to the batter. After baking, I gave it a thick lemon glaze.

Surprisingly Tasty Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake

150 g butter

4 eggs

150 g sugar

1 p vanilla sugar

peel of 2 lemons, grated

juice of 1 lemon

100 g poppy seeds

250 g flour

pinch of salt

1 p baking powder

Juice of 1 lemon

Icing sugar

Cream the butter and sugar. Beating batter with a wire whip, add eggs, one at a time. Add lemon peel, salt, vanilla and juice. Then stir in poppy seeds and fold in the flour and baking powder (you could sift it but you don’t have to). Let sit for a few minutes.

Butter your baking dish or line with baking parchment. Pour in the batter. Preheat oven to 175 °C.

Bake for 45 minutes+ – until a toothpick stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Let cool for a bit.

In the meantime, combine the juice of the second lemon with as much icing sugar as it takes to make a thick paste. I won’t give measurements because it depends on how much juice you get out of your lemon. Spread on your cake and let set for 30 minutes.

Enjoy with a nice cup of Earl Grey :-).

Crochet book submitted, I’ve taken on the next translation project. It’s a cute supernatural urban fantasy novel, set in a haunted building in Scotland. A lovely, dense atmosphere, ghosts aplenty, an exorcist and some deep, dark evil lurking, all paired with a sweet love story. It fits nicely with my current vampire state of mind. Having finished the last of The Vampire Diaries, I’ve moved on to the show’s first spin-off, The Originals. I like that it shows us more of one of my favorite supporting characters in TVD, Elijah, played by Daniel Gillies. Knitting a blood-red sweater while watching this stuff certainly has some poetry to it!

And as of yesterday, the Red Sweater is done! Since I was aiming for precision, I blocked this time! I steam blocked before joining the pieces with the mattress stitch. Then I made the neckline, picking up the rib pattern from the hem. Then I soaked the whole thing and left it to stretch over night pinned to the couch.

I’m happy to report that the half rib and half stockinette design came out like I wanted it to be. The finished sweater is a little shorter than anticipated, but I’ve made my peace with that. Generally, I like my sweaters nice and boxy, but I now realize this yarn was actually a bit thin for that. I used a 3,5 mm needle. Next time I’ll know to use 8-ply and not 6-ply yarn. Today, I’m in for another few hours with the tapestry needle, because there is still a number of ends to darn in – you can see them hanging all over the place if you look closely. But all in all, I’m pleased. What do you think?

There is only 1 week of school left before the Easter break. Both my husband and I are lucky enough to have a bit of time off, and I’m looking forward to seeing family, my own blood, this time. It’s been more than 2 years, and even though the kids and I went to see Little Cousin K when he was a baby, my husband hasn’t met him yet. It’s going to be fun to see what he’s like, now. And the others of course have yet to meet Charlie, and our winsome little cat dude, in person.

Things to look forward to. Before that, my friend F. who took on editing the crochet book still has some cramming the German version into the English layout to do – a task involving a lot of swearing, and red ink. German translations are usually 15% longer than the English original, but many crafts books use the exact same template for printing both languages, so abbreviations need to happen. And once I’ve looked over the final proofs, I’m going there:

Leaving the computer now to go darn in some loose ends. Thank you for reading, and have a lovely Sunday!