Animal Behaviour

As some of you may know, I’m a fan of MOOCs (massive open online courses) that have become relatively popular over the last years. I enjoy the platforms Coursera and edX most. Both offer a wide variety of courses for free. To deepen the experience, I decided to pay for my latest course, Animal Behaviour, provided by the University of Melbourne.

When you decide to pay for the course (35 € for this particular course), you can get a verified certificate with distinction (when you participate successfully, that is). I thought paying might motivate me to do all the assignments with greater care and to take the course more seriously than I took some of the courses I tried before.

The extents of these courses vary. Animal Behaviour is estimated to 6 – 8 hours of work per week. I probably underestimated the workload, especially since I currently write my master’s thesis, but I enjoy the course anyways. One of the assignments I have to do for the course is to take field notes on the behaviour of an animal of my choice. I decided to watch a pair of Atlantic Puffins nesting on Seal Island, Maine, USA via webcam. On my field notes blog, The Atlantic Puffin, I share my observations and videos of interesting events, in case you’d like to pop in an take a look.

Hole in the egg

Puffin mother with the egg

3.10

Fluffy little hatchling

I just wanted to let you know what I have been up to these past couple of weeks. The course ends in two weeks, I hope to find more time for this blog by then. Until then, enjoy the summer!

UCC: Meatballs in fragrant Coconut Broth

Meatballs are such a standard dish it seems, yet I have never made them before. My mum used to make them but I didn’t care so much for them. This recipe however, with a spicy coconut broth, sounded just right to me. Plus the meatballs are freezer friendly, so I doubled up on them. There are two more recipes in the cookery challenge, so I will definately use them.

I started by sautéing onion and garlic in a dash of sizzling olive oil.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After that, I added the softened onions, chilli flakes, and breadcrumbs soaked in milkto the ground beef…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

… and kneaded everything together. With wet hands I proceeded to form tangerine-sized meatballs. I froze half of them before I took the following picture. Before I put them into a freezer bag, I put them seperately onto some baking paper into the freezer, so they wouldn’t stick together.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After giving the pan a swift cleaning, I browned the meatballs in hot olive oil.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Once browned sufficiently, I added lemongrass, ginger, cardamom, and coriander seeds, I prepared before, and topped it off with some cinnamon, turmeric, and chilli flakes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After pivoting the pan to coat the spices with the hot oil, I deglazed with chicken stock and coconut milk.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Once everything was cooked through and aromatic, I strained the broth and portioned some of it into the serving bowls before I added the meatballs. I added a mint sprig for a pop of colour. I did serve some jasmine rice on the side, but I didn’t think it worthy of a picture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The coriander seeds gave an exciting flavour to the dish, I didn’t know before. I used to cook with ground coriander, which doesn’t compare to the whole seeds, at all. The meatballs themselves were fluffy and light, especially considering they are made without eggs. All in all an interesting take on the dish, although I’m not completely sold on the concept of “exotic” meatballs (but that might just be me, the boyfriend was pretty happy with the results). I’m curious how the other recipes with them will turn out.

Snap_2013.05.06 18.34.52_004

UCC: Tomato Risotto

I don’t like Italian food. There, I said it. I sometimes get the feeling EVERYONE loves pizza and pasta. I remember countless birthday parties where all children started raving when they heard what was up for dinner, except for me. I was sitting in a corner lamenting my fortune. But enough with the first world problems. By now I eat Italian food, but I still wouldn’t cook or order Italian if I eat by myself. The reason I tried the tomato risotto so early in the challenge is plain and simple. I had all the ingredients except for the risotto rice ready at home. Plus my boyfriend is a sucker for Italian food. Plus it looked like a quick weekday fix. Plus I wanted to distribute recipes I thought I might not like so much evenly throughout the challenge. Plus I never cooked a risotto ever before and was curious. So, tomato risotto it was…

I’m not sure if this is the common approach, but I had to coat the rice in olive oil…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

… before adding the vegetable stock ladle by ladle…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

… over the course of nearly 20 minutes…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

… before adding in chopped tomatos, parmesan and mascarpone.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Season and serve.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And know guess what? It was THE bomb. Seriously, why didn’t I try risotto ever before? I liked it so, so much! The taste was creamy and dense, but also just right between sweet (tomatoes) and salty (parmesan). On top of that, preparation is a breeze. This dish will become a staple in our home, that’s for sure.

Snap_2013.05.06 18.30.14_002

Buchrezension: Das Wörterbuch der Liebenden von David Levithan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Von A wie atemberaubend bis Z wie Zenit – was liegt näher, als die Liebe enzyklopädisch zu erzählen? Diese poetische Manhattan-Love-Story in ungewöhnlicher, verspielter Form ist ein Herzensbuch für jeden, der verliebt ist oder sich verlieben möchte. Übersetzt von Andreas Steinhöfel.

Ich habe dieses Buch auf einem Grabbeltisch im Supermarkt entdeckt und es war die Idee, einen Roman in Form eines Wörterbuchs zu schreiben, die mich fasziniert hat. Das Taschenbuch ist mit seinen 211 Seiten recht kurz, vor allem da bei der Formatierung viel auf den Seiten frei geblieben ist. Ich habe das Buch in einem durchgelesen, was allerdings nicht (nur) an der Kürze lag. Nachdem ich den Klappentext gelesen habe, dachte ich an eine kitschig-schöne Geschichte, aber ich habe die Geschichte eher melancholisch empfunden. Ein schönes Beispiel ist der Buchstabe O:

O

obstinate, adj. hartnäckig, halsstarrig, Adj.

Manchmal wird es zum Wettbewerb: Wer ist dickköpfiger, die Liebe oder die beiden Streitenden, die darin gefangen sind?

Man lernt die Protagonisten im Wörterbuch der Liebenden anders kennen, als man es gewohnt ist. Auf den ersten Blick oberflächlicher, aber ich habe mich und meine Beziehungen in vielen der “Definitionen” wieder gefunden und das hat bei mir eine Identifikation mit dem Buch hervorgerufen, die manche auch mit ausführlichen Charakterdarstellungen nicht erreichen. Ohne zu viel preis zu geben kann ich sagen, dass das Buch Spaß gemacht hat und zum Denken angeregt hat. Lest es aber vielleicht eher nicht, wenn euch der Sinn nach einer leichten Liebesgeschichte steht.

Snap_2013.05.06 18.33.23_003