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Monday, July 7, 2014

July 4

I didn't plan on blogging about our Swiss Independence Day - but I just read my friend Angela's post, and she gave me a broad hint.



Allrighty then ;-)


Somebody asked for red-white-blue?
Preparations and festivities began the day before. Thursdays I don't work get paid to go the office and actually achieve less. I went groceries shopping for a lot of baking for the two upcoming events: Kindergarten end of school year party - they don't "graduate" around here - and, yes, July 4. Why do we celebrate, we are not American or anything? Just because we like it. 

Even though there is an English speaking community in our area, retail hasn't picked up on it just yet. So don't hold your breath if you're looking to purchase the tiniest napkin or garland. Oh, and you can forget about those cute firecracker or stars and stripes t-shirts. 

Side note: My fellow Swiss did something awesome for St. Patrick's Day this year, and I failed to mention it. They installed some green lights at the Rhine Falls, and it looked amazing:



Of course, my other fellow Swiss - and I guess it's safe to assume it's the same bunch that hates Halloween (they're ignorant enough to actually call it Helloween) being celebrated in our cow country - commented how ridiculous it is to copy everything from the Americans. Luckily there were some other fellow Swiss who mentioned that St. Patrick actually was Irish. 

But I'm regressing. Just wanted to give credit where credit is due. 

Because next up, I am back to ranting. In June I started to look for graham crackers. I was feeling bold and wanted to try and make cheesecake. One attempt a couple of years ago had failed miserably. 
Buying graham crackers sounds like a no-brainer, right? Not in this country. Not even in a health food store. I ended up at American Food Avenue where I had ordered my pumpkin shaped baking pan.



Surprise! Shipping a box of graham crackers is CHF 4.60, so I would have ended up with a steep price of CHF 13.55 = USD 15.13 Now I might be crazy - but not THAT crazy! 


I decided to buy a ready to bake shortbread crust. Two bucks. And you know what happened? I was so focused on following Chef John's  recipe that I FORGOT to put the crust in the spring form pan!!! 

I had to pour the filling back into the bowl. 
That's more like it!
After 45 minutes - of the 60 indicated - I thought this cheesecake had baked enough. It was turning brown! So I turned off the heat and did as Chef John told me: let cool for 3 - 4 hours. 

It's a good thing we have two ovens because of course I had committed to bringing cake to the Kindergarten BBQ. As I still had a score to settle with that chocolate cherry cake recipe, I thought I could make the same batter and fill it into the muffin pan. 



Now why I didn't make a second batch is beyond me. They were so yummy! 


Just in case they were going to go fast, and so I didn't have to feel guilty for eating one several myself, I also brought a carrot cake. It went fast, too! 

But first things first. The teacher held a speech, and the kids sang:





Then the different activities were being presented: carving with Swiss army knives, going on a walkabout in the forest with a puppy, collecting items for a forest mandala: pines, little branches, leaves, moss, berries, blowing giant soap bubbles,…

Looks like moms were more intrigued by bubbles ;-)
The guys - and two girls - immediately headed to the soccer field:



Families of Kindergarten kids came complete with elder siblings who have been training with the local soccer team for 2 - 3 years. Can you imagine how proud little C was when he reported to have "out-dribbled a 3rd grader"?! Otherwise he stood out by being the most enthusiastic cheerer when his teammates scored.


Coach Sandro allowed discussions. It was hard to consider all the claims:

"Hand ball!" 
"Foul!" 
"He shoved me!" 
"You didn't fall - that was a dive, you wimp!"
"He stepped on me!"
"You're lying!"
"Offside!" 
"Penalty shot!" 

They requested loudly. The girls thought this was ridiculous and left the team. 

When in doubt, brandish the yellow or red card! - Referee Ennio
At half-time they wanted to drink from the fountain and found something new to play with: 

It was not supposed to be a "play station" -
they just put the watermelon in there to keep 'em cool!
In the meantime the fireplace was ready for some grilling:

Later the soccer ball rolled into the hot coal
and sustained some burn blisters
The kids were almost too busy and too excited to eat. Which was a pity because many moms - and one dad - brought salads, bread and to die for desserts!

And then it was time for the farewell gift handover!



Aaaaww! They had an amazing time at Kindergarten, and if first grade is going to be just half as cool, we can count ourselves lucky!

Needless the say we came home tired (at least us old folks), mosquito bitten, dirty, smelly, sweaty and really, really happy. Oh, and of course it got late.

But you know what they say: they who can party, can get up in the morning and go to work / school! And we did! Because why would July 4 be a day off in Switzerland? Not even I expect this ;-)

Upon coming home after work, I literally ran in the kitchen to try and get ready before

a) our guest arrived
b) the game started

What guest?


What game?


My ambitious plans and the starting whistle didn't match. At all. Our friend Marc wanted to drag me out of the kitchen because he felt bad to be watching TV while I was slaving. "It's OK", I reassured him "I want to do it, and anyway, if I miss the first half, I actually won't miss anything. Nothing ever happens during the first half.  I'll join you for overtime, hahaha!" 

So I was wrong. As was the result. But in case you've missed it, too, here's the one goal that happened:


THIS is what I did, and I think it's much cooler than to watch France losing to Germany:

No stars and stripes tablecloth to be purchased? DIY!
Tomato and mozzarella, dyed with blue food coloring
Cheesecake, slightly overbaked, yet very yummy!
Oh, and Valentine Barbie, dressed up for the patriotic occasion.
Yes, I can't sew. Yes it's a napkin.
July 4 cake - the 2014 version
This was 2013
PS: Can you pass a U.S. citizenship test? How is my 42/50 score? I'm pretty proud!