Monday, June 30, 2008

Summertime Thanksgiving...

We bought a whole turkey at the end of December, and stuck it in the freezer - along with some leftover turkey gravy and cranberry chutney - with the intention of having a summertime Thanksgiving.

And that's EXACTLY what we did. The trusty old Weber charcoal grill was fired up this past Saturday night, and on went the nearly 11 lb. bird.

If you've never grilled a whole turkey on a Weber grill, then you're definitely missing out. It's a foolproof way to roast a turkey (I'll post the simple instructions in case anybody is interested), and it frees up the oven for making other things. In fact, we've only made turkey in an oven one time during the entire time we've been married; every other time has been on the grill. Plus, I think the turkey tastes best when it's prepared on a charcoal grill. I've had deep-fried turkey, and while the results are decent, I don't think it tastes as good as a barbecued turkey. I know people swear by deep-frying turkeys, but I think it's a hassle (and a bit dangerous) dealing with, and disposing of, all that oil.

So, we had the turkey, gravy, cranberry chutney. Some roasted potatoes, corn bread, and classic French bean salad were added into the mix, and VOILA!

Summertime Thanksgiving!

We enjoyed the turkey dinner with Andy, Di, and the kids, and then followed up with some banana splits. Everything was really great!

The next evening (you guessed it), Mrs. TBF and I had leftovers. As much as we tried, we just couldn't finish it all off. Leftover turkey went into the freezer, and today...

...I feel like I have a whole turkey in me belly!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Turkey For Turkey!

Turkey lost to Germany last night in the Euro2008 semi-finals.

NO, I did not watch the game! Well, that's kind of a lie since I have to admit that I watched bits and pieces of it. Let me just say right now that if all soccer games had as many goals (and shots on goal) as last night's game, watching soccer might actually be couple of times per year. My solution? Eliminate offsides, and have a couple less players on each side.


Where was I? Oh yeah...

We were sitting on our balcony having a nice dinner when suddenly we heard the whole neighborhood cheering. Mrs. TBF said, "...oh, Germany must've scored," so I went inside to turn on the TV (notice how we hadn't been watching) to see if they, indeed, had. As it turned out, TURKEY had just scored the first goal.

Wait a second...

The Swiss were cheering for Turkey instead of Germany?

Why yes, they were!

For the remainder of the game, our neighborhood would erupt in cheers anytime Turkey scored or nearly scored. Whenever Germany scored?


I find this to be a strange phenomenon. Imagine the U.S. playing any team in the World Cup. It would be kind of like Canadians rooting for the other team regardless of which country they were from.

Wait a second...

Canadians WOULD want the other team to beat America.

Huh! I guess it's not that strange of a phenomenon.

Well, anyway...

In the end, after giving it their all, Turkey just couldn't pull it off. The final score:

Germany 3

Turkey 2

So, in honor of Turkey's near upset victory, but more importantly, in celebration that Euro2008 is nearly over, we've pulled a whole turkey out of the freezer, and we'll be giving it the Weber grill seat of honor for a couple of hours this Saturday evening.

Thanks, Turkey...for giving us a good reason for grilling a turkey. Ahhhhh, there's nothing like a summertime Thanksgiving dinner.

Attention: People Living In Paris!

You'd better hurry! You only have a few more days to catch the Finnish Festival In France.

What are you waiting for?

How Things Change...

I just love this cartoon from the June 14th 2008 issue of The Economist.

So Predictable?

I haven't had any cash in my pocket for days. This is very unusual for me - usually I'm flush with pocket change. This morning, enough was enough. I had to pick up some dry cleaning anyway, and seeing how our dry cleaner is right by a bank machine, I figured that a combi dry cleaning pick-up/cash withdrawal would be a good and quick errand.

My normal cash withdrawal out of our friendly neighborhood cash machine is CHF 1300. Why 1300? The first reason is that Switzerland - being the land of "clean and safe" - allows me to walk around with much more cash in my pocket than I ever would in Chicago; minimal fear of being robbed at gunpoint here. And second: I can quickly scan my bank statement, see the 1300 (an odd number) franc withdrawals, and quickly spot anything out of the ordinary. So far, nothing out of the nearly eight years.

The normal routine is: insert card, enter PIN, choose CHF withdrawal without receipt, enter amount, take card, take cash. The procedure is normally not repeated again until I have less than 200 CHF in my pocket. But as I said, I had let my cash-in-pocket dwindle to the point where I was using the change in my little change bowl on the dresser.

So this morning, I picked up Mrs. TBF's pants at the dry cleaner and walked across the street to the bank machine. I put in my card, I entered my PIN, and...

...I was given the "express" option of making a CHF 1300 WITHDRAWAL WITHOUT RECEIPT. My bank machine knows me so well! I didn't have to enter the amount or anything; just hit OK, take my card, and take my cash.

Life just keeps on getting better! Pretty soon we won't even have to think at all!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Size Does Matter!

All I can say is: It's about freakin' time!!!

I have a very large head. In fact, my friend Thomas in Ohio is the only person I've ever known with a larger head than mine; my head is wide, his head is deep.

In the U.S., I wear a size 7 7/8 hat (Thomas wears an 8). In Switzerland, I wear an impressive sounding size 62!!! But for whatever reason, buying a hat has never really posed too big of a problem for me. However, finding a pair of sunglasses that fit has always been a challenge. That is...

...until now!

I'm Starting My List, Eh?

Christmas is ONLY six months from tomorrow, but I'm not talking about starting a Christmas list.


The list I'm starting is the list of Americans who say they will move abroad (usually to Canada) if a Republican - in this case, John McCain - is elected president.

I know I'm a little behind in the news, but I just read a couple of days ago that Susan Sarandon has said that she will move to either Italy or Canada (odd choice!) if John McCain is elected president.

Susan Sarandon? You're ON MY LIST!!!

First of all, you can't just up and move to Canada. There are visas to get, and papers to fill out, and loads of other procedures and rules to follow just like when a person moves to the U.S. It's as if people don't think Canada is a real country or something. It drives me nuts!

Then, there's the issue of income taxes. When Americans move abroad, they still have to file U.S. income taxes. Since Ms. Sarandon has a high income (most likely) that (more than likely) originates from the U.S., she would still end up paying U.S. tax dollars that would be overseen by the administration that she would so loathe. Plus, if a large part of that income would come from any one state, that state would also want to get in their meat hooks by withholding state income taxes. Wouldn't she just be better off staying in the U.S. and using her high profile (and vote) to try to change things rather than just blowing off a bunch of hot air? Or, is she doing all this just to aggravate me?

Finally, there really is not that much of a difference between Canada and the U.S., and Canadians and Americans, enna-way. Oh, except for the fact that...

...Americans aren't anti-American.

Monday, June 23, 2008

An Orange Weekend...

The weekend began on Friday evening with an orange sunset.

Later, we fired up the rooftop "blast furnace" and were successful in producing orange "devil horns"!!!

On Saturday afternoon, we decided to venture into town to witness the "Orange Crush" of 100,000+ Dutch soccer fans descending upon Basel for the Holland vs. Russia Euro2008 quarterfinal match. I have to say that although the Dutch fans were a bit messy, they did make for some good people watching, and they did actually seem to behave themselves. It was pretty hot outside, and the Dutch looked like they were drinking A LOT, so I'm thinking there had to have been some pretty nasty hangovers the next morning. The hangovers were probably made worse by some really nasty sunburn AND by the fact that Russia ended up advancing to the semi-final by beating Holland.

I'm really going to have to sit down one of these days, focus, and force myself to watch an entire soccer match. I just don't know if I can do it. For some reason, a game that often ends up in a 0-0 tie after 90 minutes of play just doesn't mesh with my short, North American attention span. I mean, there are hardly even any shots-on-goal.


Oh, and don't even get me started with the "flopping"!

A defender doesn't even touch the guy with the ball, the guy with the ball goes down in a heap acting as if his spine has just been severed, the ref calls a foul on the defender who makes all sorts of faces and gestures to no avail, and then the guy who just looked like he was going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life just gets up and continues playing.





There, I said it!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

For The People Living In North America...

Since selling the Jeep last year, I really haven't taken any notice of the price of gasoline. However, I was walking down the street today, and I just happened to look up at a sign outside a local gas station, and...


The price of gas here in the Basel suburbs is now up to CHF 1.959 per liter. Curious, I decided to break out the trusty old calculator and figured out that this is equivalent to:

$7.10/gallon in the U.S.

$1.90/liter in Canada.

We'll be in the U.S. one month from today...

...enjoying the cheap gas!

How much is gas where you live?

Monday, June 16, 2008

And So It Began...

I started The Big Finn's Big Blog four years ago today with this extremely exciting and witty post. What a masterpiece!


In four years' time, some things have changed (living in a different apartment, sans Dominique and car, and both of us thinner), and some things haven't (still living in Switzerland for "...two more years", King's still not ready to take the dirt nap, Mrs. TBF is still at the same company, and TBF is still bald!).

As I see it, having a blog for four years has pretty much qualifies me for a Bachelor's degree in blogging. Now it's time to earn my Master's Degree.

That takes two years, right? I guess I'll earn my Master's in blogging right around the time when we announce that we'll... living in Switzerland for "...two more years"!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Scotland Photo Gallery...

I'm back at home (with King glued to my side) after a great trip to Scotland. The door-to-door trip home took about 11.5 hours, but...I made it. I made the trip alone (...maybe that's why it seemed to take forever!) because Mrs. TBF and Jeanette moved on to St. Andrews for a work meeting. Mrs. TBF will return home tomorrow night.

Here's a picture of the three of us enjoying a late afternoon tea at our hotel in Edinburgh. Well, at least they were enjoying tea - I'm a coffee drinker! If you want to see more pictures from our trip, you can check out a bunch of them right here.*

*Seeing that I've been paying for a .Mac account now for nearly three years, I figured it was about time to expand my horizons beyond e-mail and explore the many offerings such as the Web Gallery. Let me know what you think!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Good Breakfast Conversation?

Such a 2-for-1 deal!

Here we are at breakfast in Loch Lomond; me finishing up my full Scottish breakfast while Mrs. TBF and Jeanette check their e-mails. I guess it's a good thing that I brought along my complimentary copy of The Scotsman.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


I read in the newspaper this morning that sunrise is at about 4:30 a.m. and sunset at about 9:50 p.m. in Scotland at this time of year.

After enjoying a really great curry dinner this evening (with the added bonus of struggling to understand the waiter who had simultaneous Indian AND Glaswegian accents), we decided to make the 30-minute walk back to the hotel instead of taking a taxi. Along the way, I snapped this photo on the streets of Glasgow using the 10-second timer - it was 10:55 p.m.

While I'm enjoying the fact that dusk lasts pretty late into the night, I'm still hoping that I'll get to experience some typical, rainy Scottish weather - at least at some point.

I haven't felt even one drop of rain since we arrived in Scotland.

A Wee Dram...

We were offered a couple of "wee drams" of whisky upon arrival at our hotel in Glasgow this afternoon. We weren't ready for them at that time, but we took the hotel up on its offer a little later that afternoon by enjoying a couple of quaichs of Scotland's best.

Around 7 p.m., we decided to head down to the hotel bar for a pre-dinner cocktail. The bar was a bit crowded, so the bartender suggested we have a seat in the Whisky Bar. Imagine my delight when I discovered that the hotel stocked several hundred different whiskies.

You know what they say: hundreds of wee drams are better than one.

Glasgow - Royal Bedfellows

How did we get so lucky?

I booked our Glasgow hotel by looking at some of the reviews on Tripadvisor. The hotel I ended up picking - Hotel du Vin, One Devonshire Gardens - received glowing reviews, so I just figured that it was as good a choice as any, and I booked it.

The next day, I picked up my 1000 Things To See Before You Die book and saw that our hotel was listed as one of the 1000 things.

Who knew?

Let me just say that THE HOTEL IS FABULOUS!!!!!! We've stayed in a lot of really great hotels, but this one ranks right up there as one of our very favorites.

We were shown up to our room by two men (one wearing a kilt, the other wearing tartan trousers that I admit to coveting) who informed us that we would be staying in Princess Anne's favorite room. I had to think for a moment about who Princess Anne actually is, but I figured it all out after a few seconds and then felt it was my duty to give Mrs. TBF the "royal treatment" a short time later in our "royal" bed.

Fortunately, I was first able to get the image of Princess Anne out of my head.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Perfect Snack?

June 5, 2008... approximately 11:15 a.m.: TBF buys his first Scotch egg.

11:31 a.m.: Jeanette congratulates TBF on his purchase.

11:32 a.m.: TBF takes his first bite.

11:33 a.m.: Crumbs on lips, and half of the egg already on the way to his stomach, TBF wonders why it has waited 45+ years to sample this Scottish delicacy.

Let's look at the numbers...

The nutritional information states that each egg contains:
2.3 grams of fiber...

310 calories...

20.6 grams of fat!
That shouldn't be too many Weight Watchers points, right?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Paying The Piper...

...any amount to just STOP PLAYING!!! PLEASE!!!

We heard a lot of bagpipe playing today, and I'm thinking I'm all set...

...for another 45 years!

Brrrrrrreakfast of Champions!

Scottish porridge, followed by...

...a full Scottish breakfast (black pudding, potatoes, sausage, bacon, egg, tomato, and mushroom).

That's not too high in calories, right?

Don't All Guess At Once...

We're in Scotland. More specifically, we're in Edinburgh with our Basel-based, Scottish friend Jeanette.

Of course, I had this romantic image of walking around Edinburgh in the fog and drizzle, but...

...we arrived to find nothing but blue skies.

What is it about me and the U.K.? Every time I go there it's warm and sunny.

I guess I'm just unlucky.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Escape From Basel...

The Art Basel show is now in full swing...

The first game of the Euro 2008 soccer tournament is played in Basel this Saturday night...

Where outta here!

See you Jimmy!!!!

Guess where we're going. I'm taking the laptop, so expect some blogging*.

* My way of putting pressure on myself to blog.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Stones In Threes...

You know how things often happen in threes? Well, our "stone" trilogy was just completed.

First, I busted my butt a couple of weeks ago hauling up a bunch of stones (they felt like boulders) to our rooftop garden to use as a border. Then, we bought a pizza stone. And today, we took delivery of our new balcony table with a Swiss stone tabletop. I'm not really sure what kind of stone it is, but I do know that it comes from a quarry in the eastern part of Switzerland, so Swiss stone will have to do for now. Another thing I know is that I like the way the grain looks; little flecks that sparkle in the sun. All in all, I'm happy with it.

When we moved here way back in 2000, we pretty much thought that we'd live here only for 2-3 years. What that meant was that a lot of the stuff we bought after arriving in Switzerland was bought with the idea that we'd have it for 2-3 years and then just get rid of it (read: cheap). Seeing how a lot of this stuff is now in its third "2-3 year" phase, we figured that there's no time like the present to be replacing the now nearly eight year old stuff with new stuff.

This afternoon at precisely 4 p.m., three delivery guys showed up and brought up the frame, the chairs, and then grunted as they were (luckily!) able to fit the 130 kilo (286 lbs.) stone top into our elevator. Otherwise it would have been four flights of stairs for them!

Oh...and fear not! The old table wasn't thrown away afterall. No sir! It now sits proudly in the new "morning coffee nook" of our rooftop garden...on top of the stones I hauled up last year...that are edged by the stones I hauled up there a couple of weeks ago.

Now you know why I haven't been blogging too much lately!

There Oughta Be A Law...

I walked into the meat department of my local grocery store last week, and I could barely contain my excitement when I saw that they had "American Spare-Ribs". Sure they were kind of small, and...pre-marinated (with a marinade that is used on other meats that Mrs. TBF says causes me to smell like garlic for days), but...I cared not. Wanting to encourage the store to keep stocking the things, I bought three of the rather expensive "slabs" (approaching $10/lb.), brought them home, and was about to throw them in the freezer when I noticed that...

...they are a product of Germany!


King Of The...


In the never ending saga of drinking any water except for the water that's in his own water bowl, we discovered last night that...

...King drinks the water from the birdbath.

What a FREAK!

Because You Asked For It...

Did somebody ask for a picture of our new pizza stone?

Why yes, I believe the exact words were:

Can you post a pic of your pizza stone?? I have never heard of one before...Thanks!
I'm happy to oblige.

A couple of months ago, while a pizza was baking in our oven, Mrs. TBF and I walked into the kitchen and suddenly heard a loud CRACKKKK! We immediately realized that it was our old pizza stone which had waited for us to return to the room to look at us one last time before meeting its demise. How touching!

Out with the old and in with the new...

Ladies and gentlemen, meet our new pizza stone. More specifically, the Weber Square Pizza Stone. We tried it last night for the first time, and it worked like a charm. Just light the coals, put the stone on the grill to warm up for twenty minutes or so, slide your pizza on the stone, add your toppings, and let it cook until its ready.

How long is that?

I have no idea. Mrs. TBF was apparently born with some kind of Italian sixth sense that allows her to just tap the crust and know the exact moment when the pizza is ready.