Sunday, April 23, 2017

Dahab: Freestyle, Friendliness, Cats and Sun

If you don't know where to go for your next windsurfing vacation: Go to Dahab, Egypt! We just came back from an amazing trip to this place and pretty much everything about it was great. It was warm, it was sunny, it was windy, the people were amazing, the food was good, ...

There were a few things however that made Dahab an outstanding place to be in my opinion:
1.) Lots of company from other freestylers on the water. And every level - you see people practicing duck jibes, trying their first Vulcans, Loops and Flakas, going for Backloops and Shakas in the waves, and laying down massive Konos and Skopus.
2.) The weather: It is always warm, but never feels hot due to the low humidity. I had plenty of 3.7 and 4.2 days even though it is supposedly windier in the summer. And it is cool enough at night that you can sleep comfortably.
3.) The genuinely nice people. Almost everyone you meet has a genuine friendliness about them that you just don't experience in most other places. People that had a very hard time over the past few years show a happiness and care in a way that you would not see in the USA where people tend to put themselves first, or in Germany where complaining seems to be standard procedure (yes, I know there are exceptions).
4.) The town itself. Dahab has an amazing vibe and is a great place to just hang out, go snorkeling, or go for food. This is to the point where I did not mind a non-windy day and would just look forward to sitting on a beachfront cafe and snorkel to watch the colorful fish. It is also very safe (no idea why they still have some travel warnings up) and last but not least it is also cheap.
5.) The cats. If you like cats this is the place to be. There are soooo many cats! They look great, not like the wild cats in the Caribbean, they come to you and cuddle or play, but they also stay away if you don't want them there.

I would highly recommend staying in an apartment instead of a hotel, just because you get to go out to town for food instead of being stuck in a hotel with the same buffet every night. We stayed with Toby and Fiona from Dahab Holidays in one of their amazing apartments and absolutely loved it! The place is great and Fi and Toby make it superb by being amazing hosts.
We rented our windsurf gear from Dahab Stars, who also made the extra great effort to take care of everything. Ahmed even managed to find a 90l Skate for me - his own board, which he let me use simply because I have the same one at home!

I'll leave you with a few of my favorite pictures from the trip:
Swing in one of the cafes
Relaxing at dinner

I just like this pic
Lemon-mint and strawberry juice at sunset

Afternoon cafe at the water
I love cats!

Where is the fish?
Reef view while snorkeling

Chilling at the 3 pools
Cafe front in Dahab

Our windsurf rental place
Sunset over the red mountains

Outside view of our beautiful apartment
Red mountains and windsurfer

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Learning about Sail Repairs

Yesterday morning I got a 4 hour lesson on how to repair sails!
When dropping off my 5.0 and 4.2 for some new panels, Bob offered to watch and help with repairing them. I am so glad Peter and I joined him for fixing my 5.0 - I learned a ton and it was very useful to learn this hands on instead of just by reading and trial and error.

Both of my sails do have many crinkles and small cuts where the panel crunches up when rigging. It was time to get them fixed, and lucky as I am here is this guy in Texas that has repaired around 8000 sails and he is offering his input! My 5.0 got two new panels, and I feel like I can now fix my own sails if I just get a good sewing machine for it. Huge thanks to Bob for his patience and advice! Here are some pictures that Peter took:




Sunday, February 12, 2017

Vulcan Inspiration

Yesterday I finally had company from Mark for some new school freestyle practice on the water at BIB. It was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine, warm water and averages of 25-30mph for most of the day. The best part of the day was seeing Mark complete his first Vulcan - congratulations!!!

It was super inspiring to see him out there practicing Vulcans and then making one. Funnily I had my best Vulcan tries almost always directly after seeing a good try from Mark. I think a big part of learning new school freestyle is having others out sailing and practicing with you - it psychs you up, shows you how it is done, and that the crashes are not as bad as they look.
Here is a picture Peter took of Mark during takeoff:

Friday, January 27, 2017

Overpowered

It's windy here in Corpus Christi! And I mean really windy. I have no idea where the wind comes from, the forecast never shows any wind until a day or two in advance. And even then the prediction is usually really low. The wind meter is the same. Today it read averages of 20-25mph and I was lit on my 4.2. I have yet to figure out how to rig the right sail to not end up lit like sh*t. Well, I had one underpowered day on my 5.0.

Here's a short recap:
Sailing day 1: Just arrived, rigged the 5.0, should have been on the 4.2.
Sailing day 2: 5.0 again. This way my only underpowered day. Still nice in warm temps and water.
Sailing day 3: Light wind freestyle in almost planing conditions and Lycra - yes it was that warm!
(Sailing) day 4: Tried to do speed, on the 4.7 TR7 and the 89l Falcon. Injured my triceps and ended up walking back a little more than 1 mile. Crazy windy - I had problems carrying my gear into the water and ended up dragging it in. Guess I should have rigged the 3.4...
Sailing day 5: My triceps still hurts, so I think I am taking it slow rigging the 4.2 when everybody else is on way larger stuff. I end up rigging down to the 3.7 and could have sailed the 3.4 easy.
Sailing day 6: The readings show 18mph, I rig my 5.0 and have a couple of normal-powered runs until the wind picks up again. It was supposed to go down. I stay on the 5.0 but should have rigged down to the 4.5.
Sailing day 7: Well, it was supposed to be windy. But not that much. It kind of looks like 4.5, I rig the 4.2, but end up contemplating to rig down to the 3.7 or 3.4 the whole day while sailing. Just the last hour the wind drops a little and I can finally really try some stuff instead of just pretending to try and getting slammed.

If you've never been to North Padre Island for windsurfing and you windsurf you need to go. Last year I was sore for the first 4 weeks because it was so windy. We planed pretty much every second day. From how it is shaping up, this year seems to be no different or even windier. Peter has already set 3 new personal bests speed-sailing in the last 7 sessions.

Here are a few pictures of the sailing spot and conditions:
The view of the bay on a windy day at Bird Island Basin (the bay is shallow, you can stand almost e
View of our sailing spot from the water
It windy  - again
I on my 4.2
Worldwinds - awesome place with great rental equipment





Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Howdy Texas!

We made it!
After a 2 day driving marathon we arrived on North Padre Island to do what? Windsurf, of course! Having driven for more than 24 hours straight we quickly unloaded some stuff and went to the beach. Wind readings showed 21 mph with temperatures around 23 degrees Celsius (~75F), the water being almost as warm.
Not trusting my instincts after driving so long I asked for advice on what to rig and ended up rigging my 5.0 after seeing people out on what seemed to be mostly between 5.5 and 6.5. I believe the wind picked up just when I rigged, but I should have probably listened to Peter who rigged his 5.6 which would have meant 4.2 or 4.5 for me. I ended up pretty overpowered but was as usual too lazy to re-rig and simply sailed what I was on. Of course this meant lots of sore muscles the next day, but that was curable by going sailing again. The session on the second day was also on the 5.0, but mostly underpowered and involved lots of pumping. And since it it a cold day today here in Texas (16 degrees Celsius = 60 F), this means I get to soak my tired muscles in our private hot tub in a few minutes ;)

Here are a few pictures from what we left behind on Cape Cod, I in the car during a short ferry ride, and of course our hot tub:



Monday, January 9, 2017

German Cheesecake

It was Peter's birthday recently, so I made his favorite cake: German cheesecake:

German cheesecake is made with greek yogurt, not with cream cheese like the American version. Since there are also several eggs in the cake and I usually make the bottom crust with half whole wheat flour, Peter calls this cake healthy. While I am not sure this is true, it is probably one of the "better for you" cake recipes.

Crust:
  • 100g white flour
  • 100g whole wheat flour
  • 100g butter
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
Filling:
  • 750g greek yogurt
  • 200 ml cream 
  • 100 ml milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 120g sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp instant vanilla pudding

Combine the ingredients for the crust to a smooth dough, and put in the fridge for 1 hour. I usually soften / melt the butter before mixing the ingredients (I believe you are not supposed to do this and use cold chunks of butter, but I never noticed much of a difference in the end product and it is way easier to combine with melted butter).

Bake crust in preheated 390 degree oven for 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Combine greek yogurt, milk, and cream. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla sugar until frothy, then beat in the pudding powder. Using a spoon stir egg mixture into greek yogurt until combined. Put on crust and bake at 390 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 340 degrees and continue to bake for 55 minutes. Let cool in baking form.



Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Gingerbread Quest

This Christmas season I embarked on a quest to find the perfect gingerbread recipe. My goal was to make a soft gingerbread that has just the right amount of spices.

Did I find it? Not quite, but I am so close...

I started out with some regular recipes I found online that do not require and hard to get ingredients like Hirschhornsalz (baker's ammonia). The first recipe I tried fooled me and the gingerbread turned out to be hard. It was not bad, but definitely not what I wanted. The second recipe was not actually a gingerbread recipe, it contained lots of eggs and butter and was really more of a cake - but it tasted amazing. I also made something similar to Magenbrot (a gingerbread like cookie that is sold on Christmas markets in Germany), which is probably my second favorite Christmas cookie recipe, but again not really gingerbread.
After that I figured I better get some Hirschhornsalz and proper gingerbread spices from Germany (thanks a lot mom for sending me some!). Then I went online and looked for an old gingerbread recipe that contains invert sugar cream (Kunsthonig), which was used in war times instead of real honey. I found a recipe which I slightly modified by using a mix of brown and white sugar instead of white sugar only, and mostly whole wheat flour and ground nuts instead of white flour. I also let the dough rest overnight instead of using it right away, which was recommended in almost all other gingerbread recipes I found. The texture is exactly like I wanted it to be, and it tastes pretty good, but I think the amount of gingerbread spices was a little too much, and it turned out to have more of a gingerbread taste than I wanted. Maybe this will resolve itself after a few days since gingerbread is rarely supposed to be eaten right away.

Here are some pictures of my different "gingerbreads":
The last recipe: Soft, chocolate covered gingerbread
Magenbrot

Gingerbread spice cake
Hard gingerbread

Here is my modified gingerbread recipe:
Combine 250g butter, 200g sugar (half white, half brown) and 250g honey and heat slowly until the sugar melts. Do not boil. Remove from heat and let cool down before adding the other ingredients.

Combine 100g ground hazelnuts, 100g white flour, 100g spelt flour, and 300g whole wheat flour (the original recipe simply uses 600g flour - I am sure almost any combination will work). Also add 1 tsp baking powder, 5g cinnamon and 7.5g gingerbread spices. However next time around I would add less gingerbread spice mixture, probably also only 5g (the original recipe calls for 7.5g of cinnamon plus 7.5g gingerbread spices).

Mix one egg with 1/2 cup milk. Dissolve Hirschhornsalz (= hartshorn, baker's ammonia) in milk mixture.

Add milk mixture and flour mix to the cooled honey mix. Stir until combined. Cover and store in a cool place over night (I put my dough in the cold basement for ~20 hours).

The next day, spread the dough over parchment-paper covered baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F (175 C) for 30 minutes.

Cover with melted chocolate and cut into squares while still warm.


And of while I was in Christmas baking mood I also made some other Christmas cookies:
Engelsaugen
Schneekugeln
Mandelhoernchen
Kokos-Marzipan-, und Haselnussmakronen
dunkle Engelsaugen
Vanillekipferl
Wespennester
Haselnussschokoplaetzchen