Wednesday, August 29, 2007


"Ooooooh maaaaan - you guys came at just the right time. Its the season of 'festing' over here in Germany! These Germans sure know how to throw a good party!"

But before there was any "festing" to be had, there was planning to be done. Day three had us all lounging in our pajamas for the better part of the morning trying to figure out what we were going to do with the remainder of our 7 days in Europe.

The travel books all came out and the old Internet search engine was fired up to look for hostels to stay in and cities to visit. Our plan was to leave the next day so we really only had a couple of hours to get everything in place. I started in on the computer while Jamin took the books and maps into the kitchen to spread out on the table. We narrowed down that Amsterdam and Bavaria (southern Germany) would be our two lands to conquer this time around. I was making pretty good headway on a few places to stay and so I went into the kitchen to report in to Jamin and get his stamp of approval. When I glanced in I saw a scene that was oh so familiar. There was Jamin sitting in his chair, head down in complete concentration - engrossed in his travel guide. He was reading it like a novel! He must have sensed me there because after a few seconds he looked up and started in with "Oh man Molly - did you know . . . " He had been caught deviating from his assigned task and he knew it but I guess he figured that if he could at least pass along some of the knowledge that he had just gained somehow it would cover up for the fact that he was reading about neither Amsterdam or Bavaria! It was just like him though - he couldn't pass up a good opportunity to absorb information no matter how trivial or pertinent to the task. Though frustrating to me at times I realized how well rounded he was because of occasions such as this.

By afternoon our plans were in place and we were headed down the road to the Maderscheid Bergenfest. This is probably a good opportunity to make note of Jamin's musical tastes as the ride to the festival was close to 45 minutes and Jamin's iPod was the one in action on the way there. The aforementioned "well roundedness" likewise applies here. Jamin could and did listen to practically every type of music. He especially latched on to techno music during his European travels and so as we drove through the quaint German countryside and villages there was all the time a modern dance party of sorts going on within his vehicle. It took a little getting used to but truthfully I think it was the only type of music that could keep up with his own energy level. I have been told as well that whenever Jamin traveled to a new country he would spend a good deal of time in the local music store picking up new songs and styles. He loved it all though!

As we approached the festival it became clear that parking was going to be an issue but Jamin knew exactly what to do - and so with his expertise in "festing" and a little bit of sheer luck we ended up with "the premier parking spots of all parking spots!" A walk down the hill towards the festival (held in an old medieval castle grounds) had us rolling with laughter before too long because as we approached the castle we heard a rustling in the woods above us and so we looked up to see three people in full medieval garb slipping and rolling down the forested hillside. It looked like a scene from Lord of the Rings. Jamin had forgotten to mention to us that if we dressed up in costume we would get a discounted entry fee.

Inside the festival Jamin was good enough to stay by our side as we fumbled our way through German food ordering. We spent the remainder of the evening just wandering around the castle, snapping photos, looking at the wares for sale and enjoying a good old fashioned jousting tournament. We stopped on our way back to the car to enjoy the fireworks display and then meandered our way back through the pitch black countryside (detours and all) to Jamin's apartment - "Dragostea din Tei" bouncing over the speakers.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Perfect Host

Day two of our trip proved just what a great host Jamin was. For anyone that has ever been hosted by Jamin, while in college or in the service, you will understand and appreciate the sacrifices (usually small and unnoticeable) that he went through to entertain his guests.

The day started with a tour of Jamin's base. I was truly clueless about military life and Jamin patiently weathered all of my questions about the base and his job. Jamin had just started a new job on the base before we arrived over there and I could tell that he was honestly so excited about what it was he was doing. I learned to stop asking detailed questions about the "work" side of Jamin back when he was in college because as hard as he tried to simplify whatever it was he was doing - it still never made sense to me. What always came across though was his enthusiasm. I think that the normal response from people when you ask them about work is "Its ok." But to Jamin it was always a positive statement, always an opportunity for growth, always a way to be helpful, always "great!"

After spending the morning at the base Jamin drove us 30 minutes down the road to the city of Trier (the oldest city in Germany). Since Jamin lived in the country, Trier was the closest thing Jamin had to a big city and even though he had been there numerous times before he still made the effort to get us excited about what we were going to see. Though a rainy afternoon we enjoyed a pleasant lunch at an outdoor cafe where Jamin made sure I had my first German bratwurst.

We wandered around the city for awhile when Jamin suggested we get ice cream "In the rain?" I questioned. We were definitely the only ones walking around the streets with raincoats on licking ice cream cones. Jamin was patient with Parker and I as we explored the beautiful buildings and took our time taking pictures.

On our way back to the car we passed by a shop that carried only real fruit juice gummies. Jamin couldn't pass up the opportunity and so we ended up spending 20 minutes picking out just the right shape, size and taste of gummies to purchase. Just one more example to me about how Jamin was inquisitive about any and every subject.

After a nap and dinner back at the apartment we headed back out to Trier to meet up with Jamin's friend Matt and enjoy a night on the town. I had given Jamin a shirt as a (very) late birthday present on our arrival in Germany and I was pleased to see that he wore it for me. He was pretty impressed with himself to be "so stylin'!"

Again not really an exceptional day in any way but a happy one at least spent in the presence of my brother.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Happy Reunion

A year ago today my younger brother Parker and I were on a plane headed across the Atlantic Ocean to spend 10 days with our big brother. I hope that you will not mind as over the coming days I recount what I remember from our experiences on that trip. I do not intend for this to read like a mandatory slide show of grandpa's photos but will concede that some of my memories of the trip are seemingly insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Ironically though it is these hundreds of "insignificant" moments over Jamin's lifetime that I have found myself grasping onto for dear life as the bigger, more "significant" moments of his life cease to be made.

Parks and I had just sat down on our connecting flight in Newark when I went to turn my phone off before departure. What I saw was the following text from Jamin: "I'm so stoked to see you guys!" - It was so "Jamin"! I smiled as I settled in for the flight thinking what a great brother was waiting for us on the other side of the big blue.

Once we made it through customs in Frankfurt we rolled our bags through a pair of double doors with greeting parties on the other side. I didn't even have to look for Jamin - my eyes went straight to him as he quickly rose from his seat in his bright yellow t-shirt and bounded towards us in a "not-quite-a-run" but "definitely-not-walking" manner. Its amazing how you can lose all sense of what is around you when you are excited to see someone. I'm sure we were blocking the doors but it didn't really matter. His hug was definitely one to remember!

On the way out of the airport I remember Jamin pointing out how smart the Germans are to indicate in their parking structures where the free spaces are by way of lighting indicators. (Oh how I had missed these stimulating topics). That thought seemed to spark a long conversation between Jamin and Parker on the 2 hour ride back to his apartment about how if the world could just have one big meeting (a simple idea in Jamin's opinion) about some of the best ideas from each country we would all be better off.

After dropping the bags off at Jamin's apartment we went for lunch at his favorite local eatery where we learned that Jamin could in fact add "German" to his conversational language list.

Back at the apartment we spent a good bit of the afternoon on Jamin's "great new" computer as he and Parker shared their love of old school music. Parker would pull up a song and in response came Jamin's exclamation "Oh man Parker - that's a good one!" as he tapped along with his index fingers on the desk (eyes closed of course) - if you knew Jamin you will appreciate this image. Somehow or another that evolved into taking silly pictures of ourselves on his photobooth application. It was a great time of just being together and re-familiarizing ourselves with Jamin's silly but ever-so-endearing mannerisms.

Parker eventually fell asleep and Jamin and I had the daunting task of prematurely waking him from his nap. He tried lines such as "Parker, man you've gotta wake up - there is so much awesomeness to be had " but they just weren't working. So, Jamin went off to make Hot Chocolate (the real kind with chocolate melted in milk) thinking that this clever motherly maneuver might just do the trick.

Both Jamin and I saw that it was clearly not going to be enough to simply wake Parker - we had to find a way to keep him awake so Jamin got the bright idea to go go-carting. Nothing like an adrenaline rush to beat Jet lag! A twenty minute drive turned into into a little over thirty minutes when Jamin got on the autobahn going the wrong direction and I had to giggle about some directionally challenged adventures in the past. As much as I loved to tease him about this one imperfection I admired his admission when we turned around eventually ended up exiting the autobahn two exits down from where we had originally entered; "Well - its good to know that could have been a much shorter trip if I had gone the right direction." Ha, ha . . . silly brother. The go-carts were of course the "fastest things ever!"

Back at the apartment we prepared for dinner. Jamin had it all planned out. In fact before we left the US I asked him if there was anything American that we could bring over for him. He had two requests 1) Extra - winterfresh "chewing gum" (as he called it) in the small 5 sticks per pack (because the 25 sticks per pack that they sold in Germany were too big to fit in his pocket) and 2) a mortar and pestle for "grinding things."

Jamin had been waiting and waiting to get a mortar and pestle so that he could try this new recipe. He had even driven 20 minutes to a specialty Asian food store to pick out all of the ingredients. I guess in the end it was worth it though because after an hour in the making it turned out to be "The tastiest meal ever!"

1 day enjoyed - 9 more to go!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Tastiest Meal Ever!

The following is recipe that Jamin, Parker and I made on our first night in Germany. I will always remember the joy of cooking it together, the precision with which Jamin measured and added ingredients and of course the exlcamation after the first bite that this had to be "The tastiest meal EVER!!"

Indian Chicken Curry
2 teaspoons each coriander seeds and cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 lb (500 g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz/45 g) unsalted cashews
1 large yellow onion
2 small tomatoes
2 tablespoons clairified butter (page 112) or canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon seeded and minced green jalapeno chile
2 each bay leaves and star anise
1/2 cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) coconut milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (fresh coriander)

Pouring over the cookbook

Toast and grind the corander and cumin seeds. In a bowl, stir together the toasted seeds, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the turmeric, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and canola oil until well mixed. Cut the chicken into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes. Add to the bowl and stir to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

Toast the cashews and then chop coarsely. Set aside.

Thinly slice the onion. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise and remove the seeds, then chop the flesh. In a saute pan over high heat, heat the claified butter. Add the onion and saute until it begins to soften, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, chile, bay leaves, and star anise and contnue to saute until the onion is light golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Add the chicken and saute just until the meat turns opaque about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occaionally, until they soften, about 2 minutes.

Jamin's precision at work in the kitchen

Stir in the coconut milk and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and simmer for 5 minutes longer.

Transfer to a warmed bowl, garnish with the cashews and cilantro, and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings

*Williams-Sonoma "Asian" Cookbook

Enjoy the Tastiest Meal Ever!! We sure did!

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This site has been created for friends, family, and co-workers of Jamin Wilson to share their memories, photos, and videos of this incredible man. Feel free to comment on any posts that have already been created. However, if you would like to be added as a contributor to this blog please send me an email at Please include your name and your relationship to Jamin so that I can add you to the list. This will allow you to upload text, photos, or videos whenever a memory comes to mind.