Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I know there are a lot of people who are not in favor of Halloween. Since it's a holiday we don't celebrate in Germany (at least didn't use to when I was little) I get a bit confused. I don't like the scary monster costumes either. Neither do I understand folks who like slasher movies. But is the holiday evil because some people make it so scary?

To me it's just an occasion for the kids to be creative and come up with a cute costume. My daughter wanted to be a Minion from the Despicable Me movie this year. So we worked hard together to make our own costume. We died a white shirt yellow. I made a head covering from yellow velour and sewed some hair to it. The overall were decorated with stencil by my daughter. Dad helped with the goggles. Big brother helped with quality control. It was a project for the whole family.

Didn't it turn out great?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How to make German Sauerbraten

Sauer macht lustig - Sour makes you happy

It's a German saying that eating sour foods makes one happy. Not sure where the notion comes from. It's a fact the Germans are often unhappy and need a lot of cheering up, considering the grey weather this time of year....Of course, everyone in the US knows about Sauerkraut. My children hate it. I have tried and tried. They are not being good little Germans. But maybe that's partly because the stuff they sell in the stores in the US is nothing like German Sauerkraut. It's way too sour! Some day, if I have the time, I'll get to the bottom of it. Some day I will try and make my own Sauerkraut.

Then there is Sauerbraten. Have you ever had a German Sour Roast? I am glad to report that this is a dish my children very much appreciate. The announcement of a Sauerbraten will bring smiles and shouts of joy. Figures, since it takes about a week to make it...We cooked up a really nice roast this weekend. Making Sauerbraten takes a bit of planning ahead. First I had to remember to take the meat out of the freezer. It took about 2-3 days to thaw it out. Next I had to make a marinade for soaking it. Unlike my husband who claims that Germans bury the meat in the yard for 3 weeks to rot it and cook it afterwards, this is NOT TRUE!

This is how it's done:

you will need
  • a nice piece of beef, a roast about 1-3 pounds (we like to get a big one, the leftovers are yummy!)
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 5 peppercorns
  • bay leaf
  • 5 dried juniper berries (optional)
  • raisins
  • 4-5 tablespoons flour
  • red wine vinegar
  • ginger cookies (optional)

Chop an onion, peel a carrot and dice it, and cut a stalk of celery . Throw the vegetables in a saucepan together with 250ml of red wine vinegar, 500 ml of water, add bay leaf, and some peppercorns. If you can find them, add some juniper berries. Heat this mixture to right before boiling temperature. This is the marinade that you pour over the roast.
I like to put the meat in a big Ziploc bag and put the marinade in the bag. Then you keep the Ziploc bag in the refrigerator for 3-4 days - depending on how sour you like your roast.


Cooking the roast:

After the meat has been properly soured take it out of the bag. Don't throw out the marinade. Put it through a sieve and throw away the vegetables. You must reserve the liquid because you will need it for cooking the roast later on!

Dry the meat with a kitchen towel or clean cloth. I don't use paper towels because I find it wasteful. ( Don't be an Umweltschwein! as we say in German).
After you patted the meat dry put some oil in a pot and heat it up. Now you must sizzle the meat, brown it nicely on all sides. It's best to use a pot that is tall. I use a heavy stockpot. Otherwise you may get splattered with the hot sizzling oil. Next you add some chopped up onions. Don't worry about dicing the onion small. The meat will cook for quite a while. By the time it's done cooking the onions will have disappeared. After the meat is browned properly on all sides add 375ml of the marinade back to the pot. If the roast is not covered add more water to the pot.

Now you need patience. The roast needs to cook very slowly on a low temperature. Don't boil it! You can add more of the marinade or water as the liquid cooks away. Keep checking the roast for softness. After about an 1.5 - 2 hours it should be getting close... Add a couple of hand fulls of raisins. If you have some gingerbread cookies break them up and add them to the pot, too. I rarely do have them. So it's fine without. Once the meat is nice and tender take it out of the pot. Mix a few tablespoons for flour (3-4) with some of the liquid from the pot. Bring the liquid in the pot to a boil and add the flour mixture in to thicken the sauce. Add salt and pepper as needed.

All that is left to do is to slice up the roast and serve it on a warm platter. We serve it with Spatzle, German egg noodles made from scratch. What the heck. You might be bored while waiting for that meat to get cooked. Why not start another huge project and mess up the kitchen some more?

But I swear this is so delicious. Even if you have to wash every single pot and pan in the house afterwards and spend the whole day cooking it is so worth it!

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Holiday Dress for Sooki

October has been pretty good to me. Sales are definitely picking up, and I am looking forward to the busy days of packing boxes and getting packages ready every single day.

Meanwhile I get complaints from the family that our porch is still not decorated for Halloween...Only three days to go. Hopefully I'll make it to the basement tomorrow and dig out the decorations.

I did put together a costume for my daughter this year. I hope to share some photos of it on Thursday maybe.

My daughter is very pleased indeed and so was little Sookie when she received a new red Holiday dress...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

'mericka, need more Guns!

Jeden Tag, nachdem ich die Kinder zur Schule gebracht habe, ist es Zeit für ein Gebet. Schreckliche Nachrichten diese Woche haben mich sehr deprimiert. Wieder einmal mussten 2 Lehrer ihr Leben lassen, weil ein Schüler eine Waffe mit zur Schule brachte. (Nevada, Massachusetts).

Wieso? Weshalb? Warum? So hiess es in der Sesamstrassenmelodie im deutschen Fernsehen als ich ein kleines Kind war, und man uns vorgaukelte, wie toll es ist ein Kind zu sein in Amerika. Warum? Reimt sich mit: Manche Menschen hier sind halt dumm. Oder wieso ist Selbstverteidigung mittels Schnellstfeuerwaffen wichtiger als die Sicherheit unserer Kinder in der Schule? Welche Eltern lassen Waffen im Haus herumliegen, damit ein Schüler, weil er Hass auf seinen Lehrer oder andere Schueler hat, diese totschiessen kann? Ich werde das niemals verstehen.

Ich hasse es taglich mit dieser furchtbaren Angst  leben zu müssen. Wenn ich die Kinder aus dem Auto lasse schaue ich mistrauisch umher. Was, wenn irgendeines dieser unschuldig blickenden Gören meine Kinder nicht leiden kann? Vielleicht ist dieser Junge vom Cross Country Team sauer, weil mein Sohn schneller laufen kann und jetzt nach Colorado Springs zum bundestaatlichen Wettbewerb mitfahren durfte, während er zu hause bleiben muss? Was wenn dieser Junge so deprimiert ist, dass er meint sich an meinem Kind rächen zu muessen?Verrückte Gedanken gehen einem ständig durch den Kopf in diesem verrückten Land.


Schutzengel braucht man unbedingt in diesem Land!


Ich muss diese Gedanken verdrängen um es hier auszuhalten. Oder vielleicht hilft es sie aufzuschreiben? Ich weiss genau, wenn ich diesen Blogeintrag auf Englisch schreiben würde, kämen sofort die Leser mit den Waffen im Schrank und würden sich über mich lustig machen. Hab's letztes Jahr erlebt, nach meinem Eintrag ueber Connecticut. Wie bekampft man die Gewalt in den Köpfen?

Mein Mann unterrichtet an der Uni hier. In einem seiner Kurse hat er den Studenten beigebracht jedes mal,wenn die Rede von Amerika ist, zu rufen:" 'mericka! Need more Guns!" Man hofft, dass die Studenten die tiefe Ironie erkennen.

Ein Kollege meines Mannes hat mir erzählt, das er niemals Studenten durchfallen lässt. Könnte ja sein, das einer Rache ueben will. Ist wie im Wilden Westen hier. Wo bleibt der Fortschritt?

Ich sage: " 'mericka, if anything ever happens to my children, I will never forgive you! Du bist einfach nur krank!"

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

An Apple a Day...

Sadly I have to report that we didn't get any apples this year. All the blooms were destroyed by a late frost. So if I want to make apple pockets, apple sauce, or any of the other applet treats our family loves I'll have to resort to store bought apples. Not a happy prospect.

why is it that fruit you pick yourself tastes so much better? I wonder if other folks in Colorado are having the problem as us. If you know of any place where I can get local apples fresh from a tree please let me know!

But you know what they say: An apple a day, keeps the Doctor away.

So to make myself happy I cut into this super delicious precious piece of Japanese apple fabric. I have been saving it for a day when I crave apples really badly. Like - right now. I wish I had bought more at the time...

Here is my little apple. ;)


Hope you had better luck with your apples this year!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Creative Friday

Dear Linda,

Thanks again for reminding me of Creative Friday and saving me from my gloom. I had a not so nice day yesterday after I received a brash - rather unloving - note from a customer. Isn't it funny how one little thing can ruin a person's whole day? Though I tried my hardest not to I spent the rest of the day thinking of it. Then went to bed and could barely sleep because of it.

Please remember folks that all of your actions - small and big - do have an impact on folks' life. Be kind to everyone!

This angel doll is my most beloved creation of the week. She is soft and sweet, and it gave me great joy to take her photos.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

big fall sale

surely this darn government shutdown is coming to an end now, right? to celebrate the end of this sillyness I am having a BIG SALE in my little germandolls etsyshop.

If you were thinking of getting some Christmas presents from my store: NOW would be good time.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

German Comfort Food: Jägerschnitzel

A huge part of the immigrant experience is missing food all the time. One should think you get used to it after 18  years. But it doesn't seem to work that way. In fact, as I get older, I find myself getting melancholic and missing things that I didn't even care that much about when I lived in Germany.

green Mushroom Dress
German food is not exactly healthy food. If you want to see current statistics you can find them in this recent article on obesity in Germany. Just like the US obesity is a huge problem in the Vaterland. So if you are trying to lose weight the following recipe is not for you. But if you are in search for comfort food - rest assured this will do the trick for you. Lots of comfort here. =)

If you have travelled to the Vaterland, no doubt, you came across a Kneipe  (Pub) or two that served Schnitzel. Schnitzel, is a piece of pork that has been flattened out by beating it into submission, then breaded and fried. Schnitzel comes in many different variations. It’s basically the German version of a  chicken fried steak. 

So when I get homesick or sad my fix is:Jägerschnitzel. Like I said, Schnitzels are available in combination with various sauces or toppings. You can order Wiener Schnitzel, Hungarian Schnitzel, or Jägerschnitzel = Hunter’s Schnitzel. Since I love mushrooms this has always been my favorite.

If you love mushrooms you should give it a try. Even better if you get hold of fresh mushrooms, I am sure they would make this dish even more delicious!
 

Ingredients for Jägerschnitzel:

  • 500g Champignons or other small mushrooms, I used Portobello mushrooms

  • 2 slices bacon diced

  • 1 small onion diced

  • 125ml vegetable broth

  • 125ml cream (I use milk to cut down on fat)

  • ½ teaspoon thyme

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • slab of pork

  • flour

  • 2 eggyolks beaten

  • Breadcrumbs

  • Butter

How to cook se Schnitzels:

1.Wash pork and pat dry. Lay the meat on a cutting board, cover with Seran wrap and pound on it with a meat hammer until the pieces of meat are very thin. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Drag both sides of the meat first through flour, then egg yolks, and last breadcrumbs.

2. Fry the pork pieces on both sides until golden brown. Take from pan and reserve in a warm place.

3.Make the mushroom sauce. Wash the mushrooms and slice. Thick slices are okay! Saute mushrooms in butter until they start excuding liquid. Take them out of pan and reserve in bowl. Put oninios in pan and brown lightly, add the bacon pieces, and cook with the onions for a few minutes. Put mushrooms back in the pan. Add broth and milk or cream, and thyme. Cook this sauce on low until most of the liquid is gone. This will take about 15 minutes or more. This sauce should not be runny because it is served on the crispy fried pork. So you want a thick sauce.


 




 
Traditionally Schnitzel is served with a side of French fries and a salad. I served it with a baked potato on the side this week. It was really yummy with the mushroom sauce on top.

Sorry about the dark photos! The lighting was not very good while I was cooking. I may have to retake the photos - make more Schnitzel soon!
 

 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I broke the rules...

and made a doll that is against everything I believe in.



                                                 She has a nose.





    And she has bright colored hair made from orange handspun handpainted yarn.





                              Still - I love her. Autumn is her name. What else could it be?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tea Cup dress

I finished this sweet blond doll in a tea cup dress yesterday. I love her cornflower blue eyes. It looks so sweet in combination with her long blond hair. I named her Francine.

As the days are growing colder I am much inclined to make cups of tea at all hours. So maybe today we'll invite some other friends to come to our tea party?  For now little Francy found a little friend sitting inside her tea cup. How in the world did you get in there, little Dotty?
Hmm, not much space for a cup of tea here...






What's your favorite kind of tea? I am kind of partial towards mint tea. But a nice Earl Grey served along with cucumber sandwiches and a strawberry scones sounds good to me, too.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sorrow

One of my Facebook friends posted this lovely Rumi quote today. I just had to steal it since it fit in so well with my mood. Fall - moving into the darker season - always makes me feel a bit gloomy. Memories of my parents who passed away a while ago seem to lurk around every corner. So I was glad to find that quote to combat the gloominess!

"Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place."

Do you think missing someone very intensely makes us dream of them? Last night I dreamed of my mother's reading glasses. She had come home from the hospital, where she had gone through yet another round of chemo therapy, and found her glasses smudged. First she was getting annoyed. She thought that someone had grabbed them with dirty fingers. But upon closer inspection she realized that the smudges where imprints of lips. Somebody had kissed the glasses. Not sure what this dream means. But I woke up happy. It's wonderful to have your loved ones live on in your dreams.



I must be real close to that joy Rumi talks about, don't you think? I find bits and peaces of that joy in my childrens' faces. I find parts of it in my work on my dolls. Maybe some day it will be complete again?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Time for GoodByes...

It's done! The last tomatoes in the garden have been picked. I get so sad each and every year when it's time to say "Good Bye" to our garden. It's so bad, I dread the weather forecast every night that will tell us frost is on the way.

Well, the inevitable has come to pass. Last night we were supposed to hit the freezing point. It's still dark outside, so I can't tell what our garden looks like. Do I want to look?


Anyways, here are some photos of what our garden looked like yesterday. It was a perfect day: Warm and sunny and hard to believe that our lovely jungle of tomatoes, basil, peppers, zucchinis, and more had come to the end of it's existence. Thank you so much, dear Garden! We shall mourn you all winter. You have given us an abundance of tasty delicious veggies and hours of fun in the sun.




As if this wasn't bad enough,  there is another sad Good Bye. My favorite Italian cookbook author, Marcella Hazan, passed away this week. In the newspaper they compared her to Julia Child, saying she did for Italian cooking what Julia did for the French cuisine. I am not sure that's true. Seems that everyone one talks to knows about Julia because of that popular movie about a certain blog. People draw a blank when I mention Marcella. Maybe somebody will pick up on that topic now?

If you don't know about Marcella you must go get her book The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking! I promise it won't take you oodles of time and expensive ingredients to cook a perfectly yummy dinner for your family. Marcella has a tomato sauce recipe that has all but 3 ingredients: fresh ripe tomatoes, butter, onions. Now you tell me why people buy those nasty sauces on supermarket shelves when you can cook up a perfectly fine sauce very easily? Time I suppose is a factor. Who has 45 minutes to spare? Well, if you do have a bit of time get the book and try some recipes from it.


Fresh Veggies for Chicken Cacciatora

I cooked up Marcella's Cacciatora Chicken yesterday afternoon. It took me about 30 - 45 minutes to brown the chicken and layer the chopped vegetables in a crock pot. Then I let it slowly simmer on the lowest the setting all afternoon. Come dinner time the kitchen was filled with the most wonderful smell. All I had to do is cook some pasta or rice to serve it on. It was a feast! Thank you, Marcella! You will be sorely missed!

Now I got the sad sniffles. It's October 4th. My mother would have been 77 years old today...My dad managed to pass away on her birthday in 2005. Now I think I have accumulated plenty of reasons to have myself a good cry. But the kids need breakfast and a ride to school...