This year’s Easter trip to Germany was wonderful. I had a good time being in the village where I grew up, in spite of some bittersweet moments. But I was able to revisit old times with friends and family—and we laughed and cried together. This is why I go back to Germany, so that I can feel my roots, full of priceless memories and stories, as well as traditions. One of them is the Easter Fire in my village, when we burn away the cold winter and bad spirits and welcome Spring—an old pre-Christian tradition. It is always fun, even though it was bitterly cold this year.
The first week, I stayed at our old family farm in my niece’s pied à terre. I went to all the old familiar places, like the farmer’s market in the town of Northeim, 6 miles away from my village. Göttingen is an old university town 10 miles away where they have a cute Easter Market at the center square by the Gänselisel (a girl named Lisel herding geese) fountain.
While in Göttingen, I always have a currywurst at a 40-year old kiosk that is known to all the locals. Whenever possible I have a cappuccino and some sweets at the konditorei Cron& Lanz. They have the best home-baked goods I have ever tasted. (Read about them on an older blog post.)
I took my girlfriend’s daughter out to lunch 7 miles from my village. Located below the ruins of a 1000 year old old castle, the Hardenberg Burghotel has a nice restaurant and hotel with beautiful grounds to wander around in. They have an equestrian facility and dressage training and competition. As a child I often hiked around the castle grounds. I even had my first kiss there.
Then I went to Lüneburg for a short visit to see my niece and her husband. Lüneburg is such a beautiful and livable town. I always enjoy walking around and discovering new treasures like the City Hall of Lüneburg. Behind a baroque façade (facing the market) is the biggest City Hall in northern Germany dating back to the 14th century. Yet another chamber was built in the 13th century. Since Lüneburg was one of the few towns not to be bombed during WW2, some of the original furniture is still there for us to admire.
My three days in Berlin were much warmer as the weather improved. I met with friends and family and saw a beautiful production of the opera, Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), in the new Staatsoper. It was such a treat.
The Kulturbraueri is a former brewery that was not destroyed in the war. There are eleven large brick buildings converted into museums, several theaters , restaurants and office space. It is located in the electic Prenzlauerberg district near the Mauerpark. This is a great area to explore and eat good food.
On my last evening, back at my hotel, I had dinner at Lutter and Wegner , enjoying the Gerdamenmarkt and the warm weather.
Time flies and before I knew it, it was time to catch a train to Frankfurt and fly home. I had planned to stay in Frankfurt overnight and do some shopping, but due to a strike, my flight was canceled. I was able to catch an earlier flight to the US before chaos set in, and hundreds more flights were canceled. I was proud of my quick reactions of getting on a new flight within an hour. This old girl can still do it with the help of a friendly check-in person at the United counter. Thank you! I did end up landing in San Francisco at 1:30 am and being picked up by a tired husband, bless his heart.
Special thanks goes to my friend, Herr Lindner, the concierge at the Westin Grand Hotel in Berlin, who not only got me two tickets for the opera, but always helps me with my two girls. He makes my life very easy when staying at the hotel. I even called him from the airplane shortly before takeoff for the US and he gave me the number for the hotel in Frankfurt, so I could cancel my reservation. I hope the Westin realizes what a special person Herr Lindner is. He goes above and beyond the call of duty.
Hopefully I get to visit my friends and family again. In the meantime , if you are looking some good food, try my roasted halibut with butternut squash coulis , edamame and mushroom sauce. It's a great light meal for warmer days.
I just returned from a wonderful trip to Germany, where I visited friends and family. I enjoyed every minute and would love to have stayed longer. I took six train rides, criss-crossing Germany. First I went to my family farm for a week. While on the farm I visited some nearby towns.
My girlfriend and I had this fabulous waffle with fresh fruit, ice-cream and fruit sauce in our favorite Italian Ice caffee in Northeim. Our village is also near Göttingen, an old university town with the greatest Konditorei (bakery) ever. Cron und Lanz has been baking delicacies since 1876. You get the best cookie ever when you order coffee or tea, as well other treats. I could not get enough this time and found a reason to get something from them every day.
After the village, I went to Lüneburg to visit my niece and her husband. While there, I went to the Christmas markets and a remarkable brewery museum. It was in an historical Sud house of an old brewery that started in 1485. Lüneburg is the cutest postcard-perfect German town.
Then my niece and I spent a wonderful weekend in Berlin. Since she is often in Berlin on business, she took me to all her favorite places. My young friend, Tara, also lives in Berlin and they had a great time together.
I took a long train ride (about 6 hours ) to Augsburg to visit an old friend from my boarding school days. We had coffee and cake in a Hundertwasser house chocolaterie, in the style of a famous Austrian artist. Traveling alone and visiting friends made me feel young and adventurous again.
But I am back home in California now, trying to get ready for the holidays. It takes me a good week to adjust. Part of me is still in Germany and the other part is ready to be home here in Santa Cruz. These last days before Christmas will be busy for me. Even with a cold, I managed to bake my favorite cookies and make some persimmon bread.
I made my chocolate walnut pie using pecans instead. It’s a great dessert that can be made days ahead of time. I will serve it as dessert when I make my cioppino dinner.
One of my favorite treats is my fruit and chocolate bark. This year, I used whole hazelnuts and yellow raisins mixed with some dried cranberries. I bought a very expensive bark like this not long ago. I used roasted hazelnuts from Trader Joe’s. It was a cinch to make.
Another favorite cookie of mine is the Austrian Kipferl, a crescent-shaped pastry, which is an ancestor of the French croissant. I rolled them in my homemade vanilla sugar.
A friend’s son gave me boxes of persimmons from his gorgeous tree. I made my persimmon bread and persimmon chutney, which took some trial and error. I will post the recipe in 2018
Did I say 2018? The passage of time amazes me and seems to go by faster the older we get. I like this quote from Heather Babcock, “ Time doesn’t really march on. It tends to tip-toe. There is no parade. No stomping of boots that it is passing. One day, you turn around and it’s gone.“
And with that, I wish all of you holidays that are peaceful and tranquil, filled with love, warmth and good food. A special thanks to all the people (I am amazed at how many of you there are) who are taking the time to visit my little blog.
Fröhliche Weihnachten and may your New Year be filled with hope and happiness.
If you click on the highlighted words you will get to the blog posts and recipes.
I can never get enough of different sauces and spreads. I like them thin or thick, and I like them as leftovers used with a salad, a sandwich, or a piece of meat or fish. For me, the right sauce makes the meal. When I visited the Burgundy in France (click here to read about my trip), I had the most incredibly thick eggplant sauce next to a piece of fish with the most delicate flavor I have ever tasted. The great chef had added some African spice, and I have no idea what it was. However, I remember tasting something similar in Morocco. Well, my sauces are nothing like that. They are straightforward, easy to make, delicious and can be used in many ways.
I got the idea for the romesco sauce from my blogger friend, Mary Ann, who writes the thebeachhousekitchen blog. She made her romesco sauce as an appetizer with cruditées. I have made this recipe many times and usually eat it as a sandwich spread or with a salad. It is a healthy substitute for richer foods like mayonnaise or butter. For the salmon, I used a recipe from myrecipe.com. This recipe uses canned tomatoes instead tomato paste and cumin as a spice rather than smoked paprika. I don't purée this sauce as much as Mary Ann’s sauce, leaving it coarser for the salmon. Both sauces are delicious.
The inspiration for the sorrel sauce came from the blog, Back Road Journal, and Bon Appetit. I added more sorrel because I have an endless supply of it in my tiny wild garden. Sorrel is a tart, slightly sour herb, oxalis, another common name for this herb means "sour". I think it has a distinct lemony flavor and I find its tartness refreshing. I prefer to purée the sauce in a mixer until smooth. I love the taste of this rich and tangy sauce. It compliments a piece of salmon and other fish. I could eat it on steamed veggies or a chicken breast. It would also taste great with shrimp, chicken or salmon skewers.
Here is a link to to Mary Ann’s romesco sauce and Karen’s sorrel sauce. Both sauces can be made a day ahead. I had leftovers and ate them for several days.
Read about my four-day trip to New York City on my Wanderlust blog. This trip was a spur-of-the-moment decision and I am so happy I went.
I thought it would be nice to combine these two posts together. Ruth Reichl is the cook behind my turnover recipe. I have admired her recipes and books for many years, as I still treasure my old Gourmet magazines for which she was the editor-in-chief. But she also lived in California in her twenties and thirties.
She wrote a touching story about leaving New York on the Fourth of July for her first experience teaching cooking in the Pacific Northwest for the June issue of Sunset magazine. Even though I never made turnovers before, I was smitten by the story and had to try them.
I didn't change anything in the recipe, and enjoyed every bite reminiscing about the years back when we were all young. The photo of Ruth Reichl and her husband in the magazine capture the spirit of the times.
Has it really been two months since I went to Germany in April? I went to visit my family and celebrate Easter with them. After celebrating a wonderful Easter holiday, I left my village and took the train to Lüneburg where my niece and her husband live. After Lüneburg, my niece and I spent a long weekend in Berlin. Read more about it on my Wanderlust blog.
Back in Santa Cruz, I have been cooking up a storm and entertaining four visitors from Germany. We all had a wonderful time. I love playing tour guide because I live in such a beautiful area with so many things to see and do. My niece, her husband, and her in-laws are like family to me. Their favorite meal was steak, which my husband barbecued with baked potatoes and salad. For their welcome meal, I made a turkey dinner. Yes, I served turkey in May and it was delicious. I didn't do the whole bird, just the breast and legs which I had bought at Whole Foods. I made the stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce from cranberries in my freezer. I will post my new turkey recipe at the appropriate time in November. It was a delicious meal and greatly appreciated by all. I made the turkey enchiladas from my blog with the leftovers.
After my visitors left, I bought a crate (about 28 pounds) of apricots and immersed myself in making jam, cobblers, apricot dumplings and an apricot cake. You can find all these recipes on my blog. I had planned to post a new apricot salad recipe, but it needs some work before I can do it. In the meantime, I cooked my fish in parchment paper and it was delicious. Instead of green beans, I used shaved zucchini and added some spring onions. It makes a perfect light summer dinner. For the fish, I used northern wild rockfish which was fresh and reasonably priced.
This was a wonderful trip and I appreciate how fortunate I am to be able to do this. It was a solo journey so I could spent time with my German family and friends. After an 10-hour uneventful flight (which is always good), I took the train to Göttingen and was picked up by my girlfriend. I was happy to see her and my family when we arrived at the village. There were many hugs and kisses. At that moment, I realized how much I miss them all, especially the children. They are growing up very fast. Despite the 9-hour time difference, I managed to stay up for awhile. The next day I went to Göttingen for the afternoon (click here to read about Göttingen). Whenever I visit Göttingen, I have to go to Crown and Lanz, an old-fashioned German cafe for some cake. Everyone was getting into celebrating Easter, even the town fountain.
Easter is a three-day holiday in Germany. Good Friday is a holiday and the Monday after Easter is also a holiday. My nephew, his wife and her twin sister invited the family for Easter Sunday brunch that lasted all day. Maren, my nephew’s wife’s twin sister baked this amazing Easter cake. It took her long time to produce this masterpiece, but it was worth the effort.
Both of the sisters had created a super delicious buffet with home-baked bread and many different vegetarian salads and dishes. They were doing this while watching their five children. Everybody had a great time and after the feast, we all went for a long walk to see the Easter fire before it was lit. This day alone was worth my trip. Thank you, Maren, and Jessica, for putting on this wonderful Easter brunch.
Easter Monday was quiet. My brother took us to a local restaurant for lunch or Mittagessen as we call it in Germany. We were served a nice meal. If you want to enjoy an authentic German meal and you happen to drive on the Autobahn A7 north, take the Nörten Hardenberg exit and eat at the Rodenberg restaurant. You will not regret it.
If you want a fancier dinner, stop at the old castle Hardenberg outside town. This is a beautiful spot to take a walk and watch people training their horses to jump. My dad and I used to come here when I was a child. Here you will find an elegant Relais & Châteaux hotel with two restaurants and a wellness spa. Or you can play golf nearby. This little town, Nörten Hardenberg, is three miles from my village and I enjoy coming here.
Wanting to contribute something to the Easter brunch, I made deviled eggs. They were simple but good. The eggs had been laid by my brother’s hens that week and they were extremely fresh and delicious with a dark yolk. No recipe was needed: I added some mayonnaise, mustard, a dash of curry powder, and pickled juice to the egg yolks. They were creamy and eaten right away. Once home, I made another batch that was not as creamy, but also very good.
Despite jet lag, I managed to have a small dinner party for three of my friends. I made a blueberry galette, stuffed mushrooms and my husband barbecued his rack of lamb. This meal helped me to get back into the groove, because I would have loved to have stayed longer in Germany.
New York to me is quintessentially American. It is a vibrant city with many different cultures, life styles, and a rhythm of its own. As far as I can tell, there is nothing like it on our planet. Some people call it the Big Apple or the City that Never Sleeps. It has many different names and means different things for different people. We all have seen movies that have shown us the city like King Kong climbing the Empire State Building. My very favorite movie is "When Harry Met Sally" and Meg Ryan is moaning in Katz’s Deli. My claim to fame is seeing Robert De Niro in the River Cafe under the Brooklyn Bridge 14 years ago.
I spent six beautiful days in New York, exploring the city. I ate, I walked and I ate again. Find out about my adventure on my Wanderlust blog, Click here .
Ruth Reichl, the former editor of Gourmet magazine and a native New Yorker, posted a recipe of the oyster stew served at the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant in New York on her blog. We had lunch there on my last day in New York. Click here for the recipe.
I get up very early these days since I am recovering from jet lag. I love the early hours because they are quiet and peaceful and I have them all to myself. What a treat! It takes awhile for me to adjust and get back into the groove.
Do you remember when I wrote about packing light? Well, I didn't this time. Whenever we have a car, we seem to overdo it. We took a lot of stuff to the village for the wedding: gifts, dresses and shoes just for the wedding. What can I say? My grand nephew really liked his Hawaiian shirt and the flip flops were also a hit. Originally we had planned on returning with an empty canvas bag. However, both my husband and I managed to fill it up. My husband bought a gargoyle at a garden show in our little town where we stayed for my niece’s wedding. I managed to fill up the rest of the bag.
Continue to read about my trip on my
Wanderlust Blog ( klick here)
Cooking helps me to reconnect and what is better than a good breakfast.
These banana pancakes might do the job ( klick here for the recipe ).
These crustless little mini-quiches or muffins also make a great breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They are filled with vegetables and even taste good cold
(klick here for the recipe).
Whenever I pass by a chocolaterie or candy store, I admire the chocolate-covered fruits that they sell and usually end up buying some. I love them all—apricots, oranges, and my favorite chocolate-covered strawberries. When I saw Roland’s strawberries at the farmer’s market an idea was born. Why not make my own? It couldn't be that difficult. And guess what, it is not.
You just have to get the right chocolate. I tried making them with chocolate chips mixed with bittersweet chocolate, but the chocolate looked horrible and I didn't care for the taste. After several tries, I came up with a satisfying solution. I love orange-flavored chocolate in my baking and that’s what I used this time. Mine do not look like the super fancy ones you get in the store and pay $3 each. Mine have more of a shabby chic look made by some clumsy adult (which happens to be me). This would be a great fun summer project to lure your children into the kitchen. And it’s finger-licking fun. I once made chocolate-covered pretzels with children and it was a real hit. We ended up with some chocolate-coved faces as well.
In two weeks, I will be going to Germany again to attend my niece’s wedding, which will be on our family farm. This will be very special occasion for me and I can’t wait. If my niece and her soon-to-be husband don't mind, I will do a special post about German country weddings
I love to travel. Most of my trips are to Europe because that’s where my roots and my family are. Several times I had to get ready within hours, because my mom was so very ill and needed me. (Click here to read about one of those trips.) In the old days, I would have a suitcase full of gifts for my mom’s caretakers and my grand nephews. I don't even want to think of how many pounds of California almonds I brought to Germany over the years.
I no longer do that now, as I try to travel light. Since I often go by myself, I have to be able to carry my suitcase and anything else. I often get help, but I can’t rely on it. I take two small suitcases, one as a carry-on and the other to check through. I buy lightweight suitcases, and my carry-on weighs six pounds when it’s empty. All my suitcases have four spinning wheels.
I put all my electrical devices in the carry-on: iPad, computer, camera, chargers and converters. I always carry some extra clothes, a scarf, an extra pair of glasses, a small cosmetic bag that holds enough stuff to keep me going if my other suitcase gets lost. Various airlines have lost my luggage several times.
Ziplock bags are a life saver and I always have extras. When it comes to shoes, I always go for comfort. Sneakers are “in” in Europe and I always bring a pair that I wear it most of the time. A rain jacket is a must because the weather can change in an instant. I love scarves, as they dress up any plain outfit. I take only the jewelry that I have on me and when I travel to third-world countries, I take all jewelry off. Never take anything you can’t afford to lose. But I always take my own special little pillow
When I start packing, I put a bag in my bedroom and whenever I think of something, I throw it in. My husband makes a list and then packs. He also packs very light. I am so excited that I can barely contain myself. This is going to be a very special trip.
Let's have a toast to the happy couple with this refreshing strawberry punch.
(click for the recipe here)
It’s been over two weeks since I returned from Germany and there is no question that I have had writer’s block. I did not write while I was in Germany and now I am scrambling for words that will entertain you and tell you about my trip. I had a great time, despite having a nasty cough. Going to Germany means so many things to me. I connect with my family and friends, which is so important to me especially as I get older. There is also something personal for me by connecting with my German side: the culture, the behavior, and the way of life. When my mom still was alive. I was a participant. Now I have become more of an observer. I am more relaxed and don't have to intervene as often, other than helping my niece pick out her bridal gown, which was a lot of fun. (Click here to continue reading this post on my Wanderlust blog ).
Just in case you need another rhubarb recipe! Here is simple but delicious
Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. It means a lot to me and I would love to hear from you .
Comments in English and German are welcome!
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