Friday, December 30, 2011

A Look at the Past and Facing the Future

It's been a good year and it has been a rough year.  We got through it together.  Celebrating our 45th anniversary in August is testament that we can get through it all.

Family is always the most important.  We visited my brother and sister-in-law in North Carolina in May, The Trout's brother and sister-in-law in Iowa, and were able to see all the nieces and nephews who live nearby.  We spent time with both daughters and families in Ohio and Wisconsin and time with the grand kids who are growing so quickly.

Three weeks were spent in France and Paris.  We have a great love for the food, wine, people and the magnificent history and sights of France.  We met the most wonderful people in the gités we rented.  Our greatest thrill was meeting Barbara and her husband, Robert, a fellow blogger I have corresponded with for some time.  It is true..when you meet a blogger you have been reading for a while, you are not meeting a stranger.  It is more like connecting with a friend you have known forever.

Then the next adventure....we bought a 26 foot travel trailer so that we could be a little freer in our travels out West.  Unfortunately, my knee was bothering me a lot by this time, so we could not do all we wanted to.  There is always next year.

We had beautiful weather in Montana this year.  A high school friend and his wife stopped by to reconnected after almost 50 years.  The Trout's best fishing buddy and his wife spent time with us at the cabin also.  And then I had the pleasure of meeting another blogger friend; Diana and her husband Pete.  Once again, it was as if we had known each other for years.  What a thrill to finally meet.

After that, things started going a little sour.  The Trout had to have surgery for a small intestine blockage.  We were fortunate to find an excellent surgeon and though he lost a lot of time fishing the trout streams, he was able to recover so that we could start our long trip back to Florida.

My knee has a long history.  It started back in March when we decided to get healthy and work with a trainer at a gym.  I hurt my knee and after several doctor visits, nothing was resolved.  So, I limped all the way through France and when it got worse, saw a doctor in Wisconsin.  No resolve there.  Saw an orthopedic surgeon in Montana who gave me a cortisone shot that was short-lived.  So when we got back home, I finally had a much needed MRI.  Both medial and lateral meniscus in the knee were torn...since I had arthroscopic surgery on December 16.  Hoping this would correct the problem was short-lived again.  It seems the surgery simply aggravated arthritis which I did not know I had, so the pain is still there, but different.  They hope to baby my knee with cortisone injections for a year or two until it will need to be totally replaced.

So, that means we have to be careful with what trips we plan until we have a better idea how I can handle the walking.  Believe me, I can be patient.  I have also let my blog slide by not writing much in the last year.  I hope to improve that in 2012.  That is a definite goal.

Our two daughters and their families came to Florida for Christmas week.  It was the first time in 6 years that we have all been together.  I told the Trout that our quiver was definitely full....all because we fell in love 50 years ago.  The path of life is amazing.   We have been blessed.

Happy New Year to all of you.  May 2012 be healthy and happy, and as we say in German, "Einen Guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!!"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My favorite German cookie....Wiesbader Brot

A long, long time ago, a recipe came from Germany with a group of people looking for religious freedom.  They traveled across the ocean and, according to a diary that I found many years ago in my parent's attic, they suffered from a lot of sea sickness.  But they had faith in their Creator, and they arrived on the shores of America.  The time frame was the 1850's.  So what did the women bring with them?  I can only guess, but recipes were an important factor..keeping them in touch with their homeland.

One such recipe I baked today.  A Christmas cookie that I have always known as "Wiesbader Brot.".  This translates to "the bread of Wiesbaden, Germany."  As a child, I loved to watch my grandmother bake these great smelling cookies.  If this cookie has ever seen itself in Wiesbaden, Germany, is a mystery.  Perhaps, it was only remorse of leaving the homeland that named this cookie.  Nevertheless, with a little imagination, it does look like a slice of bread topped with butter.

It has been a few years since I have baked Wiesbader Brot, but I do think today, they tasted better than they ever have.  I have to give credit to the cinnamon that I added.  For quite a few years, I have been buying my cinnamon from Penzey's in Wisconsin.  This Vietnamese cinnamon is absolutely the best tasting.  I hope you will discover Penzey's and try their cinnamon and other spices.  They rank top quality on my list.  I also buy all my peppercorns for grinding from them including a lot of other spices.

The cookie is supposed to look like a slice of bread topped with butter.  When you read the recipe, you can see how this happens.  The recipe is printed in "Seasons of Plenty", a cookbook from the Amana Colonies in Iowa, that I gave away earlier this year on my blog anniversary.   The tool that should be used to cut the cookies is a ruffled roller cutter that I do not own.  My grandmother's disappeared in the family home auction years ago, but I do remember it and use my pizza cutter instead.  The ruffled edge on the cookies does make it extra special.

Wiesbader Brot (The Bread of Wiesbaden)

1 cup butter, softened
2 1/3 cups sugar
4 eggs, reserve yolks from 2
5 cups flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder

 In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Reserving 2 egg yolks, beat 2 whole eggs and 2 white until very frothy and combine with creamed sugar and butter.  Gradually add flour, cinnamon, and baking powder.  Mix well.  Cover and chill dough overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  On a large lightly floured board, roll out small portions of the dough to 1/4 inch thickness.  Use a fluted pastry wheel, or pizza cutter and cut into diamond shapes.  Place on a greased baking sheet and brush with beaten egg yolks.  Bake about 15 minutes until light brown.  Makes 4-5 dozen cookies.

I hope you have a chance to try my favorite German cookie.  They are now resting until the grandchildren arrive Christmas week.  By the way, my favorite way to eat them is dunked in hot chocolate.  YUM

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cheesy, flaky and absolutely delicious crackers

I am always looking for the perfect addition to an ice cold martini or other beverage for "Happy Hour."  By the way, we have found that this special hour, when the neighbors come out their doors with drinks in hand is getting earlier and earlier.  Perhaps because the dark sets in so much earlier.  Perhaps because we are all retired and don't care about putting up appearances any more.

I think I have found it.  I stumbled across "In the Kitchen with Kath" and found this very simple, very easy and very tasty cracker recipe.  These cheesy crackers, (which, by the way) smell outstandingly delicious as they bake, are flaky and can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days..but, I really doubt they will last that long.

They do require a food processor and then this cracker can be started and to the enjoying with a drink part in less than one hour.  If you want to eat them warm, even less than that.  I would suggest that you use a food processor though.  I would think it would get a little discouraging trying to make this dough without one.

Cheese Crackers
 from In the Kitchen with Kath

Depending on the size you cut them, you can get 75 to 100 crackers

1 1/2 cups (6 oz) grated, extra sharp Cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
3/4 cups flour, plus more for rolling out
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put everything except the milk in a food processor.  Pulse the processor 5 seconds at a time, for about 5-6 times, until the dough is in coarse crumbs.

Add the milk and process until the dough gathers together in a ball.

Roll the dough out on a floured board with a rolling pin that has been floured, until the dough is about 1/8 inch thick.

Cut the dough into 1 inch squares with a sharp knife or pizza cutter.  You can put a bit of flour on the blade of the knife to keep it from sticking.  Use the flat end of a wooden skewer, I used the rounded tip of a chopstick, to poke a hole in the center of each cracker.

Place the crackers at least 1/4 inch apart on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown.

Put the baking sheet on a rack and let the crackers cool completely.  Eat or store in a covered container to eat within a day or two.  ENJOY!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tampa Bay Brewing Company

Every once in a while, I do a post.  I have not been doing too much or feeling inspired enough to write, but am finally scheduled for arthroscopic surgery on my knee on the 16th.  Seems like I have a torn meniscus and my knee can't handle too much walking or standing.  The fact that this has been going on since March does not help.  So slowly, I am seeing the end of the tunnel and it is encouraging.  We have been eating, but nothing worth writing about.  Other than a quick trip to the grocery store, not much else has been going on.

But yesterday, we did go out for lunch.  The Trout saw Guy Fieri  from "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" visit The Tampa Bay Brewing Company in Ybor City, a suburb of Tampa.  He knew we had to try it.  This is a very  nice pub/restaurant and I know we will be back.  They usually have 10 beers that they brew on premises.  Having trouble deciding, we were both offered two samples to choose from.  The menu offers a little of everything.  Nice choices.  We opted to share Pan Crisped Pierogi with caramelized onions and mushrooms, served with sour cream.  Six large pierogis arrived, stuffed with a creamy, cheesy mashed potato mixture.  They were delicious.

I order the Tandoori Chicken Pita with romaine lettuce, tomato, red onion and house made tzatiki sauce with a side of black beans and yellow rice that was fantastic.  Nice choice.

The Trout had a very large Cobb Salad.  For some reason, he has a great love for this salad and it was right on.  Oh and the beer....on the right is my "One Night Stand Pale Ale" and the Trout had "Red Eye Ale".  The beers were very nice.  Overall, this was a delightful place for lunch or dinner and I know we will be back.

In case you are interested, the dish Guy Fieri ordered and raved about was "Brewhouse Barleywine Meatloaf with Wild Mushroom Demi."  Darn, they were out of it.  Next time.