Friday, December 28, 2012

Butterhorn Crescents

These have been served for breakfast at her house every Christmas she can remember. Even when she is not in the USA for the holidays, she still makes them to keep the tradition going.

~Important - they need to sit over night so plan ahead!~

36 crescents:

1 package dry yeast (these seem to be the same size in the USA and Germany)
1 cup warm milk
~3 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 egg
cinnamon and sugar are optional

Warm the milk to between 105-115 F. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and yeast. Let sit for about 5 minutes, or as long as it takes to start to bubble. This is important because if it does not bubble it means you have killed the yeast (happened to her the first time she tried this year).

In a separate bowl, mix the flour and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and cut it into the flour mixture. Stop when the butter is about the size of small peas. If you over blend the crescents will not be as tasty.

Beat the egg and then stir it into the milk mixture. Gradually add the mixture to the flour/butter mixture.  Mix well but do not mix very hard. The dough will still be sticky when you are finished. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge or somewhere cool (but not freezing) overnight.


Remove the dough from the bowl and split it into three equal pieces. Put the other two pieces somewhere cool while you work with the third piece.

Roll out the dough on a floured board and kneed gently. Add more flour if needed.  Once the dough is no longer sticky, roll it into a 12 inch circle (we always have used a big plate to cut the dough into a perfect circle). If you would like plain crescents (her and her mom agree they are the best!) leave as is. If you want cinnamon and sugar crescents (loved by her sister and father) spread cinnamon and sugar mix over the dough.

Cut the circle into 12 triangles (hint for those who are confused, first into fourths and then each fourth into thirds). Roll from the outside in, place on a cookie sheet with the thin tip down, and slightly curve to make a crescent shape.

Cover with a damp towel and let rise someplace warm for 30-45 minutes (if you made cinnamon and sugar ones make sure to leave it the full 45 minutes because they take longer to rise). Repeat the entire process with the other two pieces of dough.

When the time is almost up, preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).

Bake for 10-15 minutes (the bottom will get slightly brown) and let cool on a wire rack before icing.


2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tbs milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Whisk the milk, vanilla and powdered sugar together. Start with 2 Tbs of milk and add more if needed. The icing should be runny enough to easily spread but not so runny that it gets all over.

Enjoy for breakfast, a snack, or perhaps even dessert. Best with milk, hot chocolate, or coffee.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: Christmas Traditions

Whenever two people come together there is bound to be some discussion over how holidays should play out. Everyone has grown up with their own family traditions and has definite thoughts about how Christmas (or Thanksgiving, or New Years) should go. Of course we have experienced the same thing and the addition of two cultures makes these traditions even more different sometimes.

The absolute largest difference between Christmas in the USA and in Germany is actually the day it is celebrated on. In Germany, December 24 is the day that really counts. Family comes together and eats a big meal and all the presents are opened toward the afternoon/evening. In German, this is actually called the first Christmas day (erster Weihnachtstag). The next day, December 25, is called the second Christmas day (zweiter Weihnachtstag) and is filled with family and food but not presents.

This is very different from the USA, where most families open no presents (or like her family did, just one small present) on Christmas Eve (the night of December 24) and instead wait to do the real celebrating on December 25. This means that the years she stays in Germany for Christmas (like this one), she is finished celebrating Christmas before it has even hit in California where the rest of her family is. Our solution? We open presents and celebrate with his family here in Stuttgart and save the presents sent from her family to open on the 25th. When we are not in Germany for Christmas, he is of course going to have to wait and do it the American way!

There are other traditions we keep that do not have as much to do with culture but with family traditions. His family eats fondue (very typical German Christmas tradition) on December 24 with an amazing super garlic sauce (recipe coming soon!). Although as a family that tradition has been put aside, we have kept it going by eating fondue on December 23.

A butterhorn
Her family's tradition is making and eating a sweet called butterhorn crescents for breakfast on December 25 (recipe coming soon!). Even though she is not in the USA, she still makes these each year and they are now part of our German Christmas.

A tradition we started together is the purchasing of one Christmas ornament we pick out together each year. We write the year on the bottom and add it to our collection.

What types of traditions does your family have during the holidays? How many of these traditions involve food?

We wish you a very very merry Christmas and delicious food coma to follow!

Friday, December 21, 2012

English Tea Cakes

This is another recipe that has been passed on to her. She got her a taste of these cookies when a friend made them the first year she lived in Germany. She said she had to have the recipe and has been making them every Christmas since.

About 30 cookies:

2 cups sifted flour (2 cups after sifting)
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup ground nuts (typically walnuts)
2 egg yolks (save the whites!!)

Preheat the oven to 352 F (about 160 C)

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks and mix. Slowly add the flour. Mix until everything is combined well.

Form into balls (the size is really up to you, we made ours about 1 inch in diameter)

Roll the dough balls in the egg whites (that is why keeping them is important!) and then in the ground nuts. We could not find walnuts at our local store so we used hazelnut this time...honestly, when it is ground so fine you can't really tell what type of nut it is).

Place the finished dough balls on a cookie sheet (either leave ungreased or use parchment paper).

Bake five minutes, remove from the oven, and use your thumb or a teaspoon to dent each cookie. The dent does not have to be too deep, but deep enough to hold icing later.

~If you want to do this the lazy way, dent your cookies before baking~

Bake another 15 minutes. It is hard to tell when these cookies are done because they do not get brown. You just have to trust that if 18 minutes have gone by and you still can't really tell, they are probably finished.

Remove and let cool completely before icing.


1/4 cup butter (softened)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs cream or milk
Food coloring of choice (or leave them white = boring!)

Cream the butter and powder sugar together. Add the milk and vanilla and the food coloring of choice.

We usually stick to Christmas colors (red or green). This year our red looked more pink... oops!

Using a knife, spread the icing into the dent of each cookie. The icing should not be so thick that this is too hard to do but not so runny that it gets all over.

Two years ago she made these cookies and decorated them with green icing and a walnut piece. She then made little homemade baggies and gave them to colleagues. They made easy but very nice looking Christmas gifts.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lace Cookies

She got the recipe for these super thin and crisp cookies from her mom. She has no idea where the recipe came from before that.

These cookies are super easy to make. The only downside to them is that you cannot fit many on each tray, therefore baking tons of them takes a great deal of time.

4 dozen cookies

1 cup oats (quick not instant)
1 cup sugar
3 Tbs flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup butter

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C)

These were too close and got stuck together!

Mix all of the dry ingredients together. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Melt the butter and pour over the mixture. Mix again.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a 1/2 tsp measure (yes, we know it seems tiny but these cookies really expand!) scoop the mixture onto the cookie sheets.

It is very important to leave plenty of space between each cookie (2 inches at least!)

Bake for 6-8 minutes or until the edges are tan and the centers no longer look glassy. Ours took about 8-9 minutes. If you do not cook them long enough they will turn out chewy instead of crispy, so it is better to cook a tad too long than a tad too short.

Remove the parchment paper from the cookie sheet and let the cookies cool completely before trying to remove them.

Store in an airtight container or within a day or two they will have a soggy texture.

See? Nothing to it! We made these cookies for our cookie exchange, but they are good all year around, not just during the holidays.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: The Autobahn and Directions

The famous no speed limit sign (
This past weekend we took a road trip to visit friends and family in Stuttgart. Although in distance we live farther away from Stuttgart than before, the drive does not take much more time and is  much more relaxing. Instead of spending the entire drive on tiny one lane roads, now we can go door to door almost completely on the Autobahn. Ahh, the famous German Autobahn.

The Germans love the Autobahn just as much as the rest of the world. The idea of being able to go as quickly as you wish is the dream for most any boy over the age of 16. The thing is, as great as the Autobahn is (and it is great), it is not exactly what all the hype makes it out to be.

First of all, there are many fewer places on the Autobahn in Germany that you drive without a speed limit than the average American (or we think anyone else outside of Germany) would believe. Although the system is very complex and (as of 2012) the fourth longest highway system in the world with almost 8,000 miles (13,000 km), it is important to realize that Autobahn means highway, not no speed limit. The number of stretches with no speed limit are almost non-existent in some parts of Germany, and quite common in others. It depends where you live and other factors such as traffic, road repair, and more. Sometimes you are going along with no speed limit and then there is a speed limit for a few kilometers (and very tricky traffic cameras to catch those who do not slow down) for a few kilometers, before the famous no speed limit sign appears and you are on your way again. Additionally, unless you are driving on a Sunday afternoon or late into the night, most times there are too many cars to go whatever speed you want (and you are not crazy so you keep a reasonable speed even if you can go as fast as you wish).

This was something that he noticed when road tripping through the USA. Although the idea of speed limits (and quite low speed limits) in the USA sounds horrible, if you are not in the middle of Nevada (which we were but that is another story), there are few times you could go more than 10 miles over the speed limit without having to slow down and dodge cars every few minutes.

We don't want to break any dreams, so even with the traffic camera, speed limits, and traffic, we will stick to the idea that the Autobahn is awesome (Actually, it really is!)

West and East listed on American signs (
A difference that we notice between our cultures every time we get into the car are the signs on the highway that tell you where to go. In Germany, city names are the only thing used on the highway to describe one highway direction from the other. In the USA, highways say not only what city they are heading past, but also the direction (north, south, east, west). This makes it much easier if you are not familiar with the area but know the general direction you want to go. It drives him crazy that she is always telling him that we need to go north and west, because this is completely useless in Germany, unless you happen to know that the cities named are in the north or west.

Only city names on German signs (
Another difference is how you give directions. In the USA, when asked where you live in comparison to somewhere else, you never give the distance in miles, instead you give the time (e.g., I live 30 minutes outside of New York City). This would never happen in Germany. The number of kilometers are always given and never the time it takes to travel that far. Perhaps it is because of the long distances people travel regularly in the USA, or perhaps because 15 miles can mean such different things depending if you are in a city always filled with traffic, or in the middle or no where. Whenever she tells people she comes from so many minutes away from San Francisco they just look at her like ooookay, and then get distracted by ooooh San Francisco. The problem is that no matter how long she lives here, kilometers still feel "foreign" and knowing that someone lives 40 km away sounds like a great journey, when really it isn't too far.

Yup, that is what we thought about on our drive back to Frankfurt this Sunday, so we thought we would share it as a Mix-Up Monday.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Instead of making boring old chocolate chip cookies make chocolate chip cookie bars or a cake.
Just use our easy chocolate cookie recipe found here.

Put the cookie batter into a pan (either circle or square) and press it down evenly. Then all you need to do is  change the cooking time from the normal 9-11 minutes (for cookies) to 20-25 minutes.

You can even decorate the cookie with a name or saying using icing if you wish.

We served ours with ice cream.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Quickest "Semi-Homemade" Pizza Ever

You know those days when you just want to eat but nothing goes right? It ends up getting beyond wanting to eat, but instead morphs into needs to eat (because if you are anything like her you are getting extremely cranky). We had one of those nights this past Sunday.

After a lovely cookie exchange Sunday afternoon (pictures and cookie recipes coming soon) we decided we need to get out of the house and have something a little "fresher" and healthier feeling to the stomach. We both had a giant craving for sushi, particularly all you can eat sushi. Not probably the greatest idea after eating cookies all day, but that is not the point of this story.

We are still relatively new to Frankfurt, living here for less than three months. We searched for an all you can eat sushi place, with good reviews, not too far away (horrible amount of snow covering the city this day), and a price we were happy with. We found the perfect place, made reservations using their online booking system, and set off into the cold.

Now, after eating cookies all day it was rather late by the time we were ready to eat. Our reservations were set for 8:30 and we got to the place right on time...only to find that it was closed! Not even just a little closed (if that is possible) but completely dark, security gate down, no one to be seen nearby. Why we were able to make a reservation and why it is listed online as being open on Sundays (with extra awesome specials on Sundays) who knows? The sign at the restaurant said always closed Sunday.

Disappointed but not out of hope (and not starving yet) we whipped out the cell phone to search for another all you can eat sushi place. We live in a big city, it should not be too hard to find, right? Wrong. Nothing was close to where we were and we were not looking forward to trekking across the city. Additionally, everywhere closed at 10 and by the time we got there we would have too little time to make use of the all you can eat aspect. (You need time to pace yourself for important eating marathons like that :) ).

We did find two sushi places near where we were but both were rather empty, expensive, and not all you could eat. We walked around for a bit, looking at Chinese restaurants, chicken houses, and a whole lot of other places that did not appeal. Finally, we got back on the tram and headed home. At this point we were starving and she was getting grumpy!

We didn't have a ton of food in our fridge and decided to make a deep dish stove-top pizza we saw that morning on Jamie Oliver's cooking show. Unfortunately, after looking up the recipe we got put off by the amount of time it took and the experimenting we would have to do because we did not have all of the ingredients.


The answer (to our extreme hunger by this point because it was after 9:30) turned out to be waiting for us right when we got off the tram. Buy a cheese pizza (or two because we were sooo hungry) from our local pizza place and add our own toppings when we got home. This saved us time and money (cheese pizza is cheap! It is all the stuff on top that puts the price up).

to awesome

So, that is the lesson learned. There are ways to keep it relatively cheap (we know, buying any pizza is not as cheap as making your own but there was no way we were going to wait for dough to rise) when you are desperate and grumpy and need food. An idea to keep in mind next time you suffer from the hunger monster :)

~Just don't forget to stick the pizza in the oven for a few minutes to get the toppings all hot and tasty.~

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: Christmas Markets / Weihnachtsmarkt

Typical Glühwein mugs (these were ours in 2010)
There may be nowhere more beautiful to be for Christmas than Germany.

This country knows how to get into the spirit of things...even the weather covers the land with a coat of white to make sure you really know that the holiday season has arrived.

The most famous part of the Christmas season in Germany is the Christmas markets. Every city, town, and village has some type of Christmas market at some point during the holiday season. In large cities like Frankfurt, these markets begin toward the end of November and continue right up until Christmas.

A typical Christmas market has a mix of stalls. Some serve food (crepes, wurst, candied nuts) and some sell doohickeys (wooden toys, ornaments, hats and scarves, nut crackers). Every Christmas market has at least one stand selling Glühwein, translated into mulled wine, which just does not do it justice. Glühwein is not only an important tradition at Christmas markets, it is also the only way you can stay warm enough to withstand being outside for such long periods of time.

Glühwein comes in traditional mugs, often decorated with the name of the city and the year. You pay a small deposit on the mug and you can then choose to either get your money back at the end of the night or keep it is a souvenir.

We have already visited the Christmas market here in Frankfurt a few times and enjoyed a glass or two of Glühwein and some candied almonds.

The most famous Christmas market in the world is in Nuremberg.  It is the largest Christmas market there is, and although lovely (she has visited three different years), it does not offer anything different than a typical German Christmas market, just many repeats of similar booths.

Many other countries have followed in Germany's footsteps and now hold Christmas markets each year. London and Chicago are both cities known for their Christmas markets.

Everyone needs to visit a traditional Christmas market sometime during their life. No matter how big of a Scrooge your are, it will be sure to put you in the Christmas spirit!

We wish we could share more pictures with you from our time this year at the Christmas market. Frankfurt even has a Mexican booth serving burritos, nachos, and tacos! Unfortunately, we are having photo problems with this website again :( 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Schnitzel Sandwich

Best part about having leftover schnitzel? Making a schnitzel sandwich!

Fresh rolls, schnitzel, lettuce, tomato, and your choice of mayo, mustard, of ketchup (or all three if you are feeling adventurous).

You can't really go wrong when making a schnitzel sandwich, except DO NOT microwave the schnitzel. Take the few extra minutes to heat it up in the oven so you keep the crispiness.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Poppy Seed Bagels Made at Home

It is hard to find a good bagel (her father would say you have to be in New York City to find a true good bagel). In Germany, the choices are very limited. Recently a few shops have opened that sell sandwiches on bagels, but they are quite expensive and do not sell individual bagels to take home. Most supermarkets have packaged bagels here but they are decent at best. Since we moved to Frankfurt we have not been able to find even decent bagels. The packaged  bagels sold at the supermarket near us are more like rolls with a hole cut in the middle. Way too fluffy and squishy to be called a true bagel.

We both love bagels, especially him. A little cream cheese and some lox and you have a meal for anytime of day. That is the reason why we decided to give a go to making our own bagels. In comparison to the bagels we get here, our result was delicious and much cheaper. Were they perfect New York Style bagels? No. But we have time to perfect that :)

6-8 bagels:

1 cup warm water
1 packet of active dry yeast (about 1/4 oz. / 7 g)
2.5 Tbs sugar
2.5-3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vegetable oil
Toppings of choice - we used poppy seeds but you could also try sesame seeds, kosher salt, or toasted onions.

Combine the warm water (about 110 F or 43 C) with the yeast and 1.5 Tbs sugar (not all the sugar!). Give it a little stir and let it sit until foamy, about five minutes.

Add 2 cups of flour and the 1 tsp salt slowly. Mix until everything comes together.

Add another 1/2-3/4 cups of flour, only about 1/4 cup at a time. Mix between each addition and stop when the dough has become stiff.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand. Continue to knead until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky (you might need to add a little more flour to get to this stage). This will take about five minutes so plan to build your muscles!

Grease a bowl with the 1 tsp of oil. Make the dough into a ball, roll it around the bowl to get it greased, and then let it sit, covered, in a dry and warm place for one hour. The dough should double in size during this hour.

Ours got huge!

Remove the dough from the bowl, punch down and divide into 6-8 pieces. Each piece should weigh about 2-3 oz. (57-85 g). Form each piece of dough into a ball, then stick your thumb through the ball to make a hole.Wiggle your thumb around so the hold stays open even after your finger is removed.

(Another option is to roll each piece of dough out into a 6 inch (15 cm) log and then make a circle out of it, putting the ends together. We think this is too much work and does not make as nice looking bagels).

Place the dough balls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and cover with a clean cloth. Let sit out for 20-30 minutes. The dough should once again rise but this time not double in size.

During this time you can preheat the oven to 400 F (205C).

When the dough is almost finished rising, heat a large put with about 12 cups (almost 3 liters) of boiling water. Add the remaining (1 Tbs) sugar to the water.

In batches you feel you can handle (we did two at a time), place the bagels into the water and let boil for about 1 minutes on each side.

Remove the bagel from the water, dip the top into a shallow bowl with the topping of your choice, and then place on a lightly greased cookie sheet or sheet pan.

Once all bagels have been boiled, bake for 35 minutes. Toward the end (last five minutes) you may want to flip the bagels to get the bottoms nice and brown.

Enjoy fresh or keep up to a week in an air-tight container.

We love our bagels with cream cheese and lox or as the bread for a breakfast or normal lunch sandwich.

This recipe was adapted from Emeril Lagasse, 2002.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: License Plates

We had lots of recipes to blog last week but somehow we managed to run out of picture space. We thought recipes are boring without pictures so we waited until we fixed the problem. Now the problem is fixed (we hope!) but it is Monday, which means time for a Mix-Up Monday instead.

People are always attracted to license plates from other countries. Just like money, something so boring and everyday in your own country seems new and exciting in another. This past Saturday we were at a shop here in Frankfurt that was selling American license plates for 25 euros and above (that is about 33 US dollars). Although it seemed quite silly, we decided that people would be just as willing to pay a lot for German license plates in the US.

So what are the major differences between license plates in these two countries that make them so exciting?

B for Berlin (circle missing on this plate) (
The first obvious difference is the size. American plates are slightly chubby rectangles while Germany (actually all of Europe) has long and thin plates. Perhaps they are trying to hint toward the stereotypes of the size of people in these two countries??

Sorry, but German plates are pretty boring. The left side has a small blue square with the stars for the EU and a D for Deutschland. The rest is plain. Between the numbers and letters is a small circle (very hard to see while driving if you do not know exactly what you are looking for). This circle represents the German state.

Definitely a nuclear disaster (
American plates vary widely depending on what state you live in. California is quite boring, just white with California written in red, but other states take their plates to a whole new level. As her mother used to say, "Oh there goes the nuclear disaster," because of the red, yellow, and black on the Indiana license plates. Even if a state has a rather dull plate, special editions come out quite often (for example, celebrating an anniversary) or the state includes the state motto (Washington D.C. plates say "Taxation Without Representation" and North Carolina states, "First in Flight." Some states, Florida for example, let you choose which slogan you would like (Sunshine state or In God We Trust). If you do not like the plate your state has to offer you can pay a little extra money and get a special plate that represents a charity. This can range from saving the whales and the farmers to representing the university you attended.


M for Munich (München) (
In Germany, the left side of the plate (left of the circle) signifies what county you are from. When we lived in Aalen (which happened to be the name of the town and the county) we had AA on our plate. When you move counties you must buy a new plate. If you like to move this can happen quite often, for the entire country is smaller than California, making each county very small. She actually lived in Aalen but worked in the county Heidenheim, meaning if we had moved a few minutes closer to work we would of had to pay for new plates that said HDH.

Since she is not very good with her German counties she finds it very entertaining to constantly ask him what county each plate stands for during road trips. (Nooooo, not annoying at all :) )

A person in Germany can choose to get a personalized license plate for a small price, but what you can do with it is limited. You only have six spaces to play with meaning most personalized plates are initials and a birth year. There are no symbols or extra numbers/letters allowed.
In the USA, it depends on where you live if the county you live in is listed. She knows that in Tennessee each plate has the county, but it is a sticker, meaning you do not have to pay for a brand new plate when you move. Hawaii, Idaho, and Guam each use a letter to designate where the vehicle was registered. In most states there is no way to see where exactly the car is from.

There is a lot more flexibility about what you write on your customer license plate in the USA. Beyond just having more spaces (seven in states with lots of people). There are also special characters allowed such as &, dashes and spaces. 

So that's the gist of the license plate thing. If you have extra plates laying around feel free to send them our way and we will be sure to find a buyer :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: Grades

There are many similarities and differences between the education systems in Germany and the United States. This is just one small example.
Everyone knows that feeling of doing really well on an exam or paper. There is something in your stomach connected to getting a good or bad grade. The funny thing is that just changing what this grade is called can really change how you feel about how you did.

Germany uses the basic grading system of 1-6 (best to worst). Getting a 1 is amazing and 5 and 6 are usually considered unsatisfactory and do not meet the requirements for passing. Students can get stages between these grades, listed as + or -, or as a decimal (e.g., 1.3).

In America, basic grading is a little more complicated. A-F (without an E). A is amazing and F is a complete fail. In many cases, D is also considered failing. To calculate the Grade Point Average (GPA) each letter grade must be changed into a number (A=4, B=3, C=2. D=1. F=0). Some schools have different scores for plus and minus, others say that it does not matter if someone has a B- or a B+, it is all worth 3 points.

When grades are transferred from one system to the other, it must be decided what is considered "equal." Typically, grading rules say that an average grade in Germany is harder to get than an average grade in America. For this reason a German 2 is usually transferred into a A-/B+, a 3 is a B/B-, and a 4 is an American C.

When she studied in Germany she found it hard to get excited about "good grades." A 1 or 2 just did not sound very exciting when she grew up striving to get As. It was also a little strange to have to explain to people that a 3.66 GPA meant that you did very well, not that you were close to failing!

Funny how you can get such an emotional attachment to a few words and their meanings :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chicken Piccata

We like lemon, we like chicken, we liked this chicken piccata.

Two servings:

2 boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup flour
1 lemon
2 tbs oil
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tbs capers
1 1/2 tbs butter
1 tbs fresh parsley, micned
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 F (95 C), adjusting the oven rack to the middle and placing a heatproof plate inside.

Cut the lemon in half (longways). Juice one half (about 2 Tbs). Cut the ends off each side of the other half. Slice into thin slices (crosswise). Set both the juice and slices aside.

Slice each chicken breast (crosswise) through the middle. This should give you four thin chicken slices.

Sprinkle each side of the chicken with salt and pepper.

Pour the flour into a shallow bowl dip each side of the chicken slices in the flour. Shake to remove excess.

Heat the oil on the stove over medium. Once it is very hot (check with a very few drops of water), cook the chicken. Each side should be nice and brown (about 2-2 1/2 minutes on the first side and 1-1 1/2 minutes on the second). Remove from the pan and put on the hot plate in the oven.

Keep the pan on the stove and add the finely diced garlic. Cook for about 15 seconds.

Add the chicken broth and lemon slices. Increase the heat to high and use a spatula to scrape the bottom to get all the browned bits up.

Simmer until the liquid reduces to about 3 Tbs. This may take up to 2 minutes.

Add the lemon juice and capers and continue to simmer until back to about 3 Tbs.

~We might have been impatient and didn't wait until it fully reduced :) ~

Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter. Swirl until the butter melts and then mix in the parsley (we used dried, not the best choice but worked okay).

Spoon the sauce over the chicken from the oven and serve. We ate our chicken piccata with rice. 

This recipe was adapted from Cook's Illustrated (April 23, 2007)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: Complaining
Sorry to say this, but Germans love to complain. At first it is not very noticable, but if you spend enough time here you realize that complaining takes place all around, all the time. Of course, everyone has good reason to complain every now and again, but that is not what we are talking about. People here seem to complain about everything! The weather, the train, the color of this, the size of that, too loud, too soft. The list goes on and on...

Complaining is definitely a pretty big mix-up we have had with each other. Many times she has "complained" to him that he complains too much. Even when everything is going right somehow he still finds something to complain about. To him it was no big deal, complaining is normal, but with her cultural background, the idea that someone complains so much makes her crazy!

At least in comparison to Germany, America is a very indirect country. Often, when you want something changed or fixed you hint to it by complaining. If done correctly, the other person should pick up on what you want. Sensible? Perhaps not, but that is just how the US does it. We covered this general idea in Mix-Up Monday: Commands.

When Germans complain, for the most part, they are just filling the time. They do not necessarily care if anything is changed or feel very strongly about their complaints. For us, this meant he was complaining to just complain and she thought he was unhappy and wanted everything fixed. Can you see how this could lead to a big problem?

We don't want you to think all he does is sit around and complain. It is not like that at all! Actually, in comparison to many people we have met in Germany he is very low on the complaining scale :). The other day he actually came home and said, "Wow, you know what? Germans complain A LOT!"

This is EXACTLY what she has been trying to tell him for months! Apparently, it is not just us who think this. Article after article can be found online about this very topic.

Luckily, we now know that complaining about Germans complaining is normal and she knows better than to complain so much about his complaining :P

If you want to read more on the subject. We suggest this short, but funny, Spiegel article (in English): The German National Pastime: Whining, Bitching and Moaning.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Apple Torte (AKA German Apple Pie)

Apple torte is as close as Germany gets to pie. Americans are probably rolling their eyes at this. Clearly it is called torte because it is NOT pie, but tasty desserts are tasty desserts so who really cares?!?

We had a craving for something sweet one night and were surprised by how quick and easy this recipe was to whip up. It is delicious and even comes out quite pretty if you take the few extra minutes to distribute the apples nicely.

One torte:

125 g margarine
150 g sugar
200 g flour
3 eggs
3 EL (Tbs) milk
1 package of vanilla sugar*
1/2 package of baking powder**
1 pinch salt
4 apples

We apologizes for these being in metric. This is when it is good to have a kitchen scale that can be switched between measuring systems :)

* We are unsure if vanilla sugar is sold in the USA. If not just use about a tsp or so of vanilla extract.
** One package in Germany is 15 g, so you will need about 8 g.

Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F)

Soften the margarine (either over hot water, leaving it out for a bit, or by using the microwave).

While the butter softens, separate the eggs. 

Mix the egg yolks, softened margarine, sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla sugar, milk, and pinch of salt together.

Once everything is mixed well, gently fold in the egg whites.

The dough will be pretty wet, don't worry.

Peel and cut the apples.

Unless you have an apple corer, the easiest way is to cut each apple in half,

scoop out the middle,

and slice thinly.


Using a springform pan (26 cm is the best size but you can make anything work), press the dough along the bottom and one third up the sides.

Spread the apples along the bottom of the pan. If you take a few minutes you can make a very nice pattern. When finished, press the apples into the dough.

Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, or until nice and brown.

Let cool a very minutes before trying to release from the pan.

Serve alone or (his favorite) with ice cream.

This recipe was adapted from Muzel