Taking Stock

stocksThis weekend, we had the first real snow in New York City, which is the perfect occasion to stay in, drink tea and enjoy a good book. (As befits the season of reflexion and self-improvement, my pick was Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.) But this snow day was also a good time to cook stock, especially since after the holidays some stock-worthy ingredients had accumulated in the freezer – among them the leftovers from a Christmas duck. As the new year begins, there will be more room in the freezer again and I will have delicious fonds at hand for gravy or the next Rouladen. Bear with me – the process itself is pretty simple and fun! Continue reading

The Oktoberfest Challenge, Part 1

oktoberfest2
Meatballs, potato salad and some other goodies around pretzel rolls – the center piece of our buffet.

I love cooking challenges and projects. Last weekend I think I met my biggest one so far. My fiancé and I were hosting a little yard party to celebrate our engagement. Well, it turned into an Oktoberfest-themed afternoon for 80 guests – and we decided to cater the whole event ourselves. But the challenge goes on. I’m dedicating this month to teaching you how to host your own Oktoberfest party – one post at a time. This is post number one, giving you a general introduction into feasting German style. Continue reading

Transitions of the Plum

pflaumenmus_brotPflaumenmus, Latwerg, Powideln, Schmootsch – the many names for this almost black plum preserve point to its long history in the various regional cuisines across the German-speaking space and Central Europe. Despite of these strong roots in local culinary traditions, many households have dropped plum butter from their canning and jam-making routines. It doesn’t have to be this way… Continue reading

Pears, Beans and Bacon

BBS_served_editedA regional specialty from the north, Birnen, Bohnen und Speck (literally: Pears, Beans and Bacon) couldn’t be easier to make. It is one of those dishes, where I wonder how it first occurred to people. The answer may lie in the fact that green string beans and the small sour cooking pears are harvested around the same time in late August. So why not cook them together? The smokiness of the bacon ties the savory and sweet flavors together in this traditional weekday meal. Continue reading

Wine in the Making

winemaking_introNothing says German summer to me quite like domestic winemaking (Well, German-style BBQ maybe, but that’s a different chapter). July to September is the season when we make wine from whatever fruit we can get our hands on for cheap – ideally we use our own harvest or berries collected in the wild. Observing the fruit juice as it ferments in the 10-gallon glass carboys over the next few months gives me an odd sense of satisfaction. By the time it gets dark and cold outside, the wine has settled and is ready to drink. And while I’m pretty picky when it comes to “real” wine, part of the excitement over this kind of homebrew is not knowing exactly what you get in terms of sweetness, acidity and alcohol.  Continue reading