Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ten very random things I am thankful for:

1. That many Spanish words look like their English counterpart, which made filling out our Visa application MUCH easier.

2. My son who can play the guitar and is like a David-boy to my King Saul soul.

3. That I don't have the madness of King Saul and would not in a million years try to kill my musician.

4. Leggings to keep my legs warm when I wear dresses.

5. Lamps to light the house on dark dreary days. (Thank you Marta)

6. Indoor Toilets. Nothing more needs to be said.

7. Coffee. Again, I need not say more.

8. Three years with my Heidi-girl. She has been such a wonderful doggie friend for our family, and though we are sad to say goodbye this weekend, we are grateful for the time God gave us with her, and God-willing, she will be healthy and well in two years when we come to get her back. I know she will still love me. She is just that kind of dog.

9. A roof over my head. It's cold and rainy out today.

10. Friends who are coming over today to help me pack up my house.

What random things are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's starting to look a lot like Christmas

I thought it might be time to re-introduce last year's Christmas Experiment. As the craziness begins, consider doing Christmas differently this year. Many of you will remember my post last year about how we did Christmas without the normal gift-giving. For those who do not remember it, I will add a link at the bottom of this post. For those who do, here is an update.
From discovering treasure on a scavenger hunt, to playing old familar games, to listening to a Christmas concert, to giving a Christmas concert at the nursing home, to baking cakes, and cookies, to just hanging out and laughing- IT WAS THE MOST WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS WE EVER HAD.

Not one single child asked where the toys were. Not one single adult wished we had forgone the experiment and instead went with the traditional.

Are you ready to look at Christmas a different way this year?
Start by reading THIS POST.


Monday, November 09, 2009

A Mystery in "jello-like" form

When I was a teenager, an elderly Mrs Drachenberg, immigrant from Germany, invited my family for Thanksgiving dinner. That dinner would stay in my thoughts for more than 15 years.

Oh, her company was good, her stories of nazi Germany were spine-tingling- but her jello like dessert was the stuff of fairy-tale dinners. It was like a jello. Kind-of. But not really. It had fruit, and was topped with something that was very surprising to me as a teen.

Cream. Not the sweet kind from a tub. But THICK, milky stuff that came from a porcelain cup. I had never had cream before, and it was an immediate love affair. I must admit that every time I saw cream in the store, or used some in my coffee, or made a quiche, I thought it would be far better paired with that ever elusive dessert.

You think I am kidding- but I am seriously NOT. I have looked for this dessert for years. When google arrived as a gift to the universe, I immediately put it to use.

"German Desserts"
"Desserts that use cream"
"jello-like dessert that is not Gelatin and is German"
"German dessert with fruit and cream"
"Please oh magic googler, find me the dessert of my dreams"

and I came up empty.

But all great stories have good endings:

SERVES 8 1 (or 5 if you are really feeling like sharing)

2 1/4 lbs currants or raspberries or brambleberries or strawberries or sour cherries or plums (assorted red fruits, in any combination)
1/2 cup sugar (or more to taste, depending on the tartness of the fruit)
1 quart water
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup rum (optional)
milk or cream, to serve with the dessert
Wash fruit and pick through for stems (reserve 3/4 cup).
Combine the remaining fruit with water (reserving 1 cup), and sugar in a saucepan.
Bring to a boil and cook fruit over medium heat until done but still holding its shape.
Sweeten to taste with more sugar, if needed.
Stir corn starch into reserved water until dissolved and stir into the juice.
Bring to boil, cook until thickened, and remove from heat.
Blend in the rum if desired.
Mash reserved, uncooked fruit in blender and stir into the thickened juice.
Eat Rote Grutze either hot or cold and serve with cold milk or cream.