Nov 202012
 

And we’re back!  
This last couple weeks has been a blur of illness, cooking, frustration and success.  In other words, Autumn.  For those curious about Autumn in these parts, it pretty much looks like this:

Grey, drizzly, cool, and colorful

Mulled cider

Since we are at roughly the latitude of Vancouver, days have gotten very short.  We get up before sunrise and pick the kids up from school after dark most days.  Highs are in the low 40’s (F) and overnight lows are starting to dip into the freeze zone.   I cope by catching all the rays I can, mainlining the hot beverages, cooking seasonal treats, and enjoying snuggly blankets and jammies!

Unfortunately, our whole family came down with a nasty autumn head cold.  The kids got it first.  DS was through it in a day or so.  But, DD got it for a full week.  Unfortunately, that week happened to be a week of vacation which annoyed the, er, snot out of them… cough.  Then David caught it. 

He actually was sick enough that he went to the doctor and got a special note that they call an  “Arbeitsunfähigkeits-bescheinigung” (try saying that with a head cold!).  Here, when you are sick for even a day or two, you need an excuse from your doctor.  In this case, she told him to take 3 more days before trying to go infect all his co-workers.  David very rarely takes sick time, but this was a nasty cold.  I was extremely glad to have him home because by that time I was also sick, however the kids were over it and back in school.  So, trying to do all the driving to and from France was not going to work well if I had to do it alone.  We did make it through with the help of home made chicken soup and a lot of the softest kind of tissues we could find.

In other autumn news, duck seems to be a seasonal food in the markets now.  Our usual roast-chicken stand now carries roast duck, as well.  I got one out of curiosity.  This is how it came:

Yup, looks like 1/2 a duck!

Not bad, but next time I will make an orange sauce and wild rice at home to serve with it!

Black Forest Games Happenings:

Black Forest has taken to doing a weekly webcast, updating viewers on what is going on in the Black Forest Gamingverse and introducing team members, etc.  Last week David was the Chosen One to be interviewed- he tried hard to get Monkey on air.  Here he is practicing and making sure Monkey is well fed before his close up:

Hey, I want some!
Nom Nom!

DD couldn’t resist the photobomb

 Sadly, in the end Monkey was pre-empted for more serious “gaming news”.  But, David still got to share the screen with Lovely Sarah and the Evil Owlverlord.  I sent cookies for the team:

Orange Ginger Bread
They went over well, but the Germans considered them spicy,
I am told.  To me, they were very mild indeed.

Speaking of Spicy:
This is a wonderful gift!  Grandma Connie and Mom sent me Penzeys Cinnamon.  First off, Penzeys is simply the best cinnamon I have every had.  If you haven’t tried their Vietnamese Extra Fancy, then you are missing out on one of the truly beautiful flavors of the world.  Nuff said.  But, more apropos to this blog, American cinnamon and European cinnamon are not exactly the same.  In Europe they use primarily what we would call “Ceylon” or “true” cinnamon.  It is very nice- a little lighter, mellower and more citrussy than what we are accustomed to.  In the US we rely on a sharper flavored cousin of true cinnamon called cassia.  In the states I would seek out Ceylon Cinnamon for a change of pace.  It is fabulous, for instance, in bread pudding or custardy pies.  Here, though, I have yet to find a source for cassia.  I prefer it for things like cinnamon rolls or cinnamon cookies where the brighter flavor can really shine.  So, getting this gift in time to do my holiday cooking was a wonderful pick-me-up!

In other seasonal spicy news, DS and I have been slowly making pomanders.  When DD got back from the dentist yesterday I thought they had used oil of cloves on her teeth- but Nope!  It was just the cloves from the pomanders. 

Lady’s Luncheon:
Sunday I met one of David’s newest co-workers for an afternoon coffee at a local cafe.  Being the complete food geek, I took pictures not of my new Canadian friend, but, er, of the canapes that I ate for lunch!  Look!  They are filled with ham!  And nothing but ham!  How… German! 

Poor camera etiquette aside, we had a lovely 4-hour lunch and got acquainted.  We figure that as two of a very small number of North American Women in Offenburg, we ought to pool our powers of awesomeness and help each other forge ahead through our mutual German adventures!  I recommended my English speaking doctor.  And she is teaching me some ways to get US television shows.  Also, she introduced me to the fact that local animal shelters let you come be a volunteer Dog Walker!!!  She and her hubby have done this a few times and had a blast. David is afraid we will fall in love and be bummed, but I think it is a win/win.  Borrow a dog for a while- dog gets loving attention, you get loving attention!  Hooray!  Weather willing, we are going to try this out sometime soon.

The Canelés/Cannelés Bordelais Saga:
So, a while back an American friend turned me onto the re-emergence of a regional French “cookie” that has been dubbed Canelés or Cannelés de Bordeaux.  Apparently there is some debate about the proper inclusion of the second “n”, and, being French, people on both sides care very much!  But, whatever you call them, these little sweets are a rather pleasant treat, so I set out to try to make some.

First off you need a special pan.  The traditional ones are copper lined with tin and cost something like 15 EU a piece.  For one “cookie”.  Yeah, not going there.  Silicone versions are available for much less, but don’t get quite the level of browning that true aficionados look for.  I figured I would cope.  Luckily I was able to find one of these silicone pans alongside their copper counterparts at the first French gourmet shop I went to.  So, huzzah!

The next tricky bit was indeed trickier, though.  Traditional canelés are made with… well- what do you think that is there?

A hunk of cheese?  No, think again

 Bee’s Wax!  Yes, you use a mixture of wax and butter to give them the right shiny, crispy, brown exterior.  I tried making them without and wasn’t satisfied.  So, we went in search of wax.  The recipe was from the states and said that often farmer’s market honey vendors will have some wax in back.  So, we decided to try out our local weekly street market.  Now, I want to give serious props to my hubby here.  Acquiring edible bees wax is an advanced move even when you speak the language.  In this case we needed to convince Germanophone honey vendors that selling us off-menu wax was a good idea.  Awk-ward!  But, as soon as we got a Saturday with good weather we set out with a mission.  The first honey-seller we found raised his eyebrows and scoffed. “Bienenwachs? Pfft- Nein!!”  But, interestingly, this time of year almost a 1/3 of the stalls at the markt seem to sell honey!  So, we tried the next likely spot, a place run by an elderly couple.  David asked.  The man looked surprised, but thoughtful.  What would we be using it for?  French cookies.  Hmm..  How much did we need?  Just a little.  He looked askingly at his wife and then they began to rummage around at the back of the stand.  They pulled out a bag that had two chunks of wax.  We motioned to the smaller one.  4.25 EU he said.  We paid and left- now the proud owners of a cheese-like hunk of bees wax!

Here are my results:

Shiny and delicious, but not as dark as many of the examples on the web.
I am going to guess that is because of my silicone molds

Here is the wax and butter mixture I used to coat the molds
Just a little bit, but it made a difference- oh, and this
is my silicone cannelés pan.  It makes eight 1/4 cup cakes

The thing you are going for with canelés is a creamy, custardy inside with a dark,
caramelized outside.

Since I can’t leave anything alone, I changed the recipe slightly.  I don’t like rum, so I used Cointreau instead.  Also, the recipe I used said to freeze the molds before cooking.  But, I found that to be wrong.  If you want the outside to cook the fastest, let it heat up fastest.  So, I tried it both ways and decided I was correct.  Batter should be chilled, molds are fine room temp.

Coming up: Stephanie is working on a new web site, DD got braces, and DS may get braces.  Also, The Holidays, and maybe, Dog Walking.