One interesting thing I have noticed here is all sorts of different meat that we don’t usually see at the grocery store in the USA, like goose, duck, deer, and rabbit. Clare recently got some frozen rabbit on sale.
First Clare baked it with some potatoes and carrots. The meat was really chewy, so we threw it all in a pot with some water and simmered it for another couple hours. Then it got very tender! An interesting taste. Sort of in between chicken and lamb. Very lean. The stew turned out very well.
The kids have lunch everyday at an after school program. Elementary school here gets out about noon, but the after school program helps with homework, has enrichment courses, and includes a hot lunch. One of the kids favorite lunches has been pfannekuchen, which translates to pancakes. Pancakes here are more egg-y than American pancakes, somewhere between what we think of as pancakes and crepes. We used this recipe: www.oetker.de/rezepte/r/pfannkuchen-eierkuchen.html They turned out great and were a big hit!
Meg is starting to learn cursive, and I noticed today that her book lists Indian (feather not dot) as the example word for the letter I. This would not be politically correct in the USA. Then again, Germans don’t make jokes about Hitler or Nazis, the dark sides of their past. Also, they still learn cursive in Germany, and by 4th grade, are expected to do most of their work in cursive, using a refillable fountain pen!
Today we painted the salt dough ornaments for the Christmas tree and made peppernuts, one of our favourite Christmas cookies. Meg and Spencer were very helpful. Pretty soon they will be able to do it all by themselves! (Although I would miss doing it with them) thanks for teaching me how to bake mom!
On Monday I took Meg to swim practice. She joined the Würselen Schwimmclub in November, and has been really enjoying it. They practice Mondays and Thursdays. I usually have meetings on Thursdays, but Mondays I often have time to take her. Some parents stay, but many just drop off. So far we have mostly been staying. This past Monday I noticed more parents than normal were there and I noticed that a mother from Spencer’s football team had a stop watch. I asked her if there was something going on, and she told me there was an internal club meet. For megs age group they had to swim 25 meters for each of freestyle, breast, and back. She did great, with times of 32, 41, and 36 seconds respectively. We are very proud of her!
Advent is in full swing here in Germany. We got 3 different advent calendars at home. The kids are exchanging gifts in their classrooms, and the Christmas markets are packed full. Würselen had its Christmas market this past weekend. It was relatively small, but quite well attended and we enjoyed it quite a bit, even though it was drizzling a bit. Meg and I went just the two of us on Saturday. Then all 4 of us went on Sunday. The Glühwein (hot spiced wine) was tasty, as was the potato pancakes and the waffles on a stick that the kids school sold.
Yesterday Spencer baked cookies with his class at school (they have a kitchen with 2 ovens). I helped with Meg’s class today (unfortunately I have to work sometimes so can’t always be there). I had asked the other parents for a recipe, but they said I should use one of my own. So everyone else had cut-out cookies, and I made spritz cookies with the new cookie press my wonderful mom sent me just in time for cookie making. It works great!
November 11th was St. Martin’s day, which is celebrated in the more Catholic regions of Germany, which includes Aachen. Since it is not celebrated at all in the USA, I had to learn all about it. St. Martin lived in the 4th century, and was a soldier in the Roman army. Legend has it that one day he was riding back to camp and there was a freezing homeless man on the road. He ripped his warm coat in half and gave half to the stranger. Later in his life he became a monk, and eventually a bishop. He did not want to become a bishop, but the townspeople really wanted him to. They were all encouraging him to, so he ran away and hid in a barn. The townspeople went out at night with lanterns looking for him, and eventually a goose honked, which gave away his position. He finally decided that he would be a bishop if the people really wanted him to. That’s how the traditions around St. Martin’s day started. You eat goose, and the kids make lanterns and make a parade. Oh, and they also have tasty sweet breads in the shape of St. Martin, which are called Weckmänner (around this region). Elsewhere in the German speaking areas they are known by a variety of different names such as Stutenkerl, Klaaskerl, or Krampus, and are actually usually eaten on St. Nicholas day instead of St. Martin’s day.
For our last day in Madrid, we mostly took it easy again. We walked to the royal palace and to the egyptian temple which was moved in the 1960s from Egypt because it would have been flooded with the creation of a dam. Both were a fairly short walk from our apartment. The kids really enjoyed the labyrinth-style gardens near the royal palace. After a couple hours we went back to the apartment and relaxed. This turned out to be good timing because it started to rain a bit. We did go out again to get some churros and hot chocolate, which was delicious. Clare and I had another date night, in which we simply walked around the plaza mayor and finished the last of the Lagavulin scotch we had bought at a great price in Andorra. I definitely did not want any of that to go to waste.
In the morning we packed up and started the long journey back to Aachen. Our plane was delayed by an hour or so because of plane traffic crossing the Pyrenees, so by the time we got home it was after 8 p.m. I made a quick pasta dinner while Clare went shopping, since the grocery stores are closed on Sundays in Germany. We were all happy to be home (although I was missing the Spanish weather).