Tuesday, December 11, 2018


We had such a fun baking extravaganza this weekend!  My mom, a cousin from Indianapolis, two cousins from Ann Arbor, the kids and I all baked up a storm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

We made most of the family's traditional cookies; many of which my great-great grandparents brought with them when they emigrated from Germany. I have clear memories of making many of these with my mom and grandma when I was a little girl, though as a kid I was blissfully unaware of just how much work went into some of them.  
Some of the recipes are amazing. A couple are so old they still call for baker's ammonia, and others just seem like they would have taken an incredible amount of work. The springerles, for example, need to be beaten for 30 minutes. I can't even imagine doing that before the invention of the electric mixer. Even with a hand crank mixer - doing it for 30 minutes would get really old really fast. I guess that's what kids were for, and why these cookies must have been such a special treat. They definitely weren't something mom was just going whip up.

I'm listing what we made here so I'll remember who liked what.  The only bad thing about them is that we're enjoying them so much there may not be any left for Christmas!
Springerle - molded (and then dried overnight) traditionally flavored with anise; we also made lavender

Nuremburger - slightly citrus flavored rolled and cut cookie, decorated with sugar (the kids' favorite to decorate)

Chocolate nuts - meringue-based drop cookie made with chocolate and hazelnuts (my mom's favorite)

Zitronenherzen - lemon flavored, heart-shaped, glazed cookie made with almond flour (my son's favorite)

Zimtsterne - cinnamon flavored, star-shaped, meringue based cookie made with ground almonds and hazelnuts, topped with meringue
Mandelberg - meringue based, drop cookie made with slivered almonds (my daughter's favorite)

Scottish shortbread - baked in a ceramic mold as well as cut out; not German, but still a long-time family favorite  (Liz and Allen's favorite)

Friday, December 7, 2018

One Guess

One guess what's on my agenda for this weekend!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Best Pancakes Ever!

Often in the fall, when the hotels close for the winter, they donate their leftover food to the school. Our school cook is amazing, but there are certain things she can't use. If containers have been opened or she can't be certain about expiration dates, she isn't allowed to serve the food. But if the items are still good, they are often shared with community members. 

I love it when she gets five pound containers of sour cream. (A container spoils before the cook can use the whole thing.) What could Liz possibly want with five pounds of sour cream, you ask. Why make pancakes, of course. And not just any pancakes mind you, sour cream pancakes - the best pancakes in the world!

They're literally the most delicious pancakes I've ever tasted; light, fluffy and super easy to make. The original recipe can be found here, but it doesn't make enough for a family of four. I double the recipe and it's just perfect.

 Sour Cream Pancakes
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 whole large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • butter for frying
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla. Set aside.In a separate small bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl, stir together the sour cream with the dry ingredients until just barely combined (don't over mix.) Finally, whisk in the egg mixture until just combined.

Heat a griddle over medium-low heat and melt some butter in the pan. Drop batter by 1/4 cup scoops  onto the griddle. Cook on the first side until bubbles start to form on the surface and edges are starting to brown. Flip to the other side and cook for another minute or two. Don't worry if the pancakes seem off they will be a little on the soft side. Serve them with softened butter and syrup. Be prepared to get requests for these!