"One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Germany on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878." Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad


Adventures in German Cooking

In honor of the father's birthday I decided to venture into the world of German cuisine.

This proved to be a bit more difficult than I anticipated. First there was the problem of finding a German recipe that I could read. After much searching on the internet I came across a recipe for Apfel Kuchen on the German version of allrecipes.com and used the Google translate bar to translate the German into English. That way I would know the names of the ingredients in German when I had to go find them at the grocery store, yet I would be able to read the directions in English (well, Google translator version of English anyways--with a bit of unscrambling the words, the instructions were mostly comprehensible). Plus, instead of measuring cups I have a scale, so I needed a German version to get the measurement in grams and milliliters. Pretty brilliant, eh?

After a long visit to the grocery store and a few guesses at which ingredients to buy (why do there have to be 20 different types of flour?), this is what I came up with:

I searched high and low for the vanilla extract, but the closest thing I could find at the store were these strange vials of "butter-vanilla" flavored oil.

This was my first time to measure ingredients by weighing them. I later decided that I actually prefer it to measuring cups. Just place the mixing bowl on the scale, set the scale to zero, and put the butter in until the correct amount registers on the scale. Then I set the scale to zero again and did the same with the next ingredients. Mix it all together and voila! And no measuring cups to clean afterwards.

Here is the finished crust. (Thankfully I discovered a torte pan hidden in the depths of one of our kitchen cabinets.)

Next I made the cream cheese layer. Penelope was a very studious apprentice that morning.

Then the apple layer. I couldn't figure out what kind of apples to get. So I just got three different kinds. Figured at least one of them was right.

Apples, sugar and cinnamon--a winning combination.

Penelope loved the Zimt (cinnamon).

It kept her entertained her for awhile. That is, until she managed to open it and send brown dust everywhere.

Time to go into the oven.

The finished product! (Notice our lovely miniature oven.)

I also made a full German birthday dinner to go along with the Apfel Kuchen. It consisted of Buletten mit Käsefüllung (meat balls with cheese filling) topped with a pepper sauce and Spätzle (thick egg noodles). I made the meat balls from scratch, but I must confess that I used an instant sauce packet and pre-made noodles for the others.

Except for the bizarre vanilla taste of the Apfel Kuchen, I would say my first German meal was a success!

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