Dandelions

Many years ago when I first came to Germany, I arrived with a suitcase full of my American ideas.  My mother, a consummate gardener, perceived the golden yellow blossom of the Dandelion flower as a mortal enemy.  “It just one is let to survive, the entire yard is ruined”.  So she spent many hours of her life, stooped in the battle of pulling those nasty deep roots.

Thankfully I was saved from this burden by my first German landlord.  At our first rental apartment I lovingly tended the garden much to the joy of my landlord until one day he found me, furiously pulling out all the Dandelions.  He ran out and asked me what I was doing and there my education began.  He instructed me on how for the bees the Dandelion might be the first pollen they collect after a long Winter in the hive.  How they use the Dandelion to feed their many animals such as parrots, rabbits and even the cows eat it.  They are extremely healing plants as well.  “So why are you throwing them out”.

So now, each May as the rolling fields of Germany bloom golden as the sun and vibrate with the rumbling tone of the bees, I smile and think of how much I have learned and how much more time I have on my hands.  Lets face it, you can’t look at a mustard yellow pasture and not smile.

To learn more about the much falsely maligned Dandelion here are a few links:

Some refreshment:
http://wellnessmama.com/4505/iced-lime-dandelion-tea/

Healing properties:
http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/dandelion

Let them Bee:
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2015/may/12/dandelions-pollinators-wildlife-garden

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

A little Nip of Courage – Schnapserei Spitzingsee

I love Schnapps, there I’ve said it.  I am not sure if it is my Irish ancestry but my Grandmother and my mother were both known to have made various alcoholic concoctions.  Their favorite being a simple mixture of honey, lemon and whisky to fight a cold.  These magical, herbal mixtures have been handed down through time.

So on a chilly dark day while hiking on Spitzingsee my girlfriend mentioned she discovered a new locally produced Schnapserei we had to make a slight detour and try a few out.

The shop is located near the church directly in the village of Spitzingsee.  Its rather hard to miss with the life size plastic cow reproduction out front.  Insidetypically historic Bavarian interior, you might almost miss the shop owner behind the counter through all the copious beautifully hand decorated bottles.

A former restauranteur, he now plays with his hobby of Schnapps and liquor manufacturing.   The shop offers you such creative combinations like Lemon-Pepper, Chili-honey and Bauernbrot Schnapps.  I personally am going back for a bottle of his homemade Gin.  Which he makes very traditionally with Juniper berries and “none of those fancy boutique things.”  This is really Gin made as it should be.

So, next time you up on Spitzingsee and are looking for just the right nip of courage to help you get to the Rotwand Gipfel.  Stop by and tuck a bottle or two in your backpack.  One for encouragement and the other for recovery.

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

Schliersee Neuhaus Blacksmith

 

The Hammerschmiede in Neuhaus is located next to the Brunnhof cafe and is an easy walking distance from the Joseftal Waterfall and is a great excuse to visit all three locations.   There is a long history dating back to 1720 for this working blacksmith shop and the present “Smithy” Josef Geisler, has been making hand forged tools there since 1952.   I simply adore visiting him and sharing his incredible hand crafted tools with all my guests but mostly I love just spending time with Herr Geisler. If you see shovels and rakes leaning against the wall outside his door and through his windows the fires glowing, more than likely he is working inside. Just give the door a tap, he might here you over the hammering but you will always be greeted with a big smile. Its the perfect stop for all the men in your group. In his small showroom you can find cow bells, hammers, axes and even that perfect pan for your next Paella party. My latest group brought home a beautifully forged long axe…not assembled of course but what an heirloom that will be back home in Minnesota.

Historische Hammerschmiede
Josef Geisler
Schliersee/Neuhaus im Josefsthal
Aurachstraße 2
08026/71004

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

Schliersee Spring Pesto

While the final snow melts each Spring, the bright green, very fragrant leaves of the wild garlic plants.  Bärlauch as it is called in German carpet the forest floors in the Schliersee.  The clean color for me is the perfect crisp springtime color but don’t forget the flavor.  Can you believe with a little bit of knowledge you too can enjoy this amazing ingredient all for free.  Foraging for “free range” fruits, nuts, herbs and spices is a great pleasure of mine.

One of my favorite and easiest things to make with the bärlauch leaves is a classic pesto.  In most cases you could just use a basil pesto recipe with great results.  It is incredible to freeze and enjoy as a treat in the deepest darkest times in Winter….just spread it on some crusty bread and voila…Springtime.I have had great success using it to rub on a chicken before roasting or toss some potatoes with a few heaping spoonfuls of pesto and roast until crisp.  Imagine this addition to your Easter buffet.

One bit of warning before you go out exploring to discover your own patch of wild garlic, please familiarize yourself with the details of the leaves and the plants.  Lily of the Valley is quite the imposter of Wild garlic and can be a dangerous mistake so please take a moment and read this article explaining the differences of each.

http://paulkirtley.co.uk/2012/lily-of-the-valley-convallaria-majalis-ramsons-allium-ursinum/

 

Here is also a great simple Bärlauch (wild Garlic)  Pesto recipe:

ingredients:

1 bunch of ramps (about 10 stalks)

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil (I used about 1/2 cup)

Salt & pepper

Squirt of lemon

Directions:

Wash the ramps and cut the hairy ends off the bulbs. Roughly chop the leaves and remainder of the bulbs. Also roughly chop the walnuts, then place both the ramps and walnuts in a food processor. Pour in the cheese and start processing, slowly pouring in olive oil until you’ve reached a consistency you like. Taste for salt and pepper, and squirt in some lemon juice to taste.

I put my pesto in jars and coat with a layer of very good olive oil and keep them in the freezer to enjoy all year long.  They make wonderful gifts as well.

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

Schliersee Dogwalks

Whenever I travel anywhere, the first thing I do is explore a few great routes for my dog and I to walk daily.  Since moving here to Schliersee I have to admit many days that is a tough decision. Which amazing walk to explore.  Many days I let my dog choose.  After all he is a Terrier and has his own opinions on where we should wander.

In late Winter when most of the valley floor has lost its snow and my snow loving dog and I are feeling a bit depressed to see it all melt, we have a secret path that normally reaps rewards.  Our favorite walks originate in the Neuhaus part of Schliersee.  This is a great one if you arrive by train to the Schliersee area.  From the station you follow the signs for Bockerlbahnweg, it will have a small train engine symbol.  Behind the Pfannilift in Neuhaus is where you begin to enter the forest and normally the snow will begin there.

http://www.schliersee.de/wandern-berge/genusswanderungen/bockerlbahnweg.html

Another of my dog’s favorite walks which is great for all ages and fitness levels is the Filzenweg.  This is a beautifully shaded walk which follows along side beautiful crystal green streams and affords you views of mountains and wraps around an alpine moor.  My dog loves to be able to hop in and out of the stream at will to cool off and quench his thirst. This walk can be short or long depending upon how far you or your four legged companion wishes to travel.  If you are looking for a longer walk, you can do just the one loop or you can cross over Spitzingstrasse and add the Kleine Moorwanderweg.

A great place to park for the Moor walk and the Filzenweg is just off Spitzingseestrasse and Auerachstrasse.  Dog toilet bags are provided near the tennis club along the path but please consider always carrying your own supply.

https://www.google.de/maps/place/Filzenweg,+83727+Schliersee/@47.6999171,11.8867726,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x479d89ff0b6e3765:0xedbff527293f68e

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

Schliersee sleds and sledding

Living here in Germany for many years, we have learned the art of long wander each Sunday with friends or family. Having a destination where you can have a meal or even just a drink gives the walkers motivation and inspiration to travel further.

Here in Schliersee on most snowy Winter Sundays everyone excitedly pulls out their trusty sleds from their attics and cellars hops in their cars and heads to one of the many different groomed paths. A favorite for families is to find parking on Spitzingsee and then begin their hour or so long pilgrimage from the saddle of Spitzingsee up to either Untere Firstalm or Obere Firstalm. Most folks stop for a delicious lunch and possibly some warm drinks before once again gathering all their snow clothes and sleds and beginning the fun decent on their sleds back down the mountain. The ride down is quicker but filled with laughter.

Another great alternative if hiking isn’t your idea of fun is to have someone drive you and your sled up Spitzingsee and about halfway on the right side is the old Spitzingsee road. It is here you can begin your snowy decent without even burning one ounce of sweat. Your driver can meet you at the bottom of the road near the Joseftal Waterfall. Its great fun for the entire family no matter their level of fitness.   If you have really small children a great spot easy to access from the Neuhaus train station is the pfannilift.

After expending all that energy in hiking and laughing you can wander over on foot or by car to Cafe Brunnhof, located just around the corner from the Joseftal Waterfall. You will be greeted warmly by their wonderful owners and their amazing array of delicious cakes.

http://www.untere-firstalm.de

http://www.pfannilift.de

http://www.firstalm.de

http://cafe-brunnhof.de

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

Christmas tree

American Christmas traditions are as varied in culture as the American people but in my and my Husband’s families there is a tradition of the memory Christmas tree.

When you grow up and move out of your parents house or get married and form your own family you are given a box of Christmas ornaments from your family tree that represent your childhood memories. This is so you can begin to build your own Christmas ornament collection and start your new holiday traditions.

Christmas tree

For many of my European friends where the tradition to decorate a small tree simply and leave it up for only a few days each year; our American tradition of a massive tree, with every nook and cranny filled with decorations, can be quite a shock. My own mother would take a week to decorate her tree and its beauty could be enjoyed for a month or more.

My favorite holiday memories were to help my grandmother decorate her tree all in clear crystal glass ornaments. We would put on some of her old vinyl records of 1950’s show tunes, sip hot cocoa and tenderly unwrap each beautiful memory and my Grandmother would share each beautiful family story.

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Truly the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” happens at the end of November so if your lucky your guests arrive to a Winter wonderful land in Schliersee just at the moment the first Christmas markets or Christkindlmarkt begin to sparkle. In Schliersee the market moves to three separate yet beautiful locations, each with a theme.

3. The See Weihnachtsmarkt. We were able to see the See Weihnachtsmarket which was located in the Kurparc right on the lake in Schliersee. To the festive alpine music, lit by all the twinkle lights and warm glowing fires it was a lovely wander from booth to booth to discover all the wonderful handmade crafts. Being a lover of ornaments and each year we add a few special ones, I found an artist making beautifully delicate lace caps on round glass Christmas ornaments. So unique. That is something truly special I love about the Bavarian Christmas markets, all the different talented crafters bring their items to sell and its the perfect location to get all your unique Christmas gifts. You wont find these locally handmade products online or in any “Black Friday sale”.

For your future reference 2. Advent is the Wuide or Wild Christmas market inside Vitawelt. The 3. Advent is the Historic Market at the Wasmeier Museum, that is one not to be missed and the 4th and final market is a Romanic one out in front of the Terofal hotel and restaurant in Schliersee. Its these smaller town markets that truly exude the Christmas spirit. I hope you will get out and join in the fun.

http://schlierseer-weihnachtszauber.de

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

Pumpkin Pie

In the United States we celebrate Christmas on 25 December but On 24 December, we open our homes to our neighbors and close friends to share (enjoy) warm Christmas drinks like mulled wine, the British version of Glühwein and hot chocolate and a cornucopia of amazing desserts. Many my Mom would make but also many were brought by our culturally diverse neighbors. We would have cookies from Italian neighbors, typical Japanese treats from another and then Christmas cookies like gingerbread men, were made and decorated by the children.

In my family home, pumpkin pie was always available from the very first signs of Autumn. My Mother would bake them for our Thanksgiving meal as well as Christmas because it was so beloved by all.

I have found that you can substitute butternut squash and other locally available pumpkins for this recipe and all other ingredients are also easy to find in German shops as well as online.

http://www.marthastewart.com/317045/classic-pumpkin-pie

INGREDIENTS
1 pumpkin, (about 4 pounds), halved,
1 1/2 recipes Pate Brisee
All-purpose flour, for work surface
7 large eggs
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups evaporated milk
Whipped cream, for serving
Directions
DIRECTIONS
1 Preheat oven to 425 degrees. If using fresh pumpkin, roast pumpkin, cut sides down, on a rimmed baking sheet until soft, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool completely. Roasted pumpkin can be refrigerated in an airtight container overnight.
2 Reserve 1/4 of the dough for making leaf decorations. Turn out the remaining dough onto a lightly floured work surface; divide in half. Roll out each half into a 14-inch round. Fit rounds into two 10-inch pie plates; crimp edges as desired. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
3 Roll out reserved dough to 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet, and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Using a leaf-shape cookie cutter or a paring knife, cut leaves from dough. Freeze until cold, about 10 minutes.
4 Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Whisk 1 egg and heavy cream in a small bowl; set aside. Brush edges of pie shells with a wet pastry brush; arrange leaves around edges, pressing to adhere. Brush leaves with egg wash. Cut 2 large circles of parchment; fit into pie shells, extending above edges. Fill with pie weights. Freeze until cold, about 10 minutes.
5 Bake pie shells 10 minutes. Remove weights and parchment; bake 5 minutes more. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
6 If using fresh pumpkin, discard seeds. Scoop out flesh using a large spoon; transfer to a food processor. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer pumpkin to a large bowl. Add brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, nutmeg, remaining 6 eggs, and evaporated milk; whisk until combined.
7 Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place pies on a rimmed baking sheet. Divide pumpkin mixture evenly between shells. Bake until all but centers are set, 35 to 40 minutes. Let pies cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into wedges, and serve with whipped cream.

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).