Another Day Of Spoiling

The fun continued from one party to the next! I had my awesome NY baby shower with friends and family back home and our fantastic neighbors here in Michigan threw us another great baby shower/diaper party. We’ve lived here for just a little over a year now and we have accumulated a really great “family” that is always watching out for us.

We had the baby shower with all the ladies in our home and all the men gathered at the neighbor’s house for the diaper party. It worked out perfectly and I got SO many presents (once again!) I never thought I’d be so excited to open presents for my future children and not for myself. Ha! Who knew!

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Harley even wore his fancy new collar which he got as a present from the first baby shower (Thanks Aunt Addie and Uncle John!) He was lovin hanging out with all the ladies!

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Granted I am now the size of a beached whale but my hostesses kept it organized and not too long which was great for me! I have zero energy these days and immediately had to nap after the party was over. I loved showing Toblerone all the new things we got and the adorable outfits people gave us. I mean…little khakis!! Can you get any cuter! The boys also got a few German-esque things geared towards their Dad’s favorite soccer team, FC Bayern Munich. Whether they like it or not, they are going to be fans 🙂

We can’t wait to read them books in English and in German and sing lullabies in both languages. It’s going to be a really fun experience to get them to be bilingual. Nothing cuter than kids speaking in German!

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A rubber ducky with lederhosen! I mean….how cute is that?!

Only 8 more days until their arrival! It may take me some time to get back here to write again but lo and behold…I will be back!

Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxoxo

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A Big Time Out – But I’m Back

So it’s 4am here in Michigan and I decided to write a bit as I sit here in the dark on the couch. Time got away from me since I last wrote. I announced to the world we are having twins and then life just started to fly by!

I am now 33 weeks along and I look gigantic. Now it’s just a matter of trying to keep these little babies in!

In August we took a baby moon to Cape Cod and it was MUCH needed. You all know how much we love that place and I couldn’t imagine not going. It was a rough flight though. I was only about 13 weeks or so at that point but I was SO uncomfortable and the nausea…oh man. That was rough.

There is really something to be said about the healing powers of the ocean. I’m no hippy but for the first time since I found out I was pregnant, I could EAT. I even dabbled in a lobster roll 🙂 My parents were able to join us as well for the weekend which was so nice! Who knows when we will be able to do that again!

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As soon as we got back to Michigan, I was sick again. I wish I could have bottled up the ocean and brought it home with me. I’m not sure we will make it next year with the two babies so that will be hard on the heart. It will be our first time not going in over 7 years.

We went to Germany in September as a last hoorah you could say! Unfortunately, Toblerone had to work the majority of the time and I was left to my own devices. The things we planned (soccer game, Oktoberfest, etc.) were quickly shot down because of my growing belly and the risk of being around rowdy drunk people. So, we did a lot of visiting with family and catching up.

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The plane ride…oh man. Let me just tell you something. I do NOT recommend that. I was 16 weeks when we left and I was just about 18 weeks on the way back. A 9 hour flight stuck in the same position really does a number on the body. For two days it felt like my stomach was in a vice grip. Ouch. I will NEVER fly pregnant again. That crap is for the birds! However, I did it all for the Schnitzel and cake! I ate like a champ there. I definitely have two little Germans growing. All they wanted was the typical southern German fare: Fleischsalat, Schnitzel, Spaetzle, and gravy.

 

We had a great time catching up with all the family! I spent lots of time taking walks and going to lunch at Toblerone’s Omi’s house which was nice to catch up with everyone and keep my German going!

We were there during a holliday “Erntedank” that they celebrate here. It literally means “Thanksgiving” or “Thanks for the Harvest.” They are thankful for all that the world gives them. This first picture of the world and biblical friends was made from flower petals that were turned into powder and then this was “painted” somehow. Really incredible stuff. Plus they showcase vegetables and fruit that they are thankful for. It really was amazing to see in person.

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On top of all the fun, we revealed the Genders to Omi and Opi by having them open two gifts and….well…:-) Guess we gotta stock up on Lederhosen!

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Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

 

Off To Italy We Go (Part Three)

The last and final installment of our vacation in Italy is FINALLY hot off the presses. Just a quick little update…I was taking a few classes during the summer and it took over my life! Hence why I haven’t said much since June! My apologies! I’m back at it though and have lined up quite a few fun posts!

Ok…on with it!

Our trip ended with a beautiful Easter Sunday Hike followed by a wonderful dinner of course. Luckily, the Easter bunny found me in Italy. I did send him a note to let him know so I’m glad he got that in time.

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But FIRST…the morning church bells that remind me of all things Europe. When we first moved to Germany, I used to be so annoyed by the early morning bell show that took place right outside my window (were were a road away from the church). But now, somehow, it brings me back really great memories of always knowing what time it was!

 

This was the front of our hotel. For some reason I just feel like decorations in Europe are really different. Granted, a majority of the products are with wood and felt but I just thought these big things outside the hotel were so cool! What weird shapes!

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Off we went on our hike (two VERY hungover people in tow…and no it wasn’t me!). I literally pushed Toblerone up the hill. Talk about a workout! But it was fun. We were walking towards a little restaurant that was a few miles up the mountain. And when I say up..I mean up.

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The views were beautiful and the little bits of snow on the ground reminded us quickly how high up we actually were.

We made it to the restaurant and I met a few friends, furry ones of course! Apparently goats love peanuts. Did you know that?

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On our way back down the mountain towards our hotel after a few drinks we stopped for some more drinking of course and snacks. My father-in-law is always providing the drinks for us. Only the best wine there is! (Note: The two most hungover people with no wine in their hands….:-) Brothers…)

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Back at the hotel we got ready for dinner. I put on my Easter dress and headed down to the dining room.

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Dinner was an array of amazing things. They had plate upon plate of meats, cheese, fruits, salad bar, etc. We also got a lamb or fish dinner and dessert but the main idea was a buffet! I do love me a good buffet!

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The weekend ended with a few drinks at the bar. My favorite? Amaretto liqueur with apple cider. The BEST. Try it sometime, you’ll thank me! Looking forward to going back to this hotel one day. We had such a great time!

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Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxo

Off To Italy We Go (Part Two)

After waking up with a gorgeous view of the Italian Alps we headed down for breakfast. We decided we would head into town to do a little shopping.

While there, we went to The Speck Museum which in English means The BACON museum. Very exciting times! As we walked in this jolly old Italian man who spoke VERY little German and absolutely no English, naturally, greeted us and said to me, “Hello Speck!” and I gave him quite the stare down. Did that man just call me fat? Do I smell like bacon?  Then he said I was like the Coco Chanel of Bacon. I guess if I was going to be any kind of bacon, I would want to be the fancy kind 🙂 He laughed and we both understood it was just all for fun.

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So there we are in a stone basement testing homemade smoked and dried bacon. There was bacon on the ceiling…

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Bacon on the walls…..

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It was indeed the Bacon Museum! There was also cheese down there but that’s not important. We did buy some to smuggle in our suitcases. Totally worth being a rascal!

We walked around the streets and did a bit of people watching. The Italians are such wonderful people. Somehow they are just so relaxed and inviting. I can’t really explain it!

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We went to a little cafe around 11:30 and the scene was something I could definitely get used to. A small cafe with outside seating as well as inside. Every table filled with friends sitting and standing, laughing at jokes, and drinking glass after glass of wine. Oh Italians, you have my heart! Here is a peek from inside the cafe from where I was sitting. It just made you feel like you were part of a bigger story…a big family.

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Back at the hotel after a day of shopping we spent the rest of the afternoon in the spa. I tried out one of the “quiet” rooms to see if I could actually sleep like everyone else does. I just hung out and read a book and listened to the spa-like music that was available.

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After hours in the spa and relaxing we got ready for dinner. I apologize in advance for the bad quality pictures. I only brought my phone with me…which is also a no-no in this type of fancy schmancy place but the things I do for my readers…:-)

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As with every night they start our table off with bread and a special cream cheese spread. On this night it was with Rosemary.

Next up we had a “Gruß aus der Küche” / “A Greeting from the Kitchen which was a sesame breaded shrimp on a marmalade of sorts.

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For an appetizer we had fresh made brioche or bread and with two different items made with tuna fish. The first option (on the left) was actual raw tuna that you find often in restaurants. On the right was a creamed tuna fish fluff that was out of this world good!

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Soup was a tomato cream soup with Parmesan foam and a raw ham chip. (Very salty ham chip…lol)

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Moving right along, We received a breaded shrimp ball in asparagus salad. Sooooo delish!

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Time for a little snack to clean up the palette before the main entree, we had a wild berry sorbet with passion fruit.

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The main entree was veal filet with vegetables and layered potato gratin. I actually opted not to have this because I don’t eat baby anything so veal was out of the question. However, I did order my own amazing shrimps dish (not pictured.)

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And lastly, to close the stomach we had fresh strawberries with a Sour Cream ice cream (Not like sour cream, but like pudding just not so sweet), with what they call Eier liquor drizzled. It’s not like anything I can compare it to here in the states. It’s an Egg-like liquor. Not like egg-nog…thats a thousand times tastier. lol 🙂

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That was our lovely evening and we were serenaded by this sweet girl who played the Harp for quite a long time…and really well if I do say so myself! Please excuse the awkward filming but again…was trying not to be too obvious. Here’s a small snippet nonetheless! (And you can hear the Swabian accent from my in-laws while you’re at it.)

More to come later on our trip!!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxo

 

A Bike Ride Through The Heimat

How often do people live in a town and never truly see it? My guess is pretty often. We get caught up in the day-to-day stuff and usually end up spending quite a bit of our time doing things around the house or getting away. Am I right?

What do you think would happen when you took a day to be a tourist in your own town? Magical things, I bet!

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That is just what Toblerone and I did one of the days we were back in Germany. He grew up in this tiny little village on the top of a mountain but I had never seen it through his eyes like I had this one day. It was truly beautiful.

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We decided to travel by bike. We rode from one town to the next (where his mother’s family is from). I had never seen this side before. I missed out on the beauty of it all.

We traveled around and stopped in the next town over to visit Toblerone’s Grandpa, Rudi. Check out how beautiful his space is. I may or may not have shared a bit of champagne with him. (He probably would have preferred beer – next time!)

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We rode past the windmills…

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And of course a pit-stop for some lunch!

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My favorite part of the day was visiting the chapel in the town.

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We went inside (luckily I didn’t go up in flames!) and I lit 4 candles in honor of the grandparents we have lost.

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It wouldn’t really be me if I didn’t cause a little bit of commotion before I went back home…now would it? I rang the church bell for you all! Which actually wasn’t that easy, that thing is HEAVY!

We stopped along the way to many homes of family members and friends to say hello. It was a special day and BEAUTIFUL weather! It was so nice to see this other side of Toblerone’s Heimat (home) from a different perspective!

Just the hubs and I on our little bike tour! And check me out with no make-up and my 30 year old wrinkles! LOVE LOVE LOVE the aging process 🙂

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Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxo

A Family Recipe: Schwarzwalder Kirsch Torte (Black Forest Cake)

I’ve got the goods, lovelies! I cornered my mother-in-law and held her hostage until she showed me how to make the infamous family favorite, Schwarwalder Kirsch Torte (or as you may know it..Black Forest Cake.) Ok, so maybe I didn’t hold her hostage…and maybe she actually was excited to show me. Just maybe.

I’m ready to share the recipe but first you should know that some of these ingredients are not easily found in the US. Actually, for those of you who have made this cake here, maybe you can help us all out to find better equivalents for a few of these.  You can get the majority of these items in import/export stores and online on Amazon as well for a steep price. Also, I apologize for the pictures. I was writing down the recipe (trying to translate in my head), talk, help stir, and take pictures of each step. It was NOT an easy task…but I do these things for you people because I care. 🙂

First things first….The cake part. Please note that this particular recipe for cake is standard for any “Torte” that you are making. Anything with fresh berries or cream (sahne) you will use this same basic recipe. Just remove the cacao. Cacao is strictly for chocolate cake or mainly used with the Black Forest Cake.

What You Will Need:

6 eggs (Separate whites and yolks in two different mixing bowls)

200 grams/ 1 cup of sugar (Can use 250 grams but the cake is sweet enough so we use less)

Butter to grease the pan

300 grams/3 cups Flour (Best to use half all purpose flour, King Arthur brand is really good, and half cake flour)

15 grams/ 2 Tablespoons Baking Powder

1 Tablespoon Pure Cacao (Can use hot chocolate if you don’t have this on hand.)

 

How To Make It:

Preheat oven to 150 Celcius or 300 Fahrenheit.

Take the 6 egg whites and beat with a mixer until you have a meringue.

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Take the 6 egg yolks, add 6 tablespoons of luke warm water.  Next, take your sugar and mix with the egg yolks. You can add a couple teaspoons of vanilla flavored sugar or vanilla extract to the sugar, but it’s not necessary. Just added flavor.  Beat the egg yolk mixture until it’s almost white.

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Spread butter on your spring-form baking pan and up the sides as well (I use a 28cm pan). Add a little bit of flour and shake around to cover the bottom of the pan. Shake out any excess.

Next take your 150 grams of all purpose flour and 150 grams of cake flour and mix together. Add in your baking powder and mix gently. Next add in your Cacao and mix until combined.  Add the entire flour mixture slowly to the egg yolk mixture as you beat.

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Add a little bit of the meringue you made with the egg whites (about half) to the flour and egg yolk mixture. This keeps the cake from becoming too hard and helps to soften it. Once combined, remove the beaters and mix very slowly with a spatula the remaining meringue until it is fluffy.

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Pour mixture into pan and bake for 30 minutes. Test with a fork. Note: DO NOT open the oven door once during those 30 minutes. Strict orders from my mother-in-law.

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Let the cake cool completely. Once cooled, Turn cake over so bottom is facing up (this will allow for the top of the cake to be a bit more even), cut about an inch all the way around in two different places, making three layers.

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Take regular old sewing string and holding both ends bring very slowly through to complete the cutting of the sections. My M-I-L brought the string towards her, crossing her hands to make an X to make sure the entire section was cut.

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Remove the top two layers, leaving the last layer as is. You will need an adjustable cake ring to hold everything in place for adding the filling.

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Next up: The Filling!!!

What You Will Need:

100 gram/ 1 jar of sour cherries in juice.  (NOTE: In the US this hasn’t been easy to find. They do have them in the canned fruit section..usually on the top shelf. Make sure you get the TART cherries. Also, you can buy the German ones here: BavariaSausage.com)

Cornstarch mixed with water to thicken

Kirschwasser (most liquor stores have this, you will need about a cup approximately so not too much..but a little extra on hand is always good for drinking in between :-))

800 grams/28.5 ounces of whipping cream (30% fat is ideal)

2 packages of Sahnesteif/ Whipped Cream Stabilizer (King Arthur brand, which carries a good flour that is similar to that in Germany, also carries Instant Food Starch or there is also by the Dr. Oetker brand, Whipped Cream Stabilizer. The higher fat content of  the whipping cream also will help the stiffness in the end if you can’t find the stabilizers.)

Sugar

Finely Shaved Chocolate Pieces

 

How To Make It:

Remove the juice from the jar of cherries and pour into small pot. Save the cherries for later, keeping about 16 completely separate for decoration. Heat cherry juice on high and add in the cornstarch mixture while continuously whisking. Bring to a boil and add cherries to pot. Mix gently and remove from heat to allow to harden.

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Sprinkle 4 Tablespoons of Kirschwasser over the top of the bottom layer of cake. Once cherries have hardened, Use a spoon to spread over the top of the bottom layer evenly. When finished, sprinkle a little more Kirschwasser on top of the cherry mixture. Using a spoon helps to sprinkle this evenly.

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In large bowl, mix whipping cream with 2 packages of whipping cream stabilizer and beat. Add 2 tablespoons Kirschwasser and continue to beat. Add approximately one tablespoon of sugar to the cream mixture. You don’t want it too sweet. Germans don’t do sugar like us Americans do…hence why their cakes are way more amazing! Whipping cream is done when you can turn the bowl upside down and nothing comes out. 🙂 True story.  Spread just a little bit of the whipped cream to the top of the cherries. Just to give it that extra thickness and taste.

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Take your 2nd layer of cake and place it on top of the cherry mixture. Again, sprinkle 4 Tablespoons of Kirschwasser over the cake. Next, spread the whipping cream to cover the top of your 2nd layer cake. Be generous with this layer, majority of the cream will be here.

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Finally, place your 3rd layer of cake on top of the other two. With the remaining whipping cream mixture, spread evenly on top making sure it is smooth. Save a little bit to do the sides. Remove the cake ring and spread the whipped cream along the sides, smooth and evenly, saving a small amount to decorate the top.

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Depending on how many cherries you saved to decorate for the top you can use one of the fancy frosting decorating thingy majiggies or you can do it the old fashioned way like I do with a plastic bag with the corner cut off. Put remaining whipped cream in bag and squirt into small puffs of fun on top of the cake. Place your cherries on top of said puffs of fun, sprinkle your shaved chocolate pieces on top and VOILA! You have made yourself a traditional Schwarzwalder Kirsch Torte!

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Keep in cool area or refrigerate until ready to eat. (Cream melts, you know!)

Hope this was helpful and for those of you who asked me to post this, I hope this fills up your home with the tradition you know and love! Guten Appetit!

Until next time, Readers!!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxox

 

 

 

 

 

The True (Southern) German Potato Salad

I know you’ve seen me post pictures of this on my Facebook Page so I figured it was time to spill the secret.  German Potato Salad is made two ways from what I’ve learned while living in Germany. There is the way the northerners make it and the way the southerners make it. The one ingredient that makes the difference, mayo. Thankfully, for my waistline I lived in the South where they opted out of using mayonnaise for this very common dish!

Many moons ago I asked Toblerone’s mom for her recipe for Kartoffelsalat and she wrote it out for me. I use it like there is nothing else in the world that matters. That stays with me in a special place. If I ever lost it, I would be lost. There is something about having a recipe handwritten that makes it feel more like a sacred piece of family history.  Same goes for recipes my mom has written.

On with it already, Kaitlin.

First things first…the ingredients here in the US are not exact but I will try to help you through it best I can!

You will need:

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Note: Some people cheat and use this little package by Knorr to “fix” Potato salad (See little packet on the right hand side of the picture.) We are doing things the original way today!

 

Potatoes – peeled, and cut in half if they are large. I normally use about 7-8 potatoes just for the two of us (Toblerone loves his leftovers!), or an entire 1lb bag or more for larger groups. (I use the yellow/golden potatoes. They are closest to the potatoes in Germany. Yes…even those are different.)

1 Onion – chopped in small pieces. (This time around I used a red onion for color. )

Vegetable Oil

Distilled white vinegar

Salt

Pepper

2 Tablespoons Vegetable Bouillon (powdered if you can find it. Mixed in warm water – about a 1/2 cup.) I use Knorr Delikatess Brühe (shown below) which you can find on many German import food websites. If you want to get the taste correct, trust me…you need this stuff. I’ve tried others I found in the import aisles at grocery stores and its all sorts of wrong. Threw out many batches because of this small ingredient!

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How it’s done:

Peel your potatoes and cut in half. They will cook faster when they are smaller. Place in pot and boil until soft or a knife goes through easily.

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Chop the onion in small pieces and throw into a large bowl. I always use my tupperware bowls because that would be very un-German of me if I didn’t use my tupperware.

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Once potatoes are done, drain water. Let sit until they aren’t scorching. If they are still warm I rinse them off with cold water before handling. DO NOT BURN YOURSELVES. IT’S NOT WORTH IT!!!! Once cooled, you will grab a potato and with a knife almost shave the potato over the bowl until it is in small pieces.

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Should look like this at the end:

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Now, here is where the recipe gets a little confusing. There are no real measurements. This is a “feel-it-out” situation as is any good recipe. First add the vinegar. I usually make a circle as I pour and that is usually enough to start. You don’t want a big pour. Little at a time is better so you can taste test it. Too much is hard to correct. Start small.

Next up, add the Bouillon that is premixed in warm water . Also in a circular motion.  Add your salt and pepper…also a taste as you go thing.

At the end I do the same with the oil. Circular motion. The idea is not to make the potatoes swim. It’s a salad after all…not a soup, people!! A lot of the watery bits will soak into the Potatoes but you don’t want a puddle at the bottom of your bowl.

Mix gently to get the flavors going.

Most important part of the process….LET IT SIT. Do not touch it. Let it sit on the counter for a while. Not in the fridge. Not in the garage. Just let it sit. Let the flavors work into it. Potato salad is served room temperature in Germany. So be German and do just that. Afterwards of course, whatever is left….if there is any left you can place in the fridge.

And…TA DA! There you have it….You just learned how to make a very Swabian styled Potato Salad. I bet your Omi would be oh so proud!

Guten Appetit!!!

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Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxo

 

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