Happy 10th Birthday Meg!

Meg celebrated her first decade on Saturday. She spent to day with one of her quarantine friends Jana. We started off with American pancakes for breakfast, pizza rolls for lunch, and then green mac & cheese for dinner. They also enjoyed the nice weather by playing in the park. Clare spent much of the day constructing the Minecraft themed cake. We sang happy birthday at 17:27, exactly 10 years after Meg took her first breath (9:27 Colorado time).

On Sunday Meg spent most of the day playing Minecraft, which was one of her birthday presents.

Happy 12th Birthday Spencer!

Singing Happy Birthday to Spencer – we are not good singers

Spencer had a great weekend in low key COVID style celebration. Spencer got to celebrate with his friend Andre IRL and other friends met him online. He enjoyed his presents: video games, a capture card for streaming, card games, Oreo ice cream cake, and a football.

Later on Sunday his friend Ella came over. She got him the card game Skyjo, which we have all been enjoying.

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Spencer and Clare

Will this coming year be the year he gets taller than mom? Let’s find out!

schlechtes Wetter

Frozen Fog

This weekend has been a mix of unpleasant weather: freezing rain, sleet, snow, and now the pretty but bone chilling frozen fog. Thank goodness for our warm, dry apartment.

Snow!

We woke up to a world covered in snow. This is probably the biggest snow we have gotten while living in Würselen. The kids made a snowman. Rob brought down a carrot and sticks to decorate their creation. Clare took pictures and make soup and cocoa.

Pumpkin Cornmeal Drop Biscuits

Pumpkin cornmeal drop biscuits fresh from the oven

Thanks to Melanie for introducing these drops of deliciousness into our lives over a decade ago. This recipe is adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook, but they use margarine to make this recipe vegan and Clare likes butter.

1/4 cup/ 55g butter
1 1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tblsp. brown sugar packed
1/2 c. pumpkin puree (not sweetened)
180 mL (3/4 c. plus 2 tblsp.) apple cider or juice

Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C).

Cut butter into small pieces and place in a medium bowl.

Sift in the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the brown sugar and mix until lump free.

In another bowl, combine pumpkin puree and cider/juice.

Pour pumpkin purée mixture into flour mixture and stir briefly just until well blended.

Put parchment paper on baking sheet and
drop biscuits by 1/4 cups onto baking sheet.

Bake for about 20 minutes until puffed and very slightly brown around the edges.

Our family enjoys these biscuits alone, or with cream cheese and/or apple sauce.

Mistletoe & Holly

On our walk today, we got up close and personal with two festive plants. Mistletoe is actually a parasitic plant with poisonous berries. It forms balls in the tree branches. Now is a good time to cut them out of trees because they are highly visible without the leaves. Holly is both a bush and a tree, with pretty silver bark. Only the female holly plant produces berries.

Making Christmas cookies

As part of our St. Nicholas day celebration, we made Christmas cookies. Also pictured is Spencer preparing his shoes yesterday for St. Nick’s visit. It gives an idea of how much his feet have grown since we arrived (and that we still don’t really know how to dispose of old shoes). We all help with the cookies, but Meg has really taken on learning Rob’s Christmas cookie recipes, passed down from his mom. The peppernuts have been in his family for at least 5 generations, counting Meg and Spencer making them.

Happy Thanksgiving 2020

Meg, Clare, and Spencer say cheers

Because of the Corona virus we celebrated Thanksgiving just the 4 of us this year, but it was still nice. Since Clare and I were both working from home, we decided to celebrate it on Thursday, even though the kids had school that day. That way we would not be so out of sync with the Americans on the other side of the big pond. We scaled back a bit on the food, but still had some of our favorites – a Turkey breast from the butcher, Clare’s famous sweet potatoes topped with caramelized pecans, green bean casserole, Fran’s cranberry relish, Kartoffelknödel (potato dumplings, a German standard, instead of mashed potatoes), gravy, and pumpkin pie.

Thanksgiving plate

I only had 1 pie plate at my disposal, so I took some advice from the internet and made some decorations – in this case, the Aachen cathedral, because I didn’t have any leaf cookie cutters. Everyone loved the pie. I think it is perhaps my best ever. It was even worth the second-degree burns on my fingers. You see, I wanted to pre-bake the pie crust a bit so it wouldn’t be soggy. The interwebs recommended using pie weights or dried beans in parchment paper. I had neither. So I looked around the kitchen, and spied my ceramic pour-over coffee maker. I thought that would work great to keep the pie crust down. It did. But immediately after taking the pie plate out of the oven, I took off my oven mitts, and then proceeded to pick up the coffee filter with my bare hands! I immediately realized my mistake, and threw the coffee filter across the room, breaking it against the wall. It would have made a great sitcom scene. I ran my hand under cold water, put the filling in the pie, and put it in the oven, and then took a little break. But like I said, the pie was so good, it was worth it. Maybe Santa will bring me some pie weights 😉

After dinner we watched a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and then we had a Zoom meeting with the Goold family, which was really fun.

2020 has been a tough year for everyone in the world, but we have been really lucky in so many ways. I am very thankful for the fact that we found some time to travel in between lock downs and Corona waves, and that so far we have avoided the virus. We are also lucky to still have jobs, and that they are flexible and allow us to work from home much of the time.