Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Investigation!

When we moved in and unpacked, I realized that I had 2 bags of Nestle Chocolate Chips that made the trip :)  We were really hurting for a good, sweet, gooey cookie, so I made a batch.  The one ingredient that I didn't have was baking soda.  What difference could 1 teaspoon make right?  I used baking powder instead, no harm no foul.  The cookies turned out great!  All of the dry ingredients were things that were packed from my pantry in the States, I even was smart and bought a big thing of Vanilla Extract from Costco before we left :).

The cookies went fast, so a week or so later, I made another batch.  I did the same baking soda/baking powder switch and this time (using all the same ingredients) the cookies were flat, paper thin!  I did a little research and sure enough, you can't switch baking soda and baking clue why it worked the first time??

So the search began for baking soda.  I thought it would be easy to find.  I mean, you wouldn't even have to label it in the US and most of us would be able to spot it on a shelf!  Well, no luck.  I couldn't find it anywhere!  I did a little online research and found what to look for.  Something called Natron.  A little tiny packet in the baking section (which is Germany, is like 2 shelves) at the grocery store.  I finally found it, my baking soda problems have been solved!

So I whipped up another batch of cookies and they turned out fabulous!  Granted, I had to chop up some baking chocolate because they don't sell chocolate chips here and I ran out of my stash.  But still, they were even better that way, home made chocolate chunk cookies!

Well, now I've run out of flour.  Had I know this was going to be an issue, that last trip to Costco probably would have cost me $1000 in "supplies"!

Anyway, I bought some German flour and made the recipe again.  And once again...flat, paper, cookies :(.  So I did a little research (online again) and have read that I need to sift my "dense German flour" and I need to mix my Natron with some water to help it "react"!

I need to find a sifter and try this again.  But in the meantime, I'm working on getting some normal baking soda from the States too.

I WILL get these cookies right...even if I have to make 100 batches :)

PS.  The dough still takes the same, so once we realize the cookies are going to be flat, Rick helps and just eats all the dough ;)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Happy May Day!

May 1st is a holiday here in Germany (and many other countries as well).  It's May Day!

One of the traditions here in Germany is the May Pole.  Each city has a May Pole in their City Center.  Sometimes rival cities (mostly based on the school system) will steal each other's May Poles, but they are always returned after :)  Sometimes the May Poles need to be replaced and they town will wait until May Day to put up a new one.

We visited a very small town about 6km from us called Aschering.  They were putting up their new May Pole and had a big celebration!  Everyone was dressed in traditional German clothing, Lederhosen (mostly for men) and Dirndl for the ladies.  Even the small children were in their traditional cute!  (Yes, now I'm on the hunt for them for Drew and Anna!)

We watched them lift the May Pole and set it in place.  When they were done, everyone clapped, and a group of men shot some guns!  We were standing right next to these men and could not figure out what they were doing...we thought they had flasks or something over their shoulders (certainly they couldn't be guns), but we were wrong...they were guns!  And they were very loud and unexpected!  They must have shot them off 6 or 7 times too.  It was tons of fun and very neat to learn about their traditions!

Here are a few pictures from our morning!

The May Pole

People in their Traditional Clothing

The May Pole in Place

The Men with Guns

A Steel Frame 7 Person Bike (this thing was hilarious!)