Journey to Metzlingen: “Adventures in German Cooking” Part One

I recently had an email from a reader asking about providing “Questions for Book Clubs” for my novel “The King’s Sword”, which led to a fun conversation with some writing friends. Not only did we discuss creating a series of thoughtful questions (which I’m putting together and will post soon), but my friends also recommended creating some fun things to go along with it. I have a few ideas jotted down, the first of which is “Adventures in German Cooking” 🙂

Step One: Looking at Some of the Food Featured in the Metzlingen Saga

I used food throughout the novel to give you a glimpse into the German culture and what would’ve been available, grown, eaten, and drank at the end of the 15th century. Things that quickly came to mind were Beatrix’s “Hunter’s Stew” and brötchen (mini rolls), the “tart” that Reymund enjoyed with a glass of wine in Leuceria, the heavy beer Matthias drank in Ewigsburg, and the fish Avelina noticed cooking over the flames at the market. I started going through recipes that I’d saved, as well as a book that I bought years ago full of wonderful German recipes. I wanted to figure out what I could make that would fit the following criteria: 1) be inspired by the real food from the Metzlingen Saga, 2) that I could round up ingredients for, 3) that I could adjust a bit to fit my family’s needs (allergies), and 4) that we could simply have fun with. 🙂

Step Two: Deciding on a Menu and Rounding Up the Ingredients

Years ago, when I first purchased this German cooking book, it was with the sole intention of making Sauerbraten. The restaurant that I worked in for years (could use a cup of that “World’s Best Coffee” <3) had a German cook who occasionally cooked Sauerbraten for the “Sunday Special” and I really wanted to learn how to make it someday. Only took me twenty years to get started lol!

After considering everything, the kids and I decided on the following:

  • Rheinischer Sauerbraten mit Rosinensauce (a traditional beef dish with Raisin Gravy)
  • Käsespätzle (think the German version of homemade macaroni and cheese, which was a really nice treat to find at the Weihnachtsmarkt)
  • Münsterländer Buttermilchbrot (Munsterland Buttermilk Bread)
  • Weizenbrot (wheat / white bread)
  • Brezeln (pretzels)
  • Kirschstreusel (a crumbly cherry cake)
  • Schokotart (chocolate tart)

The Schokotart is going to be made Gluten Free and we’ll also try to create a GF version of the Käsespätzle and at least one of the breads.

The kids and I took our list of ingredients to the commissary Wednesday night to see what we could find in the “International” section. The goal was to get as many German ingredients as possible and then fill in from there. Was rather pleased with what we did find and we were able to improvise for what we didn’t. 🙂 Here’s a general picture of our haul. 🙂

Step Three: Preparing the Marinade

The meat is supposed to sit in the marinate for FOUR DAYS, so yesterday morning after I got the kids off to school, I set about getting it prepared. Basing it off of the recipe from the book, this is what I put into my marinade:

  • One Bottle of Red Wine (they didn’t have any German red wine, so I used a Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir that I knew my husband liked)
  • Two White Onions (though chopped large so I can easily separate those out later if needed for the kids)
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 2 1/4 tablespoons of Lemon Juice
  • A small can of Ginger-Ale to add a touch of sweetness (for the kids)
  • Two Packages of the Prepared Sauerbraten spice mix

I was REALLY excited with the spice blend that I found. Instead of buying the individual spices listed in the ingredients, I was able to buy the prepackaged spice package specifically made for Sauerbraten. This spice brand never let me down when I used to pick up various soup and/or sauce mixes in Germany, so I figured it would work really well. I stirred it all together and cooked as directed (brought it to a boil and then cooked over moderate heat for five minutes). Once completed, I poured the mixture over two nice cuts of top round beef. The meat’s been marinating for one day so far, being flipped every eight hours. The plan is to let it sit until Sunday, so that we can enjoy a nice family dinner with the rest of our “Adventures in German Cooking” menu.

Hope you enjoy the pictures! Wish there was a way to share the smell of those spices cooking in that wine 😉 On the next “Adventures in German Cooking” post, I’ll let you know how the various baking events go tomorrow. The kids are REALLY pumped to get started on that 🙂

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