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This Farming Man celebrated his birthday this week.

Megan made an amazing triple-chocolate cake, which we ate after our annual pilgrimage to my favorite Indian restaurant. And Brian got me two loaf pans, so that I can start baking my own bread. (Yes, maybe this will be the year that I finally stop talking about it and actually do it…)

He also got me these great dishtowels from Martha Stewart with chickens on them. This Farming Man likes chickens…

 

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Last night, I went to a potluck dinner with Brian and some of his friends from Tennessee. My contribution to the meal was a chess pie, which is a quintessentially Southern dessert, although apparently there are some variations from New England. It’s basically pure sugar, so some recipes include a teaspoon of vinegar to tone down the sweetness a bit.

I started with a recipe from Martha Stewart and added some unsweetened chocolate instead of the vinegar, so the finished pie tasted like brownies. It puffed up in the oven when it was baking and then settled as it cooled, so I covered the cracked top with some whipped cream when I served it…

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This morning when I woke up, there was snow on the ground for the first time this season. It wasn’t much, probably not even an inch. But when I looked out the window and saw it, I felt something stir inside me.

I’m old enough now that I mostly consider snow to be a nuisance, especially here in the city where it gets trampled soon after falling and leaves behind huge, dirty puddles when it melts. But the first snowfall of the season is still something special. I get a charge from it, just like I did when I was kid…

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1/1/12

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2012…

 

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My favorite store in Germany was Käthe Wohlfahrt, which sells traditional German nutcrackers, smokers and holiday ornaments. I was completely enthralled by it. Maybe it was the infusion of Christmas spirit I got from the nearby Nuremberg Christmas market, but I wanted everything in the store. I ended up purchasing a nutcracker and a smoker, along with a selection of ornaments for myself and to give as gifts. Sure, I spent more than I should have, but these things will last a lifetime and bring back memories of my trip each Christmas when I put them up. By the way, the trees behind the smoker below were bought from vendors at the Christmas market itself. Megan bought me the tree on the left last year, and I bought the one on the right this year…

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If there’s one thing Germans are good at, it’s Christmas. (Well, there are lots of things Germans are good at, but you get what I mean…)

The day after we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the States, outdoor Christmas markets open up all around Germany. Picture beautiful cobblestoned city squares packed with vendors selling handmade goods, delicious sweets and Glühwein, which is the German version of the wonderful mulled wine served around Europe during winter. Apparently, Nuremberg has the biggest and best Christmas market in the whole country, so we were right in the center of the action. Keep reading…

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Every year, Megan visits her sister and her sister’s family in Germany for Thanksgiving, and every year, I think about joining her. Well, this year I finally did it.

It was my first time in Germany. I haven’t done a lot of European travel, just trips to Italy and Spain, and my last big excursion was more than five years ago, so I was excited for the visit. Keep reading…

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