It seems the thought of winter gets a little bit harder to imagine every year. We had a glorious fall, right up until Thanksgiving, and the first little snow flakes that I saw this morning are not unusual for these parts. The heavy snowfalls and freezing temperatures that have shut down airports in Europe are. So when I say that I am starting to feel like I need a little escape, I am not complaining, I am just fantasizing!
A friend sent me this link, and it’s kind of neat to see where you can go…hey, Detroit, Michigan is on the list! One of my favorite places, Basel, Switzerland, is not one to choose from, but hey, I did enjoy Ticino, the Italian part of Switzerland, complete with palm trees! You choose the city you want to go to, and it gives you a virtual tour with appropriate music. Well, it’s a little diversion that I hope you will enjoy.
I like to make cookies to give to family and friends around this time of the year. They must be easy, delicious, and wildly appreciated as well!vSo here is probably my favorite cookie recipe that comes from my husband’s hometown of Basel, Switzerland. There are so many different recipes for these “Basler Brunsli’s,” but this one is the one I like because it is so simple to make, and everyone just loves to get it, including those people who cannot eat gluten. To note, these traditional Christmas cookies date back to the 15th century.
There is a bakery in Basel that sells them the whole year, and when I lived there, I would often pop into the shop during the dreary months of February and get a small bag. All little fat hearts that I loved to pop in my mouth.
One thing that thrilled me and I found so special about the Swiss is that no matter how much or how little one buys, they will always ask if you want it gift wrapped, and they will do it so beautifully for you.
The translation of “Brunsli” is “little brownie”, but really this cookie tastes nothing like the typical American brownie…it is made with ground almonds (which, if you are lucky, can be bought in bulk at your local grocery store, or online at Bob’s Mill (www.bobsredmill.com) ), or you can just grind your own almonds. Oh, and make sure that you put lots of good wishes and love into them when you make them…I always like to say, “Anyone who eats these will have a good life feel loved!”, or something like that. It can’t hurt, and I do believe those wishes get transmitted through the cookies to those that eat them. Happy Holidays!
Ok, it’s fall, and it’s time to start letting go of the past.That includes the memories of my summer garden and flowers.I have aired out my woolen sweaters and will do my final garden planting next week.I bought some “end of the season” deals at a local greenhouse…some Oriental Poppies and some Blue Veronica for $1 a pot!I cleaned out my car and did some detailed deep cleaning; the furnace is serviced; the oil tank is full. My Swiss husband will start roasting chestnuts next week, and that, my dear reader, brings me to the reason I can say, without any hesitation, that I know I will make it through fall and winter: yes, freshly roasted chestnuts! As long as I can remember, I have felt more than a wee bit melancholic about the prospect of cold, damp and cloudy days. Growing up in Cleveland, I felt that winter was something that one simply endured.There was not much sun; clouds were hanging low for weeks on end, and then there was the bitter cold and wind. I felt quite some comfort in the fact that we were all in it together. Why, even today I feel a certain compassion and kinship for anyone from the Northeast. And living in the German-speaking part of Switzerland meant that, for us, the winters were worse than the ones in Cleveland, with a cold dampness that seemed to go right to the bone.I am even starting to feel uncomfortable just writing about it!So, to help those that have the long fall and winter months to look forward to, I will start sharing in next week’s “Sadhvi Sez” what I know about chestnuts: my secret cure against the fall and winter blues.Until then, start humming…and think spring!